Induction Cooktop Reviews – Five Things to Consider When Buying Induction Cooktops

What is an Induction Cooktop?

An induction cooktop is very different from the traditional electric cooker, and gas stove, for that matter. Instead of using direct heat or open flames, like gas stoves, it uses induction, a process of transferring heat from one vessel to another, in order to cook food evenly. Induction technology offers many more advantages, if compared to traditional cooking appliances. For one thing, induction uses less energy. If you’re thinking about buying an induction cooktop for your kitchen, here are five things that you should consider.

5 things to consider when buying an Induction Cooktop

1. Energy efficiency. In today’s tough economy, a tight budget is an ever-present hindrance to everything. The good news is that you can save a lot of money if you buy induction cooktops. In theory, induction uses less energy compared gas stoves and other electrical cooking appliances. In practice, induction cooktops can net you a lot of savings by being fuel-efficient. Since induction allows food to cook more quickly and safely, you also save precious time and all the while avoid food wastage.

2. Another thing to consider when buying induction-based cooktops is portability. Many of the cooktops sold today are not as portable as they are advertised. Keep in mind that there are several things that might affect portability, such as the dimensions and weight. And even if the cooktop is small enough and light enough, its portability may be lessened if it doesn’t have a long cord.

3. Cooking time. Not all of us have that much time to spend on cooking, especially in cooking delicate cousins and recipes. In buying induction-based cooktops, the quickness of cooking is another thing that must be taken into account. The cooktops cooking speed will vary according to the way heat is distributed to the cookware, the amount of heat that is distributed and the electricity used to generate the heat. All of these things can be found on the specs, so make sure that you read those.

4. Ease of use. Much like you don’t have all the time in the world to spend on cooking, you also can’t spare too much mental energy in figuring out how to work things out. To be practical, choose an induction cooktop that has a neat layout and an easy to use control panel. This way, you won’t have to waste time and effort trying to decipher how to activate something so simple as a timer.

5. The last thing to consider is design. Contemporary kitchens, especially first class kitchens, can’t have inferior-looking cooktops. Even if the cooktop has state-of-the-art technology inside, its outside appearance is undeniably important. As a piece of advice, pick an induction-based cooktop that works good and looks good.

Crockpot Swedish Meatball Recipe

My family, being mostly German and Scandinavian, often challenges me to make authentic recipes. My husband challenged me to make Hungarian Goulash, and a while back I was asked to make a Swedish meatball recipe with a twist – it had to be an easy crockpot recipe.

A crock pot Swedish meatball recipe seemed ideal for me; Swedish meatballs are a dish that would only improve by marinating all day long. I came up with this, and although you can use frozen meatballs to make the super quick and easy version, I’ve included a very tasty recipe for homemade meatballs as well.

2 – 12 ounce packages frozen meatballs

1 cup water

½ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp minced onion

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dill weed

½ tsp black pepper

4 ounces cubed goat cheese

1 cup sour cream

Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Mix all ingredients except cheese and sour cream in crock pot, cover and cook on low 6-8 hours to high 3-4 hours. Stir in cheese and sour cream, cover and cook on high an additional 30 minutes. Serve with noodles (the most traditional), mashed potatoes, or rice, and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Homemade Meatballs

4 pounds ground meat (I like to use 3 pounds ground chuck and 1 pound ground lamb, but any combination will do)

1 ¼ cup bread crumbs

3 eggs

½ cup water

¼ tsp allspice

1 tsp ground mustard

1 finely minced onion

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl (by hand works best). Roll into balls. Bake on slightly greased cookie sheets at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Should be refrigerated and used within a few days, or can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.

For more easy crock pot recipes, visit www.natalies-recipes.com. Enjoy!

Bath Waste Kits Explained – Concealed Waste Kits

The term bath waste kit is used to refer to various combinations of the plumbing required when fitting a bath, usually confined to those parts above the bathroom floor and not inside a wall. All waste kits are either concealed or exposed. A concealed waste kit is one where the plumbing under the bath will not be visible. An exposed waste kit is one which is used when the plumbing under the bath will be visible, these are usually only needed with freestanding baths and are not considered here.

In most cases of choosing a waste kit for a bath you will need a concealed waste kit. This is because most baths that are fitted are panel baths of some sort, that is, they have a side and/or end panel which hides all the plumbing that is under the bath. If you are fitting a panel bath in your bathroom then under normal circumstances you can leave everything hidden inside it or under it to your plumber.

The concealed bath waste kit consists of all the fittings you can see when looking at a fitted bath, i.e. the grills or coverings over the overflow hole and the plug hole and all the visible plug fittings. It also includes fittings you can’t see which connect the overflow with the plug hole under the bath so that waste water that goes down either hole goes the same way. It may or may not include a trap, but if you are buying a concealed waste kit yourself then generally your plumber will fit an appropriate bath trap. The trap is essentially a U-bend that traps some water and provides a lock so that air from your drain won’t come up through your plug. When choosing a bath waste kit, then, you generally only need to choose between one of three broad types of kit. Here they are:

Bath Plug and Chain Waste (with overflow, concealed )

A plug and chain is the traditional style where a chain attached at one end to the overflow is attached at the other end to a plug which you put in and out with your hand. The chain can be a ball chain where lots of little metal balls connect together to make the chain or a link chain with oval metal links making the chain. A retainer or stowaway waste is one where the plug, when not in use, fits neatly into the overflow which has a recessed grill for this purpose.

Bath Pop Up Waste (with overflow, concealed)

This is what was the continental style of plug, but that is now commonplace in the UK. A pop up plug has a dial, usually chrome, sometimes with a lever, over the overflow, usually this is round and may have 3 or more flattened edges to grip. The dial stands a little proud of the bath, so it does not affect the way the overflow itself works. If you turn the dial the plug lifts up, turn it back and the plug goes down, the movement is conducted by a cable from the dial to a lever which pushes the plug up or lets it down when the dial is turned. When you are fitting a waste kit to a panel bath this cable will not be visible.

Bath Click Clack, Sprung Plug or Push Button Waste (with overflow, concealed)

This one goes by a number or names and is the most modern and minimalist kind of waste that is generally available. With this one in order to close the plug you must reach into the bath and push the plug with your finger, it is sprung and clicks shut. To open it again you reach in again and push it until it clicks open. The overflow is usually either a contemporary round, convex, chrome grill or a convex chrome plate that is raised off the surface of the bath so as not to interfere with the overflow. With the click clack bath waste no cable is needed as part of the mechanism to the plug. The only drawback with the click clack is that if you fill your bath with red hot water by accident, then you’ll need a stick to poke the plug with to let some out to get some cold in.

You may also wish to consider these less common options.

Captive Bath Waste Kits

Captives wastes are more often found for sinks than for baths. A captive waste is one which is fixed in the plug hole by a spindle on which is pivots. So to open it you push on one side so that it pivots sideways and opens the plug hole to close it you push back until it closes the hole.

Bath Wastes Without Overflow

Some baths don’t have overflows, if you have one of these it will usually be a stone bath of some sort or a very contemporary stone cast resin bath. If this is the case then you must not use a waste intended for a bath with an overflow.as it has an open connection (for the overflow pipe to join) under the bath. Bath waste kits for baths without overflows will usually be available when you buy the bath

Extended (Overflow) Bath Waste Kit

Occasionally a bath needs an extended overflow pipe, this is generally only necessary if the plug hole is directly in the middle of the bath, i.e. in the middle both lengthwise and widthwise. An extended waste kit may or may not also have a longer than usual chain.

Bath Fillers

A bath filler is a combination of a waste kit and a bath filler. Usually a click clack waste but sometimes a pop up with a dial over the overflow is combined with a filler that fills from the overflow. With this kind of bath filler you must use tap valves of some sort, these may also be called panel valves or stop valves and are usually mounted on the edge of the bath or on a surrounding platform. If you wish to mount tap vales for a filler in a wall panel valves may not be appropriate, ask an expert or the manufacturers.

Thick Baths

When fitting a waste kit to a bath you must be aware of the thickness of the bath. Most plug and chain wastes will fit on almost any thickness of bath, in these waste kits the front and back of both the plug and overflow grills connect by a threaded bolt, as long as the threaded bolts are long enough both parts of the waste kit can be fitted. Some pop up waste kits have a wide bore plastic threaded tube that fits through the overflow from the back of the bath and onto which the overflow cover is tightened, this threaded tube is usually rather short and may have trouble being fitted to a thicker bath. Bath waste kits of different kinds typically fit onto baths of up to 3mm, 10mm, 20mm, 35mm or similar thicknesses. Some manufacturer can supply extension kits that modify their standard waste kits to fit thicker baths.

