Selecting The Right Chimeneas

Chimeneas made of clay come from Mexico. Chimineas are small fireplaces with an egg shaped firebox and a smoke stack. Originally it is said that chimeneas came from Spain and were brought to Mexico centuries ago. These small fireplaces were used for cooking and heating indoors or out. Centuries ago and today in some areas in Mexico homes had dirt floors and a hole in the center of the roof for the smoke to exit. Chimeneas made of clay are baked in the hot Mexican sun. These clay chimeneas are inexpensive. Clay chimeneas can crack and break with temperature changes.

Today you can still purchase clay chimeneas but because of the breakage the cast aluminum and cast iron chimeneas are more popular. Chimeneas are widely used outdoors on the patio as a small fire pit. Pinion wood is popular because the smoke wards off mosquitoes. Cast iron chimeneas will scale to a reddish brown color but it will be years and years before it rusts through. When looking at cast iron chimeneas made sure the smoke stack is cast iron as well. Many Chinese manufacturers are using sheet metal for the chimney and this rusts out rather quickly. Cast iron takes awhile to heat up but it holds the heat long after the fire has died down.

Cast aluminum chimeneas have gained in popularity. Cast aluminum will not rust, it is light weight compared to cast iron so it is more portable. The aluminum casting must be thick. Too many manufacturers are making the casting thick by the openings and thin around the fire box. Cast aluminum will burn through at a low temperature always burn small fires in them. Cast aluminum will tend to warp under heat if the casting is too thin. Did you ever have a gas grill that after a short time the cooking grids shrunk and kept falling down? The cooking grids didn’t shrink the aluminum grill head warped from the heat. The same thing holds true for the chimeneas as they can reach higher temperatures than a grill if over fired.

Most chimeneas have a small opening on one side. Since they are primarily used for cooking and heat it makes sense. The viewing of the fire is limited through the small opening. Some chimeneas have been made that are open on all sides for viewing and are more popular for patio fires. If placing on a deck or patio a hearth pad is recommended for protection from sparks, heat and any rust marks. Chimeneas make great patio heaters.

Aroma ARC-733G Review

In this Aroma ARC-733G review I shall outline why even though it comes at a very cheap price, it may be the best choice for you. It means you will be able to prepare great tasting Japanese white rice like many other more expensive manufacturers, such as Zojirushi and Tiger, but you do not have to pay such a large price to begin with. Of course I feel that overall the higher quality and more expensive rice cookers are on the whole better than the Aroma ARC 733G.

However the cost of the Aroma ARC-733G is so low that it is a kitchen appliance well worth considering if you are unsure how much you would actually use a rice cooker. It makes a great trial machine for people who are keen to try out the world of great tasting rice. And also it could be a wise investment for people like students who may not have a great deal of spare cash.

When I decided to review the Aroma ARC 733G, I thought that it would not be very good. I thought that a rice cooker that costs so little would be unlikely to be able to produce anything that tasted very good. However this is not the case. Cost savings have obviously been made in the design. It does not look as stylish as machines from Japanese manufacturers such as Zojirushi and Panasonic, to name but a few. But it is the taste of the rice that it produces that is the most important feature. Other savings have been made by only offering the most basic features. This machine lets you cook rice and keep it warm until you are ready to eat it. These are the most essential functions of a rice cooker. Overall at the price, the Aroma ARC-733G is a great value rice cooker that would make the perfect choice for people not willing to pay over $100 for a Zojirushi machine.

Top 5 Crossbow Accessories

Every crossbow enthusiast needs a few extras to improve their enjoyment. Having the right equipment will make a big difference in the shooting experience. There are a few pieces of equipment that every bowman needs to help him in his sport. As with all things there are a variety of choices and price ranges for these extras.

1. Bolts and Broad heads

Every bowman needs bolts, crossbows do not really do anything without them. Make sure you know what length of bolt he needs. Sizes range from 14 "to 22" for common crossbows. Pistol crossbows can use even shorter bolts. The wrong length bolt should not be used, so make sure you get the correct size.

Prices will range from less than a dollar to the PSE Tac 10i Crossbow Bolts at $ 15 + per bolt. Target shooting is usually done with less expensive bolts, while hunting or competition would suggest a higher quality bolt.

Hunting also may require a broad head bolt tip. These tips themselves can range from $ 2 to the Rage 31000 Slipcam Expandable Broad heads at $ 13 + per tip.

2. Target

Bowmen need targets. Targets vary in size and price. From low cost $ 20 targets to the high end Hips Targets Hot Shot Series Hyper XT / Crossbow Target at $ 150 a target is a solid investment for any sportsman. Using a proper target will protect your bolts and help prevent accidents.

3. Cocking Device

There are two forms of cocking devices. A crank and a rope. The rope devices are generally cheaper and more generic. Crank designs may be crossbow model specific. These devices help the sportsman ready their bow to fire. They range in price from $ 20 to over $ 150.

4. Crossbow Case

Proper care and storage of your crossbow will protect the bow from damage and make it easy to store. The main types of cases are soft and hard. Soft cases are mainly just a padded cover, while hard cases provide serious protection for the bow. Case prices can range from $ 30 to over $ 140. Make sure you get a case that will fit your crossbow. This is especially important for hard cases.

5. Scope

Many crossbows will already have a scope. For these you will only need a scope if it is an upgrade to what the bow already has. Scopes can range from $ 30 to the Truglo 1.5-5X32 Crossbow Scope w / Illuminated Reticule at over $ 200. Scopes choices may also be limited to what type of mounting is available on your crossbow.

Any of these crossbow accessories will make your archery experience more enjoyable. If you are buying a gift for an enthusiast then find out as much as you can about his crossbow and what he needs to enhance his experience.

