Contractors Have the Opportunity to Build Like Children

What toy did you enjoy playing with the most when you were little? Was it playing with Lego's and Lincoln Logs? You could create any building you wanted by snapping some tiny plastic bricks together, or could make forts for army men by overlapping brown logs on top of one another. These toys went together simply and they held together solidly, even when someone tried to destroy them. For a growing number of contractors the joy of connecting lightweight blocks together is no longer a childhood memory. Contractors are beginning to discover that they can create strong homes, commercial buildings, medical facilities and schools by stacking foam blocks on top of one another and then by filling the hollow center of the blocks with cement that is steel reinforced.

This simplistic ideal of childhood building is now an option in building today. By using insulated concrete forms (ICF's) a contractor can literally snap a building together. The foam blocks are stacked to the desired height of a building's wall and then cement is poured between the outside and inside foam. The use of ICF insulated concrete instantly gives a contractor a rock solid wall that is sealed to an outer and inner set of foam insulation.

Obliviously, the great thing about a building built using ICF's is the walls assemble easily and are very strong once built, but ICF's also make putting together the inner part of the building easy as well. A contractor who uses ICF products will soon discover that this building method is easier and faster than traditional methods.

What contractor would not love the joy of building massive Lego style buildings for kids? Contractors who use insulated concrete forms have that opportunity. They can create ICF schools. Think of the awesome feeling a contractor must have as his construction firm snaps together the building (most likely with future students watching) that will house the next generation. Because buildings that are built using ICF's make less waste and are super efficient when they are built, the bonus is the contractor knows he is building a school that is friendly to the environment.

Budget Friendly Halloween Costumes

…by observing you, children learn how to create and they learn craft. These powerful memories imprint a more important message. They come to understand the superiority of the creative tightwad method. – Amy Dacyczyn, a.k.a. The Frugal Zealot

Halloween costumes are so different today. Super heroes, wizards, and cartoon characters rule the trick or treat. It was not too long ago…..ok it was maybe a while ago……when I was a small trick or treater that costumes were much more original.

You were not likely to bump into three or four other characters that looked exactly like you. Oh, you might run into a costume of the same theme, but it would be totally unique by comparison. Of course my mom created our Halloween costumes. You can create unique Halloween costumes and save money by recycling items.

Create your own unique costumes. Remember that Halloween costumes exaggerate to be most effective. So the more accessories, the better. Some easy to make costumes using items around the house, borrowed from friends and/or relatives, or purchased for next to nothing at your local thrift store include:

  • The little old lady or man – dress accordingly in an older man’s (a suit is great) or woman’s clothing. A hat is a nice touch. If you don’t have a real walking cane you can substitute an appropriate size stick. Add some creative face painting with lots of wrinkles of course. Be sure to add the cracking voice and a prominent limp.
  • The Hobo – Recycle some unwanted clothing. Paint on or put on patches, rip some areas (especially around the bottoms of pants, ends of sleeves, elbows and knees, since these areas show wear first). Use black or brown makeup to smudge the face a little to look un-kept. Blush the nose to look a little reddish. (hobos get cold outside) Sport the oldest pair of worn looking shoes you can find (or even better, two different shoes) and a tattered hat and you’re good to go!
  • Princess – This is a timeless costume. I think every little girl wants to be a princess at least once. But don’t rush out and buy the frilliest costume you see. The princess is merely an expression of elegance. As long as your little girl feels elegant she is a princess. If you don’t already have a full length fancy party dress, check the thrift store for a low cost floor length party dress. Just pick one that looks “princessy.” Even better, borrow one if possible.

    A princess wand can be easily made with a dowel or stick and a cardboard star covered with foil. Add frills with duster feathers or ribbons if desired. Make a crown. You can easily make one using a headband and craft materials. Here’s a great tip: Recycle a Burger King Crown. You know the crowns they give out to all the little kiddies at Burger King. You can cover with foil or paint and add beads or gemstones to decorate. They also make a great pattern for a crown if you want to create it out of some other material you have.

  • Animals: For toddlers: Use one piece pajamas as a starting point. An extra bonus: the pajamas are warm clothing for what is typically a cool weather night in many areas. For example.. a fuzzy white, brown, black, or even pink footed pajama can easily become a kitten, rabbit, or dog. Add a home made tail using scrap fabrics (attach with safety pin), a headband with the appropriate ears attached, or if you use a hooded outfit attach ears directly to hood), some creative face painting using home made face paint (below), and you’ve got a cute little costume that can be used as a comfy outfit after trick or treat!

    For older children use tights or stretch pants, and turtleneck shirts, sweaters, hooded sweatshirts all in the desired color instead of the pajamas. Use desired color of mittens or gloves for paws. Bats, lions, tigers, even a skunk can be created in much the same way as the above animals!

    Halloween Costume Recycling Tip: Remove the stuffing from an unwanted large stuffed animal (through a cut slit down back), launder, and use sections of fabic for costume. Or, cut a hole for the face and your toddler may be small enough to fit right in and use for hooded costume.

