Wyatt Yeager: Diamond Mine Exploration

As a Texan and the daughter of a cattle rancher, my family album is peppered with photos of men – and a couple of women – with their arm slung over the dusty saddle of a horse, deep in the wilds of Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, the Amazon, or Mexico. Such exploits ceased to amaze me by the age of five as I had my picture taken virtually every weekend with a 10-foot alligator or a gigantic fish pulled in from the Gulf. A few minutes into my conversation with Wyatt Yeager and I realized that he could stand with any of these daredevils. Yet, nothing prepared me for the real Wyatt Yeager. Far from being a “geologist type,” Yeager is an eclectic breed of tweed and fearless, aptly named after the historic cowboy, Wyatt Earp.

Yeager will be the first to tell you that diamond-mining exploration is nothing like the iconic Indiana Jones depiction of the intrepid gentleman hero, jewel in hand and angry natives at his back, poised on the edge of the precipice between extinction and extravagant wealth. However, a few minutes into our conversation and I’ve uncovered that he’s escaped from riots, been stabbed in Venezuela, bitten by piranhas, and met people who have never seen a white man before.

Nicknamed “The Wolf” by his colleagues, Yeager is an undisputed wunderkind. “In my late teens, I became obsessed with diamond exploration and mining after finding a few small stones in our California alluvial mining operation,” he informed me when asked how he chose such a profession. Arguably, “Diamond Mining 101” is not listed as a college credit course. However, Yeager refers to himself as an “explorationist” – one who, by trade, explores and mines for diamonds in Africa and South America.

Turns out, the small stones he unearthed in California fueled a passion that has yet to diminish. Yeager reveals how his upbringing prepared him for the diamond trade, “I was raised working the Alaskan, Central American, and Californian goldfields with my grandfather and father who were both consulting engineers and mine owners.” With a family that originally came west to the California Gold Rush of 1849 and then later to the diamond fields of South Africa, it would seem that mining is in his blood.

On the subject of his work, Yeager contends, “I consider myself to be a part of the old school colonial exploration crowd.” By this, Yeager means that he differs from the upcoming geology grads who would rather sit behind a computer screen and interpret maps and geologic reports. At 36, Yeager is considered the youngest and one of the last to be doing real “old fashioned” exploration work with a pick and shovel. As he fiddles with his pen, he shares how fortunate he was to grow up in the mining industry, trained by the “old cranky geologists.” You can tell he relishes fieldwork and would consider it a punishment to be tied to a computer.

Those interactions with the old school South African geologists must have made an impression on him. Yeager’s quest for a diamond pipe has led him far from technology and deep into some of the most inhospitable places on Earth-places that even the bravest men might give a wide berth. Even following his travels as a blue dot trail on a map is scary. During his early twenties, Yeager found himself neck deep in the piranha-infested waters of the Venezuela jungle. However, this was more than a short-term reconnaissance. Yeager, who is also an academically trained anthropologist, had a knack for ingratiating himself with the native people, building a hospital and a school in the remote areas he inhabited as he searched for diamonds. More compelling, he seems to have won the loyalty of even the most seasoned of warriors and adventurers as he moved through Venezuela to Africa and beyond, which says more about the man than he will ever say about himself.

Throughout our interview, Yeager is humble. I’ve seen this before in men such as Yeager. They rarely open up because even their average exploits are so mind-blowing that they sound far-fetched to the rest of us regular folks. I know that with a little (or a lot) of Cognac and some goading, I’ll have the outline of a great adventure novel. When I ask for facts and stories about his life, Yeager shrugs; he suggests other people, other interviews as a source of information. I’m left digging for more information on diamonds because that is something that he will talk about.

It turns out that Yeager has his eye on the United States for his next project. Though he still chases diamond prospects in Africa and Brazil, gold in Mali and Sierra Leone, and sapphires in Tanzania, it is here that he has begun his latest search for “exceptional” diamonds. Yeager states, “I’m known as “fixer” in the field. For years I continually have been contracted to fix, run and make other companies mining operations profitable. After all these years, I want to take the time to work on my own operations.” The increasing demand for diamonds, coupled with the slowing production rates has raised the stakes for discovery. And why not? We’ve seen oil wells blossoming once more in the United States-more than even the Saudis have to offer. Why not diamonds, then? There have been very few new diamond sites uncovered globally in recent years. In fact, Yeager foresees deposits in the United States that may create a paradigm shift in global diamond production.

Having escaped civil wars, stabbing, ambushes, and angry natives, the United States looks tame in even its roughest, most remote regions. If diamonds can be unearthed here, Yeager is the man to do it. Like the Indiana Jones of legend, Yeager has an academic and mathematical acumen coupled with the spirit of a risk-taker that has fueled his success. As a valued advisor for programs throughout Africa and South America, Yeager established a new standard for diamond exploration and mining techniques. He’s known for creating engineering and fabricating mineral recovery equipment that’s considered some of the best in the field of mining.

Yeager’s extensive field experience, combined with his technical knowledge may make him the first of his kind to open diamond mining up in the United States. Like the wildcatters of old, Yeager may well be on his way to legend. One thing is certain though, given enough Cognac and a recording device, he could easily cash in as the newest contender to Clive Cussler.

The Pros and Cons of Upper Eyelid Lifts, Eyelash Extensions and Treatments for Wrinkles

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see beautiful eyes framed by thick long lashes and surrounded by smooth taut skin? Or is the reality sparse short eyelashes, sagging eyelids and surrounded by wrinkles? Unfortunately as we get older the latter is what we are more likely to be viewing in the mirror.

If you’ve got plenty of money to spare there are several cosmetic answers to fix eye problems, such as upper eyelid lift surgery, eyelash extension kits, or eye wrinkle treatment. But the drawback with these solutions apart from the cost is that not everyone is willing or enthusiastic about going under the knife, or even undertaking a course of injections.