Face Workout

Our skin needs pampering in some ways or another. Having a face massage occasionally helps you achieve beautiful skin. Just like exercising, a quick weekly session on the face will eliminate eye bags and puffiness in your skin. Massages have their benefits: it helps us to relax, detoxify our body and improve our blood circulation.

Massage maybe deemed as personal luxury by some and by others, necessity. If you do not want to do in a salon, you can always DIY. In fact, DIY is one of the best ways because it can be done wherever and whenever you want and it's free.

To begin with, we know that our body has toxins, caused by the foods we ingested, pollutants in our surroundings and stress in our lives. Our lymphatic system consists of a network of vessels that move fluid in our body. Essential functions of these vessels include removal of toxins from our cells through lymph drainage where toxins are directed to the nearest lymph node for dispersal. Through massage, we are promoting drainage by improving the flow of fluid through our body, getting rid of unwanted waste products, reducing toxins accumulation.

Here's one short section of Diana Moran's book entitled Fresh Face that gave tips on how to do that Lymphatic Drainage Massage.

1. Applied oil to hands. With sweeping movements, slide your hands from your chest to your chin upwards from the left side of your neck, lightly over your windpipe and then to the right.

2. Place your first fingers horizontally above your lips with your middle fingers below. Apply slight pressure and slide fingers backwards to your ears.

3. Place ring fingers by the side of each nostril and apply pressure. Release the pressure as you sweep fingers across cheeks to your ears, then reapply the pressure.

4. Place your first fingers in the centre of your forehead. Pressing firmly, slide your fingers as you trace along your eyebrows and out to your ears.

5. Now from your ears, continue sliding your fingertips lightly, tracing inwards under the eyes to your nose.

6. Close your eyes and cover your entire face, from chin to forehead (leave your nose protruding) with open hands. Press your whole face firmly, hold for 5 seconds and release. "

Hydro Jet Drain Cleaning – What Is It?

Hydro Jet drain cleaning is an extremely affective service that is used when you have a sewer drain that is clogged. Homes, apartment complexes and especially restaurants benefit from this extremely affective drain cleaning solution.

Over time your sewer line and drains, like the kitchen sink drain, build up debris that settles in the drain creating sludge like substance that stays in the drain for good.

An electric cable machine does not usually remove this debris build up. You’ve called a plumber before he has snaked the drain with his cable machine and the same clogged drain returns within the same month or 6 months later. The reason being in many cases is the cause of the drain problem has not been removed, so in time the build up process continues to create the same problem.

What a hydro Jet does is it removes all the debris that has built up in the drain over time, some times over many months and in some cases after many years of use.

Who Benefits From Hydro Jet Drain Cleaning

A regular home that has sewer clogs will benefit because not only does the Hydro Jet remove debris it also removes tree roots that have grown into the sewer line, the tree roots are usually completely removed.

An apartment building usually has the same problem as a home but due to the extra volume more debris can build up and also grease cause also greatly impact the sewer line cause floods in the garage.

Restaurants especially need Hydro Jet drain cleaning. Grease can build up very quickly in restaurants, in some restaurants as fast as 3 months a sewer line can become impacted with grease causing the bar area to flood and the floor drains in the bathrooms to over flow with sewer water.

Hydro Jet drain cleaning is the only solution when it comes to grease blockages. The hydro Jet drain cleaning machine is a truck or trailer mounted unit that is powered by a gasoline engine. The machine pressurizes water to approximately 4000 psi through a hose with a special nozzle attached that scours the inside of the drain pipe removing the build up of grease and debris that have formed inside the drain pipe. When the cleaning nozzle is inserted into the drain it slowly breaks down and emulsifies the grease so that it can safely drain into the sewer system.

Choosing a Cordless Drill Driver – What to Look Out For

The first aspect you could examine when choosing a cordless drill driver should be the battery pack as the more volts your drill driver has the more torque you might get. This essentially means that the motor should spin faster creating greater power. The only drawback with this is that the more volts your drill has the heavier it might be.

The Angle Drill is designed for use in tight areas. Their main feature is the angled neck. Unlike a conventional drill, an Angle Drills profile allows the drill to be used at arms length and in areas where the body of a drill would not allow it access. While they may not be able to deliver the power and torque of a conventional drill they are incredibly handy tools, especially around the home. An example would be drilling a hole on the inside of a drawer to mount a handle, positioning a normal drill could be awkward but the body of an Angle Drill would rise out of the drawer leaving plenty of space for the operators hand.

Before cordless drill drivers arrived, most drills had pistol grips, where the handle is behind the motor like the handle of a gun. But most of today's cordless models are equipped with a T-handle: The handle base flares to prevent hand slippage and accommodate a battery. Because the battery is centered under the weight and bulk of the motor, a T-handle provides better overall balance, particularly in heavier drills. Also, T-handle drills may often get into tighter spaces because your hand is out of the way in the centre of the drill. But for heavy-duty drilling and driving large screws, a pistol grip does let you apply pressure higher up – almost directly behind the bit – allowing you to put more strain on the work.

Accessories for cordless drill drivers include drill bits for drilling wood, metal, ceramic, glass, and masonry. In addition to drill bits other accessories include hole saws, screwdriver bits, files, rasps, and sanders.

If a Li-ion battery is stored with too low a charge, there is a risk of allowing the charge to drop below the battery's low-voltage threshold, resulting in an unrecoverable dead battery. Once the charge has dropped to this level, recharging it may be dangerous. Some batteries therefore feature an internal safety circuit which might prevent charging in this state, and the battery might be for all practical purposes dead. In circumstances where a second Li-ion battery is available for a given device, it is recommended that the unused battery be discharged to 40% and placed in the refrigerator to prolong its shelf life. While the battery may be used or charged immediately, some Li-ion batteries might provide more energy when brought to room temperature.

