Sealing Your Patio Pavers – 11 Keys to Successfully Sealing Your Patio

When my neighbor first decided to install a paver-block patio behind his home, he chose paver stones for several good reasons. He thought they would last longer than other materials like wood, or poured concrete, he thought they had a really “rich” elegant look to them and most of all, he thought that they would be maintenance free. Well, he almost had it right. They do look great and they’re incredibly durable, but it wasn’t long before he learned that they aren’t completely maintenance free.

After several seasons of rain, snow and sun, the patio just didn’t look as good as it first did when he had it installed. The sun was beginning to fade the color in some areas, the sand between the stones had been washed away by the rains and weeds had started growing in the gaps between the pavers. He even began to see ant colonies beginning to form using his precious paver sand as their new home.

Well, the solution to his problem was fairly simple. It was time to clean the patio up and seal it for protection. And though he was somewhat reluctant at first to attempt this project on his own, once I began to walk him through the various steps, he decided it didn’t sound that tough and he ought to be able to seal his patio himself.

I concurred. “Just observe these simple 11 keys”, I told him, “and when you’re done your patio will look like it was done by the Pros!”

1. First, take your time

With every project that I undertake, I can’t stress this point enough. From the beginning to the end, with every step in between, take your time. When you rush a project through you make mistakes, and mistakes are what the pros are able to avoid. Sometimes it’s just a matter of cleaning the surface a little better, or rinsing things off a little more. Maybe it’s allowing a little more time between coats for your sealer to dry or waiting a few more hours before re-installing your patio furniture. With every step of the process, take your time. The chances are much better that when the work is all done and the tools have been stored, you’ll look at the finished result and be satisfied that it turned out just as you had hoped it would.

2. Acids can be great cleaners

Often times when you inspect the patio, prior to washing you’ll notice stains. Leaves that have remained on the patio can leave tannin stains. Iron furniture that sits on the patio will most likely leave rust stains. Whatever stains you find need to be removed prior to sealing or they will be sealed in and become permanent, so now is the time to work on them. The simplest way to get the stains out is by using an acid cleaner. Conventional muriatic acid works well and it’s cheap, but I hate it. If you get it on your skin it burns and the vapors from it are just terrible. Instead, I use a “safer” cleaner, such as Defy Safer Masonry Cleaner. For severe stains, I simply pour a little cleaner at full strength on the stain and give it a few minutes to work before rinsing. If the whole patio is fairly dirty, dilute the cleaner 4:1 (four parts water to one part cleaner) and using a garden-type pump up sprayer, spray the entire surface with cleaner. Allow the cleaner to remain wet on the surface for 5 minutes or so, and then begin the rinsing process using a power washer.

3. Clean, clean and then clean some more

In regard to the prep work, sealing you patio isn’t much different than staining your deck or painting your house. Much of the quality of the job comes down to how well you prepare the surface.

Patios that have weathered will often times have mildew, moss and algae growing on the stones and in the sand between the joints. Weeds that have begun to grow as well as any other foreign debris need to be removed, and for a patio that means a good cleaning. The easiest way to clean things off is with a power washer.

Make certain that you select a washer with enough power to do the job. I try to never use anything rated less than 2400 p.s.i. Select a tip that will fan the water out slightly, 15° or so. Also, always work in sections.

Patios should be constructed so that water runs away from the home. So begin working near the house or the high side of the slope of the patio. Rinse debris down the patio’s natural flow, away from the house. You’ll loose some of the sand between the joints during the cleaning process and that’s ok. We’ll replace the sand once the patio is cleaned up. Just be careful not to blow out more sand than is necessary while doing your cleaning.

4. Now this one’s on the “level”

With the patio now cleaned, look around and inspect the condition of the pavers. Over time, paver stones can settle or shift, making them unlevel. If you have some bricks that are out of place, using a screwdriver and a stiff putty knife, pry the uneven stones out. Once removed, you can add a little sand, smooth it out with the blade of your putty knife, and re-install the bricks. A couple of taps with a rubber mallet to make things perfect and voila’, the bricks are level once again.

5. It’s time to fill this joint

The last remaining step in getting the patio ready to seal is to re-grout the joints between the stones with fresh sand. This step isn’t hard, but it does take a little time so be patient. To do this, I use a fine grade of run-of-the-mill play box sand. Pour a small amount on the patio and begin sweeping it into the joints using a push-broom. Sweep in both directions; back-to-front and left-to-right to insure the joints get completely filled. As the sand gets used up by filling the joints pour a little more onto the patio and keep sweeping.

6. Break time

This is the part you’re going to love. Go take a break! Remember when we started I said to take your time? Well now it’s very important that you take your time. After all of the cleaning that we did, the ground under those pavers is soaking wet and needs to dry out. Give the patio a couple of good, hot sunny days to dry out before applying any sealer. If you don’t, you could end up trapping moisture under the sealer and the whole project will turn a milky-white color…yuck!

7. Take a look at Waterborne Sealers

It’s time to pick out your sealer now and the choices are solvent-based products or water-based products. I hate solvents! “Why?” you ask. Here’s why:

  1. They’re bad for our environment.
  2. If they get on my grass or flowers, they kill them.
  3. They smell terrible.
  4. Everything has to be cleaned up with messy solvents.

Water-base sealers are a much better choice. Besides being both easy to use and easy on the environment, they offer another amazing advantage. They “stabilize” the sand. When cured, water-based sealers such as Defy’s Epoxy Fortified Paver Sealer, will harden the joint sand and lock it into place. This prevents it from washing out during future rains.

8. Read the can, follow directions

Every manufacturer’s product can be little different so always read the directions. It only takes a few minutes but it will ensure that you have all the right information before you get started. Pay attention to details such as how many coats of sealer to apply, how long to wait between coats, how to properly apply the product and how to clean it up. There are any number of variations to these questions and more. Read the label first and you’ll be likely to get it right the first time.

9. This sprayin’ stuff is easy

Now the fun stuff begins…applying the sealer. To do this, I love to use a garden-type pump up sprayer but I’ll warn you in advance, don’t buy a cheap one! The better sprayers (they usually cost over $50 bucks) have a metal fan-style spray tip and do a much better job than the inexpensive weed sprayers. When you’re looking for a sprayer, the key here is to look for a “fan-style tip”.

The patio edges can be cut-in using a 4″ nylon brush and then you’re ready to start spraying. Water-based sealers normally require two coats to be applied. Once you’ve cut-in the edges, spray the entire patio with the first coat. Then wait for the sealer to dry enough that it can walked on, and do the same thing all over again…two coats! If you get things on too heavy and the sealer starts to puddle, use the brush to get rid of the puddling by simply brushing it out.

If you want to see what this process looks like, you can visit defyinfo.com where you can find a streaming video detailing each of the steps that we’ve taken.

10. MORE is definitely NOT better

Ok, if a little is good then a lot must be better, right? No! Remember, we’re sealing concrete paver stones and these stones are sitting on a bed of sand. When the sand gets wet and then the sun comes out, these pavers need to breathe, meaning they need to let any water vapors pass through them. When too much sealer is applied, the water vapor can no longer pass through, which results in a white “blushing” effect or even potentially peeling.

Don’t be fooled, I know how great this stuff can look if you really lay it on, how cool that high gloss finish is. But it will blush and peel. Limit your application to two coats and you won’t have a problem.

11. How about a little maintenance

Ok, great job, now just one more thing. How about a little maintenance? Blow the leaves off when they fall to keep them from staining. Rinse the dirt and debris that seems to just show up over time. And as the weather begins to dull down the finish and the patio loses its luster, simply rinse it off and apply a light maintenance coat. Catch it before the patio gets too weathered and it’s really that simply.

So that’s it. That’s everything. Eleven keys to sealing your patio. Go ahead and try these eleven keys for yourself. See what the results are when you set out on your next project to do it like a pro. You might just surprise yourself!

