Using Non-Bank Lenders to Fund Short-Term or Transitional Business Financing Needs

The Challenge: Traditional Bank Lenders usually don’t like funding businesses during periods of variable cash flow or unpredictable collateral – e.g., periods of very high business growth, or on the flip side, reduced operating performance.

The Solution: Non-Bank (Alternative) Lenders specializing in asset based lending or those that provide short term bridge loans can often look beyond the turbulence of a transitional period to fill a company’s funding needs until the business is able to return to a traditional lending relationship.

Key Considerations for Borrowers:

  • Cash is King: Focus on the cash availability and debt service of the alternative loan, not the interest rate
  • Do the Rewards Outweigh the Cost of Capital?: If the benefit of the taking on the new business is greater than the cost of the capital, high interest rates may be well worth it
  • Plan Your Exit: Develop a clear plan at the outset to move back to a bank from an alternative capital source

Bank Lenders don’t like lending money to businesses when cash flow and/or collateral is in flux, for example:

  • Example A: A business goes through a heavy growth spurt causing either a significant inventory buildup that requires additional working capital financing, or creating a period with uncertain future cash flows and perhaps inadequate collateral coverage depending on the cash conversion cycle; or
  • Example B: A business experiences a difficult operating period due to, for example, an operational restructuring, a sales force realignment or miscalculating the scope of a major project- creating negative cash flows or earnings

In such circumstance like these, a bank lender may reduce available funds (e.g., increase the reserve in a borrowing base or carve out specific collateral), ask for additional collateral or simply ask the company to find another lender.

Non-Bank Lenders are often willing to look beyond the turbulence of a transitional period to understand and structure around the real risks in order to get comfortable providing the necessary capital

Alternative lenders are structured to lend into periods of uncertainty – they usually have greater flexibility to tailor their loans to:

  • Provide additional growth capital during periods of rapid expansion, not penalizing a business for investing as may traditional lenders
  • Fund a business in the early stages of a demonstrated turnaround, much earlier than when a traditional lender would lend

Alternative lenders also provide more flexible terms (cash debt service, amortization, loan maturity, covenants) and cash availability than do traditional lenders, and for this they charge higher interest rates.

Key Considerations when Borrowing from a Non-Bank (Alternative) Lender:

Businesses turn to non-bank or alternative lenders when traditional lenders won’t provide the needed capital or bank terms are too restrictive. Here are several key considerations when evaluating an alternative loan:

  • Cash matters most so focus on required cash debt service (principal and interest), not the loan’s interest rate
  • Often the total debt service for an alternative loan at a higher interest rate will be lower than the total debt service of a traditional bank loan because of much lower principal payments
  • If the benefit of taking on the new business exceeds the cost of borrowing, high interest rates may be worth every penny
  • Have a realistic plan for moving back to a traditional lender before you take on a bridge loan
  • Make sure the loan will provide a cash cushion if the transition takes longer, or costs more, than expected
  • Ask yourself – does the lender understand my company and appreciate me as a customer? The answer should always be yes. If it’s not, find a lender that does

Cleaning the Scanner on HP Laser Printers 4000-4050

This article shows how to clean the scanner on the Hewlett Packard 4000 series Laser Printers.

This procedure needs to be done when the machine is in a dirty environment and the dust builds up on the mirror inside the scanner. Toner is drifting into the scanner on the HP LJ-4250 printers. I have had five machines in one week do this. It may be bad toner cartridges? I have read in posts where some people have used a Q-tip to reach up through the scanner slit area, but I don’t see how you could do an accurate job, so I have outlined the procedure the way that I do it.

Tools needed:

#2 Phillips head screw driver, Needle nose pliers, and small flat blade screw driver, Q-tip.

Estimated Time of repair:

60 minutes first time 30 minutes subsequent

Symptoms of a dirty scanner:

Light prints even after you have tried a new toner cartridge. Mostly shows itself as light prints on one side of prints or streaks or wide blank lines. HP LJ-4250: Blank streak down the middle of page. Note:This procedure is basically the same for the Following LaserJet Models:

4000, 4050, 4100, 4200, 4300, 4250, 4350

Getting to the Scanner:Turn the power off and remove the power cord. Remove the right rear side cover. Push the cover toward the rear and it will slide out. Open the top cover and remove the toner cartridge. Remove the toner cartridge drive arm. Remove the Toner Cartridge Drive Arm by using needle-nose pliers to pinch the pin from its hinge on the Top Cover. Remove the four screws holding the Top Cover (two are behind the Rear Output Bin, near the top, and two are on top of the printer under the Top Cover). Squeeze the right front side of the Top Cover to remove it. It may be necessary to use a small flat-blade screwdriver to release the tab inside the small hole. Holding the output assembly in place (located toward the rear of the printer), remove the Top Cover. Disconnect the wiring connector(s).

Remove output assembly:

Facing the rear, pull up brass arm on the left side straight up. Pry the white tab on the right side and pull the output assembly up and out. Caution: Be careful of the sensor flag. When reinstalling make sure it rotates freely.

Removing the Scanner Cover:

Carefully remove the wiring connectors. Remove the cover of the scanner by removing the screws and using a small flat blade screwdriver to release the latches. Carefully remove the cover.

Cleaning the Mirror:

The only mirror you will be cleaning is the one that shines directly on to the drum in the toner cartridge. This mirror is at an angle. You need to clean the mirror from below. Use a Q-tip to clean it. Make sure you clean the edges really good. Reinstall everything in reverse order.

Lawnmower Go Kart – Vertical Engine Right Angle Gear Box – The Best Solution?

I have seen the right angle gear box as a solution to driving the go kart. It seems simple enough.

Well there actually are about 8 different ways you can route the drive system and the right angle gear box is just one of them.

Option #1 Right Angle Gear Box

The right angle gear box, takes the vertical rotational movement and translates it 90 degrees to the horizontal. It typically has flanges that mount the gear box to a plate. The gearbox has an input and an output side.

Where Do I Find It?

Finding a gear box like that however is another story. They are not your garden variety type of units that just happen to show up in a junk yard. If anything you will have to access McMaster Carr, Grainger or some other big name industrial supplier to actually purchase a right angle gear box. They run around $200 to $300.

For most this is already the budget of the gokart making the right angle gear box out of the question. But more to the point, a right angle gear box can weigh more than other systems and poses some packaging mounting problems in some cases. Additionally, the duty cycle of the gear box needs to be taken into consideration. In other words, can it spin all the time or will it overheat? Also, is the amount of horsepower you are putting through it too much?

Power To The Gear Box

There are several ways to get the power through the gear box. You can mount a clutch to the engine, and then drive the right angle gear box or you can mount the clutch at the output side of the gearbox. Clutches range from belt drive style, chain drive style or even a belt clutch.

A word about belt clutches… Belt clutches are essentially belts that are suddenly tightened to engage the load. The problem with a belt clutch is that it should be in disconnected mode as a default. In other words, when no human interaction is being made with the go kart, the belt clutch needs to be disengaged.

The reason for this is safety. If the engine were inadvertently started (with the belt clutch engaged), the drive system would be engaged and you could have a run away go kart. This is a very serious problem.

To Recap…

So to recap, if money is no object go to McMaster Carr, Grainger or some other industrial house buy yourself a 90 degree gear box. Or if you happen to come across a 90 degree gear box sitting around, you may want to just use it.

To power it, clutch either the input or the output side.

Next time…What about a transaxle off of a riding lawn mower?

Should Traditional Upholsterers Use Tacks Or Staples When Re-Upholstering Antique Furniture?

The question of whether traditional upholsterers should use tacks or staples when re-upholstering antique furniture is frequently and, often, fiercely debated. So what are the two sides of this argument?

Those who are solidly in the Tack Camp argue that all re-upholstery should be authentic and true to the history of the piece of furniture. They argue that staples are a modern invention and should not be used on old pieces of furniture, as to do so results in an unhappy blend of different eras. Some even maintain that using staples will ruin the furniture. To them staples are seen at best as unthinkable, at worst as almost sacrilegious.

Those upholsterers who are in the Staple Camp maintain that one of the foremost reasons for using staples is to protect the wooden frames of the furniture, as staples cause much less damage to the frames. Without a doubt tacks create a much larger hole in the wood than do staples. Staples make two little holes. The pro staplers also maintain that putting in a staple is one hit to the furniture and the staple is home, where a tack require several hammer hits to knock it home. For fragile pieces of furniture the less hitting the better. It is also claimed that because the staple gun is placed in position before the staple is fired, there is no damage to the show wood.

