Musician’s Survival Guide For The Road Warrior – Part I – Basic Tips

Four years ago my band was playing local gigs in Utah. Due to Utah’s bizarre liquor laws and night club restrictions it was basically an expensive hobby. We decided to focus on writing and recording original music to send out of state, when suddenly we were offered some gigs in Wyoming that paid more than double what Utah clubs were paying, plus lodging and food. We decided to postpone the original project in order to make some extra money. Little did we know that this offer would turn into four years of touring.

By the time we played our third venue in Wyoming, we were referred to a professional booking agent. We were instructed to put together a website and promo kit. Once we did this, our booking agent was able to keep us on the road as much as we could handle. There were a lot of things about touring that we didn’t know and most we had to learn the hard way.

The purpose of this article is to share a lot of the things we had to learn and hopefully save you, the working musician, a lot of time and trouble.

Let’s begin:

* Travel as light as possible; carrying several suitcases, plus instruments in and out of a band house or motel room gets old after a few weeks. Also, the lighter your vehicle, the better the gas mileage, and less wear and tear.

*Most Midwestern venues have some form of housing available. Our experience has been that we have stayed in many types of rooms, from “sheds with beds” to exquisite hotel suites. In the rare instance that a room wasn’t included, we were able to stay in a KOA type campground cabin for about the same as the cheapest motel rooms.

*Some venues also provide meals, usually one meal per band member per night. Casino gigs will often include buffet vouchers or some form of meal ticket. Most venues will provide a bar tab or offer free shift drinks, and soft drinks are usually complimentary and unlimited. As for additional meals most casinos don’t provide microwaves or refrigerators in their rooms (they want guests to spend money in their establishment). We would always carry an ice chest that we could keep sandwich fixings and snacks in.

*Always try to have a prepaid visa card with around $500 for emergencies. We have been stranded due to weather, vehicle problems and scheduling issues. Sometimes we were prepared and other times, luckily, someone was able to provide financial aid for a room and food. We also have had to borrow money for towing, car rental, vehicle repairs, and bail money…

*Another important tip is always carry coats, blankets, bottled water, tools, fix a flat and a flashlight in your vehicle. Emergency snacks such as canned beans and corn nuts also come in handy.

*I would highly recommend using a vehicle with All Wheel Drive or at least Front Wheel Drive when traveling across the plains in the wintertime. Tire chains and jumper cables would also be a smart investment. The best plan for winter Midwestern travel would be to have plenty of time to get there and emergency motel money. We actually had to spend Christmas in a motel in Rock Springs, Wyoming due to weather related road closure…

*A lot of motel chains offer various discounts (military veteran, corporate, student, etc.) and “frequent guest” rates. In off-season, most managers would rather make some kind of profit rather than have empty rooms, so they are usually willing to negotiate some kind of discount.

* Most hotels and motels provide free WiFi, but a lot of band houses and apartments do not. Portable hot spot devices are available at stores like Walmart, and work virtually anywhere.

* Always carry a copy of the contract for your next gig to clear up any misunderstandings or issues regarding number of rooms, size of beds, meals or no meals, etc…

I hope these tips will be helpful. My next article will be “part II” Things to do while on the road.

How to Replace a Water Filter Cartridge

How to replace a water filter cartridge on your home water filtering system. This article covers how to change both filters on a Aquasana AQ4000 filter system.

Some of this information may be helpful with any brand of filter system. Unpack the replacement filter kit and check the contents. You should have 2 replacement water filter cartridges, A and a B. Two replacement O-rings. If the O-rings are not flat lay them out and see if they will flatten out on their own this may take over night. If this does not work, put a book on them over night. The reason is if the O-rings are bowed from shipping makes then harder to make a good seal.

The first step is to lay your home water filtering system on its side. You can see on the filter caps are labeled A and B. Also arrows that indicate which way to turn to loosen each cap. Turn filter cap A to the right to unscrew or the direction the arrow points. Filter cap B should unscrew to the left or the direction of the arrow. They should only be hand tight. If they are too tight to remove by hand use the handles of a pliers to give you a little extra leverage. Be careful not to do any damage to the inlet or outlet water lines.

Water filter cartridge A will be the most difficult to remove. The seal on the top of the filter holds the cartridge in place. There is not enough room in the filter housing to get a hold of it. I find it easy to use a pair of pliers to get a hold of the filter and twist and pull to it out. Water filter cartridge B will be attached to the filter cap. Simply twist and pull the two apart. I lay the filters at each side of the filter housing. This helps to keep track of which filter is A and B. Remove both o-rings make sure the grove where they sit in is clean. Now install the two new O-rings. Put a small amount of food grade silicone based lubricant on the exposed area of ​​each O- ring. This helps when installing the filter caps. The oil lets the caps slide easy on the rubber, which will make them seal easier. Installing them dry may let them kink and dislodge resulting in a leak.

