Design for the Soul

The quest for ‘excellence’ in the context of architecture can be compared with medieval quests. The Medieval quest always called for a deep inner searching on the part of the knight, metaphorically described in literature as the need to overcome formidable obstacles. Some people would argue that in the modern world the quest for excellence in the arts and architecture calls for the artists and architects to make a similar commitment to confront and transcend their personal inner turmoil. Through dedication the architect would then win a certain personal resolution of the inner conflict, a resolution which would ultimately be reflected in their work. This article will move towards a position which suggests that it is from the ground won in such inner reconciliations that excellence has always emerged in the arts and architecture, a ground which will be capable of generating a humane architecture.

Nature is perfect. Nature orders countless billions of systems within one total organised whole. Its cosmic dimensions are boundless, its resources abundant and its possibilities infinite. It is the rock on which we stand; it is the womb from, which we were born. Nature ticks in us as she ticks in every other living creature, every blade of grass, every stone, cloud or planet. Nature feeds us intravenously with each of our needs. We do not need to balance our metabolism, watch over our breathing or guide our heartbeat. The reality of Nature renews our bodies day on day, week on week, year on year, just as regularly and with equal precision to the cycle of the seasons, or the movement of the galaxies. We could no more separate ourselves from Nature, than deny our own breath or rail against our own birth.

All this we accept: Nature is what we are. What we fail to acknowledge however, is that we must also be all that Nature is. At root the relationship we have with Nature must be reciprocal. We are part of one integrated organic whole and as such, what is available to one party in the relationship must be available to the other. As she is our breath, so we are her infinite capacity, as she is our heartbeat, so we are her boundless reality. As she orders our metabolism, so we share in the order of her cosmic dimensions. As we create, we participate in the cosmic plan, we extend the boundaries of Nature’s creation and we play at the table of the Gods. Inseparable as we are from Nature we have no other fate than to share her perfection.

So how does all this really connect with architecture?. If Nature were designing the building, it would respond to the client’s needs; to the landscape, to the ecology of the materials and environmental conditions, to site forces, structure and construction and would generate the perfect solution for those particular design criteria. This idea seemed so radically different from the way we operate as architects today, that it seemed unworthy of further thought. How could it be true? How could there be just one perfect answer to a building design? As a lecturer in architecture, I had regularly set projects for my students, I had written the brief and chosen the site, but then out of a group of may be as many as seventy of eighty students, I would get seventy or eighty different solutions. Similarly with architectural competitions, one would get as many different solutions as there were entrants and these many number hundreds.

These projects were much simpler than the design of a whole building. They were designed to investigate limited ideas, for example ‘ordering principles’ in design, and were carried out over just one afternoon. The projects did not have to be formally assessed, so we would use the assessment time to discuss the work and to have the students select the pieces of work that had been most successful. The results of the discussion were often surprising. Again we might be dealing with sixty or seventy different solutions but on these occasions the best work was clearly identifiable. Three or four pieces would usually stand out from the rest and what was more interesting; these three of four pieces were identified not only by the staff teaching the project but also by the majority of the students themselves. So it seemed that when the issues being examined were limited, the analogy with arithmetic that James Allen used was not far from the truth. Of course even the selected three or four examples were not perfect, but the experience demonstrated that in those projects we were perhaps close to the idea of working towards the perfect solution that is suggested by this line of thought.

The position in which we find ourselves, therefore in many ways runs counter to the post-modern position. The argument that we have laid out suggests that we should not be concerned with a need to be different, or with changing fashions or stylish pre-occupations, but should rather be striving to design the perfect solution to meet the needs. Again I recall a radio interview I heard years ago, it was with the jazz singer Cleo Laine. In the interview she said that all her career she had been trying to sing a particular sound. At first it seemed a strange thing for her so say, was she not singing all sorts of sounds all the time? But what she meant was something more than this. What she was talking about was the perfect sound. In each of her different songs she was trying to sing the perfect sound, it always remained her constant target and sometimes she felt that she came close to it. In a similar way in architecture there is a perfect form, the form that nature would design and which we strive to achieve. Our pursuit therefore becomes one not of difference for differences sake, but a qualitative quest to achieve the correct answer. This is not one person’s quest, but the collective quest of a culture, which should lead to the slow but certain movement toward perfection, through continuous qualitative improvements.

Devon architects

CakePHP – Less Coding, More Fun – How?

CakePHP can be best defined as an open source development framework for the new generation coders. Based on PHP scripting language & MVC architecture, CakePHP provides its users with extremely easy programming digest and friendly guide for development.

It is easy to create objective modules in CakePHP with its well-segregated building components. For a beginner like me it has been always easy to have the CakePHP built-in validation features – that allow you to comply with the major rules and conventions of PHP development, with dynamic trackback options. Taking care of your leads at every instance of development, Cake’s dynamic built-in support allows you to gain all the momentum needed in developing lengthy codes and controlling your tasks flawlessly.

Another noteworthy thing about the Cake framework is, it requires less coding and allows you to set-up database effortlessly. With Cake’s well-organized library, you get code assemblies to build different functionalities and object modules. Powered by easy instructions, these exclusive code events let you effortlessly command the attributes that you need in your application without having to look inside-out and wasting much of your time.

I have seen many of my friends shifting to this framework just because they wanted to have liberty of doing things excessively, at one place.

Another important thing that makes CakePHP so desirable is its powerful scaffolding features that are highly instrumental in building prototypes rapidly. With CakePHP scaffolding features you can interactively create, retrieve, update and delete objects and define how objects are related to each other, most easily! CakePHP has been also different in the way it offers flexibility to its users. Flexible Caching and ACL (Access Control List) offers great benefits to its users by letting them interact with all those entities the way they want and retrieve the needed information most suitably.

More to it, the interactive and dynamic CakePHP framework allows a great platform for customization. This is one of the major reasons it has become the first choice for different industries and businesses who like to have solutions that meet their expectations fully and dependably.

