The Difference Between Terracotta and Saltillo Tiles

Saltillo tiles are produced exclusively in the town of Saltillo, Mexico and in much the same way that sparkling wines can only be called Champagne if they are from the Champagne region of France, sun-dried terracotta tiles can only be truly called Saltillo if they were produced in Saltillo. These tiles are shaped by hand from naturally occurring clay in the area and then dried in the sun. They are later fired in a kiln. Terracotta, meaning “burnt earth” in Italian, can refer to any sort of natural clay formed into tiles, dried, then fired in a kiln. Saltillo tiles normally contain Lime Pops which expose themselves over time and are frequently absent in Italian clays. In addition, the Italian, French, and Spanish terracotta can frequently be more durable due to their extruded manufacturing process.

Terracotta tiles are predominantly made in one of two ways: extruded (machine made) or hand made. Both methods will service the client well as long as the material is properly installed and the end user’s expectation corresponds to the intended use of the product. The major advantage of extruded terracotta manufactured by machine is that the clay is compressed and trimmed to the proper size, producing a strong, solid finished product. If we compare this to the process of making a snowball, the harder we push the snow together, the more we compress it, the harder and stronger our snowball is. The less we compress it the more likely our snowball is to break apart. The machine compression process allows for less clay to be used during production which can reduce material and shipping costs. The compression and then firing of the material creates a strong and durable tile that should withstand daily wear and tear of most consumers.

A hand made material, such as Saltillo, usually requires much more clay during the production process and is made similarly to the way kids make mud pies. The craftsmen pack the clay into wood or ceramic frames which define the size of each tile. As the size of the tile increases the thickness of material must also increase to maintain the integrity of each tile. An example is a 12″ x 12″ handmade material may need to be approximately ¾” thick. As the size of the tile increases to a 16″ x 16″, the thickness of material needs to increase to a minimum of approximately 1″ to prevent the tile from crumbling or breaking during the installation process. The added clay required in the hand made process usually increases material and shipping costs.

When a hand made clay tile is fired at high temperature, the heat extracts the moisture from the clay causing several results that must be considered during the selection process. Small pockets of air are in the tile where moisture had been before firing making a very porous product. This porosity means that this type of terracotta is a poor choice for an outside application in a colder climate where freeze/thaw conditions exist. Also, the tiles frequently bow during firing. The larger the tile, the more exaggerated and pronounced the curl will become during the firing process. The added thickness of material and bowing (which increases the absolute thickness) needs to be considered when attempting to match materials to existing floors. Hand made material usually also requires a thicker mortar base during the installation process which can further compound floor thickness challenges. In other words, will the terracotta’s and setting material’s added thickness allow it to be set next to an existing floor or adjacent to carpet without excessive lippage.

In the end, handmade or extruded terracotta or Saltillo will hold up well if properly installed and I have seen many installations hold up for over 50 years. The key to a successful project is the selection of a quality terracotta or Saltillo, proper substrate preparation, using proper setting materials and methods appropriate for the installation, and completed by a licensed tile contractor familiar with these types of installations.

How To Clean A Front Loading Washing Machine

There are two major types of washing machines, the top loader and the front loader. The top loading washing machine is the traditional type of washing machine that are found in most homes. They are called such because the bin where you place your laundry opens at the top of the machine.

On the other hand, front load washing machines were used before mostly for commercial purposes and these were commonly seen in laundromats. Unlike the top loader, the front load machine has a tub which opens at the front, thus the name. However, in the recent years, the front loader has gained much popularity and is now widely used in households.

No matter what type of washing machine you are using, you should give it ample care and maintenance. A previous article talked about cleaning a top loader. This time, this article is going to talk about the proper ways of cleaning a front loading washing machine. Here are some basic tips that will give you a better front loader.

Try draining it completely

Unlike top loaders which can be drained thoroughly, front load washing machines do not drain completely as the drain pipe in the latter is located at its side. With that design, some water is bound to be left inside the washer or tub. Sometimes, these remaining water may be the cause of that funky odor you have been smelling lately. To avoid this, try draining it out completely. If it does not drain out the hose, well, you can try draining it manually.

Let the moisture escape

Make it a habit to always leave the door to the washer open. Unless, of course, you are washing your laundry. Sometimes moisture is trapped inside and it causes the musty smell. Trapped moisture inside the washer is also a very attractive breeding place for molds and mildew not to mention germs and other harmful microorganism.

Use high-efficiency detergent

The kind of detergent you use is also very helpful in cleaning the front loader’s tub. No, I’m not saying that you should scrub the tub with detergent, that may cause in more lime deposits. Anyway, you should try buying high efficiency detergent, which produce less suds and less fragrance because of their high concentration.

Suds are a big factor to why you may have difficulty draining water out of the tub of your front loading washing machine. The detergent suds mix with water and make it thicker. Also, suds that are left inside the tub will harden and will cause lime deposits in the tub. Sudsy water may look cute and all but they cause problems. To avoid these problems, well, avoid the suds.

Wipe the inside of the tub

If you have the luxury of time, you can do this every after you finish doing the laundry. This way, you can be sure that the inside of the tub is really dry and that no detergent suds nor fabric conditioner remnants are there. There may also be some dirt inside the tub which came from your laundry. Clean these dirt and the like unless you want them mixing with your clothes the next time you do your laundry.