10 Questions to Ask Your Hardwood Flooring Supplier

10 Questions to Ask Your Hardwood Flooring Supplier Before Purchasing

1. If there are any problems, who do I call?

Most flooring stores will be buying the flooring they are selling to you from a distributor who purchases the flooring from the manufacturer. Sometime, especially with products coming from overseas there is more than one distributor involved. In many cases if you have an issue with your flooring and complain to the retailer they will call the distributor and let them know there is a complaint, the distributor will tell the manufacturer there has been a complaint. In most cases the manufacturer will deny the complaint and if you are lucky they will even send a representative to deny your claim in person. Most retailers would correct a manufacturing problem to make their customers happy because they are the ones dealing with the customers face to face but in reality they do not have the final say unless they want to replace the flooring out of their own pocket. The manufacturer is so far removed from the actual client that they know it is better for their bottom line to deny the claims and assume they will never have to deal with the issue because they are so protected by their warranties. Picture a person at a desk with a pile of hardwood flooring claims on their desk with a big stamp that says “denied”.

2. How durable is the finish?

Durability is probably the most important things to consider when purchasing a prefinished hardwood floor. The finish is what you are actually walking on and must be very durable to have a beautiful lasting floor for years to come. Many imported prefinished floors have very little durability and the finish can be taken off with a few swipes of 150 grit sandpaper. When buying hardwood there are a few ways to test the finish: one would be to take 150 grit sandpaper and rub the finish to see if the finish will come off and two would be to firmly press the edge of a coin against the finish, a quality finish will dent but not come off. Quality manufacturers will have aluminum oxide or better yet titanium oxide hardeners in the finish. Many offshore manufactured products will say they have aluminum oxide in them but actually do not. To test if a hardwood floor has aluminum oxide in the finish simply put the sample in your microwave and if it sparks, it does indeed have aluminum oxide in the finish. I know that may seem a little strange but it’s something worth checking because hardwood flooring is a big investment and you want to know the durability of the finish.

3. What is the structural and surface warranty?

This is a very important part of choosing a hardwood floor. Anyone can put a 25, 30, or 40 year warranty on the finish of their product but the real question is; will they stand behind their warranty. Many large hardwood flooring manufacturers have warranties that are up to ten pages. When you read through the entire warranty and all of the exclusions it really gives the client the impression that there is actually no warranty at all. The problem is most consumers don’t take the time to read the warranty and are shocked when they find out the issue they are having with the flooring is one of the “exclusions”. Most warranties will say that there is an industry standard of 5% margin for error which means that when your entire floor is complete the manufacturer is allowed to have 5% of the boards defective. That means a finished floor of 1000 square feet would be allowed roughly 100 boards with any kind of defect.

4. What is the waste factor of the flooring?

The waste factor of the flooring is an important issue as well. If 10-15% waste is what is suggested by the manufacturer than that means you will have to buy that much more to get enough to install your entire floor. The higher the recommended waste factor the lower quality the product. You may find when comparing products for price on may be more than the other but you must factor in the difference in waste to the price. A floor for $6 with 3% waste would cost you $6.18 which would be the same cost as a floor with 10% waste that is $5.62 and the product with 3% waste would definitely be a higher quality product. The bottom line is you shouldn’t have to sort the waste out of the boxes; the manufacturers should be taking the waste out at the plant so you are only getting good quality pieces you can install in your floor.

5. What is the average length of the flooring boards?

The question of the average board lengths is one that is not commonly asked when it comes to hardwood flooring. It is something not a lot of people think about until it is brought up. The longer the average length of the floor the better the floor looks especially in large rooms. One foot and two foot lengths produce a very choppy and unattractive floor. The box size is not the only way to tell what the average length is; you can have an 8′ box with all short pieces in it. Many offshore manufactured products are in four foot boxes with will definitely ensure you are getting a floor with very short lengths. It is not only offshore products that have short lengths but many North American made products as well. One very high end Canadian manufacturer has an average length of 27-29″ in their 3-1/4″ Select and Better Red Oak.

6. What is the moisture content of the flooring?

Moisture content is a very important factor when installing hardwood flooring. You need the flooring to be at a proper moisture level for your home/interior climate which is typically between 6-9% moisture content. Installing hardwood flooring with a moisture content that is too high will cause spaces in the floor when the flooring dries out, and installing a hardwood floor that is too dry will result in cupping when the flooring picks up moisture. If the retailer selling you flooring does not have a moisture meter and can check the moisture for you then I would suggest you run. The majority of people selling hardwood flooring know very little about wood and moisture, if they don’t even have a moisture meter, that is a sign that they are not professional and know nothing or very little about hardwood flooring and shouldn’t be selling it.

7. What does the supplier recommend for acclimation?

I know you must have heard someone say “the flooring must sit in your home for two weeks prior to installation”. This is a very general statement and in most cases will do more harm than good for your hardwood floor. If you did this in a new home and it sat in the home while they were drywalling, painting, the wood would be so damp by the time you installed it that you would just be asking for trouble. The fact is a new home will have 1000 to 2000 gallons of water that will be oozing out of the home the first two years. If your flooring is sitting in the home before it is installed it will absorb all of that moisture. If you are having the flooring sit in your home you will want to make sure it is stored in normal living conditions to avoid it from drying out too much or picking up too much moisture. In some cases, a seasonal dwelling, you may want to have the hardwood flooring absorb the moisture before it is installed. If the home is always a high humidity environment then you want the wood to pick up moisture so it can be normal living conditions for that particular environment. You want to have a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your home before the installation and monitor your humidity after to ensure your home is in the proper humidity range to avoid issues with your flooring.

8. What does the stain/finish look like?

Many large manufactures will finish all different woods at the same time without making adjustments for each wood because each time they make adjustments it effects the production. The fact is, each wood needs to be finished differently to achieve the nicest stain/finish. Oak requires more finish to “fill in” the grain or else it will appear very pitted which is not something desirable in an oak floor. You want to be able to hold a piece up to the light and see a perfect smooth finish. Maple requires more brushing than oak so the stain can penetrate into the wood and not appear “blotchy”. Maple is a beautiful wood and with the proper staining you can really bring out features such as Birdseye and tiger tail. If not stained properly these features are hidden.

9. Does the supplier warrant the work done by their installers?

If you are purchasing flooring from a company and having your own contractor install the flooring you want to make sure your installer is a professional. In many cases if you use your own contractor and there is an issue you will have the installer blaming the issue on the hardwood and the manufacturer blaming the issue on the installer. When nobody takes the blame you won’t have very good luck getting your issue resolved. If you are buying flooring on a supply and install basis you want to make sure the company warrants their installers work and the installers are qualified. Many stores will sub out their installations to contractors so they really don’t have the ability to monitor their work unless they visit every jobsite. You can see a list of certified hardwood installers in your area by going to http://www.nwfa.org.

10. What grade is the flooring?

Comparing flooring by grades can be very confusing and misleading. Many large manufacturers have five or six different grades of flooring so just because brand A has a less expensive product than brand B they may not be the same or even a similar grade. There is really no standard grading system for prefinished flooring so just because the product is labelled “select and better” may not mean it is the best quality flooring.

Insurance Sales – Do You Have a Strategic Sales Action Plan?

Do you want to shake up your sales results? It’s time to rethink you’re approach and come up with a plan that will produce results. A strategic sales action plan provides an implementable quantifiable path to significantly improve your results.

Let’s begin by identifying the key elements of a strategic sales action plan. The key elements of your strategic sales action plan include: the value you provide, your unique market position, your marketing plan, your sales plan, and your follow-up plan. Each element is critical, but you want to develop or review them in a specific order.

Start by identifying how creating the value that you will provide that people are willing to pay money for. This very simple concept is often overlooked, but people will buy from you if doing so is more valuable than buying from someone else like a competitor. And please realize that this value must be provided by you not the company whose products or services you may be selling.

You as an individual sales person need to establish your position in the market. Otherwise you’re just like everyone else and there isn’t any advantage to buying from you. There are numerous ways to position yourself, but you may want to start by considering: your areas of expertise, who you work with, what you do for the people you work with, speed, quality, etc.

You need a marketing plan to market yourself to the people you want to sell to. A marketing plan isn’t just a list of random marketing activities you plan to do hoping to get results. A marketing plan is the overall plan you devise to generate a specific number of qualified leads that you can consistently and predictably repeat. And every action on your marketing plan must be track-able and measurable so you can make adaptations and improvements.

You’re most familiar with a sales plan. Your sales plan should specifically tell you how you will proactively move the qualified leads entering your sales funnel into buyers. And you should be tracking each phase making adaptations and improvements.

Do you have a follow-up plan for building and extending the relationship you’ve started generating more business and referrals? That’s the whole point of a follow-up plan. Once you start a relationship with a buyer you want to at least maintain the relationship so they will buy from you again. And your follow-up plan should include sales coaching to help your loyal buyers to refer you.

Shake up your sales results by developing a strategic sales action plan to get the results you want. Of course, a plan in and of itself won’t produce the desired results. You produce the desired results by taking the actions you now know are the most effective actions and expecting your desired outcomes to follow.

How to Design and Layout a Coffee Shop Or Espresso Bar

If you are planning to open an espresso bar/coffee shop, then developing an efficient store design and layout will be one of the most important factors in positioning your business for success.

