Wall Sconces – Everything You Want or Need to Know

The use of wall scones in home décor dates back to prehistoric times when it is believed that an outcropping of stone in a cave dwelling presented a great opportunity for the placement of an archaic bowl of animal fat equipped with an equally archaic wick. Through the years, wall sconces experienced a few changes but the basic design stayed pretty much the same. From candles to hurricane lamps to gaslight to electrical bulbs and electric candles, wall sconces have remained an extremely popular home lighting option. The reason why wall sconces have been so popular in the past and remain so today is that they can be placed on the wall, which frees up floor space, and they cast a greater spread of light than other lower lighting sources such as table and floor lamps. For this reason, wall sconces are a great way to brighten up small spaces such as entryways, hallways and bathrooms.

Today you can find wall sconces to compliment any style of décor. No matter whether you prefer the Old World styles of yesterday or prefer a modern Contemporary flair, there is a style of wall sconce to perfectly accent your individual tastes and decorating style. You can also choose from many types of wall sconces including candle sconces, electric bulb sconces and electric candle wall sconces. Once you choose the wall sconces that are perfect for your interior space, it is very important to consider their placement. A poorly placed wall sconce is glaringly noticeable and will not achieve the desired lighting effect. In fact, a painful eyeful of blinding white light from a poorly placed wall sconce may turn off your visitors to your entire décor.

To ensure the proper placement of your wall sconces, follow these few simple steps for placement.

While most experts recommend placing wall sconces five feet above the floor and ten feet apart, others say that wall sconces should be placed much higher, like 5 ½ to six feet, especially in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings.

When choosing the height to place your wall sconces, you should also consider the height of the people who live in your home and the height of those who are likely to visit. If you have an extremely tall family, you may have to place your wall sconces a little higher than most to avoid blinding everyone.

Wall sconces should be placed where they can best highlight other points of interest in a room and not overpower them. You should also take into consideration your furnishings and seating areas when deciding where to place your wall sconces. Make sure that the wall sconces add to the atmosphere and experience of your room not detract from it. When placing wall sconces in an area such as a hallway, make sure that your sconce layout is balanced. You can do this by placing wall sconces 8 to 10 feet apart in a staggered pattern for the length of your hallway.

Wall sconces can be a beautiful addition to any décor, but they can also detract from your décor if not used properly. By taking a few extra minutes to consider the placement of your wall sconces, you can be sure that the addition of these lighting fixtures to your home will have a stunning effect.

Live Plants to Avoid in Your Freshwater Aquarium

Plants are great for aquariums; they create oxygen for your fish, keep your tank clean and simply look good. But beware – Pet stores often try to make money by selling terrestrial (land-dwelling) plants as aquatic ones. Though water is good for plants, submerging terrestrial plants in water is a bad idea. They will die and rot in your fish tank. The pollutants from the rotting plant are likely to cause your fish to die. When aquatic plant shopping, make sure you only buy true aquatic plants. Here are brief descriptions of plants pet stores most commonly try to sell as aquatic wannabes.

The most popular is the Dracaena Marginata, or Dragon Tree. Dragon Trees kind of look like paint brushes, with trunks similar to palm trees and spiky leaves that stick out of the top. Your friendly neighborhood pet store usually sells a baby version of this tree, but in the wild they can grow to be 16 feet tall. Dracaena Marginata is considered a bamboo plant and actually needs dry conditions to grow and will die rather quickly if submerged in water.

Another popular poser is Algaonema. This is actually a popular household plant and is recognizable by its wide green waxy-looking leaves. The Chinese believe this to be a good omen, but could mean bad things for your aquarium. Algaonema need to be planted in heavy soil that is moist, not soggy, and will die rapidly in water. Furthermore, they are poisonous and cause a rash in your mouth and throat if ingested orally. So imagine what happens when it begins to rot in you aquarium after just a few weeks!

The Brazilian Sword, or Peace Lily, is another one to avoid. The Peace Lily looks like the Argentine Sword, with long thin stems a few wide spade-shaped leaves. This plant actually asks for dry conditions to grow. It will take a long time to die in your tank, but nevertheless should not be placed with your guppies since it can not thrive and will start dying before you even realize it. The previous article discussed that Amazon and Argentine Swords were great aquatic plants-but just because “sword” is in the name does make it a good plant to live with your fish!

Cherry Hedge and Green Hedge are other terrestrial plants that sneak their way onto pet store shelves with genuine aquatic plants. They will all do fine for a long period of time but will die off after several months at the most and should not be submerged in water. Cherry and Green Hedges have a similar appearance. They are both short, bright green, and bushy. The Green Hedge does have smaller leaves than the Cherry Hedge. These plants are hardy but need dry conditions to grow.

Mondo Grass certainly appears exotic. It comes in bush form and looks like a bunch of pale green grass. This is a terrestrial plant that needs little care. It simply needs very little watering and soil that drains well. Due to its drier needs, Mondo Grass usually takes only two months to die if submerged in water.

Lastly, White and Red Arrowhead are other evil beauties that will doom your fish habitat to extinction. Arrowheads are tall plants with thin stems and arrowhead shaped leaves at the top. White Arrowheads are more of a pale green, while Red Arrowheads have dark green edges and reddish centers. Their natural habitat is near lakes and ponds, but it is a bad idea to put them in water as they will die rapidly.

The need to do the appropriate research before buying anything for your aquarium can not be stressed enough. Also, take care of the right plants, so they will not become the enemy. Trim them so they do not overgrow and hide your fish. Limit the tank to two floating plants. Oxygen comes in through the surface, and having too much plant growth above the fish could choke them. Follow the rules, do your research, do not fall for buying a terrestrial plant no matter how many pet store clerks say it is okay, and you will have a very healthy and natural-looking habitat.

All about Brie Cheese

Brie appetizers are not only mouthwatering, but they are so versatile. It’s amazing

what you can do with a Brie cheese. How did “real” Brie cheese come about in the

first place? Well, according to cheese experts, producing Brie cheese started in the

French province called, not surprisingly, Brie – a town 60 miles from Paris!

The oldest recorded evidence of its existence was found in the chronicles of

Charlemagne. The Emperor at the time, tasted the cheese in the city of Brie around

the year 774 BC. And here’s another interesting tidbit about Brie cheese… Louis

XVI’s last and dying wish was supposedly to have a final taste of Brie.

It is sometimes called Brie de Meaux and is considered one of the most popular of

the 400+ cheeses from France. Brie de Meaux’s popularity can be attributed to a

competition that took place around 1814. During a Vienna Congress, an argument

broke out regarding which country made the best and finest cheese.

As a result, a Frenchman by the name of Talleyrand, suggested a competition

between the different countries and their national cheeses, as he was convinced that

France would win. And of course, they did! Brie de Meaux was the winner and

became known as the “King of Cheeses” and as you can imagine, instantly became

an overnight success that swept Europe and has retained that distinction ever since.

As a matter of fact, Brie Cheese from France won a gold medal from the Brie

National Contest in both 2000 and 2001.

What makes it so darn good? Brie is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has

an appealing combination of flavors including hazelnut, fruit and herbs. And it takes

approximately 6.6 gallons of milk to make one round of brie cheese!

The process of making it consists of heating the milk to no more than 37 degrees C

– but only during the renneting stage. Therefore, the cheese is never cooked. After

being put into a mold with a special, perforated shovel called “pelle à Brie”, it is

salted with a dry salt. This salting process is used to balance the sweetness that

occurs because of the high quality of milk used.

Maturation takes place in a cool cellar. The cheese develops a white mold around it

and the creamy part turns to a light straw color. The whole process takes at least 4

weeks and sometimes more.

In France, there are only 5 or 6 real Brie de Meaux producers left. Apparently it’s an

economically-challenged industry to get into. Brie has a very fragile curd that is

easily broken and requires a special room built only for the use of making Brie and

Triple Crème. It has to maintain just the right temperature or the maturation

process will not work. This, in itself, makes Brie hard to make and evidently requires

quite an investment. Therefore, farmers are not as inclined to invest their time and

money on such a delicate, not always reliable process.

To serve Brie cheese properly, it’s best to allow it to come to room temperature.

Some good suggestions of wine to serve with any kind of Brie appetizer is a red

Côte-du-Rhône, a red Bordeaux or Burgundy and it always goes well with a good

quality Champagne.