You also have to be careful in cleaning each and every nook and cranny inside the tub that may collect water and moisture. Even a little amount of moisture can lead to disaster. Remember, the enemy here are microorganisms. They are the ones to blame for dirty clothes and that musty smell. Clean even the hard to reach areas. However, if you cannot do this every after doing the laundry, you can try doing this twice a month. Then again, the more times you do it, the better.

Clean the drain pump filter

The drain pump filter is one of the parts of the front loading washing machine that receives the dirty work. Over time, you can only imagine how much dirty water and the like accumulated in the filter. Water that is never drained is still there, because where else would they go, right? Suds and all the other dirt filtered from the clothes are also there.

The drain pump filter, which is usually located at the bottom of the machine, can be taken by pulling out the drain plug. Remember to put a bucket or anything else that can catch water underneath the drain hose before pulling it out. Take out the filter and clean it. Doing this, you did not only clean the drain pump, you will also make the draining process faster without all those obstructions.

Nitric Oxide: Will It Help You Lose Weight & Burn Fat

Nitric Oxide, also know as “N.O.”, is one of the latest supplements to hit the market, promising lean muscle tone and a sculpted body, enhancing the weight loss and fat burning appearance.

Can this supplement in fact help you to tone up, lose weight, and burn body fat?

If you believe what all the magazines are saying , then I have some land in the Everglades I’d like to sell you.

The bottom line behind nitric oxide supplements (when you shuffle through all the “mumbo-jumbo” sales pitch and hype that are in the ads that promote these products) is that it is a “vasodilator”, which simply means that it supposedly dilates, or opens up, your blood vessels.

This “opening” up wider of the blood vessels supposedly will allow more blood to flow to the working muscles, which will supposedly “enhance” the pump, which will supposedly engorge them and make them larger, helping you build lean muscle tissue, which helps speed up your metabolic rate, which in turn will speed up any weight loss or fat burning that goes on.

Well, there are 2 major points that have to be considered here when evaluating how well they truly are in helping you:

1) Does nitric oxide really open up the blood vessels?

2) Is getting a “massive pump” important if you are trying to build lean, toned muscle to raise the metabolic rate and burn fat and lose weight?

If and how much nitric oxide dilates your blood vessels is still a topic in discussion.

There have been no un-biased, independent, peer-reviewed studies done on this to make it conclusive.

So, we really can’t say “yes” or “no”.

However, let’s play “make believe” and pretend that “yes”, nitric oxide supplements do allow more blood to flow into a working muscle.

If that’s the case, then let’s consider the next point.

Do you need to get a big blood pump into the muscle to develop or tone it?

Will it help the weight loss / fat burning process?

Just about everyone thinks that “yes”, you must get a pump in a muscle to build it.

However, when you are training a muscle in reality you aren’t pushing or sending more blood to the muscle.

What’s actually happening is that when the fibers contract the area inside of the muscle gets smaller, which results in the blood that’s already in there to become trapped and the pressure increased.

So, in reality, there isn’t more blood going into the muscle, there’s actually less since the blood that’s in there is trapped, cannot leave, nor allow fresh blood to enter.

That’s also why as you continue to do reps you begin to feel the “burning” sensation in the working muscle.

That’s a major sign that there is no oxygen anymore inside the blood that’s in the muscle.

When there is no oxygen in the blood it creates a chemical called lactic acid.

Lactic acid is what causes this “burning” feeling.

There is no oxygen in the blood because fresh blood can’t get in there with new oxygen and nutrients!

Plus, you can do 1000 reps of an exercise using a 20 pound dumbbell and get a major pump.

But I guarantee you that you won’t build as toned of a muscle as if you were to use heavier weight, even though it may not make it easier to get as big a “pump”.

So all of this “hoopla” about nitric oxide supplements allowing you to get a better pump to build more lean muscle mass, enhancing the metabolism, weight loss, and fat burning systems is nothing but hype!!!!

It won’t help you lose one ounce of fat / weight.

You watch and see, shortly all of these “N.O.” supplements are going to fade into the shadows and some new powder or pill is going to be the new “talk of the town”, I guarantee it!

Copyright (c) 2006 Jonathan Perez

Improve Your Practice By Optimizing Your Tai Chi Shoes – Also for Kung Fu and Qigong

First off, always consult with your doctor about any pain or if you need orthotics. Anything you choose to do with this information or not, is solely your responsibility. That said, primarily understand that tai chi shoes (or kung fu shoes) are about as close to being barefoot as possible. Their simple, thin design is to allow you to feel and control the movement of your feet and treat upon the ground as unencumbered as possible. Once you find a pair of shoes that fit and are comfortable, purchase a water repellant spray. Following the directions, apply the waterproofing outside, and on the inside edges of each shoe. This will extend the life of your shoes, especially if you use them outdoors or in humid climates.

If one of your legs was assessed by a healthcare provider as slightly longer than the other, you can build up that needed height in your shoe. Again, this is only if you are not required to wear orthotics but wish maximum performance. Go to a dollar store and buy a pair of shoe liner cushions. Use only one of them in the shoe of the shorter leg. That will give you up to 1/8″ extra height. If you experience any back or joint pain, remove it and visit a chiropractor or doctor. If you need more height, put the two cushions back-to-back, and insert them into the one shoe of the shorter leg. Test your balance and performance by practicing in the shoes for at least three days. It should start to help ease aches and balance issues due to slight leg length discrepancies. And yes, that eighth to a quarter of an inch can make a difference!