Replacement water filter cartridge A is the white one. Install it in the A cartridge housing with the O-ring end in first. Putting some water on the rubber seal makes it slide in easier. Give it a push and turn until it is seated. The B replacement cartridge is the blue one. Install the O-ring end into the filter cap. In the same manner as the other filter. At this point, I check the O-ring to make sure they are still in place. Then go ahead and install the B filter into the B housing. Screw the B cap until it is firmly seated. Now check the other seal and install the A cap until it is firmly seated.

Keep the filter system on its side, turn on the water and activate the diverter valve. Check around the cap threads for any signs of water. If there is a little leak, try tightening the cap a little more. If this does not seal the leak, then open up that cap and check the O-ring it may have came out of its seat. Check to make sure it is not cut or damaged. If it is, the old O-ring might reseal. The other option is take one of the old seals to your local hardware store and match it up. The other step if none of these ideas work is to order a replacement seal. Now you can be reinstalled the cap as described above and check for any leaks.

If you do not see, any leaks set the AQ-4000 up right and leave the water run for about 2-3 minutes until the water runs clear. The water at first may come out cloudy or even have a black color, this is normal. Carbon dust is being cleaned out of the new filter cartridges. I save the water that used to flush out the filter system. Houseplants like the water, or put it on plants out side. To keep track of when it will be time to reinstall your next set of water filters. Write the next replacement date on a piece of tape and put it on the filter. This helps to keep track of time. They should be replaced every 6 months or 500 gallons on your home water filtering system.

Preventing Large Loss Damage

Water damage from a flood, a storm or burst pipes can be devastating to the interior of your home. There are ways to prevent large loss damage. When constructing a home or finishing a basement following a few simple common sense steps can easily save a considerable amount of money from water damage that may occur sometime in the future.

1. When finishing interior rooms of a house install dry wall horizontally. If there is a flood you may only need to tear out the bottom dry wall sheet for repairs.

2. Leave a ½ inch gap between the upper and lower baseboards. This will allow for drying and prevent the water from socking into the upper wallboard. Caulk the gap and cover it with a chair molding that can be easily removed to make repairs.

3. Leave a gap at the bottom of the lower wall board that can be covered with floor molding. Attach the floor molding so that it can be easily removed. The gap will allow water to drain from the inner wall cavities and for faster drying.

4. Use flooring that is water resistant, such as tile and concrete. If you want carpeting try area rugs that can be rolled up and moved easily. Installed carpet and pads will most likely need to be removed and disposed of after a water or flood event.

5. Elevate utility systems such as the main circuit breaker; fuse boxes and meters, above the potential flood level.

6. Move outlets and switches to higher levels in rooms when permitted by local or state codes.

7. Put in Ground Fault Circuit breakers to prevent short circuiting electrical fires and injury to people and animals.

8. Elevate heating equipment and air conditioners to a level higher than the potential flood level, a higher floor, or to the attic.

9. Washers, dryers, and water-heaters can be moved to higher floors but be sure to provide spillage pans and overflow drains to prevent water damage from leaks when these items are moved.

10. Install check valves or back-flow valves in sewer lines to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains.

11. Check the drainage hoses on washing machines and dishwashers. If the hoses need replaced use reinforced hose and install and use shutoffs.

12. Monitoring devices that sense water on floor surfaces and sound an alarm or automatically shut off the water are available.

13. If items must be stored in the lower level use plastic storage containers with tightly fitting lids and store them high off the floor where they will be less likely to end up under water.

14. Keep valuable items out of basements and off the first floor if it is subject to flooding. Use an offsite storage facility if necessary t protects valuable items.

15. Make sure the lot is properly contoured to drain water away from the house. A French drain can also be used to drain water away from the house.

You may not be-able to prevent all damage from water that gets into your house but you can and should take steps to prevent large loss damage.

Sunbutter Tassies

Question – what could be better than a gluten-free peanut butter cookie? Answer – a nut-free version that won’t affect people with nut allergies. And what could be better than that? A nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free peanut butter cookie filled with either jelly or chocolate ganache, a tassie if you will.

Eating a tassie is like popping a mini tart in your mouth. These Sunbutter Tassies are one of the easiest to make and they are so cute. They don’t require any heavy machinery, just a spoon and a bowl, which make them really great cookies to bake with your children. And there is just something so perfect about the simple combination of the cookies with the jelly or chocolate ganache. I used to make these with peanut butter until we discovered a nasty peanut allergy in the family and you know what? I actually prefer the Sunbutter – the cookies have more depth of flavor. Sunbutter is a nut free peanut butter alternative made with roasted sunflower seeds.