Dog Walking – A Great Business

There are over fifty million dogs in the United States. One in four homes has a dog. Many dogs sit home all day while their doggie parents work. A lot live in Condominiums and apartments, which means they don’t get to be outside during the day at all. Dog walking has become a necessity. If you love dogs this is your chance to cash in on a fantastic career and start your own dog walking service.

Dog walking is a great career because you can earn money while you exercise. And while the work can be physically demanding it’s fun so you hardly notice. The good news is that you won’t have to fight traffic, or do the nine to five grind and you can actually make a good living at it. Think about it you get paid for playing with people’s dogs.

If this seems like an interesting enterprise you will need a few things to get started. You are going to build a kit. This is easy and you can build it for less than $100.00, not a bad investment for your own business. You will need a plastic box about 15x21x18 with a lid for your car.

In your kit should be a fanny pack, which you will wear and use everyday. I got the fanny pack with water bottle holders on the sides. In the fanny pack you will pack waste bags, water for yourself and the dog, your keys, sun block, business cards and treats, and maybe even an extra leash. The fanny pack is essential because you want to keep your hands free.

It’s nice if you have a shirt with the name of your company or your name on it. This lets people you come in contact with know what you do. I’ve gotten business this way. You can buy a shirt later if you are starting with bare bones financing.

A good strong key ring is a must. You will want to have “all” your client’s keys with you at all times. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a client call at the last minute and request a walk. Put your name and phone number on the key ring so if it is lost you can be contacted to have it returned. Never label the keys with your client’s address. Use the name of the dog instead. If you have two dogs with the same name use Ally 1 & Ally 2 for example.

You will need an endless supply of dog waste bags and you can’t be afraid to use them. Hey if this is the worst part of the job you can’t complain.

Business cards are a must. You can make your own on your computer or buy some cheap at a local printing place. If you can afford to buy them get some door hangers too. I’ve put door hangers on doors where I see or hear a dog in a back yard. I’ve gotten work this way. One time I saw this poor girl with a business suit and high heels being pulled by a Great Dane. I pulled over and gave her a business card. I had that dog for over five years before he passed away of old age. Business cards are a great marketing tool and this business sells itself.

In this day of our litigious society release forms are a must. This basically lets your customer know that unless it was negligence on your part they will be responsible for vet bills should the dog get sick or hurt while in your care. One time I had to rush a dog to the vet because she was allergic to bees, which we didn’t know until she got stung. Her head blew up like a balloon and I got her to the vet just before she went into anaphylatic shock. Another time I was driving a bunch of dogs back from the dog park when one of them had a seizure. The customer had no idea his dog was epileptic. Unforeseen things happen make sure you are covered. You can find basic release forms on line.

Note pads and a pen are important. Some customers want a daily activity report on their dog. I had both pens and note pads with my name and number on them. They are a great marketing tool. In this age of cell phones I text a lot of my customers with updates.

Buy and keep an appointment book. Write down all of your appointments everyday even if they are regulars, this way you can fill in time slots and at the end of the month you can use your appointment book to do your billing. It will be a lifesaver when you start getting busy and it’s a good resource at tax time. Be sure to write in pencil and keep it updated.

A tax manual gives you a chance to record all your expenses for the year by month. It comes in handy at tax time and much better than a shoebox. Be sure to keep receipts for all business expenses. I filed mine monthly in an accordion file.

A mileage book will help you record mileage when you’re working. Unless you have a separate car for your business you are not allowed to write off the cost of your car, although you can write off a portion of the gas and maintenance as long as you keep a log.

An address book is essential. You should keep your customers numbers with you at all times. I kept mine in my cell phone and in a book just in case my phone wasn’t usable. I’ve had to call clients on the spot if their dog is sick or if something happened at home. Keep your customers numbers with you at all times.

Always have a First Aid Kit on hand. You hope nothing happens, but if does you’ll be ready with your doggie first aid kit. You can buy dog first aid kits on line, but they have instructions for building one on line as well.

Now that you have your kit together you will need to figure out what your fees are going to be. Check around to see what other dog walkers and pet sitters are getting. Look through your yellow pages and call a few pet sitters to see what they are charging. You want to be competitive, however different areas command different fees. Find out what the going rate is in your area. My business grew fast and I was actually able to raise my rates with in a six- month period. This business really does sell itself.

You will want to charge accordingly if you are walking more than one dog in a family. You can give a discount, but make sure you charge. You can also set a monthly rate if you walk the dog more than one time a day. Set up a pay structure that both you and the customer are comfortable with. To get first time customers you may want to offer an introductory price, say a months worth of dog walks at half price, or you can offer a goody bag to first time clients.

Although I never charged extra for services like feeding a dog or giving them a pill some dog walkers do charge for extras. If you have to go back to the house later to do these things then by all means charge them as you are using more gas.

The next thing you will want to do is set up your books. You will need a billing system to bill your clients. I used quick books and billed at the end of every month. I sent them a bill with all the dates I walked their dog. Okay where is that appointment book? I go through the book for each client and make up a bill. Most of the time you will be billing after the fact. Clients may need to cancel during the month so billing after just makes more sense.

You will need another set of books (tax book) for your income and expenses. This is where you will mark down your mileage from your booklet, any treats you bought, money spent on gas, sun block, waste bags, of course your start up kit and anything else you buy that helps you run your business. You can even write off walking shoes. I recommend getting a tax preparer who has experience in doing business taxes. If you run your business out of a home office you can also write off ten percent of your mortgage, rent and utilities. List all of your income and all or your expenses, using the receipts you saved (I keep all my receipts in a basket), use them when I do my books and then file them in my accordion file by month.

You will definitely want insurance. There are a few companies that can help you, but a broker can hook you up much easier. Business insurance can be expensive, but it is much better than losing everything you have worked for if something tragic happens. Don’t get scared in all my years of walking I never had to use my insurance once.

There are a lot of ways to advertise but word of mouth will always be your best resource. Visit area condominium and apartment complexes that take pets. Wearing your company shirt go and talk to the complex manager. Tell them what your business is and ask them if you can advertise in the complex. They will welcome you because they don’t want dogs messing in their units. Ask them if you can leave business cards to put in the new resident packets. Also see if you put some business cards in their community room, laundry room or near the mailboxes.

Another good place to get clients is corporate housing complexes. Corporate housing is where companies put up new employees until they can get relocated. These complexes often take pets. You can be the person that welcomes them to the area and at the same time take a load off their mind by walking their dogs while they are moving. Getting to know you will be a relief for them as you can be a wealth of information for them, like giving them the names of local vets and groomers.

Other good resource is local veterinarians. Ask them if you can put business cards on their front counter(always provide your own business card holder). Tell them that when you get new clients you will refer them. It’s a win-win situation. Your local pet store is another good avenue for advertising. Laundromats and anyplace else that has a bulletin board are good advertising resources. Always carry your business cards with you. Strike up conversations with people. Let them know what you. You always want to be prepared.

If you have your own dog take your dog to the park in the evenings or on the weekends and talk to every dog owner there. Tell them about your services and give them a business card. Let them know how much their dog’s fitness means to you.

If you live in a tourist area visit local hotels that allow pets. A lot of people bring their pets on vacation and would definitely pay to have their pet walked if they are going to be out all day. Visit the hotel’s manager and give them some of your business cards and door hangers. If asked the hotel clerk can just hand their hotel patron a door hanger when they check in. Again the hotel owner does not want dogs messing in their rooms.

Always do a client visit before you take on the responsibility of walking a dog. You want to meet the dog so they know you when you show up at the door for their first walk. Let the customer fill out and sign the release form. In the mean time get down on the floor and interact with your new client.