Tai chi shoes have no arch support. Folks with high arches or flat feet could use the help of a partial shoe insert that offers arch support. Most drugstores or discount stores house a variety of such shoe inserts. If your heels are narrow, use an ankle/heel cushion or adhesive moleskin to line the upper, inner back edge of your shoes.

Mature folks, especially women, tend to lose the natural fat cushion on the bottom of their feet. That can lead to pain on the ball of the foot. Gel inserts made for this purpose provide a great source of comfort. If the inside seams of your shoes rub on your feet, this can lead to painful corns and calluses. To remedy that situation, use thin adhesive moleskin – or adhesive felt pad (from a craft supplies store or hardware store) – to smooth over those areas in your shoe. You should also wear socks, or if not, then use a good foot powder on your feet and in your shoes for health and comfort. Tea tree oil or tea tree powder is a natural, cooling, healing and antifungal solution.

The last thing you should do is “level” your stance by using ankle inversion/eversion corrective inserts. These little wedge-like partial inserts are placed on the edges of the heel area inside the shoe. How do you know if you need them? Check a pair of shoes you’ve worn on a regular basis. If the inner edges of your shoe soles show more wear, you may tend to roll in too much. Put the shoe inserts at the inner (medial) edges inside your shoe to “tilt” your foot more outward. If your shoe soles show wear on the outer edges of the soles, you tend to roll outward too much. In that situation, place the inserts toward the outer edges inside your shoe, to tilt your feet a bit more inward. Again, it’s always best to consult with a qualified physician first.

You don’t need to put all these things in your shoes! Just insert what is needed to help your geometrical structure. But if you need to put several things in your shoes, be sure to get a shoe size large enough to accommodate everything. Your feet should never slide around in the shoes. And tai chi or kung fu shoes are meant to fit more snugly than normal street shoes. Its best to have a pair that you only wear indoors and another pair that you reserve for outdoor use. Don’t bring the dirt, germs, and “bad” energy of the outer world into your home or guan.

Always test-drive your shoes for a while to see how the inserts affect you. Remember that it takes your body a few days to adjust to any changes. Sometimes just these little changes will make all the difference in your practice!

Building Deck Stairs on a Budget

As a professional, I’ve built many decks of all sizes and shapes. Stairs are often the last part of the deck to be tackled because they are usually the most difficult and expensive part of the deck to build. However, by using a method known as the ‘engineered bracket system’, not only can I save up to $500 per flight of stairs, but the installation is easy, with professional results.

The adjustable stair bracket system automatically adjusts to the exact rise and run needed. The customized rise and treads configurations can be adjusted to meet all building codes for any interior or exterior application. The brackets act as joist hangers which allow the stair risers to be used structurally, carrying the load across the stair like floor joists. Using only two outside stringers, the stair width can be up to nine feet wide and the stairs are strong. The need for interior stringers is eliminated. The outside stringers then require only 3 to 4 cuts each, and the risers and treads are simply attached to the brackets. If you make a mistake, you can readjust the brackets.

A wide range of materials such as redwood, cedar, tropical wood, treated wood, untreated wood, vinyl, steel, and composites can be used. Adjustable brackets allow for customized rise and tread configurations which can be adjusted to meet all building codes for any interior or exterior application.

This is how it works: Set the brackets on the two 2×6 stringer members using the spacers and pivot screws. Remove spacers and rotate brackets to adjust stair height. Fix brackets in position, attach risers and treads. 3D video demos are available on the website below.

Before you begin, determine the material you are going to use, the exact number of steps you need and the stair width.

You will need (2) 2×6’s per stringer for each side. Make sure when you purchase your 2×6’s make sure that they are straight without any twist. The 2×6’s will need to be at least 12″ longer than the total length of your stairs. Two stringers are sufficient to span up to 7′ wide (exterior stair requirements).

For risers you will use 2×8’s for riser heights up to 7-1/4″ and 2×10’s for higher risers. For treads you can use 2×12’s (which is the easiest option). However, if you decide to use (2) 6 inch wide treads instead…wood or composite, you will need to use cleat brackets to bridge between the risers for tread support. Time saving tip: when you determine how many steps you will need and your stair width….get all your risers and treads pre-cut to exact lengths when you purchase the materials.

Tools/Materials needed will be: a power drill, saw (skill saw is preferable, but not required, #8 1 1/4″ Phillips flat head or star/square drive screws for the stair brackets, #8 2 1/2″ deck screws for every 9″ of tread and riser connection and Spacers for customized riser and tread measurements.

The “Engineered Stair Bracket System” method eliminates the need to cut stringers and is tested to be much stronger and faster than conventional construction. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a do-it-yourselfer, you will build fast, strong and accurate stairs, on a budget.

Using Trees to Protect Your Home From the Desert Heat

In times like this, when temperature is high and dry and rainfall is scarce with sparse vegetation, it is important that we know how to protect our homes. Trees are among the best things that can help us do that. There are several benefits of having trees in our yard. One is that they improve the quality of air. By doing so, they moderate heat. Aside from the heat of the sun, they also protect our home from the harsh environment. They protect it from strong rain and wind. The deciduous trees are the most helpful as they help deflect the strong rays of the sun during the warm season. They are also reliable during the cold season.

How trees protect our homes from desert heat:

• As mention earlier, having trees allows the area to be cooler as it reduces the heat from the sun. Trees with bigger branches and thicker leaves can block the heat more effectively, thus the environment it provides is cooler. Most of the time, heat is heightened by the building and pavements, having trees around helps moderate its effect. If you have observed, it is cooler to stand under the shade of the tree than to seek shade in man-made waiting sheds.