Speed of service is critical to the profitability of a coffee business. An efficient ergonomic store design will allow you to maximize your sales by serving as many customers as possible during peak business periods. Even though your business may be open 12 to 16 hours a day, in reality, 80% of your sales will probably occur during 20% of those hours. Coffee is primarily a morning beverage, so your busy times of day (those times when you are most likely to have a line of waiting customers), may be from 6:30AM to 8:30AM, and then again around lunchtime. If you have a poor store layout, that does not provide a logical and efficient flow for customers and employees, then the speed of customer service and product preparation will be impaired.

Think of it like this; if someone pulls open the front door of your store, and they see 5 people are waiting in line to order, there’s a good chance they’ll come in, wait in line, and make a purchase. But, if they see that 20 people are waiting in line, there is a high probability that they may determine that the wait will be too long, and they will simply get coffee somewhere else. This is money that just escaped your cash register! And, if they come to your store multiple times, and frequently find a long line of waiting customers, they may decide you are not a viable option for coffee, and will probably never return. Poor design slows down the entire service process, resulting in a longer line of waiting customers, and lost sales. So in reality, your daily business income will be dependent upon how many customers you can serve during peak business periods, and good store design will be essential to achieving that objective!

The financial impact of a poor store design can be significant. For the sake of this example, let’s say the average customer transaction for your coffee business will be $3.75. If you have a line of waiting customers each morning between 7:00 AM and 8:30 AM, this means you have 90 minutes of crunch time, in which you must drive through as many customers as possible. If you can service a customer every 45 seconds, you will serve 120 customers during this 90 minutes. But, if it takes you 1 minute 15 seconds to service each customer, then you will only be able to serve 72 customers. 120 customers x $3.75 = $450.00 x 30 business days per month = $13,500. 72 customers x $3.75 = $270.00 x 30 business days per month = $8,100. This represents a difference of $5,400 in sales per month ($64,800 per year), coming from just 90-minutes of business activity each day!

So how should you go about designing your coffee bar? First, understand that putting together a good design is like assembling a puzzle. You have to fit all the pieces in the proper relationship to each other to end up with the desired picture. This may require some trial and error to get things right. I’ve designed hundreds of coffee bar over the past 15 years, and I can truthfully tell you from experience, it still usually takes me a couple of attempts to produce an optimal design.

The design process begins by determining your menu and other desired store features. If you plan to do in-store baking, then obviously you’ll need to include in your plan an oven, exhaust hood, sheet pan rack, a large prep table, and perhaps a mixer. If you plan to have a private meeting room for large groups, then an extra 200 sq. ft. or more will need to be designed-in, in addition to the square footage you are already allocating for normal customer seating.

Your intended menu and other business features should also drive decisions about the size of location you select. How many square feet will be required to fit in all the necessary equipment, fixtures, and other features, along with your desired seating capacity?

Typically, just the space required for the front of the house service area, (cash register, brewing & espresso equipment, pastry case, blenders, etc.), back of the house (storage, prep, dishwashing and office areas), and 2-ADA restrooms, will consume about 800 sq. ft. If space for extensive food prep, baking, coffee roasting, or cooking will be required, this square footage may increase to 1,000 to 1,200, or more. What ever is left over within your space after that, will become your seating area.

So, a typical 1,000 sq. ft coffee bar, serving beverages and simple pastries only, will probably allow for the seating of 15 to 20 customers – max! Increase that square footage to 1,200 sq. ft., and seating should increase to 30, or 35. If you plan to prepare sandwiches, salads, and some other food items on site, 1,400 to 1,600 sq. ft. should provide enough space to seat 35 to 50, respectively.

Next, you will have to determine the tasks that will be performed by each employee position, so that the equipment and fixtures necessary to accomplish those tasks can be located in the appropriate places.

Normally, your cashier will operate the cash register, brew and serve drip coffee, and serve pastries and desserts. Your barista will make all your espresso-based beverages, tea, chai, hot chocolate, Italian sodas, as well as all the blender beverages. If you’ll be preparing sandwiches, panini, wraps, salads, snacks and appetizers, or will be baking on-site, then a person dedicated to food prep will be necessary. And, if you anticipate high volume, and will be serving in or on ceramics, a bus-person/dishwasher may be a necessity.

After you have determined what you will be serving, the space you will be leasing, and what each employee will be responsible for, you will then be ready to begin your design process. I usually start my design work from the back door of the space and work my way forward. You’ll need to design in all of the features that will be necessary to satisfy your bureaucracies and facilitate your menu, before you make plans for the customer seating area.

Your back door will most likely have to serve as an emergency fire exit, so you’ll need a hallway connecting it with your dining room. Locating your 2-ADA restrooms off of this hallway would make good sense. And, because delivery of products will also probably occur through your back door, having access to your back of the house storage area would also be convenient.

In the back of the house, at minimum, you will need to include a water heater, water purification system, dry storage area, back-up refrigerator and freezer storage, ice maker, an office, 3-compartment ware washing sink, rack for washed wares, mop bucket sink, and a hand washing sink. Do any food prep, and the addition of a food prep sink and prep table will be necessary. If doing baking, gelato making, full cooking, or coffee roasting, all the equipment necessary for those functions will also need to be added.

After all the features have been designed into the back of the house, you will then be ready to start your design work on the front of the house service and beverage preparation area. This area will probably include a pastry case, cash register(s), drip coffee brewer and grinder(s), espresso machine and grinders, a dipper well, possibly a granita machine, blenders, ice holding bin, blender rinse sink, hand washing sink, under counter refrigeration (under espresso machine and blenders), and a microwave oven.

If serving food beyond simple pastries and desserts, you may need to add a panini toaster grill, a refrigerated sandwich/salad preparation table, soup cooker/warmer, a bread toaster, etc. If you plan to serve pre made, ready to serve sandwiches, wraps, and salads, along with a selection of bottled beverages, an open-front, reach-in merchandising refrigerator should be considered. Serving ice cream or gelato? If the answer is yes, then an ice cream or gelato dipping cabinet will be necessary along with an additional dipper well.

Finally, when all the working areas of the bar have been designed, the customer seating area can be laid out. This will, of course, include your cafe tables and chairs, couches and comfortable upholstered chairs, coffee tables, and perhaps a window or stand-up bar with bar stools. Impulse-buy and retail merchandise shelves should be established, and a condiment bar should be located close to where customers will pick-up their beverages.

A quick word about couches, large upholstered chairs, and coffee tables. Living room type furniture takes up a lot of space. If you plan to be opening evenings, and will perhaps serve beer and wine, and having comfortable seating will be important for creating a relaxing ambiance, then by all means do it. But if you have limited seating space, and are not trying to encourage people to relax and stay for long periods of time, then stick with cafe tables and chairs. The more people you can seat, the greater your income potential!

Features from the front door to the condiment bar should be arranged in a logical, sequential order. As your customers enter the front door, their travel path should take them past your impulse-buy merchandise display, and the pastry case, before they arrive at the point of order (where your cashier, cash register, and menu-board will be located). Exposing customers to your impulse items and pastries, before they order, will greatly increase their sales. Then, after the order and payment has been taken, they should proceed down-line away from the cash register to pick-up their beverage, and finally, the condiment bar should be located beyond that point. Be sure to separate your point of order from the point of product pick-up by at least six feet, otherwise customers waiting for their beverage may begin to intrude into the space of those ordering.

Don’t make the mistakes that many inexperienced designers commonly make. They arrange these features in a haphazard way, so that customers have to change direction, and cut back through the line of awaiting customers to proceed to their next destination in the service sequence. Or, wanting to make their espresso machine a focal point to those entering the store, they place it before the cashier along the customer’s path of travel. Customers inevitably end up trying to order from the barista before they are informed that they need to proceed to the cashier first. If this happens dozens of times each day, confusion and slowed beverage production will be the result.

On the employee’s side of the counter, work and product flow are even more important. Any unnecessary steps or wasted movements that result from a less than optimal design will slow down employee production. All products should flow seamlesly in one direction towards the ultimate point of pick-up. For example, if preparing a particular item is a 3-step process, then placement of equipment should allow for the 3 steps to occur in order, in one linear direction, with the final step occurring closest to the point where customers will be served.

Equipment should be grouped together so that it is in the immediate proximity of the employee(s) who will be using it. Beyond the actual equipment, empty spaces must be left on the counter top to store ingredients and small wares (tools) used in product preparation. Counter top space will also be needed where menu items will actually be assembled. Think of the grouping of equipment for different job functions as stations. Try to keep different stations compact and in close working proximity to each other, but make sure that there is enough space between each so that employee working-paths don’t cross, which could contribute to employee collisions.

Creating defined work stations will allow you to put multiple employees behind the counter when needed. When it is busy, you may need to have 2 cashiers, another person just bagging pastries and brewing coffee, 2 baristas behind the espresso machine, a maybe even a dedicated person working the blenders. If you’re preparing sandwiches and salads to order, then another person may need to be added to handle that task. Keeping your stations in close proximity to each other will allow one employee to easily access all equipment during very slow periods of business, thus saving you valuable labor dollars.