I think that both sides of this argument have merit and that the ideal situation is a happy blending of both tacks and staples. In my work I do use both; though not always on the same piece of furniture.

Staples are in fact not all that modern. The first patent for a stapler was granted on August 7, 1866 for a device called the Novelty Paper Fastner. This device allowed a single staple to be loaded and it was used mainly to bind papers or books, but was also used on carpet, furniture and boxes. However, the earliest record of staples is from France in the 18th century. They were developed for the use of King Louis XIV of France and each staple bore his name!

Staples were not originally created specifically for use in upholstery, but the upholstery trade has a tradition of ‘borrowing’ materials from other trades. For example Calico, which is a bleached cloth used frequently in upholstery. Originally this was a fabric brought to the UK from Calicut, India by the East India Trading Company for use in the clothing trade. Very quickly upholsterers saw the benefit of this cloth to their trade and so Calico became a fundamental part of upholstery.

In practical terms often a long-nosed staple gun will successfully place a staple in a very tight area where a tack and hammer just won’t work. Recently I was asked to re-upholster a Victorian chair whose tacking rail was in such poor condition that the only answer was to use staples or else have the tacking rail rebuilt.

One drawback of staples is that they tend to be a nuisance to remove when stripping off a piece of furniture. They often snap leaving a small piece of staple left in the furniture. This though can be hammered flat which will cause no ill effect. Usually the staples can be removed by hand with a staple remover and a pair of pliers. This is beneficial to the frame since there is no banging as there is when using a ripping chisel and mallet to remove old tacks. If you are careful about the placement of the staples then is possible to remove them without causing any damage to the show wood.

Tacks still have a very worthwhile place in the upholstery trade. I think that it is right to try to use tacks on very old and / significant pieces of furniture.

From a commercial point of view though staples greatly speed up an upholsterer’s job and at the end of the day we are running a business. If it came down to making a choice, I would rather use staples than reduce the quality of my stuffing or webbing.

One final point to consider is that when re-upholstering any piece of furniture we should not try to hide the fact that the work has been done in the 21st century. After all this is another phase of the furniture’s life and in time it will also become part of its history.

Fish Skin – Trash or Luxury Item?

Do not be fooled by fish skin – it is much more than a waste product of the fish and food industry. Craftsmen, artists and fashion houses appreciate its beauty and robustness, turning it into exquisite cloth, accessories, pictures or even book covers. Once treated, the skin is known as fish or ocean leather, a name that better reflects the quality and attractiveness of the material.

Memories from the past

For centuries fish leather has been used for practical and decorative purposes. With more than 6,000 years of history, the people from the Hezhen ethnic group (northeast China) are known as “the fish-skin tribe” because their clothes made of large fish, usually salmon. Their bridal dresses are particularly remarkable. Although the craft has almost disappeared in modern times, some have rescued it and, in June 2006, the skill of processing fish skin was one of the first listed as an intangible cultural heritage of China.

Before the introduction of tanning in Iceland after the World War II, people from the western fjords made shoes from the Atlantic wolfish. Untanned, they were not durable shoes; the skins were simply cleaned and stretched to dry on wooden gables. People mostly wore them as slippers or in the hay fields when harvesting grass.

Stingrays have a special place in this context: The skin has long been appreciated not only for its durability, but also for its exclusive and decorative character. Powerful samurai clans in Japan used stingray skin to cover the hand guard and scabbard of sabers to provide a secure grip. In exceptional cases, the upper part of the armor was made of stingray to protect the chest of the warrior.

In Europe, the skins became fashionable in the 18th century, in part because of the influence of the Marquise de Pompadour, a favorite of the French king, Louis XV. In the 19th century, during the Art Deco period, craftsmen used stingray skins to decorate furniture and smaller objects.

Turning skin into fish leather

Salmon, eel, cod and more exotic fish are the species most often selected to become fish leather. Each species has a distinctive pattern that becomes apparent after the scales are removed. To the untrained eye, some fish leather could be mistaken for reptile skin.

To become leather, fish skins are dried in the open air or tanned. Experts believe tanning ensures greater durability. Tanning can be organic, chemical or a mixture of methods. Instructive videos on tanning are available on the Internet. One of them, ” Salmon clothes-Sweden,” explains the tanning process and provides images of finished clothes, shoes and accessories.

A material loved by fashion houses and craftsmen

In view of its dimensions, fish leather is particularly suited for smaller items such as shoes, bags or purse. Those items may either be manufactured in large quantities or produced as exclusive handmade products. If sewn together, the leather may be used to make clothes as shown in the above-mentioned video. Fish leather may also be glued on a support and used as a mosaic for decorative purposes.

Designers and fashion houses are enthusiastic about this amazing material. Some use fish leather in specific collections, such as Dior-designed shoes made of stingray leather. Others brands – Delage or ABP in Paris’ First Arrondissement – specialize in fine leather crafts. Exclusive shops offer customized shoes, watchstraps, bands and other smaller leather goods of different fish leathers such as perch, sturgeon, stingray or shark, which are appreciated by a wealthy clientele

Fish leather is also used in other fine crafts. Fascinated by fish leather, Louisa Pihl Kristensen, a young Danish bookbinder, experiments with it. In particular, she has had splendid results covering books with stingray skin.

Furniture-making is another interesting example of the uses of fish leather. The expertise accumulated in France during the Art Deco period was mostly lost between the two world wars when the material went out of fashion. Fortunately, a young student at the Ecole Boulle, the famed Parisian public school of fine arts and crafts and applied arts, received support from the school to research on the subject. Currently, Jean Perfettini is an internationally-recognized expert in restoring old furniture decorated with stingray leather. He also receives orders for new furniture as the material is once again highly appreciated in certain circles in France and abroad.

The uses of fish leather are limited only by the user’s imagination. When on her beloved island of Laesoe, between Denmark and Sweden, Rita Buch Hansen gets leftovers fish skins from her local fish shop and dries them in the open air to turn them into amazing landscapes inspired by the scenic island.

What could be rubbish for the bin turns out to be a resource for beautiful and delightful products. Fish leather is a dream material. It is as strong as cow leather and as exotic as snakeskin. With its soft, supple strength and wide variety of patterns, it offers endless creative possibilities.

Three Underpainting Practices for Oil Painting

The practice of underpainting is almost as large an area of study as oil painting.

The purpose of an underpainting is to establish the composition and overall light/dark pattern while initiating the development of volumes and substance to the forms.

An underpainting allows you to envision the totality of the pictorial idea. In addition to correcting drawing errors the underpainting’s primary purpose is to fix the all important Notan, which is the Japanese term for light/dark harmony.

Generally speaking, there are three types of underpainting: there is the fully worked up monochromatic grisaille. This is the academic approach where little is left to chance. However, the classical grisaille of mixed white and black possesses an Achilles Heel. As the white paint ages it becomes more translucent and the black paint in the grey mix will dominate. Hence the overall picture will darken significantly, especially if there was extensive correcting of the grisaille.

If a basic oil/turpentine medium is employed this darkening is all but guaranteed. The solution is to use a thixotropic resin based medium — such as Venice Turpentine — which suspends the pigment and nullifies the oil’s interminable darkening. Despite its name Venice Turpentine is a resin not a solvent. A confusing but important distinction.

The Renaissance approach often employed the verdaccio which is a green-hued underpainting. Michelangelo’s unfinished Entombment exhibits his painting process from beginning to finish. The central Christ figure is a wholly resolved verdaccio underpainting.

The optical grisaille resolves many of the problems of the grey mixes of the classical grisaille. The imprimatura holds the light middle tones; raw umber and charcoal gray produces the darker values; and concludes with a select impasto of white lead paint that supports the highest values of the overpainting as the oil paint grows more translucent over time.

The final appearance of an optical grisaille is a painting that exhibits a higher key of color than what can be achieved by an academic grisaille or even direct alla prima.

The key for achieving a translucent grisaille is the thixotropic medium of stand oil, Venice turpentine and Damar varnish diluted with turpentine.