When baking with Sunbutter in recipes that call for baking powder or baking soda you either need to add a few drops of lemon juice to the recipe or cut the baking powder or soda in half. This is because Sunbutter is made with sunflower seeds which contain chlorophyll. The chlorophyll reacts with the leavening and can give your cookies or other baked goods a greenish cast, it is not harmful but the final product will look more pleasing by making one of these little adjustments. I like the cookie base of these tassies to puff up so I add the lemon juice.

The simplest filling is, of course, just to spoon in a little jelly or jam of your choice but a dairy free chocolate ganache is almost as easy. You can either spoon in the ganache when it is still in a more liquid form and let it set up in the fridge or let the ganache harden in the fridge first for about 30 minutes, whisk it up and then pipe it in. If you like the piped method, make twice as much ganache.

I hope you will add these yummy little cookies to your baking list. They are gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free which makes them a pretty perfect allergy friendly cookie with no compromise on taste.

Sunbutter Tassies

Ingredients:

1 cup creamy Sunbutter

1 cup granulated sugar plus more for rolling the cookies in 10 drops freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 large egg – lightly beaten with a fork

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup good quality jelly, jam or dairy free chocolate ganache (recipe follows)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl mix the Sunbutter with 1 cup sugar and the lemon juice with a wooden spoon. Stir until well blended. Add the egg, baking powder and vanilla. Stir well. Pour some additional sugar in a small bowl. Take 1 tablespoon the dough and roll in a ball. Roll the dough ball in the sugar and place on prepared pans. Repeat with the rest of the dough. With fingers or the flat end of a French rolling pin (or a piece of 1 – inch dowel) dipped in sugar, gently press down on the dough, flattening it along the bottom and up the sides of the muffin cups. Be careful not to press the dough too much and make it too thin.

Bake for approximately 10 – 15 minutes or until the dough is browned and firm. The middle of the cookies will puff up while baking but should settle back down while cooling. If they don’t, just press the indentation down again gently. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Fill each cooled cookie with spoonfuls of jelly, jam or ganache. If filled with ganache, let set in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let the ganache harden.

Dairy Free Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

4 ounces dairy free chocolate chips 1/2 cup coconut milk

Directions:

Place chocolate chips in a small, heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk over medium heat until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let set for 5 minutes and then whisk the cream and chocolate together until the mixture is shiny and smooth. Ganache should be use soon after making it or it will start to harden up. If it becomes too hard to work with, gently reheat and stir until it comes back to the right consistency.

To pipe the ganache, let it cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes then stir vigorously until it is a spreadable consistency. Place in piping bag fitted with a star attachment and pipe into the center of the cookies. For pipe ganache, double the recipe.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Wooden Dowels – An Invisible Piece of History

What is a wood dowel you ask? It might look like a simple wooden peg, and to be quite honest – it is. But, like many other tools that appear to be altogether insignificant on the surface, dowel rods have undeniably changed history.

Today, they are used to hold everything from boats to bookshelves together, but they also lay claim to a much deeper historical significance. The wooden dowel has been used for centuries to hold our things together, and for better or for worse – it’s the things we’re surrounded with that have carried us as a people throughout history. Read on to learn more about the wooden dowel and how an altogether invisible and seemingly innocuous tool is more significance than we think.

A Piece of Wood, a Piece of History

The word dowel comes from the Middle English equivalent of doule, meaning “part of a wheel” which also seems to have its origin in the Middle Low German for dovel, for “plug.” Despite being an arguably mundane tool, wood dowels have been used in a variety of ways throughout history – earning them a place in the metaphorical “hall of fame” when it comes to tools and technologies that have continued to remain useful throughout the centuries.

690 AD: A traveler visits a famous shrine in at Ise in Japan and recounts the tradition of building shrines every 20 years according to specific ancient beliefs calling for use of dowel pegs and interlocking joints instead of nails.

1000: Leif Ericson rowed and sailed across the North Atlantic, from Norway to Newfoundland in a Viking ship that was sturdily constructed with overlapping planks held together with wooden dowels and iron nails.

1394: Master mason Henry Yevele rebuilds Westminster Hall, including a 660 Ton hammerbeam roof. This roof was unsupported from below, and was held aloft solely through the industrious use of wooden dowels.

1509: Reports reach the west about ships from Southeast Asia that are constructed of tropical wood and wood dowels with the capability of sailing as far as the eastern tip of Africa – enabling the trade of the “Ming Dynasty” vases and glassware we hear about today.

1641: When a Dutch fleet was sunk in the Sargasso Sea, the survivors created lifeboats using wooden dowels, and recounted how their capsized ships failed when the wooden nails and spikes holding them together disintegrated. After this, the Dutch King built a ship that was made entirely out of wood, fully incorporating hardwood dowels.