From personal experience I can tell you those injections for eye wrinkle treatment hurt, no matter how much local anaesthetic cream you put on to numb the feeling. Maybe I have a low tolerance level for pain, but I definitely would not put myself through that again. I could see a marginal improvement after a few weeks but definitely not worth putting myself through that pain for. I didn’t have the Botox injections mine was a natural dermal filler as I felt the Botox sometimes looked a bit fake, but both of these types of eye wrinkle treatments involve injections.

In regard to eyelash extension kits admittedly they can result in an immediate impact with long thick lashes, but they still fall off after a few weeks the same as your ordinary eyelashes. So for a special occasion maybe it’s worthwhile, but having ongoing eyelash extensions is expensive.

Whilst I am on the topic of eyelash extension kits, one other thought to keep in mind is be careful what length you choose. I had a set fitted for special night out and of course wanted to look my best so picked the long dramatic ones, they looked great but what I didn’t realise was that they would drive me mad catching on the top of my eyelids. So in hindsight the effect wasn’t worth the irritation of being so conscious of having them on my eyes.

I can’t give you a personal overview of an upper eyelid lift because I haven’t experienced that, but I would suggest if you are considering this radical step check out your intended surgeon thoroughly, make sure he or she is fully accredited and talk to them first about any concerns you may have. Having an upper eyelid lift is a big step in my book and I would want to be absolutely certain I was in the best hands.

The good news is that you don’t have to have cosmetic surgery, eyelash extensions or painful injections to achieve beautiful eyes there are natural painless and cheap solutions available to all three of these wrinkle, eyelid and eyelash problems, which don’t involve doctors or surgery.

Wheel Chair Lifts in History

Wheel chair lifts have been one of the most significant advances in disabled mobility since the wheel chair itself was invented. They play a supporting role. Certain kinds extend the range handicapped people can move about directly, by transporting them across the stairs that would otherwise hinder them. 

Wheel chair lifts are designed to lift a person who needs to utilize such a device for mobility in an area where a person without one would ordinarily go by negotiating stairs or some other route that is difficult, hazardous, or impossible in a wheelchair. To safely and reliably lift both a person and the wheelchair he or she sits in, the lift must be quite powerful. Generally, these lifts consist of a platform that can be wheeled onto and a motor that raises the platform up or down to one or more different levels.

Before the invention of wheel chair lifts, buildings could only provide handicapped access through ramp systems. In some cases, ramps work perfectly well, and they are widely used to this day. Sometimes, however, a ramp is impractical for one reason or another, and in these cases, the lifts are employed instead. The most common reason for using a lift instead of a ramp is architectural. Sometimes there isn’t room to build a large ramp anywhere conveniently. Wheel chair lifts take up far less room than ramps, because they don’t entail any horizontal movement. In most cases, they move in a direct, vertical direction, just like an elevator. Ramps are also often impractical where stairs are prolonged or steep, because a gradual ramp would need to be dangerously steep or inconveniently large.

When wheel chair lifts were first implemented, they were often found in the private homes of those who were handicapped or who wished to accommodate handicapped guests. Houses rarely have room for ramps, especially if they were designed without this accommodation in mind. Since the staircases in houses rarely see heavy traffic, wheel chair lifts in private residences are often built directly over the stairs. In this case, they follow the path of the stairs, which means moving horizontally as well as vertically. The advantage of this system is that it saves space. The disadvantage is that when wheel chair lifts of this sort are in operation, it usually keeps others from using the staircase.

These lifts are important, not just for handicapped Americans, but for all Americans. The handicapped are better able to make their contributions to society when they have uninhibited access to all areas. In addition, providing equal access with ramps and wheel chair lifts supports the values that the United States was founded upon.

We believe in inalienable rights and dignity. We believe in opportunity, rather than privilege. We also believe in self-reliance. Rather than believing that certain people deserve or garner power over others, Americans believe that individuals naturally carry power and responsibility for themselves. Wheel chair lifts allow handicapped people to be independent, rather than reliant on others.

Wheel chair lifts have been important to disabled people and to supporters of equality since their invention decades ago and have gradually found service in more and more locations worldwide. Today, they are woven into the everyday lives of those who use wheel chairs. They have facilitated disabled people in ascending, literally and figuratively, to the stage and to the highest places in society. Upward mobility has never so gracefully emblemized itself.

How You Can Regain Control of Your Pelvic Floor

Your pelvic floor muscles stretch across from either side of your pelvis and from your pubic bone in front across to the bottom of your tailbone like a tight hammock. They hold your bladder, uterus and bowel in place.

A poorly toned, weak pelvic floor will not do its job properly. Women with weak pelvic floor muscles frequently experience incontinence and reduced sexual response. But research has shown that the pelvic floor responds to regular exercise. With regular exercise, it is possible for most women to reduce or completely overcome the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor muscles, no matter what their age.

These muscles can be weakened due to childbirth, injury, surgery, lack of exercise and menopause. If the muscles begin to sag, you could have a prolapse of your uterus and may also have problems with your bladder. Doing pelvic floor exercises will not only improve your bladder control, but also your vaginal response during sex for a better orgasm. Now that’s something to aim for!

Urinary incontinence can have a significant impact on women’s lives. They may avoid participating in their favourite sport or even leaving the house due to the risk of urine leakage. Urinary incontinence can also result in a negative body image and/or reduced self esteem. Despite its prevalence, approximately 60% of people suffering from urinary incontinence do not seek professional help for their condition (2).

It appears that a combination of embarrassment and the belief that urinary incontinence is a natural consequence of ageing and childbirth deters women from seeking the appropriate treatment. Although common, urinary incontinence is not normal and should be addressed in the same way as other health problems, by consulting a health professional. Women should not resort to simply relying on incontinence pads and pants to manage the condition. Treatment for urinary incontinence can be very effective and is often relatively simple.

This article provides information on the different types of urinary incontinence and outlines treatment processes with the aim of encouraging women to seek the help they require. Now in rehabilitating the pelvic floor there are a couple of different methods and even some devices, which means that you have some choice in how you start and how you go on. For some women the mere act of coughing or worse yet sneezing can bring them to their knees as they try to prevent the flow, and even young women are now wearing panty protection for these moments.

