Fresh Coat Franchise Review

What is the something without which a house, an office or any infrastructure will look incomplete? What is that thing which enhances the look of a building or a room? What is that thing which you very carefully choose for your room to make it look just right? The answers to all these questions are nothing but a coat of paint. Painting your place not only beautifies it but also makes unique to you.

Paint coating not only enhances the look of your house but also saves your interiors from many threats like water soaking in rainy season, fungus and insect attack and many other things. Therefore, you can say that painting your house is an important part of the whole process. This is something that can be done alone however, most will choose otherwise. You will need the help of a professional to help you out. Many companies in the market can help you with this. Fresh Coat franchise is a company, which can help you out with your painting needs. If you are thinking of starting up a Fresh Coat franchise, then this Fresh Coat franchise review can help you decide in making the right decision.

History and Promise: Fresh Coat franchise has its services in about 100 major cities or more across North America. Fresh Coat franchise is comprises of a group of experienced business owners along with their proficient painters. They understand the importance of your surroundings around you. They know that you will expect the best service at the best price whether you are getting the interior or exterior of your home painted, inside and outside painting of your work place, apartment building or condominium done. It is their goal at Fresh Coat franchise, to provide you with the most positive experience right from the initial state of written quote to finalization to the phase when their contractors finish the whole job slot.

Painting Services provided by Fresh Coat franchise: There are many types of painting services, which you can utilize from the Fresh Coat franchise. They are

  • New Construction Painting
  • Interior Painting
  • Exterior Painting
  • Commercial Painting
  • Green Painting
  • Office Painting
  • Residential Painting
  • Wallpaper Removal
  • House Staining

Advantages of Fresh Coat franchise:

  • Fresh Coat is a insured, bonded and licensed franchise.
  • They offer quality workmanship and premium painting services.
  • They are a national firm, which has locally operated and owned offices.
  • They hire only skilled painters and experienced professionals for their services.
  • They provide quality services to their clients at affordable prices in a very timely manner.

The Fresh Coat franchise has an extensive branding and marketing program, which is specially designed to help their franchisees in getting off with a strong start. This will help you in seeing profits sooner in this business. As with any business decision it is important to do your due diligence and research prior to making your final decision.

History of Granite and Marble

Natural stones are rock formations formed by nature. These stones are formed naturally by enormous pressure under the earth. Natural stones were used in decorating and sculpturing right from the moment civilization was born. These natural stones are time tested for their natural beauty. Ancient buildings and monuments made of natural stones during early civilizations still stand erect narrating the beauty and durability of natural stones.

Modern people want to make their home stand out of the rest and they used natural stones for their floors and walls to bring about eternal beauty.

Granite and marble are two main natural stones widely used in the stone industry. These stones are used in constructions as well as in monumental sculpture. Commercially, these stones are mined for use as architectural stones for flooring, cladding, curbing, counter tops and much more to be used at home.

Granite is a widely occurring igneous rock. The texture of granite is generally medium to coarse grains. Porphyritic texture is very common in granite rocks. Various colors of granite stones are widely available and most of the times, granite is available as a massive rock. The beauty of granite is attributed to the deposits like quartz, feldspar, and mica. Consistent granite has same pattern throughout the stone. Variegated granite has various veins forming different patterns that are not easy to match.

It was the ancient Egyptians who quarried granite exclusively for use in various constructions. Most of their monuments were built using granite and limestone. The only remaining ancient wonder, The Great Pyramid of Cheops was built using limestone. The famous Pharaoh which is a symbol of outstanding Egyptian civilization was built with granite blocks. The Egyptians had marvelous sculpting skills and the granite blocks of Pharaoh were sewn in a perfect manner that you can’t slide even a piece of paper between the rocks.

Pure white marble is a metamorphic rock of very pure limestone. Marble is found extensively in various countries like Belgium, France, Great Britain, Greece, India, Spain and Italy. From classical times, pure white marble was considered as the best of its kind. In the beginning, only white marble was considered worthy and colored marble was considered impure. However, this belief was just short-lived because very soon, ancient civilizations appreciated colored marbles too and used colored marbles in various monuments and sculptures even though pure white marble is always regarded high. Freshly quarried marble is easy to sculpture and the stone hardens as it ages.

Ancient Greeks were very much advanced in civilization and they were really fascinated about marble. Finest architecture and sculpting are specialties of Greek architecture and marble has been used in various Greek buildings. Exquisite statues with detailed carvings were made out of marble. Buildings built using Marble lasted for several ages. The Parthenon which was built in 441-437 BC is considered as a symbol of ancient Greek civilization and this scintillating building was built using Pentelicon marble.

The Greek empire extensively used marbles in their constructions. Temple of Artemis is one of the ancient wonders of the world and it consists of 127 marble columns each of which is 5 stories tall. It was the first grand structure made using marble. The magnificent construction was destroyed by various civilizations that took over Greece, but you can still find foundation and a few columns of the wondrous marbles.

When natural stones were widely used in constructing monuments and temples, it was the Greek empire that brought marble to personal use. References to baths and pools lined with marble can be seen in ancient literature. Thassos marble was widely used in bathrooms and this type of marble is still quarried today for commercial uses. Building constructions using marble was popular in India too and the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World was constructed using pure white marble stones.

After the Egyptian and Greek civilizations made some wonders with natural stones of granite and marble, the Roman Empire decided to try its hands on both granite and marble. Many of the roads of the Roman Empire were built using granite. Public baths became popular in Rome and these baths were made of granite. Pantheon in Rome used granite stones for columns and you can see these columns standing tall even today.

Romans loved granite and marble for different reasons. They used granite extensively for constructions because the stone is highly durable and strong. Marble was mainly used for aesthetic reasons because Romans believed marble to be the most beautiful stone. Construction pattern of Egyptians and Greek was different from Romans. While the former civilizations used massive granite and marble stones to build constructions, Romans used bricks and mortar for buildings and then, lined them with marble and granite slabs. It is because of this reason that Romans were able to build marble cities in a short duration.

The renaissance period is a golden period for all types of artwork. Artists and sculptors were interested in using natural stones for their artwork. Quarrying methods were improved by the time and technical use was invented. Innovative and novel users of natural stones increased during the renaissance period. Famous Michelangelo made several beautiful sculptures out of marble. Ornate decorations made using marble and granite were used in decorating churches, temples and other buildings of magnificent nature. Meanwhile, natural stones were carved into decorative pieces for use at home.

It was only during modern times that natural stones were brought close to mankind. Quarrying techniques were improved greatly and there was no need for men to die in quarries dealing with dynamites. Innovative technologies were used in mining natural stones. Also, the world started thinking about eco friendly materials to be used to construct homes. Architects and designers were overly enthusiastic about natural stones that were used in building monuments. In the last decade, people preferred to use more durable, yet stylish materials for constructing homes.

Marble and granite are available in various patterns and colors and it was not easy to find the same pattern of stones. This uniqueness of natural stones made people want for more use of natural stones. In the ancient periods, marble and granite were used for lining and decoration. People trusted durable stones and lay flooring using granite and marble. Apart from their baths, living room, bed room and other rooms in the home had natural stone flooring.

Even though natural stones add exquisite beauty to the home, they are highly porous in nature. Harsh substances can easily damage these natural stones. However, thanks to latest technologies, that it is possible to add more strength to the stones and seal the porous nature so that these stones can be used extensively at homes. It was only during the last few years that countertops made of marble and granite became popular.