In the United States, we don’t sell “real Brie” because of the pasteurization laws that

have been installed in this country. US FDA regulations say that you can only make

cheese with our pasteurized milk. Our “Brie” is not true Brie, but it’s as close as we

can get to make it taste like Brie de Meaux from France. If you were to put true

French Brie next to Brie made in the United States, the difference would be highly

noticeable. You would get hooked on the French Brie and have to make yearly trips

to France to feed your new craving!

In lieu of going to France, try this savory Brie appetizer. You’ll be glad you did!

Amaretto Brie Appetizer

There’s nothing like serving this yummy Amaretto Brie appetizer. Especially when

you watch everyone diving into it without leaving a trace behind. Your friends and

guests will beg you for this recipe. It’s simple to make and the creamy almond flavor

is fantastic with a baguette or gourmet-type crackers.

What you’ll need:

– 1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)

– 1/2 cup butter

– 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

– 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

– 1 oz. of amaretto liqueur

– 1 round of Brie cheese

– 1/4 cup sliced almonds (chopped walnuts will work also)

– Toast points, sliced apples, baguette or crackers

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then melt the butter and add the brown

sugar in a heavy sauce pan. Stir until heated through and consistency is smooth and

thick.

Remove the pan from the heat and add cinnamon, nutmeg and the Amaretto. Mix

ingredients well.

Next, place the Brie round (remove Brie from packaging) in an oven-safe dish. Take

the sauce you just created and pour over the Brie. Then, top the sauce with the

sliced almonds.

All you need to do is bake it for 10 or 15 minutes until the cheese is soft. You could

also microwave it if you are in a big hurry. But only put it in the microwave for 30

second intervals until it is soft and warm. If you microwave it for too long you will

end up with Amaretto Brie appetizer soup, and that is not what we want here!

You can serve the melted Brie on a pretty plate surrounded by apple slices, sliced

baguette and crackers. It will fast disappear!

If you are interested in other Brie appetizers and other easy to make appetizer

recipes, please visit Easy Appetizer Recipes found at the URL below where

you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the variety of choices.

Important: Feel free to republish this article on your website. However,

you are not allowed to modify any part of its content and all links should be kept

active.

5 Exercises For Thinner Thighs

Thinner thighs are one of the ways of looking beautiful and sexy. Unfortunately, not everyone is born with thin thighs. If you are one of the people with huge thighs that you aren’t proud of you don’t have to worry as there are a number of exercises that you can engage in. Some of these exercises include:

Plyometric squats

While you can do this exercise anytime of the day, exercise experts recommend that you do it during the afternoon. This is because the exercise not only helps you get thinner thighs, it also rejuvenates you. To do the exercise you need to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and then squat down while bending your knees to 90 degrees. You should then jump up and softly land in a squatting position. For ideal results use your butt and leg muscles to jump. For ideal results do 3 sets of this exercise.

The flamingo balance

You should start by standing with your left hand on your hip and hold a dumbbell in your right hand. While leaning forward, lift your left foot behind about a hip height. At the same time move your right arm forward. At this position turn your palm to face the ceiling and do a biceps curl. You should then briefly touch your toes then repeat for 12 reps. When doing this, ensure that your left leg is straight when you are bending the right knee. For ideal results, do at least 10 reps while switching sides.

Inner and outer thigh kick stretch

Doing this exercise a few times a week will give you the thighs that you have always wanted. Start by holding the back of a chair and press your shoulder blades back and down. While at this position lift your right leg and move it across your body. While keeping your toes flexed and toes turned out, swing back out to the right. To fire through your left glutes, use momentum to swing through your leg. You should do 10 reps while keeping both of your hips facing forward.

Leg circles

To execute this exercise you need to start while lying on your back. When lying, ensure that your arms are at the sides and palms are facing down. Once in position thrust one of your feet up towards the ceiling and slightly rotate the leg outward. For ideal results lift the leg without lifting your butt from the floor.

While slowly breathing and holding your breath, trace a circle with the lifted leg. You should move your entire leg while keeping the rest of the body still and flat on the floor. You should rotate the legs 5 times clockwise and another 5 anti clockwise.

Bent knee crossover

Start on your knees with your back flat and head down in line with your back. You should then lift your left leg up while keeping the knee bent at a 90 degree angle. At this position, cross the left leg so that your knee touches the calf of your right leg. For ideal results keep your buttocks tight.

How to Tell the Difference Between Friendly and Friendship

Is Being Friendly A Requirement Of Friendship?

In today’s world of false impressions how can we tell who is a friend and who is just being friendly? Sometime it’s difficult to recognize the difference between someone who is sharing your life or someone who is enhancing it. There is a big gap between a person who is cordial and passing and a person who has become part of your life’s experience.

Friendly people are better accepted

Being friendly is an outward projection of an inner quality which wishes to keep the surrounding environment calm and enjoyable. Being friendly is also a plea for acceptance. When greeting a person, being friendly is in the hopes the other person will accept him/her and be friendly in return. It’s the old, “do as I do” standard.

Fear keeps people from being friendly

While most people want to behave in a friendly manner some may have a fear of approaching people. They may appear to be unfriendly while inside they really want to be sociable. I used to enjoy catching people on an elevator. Most look at their feet and keep silent but with very little effort I was able to get them looking up and talking. People want to be friendly but are afraid of offending or getting into a conflict with someone so they tend to keep silent and disconnected.

Even crabby people want to be friendly

Those people who appear to be crabby or don’t want to engage in conversation usually have an underlain reason for doing so. Some event in their lives, recent or distant, prevent them from showing their emotions and they draw inside for protection. They don’t realize distance is met with distance. If a person is unfriendly the people he/she comes into contact with will also be unfriendly.

Friendships go beyond being friendly

It’s true that a friendly person is a welcomed person but a smile in passing does not make a friendship. Friends are acquaintances like being a member of the same club, church school, etc. but most likely this type of contact will never develop into a friendship. The reason being, the common bond is in the membership not the heart. A friendship can develop through an association such as military or a project and carry on outside the boundaries of its creation. This type of friendship is usually a drawing together of the participants through pressures brought about from the common experience.

There are rules in every friendship

There are certain rules in the makeup of a friendship which are demanding and create a bonding familiarity. A friendship is like a marriage, people enter into it with all the emotions of a union. The term, “tell death do us part” applies in a true friendship. A bonding of souls, minds and character become the foundation for a true and everlasting friendship while being friendly is simply an act of pleasantness.

Sometimes friends can be unfriendly

Friendships are not necessarily friendly all the time because demands of honesty can challenge the exchange. In this context, a difference in perceptions and agreement can cause friction in the relationship which may challenge it but cannot fracture it beyond repair. Friendship endure and over time grow more intense with devotion.

It’s hard to be friendly in an unsociable world

While people must endure within a society that forces the pressures of demanding rules upon them, they can still find solace in the intimacy of a warm friendship. Friendships are like an old pair of shoes, “they get more comfortable and favorable over time”. When a person questions their own abilities and achievements, they can always turn to a friend for an honest appraisal.

Keep outside forces at bay.

If an outside force threatens to destroy the relationship step back and value the essence of the union. Remember how the friendship came about and why it has endured. Good friendships carry a proven track record for warding off dissidence because the parties involved trust and respect one another. Because of the commitment factor, conflict cannot be used to dominate or disrupt a friendship.

Never let a good friend down.

If you are fortunate enough to have true friends, cherish the experience for it is why we live. To experience a friendship is to realize our true nature, our essence and reason for being. It is within our relationship that our self emerges and becomes a model of self reality.

Happy Trails

The 3 Best Cuisinart Popcorn Makers

Cuisinart is a brand of kitchen appliance that was founded by Carl Sontheimer in the year 1973. It is one of the best companies that became popular in the United States.

Cuisinart helps consumers to savor the good life of making delicious, healthy and easy popped corns in a short span of time. Cuisinart brands offer great popping features that suits popcorn lovers of every age.

Cuisinart Silver Finish PartyPop Popcorn Maker

Cuisinart PartyPop CPM800 is a quality popcorn maker and easy to clean. It pops very fast and can pop up a corn to 10 cups in just 5 minutes. The CPM800 has a clear plastic bowl that flips when ready to serve. The bowl and popping plate is dishwasher safe also.

