Drawing Basics: An Exercise to Practice Foreshortening

Foreshortening is one of the keys to drawing realistically, so that your drawings have a three-dimensional quality to them. If you don’t know how to do this, don’t worry. Here is an exercise to practice foreshortening, to strengthen your drawing basics.

What’s foreshortening? It’s how a shape changes the way it looks when it moves in space. By distorting part of an object, it creates the illusion that part of it is closer to you.

To do the exercise, find something perfectly round, but flat, like a plastic container lid, or a CD, or a circle of paper. Hold it flat at eye level. Do you see how it looks like just a straight line going across? If it’s something with a little bit of thickness, you will see a very thin rectangle in front of you. That’s the side of the circle.

Now begin to tilt it, and watch how that line changes shape. It goes from being one line, to being a rounded shape. See how it kind of looks like an oval, then a smashed circle? As you turn it more and more, it looks less and less flattened, until it is straight up and down in front of you. Now it looks like a perfect circle.

With a pen or pencil and paper, use your circle, and practice drawing it at different angles. Don’t think of it as a circle. Just draw what your eyes see in front of you. Tilt it a little, then draw what you see. Tilt it even more, and draw what you see then. Your drawings should look different. You are drawing foreshortening!

Once you can do a circle, try something else, like a rectangle. You can use a book or one of your folders, or a smart phone. See how the corners that are farther away from your eyes appear to be closer together than the corners that are closer to you?

Don’t think about it. Just observe and draw what you see. That’s part of the trick to drawing. You need to be able to draw what you see.

How can you apply this to your drawings? Well, if you draw a birthday cake, you could draw it like a rectangle, but to make it look three dimensional, change the top of that rectangle by adding a foreshortened circle to it instead. Now it looks like it’s round and tall.

Repeat this simple exercise to practice foreshortening, and it will soon be easy to do. You will be able to apply your new skills to your drawings, and you will be well on your way to mastering one of the drawing basics.

Helpful Tips to Winterize Your Fire Pit

Before the rains and snows of January and February come roaring through, it is time to winterize your outdoor fire pit by following these helpful hints. These tips will help protect your investment, make the first fire of the spring so much easier and ensure that your gatherings with family and friends will be much more enjoyable.

1. For wood burning pits or rings, clean out any residual ash and wood. Make it easy on yourself by using a garage vacuum. Bag the ashes separately and dispose. For gas burning fire pits, turn off the gas. If you are using a 20 lb Propane Cylinder, uncouple the supply and take the cylinder indoors to the garage.

2. If you have a grate in the pit, examine it for wear. If it has passed it’s use by date then replace it. If not, treat the grate with high temperature spray paint or consider powder coating the grate.

3. Examine the spark guard that you use. If it is not intact with holes in the mesh then replace it. If the mesh is still intact, then treat with high temperature paint or consider powder coating. You will need to put the spark guard back on the pit before you put the weather proof cover over the fire pit, but more of that later.

4. Ensure that there is still adequate drainage at the bottom of the pit. A drainage pipe of minimum 1/2″ diameter is required. Test to see how long a gallon of water drains from your fire pit.

5. It is essential to ensure the cover will not allow rain or snow to pond on the top of the pit. If you have a spark guard place it on the top of the pit to support the pit cover. If not you need to create a tent pole structure. The best material to use is 1″ – 1 1 /2 Inch plastic water pipe with plastic bends and “T” fittings. This is lightweight and rigid. For larger fire pits use the larger water pipe.

6. If you do not have a pit cover already, a cheap solution is to buy a blue tarp from any neighborhood hardware store. Lay the tarp over the raised spark guard or structure and trim so that the tarp extends 4″ below the edge of the capping stone. Using a tarp grommet repair kit ($7.00), punch as many holes as required for your shape and size of fire pit [example 6 grommets for round and so on]. Hook a Spring Hook Carabiner in each of the grommet holes ready to take the tie down weight. Tie down weights can be easily made from 2 liter soda bottles filled with sand. With heavy duty twine create a loop around the neck of the soda bottle. Hang a bottle on each Spring Hook. It is recommended that two people do this hanging a bottle on opposite grommet holes at the same time. This will keep the tarp in place while you complete the covering of the pit. These weights should be sufficient in most areas but to be safe, use a tie down around the fire pit.

7 Amazing Recycling Building Materials

Are you considering building a house that is green and eco-friendly? Then you may want to look at the following list of amazing recycling building materials which can be used to build an Eco-house. These items can be reclaimed from recycling centers for an amount of money or for free depending on what part of the world you live in.

The list of recycling building materials is endless and these are a few of items I find very useful to anyone who wishes to build ‘green’ in the 21st century. Before you search for any recycling building materials, it is advised that you have a plan and budget for all the things you might need before starting any project. Firstly, you can ask your local waste/recycling companies for access to any item. This will help provide you with information on free recycled items and those that can be purchased. If you live in a rural area, you can look around for old barn woods etc. You can also Google the words ‘recycled materials’ to get more information on where and how to get the recycling materials you will need in your local vicinity. In Ontario, Canada for instance you can get used building materials from recycling companies that specialize in reclaiming such items. There are many recycling centers out there.