The robust, authentic and steadfast CakePHP framework provides great measures for secured web development with its sharp security features like CSRF protection and XSS prevention.

These features are just a hint to what we actually get in real terms. CakePHP development virtually celebrates the idea of free information and consolidative programming with excellent approach towards contemporary web dimensioning – to produce scalable solutions for all.

This is the reason why CakePHP development has been welcomed by more than a million developers worldwide, making it the most sought after open source framework that we have today!

Coffee Table With Seating

A coffee table with seating can come in many different sizes and shapes. They can be covered in leather or upholstered in micro suede material or another kind of desired material. Some coffee tables are round, rectangle, square and so forth; the sizes also vary from small to large and everything in between. The price can start out as low as one hundred dollars to as much as six hundred dollars and more.

A coffee table can be a round solid looking piece, perhaps covered in leather and sectioned into four pieces. When they are separated, each will be in the shape of a triangle. This will give four additional seats for company when needed. Or the coffee table can be rectangle and used as an ottoman, when not being used as a coffee table. This particular coffee table will be lower to the ground with no extra storage and short legs. Any and all of these coffee tables with seating can be used as coffee tables or ottomans. This is a versatile piece of furniture as well as being attractive.

Another possibility would be that the table would be wood, maybe glassed topped and have a couple of square ottomans tucked underneath to be used as seating or used as ottomans when needed.

Very popular today is the upholstered coffee table with a hinged top and a couple of square ottomans stored inside. A coffee table with seating is definitely not a traditional form of coffee table. Then there are coffee tables with seating whose top, when turned upside down and placed back on the ottoman reveals a try. Meanwhile this coffee table with seating stores two ottomans in its belly when not in use. The options are numerous and choices seem endless.

You can always order on the Internet, however, if you want to see the coffee table and feel the material it is upholstered in, your best bet is to go to a local store.

Pondless Waterfalls – Concrete Vs Pond Liner

The get-rich-quick factor in the pond liner industry has forced up the price of pond liner kits to equal the cost of concrete construction. If you search for the truth about concrete ponds and waterfalls from reading the literature of the greed-driven liner pond industry, you will not find it. Post why? Because if the truth be known, no one in their right mind would invest good, hard-earned money in a pond liner!

The pond liner track record speaks for itself:

More than 37% of all waterfalls have serious structural damage within 3 years of construction.

57% of homeowners say they are rather unsatisfied with the way their waterfall came out after the project was completed.

One in three waterfalls and ponds are leaking water within nine months of completion.

63% of "do-it-yourselfers" say they wished they had the proper information from the "get go" or that they had hired someone.

These statistics are from the pond liner industry itself (Bob Wilder, 48-Hour Waterfall). I can confirm and attest to these figures myself. I have built over 1,900 concrete and rebar waterfalls and ponds over the past 26 years. I have ripped out and replaced dozens of defective liner ponds and replaced them with concrete ones with lifetime warranties.

Pond liner guys will not attach more than a one-year warranty. They make no guarantee against rats, mice, ground squirrels, gophers, tree roots and sharp objects.

Let's compare apples to lemons … First, let's talk about apples (concrete waterfalls). We will construct a pondless waterfall that is 20 inches wide at the top by 20 feet long, becoming 24 inches wide at the bottom, to create a spillway 3 feet tall. At the bottom is a catch basin 4 ft. x 6 ft. x 3 ft. deep. The costs of excavation are as follows:

To dig a waterfall and basin takes two men 4 hours @ $ 20 per hour = $ 160.

The flexible PVC pipe is 35 ft. @ $ 1.25 per ft. = $ 44.
Concrete (3500 psi with stealth fiber)): 2 yards = $ 250.
20 pieces of 20 ft. x 3/8 inch rebar = $ 100.
One 1/3 HP high efficiency pump, 2800 GPH, 356 watts = $ 429.
One anti-vortex drain = $ 10.
Four 2 x 4 ft. heavy plastic corrugated or galvanized plans to cover the collection basin = $ 35. Setting the rebar: 3 man-hrs. = $ 225.
Pumping and finishing 2 yards of concrete: 4 man-hrs. @ $ 75 / hr. = $ 300.
Applying thoro-seal, 1 sack + 1 hour = $ 43.
Rock work + 8 sacks mortar mix: labor – 8 man-hrs. @ $ 75 / hr. = $ 600.
Mortar: $ 40.

TOTAL EXCAVATION COST FOR A CONCRETE POND = $ 2,236.

With this type of construction, no filter is needed. The water in the basin is not exposed to sunlight, so there are no algae. Plus the top layer of rock and the planks are easily removed for cleaning out debris about once a year. If a plastic screen is placed over the planks before the rock layer, cleaning is reduced by 90%.

Now let's talk about the lemons (the liner folks). The pondless waterfall liner kit advertised by all the disciples of the "liner messiah" on their websites is $ 1,940 + tax & shipping, or $ 2,176.

And now for the math: One concrete / rebar construction pondless waterfall completed with high-efficiency pump = $ 2,236. One pondless liner kit to build a pondless waterfall of the exact same dimensions = $ 2,176. If I did the math correctly, the completed concrete pondless waterfall costs $ 60 more than the pondless waterfall liner kit; however, it is still in the box!

Concrete and rebar pondless waterfall has a lifetime warranty. Liner pondless waterfall: 1 yr. warranty on labor, lifetime warranty against factory defect. But there is no warranty whatsoever against holes caused by rats, mice, ground squirrels, gophers, tree roots, sharp objects, etc. Sorry Charlie!

Concrete and rebar pondless waterfalls use a high-efficiency above-ground pump that is easy to service (it has a 3 yr. Warranty). The 1/3 HP pump is small, very quiet, and easily hidden behind a couple of rocks or plants next to the falls, or piped to another part of the yard. The liner pondless waterfall uses a submersible sump pump that is placed in the bottom of the basin, and then buried with hundreds of pounds of rocks. To service this pump (only a 2 yr. Warranty), all the slimy, stinky rocks have to be removed from the basin first.