Natural and exquisite stones which were only used by kings and emperors are now available for a common man because floor tiles made of natural stones are much more affordable now. Consumers must be very cautious while buying floor tiles and countertops made of marble and granite because natural stones are now made synthetically too. If you prefer aesthetic beauty for your stylish family, always ensure that you buy natural stones that were widely preferred by aristocrats of the past.

Lymphedema Products Used in Treatment

A combination of various forms of therapy is used to treat lymphedema; using lymphedema products such as compression garments, bandaging, manual lymph drainage, exercise and skin care are some of the therapies that may be followed. Various lymphedema products need to be utilized so that the treatment is effective. These include compression bandages and garments, special footwear, accessories like fasteners, hooks and donning aids, compression devices, foams and padding, pneumatic pumps, etc. Manual lymph drainage and bandaging the affected limb is the first step in the process of lymphedema treatment.

An important part of the lymphedema treatment is the ustilization of compression garments. Compression garments need to be worn by the patient at all times. They can be purchased over the counter or you could have them tailor-made for you. Lymphedema products for the upper body include compression sleeves, gloves, bras and gauntlets. Garments for the lower body include compression stockings, knee-high or thigh-high stockings, compression devices and compression pantyhose. Patients must consult their doctors before purchasing a compression garment so that its suitability to the patient’s condition can be assessed. Compression garments should also be periodically replaced since they lose their effectiveness after some time.

Bandaging is an essential part of lymphedema therapy. Compression bandages provide the resistance required for the muscle tissues to absorb the fluids thus preventing the retention of fluid and swelling. During exercise sessions and even during daily activities, it is essential to bandage the affected limb to encourage the lymph flow. Short stretch bandages are preferred as they provide the tension necessary to induce the pumping action on the lymph vessels. Tubular stockinettes, tapes, adhesive bandages, finger and toe bandages are some of the lymphedema products that are used according to the suitability for the patient.

The lymphedema pump is another lymphedema product that is important in the treatment process. Two kinds of pumps are used: the Sequential Gradient Pump and FlexiTouch Pump. The pumps are highly advantageous for those people who do not have an easy access to a therapist to perform the decongestive therapy for them. The pump can be purchased or it could even be rented from a supply store. Another aspect of the treatment that the patient must follow is skin care. Various skin creams, oils and ointments can be used so that the skin may be kept moisturized and lubricated.

In the present internet age of online shopping, it is very convenient for patients to procure specific lymphedema products that may be required. Some of the online stores have qualified therapists who help the patient with the selection of the products. New products are available in the market so many lymphemema patients are using these to take care of swelling and tissue fibrosis. For example, a special Elastic Therapeutic Tape is now being used by therapists to soften edemas. Other lymphedema products like special footwear, donning or doffing aids and bandage rollers try to ease the life of a lymphedema patient.

Control Charts v Run Charts

Run Charts

Run charts (often known as line graphs outside the quality management field) display process performance over time. Upward and downward trends, cycles, and large aberrations may be spotted and investigated further. In a run chart, events, shown on the y axis, are graphed against a time period on the x axis. For example, a run chart in a hospital might plot the number of patient transfer delays against the time of day or day of the week.

The results might show that there are more delays at noon than at 3 p.m. Investigating this phenomenon could unearth potential improvement needs. Run charts can also be used to track improvements that have been put into place, checking to determine their success. Also, an average line can be added to a run chart to clarify movement of the data away from the average.

Control Charts

Every process varies. If you write your name ten times, your signatures will all be similar, but no two signatures will be exactly alike. There is an inherent variation, but it varies between predictable limits. If, as you are signing your name, someone bumps your elbow, you get an unusual variation due to what is called a “special cause”. If you are cutting diamonds, and someone bumps your elbow, the special cause can be expensive. For many processes, it is important to notice special causes of variation as soon as they occur.

There’s also “common cause” variation. Consider a baseball pitcher. If he has good control, most of his pitches are going to be where he wants them. There will be some variation, but not too much. If he is “wild”, his pitches aren’t going where he wants them; there’s more variation. There may not be any special causes – no wind, no change in the ball – just more “common cause” variation. The result: more walks are issued, and there are unintended pitches over the plate where batters can hit them. In baseball, control wins ballgames. Likewise, in most processes, reducing common cause variation saves money.

Happily, there are easy-to-use charts which make it easy see both special and common cause variation in a process. They are called control charts, or sometimes Shewhart charts, after their inventor, Walter Shewhart, of Bell Labs. There are many different subspecies of control charts which can be applied to the different types of process data which are typically available.

All control charts have three basic components:

– A centerline, usually the mathematical average of all the samples plotted.

– Upper and lower statistical control limits that define the constraints of common cause variations.

– Performance data plotted over time.

The Bean Exercise – How to Achieve Your Fitness Goals by Utilizing the Bean Exercise

Get rocked into shape with the bean exercise. If positioned correctly, its rocking action gives you a total body workout.

It also sculpts and tones your abs, thighs, hips, calves and buttocks without straining your back. It provides complete comfort and a wide range of exercise with its ergonomic S shape.

This is a great form of exercise for beginners as well as professionals, as sit ups and crunches are difficult to do for the first few weeks. You can end up hurting your back or having a neck muscle pulled.

The bean exercise gently rocks you, which gives you the perfect abs anybody would die for. Its’ one motion gives you a crunch, a pelvic tilt and a leg raise at the same time. With the bean exercise you can get the benefits of a stability ball, incline bench and back pain rehab device altogether.

The bean exercise is a versatile workout that delivers maximum results in a short period of time. Since your upper body remains free and the focus is on the belly and legs, you can do other upper body exercises like pull ups, biceps curl etc. and save time.

Instructions are available over the internet on how to do a bean exercise. However, you get a DVD and instruction booklet along with the bean so exercising correctly with a bean should not be a problem. It is easy to use and store as it inflates and deflates with the help of a pump that is included.

It is safe to use, as it is made up of high grade 20 gauges P.V.C puncture resistant vinyl. This is popular with trainers, as they can help their clients achieve perfect abs without much trouble. You can relax your back and body on the bean and it is recommended for people of all ages.

Phulkari: The Silken Hues

Phulkari, which literally translates into ‘flower work’, has a history etched in the culture of Punjab. Spun from the charkha this spectacular style of embroidery is patterned on odinis, shawals, kurtis and chunris. The main characteristics of Phulkari embroidery are the use of darn stitch on the wrong side of cloth with colored silken thread. The phulkari is an art of embriodery as well as the creation itself is also called the phulkari. Mostly duppattas ( huge stoles) are embroidered with the phulkari stitch. However anything from bags to cushion covers can bring a spark of colour with this unique craft. A face of fashion that finds its first mentions in Punjabi folklore of the romantic protagonists Heer and Ranjha, Phulkari is a dream weaver for every Punjabi girl.


Phulkari, creation of flowers, is one of the most colourful and vibrant embroideries of India. Practiced in the state of Punjab, it has its origins in the fifteenth century. Its history and origin varies from person to person due to lack of evidences and documentation. The origin of this beautiful art can be traced back to the 15th century AD. Some people said that phulkari was made in the famous love story of Heer-Ranjha written by Waris Shah (1725 -1790), Heer has many costume included phulkari articles too from this it is quite obvious that, phulkari an article customarily presented to the girl during her wedding. Some have opinon that this craft migrated from Persian art, where an embroidery from ‘Gulkari’ having similar literal meaning, ‘gul’ means flower and ‘kari’ means work, which did resemble phulkari, there is another theory which did resemble phulkari.