Below is a list of 7 Amazing Recycling Building Materials:

1. USED STEEL: Steel can be melted down and reshaped into any desired structure in building construction.

2. SCRAP METALS: Like steel, various types of scrap metals can be reshaped again for a different purpose.

3. LUMBER/PLYWOOD: Lumber/plywood that is free of insect infestation and in good condition can be reused again to build houses, furniture etc.

4. USED PAVING STONES: Paving stones reclaimed from a demolition site can be reused again for landscaping somewhere else.

5. STAINED WINDOWS: Stained windows in good condition such as the ones found in old churches can be reclaimed and reused again in the building of a new home to give it character.

6. ANTIQUE FURNITURE: Over the years, antique furniture has become very popular and very valuable as they tend to increase in value over time if preserved properly. They can be reupholstered, painted or polished to give them a face lift. They add personality and charm to a new home where the owners are looking for the old world charm in a new building.

7. OLD PLASTICS: Old plastics can be melted down and reshaped to create various structures such as deck, fences etc.

There are many more recycled materials out there that can be reused again for building construction purposes. The seven items I have listed are some of the ones that are easy to find and affordable for those truly interested in these items.

Hard Money Lenders And Their Types

Hard money loans are specific type of asset-based loans which a borrower receives funds and is secured by the value of a parcel of real estate. Hard money loans are typically issued by private individuals/investors or companies. Interest rates are usually higher than conventional the lenders. Most of loans are typically used for projects lasting a few months to a few years. It is similar to a bridge loan, which has similar criteria for lending as well as cost to the borrowers. The major difference is that a bridge loan refers to a commercial property or that may be in transition and does not yet qualify for a traditional financing, on the other hand hard money often refers to not only an asset-based loan, but possibly a distressed financial situation, like arrears on the existing mortgage, or where bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings has occurred.

If you are in need of loan, there are a numerous different types that you could consider. Here are some of the different kinds of lenders.

1. Commercial Banks

One type of lender that you could look is commercial banks. These types of banks are going to offer different lending programs. If you run a traditional business, you could get a hard money loan from this type of establishment in order to expand your business.

2. Mortgage Banks

If you need mortgage loans, you might want to check see a mortgage bank. These hard money lenders can provide the money that you need in order to buy a property. When you get a hard money mortgage from a mortgage bank, you are not going to be using this as a long-term solution. Normally, the terms are very short, and you will have to come up with a balloon payment at the end of the mortgage term.

3. Mortgage Brokers

Another type that you might want to consider is a mortgage broker. They have a variety of different lending sources that they can be use to get you the best deal possible. With that type of broker, you will to be able to secure the money that you need in order to purchase a property.

4. Finance Companies

There are numerous different finance companies that also offer hard money loans. These finance companies can provide you with the money that you need for nearly any project.

5. Online Lending Companies

One of the best and easy options for you to check out is online lending company. There are many different lenders that do business online. With the ability to work with online lenders, you will be able to conduct business with comfort from your home. You will also be able to shop around very easily and make sure that you have a best deal. When you are looking online, make sure that you find lender that does business in your geographic area. Many lenders are licensed to do business only in certain states, and you do not want to start the process if they cannot finish it.

Nordictrack Elliptical Audiostrider 1490 Review

The Nordictrack elliptical Audiostrider 1490 is a popular rear-drive crosstrainer that also folds up to save space.

The 1490 is actually an upgrade to the popular Audiostrider 990 trainer which has been around for several years and received several “Best Buy” awards.

The 1490 adds a few more premium features like a full color, touch-screen web browser, a free wireless heart rate monitor and controls on the moving arm bars.

Nordictrack recently changed the name on the 1490 trainer to the “Nordictrack Spacesaver SE9i”. So it can get a little confusing when you try to find the 1490 crosstrainer but can’t find it. Just know that this machine is now going under a different name – the SE9i.

Here’s an overview of the main benefits of the 1490 Audiostrider:

#1 Full-Color Web Browser

The Touch-Screen 7 inch web browser is built right into the console and uses the wireless in your home to go online.

You can read your emails, surf the net or watch YouTube videos while you workout – which can make your workouts a lot more enjoyable (and last longer!).

#2 Incline/Resistance Controls on the Armbars

You can change the incline or the resistance from the console – and from the moving arm bars.

The advantage to this is that you don’t have to reach up to the console if you don’t want to break your stride.

#3 Folds Up To Save Space

It’s hard to find a folding elliptical these days that isn’t cheaply made or wobbly when you use it. But the Nordictrack 1490 is heavier than most crosstrainers and built to be more stable than cheaper folding models.

It comes with a 325 lb user weight capacity and a heavy 18 pound flywheel which helps to add stability to your workouts.

#4 Super-Easy Assembly

One thing people hate about ellipticals is spending hours putting them together, looking for missing parts and trying to screw things in places that don’t fit.

You don’t have that with the 1490. The 2014 model comes almost completely assembled in box and is ready to go in about 3 simple steps.

#5 iFit LIVE

iFit LIVE works with the web browser to take you online. From there you can track your workouts over time, set new goals and even download new workouts to your crosstrainer from celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels.

You can also map out new trails to run all over the world using iFit and watch landmarks pass you by in the console screen.

So those are some of the main benefits of the Nordictrack 1490 Audiostrider. Are there any drawbacks? Well, you should be aware that while this trainer comes with incline – it doesn’t give you the range of incline you sometimes get with other trainers.