In oil painting your medium is to painting what sauces are to French cuisine. The all-too-common medium of linseed oil and turpentine actually degrades the paints robbing them of their lustre. You can buy ready-made painting mediums in the art store, but in my opinion this is like pouring Kraft Thousand Island dressing onto an exquisitely prepared gourmet meal.

10 Prom Theme Ideas

Planning your school’s prom? Here are some themes to consider. Remember, you need to pick a prom theme that will create a beautiful atmosphere and look great in photos. Use interesting backdrops and props and pay attention to lighting and details.

Enchanted Forest

Set a romantic nighttime mood with beautiful backdrops of trees and dazzling northern lights. Use rich shades of greens, blues, purples, and browns for the decor. Props: Woodland creatures, unicorns, mini pine trees, artificial leaves.

Similar Prom Themes: Magical Garden Theme, Fairy Tale Theme, Twilight Theme, Alice in Wonderland Theme

Old Hollywood

Make it an ultra-glamourous occasion by rolling out a red carpet; use red, gold, black and white as a colour scheme; create a backdrop filled with black and white pictures of Hollywood actors; have a paparazzi line for guests to walk by and create a Hollywood Walk of Fame for your school. Props: Oscar statues, a spotlight/searchlight

Similar Prom Theme: Oscar Awards Theme

Monte Carlo

A romantic and beautiful destination like Monte Carlo is a great setting to base your prom theme on. Be sure to create lots of decadent visual imagery that captures Monte Carlo’s beauty and luxury. Use backdrops and props to recreate Monte Carlo’s beaches, casinos, racetracks, yachts, and historic buildings

Similar Prom Themes: New York City Theme, Venice Theme, Paris Theme, Rome Theme, Rio de Janeiro Theme

Ice Castle

Create a romantic Arctic winter wonderland for your prom. Use lots of white, silver, and pale blue decor. Props: Fake snow, ice sculptures, polar bear and penguin figures, lots of transparent plastic items to represent ice. Be sure to hang giant sparkly snowflakes from the ceiling to enhance the atmosphere.

Similar Prom Theme: Viking Theme

Desert Sunset

Capture the beauty and romance of a desert sunset with landscape backdrops. Props: cactus covered in sparkly white christmas lights, silhouettes of cowboys on horses, and lots of palm trees

Similar Prom Themes: African Safari Theme, Sunset on the Mediterranean Theme

Monarch or Renaissance

Recreate a King and Queens court with a renaissance theme. Create backdrops with lots of columns, red carpet, court jesters, and knights. Props: crowns, tiaras, thrones, faux marble and gold ornaments, chandeliers

Similar Prom Themes: Greek Mythology Theme, Egyptian Pharaoh Theme, Art History Theme, Jane Austen Theme, Masquerade Theme

Black Swan Ballet

Do something different and create a dark and twisted ballet theme for your prom. Use the movie “Black Swan” as visual inspiration. Props: an artificial pond with swans, black feathers, mirrors, and silhouettes of ballet dancers.

Similar Prom Themes: Moulin Rouge Theme, Superhero Theme…Any cult movie that you can draw inspiration from

Under the Sea

Create a fantastic under-water aquarium theme. Use images of colourful coral reefs as backdrops; drape shimmery blue fabrics all around. Props: Aquariums with exotic fish (or TV screens showing such), scuba divers, fake shipwrecks with treasure, and lots of mermaids!

Similar Prom Theme: Pirates of the Caribbean Theme, The Little Mermaid Theme

Hawaiian

Capture Hawaii’s beautiful landscapes, from the volcanos to the beaches. It’s a fun theme, and can also be very romantic, just keep the setting more elegant than casual Props: Giant fake volcano, surf boards, palm trees, hula dancers, lots of Hawaiian flowers, and vintage maps of Hawaii.

Similar Prom Themes: Beach Party Theme

Cosmic

This prom theme could be gorgeous if pulled off correctly. Use dark backdrops with lots of sparkly light to create a romantic and serene starry galaxy. Props: Astronauts and space ships; hang giant glowing paper mache planets from the ceiling.

Similar Prom Theme: In the Clouds Theme

Quickest Ways to Make Money – Make Money Without Physical Labor

The quickest ways to make money may not at all be what you think. You’re probably thinking about doing something such as mowing grass for the neighbors, raking leaves, and shoveling snow. Although these are great ways to make money in very little time, there are plenty of other ways as well.

First of all, what can you do? What are you good at? Think in terms of what you can do on a computer because, really, you want to be able to use your existing skills to do something from home. That’s everyone’s dream, right? Of course it is!

So check out Craigslist and some of the freelance job boards. Now, freelance job boards don’t consist of just freelance writing jobs. You will also find data entry and various clerical jobs. You may even find positions as a virtual assistant.

Basically, you can have the work done in a matter of days and have your money in your hand not long after that. It is rather quick. The quicker you do the work, the faster you’ll have the money. It is as simple as that. So don’t do the physical labor if you don’t have to. That’s unless you like it. If you like it, go for it.

Heck, you can mow the neighbor’s grass for $20 and then come home and do some freelance work for someone. You don’t have to do just one thing at a time. You can do several things to make the money that you need and you can make it quick. You can also have fun doing it.

Improve Your Footwork For Ballet Pointe Shoes

Knowing how to improve your footwork for better results in pointe shoes is important. I often hear students telling others “just do one hundred releves a day.” That kind of practice is not necessarily going to produce the outcome you want, but I am going to tell you the right way to get stronger ballet foot muscles.

When you do ballet exercises, you must know with confidence that your technique is correct, or you are wasting your time and forming bad habits. Special foot exercises however, will help you correct technical weaknesses, and you will gain strength for dancing in toe shoes, at the same time.

A sample of an exercise that targets the intrinsic sole of the foot muscles, is like playing the piano with your toes.

Sitting on a chair, or on the floor against a wall, place both feet flat on the floor. Place them as though you were going to dance – not altogether relaxed, but with the ball of the foot, the little toe joint and the heel all placed properly, and with the arches poised to hold the foot in place.

Now, lift the toes up – and just the toes. The rest of the foot should remain as it was.

Next, as if you are playing a piano, press down the big toe, the second toe, and the next, etc. Try to put them down one at a time.

This may feel impossible at first, or give you cramps in your feet. If cramping, relax the feet. Rolling a golf ball or sports ball under the feet will release the muscle tension.

Then start again! Lift the toes, “play the piano”, and then lift them again one by one, starting with the little toes.

It is common for the four small toes to want to lift together at first, or maybe the second and third toe together, with the fourth following up part way.

Halo 4 Forerunner Walkthrough, How to Complete Mission 3 Alone on Legendary

“Forerunner” is the first mission in Halo 4 where you will encounter Prometheans, a faction of enemy new to the Halo franchise. In addition to new enemies, there are also new Promethean weapons that you will begin encountering in this mission. You will mostly use the light rifle, which is a 3-shot-burst headshot weapon similar to the UNSC battle rifle. You will need to use the light rifle as your headshot weapon throughout this mission. The Prometheans do not use covenant weapons, so you will rarely have access to a plasma pistol when fighting the them. Therefore, when you are fighting Promethean knights (the Promethean equivalent of elites), you will need to use different tactics to remove their shields. For the majority of this mission, you will use the Promethean suppressor, a fast firing assault rifle that deals high damage up close. Use a combination of your auto sentry (an armor ability), grenades, and suppressor fire to kill the Promethean knights. It is vital that you fight them alone, so be sure to kill any crawlers or watchers (the Promethean light infantry) in an area before you engage the knights.

You begin this mission inside of a forerunner teleporter hub with an assault rifle, a magnum, and a hard light shield. The hardlight shield is a practically useless armor ability, so swap it for one of the auto sentries located on the walls to either side of you. The auto sentry armor ability allows you to create a stationary, hovering turret that fires upon the enemies. Enemies will tend to shoot at the auto sentry instead of you, so it provides you with a great distraction. It also deals a fair amount of damage, so it helps you kill knights when fighting them with your suppressor. Once you launch the auto sentry, press the bumper again to recall it.

Walk into the main room of teleporter hub and insert Cortana into the mainframe. She will then create a teleporter to the first relay tower that you will need to disable in order to contact the UNSC Infinity. Jump through the vortex, and you will teleport into a cave a little ways away from the first relay tower. As you follow the path forward, you will see the first Promethean enemies; crawlers. Crawlers are somewhat similar to grunts; they can be killed with a single headshot and they wield the weakest weapons. Notice that the crawlers have much smaller heads than grunts, so you will need to aim carefully. Use your magnum to kill these crawlers with headshots, using the corner of the path as cover. If the crawlers begin to overwhelm you, launch your auto sentry and it will drive them back.

