Kiteboarding – The Kite Control Bar

You have seen them on the water, and maybe on the snow as well; riders racing along and boosting into the air at will, able to travel in any direct, and across any terrain while being pulled by the force of a giant kite.  Kite sports have quickly evolved in the last ten years to become the newest and fastest growing “extreme” sport.  So how does it all work?  What are these riders doing to control the massive kites, and how is it possible that a kiter can stand on the beach or walk around while still flying a kite that moments before boosted him forty feet into the air?  The secrets to controlling the kite all comes down to the design of the control bar, which is held in the riders hands and used to precisely adjust the tension in the lines attached to the kite.

Modern power kites like those used in kiteboarding today are built to fly on a four line platform, meaning there are two lines attached to the front of the kite one on either side of the center, and two lines attach to the back of the kite, one on each of the two wingtips.   Simply speaking, with the proper amount of tension of all four lines the kite will fly steadily and maintain its course through the air, pulling at an amount based on how hard the wind is blowing.  By adjusting the tension on one or more of the lines the rider can turn the kite to change its course, or alter the amount of wind the kite is catching to create more or less power, or pull, from the kite.  In order to control a kite with the potential to lift a person 40+ feet in the air or propel them more than 50 miles per hour across water or land (the current speed record over water is 54 knots (or 62 mph), a kiteboarder needs to be doing a combination of both these types of adjustments at all times.  For everything to work, the design of the control bar needs to be simple, and functional, and the solution turns out to be fairly simple.

The two back lines of the kite each attach to the outside ends of the kite control bar.  By pulling one side of the bar in towards the riders body, and angling the other side of the bar toward the kite, the rider can increase the tension on one side of the kite.  This causes the kite to rotate, or turn, around the wingtip being pulled on, changing the direction the kite is traveling.  The rider will pull on one side of the bar or the other to adjust the direction the kite is flying in order to keep it from crashing, or to change direction, or to steer it upwards in order to jump.

The two front lines of the kite come together before reaching the bar, and attach to a single center line called the sheeting line, which runs through the middle of the control bar and ends in a plastic loop which attaches to a special harness worn around the riders waist.  With the loop hooked to the harness, the control bar can be slid up and down the sheeting line, which has no effect on the tension of the front lines, but does loosen or tighten both outside lines simultaneously.   By pulling the bar down the sheeting line and closer to his body a rider is increasing the tension on the back lines and therefore on the back of the kite, which makes the kite hold the wind more effectively and pull harder, or feel more “powerful”.  When the rider slides the bar up the sheeting line and away from his body the back lines are loosened, reducing the tension on the back of the kite and allowing it to more easily spill the wind and “depower”, or create less pull. 

This simple system in combination with modern kite design improvements has not only allowed professional kiteboarders to push the limits of the sports, also made the sport more accessible to everyday athletes and outdoor enthusiasts alike.  Of course even with an understanding of how the equipment works, aspiring kiteboarders should definitely take a few lessons before attempting to fly the massive kites on their own.

Tips for tuning a four line kite control bar

  • Check to ensure the two back lines (attached to the outside ends of the control bar) are the same length, and that the two front lines (attached to the sheeting line at the middle of the control bar) are as well.  Front and back lines are usually but not necessarily the length as well.
  • When first flying a kite you are unfamiliar with, attach the back lines to the ends of the leader lines on the kite (also know as pigtails), to allow for the most length possible in the back lines.  When flying the kite with the control bar pulled all the way in towards your body, if there is still slack in the back lines and the kite is not catching the wind or is unresponsive to steering, then land the kite and tighten the back lines by attaching them closer to the kite on the kite leader lines (pigtails.)
  • Back lines can be tightened in this way until there is a lot of tension on them with the bar pulled in, and the kite feels very powerful and sensitive to steering input.  However, the back lines should not be so tight that when the bar is slid up the sheeting line and away from the riders body that the back lines are not loose and there is still tension on them, preventing the kite from spilling the wind and depowering.
  • Too much tension on the back lines can result in the kite falling backwards out of the sky, or “stalling”.  With the control bar pulled all the way, or nearly all the way, in for power, the kite should not “stall”.  If it is then the back lines need to be lengthened a few inches.

Wrist Hinge in the Golf Swing

With so much confusion out there about the golf swing, this may be the best way for you to feel how the wrist hinges in the golf swing. It’s something that you see the pros doing all of the time, but you may not have picked up that this is an excellent way for you to learn the wrist cock in the swing.

Have you ever watched John Daly practice hitting golf balls with only his left hand on the club? He’ll stand with the club resting on the ground beside him, with his hand on the club. You’ll notice that his hand is on top of the club, not with the back of the wrist pointing to the target. You must have the club in the fingers of your left hand in order to achieve the proper wrist cock.

Try it next time you are out at the range. Be aware of how the clubhead sits behind the ball and how your hand feels on the grip. You will notice that instead of you feeling like the face of the club and the back of your hand are positioned together facing the target, your hand will be in a much stronger position. It’s more like your thumb is sitting behind the clubface and this is what controls the clubhead. Now swing back using just your left hand(for right-handed golfers, of course). You should feel as you swing back that the wrist cocks up towards your right shoulder. Your wrist will stay strong and not break down into a bowed position.