• Asphalt and other concretes also trap heat. This contributes to the heat reflected in the environment. If you have concretes in your home, it is better to plant trees around to minimize the effect of heat to your surroundings especially inside your home.

• Trees help to improve air quality by mitigating air pollution & greenhouse gases: Most trees use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into nutrients. The leaves clean the air in our surroundings by removing dust and other unwanted particles. They absorb carbon dioxide from the air to form carbohydrates that are used in the plant’s structure and function. That process helps to reduce the amount of CO2 which is a greenhouse gas and would otherwise contribute to smog and unhealthy conditions.

• Trees help us restore the more natural environment. When we plant them around our home, we help provide ourselves with a healthier environment. It also helps in bringing the balance back to the environment. By doing so, we help reduce the heat around our home. A single tree planted in our backyard may support hundreds of lives including mankind. Just think of how many living things you can help when you plant more, in your backyard.

• There are also trees that are cultured. These types of trees aid in the improvement of life and the well-being of your family. Moreover, it helps improve how your property looks. It can significantly improve the curb appeal of your property. You can choose from the different forms of trees as well. The leaves have different shapes and shades of green that can help you decorate your property.

Trees have many uses. As a home owner, they can protect your home from the different environmental elements. They are the best shield against the heat of the sun. Moreover, they also promote a healthier environment.

Dante’s Inferno Summary – The Grafters in Hell

Dante’s Inferno contains many terrifying scenes. One of which is when Dante and his traveling companion, Virgil, encounter the Grafters in Hell…

A devil carrying a soul of the damned in his claws runs toward Dante and Virgil. They watch in horror as the devil throws the sinner into a river of boiling tar… This is the circle of the grafters, those corrupt politicians who abused their authority in office. Florentine politics are evident in this canto where the fraudulent leaders who exiled Dante the poet from his home reside. These souls are condemned to live eternally in boiling tar with the devils constantly prodding them under with pitchforks (Dante compares it to chefs pushing down the meat in a stew).

Virgil has Dante hide behind a rock while he talks to the leader of the devils explaining that they are to pass through Hell on God’s command. The bridge to the next level is broken, and the devils agree to lead Dante and Virgil to a good bridge to cross. After coming out of hiding, Dante is terrified and wary, while Virgil is confident in the devil’s word. As it turns out, Dante’s fears are justified. Dante then moves further down into Hell…

Guided by the demons, Dante and Virgil witness a grotesque comedy of horrors in the circle of the grafters. They see the souls of the grafters squatting on the shores of the burning river of tar, however when the demons approach, the damned must dive underneath the tar to escape torture by the devils. In one terrifying scene, a soul who was too slow to escape was held in the claws of a demon, about to be ripped apart. Just as he did on earth, this soul uses his ability to lie and deceive in order to escape from the devils. He promises the devils that if they hide out of sight, he will issue a secret signal to the other damned to come to the surface of the tar (thinking they are safe) so the devils can grab them all.

The demons fall for the ruse, and as soon as they are out of sight, the soul of the damned dives back under the burning tar and escapes. Dante compares this to frogs diving under water to escape predators. Two of the demons fly down after the soul but they are too late, they end up in the boiling tar themselves, only to be extricated without their prey, covered in tar. While all this is happening, Dante and Virgil escape from the ever increasing wrath of the devils. This is a canto that combines the terror of Hell with an almost slapstick comedy of the bumbling demons.

Dante and Virgil then slide down a rocky slope and witness a somber scene…

How To Increase Your Creative Power – The Hindu Way!

The book under review is titled as ‘ The Journal of Oriental Research’. This has been published in the year 2007 and has nine articles in English.

This book is strongly recommended for reading and preserving for the students, scholars and anybody who is interested in Indology.

The article, ‘Creativity and its process: An appointment with Ancient Indian Aestheticians’ is giving you all the details to understand the multidimensional character of creativity with special reference to the nature and cultivation following ancient Indian aestheticians and to grasp few essential points needed for creative excellence.

This fantastic article has been written by C.Panduranga Bhatta, a renowned scholar in Sanskrit.

The ancient Indians created wonderful literature, music, sculptures, buildings and other creative products.

Rajasekara the author of kavyamimamsa has very clearly given eight factors as sources of creativity. They are:

1) Peace of mind (svasthya in Sanskrit)

2) Poetic intuition (pratibha in Sanskrit)

3) Practice ( abhyasa in Sanskrit)

4) Devotion (bhakthi in Sanskrit)

5) Participation in the assembly of the learned (vidvatmatha in Sanskrit)

6) All inclusive knowledge (bahusrutata in Sanskrit)

7) Strong memory ( Smrthi dhyanam in Sanskrit) and

8) Courage (anirveda in Sanskrit)

Those who want to increase the creative power in any field should develop these eight qualities.

Concentration which means oneness of mind or single mindedness is also given due importance in creativity.

The Hindu sages and poets strongly believed that there is a vast scope for creativity in each and every field be it literature or music or for that matter any other field.

This article gives details of awakening of the mind for creative thinking.

Other articles deal with Harmony in bana’s Harshacarita, description of nadis in vedic and yogic texts, The worship of Vastu etc.

We may read book reviews of nineteen books related to Indology also.

The Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute situated in Mylapore, Chennai, India is bringing out important books that are valuable for the scholars, students and book lovers who are interested to know many secrets revealed in Sanskrit literature.

While arithmetical manuscript is dealt in one article the varnam of music is explained in another article.The article ‘worship of vastu’ is giving the details about the birth of vastu and body of vastu.

These articles have been written by world scholars such as S S Janaki, Takao Hayashi,N S Satagopan, V.Kameswari, K.S.Balasubramaniyan,T V Vasudeva, R.Vijayalakshmy and Lalitha Ramakrishnan.

Sanskrit lovers, pl read this book without fail.

Horse Equipment Has Changed With The Role Of The Horse

Horses weren’t introduced to North America, they originated in North America. I just know that the Dawn Horse, the first form of a horse – Equus callabus, that appeared in North America about 60 million years ago.

However, horses disappeared entirely from North and South America about 10,000 years ago perhaps due to famine, disease, or because they were a source of food for man. The horse was brought back to America in the 16th century by Spanish explorers.

Horses may have been domesticated as far back as 7000 years ago. It’s anyone’s guess when the first horse was ridden but their history is well documented in very early times because they pulled the chariots and were ridden into battle. Horses have played an important role in the world’s development and were considered the most reliable transportation before the advent of the automobile.

The first bridles, early horse equipment, were made of leather and they were important because the horse’s head needed to be controlled. Early horsemen recognized that the horse’s mouth was a pressure point and if combined with a “bit” one could even control the horse. Today’s bridal, bit and reins are very similar to the first ones used in early times and not much has changed.

Bareback was the first method of riding and over time stirrups were developed to assist in mounting and for the rider to keep his balance. Leather pads secured to the horse by a cinch were the forerunner of the modern saddle that continued to evolve over time for comfort and durability.

Breastplates were added to horse tack to keep the saddle from slipping back. In addition, back cinches were used to hold the saddle down which is necessary for ranchers to rope cattle. Saddle pads were added to protect the horses’ back from the hard leather saddle to round out the horse equipment.

Today’s saddles vary with the activity. There are English saddles, synthetic saddles, Western pleasure trail saddles, all around western saddles, double gait western saddles, Exmor Close contact English saddles, saddles for young riders, event saddles, dressage saddles, and jumping saddles, just to name a few. Their prices can range from $50 to thousands of dollars.

Horse equipment is an industry in itself. On line is a great way to shop. Just some of the horse gear to purchase are: chaps, helmets, show clothes, horse blankets, fly masks, horse covers, leg protectors, riders gloves, halters, leads, riders footwear, horse trailers and on and on.

It’s easy to spend a ton of money if you are an avid horse rider. There’s nothing like being outside, breathing the fresh air and taking a 4 hour horse ride in the beautiful desert.

Today horses are part of the Olympic competitions, in circus acts, run wild in the desert, perform dressage, hunt for foxes, herd cattle, are ridden in many events at the National Finals Rodeo, ponies at County fairs for children to ride, and treasured pets and in some societies still serve as they did thousands of years ago. These events and activities each require different types of horse equipment.

Copyright (c) 2011 Sandra Tiffany

Build Muscle in Arms Fast – Quickest Way to Get Huge Arms

To many women, the most attractive body part on a guy is their arms. So its only natural that most guys want to know how to build muscle in arms fast. The only problem is that many of us don’t know how to do it correctly. Some guys will spend hours in the gym doing countless bicep curls and see no results from it. But don’t worry, because this will not be you. You’re about to learn how to get huge arm muscles fast!

First, you have to make sure you are working your arms out correctly. There are too major muscle groups in your arms. They are your biceps and your triceps. In order to get maximum growth out of your arms, you should perform 2 exercises for each of these muscles.

Some good bicep workouts are: dumbbell bicep curls, barbell bicep curls, preacher curls, and hammer curls. Choose two of these exercises.

Some good tricep workouts are: tricep pressdowns, nosebreakers (skullcrushers), overhead tricep extensions, and bench dips. Choose two of these exercises.

Once you decide which exercises you are going to do, you should then perform 2-3 sets of each.

So how much weight should you be lifting? You should choose a weight that allows your muscles to fail somewhere in the 8-12 rep range. So if the weight you’re lifting allows you to get 13 reps, the weight is too light. If you cant quite get 8, the weight is too heavy.

And one last thing… make sure you have good form! Good form is the most important factor in your workout and the absence of it is usually the reason for poor results and injuries. Your movements should be slow and controlled. Do not use your body to swing your arms in order to lift heavier weight. If you feel like you have to do this in order to get at least 8 reps, move down in weight.

So there you have it, get in the gym and start pumping some iron!

Henosepilachna Vigintioctopunctata: The Hadda Beetle

Insects are the animals dwelling on the planet earth well adapted to survive in all sorts of environments one can imagine. They can survive under conditions of extreme cold, deserts and hot areas. They are arthropods whose number is largest when compared with all animal species. They are gifted with dynamic adaptations that help them to occupy all the available habitats. The body of insects is divided into three parts namely, head, thorax and abdomen bearing different appendages for carrying out different functions. Although the body organization appears simple but it is complex when studied in detail. Head bears compound eyes adapted for mosaic vision as well as antennae which are chemosensors, detecting chemicals present in the environment. The head also bears mouth with mouth parts adapted for chewing, biting, sucking, lapping or piercing etc. Thorax typically bears either single or two pairs of wings which are named either fore or hind wings. The thorax also bears three pairs of legs adapted for walking, swimming, burrowing or digging depending upon the habitat of insect. Abdomen bears reproductive structures and it may be terminated into an ovipositor or sting. All the insects have been placed in the class Insecta which has been further divided into a number of orders and suborders depending upon the characters of the insect.