An electric or portable (battery powered) drill can be a scary thing. But they are not hard to use. Most common The drill drivers come in a pistol shape, making them easy to hold and use. The drill has a trigger you squeeze in order to make the drill bit rotate. Sometimes there is also a safety button located on the pistol handle that has to be pressed at the same time you squeeze the trigger in order to make the drill bit rotate. The battery pack is usually inserted into a docking station on the bottom of the pistol handle. Between uses the battery pack is charged in another docking station which is connected to an electrical outlet.

Building a Deck: Mistakes to Avoid

When you are planning to build a deck, you should be aware of the common mistakes people make in the construction process. Here are some of the common errors to building a deck:

Nails, Bolts, and Rust

Steel fasteners such as screws, bolts, and nails should be galvanised so they’re protected from corrosion which naturally happens between moisture, steel, and the tannis the wood has. Galvanised fasteners cost a little bit more, but using ordinary fixings would most likely mean having your deck undergo major repairs in just one to two years.

Not getting the right building permit

Failure to obtain approval from relevant authorities for your deck could definitely lead to problems. Before staring your decking project, make sure you have the right information and permit. Authorities have all the rights to force you to alter or even take down your deck entirely if you fail to observe their building requirements.

Deck boards not straight

In building a deck, deck boards that aren’t straight isn’t a structural issue, but it’s surely very ugly. The simplest method to laying deck boards is by installing a grid board (every 5th deck board) to a straight line. To obtain a straight line for the grid board, use a chalk line to mark where each board goes. A chalk line is a string covered in chalk which leaves a straight line once flicked against the wood. It will serve as a helpful guide. Then completely nail off the grid boards. Install the rest of the boards using wood wedges from decking off cuts (these are left over short timber pieces) to space the boards in between grid boards evenly.

Leaking Roof

The most common roof leaks come from over tightened screws for the roof. While the roof screws are over tightened, the rubber washer that is intended to seal the roof sheet is damaged. This makes the washer unable to seal the hole in the roof which the screw made, creating an entry point for rain water.

Sagging Ceiling

In building a deck, a sagging ceiling is usually due to ceiling supports which are fixed very far apart. When the ceiling was mounted, it might have been flat and straight, but after about 6 months, the moist air will make the ceiling sheets soft. This will make the ceiling to sag if they do not have enough structure to support them. The ceiling will also have a wave effect. Always mount the ceiling sheets based on the instructions from the manufacturer.

Building a Home 101

I just want to make a few statements before we get started building.

1. Building a home is not easy, especially if you do not have the slightest clue about construction.
2. Building a home takes a lot of time, if you think you can work a 40 hour week job, and stop by
the construction site to check your contractors progress, you are wrong.
3. Meeting every contractor, and going over as much details as possible is key.
4. Being present on the job site is important.
5. A average home will take 6 months to build.
6. This is just the basics of building a home I did not put every detail in here.

Step 1: Choosing a home blueprint

In my opinion I would not have a custom blue print drawn because it is costly. If you are a real picky person and everything has to be just the way you want it then hiring a architect might be for you, but get ready to pay thousands of dollars. I myself have found many good prints on the internet with prices from $ 500.00 to $ 1500.00 depending on the size of home.

Step 2: Finding the land to fit your home blueprint.

The first major mistake is people buying their land before choosing their home plan. I do not know about other parts of this country but Georgia has many different types elevations. Picking the home plan of your dreams, and finding the land to fit will not only make you happy, but will also save you money.

OK you have your blueprint that you are your wife agree upon. Lets just say the home you choose is a ranch style home with a front two car garage, and a full daylight basement at the rear of home. The type of land you will be looking for should slope away from the road or has a relatively flat spot and then slope toward the rear. The slope toward the rear is important for your basement.

Have a Realtor write a contract on the land with stipulations on current survey, soil testing and any other recommendation that he or she may suggest. A current survey will make sure the acreage that you are buying is correct. The surveyor should mark the property pins, the foundation of home, driveway, and well. Marking the house site is not only need for soil testing but for clearing / grading too. Soil testing & well positioning is also needed for pulling a building permit. If you have public sewer and water available then soil testing will not be needed.

Step 3: Pulling building permits

To pull building permits you should first make a phone call to your local government planning / development office and ask for a list of items that they will need. For example home blue prints, survey with marked home site, soil test, drivers license, check book, and etc. Types of permits needed will include grading permit, culvert permit, and home permit. Ask for rules, regulations and inspections, most planning and development offices will have all the information you need.

Step 4: Clearing and Grading

Your surveyor should have marked the property pins, staked out the home foundation, marked well position, and marked the driveway. You and your grader should walk the property and make sure everyone is on the same page. These are the items I would discuss with the grading contractor:

1. Culvert size and price
2. Stone for driveway
3. Clearing home site
4. Clearing for septic system
5. Clearing a buffer around the home
6. Clearing driveway
7. Clearing a well access
8. Money back for harvested lumber (hardwood / pine)
9. Tree stumps (hall off or burn / bury)
10. Foundation walls (8 '9' walls?)
11. Septic tank placement

Note: Before your grader packs up and gets out of town make sure everything is the way you want it. Moving heavy equipment around is costly and you do not want to pay to remove a couple of trees, or maybe a dead tree that was missed. Double check the foundation measurements sometimes contractors make mistakes.

