4 Baseball Pitching Drills For Little League Players

Teaching, training and developing young baseball pitchers takes a lot of time, patience, and practice repetition. Many young pitchers need to practice pitching skills daily. To keep the interest level high, it is best to use a variety of drills on alternate days to prevent boredom. Here are 4 baseball pitching drills that can be used to train youth and beginner pitchers.

Drill #1 – Up & Out Foot Drill Objective – To help pitchers perfect the proper back leg action. The purpose of this drill is to stop foot drag and prevent over striding.

Equipment Needed – A brick, block or wood or other suitable object. The object will be placed at a location just in front of the pivot foot of the pitcher. The pitcher will be working out of the stretch. The pitcher should be reminded to roll and pick his back foot up so that it clears the object.

Procedure – The pitcher throws using his normal motion and delivery. If the pitcher fails to clear the object, then his back foot is “dragging” or he is over striding. Young pitchers should be coached to step out of the “hold” and up and over the block.

Drill #2 – Dot Spot Drill Objective – The purpose of this drill is to build confidence, to teach young pitchers to hit their spots and to teach young pitchers to have great control.

Equipment Needed – Good balls, Catching equipment, and glove.

Procedure – The catcher has 4 dots on his gear. The 4 dots or spots are different colors or they each have a number on them. The dots are taped to each knee on the shin guards and one to the left shoulder and right shoulder. The catcher or coach calls a color or a number. The pitcher must hit the dot called. The pitcher has 6 pitches to hit all 4 of the dots. All dots should be called in different orders each time. If the pitcher fails to hit 4 dots correctly, the pitcher must do 10 push ups. Two pitchers can compete to see which finishes first. The dots may be placed lower on the catcher to stress keeping the ball low or down in the zone.

Drill #3 Long Toss – Power Building Drill – Pitchers should long toss several times a week to build strength and endurance. The two players should warm-up as usual and then move back a few steps after each 4 throws. Pitchers should be able to increase their strength and extend their distances within weeks. Pitchers of all ages should work out to a distance at least 3 times their normal pitching distance. Some coaches allow players to “crow hop” at the farthest distances. That is up to you.

Drill #4 – Front Side Drill Objective – This drill is used to teach and reinforce the proper front shoulder action during delivery.

The drill is performed as the pitcher kneels on the pivot-leg knee. The pitcher will begin the drill with the throwing arm in the “T -position” and the stride foot aimed at the plate. The pitcher begins the throwing motion by pulling and tucking his front arm and glove. At the same time he is bringing his throwing arm and shoulder around and toward the plate. The drill should be performed many times to give the pitcher the feel of proper mechanics and front shoulder movement. The front elbow should be used as the guide for the front side. The glove should be extended out and tucked as the pitcher rolls his lead shoulder and pulls it in. This deceptive move is used to distract and deceive batters. The drill should be finished with the throwing arm in proper finish position outside the stride leg knee.

Using Treated Pine

“Treated pine” can mean many things, but at its simplest, it means that the pine has been treated in some way to extend its life. Untreated pine rots away quickly – in less than a year in some cases – and can also attract fungus and termites, while treated pine can last for thirty or forty years.

Treated pine – arsenic and CCA

CCA stands for ‘Copper Chrome Arsenate’ and has been used as a pine treatment for many years. The arsenic in the timber deters the termites, but as a famous poison, it has also attracted controversy. While our food and drink already contain a certain amount of naturally-occurring arsenic, which will not do us any harm, nobody wants to consume any more than they have to.

In 2003, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), the government authority responsible for the regulation of pesticides up to the point of sale, reviewed the use of CCA in pine and whether or not arsenic could leach from treated timber.

They concluded that while the use of CCA-treated pine was acceptable in some situations, such as structural, fencing and power/telegraph poles, problems might arise around children and CCA-treated wood. Children are more prone to hand-to-mouth contact than adults, and a very small child might even chew on a piece of wood. As a result, the APVMA restricted the use of CCA-treated timber where close contact with children and people occurred, so for example CCA-treated timber is now banned for use in garden furniture, children’s play equipment, domestic decking and handrails.

Using treated timber around vegetable gardens

With treated timber being a popular way to create a raised vegetable garden, the APVMA also looked into how much arsenic leaches into soil from CCA-treated timber. It concluded that the amount was variable, as was the amount of arsenic absorbed by plants, with no significant rises in arsenic levels in plants around CCA-treated posts (a certain level of arsenic occurs naturally in soil). Nonetheless, the APVMA does suggest a possible precaution of putting a plastic liner between the treated timber and the soil.

Alternatives to CCA-treated pine

The most popular alternative to CCA is a product called ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary) treated pine. ACQ-treated pine is considered safe and effective, and should last as long as CCA-treated pine – with no arsenic.

LOSP (Light Organic Solvent Protection) treated pine is another alternative, but it is a less effective one with a shorter life span. Painting can help extend its life, and must be carried out with most LOSP products to maintain their warranty, but it LOSP-treated pine still doesn’t last as long as CCA- or ACQ-treated pine.

Another alternative is Eco Wood, which is used by National Parks – or if it’s appropriate for your application, you could choose to use as hardwood which is naturally more resistant to decay than pine.

Ratings for treated pine

An “H” rating on treated pine shows the recommended uses for that particular piece of wood, including its resistance to rot or insect attack.

H1 means that the pine is only suitable for use indoors, above ground, such as for internal joinery or furniture. H1 pine is not resistant to termites.

H2 pine is for use indoors above ground, in the same way as H1 pine, but it is resistant to termites.

H3 pine products can be used outside exposed to the weather, but not in contact with the ground. H3 is often used for decks, fence rails and pergolas. It’s resistant to rot and termites/borers.

H4 pine can be used in contact with the ground, or in the ground. This makes is suitable for fence posts and landscaping uses. It’s resistant to rot and termites/borers.

H5 is the pine you need for in-ground use and in contact with water. H5 pine can be used as structural support, for example, in retaining walls. It’s resistant to rot and termites/borers.

H6 pine is designed for use in salt water, for example for jetties, landings and boat hulls.