Insects are very beneficial creatures as they maintain the ecological balance. Some are economically useful as they provide us with useful materials like silk, honey or lac. Some are notorious and their presence annoys us, some act as carriers of diseases while some are known to damage our agricultural crops resulting in heavy economic losses. Ladybird beetles are known as farmer’s friends but some have acquired the status of pest damaging the nightshades and cucurbits. They are placed in the family Coccinellidae and order Coleoptera due to the presence of elytra which are the modifications of the fore-wings and thus, provide protection to the delicate, membranous hind-wings. Henosepilachna vigintioctopunctata is one of the most important pest species of the subfamily Epilachninae. It is commonly known as 28-spotted ladybeetle or Hadda beetle which was previously known as Epilachna vigintioctopunctata. It is known to damage the foliage of potato and other allied plants and has got its origin far east of Russia. The members of the subfamily Epilachninae are so similar in their size and appearance, habit and habitats, distribution and other aspects that they have always confused the researchers both in literature as well in the museum specimens.

The body of the hadda beetle is about 7 mm long, round, convex and glossy. The color of the beetle is reddish-brown bearing thirteen small spots on each elytron and one spot each on either side of the thorax. The beetle undergoes complete metamorphosis. The life history comprises of egg, larva, pupa and adult. The mature female after mating lays eggs in clusters on the underside of the leaves. Each egg cluster consists of ten to seventy eggs but the egg-laying efficiency of the female is very much dependent upon the food quantity as well quality. Food is known to provide energy to carry out the vital activities of life. The anatomy as well as the physiology of the female is relatively complex in comparison to that of the male as she has to lay eggs that will be responsible for the progression of the race. The eggs measure about 1.5 mm and are yellow colored and do not turn orange before hatching. The eggs hatch in 4-5 days depending upon the climatic conditions into tiny yellow-colored larvae provided with spines over their bodies. With every moult the spines become tough and conspicuous and their exact function is defence from the enemies. The larvae feed on the epidermal tissue of the leaves of the host plant. The third and the fourth instars are the voracious feeders as they are under peer pressure to enter pupation.

The leaves damaged by the larvae show only veins and therefore, the beetles are also known as leaf scrapping beetle. The fourth instar after attaining full growth enters pupation. The pupation is yellowish-brown with black spots and bristles at the posterior end while the anterior end is smooth. The pupal period is also influenced by the climatic conditions but under favorable conditions it is completed in 7-8 days. The newly emerged adults are very delicate and are bright yellow in color without any spot. The adult pulls itself out of the pupal case and then rests over it as its elytra as well as wings are very delicate and it can be easily attacked by the enemies. Body mechanisms come into action and after few hours spots appear over the elytra and it begin to become hard. After the appearance of spots and hardening of the elytra the adults start feeding of the leaves of the host plant. The adults attain full sexual maturity in about 10 days and then begin to mate and the life cycle continues again. Adults are also known to hibernate during winter under the fallen leaves or other protective places and do not reproduce but with the advent of favorable conditions reproductions begins again.

They are distributed world-wide but believed to have originated Far East of Russia. Their range extends throughout India, Pakistan, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and Oceania. In 2010 hadda beetles were also obtained from New Zealand. The total damage caused by these pest beetles varies according to the regions and may reach about 25%. A number of pest eradication programmes are in action all over the infested areas in order to eradicate them. A study conducted by Maurice and Kumar in 2011 has found an alternative host plant for this beetle. They have recorded the oviposition as well as development of hadda beetle on a weed, Coccinia grandis and have concluded that this can weed can be used as a trap crop in order to save the economically important plants.

Ten Super Watercolor Painting Tips for Illustrators

“We would like to see examples of your color work,” said the hand-written message on the postcard from an art director at a children’s book publishing house.

Uh-Oh. She had liked the black and white art samples I’d sent her, but she zeroed in on my weakness: The painting instruction I’d never quite gotten in college.

Now I had to work up some full color illustrations that demonstrated my painting bravura, or lack thereof. It was a long time ago and I’ll spare you the details about how I spent the weekend whipping up watercolors, doing the best I could with the little I knew. I could draw figures and scenes decently. But in my color and washes, there was always as many misses as hits. My painting efforts were all guesswork. Did it show?

I guess it did, because I didn’t hear from her again after I submitted my hastily assembled watercolors, or rather, photocopies of them.

I’ve learned a lot since then from painters, art directors and fellow illustrators, who were also, thank goodness, teachers at heart and generous.

The result is that I’ve learned that what I’d thought of as the scary part of illustration was not so scary or all that complicated. In fact, it’s tons of fun.

Turns out that art doesn’t have as many rules as a lot of other subjects. A handful of design principles apply to illustration as to almost all kinds of visual art. And those, in combination with a little common sense, professional courtesy (to your viewers) and some practice can go along way toward your painting looking like you’ve been doing it forever. And onĀ  top of that metaphorical cake, I’ll add some frosting — my top ten favorite watercolor painting tips I’ve learned or have discovered on my own path.

1.)Before you paint, jot off (in pencil) a small, loose value sketch of your scene to determine where your picture’s midtones, lights and dark should be, so you’ll have a strategy and some patterns to follow in your painting.