Step 5: Temporary Power

Your electrician can handle temporary power. This is just a mater of installing a temporary power pole and calling the local power company for inspection, then hook up.

Step 6: Well

Meet your well contractor and show him where your proposed site is. If he has any concerns the site can be moved, this is not a big deal as long as you are 100 'away from the septic field.

Step 7: Foundation and Walls

As long as the grading contractor did his job the foundation contractor should have no problems. You will have to go over the foundation blue print together. The contractor should recommend wall sizing, wall height, and, 2 'x 2' vertical and horizontal re-bar for wall strength. You will need to pick out a mechanical room in the basement, this is a area where your potential HVAC unit, electrical panel, water heater, and well pressure tank will be placed. Tell your foundation contractor this is where your water supply will be coming in and also mention where your septic tank will be placed. In our example home with a walk out basement your septic tank will be at the rear of your home, this can change depending on land layout.

Note: In most cases a foundation inspection will have to be called in before concrete footings are poured.

Step 8: Slab Rough Plumbing

The plumbing contractor will be able to look at your prints and know where he needs to stub his drain pipes. Show him where your mechanical room is and where your water supply will be entering the home, also mention where your septic tank will be placed. If you are planning on a bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, or any other plumbing related item this is now the time to say something.

Note: In most cases a slab rough plumbing inspection will have to be called in before any plumbing is covered with dirt.

Step 9: Foundation Slab

The slab contractor will have to look at your prints. He should know what has to be done to pass inspection. In most counties located in north Georgia your slab will have to consist of a plastic vapor barrier, 4 "of crushed stone (# 57), and re-bar placed in any load bearing footings. Once everything is prepped call in your inspection.

Step 10: Framing

The first thing to do is go to your local lumber supply store. Give the company a copy of your blue prints for a lumber estimate. Some lumber supply stores offer other products such as windows, exterior doors, roofing, interior doors, interior trim, kitchens, etc. The only items your framer will need are lumber for framing your home and deck / porch material. Some framers offer other services such as installing exterior windows / doors and roofing felt to get your house dried in.

Note: Window & door sizes are important and your framer will need these measurements. Windows & doors is some cases take weeks to get, so planing is key here.

Step 11: House Wrap

Most insulating companies install house wrap. This needs to be done after framing and before windows and doors are installed.

Step 12: Decks & Porches

If your framer does not build decks & porches you will have to hire another contractor for these items. Go over your blueprint and discuss items such as materials, type of deck / porch, handrails, etc.

Step 13: Roofing

Have your roofer set up and ready to go after the framer is done sheathing the roof. The faster you dry in your home the better due to weather. Items roofer will need are felt paper, shingles, roofing vents, power vents and maybe more so check withe your roofing contractor.

Step 14: Windows & Doors

As stated earlier if your framer did not install the exterior window & doors then usually the siding contractor will do this.

Step 15: Rough Plumbing

The plummer will need to meet with you, go over the blueprints, and mark where everything goes.
He going to ask questions such as:

1. Kitchen sink location
2. Refrigerator location
3. Washer location
4. Dishwasher location
4. Types of vanities & sink centers
5. Plumbing fixtures
6. Shower enclosures
7. Jacuzzi tubs
8. Toilets

Be prepared, have items picked out and ready to go.

Note: Get with a kitchen & design company, so you can have layouts and specifications for the plumber.

Step 16: Rough HVAC (heating ventilation & air conditioning)

A licensed HVAC Contractor will calculate sizing of the unit needed for your home. For every 500 sq. ft. of living space you can figure 1 ton of HVAC, so basically a 2000 sq. ft. home will need a 4 ton unit.

Step 17: Rough Electrical

Your Electrician will have to wire the house to code, but if you want more outlets, or specialty lighting the electrician needs to know. Walk and mark the house with your electrician, ask questions as you go.

Step 18: Low Voltage Wiring

Low voltage wiring consists of TV cable, phone, security, alarm, etc. Electricians sometimes provide this service, but if not then hire a low voltage technician.

Step 19: Exterior Siding

Depending on what type of siding you may have chosen depends on installation, but what ever you choose your contractors will know what to do.

Brick
Vinyl
Concrete
Stone
Synthetic Stone
Wood

Step 20: Insulation

Insulation contractors will install to code, if you want sound deading insulation, then areas will have to be specified.

Step 21: Sheetrock

Sheetrock is simple just go over areas that you do and do not want installed.

Step 22: Rough Trim Carpentry

Trim carpenter will need to know what type of materials will be used and what areas will these materials be installed.

Doors
Door Casing
Base
Crown Molding
Paneling
Trey Ceiling
Coffered Ceiling
Entertainment Centers

Step 23: Tile & Grout

Tile contractor what type of materials you are using and what areas the tile will need to be installed.

Step 24: Rough Painting

Painting contractor will need to know types of paint to be used: flat, semi-gloss, gloss, egg shell, etc. Contractor will also need to know were these paints will go. It is a good idea to mark the areas with each paint color so nobody gets confused.

Step 25: Kitchen Cabinets & Vanities

Cabinets and vanities can be installed by your trim carpenter or the cabinet company that built your cabinets.

Step 26: Counter tops

Granite, tile, or laminate tops can be installed by these contractors. Ask / answer questions as needed. Most professional contractors know what needs to be done here

Step 27: Hardwood Flooring

There are many different types of hardwood flooring out there, buy this should be simple if you hire a professional, just show your contractor where it goes.

Step 28: Final Trim Carpentry

This is mainly tyeing in little finish pieces, and installing shoe molding, if you have any.

Step 29: Final Plumbing

This is just installing fixtures such as toilets, faucets, water heater, dishwasher, and so on. All you need to do is have these items available if you supplied them.