The concrete and rebar pondless waterfall pump produces 5,800 gallons per hour at only 356 watts (retail $ 429). The liner pondless waterfall kit comes with a sump pump (they advertise as "the best pump on the market"). It produces 5,700 gal / hour (100 gal. Less) at a whopping 911 watts of power (over twice that of the above-ground pump). You will pay $ 525 more per year for electricity (at $ .12 / kwh) for that extra 555 watts. Their pump costs $ 600 retail ($ 171 more than the above-ground). Oh, did I mention "the best warranty in the industry" is only 2 years, compared to 3 years for the above-ground?

The concrete and rebar pondless waterfall's rocks are all mortared in place. So anyone, especially small children, can climb on the rocks without them moving, with possible serious injury resulting. With liner pondless waterfalls, rocks will move and shift on their own without help. After a few months, the ugly liner is exposed in the falls and around the pond.

While building the concrete pondless waterfall, design liberties can be taken, such as altering the length, width or shape of the feature. With a liner pondless waterfall, the parameters have already been set by the manufacturer of the kit.

The concrete pondless waterfall can utilize the large, open basin to install an Aquafill automatic water leveling device. In addition, the basin can be made smaller because the space for water is not taken up by rocks as it is in the liner pondless waterfall basin. The only rock that exists is on top of the galvanized or plastic plank cover.

Wow! Concrete waterfalls are stationary, permanent, lifetime life-expectancy, cheaper to build, cheaper to operate, easier to clean, easy to maintain, longer pump warranty, safer and more natural looking! Apples or lemons? You be the judge!

I am sick and tired of these amateurs giving my life-long profession a bad name by their exaggerated, dishonest and sensational claims – only to be backed up by a nebulous warranty and, at best, shoddy workmanship. My disclaimer: There are professionals installing liners that do take measures to prevent rodent or root attacks by placing a think layer of mortar under and over the liner.

I found that if you are going to go to all that extra work and expense, just build it with 3500 psi concrete to begin with!

Disney Pixar Cars Games

If you have not yet played Cars the movie games you have no idea what kind of fun you are missing. The Disney Cars game developed after the movie of the same name lets you race all those lovable characters in their own environment. You can race as your favorite character through Ornament Valley, Radiator springs or Tailfin Pass. The developers of Cars the movie games have made sure that you can enjoy racing your favorite characters on any kind of player. The Disney Cars game can be played on OS X, Microsoft Windows systems, Apple Mac, PSP, PS2, Xbox 360, Xbox, Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo GameCube and many more.

The Disney Pixar Cars games will introduce you into the wonderful world of the racing car Lightning McQueen and his friends that he meets in Radiator Springs. You will be able to take part in all the adventures of this fancy racing car and have a blast. These Disney Pixar games will let you race at the maximum speed, but they are fun car games at the same time. Besides speed, these games will also put you through funny situations that you will have to cope with.

The basic story of the Disney Pixar Cars games is that of the race car Lightning McQueen that has only one target: that of winning. He is on his way to the Piston Cup Championship, one of the most prestigious races of the year. But Lightning McQueen gets lost on the way and here is where the real adventure begins. The race car gets to Radiator Springs, a long forgotten place where he meets a lot of funny characters.

In this place where not even the grass seems to grow, Lightning McQueen learns the lesson of his life, and realizes that races are not what life is about. He also gets to meet a former champion and a nice Porsche that he falls in love with.

The Disney Pixar Cars games are full of surprises and you will enjoy every minute of playing. You can download a demo for free, and see that these are nothing but fun car games. You can also get the update of this game, which is compatible with all PCs.

The design of the Disney Pixar Cars games is impeccable, and when you play the game, it feels like you are actually part of the entire adventure.

There are several versions available of these fun car games; you should choose the updated one, as it is compatible with both Power PC and Intel Macs. The latest version was launched in the summer of 2006. So, when you are looking for some speed and fun, there’s nothing better than the Disney Pixar Cars games, which will fulfill your need for speed and your need for adventure as well. These fun car games are intended both for children and adults, having lots to offer for either of these age categories.

Garden Lighting Design

When the sun goes down your beautiful garden in which you’ve invested considerable time and money becomes invisible. Not only can you not use it, you can’t even see it. The solution is to install a lighting scheme. Well planned lighting will make the garden safe and useable after dark. Dramatic lighting effects can also make a feature of the night-time garden.

Garden and landscape lighting is often overlooked or ends up being just the bland wash of a security floodlight and maybe some ugly, low-level spreadlights illuminating paths. That’s because garden lighting, like anything else in the garden needs to be planned if it is to succeed on anything other than a purely functional level.

You can change the entire feeling of the garden by night simply by uplighting some key architectural plants, a sculpture, or a water feature. You can even create different effects depending on your mood or the occasion – an intimate dinner, or a lively party. Instead of looking at the rain on the window, you can look out on a dramatic scene with depth and emphasis created by lighting.

Walk around your garden, look out of upstairs and downstairs windows and take account of the focal points and viewpoints. Viewpoints are places from which the garden is viewed. Focal points are those things that are important within the view. Then decide which of the focal points is most important (primary focal point) and those that are less so (secondary focal point). Light the primary focal point more brightly than the secondary focal points, which ensures attention is directed to the most important features in the view. Washing surrounding planting and hedges with a lower level of lighting than that the more brightly lit features creates a backdrop for the focal points.

Security lighting does not have to be bland. Instead of using an overly bright, ugly fixture to light entrances doorways can be lit by downlights that graze brickwork and create a warm, inviting entrance. Rather than illuminateing paths with spreadlights, wash adjacent planting or hedges with light by grazing over their surfaces with pole or spike mounted spotlights. This will provide a more subtle effect which is quite sufficient for safe navigation. Where security lights are essential, for example, to access the garage, these can be put onto a timer with a movement sensor so that they are only on when absolutely necessary. Modern movement sensors can be adjusted so that they are not triggered by nocturnal animals.

