History of the Bread Maker

The history of bread making goes back as far as 30,000 years ago. But it was not until 20,000 years thereafter that it became a staple food. It won’t be a surprise that the history of the modern automatic bread machines does not go as far. In the ancient days, kneading of the dough was obviously done by hand and for backing charcoal or wood heated ovens were used. This continued for thousands of years.

It was not until 1849 when the first automatic bread machine was invented. It all started when black American inventor Joseph Lee invented the bread crumbler. During those days, bread could only be kept for 1 day. At the end of the day, all leftovers had to be thrown away. Lee found this a waste of food and with the culinary background he had, he knew that its crumbs could very useful in the preparation of food. He invented the bread crumbler. On 4th June 1895 he successfully patented the machine. Eventually he sold the patent to Royal Worcester Bread Crumb Company of Boston and soon many restaurants around the world owned one of Joseph’s bread crumblers! His next invention was the bread machine; this machine mainly took care of the kneading of the dough. Lee’s invention increased productivity by 500 percent; one person could now do the same amount of work that previously was done by five to six persons. For those who are interested; Jerome T Peoples has authored a book about Lee, it’s worth checking out; Lee’s Bread Machines: The father of automated bread making.

It wasn’t until 1986 that Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (now Panasonic) invented the first model of the full automatic bread machines that we know today. The latest machines combine the kneading, the rising and the backing in one machine without the necessity for human intervention. It still took up to 10 years for Panasonic invention to gain popularity in USA, Australia and UK. Since the first Panasonic bread machine we have seen a huge increase in functionality. The Best Bread Maker has preprogrammed Bread Making cycles for all different sorts of Bread, e.g. Whole Wheat, White Bread, Sourdough, kneading pizza dough, etc. Many different bands have also ventured into the automated bread making business; Oster bread machine, West Bend bread maker and Breville bread maker. But up until now Panasonic remains the number one best bread maker producer.

Wooden Dowels – An Invisible Piece of History

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

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

A Piece of Wood, a Piece of History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All About Odd Object Training – Construct Your Own Gear!

Odd object training – generally – involves exercise using heavy ‘found objects’ or implements that you can modify for strength training. Many odd objects such as Atlas stones have been traditionally used as part of strongman training. This type of exercise is nothing new, but it has been coming back into favor recently. An odd object is a non-rigid implement with a center of mass that is not fixed. In conventional strength training, the pattern of movement is fixed, whereas the load given by odd objects will cause adjustments during the movement. Some label this style of training ‘real world training’, and odd objects certainly have benefits, including versatility, portability, and simplicity. The only limit is your own creativity, as well!

Odd object training used to be done because there were no other options – people either had no access to special equipment, or it simply had not been invented yet. Many old school strongmen also became very well known for using rather heavy odd or awkward objects. Such objects include kegs, anvils, Atlas stones, medicine balls, and sandbags. In this modern era, with all of the scientifically designed equipment and training routines that we can get access to, we can still benefit from odd object training. An increasingly popular philosophy of training – Dinosaur Training – promotes returning to the exercises and training of strongmen. I have personally found that working with odd objects and the exercises I have discovered for them have helped with coordination, wrist and forearm strength, and more.

Next, I recommend some odd objects and other implements that I prefer to use, as well as alternative methodologies. I realize that this is far from a comprehensive treatment on the subject.

Equipment List

Old car tires

Have a partner hold the tire so that you can practice body blows on it. Make sure to wear MMA or boxing gloves (or similar hand protection). You can also practice front kicks and roundhouse kicks. You can also modify a martial arts striking dummy or makiwara board by adding a car tire to it. ‘The Art of Hojo Undo’ illustrates a few ideas. Alternative idea – if you can acquire a used truck / tractor tire and a sledgehammer, there are many drills you can use.

Cinder blocks

Curls, presses, plank variations, wide squats, calf raises, lunges, shrugs, single arm rows, swings, farmer’s walk, step-ups, and more! For squats, you can also practice assisted one leg squats – step 9 in the squat progression of Convict Conditioning. Instead of using a basketball or similar object, you will use the cinder block for support as you squat down and ‘find’ the block with your hand. For calf raises, you can practice them standing on the cinder block. You will stand with on the balls of the feet on the edge of the block and lower your heels slowly, with control. Make sure you have a sturdy chair or other piece of furniture, a training partner, or a wall nearby to maintain a safe level of balance. Check out the second Convict Conditioning book for the calf raise progression.

Where to find used tires and cinder blocks?

Many times, auto repair shops will have plenty of old tires lying around they are happy to get rid of. If you’re looking for cinder blocks, try the Freecycle Network or ask friends or local businesses. Abandoned buildings will often have old materials lying around, but investigating such buildings can involve legal and safety issues, so exercise discretion.

Rice Bucket

There are wrist strengthening exercises that you can work using a bucket full of rice. Such exercises are common in baseball and physical therapy.

Heavy Bag

Any boxing, MMA, or similar heavy bag, or a heavy bag of your own construction. You can use different materials to both make the bag and fill it to your desired weight. Keep in mind that if you want your own constructed bag to be useful for martial arts practice, that the contents of the bag are not so hard that they do not allow any ‘give’ or cushion when you strike it. A heavy bag can be suspended by rope or chains. I would recommend visiting a sporting goods store or asking a local boxing, karate or similar instructor for advice on how to hang up bags. The book ‘The Art of Hojo Undo’ has a section titled ‘Other Tools and Methods’, which lists small heavy bag.

The use that the book lists is as follows –

‘Swinging a bag or ball filled with cement and allowing it to land on various parts of the body, conditions the mind and body to the effects of impact.’

There are many exercises you can practice with heavy bags. These include, but are not limited to, slams, squats, and fireman’s carry.