Step 30: Final Electrical

This is just installing fixtures, stove, microwave, receptacles, switches, etc. Just have these items available for your electrician.

Step 31: Final HVAC

HVAC contractor will finish installing his system and then start up the unit. Nothing is needed from you except to check the work and make sure you have heating & cooling.

Step 32: Final Painting

Touch up any remaining items, go ahead a mark any areas with blue tape this will help with the process.

You know what? by writing all of this down I just realized how many contractors it takes to build a house, and how much work goes into building a home, Wow !! Do you really want to know the funny part, I am missing details. There is no way I can spell out every detail, way to much unknown can happen when building a home.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Board Gaming – Explaining Modern Board Games to Non-Gamers

Your Hobby is What?

How many times have you heard this question?

Your hobby is what? You play board games? Are You Kidding?

As I started to become fascinated by these modern eurogames, I got a lot of funny looks from people – my wife, brother, and sister included. Their response was "Ok, if that is what you want to do … I've never even heard of Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne." What they did not understand is that there is quite an underground community developing around these games.

Over the past half a year or so, I have had to come up with a description for what this community affectionately calls Eurogames. They go by many names, none of which are known to the general public – adult board games. modern board games, designer games, German games, or Ameritrash games. Not one of these explains it well to the non-gamer. It really just digs you into a deeper hole.

You Can Not Answer Like This

We actually do not play "board games" like you may think. We actually play modern designer games from Europe. They tend to be fairly complex and take several hours to play. Nobody is usually eliminated, so everyone actually has a really good time. They tend to be more interactive and engaging, yada yada … Right. Now their eyes have glazed over and you look like a board game snob.

You are Familiar with Monopoly, Right?

When introducing the games, touching a nerve is important. Asking about Monopoly tends to be my first response to them. This is a game everyone is familiar with. They understand that it is a game more complex than your average 7 year old child can handle, that it has aspects of fiscal responsibility, scarce resources, cards, and strategy. They also know there are no trivia questions, movie quotes, drawing pictures or putting words together. Good, we have a starting point. You are dealing with a game that is mildly serious and can go for over an hour.

Now, Think About Chess

Then, I go to the other end of the spectrum, chess. Again, this is a game most everyone has seen or played at some point. Heck, it even shows up in the first book of Harry Potter. They understand that this is a deep strategy game that many play and only some master. They also know that it is two players ONLY and those watching need to be very, very quiet … like golf. They are probably also aware that if you are good at chess, you are respected and considered intelligent, by most.

Now, you have your two extremes.

Next Up … Risk

This is a third game that is more complicated, and closer to the standard modern board game. And, everyone is fairly familiar with it. The thing you have to watch out for with this game is that not everyone has had a positive experience with it. It tends to be long and drawn out with two sides battling it out until the wee hours of the morning – while the eliminated players go and watch TV or munch on snacks and watch the clock.

So, Modern Board Games Are like Risk

You can actually say that a lot of the adult board games are like "Risk on steroids". But, people actually enjoy them and most of the time everyone plays for the entire game. These games are strategy-oriented. You get to shape a country or landscape, manage an economy, manage energy infrastructures, or handle political races or micromanaging small businesses.

Unlike typical board games, the Risk board looks like a map of the world, with zones that have value. This is much more like a eurogame, than Monopoly – where all you do is go around and around hoping to land on GO! or Free Parking.

Also, you can talk to them about the imagery of the games. This is something that really attracted my wife. When she saw the level of art involved with Ticket to Ride, she was really interested. Carcassonne is similar – the art is more cartoon-like, but you build the city as you go. It is very rewarding to see the final city once it is done.

Have You Ever Played Video Games?

This is a really good leap because most 30-year-olds have, at some point, seen an RTS (real time strategy) game on a PC. They may have played Warcraft, Age of Empires, Rise of Nations, Command and Conquer, or Civilization. Or, they may have played games like The Sims, SimCity, Railroad Tycoon, and Roller Coaster Tycoon. If so, they are in! These are the PC game cousin to the modern board game.

Sid Meyer, Will Right, John Romero , Chris Sawyer

These names are familiar to PC gamers. They created games like Civilization. SimCity, Railroad Tycoon, Doom, Quake, Roller Coaster Tycoon. One of the cool things about Designer board games is that the designer of a good board game can become a star in his own right.

If they know the PC designer names, you can share your excitement for Klaus Teuber, Alan R. Moon, Richard Borg, and Andreas Seyfarth. They should understand the respect.

Blizzard and ID

If you do not hit the note with the designer names, just throw out these two names and you should get a nod of recognition. Blizzard has put out several games (all of them hits, by the way) such as Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft. They are also responsible for the Online Multiplayer game World of Warcraft. ID is the gaming company that busted down the doors of the first-person shooter game with Doom – the most downloaded shareware of its time.

Rio Grande, Days Of Wonder, and Fantasy Flight

If you have hit the nerve talking about PC gaming companies, you can make the logical jump to Adult Board Game Companies. These three companies should be at the forefront of the discussion. Most of the "hit" games come from these. Oh, and do not forget Mayfair with Settlers of Catan.

Here is an interesting point you can share with your new-found connection …

Many PC Games are also Board Games

And, they land squarely in the modern board game genre. This is what some of the gamers call Amertrash games. But, they are games you can point to that might draw the non-gamer in. Point them at Fantasy Flight Games For example, they will recognize Starcraft, World of Warcraft, and Doom. They will also be familiar with Age of Empires and Railroad Tycoon. It really should not be too much of a leap to get them to Puerto Rico, Ticket to Ride, Memoir '44 or Power Grid.