When you arrange equipment in relationship to each other, keep in mind that most people are right handed. Stepping to the right of the espresso machine to access the espresso grinder will feel more comfortable than having to move to the left. Likewise, place your ice storage bin to the right of your blenders, so when you scoop ice, you can hold the cup or blender pitcher in your left hand, and scoop with your right.

As you create your store layout, the equipment you select should fit your space and the needs of your anticipated business volume. A busy location will most likely require a dual or twin, air pot, drip coffee brewer (one that can brew 2 pots at the same time), as opposed to a single brewer. If you anticipate selling a lot of blended and ice drinks, then an under counter ice maker, one that can only produce 100 pounds of ice or less per day, will not be sufficient. You should instead locate a high-capacity ice maker (one that can make 400 or 500 lbs. per day) in the back of the house, and transport ice to an ice holding bin up front. Plan to bring in frozen desserts and ice cream? Then a 1 door reach-in freezer in the back of he house will probably be inadequate for you storage needs, so you’ll need to consider a 2 or 3 door. I always recommend a 3-group espresso machine for any location that may generate 150 drinks per day or more. And, I can tell you from experience, you can never have too much dry or refrigerated storage space!

Make sure that any equipment you select will be acceptable with your local bureaucracy before your purchase and take delivery of it. All equipment will typically need to be NSF & UL approved, or have a similar, acceptable, foreign certification equivalent. Your bureaucracy will most likely want to see manufacturer specification sheets on all equipment to verify this fact, before they’ll approve your plans.

ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) compliance will also come into play when you are designing your coffee bar. In some areas of the country, this will only apply to those areas of your store that will be used by customers. However, other bureaucracies may require your entire store to be ADA compliant. Following are some of the basic requirements of compliance with the code:

• All hallways and isle ways must be 5 feet wide (minimum).

• All countertop working heights must be 34 inches high (instead of normal 36 inch height).

• 18 inches of free wall space must be provided on the strike-side of all doors (the side with the door knob).

• All hand-washing sinks must be ADA friendly.

• All bathrooms must be ADA compliant (5 foot space for wheelchair turnaround, handrails at toilet, acceptable clearance around toilet and hand washing sink, etc.).

• No steps allowed, ramps are OK with the proper slope.

• If your space has multiple levels, then no feature may exist on a level where handicapped access has not been provided, if that same feature does not exist on a level where it will be accessible.

You can find the complete regulations for ADA compliance at the following website:

http://www.access-board.gov/adaag/html/adaag.htm

Beyond the basic Equipment Floor Plan, showing new partitions, cabinets, equipment, fixtures, and furnishings, you’ll need to produce some additional drawings to guide your contractors and satisfy the bureaucracies.

Electrical Plan

An electrical plan will be necessary to show the location of all outlets needed to operate equipment. Information such as voltage, amperage, phase, hertz, special instructions (like, “requires a dedicated circuit”), and the horizontal and vertical location of each outlet, should all be specified.

A small, basic coffee shop might get away with a 200 amp service, but typically 400 amps will be required if your equipment package will include items like an electric water heater, high-temperature dishwasher, or cooking equipment (ovens, panini grill, etc.).

In addition to the electrical work required for your coffee business-specific equipment, you may need to adjust existing electrical for additional or reconfigured lighting, HVAC, general-purpose convenience outlets, and exterior signs. Also, have your electrician run any needed speaker wires, TV/internet cables, and cash register remote receipt printer cables at the same time they are installing electrical wires. Finally, make sure your electrician makes provisions for lighted exit signs, and a battery-powered emergency evacuation lighting system, if needed.

Plumbing Plan

A plan showing all plumbing features will be necessary. At minimum, this should show stub-in locations for all needed water sources (hot & cold), drains, your water heater, water purifications system, grease interceptor (if required), bathroom fixtures, etc.

While a typical P-trap drain should be acceptable for most fixtures and equipment, some will require an air-gap drain. An air gap drain does not go through the “S”-shaped twists of the P-trap. Instead, the drain line comes straight down from the piece of equipment or fixture, and terminates 2 inches above the rim of a porcelain floor sink drain. This porcelain drain basin is usually installed directly into the floor. The air gap between the drain line from your equipment or fixture, and the bottom of the basin, prevents any bacteria in the sewer pipe from migrating into the equipment or fixture. I drain the following pieces of equipment to a floor sink drain when creating a plumbing plan:

• espresso machine

• dipper wells

• ice maker

• ice holding bin

• food prep sink

• soft drink dispensing equipment

To save on the life of your water filtration system, only your espresso machine and coffee brewer should be supplied by with treated water. Coffee is 98% to 99% water, so good water quality is essential. Your ice maker should only require a simple particle filter on the incoming line (unless your water quality is terrible). There is no need to filter water that will be used for hand and dish washing, cleaning mops, flushing toilets, and washing floors!

Be aware that many bureaucracies are now requiring a grease interceptor on the drain line from your 3-compartment ware washing sinks and automatic dishwasher. A grease interceptor is basically a box containing baffles that traps the grease before it can enter the public sewer system.

Also understand that a typical retail space will not come equipped with a water heater with enough capacity to handle your needs. Unless your space was previously some type of a food service operation, you will probably need to replace it with a larger one.

If cutting trenches in the floor will be necessary to install porcelain floor sinks, a grease interceptor, and run drain lines, then establishing a few general purpose floor drains at this same time behind the counter, and in the back of the house, will prove useful. Floor drains will allow you to squeegee liquids away when spills occur, and when washing floors.

Finally, if you added some new walls during your remodel, you may need to have the fire sprinkler system for your space adjusted or reconfigured.

Cabinet Elevations

Drawing cabinet elevations, (the view you would have if you were standing in front of your cabinets), will be necessary for your cabinet maker to understand all the features they will need to incorporate into your cabinet designs.

These elevations are not meant to be shop fabrication drawings for your cabinetmaker, but merely serve a reference, showing needed features and desired configuration. Where do you want drawers, and under counter storage space; and, where do you want cabinet doors on that under counter storage? Where should open space be left for the placement of under counter refrigeration and trashcans? Will cup dispensers be installed in the cabinet face under the counter top? These elevations will provide your cabinetmaker with a clear understanding of all these features.

While your kitchen base cabinets at home are typically 24 inches deep, for commercial applications they should be 30 inches deep, and 33 inches if an under counter refrigerator is to be inserted. Also, when specifying the size of an open bay to accommodate under counter refrigeration, be sure to allow a couple of inches more than the physical dimensions of the equipment, so that it can be easily inserted and removed for daily cleaning.

Dimensions Plan

You will need to create a floor plan showing all the critical dimensions for new partitions, doors, cabinets, and fixtures. This will, of course, help make sure that everything ends up where it is suppose to be, and will be the right size.

A final thought about design; unless the space you will be designing is a clean vanilla shell (meaning, nothing currently exists in the space, except perhaps one ADA restroom), you will have to make sure that all the features that you are considering keeping, will be acceptable with your local bureaucracy. Many older buildings were not designed to present codes. If the business type remains the same (your space was occupied by a food service establishment before you), then some times any non compliant features will be grandfathered-in, meaning you don’t have to bring them up to current requirements. But don’t count on this! You need to check with your bureaucracies to make sure. More and more I see bureaucracies requiring new business owners to remodel, so that all features are compliant with codes. This means you may have to rip-out bathrooms and hallways, add fire sprinkler systems, and provide ramps where there are steps. Better you know all these things before you begin your store design!

I always tell my consulting clients, that if I produce a perfect design and layout for them, they will never notice… because everything will be exactly where you would expect it to be. Unfortunately, if you create a less than optimal design for your coffee bar, you probably won’t realize it until you start working in it. Changing design mistakes or inadequacies after the fact, can be extremely expensive. Not correcting those mistakes may even cost you more in lost potential sales. For this reason, I strongly suggest using an experienced coffee business space designer to create your layout for you, or at very least, to review the design you have created. Doing so will payoff with dividends.

Helpful Tips to Winterize Your Fire Pit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discover How To Seduce Him By Using 4 Fractionation Techniques

Essentially what the following techniques are designed to do is create tension and pique a man’s interest in you by pushing and pulling him away in a gentle manner.

The Ol Bait And Switch

Ask him to tell you about a revered/sentimental childhood experience and then reflect what he is said back to him while relating to what he is said and then when he thinks the conversation is going to continue change the subject.

This works because in order to remember a childhood experience a person needs to go back in time – a long way back in time, through an invisible time zone. When they go back to that sentimental moment – they arrived there with you. Our formative years have a powerful effect on the shaping of our value systems so this is a GREAT way to form a bond with a guy.

By suddenly changing the subject you take control of the conversation at a weak moment for him, which gives you power because you got close and then pulled away. It’s the pulling away that makes him want to get closer because you are telling him in an indirect way that you are not accessible.