The various methods (without using medical intervention) are as follows:

  • Using certain types of exercise equipment
  • Supplements and Creams
  • Kegel’s (specific pelvic floor exercises)

Using Exercise Equipment to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

Traditionally we have all been told to ‘jump on a trampoline’, and yes this does work, however first we have to put up with the fact that each and every jump is going to cause leakage. However the latest innovation which is proving to be very effective and best of all doesn’t require that we wear our granny pants to do it is the Vibrational Platform.

Vibrational Platforms have quite a lot of science backing them for many reasons, from increased muscle strength for full time fitness devotees and muscle builders to rehabilitation for stroke and accident victims, and reversing osteoporosis. Now there is evidence this may be the easiest way yet to rehabilitate your pelvic floor! Whole body vibration via the vibration platform works by producing a vibration through which energy is transferred to the body. This causes a stretch reflex that changes between 30-60 times a second depending on which frequency is determined to be appropriate. The special vibrating platform stretches the muscles, which activate Tonic Vibration Reflexes.

Because the Platform vibrates at 30 to 50 times per second, these involuntary muscle contractions happen at the same speed. In conventional training a maximum of 40% of the muscle fibers per muscle are recruited. The Vibration Platforms vibrations recruit between 95% and 97% of the muscle fibers. This also means that the deeper posture and stabilizing muscles, such as the spinal muscles and the pelvic floor muscles are recruited. Results of a Research Study

A study was done using people whose age range was 34 to 50 years, they were divided into three groups with Group A having a determined incontinence rate of 80%, Group B 56% and 60% in Group C.

All three groups showed considerable improvement in mean pelvic floor strength! The conclusions of the study were that muscle stimulation via vibrating platforms improves the subjective and objective parameters of stress urinary incontinence. This treatment turned out to be highly effective and so represents a genuine therapeutic option for patients with stress urinary incontinence (See references at the end of this article).

Supplements and Creams

There are a few supplements and creams claiming to be effective for urinary incontinence, however as they are based on ideas that have been extrapolated from data in reference to other conditions and no research at all has been done in reference to this condition, I am highly skeptical.

However, in order to be fair I had to mention them here. These so-called Bladder Support Formulas seem to be based on the idea that lack of estrogen is the main cause of bladder incontinence and use soy products to try to rectify this. I am not at all convinced that they work and believe that you have a better chance of reclaiming control of your waterworks through movement and exercise.

Pelvic Floor Exercises (Kegels)

Kegels have been around for a really long time and most of us have tried to do them at one time or another. If your like me, I do them constantly (in the car while driving is a good time) and then I totally forget about them.

They still remain one of the easiest ways to improve your pelvic floor strength (not the quickest) and combined with using a Vibration Platform have been proven to be the most effective and quickest way to regain control and stimulate better sexual function. How to do unassisted pelvic floor exercises (kegel exercises) Exercise 1 Sit in a firm chair and concentrating on your pelvic floor muscles, tighten the muscles around your back passage, vagina and front passage and lift up inside as if trying to stop passing wind and urine at the same time. It is very easy to bring other, irrelevant muscles into play, so try to isolate your pelvic floor as much as possible by

  • not pulling in your tummy, .
  • not squeezing your legs together, .
  • not tightening your buttocks and .
  • not holding your breath.

The effort should be coming from the pelvic floor.

For how many seconds can you hold the pelvic floor tight? Try holding it as long and as hard as you can. Build up to a maximum of 10 seconds. Rest for 4 seconds and then repeat the contraction as many times as you can up to a maximum of 10 contractions.

Try to do these exercises in a slow and controlled way with a rest of 4 seconds between each muscle contraction. Practice your maximum number of held contractions (up to 10) about six times each day.

Exercise 2 The ability to work these muscles quickly helps them react to sudden stresses from coughing, laughing or exercise. Practice some quick contractions, drawing in the pelvic floor and holding for just one second before releasing the muscles. Do these steadily, aiming for a strong muscle tightening with each contraction up to a maximum of 10 times.

Try to do one set of slow contractions (exercise 1) followed by one set of quick contractions (exercise 2) six times each day. If you do pelvic floor exercises regularly, you will see optimum results within 3 to 6 months, but you should continue them for life to fully protect your pelvic floor.

It can also help to stop the flow of urine while you’re on the toilet, please wait until the first rush is over, then tighten your pelvic floor and stop and start 2 to 3 times. This has an added benefit of helping you to determine just which muscles to use while doing the Kegels.

P.S. This is a great exercise for the man in your life and can actually help prevent prostate problems, get him to do this at least once a day first thing in the morning. Tell him it will keep his sex life active for longer, which it will. Pelvic Floor Exercisers These interesting little devices come in all shapes and sizes, the best of them can be found at reputable clinics that specialize in this kind of thing. They are used because many women find it difficult to isolate the muscles involved in doing Kegels, and often they feel uncertain about whether the exercises are working and whether they are doing them correctly, particularly in the early stages The use of devices can help address some of these problems and encourage women to continue their pelvic floor fitness and strengthening regimes. Most importantly many women find that using a pelvic floor exercise device produces better results than unassisted exercising, so they are encouraged to keep going. Exercisers also provide ‘resistance’. Body builders build strong biceps by using weights or resistance training, the same applies to your pelvic floor.

References

1. Cardinale M, Bosco C. The use of vibration as an exercise intervention. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2003; 31: 3-7.

2. Rittweger J, Just K, Kautzsch K, Reeg P, Felsenberg D. Treatment of chronic Lower back pain with lumbar extension and whole-body vibration exercise: a randomizedcontrolled trial. Spine. 2002; 27: 1829-34

Belgique Stainless Steel Copper Bottom 18-10 Cookware

I Love these pots! They are worth the investment. They were bought on a strict budget and I do not regret the investment.