2.)Use good materials for painting – a few quality sable or sable/synthetic blend round brushes will make a big difference. Though not even nearly as big a difference as the right paper, which must be 100 percent cotton rag watercolor paper (It has to say that: 100 percent rag, so that you know it’s not made from woodpulp – but instead real cotton fibers. Arches paper is a good brand to look for Either type – cold press (toothy texture) or hot press (smooth surface) either type will do fine for your illustrations. And either paper weight: 140 lb. or 90 lb. will serve you well.

3.)If your illustration is going to be a little complicated, make a full-sized outline drawing of it on regular drawing paper. This is not to be confused with your value sketch, which will be quite small and should be done after you’ve worked out your careful larger drawing. Lightly tranfer your pencil sketch, or a photocopy of it on to your watercolor paper with the aid of a light box. Or trace your sketch on to your paper using a window and the natural light of the outside.

4.)Think in terms of a dominant color for your painting. You’ll add a few, though not many other colors to your palette – most importantly a color that’s opposite the dominant color, which you can use to darken or neutralize the other colors a bit where needed.

5.)Start in on your painting with a mid-tone wash of your dominant color. Mix plenty of it up ahead of time so you don’t run out. (It’s OK if it’s a slightly “broken” or somewhat neutralized version of the color. Colors will depend on your scene’s mood and subject.) When you’re painting, don’t forget to reserve areas of blank paper in the composition — for the whites and lighter colors that will go in those spaces. In the final painting, you’ll want to place the darkest darks against the lightest light places where you want your viewers to look most. That will be the center of interest for your painting.

6.)Make sure when painting, that your brush is good and wet (though not sloppy out-of -control wet) with the paint solution. Your wash solution should be well-saturated with the pigment so that the color goes down rich and strong – though not opaque and heavy. Tilt your painting board just a bit, so that washes run slightly with gravity down the sheet in just the one direction – down toward you. If you see a slight liquid bead forming at the bottom edge of your brush strokes, that you’re working with a brush that’s wet enough and that you have your board tilted just right.

7.) A good watercolor tip is one you might hear from any professional house painter: Work with the largest brush you can get away with – for the economy of means, the brevity of technique. This means, cover the surface you need to, but don’t overwork a passage. Less is usually more. If you can complete a whole section with just one juicy swipe of the brush, great! You can always come back later (after it’s dry), if that first pass wash didn’t cover enough.

8.) You’ll enjoy learning lots and lots of good watercolor painting techniques but if you’ll remember the big idea: to keep your brush wet, your paint stirred and yet rich and strong with color, that’s a good professional start for a painter.

9.) Know that your brushstrokes will always dry a step or two (on the value scale) lighter than they’ll look when they’re glistening wet. So don’t be afraid to go darker with your paint mixtures. Push those darks in your picture – for better clarity and contrast and a stronger design.

10.) Don’t forget to put down your brush and step away from your painting occasionally. But don’t stop for a big rest until you’ve filled up all four corners of the painting with some kind of color. (But remember to leave some white spaces where you’ll think you might need them.) Only when your initial covering of the painting’s surface dries, can you can assess how much further you need to go. And that may not be as far as you think. Wait until you’ve had a good rest before you try to judge your painting.

Help To Save The Environment And Money With Ceiling Fans

As our finite natural resources diminish, energy prices are steadily increasing. Now, more than ever, we must do our part to help our environment by conserving energy. The good news about energy conservation is that it can not only help to save our planet, it can help to save you money. A simple way to reduce your energy costs and to beautify your home is through the installation of ceiling fans. When used properly, ceiling fans can be used to save between 15 and 40 percent on air conditioning during the summer. During the winter months, fans can be reversed to run clockwise and save you 10% on your heating bill.

In order to understand how to properly use ceiling fans to conserve energy it is important to understand just how they work. Have you ever been outside on a hot day when, all of a sudden, you felt a cool breeze that instantly made you feel more comfortable? This is called the wind chill factor and it is the same principle behind ceiling fans. Fans do not actually change the temperature of a room. Rather, they accelerate the evaporation of perspiration on your skin which is what makes you feel cooler. It can therefore make a person feel 8 degrees cooler even though the room temperature is technically the same. It is important to understand that fans do not cool rooms, they cool people. Therefore ceiling fans should never run unless people are in the room to benefit from their cooling power. During winter months, fans can actually be used to distribute heat more effectively in a room. Since hot air is lighter than cold air, it rises to the ceiling and gets stuck while cold air remains closer to the ground level. If a ceiling fan is run in reverse (clockwise), which is usually as simple as flipping a switch on the fan’s body, it can more evenly distribute the hot air particles. This way the heat will be where you need it rather than being stuck at your ceiling.

Another important point to mention is that in order to most effectively use ceiling fans to save energy and money they must be used inversely with your thermostat. In other words, if you are using ceiling fans to cool yourself, the thermostat should be turned up at least 4 degrees. Likewise if you are using a fan to reduce heating costs, the thermostat should be turned down.