One more theory which discloses that the jat tribes of east Punjab, basically peasants migrated from central Asia, are the pioneers of this craft this was the strongest theory to which I came around during my research these jat also carried these craft in other states of India like Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujrat.

Many ancient articals of phulkari were rumal, kerchief embroidered somewhere during fifteenth century by sister of sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.. At the end of the 15th century, the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, wrote: “Thou art not a worthwhile woman until thou hast embroidered thy own blouse”. Village women still practice the craft, also stitching bed and cushion covers and a variety of other cloths, but the art probably reached its zenith in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Designs and Patterns

There is an extensive pattern of designs used in phulkari. Every possible representation of life and nature find expression therein. Though it began with geometrical patterns, flowers and leaves, today, the designs have been enlarged to encompass birds, animals, human figures, the sun, moon, the objects of everyday use and everything found on the earth. Then, there is a special bagh design called dhoop-chhaon (sun-shade), which is extremely popular in the state. However, no religious subjects or darbar scenes are embroidered. Some of the most famous varieties of phulkaris and baghs have been listed below.

1. Chope: This variety is usually presented to the bride by her grandmother, during a ceremony before the wedding. It has straight, two-sided line stitch and appears the same on the reverse. However, only the border is embroidered and the center is left plain. It is usually red in color and worn as a veil.

2. Vari-da-bagh: This is also done on a red cloth. It is covered with lozenge golden yellow embroidery, with smaller ones within the border.

3. Darshan dwar: This is usually used for presentation in temples or for adorning the walls of home, when the Granth Sahib is brought therein. It is also done on a red cloth with the motifs of arched gates facing design of humans, animals, birds, flowers etc.

4. Chamba: This includes a series of wavy creepers, stylized leaves and flowers and is highly in vogue recently.

5. Ghunghat bagh or sari-pallau: It is usually the pallu and the portion that covers the head. The pallu and the head portion contain a triangular embroidered part and rest of the cloth is embroidered on borders only.

6. Bawan Bagh: Bawan means fifty two, it is a style that consists of various geometrical designs embroidered on one single piece of cloth.

7. Suber: Suber is a piece of cloth that is worn by the bride in the wedding while taking the feras around the Guru Granth Sahib or the sacred fire. The cloth has five motifs embroidered one in center and the other four on each of the corners.

8. Satrangi: A seven color phulkari.

9. Thirma: The distinguishing feature of thirma is its white khaddar that is a symbol of purity. Because of its white color, it was often worn by elderly women and widows. The color of threads used for embroidery range from red to pink.

10. Sainchi Phulkari: Village life of Punjab was depicted in sainchi phulkari and this style was restricted to very few areas of Punjab such as Firozpur and Bhatinda districts. The pattern used to range from local animals, farmers, wrestlers, weaver to trains and other means of transport.

The Stitch:

It is a form of traditional art where it is done in simple designs with long and short darn stitches. The shorter the stitch is the finer it looks. The art of Phulkari lies in the manipulation of patterns, colors and the length of stitches. Phulkari is done by making artistic small-darn stitch over the cloth. The stitches are made on the reverse side of a coarse cotton cloth, with colored silk threads. Smaller stitches are finer, delicate and have an awesome look. Only one single strand is used at one time. The stitches are done vertically, horizontally and even diagonally, to create special effect of light and shade.

The Thread:

In early days the silk thread used in embroidery was brought from Afghanistan, China and other parts of India like Kashmir and Bengal. The thread is made of silk which is called “patt” in Punjabi.

The Colors:

The bright colors are always preferred when it comes to Phulkari because it refers to flowers and garden. The main colors used are Yellow, red, green, orange, pink and blue. The most interesting part of phulkari is that, no different shades are used for shading purpose; rather it’s done with the horizontal, diagonal and vertical stitches. The shiny thread reflects different shades in different directions.

The fabric:

In early days the cloth used for phulkari was basically cotton and khadi which was home-spun and dyed. The tough cloth was appropriate to work without frame and was easy to maintain. The base cloth is homespun, locally woven and dyed khadi. Such a base is strong, long lasting and cheap and at the same time, facilitates much needed counting of threads while stitching. Besides, it can be easily worked on without a frame and the cloth does not puckers or pulls. Colors like white, dark blue, black and brown are generally used for the base cloth, but the most preferred color is red. The fabric itself is used as an inner decoration so that the pattern sewn on it becomes more distinct and attractive. The finished portion of the embroidery is rolled and covered with a muslin cloth, to keep the embroidered part clean while working.

Today a variety of fabric is used in this traditional embroidery. The dupattas can vary from chiffon, Georgette and crepe. Phulkari work has spread its fabric from Odinis to full-length suits. The time is not far when we will see it being used on curtains as an essential part of the interiors industry. The rural crafts industry could see Phulkari developing as a trend in designing handicrafts and ornaments as well.

Winterizing Your Patio Furniture

When the warm summer months are coming to a close and you start to see the leaves turn and drift to the ground, it is time to start preparing your patio furniture for winter storage. While it is always difficult to close up that umbrella and acknowledge that it is your last dinner on the patio for the season, a little planning can make sure you will be able to enjoy your patio furniture set for many years to come.

Most patio furniture is designed to withstand years of exposure to heat, rain, a little wind, and the sun. However, the harsh ice, snow, and wind that generally arrive during the winter months can dramatically shorten the life of your patio furniture. The following tips involve a little elbow grease and possibly some minimal purchases that will effectively minimize the wear and tear on your patio furniture during the winter months.

Preparing Your Patio Furniture for Storage

The type of furniture that you have on your patio can determine the process you should use for winterizing preparations. A variety of Patio Furniture Sets are available on the market, with materials ranging from aluminum to wicker. For the purpose of this article, the most common patio furniture types have been included in the tips in order to get you started.

If any of your patio furniture pieces or accessories are in need of replacing, autumn is the time to find great deals! You can add to your current set or consider new cushions, pillows, or other complimentary items.


Ensuring that your furniture set is clean before it is stored can help prevent staining and corrosion while making it possible to pull out your furniture to enjoy those first warm days once spring arrives.

Cleaning Wicker Sets: Wicker sets can be made of true rattan or synthetic rattan. Often, the wicker is sealed with some sort of finish to protect the material. Using a mild soap with warm water and gentle scrub brush or sponge, clean the surface of your furniture. Allow the furniture to air dry completely, or use a towel to dry. Address any areas that need repair or repainting while the set is clean and dry.

Cleaning Metal Sets: Most metal sets are sealed with a powder coat finish to ensure a longer life.Using a mild soap with warm water and gentle scrub brush or sponge, clean the surface of your furniture. Allow the furniture to air dry completely, or use a towel to dry. Address any areas that need repair or repainting while the set is clean and dry.

Cleaning Wood Sets: Wood sets can vary, from a classic picnic table to a set of Adirondack Chairs. Using a mild soap with warm water and gentle scrub brush or sponge, clean the surface of your furniture. Allow the furniture to air dry completely, or use a towel to dry. Address any areas that require sanding, painting, or staining. If the wood has a natural finish, consider rubbing a furniture oil or mineral oil into the surface to keep the wood from splitting or becoming brittle during dry winter months.

Cleaning Cushions & Umbrellas: Many Deep Seating Patio Furniture Sets include substantial cushioning, while other sets are accented with optional cushions or pillows.Brush off any debris on cushions and umbrellas. If cushions and pillows have removable covers, wash and dry them according to manufacturer instructions. If cushion covers cannot be removed, use mild soapy water and a sponge to wipe off any dirt on cushions. The same technique can be used on the umbrella. Let the cushions, pillows, and umbrella dry completely before storing.