1954: A ship was discovered in Egypt held together entirely by dowel rods – indicating the use of dowels throughout history.

As you can see, dowels have been used throughout history to hold our world together. Take a look around. How do you take advantage of this piece of history every day?

Introduction to Stack Sizes

Stack sizes can play a very important role in poker games, not only in terms of purely deciding how much money you take home at the end of the day but in determining the plays you may make throughout the game. Yours and your opponents’ stacks are more than just a collection of funds; they are a direct reflection of how much advantage you hold in a game and how much of that advantage you can bring to bear upon an individual. Further, stacks also increase the value of some plays, making some riskier moves more worthwhile to take.

Let’s say, for example, that you are dealt a suited set of cards in a Hold ’em game – a Qs-9s, for example. The flop then yields two additional cards to match your suit – a 6s-2s – while the turn leaves you still hanging with an un-suited 10-5 on the table and only the river to go. At this point, there may be only you and another player left in the game, and you know from watching her that the player is normally a tight player. In order for her to have stayed in the game this long, she must have a strong hand – either a pair of Kings or Aces – and she’s likely looking to bring them against you at the end of the game. You know that in order to beat her, your only chance is to pull out a flush on the river and bag the game, but the probability of that happening at this stage in the game is roughly only 4:1 against you.

So how do you know whether or not you should proceed? Well, if you and your opponent have sufficient stack sizes and were willing to go head-to-head up to this point, chances are that there is a sufficiently sized pot for the taking that will only grow if you both keep at it. By considering the probability of your successfully getting the nuts on the river of 4:1 if the pot size is at least 4x larger than what it would take for you to call, you could generally consider going for the flush to be a strong move. A smaller stack size, on the other hand, might not yield as much profitability to the action and, as such, it may not be a good idea to follow through with this scheme.

Stack sizes also add a greater element to consider when bluffing against some opponents. Generally, opponents with much stronger stack sizes will feel more comfortable in calling a bluff against them than those with smaller ones, meaning careful bluff consideration may be needed before attempting a play. Additionally, in tournament games, players may not want to jeopardize their stack size if they are already in the paying bubble, therefore some more aggressive moves that might threaten their stack could be effectively used against them to steal blinds and moderate sized pots if you make your move right.

5 Reasons to Get a Chiminea This Summer

Many of us love to sit in our back yards and gardens when the summer months arrive. It is a great way for everyone to get together and have a party or BBQ. There is nothing better than sitting with friends and family, enjoying a glass or two of wine in the summer sun. As the sun goes down the best place to be is next to your Chiminea as the warmth is great.

There are many reasons why people have chimineas in their gardens they are idea for BBQs and are very unique in their design. Chimineas are Mexican fireplaces that are very different in shape and deign to normal fire pits. They have smoke stacks which draw the smoke up and away from the food, and also means the wood will burn much more evenly than other BBQs. Their design and shape although heavy can be moved around, so if you are remodeling or moving house then you can take the Chiminea with you.

Chimeneas can be a focal point in your garden; they look unusual but are easy to find in many garden centers. You can have them built into a specific area of your garden to make a whole outdoor kitchen area, which will be functional and amazing looking. They are also great as outdoor fireplaces, and many people use Chiminea’s as a source of heat rather than to cook with. They are simple to use, and are fantastic to sit around on a cold evening. They are also very versatile so if you are sitting relaxing by your Chiminea and fancy roasting some food then you can do so. There is no preparation needed if they are already being used.

If you are used to having large parties then chiminea’s are ideal as they can store vast amounts of food in them. You can cook the food and then move it to another part to keep warm until needed, because of their great design they are very fuel efficient and great for the environment. You also won’t have that burnt wood smell that often happens with traditional BBQs and fire pits. Although once your chiminea is in place it will take very little care, you will need to remember to seal it as soon as you purchase it. They are only clay based, and will come to you in its natural form so your chiminea will need to be protected from the rain. Covering it when not in use is a very good idea and then it will not be damaged during the winter months, unless you want to use it for your outdoor fireplace.

Whatever reason you decide to purchase a chiminea, whether it be for cooking purposes or for a source of heat then you will find it to be very practical. They are designed to be used for many purposes and will become one of the best pieces of garden equipment you have bought. They are sturdy, versatile and look amazing in any surroundings. They will enable you to cook your food and stay warm at the same time.

Arc Fault Circuits – What Are They?

Every year, more than 300 individuals worldwide lose their lives due to fire hazards brought on by faulty electrical circuits. Statistics suggest that a majority of these fires are caused due to arc circuits, and can be easily avoided by installing arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) in the building.