Also, be aware that in order to try iFit LIVE, you do need an online subscription which is about $99) a year. Still, you don’t need iFit to use this trainer – it will work fine without it.

So those are some things you should know about the Audiostrider 1490 elliptical. If you’re looking for a folding elliptical that feels more stable than other folding units – and one that will keep you entertained – it’s a great option to consider!

Five Ways to Legally Maximize the Range of a CB Radio

CB Radios are unfortunately limited to 4 watts of output power by the FCC (Federal Commissions Commission). Most specifically, this is known as radio frequency output. This restriction has been placed, because CB Radios operate on 27MHZ frequency which the FCC mandates as a license free 11 meter Citizens Band. Due to the general public having access, in addition to limited frequencies (or “channels”); congestion and interference are always concerns.

Many new to the hobby or the operation thereof, assume illegally modifying their CB Radio (known by the term “Peak and Tune”) for higher output, or worse yet, running a high output illegal amplifier are the only ways they can improve the performance and range of their CB Radios.

This is actually untrue, and in all honesty, antenna types and setup play a much larger and influential role in the range of CB Radios, or most types of wireless communications for that matter. This is because, in terms of operating efficiency, the match of the antenna, type of antenna and gain there of, and antenna height are all more significant to radio performance, are by far more critical to radio range, than any other aspect in regards to the hobby. Thankfully, the FCC provides much more freedom, with what can be done and/or improved upon, in regards to CB Antennas! As you can see from the premise of the first few paragraphs, the recommendations on improving the range of a CB Radio legally will be related to antenna setup:

1. Antenna Mounting Height – Nothing is more important, then allow the antenna to capture maximum signal, than placing the antenna in the highest position as possible. If running a base station setup, placing the antenna on the peak of a roof, or a good sized tower, that is above nearby terrain and buildings are key here. If running mobile, placing the antenna on the highest place on the car, where the antenna can be both securely grounded and mounted is ideal.

2. Antenna Size – Generally the larger the antenna size, the higher the efficiency. At 27 MHz, larger antennas are generally needed, to prove highest efficiency. What happens is when an antenna is squeezed/scaled down in size, coils, inductors, capacitors, or worse yet resistors have to be added to electrically match and tune the antenna. So not only do you lose the size of your effective capture area, by not having a “taller” antenna, but there is added loss to the antenna, when adding extra components, to readjust the antenna electrically. For mobile antennas, generally 8′ 6″ and for base antennas 22′ 6″ are the ideal vertical sizes for maximum performance!

3. Antenna Type – Just as anything else, not all antennas are created equal, in terms of actual gain. Higher gain antennas do exist, and by the nature of their design, not only do they focus their pattern in a desired direction, they also pick up less noise from unwanted sources/directions. Some of the higher gain antennas include the Yagi and Quad antenna types, and they may range anywhere from 2-16 antenna elements lined up in pattern! These antennas can effectively intensify your CB Radios signal 10 times or more!

4. Ground, Ground, and more Ground! – Electrically grounding a mobile antenna is critical, as the antennas are dependent upon a return path, and needs a large ground plane or” counterpoise” to do this both effectively and efficiently. This is also critical for most base antennas, it’s just due to less size constraints, and this can be done with either an “Elevated Ground Plane Kit” or with standard “ground radials”.

5. Tune Your Antenna! – If this wasn’t enough, you must also tune and verify a proper turn of your antenna. This involves using an accurate SWR meter, or better yet an Antenna Analyzer, to make sure the antenna is tuned for a standard 50 ohm match. This is reflected by the SWR – Standing Wave Radio measurement. The ideal reading is a 1:1, meaning for every watt of power that is transmitted by a CB Radio, 100% of it is being radiated forward, with no detectable amount being reflected back due to an improper antenna match. Having a perfect reading may not always be possible; however any reading beyond 2:1 can literally damage your radio, so always check, tune, and verify your antenna!

Is Rest Pause Training Still Popular?

A funny question was asked to me the other day by a prospective client… Is rest pause training popular?

I have been asked a lot of questions in the past about effectiveness and execution of certain high intensity techniques but never about its popularity.

Mike Mentzer back in the 70’s popularized (there is that word again) rest pause training for bodybuilding. Until then it was known but not used in the bodybuilding world… at least not by many. It has been around since the mid 1940’s and its effectiveness, at least the effectiveness of single maximum reps in developing strength and thus muscle size, has been used by strongmen for decades.

Rest pause is extremely effective for the advanced athlete who may have hit an impasse in progress and has the ability to focus on exerting maximum intensity of effort with just one rep. It is not for the faint hearted or for beginners who have yet to hone their skills of focus in going to complete momentary muscular failure. It is however, for the seasoned weightlifter whose experience with proper exercise style and execution is keen, as the force from the very first rep is high.