Now swing down at the ball. Your wrist will uncock naturally. You will feel the back of your left wrist staying straight in line with your forearm. When the weight of the clubhead has pulled the wrist down as far as it will go, the forearm will turn over. If your follow-through is only about hip-high, you will sense that your wrist is flat and strong as steel. This is the feeling that you are shooting for. Once you learn how the wrist hinges up like this, your full swings will be a whole lot better. The swinging of the clubhead releases the wrist cock like it should. You clubface will come into the ball square giving you better distance and accuracy and your whole game will get better.

Watch the pros next time a tournament is on and see if you can catch them doing this wrist cock drill. Try it for yourself around the house.

Now about that trailing hand. If you have taken the proper golf grip, with the lifeline of your trailing hand sitting on top of your other thumb, it is a lot easier for you to feel the wrist cock in your right hand. It will feel like the crease made by your forefinger and thumb follows the path of the clubface. Let your right hand just ride along with the role that the controlling hand takes. You will notice that you can fire your right side down through the ball easily and confidently. Or, as Johnny Miller says, “Cover the ball with your right hand”.

Winter Tips for Landlords

When you’re renting out property there are plenty of things that you need to keep track of to ensure that your investment is well looked after and gives you good returns with the minimum of hassle. While you need to keep an eye on maintenance throughout the year, winter presents its own set of challenges due to the cold weather and problems that can arise as a result of this. Here are some essential tips for landlords to help you avoid problems that could turn a relaxing Christmas time into a major disaster!

Information– most modern properties are built to meet certain standards by way of insulation, but the older the property is, the more likely you’ll benefit from preventative measures. Check that doors and windows fit well to minimise drafts and leaks. Cavity wall installation and loft insulation are well worth investing in from an energy efficiency point of view too. There are plenty of schemes now where you can have these types of insulation works carried out for free; talk to your tenants and ask if they’d be willing to apply for funding to have the property insulated. This benefits both parties; your tenants will save money on bills and you will have maintenance work conducted without having to stick your hand in your pocket! You should also make sure that your boiler and pipes are well cladded to prevent problems with freezing and efficiency.

External pipes– these should be checked routinely every year and any blockages or leaks should be repaired as soon as possible. If pipes freeze they can expand and burst which could cause flooding and water damage in and around the property. External brickwork should also be inspected for cracks which could allow water to seep into the walls causing damp and rot problems.

Keeping on top of things– if an issue is brought to your attention, it makes much more sense to fix it now rather than later. Problems never go away by being ignored, they just escalate – potentially creating a much bigger issue that will be much more costly to repair. If something goes wrong in the middle of winter, you may have to wait to get somebody to attend to it – the cold months are busy time for plumbers and heating engineers, so better to prepare in advance than wait till something becomes urgent.

Provide the right information– keeping your property in a good state of repair is both your responsibility and your tenants too; but if they don’t know what to look out for, little things can get missed. Make sure that your tenants know where the stopcock is, and how the boiler is operated. If you tenants are going to be leaving the property to visit relatives over the Christmas period, make sure that they put the heating on to a timer, or at least set the boiler onto frost protection mode to ensure that pipes don’t freeze if the temperature plummets – which could cause untold problems. It’s also important to make sure that your tenants have a contact number, either for yourself or for your letting agents, in the event of any problems. Also leave numbers for your gas, electric and water suppliers too so that they can go directly to them if needed.

Empty properties– if you’re without a tenant in your property over the winter then you’ll need to check in regularly to keep an eye on things. Make sure that the heating is still working, and open a window to let a little fresh air circulate. If you’re using a letting agent for your rental properties, ask what their policy is for empty houses. It may be that they will carry out these checks for you – but don’t just assume this – call them or check your contract if you’re not sure.

The assurance of insurance– make sure that you have buildings insurance and landlord insurance when necessary. Check what’s included in your policy and make alternative arrangements for any potential problems that aren’t covered. It might be worth investing in additional insurance for white goods and your central heating if these items do not fall under your regular insurance policies.

Buying a property to rent out can be a great way of building a little nest egg or securing your retirement future. However, houses can be expensive things to fix if something big goes wrong, so you need to ensure that you’re either using reputable letting agency to help you manage things properly or that you’re prepared to invest some time and energy into keeping everything running smoothly.

Hello Kitty Erasers

Have you ever found one of your favorite characters in the form of an eraser? This is one way that people have found out about the world of Japanese erasers and Hello Kitty is an example of this.

Ikuko Shimizu originally created Hello Kitty and it is produced by the company Sanrio. It was produced in the United States in 1976, two years after being created in Japan in 1974. Considering that you can find Hello Kitty in video games, on different types of accessories, and in supplies for school, it's no surprise to see it on erasers. You can even see Hello Kitty in a theme park called Sanrio Puroland in Tokyo! Not surprisingly, the theme park is one of the most popular attractions in Japan.