Follow the path until you turn into a large open area. Here, you will find 6 crawlers, a watcher, and a knight. Use the corner you just came around for cover and kill all of the crawlers first with your magnum. As long as you stay back, the knight will not approach you. Now, turn your attention to the watcher. Watchers are support infantry capable of shielding enemies, reviving knights, catching grenades, and spawning crawlers. Watchers do not have heads, so you usually need to kill them with multiple body shots from your headshot weapon. In this case though, your magnum is not strong enough to kill the watcher, so get up close and kill it with your assault rifle instead. If necessary, launch your auto sentry to draw the knight’s fire while you engage the watcher.

Now that only the knight remains, you can focus your attention on him. Knights are similar to the covenant elites, but they have stronger shields and smaller heads. This knight is equipped with a light rifle, which gives him high accuracy but low damage. Therefore, get as close as possible so that he cannot utilize his accuracy advantage. Launch your auto sentry so that it has a clear shot at him, then get up close and use your assault rifle to kill him. After his shields break, continue to shoot him with your assault rifle until he dies. Prometheans have much more shields than health, so once you see their shields break, you know they are almost dead. Swap your magnum for his light rifle, grab his pulse grenades, and swap your assault rifle for one of the crawler’s suppressors. Move into the forerunner room up ahead.

As you walk through the hallway, you should see two crates along the left wall with suppressors that you can use to restock ammo. As you exit through the door, a knight with a suppressor will attack you. The suppressor deals more damage per second than the light rifle, so you will need to be more careful when fighting this knight. Stay inside of the forerunner room and launch your auto sentry once the knight comes within range. Use the doorway as cover and step out to fire at him. Use your light rifle when he is far away and use your suppressor once he gets up close. If you see the knight stop to throw a pulse grenade at you, immediately throw a pulse grenade at his feet. Because knights cannot move when throwing grenades, you can easily get a direct hit from the explosion. Once his shields break, either charge up and finish him with your suppressor or stay back and finish him off with a light rifle headshot if your shields are low. Whatever you do, do not allow the knight to escape when his shields are low because his shields will regenerate very quickly.

Killing knights with headshots is much more difficult than killing other enemies with headshots. Not only do knights have the smallest heads of all of the infantry in Halo 4, they also have face gear protecting their head. While they sometimes detract this face gear naturally, you usually need to shoot them once in the face gear after you remove their shields to force them to retract it. Only then can you finish them with a headshot. 3-shot-burst guns like the light rifle or battle rifle can kill an unshielded knight with a single trigger pull because the first bullet removes their face gear and the second bullet kills them.

Move forward along the path to the left and you will come to more crawlers and a knight with a light rifle. Launch your auto sentry to draw the knight’s fire, kill the crawlers with light rifle headshots from the cover of the rocks, and then kill the knight with your suppressor. Notice that every knight drops two pulse grenades when they die, so feel free to use plenty of pulse grenades when fighting Prometheans. When you find yourself in a tough situation, you can throw a pulse grenade at a knight or a group of crawlers to cause them to dive away, giving you plenty of time to retreat to cover.

Continue down the path and you will come to a platform with many crawlers on the walls. These crawlers will begin jumping towards you once they see you. Kill them all from a distance with your light rifle. Run onto the platform and up the ramp to the right where you will find a Promethean crate with light rifle ammo. Restock on ammo and move to the forward edge of the platform where there is an opening in the wall. This opening provides you with a good sniping position over the enemies below, where you should see more crawlers, a watcher, and a Promethean battlewagon. Battlewagons are a higher ranking version of knights, and they are equipped with stronger shields and a scattershot. The scattershot is the Promethean equivalent of the UNSC shotgun, and it can kill you with a single shot up close. Therefore, you should engage battlewagons from a distance whenever possible.

Use your elevated perch as cover to kill all of the crawlers below with light rifle headshots. Step behind the wall to your left for cover if necessary. Kill the watcher with 3 – 5 body shots from your light rifle. Notice that the light rifle deals more damage when zoomed in, so be sure to use the scope when fighting watchers. As soon as a watcher starts glowing red, it only takes one more shot to kill it. Now you can focus your attention on the Promethean battlewagon. Because he is equipped with a scatter shot, you will need to engage him from a distance. If you stay where you are, he will come up behind you and kill you. Therefore, you should jump down into the area with the battlewagon, sprint through the cave along the right wall, and sprint up the dirt ramp to the top of the cliff ahead. The battlewagon will usually not follow you up here, so you can pick him off from a distance. Launch your auto sentry and then bombard him with either suppressor or light rifle fire until you kill him. If the battlewagon stops to throw a pulse grenade, throw a pulse grenade at his feet to kill him even faster.

Behind you is a door into another forerunner structure. Inside, follow the hallway until you see a detour to your left. Take this detour to restock on both light rifle and suppressor ammo, then return to the main hallway and continue outside. Ahead of you, there is a large area containing 3 shield generators. You will need to destroy each of these shield generators before you can access the relay tower. You begin on top of a cliff overlooking the area, which provides you with a good sniping position. Before you jump down this cliff, kill as many crawlers and watchers that you can see. Take cover in the rock inlet to your right. It is important that you kill all of the crawlers below you or else they will easily kill you as soon as you jump down the cliff.

Once the coast looks clear, launch your auto sentry to draw the enemies’ fire and jump down the left side of the cliff. Immediately jump down the next cliff to your left and back up against the corner. Wait here for the crawlers in the area to attack you, and kill them all quickly with headshots before they can reach you. Once you have safely dealt with all of these aggressive crawlers, you can begin destroying the shield generators. Hug the left wall until you come to the first structure with a shield generator (it is marked with a waypoint). There are some crawlers, a watcher, and a knight guarding this generator. Unless the knight is standing directly in front of the generator (which he usually is not), sprint into the room with the generator and melee it once to destroy it. You are safe in this room; no crawlers will come in and the knights rarely come in either. Therefore, stay in this room to pick off all of the crawlers (and the watcher if possible) with your light rifle. Take cover by standing right next to the light rifle crate in the room; the enemies will have a very hard time shooting you through the door if you stand here.

Once you have killed all of the crawlers, restock on light rifle ammo and exit the room to engage the watcher and knight. Kill the watcher with multiple light rifle body shots, then engage the knight with your suppressor. Be sure to launch your auto sentry before you engage the knight and get as close as possible to compensate for the suppressor’s low accuracy. Now, continue to the second shield generator. There are more crawlers, a watcher, and a knight guarding this shield generator. Stand behind one of the large rocks outside of the building for cover to kill all of the crawlers first. Then, find the watcher and knight (they will stick together) and kill the watcher, than the knight. You can then disable the shield generator.

Two knights guard the final shield generator. It is hard to fight 2 knights at the same time, so I suggest that you engage them one at a time. Follow the rock wall to your left until you see the outer wall protecting the shield generator room. Climb one of the ramps to get on top of the wall. From up here, position yourself so that only one knight can see you. Use a combination of your suppressor, pulse grenades, and/or auto sentry to kill the first knight you see. If necessary, jump backwards off the wall for cover. After killing the first knight, kill the second knight from atop the wall as well, then deactivate the final shield generator.

You can now enter the tower via a ramp in the back. However, two watchers and two knights guard the rear entrance. Take cover in the rocks behind the tower and kill the watchers with your light rifle from a distance. Then, engage the knights one at a time in the cover of the rocks. Be sure to use your auto sentry for help and retreat if the knights attempt to double team you. Once you have killed both of these knights, climb the ramp to the second level of the tower. On this level, there is a knight battlewagon. Because he has a scattershot, you will need to engage him carefully and from a distance. The battlewagon will usually wait behind a corner to ambush you, so bring him out of his corner with grenades. Once he is in the open, launch your auto sentry and engage him from a distance with your suppressor. Take cover behind any of the corners, or if you are desperate, jump off the tower.