You want to test drive a new client. Find out about all their quirks, are they social with other dogs, with people, what are they afraid of, do they ride in the car okay, are they toy or treat aggressive? You’ll want to have all these questions answered before you take the dog out on its first walk. I had a dog that was terrified of garbage trucks. To avoid putting him in a situation where he’d come face to face with a garbage truck I took him to the park. Be sensitive to their phobias. They are like children in your care and you want their experience to be pleasant.

Don’t be afraid to ask your client what they expect of you. Some may ask you to leave a light on as the owner gets home after dark. Still others may want you to turn the television on so the dog has company. You may have to change potty pads if they are dirty. You will get all kinds of requests. Always, always change the dog’s water bowl whether you are asked to or not.

Some homeowners use alarms. There’s nothing worse than setting off the alarm on your first day. The alarm is blaring the dog is howling and the neighbors coming running over to see what is wrong. Then the local police ride up and you have to explain why you are there. I speak from experience. Ask about alarms and get the code before you start. Gated Communities are another issue. You’ll need a way to get in. Some places have a gate code others you’ll need a gate opener. Get all of these issues out of the way ahead of time so there are no surprises on your first day.

Your job is to get your clients dog out for some exercise and a potty break during the day. Each walk will be different, however each walk should last at least a half hour. There are a few ways to accomplish exercise time. You can walk each dog individually or you can take a carload of dogs to a dog park for an hour and let them run off leash. If you do take them to a dog park remember you are responsible for them. They must be watched at all times. If your client isn’t very social still try to make walk time, playtime. For example you can run an energetic dog up and down a hill for added exercise, or bring a ball and let them play fetch. A geriatric dog may just need to be let out to be relieved, but you can still give them a half hour by sitting under a tree or giving them a massage.

You’ll be walking dogs in all kinds of weather. You have to be careful with hot weather as much as inclement weather. Dogs can get overheated very quickly. This is a dangerous situation for any animal. On hot sunny days keep exercise to a minimum. You may not want to play ball. A simple walk and then home again, if you can walk in a shady area all the better. Don’t walk your client on hot pavement. Stick to sidewalks or grassy parks. Make sure your client has plenty of water while out on the walk and then again when they get home.
Yes, you still have to walk your clients even if it is raining, however most customers only want their dogs going out for a potty break so they don’t track mud into the house. Ask your customers what they prefer. Never walk a dog in an electrical storm. It’s a good idea to keep old towels in your kit for rainy days.

Most dogs love snow, but again you have to be able to cater to a whole host of dogs. Be aware that smaller dogs and dogs with little hair become cold faster than most other dogs. You may want to cut their walk in half and warm them in towels when you take them inside. Don’t leave any dog shivering. Icy roads or sidewalks are another concern. Ice and salt dry out a dog’s pads and get stuck between their toes. It can even cause burns. Clean ice and salt from their paws when you get your client back home. They have paw wipes for this purpose.

Remember your job is very important to your customers. They feel guilty leaving their pet behind all day. You make them feel better about it. Also when they come home tired, from a long day at the office their dog will be tired too. You give your customer a sense of security. Besides, what other job can you do where you play and get paid for it?

All About Dental Implants

Dental implants can be the perfect solution for missing teeth. No matter how the teeth got lost, due to an accident or lack of dental hygiene, a dental implant will replace the teeth. Getting a London dental implant can be the best option to create a beautiful smile once again.

Dental implants are artificial titanium roots that are inserted in to the jaw bone to hold the replacement tooth in place. Titanium is used because of the naturally occurring process called osseointegration. This is a process that happens when the jaw bone fuses with the titanium, permanently keeping the tooth implants anchored.

There are two types of tooth implants – subperiosteal and endosperm. Subperiosteal implants make up a metal frame that is installed on top of the jaw bone below the gums. The gums will heal and the frame will become permanently attached to the bone.

These kinds of implants are less common and used if the patient has a significant amount of bone loss. The cost for these implants is higher than endosperm implants. Endosteal implants are more common than subperiosteal.

Endosteal implants are inserted directly into the jaw. Once the osseointegration process is complete, the patient needs to wait until the gums are healed before the posts can be attached to the implant. Once the posts are attached, the crowns will be placed on top. These are more common than subperiosteal and have a lower implant cost.

When there are multiple teeth that need to be replaced, a bridge is used. The bridge is a special type that is only used when teeth implants are needed to support it. This is opposed to natural teeth which will increase the teeth implant costs. An implant is inserted into each gap and then the bridge is installed on top after osseointegration.

There are three rules available for people who are missing all of their teeth and need to have them replaced. The first procedure is an implant-supported bridge where six to eight implants are put in the mouth. The mouth is restored with porcelain crowns and bridges.

The second procedure is removable dental implant dentures which are supported by one or two implants. Two to four implants and a dentures on top are supported by the implants. The dentures is stable this way. The third procedure is dental dentures implants which support a fixed dentures hybrid. This option allows more implants to be placed that can support a fixed dentures hybrid.

There are three steps when a tooth implant is installed. The first is surgery preparation. Before implants can be installed, the mouth needs to be examined and analyzed with x-rays and CT scans. Factors involved in the procedure will be determined and an estimate of the cost will be given.

Next, tooth implants will be inserted into the jaw bone. Osseointegration will take place. This can take a few weeks, so a temporary tooth will be inserted until the second appointment is reached.

Lastly, an artificial crown will be attached to the dental implants. This step is very quick but it may need readjustments after the fact. After the entire procedure is complete, the implants will be fully functional and look the same as natural teeth.

Tooth implants are indistinguishable from natural teeth and can last over a decade if they are taken care of. An implant can prevent the overcrowding and misalignment of teeth. The mouth will be protected from problems that could occur because of the gap in teeth. There is no need to remove implants at night or when eating and they can be cleaned the same way as natural teeth.

Teeth implants cannot be inserted if the mouth is unhealthy. There should be no presence of bacteria or gum disease in the mouth. Some cases, the mouth does not have enough bone. However this can be fixed with bone grafting or an augmentation procedure before the implants.

Crossbow Maintenance Tips

A crossbow can be a highly accurate, fun to shoot weapon. However if it is not maintained properly it can quickly lose its accuracy and even become dangerous to the shooter if a critical part should fail. To avoid any problems there are several simple maintenance tasks which should be performed regularly.

The first task is to keep the strings and cables lubed and waxed. The center serving section of the string should be treated with rail lube every few shots and the flight rail of the crossbow should also be wiped with the same lube. The rest of the string and cables (skip this step for steel cables) should be treated with bow wax by globbing it onto the string and rubbing vigorously with your fingers to warm and melt the wax into the string fibers. Strings and cables are expected to wear and need to be replaced as soon as they show signs of fraying. By waxing and lubing often, you will extend their life to several times that of untreated ones.

The second task is to clean and lube the trigger mechanism of your crossbow. Dust and debris have a way of collecting in trigger assemblies causing them to fail or become hard to pull. Remove any grime from the trigger with a compressed air can, cleaners made for firearms, or both. A few drops of gun oil should then be squirted into the clean mechanism.

The last task is to give the limbs, axles, and cams (if it is a compound crossbow) a visual inspection. The limbs should be inspected for any cracking or splintering along the edges and front and back sides. If any are found the crossbow should not be shot until it has been returned to the dealer for warranty repair. The axles should be examined for any worn, cracked, or missing bushings. Most crossbow bushings wear over time and this shows up as excessive cam lean. If the cams appear to lean or you can see a cracked or missing bushing return the crossbow to the dealer for further inspection and repair.

Crossbow archery is a very fun and safe sport when practiced properly. By performing these simple steps before each shooting session you will keep it that way.

How-to Select & Install a Custom Motorcycle Gas Tank

A custom motorcycle gas tank is one of the most important things you will need for your custom motorcycle. Its the piece on your bike that will be first noticed, so make sure you get a good paintjob.