Covering/Wrapping Your Patio Furniture

There are a number of options available for the covering or wrapping of your patio furniture sets. Ideally, it would be nice to move your furniture into a garage, shed, or basement where it is dry and sheltered. However, there are very few people that have the extra space available to store bulky items like patio furniture. If this is the case for you, there are still great methods for protecting your furniture if it must stay outdoors during the winter months.

Once you have cleaned and dried your furniture and accessories, try to consolidate the pieces to minimize the space that will be required for storing everything. Stack chairs, remove cushions, and dismantle any components that might be susceptible to damage. Select a storage location that is as sheltered from the elements as possible. If feasible, bring your fabric items inside for the winter, or consider putting them in a sealed tote or plastic bag for dry storage. There are a number of commercial patio furniture covers available on the market for a variety of patio furniture types. These covers are usually made from heavy duty canvas that is sealed to keep out moisture and protect from damage. Other options could include having your set professionally wrapped in plastic film or simply using a large tarp that can be secured with rope or bungee cords.

Successful Storage Throughout the Winter

If you have followed the cleaning and covering steps outlined previously, you can probably feel comfortable knowing that your patio furniture will be safely cocooned for the winter months to come. On occasion, it can be helpful to brush any accumulated ice or snow from your furniture coverings to prevent any leaking or shifting that could allow moisture to infiltrate and damage the furniture. It might also be a good idea to check every once in a while for any critters that might have decided that your securely covered furniture set would be a perfect home for the winter.

While it may be time to trade your flip flops and sunscreen for wool socks and hot cocoa, you can look forward to a successful transition into summer next year with patio furniture that has been carefully stored.

Writing Effective (and Requisite) Essay Openers

When we write for college courses, we write for an audience other than ourselves. And it’s an audience of more than one–the professor who assigned the piece. A good way to think of (and never forget) audience is to imagine we are writing the assignment for a popular magazine that sits in multiple copies on the shelves of an equally popular bookstore. For each magazine sold, pretend, we get a percentage.

Our goal, then, is to have as large and widespread a readership as possible–to hook as many browsers as we can–with an effective opener (also known as an introduction). We therefore must engage, first, before we entertain, educate, or inform.

First the Caveats and Comments on Ineffective (Bad) Openers

NO to SNORE openers – Forget burdening or alienating your readers with comments of how many people in many countries have many different ideas about life and society and all those other blah, blah, blah hard-to-wrap-the-brain-around opening commentaries…which really just send the reader off to find a more intriguing read.

NO to OBVIOUS – Similar to the snore generalizations, the obvious comments in an opener will have eyes (if not heads) rolling as readers take in the TV is mental masturbation or ads are used to manipulate us statements you can avoid–by using an old Marshall McCluhan quote or Cleo awards description, for example, instead.

NO to HYPERBOLE – Putting myself through school as a waitress, I had a number of regular customers who were writers, too, they said. They would talk at me all through my shift, reciting their best work. One insisted on reiterating his description of the verdant rolling hills that kissed the edges of the glistening waters at the feet of the majestic span of the Golden Gate Bridge…until I would get so mental I would fantasize about bringing the heft of the glistening glass coffee pot screaming down onto his head. In other words, do not exaggerate. Do not bring in heavy drama and description that will overwhelm and, again, alienate your readers. Stick with the truth. Stick with the openers that work.

We Use Modes for Engaging Openers…and I’m going to Use One Here, Out of Necessity…and Spite

I once read a how-to article on web content writing, on making a site that brings traffic (the attention of many). I had already begrudgingly given in to the understanding that web content writing is very different than academic writing–it has different goals, different audiences, and different elements that lend themselves to an ‘A’ piece of writing. In fact, it is so different that to write for the web we have to unravel all we have worked to weave, have to unlearn all we have learned as college English writers.

Don’t Confuse Web Content/Writing and Academic Writing

So the writer of this article says to start web copy you skip the opener and go directly to the main point (what we in academia know as the thesis). Okay. This made sense, I thought, as web readers read differently: they read fast, they skim, they scan, they skip…to draw the most usable info in the shortest amount of time. (Probably the way you are reading now, hoping I get on with the point).

-I was with Mr. Web when he explained these facts.

-I was with him as he noted the research findings that back up the rationale for sacrificing good academic exposition for web text.

-And I was there with his tips and tricks, which were great…until he went too far, editorializing about writers who actually use openers:

He claimed that writers who rely on openers don’t have “the courage” to just get to the point. So he lost me.

Don’t Let Anyone Shame Your Learning Writing Tricks

We can adapt to just about any rhetorical style. We can adjust our notions of what makes for good writing. But we should balk when a how-to writer insults other methods of writing. We should even disregard implications of cowardice as unnecessary ad hominem attacks. False attacks. Fallacious and floppy and frivolous teaching. Screw that.

Readers of Academic Essay Writing Appreciate (even Prefer) a Good Opener

Openers in academic writing, whether in a creatively developed literary response or a historical survey, are imperative. They are a gentler way of drawing in, luring our readers. They are at first quite challenging to get right, but our mastering them–which is possible–has nothing to do with courage, which comes from the French word, “coeur,” heart. We have plenty of heart. We’re studying English, for hell sake.

Against my wishes, then, this page opens with a declaration and gets right to the point. At first. But it also has a “grabber” slipped in–because we’re looking at grabbers and because, well, I can’t help it. I want to model decent prose for you.

Samples of Effective Essay Openers by Mode/Type

Even better, I’ll share with you some samples, written by my former students (who have granted permission for the use of their work as models):

****People Love Stories. We Love to Tell Stories. The Narrative Opener:

Once upon a time, during the era of slavery, whites were afraid of blacks, and the “word” was born. That’s why someone came up with the “word.” Two hundred years later around my sister’s house, the children still use this “word”. Sometimes I even hear myself say this “word.” But guess what? I check myself and correct myself, because when you use the “word” to address someone, no matter who you are or what color you are, it is totally disrespectful.

The word: “nigger”. (1)

****To Establish Credibility, Try a Sober, Scholarly Introduction. The Statistics/Facts Opener:

By the age of forty-four, 47 percent of American women will have had an abortion. (Day 6) To describe this statistic as anything other than a tragedy is to deny the sanctity of human life. The Christian abortion debate rests upon the moral and theological dimension[s] of this issue. To examine the moral dimensions of abortion without examining the social realm is to ignore the mutually dependent relationship that surrounds this debate. (2)

****Appealing to the Senses Lures and Keeps Readers Interested. The Descriptive Opener:

Rain is pelting my car relentlessly as I drive home from [XXX] College. Cars rushing on the freeway cause the water on the pavement to burst into a fine mist, surrounding each and every vehicle with a billowing sheet of opaqueness. Finally, I arrive in front of my little two-bedroom home. With a sigh of relief, I enter my living room.