Consider what you will want to do where in the garden and put in extra lights to accommodate these tasks, for example, getting to the shed, cooking or eating. Then have more than one circuit so that you can switch on the extra lights when needed.

You can use concealed, spike mounted spotlights to create some really interesting effects in your garden, transforming it into a dramatic night time space. Try downlighting, uplighting, shadowing, grazing for emphasising texture, washing to draw attention to colour, crosslighting to change how a sculpture is viewed, and moonlighting down through trees to create dappled effects. I like to downlight pergola posts as it throws light onto the flowers of climbing plants and creates pools of lights at the base of the posts which provides a lovely gentle light for a summer al fresco meal.

As a general rule using several low wattage lights distributed around the garden is better than one bright light source. A single, bright light flattens out the landscape whereas small, low-wattage spotlights can be concealed and directed so that they highlight garden features to provide the desired effect. Decorative lighting can be designed usually functions well as security lighting enabling safe navigation of the garden and deterring intruders.

Spike mounted spotlights are really useful in garden lighting schemes, they can be moved and easily adjusted. I also use post mounted spotlights to downlight pergola posts and graze down walls onto planting. Good lighting suppliers will supply spike and pole mounted spotlights with a choice of beam wattages and also beam angles. Varying the beam angle of the lamps allows more precision when lighting the garden. A narrow beam angle is perfect for uplighting the slim trunks of small ornamental trees. A medium beam angle works well when downlighting onto box balls in pots. A wide beam angle is required for washing across a lawn. Lamps are relatively cheap so you can buy a few and experiment.

LED lighting is improving rapidly, it is much cheaper to run than mains voltage lighting. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any low cost LED fittings that I like the look of, so I only use them when they can be concealed. I tend to specify low-voltage lighting which requires transformers. It is important to add up the total wattage of all the lights and ensure you are installing sufficiently powerful transformers. Low-voltage transformers will specify a total capacity and this must not be exceeded, in fact, it is a good idea to allow a little spare capacity on each transformer. It is also important not to have long cable runs between lights and transformer this will result in cable voltage drop which reduces the power to the lights and they will not work correctly.

When designing garden lighting, the best way to get it right is to draw a plan of the garden and sketch the planned lighting onto the plan. I use a triangle with a number in it to represent each light. Then make notes about each light and what effect is required. This will result in a list of all the proposed lights in the garden with lamp wattages and beam angles which can be used to get prices for the fittings, lamps, transformers and cables. This plan can be given to an electrician to get quotes and help then when installing the scheme.

Fiberglass Repair Kit

From the past few decades, it is observed that the fiber glass made products are more in demand than other glass products. Everyone would like to purchase these products and use them regularly. However, if anything happened to that product, then you need to purchase another product. It is a real, hectic and expensive to everyone. However, there are some esteemed organization are introduced this fiber glass repairing kit, which a beautiful product to repair your good ones. There are so many people are not having much knowledge about this kit. Here are few important points on how to use this kit to repair fiber glass products.

You need to purchase this fiber glass cleaner kit from reputed department stores, auto mobile stores and some home centers also. Generally, this kit contains the polyester resin, hardener, cloth and some necessary tools. This repairing kit is available in various sizes, and you need to purchase this kit depending upon your project. Depending upon the size your project you need to build a mold by assembling materials. To get a very good shape to your project, you need to use plywood, cardboard, Styrofoam and other materials, which are easy to build to give satisfactory results for you. At this point, I request you to cut the shape of organic composition from a block of Styrofoam or polystyrene foam. Please cover with wax paper, or a good, even coat of paraffin wax.

Depending upon the suitable size to cover your form, you need to prepare the fiber glass mat or cloth in sheets to be cut. If the resin applied, the material becomes very flexible. After some time it will dry out, and you can exact shape. You need to mix this resin in an appropriate amount in a metal container that should be a disposable nature. You need to take an extreme care, because the resin generates heat when it sets. In this repairing kit, you will get one can or bucket consists of resin and other can consist of hardener. These two are measured, so you can use this material safely on the equal proportion of each material. Depending upon your project, you need to take the sufficient amount of the resin and hardener in one single container. At this time, you need to stir well this material thoroughly on all sides of the container by using a paint brush.

And now, with the help of disposable brush, you need to spread these resin mixture materials on the layer of the fiber glass to a measure of the thickness up to one fourth inch. When you are brushing these materials, your form completely covers until the material should be finished. If the materials split on any other are, you need to spills with solvent contains acetone before it hardens. Please repeat these steps of applying mat until the project gets thickness depending upon your need. After finishing the project, depending upon your interest, you can finish your project by painting with polyurethane or another material. After finishing the project, you need to peel of the wax paper from the fiber glass, before it gets hard. However, the fiber glass will not support wax paper to stick.

You can purchase this fiber glass repairing kit through online. There are so many manufacturers are selling this fiber glasses repairing kit from their own web sites. All you need to do a small search in the internet and purchase that kit and save your money and time also.

Customer-Centric Information Architecture For Efficient Customer Insight

Traditionally, many large service businesses, have focused narrowly on direct operational needs like order handling & invoicing, when designing their information architecture. This way they have developed account-centric data structures. A real Customer could have more than one accounts, the records of which were unlinked in the customer database. In this case, more than one Customer records, would exist for the same real Customer. This data model would not reflect accurately the relationship of the Customer to the Business. Moreover this information architecture would often involve loosely coupled or isolated databases, thus developing departmental 'information silos'. For example the faults call center database, would not integrate to the order handling database. Therefore the Customer interaction history would be fragmented in various isolated systems, serving specific Customer touch points (CTPs). The information architecture described above, does not support the Customer holistic view, which is needed in order to provide quality Customer service or analyze efficiently the Customer behavior.