  • The Big Baby: This is an amusing costume for an older child. Return to the diaper zone! A bottle or pacifier, a bib, a homemade cloth diaper (over tights or pants of course), and a rattle. Add some rosy cheeks and your youngster will be ready to laugh (or cry) his/her way through trick or treat.
  • The Graduate – Have an old graduation cap and gown? If it doesn’t hold too much sentimental value, you can use it to create a very simple, easy, costume. Create a fake diploma and drape it from the waist tied by a string or yarn of same color or wear like a necklace. You don’t want the trick or treater to have to carry it. I’ve discovered these types of accessories usually end up in Mom’s or Dad’s hands to carry after a short time.
  • Halloween Costume Recycling Tip: Any discarded or unwanted work uniform (nursing, military, fireman, policeman) can be used as a Halloween costume.

  • The Witch – A long black dress or all over black pants with black top can be combined with a witch hat and black cape(make your own if you’re crafty). Add black boots and make up face to suit.
  • Scarecrow – cut up some old jeans and a flannel shirt in scarecrow fashion. Cut sleeve ends and pants leg ends in strips to look tattered. Use straw or an old straw broom’s bristles and glue or tape along inside edges of sleeves, pants legs, along bottom of shirt to appear as if bursting out of the scarecrow. Add a straw hat.
  • These are all good halloween costume ideas and I’m sure you get the picture by now. The idea is to use as many items as you have on hand to create these timeless Halloween costumes. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

    Don’t let that little girl cry because you can’t find her the purrrrrrrrrrr-fect cat costume. You can create a much nicer one from everyday items and a few craft materials. Chances are it will look more realistic than that store bought costume. As a bonus, many of the costume pieces (i.e. shirts, pants, tights, gloves/mittens) are reusable after Halloween!

    A few other Halloween tips:

    1. Use spray paints or craft paints. fabric dye, fabric paints and/or pens, to color recycled items to desired color. One year I used silver spray paint to color and entire outfit for my son’s tin man costume. We recycled aluminum foil to use in making the hat and the axe. Some silver body glitter on the hands and face put the finishing touches on this costume!

    2. Use regular clothing to create an all-over color effect as with the animal costumes.

    3. Consider mittens or gloves when you need hand color

    4. A gallon ice cream bucket w/handle makes a perfect trick or treat bucket. I save these throughout the year and recycle for hundreds of other uses. Use neon paint or stickers to add bright decorations. This is a good safety technique to make kids more visible while trick or treating

    5. Make your own face paint: You will need Corn starch, Water, Cold cream, and Food coloring.

    Use several different cups (custard cups, recycled single serve yogurt or Jell-O containers, a foam egg carton) Prepare 1 tsp cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon each of cold cream and water. Mix different color food coloring in each cup for desired colors

    Make your own cream make up:

    2 tsp white shortening

    5 tsp corn starch

    1 tsp white all purpose flour

    glycerin (get at drug store)

    Food coloring as desired

    To make enough for one child’s face – Use a rubber spatula, blend the first three ingredients until a smooth paste forms. Add 3/4 drops glycerin for a creamier consistency. Add coloring if desired one drop at a time blending after each drop until you have the desired shade. For easy removal use shortening, cold cream or baby oil.

    Remember your Halloween safety. Here are a few, but certainly not all inclusive, reminders of safe trick or treat rules.

    1. Small children should always be accompanied by an adult.

    2. Use flashlights, bright costumes or decorations to make trick or treaters more visible.

    3. Try to frequent the same limited area each year or limit visits to friends and families.

    4. Remind children not to eat candy until they get home and have moms and dads check and approve.

    5. A safe costume should not block or restrict a child’s vision or interfere with mobility. Make sure costumes are of a safe length so as not to trip the child.

    Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

    Candy Cane Christmas Countdown

    One of the simplest holiday crafts that can be made and bring about so much fun is a candy cane Christmas countdown. Not only is it a simple craft to make, but it's also an inexpensive one, too.

    Start by gathering the necessary supplies, including a dowel of at least 1/2 an inch, some white craft paint (shimmer paint for added effect, if desired), some red craft paint, a paint brush or craft sponge, a terra cotta plant holder, a foam ball that fits the plant holder, a hot glue gun or craft glue, twine or seasonal-colored ribbon, scissors, construction paper, a black permanent marker and a hand-held hole puncher.

    The size of the terra cotta plant holder and the sections of dowel will depend on the number of candy canes you wish to use when counting down to Christmas, and the size of the styrofoam ball will depend on the terra cotta plant holder. Some similar crafts use as many as 25, one for each day of the month of December until Christmas day arrives, while others use only 12, one for the traditional twelve days of Christmas. Decide which is more appealing to you, and base the sizes of the plant holder and the dowels accordingly.

    To allow sufficient drying time, first paint the terra cotta plant holder. Use the white or red craft paint or another color if you so choose. Then, set it aside to dry. Once it has dried, embellish the outside of the plant holder with other holiday decor if you'd like. The addition of small bows made of ribbon, jingle bells, a combination of the two, or a holiday wrapping paper collage certainly add creative touches.