Rope Climbing and Towels for Hang Grip Work

These make great additions to any grip or pullup training. Rope climbing is common in military style workouts. Like many odd object training methods, rope climbing and towel hangs build strength in the hands, wrists, forearms, tendons, and ligaments. Overcoming Gravity, a book I recommended earlier, recommends the use of a towel in its one arm pullup training progression. Also, the second Convict Conditioning book has a progression for hang grip work that includes the use of towels. The two progressions supplement one another very well.

Sandbag training

Sandbags can normally be purchased at a hardware store for a few dollars each, and commonly weight 40 to 45 pounds – making them very cheap lifting implements! You can do almost any type of lift with them, and the fact that the sand shifts around forces you to stabilize the bags, giving you a harder workout. Sandbag training is very useful for firefighters and combat athletes, such as cage fighters and wrestlers. I have personally put sandbags into a duffel bag, which you can normally pick up for $15 or so at an army surplus.

Some other ideas for strength training without special equipment

Car pushing, chopping wood, using monkey bars or rafters for pullups and various gymnastics exercises, using chairs or picnic tables for ‘chair dips’ and decline pushups.

The staples that frequently appear at strongman competitions include the following, a number of which use odd objects –

Atlas Stones

Axle Press

Car Flip


Dumbbell Press

Fingal’s Finger

Frame Carry

Keg Toss

The clock

Deadlift hold

Hercules hold

Vehicle pull

Log Clean and Press


Tire Flip


Log press

Farmers Carry

Husafell Stone

Sand Bag Carry

Power stairs

(Source – Wikipedia entry for Strongman (strength athlete)

Hojo Undo / martial arts tools

This is hardly a comprehensive list of implements that martial artists use.

Lifting Tools of Hojo Undo that I personally use.

Chi ishi – weighted levers or ‘strength stones’. A ‘chi ishi’ is basically a wooden pole with a concrete weights attached.

Makiage kigu – wrist roller. Traditionally, a wooden handle is used, with a weight hanging from it via a length of rope. I personally purchased a modern wrist roller, but the use is the same.

Tan – it is like a modern barbell, and made from a wood post that has concrete weights on each end. I use a steel barbell for the exercises recommended in ‘The Art of Hojo Undo.’ It is also a good idea to train bojutsu (staff technique) movements with a barbell that is light enough for you to use.

Impact Tools of Hojo Undo that I personally use.

Jari Bako – A bowl or bucket filled with sand, smooth stones, marbles, or even rice or beans. It is used by striking your fingers into it, in order to condition your fingers and fingertips.

Makiwara – a padded striking post traditionally used in some karate styles.

‘Tapping sticks’ – almost any piece of wood can be held and used to tap various parts of your body to build a familiarity with getting hit. The point is not to hit yourself as hard as possible, but to slowly build up a tolerance to light striking. I personally use a shinai – a bamboo practice sword used for kendo practice. This kind of tool can be safely used to strike yourself or your training partner moderately hard to the muscles of the legs, arms, and core, but proper cautions must be used.

Alternatives – there are striking bags available for sale that can be filled with dried beans or shot, which can help condition your striking tools. Wall punch pads can also be made or purchased. You can also use thick phone books wrapped up with duct tape as an alternative to makiwara boards. Also, there are plenty of ‘ude tanren’, or methods of forearm conditioning. This generally consists of partner blocking drills that can be used to toughen up the arms as well as help with reflexes.

ERISA Summary Plan Description Requirements

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the federal law that governs private pension, group life, and health plans, requires that plan participants receive a document known as a summary plan description (“SPD”). Although the SPD must be drafted in accordance with two Department of Labor regulations, it does not have to be called “The Summary Plan Description.”

What is Covered in the Summary Plan Description?

The SPD is a detailed document that informs plan participants about how the plan operates and is managed. Among other things, the SPD must clearly identify in easily understood language the following items:

  • A description or summary of the benefits
  • The plan name, sponsor, and administrator
  • Funding mechanisms
  • Participation and qualification guidelines
  • Calculation methods for service and benefits
  • Benefit vesting schedules
  • Benefit payment procedures and timing
  • Claims submission process
  • Claims appeal process
  • Address for service of legal process
  • Circumstances that may result in ineligibility or a denial of benefits
  • A statement of participants’ ERISA rights and other technical notices

Questions that a participant might still have about the plan after reading the SPD can be answered by contacting the plan administrator.

When Must a Summary Plan Description be Provided?

Every plan administrator must provide a copy of the SPD to participants in the following circumstances:

  • When a new plan takes effect
  • When an employee becomes eligible to participate in a plan
  • Upon written request of a plan participant or beneficiary

Are There Any Exceptions to the Summary Plan Description?

Employer-provided daycare and welfare plans for management and highly compensated employees are exempt from the SPD requirement. There are no exemptions from the SPD requirement for small plans covering fewer than 100 participants.

How Often Must a Summary Plan Description be Updated?

If a plan is amended or modified within a five year period, a new SPD must be distributed to participants. If there is no change, the original SPD must be distributed to plan participants every ten years.

A “summary of material modifications” may also be used to notify plan participants of a significant plan change.

What Are Common SPD Errors that Can Result in ERISA Litigation?

Administration errors or disputes that may result in ERISA litigation include but are not limited to:

  • Failure to follow the procedures described in the SPD
  • Conflicts between the SPD and any underlying plan document which it describes or summarizes
  • Failure to clearly disclose circumstances that may result in benefits reduction, forfeitures, or exclusions
  • Failure to provide plan documents in a timely manner

Overall, ERISA provides clearly proscribed procedures that must be closely followed by plan sponsors and administrators. Questions about ERISA compliance should be directed to an attorney experienced in ERISA matters.