Other features include:

o Elegant brushed stainless steel base with embossed logo

o Ready To Serve 4-Quart Bowl

o Motorized Stirring Mechanism

o Removable Nonstick Cooking Plate

o Cool-Touch Handles

o Limited 3 year warranty

o Color: gray

o Comes with a user guide and warranty card

Cuisinart CPM-800 Popcorn Maker, Brushed Stainless and Red

Features:

Color: Brushed Stainless

Shipping Weight: 3 lbs

Dimensions (in): 14 x 11 x 10.9

3-year limited warranty

The Cuisinart CPM-800 red brushed stainless popper has the same great features as the silver one. The steam can also build up, making soggy popcorns. Hence, the CPM-800 instruction book has several stickers paced over the original printing.

Cuisinart EasyPop Popcorn Maker

Cuisinart CPM900BK can pop a corn for only 5 minutes. It has special vents in its popping bowl, allowing moisture to escape and keep the popcorn more crispy.

Other features include:

o Removable main body, bowl cover and popping plate

o Elegant popping bowl

o Built-in fan and bowl cover

o Has an innovative motorized stirring mechanism.

o Black With Stainless Steel Finish

o Operation is simple.

o Quiet type popper.

o Dishwasher safe.

o Aluminum base for an equal heat distribution.

o Limited 3-year product warranty

o Weight: 2.5 lbs.

o Comes with an instruction, warranty card and recipe booklet.

Approximate Dimensions:

o Width: 10.75 inches

o Height: 13.75 inches

o Depth: 10.75 inches

Easypop Red Popcorn Maker CPM 900PK Features:

o Color: red

o Elegant bowl

o Has a built in fan(ventilation)

o With a brushed stainless steel base and an embossed logo

o It can make up to 10 cups with one tablespoon oil and ½ cup of kernels

o Removable cooking plate (nonstick type)

The Cuisinart has become the leading brand of kitchen gadgets and best buy in costumer. They continuously promote different popcorn variations. Buyer is satisfied with their innovative features. The William-Sonoma exclusive Popcorn popper has new motorized stirring mechanisms. It has durable lids which are well loved by popcorn makers worldwide. Easypop Red Popcorn Maker CPM 900PK is available in fine stores and online shopping sites. At current, there are new models that have vastly improved.

Am I an "Old Maid?"

Am I an “Old Maid”? If this is a question you are asking yourself than there are some important things you should know first. Historically, an “Old Maid” is someone that is alone, shy, unsocial able, and shows no signs of changing that. People that usually fit this profile are not always happy with that they want to change; this is because they do not know how or are scared to try. This usually leads to unhealthy living habits, such as obesity, loneliness, obsession, and are easily lured into situations by people that take advantage of them.

One way to avoid being an “Old Maid” is to be around people in social settings. No one says you cannot be alone and independent, but you should communicate with other people to keep current and avoid being lonely. The more you stay up to date without becoming someone your not will help you find someone that will fulfill you in every way. Everyone wants to fall in love, but you cannot accomplish this without getting out there and meeting people. Just finding someone to talk to besides yourself is important not only for you but your sanity.

A second way to avoid being an “Old Maid” is to try and be the one to initiate social situations and not be scared of what people think or say. Some people avoid doing this because it puts them in an awkward position. Being awkward and feeling awkward are two different things, sometimes thinking too much will only convince you not to do it. Even going to the store can be a way to learn how to talk to people because they are being paid to be nice to you. It doesn’t matter whether they really want to or not.

A third way to avoid being an “Old Maid” is to find people that have the same interests as you. For instance, if one of your hobbies is baking pastries, take a pastry class. You do not have to change who you are in order to change your life for the better. No one wants to be alone, whether you have one good best friend or have found love you want to be happy and the only way to accomplish this is to not be alone all the time. Everyone needs a little me time, but sometimes it can be unhealthy.

Finally, to avoid being an “Old Maid” shouldn’t be what is driving you to try these things. Enjoy life; be happy with who you are and learn to love yourself and except yourself for who you are. Once you’ve convinced yourself of that than it will be easier for other people to see it to. This will make it easier for you to meet new people and hopefully find someone you can enjoy your likes with together. You are never too old to change, and every day should be lived to the fullest. The smallest changes in your life can make all the difference and avoid being an “Old Maid” forever.

How Technology Has Changed Our Kitchen Appliances

Modern day technology has changed the way that we cook and eat in our kitchens. We can easily see this with the many gadgets and kitchen appliances found in kitchens all over the world. As kitchen technology has evolved, our dependence for such innovative products has also increased. With busy daily schedules, the technology used in kitchen appliances shapes our lives because of how easily they make it to prepare and cook healthier meals.

The kitchen is the busiest place in our house because this is where our everyday food is being prepared and consumed. Besides appliances such as food processors, which have made preparing foods so easy, perhaps the most revolutionary technologies are the appliances that have made clean up a breeze when using a dishwasher. Since the invention of the computer, there are very few kitchen appliances today that are not powered by computer programs and memory chips. From our can opener to our ovens, every electrical appliance that we use is operated using technology. The good thing about these changes is that this breakthrough has contributed so much in easing up our daily activities especially with cooking healthy meals.

Kitchen appliances have evolved so much since the discovery of gas ovens that now new modern appliances are not just manufactured to be more efficient but designed to suite the taste of our decorative styles. The most modern day appliances we typically see now are indicators of what was lacking in the past when women needed to put extra effort on their cooking needs. Some of these modern kitchen appliances include the freezer with no frost, automatic toast makers, dishwashers, microwave ovens, sandwich makers and juice extractors. Not only do these appliances do terrific jobs of cooking and cleaning, you can buy them in complete packages to match the style of your kitchen. Now the person who is in charge of the kitchen does not have to worry about doing all of the cooking, baking, grilling, grinding and washing the dishes at the same time. With the push of a button, everything is literally taken care of.

As a result, technology has not only increased the values of our kitchens, it has made cooking once again enjoyable. You can now easily watch or listen to your favorite show while you enjoy preparing a wonderful meal for your family. As kitchen appliances improve, so will our time increase that we get to spend with loved ones.

History of Conveyor Belts

The history of conveyor belts begins in the latter half of the 17th century. Since then, conveyor belts have been an inevitable part of material transportation. But it was in 1795 that conveyor belts became a popular means for conveying bulk materials. In the beginning, conveyor belts were used only for moving grain sacks to short distances.

The conveyor belt system and working were quite simple in the early days. The conveyor belt system had a flat wooden bed and a belt that traveled over the wooden bed. Earlier, conveyor belts were made of leather, canvas or rubber. This primitive conveyor belt system was very popular for conveying bulky items from one place to another. In the beginning of the 20th century, the applications of conveyor belts became wider.

Hymle Goddard of Logan Company was the first to receive the patent for the roller conveyor in 1908. The roller conveyor business did not prosper. A few years later, in 1919, powered and free conveyors were used in automotive production. Thus, conveyor belts became popular tools for conveying heavy and large goods within factories.

During the 1920s, conveyor belts were common, and also underwent tremendous changes. Conveyor belts were used in coal mines to handle runs of coal for more than 8kms, and were made using layers of cotton and rubber covers. The longest conveyor belt now in use is 60 miles long, in the phosphate mines of Western Sahara.

One of the turning points in the history of conveyor belts was the introduction of synthetic conveyor belts. It was introduced during the Second World War, mainly because of the scarcity of natural materials such as cotton, rubber and canvas. Since then, synthetic conveyor belts have become popular in various fields.

With the increasing demand in the market, many synthetic polymers and fabrics began to be used in the manufacture of conveyor belts. Today, cotton, canvas, EPDM, leather, neoprene, nylon, polyester, polyurethane, urethane, PVC, rubber, silicone and steel are commonly used in conveyor belts. Nowadays, the material used for making a conveyor belt is determined by its application.

A Karate Approach To Calisthenics

Like many of my generation, I was inspired to take up martial arts and calisthenics by movies such as The Karate Kid, Kickboxer, Enter the Dragon, Drunken Master, and Rocky. The larger-than-life characters wowed us with their fighting skills and never give up attitudes. A common theme in these films is that the main character is an underdog who must train, and hard, to become a better fighter and overcome his seemingly invincible opponents. The perseverance of our heroes, the amazing skills they learned, and the rigorous training methods they endured inspired many of us to take up training as well.

The training methods employed often include some tough calisthenics skills. I’m sure we all remember Rocky doing uneven pullups in the second film, and dragon flags in the fourth. Bruce Lee popularized the dragon flag as well as other difficult bodyweight feats, such as his two finger pushups. He espoused improving your athletic performance in order to improve your martial performance, as well as to help fully express the human body.

Certainly, the martial-calisthenics connection is as old as man… Yet, Bruce was a great catalyst in the popularization of martial arts in America and inspiring many to train hard like he did. He has said that “life is never stagnation. It is constant movement, un-rhythmic movement, as well as constant change. Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.”