Picking out a gas tank should be relatively easy based on what you are looking for. When looking for the proper motorcycle gas tank you will want to think convenience, reliability and looks.

Essentially, the bigger your custom motorcycle gas tank is, the less you will need to fill-up and the more cool paint you can use. The less you stop the more you enjoy the ride. There are plenty of options for a custom motorcycle gas tank that you can choose from. There are many motorcycle gas tank styles that can be built or purchased to suit your requirements. One of the many kinds of tanks that are available for your motorcycle (or chopper) are stretch tanks. Stretch tanks resemble exactly what their name implies. The stretch tank is a bit longer and stretched so it looks cooler, follows the lines off your bike and flows better.

Usually you can find these types of gas tanks in many sizes 2″, 3″or 5″ stretch and you can always weld some extensions to make it fit your ride or mold it directly into the frame rails or oil tank.

These custom motorcycle gas tanks are a blend of old and new gas tanks, and are an excellent choice that can perform nearly anything you want your custom motorcycle to be capable of attaining.

Then there are custom “Radical” style tanks. These tanks look great on any showbike but usually do not hold as much gas so be prepared to stop more often. You should also be prepared to discuss your bike with those around you as you pump your fuel. These are eye catching style tanks, sure to make that minivan driver remember when he wanted nothing but his bike and his girl.

There are also tons of other tanks, Sportster tanks, King tanks, Mustang tanks, Dyna tanks, Fatbob tanks, peanut tanks, bobber tanks, coffin tanks, chopper tanks. They come with a variety of gas cap styles: flush caps, pop-up caps, aircraft-style and and and… its endless.

All tanks should be mounted for proper fitment, then removed, cleaned and sealed on the inside and pressure tested before painting to prevent leaks. Again, there are may ways of sealing the tank but no matter how you do it, it must be done.

Also when mounting your tank do not stress any of the mounting tabs when tightening down the tank. This can cause cracking of the finish and weakening of the mounting tabs. Check all the mounts and fuel line fittings before filling with fuel.

An in-line fuel filter is always a good idea with any fuel system. Don’t just trust the screen around your petcock to keep any dirt out of your carburetor.

Now you pick out a tank that fits your needs.

Ride safe and don’t run out of gas!

Features and Benefits of the Yamaha P-155 Digital Piano

Yamaha is the only manufacturer of acoustic pianos which also builds digital pianos and has improved its high-quality slab piano, the P-155 for the 2009 Winter NAMM. Although designed for a musician who is gigging and needs quality tone and touch piano, the Yamaha P-155 can also be used at home for practicing.

Features of this instrument include superior sound and GH (Graded Hammer) Effect key movement that can build adequate finger technique; a mahogany top board and black body with stylish and sleek design; and a GH keyboard with real piano feel. It also has AWM 4-level Dynamic Stereo and Pure CF, a USB attachment for playing and storing music, polyphony (max) and 128 notes.

With the Yamaha, well-known piano touch, the P-155 digital piano provides a high quality sound for use when you are performing by yourself, in a band, practicing at your home or away from home. The top-shelf technologies relating to digital piano from Yamaha plus the highly-expressive Graded Hammer keyboard save musicians from having to choose between piano quality and portability.

The Yamaha P-155 uses only a small space making it ideal for users who live in small spaces like apartments. It depends on built-in speakers and is controlled by a top efficiency stereo amplifier; however, it can be also attached to an exterior amplifier through line level (¼ inch) products with varying level of volume control.

Sampling: Pure CF for splendid tonality

The technicians for Yamaha chose a CFIIIs complete concert grand having top sound quality and managed to tune it to the best possible condition. They next used one of a kind Pure CF sampling method to sample all sounds to build the sound on the instrument. You can then enjoy the natural sounding reaction as a high-quality piano.

Advanced Wave Memory or AWM: 4-level Dynamic Stereo Sampling

The Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) is a system of sampling which builds sound that is close to the sound of an audio instrument by utilizing digital technology for recording the instrument sound and using the top-quality digital technology for filtering to the audio samples recorded. The Advanced Wave Memory Sampling evaluates these samples and can build such different nuances by taping samples of different playing strengths. The higher amount of samples utilized, the higher will be the potential outcomes and expressive quality.

Key-Off samples, Damper Resonance and Stereo Sustain samples

Yamaha has tried their utmost best in the Yamaha P-155 to capture the artifacts of the sonic instrument so that it will sound like you are using a grand piano. These painstaking efforts involve taping a felt damper, pausing on a pulsating string which sweeps over your performing action when utilizing the Stereo Sustain Samples and Damper Resonance (damper pedal).

Basketball – How Your Conscious and Subconscious Mind Can Improve Your Free Throw Shooting Skills

Basketball freethrow shooting: The importance of the “conscious” and “subconscious” mind in improving free throw shooting:

Once Upon a time there were three brothers who all lived in the same complex. Their names were ‘Conscious’, Subconscious’ and ‘Unconscious’. These guys play ‘mind games’. Obviously there must be some interaction between the nerves and corresponding systems of nerves. The Cerebrospinal is the organ of the conscious mind and the sympathetic nervous system is the organ of the subconscious. The cerebrospinal provides the avenue by which we get conscious perception from the physical senses and maintain control of body movements. This nervous system resides in the brain’s center. The Sympathetic system sets up shop in a mass of ganglions at the back of the stomach and is called the Solar Plexus and is the avenue for the mental activity which supports unconsciously the vital body functions like heart beat, blood flow, blinking etc. They are all very receptive to light and knowledge as well as one’s environment and the Universality of man and his connection to God.

The impact that the subconscious mind has on the body is tremendous. It could be considered a multi-tasker. It is responsible for our hard drive or the memory storage bank, it is from here that we get our inspiration, it channels our thoughts, tastes and many other intricate tasks like controlling our heart beat, blood flow, cellular growth, bone growth, formation of muscle and nerve tissues, blinking etc. Almost all the physical processes that we never think about that helps sustain our daily lives. These are definitely constant underlying activities that are all in production each and every time you shoot a basketball and you definitely don’t want to have any conscious thought focused on any subconscious activity. You will have enough trouble concentrating on just a couple, simple conscious tasks during a free throw attempt. Makes you wonder what really controls your life.

The subconscious while controlling all regular bodily functions mentioned above, also is heavily involved in mental processes dealing with the ‘subjective mind’ or interior power. On the other hand, we have the ‘conscious mind’ which is also referred to as the ‘objective mind’ which deals with outward objects and impressions of life on the outside with the help of the 5 physical senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Free throw shooting only requires 2 of these namely sight and touch.

I have to share a personal experience where my subconscious actually manifested to me a life changing career. It was 1972, (you remember, where terrorism raised it’s ugly head by using international athletics as a platform to make political statements, and where the USA men’s Basketball team lost to the Russians on a controversial call) while I was representing Australia for the Olympic games for the first time, we got to travel with the team prior to the games around Europe and play some of the European teams as warm up exercises.

On this one particular warm summer day in the late August, we were in Italy passing through and we had a chance to see the “Sistine Chapel” which was painted by Michaelangelo in the 1500’s. This excited me because I actually had read his Biography while in High School and his work fascinated me. Now that I had the chance to actually stand where he stood, well, I really jumped on the chance. I felt like Moses in the movie “The Ten Commandments” when he went up to Mount Sinai and approached the ‘burning bush’ and God spoke to him in his slow, deep and penetrating voice saying ” Moses, put off thine sandals from off thine feet, for thou standest on Holy ground”.