Lately, this house has turned into a haven of safety, sheltering me as much from nature’s elements as from the unpredictable and unprovoked malevolence I experience from one of my instructors. My dread is heightened by the fact that I appear to be the primary recipient of this teacher’s outbursts of viciousness. Slowly, my gaze shifts across the room and comes to rest on the play I have to read for my English class. It is Mamet’s Oleanna. I pick up the book and soon find myself drawn into the story. Quickly, it becomes clear to me that this play [deals with] the relationship between a teacher (John) and his student (Carol). While both characters show evidence of an interesting variety of behaviors, John mesmerizes me to a greater degree. I begin to wonder whether John displays symptoms of an underlying psychological disorder. (3)

Put the Readers in the Frame, Inside the Paper. The Direct Address Opener:

You are in the midst of a blazing inferno. Your mind is moving at the speed of light. Yet you are paralyzed by fear. The silence is deafening between the confinement of the four walls. You are no longer in control. You wonder how the communication between the members of the family has ceased, specifically between Mother and Father. Each passing day, only silence can be heard. The usual chatter at the dinner table is considerably lessened. It comes down to, “Pass the corn, please.” Or one excusing oneself from the table. (4)

Advance Trust, Establish Authority from the Start. The Authoritative Quote Opener:

“Generations of students have studied calculus without ever seeing its power.” This statement is found in an article by K.C. Cole titled, “Bringing Calculus Down to Earth,” from The Los Angeles Times. I most certainly agree with Cole. At one point earlier in the course of the class (calculus), I was not sure about the use of calculus and the importance of it. Others like me, such as friends, felt the same way. For this reason, I would assume, I am doing this research. This research is for students like myself to realize that “there is something about calculus,” as Cole states in the article…. (5)

Keep with the Traditional “Show, Don’t Tell” Lesson. The Example Opener:

Sex is great. To me, it is all about feelings and experiences–the feeling of flesh against flesh, the experience of orgasm after orgasm. Sometimes, even, there is that feeling of being special, wanted, and loved. I suppose my parents had sex. It is not really an image I like to bring to mind. But when my father has sex with someone other than my mom, how am I supposed to feel then? (6)

Engage by Asking for the Readers’ Opinion and Thoughtful Participation. The Profound Rhetorical Question Opener:

Is the play, True West, written by actor/writer Sam Shepard, a sublimation of his own sibling rivalry or a rationalization of one? He writes of two brothers who are equal in intelligence but opposite in character. The older brother lives by his wit and the younger by his pen. In his unique style, Shepard uses many symbols describing the keen emotions that make up these two brothers. He also uses metaphors that reel you, the audience, into the depths of anger, pain, and the reality of life…. (7)

Finally, the Encouragement of Effective (Good) Openers

YES to APPROPRIATE introductory material. That is, use an opener that is relevant to your essay topic. Use an opener that fits the material. For example, a definition of alcoholism (which might work if you were writing a book) might be too clumsy for a cause and effect paper studying the influences of alcoholism on the family.

YES to APT openers. Do the modes that you are best at writing. And do what you best like doing. Write what works for you, your audience, and your assignment.

YES, modes overlap. A narrative opener will have descriptive details. A quote may be combined with statistics and facts. But instead of tripping on what the exact boundaries are between modes or types of writing passages, focus on the specifics of one type of opener as you understand it. The rest will be bonus material that merely enhances your style.

And YES to engaging, alluring introductions that lead your readers in to the place where your thesis/opinion sits waiting to declare your bold, informed truths. Which should never be denied or neglected…any more than your audience should be.

End Notes

(1) Bronson, A. “The Word.”

(2) Roncella, L. “Judging Abortion.”

(3) Prince, U. “Who Cares? [A Study of Oleanna]”

(4) Tolosa, W. “Dark silence.”

(5) Pham, D. “Calculus as a Necessary Tool.”

(6) Guiterrez, R. “Dad, Why Cheat?”

(7) Stark, C. “[…a Study of the Psychology of True West].”

Jaguar XK8 – Early Water Pump Part Problems and How to Resolve Them

As with all auto engines, severe overheating problems can be very frustrating and nerve racking especially in hot weather and slow moving traffic. If not resolved it can be potentially very expensive! It’s critical to ensure your XK8 cooling system parts are in tip top order for piece of mind. Worse case severe overheating scenarios are; blown head gaskets, damaged cylinder heads and potentially a deterioration in engine lubrication quality. The latter can then affect the longevity of crankshaft bearings and the general life of the XK8 engine.

Prior to 2003 and the introduction of the 4.2 XK engines, earlier cars suffered from using poor quality parts in the form of lightweight materials. Relating to the water pump, this manifests itself in the disintegration / breaking up of the plastic impellor within the water pump. This then leads to reduced coolant flow, localised heating and the worst case problems mentioned above. Indicative signs of a cooling problem on the XK8 engine are the cooling fans staying on for long periods regardless of temperature and / or one of the top hoses blowing off.

Before going to the effort of removing / replacing the water pump, with a cold engine, take the filler cap off the expansion tank and then ask someone to run the engine for you at 1200 rpm. Should the pump be working correctly, water should be circulating / swirling well in the tank. If there is a problem, then there will be very little swirl and therefore indicative of a problem with the water pump. If you are going to the effort of checking it then it’s worth replacing with the latest XK8 parts including water pump and other cooling system parts.

Pre 2003 cars also suffered from breakdown of other plastic cooling system parts. These relate to the thermostat housing rising out of the block and the bridge pipe linking the cylinder heads on naturally aspirated cars (the XKR has an alloy pipe). The thermostat housings are now available in alloy and we hope that the bridge pipe will follow. The Jaguar Part number for the water pump is – AJ8008912 and all later water pumps supersede to this part number.

If you are going to the trouble of the above then we recommend you change the thermostat and check / replace all hoses as required.

Top Tips to Find the Best RTA Cabinet Store

RTA, ready to assemble, cabinets are a top choice for contractors and homeowners around the world. They offer the added convenience of arriving flat packed to your door with simple and easy to follow assembly instructions, in turn this works out to be an affordable solution and a fun DIY project over the weekend.

The great thing about choosing RTA cabinets is that there are a choice of dealers for you to choose from, which means that you have to do some homework to ensure you choose the best RTA cabinet store to deal with.

Go through each RTA cabinet stores website and determine the products they have available, pinpointing those that meet your specific criteria. Pay close attention to the styles they have on offer, the different wood choices available and of course, the prices. Once you’ve decided what wood you want to use in your kitchen or bathroom, along with whether you want shaker or slab options, you can start comparing prices, looking for the one company that ticks all the boxes in terms of your specific requirements.

You should keep your list to around three RTA cabinet stores, giving you the ability to go through each one, ensure they meet your requirements and then choose the one you feel will offer you the highest quality products and best prices, along with superior service.

For each site you have chosen, spend some time and go through their shipping and delivery terms. If you’re in the process of renovating your kitchen or you are building a new home, you don’t want building to come to a grinding halt because your RTA cabinets haven’t arrived. Ensure the company can provide you with reliable shipping and offer you peace of mind that it will arrive as per the agreement on their website. If you’re unsure go through some past customer reviews you find through independent review sites confirming the company you have chosen has a stellar reputable and reliable service.

One of the most important considerations when choosing a RTA cabinet store is to ensure the company is reputable. There is only one way to achieve this when shopping online and that is to type the company name into your search engine and go through the results. Never rely on the reviews on the website, but look for independent review sites and forums to help you find honest and real reviews from past and present customers who speak about their experience.

There are certain boxes you expect the company to tick, this includes a high quality product, affordable price, fast delivery and superior service. Their site should be brimming with information on the company, products and instructions on how to assemble the cabinets once you receive them. RTA or ready to assemble products are generally cheaper and cost less to ship, because they are flat packed. This doesn’t mean that they should be compromised in terms of quality.

Ensure the company you choose will send you solid wood products and not a veneer chip board that is made to look like the authentic product. There are a number of ways to confirm this, in addition to going through their website and reading through customer reviews. Check the sides of all the doors you receive for the grain. Read through the description thoroughly before purchasing and should the product arrive and not match the description send it back for a full refund.

Reputable RTA cabinet stores will provide you with their refund policy, get to know this before ordering to provide you with peace of mind when placing such an important order.