Taking Good Care of Your Deck Box – Making it Look Good All Year Round

Congratulations on purchasing the melding of storage and beauty by adding a deck box to your patio. And as you begin to use it, you will find that the deck box will be the perfect place to store everything your patio needs, while keeping them conveniently accessible to all your guests. While your cushions and other accessories may find themselves protected and taken care of in the safety and comfort of your box, the exterior of your box may find itself wearing down over time. While it may shine of natural beauty now, you will slowly watch the charm and shine fade away. A stationary target opens itself up to collect dirt, debris, and other depressing items as time goes by. Making the perfect addition to your patio look more like the perfect dirt pile.

The attraction of dirt and debris is a natural occurrence that happens to every deck box over time. Because it stays in one place throughout the year (and even year round in some cases), everything Mother Nature throws up, out, and around will eventually end up against the walls of your beautiful deck box. By knowing how you can protect and clean this piece of furniture now, you will be ensuring the protection of your investment for years to come, without all the hassle of constantly refinishing.

If you have a plastic deck box, cleaning from time to time will be a much easier process – a natural attraction for those who live in places where you get all four seasons visiting. Because plastic is a solid, non-porous material, keeping it clean is a very easy process. Taking a mild cleaner (such as dish soap) and warm water to your plastic box will keep it clean throughout the year – apply when needed, and allow that natural shine to come back to your deck box. For the bigger projects, taking a harder cleaner will help get out the longer lasting stains. Always check what is in the cleaner before applying it to your plastic box; the wrong cleaner could eat away at the plastic, and eventually breaking down your box.

If you have a wooden deck box, taking care of your investment may take several more steps before it gets easier. The materials that it is made out of will ultimately determine the best way to approach the sealing and cleaning of your outdoor furniture. While hard woods like cedar can take oil treatments to keep it protected, other woods (like pine or cypress) can be stained to give it an extra layer of protection, or even painted to your pleasure. Adding these protective barriers give your box a solid layer of protection against the elements, protecting from everything the world wants to throw at it and more. Plus, once your box has this key protective layer set up, cleaning can be as simple as taking a sponge and warm water to your box.

But if your wooden deck box becomes too overloaded with dirt and debris, you can always start over by applying a gentle sanding across the entire box. Sanding down the outer layer of the wood gives you the chance to start new once again, removing the grimy layer of dirt and debris that will eventually be sitting on your box. Plus, sanding down the wood allows you to change directions that you want to go with your box. If you want to change the stain, or even paint a new motif along the box, just sand away, and start your masterpiece all over again.

Knowing how to keep your deck box clean throughout the seasons will help you have the best results, and offer the greatest protection to your investment. By taking the steps now to keep your box clean, you will guarantee years of joy and protection for all your patio accessories.

Guide For Selecting an Arcade Video Classics Multi Game Multicade

Hi! Ready to get lots more bang for your video game buck? Then, start thinking about the latest trend — multiple arcade video games in one cabinet, generically known as a multicade.

That is right. Now, you can have several, not just one, classic games in a video game cabinet.

Instead of only, for example, Ms Pac-Man in a Ms Pac-Man game cabinet – now, you can have Ms Pac-Man, plus Galaga, Frogger, Donkey Kong, and dozens more classics all in one cabinet.

There are lots of possibilities for multiple game play available in the marketplace. Here is a brief description of a few common ones:

1. Multicade. The original Multicade system consists of a computer and game discs. However, the manufacturer is no longer in business. But, the system is still around, and there may be a new company that has taken over the brand.

The name multicade is now commonly used to describe almost all multi game setups.

2. Ultracade. Ultracade is another multi-game platform featuring multiple classic arcade games emulated on PC hardware running proprietary operating system and emulation code. The company is no longer in business. And, the name Ultracade is also sometimes used generically.

3. Arcade Classics 60-in-1. This is a JAMMA printed circuit board (PCB) offering 60 classic arcade video games.

4. Capcom 18-in-1. Are you a Head-to-Head fighting fan? Then check out the Capcom multicade.

5. PlayChoice 10. The Nintendo PlayChoice 10 system can be upgraded to play dozens of classic games.

6. NeoGeo. SNK’s multi video system (MVS) NeoGeo is a widely available cartridge based multi-game system. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary.

7. Games Family 1940-in-1 Multigame JAMMA System. Yep, that is right – 1,940 games, and many of the best ones, too. It is a monster.

8. MAME. The MAME (multiple arcade machine emulator) is a computer system with the capability to emulate practically every arcade video game. This multicade setup is typically undertaken only by the very dedicated hobbyists.

9. Williams Classics. Several of the classic Williams games (Joust, Defender, Stargate) are available in one dedicated cabinet.

10. Ms Pac-Man Galaga Reunion. This is a great dedicated game featuring two great classics. The game’s PCB (printed circuit board) could be installed into any cabinet, including a Ms Pac-Man cabinet, or a Galaga.

11. Multiple JAMMA PCBs. It is possible to install multiple JAMMA game pcbs into one cabinet, and switch between them.

12. Modified Ms Pac-Man. It is possible to modify a Ms Pac-Man PCB to be able to also play Pac-Man, and in either the fast or slow version of both.

13. Galaga Ms Pac-Man Switcher. It is possible to add either game PCB to the other game cabinet, and be able to switch between the two.

These are some of the more common solutions for multi game play, but there are many others.

An important distinction between cabinets:

There is an important distinction to understand about arcade game cabinets.

The classic games like Ms Pac-Man and Galaga are played using a vertically mounted monitor. While there are some classics like Joust, almost all the modern fighting games like Street Fighter use a horizontally mounted monitor.

Most importantly, the game types are not immediately interchangeable between the cabinet types. It is possible, for example, to modify a horizontal cabinet to accept a vertical mount monitor, but the reverse is usually not possible. This is because the cabinets for the two monitor types are built differently. The horizontal cabinet will be a few inches wider than the vertical cabinet.

The point is that the style (horizontal or vertical) of a cabinet matters – some will work for a classics multicade upgrade, and some will not.