As I approached the chapel, I still recall that I had some funny feelings that I could not explain. A mixture of anxiety, curiosity and feelings of respect. As I entered and laid my eyes on this phenomenon I was blown away. After gazing upwards for a few hours I remember still to this day saying these words, “There’s no way in the world that this work was done by any human being. This work was guided by the hand of God.” Little did I realize that it would take about 15 years before the impact of inspiration would take hold. Remember that the subconscious is a marketplace for gathering and storing inspiration. And of course it wasn’t for many years later that I realized how powerful the subconscious was and what we subject our minds to. “As a man thinketh, so is he”. Well I never realized that Michaelangelo’s work embossed a deep image into my mind and I guess if something leaves such a strong message on your mind then you will act upon it. Somehow, sooner or later it has to come out.

I had no idea that I had artistic tendencies since after I took an art class in High School, I really didn’t connect with it. I did enjoy technical drawing which was more about lines, symmetry, depth and 3 dimensional work geared more towards architectural vocations. To make a long story short, I did my Master’s degree in 1981 at Brigham Young University and chose as my Thesis and Dissertation to do an artistic project based on the greatness of man reaching his potential. I wanted to do something that would last a thousand years. So I chose to do a rendition of several athletes in action extending to their max in striving to reach their greatest potential and I decided to do it in tile, concrete and steel. I chose to do a 3-dimensional mosaic, which would weigh a half ton upon completion, would take over 400 hours to complete and it was done upside down and backwards, in my living room. Why a mosaic? Well I was so inspired by all the old masters I saw in my European travels I felt like I wanted to leave my mark using their medium.

The point I am trying to make here is that my subconscious changed my conscious processes into actually changing careers from a high school basketball coach to a full time traveling Sports artist where I painted Basketball court floors and wall murals with school mascots. This is powerful stuff and I have a testimony that won’t stop. You could say that I actually do exactly what Michaelangelo did over 500 years ago. Except he traveled by donkey and I fly in jets to get to where I need to go.(If the price of fuel does not go down then I may be riding a donkey to work). Also he mostly laid on his back and I spend most of my time on my knees painting floors. Also, He was one of the greatest artists of all time and I am just a commercial artist trying to make a difference by improving the aesthetics within institutions. You could say that I did succeed in this at least because according to the floor companies they say I was single handedly responsible for changing the face of graphics on sports surfaces in the United States and even the Globe. So you see one person can make a difference. It wasn’t my initial goal to do this. It just happened.

When we talk of ‘consciousness’ or the ‘conscious’, it may be a good idea to at least define the terms. According to Funk and Wagnall’s Standard College Dictionary, the word “conscious” means awareness of one’s own existence, feelings and thoughts, or of external objects and conditions; mentally awake.

On the other hand the term “consciousness” is the knowledge of sensations and mental operations, or of what passes in one’s mind.

It is the conscious mind that is responsible for the most valuable thing we have in life and that is the ability to “choose”. The conscious mind has the power of deductive, inductive and analytical reasoning. It is responsible for the “will” and all its capacities. Are you starting to see how your average free throw shooting process is going to take on a whole new life? We are talking about mind over matter, process over product and the beginning before the end. I would venture to say that most and I mean over 90%, no let me be more specific, over 99% of basketball players think of making the basket, or not missing. I have been asking players all over the world of every age and both genders for many years, what they think about at the time of release of the ball and you guessed it, all responses are the same. They think of the end result as opposed to the beginning mechanics which are the most important thing. More on this later.

Common sense tells us that the when a child is born the human mind is born with a blank slate or more specifically a blank tablet more commonly known as “tabula rasa”.

As time passes this “tabula rasa” starts to absorb and store a lot of information, just like a computer. There are actually 3 conscious stages that once we understand them it may enlighten us about our own behavior. How can we get better if we don’t know our problems? This can apply to many areas of life and not just shooting, which is really all we care about here.

First, there is the Pre-Conscious stage where voices and visions basically dictate and tell you what to do. You automatically obey the “voices of authority”. In this stage ‘obedience’ is paramount.

Secondly, there is the Proto-Conscious stage where automatic thoughts and feelings dictate your behavior or tell you what to do. Those in this stage are true believers, fanatic fighters for a great cause, perhaps a suicide bomber, or a kame-kaze pilot. It could be a helpless ‘wimp’ always complaining and languishing in apathy. Or it could be a self-righteous preacher who makes himself look “right” and others look “wrong”. In this stage being “right” is paramount.

Thirdly, there is just the “Conscious” stage where you are basically a master of your own emotions and feelings. You now have the ability to examine critically every concept, thought and action. You strive to increase your own competence in every aspect of your life that is important to you. You carefully observe the results you produce, using that as feed back to improve your concepts thoughts, actions and communications. In this stage producing results is paramount. This is where we need to be as coaches and players who have one thing in mind and that is to improve our percentages. Period. Become masters of our domain.

There are millions of people who constantly question and critically examine concepts, behaviors, beliefs, which are held sacred by their elders and contemporaries. These people want to produce improved results in their lives, in their careers, their relationships and their health and spiritual growth as well. It applies to any area where they think their results are below expectations, they seek to improve their knowledge, competence and skills. They also realize that some of their difficulties stem from their own destructive thoughts and behavior patterns acquired or developed during their own childhood. Their emphasis is on producing results and they are in control of the conscious stage.

By conscious, I mean critically aware, especially critically self-aware. Once I get into the finger placement and finger pressure accountability on the free-throw shot release you will better understand what I mean by critically self-aware. The proto-conscious person functions “on automatic” most of the time, like driving a car without thinking, or regurgitating automatic thoughts, or reacting emotionally like a puppet without critical awareness of the results being produced.

The critically conscious are definitely conscious of their consciousness. They critically monitor what they think, say, and do in order to produce the desired results. They develop the thinking skill of self-observation. The one critical aspect that I encourage we all inject into our own personal make-up if we want to improve our free throw shooting skills.

The conscious can and does actually instruct or direct the subconscious mind. It can be considered as a Big Brother or a bodyguard to the subconscious. But they definitely work hand in hand (excuse the pun). It is the conscious that dictates, controls and even overrules the subconscious thoughts if permitted.

Understanding the above paragraph will emphasize why during every free throw shot or any shot for that matter must have a conscious thought behind the action. You should never shoot a shot without a conscious thought involved because the human body as perfect as it is was not imbedded with a perfect shooting mechanism. We have the potential to create a perfect shooting mechanism but it must be consciously initiated only after a complete knowledge of perfect shooting principles is obtained and understood.

More specifically, your duty is to absolutely find out the reasons you do not make 95% from the free throw line. Children under 13-14 are excused from this high expectation. Usually it will be a physical and mechanical application which can be corrected and this is where the conscious, and subconscious start kicking in for your benefit and elevated shooting percentages.

How to Lay a Stone Pitching Wall in a Garden

Stone pitching is a method of retaining soil in a slopping ground or terrain. When landscaping lawns, the ground is prepared and then pitching is done before vegetation is planted. This involves laying broken pieces of stones or hardcore on the soil in different patterns.Jointing is done with cement and sand mortar. For stone pitching to be laid, the soil must be at its angle of repose. This means slopes not exceeding seventy degrees from level ground.

In stone pitching laying, the use of differently sized stone slates is advised. The thickness should be at least twenty five millimeters. No dressing is required for this and therefore cost effective. Left over stones are broken into pieces. The ground is prepared by cutting soil back to the required slope. Its then wetted and compacted by with a ramming board. If the soil embankment is near a parking, a flat surface of two feet cut then make the slope.

The stone pitching commences at the slope bottom. First put a strip of lean concrete at the bottom. Place the stones onto the concrete as a base.Pattern large and small stones one by one. Erect short pieces horizontal and long pieces vertical. Cut slates of about one foot square and lay at the center of wall to give a feature. Lay up to the top.

When laying stone pitching, note to have points for adding vegetation in between the joints. Add mortar to the joints with a trowel and ensure it fills. Scrap off excess mortar and do key pointing. This follows the staggered joints. At arbitrary places no filling is done. This will allow plant roots to be pushed into the soil. Mostly this vegetation will be creeping plants. At the top and ends line with concrete as a stopper. Clean and cure the wall.