Guinea Pig – Behavior

An important thing to know as a guinea pig owner, is the behavior of your piggy. This can help to tell you when he/she is not feeling well, when they are angry, or happy, or even lonely.

Piggies are attention seekers by nature. They can get very lonely very quickly, so they will make noise and hop around, sometimes just to get your attention.


When a guinea is angry, you will often hear their teeth chattering. It is rare, but if they are directing it at you, they want you to stay away, so please respect his/her space. Piggies rarely chatter their teeth at humans and hardly ever bite, be aware that if they are very mad or upset, they may nip. Pay attention if you have two piggies in one cage, one may be chattering his teeth at the other, this can lead to a fight. It usually happens when two boars (male guineas), or two sows (female guineas), meet for the first time. They are just sorting out their hierarchy. The fur around their necks will raise to make them look larger. They will sway from side to side and slowly show their teeth. If you see your piggies doing this to each other, it is best to separate them before a fight breaks out, just watch your hands. Place a towel over their eyes to confuse them and separate them at that time.


Barbering is when a guinea chews on another guinea’s fur. Some speculate it is a sign of dominance, but I think they are just being nice. Other piggies on the other end of the barbering may sit calmly as they are trimmed, others may become agitated and headbutt the other, or worse.

Begging for food

Piggies love to beg for tasty treats. As they grow in confidence, they will start wheeking when they suspect their veggies are on the way, sometimes they will even stand up on their hind legs, just like a puppy! They get very excited and look in your direction with eager eyes, hoping you have seen them.


Guinea Pigs rarely bite their owners. Most of the time they just nibble or nip as a way of communication, especially the young ones who are still learning. There are a few reasons why your piggy may bite. Make sure you are holding him/her properly, if you don’t the guinea may get worried you are going to drop them and nip at you as if to say “Hey, be careful!” If you have been holding your piggy for a while and they start to nibble on your clothes, this may be a way of communicating to you that they need to use the bathroom, so to speak. Try not to hold your piggy any longer than 10 – 15 minutes at a time. Remember, they can’t cross their legs and hold it like we can. Most piggies will try to avoid doing it on you but if you have a particularly comfortable one who doesn’t mind, keep a towel under them when you are holding them, to protect your clothes. Not all will nibble on your clothes, some may fidget, or moan at you, this means they would like to be put back in their cage.

Some Piggies bite by accident, when you are feeding them. They get excited and forget to distinguish between fingers and food. Also be careful after you have been handling food, wash your hands or they may mistake your finger as the treat. Biting may also be caused by a parasite like mites, if you are pettign a piggy with mites, it can cause great discomfort and they will do anything to stop the pain. They may try to nip the area to get some relief but if your hand is in the way, you may be nipped instead. For more information about mites, please read my health care article.

Biting of the cage bars

Some piggies are prone to biting the bars of their cage. Some will only do this when they want food, or they hear something makng them think food is on the way. They will start wheeking, but if the chef is taking too long thy will start biting the bars out of boredom and/or loneliness, even if you spend a lot of time with them. They do need a cage mate after a while, if you have owned a piggy for a while and are confident in caring for him/her, consider getting another so that they can keep each other company. They will also bite the bars if their cage is small and they do not get much roam-free time. The lack of exercise can stress them out. Please try to provide a larger cage, especially if you plan on getting another piggy, and let your guinea out for a run around the house once in a while. Piggies need their freedom.

Eating Poo

If you notice your piggy duck their head underneath and see they are munching on something, they are actually eating their own poo. It may sound gross to us, but it is very natural behavior for guineas. Rabbits will also eat their own poo. They are not the usual poo you see in the cage, this is softer and smaller. Piggies do this to re-ingest the ‘soft poo’ because their digestive system does not extract all the vitamins from the food right away.


If you notice your piggy is hunched up in a corner, looking sad, or depressed, this may indicate an illness. Try to offer them their favorite food, if they show no interest at all, please take him/her to the vet right away. It is very important to do so because a piggy’s health can drop rapidly, it is important to catch things at the first sign.


Piggies will often stand still for a short period of time if they are afraid or they have heard a sudden loud sound they are unfamiliar with. It is their way of making themselves invisible and letting others in the group know. Freezing is often accompanied by a small vibrating sound, this indicates they are afraid. This behavior may happen hen the phone rings or someone knocks at the door.


Like most pets, some guinea pigs love to lick you when you hold them. Think of them as guinea pig kisses. Not all piggies do it, about 3 of 6 piggies love to give out kisses. Some think it is because our skin is salty and they enjoy the taste, I am not all that convince and I believe it is more of an affectionate behavior.

The Mating Dance

Males and Females both participate in this dance. They will swing their hips back and forth and make a vibrating sound, known as motorboating. Do not be alarmed if your female piggy starts the mating dance with another female, she is probably just feeling hormonal.


Usually this is seen as a sexual behavior, however, it can also be a sign of dominance towards another guinea. A dom male may do this to a submissive male, usually when they first meet, they are just sorting out who is the boss, or the king of the cage. A female may also mount another female if she is in season or if a neutered male is not paying attention to her. It is all very normal, so do not worry if you see same sex piggies mount each other. However, if males are doing it to each other, watch out for signs of aggression, you do not want a fight to break out.The actual act of mounting, only takes a few quick seconds, but after a rest, the mounting will commence again. Before the mounting commences, there can be quite a bit of a chase involved. The piggy that is being pursued, may sometimes complain and/or become annoyed. As long as you don’t see any aggressive behaviour, the commotion sounds much worse than it actually is. Having said that, being constantly chased can be exhausting and stressful, so if you have a spare cage, it might be a good idea to separate your guinea pigs, so they can have some peace for a little while.

42 Thinking Skills You Can Learn From Doing Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are a one-stop cognitive development and character-building activity. There are few educational experiences that have the potential to teach such a varied range of thinking skills, as well as other useful skills such as patience and perseverance. Learning these skills can benefit you at any stage of your life. For example, jigsaw puzzles can teach you:

  • Problem-solving strategies
  • Project management skills
  • Self-management skills
  • Visual skills
  • Cognitive skills
  • Character development skills and traits
  • Tactile skills
  • Social skills
  • Collaborative skills

Jigsaw puzzles are cheap and easy to obtain, you only need a small space to do them and very little can go wrong, provided that you don’t lose pieces or let the dog chew them. If you are a parent or a teacher, you can follow some simple steps to help your children or students gain confidence in a range of skills that will benefit them in many areas of their learning. The key to this is transferability. This article explains what it is and how you can use it.

The educational value of doing a jigsaw puzzle is twofold: first, by building up a base of useful individual skills; secondly, by transferring these skills to other situations where they can be applied to solve new problems. A lot of research has been done into the transfer of learning from one situation to another. This is one of the key aims of all learning. If you wish to do some in-depth reading on the topic, go to Google and search for “transferable skills.”

So, what is transferability? A simple example is learning how to hammer a nail into a piece of wood. Imagine if you could only use one length of nail and one size hammer to knock it into one type of material, e.g. wood. This wouldn’t be very useful to you, because the skill is not transferable to other situations. You’d have to learn a new skill every time you wanted to use a hammer in a different situation. However, if you knew that you could use any size hammer with any size nail and almost any type of material, it would be far more useful to you as a skill. Even better, if you knew that you could use the skill on the ground, in the air or on a boat or in a hundred other places, it would be more useful still. This simple example demonstrates what transferability is: knowing how to apply a skill in new situations.