With most exercise programs incorporating a number of reps, the first rep of a set is the safest because it is nothing more than a warm-up… as is each and every consecutive rep up until the last almost impossible one that puts in motion the growth mechanism of the body. The problem with many advanced athletes is that because they have already developed a great deal of mass and strength, the demand on their body’s available resources is extremely high, which becomes limiting. To prove this, put a beginner sided by side with an advanced competitive bodybuilder. Have them both do a set of barbell curls to failure. The beginner, with the 13 inch arm using 50 pounds and the bodybuilder with the 19 inch arm using 155 pounds, both are doing a set of barbell curls. Notice a few reps into the movements the difference in their general appearance. The beginner although executing each rep properly, seems to be just going through the motions while the bodybuilder’s breathing and sweating has increased. By time they both finish and hit momentary muscular failure, although the beginner could probably do another set, the bodybuilder is spent, breathing like a race horse and sweating all over the place. The reason for this is although the average person has the ability to increase his strength up to 300 percent, his ability to compensate or recover only increases 50 percent… not to mention, in the above example, a bodybuilder whose 19 inch arm is contracting maximally uses up more fuel and oxygen producing larger quantities of waste products than our smaller variety with the 13 inch arm. Now let’s switch the barbell curls to squats and you could imagine the difference… see my point?

Although the beginner may use 135 pounds for his set of squats, imagine the bodybuilder using 550 for his. I have seen this with advanced trainees doing legs; it is their breathing, not their strength that interferes with them reaching the last almost impossible rep that turns on the growth process of the body. So what’s the answer?

Rest Pause! With rest pause there is a rest between each and every maximum rep, allowing the cardio pulmonary system to reset itself (or catch up), without the negative… the build up of waste residue, allowing for another maximum contraction. Because heavier weights are used and there is a maximum contraction on every rep, this type of training is extremely demanding and effective.

Longer rest periods are needed along with sufficient carbohydrates being present in your diet to fuel these workouts. A well balanced diet is necessary. Glycogen is needed for the high intensity contractions of this type of training.

Since this is very intense training, it should be brief and infrequent. Below is an example of a properly designed rest pause workout routine split into three workouts.

NOTE: Each workout will be performed with 4 repetitions, each maximum weight, with 10 seconds between each rep and up to 15 on the last rep. You can either have assistance from your training partner to complete reps 2-4 if not on your own accord or reduce the weight accordingly to make certain each rep is a maximum. Some experimentation is necessary at first.

WO 1- Chest, Shoulders, Biceps

Peck Deck

Nautilus or Hammer Bench

Nautilus or Hammer Laterals

Wide Grip Upright Rows with cable – Done in regular fashion to failure – 6-10 reps

Nautilus or Hammer Curls

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WO 2 – Back and Triceps

Nautilus Pullovers

Chins or Pulldown (palms facing you)

Deadlifts – Done in regular fashion – 5 reps max

Nautilus tri Extension or Pushdowns

Close Grip Benches – Done in regular fashion – 6-10 reps

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WO 3 – Legs

Leg Extensions

Leg Press or Squat – (if no training partner safety first, always employ a power rack or do a straight set of squats stopping one rep prior to failure)

Leg Curl

Calve Raise

As mentioned above, because of the leap in intensity…while employing this type of a workout or any HIT workout, rest is paramount. If you manage your volume and frequency properly, you will progress without the affects of overtraining.

I suggest a 4-5 day rest period between each workout and a full 10 days rest after approximately 6 weeks training. When you resume you can choose to go back to a general high intensity training routine while employing rest pause here and there, maybe one set per workout, or if you care to resume rest pause training, I suggest you do so while removing the following exercises from the workouts and resting 5-6 days…

WO 1 – Wide Grip Upright Cable Rows

WO 2 – Either… close grip bench or triceps extensions

WO 3 – Leg Curls

You will notice when implementing rest pause correctly, along with the theory of high intensity training, that your strength will sky rocket. If you are an advanced athlete who has hit an impasse in progress, I suggest you take a full two weeks off or more…before starting rest pause training. What I find is that in many cases you are already in a state of overtraining and this time is needed for your body to compensate for that over trained condition. Good Luck!

The Many Uses of Porcelain

Porcelain was first discovered in China during the Tang dynasty which reigned from 618-907 A.D. It took the longest time to develop of all the ceramic materials due to the high temperature at which it needs to be fired. It is made of clay containing two substances: kaolin and petuntse, the latter being found only in China. Since China was the first country to develop the technique of making fine porcelains, we call many porcelain items “china” today.

The first thing that anyone thinks of when they think of porcelain is fine vases, dishes, figurines, and other decorative items. During China’s Song dynasty (960 – 1279 A.D.), royal factories were built in order to produce porcelain pieces for use in the royal palaces. Eventually the techniques began to spread to other countries, but fine Chinese porcelain is still of the quality standard that all other porcelains are measured against. In fact, collectors of fine porcelains still consider the works produced during the Ming and Qing dynasties to be the highest-quality ever fashioned.

Although many companies world wide, such as Lenox, Rosenthal, and Noritake, continue to make decorative porcelain items today, many other uses have been found for the material in a number of applications. One of the most well-known uses of porcelain at the present time is for dental bridges and veneers. Used in a wafer-thin state, porcelain resists stains better than other materials and more closely resembles the light-reflective properties of real teeth.

In architectural use, porcelain enamel is being used as sheathing in top quality building applications, both for interiors and exteriors. All kinds of buildings, including homes, child care centers, office complexes, museums, and skyscrapers, are using this enamel in their designs. It is also used as a combination wall/writing board material in school classrooms, in signs and restroom dividers, and as linings for tunnels and subway stations. It is a perfect material for use in tunnels and subways, because the finish is tough enough that it isn’t damaged by exhaust fumes and graffiti.