There are all kinds of Hello Kitty erasers – everyone would not guess that there are scented Hello Kitty erasers available. Fortunately, the scents are things like pudding, banana, orange, peach, strawberry, soda, and grapefruit and not actual kitties. There are even silly putty erasers that are scented that can be shaped and played with like a toy, in addition to their use as an eraser. The types of Japanese erasers are pretty much unlimited.

It is amazing how many different things are available under the Hello Kitty theme. There are Hello Kitty shoes, night lamps, floral arrangements, Pez dispensers, dog collars, tarot cards, guns, and reading lights. There are even Hello Kitty pianos and teeth in the shape of Hello Kitty's face.

Best of all, there is a Hello Kitty house in Shanghai! The entire exterior and interior have a Hello Kitty theme. There is no doubt that several girls could call this their dream house. One would feel like she's walking into a fairy tale house.

Hello Kitty erasers inside are pretty much a certainty.

From what I've seen there are not any Japanese eraser themed houses available, but there must be a small town of them assembled somewhere …

Embracing You, Embracing Me Written By Michelle Bellon

A well written book that, I feel, is more for young people in their teens through their 30’s. It was somewhat interesting to me but my interest in this age group and their experiences does not make me a very good reviewer for the subject. Believe me when I say that if you are a young person in this age group you will be riveted to the story. The author writes this story as though she lived through a lot of the subject matter. The descriptions of the various characters in the story are fantastic. Michelle has molded and told the stories from the heart. Falling in and out of love and many of the reasons that could cause this to occur can be a complex subject, one that can haunt a person all their life if they let a chance for true love leave their life only to wonder if that was a mistake. Then should some kind of disaster enter into a young life, they must learn how to tame the beast that caused that problem. Death, accident, pregnancy, drugs, physical or verbal fighting, hormones, or misunderstandings can change a life forever.

Roshell was raised in a very poor setting, if one can call it actually being “raised”. The story starts when she was gradually finding a good friend or two but afraid to take any of them to her trailer home. At her young age, Roshell was not savvy about boys and sex as well as how to act as she tried to mix in with others at parties. She was very vulnerable and did all she could to mix in with other known girls, most of whom came to these parties with their boyfriend. Some of the boyfriends tried to get interested in Roshell but she wanted no parts of them. Any she did get a slight interest in she would break it off before anything serious could come about. She did accept a prom date with Tim, a senior, even though she was a junior. Tim and Roshell did okay together that night until Roshell spied Gabriel. Gabriel was well known and liked at school. Roshell figured he would have nothing to do with her but eventually they did get together for rare dates.

At a party Roshell made the mistake of taking an offered beer from a guy which led to more beers. She was feeling too good and wasn’t sure of what she was doing. She met this guy, Erin, at the party who she was weary of and tried to avoid. After a few beers she was talked into joining others in the hot tub. After a while Roshell got out and went to a bedroom to change and try to pull herself together. While changing, Erin came into the bedroom, got a bit frisky, and talked Roshell into hugging, kissing, and feeling each other. Roshell knew this was wrong but she was wasted so much that she didn’t know how to get out of this mess. Eventually the inevitable occurred. A short time after that party she found out she was pregnant.

Some time went by with Gabriel and Roshell going opposite directions for different reasons. He didn’t know she had a baby, Marissa, but that didn’t stop him from loving her when he did find that out. They got very serious. All the time Roshell stayed with some of her girl friends from the past and when she had to work, they watched Marissa. Despite Gabriel and Roshell going different ways they eventually got very serious. He loved the baby as though she was his own. You should have a very good idea of this story now and as I said, if you are in your teens through your 30’s you will enjoy this book quite well.

Box Gardening Challenge

The construction of a box garden can be a rewarding task for keeping your mind occupied, get some exercise, and mental satisfaction. It can also be created for next to nothing (around $ 60 for a 4 X 6 foot box). I thought I would replace the little hot box in our back yard that allowed only 4 tomato plants with a larger plot that was both inexpensive but produced more vegetables with the least amount of work out in the hot sun here in southern Virginia.

I began with a sketch and went to the local home supply store with the firm conviction that I would leave with all the supplies necessary for the task. An hour or so later, this task was complete. The list consists of a 50 ft. roll or 3 ft. wide fencing. You know, the wire fence with the 2 "X 3" openings. Then I bought 8 of those 6 ft. stockade fence boards in the rough cut lumber section ($ 2 each) along with 4 cheap 1 X 4's, also 6 ft. long. Can you see it? Two of the 6 ft. fence boards stacked horizontally and two of the 6 ft. 1 X 4's nailed vertically at each end. That's one side of the box complete. Do it again and 2 sides are complete. Then cut 2 ft. off the remaining 4 fence boards and the box is nearly complete. Take them outside and nail 2 of the boards to the edges of the 6 ft. boards. You now have a 1 ft. deep box, 4ft. X 6ft. with 4 vertical corner posts.

The wire is then cut in 6 ft. and 4 ft. lengths with wire cutters. By now you can see that there is enough wire to span the entire 20 ft. to wrap around the box perimeter. Each wire fence section can later be folded down for easy access to the plants inside the box. But since the vertical 1 X 4's are 6 ft. high, the wire fencing needs to cover the remaining upper 3 ft. of the box height. So, cut more fencing to cover the upper 20 ft. of the box perimeter. The remainder of the 50 ft. fence will cover the top of the box.