My Favorite Multi Game Solution – The 60-in-1 Classics Multicade:

Today, the most nostalgic multicade experience is obtained with the 60-in-1 JAMMA PCB.

It is possible to take any vertical mount monitor cabinet (Ms Pac-Man, Galaga, etc.), and install the hardware that will allow the play of 60 great classic games in one cabinet (see exceptions noted below).

And, since the game would be a JAMMA standard installation, the hardware is easily serviceable and will be around for a long time. Furthermore, a JAMMA cabinet is versatile in that it can accept many of the other of 100’s of JAMMA game PCBs.

Here are the 60-in-1 classic arcade video games:

  1. Ms Pac-Man
  2. Galaga
  3. Frogger
  4. Donkey Kong
  5. Donkey Kong Junior
  6. Donkey Kong 3
  7. Galaxian
  8. Dig Dug
  9. Crush
  10. Mr. Do
  11. Space Invaders
  12. Pac-Man
  13. Galaga 3
  14. Gyruss
  15. Tank Battalion
  16. Ladybug
  17. Millipede**
  18. Burger Time
  19. JR Pacman
  20. Mappy
  21. Pengo
  22. 1942***
  23. Centipede**
  24. Phoenix***
  25. Time Pilot
  26. Super Cobra***
  27. Hustler
  28. Space Panic***
  29. Super Breakout**
  30. New Rally X
  31. Arkanoid**
  32. Qix
  33. Juno First
  34. Xevious***
  35. Mr. Do’s Castle
  36. Moon Cresta
  37. Pinball Action
  38. Scramble***
  39. Super Pac-Man
  40. Bomb Jack
  41. Shao-Lin’s Road***
  42. King & Balloon
  43. 1943****
  44. Van-Van Car
  45. Pac-Man Plus
  46. Dig Dug 2
  47. Amidar
  48. Zaxxon
  49. Pooyan
  50. Pleiads
  51. Gun Smoke***3-buttons
  52. The End
  53. 1943 Kai****
  54. Congo Bongo
  55. Jumping Jack
  56. Ms. Pac-Man (Fast Mode)
  57. Pac-Man (Fast Mode)
  58. Galaga (Fast Fire Mode)
  59. Jr. Pac-Man (Fast Mode)
  60. Pac-Man Plus (Fast Mode)


**Indicates a game that requires a trackball to play (#’s 17, 23, 29, and 31). Installation, or not, of a trackball would be determined by the size and configuration of the control panel.

So, the 4 games that require a trackball might not be feasible for some cabinet types with smaller control panels.

However, the 4 games can still be played with the joystick. Although, the play is not the same as with a trackball, many people learned to play Centipede, for example, with a joystick.

If the control panel will permit, a trackball can be installed.

***Indicates a game that requires 2 (or more) buttons to play – for example, both a fire and jump button. Most of the classic games, however, only require 1 button – such as, a Galaga with only a fire button.

So, the approximate 8 games that require installation of additional buttons (7 require 2 buttons, and 1 requires 3 buttons) will also be determined by the size of the control panel.

When the control panel size permits (and it usually does), installation of up to 2 buttons (fire and jump) is often standard.

****Indicates a game (there are 2) that requires 2 sets of player controls to allow two-player simultaneous play. There is usually not room on a classic game’s control panel for comfortable play with two sets of controls (2 joysticks with two buttons each).

One set of controls is usually standard, since most of the classics are played with two players taking turns. If two sets of controls were desired and possible, they could be added. But, that would likely preclude the addition of a trackball.

Any of the 60 games can be individually turned off, so that they would not appear on screen in the menu selection. Meaning, for example, that you could feature only the three games with left-right controller action – Galaga, Galaxian, and Space Invaders.

Use the information in this article to help evaluate the many styles of available multicades. Multicades may seem complicated, but they are well worth any extra effort. Simply because, they are economical to own, save space, and offer a great variety of arcade video game play.

Bikinis for Wide Hips

Hips are in, the curvaceous figure is back in style and wide hips are what it’s all about, so read on, were going to give you some ideas on what kind of bikini looks best for women with wider hips.

A woman with a thicker torso has more options believe it or not when it comes to bikinis than a skinny torso, the reason for this is that fashion styles are changing and the movement in the fashion industry is a heavier, healthier look.

One of our favorites when it comes to bikinis for wide hips is the scoop front bikini. The scoop front style of bikini bottoms does two things, it elongates and smooth’s the torso and the scoop front tends to give depth and further elongate the mid-section from the frontal view. For these two reasons, the scoop front bikini is by far our favorite recommendation when it comes to bikinis for wide hips. This scoop front bikini bottom will smooth and accentuate your curves and give your torso that perfect bikini look.

The next option is simply the string bikini bottom. Back in the 60’s when the bikini was making its debut, string bikinis were the rage and women with hips were the model of choice. The string bikini allows the hips to flow, it tends to draw attention away from the hip area and draw more attention to the complete body and isn’t that really what the idea of a bikini is all about, to admire the full package and not focus on one area.

Bikinis with straps have become very popular on fashion runways around the world. As the fashion industry changes and the more curvaceous women is desired the bikini with straps is gaining a great deal of focus from beach goers around the world. The multiple strap bikini is a perfect choice when looking for bikinis for wide hips. The multiple straps will tend to draw attention to the style and not the area. Typically the bikini with multiple straps will cover more of the hip area for a more polished finished appearance.

If you are looking for more coverage than the vintage style bikini is on the comeback. The late 50’s design of bikini is on a comeback and is really gaining ground in the Hollywood celebrity ring. These bikinis are great when it comes to designer bikinis for wide hips, they tend to ride high on the waist line and five full coverage. Many have control panels built in for a little extra tummy control if desired.