What You Do not Want to Do

Unfortunately, when people think of board gaming as a hobby, and they have never tried it, they get a single image in their head … it is a bunch of geeky guys with greasy hair in a basement or back room with funny shaped dice , a bunch of metal figures, and lots of paper. This image also usually involves someone screaming "Shoot my +3 Fireball at the hill troll for 2d Damage … roll for initiative" What?

They had a friend at some time that was into Dungeons and Dragons. This crowd is always portrayed in the same manner as trekkies.

You also do not act like a snob about how your games are better than their old games from when they were younger. This will just turn them off.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Just keep a couple of games in your car trunk or at the ready. When the opportunity arises, offer to bring it out and show it. Let them see the rules, touch the game, maybe even give it a shot. If they like it, great! If they do not, oh well. You gave it a fair shot and shared the gems with one more person.

Not Everyone is Going to Be a Fan

The one thing in all of this that you can not forget is that you can not please all the people all the time. Personally, converting my wife was not a hard sell. She loves puzzles. However, my sister and her husband, on the other hand, run in completely different circles than I do and I do not think they will ever try a eurogame. I might get them to try Pizza Box Football, but that is where it will end. My brother might actually convert at some point.

Do not let it bother you. Just keep talking about it and we will eventually create a few more addicts together! Keep on playing the best games in the WORLD!

A Party Line Telephone

Have you ever gotten into something you did not fully understand, then when the end came, you still did not know what happened.

In the middle 1970's I was living at 191st and Yale in south Tulsa Country. I was a sophomore in college, working on TV's as a sideline to work my way through school.

When my wife and I moved out there in 1968, we had a couple of inconveniences to deal with. One of them was that we had to haul water; the other was a party-line telephone. We got past the water shortage in just a little while. But in 1975 the party-line phone was still a problem.

I do not remember how the party line worked. I do not know if we had two long rings followed by a short, a short followed by two longs or something else. But I remember what happened when one of the other members of the party line were rang. It was unmistakable. There would be a short but noticeable ring, a partial ring, a blurb. When that happened you knew someone was on the line and there was a tremendous urge to pick up the phone and see who was there, and what they were talking about. I say that only because my wife and a next door neighbor did that.

One day my wife told me that she and the neighbor had overheard a woman and man talking. The woman was whispering. "We have to quit meeting like this! We are going to get caught! I can not stand it! We have to do something!"

A week later I received a call from a woman that lived a short distance away. She wanted me to see if I could repair her TV. She lived in a white frame house positioned back off the road with a narrow lane that led up to the porch.

I drove over there, rapped the door a time or two, and it opened. I had not been there long when I realized the TV had a defective part that I did not have. I told the woman that and said I could leave her a loaner and take her TV with me; that I would give her a call when it was repaired.

A few days later I called her and said the TV was ready and wanted to know when would be a good time to come over. She thought for a moment then said I could bring it back on Thursday.

"I'm always home on Thursday evening," she said.

This took place on a Tuesday, therefore I drove over there the following Thursday and stepped up on the porch and rapped a couple of times on the door. I rapped again and still there was no answer. No one came to the door.

The house was built with a large picture window to the left of the entrance. The curtain was open or missing so I leaned over and peered inside. To my surprise I did not see a stick of furniture anywhere.

"Huh!" I thought at the time. But I was not up a creek without a paddle. I knew where her brother lived.

A couple of months ago I had worked on her brother's TV. Afterward he told me that he just was one of ten kids in his family. And before I was out the door he said that I would be hearing from them, because he would be telling them that I could fix a TV.

He lived a block west of me off Yale. Therefore I drove over there and explained the problem. I was standing outside on the porch talking to him through the open door. He laughed then pointed over my shoulder to another house across the street.

"Oh, she's staying over there with my brother." He said.

"Huh!" I thought again.

I thanked him, got in my van, backed out of the driveway and pulled into the one across the street.

I rapped a couple of times on the door and the door opened. There was a light on inside and I could clearly see that there was no furniture in that house either.

Later, back at the house, I explained what had happened to my wife and she explained what she knew. But a week later, the only thing we knew for certain was that I had my TV back; I got paid for the service call, and the secret phone calls had ceased to exist.

Now, if there is a moral to this story, it is this. If you work for the general public, people in your town, in your neighborhood, do not ever be surprised at what you might become involved. And, if you have a private line telephone. Leave it alone.

Choosing Your HAZMAT Disposal Contractor

There are 7 Things to Remember When You are in Need of Hiring a Hazardous Waste Disposal Company

1. Interview the Company

Go to the office and meet the people, see if the place is a dump or if it is organized. The lay out of the office and staff will tell you the true story of the habits of the company. When you go to visit and the facility has poor house keeping skills that SHOULD send you a message. If they have a messy office and a dirty facility that tells you that they do not pay much attention to details. Go find another company to interview.

2. You need to understand where your hazardous waste is being transported to.

Ask the contractor about the waste and what will be the “end result” of the waste material. Some waste will be recycled and that is good. Other waste material will be fixated and then sent to a landfill. You want to understand which licensed and lined landfill that your waste is going to be transported to. Learn about the landfill and how the facility tracks and disposes of your waste material.

3. Remember, YOU as the generator are responsible from cradle to grave.

Although you are hiring a contractor to transport your hazardous or non-hazardous material, YOU are the generator of the waste and YOU are totally responsible from the time you generate it to the time you dispose of it.

4. Make certain that you receive the correct documentation for the waste.

The environmental contractor needs to be able to explain the disposal documentation pertaining to each waste stream. There are bill of ladings, land ban forms and

manifests that are required for various waste streams.