Any analysis on Customer data which are stored in an account-centric structure is problematic. For example, one might want to calculate a simple Customer value ranking based on the last quarter invoiced amounts. However, this would rather be an account value ranking, than a Customer value ranking, since the analysis would probably not aggregate all accounts related to a specific Customer. Business wise, it is erroneous to carry out Customer analysis on the account level, since this analysis may give an incomplete picture about a Customer. Furthermore, one might want to perform a recency analysis based on Customer interaction history. This analysis will not be effective, if the Customer interaction history can not be consolidated in a single database. Any CRM interaction which is not based on the Customer holistic view, can not be optimised. For example a CTP handling sales inquiries and orders, can not perform efficient cross & up selling without the Customer holistic view, which allows the call agent to assess the profile of the Customer and handle the case accordingly. Businesses active in highly competitive environments can not afford not to develop Customer insight. CRM systems have been developed in order to efficiently manage the Customer interface and capture & exploit Customer contact history. However CRM systems integrate with other operational systems in order to support end-to-end processes. These operational systems have to align to a Customer-centric information architecture, in order to achieve the Customer holistic view. Having realized the paramount need to develop Customer insight, Businesses have started reorganizing their information architecture and gradually developing their Customer-centric information assets.

The process is gradual because legacy data structures and account-centric data, inherit their properties to the new systems, during migration projects. In order to avoid the inheritance of the undesirable properties, records of the same Customer should be identified, if possible, and merged in order to realize the new customer-centric structure. The resulting 'Customer tree' is a structure which incorporates all accounts and products, related to the same real Customer. This business need has been identified by vendors active in the data quality niche market. They started offering record 'matching & merging' functionality, in order to develop and maintain customer-centric information assets (such products are Trillium, Firstlogic, Ascential). Being able to view 'one face of the Customer' is of paramount importance to operational as well as analytical CRM. Copyright 2006 – Kostis Panayotakis

Chainsaw Carving Tips

Safety should always be the first concern on any project. Proper safety equipment such a goggles, gloves and sturdy scaffolding are very important. The scaffolding should always be moved to the right height and position for safe carving. If your arms feel uncomfortable holding the saw to cut, adjust your scaffolding or you can be seriously injured. Never cut above the waist unless it is with a small electric saw and your arms are fully extended.

Before making the first cut, draw out the main shape of your carving from the front view. Leave about a foot at the bottom for the base. Be sure your saw is as sharp as it can be. A sharp saw makes the job so much easier. A 16 to 24 inch blade will usually do most carvings. Make your wedge cuts by cutting a down angle first and then a straight or slightly upward angle to chunk it out. Once you have made all of your wedge cuts from your markings, it is time to mark the sides.

You have to imagine the profile and be sure to not cut off too much especially from the head. When you have all the main chunks cut out, it is time to start carving with your saw. A 12 inch electric saw is great for shaping out the smaller chunks. Be careful not to cut too deep. You can do much of the final saw work by applying the blade lightly on the wood and raking it back and forth. This will take layers off.

If it is a human carving, you will need to finish it by sanding. You can use a palm sander for the large areas and a die grinder for the smaller areas. You can use the edge of the sanding disk to cut beards, hair or fur. On animal carvings, turn the saw slightly sideways and carve out fur lines with the tip. Some other handy tools to have are wood rasps and wood chisels.

When you have finished carving and sanding, it's time to coat your project with a mixture of half shellac and half mineral spirits. You can leave it natural or paint it. If you do not think you can carve a human or bear, try a mushroom. Above all, keep your mind on safety and have fun. You may be really surprised at what you can do!

Choosing Victorian Style Table Lamps

Stylish lamps are the key to a well furnished room. They redefine and enhance the overall feel and appearance of a room. The right lamp has to be chosen in order to bring the best out of your room, and with the wide range of lamps available in the market, you can easily find the most suitable one that fits perfectly with your decoration style.

When choosing table lamps, you will come across several different kinds of themes, from traditional to contemporary to antique and Victorians. If your room is decorated to a Victorian theme that consists of furnishings such as floral wallpapers, pottery tiles or wood paneling, then it is advised that you get a Victorian styled table lamp as well. Placing lamps that contradict the style of your room can ruin your entire bedroom theme. The first noticeable feature of a Victorian styled lamp is that it has elaborate details and some of it with vibrant colours or flowery prints on the shades.

An example of a Victorian styled table lamp is one that uses a peach colour glass shade with tinted stained glass borders surrounding the shade. It is enhanced with some clear glass pieces and jewels, while the base is finished with a washed mahogany bronze that adds a traditional touch to your room. For those who prefer Victorian style with some romantic feel, there are some designs that offer such sensations too. For instance, you can find a washed mahogany bronze base highlighted with gold finishes, topped with a shade that has finely carved, pink and red roses, bordered with emerald jewels. Another kind of lamps is one looking more like the Tiffany style. It has a uniquely designed and carved lamp base, paired with a Tiffany style royal blue stained glass with matching diamonds on it.

In any case, there are certain points that you should take into account when buying the various styles of table lamps. The most important one would be to make sure that the lamp is of correct height so that you can get proper lighting. The colour of the lighting should also fit your needs. For instance, if you require it for reading purposes, then it should provide sufficient brightness instead of dimmer lights. In addition, the size of the lamp should fit on the table nicely too. It should not be too big and unstable or too small such that it defeats the whole purpose of a lamp.

Concrete Mixing is a Scientific Process

Mixing concrete is more than simply throwing together some cement, sand, gravel and water. In fact, it is somewhat complicated based on the type of mixer used, the duration of the mixing cycle, the method used to load the materials, and the amount of energy used for the mixing motion.

The two main types of mixers are batch and continuous and each type has its own configuration. The efficiency of the mixer is actually determined by the homogeneity of the product ultimately produced. It is measured either by the composition of the concrete or by the variation of certain properties such as compressive strength and the workability of the concrete.