Tankini Bikinis are the rage for all body types at the moment mostly driven by the need for less sun exposure but the styles, colors and patterns are incredibly diverse and sexy. The tankini bikini offers full coverage for the woman that simply wants to keep things under cover. Many women today are still uncomfortable with their hip area and prefer to keep a more conservative look. This is unfortunate especially with the way the desired optimum bikini body is changing to a curvier look, but the tankini is an excellent choice in any case.

One of the latest fashion bikinis is the shaping bikini. These bikinis offer a scoop front design but the scoop I in more of a “V” shape. With the V front offset by a wider waist band, this bikini gives an incredible slimming appearance that no other bikini offers. This bikini by design is made for women with a wider hip area and thicker thighs. The shaper bikini is stunning by nature and is a perfect choice for women with a thicker torso.

Skirted bikinis are again more of a coverage type of bikini style for the more conservative woman, but are incredibly sexy and are quite versatile. You can go from sipping drinks by the pool at happy hour to walking down the street in the local town window shopping. Again as with Tankinis, they come in a wide range of styles, colors and patterns.

Finally for the really outgoing were going to mention the thong or g string bikini. Take note, the thong and g string bikini were originally designed for the woman that had hips. It not only draws attention away from the hip area, but in most cases it completely eliminates the traditional wider hip appearance and gives a more balanced look.

It’s all about purchasing the right bikini bottom and the correct top to balance out your body type.

Five Reasons Why Freelance Designers Should Brand Themselves

One of the first things you should do as a freelance designer is separate your personal name from your professional design brand. Unless you’re a celebrity, athlete, or other type of public figure, using your name as the basis for your brand is probably not the best idea. Although both your name and brand are important to selling your creativity, it is crucial for freelance designers to distinguish between the two for the following reasons:

1. Your brand is about your professional services and creative portfolio. When a potential client is deciding on a freelance designer to work with, the portfolio and range of work are the most important factor so it’s crucial that you delegate enough time and resources to this. Don’t just try to smooth-talk and force-build rapport; instead, sell your creativity through your work! The way you present your work also speaks volumes about you as a designer so pay careful attention to the details.

2. Your name is about your character and personality. This is where your brand facade and voice come from, distinguishing you from your competition. Once clients are sold on your work, you can develop a deeper relationship with them by revealing more about the name and personality behind the brand. Also, keep in mind that referral work is important for growth, so if your clients already approve of your brand portfolio, their decision on whether or not to refer you to a friend will be based on your personality.

3. If you have a personality that everyone loves, then more power to you but unfortunately not everyone is blessed with charisma and social intelligence. For the majority, there is no changing who you are no matter how hard you try; it is inevitable that your true colours will eventually emerge if you work with a client long enough. You can’t change this fact, but luckily your brand can be carved into whatever shape or form you wish. The brand provides a blank canvas for you to create visual styles that evoke any range of emotions you desire. Position your brand wisely!

4. By establishing a brand concept you can then filter the idea, logo, and visual style through various communication touch points: your website, name cards, portfolio, the list goes on. A clever brand concept serves as a visual umbrella for your touch points, communicating your brand message to your audience in a consistent manner at every turn.

5. If you’re lucky enough to expand your freelance design business, you’ll eventually need to hire employees. You’ll need a company/brand name because you don’t want to be falsely accused of taking credit for your employees’ work (it’s hard to avoid if the brand is your name!). The creative work is shared, so praise and accolades should be shared as well even if you are the boss! This community mindset is more easily established when a company is branded. Bonus: your employees will think more highly of you in the process, which is never a bad thing.

How To Read SMD Resistor Code

SMD stand for surface mount device and if you repair LCD monitors, you would come across lots of SMD components. CRT monitors rarely use SMD thus it is quite easy to find out the components value. In this article, I’m going to talks about SMD resistor code and how you could calculate the values. This SMD resistor codes is different from the normal resistor color code (color bands) you had seen in the electronic circuit boards. Surface mount resistors is very much smaller in size than the normal carbon film resistor and because of this the numbers and letters were stamped upon or printed on the top side of the component.

Those numbers and letters have a meaning and you could use that as information to find out or calculate the desire resistance values. Sometimes the resistors are designed in a very small size until we have difficulty to read the code. By using a magnifier glass we could easily read the resistor codes.

There are two types of surface mount resistors used in an electronic circuit board-the 3-digit and 4-digit code SMD. The first two digits represent the two digits in the answer. The third digit represents the number of zero’s you must place after the two digits. The answer will be in Ohms. For example: 104 which mean 10 0000 (4 zero’s) and the final answer is 100k. Let’s calculate the 4 digit SMD, 1182 which mean 118 00 (2 zero’s) and the final answer is 11.8k.

3 Digit Example 4 Digit Example 0R1=0.1 Ohm 0000= 0 ohms= link or jumper R33=0.33 Ohm 00R1=0.1 Ohm 8R2= 8.2 Ohm 0R47=0.47 Ohm 220 is 22 Ohm and not 220 ohms 1R00=1 Ohm 331= 330 Ohms 1000= 100 Ohm 473=47000 or 47k 8202= 82000=82k

Measuring surface mount resistors is very easy with the help of digital multimeter. Most of the times when you check directly on the SMD resistors, you would get the right reading even without lifting a resistor lead. But not all digital multimeter can perform this kind of test. Select only the one that has the output voltage (measure at the probes) of less than 0.6 volts so that it won’t trigger any semiconductor devices that can give you a false reading. Once you know how to calculate the SMD resistor code and using the right way to test SMD resistors on board , you could check lots of SMD resistors in the shortest time.

What Are the Different Types of Migraines?

If you’ve been suffering from migraine headaches, you may have noticed the symptoms are almost the same for everyone – a painful ache in one spot that becomes worse and spreads over one side of your face – sometimes almost entirely. The nausea and vomiting you feel are also common symptoms of most migraines. So, since these symptoms are so much the same, there’s only one type of migraine, right?