5. Do not be afraid to contact your local environmental regulatory authority.

Go on the web site for your states specific regulations. Seek out the person that issues the permits for the hazardous waste haulers in your state. Ask the contact if there are any fines or “notice of violations” with the company that you are planning to hire. You are going to be educated in a very short period of time. As a matter of fact, as long as you are speaking with them ask about other firms in your area.

6. Find out the safety rating of your environmental contractor. You can simply ask them to supply you with that information or you can request an insurance certificate. This document will show you the insurance carriers and the contact information for each insurance firm. You need to find out what the safety rating is for your contractor. Each company has what they call an “Experience Modification Rating” (EMR) based on their safety rating with workman’s compensation records. An EMR of 1.0 is good and the company has a good safety record. If the firm has a EMR of 1.7 it is time for you to look elsewhere. This shows you that the company is not practicing safe working practices.

7. Last but not least, DO NOT HIRE THE CHEAPEST CONTRACTOR!!!

Saving money should not be important in choosing a waste contractor. If you are the type of person that goes out and gets three prices for your waste disposal, BEWARE. You need to keep the safety, documentation, regulatory fines and final disposal facility in mind. What good is it to you if you hire the least expensive contractor and then run into more trouble than it is worth.

Do it once and do it correctly. Do your homework. I have seen many horror shows when it comes to cheap and lousy contractors. My firm has even been hired to clean up messes that other contractors have made. If you have any questions or you feel as though I can assist you on this subject matter please feel free to contact me. I would be glad to help you in any way.

Peter Marshall

The Early History of Sheet Music in Western Civilization

Sheet music, sometimes called "score," is the hand-written or printed form of musical notation, or the system that represents aurally perceived music via the use of written symbols. The history of musical notation, and therefore of sheet music, is a long one. There are those who hold that the earliest sheet music known is a fragment of a cuneiform tablet from Nippur, an ancient Babylonian city, and dates from approximately 2000 BCE. While this music was written on a clay tablet rather than paper, it still constitutes sheet music because the term "sheet" merely differentiates music on paper from audio presentation. So although the tablet's notations are fragmentary and somewhat simple, it is probably safe to say that they represent the earliest recorded melodies in the world.

Anyone familiar with ancient Greek civilization will not be surprised to learn that the sheet music of those people was relatively complex. Ancient Greek musical notation was capable of representing pitch, note duration and, to a limited extent, harmony. It consisted of symbols placed above text syllables and was in use from at least the 6th century BCE until approximately the 4th century CE, a date that coincides with the fall of the Roman Empire.

Sheet music, like Europe as a whole, suffered a major blow when Rome fell. The art of writing music all but vanished during the times that followed, which are commonly referred to as the Dark Ages. However, by the middle of the 9th century, musical notation began to revive thanks to the Roman Catholic Church. The Gregorian chant was a ubiquitous form of worship in those days, and the monks performing it developed specific symbols, neumes, in order to record it on paper.

It is to another style of religious song of this period, the plainchant, that we owe our modern form of sheet music. The original system of writing plainchant did not utilize a staff. Although capable of expressing considerable musical complexity, such a system could not convey exact pitch or time. Sheet music from this genre served mainly as a reminder to a performer already familiar with the tune rather than a means by which a novice might learn a new song. To deal with the problem of exact pitch, a staff was introduced, originally consisting of a single horizontal line but eventually comprised of four parallel horizontal lines, which became the standard. The vertical position of a mark on the staff indicated the pitch at which it was to be sung or played. Anyone who looks at music from this period will easily recognize the roots of modern sheet music.

From the late Dark Ages until the 15th century, western sheet music was written by hand and generally preserved in large, bound volumes of manuscripts. The best known examples of such manuscripts are those of the previously mentioned plainchant, which is a form of monophonic chant. The advent of the printing press in the middle of the 15th century, of course, irrevocably changed how sheet music was created. However, it took several hundred years for printed sheet music to become the norm, and much music continued to exist solely in hand-written manuscripts until well into the 18th century.

Lowering Your Phone Bills

In this economy we're all trying to get the most out of every dollar we spend. The cost of using the telephone has long been an issue for most people on a budget. It's one of life's necessities but it can get so expensive you just want to get rid of it. Nowadays it seems every member of the family wants their own cell phone with all of the features included like text messaging and Internet. Here are some great tips that will help you wrangle in you phone expenses without losing touch with the world:

Evaluate the different calling plans. Perhaps when you signed up for your calling plan it was the best deal at the time. Things change so rapidly in the world of phone service that there might be a better plan that suits your lifestyle. Also, if you overestimated how much you'd be using your phone, you'll want to drop down in plans. If you underestimated, and are using your phone too much, you'll want to get into the plan this is right for you. Either way, you'll avoid overpaying.

Rethink the need for a cell phone. Can you get by without a cell phone? Many people claim they can not, but humans went a long time without having cell phones. Having one around for emergencies is always a good idea, but if you start using it too much you'll start going over your minutes. With services like Skype and Yahoo Voice that let you make phone calls from your computer, you might find that you do not need your cell phone enough to justify the monthly cost.

Shop around. There are so many different ways to get phone service these days, it only makes sense to do some searching online to see where the best deals are. VOIP service let's you use your broadband connection to make phone calls. Plus many online services let you make calls from your computer. If you use Gmail you've probably noticed you can use Google Talk to make video calls when both people have a webcam. It's never been cheaper to communicate with one another, so do not get bogged down by needless phone bills.

Forgo features. Even though they're fun , they're rarely necessary. Text messaging can be a cheap and fun feature for a phone, but the nickels can add up pretty quickly, especially with younger users. Having the Internet on your phone is also a big lure, but in daily practice most people find that they do not really need to take the Internet with them. The added cost that comes with these sort of features makes it hard to justify their use.