Flirt And Retract

It is relatively self explanatory and there are numerous ways you can flirt from a little giggle and a girly smile when you chat, to mocking him about something like the way he straightens his collar when he stands up to touching him on the arm or leg when you talk.

You pull away by telling him that you are not that kind of girl when he touches you. It may be a bit hypocritical but it will make him want you even more nonetheless.

Tell stories

The ability to tell stories with ease is a mark of confidence and confidence is alluring. By telling a story you are letting him get an insight into your world. This is obviously imperative for getting to know one another, but you can also in some way relate your story back to his values. Obviously you need to have an idea of what these values are first, but if you use strategy one before this strategy you will get an idea of what his values are from his child hood experience.

Emit mixed signals

One of the best ways to do this is to make a guy see that you are a ‘cool girl’ by having a laugh with him while teasing him every now and then which will make him wonder if you like and respect him.

It is that very pull mechanism that will make him try harder to win you over and what you will see when you do this is double the expression of interest in you.

Cardiovascular Risk May Be Indicated by Some Unusual Factors

There are times when researchers uncover interesting collateral information when attempting to find answers to the most puzzling health questions. Over the past several years, many of these unusual findings have been related to an individual’s risk for developing heart disease.

Earlobe Creases

It sounds implausible and slightly amusing, but more than two dozen scientific studies conducted over the past few decades have examined the relationship between earlobe creases and increased risk for heart disease. Perhaps the most well-known of these studies was published in 1991. Researchers from the University of Chicago followed more than a hundred subjects for 10 years and discovered that individuals with a diagonal crease across the earlobe had markedly higher instances of heart disease or death from heart-related conditions than those without such a crease. The researchers in Chicago were not alone in their findings.

Swedish researchers performed over 500 autopsies on victims of cardiac arrest or heart disease and found that earlobe creases were a “positive predictive value” for more than 68 percent of the subjects they examined. More than 80 percent of their subjects under the age of 40 who had succumbed to coronary artery disease had earlobe creases. A Turkish study determined that earlobe creasing was a more serious risk factor for heart disease than family history, diabetes, or even smoking. At the Montreal Heart Institute, researchers reviewed cases of nearly 350 admitted patients. Of those, 91 percent of patients with earlobe creases had heart disease as compared with only 61 percent of those without creases. Irish scientists studied almost 250 patients and found that earlobe creases were indicative of heart disease in more than 71 percent of participants.

All of this research appears to support what statisticians call low sensitivity-high specificity. This means that individuals without earlobe creases are not necessarily immune from heart disease, but that individuals with earlobe creases are much more likely to have cardiovascular trouble at some point in their lives. Though this evidence seems to present a strong case for the relationship between earlobe creases and cardiovascular disease, it is essential to note that many similar studies have found no such connection. There is currently no medical consensus on whether or not earlobe creases are a significant indicator of heart disease or an individual’s predisposition for it. Most experts believe that creasing simply increases with age, as does the risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

However, earlobe creases are certainly not the only unusual supposed risk factors for heart disease.

Leg Length

In 2004, British researchers at Bristol University announced that they had found evidence to support the relationship between the length of a woman’s leg and her risk for developing heart disease. Among 4000 participants, those with the shortest legs were at the greatest risk for developing heart problems. For every four centimeters above a specified baseline leg length, the risk decreased by 16 percent. Leg length remained a strong indicator of risk even after more traditional causes of heart disease such as high cholesterol, weight, age, tobacco use, and poor lung function were accounted for.

Ring Finger Length

Researchers at Liverpool University in the United Kingdom found that males with short ring fingers had lower testosterone levels which increased their risk of early heart attack. The Liverpool study measured participants’ index and ring fingers, then divided the lengths. In subjects with a ratio of measurements greater than 1.0, testosterone levels were found to be significantly lower than in those subjects whose measurements fell in a smaller measurement ratio. Low testosterone levels have been linked to higher instances of early heart attack.

Male Pattern Baldness

In a study of more than 22,000 male physicians conducted over the course of 11 years, researchers found that participants with frontal baldness were nearly 10 percent more likely to develop heart disease than their non-balding counterparts, while subjects with more hair loss or crown baldness were 23 to almost 40 percent more likely to have heart disease. A 2007 study by researchers at the University of Arizona confirmed that baldness does in fact increase risk for heart disease, but it ultimately concluded that hair loss by itself was not a reliable indicator of risk.

Bad Breath

Halitosis is just one of the side effects caused by advanced gum disease, and studies have shown that individuals with this condition produce antibodies that increase their risk of heart disease by as much as 100 percent. In fact, one study even reported that treating gum disease could reverse thickening of the carotid arteries.

Clear Skin

Generally thought to be a positive trait, one British study found that clear skin could be a potentially life-threatening condition. Of 11,000 males who participated in the study, those with acne as teenagers were 30 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular or heart disease in middle age and beyond.

Discolored Mucus

A recently published study in the Biochemical Journal has suggested that there is a connection between cardiovascular disease and green-tinged mucus. The discoloration is caused by an enzyme in the body called myeloperoxidase, which fights bacteria by producing an acid that can damage tissue and lead to asthma, arthritis, and thickening of arterial walls.

Earwax

There are two different types of earwax: dry and wet. Individuals produce only one kind or the other for the extent of their lives, and earwax type seems to be a hereditary trait. A 1966 Japanese study found that individuals who produced dry earwax had an increased risk of arterial thickening than those who produced wet earwax. No other study since has confirmed these findings – a later peer review, in fact, concluded that the results should be viewed with suspicion. Yet when one considers all the other strange indicators of heart disease, certainly the kind of earwax an individual produces is no odder than any other potential risk factor.

Cardiovascular disease is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that should never be taken lightly. However, these unusual risk factors can surely add some levity to the conversation.

The Ultimate Guide to Commitment Phobic Men

Commitment phobic men are masters at deceptively keeping you hooked on them.

Just about every woman has dated at least one commitment phobic man in her life. They are the ones who keep you waiting for the day they’ll finally agree to live with you or marry you or commit exclusively to you. But they never do. When you meet them they are hard to resist because they compliment you and appeal to your vanity. And they lie. They lie about being in love with you, they lie about wanting to date you long term, they lie about not wanting just a sexual fling. And they don’t care.

Here are examples of Commitment Phobic Male Behavior:

  • You date for one week and he tells you he loves you, the next week you never hear from him again
  • You date for a month and he tells you he only wants to date you, then you find out a friend saw him flirting at a party with someone else…the night he was too tired to go out with you
  • You live with him for 8 years and he still won’t marry you
  • He still doesn’t call you his girlfriend and sees his mom more than he sees you, after one year of dating

Commitment phobic men are men who cannot commit to you with the emotional intimacy of marriage or living together because they are emotionally attached to someone or something else that makes emotional intimacy with you impossible.

I know you’re thinking right now, “But how can I avoid these men when I don’t know if a guy is commitment phobic until after we’ve dated for weeks or months?

Actually, it’s easy to spot a commitment phobic man when you first meet him, just by talking to him for a short period of time, before you even date him. You just need to know what behavior traits to look for. You must focus on certain signs a guy gives you that are indications of commitment phobic problems. These “red flags” are glaringly apparent when you know what they are. But even if you know what they are, you must summon the inner strength to ignore a commitment phobic man’s charismatic charm, the appeal of his compliments, and your codependent desire to care for him.

Don’t even give a guy like this a chance by dating him even once, if it’s possible. Once you date him, he’ll trap you with his bag of deceptive tricks, and manipulate you into feeling a comfortable false sense of emotional intimacy by telling you “You’re the woman I’ve always dreamed of finding”.

It’s important to know the ploys and manipulative behavior of these men. They have the ability to make a woman feel a “codependent” need to take care of them by appealing to her need to feel special by taking care of others. They paint themselves as helpless victims of past love relationships, past failed jobs, and parents who abused them; and this makes a woman feel vulnerable to wanting to “fix” their lives and be the one to finally make them happy.

If you were the one in your family tending to the emotional needs of your parents or siblings, you will be easily lured into the world of a commitment phobic man. I highly suggest you read books on codependency by Melodie Beatty and learn what codependency is. It’s important to know if you are susceptible to the charm of commitment phobic men due to your codependent behavioral upbringing.

Commitment phobic men hide behind a persona of charm and adulation towards women that completely camouflages how they truly feel inside. Behind the charming façade of a commitment phobic man’s outer persona, is a man who wants to control, deceive and abuse women. They are unhappy with their lives and often blame a woman in their past for ruining it. Of course, this blame started with their mother, and has now transferred onto another woman in their life. But usually they don’t realize the first seed of hatred towards women, and desperate neediness of them, started with their mother.

These men don’t trust women, like women, respect women or admire women – they hate them. Many of these men are victims of verbal and sexual abuse as children. They have mothers who made their lives miserable, and now they will let out their anger and resentment on you.