The loading period is important because the outcome for some of the material properties will depend on the order in which they are loaded, as well as the amount of air induced into the mixer. It is common to use admixtures to reduce the amount of water introduced, which leads to a better dispersion of the cement during the mixing process.

The energy needed to mix a batch of concrete is determined by what type of power is consumed during the mixing cycle, as well as the total duration of the cycle. It is not always easy to anticipate the expected energy just by virtue of the type of mixer being used because a mixer with a powerful motor could be used to mix less workable or higher viscosity concretes.

The final result of mixing concrete will in large part be determined by its micro-structure, which is determined by its composition, curing conditions and the actual mixing method used. Finally, the concrete must be placed and cured both of which are additional crucial aspects for defining the long term durability of the ultimate product.

Car A-C Problems – Troubleshooting Auto Air Conditioning

Car A/C problems are one of the most misdiagnosed issues when it comes to automobile repairs. The number one problem that auto technicians have to troubleshoot and find, is “why the AC is NOT blowing cold.” When the car’s air conditioner has this problem, it can be caused by one of many things. The most common cause of the air conditioning blowing warm air is a refrigerant leak. No matter if the AC system uses R12, R134A or any other refrigerant; the theory of operation is the same. They all require a full charge of refrigerant to work properly. Refrigerant can leak from any of the components in the system. A car’s AC components are located in different areas in the vehicle – not all together in an easily replaceable unit like a house AC “window unit.” It is critical that the failed part is located and replaced to insure a long lasting repair.

Look for Obvious Signs of Leaks

The first thing that anyone can do, mechanic or not is look for an obvious sign of a refrigerant leak. Most systems will have UV dye in the system which is neon yellowish green. It can be seen easier with a black light, but it can still be visible to the naked eye also. If there is no dye in the system, the leak may trickle out clear oil. Inspect all of the components starting at the service ports. Look at the service fittings for leaks and all of the hoses. Follow the lines each direction paying particularly close attention to the metal ferrules that connect the rubber hoses to the metal lines. Check for any lines that may have made contact with other components under the hood and may have vibrated and caused a hole to be rubbed through. The condenser is located in front of the radiator, check every square inch for signs of impact damage that may have caused a leak. Even without a rock or something hitting the condenser, there could still be a leak – look for evidence of any oil residue especially on all four corners.

Detect a Hard to Find Leak – Troubleshooting

After a quick visual inspection for leaks of the components that are under the hood, it may be necessary to look a little further with the help of a refrigerant leak detector to troubleshoot the problem. If the system has little oil in it, there may not be much residue to see from a leak. With a freon leak detector, the leak can be detected even if it is a very slow one. Go over all of the components as mentioned before, but this time with the electronic leak detector. The evaporator is the component in the passenger compartment, which is NOT visible like the other components from under the hood. Leaks from the evaporator can sometimes be detected through the vents. A common place to detect an evaporator leak is from the evaporator drain. Refrigerant is heavier than air, so it will naturally go out the water drain for the evaporator. Be careful NOT to allow water to enter the tip of the leak detector or it may be damaged.

Drivers Education And 8 Tips For Driving In The Fog

Fog is a weather situation that occurs naturally in most of the U.S. and can have a large negative impact on the safety of drivers. Before we get into what driving schools teach about driving in the fog, a few interesting facts about fog itself:

  • Fog is an accumulation of ice crystals or water droplets hanging in the air near ground surface. Fog reduces visibility to less than 1 km (5/8 statute mile).
  • Mist is similar to fog, but with somewhat greater visibility. Mist reduces visibility to no less than 1 km (5/8 statute mile).
  • Grand Banks off the island of Newfoundland, Canada is the foggiest place in the world.
  • Over 200 days of fog per year are seen in a few notable areas of the world including Newfoundland and Labrador, Argentina, and Point Reyes, California.
  • Seattle, Washington is also notable for having a large number of foggy days.

Fog is both an interesting phenomenon and a potential driving hazard. Driving lessons typically discuss decreased visibility but often do not dive into the details of dealing with difficult fog situations. Many a driver who has been caught driving in dense fog is faced with decreased visibility which can also be coupled with decreased road grip as well. These combined together can create quite a bad situation, especially for someone who recently graduated driving school.

If you find yourself in a situation of driving in serious fog, here’s a few pointers for handling the situation:

  1. Realize that visibility is severely hampered. As your drivers education probably taught, leave more room between you and the car directly ahead of you. Also the “fog line” or the white line on the right hand side of the road is used to mark the edge of the road.
  2. If you have fog lights, turn them on. They are mounted lower than normal lights and will provide light closer to the road.
  3. Drive with low beam headlights as opposed to turning on the high beams. High beams radiate light physically higher into the fog which has a tendency to light-up the fog actually decreasing visibility. Low beams tend to point down and help provide illumination of the road surface.
  4. Scan the sides of the road more often for shining eyeballs at night. These indicate the potential presence of an animal and you should be prepared to stop very quickly.
  5. Use windshield wipers in heavy fog. After all, fog is a form of precipitation and as such windshield wipers can help keep your vision sharp.
  6. Do not make unnecessary sudden stops as drivers behind you have the same visibility problems you are experiencing. Abrupt stopping runs the risk of following drivers running into the rear of your car.
  7. In emergency conditions, be extra careful. Turn on emergency flashers immediately. Exit the car from the passengers side if possible. Place emergency road flares if fog is extremely dense. Stay out of the road as other drivers have low visibility as well.
  8. High aim vision is still the goal, although tempered greatly by the length of visibility. You should still be looking forward as you may still catch a glimpse of a distant taillight. Also, when looking ahead lights will only be a fraction of their normal luminance, so be prepared to react to reduced visual information.

In conclusion driving in the fog can be very dangerous and by remaining alert, using common sense, and remembering these 8 tips you can be a safer driver.