Actually, there are quite a few types of migraines, but most people suffer from one of two types, the common migraine or the classic migraine. The difference between these two headaches is that the common migraine does not have an aura and classic migraines do have an aura.

An aura refers to visual symptoms that begin before the classic migraine actually starts. These symptoms may include seeing jagged lines in front of your eyes or actually losing vision for a few minutes, hearing ringing or other noises that aren’t actually there, feeling numb or having tingly sensations, or smelling odd odors. This aura can actually be useful, because it can and does serve as a warning that a very painful migraine is on the way. This would at least allow you to take some preventive measures. For people who suffer from a common migraine, there is often no warning. Suddenly, they feel pain in their jaw or eye socket and it rapidly spreads and increases in intensity until they have a full blown migraine.

While few people develop one of the rarer migraines, there are several you may want to know about. These migraines are just as painful as the more common migraine types.

* Exertion Migraines are over more quickly than most types of migraines. You can develop one of these migraines if you overextend yourself while you are exercising and develop dehydration at the same time, if you lift something heavy, if you have a sneezing fit, or even if you bend over.

* Retinal Migraines are migraines that cause you to temporarily lose vision in an eye. You will probably lose vision before the head pain actually begins.

* Hemiplegic Migraines have a rather scary symptom. If you suffer from this type of migraine, you’ll actually develop temporary paralysis on the side of your body that the migraine is forming on.

* Ophtalmoplegic Migraines are one of the longest lasting types of migraines. This form of the disease begins with pain around the eye and eye problems continue throughout the entire migraine. Visual distortions and blurred vision are common symptoms of this type of migraine.

* Noctural Migraines are fortunately very rare and develop during the night. They are intense enough to wake the migraine sufferer from their sleep.

* Basilar Artery Migraines are usually limited to teen girls or young women. This migraine develops by causing the basilar artery to constrict, which leads to dizziness, poor co-ordination, vomiting and even problems with speech. This migraine type eventually should become the more standard classic migraine, with its accompanying aura.

* Abdominal Migraines are a type of migraine that doesn’t actually involve head pain. Instead, this migraine usually causes stomach pain. The normal nausea and vomiting other migraine types cause occurs after the stomach pain starts. This migraine type occurs most commonly in young children.

So as you can see although most people simply refer to a migraine headache there are many, many different types of migraine itself. That being said most people tend to suffer from either the classic or common migraine.

You can learn more about migraines and what you can do to treat them, naturally and otherwise, by following the links at the end of this article.

The Opening Gap Strategy – Why it Makes a Good Automated Trading System

The opening gap trading strategy is a high probability trading method than can bring good returns to the active day trader.

This article will show that this method makes an ideal automated day trading system.

Let’s start off by briefly explaining what an opening gap is. It is created when after hours trading activity drives the price significantly far from the closing price. When the market opens the next day, there is a large difference between the price at the start of the new session, and the prior days closing price.

This creates a gap and a trading opportunity with a high probability of success as research has shown that gaps are filled around 70% of the time during that trading session.

Fading the opening gap

To fill a gap down, buyers must enter the market in strength and drive the price upwards so that it travels to, or beyond, the prior closing price. This is called fading the gap and leads to a term called gap fill. The same applies to filling a gap down, although it is sellers who determine this price action.

An ideal day trading strategy

Fading the opening gap makes an ideal day trading strategy. With a high probability that a large gap will be filled during that session, traders can place either long or short trades, depending on the direction of the gap, at the opening price and have a good expectation that price will move favourably for them.

The price action occurs during that session and will either result in the trade being successful or the stops being hit if gap fill is not achieved. The trader should always close his position at the end of the day if neither of these scenarios has been reached.

Why this is ideal for automated trading

The opening gap trade has a number of known parameters that make it ideal for automated trading. The trade entry point is known (the opening price) and the trade exit point is also known – the gap fill price. Also it is relatively easy to calculate the stop loss position which comes into play if gap fill is not achieved.

These known parameters can be programmed into an automated trading system that can then place the trades and undertake effective money management all without intervention from the trader.

This means a number of instruments such as futures contracts can be traded at the same time without the need for a trader to be at the computer screen during the trading session.

Dwarf Weeping Willow Tree

Variety is the centerpiece of the joy of a beautiful landscape. You can make your landscape more captivating by using dwarf weeping willow trees to emphasize scale and form of your yard.

A dwarf weeping willow tree or Kilmarnock is a perfect ornamental tree especially for small gardens. The tree grows up to 5-6 feet tall.

Due to its magnificent appearance and size, dwarf weeping willow trees make magnificent focal points in gardens and frame front entrances. They also look great near a pond or water feature because their weeping form is evocative of falling water. The tree derives its attractiveness and beauty from the canopy that tends to drop and sweep gracefully on a neatly balanced set of branches. The overall symmetry of the tree gives it a dramatic look that is bound to win the heart of every garden adventurer.

Planting and managing a weeping dwarf willow tree

Begin by selecting a healthy willow to make your cutting from. The spot on the branch where you make the cutting should be two inches in diameter and up to six feet in length. You will need to use a handsaw for a cutting of this size.

Place the cutting, bottom end down, in a bucket of clear water and leave it until you are ready to put it in the ground.

Select a moist site with adequate drainage for your tree. Avoid selecting sites that are too close to buried pipes or side walks as the weeping willow’s roots grow quickly pushing up against them.

Dig a square hole about 18 inches by 18 inches wide on all four sides.

Fill the hole with up to two inches of water and allow it to drain into the ground.

Place the branch cutting into the center of the hole, with the bottom touching the bottom soil. Fill the soil back into the hole while tapping it down to ensure that the soil securely grips the cutting. Fill the hole until the top of it levels with the ground.

Water your willow every two days until it shows signs of growth. You might want to water it daily if your area is experiencing a dry spell. The appearance of new growth on the cutting is a sure sign that it is developing a healthy root system.