    Next, cut the dowel into equal sections. Although it likely will not be necessary with such a small dowel circumference, use a piece of sandpaper to smooth the cut ends if necessary. Then, use the white paint and paint brush, or craft sponge, to paint the dowel sections, and allow them to dry sufficiently.

    You're waiting 's The while for the plant holder and wood Dowel sections to dry the , section off the construction paper into squares. In the center of each, number sequentially through 12 or 25. For a lasting effect, have the sheet (s) of construction paper laminated. Then, hole punch each in the desired fashion, generally either in the top center of the square or on either side of the top of the square (to create a diagonal hanging effect). Add about three inches of untied holiday ribbon or twine through each hole punch and set aside.

    Next, securely place the foam ball into the bottom of the terra cotta plant holder. If you wish, add a little hot glue or craft glue to the bottom of the plant holder for added security. If you'd like, add tissue paper confetti to the top to cover the styrofoam ball.

    Use the paint brush and the red craft paint to add the traditional stripe found on candy canes. For added texture or dimension, consider using puff paint instead. Again, allow time for the hardwood dowel sections to dry.

    Finally, tie each hole-punched construction paper square around the top of a completed dowel candy cane, and place the candy cane into the styrofoam ball.

    Count down the days until Christmas by removing the appropriately numbered candy cane at the end of each day.

    ECA Stack Reviews and Body Building Tips

    ECA stack is a new supplement that offers nutrients and body building properties. The supplement made for bodybuilders include a variety of formulas. Some of the common brands include Sports One, which is the Ephedra-Drene 55 fast-acting ECA stack.

    The bottle contains 100 capsules and is known as the lucky vitamin, since it claims to offer fast-acting ECA stack, which enables you to burn fat fast while boosting massive energy. Sports One is potent and has an exceedingly strong ephedra.

    Ephedra is a weight loss supplement or dietary supplement that is said to accelerate fat loss while increasing energy, stamina, and the metabolic rate. It is also increases sex drive or libido. Ephedra went during scientific studies prove to deliver fast results for losing weight combined with massive intense energy boosts.

    By producing massive energy, Ephedra can increase endurance, which encourages weight reduction. Another choice of supplements is the Sports One – Methyl Ephedra ECA formula that contains 120 capsules.

    This formula is stacked with 500 Mg of real Guaranna, Yohimbine extract, and is loaded with real hoodie and high voltage caffeine. The supplement has dynamic ingredients that deliver fat burning agents and muscle exploding definition combined with weight loss.

    This formula also produces energy from herbal stacks and caffeine. Listed under bodybuilding supplements is the ECA-Stack blend for intense energy. According to reviews, the formula offers the strongest energy from herbal stacks and caffeine. It contains that same ingredients as the second bottle, yet this formula costs about $10 less.

    Other ingredients include white willow bark, synephrine, green tea extract, gelatin, and magnesium stearate for flavor.

    Other blends include the Sports One real deal, which is the 120cc that comes in a 2.5-ounce bottle. This blend was formulated to offer the right amount of Ma Huang Hoodia., Caffeine with white willow bark and green tea. Other ingredients include Yohimbine, which promotes healthy libido and optimal fat burning.

    Vapor XT comes in 90 capsules and is the advance muscle science formula, which increases thermogenesis-blunts and appetite energy. Ephedra is said to be the fast-acting formula for weight reduction and energy boosting. Thus, you can compare the different blends on the Internet to help you decide, which formula is right for you.

    Toward Technological Environmentalism

    Environmentalism has never been wrong, but many of its methods have been. One major mistake of environmentalism has been hating technology. In fact, the environmental damage is not due to technology; it is due to wrong technology. And using better technology will solve most of the problems that environmentalism decries.

    While much damage to nature can indeed be ascribed to technology such as oil and coal, much damage is actually quite low-tech. The deforestation of the rainforests, like deforestation of Sahara by Berbers and American Southwest by the Anasazi in ages much prior, is due to slash-and-burn agriculture – a brainless age-old practice which has nothing to do with technology at all. And while many uses of technology today are just as brainless, doing away with technology is simply not a feasible option. The earth cannot sustain 7 billion subsistence farmers, and if the technological economy were to collapse most of the people around the world would be dead.

    Fortunately there are real solutions, and they are technological in nature. In energy sector, it means moving to better technologies, such as Hydrogen Transmission Network (link below), which will fulfill people’s water and energy needs, at present and greater levels, through a process that takes from nature nothing that can’t be replaced and returns into nature nothing harmful. In case of regular pollution in rapidly industrializing places such as China and India, the solution is as simple as using smokestack filter and water effluent filter technology that already exists in the West and applying it on their own effluent filters and smokestacks.

    One recent trend in environmentalism has been eco-feminism, which states that women are by nature carers while men are by nature destroyers, and that patriarchal social arrangements have been terrible for the planet. While there are many women who are in fact caring people, and while good case can very well be made for strengthening women’s role in society, I do not see how hating men will solve the problems of the world. There is legitimate need for improving the way in which people relate to the planet. Fortunately, there is enough in human intelligence – and that means human scientific and technological intelligence – to create practical implementations for just that rightful purpose.