The means of connect the fence sections to each other can be tie tags, twist ties, or those cotter pins that can be easily removed and reinstalled when done weeding or picking vegetables. I used cotter pins for ease of removal. Pin all the fence sections together at the four corners of each section and maybe a couple more along the horizontal lengths.

The remaining task is to locate the box in the optimum sunny location and fill it with some garden quality soil. Then wait until the end of the last frost in March to begin shopping for the tomato plants, peppers, and onions. The only question mark in my mind resides with those "pesky" squirrels. I just know they'll find a way to sneak through that fencing. Maybe the fencing needs to have smaller openings. Tying them together will also be a challenge to eliminate any gaps. Is it legal to shoot squirrels with a BB gun? I hear they're pretty good eating. Taste like chicken. Just kidding.

If enough weekend gardeners do this, we could overflow the farmers' markets all next summer with enough extra to give to our homeless neighbors. And all for less than $ 75 per household.

Fencing Drills – Tutorial Drills

How do you increase learning in drills in a large fencing class at the beginner or intermediate level? There are too many students for a single coach, or even several coaches, to instruct on a one-on-one basis. How do you multiply your teaching staff? One approach is through the use of tutorial drills.

Tutorial drills are designed to provide the student an opportunity to practice multiple repetitions to develop a skill taught in the preparatory group drill. The process is:

(1) the class is separated into two groups, students and tutors.

(2) fencers are paired in tutor/student pairs. The tutor dons a protective plastron.

(3) the coach explains the drill and emphasizes the specific actions the tutor will execute.

(4) the tutor presents the conditions and the cues for the student’s actions at a slow to medium speed.

(5) the student executes the fencing action being taught.

(6) the tutor provides no feedback or instruction.

(7) after a set number of repetitions, the two fencers switch roles. Bradford suggests a switch after 10 repetitions. A longer number may be more appropriate, such as 15 touches or four sets of 5 with a very short rest between each set, simply because of the equipment change required.

The fencer acting as tutor acts in much the same way as a qualified coach would act in presenting the drill. He or she uses a more upright body position with the arm at a level that correctly simulates the blade presentation in combat. The attack is carried forward with a step rather than a lunge. For beginners the chest can be turned more to the front to provide a larger target. And the actions are purely mechanical cues: open the line and get hit by a straight thrust, press on the blade and get hit by a disengage, move forward with the attack and get hit by the riposte after a successful parry, etc. These cues should be large and obvious.

The tutors require supervision. Inevitably one or more tutors will get the action and the cues wrong, leading their students into a series of incorrect actions. The coach cannot relax, but must circulate and correct tutor performance as needed.

The tutor should be equipped with a coaching plastron (a number of vendors offer a simple bib type plastron that will meet this need) and, in epee or sabre, with a sleeve to prevent discomfort or injury (vendors offer inexpensive cloth sleeves). At epee, a protective leg is advisable if hits will be delivered to the thigh or foot. Although the number of hits the tutor will receive is fewer than a working coach would, hard hits or hits delivered from too short a distance have the potential to cause the tutor to flinch, introducing an unrealistic element into the drill.

At one level the tutor’s role allows the fencer to rest while still performing fencing actions. The pupil does the hard work with repeated actions. However, the tutor does automate certain hand actions and gains useful experience in creating invitations, and the coach should highlight that experience so that tutors realize that their role in providing cues is actually developing a useful fencing skill.

The use of tutors increases the effectiveness of the early stages of learning correct execution of a fencing skill. There is a secondary benefit, especially to the intermediate level program. Individuals who do a good job as a tutor are logical candidates to enroll in training to become Assistant Moniteurs (a preprofessional certification offered by the United States Fencing Coaches Association), providing a cadre of certified assistants to work under the coach’s direction. Explore this type of drill, improve your fencers’ skills, and start training your next generation of assistants.

An Autumn Weekend Getaway

The end of summer- the end of fun? Autumn is usually associated with work, rain, start of the school year and all the other things we tried to forget about during the summer. But who says you have to forget about having fun? It does not matter if it is the middle of October. Just take a few days off from work, or just a weekend and make plans to relax and have fun. Get out of the crowded city and just enjoy a few days in the middle of the nature.

Autumn weekend getaway- adored by romantics. If you are a romantic person, surprise your loved one by planning an escapade just for the two of you. Choose a hotel or an inn in the countryside and spend fantastic moments of passion and tenderness. It is said that watching the wonderful colors of an autumn sunset can make you fall in love in an instant. No one can deny that autumn is the most romantic season of the year.

Long walks in the most fabulous landscape. If go for a hotel in the countryside you will be amazed by the fantastic colors of the autumn nature. It seems like a great painter came and threw his water colors on the trees, making leaves blush in front of such a beauty. Hearing leaves rustle under your shoes is like hearing tender words from your loved one. Hold hands like you are children and take time to admire every inch of the wonderful surroundings. You will definitely become more caring and gentle.