With a good hard look at how you use your phones and what services you can not live without, you should have no trouble getting your phone bills under control.

Kitchen Flooring – The Choices Are Many

Is it time to decide on kitchen flooring in your home decorating project? It can be a difficult decision when you’re not sure of exactly what you need. Kitchen floors need to be tough enough to handle the mistreatment that it receives every single day. It must be easy to clean and maintain. There will be many food spills so carpet is not a good choice for the kitchen. It is not just difficult to clean but it’s also not very hygienic. Contaminants can be trapped in the fibers of the carpets. So, what kind of flooring would be appropriate? There are many types to choose from: hardwood, marble, slate, ceramic tile, vinyl, and wood laminates.

If you are drawn to wood floors, your best choice would be laminate. Laminate looks like wood but is very durable. It has the added benefits of being easy to install, repels stains and isn’t easily damaged by water. It is also more affordable than slate or tile. True wood floors don’t handle water damage and stains well since they absorb any moisture that falls on them. They usually have to be sanded and restained on a regular basis. If they’re badly damaged, the floor will have to be ripped out and replaced. Wood floor maintenance is a tricky business because any moisture must be wiped up, and dried off, immediately.

Many people like to use slate or ceramic tiles in the kitchen because of their durability. The range of color choices and styles also makes them a good choice from a decorating point of view. The three forms of tile to look for are porcelain, ceramic, slate and quarry. One reason tile is so popular is that if one tile should break, you can simply replace it with another one without having to redo the entire floor. To prevent accidents when using slate tile, be sure that the slate used in kitchens is of the low-gloss type. High-gloss slate can become very slippery when wet. Both ceramic tiles and slate tiles are very durable. You don’t have to worry overly about water damage or stains.

Vinyl flooring is making a come-back. It is not quite as durable as tile, but is still water resistant. You can purchase vinyl either in sheets or in tiles. It’s very easy to install and easy on the feet when you have to stand in the kitchen to cook and wash dishes. Vinyl tiles are less water resistant than sheet vinyl. Another drawback is that lighter colored vinyl has a tendency to stain easily. The color choices for vinyl are many; you can find some vinyl that looks just like marble or slate without the expense.

Linoleum has come a long way since its beginning. You can now find a huge choice of styles and patterns. Linoleum is very easy to clean and is also quite resilient.

Your decision for the type of kitchen flooring should take into account your taste as well as durability and maintenance.

Preventing Accidents With Ladder Safety

Although no actual statistics are available, accidents involving ladders rate high. A good ladder is one of the most useful accessories for the handyman, but it must be used properly. Safety is important whether you are a housewife using a small step ladder in the kitchen or you are a home handyman using a 30′ extension ladder outside the house to paint the trim.

Whether using a ladder indoors or outdoors, you can avoid accidents by observing a few simple rules.

1. While aluminum or magnesium ladders are easier to handle than wood ones, remember that metal is a conductor of electricity. It is important to keep a metal ladder from coming into contact with electric power lines.

2. Don’t paint the ladder; the color will keep you from noticing such defects as cracks or splits.

3. The safest angle for a ladder is to place the feet of the ladder about a quarter of its length away from the wall. For example, a 15- foot ladder should be set away (on its feet) about 4 feet from the wall.

4. Make certain that the ladder is on firm ground and won’t slip. If you use a metal ladder and rest it on concrete walk or driveway, use rubber-bottom safety feet with the ladder. If you use a wood ladder, it should have rubber “feet” permanently attached to the bottom of it.

5. Make sure that the top of the ladder, against the wall, is also braced properly and not on a surface where it will slide. Don’t put the top of a ladder so that it rests against a screen or window pane.

6. A ladder on a roof must be thoroughly secured, and for this purpose you can obtain roof hooks to attach to the ladder at any hardware store.

7. Don’t set your ladder up so that it is directly in front of a door. If that position is necessary, lock the door and put a warning sign on it. It is a better idea to have someone stands by to make certain that the door is not inadvertently opened.

8. Never climb an extension ladder or any long ladder on a very windy day. If you must use the ladder then, have someone hold the base of the ladder as you climb up, stay up there and work and when you climb down again afterwards.

9. An easy way to carry a ladder is to paint a strip at the center of it, then take hold of the ladder and you’ll have an even balance.

10. When climbing a ladder, face the ladder, going up and coming down, and take one step at a time.

11. If you’re working high up, don’t go any higher than the third rung from the top of the ladder and always wear skid-proof soled shoes. If you’re using a step ladder, do not stand on the top step; the highest you should go is the second step from the top on a tall stepladder, over 3 feet, or next to the top on shorter ladders.

12. A chore which needs both hands, such as hanging storm sash or screens, must be figured out beforehand, so that you don’t teeter on the ladder with your hands holding heavy or swaying objects. Have someone pass them up to you, or perhaps you can pull them up with a rope.

13. If you need both hands for a quick job, grab hold of a rung of the ladder with your leg, or perhaps pass your elbow through a convenient rung.

14. Don’t try to reach over too far, when on a ladder. It’s best to get off and to move the ladder the few inches. Don’t hold a paint can when you’re on the ladder; provide a hook on which to hang the can.

15. If you own an extension ladder, and want to raise or lower it, brace the base of the ladder (on the ground) against your foot, and holding on to the ladder, lift it away from the house with one hand until it is almost vertical. Holding it with one hand, use the other hand to pull the rope which extends the ladder.

16. Furthermore, check the rope on your extension ladder periodically to see that there are no weak spots.