I didn’t truly understand all of the positive implications of these words until much later, when I got more into calisthenics. It all started with my love of movement in general, inspired by all of those great movies I watched in my childhood. Yet, even though I ended up doing some karate training as a child, I didn’t take it seriously – it wasn’t until I was an adult that I did so.

Fortunately, my sensei was quite knowledgeable not only about karate, but calisthenics as well. I took to the exercises he taught quite excitedly, even if it was torturous at first! He was a true taskmaster; classes often included dozens of knuckle pushups, leg raises, squats, combat rolls, sprints, and more. Thanks to the results I was getting, I kept soaking up knowledge about not only martial arts, but calisthenics and training in general.

Years later, I earned my black belt in Heiwado karate under my sensei and began helping him teach. I eventually began teaching on my own. Heiwado is a hybrid style that was founded by Hirano Kiyohisa, founder of Japan International Karate Center. Heiwado was based upon his many years of experience in Wado-ryu, as well as Shotokan karate, Shito-ryu karate, with influences from various other arts. The result is a style that incorporates useful elements, strategies, and training methodologies of each, including calisthenics.

I also ended up training in boxing, Brazilian Jiujitsu, Judo, Aikido, MMA, and various styles of karate after earning my black belt. I have also taught karate and helped run classes at a few karate dojo over the years, before landing a job at a gymnastics studio last year. During that time I’ve not only learned from various athletes and styles, but experienced how different body types react to different exercises and programs.

Eventually I discovered the first Convict Conditioning book through an ad in Black Belt magazine. I looked up reviews for it online, and they were largely quite positive, so I thought, sure, why not? I ended up buying the first two books and started digging right in. The minimalist training was my kind of thing – little equipment, maximal results. It had the same kind of creativity yet Spartan approach to training that the Okinawans did when developing their martial ways. My training partners and I loved the grip and fingertip work of Convict Conditioning 2, while also seeing the benefits to martial arts techniques.

Eventually we felt proficient enough in the progressions and approach to fully assimilate them into our existing training approach, and the classes we were teaching. It wasn’t long after this that I pursued getting a fitness trainer certification, since I had accumulated so much knowledge on training. My wide experience in martial arts, athletics, and calisthenics, combined with my certification helped me to land a job at a gymnastics studio. Progressive calisthenics and gymnastics have plenty of crossover and similarities, as both are bodyweight arts.

I eventually attended the PCC workshop in Alexandria, VA to learn more about my newfound passion, progressive calisthenics! Of course, it would also help me do my job better at gymnastics. The new levels of full body tension and connectivity, overall body control, and holistic strength learned from the workshop benefited not only the kids at gymnastics, but my karate students as well.

(PCC stands for progressive calisthenics certification.)

There are certainly comparisons to be made between learning progressive calisthenics and martial arts. Coach Wade, author of the Convict Conditioning books, made some of these comparisons in his amazing article “The Tao of PCC”. It’s fair to say that article alone was the biggest influence on my attending the PCC workshop, besides the Convict Conditioning books.

Coach brought up some important similarities to martial arts that really spoke to me. “… nobody can remember a hundred techniques in a fight. What matters are the principles you absorb.” “You learn the form, you absorb the form, you discard the form.”

The second line is exactly the same as the concept of “shu ha ri” in budo – the Japanese martial ways, of which karate is one. Shu-ha-ri essentially means the three stages of skill. In the first stage, “shu”, you practice the techniques and forms as they are taught to you, without question. The goal is to ingrain the movement patterns into muscle memory, and this often takes hundreds or thousands of repetitions.

This can be a long and arduous process under a demanding teacher. The goal of Karate, according to Funakoshi-sensei – father of modern karate – is the perfection of the character of students. The many hours of strict training build character and patience.

This process can also be compared to calisthenics practice. You gradually tighten up form, become more efficient in movement, and milk the exercises for as much benefit as possible. The many hours spent in kata practice, and getting them just right, builds strength, explosiveness, flexibility, coordination, proper breathing technique, and full body connectivity. Proper instruction in calisthenics and many hours of practice will provide the same benefits.

The kata – or forms – are the core instructional method of many of the Japanese martial ways. The kata have principles and concepts encoded into the movements. The principles and concepts can be learned once you move past “shu” and into “ha”, then applied in a natural, free way when you move to “ri”.

When you have memorized the form – whether the form of a pushup or a karate form (or “kata” in Japanese) – it is time to internalize the movements and start grasping the principles behind the form. This is the “ha” stage. During the first stage of learning, it can be hard to learn all of the “rules” and principles of the movements. Yet, once the movement pattern has been ingrained, it has become more natural, more automatic – and feels less “mechanical”, less rigid. The central nervous system has become more efficient at these movements. The student is able to reflect more on what’s happening and put more “mindfulness” into each repetition and each technique, and be able to start discovering the principles behind the techniques and movements.

A good teacher will know how to guide the student through this process, as well as how to teach more advanced kata in such a way that they will present new challenges for this mental process. The key is carefully guiding the student to observe not only the “omote”, or outer form of the kata, but to also start observing the hidden side – the “ura”. The “ura” of kata is the abstract side – again, the principles, concepts, and so forth.

Once the student gets deeply into this “big picture” approach of kata, instead of just the little details, he or she will be able to move more freely within the rules of the form. This is the beginning of creative self-expression. The caution is to not stray too far from form just yet, or it will become entirely different. Compare this to learning correct form for pushups, then in the “ha” stage you would start learning about leverage and hand placement – which helps you to progress. Once intermediate students get to this stage, they can clearly see the value of the kata, and their knowledge, skill, and expression grow in leaps and bounds.

Once the principles have been internalized and you are moving freely according to these principles, you are in the “ri” stage. You are moving according to the form without the outer shell or “omote” of the form. It is a moving meditation that is the ultimate outgrowth and goal of many disciplines. It is a Zen-like state where the practitioner moves intuitively. Just watch any calisthenics great perform movements effortlessly, such as the awesome Kavadlo brothers performing human flags, or a traceur navigating an environment with expressive, powerful parkour movements.

In the words of Bruce Lee –

“A martial artist who drills exclusively to a set pattern of combat is losing his freedom. He is actually becoming a slave to a choice pattern and feels that the pattern is the real thing. It leads to stagnation because the way of combat is never based on personal choice and fancies, but constantly changes from moment to moment, and the disappointed combatant will soon find out that his ‘choice routine’ lacks pliability. There must be a ‘being’ instead of a ‘doing’ in training. One must be free. Instead of complexity of form, there should be simplicity of expression.”

Our training shouldn’t keep us stuck in a rigid form, but instead be directed to the fullest expression of ourselves with utmost efficiency and simplicity. When you are first learning to apply the principles and techniques of kata in a self defense situation, you must take it slow and put a lot of thought into each movement. Eventually you will go through the same process of “shu ha ri” and become free, fast, and expressive!

It’s been said that a number of applications for Okinawan kata (aka forms) have been lost, as well as at least a few secrets to power training. Still, a lot still survives on the island in Okinawa and has been passed down through the generations in traditional Okinawan styles such as Goju ryu and Kenpo. As Coach Wade talked about in Convict Conditioning, he learned not only from ex-Navy Seals, gymnasts, and oldtime strongman Joe Hartigan, but also from kenpo and karate guys.

The influences are obvious in Convict Conditioning 2 and 3. The fingertip progression alone, in the 2nd book, has similarities to many exercises taught to me by various karate sensei. The sensei I earned my black belt under always had us do “knuckle pushups” – basically doing pushups on our balled up fists – with obvious benefits to the wrists and knuckles. He also taught us a number of breakfalls and rolls, and I learned even more over the years under Judo, Jiujitsu, and Aikido instructors. As such, Convict Conditioning 3 was like treading familiar ground, but also opened up many, many new possibilities for power in movement!

Like the progressive calisthenics approach, traditional power training and body conditioning methods in Okinawan karate – aka “hojo undo” – focuses on bulletproofing the joints, improving flexibility, and building holistic, functional strength. “Hojo undo” focuses on the use of heavy implements and other tools that are specific to Okinawan karate training, but these are outside the scope of this article. There are, however, a number of bodyweight movements taught in “hojo undo”, including pushup variations. Regardless of the exercise or implement used, however, the focus – like in calisthenics – is on building skill, strength, and power. The exercises also have very direct benefits for “bunkai”, or application of kata.