Concrete Cleaning – Clever Tips for Stain Removal

Some simple basics

It’s important to work on removing stains and spills from concrete surfaces as quickly as you can so that they have as little time as possible to soak into the surface. By using these measures, you help to avoid more permanent contamination to the concrete. If the spill is sizeable, do what you can to reduce the area that needs to be cleaned by preventing the spill from spreading any further.

There are a number of materials you can use to soak up contaminants, many of which are easily accessible. Cloths, kitty litter and paper towel are excellent options to quickly clean up the contaminants. It’s important to pat the spill, rather than wipe across it because wiping will spread the oils into the concrete.

Working with the surface

If the surface of the concrete is unsealed, the stains can soak deep into the material making it almost impossible to remove. Sealing the concrete with a topical sealer or high quality film will create a barrier on top of the surface, lessening the absorption rate of contaminants. Some sealants are tinted and contain hardeners and non-slip grits, can be applied to existing or newly poured concrete. This can be done after cleaning or grinding.

Here are some tips before you start using cleaning or stripping chemicals on concrete:

• Do a small test in an inconspicuous area to asses any possible surface damage that may occur

• Once cleaned, an area may end up with a different texture or colour to the surrounding concrete surface. You may end up having to clean the entire surface to maintain a uniform effect

Paint Strippers and Solvents

Some excellent solvents such as mentholated spirits, acetone and degreasers are fantastic at getting rid of oils, fats, silicones and chewing gum.

1. Manually remove as much of the spill as you can by scrapping or ‘towelling’ the area and then apply a decent amount of solvent

2. Cover and let it set for 20 minutes

3. Pressure wash and repeat if necessary

You can use this same method for paint, using a mild paint stripper.

Acid Cleaning

Please ensure that you use safety precautions whenever using hydrochloric and phosphoric acid cleaners and refer to the manufactures MSDS.

An acid based cleaner is the best tool for the job if you need to remove calcium and salt build up, rust, clay or brick mortar. The strong acids etch the surface fo the concrete so make sure you test the surface beforehand to assess any potential surface damage.

If you need to dilute the solution, use 1 part ammonia to 8 parts water and this will neutralize it without leaving a residue.

Liquid Chlorine

Warning: Do not use a chlorine mix during the heat of the day as it will evaporate and become useless.

A simple solution of 1 part liquid pool chlorine and 5 parts water will easily remove contaminants such as fungi, dirt and mould. To start with, lightly pressure-wash the surface and then apply the chlorine/water mix with a watering can. Using a stiff bristled broom spread and scrub the mixture over the surface and leave it to set for 30 minutes. Simply pressure wash and repeat if needed. You can also add a phosphate-based cleaning product such as sugar soap to the chlorine mix when cleaning off mould and oil.

A Bird’s Eye View Of Roman Architecture

The Romans fabricated two kinds of houses, the domus and the insula. The first was the privilege of the affluent, the latter was an apartment building for the working class. The domus consisted of a few rooms built around an atrium. Often more rooms were added at the back around a court with columns, the peristyle. The atrium was an oblong room with an open roof. The atrium with the surrounding chambers was purely built in Roman style. The peristyle was drawn up in Greek or Middle Eastern fashion.

The common activities of the family took place in the atrium. The chambers around it were meant for relaxation and conversation. It could be reached from the street through the prothyrum, an entrance with corridor. Between the atrium and the peristyle there was the tablinum, an open living room that could be closed with a curtain. A broad walkway, the fauces, was situated at the side of the tablinum to provide easy access to the peristyle. The peristyle, such as in the domus of Vettii at Pompeji, encompassed the family living room. Around the court of columns were situated the oecus (reception), the cubicula (sleeping rooms), the alae (niches for private conversations), the triclinia (dining rooms). In the domus of Pansa at Pompeji the triclini possess three couches for nine persons to lie on (as was customary for Romans); nine persons being the accepted number of guests for a Roman party. The latter domus also possessed an upper storey built both around the atrium and the peristyle.

The second kind of building, the insula (lit. ‘island’), was the apartment building. The insula provided cheap or affordable housing for workers in places where space was expensive and the population numerous. The insula was fabricated with stones or bricks and covered with concrete and often had five or more stories; despite legislation that stipulated against structures higher than 21 meters, or 18 meters in the time of Trajan. The ground floors were usually reserved for different kinds of stores and craftsmen.

Most insulae were fitted with wooden or concrete balconies. Pumps were used to transport water up, but did not reach above the lower stories. Renters in the higher flats had to make do with public sanitation and water facilities. The insulae were designed for maximum use of space. Light came in from the outside windows and the courtyard. Cheap construction and a shortage of water caused numerous collapses and fires. Excavations at Ostia, practically a suburb of Rome, attest to these things. Moreover mention is made of these buildings by Roman authors.

Romans possessed a tremendous technique in the way of city planning. When a new city was laid out, its function, climate and geographical location were taken into account. Characteristic of a Roman town (probably developed from earlier Italic towns in combination with the occupation of building an army camp) was its square layout. Roads and streets ran on parallels and met in the center, comparable with New York.

In, or close to, the center lay the so-called forum, the hub of Roman culture. Gradually around this other buildings were erected for specific civil, trade and religious activities. In the time of the Caesars it was customary to make the forum as large as possible, to provide space for all sorts of events. In a great and ancient city as Rome itself there were different forums; each with its own objective, such as administration, justice, commerce and finance. Also there were forums especially for the sale of meat or vegetables. For the latter purpose the macellum was developed, a market building with shops all around a pillared court.

Long established communities, which had grown more haphazardly than by plan, in time were influenced by Roman designs as described above. Often, however, also at Rome, the situation hindered a logical application. Usually rows of pillars were made on both sides of important streets. Water was conducted to spectacular fountains and basins for practical use.