Tips for working with CCA-treated pine

  • CCA-treated timber is not suitable for use around fishponds, aviaries, birdcages and beehives
  • Take precautions – for example, wear gloves to avoid splinters, wear a mask when cutting, wear eye protection and do not get sawdust near food or food preparation areas
  • Wash clothes that have accumulated treated wood sawdust separately
  • Never burn any left over CCA-treated pine
  • All CCA-treated timber now has to be branded as such until its first use

Fever Blisters

Debate on exactly how to treat fever blisters has been around for some time since the variant of the herpes simplex virus has been known for several centuries. But exactly what are fever blisters? First off Fever Blisters are more commonly known these days as Cold Sores or Oral Herpes (herpes simplex virus which is a sexually transmitted disease). The most common location on the body for fever blisters is on the lips or around the mouth area.

Fever blisters are highly contagious and when in the blistering state, be sure to stay well away from anyone that doesn’t have it or does have it. And it is also a good idea not to share any eating utensils or food while you or the person has a outbreak.

Since there is currently no known cure for fever blisters the best prevention is abstinence while an outbreak is occurring. A outbreak can last from 2 to 12 days but it can be controlled.

What are the symptoms?

Some experience a tingling sensation around the mouth area. Some people experience an itching where the blister is going to appear. This is the time to react and take action. Cleaning the area and preparing it can often reduce the cold sore in its blistering stage.

What can you do?

Firstly do not scratch the blister, you can use a hot face cloth and soap to clean the area but be sure not to leave the cloth laying around. Throw it directly into the washer. Afterward you should apply some petroleum jelly or lip balm to stop the spread of the blister. Make sure it is not a stick lip balm as you will have to throw it out. Because this can keep re-infecting you.

Some common cold sore home remedies that have been used are using salt pressed on to the affected area to burn the blister. But all that does really is dries out the blister and can cause cracking plus it causes a lot of pain.

Placing a tea bag on the area, leaving it there for several minutes in hopes of having it heal the blister. You have to have the tea bag steaming hot for it to work. So to endure that much extreme heat for several minutes to stop the further outbreak could be too much for you. Proceed with caution!

Using witch hazel on a cotton swab, this stings a bit but has some healing qualities. This is the same as using benzyl alcohol to clean and clear the blister. The only problem would be finding witch hazel as it is not commonly found in most pharmacies.

Over the counter medications such as Abreva for cold sores have some results but also can have some side effects. Since every person is different you should seek advice from your doctor!

Windsurfing Board Bags

Windsurfing is an exciting adventure sport that involves skillful use of various equipments. The windsurfing kit comprises mainly of the surf board, the sail and the mast. You can choose different types of surf boards, masts and sails depending upon your expertise and wind conditions. While buying surf boards, it is also a good idea to choose a suitable windsurfing bag, which makes it easy to carry the board as well as protect it.

While Choosing a Windsurfing Board Bag

Before you purchase a windsurfing board bag, measure your board precisely. This would help you in choosing the right bag size that fits the board. Measure the length of your surf board, width at the middle of the board, width at the nose and tail of the board and the height of the board and choose a bag corresponding to these measurements.

Features of Windsurfing Bags

Windsurfing board bags are available in various patterns and specifications. One of the most commonly used windsurfing bags is the travel bag which comprises of good padded sidewalls for better protection. These bags also comprise of internal straps that hold the board safely in place. It is recommended that you opt for good foam-padded windsurfing board bags that offer double protection for your surf boards, especially from dings and daily wear and tear.

While purchasing a board bag, it is recommended to opt for bags with white bottoms. This avoids over-heating of the surf boards and keeps them away from dust and dirt. While purchasing windsurfing bags opt for bags that have zippers made of nylon reinforced polyester zippers. These zippers are corrosion-free and highly durable, especially if you frequent beaches for surfing. You can also choose bags that have retractable shoulder straps and are easy to adjust.

There are surf board bags available which comprises of protective features like vinyl-inforced ends, solar reflective cover and fin slots. The reflective solar covers ensure that the boards are protected from intense heat. Most bags available these days not just accommodate the surf board but also other parts like sails, masts and booms. A medium sized board bag is usually capable of carrying only one surf board, a maximum of 3 sails and 2 masts. There are several bigger board bags available that can even accommodate up to 4 surf boards. These bags comprise of several internal compartments and straps that can accommodate the other parts safely.

Windsurfing Board Bag Cover

If you are planning to embark on a long windsurfing sojourn, then along with a good windsurfing board bag you must also opt for board bag cover. These covers (also known as protectors) provide extra protection to your windsurfing board and other equipments.

Few Tips

Always remember that while choosing board bags opt for bags that offer more protection than looks. Since windsurfing involves dealing with natural conditions, it is recommended that you choose bags that can endure even the harshest natural conditions. Thus opt for bags that protect your boards during strong winds, dust, dirt and intense heat.

Roofing Contractors – Tips For Hiring a Roofing Contractor

Hiring a roofing contractor can be a challenge, as there are some people who claim to be professional roofers when simply not. Homeowners run into several problems when searching for roofers. These problems include the large amount of roofing contractors who are unlicensed and uninsured and roofers who were not trained properly. Many of these unqualified roofers seem skilled and competent and homeowners are misled into hiring them. For these homeowners, the end result is often a poorly installed roof.

Family and Friend Recommendations

Your family, friends and coworkers can be the best resource when searching for a roofer. If your friends or family were happy with a roofer, then chances are you will be, too. Spend time asking your friends and family questions about the roofing contractor they used. Include questions about whether the job completed on time; the cleanup was thorough; and whether the roofer agreed to come back for any necessary repairs.

References

References are extremely important when hiring a roofer. It’s important to ask for references and to speak to the homeowners the roofer has worked for. Ask for the addresses of homes in your neighborhood where the roofer completed work. Drive by and get a first-hand look at the roof. A good roofing contractor will be proud of his work and should be willing to provide you with this information.

Online Resources

There are several reliable Web sites on the Internet that provide information on dependable contractors in your area. These sites have reviews of contractors and usually list only licensed roofers.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The Better Business Bureau is a good source for researching information about a specific roofing company. You can also do a search for roofers who are in good “A+” standing. You can search the BBB online or contact your local BBB branch office. If the roofer you are interested in had a complaint against him, find out the nature of the complaint and how it was resolved.

Proper Credentials

Almost every city and state require roofing contractors to have a license. Make sure your roofing contractor is licensed, insured or bonded if required in your area. Roofers should also have liability insurance and a workers’ compensation certificate. Ask to see licenses and make sure they are valid.