With all of this in mind, I will cover some pushup variations that are at least somewhat common in karate dojo, and/or have direct benefits to karate techniques. Warm your hands and forearms up properly before working fingertip or wrist pushups. Afterwards, shake your hands out, and stretch your fingers and wrists. Also, don’t overdo it with directly training the joints. Build up gradually and be sure to allow plenty of time for your joints to adapt.

There are at least a few ways to regress all of these. Firstly, you can practice them using an incline (wall, chair etc). Secondly, you can use a less demanding leverage (such as kneeling). You could actually adapt the Convict Conditioning pushup progression to basically all of these variations. Coach Wade has already covered this for fingertip pushups in the amazing chapter on them in Convict Conditioning 2!

You can also have one palm on the training surface (wall, floor etc), instead of having both hands in the same position (such as in a fist). Of course, you would want to practice this way on both sides to maintain symmetry in training. A further regression for this is to sit in a kneeling position, lean forward, and place your hands on the ground in the desired position (fists, back of wrists, etc). I will talk about this particular regression a bit more when I get to wrist pushups. One could also hold the top position of any of these pushup variations for time, basically turning them into static holds. This isn’t necessarily just a regression, though, as statics can indeed be quite difficult!

Knuckle pushups are a very common variation in karate dojo. Besides strengthening most of the muscles used in straight punches – which basically all pushup variations will do – knuckle pushups also strengthen the wrists and knuckles. They also help toughen up the skin, but that is a side benefit and a secondary goal.

Fingertip pushups strengthen the finger extensor muscles. Naturally, they provide direct benefits to strikes using extended fingers. A course of grip work and fingertip training will also help lay the foundation of strength needed for hard blocks. While I personally prefer soft, circular blocking techniques and body shifting to hard blocks, I still believe it’s useful to train the forearms in order to help with grappling, finger strikes, and keeping a tight fist. Fingertip pushups can be progressed by doing pushups on less fingers.

It’s been said by some martial arts instructors that blocks can be used as strikes, and vice versa. A hard hammerfist block – as seen in many karate kata – can be used to not only redirect an attack from an opponent, but also do damage to the limb used by striking certain nerve clusters and/or muscles. Many similar techniques can be found in karate kata, so we have to assume that the old masters knew that these techniques worked. It is our task to research the potential applications for them, study anatomy, and train accordingly.

I want to cover one more variation – wrist pushups. If you are a martial artist or need strong wrists and hands for your sport, I recommend adding wrist exercises to your training. Of course, these exercises shouldn’t replace previous progressions, but supplement them. Wrist pushups are done on the backs of the hands, strengthen the wrists for various strikes, and have very specific benefits for “ox jaw” and “crane” hand techniques. I prefer to practice wrist pushups with my hands in “ox jaw” for added specificity.

If you’re new to wrist pushups, start by learning wrist stretches. I recommend learning stretches that are commonly done in gymnastics. Aikido wrist stretches are also highly useful.

One wrist stretch commonly done in gymnastics will serve as the beginning step in a wrist pushup progression. Sit in a kneeling position, look straight down at your knees, lean forward slightly and place the back of your hands on the ground, directly in front of your knees. Naturally, leaning forward will put some of your weight onto the backs of your hands, with the fingers turned inward.

Cautiously lean into your hands until you feel mild discomfort, but no more. Hold this stretch for 10-30 seconds, depending upon degree of discomfort, then push yourself up and shake your hands out. Repeat this 1-3 times.

There are “hidden steps” between this stretch and a wrist hold in the top position of a kneeling pushup. The first step is to gradually build strength and flexibility in the wrists with the stretch until you can put moderate pressure onto the backs of your hands with little to no discomfort. The next part of the progression is to move your hands a few inches forward from the starting position and unfold your hips slightly as you start putting pressure on the backs of your hands. When you straighten your hips out slightly, imagine that you are trying to move a little closer to perfect form for pushups (hips locked out, weight carried through arms and hands). Find the most difficult body position that you can hold for 10-15 seconds when you put mild to moderate pressure on your hands.

Keep working with this toughener and gradually work towards the full kneeling pushups wrist hold. Of course, always make sure you warm up your wrists with stretches and so forth before getting into this or any wrist hold or pushup.

A sample progression:

1. Wall wrist pushups

2. Incline wrist pushups with one palm on contact surface and the back of the other hand on contact surface

3. Incline wrist pushups

4. Kneeling wrist pushups with same regression as in step 2

5. Kneeling wrist pushups

6. Hold top of pushup position on backs of hands; use same regression as in steps 2 if needed at first

7. Full pushup with one palm on contact surface and back of other hand on contact surface

8. Full wrist pushups

Programming and volume for wrist pushups are fairly straightforward. Since the joints don’t adapt as quickly as the muscles, and the wrists can tend to be injury prone, it’s best to be conservative about training volume. Coach Wade recommended training fingertip pushups for low reps once a week, and I believe this is a good rule for wrist pushups.

A few good options for programming wrist training are:

1) Adding it to an existing joint specialization session; see Convict Conditioning 2 for a good template

2) Doing some wrist stretches, holds and/or pushups as part of your warmups for practice (whether karate or a sport that needs strong hands / wrists)

3) Doing some light stretches and other exercises as part of rehabilitating your wrists (of course, this will depend on what exercises your physician recommends)

4) Training wrist holds after a session of pushups

There are potentially many other possibilities depending on your own needs, goals, experience, etc.

A toughener for wrist pushups involves rolling your hands up into fists as you ascend to lockout. Pattern this movement during wrist stretches to get a feel for it. If this doesn’t cause you discomfort, and you have already gotten comfortable with wall wrist pushups, try working with this toughener.

To go beyond, you could explore working towards one arm wrist pushups, but this is a very challenging exercise. Of course, it’s recommended that you have already paid your dues in one arm pushups on your palms as well as in wrist pushups on both hands before working towards doing them on one.

To provide a real world example of my integrated approach to teaching karate and calisthenics, I’ll share what my karate classes for beginners involve (on average).

PT (Physical Training) for 1 hour:

Minimum of 1 mile of running

10-15 minutes of stretching and mobility work

Bridging work, basic hand balancing skills

Low to moderate sets of high reps for early squat, pushup, pullup, and leg raise progressions

Wrist roller work with light weight for several sets

Leg work – common exercises are deep horse stance, split squats, jumps, and wall sit

Light stretching and shaking out the arms and legs, then water break

Karate practice, 1 hour –

Zazen (seated meditation) and deep breathing

Courtesies (bowing in, etc)

Basics and kata for half an hour

6 inches hold with arms extended behind head and just above the floor – I condition the abdomen with a medicine ball while they are in this posture

Horse stance (again!) while I condition the arms, legs, and abdomen with a shinai (bamboo sword)

Split squats – 2 sets of 10 per side

Drills and padwork for the rest of class, with light free sparring if any of the students are ready for it. Groundwork, submissions, and “bunkai” (kata application) are allowed and encouraged as long as the students use control and proper technique.

Dedicated students with a good work ethic, and students whose parents want them to be worked a bit harder, get to do “outside training” with me after class. I have an outside training area set up behind the studio where we practice “hojo undo” (traditional karate exercises), more advanced calisthenics, and odd object lifts (bricks, cinder blocks, car tires, sandbags, etc).

Intermediate and advanced students get longer classes where we work intermediate and/or advanced calisthenics. We also practice kata and kata-based drills after physical training. If there are any students in the beginner class that are not ready for kata yet, they will sit in seiza – kneeling – while watching kata practice.

All of the exercises required for each rank are bodyweight-only. While all forms of exercise carry at least some risk of injury, calisthenics is safer than heavy weight training. Also, calisthenics – when taught correctly – improve coordination, balance, proprioception, flexibility, agility, posture, and functional strength. Calisthenics benefit karate training to a great degree!

I do not give students a deadline to get acclimated to the program. However, it can take as little as a few weeks for students to get used to the level of volume I require, if they were coming in with experience in other athletic activities and a good work ethic. Students coming in from a completely sedentary lifestyle can expect to take at least a year.

I am willing to continue pushing students for however long it takes to get them there. Just as in progressive calisthenics, students shouldn’t rush ahead to meet goals. It’s better to be patient when getting acclimated. Coach Wade basically talked about this in the first Convict Conditioning.

The benefits of exercise have been very well documented. Engaging in regular moderate to intense exercise at least twice a week is invaluable for improved health, and performance in athletic activities. It has also been my experience that if a student is coming into karate from a sedentary lifestyle, their health and fitness must be made top priority.