Keeping the safety of people in mind, the National Electrical Code (NEC) guidelines as of 1999 have now made it mandatory for every new residential building have an AFCI installed in the bedroom. Licensed Electricians are now busy installing AFCIs in not just new homes, but even in older structures where damaged wiring is the main culprit behind arcing faults.

How an electric arc causes fires

Arcing faults are caused due to the presence of deteriorated wires and damaged cords in your home. An older structure, exposure of wires to natural elements, poorly installed switches or outlets, and puncturing the wire insulation while trying to hang a picture are some of the reasons why home wiring deteriorates over a period of time. Whenever an electric arc is formed, high temperatures are generated that can make combustible material such as carpets, wood, and paper catch fire.

Why Arc Fault Circuits should be installed

'Why do we need an AFCI when our home already has a circuit breaker?' is the first question that is often asked by many people when they hire an electrician. The reason is simple: a traditional circuit breaker cuts off the electricity supply only in the case of a short circuit or overload. It does not offer any resistance to the erratic current that will flow due to arcing conditions.

On the other hand, the internal circuit of an AFCI is so designed that it is able to make a distinction between the normal current and the excessive current during arcing. Whenever an abnormality is observed, the internal contacts of the AFCI trip, leaving the circuit de-energized, which in turn reduces the chances of an electrical fire.

You can kill two birds with a single stone when you hire a certified electrical contractor to install AFCI in your homes. They not only shut off the electric circuit in case of an arcing fault, but also trip when an overload or short circuit occurs.

AFCI installation offers excellent protection for branch wirings and provides limited protection when you are using an extension or power cord.

The installation of an AFCI should not be a DIY project. Hire the services of an experienced electrician to install these safety devices in your home. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Bow Tie Design Tips – How to Wear a Bow Tie

Here are a few design tips on how to wear a bow tie and how to choose the correct tie for the occasion. Most people are unaware of the vast range of different bow tie designs and styles, or of when it is most appropriate to wear each of them. People wear such ties for many reasons, not just because they don’t fall into the soup or prevent others from strangling you with them.

They look smart and unless many professionals are not wearing a black tie they tend not to engender they respect of their peers or of others. Magicians, for example, are generally associated with bows, as frequently are doctors (they are more practical than normal neck ties), solicitors and politicians. Although the choice of style is very much a personal one, there are some rules that are best to be observed, particularly for formal occasions and when you are wearing your tie in your profession.

Weddings, proms, black and white events and other formal occasions all demand a bow tie to be worn, and the term ‘black’ or ‘white’ tie is synonymous with a bow. But which should you wear, and does the shape of your tie really make much of a difference? In fact, no, although for formal affairs the tie should be of the correct size, and not too large or small. Your collar size and the type of collar you are wearing, with both have an impact on how the tie looks on you.

Some people who have no idea how to wear this type of tie sometimes look a bit strange, particularly if the bow is not tied correctly or the tie has been wrongly sized. Larger and smaller ties can be worn less formally, but when correctly worn, one of the bow tie design tips you must accept is that the width of the bow should be approximately the same as that of your collar – perhaps slightly less. Too small and your neck will look larger than it really is, and too large will make you look like a clown. That’s fine if you are being a clown, but not if you are a bridegroom or a senator.

The two major tie designs are the butterfly, or thistle, and bat-wing ties. The latter has straight sides while the former is curved, looking much like a butterfly when tied, and the two ends having the outline of a thistle before being tied. The bat-wing is the bow tie design that most people wear with a tuxedo, while less formal bow ties, including most of the novelties, are more of the butterfly shape. The butterfly tie appears larger than the bat-wing, particularly larger than the slim-line bow that many also wear.

The slim-line is a narrow 1.5 inch version of the straight or bat-wing bow, and many with smaller necks wear it since the standard 2.5 inch tie could make them look even smaller. The slimmer version also frequently looks more elegant with a standard shaped collar, with the standard size fitting better with a winged collar. The larger-looking butterfly also looks good with the winged collar and cut-away collar, but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter: You can wear a bow tie any way you want, and of all the bow tie design tips you can get, the best is to wear it as you feel most comfortable.

Another common design is the diamond tip, with pointed ends. This has to be tied very carefully or it will appear to have one straight end and one diamond end. That’s fine if you don’t want the symmetrical look, but it can sometimes look not quite right. Again, however, you are not forced to obey the rules, but in breaking them you should make sure that the event is not too formal. You will want to look good for a job interview, for example, or when talking to an important client. However, not everybody wears the bow tie in the traditional way – some don’t even tie it!

Some trendies are now wearing this style of tie hanging round the neck – untied, with open collar and jacket. It was worn this way by Daniel Craig in the promo poster for Casino Royale, and seems to be catching on. Not traditional, certainly, but another take on how to wear a bow tie!

The Benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

Are you looking for a way to reduce swelling after surgery, minimize scar tissue and assist with the healing process after a mastectomy? Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is for you!

The benefits of MLD have long been touted by medical professionals around the world, and it's time you discovered them for yourself. But understanding the benefits of MLD starts with understanding the lymphatic system and how its health or disease can affect your quality of life.

In the simplest terms, MLD helps assist your body in removing toxins and reducing swelling. And it all starts with extensive training and an in-depth understanding of the body's circulatory system by a skilled massage therapist. During this highly specialized massage technique, your massage therapist will perform a series of light, rhythmic and precise hand movements. This works to redirect the flow of toxins and assist in drainage for truly life-changing results. And just so happens to feel great!

Lymphatic Drainage Offers So Much More than Just Surgical Benefits

• Promotes the healing of fractures and torn ligaments

• Strengthens the immune system

• Promotes healing of wounds and scars

• Prevents stretch marks

• Relieves fluid retention, swollen limbs, and fluid congestion in pregnancy

• Improves a number of chronic conditions such as sinusitis, arthritis and acne

Are The Benefits of MLD Proven? YES! The benefits of manual lymphatic drainage are internationally recognized. Medical professionals around the world have recognized the value of medical massage in lymphedema. Plus, studies have shown tangible results from the use of medical massage on other conditions such as fractures and chronic skin conditions. Is not it time you discovered these benefits for yourself?

When Is MLD Most Beneficial: Before or After Surgery?

Regardless of how minor the procedure, surgery is an invasion of the body and has the ability to throw the entire system into disarray. Starting manual lymphatic drainage prior to surgery readies your body for the procedure and improves the speed and effectiveness of your post-surgical healing. And the good news is, most MLD practitioners say you can achieve the benefits after just one pre-surgery treatment. As you're preparing your body for an invasive experience, this is an easy and safe way to prepare it as best as possible.

Once the surgery has been performed and you've started recovering, you will want to schedule a couple of follow-up visits with your MLD therapist. Your massage therapist will do a thorough evaluation of your body and work with it to help reduce any swelling after surgery by redirecting fluid and toxins so they're able to leave your body easily and you have less of a chance of retaining fluid. You will find that medical massage therapy will keep reducing your scar tissue over time, while you sit back and notice the wonderful changes!

Drain Clearing Tips And Tricks For Your Home's Plumbing

A homeowner or apartment dweller will likely have to learn about drain clearing at one time or another. Let's face it; clogs happen. Toilets, sinks and bathtubs all get stopped up from time to time. It would be well worth a homeowner's time to learn a few tips to unclog them. There are times that a plumber needs to be called in but sometimes a DIYer can handle the problem by himself or herself. One thing to remember is that if it does not unclog with a moderate amount of pressure, it would be better to call in the professionals in order to prevent further damage. Here are some things to think about:

– Tools to stock: Some basic plumbing tools to assist in drain clearing should be on hand in the tool chest of every homeowner or apartment dweller. Those basic tools are a plunger and an auger or snaking device. The plunger is the most basic and inexpensive yet can be quite effective. The plunging technique is so popular that the plunger has been referred to as a "plumber's friend." An auger can be manual or electric and is a metal cable with a crank. The "snake" is a version of the manual auger and is called by that name because it looks like its reptile namesake. The electric auger is a bit pricey for the average tool chest but renting one from the local rental store is a good option.

– Kitchen sink: If it's a double sink, it's important to put a rag or sponge into one drain opening in order to keep the suction pressure up. Filling the sink and plunging away should do the trick. If not, snaking it with an auger would be step two. If there is a garbage disposal, removing all food debris and pushing the red reset button may do the trick. Prime culprits for stopping up a garbage disposal are vegetable peelings such as those from potatoes, apples, carrots and more. It would be wise to peel potatoes and other veggies into the regular trashcan.

– Bathtub: Bathtubs usually begin to drain slowly over time due to a build-up of hair and soap scum. It's wise to remove the pop-up and clear this mess occasionally in order to prevent a full-fledged clog. If this does not work, it may be time to haul out the plunger and auger.

– Toilet: Toilets are the most common household fixture to become plugged up requiring drain clearing. Preventative steps will often eliminate this problem but when clog happens, the plunger and snake methods usually clear the trouble. Only putting appropriate items into the toilet in the first place will prevent lots of trouble. Only human waste and small amounts of toilet tissue should be flushed. Children must be taught how much bathroom tissue is "enough" and to not flush toys, pets and Mom's wristwatch. Adults must be taught not to flush Q-tips, paper towels, certain sanitary hygiene products and disposable diapers.