    Then there are people in Abrahamic religions who say that it is up to God to solve this problem. Well no, it is not up to God. People created this problem; people must solve this problem, and it is not fair to ask God to clean up our mess. There are real, human, solutions to this human-made problem, and these must be put into place before expecting any kind of supernatural intervention.

    Finally, the people who want to live outside of technology should be able to do so without facing criminalization or harassment. Freedom means freedom of lifestyle, and for freedom to mean anything people should have meaningful choice of lifestyle, whether they want to live with technology or without. People have right to contribute to and enjoy both human-made world of technological civilization and the non-human-made world of nature. With both being the reality of people’s lives, will be made the most of existence of human beings, which are beings both natural to the extent that they follow the laws of nature and uniquely human to the extent that they forge matters according to their own volition. And that full experience of and addition to life is a worthwhile state of affairs toward which to strive.

    Arced Elegance With The Sony Ericsson Arc

    When we think of handsets by Sony Ericsson, the first thing that comes to mind is the Xperia series. This line has created popular handsets such as the X8, the X10, and the X10 Mini. Now, they have done it again with their version of slim and powerful Android smartphones. This is the Sony Ericsson Arc.

    The phone's design combines both innovation and elegance. One look at the phone and you will clearly see the slim and arced design. It is 125 mm high, 63 mm wide, and a mere 8.7 mm thick. It weighs in at only 117 grams. There is more to its curved design. The Arc provides an ergonomic grip, which prevents it from slipping off of your hands. Furthermore, it provides strength and rigidity for a smartphone this slim.

    Innovation does not end in its curve. It delivers crisp and clear imagery with its 4.2 inch Bravia display. You will enjoy everything from high-resolution images to high-definition videos on this innovative touch screen. With a dedicated graphics processing unit, it allows you to enjoy more from 3D, 16 million colors, and a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels on its LED backlit LCD. Not only does the screen allow you to enjoy spectacular images and videos; it is also scratch resistant.

    If you are looking for an HD phone, the Arc comes with hardware that will not disappoint. It comes with 8.1 MP camera, LED flash, autofocus, touch focus, geotagging, image stabilization, face detection, and smile detection. If you thought the flash was enough, it comes with an additional feature that allows you to capture images in unfavorable lighting conditions. With Sony Exmor R, you can take pictures and record videos in low light. This will result in high-resolution images and high-definition videos that can be shown on a HDTV via HDMI connection.

    When Android comes to mind, this smartphone comes with the latest software Android has to offer. It comes with the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS. With this operating system, you are sure to enjoy more from high-speed internet, flash integration, HTML 5 integration, power efficiency, multitasking, apps, and so much more. With the Sony Ericsson Arc, you get arced elegance and innovation.

    Bow Porcelain

    The Bow Porcelain Company was established in Bow in East London (although considered Essex at the time) sometime around 1747. It was an imitator and emulative rival of the Chelsea porcelain factory on the opposite side of London. Like the Chelsea porcelain factory, the Bow factory was one of the first porcelain factories in Britain to make soft-paste porcelain. The factory's designs mimicked Chinese and Japanese porcelain as well as Meissen figures, which were often copied directly from the Chelsea factory. Thomas Frye, a well known Irish painter, was in charge of the factory and claimed to be the inventor as well as first manufacturer of porcelain in Britain, although this is contested.


    While porcelain was already popular in Britain when the Bow factory opened, it was extremely fragile and expensive as most of it was imported from overseas. Frye invented a way of creating porcelain from bone ash which strengthened it and gave it an impressive luminescence. From the start, the company focused on more ordinary and useful wares which complimented the improved durability offered by Frye's porcelain making method. The factory became well known for its dinnerware as well as figurines, many of which were copied from the Chelsea factory. Most of the wares were made in blue and white and based on oriental designs. It continued making mainly oriental style porcelain pieces until around 1756, when demand for European style pieces and transfer print painted pieces became heavier. Around 1758, when the factory was at its most successful, it had 300 workers. Although the factory was hugely successful, pieces made there were known for being of inconsistent quality.


    The Bow factory rarely used a mark, making it somewhat more difficult to identify pieces made by the factory. Some pieces made in 1760 do have an anchor and dagger mark, although this could have been the mark of an outside decorator for the factory. In 1759, Thomas Frye retired from the factory and there began a slow descent in the quality and popularity of Bow porcelain. While the factory continued for another 13 years, pieces made towards the end of this period were well known for being underfired and lacking the impressive luminescence of earlier pieces. In 1776, after years of decline, the factory was sold for a small sum to William Duesbury. Duesbury was already the owner of Derby porcelain and he chose to send all the moulds and implements from Bow to Derby, thereby putting an end to Bow porcelain.

    4 Simple Steps for Improving Your Home's Drainage

    A house that does not have enough drainage will be noticeable when a major rain storm occurs. As water will not be able to drain away, a home is expected to have pools of water and a wet basement around its foundation. However, you can take some steps in order to improve your home's drainage.