Indian Miniature Painting – History and Techniques

Miniature paintings are one of the many things that make an Indian proud of his country’s rich cultural heritage. Miniature paintings originated long back in the history of India. Indian Paintings can be broadly classified as the murals and miniatures. Murals are huge works executed on the walls of solid structures, as in the Ajanta Caves and the Kailashnath temple.

Miniature paintings are executed on a very small scale on perishable material such as paper and cloth. The Palas of Bengal were the pioneers of miniature painting in India. The art of miniature painting reached its glory during the Mughal period. The tradition of miniature paintings was carried forward by the painters of different Rajasthani schools of painting like the Bundi, Kishangarh, Jaipur, Marwar and Mewar. The Ragamala paintings also belong to this school.

Indian miniature paintings are renowned worldwide for their beauty, finesse and impeccable detailing. The history of Indian Miniature Paintings can be traced to the 6-7th century AD, the time, when Kashmiri Miniatures first marked their appearance. Miniature Paintings have evolved over centuries carrying the influence of other cultures. The miniature artists gave self-expression on paper, ivory panels, wooden tablets, leather, marble, cloth and walls.

Indian artists employed multiple perspectives unlike their European counterparts in their paintings. The idea was to convey reality that existed beyond specific vantage point. Some of the special Miniature paintings include illustrated manuscripts of Jains and Buddhists, the flowering of the Mughal, Rajput and Deccan miniatures. Themes used were from Indian epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagvata Purana, Rasikpriya, Rasamanjiri as well as ragas of Indian classical music, etc.

A miniature painting, as the name signifies, is an intricate, colorful illuminations or painting, small in size, executed meticulously with delicate brushwork. The colors used in miniatures are generally derived from natural sources and materials. Some of the paintings use pure gold and other precious gems and stones to extract the colors for beautifying these miniature paintings. India has a long and varied tradition of miniature paintings.

Themes of Miniature Art Paintings.

After the Mughal reign, which lasted 200 years, by the second part of the 18th century, the Rajput Maharajahs became independent. They employed these highly skilled artists to replace their own artisans, leading to a sort of painting renaissance in northern India. The whole of Rajasthan divided into numerous princely states, patronized miniature art painting. These states had evolved a characteristic style of their own.The paintings of this era have their own unique style, being influenced by the surroundings- the deserts, lakes, hills and valleys, as the case may.Colorful glimpses of history are provided by these paintings depicting hunting and court scenes, festivals, processions, animal and bird life, and scenes from the Raagmala and Raaslila — Lord Krishna´s life story. Also, courtly lavishness and prosperity have been displayed.

Mughal painting

Mughal painting is a particular style of Indian painting, generally confined to illustrations on the book and done in miniatures, and which emerged, developed and took shape during the period of the Mughal Empire 16th -19th centuries). Mughal paintings were a unique blend of Indian, Persian and Islamic styles. Because the Mughal kings wanted visual records of their deeds as hunters and conquerors, their artists accompanied them on military expeditions or missions of state, or recorded their prowess as animal slayers, or depicted them in the great dynastic ceremonies of marriages…The painters focused mostly on court scenes, royal portraits, natural scenes and landscapes.

Akbar (1556-1605) was the one who started encouraging of Mughal artist. After he had consolidated his political power, he built a new capital at Fatehpur Sikri where he collected artists from India and Persia. More than a hundred painters were employed, most of whom were Hindus from Gujarat, Gwalior and Kashmir. They worked under the two Persian master-artists Abdus Samad and Mir Sayyid Ali, but they were encouraged and inspired by Akbar.

After him, Jehangir encouraged artists to paint portraits and durbar scenes. His most talented portrait painters were Abul Hasan and Bishan Das. Shah Jahan (1627-1658) continued the patronage of painting. Some of the famous artists of the period were Mohammad Faqirullah Khan, Mir Hashim, Muhammad Nadir, Bichitr, Chitarman, Anupchhatar, Manohar and Honhar. Aurangzeb had no taste for fine arts. Due to lack of patronage artists migrated to Hyderabad in the Deccan and to the Hindu states of Rajasthan in search of new patrons.

Rajput painting

The Rajput School of Miniature Painting imbibed inspiration from the Krishna legends. The emphasis was more on the man and woman relationship and paintings were aesthetic portrayal of their emotion, love and passion. The lovemaking scenes of Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha are some of the finest specimens of the paintings. Rajput painting, a style of Indian painting, evolved and flourished, during the 18th century, in the royal courts of Rajputana, India. Each Rajput kingdom evolved a distinct style, but with certain common features.

Rajput paintings depict a number of themes, events of epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Krishna’s life, beautiful landscapes, and humans. Miniatures were the preferred medium of Rajput painting, but several manuscripts also contain Rajput paintings, and paintings were even done on the walls of palaces, inner chambers of the forts, havelies, particularly, the havelis of Shekhawat.The colors extracted from certain minerals, plant sources, conch shells, and were even derived by processing precious stones, gold and silver were used. The preparation of desired colors was a lengthy process, sometimes taking weeks. Brushes used were very fine.

Jodhpur School: The centre of this hand made paintings are love scenes then the other art figures. The Jodhpur School of Miniature paintings depict love scenes of lovers Dhola and Maru on camel back. There are hunting scenes with elephants and horses. The major colors used in this style of painting are gold and stone color.

Jaipur School:

Gods and goddesses, kings and durbars are very attractively painted on hand made papers by the artists.

Kangra School:

Real gold, stone, and water colors are squirrel-hair brushes are used. Glittering effect is extended using silver and golden colors.

Mewar School of Painting:

These represent hunting scenes which are painted on cloth and handmade paper using stone colors

Technique of Miniature Paintings:

A high degree of expertise is required as it involves the use of a very fine brush. The strokes should be absolutely perfect as they should be intricate, colorful and rational impressions. The colors used are mainly derived from minerals, vegetables, and precious stones, indigo, conch shells, gold and silver which are obtained through a painstaking process. Paper painting in Miniature art are done on old or new hand made paper of very fine quality that depict Animals, Birds, Butterfly, Mughal themes and more. One can put these as wall hanging decorations. Miniature paintings made of pure marble slabs that feature Mythology, Birds, Turbans, Women and Mughal themes can be used as table tops or wall frames as well. Miniature Painting is painstaking efforts of skill and talent exhibited by Indian artisans. They have been well acclaimed and received by the world all over.

Step 1: Choose a design

Step 2: First draw the required pattern on the trace paper and copy the design into the cloth/paper using carbon sheet

Step3 Now first paint the human figures. Then animals and other components of the picture. The background is painted last. This is to set each area’s base color

Step4 This step need fine brushes to beautify the Floors, carpets, human figure with intricate detailing. This also includes techniques like shading, highlighting, washing,

Step 5 Outlines the figures with a darker color and highlight the jewelery and other parts using metallic paints to give an appearance of richness.

Step 6 Burnishing is the last stage. The miniature art painting is laid face down on a hard surface, and an agate stone is used to stroke it firmly. This gives the painting a uniform texture.

To this date, Indian and Mughal Miniature paintings provide an interesting insight into the lifestyles of earlier centuries and continue to fascinate people.

Why Use LED Lights?

LED or Light Emitting Diode is a semiconductor electronic component that can produce light. Unlike other sources of light, it does not contain mercury or other toxic substances. It does not emit ultraviolet rays either; making it ideal not only for down lights and home lighting fixtures but for art museums and galleries, as well.

LED bulbs are more practical than halogen bulbs. They have a longer life span yet lower energy consumption. Although they do not last forever, they can last for up to eighty thousand hours. They are also smaller in size; hence, making them perfect choices for compact areas and difficult to reach places such as high ceilings. They are bright, durable, and reliable.