Stopped up plumbing is a common occurrence in any household. A wise owner or dweller will stock some basic tools and become knowledgeable about drain clearing. If the problem persists after trying these steps, a professional should be called in to take care of the clog.

6 Power Drill Safety Tips

A power drill is not a complicated device. But with all power tools, safety needs to be respected. Imagine having a drill bit snap and end up lodged in your eye. A simple pair of safety glasses would have prevented that and you would have kept your eye sight. So let's look at some drill safety tips.

1. Do not wear long sleeves or loose clothing when drilling. Depending on the type of drill, a piece of clothing caught in the bit and wind up clothing extremely fast. Having your sleeve caught in the drill will cause extreme amounts of pain when there is no more sleeve left to get tangled.

2. Using a dust mask can help prevent you from inhaling your project. Even something as simple as wood can cause pain and bleeding in your respiratory tract.

3. As a general rule, always make sure your work is clamped down securely. Having a piece of metal or wood kick out and a drill bit go in to your leg would not be a pleasant experience.

4. Do not force the drill to drill. Instead, let the machine do its job. This goes for sanding as well.

5. You should always start off very slow and work up to a higher speed. Starting off fast is only going to have the drill bit dance around and end up other than in your work.

6. And finally, take your time. The number one reasons accidents happen in the shop is from people rushing. If it takes 2 minutes to drill through a piece of sheet metal, do not try to get it done in 30 seconds.

Sanding and Polishing Timber Floors in Older Homes – The Most Common Issues You May Encounter

I was quoting an old floor for a professional couple recently when the client pulled out a magazine, put it up to my face and said "I want our floors to look exactly like this." It is not practical to expect an existing timber floor in an older home to end up looking the same as a new feature floor that has been freshly laid in a display home. Existing older timber floors can have any number of imperfections which can impact on the overall look of the finished product. Listed here are some of the most common imperfections you may confront.

Stains

Over time, older homes generally have their fair share of spills, accidents and leaks, so it would be reasonable to expect some degree of staining in timber floors after the old floor coverings have been removed. Depending on what has caused the stain, the good news is that some will sand out completely, and others will sand out to a degree. Stains that are generally impossible to remove are:

  • Animal urine
  • Rust stains around nails
  • Some water stains that have been exposed to a water source over an extended period of time
  • Burns

Cuts and gouges

It is common to find utility knife cuts around the perimeter of rooms which is caused from carpet layers at some previous time while cutting the carpet to size along side the skirting board. These cuts, along with any deep scratches or gouges will over time, allow moisture to penetrate deeper into the timber at that particular point. After the floor has been sanded and prepared for coating, although the actual scratch or cut may have been completely sanded out, it is common that a darker discolouration will still be present where the scratch was located after the coating has been applied.

Walls removed

After removing the old floor coverings, it may be revealed that at some previous stage the configuration of the rooms have been changed by the removal of a wall or two. It is also common that the kitchen cabinetry has been extended or changed shape over the years. It will be noticeable as a darker moisture mark in the shape of a wall or a cabinet stained into the timber boards. Generally these stains will not sand out completely, and once again will depend on how much moisture the floor has been exposed to. If it is in a kitchen, it would more likely to be a permanent stain as it would have been exposed to more moisture than for example the living areas.

Wood borers and termites

Depending on the type of timber, you may encounter some damage to boards from borers or termites. In many cases the extent of the damage will not be revealed until the floor is initially sanded. If the damage is relatively minor and has not affected the structural integrity of a particular board, it is possible to fill them with suitable filler that is closely colour matched to the particular board. If the affected board is starting to flex when foot pressure is applied, the board would generally need to be replaced. If board replacement is required, used timber may need to be sourced to match the colour of the older boards, as staining new boards to match old will take a little skill to achieve a good result.

How to Make a Simple A-Frame Picnic Table

Standard 6ft "A" Frame Picnic Table

This basic table is tried and true and has been around for many years and as a piece of outdoor furniture it will enhance your patio .. It is very simple to construct and will last for years.

It comes in many different designs. This one is made solely of 2 * 4 dressed, treated lumber.

Equipment Required

It could be made with a hand saw and miter box however it would be easier with an electric circular saw. (Or even a drop arm miter saw.)

A hammer. A square. A small hand plane. Adjustable spanner. Tape measure.