    1. Do Proper Checking

    You need to check the downspouts and gutters so that you can be sure they will work properly and they are clean. When a house fails to drain, it could cause clogging gutters with dirt or leaves. When this happens the water that falls in your house will not be taken out.

    2. Make Sure Gutters are Free of Debris

    You must clear any debris which could be found in your gutters. You can do this by making use of a small trowel. Make sure that all gutters are checked because clogs on the drainage system are likely to result in improper drainage.

    3. Change Land Sloping that Surrounds the House

    You will do this when you continue to see poor drainage in your house while downspouts and gutters are functioning. The surrounding area should be added with fill dirt to make sure that rain will flow downhill away from your house. This will prevent the collection of dirt around the house's foundation. In fact the dirt will not also seep into your basement when you perform this procedure.

    In order to enhance home drainage, you can also use an exterior drain system. However, this option may require a higher amount of money and more intensive work than just changing the land slope using additional dirt.

    4. Build a Bog, Water Garden or Pond

    You can do this construction in the wet area in your house. With this, you may need the assistance of a professional as you must carefully sculpt the land to make sure that the supply of water will be continued. Having a tiny pond in place will allow wildlife to gravitate in a natural way towards wet areas in your house as drinking places.

    Birds like mocking birds, grackles, cardinals and catbirds will look for a wet garden. Additionally, you can place a catch basin which you must hide behind shrubs so that water runoff will be stored. Lastly, your house may have some areas that are often damp. You just have to place in many moisture-loving plants and have the area converted into a bog garden.

    Drain Cleaning Steps

    Gather Supplies

    You do not want to be elbow deep in drain cleaning when you look up and realize that you need a trash can or towel. Before you do anything, gather up everything that you will need. It is best to have an old towel available to dry off your hands and the cap to one of the drains. It may get pretty yucky, so you do not want to use anything that can not be ruined. Be sure to have a towel close by.

    You need to have somewhere to toss all of the things that you are going to find as you clean. Keep it right beside you throughout the process. You may want to have some type of plumbing snake if you think that the clog is beyond your reach. If it is something that you can see, you can use your hands, (yes, it can be a little gross) or an object that can easily reach in and grab some of the debris.

    Remove the Covers of the Drains

    When drain cleaning, you want to be able to get to the area you are going to work on. Start by removing the caps or covers so that you are looking into one of the drains. While visibility will be low, you should at least be able to see some of the things preventing the water from going down correctly.

    Using your fingers, or other object, reach in and remove whatever it is that you see. There might be something large that has gone down, but usually it is a combination of hair, toothpaste, and other items that consistently get rinsed into the sink. There is no way around this step. For the most part, it is prety disgusting and most people do not mind avoiding this task until absolutely necessary.

    Getting Help

    If the drain cleaning has been put off for a while and now the problem is more severe, consider calling in a local professional to come in and take care of everything. Their work will be more thorough and you can be sure that there will be no water backing up into the sink again for quite a while.

    As with other homeowner maintenance, there will be things that you can do to prevent the build up from occurring again. Be sure to ask questions about what you can do in the future to make sure that the system runs smoothly. While drain cleaning is not something that can be skipped altogether, remember that there are companies in your area that can make the job a while lot easier.

    How to Handle a Power Drill

    Power drills are great tools and can be used for various jobs besides just drilling holes. You can also use them install screws, strip paint, and even use them as sanders and polishers. The power drill is very versatile but can also be dangerous if used wrong. Here is a brief run through on how to properly use a power drill.

    The first thing you need to do is make sure that you are going to have enough cord to run from the outlet to where your work needs to be done. If the power cord provided by the power drill is not long enough, you can use an extension cord to reach the rest of the way. Just make sure that the cord is not laying in or near a puddle of water. This goes without saying but a power cord laying in water could result in an electric shock that could lead to sever injury or death.

    Before you plug in your new power drill, you'll need to open the chuck by using the chuck key that the drill comes with. Just slide the key into the hole and turn it counterclockwise to open it up.

    With the chuck loose, you'll want to now insert the drill bit into the front of the drill. Make sure you select the right type of drill bit for your job. Some of the most common drill bits are as follows:

    Twist Bit: This is your normal drill bit that allows you to drill a hole into wood, plastic, and / or a light metal.

    Spade Bit: This bit does the same as a normal twist bit but can drill bigger holes more effectively.

    Hole Saw: This drill is primarily used for boring large holes usually from a half inch to six inches in diameter.

    Glass Bit: You can use this to bore holes in glass or certain tiles.

    Screwdriver Bits: These bits are for your normal flat head or Phillips screwdriver and are used for us lazy folk who do not want to use a normal screwdriver.

    There are literally thousands of more bits available to fit the many jobs you need a drill for. Be sure to find the right drill bit for your job description.

    Once you have the right drill bit in place, then use the chuck key to fasten it in by turning it clockwise this time. Make sure it is nice and tight so it does not fly off when in use.

    Now you can go ahead and plug in the drill and press the trigger to make sure that it is on and running. Once it's on and running, make sure to line it up precisely and hold your hand steady and firm while drilling.

    Make sure to read all safety and drill precautions that come with the drill before you use it.