Keep climbing to the top level of the tower and you will find a sky bridge crossing over to the relay tower. Cross over and ride the elevator to the top, then remove the core to clear up the signal you are receiving from the Infinity. However, you will need to deactivate the second station to clear up the remaining static, so Cortana will create a portal back to the teleporter hub that you began this mission in. If you were playing co-op and lost your auto sentry, you can now swap whatever armor ability you have for an auto sentry along the wall. Cortana will now create another teleporter to the second relay station.

Both covenant and Promethean forces are fighting for control of this second relay tower. In general, the Prometheans will have the upper hand, so you should try to kill the Prometheans to even out the fight. Therefore, more Prometheans and covenant will die fighting each other, making your job easier. Now that you are fighting the covenant again, you have access to covenant weapons, so you can use the loadout of a plasma pistol and a light rifle. Just like when you are fighting elites, overcharge the plasma pistol to remove a knights shields. Remember that it will then take two headshots to kill them (1 to detract their face gear, one to kill them). If you have trouble getting headshots, I highly suggest you keep using pure damage to kill the knights. Use the covenant needler instead of the suppressor as your secondary weapon; the needles of the needler home onto infantry and can kill a knight in only a magazine of ammo.

After exiting the cave you are in, you will come to the top of a ridge where some elites and grunts are fighting some crawlers. Use your light rifle to pick off the crawlers, then kill any covenant that survived. At this time, I would suggest that you swap your suppressor for either a needler or a plasma pistol from one of the grunts. Continue forward while you hug the left wall, and you will come up behind more covenant fighting a battlewagon and some light infantry. Because of their position relative to you, you will need to kill the covenant first. Usually, the Prometheans will remove the elite’s shields, allowing you to kill them with a headshot. Once only the Prometheans remain, launch your auto sentry and kill the crawlers and watchers with your light rifle, then the battlewagon with your plasma pistol or needler.

Turn your attention to the ledge along the far wall; this is where you will be going next. You should see many watchers and a laser turret on this ledge. Laser turrets are immobile Prometheans that fire a continuous laser at you, similar to the focus rifle from Halo Reach. This laser does not deal very much damage, must be powered up, and can be avoid by running around and jumping. Laser turrets do not have very much health, so kill this laser turret with one of the elite’s storm rifles. Burst fire the storm rifle at the turret until you can kill it, then swap back for the loadout of a light rifle and a plasma pistol or a needler. Pick off all of the watchers with your light rifle as well. If you run out of light rifle ammo, you can use one of the elite’s carbines instead.

At the far right wall, there is a dirt path leading up to the ledge. Take this dirt path up, and you will see another knight. Kill him with a plasma pistol and light rifle combination, or two super combines from a needler. Be sure to grab more light rifle ammo from behind the rock to your left as you continue forward. Continue along the ledge into the next section, where you will see a knight kill two elites in Ghosts. Kill this knight with your plasma pistol or needler, then enter either of the Ghosts. Drive the Ghost into the next section, where you will find many covenant and Promethean forces fighting. Hang back and use your Ghost’s plasma turrets to kill the enemies from a safe distance. Do not try to ram the enemies or they will damage your Ghost and easily dodge you. If you Ghost becomes severely damaged, drive back the way you came and swap it for a new one. After you kill all of the infantry, drive into the next section where you will find crawlers fighting grunts and jackals. Once again, use the Ghosts turret to kill these light infantry. Exit your Ghost and swap your secondary weapon for a fresh plasma pistol. You can then drive into the forerunner structure ahead.

If your Ghost is damaged, you can swap it for a new one along the wall ahead of you. Drive through the building and you will come to another relay tower with 3 shield generators protecting it. This area is laid out similarly to the first relay tower, but this time covenant forces protect the shield generators. There are 2 Banshees patrolling this tower, and since you have practically no protection from above, they pose a very large threat. Luckily, you have access to a Banshee that you can use to take them down. As soon as you drive your Ghost out of the forerunner structure, you will see an elite about to get into a Banshee directly in front of you. Immediately begin shooting him with your turrets until you take off his shields. This will cause him to pause and shake his fist, allowing you to easily ram him with your Ghost. You can now steal his Banshee.

Immediately fly the Banshee to a high altitude so that the infantry on the ground have a harder time shooting you. Destroy the enemy Banshees by first shooting them with a fuel rod, then finishing them with your plasma turrets. It is easiest to hit the Banshees with your fuel rod when they are flying directly at you. After you have killed both of the enemy aircraft, you will need to begin engaging the enemies on the ground. Land your Banshee on top of the hill along the middle of the left wall. You should see an unoccupied Banshee at the top of this hill. After you land, use the rocks as cover and begin picking off the grunts around the shield generator closest to you (towards where you came from). One Ghost patrols this shield generator, and if it is looking perpendicular to you, you can snipe the grunt out of it with your light rifle. Otherwise, you will need to hijack the Ghost. Be sure you have killed all of the grunts first, then EMP the Ghost with your plasma pistol as it approaches your hill. Jump down the hill and quickly hijack the Ghost before the EMP wears off. Drive to safety somewhere near the shield generator building and exit your Ghost. Approach the building on foot and be prepared to see an elite. Kill him with a plasma pistol and light rifle combination, then deactivate the shield generator by meleeing it.

Now, move on to the shield generator in the back left corner of the area. At this point, the enemies have moved around a lot form their spawning positions, so I cannot guarantee what you will find. If you see a Ghost between you and the shield generator room, take cover behind a rock or forerunner block and wait for it to approach you. Once the Ghost gets close to your cover, charge up your plasma pistol, EMP the Ghost, sprint up to it, and hijack it. If you want, you can use any Ghost you hijack to fight the enemies, but I prefer to stay on foot.

Once you reach the shield generator room, kill any enemies immediately around it and sprint into the room. Just like when you were at the relay station with the Prometheans, you will be safe inside of the room. Use it as cover and snipe as many grunts that you can see. There should be a fair number between you and the final shield generator. Most likely, there will also be a Ghost in your way as well. Perform the same strategy described above to hijack this Ghost. Notice that you can enter the main tower for cover if necessary. Once the path is clear to the final shield generator, approach it and kill any infantry you see along the way.

After you deactivate all of the shield generators and kill all of the infantry on the ground, focus your attention on the main tower. Climb the ramp to the second floor and watch your radar to determine the location of the two elites on this level. It is important that you know the location of the elites because they often try to sneak up behind you and/or stick you. Use any of the corners as cover and kill them one at a time with a plasma pistol and light rifle combination. Move up to the next level and be prepared to kill a third elite with a carbine. You can now proceed to the relay station to deactivate it.

After you deactivate the second relay tower, you can clearly receive Infinity’s transmition, but your suit transmitter is too weak to contact them. Therefore, you will need to reach Requiem’s core to warn them of the gravity well. Cortana will create a teleporter leading to the teleporter hub, and then another one leading to the core. As soon as you exit the second teleporter, you will find yourself in a large Promethean structure with a Phantom dropping 4 grunts and a jackal sniper ahead of you. There is no cover, so stay out of these enemies range and pick them off from a distance. Be sure you swap whatever secondary weapon you have for a fresh plasma pistol from one of the infantry; you will be fighting many covenant in the next area.

Where you are standing, there are two mirrored paths to the core. In both paths, you will find covenant fighting Prometheans, but on the left path, the Prometheans will dominate the covenant and on the right path, the covenant will dominate the Prometheans. This means that you will fight mostly Prometheans on the left path and mostly covenant on the right path. In this case, it is much easier to take the right path (not only are Prometheans stronger than covenant, you will be fighting Prometheans with one-hit-kill binary rifles). Therefore, I highly suggest you take the right path.

After you walk through the right door and up a ramp, you will be directly behind many covenant fighting Prometheans in the distance. These covenant will almost immediately overwhelm the Promethean forces. Kill any infantry directly in front of you, then enter the elevated room to the right via a ramp in the back. From here, you will have an high sniping position over the enemies in the area. You should see some grunts, some jackals, and 3 elites (one with a fuel rod gun.) Kill the light infantry with light rifle headshots from the room you are in, and back down the ramp or step behind the front doorway for cover. Wait for the elites to come to you and be careful, because they may come in behind you. You may consider placing your auto sentry behind you to help stop the enemies from sneaking up behind you. Kill the elites with an overcharged plasma pistol and light rifle headshot. Be sure you are in good cover when fighting the elite with the fuel rod gun and, if necessary, jump around and move sporadically to avoid his fuel rods.