It’s important to not only help each student improve his or her lifestyle, but also improve his or her athletic performance. This way, he or she will be able to handle the rigors of training when and if they get to advanced ranks in karate. Advanced rank requirements include a several rounds of hard contact sparring and a large technical syllabus. As such, advanced rank examinations require the ability to move quickly for short bursts and strike with sufficient force, and the stamina to make it through a long examination period (upwards of several hours). This means it is important to drill power exercises such as sprints, strength building exercises, and endurance exercises.

To earn yellow belt, white belt students have to not only learn the basic techniques and drills, but be able to perform the Convict Conditioning progression standard – 3 sets of 40 – for each of the following exercises.

Incline pushups

Knee tucks

Vertical pulls

Jackknife squats

Also, they must be able to hold horse stance correctly for a minimum of 20 minutes as well as hold a leaning plank and a shoulder bridge for a minimum of 1 minute each.

I realize that my physical conditioning requirements and beginner classes are indeed much more intense than those found in most karate schools. Still, I work with each student according to his or her own level. Novices should not be trained the way that brown belt and black belt level students would. With this in mind, students who are completely new to working out will be only required to perform a low number of repetitions at first. They must gradually build up to the required volume as well as learn the material for the next rank before being nominated for examination.

It’s as Coach Wade has always taught – start with the early exercises and milk them for strength and conditioning benefits by locking down your form and building up to doing plenty of reps at a slow cadence. Also, high volume ingrains proper movement patterns, balance, coordination and so forth – just as in practice of karate techniques. Repetition builds skill.

Lastly, because the exercise volume requirements are so high, students have to train on their own if they truly want to earn their next rank and get closer to becoming an instructor. Parents may use reminders of this goal of instructor rank as positive reinforcement. It also helps the kids develop a sense of accountability and a work ethic.

In summary, I start everyone off with exercises they can handle for very low but quality reps and require them to work up to high reps, to build strength, conditioning, technique, and work ethic. Also, I hope that I have explained in a clear enough fashion how karate and calisthenics can be fully integrated in a useful way.

I do occasionally introduce a very few moderate difficulty exercises early on, but not until students are ready for them. Split squats are a good example. These help build balance, tension-flexibility, rooting, strength, and conditioning in a way that is much more specific to front fighting stance than early squat progression exercises do. Cossack squats, another advanced squat, help with back fighting stance, known as “kokutsu dachi” in a number of Japanese styles of karate.

Early squat exercises help with patterning horse stance – “kiba dachi” in Japanese – and correcting posture. Horse stance is often difficult for most students to hold correctly at first, and it is the posture that causes the most grief. However, it is still best to drill it early on in order to develop balance, tension-flexibility, rooting, strength, and conditioning. This helps lay the foundation for stability in stances, techniques, and movement.

Of course, static postures such as horse stance are not enough to develop rooting, known as “muchimi” in Okinawan karate. As such, dynamic stances, footwork, and drills are also taught. Rooting basically involves having a strong stance. When you are rooted, you are able maintain a connection to the ground through a lowered center of gravity and generate power in techniques from the ground up. It is important to maintain correct upper body posture and coordination of the whole body in techniques. These ensure proper rooting and power.

As I’m sure most people with experience in both calisthenics and martial arts are aware, both can work hand in hand to develop all of the qualities needed for the development of strength and technique. I hope that you, dear reader, find my examples of this to be clear and useful. The Okinawan martial arts and the methods that Coach Wade wrote about are ancient, but are still around because they work, and can work well together!

The bodyweight arts are certainly disciplines that can take a long time to become proficient in. The arts are also quite often ways of life and are worth dedicating a lifetime of training to. The hard work, “shu ha ri” process, and trying to more fully express oneself not only help us become faster and stronger, but much wiser and closer to mastery. Seeking to perfect one’s form does get us ever closer to the ideal, and as always, tightening up form generally makes calisthenics more difficult.

Of course, as we get older, we may find that we are not always as fast or strong as our younger counterparts. Even so, our experience and dedication to mastering our arts more than make up for this. We can continue improving with age, as there are almost no limits on skill, whether in calisthenics or martial arts!

Be safe and train smart, my friends!

PartyLite Review – Is the PartyLite Compensation Plan and Business Model Right For You?

Overview

PartyLite is a legitimate company that has been in business since 1909. They sell candles, bath & body care, fragrance, and gourmet foods and recipes. I’m not going to concentrate on the product details, but I’m going to concentrate mainly on their business model and their compensation plan so you can decide for yourself if becoming a PartyLite consultant is the right business opportunity for you to commit to.

How Products Are Marketed & Training

PartyLite consultants market their products through something called home shows. When you give a home show you are the host of the party. The goal of having a home show is to sell the products and recruit potential people to join your sales team.

The PartyLite business revolves around home parties and recruiting. Consultants are trained on a model called 10-3-2. This training model developed by PartyLite is asking consultants at each show to make at least 10 sales, book 3 new shows, and recruit 2 new leads into their PartyLite opportunity.

The PartyLite Compensation Plan

The first way to get paid is just off a regular retail commission. Essentially, the difference between the retail price and the wholesale price are profits you keep.

Now to qualify to receive direct sale commissions, you must sell $500 in sales every month. When you are qualified, the bonuses you can get are the following:

1. Commission for home show is 25%.

2. If you exceed over $2,000 in sales, then you will receive a 7% bonus of the total sales for the month. For example, if you made $4,000 in sales in January then you’d make a commission of $1,000 ($4,000 multiplied by 25%). Also, you qualify for a bonus so this means you will get a bonus of $280 ($4,000 multiplied by 7%).

And the third way to make commissions is through group sale commissions where you can make between 2% to 7% in group sales. There are 7 leadership levels. The level you’re on depends on the number people on your team and the amount of money earned.

For example if you were at the first level, which is called a unit leader, the following conditions must be met to qualify for group commissions:

1. You would need to recruit 4 consultants on your team

2. Your downline, which is your team only, has to make at least $2,000 in sales per month.

3. To remain as a first level unit leader you have to make at least $640 in personal sales each month.

Conclusion

The main question to ask before joining this opportunity is “Can I continually fill rooms at my home shows with people that are willing to buy my PartyLite products?” This is an answer that you must seriously think about before joining PartyLite.

Having home shows is not the greatest way to market PartyLite’s products. And this is a consultant’s main method of selling their products. It is an old method of marketing. Remember, 97% of marketers are failing because they are still adopting the old strategies of marketing. Also with this method of having home shows you are limited in the size of your market. People have to take time off their schedules to actually drive to your home show whether it’s at your house, apartment, or some other venue. How do you market to people that are far away? Limiting your customer base means your limiting the amount of financial growth with your own home based business.

Now there is nothing wrong with this marketing tactic because if you’re a person that is more into interacting with people by way of home shows, then this is definitely the right business for you. And if you’re a person that truly uses and loves PartyLite Products then I would definitely advise you to become a PartyLite consultant. If you own the products and truly believe in it, people will take you seriously and trust your judgment because you are actually a loyal consumer of the product.

People need to realize that in order to grow your business you need to establish a presence online using effective marketing tactics that the top marketers are using today. Make sure to implement personal branding to differentiate yourself from the rest of your competition. Make sure you utilize a funded proposal system by offering inexpensive informational products that help solve people’s business problems. With the funded proposal you can make money to cover your advertising expenses. You’re main goal is to establish trusting relationship with your prospects by providing free training tools and resources to them. If they find you’re free offerings are useful they will continue to follow you rather than you having to chase them down for a sale.

Exploring the Small Towns of Western Aruba

Though the western Hotel Zone and the capital of Oranjestad – located along the southwestern shore – stand as Aruba’s primary tourist destinations, there are numerous small towns across the island that offer unique sightseeing opportunities. On the western half of the island, just a short drive from both the western beaches and Oranjestad, tourists will find several unique communities that offer not only distinctive sights and experiences, but convenient access to many of Aruba’s most treasured historic and natural sights.

Noord

Located just a short drive north of Oranjestad, the town of Noord is home to some of Aruba’s most popular historic landmarks. At the heart of the town, visitors will find Santa Anna Church – also known as St. Anne’s – a breathtaking house of worship known for its hand-carved 19th century altarpiece. Though the Santa Anna Church was renovated throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the parish has been the focal point of daily life in Noord since 1776.