Choose a luxury rural hotel. Hotels in the countryside can offer you all the comfort and luxury you need. Furthermore you get to enjoy the benefits of living in the rural area. You can take deep breathes of fresh air, dine in the garden and listen to the wind whistling through the trees. There are hotels located near the water, like the hotels in Henley on Thames that are decorated wisely to blend in the rural architecture. You can have all the comfort you would have had in the city plus the unique experience of being close to the nature.

Visit the surroundings. Do not hesitate to ask the hotel staff to pack you a picnic basket. Take a blanket with you and enjoy having lunch near the water. Do not worry if it rains. Just cuddle with your loved one in front of the fireplace and listen to the rain drops as they touch the window.

Golf Vacation Package Benefits

Golf is a popular sport to plan a vacation around. Places like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina have over 4 million games of golf played on year on its courses. With so many hungry golf travelers, it only seems fair that they deserve a price break. When you book as a package deal you can save on every part of your trip from hotel stay to course and cart fees. Packages also offer perks and discounts for groups and more. Not only is traveling with a package deal a smart financial idea, but it saves time on booking and researching the area's accommodations and courses. Before you book a golf travel trip, do not forget to see if there are package deals available in the area. Generally, if it is an area that is popular for the sport then you will find many different package deal options.

One really convenient benefit is the fact that you can customize your packages. Custom options are available whether you are booking just courses or if you are booking courses and lodging. You can make your own original package based on where you want to stay, what courses you want to play on, how many people are coming on the trip, what price range you want to stay in, when you want to go on your trip, and more. Since the packages are custom made by the consumer, free quotes are given to help find the best combination for your stay. All you do is fill in the quote box with how many golfers, how many nights, how many rounds you are playing, and your arrival date.

The real benefits are in the discounts. Not only do you get reduced lodging, but you get reduced course fees, cart fees, free drinks, and more. There are many different perks that are often included in packages. You can stay at luxurious accommodations and play on premier courses without paying top dollar.

Inclement weather guarantees are another benefit. You do not have to worry about weather raining on your parade if you have your trip backed with a satisfaction guarantee clause that recognizes inclement weather possibilities.

The benefits of booking golf trips as a package deal outweigh any other type of vacation booking method. By booking via package deal you save time and money. Trips are customizable and getting quotes is simple and user friendly when done online. To enjoy even more savings, try playing around with dates or traveling in a group.

The Damaging Effects of Hail

Hail stones can range from around 5 millimetres in size to as large as 150 millimetres. Hail stones are made up of solid ice, and these larger ones that can come hurtling out of the sky during rough thunderstorms can naturally cause major damage and destruction. Those without protective canopies risk severe damage to property and produce.

Human Safety

At the onset of a major thunderstorm, it is advisable to move indoors in a hurry. Large hailstones as heavy as half a kilogram have been recorded. One certainly wouldn’t want to be hit by one of these as it hurtles out of the sky. While such sizes are less common, any blow to the head by a hail stone, with its solid ice makeup is going to be an unpleasant experience. Regular hail stones can be the size of a coin. Foreboding clouds, thunder and lightning are warning signs to quickly take shelter.

Housing Damage

Roofs of houses bear the brunt of hail during thunderstorms. Some damage may only be cosmetic, with the force of the hail causing dents in metal roofing. These dents can also wear out the metal’s coating, exposing the roof to further damage by nature’s elements.

Once a hail storm is over, it is worth inspecting the house and outside structure for any obvious damage. Sometimes this is hard to identify. If it can be spotted, a prompt fix can help eliminate further problems later. For example, damage to a pipe or gutter may cause leaking, therefore allowing water to move to unwanted areas, possibly causing rust or wall damage if not identified in time.

Vehicles

Motor vehicles are very susceptible to hail damage. Just like with metal roofing of houses, cars can easily sustain many dents and dints in a bad hailstorm if left out in the open. Most people would probably consider the aesthetics of a car to be much more important than unseen house roofs, so cars should be kept undercover during hail storms.

During a major hailstorm in Sydney, Australia in 1999, many car dealerships left cars outdoors and exposed. The result was a large glut of pockmarked vehicles that needed to be sold at major discounts to their pre hail storm prices. Many car sales yards now have protective netting installed to ward off damaging hail stones.

Crops

Many crops are also very vulnerable to damage by hail stones. It must be incredibly painful for farmers, who face enough challenges as it is, to see their carefully tended and nurtured plants destroyed in a brief onslaught from above. Just like car dealers, some farmers have turned to protective netting devices in order to resist the force of hail stones.

The sight of a torrent of hail stones crashing to earth can be an amazing sight. The downside is the unfortunate destruction that this can cause. Agricultural production is put at risk, vehicles and property may be at the sky’s mercy and in extreme cases, even human life can be endangered. Human life should be protected first and foremost. For property, cars and farming produce, bird netting solutions, if employed in advance, can often protect against the damage of hail.