A drill with a 3/8 bit. (2 1/2 "holesaw)

Materials list

117 ft 2 * 4 "dressed treated lumber (pine)
8 3/8 "* 4" galvanized carriage bolts
Approx 110 3 1/2 "galvanized flathead nails

Cutting list

1) Seat & table top 14 pieces @ 72 "(1830mm) cut square

2) Seat supports 2 pieces @ 63 "(1600mm) 60 degrees opposite angles

3) Table support 2 pieces @ 29 "(735mm) 60 degrees opposite angles

4) Legs 4 pieces @ 33 "(840mm) 60 degrees parallel angles

5) Braces 2 pieces @ 24 "(610mm) 45 degrees opposite angles

6) Table cleat 1 piece @ 29 "(735mm) 60 degrees opposite angles

7) Seat cleat 2 pieces @ 10 1/2 "(265mm) 60 degrees opposite angles

Instructions

1) Cut all the lumber as per the cutting list.

2) On a flat surface make up one of the end frames to the measurements in the diagram. Tack it together with nails.

3) Make up the second end frame so that it is a perfect match of the first.

4) If all measurements are ok, drill the 8 holes and bolt the frames together.

5) Stand the frames up with the legs on the inner side facing each other. Place one of the table top pieces on the outside edge and tack in place 7 "from the outside edge. Then tack the other outside table top board in place.

6) Check the distance between the legs. Adjust and then tack in place the 2 outer seat boards also at 7 "from the end.

7) Check for square. (Measure corner to corner.) Check to see if 8 boards are going to fit on the table top. (Some lumber varies a little in width.) If ok, nail in place all of the table top and the seats so that the 2 * 4's are hard up against each other.

8) Mark the center of the table top and fit the table cleat underneath. This is on its flat side. Nail in place from the top.

9) Mark the center of the seats and nail in place the 2 seat cleats from the top.

10) Turn the table upside down. You now need to make sure that the end frames are square and vertical. Use your square. Tack a temporary brace to make sure it does not move. Now fit the 2 braces. These you have cut to 45 degrees. One end will be attached to the seat support and the other to the 2 * 4's of the table top.

11) Turn back upright. Nail the braces from the top and the ends as well. Tidy up the furry edges with a hand plane.

12) If you require an umbrella hole you will need a 2 1/2 "hole saw to drill a hole in the center of the table.

13) Enjoy.

Nonprofit Help – Executive Director As Board Member?

I received an email from a client asking my thoughts on whether or not the founder of their nonprofit – who is also its executive director – could be a voting member of the board. (Note that the question was 'could' be …)

Well yes, the executive director 'could' be a voting member of the board, but the question allowed me an opportunity to reflect on the perceptions of nonprofits as a competitive advantage for fundraising, as espoused by my own organization The Center for Ethics, Governance , and Accountability. Those three words (ethics, governance, and accountability) have such a strong degree of symbolism and expectations that I must take care to provide my opinions only after pondering what 'could' be and what 'should' be. (What 'shall not be' is always the easiest opinion to offer.)

My response? While the IRS is the regulator of nonprofits, the corporations of the nonprofits are governed by state law. So, answer number one was to check the laws of the state in question.

Answer number two: why does the executive director need to be on the board? Or, does the executive director just want to be on the board? How many board members are currently on the board and would the executive director help or hinder the voting of the board? Presumably, the executive director is the key employee of the board and is tasked with running the organization and attending board meetings anyway. But, I never did determine the answer to the basic question of why?

In my years of experience as a board member, it has not been unusual for the executive director to also serve as the corporate secretary and either ex-officio board member, non-voting board member, or voting board member.

Ultimately, my answer to the above question was to make the executive director and ex-officio (non-voting) member of the board holding the office of corporate secretary. This approach, assuming there is no conflict with state law pertaining to corporate governance, seems reasonable because it is highly likely that the board has tasked its executive director with maintaining all corporate records (minutes, resolutions, policies, etc.) anyway.

In addition, the articles of incorporation and the bylaws may or may not speak to the issue of board governance. It the bylaws do not spell out, specifically, how the board is to be structured, then I would highly recommend that appropriate revisions take place at the very next board meeting.

Remembering that it is my strong belief that ethics, governance, and accountability are the key measures of any nonprofit, the perception about these issues is every bit as important as the reality when it comes to the decisions of donors / grantors and contributions to the organization . Accordingly, it continues to be my strong recommendation that nonprofits avoid any possible misperception so as to maintain that competitive edge within their peer group.

There are two related issues that need to be discussed in future articles. One is the challenges of the founder of the non-profit serving as executive director or board member; the other is the increased scrutiny by the IRS on board members of nonprofits. In short, as a board member, you will be held personally liable for the affairs of the corporation. This responsibility is entirely appropriate: nonprofit board member is not a 'resume builder' but it is a serious responsibility that IRS regulators have rightly decided to address.

Every effort should be made by every nonprofit board to task either its executive director or, perhaps, a committee chair, with a thorough review of the policies of the organization. The new IRS Form 990 is an excellent place to start – especially if your nonprofit is a number of years old – it would be good to see what issues you will be required to attest to at your next annual filing.