Belgique cookware is very beautiful to look at, but keeping it that way takes a little TLC. Excellent for use on a gas stove. Be extra careful when using electric stove though. Typically, electric burners are much hotter than cooking on a gas top. This cookware is designed to cook at lower heat. If your burner gets too hot, it will discolor the pan and possibly scar the copper bottom. Also, keep in mind that discoloration stains do not effect performance. There should be a care card that comes with each set that mentions these possibilities if cooking with electric heat. It also recommends for best results to season interiors by wiping with a little cooking oil. Seasoning is recommended 3 to 4 times a year. Belgique ‘s copper bottom has a protective layer to keep it from tarnishing in its packaging. This covering must be removed before using, otherwise the protective layer will burn to the copper base and leave black marks. To remove the protective layer dissolve 3 tablespoons of baking soda in 3 quarts of hot water and let the pan soak for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water. After the removal of the protective layer, use a copper polish to retain the copper’s luster.

Here is a few more tips that may help keep your Belgique looking as great as when you first got them.

1. They may look hard and smooth, but all pans and cookware are porous. Seasoning prevents a porous cooking surface from becoming carbonized within the ridges of its rough surface. By filling in these ridges, a barrier is created that prevents food from sticking to the surface.

2. Season metal cookware immediately after bringing it home from the store. Wash the item(s) in soapy water to remove any protective coating, then rinse and then dry with a towel.

3. Place the pan on a burner set on medium-low or in a 300-degree oven for about five minutes to thoroughly dry. Remove the pan from the oven with an oven mitt.

4. Place a few teaspoons of either peanut oil or lard on the pan and wipe it down with a paper or cloth towel. Now place the pan on the stovetop and remove once it begins to smoke. Another option is to put it back in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the pan cool, then wipe off any excess oil.

Belgique Cookware Copper

12 Ways to Make a Homemade Crawfish Pond

Making a crawfish pond in your backyard is a fun opportunity to raise these delicious crustaceans yourself.

Crawfish are very hardy and they will survive in a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures. Still, you need to create the right living conditions for your crawfish.

Making a homemade crawfish pond can be an easy task, depending on the size that you are going for. Here are some possibilities you can try.

Start with a smaller pond and move to something bigger, in case you find the possibility exciting and easy to execute.

Use an Aquarium

For a start, you can place crawfish in an aquarium to observe their behavior and understand more about their needs. This solution is suitable solely for the short term and if you plan to take care of a limited number of crawfish.

Crayfish are inactive during the day, so the aquarium should have hiding places. Pebbles and rocks are great for the purpose. Hollow rock decorations for your aquarium will also be a good idea.

Use a Plastic Swimming Pool

If you want to test something a little bit bigger, you can use a plastic swimming pool. The variety that your children enjoy will be perfect for a crawfish experiment. Choose the right spot for the swimming pool – it should be warm enough, yet shady.

Add some gravel and sand to the bottom of the pool.

It will provide the crawfish with hiding places that they will get to use during the day.

Choose the Right Container Size

All other kinds of containers that can hold water will be suitable for crawfish farming in your backyard. The possibility will be exceptionally suitable for people that are reluctant about digging a hole in the garden.

Choose the size of the container carefully. Crawfish are a territorial species. They will vigorously protect their space. The more crawfish you plan to raise, the bigger the space should be. A small aquarium will be unsuitable for raising large numbers of crayfish.

Use Your Artificial Backyard Pond

Do you already have a backyard pond that was created for decorative purposes? This one can turn into great habitat for crawfish. You simply have to provide the right kind of living conditions.

Sand and gravel will once again be needed. There should be a shallow and a deeper end in the pond. Adding some aquatic plants to the backyard pond will also be essential for creating the right kind of environment.

Make Sure Crawfish are Not Overheating

Placing the container, aquarium or pond directly underneath the sun is going to overheat the crawfish during the day. This is why you have to choose the right spot, whether you plan to dig in the backyard or you are interested in using a container.

Pick the Right Spot

  1. You will need a flat area in your backyard, especially if you plan to dig a pond.
  2. Choose a spot that is free from overhanging branches or nearby bushes.
  3. Believe it or not, crawfish can escape from a container and from a pond in the ground. This is why you should make sure the area provides no such opportunities.

Use Ground Water

  1. It is possible for you to discover shallow underground water while creating the crawfish pond.
  2. You can use this water to create the right habitat for your crawfish.
  3. To use the ground water, you will need both a filter and an oxygen pump.
  4. Still, you will be saving a lot of money on water, which makes the opportunity great.

Lining the Pond with Synthetic Materials

  • Dig a hole in the ground an fill it with water.

Does the water get absorbed too fast?

  • If so, you will have to line the pond with synthetic or other materials that will prevent the quick loss of water.

Gravel and bentonite are often used to line the bottom of the pond and to prevent the water from getting absorbed too fast.

Testing the Water

You should consider testing the water before putting the crawfish in the pond. Warmer water cannot hold as much oxygen as cold water, which is one of the factors to understand. The pH of the water needs to be seven or higher. An acidic medium may interfere with the growth of the crawfish.

Add Aquatic Plants to the Pond

Whether you choose an aquarium or an actual pond, you should have some aquatic plants available. These create a better habitat and they provide the crawfish with hiding opportunities.

Look for a Possible Crawfish “Escape Route”

After placing crawfish in the pond, you will need to observe their behavior. As already mentioned, crawfish can easily get out of the pond. Crawfish are mainly active during the night. Observe their behavior and pay attention to the pond’s design – some shortcomings could be simplifying the task of crawfish escape.

Add Other Aquatic Species to the Pond

Crawfish and other aquatic species can coexist in your pond. When choosing the species, avoid bottom dwellers. Crawfish are the ones that filter out dirt and clean the bottom of the container, so the delicate balance of the habitat will be disturbed.

Keep in mind that crawfish could get aggressive with other species. They are known to attack small and sick fish that tend to sink towards the bottom of the pond. Alternatively, you should avoid adding large fish to the pond because these could potentially start feeding on your crustaceans.