Pruning a weeping dwarf willow tree

Prune and trim weeping willow trees annually to keep them in peak health and form. Prune dead branches at any time of the year as they use up nutrients and water that are better put to use in new growth.

Remove branches that cross each other using pruning shears. Thin the weaker upper branches in order to allow sun light to penetrate inner areas of the tree. Trim the branches that touch the ground at around a third of the tree’s height to create a visually well balanced look.

7 Areas of Limitation in Career Development

  1. Limited Self-Belief and Lack of Self-Esteem: As career professionals, we generally underestimate our own abilities and attribute a greater degree of efficiency and aptitude to others. This limiting belief holds career development back from achieving its full potential. Professionals who desire career advancement need to understand that their abilities match up competitively with others in their field. Developing self-belief and self-esteem are the first steps for successful self-representation. Confidence is contagious and easily identified.
  2. Self-Defeating Behaviors: Everyone has habits, some good and some bad. Bad habits interfere with career development. Saying inappropriate things or making improper gestures at the wrong time does not present itself favorably with co-workers, bosses, or gatekeepers. Behaviors develop reputations that precede professional engagements. Judgments are passed based on previous work behaviors and rumors are spread that illuminate this perceived flaw. Stress and fatigue contribute to less than desirable behavior and being aware of other’s reactions is a tell sign that should alert us to keep or replace enacted behaviors.
  3. Uninformed about Steps and Techniques Needed for Progression and Advancement: Most workers find themselves doing repetitive tasks and wonder why they’re not advancing. Some people are satisfied doing the ordinary, but not you (or you wouldn’t be wasting your time reading this). Ask questions – how did she move up so fast? What did she do? How did she do it? Who was her contact? Here are 7 steps that can be implemented right away and possibly the missing element needed for your promotion: 1. Create relationships 2. Be early, leave late 3. Do more than asked 4. Tell everyone how great your boss is 5. Support other departments 6. Ask for more work and do it 7. Ask for a promotion. If you don’t accept just getting by then you will advance. Ultimately, the blame for our failure or success rests on our shoulders and we need to identify the sequential steps to meet our needs regardless of how difficult these steps could be.
  4. Misaligned Goals and Values: Goals and values are not the same thing. However, negative effects are felt when they are not in sync. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is that really where you want to be? What do you value most in life? Does that goal align with your most important value? When goals and values are aligned, there is an aura of synergy that is created, jubilance in work follows, new energy is created, positive momentum is created, and a resounding vigor is experienced. Do you feel a weight on your shoulders? Maybe your goals and values are in misalignment. What quick change could you make to have the two roads meet?
  5. Lack of Self-Awareness concerning Strengths, Knowledge, and Abilities (KSAs): Never underestimate your education and life experience. Most people do. We all have strengths, but not all of us take the time and put in the effort needed to make innate strengths into abilities. Not knowing your strengths can limit your development for the long-term. What do you enjoy doing? What do you do without any effort? Where do you get the most compliments from others? We all have life experiences that shape our behaviors and attitudes. These life lessons are not learned or experienced by everyone. We learn by doing. It is common to underestimate our knowledge. We assume that others know the same things and others have had similar experiences. This is not the case. We share similar experiences within cultures, but the overall picture for each individual is unique. We are all different in our own ways and have something valuable to add to the conversation. Never underestimate your value.
  6. Inability to Communicate Effectively: Did you ever hear of the game “telephone”? A message is whispered from one player to the next and the message heard by the last player is always completely different from the original message. The biggest problem in today’s fast paced, over-worked, and over-informed environment is the inability to communicate effectively. As an author or writer, one learns to write as if the audience does not know anything. On the other hand, when we speak or write, we generally accept that our audience has a basic understanding of the topic. The error in communication lies in not clearly providing the message as it is intended. Critical points are excluded to maximize time, but those points need to be filled in by the audience receiving the message. This misunderstanding leads to crucial errors and ultimately destroys more time than was initially saved. Take the time to communicate your message clearly and effectively in the first place and save yourself the headache of having to clean up the associated errors.
  7. Lack of Leveraging Networks and Relationships: The general belief is that our closest friends and family are the only ones who would help us in times of need. Studies on social networking suggest that this is completely wrong. Your external network is willing to help and you need to leverage the benefits. Loose connections seem to provide greater benefits and they find greater opportunities that your immediate network could never realize. The power of your external network exists in its positioning which is completely outside your immediate network’s reach. Ask for support and probe your distant network to see how they can support your career development. People are willing to help. It’s our nature. Your external network could provide the needed boost that will take your career to the next level. If your distant network is limited then you need to create an action plan for cultivating connections. In today’s globalized and interconnected economy, competition is high, and relationships are gold. Ultimately, this works because of reciprocity and the genuine character of our kind. When you get the opportunity, pay it forward because what goes around comes around.

Beware the LED Killers – Over-Heating & Over-Voltage

LEDs are the greatest lighting source available, but in the RV environment they have two Achilles Heels — Over-Heating and Over-Voltage.

LEDs are tiny slivers of semi-conductor material (p-n junctions for the geeks who want to know), a piece of silicon doped with rare earths that is mixed to emit photons in the visible spectrum whenever a proper voltage is applied across the junction such that an electrical current runs through the semiconductor. Like a true diode, LEDs resist letting current run in the wrong direction. The chemical composition of the p-n junction determines the wavelength of the emitted photons, so you can have red, amber, green, and blue LEDs, among others.

White LEDs are most often made using a native blue LED that shines blue photons into a phosper that in-turn re-emits a spread spectrum of light across a range that looks like white light to the human eye (for the geek, that is Stokes radiation).

Comparing regular lights to LEDs, the standard incandescent light bulb is only 15% efficient in converting the wattage into useful light. Fluorescent lighting is at best 50% efficient. LEDs have an efficiency of 85% or higher in converting the electrical energy into useful photons. This light source is the most efficient of all the choices we have for light in our RVs, boats, and homes.