How do you transfer the skills you are learning by doing a jigsaw puzzle to other situations? All you need to do is follow a three-step process. The skill you are using needs to be:

a. Identified,

b. Understood as a process, and

c. Applied to new situations.

But, before you rush off to do a jigsaw puzzle in the hope that you will become a super problem-solver, there are a few tips that will help to make the experience more beneficial. As you do your puzzle, you need to be consciously aware of what you are doing and be able to articulate the process as you do it.

This means that as you do the puzzle, you need to be aware of your own self-talk, i.e. what you say to yourself as you engage in doing the puzzle. An example of this could be: “I’m using my organisational skills to sort the pieces of the puzzle into straight edges and inner pieces.” This skill could be used later on when you do your washing, where you could say: “I’m using my organisational skills to sort the washing into dark and light colours.” At a higher level, you could say, “I’m organising my staff into skill levels so that we can complete the project in the most efficient way.”

In this article I have isolated 42 skills that can be developed through doing jigsaw puzzles, but there are probably a whole lot more. Write to me if you find some more and I’ll update the article. The beauty of jigsaw puzzles is that they start at a very simple level and go up to diabolically difficult challenge levels, such as the Clementoni puzzles which have over 13000 pieces. For those of you who are more adventurous, there are also 3-D puzzles and puzzles with other challenging features. Visit your local toy shop to see the range of puzzle challenges that are available.

It is useful to set a reasonable goal by starting where you’re comfortable and progressing from there to more challenging puzzles. As you do the puzzle, remember to note the skill you’re using. Developing this self-talk will help you to apply or transfer the skill to new situations.

Here are the skills that you can learn as you do your puzzle, as well as possible self-talk that could go with them. The skills are listed in alphabetical order. The final part of this article has suggestions for the type of self-talk you could use to apply the skills you have learned to new situations.

Affirmation for small achievements, e.g. fitting a piece correctly: “I feel great that I achieved that goal.”

Analysis: “I’ve broken the puzzle into all of its parts and now I understand how it will fit together.”

Arranging: “I’m arranging these pieces into an order that will help me work more efficiently.”

Attention to detail: “This colour is not the same as that colour, so this piece must go somewhere else.”

Categorising: “I’ve organised all of these pieces into their colours.”

Collaboration: “This area is very challenging, so we need to work together to solve it.”

Comparison: “This shape will fit into this space. This piece is too big to fit into that space.”

Comprehension: “I understand the picture, so I can do this section.”

Concentration: “I’m concentrating on the size, edges, shapes and colours of these pieces to see how they go together.”

Contrast: “Are these colours/shapes the same or are they different?”

Creativity (different ways of identifying puzzle pieces): “This piece is too difficult to identify by colour, so I’ll compare the shapes of the edges.”

Decision-making: “All of these pieces will form that part of the picture.”

Ever-increasing challenges (fewer pieces to many pieces): “I did a 100- piece puzzle last time. This time I’ll go for a 200-piece puzzle.”

Eye-hand co-ordination (fine motor control): “These pieces are very small, so I have to be dextrous to manipulate them into their correct spaces.”

Flexibility (work on different areas): “I’ve tried this area for a while without too much success. I’ll try another area for a while.”

Formulating questions: “How do these pieces fit together? Does this colour match with that colour?”

Goal-setting: “I’ll finish this puzzle in one week.”

Helpful (prompt a person, don’t give the answer): “Have you tried one of these pieces there?” “Try that piece the other way around.”

Hypothesizing: “This piece can’t go here, so it must go here. Let’s try here first.” “If that piece goes here, this piece must go there.”

Learning about picture content for discussion and language development: “I can see three green trees next to a blue river.”

Memory retention: “I tried this piece here before, so it won’t fit.”

Obtaining feedback on your decisions: “Oops! Wrong choice. I can see that doesn’t fit.”

Organisation: “All of these pieces go in that area, and all of those pieces go in this area.”

Overcoming distractions, strengthening concentration:” It’s a bit noisy in here with the television set on, but I’ll concentrate harder to complete the puzzle.”

Patience: “I have only found one piece that fits in the past fifteen minutes. Never mind, I’ll keep trying.”

Perseverence: “I’m going to stay here until I finish this puzzle.”

Planning: “I’ll do this area first, then I’ll look for the corner pieces, then I’ll complete that area.”

Planning work sessions and breaks: “I feel tired, so I’ll work for half an hour, have a break, then I’ll do some more.”

Prioritising: “I’ll do this difficult area first, then I’ll do that area which is a little easier.”

Problem-solving: “This whole puzzle is a problem I need to solve. Finding edges is a problem I can solve. Sorting the pieces into colour groups is a problem I can solve.”

Procedures: “I can choose which order I prefer to work in. I can do this before I do that.”

Process of elimination:” I’ll try these pieces in this area. If they fit, the puzzle will be a lot easier to solve from this point onwards.”

Reasoning, by justifying your choices of shape or colour: “These pieces go here because the colours match, but those pieces don’t go here. The colours are slightly darker.”

Reviewing: “So far I’ve completed this area and I only have five more pieces to fit before I move on to the next area.”

Self-reflection (learning from errors): “I’m feeling a bit annoyed. Why am I taking so long to complete this area?”

Sense of adventure: “This puzzle might be too difficult for me, but I’ll try anyway. What have I got to lose?”

Sequence: “This is a logical order of work. I’ll do this area, then I’ll do that area. After that, I’ll complete this edge.”

Sharing behaviour: “Let’s work on this area together. I’ll help you find your pieces if you help me find mine.”

Social interaction: I’m enjoying doing this puzzle with you. We’re a great team.”

Spatial orientation skills: “If I rotate this in my mind, I can see it doesn’t fit here. It fits there.”

Stop to enjoy, appreciate and admire the picture: “What a beautiful scene of a French vineyard.”

Trial and error process: “One of these nine pieces will fit here. I’ll try them all, even though it will take some time.”

Now that you know a range of skills that you can use, as well as examples of the self-talk that will help you understand the process you are using, it is time to do a puzzle. Print this article and keep it with you as you do it. Refer to it often to identify skills as well as practise the self-talk patterns.

When you have used these skills and are familiar with them, you will be ready to transfer them to new problem-solving situations. When you face a problem-solving challenge at home or at work, stand back for a moment and ask yourself:

ยท What skill that I used in the puzzle can I use here?

Use the same self-talk patterns to apply the skill to the new situation. Let’s use the example of having a flat tyre on your car. Perhaps you’ve never changed a tire before. What could you say to yourself?

“What skill that I used in the puzzle can I use here?”

“What sequence of actions do I need in order to accomplish this task?”

“I need to concentrate to complete this task in time.”

Finally, one extra thing needs to be said. You have to provide the motivation to learn the skills and apply them to new situations as part of your own personal problem-solving strategy. If you don’t apply your skills to new situations, perhaps the washing won’t get done or the tyre won’t get changed. The application stage is the most important one if you hope to become a better thinker.

Now you are ready to try solving some real-life problems with these skills. Happy puzzling and happy problem-solving.

Three Ways to Bring Old Ceramic Bathroom Tiles Back to Life

Old ceramic bathroom tiles may be scratched, out of fashion, or has simply lost its luster. It may also have become boring to the eye after years of seeing the same old thing. There are some things you can do to improve this position. The first is just giving it a good cleaning. The second is refinishing it if your budget doesn’t permit replacement, and third is replacement.