Contract and Warranty

Be wary of a roofer who does not want to give you an estimate and or contract in writing. You should be provided with a detailed estimate, including the cost breakdown of supplies, number of layers to be removed and the shingle name and color. Also ask about shingle manufacturer’s product line and the warranty for the products used. A timeline should also be included.

Additional Tips:

o Customer satisfaction – How important is customer satisfaction to you? A roofer who is pleasant to work with is a good sign that your contractor cares about what he is doing.

o Do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions.

o Conduct a search on the Internet of the name of the roofer and of the company. See if you find any questionable information.

o Never pay for the entire job up-front.

Balance Sheet – Demystified

Purpose

In financial accounting; a world of numbers, columns, headings, and alphabet soup, sometimes even the most basic financial statements deserve a second look to fully grasp their purpose. In this case we will breakdown the make up of a balance sheet. A balance sheet prepared by a small company will be the same in purpose as that of a massive corporation Microsoft like. A balance sheet provides quick look at a business' financial situation. Remember: Balance sheets provide a look at the financial situation at a POINT IN TIME. A business will typically review its balance sheet at set intervals ie monthly or quarterly.

Anyone learning accounting will, no doubt, remember this equation:
Assets = Liabilities + Owner's Equity. (Note: Assets are increased by DEBITS while Liabilities and Owner's Equity are both increased by credits.) This equation IS the balance sheet, without all of the specific accounts, of course.

Assets

The Assets portion of the balance sheet can be divided in to two categories. Current assets are assets that typically have a useful life of less than one year. Assets are listed in order of how fast they can be converted in to cold hard cash, or how liquid they are. Current assets are more liquid than their long term counterparts. For instance, under the current assets heading you will most likely find items such as cash, accounts receivable, and inventory. In addition to currents assets, you will find a 'Long Term Assets' heading. Long term assets are items that a company will be in possession of for more than 1 year. Property, plants, and equipment are fine examples of a long term assets. A company probably will not move from plant to plant every year, therefore this would be considered a long term asset. You may also find long term investments and goodwill under long term assets.

Liabilities

Liabilities can be thought of as what a company or corporation owes. Loans, bonds issued, and accounts payable are considered liabilities. They, like assets are listed by how quickly they need to be repaid. Liabilities are similar to assets in that they can be current or long term. Current assets can include, but are not limited to, short term loans and accounts payable.

Owner's equity Owner's equity represents the amount of ownership shareholders have in the particular company plus or minus the company's earnings or losses. So when you buy stock in a particular company you add to the amount of owner's equity represented on the balance sheet. Typically under the owner's equity heading you will find preferred stock, common stock and retained earnings.

Preferred stock can be thought of as a higher class of stock. Those owning preferred stock in a company will feel less fallout if the company goes bankrupt, than will those owning common stock.

Retained earnings are the earnings that are to be kept within the company. When a company makes money it may distribute some of that to its shareholders as dividends or it will keep the money and place it under the retained earnings heading. Retained earnings will be subtracted from a company's Owner's Equity.

Format

A balance sheet will typically be formatted as a vertical form of the equation that we learned in the first paragraph. First the assets will be listed at the top of the statement with the individual accounts being listed in order of liquidity, or how quickly that can be converted in to cash. So, cash or cash equivalents would be listed first. The total of all assets, current and long term, is annotated under the individual accounts for that specific reporting period.

Next, the liabilities are listed in the same fashion as the assets. The liabilities with the nearest due dates are listed first. So, accounts payable will be listed at the top of the liabilities section, directly under the heading. Once again, under the individual liability accounts, the total will be in bold.

Lastly, the Owner's Equity accounts are listed. The owner's equity stock accounts are listed in order of class. Being that preferred stock is a higher class of stock, it will be listed above common stock. Under the 'stocks' you will find retained earnings. In accounting when a number is subtracted, it is annotated as such by being placed in parentheses. Therefore, being that retained earnings are subtracted from owner's equity, its total will be placed in parentheses. Thus, as a total, you will find the total of all of the owner's equity minus the total retained earnings.

Now that all three portions of the equation have been accounted for, and the corresponding totals have been found, you must check that the balance sheet, IS in fact balanced (there's a reason its called a BALANCE sheet.) Going back to the fundamental equation in the first paragraph, check to make sure that when you add the totals of Liabilities and Owner's Equity, you end up with exactly the same total as that of the Assets accounts.

Please remember that a small company's balance sheet will not have the same number of a accounts that a huge corporation's does. However the format will remain constant, no matter the number of specific accounts that are listed. Finally … Assets = Liabilities + Owner's Equity.

Finding the Best Investment Firms

Finding the right investment firm can be a daunting task in today’s day and age. There are so many different firms of varying size and specialty that it can be hard to focus in on the one that is right for you. You should use this guide as to help navigate through the process of finding an investment firm that’s right for you. There are key factors that you’ll want to consider when making your decision. Overlooking them can be costly, and can greatly effect whether you reach your investment goals or not.

Great Value – No matter what size firm you go with you’ll want to make sure that you get good value for your money. The investment products that you select should be the best the industry has to offer. Value is measured as a combination of cost and performance. If your investments are doing well and don’t cost much for you to access them, then you’ll probably stick with the firm that is offering it. If you have a stock that is doing quite well but costs too much for you to be involved in, then it doesn’t make sense. Likewise if you have fees that don’t cost very much but the stocks don’t do well, it won’t be a good match.

Earnest Employees – Don’t go with a firm whose employees work on commission. This will lead to them steering you into the investment vehicles that net them the greatest amount in income. It only makes sense. No matter how good a person is, and how much they care about their job and want to offer you the best product and see you make money, when they are enticed to sell you certain products to increase their paycheck, you will not come out on top. You won’t get proper investment advice, instead you’ll just get something akin to a sales pitch.

No Load Companies Offering Mutual Funds – These mutual funds don’t charge a commission when you invest in them. This means that everything you contribute to the fund is working on making you more money. In general mutual funds are a great way for the novice investor to get started. Not having to worry about paying commission or fees when starting up with an investment makes them even more attractive.

Discount Brokers – In 1975 the SEC made it so investment firms could charge whatever fees they felt were fair. With this deregulation, competition increased and more options and better service became available to investors. The products that discount brokers offer are not any better or worse than in regular firms, they just will do it for less expense. They will also give you better investment advice because they are not as interested in making a giant profit off of your investments.