Just north of Santa Anna Church, perched on a windswept hill overlooking Aruba’s northern shore, travelers will find the famous Alto Vista Chapel. Known for its distinctive yellow exterior and unparalleled views of the Caribbean Sea, the Alto Vista Chapel has long been one of the most photographed sights in Aruba. Noord also provides easy access to the California Lighthouse, another popular scenic destination near the northwestern tip of the island.

The town of Noord can be reached from Oranjestad and the western coast within just a few minutes. Travelers visiting the town from Oranjestad can follow Caya Francisco D. Figaroa north from the heart of the city, while those staying near Palm Beach can reach Noord by following Route 3 east to the easily spotted Santa Anna Church.

Paradera

Just a few miles southeast of Noord, travelers will find the relaxing town of Paradera. Though Paradera is one of Aruba’s lesser-known communities, this area near the center of the island isn’t short of activities. Within just a moment’s drive from the heart of Paradera, travelers can explore the Casibari Rock Formations – a field of mysteriously shaped boulders with groomed hiking trails. Visitors that scale some of the largest boulders amongst the Casibari Rock Formations will find excellent views of the Paradera, Santa Cruz and the Aruban countryside.

Paradera can be reached from Oranjestad by following Route 6 towards the northern shore, or from the western beach resorts by following Route 4 or the scenic Route 3 via the town of Calbas.

Santa Cruz

At the center of the island, visitors will find the town of Santa Cruz – a community known primarily for its proximity to a wide variety of outdoor sights and recreation opportunities. Tourists visiting Santa Cruz from the western shore often stop at the former home of the Natural Bridge – once one of the most photographed natural sights in Aruba. Though the Natural Bridge collapsed in 2005, the nearby Baby Bridge is now celebrated as an equally scenic destination.

Aruba’s premier outdoor recreation and ecotourism destination – Arikok National Park – rests just east of Santa Cruz. Within the park, adventurous tourists can explore everything from rugged desert landscapes, fields of unique local flora, volcanic peaks that offer views of the island and the Caribbean Sea and even historic caves, including Fontein Cave and Guadirikiri Cave.

Within just a short drive from Santa Cruz, travelers can also scale the 541-foot peak known as Hooiberg. As Hooiberg features steps and handrails all the way to the summit, the mountain is a popular hiking destination for families and travelers in search of casual outdoor recreation. From atop Hooiberg, visitors will be able to admire views stretching across the island and, on clear days, even the South American mainland.

The town of Santa Cruz and its nearby recreation destinations can be reached from Oranjestad via Route 6 or from the western beach areas by taking Route 3 to Paradera, then following Route 6 north towards Arikok National Park.

While the beaches, resorts and cosmopolitan capital of Oranjestad are certainly Aruba’s biggest draws, the smaller communities scattered throughout the western half of the island allow tourists to take home a more complete picture of the island. Best of all, as the roads to many of the island’s top sightseeing destinations pass through towns such as Noord and Santa Cruz, tourists are able to conveniently and affordably experience another side of Aruba.

Wicker and Teak Furniture – Best Outdoor Furniture

Furniture is an essential element in every home. It will enhance the beauty and structure of your house. It is therefore crucial to choose furniture that will suit your taste. You must choose the finest and not just any ordinary furniture that will give your home a distinct look and feel. Read on to determine the types of patio furniture that you can choose and get sufficient knowledge that can enhance your home.

Wicker Furniture

Wicker furniture is mostly popular for outdoor furniture. It is made from interlaced slender branches and has distinct characteristics. It is light, strong and woven like feature which makes it more appealing. Wicker furniture can enhance any outdoor area with relaxing mood and tropical aura. It can be made from rattan, bamboo or plastics. Rattan is more preferred as it brings out natural beauty with its natural finish. It is also believe to bring luck and wealth in one’s life.

Plastic wicker, on the other hand, is equally popular. Aside from being inexpensive, it is also a low maintenance material that is weather resistant. The only disadvantage of having plastic wicker is that, due to its low cost, it is often mass produced look. The furniture you might be getting may not be unique, unless you customize it.

One disadvantage of wicker as furniture is when a part of the woven material comes loose. It is most likely to affect the entire furniture when not taken care of. The whole structure may be damaged and weakened. This can be prevented when the loose part is restored immediately. You can glue or bond it with a chemical suitable to stick the wicker together.

Most wicker materials can withstand any weather conditions. Because of this characteristic, it is ideal as outdoor furniture. However, most wicker materials are flammable. That is why it should not be placed near fireplace or bonfires.

Teak Furniture

Teak is considered an expensive wood material. Having tweak furniture is considered to be part of your status symbol. It is expensive at the same time possesses great qualities. Teak originated in Southeast Asia. It is mostly used for making ships in the old times due to its durable characteristics. And because of this, tweak furniture can last long and stay beautiful for the longest time. With proper care and maintenance it can be long lasting furniture. Teak have natural oils which has the ability to be rot free. It also gives a glossy and polished look. It is also bug repellant and absorbs very little heat. With these characteristics, it makes teak withstand extreme weather conditions.

Teak furniture is expensive compared to other materials. It is mainly because of its strong and durable property. It is therefore ideal to get a teak patio furniture if you prefer an outdoor furniture that will last a lifetime.

With these different types of furniture available, it is up to you to decide which one will suit not just your outdoor space as well as your budget.

Various Types of Car Alarms and Vehicle Security Systems

Thousands of cars are stolen every year; the number of these incidents can be reduced by using secure locking systems. Protecting your car from theft or burglary is your own responsibility. Many anti-theft equipment, security devices, etc., designed as per the latest technology, are available at affordable prices. Let’s discuss about different types of car alarms that can enhance the car’s safety and security.

Types of car alarms

Factory alarms: These are offered by the original equipment manufacturers (OEM). These are built in the car at the time of manufacturing the car. They can be of two types: active or passive.

Active alarm: Active alarms require the owner/user of the car to switch them on before leaving and locking the car. A car alarm can be activated using a transmitter button and the choice of switching on the alarm rests in the interest of the car owner/user. One disadvantage is that the driver needs to remember to switch on/activate the alarm.

Passive alarm: Unlike active alarms, passive alarms are much smarter. The moment the ignition is turned off and the doors are closed, they get switched on automatically. Hence, there is no need for the user to remember to arm the alarm after exiting the vehicle. Another interesting fact about these alarms is that many insurance companies offer special discounts for cars equipped with passive arming alarms.

Factory alarms are available in most cars. However, the greatest disadvantage with such alarms is that an experienced thief knows exactly how to disable the alarm without breaking the car open and these alarms cannot be upgraded. However, some after-market alarms are capable of being added to the factory alarm for added convenience and security.

After-market alarms: Unlike factory alarms, after-market alarms can be installed after purchasing the car. After-market alarms generally have all the features found in factory alarms and more. Many reputed manufacturers offer high-end car alarms that make the car more secure. Depending on the level of security, the price of these units varies accordingly. Moreover, empowering car with a better technology after-market alarms makes it more difficult and time consuming for the thieves to deactivate the alarm. Some of the newer, state-of-the-art alarm systems have features such as starter kill, telematics control, GPS tracking, remote start functions and more.

Types of alarms based on the technology used

Technology plays vital role in combating theft of cars these days. Latest technology car security devices not only alert the owner in case of theft, but can also track the vehicle in the event the vehicle is stolen. Let us see different types of technologies in car alarm systems.

• Audible car alarms: In this type of security alarms, movement sensors are placed at different points of the vehicle. Whenever the sensors are disturbed, the alarm gets activated and sounds a loud siren which is hidden somewhere in the car. The sensors can be adjusted for proper sensitivity to prevent false alarms.

• GPS car alarms: In case the car owner is not near the car, the audible sirens or noise made by the car alarms may not be heard. In such cases, if the car is stolen, advanced car alarms equipped with GPS tracking system not only inform the owner about the theft but also helps him and / or local law enforcement locate the stolen vehicle.

In case the thieves break the doors and steal the car, the GPS alarm system in the car sends an alert to the owner through a text message or email. The location of the vehicle can be tracked using a computer and satellite and hence assists the police with tracking the thieves.

These alarms can be activated or deactivated using a computer, phone call or text depending on the setting of the device.

While choosing these security systems, look for a reliable product offered by a reputed dealer that would make a difference. For best results, choose a high quality product from a reputable merchant and have the installation performed by expert technicians.