Recently, the energy saving potential of ceiling fans is being further exploited by manufacturers. By using more aerodynamic fan blades and more energy efficient light kits, major ceiling fan manufacturers like Westinghouse and Concord are offering fans specifically aimed towards consumers with conservation in mind. The best way to find these fans is by looking for the “Energy Star” label distributed by the U.S. Department of Energy. Fans that are awarded this label conserve at least 10% more energy than a standard ceiling fan. When shopping, you can find the most energy efficient fans by seeking those with the highest airflow, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), and by looking for fans that use the lowest amount of power (watts) at each speed. Using Energy Star approved light kits for your fans, which often contain fluorescent bulbs, will drastically reduce the amount of electricity consumed. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy offers various tax incentives for installing products that conserve energy.

In addition to being valuable conservation tools, ceiling fans can be a beautiful addition to your home, office, or apartment. Manufacturers offer fans in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and designs. Fans are now being manufactured in exciting new finishes like oil rubbed bronze and burnished brass, as well as being available with a plethora of light kit options. From traditional, Victorian inspired fans that double as chandeliers, to adventurous designs inspired by modern art, there are surely ceiling fans that will fit your taste and lifestyle. Well crafted fans are a sure way to increase the value of your real estate while adding to the aesthetic beauty of your surroundings.

Since we are in an energy crisis, we all have a responsibility to do our part to help, however small that part may be. Simply purchasing an energy efficient ceiling fan is an excellent way to save money on energy bills, increase the value of your real estate, and beautify your surroundings. Most importantly, while you sit under a beautiful new ceiling fan you can be assured that you are helping to conserve our planet’s valuable resources.

One Act of Kindness Expands!

How many acts of kindness have you experienced today? Perhaps they have gone un-noticed because they were so small and so frequent, that you simply accepted them. What acts of kindness did you purposefully or inadvertently act upon? Have you smiled at an elderly person who is so lonely that you’ve made his day, unknowingly? Or, have you helped someone bogged down with groceries trying to open their trunk? Have you paid a good deed forward and bought a cup of coffee for a person who couldn’t afford one, or maybe a meal? Have you done this without reservation, so naturally because you know it is the right thing to do?

Years ago my car broke down on a busy city street. My young son was in the back seat. I thought, “What am I going to do?” Within moments a young man pulls up behind me. He asks if he can help and then proceeds to commandeer stopping traffic going the other way! He solicits the assistance of three other drivers, who get out of their cars and push my car to a side street. I remember standing watching this scene play out and was in awe. Miracles happen every day. One act of kindness expands.

What acts of kindness have you done today, or have received? Is there someone, or an organization that you may help? Or do you need assistance yourself? It is my belief that everyone is entitled to clean water, safe housing and nutritious food. Who are you able to help today? It doesn’t have to be a huge task. It can be something small. An act of kindness is always repaid ten-fold. It is a law of the universe.

Let’s jot down some ideas to get your creativity flowing.

1. Pick up groceries for your friend or neighbor who just got out of the hospital. Better yet make them some chicken soup and chocolate chip cookies. Great combination. Both are comfort foods!

2. Shovel the driveway of an elderly person.

3. Your friend has a family emergency out-of-town. Look after their cat or dog, gerbil or goldfish.

4. Purchase a coffee for the person behind you in the Starbucks line.

5. Buy a meal for a homeless person.

6. Assist a person stuck in the snow.

7. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen.

8. Purchase needed items for the food bank.

9. Volunteer to read stories to children at the library.

10. Slip a note of appreciation under the door of a shut-in.

11. Purchase a handful of tulips for someone who loves flowers but never receives them.

12. Bring some toiletries to someone who is in the hospital. They will love you for it.

13. Clean up the kitchen without being asked.

14. Fold laundry for a person who doesn’t have time.

15. Offer to vacuum.

An act of kindness need not be expensive. In fact, when you do something nice for someone without expectation of reciprocation the universe takes notice. Then when you need help or a favor it speeds to you like a bolt of lightning.

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. ~John Wooden

Wishing you great success in all your endeavors.

3 Mind-Blowing Benefits of Weight Lifting

When people think of weight lifting, the first thing that comes into mind is the image of a professional bodybuilder. A lot of people assume that people lift weights so they can get bigger bodies. Although this is the primary reason for people going through weightlifting sessions, there are a lot of other benefits one can gain. In this article, we examine three specific benefits you can get by lifting weights on a regular basis. This applies to both females and males.

You’ll be surprised to know that weight lifting can help significantly when it comes to weight management. There are two general types of strength exercises. These are muscle strength and muscle endurance exercises. Muscle strength exercises focus more on lifting the maximum amount of weight, while muscle endurance exercises focus more on lifting weights with the maximum number of repetitions. Weight lifting helps with weight management because it helps your muscles become more efficient at burning calories. Hence, the best way to lose weight quickly is by doing a mix of cardio and strength exercises.

The second benefit you can gain form weight lifting is the psychological factor. As your body becomes more toned, you will naturally feel better about your appearance. This can have an add-on effect to other parts of your life. For example, you may feel more confident speaking in front of people because you are less conscious about your body appearance. People may also see you as more influential because your body posture is very good. One should never underestimate the mental benefits of working out on a regular basis. People will also take you more seriously because it takes dedication to achieve any fitness objectives.

The third benefit you can gain has to do with energy. Although you may feel tired by the end of each workout session, people who work out on a regular basis feel more energized throughout the day then people who don’t. Do you find yourself getting tired all the time at work or at school? You can solve this by doing strength exercises on a regular basis. Weight lifting can also improve your sleeping habits. If you want to go from a night owl to a morning person then this is a great way to change your sleeping pattern. Strength exercises use up a lot of the energy reserves in your body. Hence, your body will want you to rest so it can recover quickly.