Decorating Tips – Choosing Vinyl Flooring

With their sleek good looks, vinyl, linoleum, and cork floor coverings have much to recommend them. Attractive, easy to clean, hardwearing, and long-lasting, they are also a competitively priced option.

As a significant surface area in a room, a floor has a great bearing on its overall appearance. Smooth floor coverings are a versatile option – the range of vinyl and cork available today is so vast that you should have little difficulty in finding something to suit your taste as well as your budget. Indeed, there is a pattern and texture of smooth floor covering to suit every room in the home, from a classical parquet appearance for a living room to marbled effects for kitchens or bathrooms.

On the practical side, smooth floor coverings cope well with the wear and tear of everyday family life. They are ideally suited to heavy traffic areas such as the kitchen and hall, where other floor coverings quickly become worn. In bathrooms and kitchens where the floors are liable to get wet and have messy things spilt on them, a floor covering that's waterproof and easy to clean is a must.

In a bedroom or a living room, you'll find smooth floor coverings surprisingly warm and comfortable underfoot. They can also add interesting color, texture, and pattern that can either complement other furnishings or become a focal point in their own right. Alternatively, you can choose a plain, restrained shade to create a mellow, neutral background for attractive rugs.

Vinyls

Vinyl flooring is generally available in different grades to suit various rooms. It comes in sheet form on the roll in 79, 118, and 157in (2, 3, and 4m) widths, so you can buy a single piece to fit most rooms. Unlike natural wood, it has no tendency to warp in extremes of damp or heat.

Most types of vinyl also come in tile form – a convenient way of buying it. Packs of standard grades of vinyl are readily available and come in plain colors and patterned with marble and tile effects. The least expensive types have a faint flecking, but as the complexity of the designs increases, so does the price. Many are self-adhesive – you just strip off the backing paper and stick them in place.

When buying vinyl tiles, always check that the code number on each pack is the same, or you may find that the colors do not quite match.

Standard vinyl flooring is flexible and fairly thin. It can be cold to walk on and hard underfoot. However, it is inexpensive and easy to clean.

Cushioned vinyl flooring is attractive and capable of withstanding the rough and tumble under a family's feet. Soft and thick, it's made with a layer of padding sandwiched between a wipe-clean surface and a flexible backing. A 1 / 16in (1.5mm) thickness is suitable for light domestic use, while a 1 / 8in (3mm) thickness is ideal for a kitchen or busy hallway. Its padded filling provides a high degree of comfort that is ideal in a kitchen or utility area where you stand for long periods of time. Cushioned vinyl also feels warm underfoot, so it's a good choice of floor covering in bedrooms and bathrooms.

Look for a lay-flat vinyl, which molds itself to the contours of the floor, so there is no need to stick it down at all, not even at the edges.

Rigid vinyl flooring is the most expensive form of vinyl flooring, but it is very hardwearing. It is made to imitate natural surfaces such as marble, terrazzo, stone, ceramic tiles, and wood. Unlike many of the materials it mimics, it is easy to clean and warm to walk on. Rigid vinyl should always be laid by a professional flooring installer because the surface must be absolutely level.

Rigid vinyl is available in sheet or tile form, in a wide range of elaborate designs, including matching borders, corner pieces, and narrow insert strips. Tiles also come in different shapes for a realistic tiled-floor finish.

5 Ways to Choose an Aluminum Extension Ladder

If you are a handy person that enjoys home improvement, purchasing an aluminum extension ladder maybe a wise choice. There are many helpful items that are employed in the process of improving the home, making repairs, or even crafting simple touch ups. But, an aluminum extension ladder may prove to be one of the most absolute vital components to add to your collection. Of course, this does mean you will need to take steps to choose the right ladder. The process of making a proper choice is not as tough as some believe. Here are five simple steps to boosting you ability to choose the absolute best aluminum extension ladder for your home.

1 – Examine the make, model, and durability. Okay, some may look at this point as cheating because can be considered three points instead of one. Honestly, all three go together so they are ‘consolidated’ into one section. In other words, you need a top model produced by a name manufacturer. This will deliver the most reliable purchase for your needs.

2 – Price needs to be weighed when making your decision. This does not mean you need to pick the most expensive ladder nor do you want to pick the cheapest ladder automatically. You want the best ladder for the best price. This is just common sense.

3 – The proper size of the ladder needs to be determined before you made the purchase. If the ladder does not extend to the point that you will need it to then it will not be a ladder that delivers the type of value required. The same could be said of an extension ladder that is too large. You do not want to buy a ladder that is simple over sized for the task that it is needed for.

4 – Is it an aluminum extension ladder that can be effectively stored? This is a common point that is overlooked by many. Such an oversight really needs to be avoided because they are a number of important issues that surround the ability to store such a ladder. When you cannot effectively store it safely, most will look towards storing it wherever it would simply fit. That is not going to work because such a process will simply lead to eventual damage befalling the ladder. Honestly, do you want to leave the ladder outside where it will suffer from its exposure to the elements?

5 – Look for a ladder that is not known for requiring a lot of additional maintenance. Some ladders break often and need to be fixed. Avoid those ladders! Why would you want to purchase such a ladder when there are less complex ones to purchase? Stick with models that don’t require extra work. You will be pleased with the result.

There are other criteria that can be applied to the purchase of a ladder. You are only limited to those items that are important to you. This will enhance the odds that you are able to purchase the aluminum extension ladder that meets your needs.

The Heliotrope

Freiburg is a town of 200,000 inhabitants located in beautiful countryside on the edge of the Black Forest in southern Germany.

It’s university town, an important industrial and commercial centre, and a tourist resort. But today it is best known as the ecological capital of Germany. The old town is completely pedestrianised, recycling is a way of life and people use bicycles and public transport to commute. In one part of the town cars are forbidden: drivers must park on the edge of the suburb in a special car park with solar panels on the roof. The result is that very few residents own cars.

On the outskirts of the town there is a special district where all the houses are solar-powered. Here there is a detached house which at first sight looks rather strange. It is an experimental eco-house called the Heliotrope. It looks like a smallish tower block sitting on a narrow platform. In the centre of the house there is a spiral staircase, and as you go upstairs, you see large bright rooms with triple-glazed windows and spacious balconies. Enormous solar panels provide energy for the heating, the cooker, the fridge, the light bulbs and all other domestic appliances. But the most amazing thing about the house is that it turns round, IT fallows the sun from morning to night to maximize the energy it produces. Although it rotates very slowly, the movement is noticeable. It feels a bit like being on a ship in a calm sea or in house high up in a tree. The good news is that the technology works: the house produces five times more electricity than it consumes.