None of our light sources are 100% efficient — there is always some residual heat. And it is the heat energy that destroys the light source. With incandescents, the 85% wasted energy is heating the filament to a temperature between 600 and 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. At those high temperatures the filament is literally vaporized away over time, most often within a thousand hours or so, and the bulb simply burns out.

LEDs, too, are heated by the flow of current through the circuit. LEDs will immediately fail when the junction temperature exceeds 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Properly designed LED circuits require two very important features to be successful: protection from over-heating and protection from over-voltage. Often the over-heating is related to over-voltage.

Even when an LED is operated at a carefully controlled voltage, it still generates some heat. This heat must be removed from the LED device at a rate that ensures the junction temperature does not exceed the operating limit. The best way to do this is to place the LED device on a “heat sink” that has the capacity to soak up the generated heat from the LED and move it to a place where it can be radiated into the air or some surrounding heat pit. Early generation LEDs did not bother with this problem since the printed circuit board they were used on was generally large enough to serve as a sufficient heat sink.

As LEDs became more advanced, and more LED emitters were placed upon a single semiconductor device, the problem of heat dissipation became more accute. The requirement for doing a good thermal analysis of the printed circuit board holding the LED chips became apparent to those who understood what they were doing. Others tried to use the old technology with the new chips, and their products consistently failed.

The heat generated by an LED device strongly depends upon the input voltage to the device. If an LED circuit is designed to handle the heat load and operate only in a 12.8-volt environment, it will not operate well in a 14.7-volt environment. It will deteriorate and die much sooner. It’s lifetime will be only a few thousand hours, rather than 100,000 hours. And if the over-voltage ranges up to 18 or 24 volts, the LED device may die immediately.

A fully charged type-27 lead-acid battery typically provides a maximum of 12.8-volts. Some people assume that is the operating voltage of an RV. But if you connect to the Shore Power Pedestal and let your AC/DC converter charge your battery, the line voltage will rise to 13.8-volts. If you have a solar system, the controller may raise the line voltage to 14.7-volts. Battery equalization runs typically increase the line voltage to 16.6-volts for two hours or more.

Most of the early designers producing LEDs for the RV environment assumed a 12.8-volt environment, and their products failed at a remarkable rate in today’s RVs and boats. Some learned that if they did not provide some kind of voltage regulation or power regulation on their LED circuits, product failure rates went out of sight.

How the designer protects the LEDs becomes important when you are concerned with overall power efficiency. If the LED circuit has a simple voltage limiter, it “throws” away any excess voltage, reducing the efficiency of your LED in using the available power. On the other hand, if the LED circuit has a power regulator, it converts excess voltage into usable power by taking less current from the main line. Ask your LED supplier how they are protecting their LEDs and what is the cost for such protection. Many of the LED sales people do not understand the basics of the problems with heat and voltage. Will they give you a decent warranty for all conditions, like the full 100,000 hours – about 11 years?

LEDs are a big investment. They are expensive, but if they are constructed properly and used properly, you will have many years of great service, and they will pay back their original cost many times over. But you must be sure the LEDs you use have sufficient protection against excess heat and against voltage vagaries that can destroy them sooner than they should die.

Go for quality, and ask for proof, and a warranty.

The English Only Policy in the Philippines Call Center

Working in the call center in the Philippines is extraordinary because of their strict English only policy replicated in the entire working force of the company. The company imposed this policy to further enhance the English communication skill of their people.

Call center agents are required to speak the international language while inside the premises of the company. The employees are prohibited to speak their native dialect especially if they’re on call and staying inside the company. The English only policy is created not to demerit the Philippines national language. The call center workers should understand that they are working in a highly regulated management in response to the high demand in the booming business process outsourcing industry. Any agent who caught speaking in Tagalog is subject for verbal and written warning. The English only policy is often misunderstood in per say that it is a violation.

Call center employees are trained efficiently in handling their customers. The policy will give them adept understanding in applying the American culture in a unique working environment. Whether you like it or not, the agents are willfully advised to speak English all the time because speaking English does not mean replacing or degrading your native language. The success of the company also depends on how effective the agents in handling customers support inquiries. Oftentimes, the customers are complaining because of the language barrier and the accent of the agents. If the agent failed to satisfy their customers, this might affect the reputation of the company. American consumers like to criticize the quality and the productivity of the products, which also include criticizing the customer support service of the company. If the support center isn’t effective, the output of the customers’ satisfaction is also a failure.

If you try to analyze, the source of the problem is due to the very simple language barrier which was not given immediate solution. This will not happen if the agents were trained properly of what’s the product information. Product knowledge will serve as guidance and window of opportunity to allow the agents to help their valued customers all the time. Accurate details and advises are needed by the clients to help them understand before and after buying the products. Making the customers happy is an achievement not only by the agents but also with the company.

Undoubtedly, Filipino customer service has strong communication skills because of their culture and recognizing English as one of their primary language. There customers will understand them better because of their capability to blend with the American way. The success of the call center industry in the Philippines is attributed with the magnificent workers. Filipino customer service representatives are trained to be efficient in understanding their customers. The English only policy is very helpful in improving their accent, their intonation, and speaking like in an American music. No wonder that any call center in the Philippines is improving and gives outstanding service with their clients worldwide. Potential locators who want to invest in the Philippines continue to believe that there’s future on their business if they partnered with the Filipinos. Meanwhile, any school institutions in the Philippines implement the English policy in order to boost the international language and help the students overcome problem in communicating with their friends in English. This is inline with the success of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the world today, which fuel the country’s economy.

To date, you notice how really good are these people from communicating in English because of their training background and their school institution they came from. In the next following years, the outsourcing industry will provide millions of job to every Filipino eliminating poverty and other economic crisis.