Some people believe that LED lights are not bright enough. Such conception, however, is not true because LED light bulbs are bright and even have color temperatures that range from 2,500K to 6,500K. In fact, LED is common in traffic lights. This only proves that LED lights can be seen even during the day.

LED lights are also far safer and more durable than halogen lights. They do not have filaments, so they can withstand high impacts. They can withstand shocks and vibrations, and they do not need frequent replacements. They also operate at low voltage levels and are cool to touch. Hence, they do not cause fire unlike halogen lights.

In addition, LED bulbs can be installed and maintained easily. You do not need any complex tools to affix them on downlights, lamps, and ceilings. Plus, they still function even if exposed to snow and rain. This makes them very ideal garden and outdoor lighting fixtures. You can count on them to stay bright even after years have already passed.

Nonetheless, aside from being perfect for downlights and home lights, LED bulbs also make ideal emergency lights. There is no need to buy pairs of batteries if you intend to go camping or hunting. You do not even need backup lighting for LED lights automatically start at full brightness.

LED lights are not limited to downlights, kitchen lights, and domestic lights. They can also be sued for flashing signs, automotive lights, and traffic signs. They can switch on and off without fading or flickering. Furthermore, LED light bulbs are safe for the environment. They emit less carbon dioxide even if they run for several hours a day. In conclusion, LED bulbs are your best choices when it comes to choosing lights.

Of Playing Card Suits

Playing cards have long been a source of entertainment for the young and old alike. Card games have become a part of our lives so much that even in the age of the Internet; we still have digitalized versions of those games in our computers.

The usual appearance of cards has remained unchanged throughout the years. The symbols for each suit are the same as they were when they were introduced to England in the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The jack, queen, and king of today’s pack appear much as they did in that day; their costumes are similar to those of the royal court of England in the renaissance. Decks of cards were divided into four suits in China and this practice was continued in Europe. The French divided the deck into four suits supposedly representing the four main divisions of mankind: the nobility, represented by a sword (pique); the clergy, represented by a heart (cœur); the merchants and the tradesmen, represented by a diamond (carreau); and the peasantry, represented by a club (trèfle). These four suits were adopted by the English and are known today as spades (from the Spanish espada, which means sword), hearts, diamonds, and clubs. The highest cards in each suit, the royal, court, or picture cards, are of obvious derivation. The intricate patterns on each picture card are said to have specific meanings, as do the type and position of the symbols on the card. After the revolutions in the United States, France, and Russia, efforts were made in those countries to eliminate the references to royalty in playing cards, but the symbols had become so thoroughly accepted by card players that the attempts to change them were abandoned. Other efforts to alter the traditional appearance of playing cards have met with little success. Four colors instead of two have been used for the four suits, different arrangements of the pips on the cards have been attempted, and cards with black backgrounds have been introduced. In 1937 an extra suit was added, called Eagles in the United States and Crowns in England, and a five-suit bridge game was introduced. It met with limited success.

Usually four suits are maintained in every culture but they are not necessarily the same. The German suit used hearts, bells, acorns, & leaves or grass. The Swiss-German suit used roses, bells, acorns, & shields. The Spanish & Italian (north) suit had cups, coins, clubs, & swords. India has badam, charkat, kilawar, & ispik.

What Do I Need to Set Up a Successful Concrete Mold Business and Make Huge Profits?

So you may have started to look around for a way to make some additional income. You want to make good money and be your own boss.

How about starting your own decorative concrete molds business??

What do I need to get started?

Well most of these items you may already have around your house or shop. So setting up and starting your own business can be inexpensive and the profits are huge.

1. Molds

Probably one of the most important pieces needed. If you have poorly crafted and low quality molds your finished goods will look it as well. There are lots of varieties of molds in the market. Aluminum, single use plastic, rubber, fiberglass, wood, and even nature itself.

But if you want the best and most reliable molds that give you the least amount of grief, a good latex rubber mold with a fiberglass casing to support the rubber is your answer. Sure you can buy cheaper molds that you need to sit in some sand and pack around it, but you can’t always get it right. THose molds can be frustrating to use and cut into your profit because of all the fiddling around you will have to do. How do you vibrate any air bubbles out if the item is buried in your sand box? With molds that have self-supporting cases you everything is self-contained and easy to use. You can pour right in the mold, shake out the bubbles, and set the mold aside to dry.

Also when you have a quality rubber mold, it allows you to get the detail of a professional sculptor.

So quality molds produces quality garden art, which puts more money in your pocket for your effort.

2. Cement and Sand and Stone and Water

Cement – bagged Portland cement from any hardware or building supply store. Yes you can use the QuickCrete mix if you wish but then you are paying for sand and stone at retail prices. I recommend getting a white Portland cement. It may cost a bit more but produces a nicely colored item.

Sand – Dry, clean, and washed course river sand.

Stone – a pea gravel works well. It is not necessary for smaller molds but does give strength to the cement. The stone will not show in your finished item.

Water – fresh clean cold water

3. Mixer

Your mixer could be a simple wheelbarrow or small electric mixer. Most people have a wheelbarrow lying around, so by using it does not add to any startup costs. With the wheelbarrow you need to hand turn the cement/stone/sand/water mixture until you get the right consistency. With a mixer you simply add in your sand/stone/cement/water and let the mixer spin while you do other tasks. They can be purchased for around $500 and use a simple household electrical plug.

4. Tools

Shovel – for scooping your sand and stone

Bucket – for moving mixed cement and pouring in your mold

Rasp/File – for cleaning up any edges of the finished cement garden art

Screwdriver, hammer and pliers – always handy to have around

5. Release agent

The release agent is an oil or waxed based product that is applied to your molds before pouring in the concrete. It creates a barrier between the mold and the cement so they do not bind and are easily released when dry. Release agents also help to extend the longevity of your molds by keeping them soft and not allowing the cement to pull bits off the mold. Different molds take different release agents so it is best to ask the mold manufacturer. Some latex rubber molds need a non-petroleum based oil so as not to destroy the rubber and cause it to soften and melt. You can either mix your own release agent with castor oil and mentholated spirits or buy a premade mixture. Release agents are usually hand rubbed or lightly sprayed on to your molds.

6. Table

Just a simple place to allow you to work on finishing your dried art work at an eye level vs working on the floor.

7. Paint brush and paint

How are you going to finish your dried concrete garden art off? You can leave them the simple white or grey concrete, but by adding color you can add more value and charge more for them. A good quality exterior paint works best. Remember to leave the bases unpainted to allow the cement to breathe.

8. Rags

OK pretty basic clean up tool!

9. Vibrating table

This is an optional accessory. A vibrating table is a metal platform mounted on springs or rubber with a vibrating motor attached. The vibrating shakes out the trapped air bubbles and settles the concrete for a nice clean finish. They cost from $500 and upward. For smaller molds a simple rubber hammer and hand shaking will work just as well.

Start making beautiful concrete yard ornaments and benefit from the low cost and huge profit margins

Boom Trucks and Crane Trucks – What’s the Difference?

Both vehicles furnish a way to lift heavy material attached to long arms that make moving easier; however, there are certain differences between the two that affect load limits, lift methods, and job suitability. This commercial equipment is basically long arms that run on either hydraulics, steel cables, or chains. They do all the lifting whatever the model – straight, stick, telescoping, or articulating. The main differences is usually with allowable weight limits, ability to get from one place to another, and the amount of space required to be used correctly. In almost every case, the size of the load limit that can be carried is directly proportionate to the size of the vehicle due to a crane’s tendency to tip when overloaded.