Freiburg is a window to the future which shows how urban life may change. Perhaps one day we’ll all live in houses like the Heliotrope. If we do, we’ll never have to worry about electricity bills again. And we’ll never get bored with the view.

Tracking Your Favorite Websites With RSS

RSS feeds can be compared with a links collection. Surfers may gather as many feed URLs as they want by subscribing to this service, when available on a given blog or website. The subscription does not involve any registration, hence the surfer does not need to provide a name or email address, although some alert services may optionally request them.

Once someone press a subscription button, link or graphic, the feed URL is revealed. You can start tracking RSS sources by making a desktop short cut to an URL, adding such address to your bookmarks, or copy and pasting this URL into an RSS aggregator adder. This last option is the most recommendable

Aggregators can retrieve feeds automatically so you have to enter the information once, and stay informed as long as you want. Subscribing or unsubscribing to RSS feeds is so easy as adding or deleting the URL that delivers the updates. Moreover, aggregators allow the creation of categories to easily track updates by groups or news type.

People who already have a bookmarks collection should spend some time visiting all those websites to find if there is a RSS feed subscription available, and therefore start building a feeds list. This way, instead of visiting the website periodically to find updates, such updates are retrieved automatically by the aggregator.

Consider RSS tracking as the printed newspaper you receive every morning. You do not need to travel abroad to learn what is going on another country. Same way, RSS feeds keep you informed every time that new content is added to your favorite websites, or an announcement or special invite is broadcasted.

With so many websites and so many content on the Internet, RSS feeds are a good solution to browse countless websites, blogs and news sources, without need to point your browser to any web page. Naturally, retrieve feeds is not only convenient but saves valuable time that you can use to visit only the websites that have what you are looking for.

Even though, keep in mind that RSS aggregators store feeds indefinitely, hence is necessary delete items older than a week, specially when the information is irrelevant. Otherwise, create a special category to store important updates that you do not want to lose regardless their timestamp.

To find RSS aggregators, do an online research. This software is often available for free and ready to download and start using for your tracking purposes.

Earth's Brain, Akashic Records and Paranormal Imprints

Neural Circuits and Memory

The neuron is a cell surrounded by electrically charged particles called ions. Some of these ions have a net positive charge and some are negative. If there are more negative ions inside the neuron, the neuron has a negative electrical charge; conversely, if there are more positive ions inside, then the neuron has a positive electrical charge. When the neuron is resting it has a negative electrical charge. However, when the neuron gets information, an electrical signal is propagated through a network of neurons by a wave of positively charged neurons. Neurons in networks with numerous synapses and feedback loops constantly receive inputs from other neurons, integrate them and generate electrical activity patterns in response. These complex interactions allow neural circuits to process and encode information, support cognitive functions and control behavior. The neural circuits in our brain are similar to electrical circuits.

Canadian psychologist, Donald Hebb, explains memory as a reactivation of the same pattern of neurons that were activated at the time of the original experience. Thinking of the Sahara desert activates one network of neurons, while thinking of rats fires up an entirely different network. Over the years, some of the neurons die or are incorporated into circuits that represent different experiences. Repeated activity between any two neurons or a network of neurons, however, strengthen their connections and the memories they represent. When one neuron is activated it tends to activate the others, which collectively re-create the original pattern that was generated during an experience. Individual neurons are involved in many different circuits and thus participate in many memories simultaneously. It is this connectivity that gives our brains the enormous capacity to encode a vast amount of information.

Holographic Encoding in the Brain and Universe

Following Karl Lashley's work, Karl Pribram, a neurophysiologist at Stanford, proposed that the brain stores information in the same way as interference patterns are encoded on holographic film. Every element in the original image is distributed over the entire film. Trillions of brain cells all contribute to a single memory by recording and combining all the signal patterns at once, including the sensory inputs into the brain. It is the combined firing pattern and interference of trillions of cells that defines a memory. This unique way of storage allows the brain to recall in linear sequences and at the same time access multiple memories.

But it is not only the brain which encodes holographically. David Bohm, separately, recognized that the universe itself appears to be a hologram – being projected from the boundary of the universe. This idea has been taken forward more recently by physicists Gerard t 'Hooft, Lee Smolin and others under the banner of "the holographic principle". This is not the only property that the human brain shares with the universe.

Neural Networking in the Cosmic Brain

According to the European Southern Observatory (ESO), "All recent computer-simulations of the early universe have one prediction in common: the first large-scale structures to form in the young universe are long filaments connected at their ends in 'nodes'. The models typically look like a three-dimensional spider's web, and resemble the neural structure of a brain. " Now, astronomers have actually detected a "universal web" – vast filaments of hot gas tracing the web have been "seen" in the current universe. Astronomers using NASA's X-ray satellite observatory, Chandra, "viewed" the filaments stretching for millions of light years through space, with one passing through our own galaxy. Astronomers say that the filamentary structures are so hot that it would generally be invisible to optical, infrared, and radio telescopes. These invisible filaments are detected only because higher density ordinary matter tends to accumulate and condense in them – generating radiation which can be measured by scientists to confirm their existence in intergalactic space.

The visible galaxies in the universe are not isolated and disconnected but are interwoven by a filamentary web-like structure – which is the invisible dark matter scaffolding of the universe. The web-like structure is both a signature feature of invisible dark matter and magnetic plasma. The appearance of this web bears an uncanny resemblance to a cross-section of the brain. (Refer: Brain vs Universe )

But it is not only the morphology (ie structural aspects) of the large scale structure of the universe which is similar to the human brain but also the physiology (ie the functions). These filaments carry currents of charged particles (ions) over large distances that generate magnetic fields – similar to a nerve fiber. And they form circuits, just like the neural circuits in the brain.