Freestanding Baths – Considerations When Choosing and Fitting a Waste Kit

Plug and Chain, Click Clack or Pop Up Waste

There are three basic types of waste kit. The traditional plug and chain waste is well known to everyone. A retainer plug and chain waste is one where the plug fits into the overflow grill when not in use to keep it out of the way. Plug and chain wastes usually come with either a ball chain or a link chain. Most plug and chain wastes will fit most freestanding baths. A click clack waste is one with a sprung plug which operates like many contemporary basin wastes, you push the plug in and it clicks shut, push it again to click it open, with click clack wastes a chrome cover fits over the overflow hole but stands slightly proud of it so as to not block it. A pop up waste is one that is controlled by a chrome dial that fits over the overflow, a cable runs on the outside of the bath from the dial to the plug and turning the dial causes the cable to move and operate the plug. Most click clack and pop up waste sold in major chains will not fit most traditional freestanding roll top baths.

Concealed or Exposed Waste Kit

A concealed waste kit is one which is assumed to be fitted in circumstances where only those parts that are fitted inside the bath will be seen, so that all the pipe work on the outside of the bath – the overflow pipe, trap and outlet pipe can be plastic. An exposed waste kit is all metal/chrome with no plastic parts and is all designed to be seen. A traditional double ended freestanding bath if placed more or less against a wall can be fitted with a concealed waste kit because the pipework will be hidden between the bath and the wall. A single ended traditional freestanding bath will usually have all the pipework visible when viewed in profile wherever you install it so for these and for double ended baths that are away from the wall you would most likely fit an exposed waste kit with a chrome trap and outlet pipe.

Thickness of Freestanding Baths

Most traditional freestanding baths are much thicker than standard panel baths and this can cause a problem with many waste kits. All waste kits have a parts that sit on either side of the plug and overflow holes and connect together to form a sandwich structure with the wall of the bath being the sandwich filling and parts of the waste kit on either side. For plug and chain wastes the parts of the waste kits generally connect with a threaded bolt so as long as the bolts are long enough (which they usually are) then these kits will fit on any thickness of overflow or plug hole. However most click clack and pop up wastes use instead of a bolt a wide bore plastic threaded tube that may be only 7 to 12 mm thick, this is not hick enough for most traditional roll top baths.

Fitting a Trap to a Freestanding Bath

Freestanding baths either with or without feet often have reduced clearance under the bath and a standard size bath trap may not fit between the bath and the floor. If you are able to go into the floor under the bath then a hole can be made in the floor for the trap to fit into, if however your floor is concrete or of for aesthetic reasons you can’t go into the floor then you will need a shallow or ultra shallow bath trap which you may need to get from a specialist.

Waste Pipe and Overflow Pipe Conflicts

When fitting an ultra shallow bath trap you will find that the outlet pipe will run out at the same height as the overflow pipe comes in (or at least at overlapping heights). This means that you can point the outlet pipe in any direction (by spinning the trap) but you can’t point it back out directly the way that the overflow pipe is coming in because it will not fit underneath it. If you do need to take the waste out towards the end or side of the bath where the overflow is then you can use an outlet pipe with a right angle to run the outlet pipe out to left or right of the overflow pipe.

Extended Overflow

If the bath has a plug hole that is centered in the bath both length-ways and width-ways then you will need an extended overflow pipe. In addition if you are fitting a pop-up waste you will need one with an extended cable and if fitting a plug and chain waste you will need one with an extended chain. In the case of fitting an exposed waste kit with a metal overflow pipe you will need to fit a chrome overflow extension pipe, these are rather specialist items and only available from a small number of freestanding bath specialists. If the plug hole is in the middle length-ways but over to one side, the side where the overflow is, width-ways then you do not need the extended waste kits just described.

Freestanding Baths Without Feet

Many contemporary freestanding baths do not have feet but have in integral ‘skirt’ which goes right down to the floor. In these cases the waste kit usually fits up inside between the two ‘skins’ of the bath, so the overflow pipe is never seen. Also these style of bath are usually reinforced with board like a standard bath and so are thin (>10mm) and will fit most standard pop-up and click clack wastes. Some traditional baths, especially boat baths are similarly constructed, however most boat baths rest on a plinth and may have a tub more like a bath with feet having a visible overflow pipe and thick wall and base.

Best Advice When Buying a Waste Kit for Freestanding Baths

The best single piece of advice is to buy the waste kit at the same time and from the same people who you buy the bath from then you very clearly know that it’s the retailers’ responsibility to supply the right waste kit with the bath, but if you can’t do that then contact a specialist in freestanding baths.

Kerala Nair Weddings

A Kerala Nair wedding ceremony is very simple. The ceremony takes just a couple of minutes. But prior to that there are some rituals to be followed. The Malayalee month Chingam is considered to be the most auspicious month to conduct the weddings. The months of Midhunam, Karkatakam and Kanni are generally avoided. A traditional Kerala Nair marriage is conducted with the following steps.

Horoscope matching

A marriage proposal moves forward with the horoscope matching. Though in the modern world, few do not believe in this old theory of horoscope matching for a happy and lasting marriage, many others still believe in their ancestors’ thinking and they would not like to take chances with their children’s lives, foregoing this step. Today more marriages are arranged through the online match making sites, and many of these sites do have facilities for horoscope matching on their sites.

Meeting the girl (Pennu Kanal)

Once the horoscopes are matched, the boy and his parents or other elders come to see the girl officially. It can be a simple affair or a large celebration, where the prospective bride and groom and their families consent to the marriage.

Meeting the boy’s family (Veedu Kanal)

The girl’s parents also visit the boy’s family to know more about him and his family, where their daughter is going to spend the rest of her life. This custom is called Veedu Kanal.

Engagement (Vivaha Nischayam)

Once both the families are satisfied with the alliance, the marriage will be officially announced in the presence of the elders and close friends, which is called “Vivaha Nischayam”. It may be a simple affair or a large celebration, according to their wish and convenience. In some areas, the wedding rings are exchanged during this function, and in some other areas exchange of rings are done during the wedding ceremony.