    Types of Timber Flooring

    Of the various flooring types, wood flooring is considered as one of the classiest form of flooring. It’s made from a relatively easily and cheaply available material, timber, but the finished product is palatial. There are basically two types of wood floorings, as described below.

    Solid Wood: This type of wood flooring is milled from a single piece of timber that is kiln or air dried before sawing. It is installed above a concrete floor. The timber from which it is derived may be cut into three ways, flat-sawn, quarter-sawn, and rift-sawn. The kind of flooring you wish to apply determines the way the timber should be cut. After this process, the timber is either packed unfinished for a site-finished installation, or finished at the factory. The manufacturers also need to carefully control the moisture content, so that the product doesn’t get distorted during transport and storage. Most solid woods incorporate absorption strips to reduce cupping. Absorption strips are simply grooves cut into the back of the wood that run the length of each plank.

    Engineered Wood: This is the type that is used all over the world. It consists of many layers, with the top one visible above the surface. The top most hardwood surface is covered with multiple layers (generally six) of varnish. Each layer below runs at 90 degrees to the one above. This makes the engineered material more stable. Engineered floors are divided into still more types. Veneer floors use a thin layer of wood over a core that is commonly a composite wood product. Acrylic impregnated wood flooring, as the name suggests, uses a layer of wood impregnated with liquid acrylic.

    The wood may be engineered differently from the aforementioned ways too, depending upon the need and affordability of the customer.

    Rotary-Peel: The log of wood is first placed in boiling water at a certain temperature for some time. Then after the log is removed from the hot water, it is peeled off with the help of a blade, starting from the outside and gradually proceeding towards the core. This sheet thus formed is called a veneer. The veneer is then pressed flat with high pressure. The end-product is applied to the concrete floor to give a wooden floor appearance.

    Sliced-Peel: This process is quite similar to rotary-peel, with the difference being in the way the wood has been cut. While in the former, the wood is peeled off horizontally, here the wood is sliced from the edges, giving it a circular look. The rest of the process is quite the same.

    Dry Solid-Sawn: Here, the wood is not boiled but kept at a low humidity level and dried slowly to draw moisture from the inside of the wood cells. The log is then sawed similar to the way it is while making hardwood flooring. Even the look obtained by this kind of engineering is similar to that of hardwood flooring. It’s devoid of the drawbacks of rotary-peeled and sliced-peeled floors like face-checking, and the risk of springing back to its original circular shape again.

    A Wood Guide For BBQ Smoking

    What are the wood types suitable for using in your BBQ Smoker or on your grill. This is a question that is always coming up. This guide might help.

    Here is a list that was compiled from various sources.

    Acacia trees are in the same family as mesquite. When burned in a smoker, acacia has a flavor similar to mesquite but not quite as heavy. Acacia is a very hot burning wood.

    Alder is a favorite of the natives in the Pacific Northwest to smoke salmon and halibut with. It gives off a delicate woody, smoke flavor with a hint of sweetness. Great with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.

    Almond wood has a sweet smokey flavor, with light ash. Good with all meats.

    Apple wood and Crab Apple wood have a very mild but subtle fruity flavor and is slightly sweet. Good with poultry and pork. Excellent with bacon and ribs!!!!

    Ash wood is a fast burner. It has a light but distinctive flavor. Good with fish and red meats.

    Birch is a medium to hard wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.

    Cherry tree wood is mild and fruity. Good with poultry, pork and beef. Some people say the cherry wood is the best wood for smoking.

    Citrus trees, like lemon and orange produce a nice mild smoky flavor. Excellent with beef, pork, fish and poultry.

    Cottonwood trees are a softer wood than alder and have a very subtle flavor. You may wish to add some other stronger flavor of wood when using Cottonwood.

    Drupe wood, or other fruit tree wood, the flavor is mild and sweet. Peaches and nectarines are great smoke for most lighter meats like pork, chicken and fish.

    Grapevines can be used for smoking. They tend to produce a tart flavor but the vines provide a lot of rich and fruity smoke. Good with poultry, red meats, game and lamb.

    Hickory is probably the most commonly used wood for smoking. It has a sweet to strong, heavy smokey bacon type flavor. Good with pork, ham poultry, fish, and beef.

    Lilac wood, if you can find it has a very light, subtle flavor with a flowery hint. Good with seafood and lamb.

    Maple wood produces a smoky, mellow and slightly sweet flavor. Good with pork, poultry, cheese, and small game birds.

    Mesquite has a strong earthy flavor. It is great wood for smoking beef, fish, chicken, and game. Mesquite is one of the hottest burning woods. Some people insist that too much mesquite smoke can be a bad thing. I’ve heard that smoking with mesquite for too long can create a bitter flavor.

    Mulberry wood has a subtle yet sweet flavor to it’s smoke.

    Oak trees create a very smokey flavor. There are many different kinds of oak. All are good for smoke. Good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game.

    Pear trees give a nice subtle smokey flavor. Very similar to mulberry or apple. Excellent with chicken and pork.