The high degree of connectivity is what sets the brain apart from an ordinary computer. Connectivity is also apparent in the cosmic web. Galaxies are formed when filaments pinch or cross each other. A nexus of filaments (including thousands of tiny filamentary currents) will provide the connectivity for the transfer of not only energy but information from one galactic nucleus to another. This web-like structure of filaments and vortexes is also similar to the acupuncture meridian system – which includes vortexes called "chakras". According to Dr David Tansely, "The seven major chakras are formed at points where standing lines of light (or meridians) cross each other 21 times. The 21 minor chakras are located at points where the energy strands cross 14 times." These meridians are supported by probably thousands of other smaller filamentary currents. This provides a significant amount of connectivity in our subtle bodies. Similar filamentary currents in the large-scale structure of the universe also provide a high degree of connectivity in the "cosmic brain".

Over time, tiny filamentary currents grow into large filaments as the amount of current flowing through them increases; in others the current decreases according to plasma dynamics. These filaments form networks that reflect the state of the universe at a point in time. The filamentary currents therefore appear to be able to generate the same mechanics that occurs in a brain – enabling memories to be encoded.

Magnetic fields are generated across vast regions of space and have been detected by astrophysicists. Electrical currents in the brain also generate magnetic fields which can be observed by measuring the magnetic fields they generate outside the skull in a technique called magneto-encephalography, or MEG.

Cosmic and planetary consciousness can have a valid scientific basis once we realize that the filaments and galaxies in space, and the web-like structure of filaments and vortexes on Earth, can encode information. Surely, if we can accept an electro-chemical basis for the encoding of memories, why not an electromagnetic one in space and interpenetrating the Earth (as in computers using neural networking technology)?

Earth's Brain

In dark plasma theory, it was noted that the lower physical-etheric body of the Earth is also interpenetrated by a web of filaments and vortexes. This structure is even more apparent in the Earth's higher energy 3d-Double. These signature structures bear an uncanny resemblance to our brains – composed of nerve fibers punctuated with neural cell bodies. Just like in the cosmic brain, the Earth's (electromagnetic) brain provides a suitable infrastructure for the encoding of memories.

From the 1930s onwards, Wilder Penfield developed a surgical procedure that allowed him to operate on a patient's exposed brain while the patient remained fully conscious. As he applied his electrode to the patient's temporal lobe, his patients described complete flashbacks to episodes earlier in his life. If music was involved, this followed the precise original tempo; the full score of which the patients would be able to hum with total accuracy – much as an autistic savant would be able to reproduce music with almost complete accuracy – like a recording on a video or compact disc. Penfield, in his book The Mystery of the Mind recounted, "They were electrical activations of the sequential record of consciousness, a record that had been laid down during the patient's earlier experience. The patient 're-lived' all that he had been aware of in that earlier period of time as in a moving-picture 'flashback'. " He said, "Each time I re-stimulated, she heard the melody again. It began at the same place and went on from chorus to verse."

Penfield concluded that the brain stores everything its owner has ever experienced in its original form. The flash-backs seemed to play themselves out in their proper order like scenes in a movie. "Since the electrode may activate a random sample of this strip from the distant past," he reasoned, "and since the most unimportant and completely forgotten periods of time may appear in this sampling, it seems reasonable to suppose that the record is complete and that it does include all periods of each individual's waking conscious life. "

But it is not only personal memories that can be accessed. Forensic psychics actually see the scene through the "eyes" of the victim (even in cases where the victim had already transited to the next universe) or assailant. Paramahansa Yogananda, a modern mystic, recounts (in his book Autobiography of a Yogi) how his consciousness, while in meditation, was transferred to a captain of a sinking ship far away. He lived the harrowing experiences of the captain for several minutes. As the dying captain slipped into unconsciousness, the locus of consciousness was transferred back to Yogananda. This not an isolated case – cases like this have been reported and documented many times. How does the brain housed in one cranium receive information from the brain of another person (dead or alive) from a different part of Earth? Some say a psychic is reading the 'Akashic records'.

The Akashic Records

The movie-like record of experiences that Penfield observed is similar (almost identical) to what has been observed by readers of the Akashic records and also near-death experiencers during "life-reviews". Metaphysicists have identified the records imprinted in space as the "Akashic records". These records are said to be memories encoded in the fabric of spacetime. (The term "Akashic" is derived from a Sanskrit term which means "space".) Or perhaps they are encoded within the invisible dark matter scaffolding of the universe ie the web-like structure of filaments and vortexes that surround and interpenetrate the universe and the Earth.

According to metaphysicist, Charles Leadbeater, if the observer is not focusing on them, the Akashic records simply form the background to whatever is going on – reflecting the mental activity of a greater consciousness on a far higher plane which is accessible to us. We are in a sense living in this much larger brain. This suggests that all human beings (and other life-forms) can and do use the shared (information processing) services of Earth's "brain".

Observing the dynamic and visual Akashic records would be like watching a larger brain's movie from a distance. Associative memory ensures that thoughts relating to the same matter are connected – resulting in databases and specific types of environments – as evidenced in the Akashic records. Both heaven and hell may be accessed through the Earth's brain. No doubt, this is also the basis of Carl Jung's "collective unconscious".

Earth's Memory and Paranormal Imprints

There is evidence that Earth encodes memories. According to the paranormal literature, ghosts sometimes do not appear to be conscious. They are completely oblivious to observers, and always look and act the same – almost like a movie being replayed over and over again. These are called "imprints" or "residual hauntings" in the paranormal literature.

Paranormal researchers believe that imprints occur when a vast amount of paranormal energy is left behind and is replayed time after time at the same location and often at the same time of day. Events that trigger such an energy release are fights, murders, rapes, kidnappings, or wars. Famous examples of imprints include the many Civil War Battlefields across the United States. In the battlefields of Gettysburg Pennsylvania the roar of cannon fire and the sounds of gunshots can often be heard in the evening hours. The smell of gun powder can also sometimes be detected in and around the road where fierce fighting took place for many hours during the Battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg Maryland.

It is still not generally understood how these "energy imprints" takes place. Some popular theories include the notions that the building materials "soak up the energy" of the location and replay these stored energies at a later time or it is energy stored in the atmosphere which is activated by changes in the atmosphere. According to dark plasma theory "imprints" in the paranormal literature can be attributed to interactions between our brains and the Earth's brain. Every time a person intrudes into a location in the Earth's brain in which a memory is encoded, the memory is activated and replayed – similar to the memories that were activated and replayed by Penfield when he applied an electrode to specific locations in his patients' brains . However, most of the time these activated memories remain in our subconscious – only a powerful memory (usually endowed with strong emotions) in the Earth's brain can pop-up in our conscious awareness. Psychics, however, may sense Earth's memories and are conscious of their replays more often than others.