When you first meet a commitment phobic man, he will have certain behavior traits that creep into his facade of adulation towards you. It’s important to see these traits as red flags that signal how potentially disastrous dating a man like this can be. These initial behavior traits may seem innocent enough, but they are telltale signs of bigger problems to come. I call them 1st Stage Behavior Traits because this is the behavior you can detect when first meeting or dating a commitment phobic.

1st Stage Behavior Traits of Commitment Phobic Men:

Behavior Trait #1: He will single out insecure women who need attention and compliments to feel good about their life. Then he will say something to a woman that is slightly inappropriate about how sexually alluring she looks. This helps them find the woman who will put up with their problems because her self worth is tied up in someone else’s opinion of her. This is the kind of woman they can control. The woman who doesn’t walk away in disgust is their next victim.

Behavior Trait #2 He will keep the truth about his past life, his finances, his past relationships, his relationship with his mother, and how he truly feels about commitment from you. The real him will be well hidden from your outer view. Most commitment phobic men have deep feelings of shame about themselves and their life and they will hide that shame by doing things to cover up the truth about their life.

One commitment phobic guy I dated didn’t have a decent car, so he used his mother’s car to impress me, but never told me he was using her car until a month of dating him. Another guy I dated took me out to an expensive restaurant on a first blind date and constantly tipped the waiters with large bills. Then I realized on the 2nd date he really couldn’t afford to be so extravagant when I saw his “down and out” apartment lifestyle. He had to give me a false impression about having lots of money, as if that one night would cloud my ability to see his dismal apartment.

There is nothing wrong with a guy wanting to impress you on a date by taking you to a nice restaurant or driving his parent’s car. But there is something wrong with a guy deliberately presenting himself as someone he isn’t just to keep you from knowing the real him. If he has to keep facts about his life from you, he isn’t honest, regardless of the reason he’s doing it. Unfortunately many women who first date commitment phobic men catch a deception, and then they make excuses for why he did it. They don’t realize that once you accept any deception, you will be dealing with bigger lies and secrets to come.

Behavior trait #3: You can never have a conversation with him about what his relationship goals are. He’ll act uncomfortable, and sometimes visibly annoyed. If you sense he isn’t open to a future that includes the kind of commitment you are looking for from a man, don’t consider dating him. Men who won’t commit in relationships will show you by their facial expression and behavior, when you bring up the subject of commitment that it’s one subject they don’t care to discuss. You must realize he has commitment issues when he freezes up when you talk about what you are looking for in a long term relationship. And if he tells you he never wants to get married, he’s doing you a big favor. Believe him and don’t think you can change him, regardless of how much he tells you “you’re the woman of his dreams”. Don’t even consider being the one who’ll be that loving wife he never found. Remember this: with commitment phobic men, it’s not only what they say that matters; it’s their attitude about certain subjects and what you sense they are keeping from you. It’s that unsettling feeling in your gut that this guy isn’t being totally honest with you.

If you do continue to date a guy like this, you’ve accepted behavior that already sets the tone for how he’ll continue to treat you, which will be all about what matters to him. Many women feel it isn’t their right to talk about their relationship needs when they first meet a guy. They feel they will scare the guy away because he’ll immediately think they want to marry him. Wrong! This is the time you must talk about what you want in life. If you don’t tell a guy you want to get married and have kids one day, you will give up your right to expect to get it down the road as far as he’s concerned. Commitment phobic men don’t waste their time with women who declare confidently that they want to get married and have kids. It’s the surest way to watch them disappear.

Behavior trait#4: Another surefire sign that a guy is a commitment phobic is when he will never do anything on time and will always change the time and day of your date or be late for your date. He will also never agree with your suggestion about the date. If you make a decision about the movie you want to see or the restaurant you want to go to, he will want to try a different one. If you accept this behavior, he will continue to act controlling with you, by never focusing on pleasing YOU in the relationship. Of course, you may not notice these first signs when he keeps telling you how beautiful you are and how he can’t wait to make love to you. You won’t be annoyed that he’s always late when he flatters you all the time, right? He is setting up control in the relationship; one that gives him the right to dictate to you what the terms of the relationship will be. And those terms will not include committing to you.

Behavior trait #5: He will make you feel like the most beautiful woman on the planet. He will shower you with his desire for you and give you compliments to an extreme. He will tell you that you are the only woman who understands him, makes him feel such intense attraction, and that he knows he will fall in love with you because you are the woman of his dreams (if he isn’t in love with you already). This is all to distract you from getting to know the real person behind those compliments, seeing all those deceptions and false pretenses.

Behavior trait #6: He will have a dependent personality which means he will need you to take care of him and he will only appreciate you when you do things for him. He will paint himself as a victim of life with bad luck and bad, cruel women. “Thank god he’s finally found you” will be his motto. That is, until he gets bored with you and moves on to someone else. And even if he doesn’t, he’ll never commit to you or fulfill you emotionally. He will lump you in the pile of all those other cruel women who never understand him or care about him. And all you will feel when he moves on is how much you were used and unappreciated.

It’s easy to spot a commitment phobic man when you notice these behavior traits. Usually the first behavior trait is hard to detect until you’ve dated him for awhile and realize the real truth about his life and his past. But the other behavior traits show up immediately: his constant barrage of compliments and making you feel like you are the woman of his dreams; his first comment to you being inappropriate about your physical appearance (or inappropriate touching); his victim mentality about past relationships; his reluctant, almost angry attitude about talking about commitment in a relationship, his constant control of how you both spend your time together by always being late and wanting to change plans and never letting you decide what to do on a date.

These behavior traits may seem harmless and insignificant, but they are red flag signs of serious trouble to come.

See the signs, and when you do, close the door on his opportunity to date you. You deserve a man who offers you so much more.

HP Laptop Charger – Tips on Maintenance

How is HP Laptop Charger Important?

If you have a HP laptop, then you must be having a HP laptop charger which provides necessary charging to your laptop whenever you are taking your laptop out. Your charger keeps the batteries of your laptop charged and hence is a crucial component which needs to be protected from damage. Your genuine hp charger is important because the branded and genuine chargers come expensive and thus will cost a lot to you if you get them damaged or lost. Thus you should know general tips to handle and maintain the hp laptop charger.

Simple Tips That Can Save Your Charger

The most common mistake we all do with our hp laptop charger is that, we just pull it out from the plug whenever the charging is done, and many a times we do this before even switching off the plug. This has a very bad effect on the junction where your charging cable is connected to the three pin. When you keep on pulling, the contacts and soldering within the closed three pin plug gets loose and might interrupt in a constant and correct voltage supply to your laptop. Even worse might happen, when the cables get ruptured and expose metallic strings putting you in danger of getting an electric shock.

Another wrong usage of the charger is the twisting of the cable. Many a times in the hurry, we simply go on twisting the charger cable so that some how it fits into the bag. This is wrong as the sharp curves can break the continuity of the cables laid within. Practice long folding, which is a lot better option and also keeps the cable healthy for a long time.

Take care when you have kept your laptop on a table or a sharp edged surface. During these cases, 99% of the times, your cable runs through a sharp edge which either cuts through the cable gradually or skims it slowly exposing the internal cables. Always keep a piece of cloth handy, which will help you in this situation.

Avoid sitting at hot places with your laptop. As the cable is made up of a plastic material, it can easily be damaged by the heat. Even if the heat is bearable by you, it will slowly make the cables weak and more prone to damage. Thus its good idea to use the laptop along with hp laptop charger in cooler areas.

Don’t overcharge your laptop. This is very common thing that happens with every other laptop owner. We just keep the laptop for charging during night, and forget to switch off the charging, and we only switch it off in the morning. Because of over night charging, the charging component will get hot and damage the adjacent cables.

Do not use the laptop and hp laptop charger on soft surfaces, like couch and such seating.

Sinus Infections – The Dangers of Not Taking Them Seriously

There are two types of sinus infections (also known as sinusitis), acute and chronic. Bacteria in the upper respiratory tract are normally the cause of an acute sinus infection. Two percent of adults and twenty percent of children will suffer a sinus infection during a bout with the common cold. Fortunately, this form of infection reacts very well to treatment and usually goes away within two to three weeks.

Chronic sinus infections however, are very common. According to statistics, over thirty-seven million Americans suffer from chronic sinusitis, which could last for over three months. Unfortunately, hence the name “chronic”, it usually returns.

Acute and chronic sinus infections both have similar symptoms, which include dental pain, cough, bad breath, stuffy nose, erythema, fatigue, difficulty breathing, fever, nausea, pain around the eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead, and sore throat.

People suffering with chronic or acute sinusitis should consult a doctor, because if left untreated, severe medical problems and sometimes death could come about.

Here are some complications that could arise from an untreated and undiagnosed sinus infection.

We all know that fevers and runny noses are synonymous with sinus infections. However, many people do not know that soft tissue inflammation above the frontal sinus may be an indication of an infection of the frontal bone, also known as Osteomyelitis.