Bathroom tiles can simply become dull through build-ups of environmental debris, smoke, or even mold. The simple wall cleaning you do occasionally might remove water spots or obvious dirt, but is not sufficient to remove from ceramic bathroom tiles the oils that smoke resolves into. The tiles may be clean, but the grout gets discolored easily. By giving your bathroom walls a spring cleaning, you can restore it to the brilliance it once had.

If you’ve been using household cleaners, that may be the reason your ceramic bathroom tiles are dull. Ceramic tile cleaners are available on the market and have been specifically formulated to clean tile. Some are formulated to also remove grout that has become embedded in the tile. You can also concoct your own tile cleaner, using one part water, one half part vinegar and one half part baking soda. Use either a pail or a spray bottle. A sponge is all you need. Wash thoroughly, rinse, and polish dry. If the grout is still dark in spots, scrub with a brush, rinse and then dry. If the discoloration still remains, dab with bleach and clean. Don’t expose yourself to bleach fumes.

If the cleaning hasn’t brought your ceramic bathroom tiles back to life, and money is tight, you might consider refinishing the bathroom, painting over the tiles. Tiles do not bond well with paint. You have to prepare the tile surface first. This means turning the smooth surface into a rough one. You can do it with sandpaper, but once you start, there’s no turning back. You’ll need to clean the tile with a cleaner that doesn’t leave chemicals on the tile, such as one with trisodium phosphate. Use a large-pored sponge for better scrubbing. Then, with 180 grit sandpaper, abrade the ceramic thoroughly. It will feel sandy to the touch when you’re done. Then paint on an acrylic latex primer, preferably with a roller. Smooth with a latex brush, then allow the primer time to dry. Once dry, apply the paint. A semi-gloss latex paint is probably best. After a couple of hours, add a second coat if it looks as though it requires it.

Your third option for correcting old or unattractive ceramic bathroom tiles is to remove the tiles and replace with new ones. The big job is getting the ceramic off the wall. You use a grout saw, with a handled, thick blade, to cut out the grout. Then, with a hammer and a chisel, you softly separate the tiles from the wall. Be sure to wear protection for your eyes. You can remove old mortar with the chisel and hammer method also. If the old adhesive was chemical you’ll have to use an adhesive remover, which you can purchase at any hardware store. Once that’s done, sand the wall until smooth.

Setting ceramic bathroom walls requires wiping mortar or chemical adhesive on the wall and setting the tiles. You finish up by grouting. You can find more detailed instructions on the internet.

When you’re tired of those same old bathroom walls, try a good cleaning and if that’s not satisfactory, refinish or replace. You’re not stuck with those walls. With a little work and a little cash, your ceramic bathroom walls can be, once again, a pleasure to behold.

Books Set in China – Five Novels to Read Before You Travel

With its huge land mass and population China is a country with millions of stories to be told. Luckily for us, some of those stories have been captured in novels. From its colonial past and its decades of communism to the economic power-house it is today, China’s many faces are reflected in the pages of hundreds, if not thousands of novels available for us to read. Here are five much-loved titles which will give you an insight into a country which was for so long closed to those from the outside. Before setting off to explore this fascinating country, discover some of what makes it tick with this selection.

‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’ by Lisa See

This is a fast-paced tale of adventure and mystery in 1920’s Shanghai as Spanish painter Elvira De Poulain tries to sort out her murdered husband’s messy affairs. To survive and pay off her husband’s massive debts, she and her teenage niece Fernanda need to decipher the clues in an antique chest to find some lost treasure – before the killers get their hands on it! An entertaining and action-packed way to delve into Chinese culture.

‘The Painter from Shanghai’ by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Staying with Shanghai, this novel is based on the true life-story of painter Pan Yuliang, the first Chinese woman to paint in the Western style. Born in 1895 and orphaned as a teenager, Yuliang follows her passion to become a renowned and controversial painter. The novel follows Yuliang’s life and career as China goes through enormous political upheaval, world wars and invasion by Japan. It is the story of a passionate and determined woman battling to create rebellious art in a country in which it is not accepted.

‘Brothers’ by Yu Hua

Bring China’s social revolution to life with this funny and touching novel of two step-brothers from a small town. Spanning the years from the Cultural Revolution to the country’s capitalist reform, it is a cynical look at modern China. As the years progress one brother finds himself lost in the new world, while the other embraces its entrepreneurial spirit, reflecting some of the breadth of response to the country’s changes. But while this novel does attempt to tell the story of modern China, it is its memorable, much-loved characters and sharply observed humor that really delights its readers.

‘The Vagrants’ by Yiyun Li

A brutal and melancholy story which explores the impact of a 1979 execution on the residents of the fictional provincial town of Muddy River. Young female counter-revolutionary Gu Shan’s horrific death comes after the end of the Cultural Revolution, and while there is a local protest to clear her name, the government clamps down on this expression of liberalisation. The after effects of the execution travel far and wide on an ensemble cast of characters, and is a reminder of the shadow the Cultural Revolution casts over the country. This is a bleak but powerful read that will remain with you for a long time to come.

‘The Concubine’s Daughter’ by Pai Kit Fai

Spanning three generations and forty years, this novel reveals the stories of an educated woman turned concubine, her daughter and grand-daughter. The book explores the status and role of women in China in the first half of the 20th century, as the characters eventually challenge their fate and seek to forge their own destinies.

It would be a lifelong task to read all of the many novels set in China which are in print today, but hopefully this selection has given you a taste for the rich and rewarding stories that are available for you to explore. Why not allow fiction to carry you further through this wonderful country and its people, even as you explore it in person – from Beijing to Hong Kong, from Shanghai to areas deep in the countryside, from the past into the exciting world of the present.

Even Sunrooms Still Need Wicker Lamps – Lighting Tips for the Perfect Sunroom

The sunroom may be the most frequently used room in your home. With the comfort of a sitting area and none of the distractions televisions and other media provide, it can feel like an escape. But when the sun goes down or on those cloudy days it can be tricky to see in a sunroom. Lighting can make all the difference.

Consider these five lighting tips for the perfect sunroom.

#1 Overhead lighting.

If you have a dining table or eating area in your sunroom consider hanging an overhead light directly above the center of the table or space. Simple hooks can be hung from the ceiling in a matter of minutes and your light can be up. Choose from overhead pendant lamps, traditional wicker hanging lamps and outdoor lamps with water proof shades.

#2 Floor lighting.

Place floor lamps in the dark corners of your sun room space. They’re particularly effective when positioned behind sofas and large chairs. When placing floor lamps in your sunroom make sure they’re out of the way and on an even surface. Floor lamps can easily be knocked over if they’re in high traffic zones.

Consider adding wicker floor lamps to a sun room space. Wicker is a natural choice for sunrooms because it is light, durable, and adds a natural feel.

#3 Tabletop

Wicker table lamps are used to assist with close up activities. For example, if you’re reading in your sun room a table lamp will make it easier to see. Position table lamps next to chairs and sofas where you’ll need extra light during the evening hours.

#4 Accent Lighting

You can also add accent lighting to your sunroom space. For example, you might position museum lights on the wall behind a loveseat to accent artwork. Small gel fire bowls and fireplaces can also add accent lighting and warmth during the cooler days and nights.

#5 Outdoor lighting

Christmas lights don’t have to be exclusively used on Christmas trees. You can use outdoor lighting to add a festive touch to your sunroom. String them from the ceiling to highlight a space or add interest to an area. You can also string them over the dining area to add romance and sparkle. If you want to add extra fun, look for outdoor lights in interesting shapes and colors. For example, lobsters, chili peppers or animals.

When designing your sunroom don’t forget the lighting. Then you can use the space 24/7 and year around. You may find that you and your family never leave the space.