Interactions between Earth's Brain and our Brains

When forensic psychics access the memory of a victim or an assailant in a crime scene; or the memory associated with a particular location, a continuous flow of information could be taking place between their brains and the "Earth's brain". This may also be true when we access the Akashic records intentionally or unintentionally. Similarly, in "group consciousness", telepathy and remote viewing, the Earth's "neural networks" may be used by the participants. When the locus of consciousness of an individual moves into the Earth's brain, the individual identity is transcended.

Internalization of the Universe and Individuation

Butterflies have more photo-receptors in their visual system than we do. Because of this, their visual systems are much better than ours in certain respects. While we have a big occipital lobe in our large brains to process visual information the butterfly does a superior job with brains that are mere specks two millimeters in size and which is able to process larger amounts of information coming from its more numerous photo-receptors. Scientists have no clue as to how they do it. Plants and amoeba go about their complex activities without having brains. The single-celled slime mould even solves mazes every time it is tested. Brains are made of cells but this single cell (slime mould) behaves as if it had a brain. Where is this intelligence and information processing power coming from? Many discoveries, scientific and artistic ideas come about when scientists or artists are not actively thinking about them. Where does this intelligence emanating from below our conscious radar come from?

It appears that as bodies evolve brains (in particular, the cortex) that become larger (in proportion to the body) the more the life-form gets cut-off from non-local universal intelligence and has to rely on local intelligence in the brains housed within their bodies. Human beings, in particular, have become increasingly estranged from universal intelligence. We create our own universes within our brains which compete with the universal brain for our conscious attention. The memories generated by our personal universes then get fed back into Earth's brain resulting in public apparitions such as the Marian apparitions, apparitions of UFOs and other apparitions.

The only times we reconnect with the universal brain is when certain persistent neural processes or circuits in our brains are intentionally (as in meditation or induced trances) or unintentionally (as in brain damage due to accidents or medical conditions) broken down or "switched off ". The life-forms lower down the evolutionary chain (with no or tiny brains), however, may be using universal intelligence almost all the time.

Universal Brain and Cosmic Consciousness

The Earth appears to have a brain but how does it get sensory inputs? One way is to generate life-forms. The myriad of life-forms (including human beings) on Earth are in fact the many eyes and ears of the Earth. The networks of currents in the brains of life-forms are an integral part of the network of currents in Earth's brain. It is in the universe's interest to generate life-forms so that it can see, hear, taste, touch and smell and become aware of itself.

If we are indeed connected to the Earth's brain, which is connected to a universal brain, it also means that we share a universal brain which can have contact with the brains of other planets that nurture life-forms that generate their own memories. Intelligent life-forms can send information (either intentionally or unintentionally) via the universal brain directly to our brains.

Ā© Copyright Jay Alfred 2007

How to Paint Laminate Countertops – 4 Easy Steps

We are often asked how to paint an existing laminate countertop, and if it is even possible. Yes, you can paint countertops, but you need to prepare the countertop surface carefully beforehand with special primer. Here's how.

(1) Wash the countertop with some ammonia-based cleaner or some warm ammonia diluted with water. Get it as clean as possible, removing all dirt and grime. When the surface is dry, you may wish to put strips of low-tack painter's tape on any trim around the countertop.

(2) The next step is to prime the countertop surface with a bonding primer, this will make sure the paint will stick to a non-porous surface. Some good bonding primers are XIM 400, Sherwin-Williams PrepRiteĀ®, or Zinssers Bin. Follow the primer manufacturers instructions; plan on allowing the primer to set for about 24 hours before painting. The odor can be strong, so consider opening windows and closing the room off from the rest of the house when using these products.

(3) When the primer is dry, it's time to paint your selected new color paint to the existing laminate countertop. Nothing changes a kitchen's look quite so much as countertop finishes, so make sure you've matched swatches to your existing colors – appliances, walls, flooring and all. If you use your laminate countertops to prepare food directly on, use water based paint; the chemicals in oil based paints may leech into your food, which is not a good thing. Apply two to three thin layers of paint, letting them dry between each coating. If you like, and are feeling creative, you can stencil-paint some patterned borders on your laminate countertops new base paint as well at this point.

(4) The final step is to seal the paint. Three coats of satin or high-gloss non-yellowing polyurethane will give you maximum durability. I prefer water-based sealer; it will not alter the appearance of your paint's colors when it dries. Allow the sealer to dry 24 hrs. You might have to order take-out dinners for a couple of days, but it will be worth it when you see your fabulous new painted laminate countertops in your kitchen.

Do It Yourself Furniture Repair

  • Wax your furniture- to build up the finish, cover scratches or damages, and to obtain a more durable and long-lasting improvement than oil polish. Apply a hard paste wax with 0000 steel wool using a few drops of water to help emulsify the wax, and apply it as thinly as possible, rubbing with the grain of the wood. When finished applying the wax, let it dry and harden for an hour or so, then wipe off all excess wax with a clean, unused dry steel wool pad. Complete the waxing by buffing with a clean pure cotton rag, an old tee shirt will work well, or cheesecloth. Repeat the process and apply as many coats as you need to build up the finish on the furniture. Wax will not hurt anything, although it can dull a glossy finish. Wax can be removed readily with mineral spirits or turpentine, which should be done if there is a grimy build up.
  • Recovering a dining room chair “slip” seat- A slip seat is padded over a plywood panel, about 1 1/2″ thick, and held in place under the chair with four screws at the corners. Remove the seat, remove all the old fabric if the padding is thin or uncomfortable and strip away the padding. Glue with contact cement a 1″ thick medium to high density foam rubber cut off even with the edges of the chair seat panel, and apply a 1/2″ polyester batting over the foam rubber. Then apply your fabric over the padding with about 1″ extra around the bottom of the seat, pull tight and tack in place around the corners of the seat, then pull between the tacks and staple using ¼” staples (T-50 staples will work well), pulling the fabric tightly and evenly around the seat.
  • Regluing a platform chair (with wooden seat)- A chair should be maintained so it is always tight. There should not be any wobbling or looseness detectable. A chair is a dangerous thing if not well maintained. A dining table can collapse and you will only lose dinner. A chair can collapse, and a person’s back can be injured. You will need a least a dozen metal clamps about 24″ or longer, a coping saw and pine or fir to cut for clamping brackets, and yellow wood glue or hide glue. Don’t use epoxy or polyurethane glue. You should also have some mechanical aptitude to judge how the work is progressing.
  • Removing grime from furniture- This should be done with sensitivity, or the finish may be damaged. Try on inconspicuous spots first, and see how it looks a day later before working on the entire piece of furniture. There are many different types of finishes, including oil finish, wax, lacquer (most common), varnishes, and shellac and they can be damaged by what you use to remove the grimy buildup. We will only describe a relatively safe technique for removing oily, waxy buildup from lacquer, shellac, and varnish finishes. Purchase a water base wax stripper, dilute it, and apply with a small cotton pad in an inconspicuous area. If the result is good, continue. If little