Once you kill all of these enemies, the doors in the back of the area will open into a room. Restock on light rifle ammo from the crate to the right wall, then take the elevator up to the next section. You will enter into an area identically laid out to the one you were previously in. Once again, you are directly behind many covenant fighting Prometheans farther ahead. While the covenant are still focused on the Prometheans, kill the elite with a fuel rod gun directly in front of you with a plasma pistol and light rifle combination. The covenant will soon kill the Prometheans and move forward, so you once again should enter the elevated room to the left for a better sniping position. Once again, use your light rifle to snipe all of the light infantry and kill the elites once they come to you.

The two paths converge a short ways before the core, leaving you with one last fight. Walk up the ramp ahead of you and you will see a number of Promethean crates from which you can restock on light rifle ammo. Just past these crates, three elites (one with a fuel rod) are fighting a laser turret and three knights (one with a binary rifle). These enemies will usually not kill each other, so you will need to do most of the work. The elites will have their backs turned to you, so take this opportunity to stun and kill the fuel rod general while he is focused on the Prometheans. You can then easily finish of the other two elites with two more plasma pistol and light rifle combinations.

Now turn your attention to the three knights. Be careful because the knight in the back has a binary rifle. The binary rifle is an incredibly powerful sniper rifle that can kill you with a single body shot. When the knight is about to fire, a red halo appears over his head. As soon as you see this, take cover immediately. You need to kill the other two battlewagons before you can engage the binary rifle knight. To do this, use either your plasma pistol or the fuel rod gun from the elite general. Be sure that you stay in cover behind the forerunner blocks so that the binary rifle knight cannot snipe you. Also, remember to launch your auto sentry to draw the fire of the battlewagons while you engage them. If you choose to use a plasma pistol, remove the knights’ shields and then kill them with a few headshots. If you choose to use the fuel rod, get close to them and bombard them with multiple fuel rods. It will take 2 – 4 shots to kill each knight.

Once only the binary rifle knight remains, you will need to approach him carefully. Move between the different pieces of cover until you get close to him. The closer you are to him, the harder time he will have hitting you. Once you are at very close range, jump around a lot and kill him with either a plasma pistol and headshot combination or multiple fuel rods. If you ran out of ammo in both of these, you can also use a suppressor from the crates that you passed earlier.

After you kill the last knight, you can approach Requiem’s core and use it to contact the Infinity. Unfortunately, the core was actually imprisoning the forerunner Diadact, and using it as a transmitter releases him. He will then begin destroying the area, so you will need to escape to the outside of Requiem. You end the cut scene with 4 Ghosts in front of you, so enter one of these Ghosts to begin your escape. Cortana will feeds your suit’s energy into the boost of the Ghost, so it has unlimited boost and boosts faster than normal. You will need to drive along a long dirt path with many jumps and tight turns until you can escape Requiem. Stop boosting whenever you are making a sharp turn to turn more easily, and use the boost before and during a jump so that you can reach the other side. After you follow the path for around 2 minutes, you will finally see a portal at the end of a large jump. Hit the jump with full boost and you will teleport to Requiems surface. That concludes “Foreruner”.

Reverse Floating Walls in Basement Construction

When you are working in expansive soil such as clay and other soils that expand with moisture content, you need to take special precautions to keep from having structural damage to the foundation and basement walls. One of these precautions is floating walls. A floating wall is not attached at top and bottom like most walls. Floating a wall is able to move with the house and keeps you from having cracks open up in your floor, foundation and walls as the moisture content in the soil changes.

Floating basement walls are usually attached to the floor joists for the first floor and then spiked to the floor allowing a space below the wall. This space is covered by the baseboards and isn’t seen.

A reverse floating wall is attached to the floor. You place the floor on the base plate on the floor and you spike it at the top so that the wall is stable but only attached at the bottom. This is done on wet walls to keep the plumbing stable. The open space is at the top of the walls and is covered by moulding. You can cover the whole wall with sheetrock but you need to take care to leave the top open for movement. This means you cannot attach drywall to the wall all of the way to the top or it will crack as the wall moves with moisture changes in the soil.

For reverse floating walls follow the basic instructions for floating a wall but instead of hanging the wall from the floor joist, you will attach the floor to the base plate and spike to the top plate. Make sure your wall is plumb. If you do not have the wall exactly square it will cause problems. A space of 4 ½ inches is needed at the top of the wall. The wall needs to be spiked in the same way as a normal floating wall too, just at the top instead of the bottom. See instructions for floating wall for more information.

To cover the open area at the top of the wall you can use moulding. Many people do not like the look of moulding around their ceiling. If you want alternatives you can look into having a drop ceiling that can move with the walls and floor. You would need to attach the framing for the ceiling to the frames for the walls. When the house breathes your whole room will move and you will not notice it.

Dutch Ovens: Legs Or No Legs

Have you ever noticed how some cast iron dutch ovens have little legs on the bottom of them and how others don’t? Ever wonder what purpose those little legs serve? Well, believe it or not, those little legs make the difference of how you are going to cook with your cast iron dutch oven.

For those new to cast iron dutch ovens, there are two types of ovens you can buy, ones with three legs and ones with a flat bottom and no legs. Cast iron dutch ovens without legs are best used for indoor cooking because you can use them on your stove top or inside the oven. You can cook some very delicious recipes in these types of ovens, such as roasted chicken and rice, roast beef and potatoes, and the always popular soups and stews. However, flat bottom dutch ovens can be used over a campfire but only if they are hanging from a tripod.

But now, what about those cast iron dutch ovens with the three legs, what are they for and how do I cook with those types of ovens? Well, first things first, these ovens are created and best used for cooking over campfires, or to be more precise, in campfires. The purpose of those three little legs is to create space between the bottom of the oven and the hot coals it is sitting over. That space between the bottom of the oven and the coals is to help create a space for air flow to reach the coals. When using an oven with legs, you will either want to make a separate fire pit for the oven to be placed in or let your original campfire burn down to coals so you have enough room between the bottom of the oven and the coals so air can circulate over the coals. Now, you can use a flat bottom dutch oven over a camp fire but you will need to place it on some rocks so you don’t burn the bottom of the food inside, depending on what you are cooking. But sometimes finding a rock is easier said than done, which is why if you truly are a cast iron dutch oven lover and an avid camper, an oven with three legs works the best.

Just like indoor ovens, there are a ton of delicious recipes you can make with your outdoor oven. The next time you go camping, no longer will hot dogs and hamburgers be the meals of choice. With your new cast iron dutch oven, a world of meal possibilities become available to you. You will be able to cook everything from scrambled eggs for breakfast to a delicious pot roast for dinner. And don’t forget about dessert, you can make desserts like apple cobbler. I’ve even read that you can make a deep dish pizza with your dutch oven!

As Civilization Advances Culture Declines

Civilization and culture are two constellations that lie in the same continuum. Each influences and is in turn influenced by the other. Civilization is an advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record-keeping, including writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutions. This is basically a state of affair in a society at a particular time frame. The definition above suggests the advanced state of affair… in common parlance… but civilization may be traditional or not advanced.

People say Indus valley civilization or Egyptian civilizations which are primitive civilizations. On the other hand, culture means the ways of thinking, acting, behaving that people have internalized in them and which are transformed into reality through their actions in the society. For example, respecting the elders or treating guests as the God; as in “Atithi devo bhava” are examples of particular cultural traits. Here before proceeding any further one needs to understand the various constituents of the culture.

When one studies culture, two things can not be neglected; cultural traits and cultural complexes. Cultural traits are the individual acts that defy any scientific reason but are simply followed on the basis that they are rooted in tradition. The examples of cultural traits are folding hands in front of a deity or touching the feet of elders. The inter-related cultural traits form a cultural complex.

For example while performing a “pooja” one lights an “agarvati”, chants some hymns or devotional songs, offers “Prasad” to the lord etc. All these activities constitute the cultural complex. The inter-play and interaction of the different cultural complexes form the substratum of culture. With so much of epistemological differences between culture and civilization one needs to see what separates the both. Culture refers to those intrinsic and intangible elements that engulf human whereas civilization includes all the physical objects that are the exemplification of some objective realities.