Of course, we all know about porcelain tiles which are used in many different applications. They can be used on floors and walls, both indoors and out. They are excellent in bathrooms and kitchens where moisture is a problem, because they are naturally water-resistant. These tiles are also very beautiful and come in an array of colors, styles, and sizes. Porcelain makes extremely durable flooring as can be attested to by ancient mosaic floors that still look lovely centuries after they were installed.

In our homes we owe the beauty and functionality of many basic items to porcelain enamel. Bathtubs, sinks, toilets, stoves, washing machines and dryers, water heaters, grills, and ovens are all coated with porcelain enamel. Not only does it make them look nice, but it has properties that make it an excellent choice for these applications. Since it won’t stain, scratch, absorb moisture, be damaged by chemical cleaning products, or rust, it provides a surface that makes our appliances and bathroom fixtures stay looking nice longer.

Porcelain also plays a big part in manufacturing, food production, agricultural uses, petrochemical products, and even municipal waste water facilities. As modern scientists continue to find more uses for porcelain materials, the use is going to continue to escalate over the decades.

Portrait Painting – 3 Useful Renaissance Techniques

The Renaissance period is well known for the innovation of new techniques within painting. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Andrea Mantegna began using methods such as Sfumato, Chiaroscuro, Foreshortening and Underpainting to significantly develop their work. Described below is three different examples of these techniques, which are particularly useful and beneficial to oil portrait painting.

Sfumato

Sfumato is a technique of gradual blending, a method to subtly blur two tones, subsequently removing any harsh outlines. This method was thought to have originated in Leonardo da VinciĆ­s work, with the Mona Lisa being a perfect example of Sfumato. The technique can give your work more depth, structure and form and is very advantageous to portrait painting. A good example of how to paint using the Sfumato method is to first apply a translucent dark colour, and while that coating is still wet to then apply an opaque light over the top. This way the opaque light will lighten the dark and simultaneously the darker colour will darken the light, from that you can create a blending effect with subtle changes in colour and tone.

Chiaroscuro

The chiaroscuro technique is best described as being a strong contrast between light and dark and can be very effectively used to create form and volume in portraiture. Chiaroscuro is the opposite of Sfumato; the latter looks to remove any sharp or harsh outlines and blend to create depth, the former uses these outlines to create the form and that three-dimensional feel, so whilst they are two very different styles they are both used for the same purpose. Caravaggio is just one of a number of artists who used this technique during the renaissance period and is generally accredited with creating this contrasting method. His style of painting inspired others, who developed on the idea to create Tenebrism, which is a more pronounced version of chiaroscuro and uses a stronger more violent contrast between light and dark.

Underpainting

Underpainting is a great way to create the look of depth, which is very important in portrait painting. Different artists use different colours for underpainting; Leonardo da Vinci preferred to use sepia tones, others used grey, Italian renaissance artists used a green called Terre Verte. Although an unusual colour to work upon, the green underpaint enhances the warmth and solidity of skin tones.

Transcending Jealousy and Transforming It to Positive Energy

Jealousy is among the strongest passions. It is even stronger than rage. It can even be the most overwhelming emotion when synergistically blended with rage. You may have read the adage:

“Jealousy is the dragon in paradise; the hell of heaven; and the most bitter of the emotions because associated with the sweetest.” – A.R. Orage

Indeed, many movies as well as real life dramas, love stories and relationships circle around this emotion. Devastating as it is, any kind of energy can be transformed into something that is positive.

The primary antidote of jealousy is feeling at ease and confident with oneself. If you know that you are lovable and you know that you deserved to love and be loved, then you will not have trouble entertaining thoughts that creates negative forecasts. There are several things that brings about jealousy; minimize or totally control these factors and you’ll over power jealousy.

A jealous mind is based on a negative forecast, the fear to be left abandoned and someone else takes place your place on your love one’s heart. Sometimes, this fear may either be a baseless intuition or mounted on empirical facts. Mistrust forms the most flesh of jealousy. In addition, jealousy fills in a cavity lacking self esteem. Here’s the trick: If you do not believe in yourself, no one else will.

Take these following facts of life and you will end up realizing that entertaining jealousy is a waste of time. First, if you are jealous, you are actually praising the other person because you are in fact saying that she or he is way better than you. If you believe he really is, the discussion stops here. The thing is that people are unique and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, relationships flourish mostly on an unexplained algorithm of synchronizing differences, personality union and other complexities. Secondly, if the magnetic bond between you and your partner is gone, whatever desperate measures you will undertake will all be flush down the drain. This is a fact. In most cases, the more you cling on, the more you are being shed off.

So, why waste your energy? If you feel jealousy knocking at your door, gracefully let it in and let it become a green light to your home. Let it be your go signal to freshen up and give yourself time to reflect on what should be done and what should be changed. Let it serve as a reminder to you that each day is a challenge to renew the magnetic bond. Most relationships go sour because it turned boring. Indeed, there is always the “other side” of anything!

Secrets of Growing Killer Tomatoes

Tomatoes have always been my favorite garden vegetable to grow and to eat. I have had success with the other standard garden vegetables, such as cucumbers, bell peppers, cauliflower etc. but tomatoes became my specialty over the years.