    Pecan wood has a sweet and mild flavor similar to hickory. Pecan is a great wood to smoke with if it can be found. Good with poultry, beef, pork and cheese.

    Walnut has a very heavy smoke flavor. You may want to mix it with some lighter or fruity wood so as not to get a bitter flavor. Good with red meats and game.

    Other internet sources report that wood from the following trees is also suitable for smoking. Trees like Avocado, Beech, Butternut, Carrotwood, Chestnut, Fig, Persimmon, and Olive. Most fruit and nut woods are great for smoking meat.

    Never use any wood from conifer or evergreen trees. Just stay away from high resin producing woods like pine. Not only can they be deadly, they can make your food bitter as well. Yes, I know that cedar planks are popular for cooking salmon on, but I don’t know anyone who burns cedar as a smoke wood. I have also heard that elm, eucalyptus, sassafras, and sycamore can induce a bad flavor as well.

    Don’t ever use lumber scraps. Some lumber is treated with chemicals, which are poisonous.

    Never use wood that has been painted. Paint can be poisonous too.

    Where do you get some of these fancier woods to smoke your food with?

    If you have the right type of trees in your yard or neighborhood, go ahead and pick up stumps and sticks. Make sure that you know what kind of wood that you are picking up though. If you have branches fall from trees, make sure they are not moldy. You should never use wood that is moldy.

    There are some sources on the internet where wood chunks, chips, pellets, even smoker bags are available, but not for all types of wood. Things like lilac and grapevines are items that you are going to need to find in your own neighborhood.

    A local firewood company may be able to hook you up. I used to work for a firewood company that every time we had fruit wood,mostly cherry or apple, it went right to a local restaurant that only cooked with fruit woods. I also have a friend that owns a wood fired pizza place. He has an account with a firewood company. They bring him only hardwoods.

    You can usually find some woods where you can purchase your smokers and grills. My local hardware store sells chunk and chip hickory and mesquite.

    You can always volunteer to take down a neighbors trees. Again, just make sure you know what kind of trees you are getting.

    Using green wood is not always preferable. Nice seasoned wood is always better.

    Soaking or not soaking your wood chips or chunks is an on going debate. That is up to you. I’ve heard arguments for both ways, so I’d say it is your preference. I have seen wine infused smoking wood. Sounds interesting, but I don’t think I want to waste my own wine to do this.

    How to Use a Ouija Board

    Respect the Ouija? The first word I would use would be “respect”. The Ouija Board should be considered much like a campfire; It can be a rewarding experience or could be very hazardous if used in a careless way. The most important question of all! Preparation is the KEY to the Ouija Board. You must set up and maintain a positive energetic environment so that you will only invite those entities who mean you no harm.

    On the other side of the “spirit world” there are just as many types of people as their are here on the physical world. When you invite a communication with the spirit world in a silly or disrespectful way you are inviting basically any spirit to come inside your vibration. If you take the time to prepare for a purposeful session then you will likely draw those who are most in tune with your intention and also those who are like minded as you are. With out any doubt, you want to prepare yourself to be in a positive frame of mind, a position of self power and declare who you wish to invite.

    Before each session release any fear that you may have, because fear will actually invite a scary experience. Think about your self confidence, assume a position of authority and declare something like this, “I surround myself with light, and the power of God. (imagine this also) I wish to communicate with someone who would like to communicate with me.” (Don’t ask for specific spirits by name, if there is someone you wish to speak with, they will eventually present themselves anyway) “You must have my best interest in heart and come through with love and light.”

    You may use your own variations of this of course, but the idea is to set a field of protection and state your intent to deal only with positive beings. Even doing this, one should still take any information gained with a grain of salt until information can be validated.

    Respect the Ouija Board in the sense of its use, which is really not a game at all. It is a tool that can help you explore other dimensions of this huge world we live in. Look at it like this; In the physical world, criminals one way or another are attracted to each other. They may wind up in prison together, or they often times live together in the same neighborhoods. Like-energy attracts like-energy. Same in the spirit world! Most people when they cross over go into the light and simply move away from the earth frequency to do bigger and better things. However some, for one reason or another will stay in the earth frequency to be around past addictions or people. Of all the spirits still attracted to the earth frequency, there are what we would consider good and bad. Always take any information gained in the experience with a grain of salt. If you have attracted a reputable guide of sorts, then over time the information can be validated.

    After each use of the Ouija Board, bless the board and say a small prayer or mantra.

    Playing the Ouija Board; It is possible to use the Ouija Board as a single user. However, this takes practice and patience. Being only a single player, you have to build up an energy center that is much more than what is present with two or more people. Having said that, it is possible that on your first solo attempt that you may have full success; but if you don’t just keep trying and it should begin to move for you.

    As a single user, place the Ouija Board on your lap and find a comfortable position where you can rest just the finger tips of both hands on the planchette. Find your center and say your declaration of power and protection. Then ask for communication. Its possible the planchette could begin moving right away. If it doesn’t, after a few moments restate your question. Be aware of any feelings you may have in your arms and hands. Be aware of any muscle twitches or spasms. Any feelings out of the ordinary are clues that the energy is working. As I’ve said, as a single player it may take more practice than using the board with two or more. Just be patient and keep practicing.