Another complication called Ethmoid sinusitis may infect the eye socket, which could lead to severe swelling or the eye appearing droopy. This condition could lead to lasting blindness. In addition, a blood clot could form around the front and top of the face in which the pupils become fixed and dilated and could occur in both the right and left eyes.

Sinus infections are also capable of altering someone’s personality or their consciousness. Unfortunately, if this occurs, the infection may have already spread to the brain, which will result in a coma or death.

This is why seeing a doctor is so important. People with strong immune systems can fight off the infection without seeing a physician; however, children and the elderly are at a greater risk for these complications to occur. Taking action immediately and seeking help will allow the doctor plenty of time to diagnose the problem and recommend the right treatment for the illness.

Doctor’s can usually tell a sinus infection by lightly touching the face for tenderness in the skin, however, CT scans, MRI’s , and X-rays are also used to determine the problem.

Over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol are among the most widely used treatments for sinusitis that doctors recommend. If the patient shows no improvement within a week, then it is most likely a bacterial infection. The doctor will then run a series of tests to determine the origin of the bacterium, and then he or she will prescribe the right type of antibiotic to remedy the situation.

Recovery time depends on the person. Some people start feeling better after two days on antibiotics, while some can still feel under the weather for days and weeks. Antibiotic treatment for a sinus infection usually lasts for two weeks, but it could be extended seven more days in the case of a chronic infection.

There are plenty of home remedies out there for sinus infections. Some of these remedies work very well; however, do not hesitate to go see a doctor if you feel no improvement in your condition after a couple days. Children and the elderly should go straight to the doctor if a sinus infection is suspected.

Restaurant Back Door Security – Protecting People and Profits

They watched from the shadows as the employee propped open the back door to take his nightly run to the trash corral. He did not deviate from the routine the last two nights. It was 1:35 AM, right on schedule. As the young man returned with his empty cart, they pulled the ski masks down over their chin and jumped out with guns drawn. They pushed the employee into the restaurant. Upon entering the office area, the two robbers sprung into frenzied action. One robber grabbed the manager, pointed his gun at her, and screamed for her to open the safe, while the other forced the other closing employees to lie down on the cold tile floor of the kitchen. The employees’ lives are changed forever as they experience the terror of peering at the edge of life – and death.

Unfortunately, this scene plays out somewhere each night in the world of fast food. A world serving the public, late at night with predators lurking, waiting and plotting to take advantage of every opportunity to forcibly rob others hard earned cash. Crime prevention solutions cost virtually nothing other than implementing changes in policy, routines and discipline.

Opening of the back door exposes the business to cash and product losses and the employees to serious crime, including homicide. Opening it at night greatly increases the chances of bad things happening. Yet it is one of the most serious breaches and most often violated of all security policies. It is a virtual weak link that can be turned into one of the strongest bonds in creating a safer and more secure environment for customers and employees when executed properly.

This particular scene is avoidable with simple policy and procedures on limiting these dangerous exposures to crime and theft. Most importantly, the procedures must be engrained in the training and routines of employees in the restaurant and violations met with appropriate discipline. Not only is control of the door essential in keeping employees safe and secure, but is a major component in preventing theft and inadvertent losses.

Policies

Effective policies regarding the back door include prohibited opening times such as night time and possibly peak rush times when every employee should be focused on serving the customer. Sound loss control programs insure the door is locked at all times and monitored by a member of management whenever it is opened. The keys to the door lock and alarm do not leave the possession of the management team or be readily available to non-management personnel. Trash runs made after dark should be made through the lobby doors while the restaurant is open for business and never made after the doors are locked at closing.

Procedures

When opened, the door should not be propped open. During a trash run, all the trash is placed outside the door, then closed and locked unless the open door will be monitored by a member of management. Clear trash bags are to be used and all cardboard boxes broken down. No one is allowed to enter through the back door. Any request to enter or open the back door is to be made at the front counter. Audits should be routinely conducted for adherence to company policies pertaining to opening of the door, key control, testing of alarms, and procedures regarding the removal of trash.

Equipment

The back door should be equipped with an audible, push bar alarm with a key that cannot be removed while the alarm is in the “off” position, a peep hole or small (less than 4″) covered window and anti-pry plates at the lock. Outside lighting illuminates the back door and trash corral areas. If the restaurant is equipped with a perimeter alarm system, the back door is to be included. A sign in applicable languages on the door stating the rules of authorized openings assists in communicating clear expectations.

Technology

Apply simple technologies to audit compliance and report the unauthorized openings that jeopardize the lives of employees and the profitability of the company. Effective digital camera systems include monitoring of the door’s activity. Audible enunciators and/or strobe lights near the manager’s office notify when the door is opened. Exception reports can be generated by connecting alarm contacts with a restaurants camera system. The reports can be transmitted to supervisors and/or security representatives with attached video of opened door activity. Additional combined video and audio technology is able to interact with store personnel and/or customers causing problems from an off-site monitoring station.

The back door to every restaurant is essential in maintaining effective operations from trash removal to the receiving of inventory. Sound loss control principles involve the control of when the door is opened. Old habits of maintenance or stockroom employees having possession of door keys, keys hanging on a hook or indiscriminate loaning of management keys are difficult to change. Maintaining control is often considered an inconvenience by management. The costs of implementing new policies, procedures and disciplines in the use of the back door are inexpensive. When the door is uncontrolled, the chance for bad things happening increases dramatically, as depicted in the opening passage above. When “nothing bad has ever happened here” and “if it ain’t broke, why fix it!” are the responses to not having proactive loss prevention procedures in place, the ultimate price may be extremely high.

Spelunking the Pinto Basin Gold and Turquoise Mines of Joshua Tree National Park Near Palm Springs

I was about 12 the first time I ventured to the Pinto Basin although I didn’t know that was w it was called at the time. It was the mid 1970’s and I was just a kid brought along with my brother and sister while Mom and Dad explored the desert around Palm Springs on a Sunny afternoon in a Toyota Landcruiser with their friends. I knew we were a long way from home. It felt like we’d traveled out beyond the moon. The earth had quit being golf courses and city streets a long time ago. Now it was just sand and rocks and hills and the occasional scrub grass.

Dad and his friend, Lee, came across a group of low hills at one end of a long wasted valley in what’s called Joshua Tree national park. I knew that much. I also knew, looking at the hill, that the worn road was rougher than anything my Dad had attempted yet in his four-wheeler. But the urge to see what was just beyond the ridge was too great. Rather than risk the car this far away from help we decided to walk to the crest and peer over its edge. There we saw the shifted dirt which marked a mine as having been dug. So we trekked down the other side and found not just one mine, but three.

The first turned out to be the deepest and the most interesting. I went back several hundred yards into the hill from which it’d been carved. At one point you had to get on your hands and knees to crawl through the remaining hole from a long past cave-in. Then you had to walk across an old plank board lain over a bottomless hole some eight feet or more across. There was an old rickety ladder stretching down forever in it. We dropped rocks down its gaping maw to try and gauge its depth. We could hear the rocks hit the sides of the hole a couple of times as they fell. But of the bottom we heard nothing. The board was old, knotted and split. The hole could’ve been a mile for all it scared me. But I walked across.

Further into the mine I came across something so incredible many people I tell hesitate to believe. I’m no geologist. I couldn’t spot a vein of gold if it had neon sign on it – and that’s what the makers of this mine had been looking for nearly a hundred years ago when they dug it, I’m sure of it – but of turquoise, there’s no mistaking it. It’s a deep greenish blue and bright as all get out, even in its raw form. And right there in the wall of that mine was a streak of it as wide as a man and running floor to ceiling in the cave, disappearing into the roof and running beneath its floor.

Before we left that day I had gone into the mine a second time, claw hammer ready and armed with a five gallon paint bucket. I chipped and clawed and ripped that stuff away from the mountains grasp until my bucket was full and brought it all home. it made a neat display in my bedroom framed against a backdrop of my Star Wars album. The remainder of the turquoise I gave away as Christmas gifts, rocks as big as my fists and blue-green as the Pacific at Hawaii.

The other mines were fun, though not as magnificent. One went straight down like the hole in the first mine. But there was no horizontal path to traverse. The other had an old rail track still laid down and a busted rusty ore car at the mouth of the cave, went in only about fifty feet and then there was another ladder going down about thirty feet to what looked like a landing. Since I was the smallest kid, my dad elected me to climb down the ladder, figuring if it could hold me no one bigger would give it a try. I went to the bottom but the landing led to no where, it just dead ended.

We drove home that day in the dark with great stories to remember for the rest of our lives.

Fast forward twenty plus years into the mid 1990’s. I wanted to find it again but for the life of me I had no real sense of where it was other than on the far side of Joshua Tree National Park, and that was a whole lotta desert to have to prowl through. Still, with no better plan I got a map and divided it up into sections. The first time I went in my Jeep Wrangler with just one of my kids and my wife. We didn’t find it. The second time we rented a Jeep Cherokee, because I had more kids, out of the airport and searched another section of the desert. Still no finds. But the third trip, while in a big rented four-wheel drive Ford Excursion complete with in-laws and a bigger family yet, we struck gold – or turquoise you might say.