I start my seeds indoors approximately 5-6 weeks before the last expected frost date. I use a commercially available starting flat that will hold 72 seedlings. I prefer plant the Tomato Park’s Whopper(TM) Cr Improved, VFFNT Hybrid which can be ordered from Park Seed Co. This is a large, luscious, disease resistant tomato that I have seen grow to excess of 3lbs.+. It makes for an awesome BLT since a slice of one of these beauties will hang off the toast at least one inch or more all the way around!!!!!

For the potting mixture, I use equal parts of a good quality potting soil and vermiculite that makes the soil light enough so that the seeds will not have difficulty sprouting and growing. I know your probably saying to yourself right now, WOW, 72 tomato plants, I don’t need that many, well look at it like this…out of the 72 that you start, some will not develop for whatever reason, and once they are planted, some will die, the birds will get some, the animals will get some and yes, the bugs will get some regardless of how hard your try to keep them out. So out of that 72 plants, you could wind up with just the right number in the end for your garden. Of course it is possible to wind up with 72 very healthy, untouched by animals, disease or bugs, tomato plants, as happened to me one season, then you will have more tomatoes than you can possibly eat, can, sell or give away!!!! But that is a whole ‘nother story!!!

I have grown tomatoes in all types of soil, from rocky, hard packed clay to rich dark loam so loose you could push your arm elbow deep into the soil with no effort. It has been my experience that almost any soil will work with most only requiring minor amendments.

If you need to add amendments to your soil to loosen it, I recommend a mixture of aged sawdust and sand in equal parts. The sand can be obtained in bulk from your local concrete company for a small fee or you can buy it in bags from your local hardware store. One note about the sawdust, DO NOT use fresh sawdust, as this is much to hot due to the nitrogen being released during the breakdown process. Plants placed in this sawdust; even with the mix of sand and soil are much to tender to withstand the high concentration of nitrogen.

If fresh sawdust is all that you can obtain, pile it in one corner of your garden and let it age for new season.

Your local sawmill, if you have one close by, should have a good supply of old sawdust on hand that they will let you load up and haul away for free. If you do not have a sawmill or any type of manufacturing facility close by, such as the Ames Co., that makes wooden handles etc. you can check with your local county extension agent and he or she can tell you where you may acquire the sawdust. Speaking of the county extension agent, when you go to consult with the agent, take along some soil samples from different places in your garden and ask that they be tested for the proper nutrients. This is a free service provided by some counties while others may charge a nominal fee, regardless, you can have the results back in just a few days.

Once you have the sawdust and sand, spread equal parts over your garden until it reaches a depth of about one inch or more depending on the type of soil. Too much and the soil will be too loose and the water will drain away to quickly, not enough and the sun will bake it to a hardpan during the dog days of summer.

Work this mixture into your soil as deep as possible using your rotary tiller or the old fashioned way, by using a spading fork or shovel Once this mixture is worked in properly then it is time to consider what type of fertilizer is needed.

Armed with your soil test results, you will have a good indication of what kind of fertilizer is best for your particular garden. In most cases, a good all purpose fertilizer known as Triple 10 or 10-10-10 will do the job very well. Your soil test results will give specifics of any additional nutrients that you may need and should also include coverage rates.

Once you have completed the fertilizing, give your garden a moderate soaking with your sprinkler or hose nozzle to dissolve and distribute the fertilizer through out the soil.

When I begin to set out the tomatoes I have somewhat of a unique approach, I dig the planting hole, approximately 10-12 inches deep with a post hole digger, which also helps to determine the spacing for each plant ( 2-2 ½ feet apart or about ½ the length of the handle of your post hole digger) I use the post hole digger for several reasons:

1. Its much easier on your back, you don’t have to bend or kneel to dig the hole.

2. The larger and deeper hole means that more of the tomato plant itself can be placed deeper into the ground and the more plant you can actually place in the ground the stronger the plant will be, because every bit of the seedling that is placed underground will develop into the root system, thereby you will have deeper and stronger roots from the very beginning.

3. The loose backfill in the hole allows for the developing root system to get a firm foothold.

After you have gotten all your holes spaced out and dug, go back and sprinkle just a bit of Miracle-Gro into the bottom of each hole then add just a small amount of water to the hole. Gently remove your seedlings from the flat and place it as deep as possible in the hole. I recommend leaving no more than 1 – 2 inches of tomato above ground. Yes, it will take longer for your tomatoes to produce by doing this as compared to setting them out at that same depth they were in the seeding flat, but you will have stronger plants and plants that virtually never need watering because at that depth moisture is pretty much constant unless it is an extremely dry summer. Believe me, if you set your tomatoes out at the flat depth, you will be watering them at least every other day.!!!

The next thing we need to address is the method used to control the sprawling plant. Some people like to place straw down around their tomato plants and let them sprawl across the ground. I believe this opens the door for more pest problems, such as the tomato hornworm. The method I recommend is using concrete reinforcing wire to make your own tomato cages. The wire can be purchased at most any hardware or do it yourself store. The wire has large 6″ openings that you can easily pass your hand through when picking time comes. The wire is about 6 ft high which makes a very sturdy cage for even the biggest tomato plant. To make the cages, count off seven of the squares and then, using a cutting torch or a study pair of wire cutters, cutoff the bottom of the seventh square which will give you six 6″ spikes that will make the cage as steady as a rock when they are pushed into the ground. I place my cages around the plants as soon as the plants are in the ground. Once you make the cages they will last of years and years to come.