Ayana (Prewedding day)

On the evening before the wedding, the families and close friends of both the bride and the groom, gather in their respective houses, to bless them. A traditional dinner will be arranged for them. The bride will be dressed in one of her best saris, bejewelled, and her hands will be decorated with mehendi. Mehendi is not a traditional ceremony of Kerala Nair wedding; it is a new practice followed from other communities.

Namaskaram (Blessing from the elders)

On the Wedding day, the elders take the sacred “Thali” (mangalyasutra) to the temple to get blessed. This thali is going to be tied around the girl’s neck by the groom on the wedding day symbolising the marriage. After taking the blessings of her elders by touching their feet, the bride is taken to the wedding venue, with her family members and friends. It could be a temple, or her ancestral home, or a kalyana mandap.

Thalikettu and Pudavakodukkal (Wedding)

On the wedding day, the groom and his family arrive at the venue of the wedding. Usually it is arranged in the girl’s place. They are received ceremoniously in the midst of the traditional music (Nadaswaram and thayil). The bride’s brother washes the groom’s feet on a wooden plank and the aunts perform aarathi (pooja) and receives him. The groom and his people are escorted by the young girls holding the traditional brass lamps. The boy sits in the mandap on the right side of the decorated canopy. The bride is then escorted to the mandap amidst the traditional music and takes her place facing the east, with the groom facing her. At the auspicious moment (muhurtham) the bride ties the”thali” around her neck, in a sacred yellow thread, to the beating of drums, and gifts her a sari. This ritual is called Thalikettu and Pudavakodukkal. His mother also ties her a chain, accepting her as her daughter-in-law. The bride and groom exchange garlands. This is followed by her father keeping his daughter’s hand in the groom’s hand, handing over her to her groom in holy matrimony. This sacred ritual is called Kanyadan. Holding her hand, the groom goes around the fire three times.

The newly married couple will take their parents’ and elders blessings together and then will be lead to a room and to give Milk and Banana by the bride’s mother and relatives.

After the wedding ceremony, the guests will come to wish them with gifts. Then they will be given a grand feast called “sadhya”. It will be a traditional vegetarian lunch with varieties of dishes and payasam, served in plantain leaf.

Gruhapravesham

At an auspicious time, the bridegroom takes his bride escorted by his people, and few members from the girl’s family, to his house. They are received there ceremoniously. The bride enters the house, holding the traditional brass lamp in her hand, and keeping her right foot in. After some time the girl’s people return home, leaving her in her new home.

Reception

In some families, they hold a Reception party in the boy’s side where his friends and relatives are invited, to meet the newly wedded couple. Many of them come with gifts to bless them. Usually it will be arranged in a Hotel. During this time, the guests are served with a grand dinner.

Why a Strategic Plan is Important

As consultants, we work with a variety of businesses across a number of industries as well as non-profit entities. In reviewing the performance of these organizations, it is interesting to note that those businesses that perform at the highest levels usually have some sort of formalized strategic plan in place and have implemented it well.

On the other hand, those businesses that struggle usually have no plan in place and seem to flounder in their attempts to be successful. And many of the organizations that are successful in the implementation of their strategic plans use a simplified strategic planning process to get the plan written and implemented more quickly and efficiently. One of the things that caused some to proclaim that strategic planning had lost it luster was the tendency of some to drag out the process too long and to create more work than necessary. The simplified, rapid development approach has helped immensely in getting good strategic plans developed and implemented.

In order for a business to be successful, there needs to be a road map for success. The development of sound business strategy is a result of the strategic planning process. A significant mistake that is made by businesses large and small is defining critical business strategies without going through this process. A strategic plan helps to provide direction and focus for all employees. It points to specific results that are to be achieved and establishes a course of action for achieving them.

Another common mistake is simply allowing the organization to wander aimlessly without having even generalized goals in place. Having well defined goals, objectives, strategies and tactics reduces the risk of business failure and helps increase the likelihood of solid success. And speaking strictly from the perspective of a manager, owner, director, president, CEO, etc., their own success can be defined by having a well developed strategic plan in place that is well implemented.

A strategic plan helps the various work units within an organization to align themselves with common goals. But perhaps most importantly, the strategic planning process provides managers, owners and entrepreneurs the necessary framework for developing sound business strategy.

Arguably, the leading cause of business failure is not having a strategic plan in place that is implemented effectively. If a business has little idea where it is headed, it will wander aimlessly with priorities changing constantly and employees confused about the purpose of their jobs. And it could chase strategies that have little or no chance of success.

Building a strategic plan is not difficult. It will take some thought and some feedback from customers and others, but businesses should be routinely garnering feedback from appropriate constituent groups on an ongoing basis. The process of developing a strategic plan should be rewarding for all involved and usually helps develop stronger communications between members of the planning team.

Managers and business owners need a well developed strategic plan in order to effectively establish expectations for their employees. Without a plan, expectations are developed in a void and there is little or no alignment with common goals and strategies. A good strategic plan looks out 2 to 5 years and describes clearly what market, product/service, pricing, marketing and other strategies will be followed. In short, it defines how the business will grow and prosper over the defined planning horizon.

Strategic planning does not end once the plan is put on paper. Once developed, the key to making the plan work is a commitment to seeing it through coupled with sound implementation. Unfortunately too many good strategic plans end up on a shelf gathering dust without being even partially implemented. The commitment to not only creating a sound strategic plan, but to its full implementation must be made at the beginning of the planning process.

The strategic plan will contain an action plan that will detail the steps to be taken in order to fully implement the strategies and tactics defined in the plan document. And that action plan will delineate specific deadlines and individuals or teams responsible for completing defined tasks.

Far too many organizations, large and small, fail to develop even basic strategic plans. The absence of a strategic plan is one of the key reasons many businesses struggle or fail. Without that road map provided by a solid strategic plan, decisions are made in a vacuum and/or there is considerable confusion and inconsistency evident within the organization. During tough economic times, the need for a solid strategic direction and plan is even more pronounced because the margin for error generally becomes smaller for most businesses.