As we went down a dirt road that took me farther out into the desert than I could swear to having gone before, I saw set of hills off in the distance with a rutted worn out road climbing over one of them. My skin tingled. We parked at the bottom of the road and I grabbed flashlight, hammer and bucket, a host of kids and family behind me. At the top of the crest I saw the shifted dirt of the first mine, and low and behold at the bottom of the hill near it was a beat-up old Toyota pick-up truck, still operational, and a small cadre of men dressed in worn-out clothes. Apparently others had found the mine over the years too.

Still, this was it, again. I went into the mine and crawled through the now even older cave-in, went past the deep hole and the plank that stretched over it, careful to not let my kids do anything foolish near it. And when I got to the vein of turquoise I was somewhat surprised, though not entirely, to find that my vein had been mined out. There were still some fragments of what I remembered, which I chipped away at for old time sake. And I found a few other pieces of blue-green on the floor by kicking away the dirt. But the main swath of turquoise was gone to other families, boys, whoever who had also discovered it over the years. We had found the mine and I will never lose it again, it is embedded in my mind as a great destination in the middle nowhere to go to: my own personal bit of the lost Southwestern landscape complete with tales of buried treasure, only tales.

A few years after that, a friend of mine, Chris Shurilla, came to see me. He had some rappelling gear and we headed out to the mine. We crawled past the cave-in and looked into the deep hole and the ladder stretching down forever. There was an old wooden trellis built over the hole which heretofore I had missed, probably because I was always watching where I put my feet and how close to the hole I was on my earlier trespasses. We tied off on the beam, clamped ourselves onto the line and dropped two hundred yards of roped into the hole.

Chris had no fear. He swung out over the empty space and ZEEEE, he ripped down the rope at a frantic pace. I was cautious as a virgin bride on her wedding night, white knuckling down the ladder one rung at a time even though I was tied off and supposedly secure, safe. The one of the ancient rungs crumbled under my weight and I swung out into the dead space. Chris laughed at me and yelled to hurry up. Once I coughed my heart back out of my throat I sped up my descent. When I caught up to Chris he was hanging in mid-air of a larger chamber. The narrow throat had opened up into a cavity some thirty or forty feet across. The ladder still stretched through the middle of the blackness where it was crossed by an old cat walk supported by two by four somehow affixed to the seemingly distant cavern walls. It was like something out of a Stephen King novel. The cat walk ran into a dark side cavern on each end cut into the earth. Chris says faster than I can respond, “I’ll go check it out,” unhooks his belay and trots off across the ancient planks suspended in darkness light as a cat on a windowsill.

“Chris, you idiot,” I yell. Those boards are probably a hundred years old. He comes bouncing back beneath me with no concern. “Oh they’re fine,” he says. And while I wouldn’t swear to it, maybe it was just my fear kicking into overdrive, I thought I saw him bounce on them as a way of testing their mettle. Had they failed I don’t know what he or me, would do. “That end,” he said, jerking a thumb back towards the hole he’d just investigated, “only goes a few feet and dead ends.” The he went to the other side, disappearing in the darkness again, “This side too.” He came back and tied back onto the line and we went down some more.

We had about another 75 feet we cold drop before we got too close to the end of the rope for comfort. Chris still hung comfortably on the rope with no hands holding the endless ladder or the sides of the rocky hole. I was clinging to the ladder still, for what it was worth, cause for all its old age, it felt better than nothing. But seeing Chris hanging there and the empty blackness beneath him we still knew we could go no further. We pried a rock off the side of the hole and dropped it. Though we were 200 yards down from the original starting point, the rock made no final resting sound. We did it again with another rock. We still could not hear it hit bottom.

We climbed back up and found our wives and kids were pissed at us. We’d been down that hole several hours and they said they’d been yelling for us after the first thirty minutes. The only thing they knew was the rope was still taut and it occasionally swung.

The entire area of the pinto Basin is littered with mines. if you go out there, you have a good chance of dying. I’m not saying this to be an alarmist. but seriously: there’re holes in the ground big enough to drive a car into and some of them have no bottom. There’re caves that go into the mountains hundreds of yards, past holes and cave-ins and rotten supports and you’re hours away from help even by car if you have a problem. And what if the car breaks down.

Do not go out there unless you are experienced and prepared. At times, I can’t believe I did it as a kid and then did it again with mine and then did it again with a rope, repelling gear, and a fearless friend.

Three Practical Ways to Deal With Social Media Burnout

It is a common sight wherever I go, and perhaps you would agree too. Orbs of bright light illuminating onto the faces of regular people going about their daily routines, whether it is walking to work, standing in line to get their morning coffee and bagel, or even right before the movie begins in the theater. Of course, I am one of these people with a mysterious illumination radiating off my face when I am not preoccupied with something more important to do. You may be wondering what I refer to when mentioning these orbs of bright light (signs of extraterrestrial life?)… but then again, you probably already know they are referring to cell phones (a majority probably being smartphones) that fit in the palms of our hands. Social media that fits in the palms of our hands, among some of the most popular hangouts include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, and LinkedIn. I dare not mention more (including online dating sites) as it will take up the entire post!

With the prevalence of smartphones and the accessibility of so many sites at the touch (or swipe) of our fingers, it seems impossible to get away from social media. Unfortunately, it is easily noticed that more engagement with our gadgets and social media leads to limited or no interaction face-to-face… Whatever will happen to good ol’ conversations like I had in the 90’s with my friends? I told them I liked something, instead of relying on clicking a thumbs-up icon to deliver a stamp of approval. I have heard stories where people can spend hours on end contributing to endless posts, likes, tweets, snapchatting, and forget about reality… what do you mean I have to pay my bills? My school work can be done later! What laundry? Those dishes in the sink can wait.

Personally, I have taken my smallest steps to distance myself from social media because reality is here to stay, and I need to avoid being warped from it. I believe I am suffering from social media burnout. Yes, this is an actual thing. Try entering these three words into Google and just goggle over the many articles on such a condition facing our generation of children, professionals, and students in 2016.

According to Dictionary.com, burn-out (listed with a hyphen) is defined as “fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity.” I am not surprised that social media can make us feel this way, but it is alarming how many people may be burned out and not know how to recover. It is too easy to get trapped into the online world to realize just what kind of toll it is taking on the body. Maybe you are sleeping way too late, your appetite is to the extreme, you are always moody because you don’t agree with the latest comment on your post, or you are physically ill because you are not exercising and living a healthy life.

If you fall into this boat, you are not alone. Consider three practical ways that you can apply to avoid or eliminate burnout in your life.

Separate Social Media from Reality

There should be a purpose or meaningful intent to everything you do… including hopping onto specific networking apps. It is also important to distinguish social media from reality, otherwise your drive to accomplish things will be blurred. Become more aware of your time dwelling online versus getting things done in your daily routines.

If you are a visual person, this technique may help you keep things in check.

Write two lists side by side:

For Social Media, answer questions like the following:

–> Why am I checking ___ right now?

–> What can I gain from using ___ today?

–> When will I check ___ today for updates?

For Reality, consider prompts like the following:

–> My top three goals today include ___, ___, and ___.

–> I will be productive today by ___.

–> At home, I need to take care of ___, ___, and ___.

It may seem silly, but filling out templates can make you actively aware of your surroundings, and thus have more control of what you should and shouldn’t do at a given time.

Turn off that phone!

Consider these questions: How often do you talk on the phone to someone, emergency or non-emergency related? How often do you text someone else?

Granted, texting is probably more likely than talking with someone on a daily basis.

The point here is this: We tend to use our phones nowadays more to access social media than we do for the intended function of a phone, which is to call and talk with someone else. If you realize that you are struggling to get important things done or you feel over stressed/fatigued by the use of social media, cut your access to them… at least for a few hours. If you remember how, turn off your phone. Focus on what you need to get done, get it done, then reward yourself by turning that phone back on and indulge within reason what you missed for a few hours. If you are within reach of a desktop PC either at home or work, do not sign in to your account.

This will help you develop self-control and confidence that yes, you can indeed stray away from the digital world and feel good about that freedom!

Limit access to two

How many of you find the thrill of networking apps to resemble a tube of Pringles? Once you pop, you can’t stop! I have been guilty of hopping onto at least four different apps in a matter of 5 minutes. Browsing through pictures, words, likes, tweets… it can function like a bedtime story as it really makes me fatigued. So many questions pop into my head about things I see online that sometimes I can’t control what I’m thinking! And there is no doubt how this can make my real-life tasks hazy.

When you feel the urge to check out social media, limit your access to TWO either within a few hours or a day. It could be Twitter and Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn… you get the idea.

If you force yourself to do this on a consistent basis, you will hopefully realize that there is power in self-control. Also, there will be something new each day for you to explore as social media apparently never sleeps.

I wish you luck on your journey to eliminate social media burnout from your life!