Civilization is the human creativity, intellect and volition translated into reality whereas culture is the morality and intellect that remain as the under current of human thought. Civilization progresses thorough the vehicle of knowledge and technology whereas culture thrives in human mind and proceeds through tradition. But when one says they lie in the same continuum means culture determines the civilization. For example, that society where the dominant culture is heroism and hero-worships like the Sioux Indians their substrata of civilization is based on heroism, physical prowess.

Their chief industry is making weapons for hunting and defending own clan members. And their structure of authority and leadership also hovers around this principle only. But at the same time civilization also influences culture in many ways. The technical developments and objective rationality in knowledge inquires the truth among the traditional customs. Reinterpretation of cultural complexes and superstitions from a scientific point of view makes room for reinterpretation of culture. So culture and civilization influence each other. The present write up requires an analysis if the advancement of civilization makes way for decline of culture.

As described earlier culture is morality and civilization is reality. Culture resides in ideas and civilization spurns out of ideas. So it is quite easy to see the pre-occurrence of culture vis-à-vis civilization. But such a concomitance is not that easy as once civilization is formed it tends to affect the ideas or the culture which is the substrata of its very own self. The advancement of civilization affects culture in many ways. And the very common notion is that the advancement of civilization declines culture. But to analyze the statement one needs to understand what does the “word” decline mean here.

Decline means as usual lessening of importance given on culture. But it also means that the earlier cultural axioms which have been adopted without question by all, comes under the hammer of reason. And all such preconditions about culture which are rooted in irrationality are increasingly given up. For example with the spread of awareness and knowledge among the mass the traditions like “sati” etc are given up. But this cannot be called a s a decline of culture because it is a constructive effort to eradicate a social evil from society.

So when one tries to establish a concomitance between civilization and decline of culture one needs to have a thin line approach, where one needs to separate the constructive and beneficial changes in culture and the decline of culture. One needs to see what is implied by advancement of culture.

The very phrase “advancement of culture” refers to a dynamic process; a change. Why on earth there is a change in civilization. There is a change from one state of affair to the other when 1. The preceding state of affair has some contradictions inherent in it or 2. When there is a better or new way of doing things which are superior to those in the preceding state of affair. Both of these above reasons refer to two different epistemological paradigms but what connects the both is the thread of rationality or objectivity which in common parlance called as scientific understanding.

Civilization, as stated earlier the material developments of human beings, proceeds from a state of less scientific to more scientific one. One can go to history to trace the brief advancement of civilization. The earliest form of civilization was the human horde in the pre-historic ages. This was a civilization where man was last rational and succumbed to the nature. But gradually rationality and scientific inquest impinged the earlier man also and he devised such rudimentary tools to defend himself against the adversities in a forest life and also hunt animals for subsistence. The first historical act of human being “production” was also his first step towards rationality. And for the rest of history man is trying to increase rationality of thought, behavior and action.

The next civilizations be it the civilization of Egypt or Mesopotamia or the Indus valley all developed because man made more scientific inventions and used his reason to overcome the nature. This civilization took man’s intellect to a newer and higher level. His earlier horde culture was replaced by a family culture and the civilization influenced the culture. Of course the very birth of a civilization or in general an idea occurs in the human mind which is a purely cultural concept but when it becomes really existent it starts molding human mind and thereby culture.

Man’s progress from Bronze-iron ages to feudal age or industrial age or the modern age of today is the progression of rationality of thought from a lower level to a higher level. One cannot say that as civilization advances man becomes more rational. Rather when man becomes more rational civilization advances. And when civilization advances rationality creeps into society and culture comes under the hammer of scientific inquiry. So the irrational elements of culture are progressively shed off and hence the hold of culture on human mind declines.

Those cultural ideals which were prevalent in the yester years are rendered rather irrelevant by the progression of science and technology. In earlier days the farmers used to indulge in festivities to impress the Goddess of fertility to have good harvest. But now-a-days the farmer rather invests more money on tractors, insecticides and hybrid seeds than in cultural festivities to have a better yield. An epidemic like cholera or chicken pox is not perceived as a wrath of the presiding deity but treated by medically approved norms and procedures. So the advancement of civilization has created awareness among the mass and people are beginning to stride the kingdom of reasons.

The advancement of civilization is coincident with the advancement in science and technology. New technology and new methods of production requires a definitive change in the existing division of labor in society. And thus associated changes do occur in the cultural aspect of the economic society. With the prevalence of factory mode of production the labor forces have become mobile instead of the fixed labour in case of feudal economy. Mobile labor force gives rise to urban culture. So the earlier human culture which was predominantly rural has been diversified into a urban culture.

Certain norms and values of the rural society are not applicable in the urban society. So a certain amount of changes do occur in the culture. Some cultural traits are negated and some new cultural traits specific to the urban area people do develop. The earlier joint family structure breaks to give rise to the new neo-local nucleus family structure. Religious rituals in the daily life go to a back stage. And new subcultures like shopping mall culture, multiplexes and other agencies of entertainment become important in case of city life. So as culture advances there occurs a change in the culture.

In some cases the old cultural elements are thrown to back burner, new cultural traits arise or in some cases the old cultural elements are reinterpreted in a radically different way. But one has to agree that the advancement of civilization effects changes to the culture.The change in culture with associated advancement of civilization is not always in a constructive way as depicted above. Advancement of civilization especially the rise of urbanism as a way of life has effected some irreparable damages to our olden culture.

The most pronounced change in the culture is the break down of family. In the earlier societies the family was the most important unit of society. As it was also an economic unit there was not much division of labor in society and all the family members are involved in the same economic pursuit. There were greater dependence with each other along with greater volume and density of interaction amongst them. Family acted as a conditioning device in which people can bank on each other at times of stress. But the new urbanization has made family an atomistic entity as imagined by Zimmerman.

As the volume ad density of social interaction decreases due to the break down of the extended family the expectation of people from each other increases manifold in a nucleus family. So family instead of a soothing device becomes a pressure cooker as remarked by David Cooper in his master piece the death of family. Other psychologists like Robert Laing talk that the family itself has become the biggest enemy of man by putting him into a catch 22 situation of immense pressure and enormous expectations. So individual in the family itself is at the receiving end.

This results in break down families, divorces and other familial discord including domestic violence. So urbanization has clearly broken down the earlier existing harmonic family culture. The effect of the advancement of civilization is also felt in the sphere of the morality in society. The earlier society has prescribed certain moral codes of conduct. But with the advancement of civilization and progress of scientific thoughts the moral codes are under attack. Some of the moral codes are, no doubt, established in irrationality; but they help to represent the collective conscience and preserve the social harmony. But scientific thoughts do not think in that direction.

Moral codes are discarded like anything in the new society. The simpler norms like honesty, punctuality, integrity, brotherhood, camaraderie etc are forgotten and in turn importance is given on individuation. Too much individuation results in less degree of integration with the society. This results in individual conscience influencing the collective consciousness more and more. This results in deviant behavior, corruption, dishonesty and other such social evils. Advancement of civilization throws up new values and techniques which also give way for social mobility. New level of stratification are created, older levels are destroyed and modified.

This reduces man to a marginalized one. A marginal man does not know about norms to follow and what norms to abhor. He is in a state of flux which is rightly said as the state of anomie. Culture is an integrating force. But certain development in the level of sub-stratum like at the level of civilization weakens the impact of culture. This makes the socialization process unhealthy and weak. This causes a lot of strain in individual. In a society the individual has a very limited existence.

Compared to the enormity of the society the individual is minuscule and powerless. His existence depends on the collective representation. But the new norms of the modern civilization weaken the collective representation and man becomes less integrated with the society and feels great stress. Besides the modern values bring out some such basic changes in the existing culture that the culture that the morality of society is endangered. Adoption of western values and life styles, though they are not at all harmful, but highly unsuitable for the Indian society.

They lack the collective representation of Indian mass. So the western yo-man becomes marginalized in the great Indian tradition. Certain values like freedom in sexual endeavors etc are not accepted in India even today. The so called moral police add fuel to the situation and make the situation more difficult. The adoption of western values also increase the conspicuous consumption in society and that creates a great amount of social divide and polarization among the people.

Besides in the age of globalization when a society integrates itself with the global society especially in the sphere of economics there is always threat that the existing indigenous economic base may collapse. Civilization and culture are related with each other intricately. A change in the former creates a great stir in the later. Civilization advances through the advancement of ideas. These advanced ideas are bred in the mind of a few and the rest of the society do not share such advanced ideas. They stick to the traditional ideas which form their culture of the society.