Concrete Anchor Bolts

When constructing a building, anchor bolts are needed to attach object to concrete wall or base in order for the foundation to be stronger and more durable. With concrete anchor bolts, the structure is resistant to earthquakes and other phenomenon that may rock it. Concrete anchor bolts are the most sought-after bolts and it comes in different types for different purposes.

Types of concrete bolts include wedge bolts, best for interior applications; galvanized wedge bolts, which offer the best corrosion resistance; sleeve bolts, which are heavy duty anchors for use in brick, stone, concrete or block; strike bolts are best for solid concrete designed for medium to heavy loads; lag shield bolts are recommended for use in medium and heavy loads holding both dead weight and vibrating loads to be anchored in concrete, brick, block, and stone; leadwood screw anchors are used for removal of fixtures without loss of holding values; double expansion anchors are best for anchoring into brick, concrete or block base material; hurricane shutter anchors comes with hurricane shutter insert anchors to promote good fastening performance while split drive anchor bolts are good for light to medium duty in concrete.

These little anchors play a vital role in large and gigantic structures from industrial buildings to plants obtain solid foundation. These and more of your construction needs can be bought in any hardware stores near you. If you want the convenience in buying bolts, you can also purchase them online for fast and easy buying. Good luck!

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's SuperAlloy

Superalloys have changed the world we live it. From high speed jets to state of the art medical devices our lives are made better by these materials and the fasteners used to hold them together.

What are they: Superalloys are combinations of elemental metals that display excellent mechanical strength and creep resistance at temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, good surface stability, and corrosion and oxidation resistance. This is achieved by adding other elements to the base, including nickel, cobalt, chromium, aluminum, tungsten, and molybdenum, among others. Some of these elements are added in large amounts, some in small, even minuscule amounts.

History: It is a paradox that some of the greatest medical advances in history are a result of war, with its technological advances often turning into civilian and peacetime innovations. The experimentation and innovation with superalloys was in large part driven by military and aerospace needs in the twentieth century.

Commercially viable stainless steel was developed in the early 1900's. However, when stainless steel was found to be limited in its strength, high temperature performance, and corrosion-resistant capabilities, scientists began experimenting with alloys. The resulting iron-base materials were soon dubbed superalloys.

With high operating temperatures and extreme stress conditions, aircraft provided an unparalleled testing ground for specialty materials and fasteners. There was explosive development in the field from 1940 to 1960 with many of the superalloys in use today coming into mainstream use at that time. It did not take long for these amazing new materials, perfected in wartime, to find their way into peacetime applications. Although the aerospace industry is still the biggest consumer of superalloys, the medical field, the food processing industry, the energy industries, and the semiconductor industry all have a need for superalloys and superalloy fasteners.

Superalloys fall into three basic groups: Iron -nickel-base, nickel-base, and the cobalt-base superalloys make up the main types. The iron-nickel-base superalloys evolved from stainless steel technology and are generally wrought. Nickel-base and cobalt-base superalloys can be either wrought or cast. Nickel-base superalloys can be used at the very high temperatures – just below their melting temperatures of about 2200 to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit. Iron-nickel-base superalloys can be used at temperatures up to 1300 degrees Fahrenheit but are less expensive. High temperatures aside, cryogenic applications and body temperature applications (eg medical prosthesis), also exist.

Popular superalloys:

Alloy A286 is one of the most commonly used iron-nickel-base superalloys. It offers high strength and corrosion resistance at temperatures up to 1300 degrees Fahrenheit (704 degrees Celsius). Frequently used in the aerospace industry, it can be precipitation hardened to a strength level. Typical fasteners in A286 include socket heads, hex heads and 12 point.

Inconel is a nickel-base superalloy, making it suitable for very high temperatures, extreme environments, and demanding applications. Typical fasteners in Inconel 600, Inconel 601, Inconel 625, Inconel 718, and Inconel X-750, including 12 points, button sockets, dowel pins flat sockets, and threaded studs / double end studs.

Monel is a nickel-base superalloy. Its corrosion resistance makes it ideal for marine applications. It is also resistant to corrosion by acids and oxygen, making it a good material for the chemical industry. Typical fasteners in Monel 400, Monel 405, and Monel K-500, including flat sockets, flat washers, hex heads and nuts, and machine screws.

MP35N is a nonmagnetic nickel-cobalt superalloy . It features high fatigue and high strength properties and has excellent environmental resistance. It is commonly used in medical devices, food processing, chemical, and marine environments.

Invar 36 is an iron-nickel-base alloy. It is a controlled expansion alloy and commonly used in electronic equipment. Typical fasteners made out of Invar 36 include CNC machine parts, machine screws, and dowel pins.

Stacked Wedding Cake Construction – Tiers for Fears

That day you've secretly feared since you started decorating cakes is quickly approaching. You've been asked to make a wedding cake – a five tiered, stacked wedding cake! And it's for your sister's wedding!

As you go over designs with your sister by day, you dream about the cake at night. The cake in your dreams is taller than any cake you've even seen. As bride and groom pose for the cake cutting ceremony pictures, you look on as each tier slowly sinks into the one beneath it, and just as your sister and her new husband smile and begin to slice their first piece of cake, the force of gravity and the domino effect take hold and the cake implodes.