  • Telescopic Boom Trucks – This is probably the most familiar version of the crane truck, outfitted with a straight, telescoping arm that collapses within itself to store at the rear of the vehicle or over the top of the cab. Fully extended, the boom is made of extensions that telescope out to the desired length and then collapse into itself to make job site relocation very feasible – as opposed to stationary cranes that must be moved from one work site to another. They come in different sizes and varying load capacities, ranging from light industrial such as a public utilities truck to heavy industrial units on tracks for easy maneuvering around construction sites.
  • Knuckleboom Trucks – A newer version of the crane family, knuckleboom trucks improve upon the idea of telescoping booms with a folding arm known as a knuckle or articulating boom to improve portability. The lifting arm folds down for more compact storage, unfolds for use, and includes an end section that either extends or telescopes to reach desired heights. It can swivel and is generally much more flexible at working in and around job site obstacles as well as in smaller working areas. Limited by vehicle base size, smaller knuckleboom trucks are often found in light industrial applications, while heavy-duty versions are found working as unloaders and material lifts at construction sites, warehouses, piers and more.
  • Stick or Straight Boom Cranes – These are the heaviest lifting machines of all the different versions, usually found only at construction sites and other areas where very heavy lifting is done in more open spaces. Commonly seen as huge trucks with either giant balloon tires or tracks, these cranes can get from place to place, although it is usually slowly and not very efficiently and many times having to be loaded onto trailers for more convenient transport. Since the crane arm is straight, non-articulating, and non-telescoping, this machine’s sole purpose is brute power. The unit itself must be positioned exactly where the crane needs to lift, as opposed to the other types that allow for boom positioning relative to where the truck is parked. Having been built onto much larger vehicles and run with chains, cables and other more fixed methods, a straight crane has a much greater lifting capability.

Based on the different crane types as well as their construction and functionality, companies in need can choose ones that best suit most work needs. It is always vital to pay attention to details such as load limits, adjustability, unit size, and maneuverability in order to make the best equipment decisions. With the right cranes, accidents can be prevented and work can stay on schedule to a successful conclusion!

Is Your Christian Ministry Ready to Receive Grant Funding?

I don’t mean ready to receive the money… I mean ready to implement a successful grant strategy? Ready to start to seek and secure grant funding? Ready to be accountable to funding sources?

Are You Grant Ready?

Do you know what foundations are within a 20-mile radius of your organization? You should since geographic proximity is the number one predictor of if a grant making foundation will give your organization grant funding. Do you know the best way to contact each of those foundations? What are their deadlines for submitting a proposal?

Are You Grant Ready?

Are your By-Laws in order? Will they withstand outside scrutiny? Do you have the latest policies the IRS (and many foundations) now requires? Are financials sufficiently transparent?

Are You Grant Ready?

Do you have an effective elevator message? Have you refined your mission and vision statements? Do you have a detailed budget that communicates your ministry effectively? Have you developed an effective means of introducing your organization to funding sources? Do you know what funding sources fund organizations similar to your organization?

Are You Grant Ready?

If a lack of funding is the only thing holding your ministry back… it is time for you to get Grant Ready!

Whether you answered yes, no, or maybe to the questions above, every ministry should ensure grant readiness before plunging into a grant development strategy!

A grant readiness analysis should supply your ministry with everything your organization needs to establish a grant development program for your ministry OR to revitalize a stagnant grant program. The process helps to establish a strategy that can be implemented in a consistent, persistent, and organized manner thereby maximizing your potential for success.

Components of a Successful Grant Readiness Analysis:

Conduct an Organizational Development Analysis

Before your church, ministry, or organization starts a concentrated and focused grant funding process, you first need to understand how you are going to be perceived by funding sources, identify an appropriate mix of funding sources, know what programs and services are most likely to be attractive to funding sources, and be aware of any critical issues that may doom any effort before it even gets started.

A personal fundraising consultant can aid you in this process and would rely on proven experience to strengthen your nonprofit organization’s capacity to successfully raise grant funds and create long-term stability for your ministry, church, or organization.

Whether developed by a grant writing consultant or by internal staff, you will need to have the proper tools and resources to perform your own analysis of funding preparedness to address strengths, weaknesses, and critical issues. This process provides the initial guidance and support needed as you begin to implement your grant development strategy.

Develop a Grant Application Template

In addition to developing proposals in response to a specific RFP or foundation, it is helpful to develop the MGA as a more generalized proposal which can be modified to meet the individual requirements and expectation of each funding source. You will then modify this document for each application to individual foundations and other funding sources.

Develop Organization and Project Budgets

A poorly developed budget can detract from an otherwise well written proposal. A well thought out and properly developed budget is critical and the master budget helps accomplish the goal of developing a budget that foundations will find clear, understandable, and comprehensive.

Develop a Letter of Inquiry TemplateThis is often the first contact with a funding source and can mean the difference between an invitation to apply and a polite “please try again in the future.” You need to have a masterfully produce initial letter catered to your organization’s needs to ensure exceptional results. Often, it is best to use a fundraising or grant writing consultant to help develop this for your ministry.

Research and Develop a List of Funding Source

A critical step for any organization beginning to seek funding is to know what funding opportunities are available to them. It is best to conduct initial research, identify the 25 best funding sources specifically matched to your organization, and develop a profile of each of these funding sources to use throughout the implementation of your grant strategy.

Identify a Funding Directory for ResearchTo continue searching for funding sources on your own, you will need to identify and secure a directory of grant funding sources. Ideally, you will be looking for funding directory with Christian funding sources so the listings are specifically interested in funding Christian ministries and churches.

Get Training in Grant Writing and Development

There are a variety of sites offering free e-training opportunities focused on Capacity Building and Strategic Planning, Corporation and Foundation Giving, Board Development and Individual Giving, Government Grant Applications and Grant Management, and Program Evaluation. Much of the free training available was developed by leading consultants for the federal governments Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Once you have completed these steps, your ministry will be grant ready? So many organizations try grant writing and fail or do not even know how to get started. Ministries fail at grant writing for one of two reasons; either they implement a disorganized and haphazard approach that is doomed to fail or they quit and give up on grant writing before they start to see results. Conducting an initial grant readiness analysis will give you all of the tools to implement a successful grant development strategy and will position your organization for successful grant development.

The Uses of Dinnerware Sets

Dinnerware sets are not just used for dinners as the word says. Dinnerware refers to the set of plates, bowls, spoon and fork or in simple terms refers to dishes. Dishes are used for eating and for serving food. A person that loves cooking and adores food wants their dishes to be useful and stay longer. We will review about the different types of dinnerware that are available today.

There are times that dinnerware are not just used for serving food or for eating. It is sometimes locked in a cabinet arranged properly with a specially designed rack to hold them in place. When I went to my grandmother’s house for a birthday party, I went to her kitchen to help her prepare the food. I saw a lot of plates and bowls, different types and designs of spoons and forks all displayed in a beautiful wooden antique cabinet. I asked her if I can wash those plates and use them for the guests. She strongly disagree and said that those plates are valuable and never been used and just for a display because it is her collection and costs a fortune.

Aside from displaying expensive plates in the cabinets, a chef for example, wants his dinnerware to be durable or depending on the event and its uses. Paper plates for example are more convenient and affordable for picnics rather than using a plate made of ceramics which are heavy. Ceramic plates on the other hand are used for display or in special occasion like a formal dinner. Our ancestors use a carved stone or wood as a plate. Although, stones are not anymore used today but wooden plates are still used in some restaurants to go with the theme. Plastic plates are more popular today in most households because of durability, it is cheaper and is lighter when washed.

Moreover, spoon and fork are usually made of plastic or metal. Plastic spoon and fork just like paper plates are used in picnics and parties because it is lighter and convenient. Metal spoon and fork are used in household and restaurants. Some restaurants do not provide spoon and fork, either they are Chinese and Japanese restaurants or they want their food eaten by hand. There more modern utensil today that is a combination of spoon and fork which they call a spork. Spork looks more of a spoon but has spikes at the end.

Dinnerware sets or dishes nowadays have different forms and types that serve different purposes. So, make sure that if you are buying one it should fit your need whether it will be used or just for a display.