When civilization advances there occurs a conflict between the reality and the idea possessed by the majority in the society. But as the reality always scores over the ideas, the advancement of civilization brings about change in culture. The change in culture may be a positive one or a destructive one. So one cannot emphatically say that advancement of civilization does not always bring about decline in culture though change in culture is inevitable.

However the inculcation of rational thinking and reasoning among the mass weakens the blind acceptance of culture. So the importance of culture in the society declines. S one can say, the importance of culture may be reduced in a modern civilization but the very culture, its ethos can never decline but they may change to adopt new norms and values.

Adoption of new norms or values may cause a stage of confusion and anomaly in the society but one need to understand that after this anti-thesis stage (anomic stage) there comes a stage of synthesis where new culture emerges, a culture more rational one. The more the culture becomes rational the less importance it exerts on individuals in the society. So the statement again may e repeated that the importance of culture may decline in the process of advancement of civilization but culture itself can never be negated in the society.

7 Steps to Design an Acrylic, Swanstone Or Tile Bathtub Or Shower Wall Surround Project

Choosing the best shower or bathtub wall surround can be tough. Should you install acrylic, a solid surface material like Swanstone, or use decorative tiles? Will the quality of these products stand the test of time? Which one is the best match for your budget and tastes?

Learn 7 practical steps to determine which wall system is best for you.

Step 1 – Determine if you’d like to go over your existing walls – To save money it’s nice to place a bathtub or shower wall surround over an existing surface. It is possible to use specialized glue or butyl tape to adhere acrylic or Swanstone solid surface materials over existing tile as long as the current walls are not spongy or bowed. If you have a plastic or fiberglass system it is not possible to place new walls over your existing materials. In these cases the current system will need to removed, new backerboard installed and then new walls put up.

Step 2 – Think through your budget- If you’re like most you want to get the most value for your money – a high quality material which does not break the bank.

If you’re looking for an easy to clean cost effective material acrylic is an excellent choice. It is warm to the touch, installs quickly and comes with a lifetime warranty.

For a more elegant appearance (which is available in more decorative patterns and designs) consider a Swanstone solid surface wall. Swanstone is easy to maintain, has no joints to grout or seal and comes in a wide variety of choices.

Usually the most expensive product is tile (unless you have the ability to install it yourself and save the labor hours- tile is the most time consuming to install vs. sheet products like acrylic & Swanstone). There are limitless choices and price ranges of tile and it creates an elegant look as well.

Step 3 – Select your material, designs, colors and accents you want – After you’ve selected between acrylic, Swanstone and tile you’re ready to choose your design and color(s).

Acrylic wall surrounds come in a multitude of colors, patterns and finishes. There are solid, granite, metallic and also marble finishes. In addition the walls you select can be smooth, 4″ x 4″ simulated tiles, 8″ x 10″ simulated tiles or even a stone look. Acrylic is no longer just a white smooth faced wall.

Swanstone, while it has been known for it’s strength, color and texture consistent, grout-free quality, and the fact it won’t crack or craze – has a very broad range of decorative options as well. There are over 45 standard, high gloss, and granite colors. In addition there are decorative panels to construct unique architectural designs named Pebble, Geometric, Beadboard, Tangier and Barcelona. There are also designer trim pieces and rosettes to create a finished look.

Tile offers the widest product options in terms of color, accents, borders, sizes and thicknesses. Make sure to look for a high density water resistant tile for your bath or shower.

Step 4 -Choose your backerboard. Select material to adhere the wall material and in the case of tile finish the face of the wall- What you don’t see in a bathtub or shower wall panel project is as important as what you do see. Use the right material(s) behind the wall. Here are some recommendations:

Acrylic – If the tile walls are in good shape install over them by adhering the acrylic with butyl tape and color match sealant. This will save on landfill costs, reduce the project installation time and save money. If the existing wall cannot be installed over put up moisture resistant green board or a cement backer board.

Swanstone – Like acrylic if the tile is in good structural shape install over the existing. If not, Swanstone can be installed over greenboard or a cement board using special glue.

Tile – Poorly done tile installations have caused lots of wasted money historically (cheap backer board might have been used, poor grouting jobs, poor work in the corners are just a few of the problems). For tile installations never use green board – use either a water resistant cement board or a waterproof extruded polystyrene board like that made from Wedi Corporation. These boards should be glued and screwed to your framing. In addition to using the right backer board consider investing in a urethane grout. This type of grout does not need to be resealed and is waterproof. Although it will cost you more up front it will save money down the road in the need to regrout, or worse yet the need to redo the shower if you have any water damage.

Step 5 – Fix what’s behind the wall – The best time to fix a poor performing shower valve, a shower head which is too low, or to add backer material to strengthen the installation of your accessories is when you’ve got the wall opened up.

Step 6 – Identify the bath tub and shower accessories you want to add function and style to your project – Have you always wanted a leg ledge for shaving, a corner seat, a curved shower rod to keep the water in, a hand held shower, a corner caddy, a frameless shower door, shampoo or soap niche or a grab bar? When you’re installing new wall surrounds is the perfect time to accessorize your bath or shower to make it work for you and your family.

Step 7 – If the process sounds too difficult call a reputable contractor that is not a “one size fits all” – Let’s face it, there are a lot of choices and installation details that need to be done correctly to ensure a successful project. Calling a professional may be more expensive in the short run but save you long term costs. Make sure to choose a contractor that doesn’t try to push you into the one type of shower or bath wall surround system they sell (for example a company selling acrylic systems pushes this one solution on you). Look for a company skilled and competent in multiple systems that will seek to understand your needs, budgets and tastes and provide different options.

Know you’re equipped with 7 steps which will serve as a good outline to plan your acrylic, Swanstone or tile bathtub or shower wall surround installation.

Building a Jetty for Your Pond or Lake

In my travels I have seen a wide variety of bridges, jetties, and decking arrangements. A good jetty can really make your pond or lake look special, as well as providing a convenient way to get in and out of your pond boat or lake boat. Whilst some of my customers prefer to build their own Jetty, most rely on local landscapers to carry out the work. Here are some tips when using a contractor.

Ask to see photos or examples of previous work by your chosen contractor, have they ever built a jetty before?

Your pond may be completely natural, it may be fed by a spring, it may be clay lined, it may be fed by a stream or spring, it may have an artificial liner, this liner could be made from a wide variety of materials. Your pond or lake may need to be drained partially or even fully before the jetty can be installed. Any fish will need to be removed prior to full draining. When the contractor visits your pond or lake he will need to find these things out before giving you an accurate quote.

Why not go online and find some photos of Jetties. Choose a Jetty you like the look of, and show the photo to your contractor. I have seen hundreds of different Jetties in the past, and every one is different.

A Jetty can be constructed from a range of different timbers, and even cast Iron or steel. The legs/uprights for your jetty will go down through the water and be anchored into the pond/lake bed. These legs should really be cut from hardwood such as green oak or Sappelli for durability. Your Contractor may prefer to use a softwood for the decking planks above the water. Softwood is usually pressure treated, but be aware that any treatment used could potentially contaminate the water and affect wildlife. Some specialist treatments may be ‘pond friendly’ but most treated timber should be sealed with a product such as G4 before being used for decking over water. Fish can be particularly sensitive to certain chemicals.

If you intend to leave your boat on the water tied up to the jetty you may need to use fenders or attach a protective strip to the jetty. Your boat should be attached to the jetty at the bow and the stern, with two fenders or a protective strip placed between the edge of the jetty and the boat, that way your boat will be secure and protected. Most people think a fender has to be a brightly colored plastic inflatable sausage/balloon, which will ruin the look of their jetty, but there is no reason why you can’t use solid rope woven narrow boat fenders, they have a lovely traditional look, and do the job just as well. If you have trouble finding them let me know, and I will supply them directly.

Remember that a jetty can provide a safety risk for small children, falling from the end of the jetty can leave a child in very deep water, and it is incredibly difficult to pull yourself out of the water onto the end of a jetty. Consider having a ladder installed at the end of your jetty, and perhaps a life ring on the line should the worst happen. Life rings are generally fluorescent orange, but why not paint the life ring in traditional white and red, like a ships life ring. One of my cannons on your jetty, looking out over the water, would complete the nautical theme!