    result is obtained, try a more concentrated solution. Be careful that you are not damaging the underlying finish. Old varnishes can be soft and easily removed, and you may not want to go that far.
  • Removing paint spatters from lacquered furniture- Try using xylene mixed half and half with mineral spirits. Apply with cotton pads, wearing rubber or nitrile surgical gloves. If this doesn’t work rapidly enough, try full strength xylene. What Not To Do, unless you really want to Do It Yourself-
  • Do not try to strip and refinish furniture in an apartment. If you manage to strip the furniture without getting spatters of remover all over other possessions and ruining them, you will most likely get sickened from the remover, or get dust all over everything you own, in all the rooms, from the sanding. REMOVE FINISHES AND SAND OUTSIDE, OR DON’T DO IT ALL.
  • Do not iron clothes on your dining table, unless you want to refinish it.
  • Do not remove or apply nail polish over a dining table, EVER! Nail polish remover is an excellent furniture finish remover, and a few choice spots, and that is what you will have to do.
  • Do not fail to walk your dog, it needs one hour a day of exercise, and will make you suffer otherwise by nervously chewing on your furniture.
  • Do not fail to have an interesting scratching and climbing post for your cat, or your furniture may suffer when you are not there. When you are there, try yelling “NO!” and squirting your cat if you catch it scratching something it has no business doing.
  • Do not let guests sit in weak or too small chairs. Try a rope across the seat. Fat people love to sit in tight chairs to prove how skinny they aren’t.
  • Don’t think nails, screws, or duct tape are the solution for everything. If they were not in the furniture before, they will only serve as a focus to break up the furniture further if it is loose.
  • Do not let upholsterers or your building superintendent repair your furniture. A cabinetmaker knows how to do it, an upholsterer will make repairs you will regret and pay a cabinetmaker to fix later.
  • China Air Plane Travel Safety – Flying High Over Development Challenges

    China has maintained an impressive air travel safety record despite some very colorful anecdotes and one or two unfortunate mishaps. The data are especially noteworthy for a massive country growing at warp speed near or above 10 percent annually.

    This article began as an excuse to showcase an old, entertaining piece by former Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent Uli Schmetzer entitled "Near the Twilight Zone: All Aboard Air China's Flight 173." In the process, it evolved into a short, thankfully reassuring look at the safety of Chinese air travel.

    Air China Flight 173

    In his 1992 article, Schmetzer vividly, if sometimes morbidly, describes the colorful sightings aboard Air China Flight 173 from Sydney to Beijing. The passengers of note include a man who is led to his seat in handcuffs and a straitjacket. There is widespread controversy among the passengers, including two neurosurgeons, about whether the elderly man lying across Row 16 is alive or dead. The plane gets repaired on the runway before takeoff by two "almighty bangs" to its underbelly with a sledgehammer. During flight, the crew is mostly pre-occupied with learning their fates from a palm-reading passenger. In another disturbing piece, the pilots somehow manage to lock themselves out of the cockpit mid-flight only to resort to breaking down the door with an ax to get back to the controls.

    While Flight 173 regularly landed late but safely, passengers on a domestic flight on regional Henan Airlines on the foggy night of August 23, 2010 were not so fortunate. The plane crashed outside the city of Yichun in Heilongjiang Province killing 42 passengers and injuring 54 others and sparking new fears about the safety of Chinese air travel.

    China's Air Safety Record

    Despite the tragic outcome, the Henan Airlines flight is also noteworthy for bringing to light China's air safety record. In fact, the data and industry sources suggest that China is actually a pretty safe place to fly. Until the crash, China had maintained an air safety record of 2,102 days, or more than five years, without accidents.

    Even Schmetzer notes that foreign airline officials attested to the good safety record of Air China. According to the website PlaneCrashInfo.com, Air China earns a 26 percent above (better than) average accident rate, which looks to compare reasonably well with other major international carriers, including: Air France (79 percent worse than average), Cathay Pacific ( 31 percent better), Japan Airlines (JAL, 0 percent better / worse) Singapore Airlines (101 percent worse), and Virgin Atlantic (9 percent better). The "accident rate" is determined by the percentage above or below the average accident rate for 87 major carriers. An airline industry consultancy, GCW Consulting, considers China's "overall air safety record" one of the world's best for the past six years.

    Development Challenges

    China's air record is all-the-more impressive when you consider the many factors working against it. China had the second highest passenger kilometers flown per year in 2008 with 251 million km, coming in behind the US (1.3 million km) and ahead of the UK (228 million km). To sustain its rapid growth rate, China has built 40 airports in the last decade. To hold onto a share of China's lucrative air travel market, Chinese provinces were hastily leasing old Soviet-built planes and sometimes even relying on Russian crews in the 1990's. As in other industries, Chinese airlines have struggled to build and maintain a professional, well-trained workforce of management, staff, and maintenance personnel.

    Air Travel Safety

    Rather than relying solely on China's air safety record, passengers can also take comfort in knowing the overall odds of being ensnared in a fatal airline accident are decidedly in their favor. According to PlaneCrashInfo.com, "Aviation accidents are extremely rare, with the probability of a passenger being killed on a single flight at approximately eight million-to-one. If a passenger boarded a flight at random, once a day, everyday, it would statistically be over 21,000 years before he or she would be killed. "

    Fortunately then, despite some disturbing anecdotal evidence, between China's good air safety record and the general rarity of serious plane accidents, it seems that business and vacation travelers on Chinese airlines can rest reasonably assured that they will arrive at their next destination safe and sound.