    Two or more players; This is very similar to the single player method as stated above. However with two players only, place the board across the knees of each player, while each player faces each other in a comfortable chair. With more than two players, place the Ouija Board upon a table.

    Use a tape recorder to call out the letters as they are spelled out as you will not be able to remember them all. Keep sessions under 30 minutes. If at anytime you feel any negative influences, state a mantra of some sort to bless the board and the players and put the board up for the day. Next time, spend more time in preparing to have a spiritually clean environment.

    The more time you spend with the board, the better results you will obtain as with most things. If you keep your intentions clear and focused you may even be able to communicate with a wise being who can be very rewarding to your growth and knowledge. As I said, use respect. Take charge of the experience to set up the harmonious environment that you seek.

    Outdoor Ceiling Fans – An Introduction

    Imagine kicking back on the porch on a warm summer's evening. The sun is setting, the flowers in your yard are in full bloom, and you are surrounded by friends and family. Life is good.

    Except, of course, for the fact that you're baking in the sweltering heat. You would give anything to have a nice, gentle breeze to cool things down so that you can enjoy this beautiful evening in comfort.

    As it turns out, you can have a cooling breeze at your will with an outdoor ceiling fan. Not many people realize it, but the same type of ceiling fan that you use inside your home can be modified to work outside, hanging from your covered porch to provide a cooling breeze whenever you feel like it.

    These fans are similarly styled to indoor fans, but are made more rugged so that they can survive outdoors. This allows you to enjoy years of worry free operation in situations where an indoor fan might quickly fail.

    There are two levels of weatherproofing available for these fans, damp and wet. As the name suggests, wet rated fans are the most rugged, designed for situations where moisture is likely to be encountered, such as an open porch. Damp rate fans are designed for more sheltered situations such as screened in porches and the like. Neither is designed for full on exposure to the elements, but if you're in doubt, consider getting the wet model to be safe.

    You can install these outdoor ceiling fans yourself, but it is quite likely that wiring will need to be run in order to power the fan. if this is the case, you might find to consider finding yourself a professional to install the fan for you, so that you are not risking injury by installing the wiring yourself.

    While having an outdoor fan might not be quite the same as sitting indoors with air conditioning, having that on demand breeze can really enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors. There are a wide variety of outdoor rate fans on the market, so you are sure to find one that works for you.

    Hiring a Sub-Contractor For Jobs

    A Subcontractor is an individual or a company hired by a general or principal contractor to perform a specific task as part of a large-scale project.

    A subcontractor can be a sole entity – eg an electrician undertaking work for a building contractor – or any national organization. A subcontractor works on a contract with the contractor for some provided services and generally the contractor does not employ the subcontractor as a regular employee. Subcontractors perform a part of the project for which the contractor is responsible. For instance, a contractor may hire an electrician to complete a part of the contractor's overall project. The contractor is liable to the customer for the total work including the part done by the subcontractor. Subcontractors work on contracts without any fixed termination date and the work can be stopped at any moment

    Important points to remember Before Hiring a Sub-Contractor:

    1. While hiring a sub-contractor be sure that he has the respective state's license for his said trade.

    2. Know the background and work ethics of the sub-contractor it must be checked whether there are any complaints logged against the sub-contractor to prevent yourself from hiring someone who can cause problems.

    3. In the written document, it should be specified that the subcontractors' are not employees and that they are to pay their own taxes and benefits.

    4. To protect both parties businesses, the working relationship must begin with a comprehensive written contract.

    5. Have on paper a list of materials used so that if any changes are made, both parties including the homeowner signs off on the changes.

    6. Do not let the clients deal with the sub-contractors on jobs.

    7. Make sure to go through the sites and let the sub contractors know what is expected of them. A sub contractor is responsible for all works and needs to check and rectify the work performed by the sub contractor.

    8. It is very important to review and inspect the work completed by the sub-contractor on each job.

    9. While dealing with a sub contractor, it is very important to save the records of dealings with him which contain the contract papers, repairing list and cost incurred, up to date copies of certificates etc. Keeping records of all kind of conversations even after the project is completed is sometimes helpful.

    10. Both the parties should have a good relationship with each other. For the general contractor, working with a dependable subcontractor implies completing jobs as per requirements. And for the subcontractor, a sound reputation gives better opportunities for his career and future jobs.

    The written agreement is the base of a subcontractor agreement. It is the base document in the file of documentation which is needed when a sub contractor is hired. But there are basic points which should be checked before starting work:

    • Certificates of insurance. There must be a condition in the agreement that makes it mandatory for subcontractors to carry workers' compensation insurance, general liability insurance etc. Make sure that certificate of insurance issued by the subcontractors 'insurer shows that workers' compensation is currently in place and details the coverage's, expiry dates and limitation of the policy.
    • Indemnification. Have a contract with a "hold-harmless" clause which is also called indemnity agreement.

    Once you have the above guidelines in place you will notice that the sub contractor is more efficient on all jobs and deadlines will be more regularly adhered to.