All employees need to understand the guiding principles of the business and what everyone should be aiming to achieve. A strategic plan that is well developed, properly communicated, and carefully implemented can launch struggling or underperforming businesses to new heights.

Take a look at your business. Are your critical business strategies well defined? Are they successful? Does there seem to be a lack of focus on where the company is headed? Does everyone clearly understand the goals for the business? Strategically, how will the business achieve those goals? Is your current planning horizon longer than one year? Are you developing annual business/operating plans without a strategic plan in place? Strategic plans should drive or at least help define operating plans and budgets.

Writing a strategic plan isn’t as complicated as some would lead you to believe. Simplified strategic planning has been our focus for some time because too many organizations get caught up in the process and lose sight of what is important. We have found, without exception, that businesses which create and execute sound strategic plans are generally far more successful than those that do not. Remember that successful implementation of the plan is a must. If you write a plan and then allow it to gather dust on a shelf, you might as well have no plan. There must be a commitment to implementing the strategies and tactics detailed in the plan.

Make no mistake about it, if your business or non-profit organization is operating without an effective strategic plan in place, it runs the risk of underperforming or even failure. As mentioned, writing a strategic plan is not difficult and it does not have to be overly time consuming.

The notion that strategic planning has to be a long arduous process to be successful is complete nonsense. In fact, our experience clearly points to a far more successful planning experience and better plans when the plan is completed without a lot of “bureaucracy” and extraneous analyses.

There are certain steps required in the strategic planning process in order to develop a solid and actionable plan. Using a strategic plan template is an effective method of getting a solid plan written and implemented. At the request of our clients, we have created such a template that includes instructions and examples of each step as well as worksheets that can be completed to effectively create your plan.

More Interesting Facts About Steel and Steel Fabricators

We all know that iron and steel industries are the backbone of any process of industrialization. Steel and iron are the primary ingredients in any industry. Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon as well some other elements like sulphur, phosphorus and silicon, oxygen and manganese in smaller quantities. Carbon when mixed with iron acts like a hardening agent making steel harder and more durable. However, only 2% carbon is added to iron in order to make steel for greater the amount of carbon more brittle will steel become. Steel is created by removing oxygen from iron ore and carbon is used to link oxygen. Iron is heated at 910 degrees Celsius, then water or oil is used for quenching and finally oxygen is removed. During removal of oxygen carbon fuses with iron to create the final product, which is steel.

Steel industry is the indicator of economic development and progress of any nation. In the last two hundred years since Henry Bessemer invented the proper smelting method of steel in 1856, steel has emerged as the basic building material in any industrially developed nation. The cars we drive are made of steel, the kitchen sink we wash our dishes happens to be of steel and even the building we live and work in have steel frameworks. It is used to make power line towers, gas pipelines, heavy machinery used in factories, weapons, ever day kitchen utensils, electric tools and appliances and more; basically the list goes on and on. Thus we can say that steel machines and structures surround us.

Now, the process of cutting, bending or melding and assembling steel parts to create different structures like pipes, plates, sheets, joists, handrails and so on may be termed as fabrication. Steel fabrication is the process by which fabricators manipulate steel to give different shapes or patterns to create different steel structures or components. Steel fabricators follows designs, drawings and blue print provided to them by structural engineers. Main responsibility of steel fabricators is to transform the design from a blueprint into a usable end product by cutting, bending to reshape and assembling steel. There are actually two separate methods of fabrication. The first method is called the integrated route or raw material approach and more than 60% steel fabrication is done in this way. Here, all raw materials are melted by heating them at high temperatures and then they are mixed with steel. The second method known as electric arc furnace or EAF is really easier and quicker. Here recycled steel is melted at high temperature in furnace and then mixed with other elements to make the final product. Steel fabricators not only produce or create usable products they are also responsible for maintenance and repair jobs.

Mural Painting

Mural painting, as distinguished from other forms of decorative artwork is a painting applied directly to a wall. It is a concept that been used by humanity from the most ancient times up until the present day.

The earliest known history of this type of decoration was the cave drawings and paintings of the neo-lithic period. In this way early man used mural art to bring nature or fantastic-nature into his living space. In later times the Byzantines, Egyptians and almost all ancient civilizations used murals to describe not only the nature around them but also their interpretation of nature through sacred myths and stories.

A characteristic of this later, more sophisticated mural art was the use of decorative features such as frames, borders and geometrical patterns, which might accompany the theme of the painting and help it sit comfortably in the architecture that it decorated.

In modern times we still see murals being painted, but now often as political propaganda or commercial advertising. The availability of wallpaper and other commercial decorative features has made painting an expensive option but fortunately there still exists a market for purely decorative murals. In popular culture spray can graffiti has created its own heritage of mural art.

Trompe L’Oeil.

The late Greek and Roman period discovered the decorative the use of trompe l’oeil – that is making a flat wall surface seem as if it is 3D architecture, simply by painting it on with light and shade. Impossible architectural fantasies became possible in the hands of an artist. In Pompeii and Herculaneum there are many surviving murals using fantastic trompe l’oeil. The technique really came into it’s own in the Renaissance period. Ceilings became decorated as skies full of clouds and cherubs, walls had balustrades and pillars giving onto fantastic landscapes with battles raging and mythological creatures roaming. In the hands of the great Italian masters churches and palaces were decorated with masterpieces in this style at which we still marvel today.

Mural Techniques.

The techniques of the earliest painters were not necessarily best for the survival of their works. The cave painters most probably drew directly onto the rock with blocks of pigment or charcoal, using no medium to adhere the paint to the surface. Where examples survive, such as Lascaux in France, the limestone ground has become calcinated with natural dampness over time and has spontaneously adhered the pigment to the wall.

It is known that the Ancient Egyptians had Gum Arabic (resin from the Acacia tree – which we still use as the binder for watercolours). They also used egg tempera (pigment bound with the white of an egg). Most importantly where murals are concerned, they understood how to paint ‘fresco’. That is, painting raw pigment into fresh lime plaster before it dries. Most surviving murals of antiquity and the renaissance have used this technique. The great advantage of this technique is that the pigment colour combines with the natural calcination of the plaster as it dries, so it never fades. Subsequently, the technique of fresco was passed down from Greek to Roman and Roman to the Renaissance, so it has left us with a rich legacy of ancient art with which to understand the psychology and wisdom of our ancestors.