Water was transported through aqueducts to large reservoirs (if the climate did not prescribe wells). Sewer systems collected the superfluous water from the streets and from private quarters. One saying about the sewer became famous: pecunia non olet (money does not smell).

Building codes were drawn up and implemented. The design of an entire town can clearly be seen in some places in North Africa, such as at Timgad, Tébessa and Thuburbo Majus. In these towns little or none at all was added and the original planning is still intact..

From about 200 B.C. till 50 A.D. the many encounters with Greek culture, as well as the fact that Rome developed as a republic, caused temples to be constructed conform Greek style. Both sculpture and spatial effects imitated Greek designs. Greek influence on Roman culture was summed up in the saying: Graeca capta Romam cepit (Conquered Greece conquered Rome).

However in the time of Caesar Augustus Roman temples took on a more Italic spatial look. Also new forms, particularly with floral arrangements and detailed friezes, were invented. In this time above all in secular buildings an architectural style was developed totally owned by Roman influences. Also it was in this time that Roman culture started exercising its influence in foreign countries, for instance in the construction of theaters and amphitheaters.

Romans had a predilection for spatial compositions worked out in the organ- ization of lines, surfaces, mass and voluminous parts. In this they differed from their predecessors in those times around the Mediterranean. No matter how much they adopted the elements of previous styles, they did this in their own fashion.

One can distinguish five different Roman styles of building, adopted from Greek culture, but used in their own unique ways. These were the Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Toscan and mixed architectonic styles. On the average Roman proportional styles were more tempered, but with more flair for detail. Columns and pillars were often smooth, but the architrave, frieze and cornice were embellished.

Towards the end of the republic the so-called balneae (baths) had become a recognized characteristic of the Roman way of life. Particularly during the empire they were very popular. The Stabian Baths at Pompeii have been preserved best.

Imperial thermae were more than baths alone. They were extremely large complexes for all kinds of physical exercise and housed halls where philosophers, poets and orators addressed the public.

Roman theaters differed from those of the Greeks in various ways. The auditorium was not dug out and the walls encompassing both the stage and the seats, were continuous. The entrance to the dancing stage was formed by vaulted passages. The choir did not play a role in Roman theater. The dancing section therefore was part of the auditorium. The wall behind the stage was decorated lavishly.

Amphitheaters were arenas where plays and various shows were staged. The most important one was the Colosseum at Rome, built in about 70-82 A.D. It occupied an area of about two to three hectares and offered seats to fifty thousand spectators. Eighty exits allowed the public to leave quickly. The entire structure was made of concrete; the outside was covered with calcareous sinter and the inside with costly marble.

The circus was mainly a racing track with seats to the sides. One end was round and the other straight to allow access for the wagons. In the middle there was a line of demarcation where arbiters could perform their functions. Since it was the largest facility for viewing a spectacle, it was also used for other activities. The circuses became infamous because of the burning of Christians in the time of Nero.

Arches of triumph were sometimes erected to commemorate an important event or military campagne. Most of the time they sat by themselves and did not serve as a passage. They were decorated with reliefs and fitted out with statues.

Roman temples differed in many important details from their Greek predecessors. Greek temples had three steps round about, but the Roman temple had a high platform, or stage, with a staircase that served as entrance. Greek temples almost always looked out to the East or West, but the position of the Roman temples depended on the surrounding buildings.

The Romans often built round temples, of which the most important one survives as the Pantheon at Rome till today. It consists of a rotunda with a diameter of almost fifty meters and surrounded by concrete walls seven meters thick. A central opening at the top with a nine meter diameter lets the light in. This is called the oculus (eye), situated in the dome. The rotunda and the dome are examples of Roman expertise in working with concrete.

The Roman tomb consisted of a knoll of earth, the tumulus. It was surrounded by a ring of cement usually of considerable height. Only a few of such tombs remain; particularly the tomb of Hadrianus, now called Castel Sant’Ange lo.

The basilica was a large covered hall used by the judiciary and also by bankers and merchants. The largest such basilica was constructed in seven years, begun by Maxentius and completed by Constantine in about 313 A.D. One can still find the vaults of the salient rooms at the North side. They prove the quality of the mixture and durability of Roman reinforced (with stones, not iron) concrete. For after all these years they still hang there without support.

The construction of bridges and aqueducts also belonged to Roman expertise. The most famous examples of surviving aqueducts are the Pont du Gard at Nîmes and at Segovia in Spain. The best example of a bridge is found at Rimini. It was built by Augustus and Tiberius. The most impressive one is perhaps at Alcántara in Spain.

Private homes and even palaces usually were styled with inner courts and gardens instead of an impressive facade. This tradition was maintained, as far as possible, in the settlements in the North of Europe and in England. Also elaborated provisions for heating had to be taken care of there. In the climate of the Mediterranean, however, a tendency towards light and open construction prevailed instead of a compact and imposing one.

Also in the layout of imperial palaces at Rome the emphasis lay on gardening. The buildings themselves, as far as their function was concerned, were not very monumental and they were spread over the Palatine hill as it were randomly. Augustus himself bought and enlarged the home known as the House of Livia, still in existence today. Very little remains of Nero’s famous Golden Palace, occupying once a territory of more than 120 hectares. One can find the baths of Titus there now, the Colosseum and the Basilica of Maxentius.

The Villa of Hadrianus at Tivoli, started in about 123 A.D., was a luxurious residence with parks and gardens laid out on a grand scale. Because of the unequal terrain terraces and staircases were constructed. There still remain enormous stones and concrete fabrications. All the buildings are in Roman style, but with Greek names. The Latin word villa denoted an estate, complete with a home, terrains and precincts and dependent facilities. Around Pompeii relatively simple villa’s were found. Descriptions known in literature, such as of Pliny the Younger who describes his villa at Laurentum, and remains of the Palatial residence at Piazza Armerina in Sicily, represented the upper class. The villa of Hadrianus is too elaborate and detailed to be called a typical villa.