Prevent Your Nasal Allergy From Becoming a Bad Sinus Infection

It’s bad enough having an allergy with runny nose and sneezing. What is worse is getting a sinus infection as a result of the allergy. Let’s discuss how to prevent this.

In Allergy – for example weed allergy in the fall-blowing your nose too hard can weaken the immune system by damaging the nasal membranes. Poor sleep, poor diet, anxiety, too many drying medications can reduce the normal immune response. In allergy, getting chilled, and too many iced drinks slow the good nasal cilia response.

Nasal Cilia

Normally nasal cilia move bacteria out of the nose and keep you healthy. In the early stages of a weed allergy the nasal cilia speed up and the nose drips. Later, the cilia are exhausted, and no longer move the bacteria out of the nose, thereby allowing the bacteria to multiply.

A common cause of sinus disease is the act of blowing the nose too hard. Excessive blowing irritates the nose in the same manner as rubbing the eyes too hard-eye-rubbing damages the delicate eye membranes, and blowing hard can damage nasal membranes. When Big Jim blows hard and loud enough to hear him next door, he is harming his tissues and spreading bacteria to healthy areas of his sinuses and into his ears.

If weeds are your allergy, it is best to remain on the ocean in your yacht. Or, stay indoors and avoid the pollen. Important: If you are in a rainy area, the humidity above 50% increases dust mites and mold so keeping the humidity below 50% is important. Even if weeds are your allergy, dust adds to your misery, as does mold.

Various products can aid your allergy including antihistamine pills such as Claritin and Zyrtec. Nasal sprays containing antihistamine such as Astelin or Astepro help many allergics. If you know your allergy calendar, you can start Nasochrom before the allergy season for good relief. Nasochrom is available without a prescription and has almost no side effects. Some persons do well with the cortisone type nasal sprays such as Flonase or Veramist. For most persons, the effects of the various cortisone nasal sprays are similar, so select by price.

On the other hand, be aware that nasal sprays containing benzalkonium inhibit cilia function. Long-term use of Afrin nasal spray can cause rebound and addiction to this product.

Many of my patients do well during allergy season by rinsing the nose with saline. With pulsatile saline irrigation you get a known removal of pollen and the wave pulsatile action restores cilia function.

Prevent the Sinus Infection:

Prevention of sinus infection is accomplished by keeping the cilia moving and washing away pollen and bacteria.

Primary weapon is Tea Lemon and Honey. Tea contains xanthines including L theonine that act to speed nasal and chest cilia. Lemon contains antioxidants and thins the mucus, thereby allowing better cilia movement. Honey kills bacteria and also thins mucus. About eight glasses of tea, lemon and honey is best. This must be black or green tea, with or without caffeine. One of the compounds in tea is called EGCG. This blocks the receptor that makes the allergic response of histamine and IgE.

Cilia speed up with rest and relaxation and freedom from anxiety. Use compresses to the sinus areas-

o between the eyes for the ethmoid sinuses

o below the eyes for the maxillary sinuses

o above the eyes for the frontal sinuses

This helps in two ways-increased circulation and resting the patient.

Remember Chicken Soup- Jewish penicillin? That also has factors that speed nasal cilia. Recall, your nose sometimes drips when you take chicken soup.

Humibid is a Guaifensin product that increases cilia movement too. Various proteolytic enzymes such as Papain and Bromelain will thin the mucus and thereby speed cilia. Use a balanced amount of these enzymes that you melt in your mouth. That way, you avoid the stomach acid that inactivates these enzymes.

Adequate fluids help too. Sudafed and related products (pseudoephedrine) work well.

Humming at a low pitched “oooommmm” is a vibratory sound that gets the tissue vibrating, as well as the air itself and helps cilia move well. There is a device called The Flutter Device. It is like a kazoo and when you blow in it, you get a low pitched sound that vibrates not only the chest cilia, but the nasal as well. There is an Australian musical instrument called the DIDGERIDOOS that gives the deep resonate sound ideal for moving chest and nasal cilia.

Jump rope and jumping jacks are also effective for waking up slow cilia, but not many of my patients have the energy for this after six weeks of sneezing.

The doctors all advise adequate sleep and rest. Good advice. How to do this when your nose is plugged and you are sneezing? Since good sleep is primary for keeping up your immunity and avoiding a sinus infection, here are some pointers that help:

Set your sleep clock. If you go to bed nightly at the same time then you sleep clock can be set. Make going to sleep as formal as possible with specific steps you repeat nightly such as:

Brush your teeth

Comb/brush your hair

Cream your hands/face

Try to have the same room temperature and bedclothes. Some persons do better with a sleepy music or a TV show such as the Shopping Channel for men or the Sports Channel for women. You may want to discuss with your doctor about using Melatonin to help set that sleep clock.

For that nighttime plugged nose, a Benzedrex inhaler often works well, as does a Benadryl capsule.

Pulsatile irrigation refers to using a nasal/sinus irrigator device that pulses at a rate to “harmonize” with normal cilia movement. This gently delivers saline solution in the form of waves that, like the ocean, come up and then retreat. Used during the allergy season, pulsatile irrigation is effective in irrigating away dust and pollen, lowering the body’s IgE level in the blood, and reducing the need for drugs.

In some persons, this might be enough relief and allow them to stop taking medications. This method is ideal for those who prefer to avoid drugs for their allergy, particularly if you are pregnant. If you use pulsatile irrigation to remove the jasmine pollen that lands in your nose, you are still allergic to the pollen, but your body can handle the reduced amount of the pollen in your system with fewer symptoms when your natural cilia movement is active in removing the pollen.

When Mucus is Colored

When mucus is colored, this suggests bad bacteria are in your sinuses. A common cause is using squeeze or pot irrigators that have “flowback,” With flowback, bacteria from the nose flows back into the bottle or pot and grow; then they are introduced back into the nose at the next irrigation.

Pulsatile irrigation should be started to avoid a sinus infection when mucus thickens and becomes colored. That is when the cilia are “worn out. ” The rate of the pulsatile wave action moves the cilia, the wave irrigation action removes thick mucus that may impede cilia movement and flow. An important factor is that pulsatile irrigation removes bacteria and virus products, and is more effective for biofilm removal.

Biofilm

Biofilm is recognized today as a chief reason why sinus disease is so hard to cure. Here, the bacteria get together in colonies and form a slime coating that makes it difficult for the antibiotic to penetrate. That same coating is sticky so that ordinary rinsing doesn’t do a good job of dislodging this product. Pulsatile irrigation can be highly beneficial where biofilm is the culprit because the pulsation helps to dislodge the sticky memebrane and the wave action helps to move it out of the nose.

Reducing bacterial load is extremely beneficial for preventing sinus infection following an allergy. One approach is prophylactic antibiotic. This can be administered via pulsatile irrigation. However, any antibiotic has drawbacks of sensitizing the patient, building up bacterial resistance and potential side effects of the drug.

Reduce Bacterial Load

One answer to reducing bacterial load without side effects is to use Xylitol in the pulsatile solution. Xylitol is a sugar that is used to bake cookies for diabetic patients. Because it is metabolized by the liver and not by insulin, it is an ideal sweetener for diabetic patients. However, most bacteria can’t digest it. In essence, the bacteria gorge on the Xylitol which they can’t digest. Think of them as soldiers who are now too stoned or drunk to defend themselves, and can be defeated by your natural defense factors such as lysozyme. Now, these impaired bacteria can be easily swept away.

By delivering Xylitol in the pulsatile irrigator, you significantly lower the bacterial load so that your natural healing takes place to get rid of remaining bacteria.

Xylitol has many advantages. It is inexpensive-about five dollars a pound, it is sold in most health food stores, it has no side effects on the patient, and doesn’t change bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Just as you can use Xylitol daily to sweeten your tea, similarly you can use it daily for nasal/sinus irrigation.

In my practice I have my patients make a 1% Xylitol/Saline solution.

Add 500 cc (about one pint) of bottled or distilled water to the irrigator bowl. Add one teaspoon of salt or one packet of enhanced saline such as Breathe.ease XL. Then add two teaspoons of Xylitol. This makes a 1% solution of Xylitol.

Using this daily at the end of the allergy attack can restore nasal cilia function, remove bacterial products, and significantly lower bacterial load to prevent the sinus infection that may otherwise follow the allergy.

It is always important to get sufficient rest, use the cilia stimulation I have described, and improve natural immunity with good gut bacteria such as probiotics, and keep a sunny outlook.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology estimates 37 million persons with sinus disease in the US. We can significantly reduce this total number by following the plan detailed here.