All four top tiers sink into the bottom tier, turning a once majestic beauty into a giant pile of fondant covered cake rubble! (And then you wake up, covered in sweat, only to realize that this dream could actually become reality.)

But wait! This nightmare does not have to become reality. And no, you will not have to add therapist bills to your cake budget to get through your big project. These sorts of nightmares are normal for first time wedding cake makers. Beyond a healthy amount of butterflies, you have absolutely nothing to fear if you follow these tips.

Stacked Wedding Cake Construction 101

Unlike wedding cakes with tiers that are separated by plates and pillars, the tiers on a stacked wedding cake appear to rest directly on top of one another. This is just an illusion since the cakes actually rest on a system of hidden pillars and plates. To stack a multi-tiered cake without plates and pillars is a very risky proposition with the weight of each cake.

Stacked cakes of more than 4 layers need some sort of support in the form of plates, spikes and / or dowels to keep the upper layers from sinking into the lower layers.

So whether your wedding cake will be stacked Victorian style (graduating round tiers) or à la chic with fondant covered gift-box style tiers, here are the basics:

To create a perfectly constructed tower rather than an experiment on the effects of gravity on cake and icing, you can either use a purchased set of cake plates and spikes, or you can build your own system using cardboard cake plates and dowels.

To build your own system, pick up some 1 / 4-3 / 8-inch round cake dowels (or other food safe wooden dowels) and a hammer (yes, even if you flunked high school Woodshop) and follow these tips:

1. Plan the dowels' placement by centering a cake plate the size of the next cake to be placed on top of the bottom cake, and then marking the spot by pressing down gently on the plate.

2. Within the boundaries of these markings, insert four evenly spaced dowels. Insert the first dowel straight down through to the bottom of the cake and mark the dowel even with the top of the cake. Pull out the dowel and, using wire cutters, cut off at the mark. Cut three more the same height. Then push the dowels straight down into the cake in the places you marked so that they form a square inside the circle. (Be sure the dowels are perfectly even with the top of the cake for the best support.)

3. Place your next smaller tier on a round cake board of the same size, and then place it on top of the bottom tier. The dowels will prevent the top tier from sinking into the bottom tier.

4. Measure the next set of dowels from the bottom of the bottom cake to the top of the top cake. Cut the dowel at an angle to taper the end and cut it so that it is just slightly shorter than the height of the two bottom cakes. Insert the dowels tapered end first straight down through the cake. When the dowel stops at the first cake board, give it a firm tap with the hammer to break through the board down to the bottom of the cake. To prevent the hammer from landing in the icing, place another small section of dowel end to end with the measured dowel to hammer it into position.

5. Finally, ice over the little blemish to hide the tip of the dowel, and your tower construction is finished! You can rest easy knowing that your wedding cake is stable enough to withstand the forces of gravity. No more nightmares!

These stress relieving tips are courtesy of " Cake Decorating Made Easy!" 2 Volume, Which is available at Http://www.CakesMadeEasy.com .

Finally, here's one more tip:

Not all cakes have the buoyancy and mass needed to support the weight of multiple cake tiers stacked one on top of the other, even with the support of cake plates and dowels. So for the wedding cake of your dreams (not nightmares), use a tried and true wedding cake recipe such as a fruit cake, butter cake, dense carrot cake or any of the wedding cake recipes in "Cake Decorating Made Easy!"

Stacking Firewood – Where Is the Joy?

Sometimes hard work can simplify things, ease the mind, instill a sense of accomplishment just at the right time. Cutting and stacking firewood does that for me. Stacking is especially enjoyable. A well organized wood pile is a visual and aromatic delight, a Robert Frost poem come to life.

Of course, a well ordered wood pile is more than homespun sculpture. Whether relying on wood to heat the home or sharing relaxing times around an outdoor fire pit, the way firewood is stacked impacts seasoning, burn-ability, energy efficiency, safety, convenience, value and cost.

Correctly stacking firewood is not as easy as it looks, which I learned the hard way. Fortunately, you will not have to, if you “take the road less traveled by” and apply a few time-tested techniques.

First, determine if the wood is green, wet or dry, an important factor in determining location. If green or wet, the best place is the one most exposed to sun and wind. If dry, a shed or covered area is better to keep the wood from over-drying. In either case, keep the firewood stack at least 20 feet from your home.

The condition of the wood also influences how to form or shape the stack. For instance, greater attention given to creating air flow is needed for green or wet wood.

No matter what the location or stacking technique, start by laying two parallel rows of planks about 15″ apart and perpendicular to the direction the firewood ends will point. Keeping wood off the ground, cement or other surface creates air flow, helps prevent mold, and ensures the bottom rows will season with the rest of the stack. I prefer using 4 X 4 timber, but other materials, such as long, straight branches, 2 X 4’s, and pallets work just as well.

If you are concerned about termites, carpenter ants or other critters taking up residence in the wood pile, consider first treating the ground, with insecticide. It is not wise to burn chemically treated wood in the fireplace or outdoor fire pit, so do not apply insecticides directly to firewood.