Our last area of concern is pests and diseases, specifically the tomato hornworm and blossom end rot. The tomato hornworm is nasty little creature that will surround and chew through your plant at just below ground level. To prevent this from happening push a very large nail into the ground right next to each tomato plant. This will prevent the hornworm from surrounding your plant and eating through the base.

If you see the end of your tomatoes beginning to rot as they grow, then it is surely a case of blossom end rot, which can be easily stopped from overtaking your entire tomato crop. Go to your local pharmacy and get some potassium chloride, then place two heaping tablespoons into a garden sprayer and fill with water, shake to mix then spray your plants well. Do this weekly until no new end rot appears.

If you follow this guide and use a little TLC you will have some of the largest and best tasting tomatoes one could ever ask for.

You will definitely be the envy of the entire neighborhood!!!

How Do Cordless Window Blinds Work?

Some homeowners, especially mothers, may have hesitation about considering window blinds for their abode because of their fear that their young children and pets might strangle when playing around near the windows.

This reluctance is understandable. After all, it is the safety of the entire household that is more important than making your home more appealing.

However, you have to understand and know the fact that you can still use window blinds without having any worries about risk of strangulation. Yes, you can still enjoy the beauty of this window covering along with peace of mind. Do you want to know how? Go for the cordless variant of window blinds.

This particular type of window blinds is generally managed and adjusted without pulling a pull cord or string, as its name suggests. Therefore, they are powered by a mechanism which makes it possible for you to lift them up or pull them down.

And if you have limited ideas on how they work (and how they can help you eliminate your fear), we have gathered relevant inputs

Actually, there are three different ways to operate cordless window blinds, namely:

1. Through lifting them. With a certain mechanism installed into your cordless blinds, you can easily adjust the amount of light that you want inside your home or get through a particular nook by lifting the bottom portion of your window treatment. By doing so, your blinds are now half-open to allow more light to pass through.

2. Powered by a remote control. Whoever thinks that only appliances at home have a remote control is certainly wrong. Your window covering can be controlled and operated as well with the use of this device. By pressing a button on your remote control, you can already adjust the slats of your motorized window blinds especially if you have the Venetian type. Adjusting the slats means regulating the amount of light that enters your dwelling.

3. Top down or bottom up. There are instances when you want the lower portion of your windows covered for privacy, while the upper part gives more access for light to enter. Therefore, you need a window treatment that is designed to satisfy this need. By opting for the top-down, bottom-up kind of blinds, you can already enjoy this benefit.

Now that you are already familiar with the cordless variant of window blinds, why don’t you call up your potential supplier right away and ask if they have available stocks? You may ask them, too, about how to order blinds online.

Reliable Ways to Get Rid of Piles Fast

Piles (Hemorrhoids) are one of those personal problems most people have experienced but no one wants to talk about. Well, talk about them or not, one thing is very clear: You shouldn’t ignore them. All sufferers want to get rid of piles fast so here are some tips to help you deal effectively with the problem and hopefully ease your suffering once and for all.

Be careful with laxatives:

If you have hemorrhoid problems, use laxatives sparingly. Laxatives can be vital in dealing with isolated instances of constipation, and I know that the painful experience of passing stools can motivate you to use laxatives to make bowel movements easier, but if you rely on them regularly you can do yourself harm. You might be masking the true status of your digestive processes and cannot tell if you need to make dietary adjustments.

A warm soak can be just the ticket for relieving your hemorrhoid pains. Running a shallow bath of warm – not hot – water and sitting in it will reduce the painful swelling of your hemorrhoids and improve circulation in the area. You can repeat this treatment as often as is practical. This will also aid with personal cleanliness which is vital in your hemorrhoid treatment at home.

Avoid straining in the restroom:

Never force yourself to use the restroom. One of the main causes of piles is straining when you are attempting to have a bowel movement. This should happen naturally and within a few minutes of feeling the need to go. A little exercise or just walking around should help your body produce that urge to go.

A restful sleep is important because it allows your body to restore its natural functionality. Also in this relaxed state you are not putting any undue strain on your piles particularly if they are external. Ample rest will help you in your quest to get rid of piles fast.

Regular daily exercise may help in the prevention and treatment of piles. In our fast-paced world it can be hard to find time to fit exercise into our day but even a little can help. Try using the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Don’t do any exercise that would cause straining, like lifting weights if you already have piles.

Here’s a food you haven’t thought about:

Consume foods that are high in fiber to help you treat piles. Fruits like watermelon and grapes, as well as vegetables like cabbage and Okra (Okra is rich in nutrients and fiber and can help to keep the intestinal tract healthy. It can also decrease the risk of some forms of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer). The use of vegetables such as these will help to soften your stools and make it easier for you to have a pain free bowel movement. Continue to include these foods in your diet even after you find relief; they will help prevent the piles from returning.

I hope these tips have helped you deal with an uncomfortable subject. Piles or hemorrhoids are a common problem that can get much worse if not treated. If you are one of the many sufferers trying to get rid of piles fast it can be greatly helped if you have the information on causes, treatments and better still prevention readily available.

It is a personal problem:

As I said previously it’s a personal problem and for most sufferers, an embarrassing problem, but there are more detailed solutions available to give you relief from piles forever.