Stacking wood in contact with other wood also encourages rotting and infestation. For this reason, firewood should be stacked in single rows.

To the fun part. A decision is needed for how to secure the ends in order to keep the stack intact. Herein lies the mark of a good firewood stacker. There are several options. For example, two perfectly placed trees will do.

Or, a popular and effective technique is to build two vertical ends with firewood by crisscrossing alternate layers Lincoln Logs style. To ensure stability, care is needed in selecting and placing the pieces. It may take some searching, but each one should be straight with little or no taper, twisted grain or uneven sides.

Though not as aesthetic, driving a metal stake into the ground where you want to form each end is faster. However, the size and depth of the stakes may limit how high you can stack the wood.

For more stability, drive a stake into the ground and tie it back into the stack with twine. Every three or four rows, fasten twine to the stake using a slip knot. Lay the twine along that row and loop it around the end piece of the next row. After two or three pieces of wood are stacked on the twine, the stake will draw snug to the pile for a strong vertical end.

Still another way is to forget the stakes and wrap the twine around end logs at both ends of your stack. Done correctly, the pile will be quite stable.

Spending hours stacking wood only to have it fall into a heap is very frustrating and extremely dangerous if you or a loved one is in the wrong place when it topples. Therefore, do not rush. Take time to form straight sides and stable rows. Unless you are a seasoned stacker, keep from building your pile more than four feet high.

Almost second nature with a little practice is putting the larger end of a firewood piece on the low side of the stack to keep the top row level. Frequently checking the other side from where you are stacking, as well as surveying the stack from one end, will help in keeping the sides straight. If the stack starts to lean, use the back end of a maul to tap wood pieces into alignment. The higher the stack, the harder it is to straighten, so check early and often.

To reduce freshly cut firewood’s water content to about 20%, which is needed for optimal heat generation, do not tightly press the pieces together along a row. Rule of thumb is far apart enough for a mouse to pass, but not a cat.

Bark has an interesting role to play as well. When stacking green or wet wood without covering, stack bark side up to prevent some of the rain from soaking into the wood. With covering, stack bark side down to dry the wood faster.

To cover or not to cover a wood pile is an ongoing debate. Except in very wet climates, my preference is to leave it uncovered, which seems to augment rather than hinder seasoning. It is likely one method is not much better than the other.

If you prefer to cover, never completely cover the wood, which will rot rather than dry it. Best to leave the ends of the stack uncovered and the overhanging tarp at least a foot or so from the ground on the sides.

If you want an easier way to organize your wood pile, a heavy-duty firewood rack may be ideal. No need to worry about configuring the base or ends of the stack; that’s exactly what a firewood rack is. Different lengths are available to handle the amount of wood that needs to be stacked. For instance, a 36″ model holds 3/8 face cord. A 144″ model holds 1 1/2 face cord.

Except for cleaning up the leftover chips and twigs, which when dry make great kindling, all that is left is to admire your handiwork. While you do, take time to sit back, smell the fresh wood, breathe the clean air, listen for the sound of birds or other wildlife, and read your favorite poem.

The Lang Model 60 BBQ Smoker

At the time we wrote “Competition BBQ Secrets”, we were using the Lang Model 60 exclusively. So all the tips in the book will work on this barbeque smoker in addition to all others. The Lang Model 60 is a very nice smoker. If you don’t mind the little bit of extra work involved in running a traditional, wood burning, offset barbeque smoker, then the Lang smoker is the way to go. Some people will only cook on traditional style offset smokers, so smokers that run on propane or pellets like the Traeger pellet smokers are out of the question. Hard core, barbeque to the bone, traditional BBQers will always cook on an offset smoker because they can use all natural wood which produces the best smoke flavor. A lot of the best barbeque teams do use pellet smokers and some of them even use charcoal, so I guess it is an argument that will never be settled.

The Lang Model 60 barbeque smoker is unique in that it has a metal plate that runs just above the firebox opening all the way to the other end of the smoker. At the other end, there is a two inch opening the entire width of the barbeque smoker. So the heat and smoke travels under the metal plate, to the other end, up and over the meat, and then out the smoke stack which is on the same side of the smoker as the firebox. This accomplishes two things…

1) The smoke is distributed more evenly throughout the cooking chamber.

2) The heat is also distributed more evenly thus eliminating those troublesome hot and cold spots found in a more traditional offset barbeque smoker which does not have the plate (the smoke and heat would just travel from the firebox directly into the cooking chamber and then out the smoke stack which is on the opposite side of the barbeque smoker).

Here’s some points to remember…

* The steel plate heats up and thus provides a more even heat source under the meat.

* There is a lip at the other end of the steel plate so you can close off the drain valve and fill the plate with water and you’ve got yourself a big water pan. This really produces some nice and tender barbeque.

* The end of the plate near the firebox and the plate sides are welded completely shut to the side of the cooking chamber.

* There is a drain valve that runs from the steel plate through the bottom of the tank.

* Usually, no water or dripping ever get into the bottom of the tank.

* Drippings from your meat will vaporize on the steel plate (if you have not filled it with water) thus producing a moist cooking environment in your barbeque smoker.