The Difference Between Gold Filled and Gold Plated

Beyond just simple purity hallmarks (i.e. 10k, 14k, 18k, etc.) there are some other types of markings that jewelers also use when hallmarking gold jewelry which include letters such as GF, EP, and KP. Below is an explanation of a few of the most common that you may come across which would have a direct effect on the market value of your items.

GF – stands for “Gold Filled”, also known as “Rolled Gold” or “Rolled Gold Plate” and is composed of a solid layer of Au (or a gold alloy) bonded with heat and pressure to a base metal such as brass. Most high quality gold filled pieces have the same appearance as 14 karat (58%) gold. In the U.S. the quality of gold filled is defined by the Federal Trade Commission. If the gold layer is 10k fineness the minimum layer of karat gold in an item stamped GF must equal at least 1/10 the total weight of the item. If the gold layer is 12k or higher the minimum layer of karat gold in an item stamped GF must equal at least 1/20 the total weight of the item. 1/20 12k GF and 1/20 14k GF are the most common stamps found on gold-filled jewelry, 1/10 10k is also fairly common.

“Double clad” gold filled sheet is produced with 1/2 the thickness of gold on each side. 1/20 14kt double clad gold-filled has a layer on each side of 1/40th 14k, making the total content of gold 1/20 of the total weight of the item. The thinner layer on each side does not wear as well as single clad gold-filled.

The Federal Trade Commission allows the use of “Rolled Gold Plate” or “R.G.P.” on items with a lower thickness of gold than are required for “gold-filled.” 1/60 12k RGP designates a 12k gold layer that is 1/60 of the total weight of the item. This lower quality does not wear as well as gold-filled items.

Gold-filled items, even with daily wear, can last 5 to 30 years but will eventually wear through. The gold layer on gold-plated jewelry varies greatly depending on the manufacturer, so there is no single, simple comparison. Gold-filled items are 50 to 100,000 times thicker than regular gold plating, and 17 to 25,000 times thicker than heavy gold electroplate (sometimes stamped HGE or HGP which is commonly found on items such as flashy cubic zirconia “cocktail rings”).

EP – stands for “electroplating” and is used to make items out of non-precious metals which are then coated in a very thin layer of pure gold by the process of electroplating. Federal standards require items that are stamped “EP” to have a thickness of at least 7 millionths of an inch of at least 10K gold. Gold electroplated items will have a much smaller amount of actual gold content as compared to “gold filled” items and therefore have a much lower value (in regards to pure gold content).

KP – stands for “karat plumb” that’s “plumb” as in “straight” or “exact”, so 14kp gold is exactly 58.555% gold. This marking relates to some odd, and now obsolete US laws. 14 karat means that an item is 14/24 gold with the remainder being other metals. The problem comes with the rounding. 13.88/24 would be rounded to 14k under the old US law and 13k under matching British law. Obviously, this could cause some confusion, especially for US manufacturers who want to sell in Europe. European customers simply didn’t believe the marks were accurate. They started using the mark 14kp to mean that it is at least 14.00/24 parts gold. The rules have actually changed to where US manufacturers are using the same rules as the rest of the world but the 14kp system of naming still lives on. For new pieces, 14k and 14kp both mean that it’s at least 14.00/24 parts gold. In older pieces 14k might contain as little as 13.51/24.

“KP” is often mistakenly believed by people to mean “karat PLATE.” If the gold item is only “plated” it will typically be marked with the purity of the gold alloy that it is plated with followed by the letters GP (gold plate), GF (gold filled), or EP (electroplated). Example: 14k GP or 1/20 14k GF.

Easy Chinese Fun See Soup

Ahhh, Chinese Fun See Soup. Delicious and easy to make.

Although Chinese restaurants seem to whip out a huge variety of Chinese food in a very short time, this does not mean that making Chinese food is usually quick work. On the contrary… to make a full-on Chinese dinner at home consumes a lot of time. The restaurants are so fast because they have a lot of their food and sauces pre-prepared and ready to go. As a result, their professional cooks can really crank out the dinners. Don’t expect the same at home.

Fun See Soup is one of the exceptions to the long-time preparation rule. This delicate Chinese soup is quick to make and a sure crowd pleaser.

MAKES 8 SERVINGS

4 ounces rice vermicelli (That’s what Chinese “Fun See” is. If your supermarket doesn’t carry this in their Asian food section, check out any Asian food market).

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1. Soak the above vermicelli rice noodles in cold water for 15 minutes, and then drain off the water. Next, cut the vermicelli into 3″ pieces and set it aside.

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4 14-ounce cans fat-free chicken broth

2 chicken broth cans of water

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2. Put the above chicken broth and water in a pot and bring it to a boil.

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2 cups thin-sliced uncooked white chicken meat

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons cornstarch, blended with twice the amount of water

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3. While the chicken broth is soaking, mix the above chicken, salt, and cornstarch-blend in a bowl. While the soup is boiling, stir the chicken and cornstarch mixture into the broth, being sure to separate the chicken pieces.

Cover the pot and bring it back to a boil.

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6 egg whites, lightly beaten

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

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4. Add the set aside rice vermicelli and the above egg whites, stirring as you add them for several minutes. Turn the heat off immediately when done stirring.

Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

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1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 cups finely diced cooked Virginia ham

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5. Pour the soup into a serving bowl, add the above sesame oil and sprinkle the ham over the top.

Serve hot and enjoy.