Whirlpool Electric Dryer Not Heating, How To Determine What Could Be The Problem

Let start by saying that repairing your Whirlpool electric dryer when is not heating, is not a hard a job to do, if you know what to look for.

The heating circuit of the Whirlpool electric dryer consist of the following parts. The timer, the heating element, the hi-limit thermostat, the safety thermostat, the operating thermostat, the temperature switch and the motor centrifugal switch.

If any of these parts fail, the dryer will not heat. Now, most people when the dryer stops heating, replace the heating element or the timer with out checking to make sure that those parts are bad. Rule number one is, don’t assume that the part is bad with out checking it with a multimeter.

The first and most important thing you need to do, is to disconnect the dryer from the wall outlet before doing any kind of work on it. Most parts will need to be checked for continuity and the dryer must be disconnected from the wall outlet.

Most of the times the part causing the problem is behind the dryer and you can gain access by removing the back panel.

Remove the back panel on the dryer. Disconnect one of the heating element wires and take a reading between the two terminals on the heating element. The reading should be between 10 and 50 ohms. If the heating element is good, check the hi-limit thermostat by removing one of the wires and checking for continuity. Continuity means, that electricity could pass through the part that you are checking.

The hi-limit usually blows when there is an obstruction on the exhaust hose, so make sure that the exhaust hose is not obstructed when replacing the hi-limit kit.

If the hi-limit thermostat and the heating element are ok, check the operating thermostat. The operating thermostat is in charge of maintaining the temperature inside of the drum at about 150 degrees. You will need to check from the two terminals with the red wires attached on it.

Those where the parts that fail more often in the Whirlpool electric dryer. The timer, the motor centrifugal switch, the temperature switch are a little harder to check because there are may different one. You will need to use your wiring schematic to see how to check them.

Swastikas in the Roman Catacombs

Although the cross is one of the most universally recognized symbols of Christianity, other symbols were widely used in the early years. In times of fierce persecution, as under the Roman Emperors Decius and Diocletian, symbols needed to be more allusive. What might seem to be a Swastika on first inspection here in fact turns out to be a Gammadion [Latin, Crux Gammata]. It later came to be known as the Crux Dissimulata, ‘the allusive Cross’. Some years before Bishop Clement of Alexandria had left instructions to the faithful to use such devices as the Dove, the Anchor and the Fish – a symbol that survives to this very day!

For convenience the term Gammadion will be used in this article to evaluate the occurrences of this device in both Greek and Roman contexts. Where did it come from? Most likely it was first formed from the juxtaposition of four capital Greek gammas. We find both sacred and secular usage of the Gammadion in the Roman Catacombs. It is likely however that the Gammadion was in regular use before its adoption there as a variant of the Christian cross.

The Gammadion motif was closely associated with a number of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. It was linked to Artemis and Diana as the goddesses of hunting, as exemplified in the mosaic of the Great Hunt in Piazza Armerina in central Sicily. It appears on images of Aphrodite and was probably regarded as a symbol of fecundity. As a solar symbol it is linked to Apollo and it was also certainly regarded as a symbol of devotion to Gaia, the Earth Goddess.

Our principal concern here is to review its use in sepulchral contexts. In the mausoleum of S. Sebastiano there is a sequence of five Gammadions, four of which are verso [crampons turning to the left] and only one of which is recto [crampons turning to the right]. These decorative elements almost certainly pertain to the pagan burial of Marcus Clodius Hermes dating from the time of Emperor Hadrian [76-138AD]. Altars of dedication and gravestones have also been found near Hadrian’s Wall in England, sometimes with the verso form of the Gammadion and sometimes with the recto form.

Variant forms of the Gammadion may be found; sometimes occurring as part of a composite motif, and often incorporating the Xhi Rho and the Alpha and Omega. In the Via Latina there is a catacomb painting depicting Moses and the Escape from Egypt with a Gammadion on his tunic. However the use of the Gammadion is not restricted to the Christian catacombs alone; it also appears in the Jewish catacomb at the Villa Torlonia, a district of Rome.

This and other devices were placed in the catacombs to create an atmosphere of conviction that Christ was alive, and that believers would also enter their heavenly rest. A number of inscriptions from the catacombs of San Callisto and Domitilla, in conjunction with the Gammadion, offer an assurance of Episcopal blessing now and eternal life hereafter.

We find a similar usage on a fresco that decorates an ‘arcosolium’ in the cemetery of Generosa. An arcosolium had two parts, the lower of which was the actual sarcophagus on which a marble slab was placed. On this fresco is depicted the ‘Good Shepherd’ with the Gammadion in the verso form on both the right and left of his tunic.

There is also an example of the Gammadion appearing on the clothing of a ‘fossor’ or grave-digger. The picture of Diogenes decorates the principal arcosolium in the cemetery of Domitilla, towards the end of the Fourth century when Damasus was Pope. The forms are both recto and verso. In the following century Pope Leo I gave the Church of S. Susanna an altar frontal with four Gammadions embroidered upon it.

Other examples on gravestones from the Roman Empire have been found in Anatolia and elsewhere in those early centuries. We find both pagan and Christian influences at work in Anatolia. Artist-sculptors of different backgrounds shared a common store of iconographic motifs. Christian art differed mostly from its pagan counterpart in the choice and interpretation of these motifs.

On gravestones the imagery was clearly eschatological [dealing with ‘the last things’] as the very function of sepulchral art demanded that its contents should reflect eternal values. In the Phrygian period it was not unusual for these stelae [Latin for ‘upright stone slabs’] to be cut in the form of a door, clearly representing the passage from this life to the next.

The Perfect Christmas Holiday – 10 Reasons to Choose Schwangau – The Neuschwanstein Castle

If you are looking for a romantic and luxurious Christmas holiday, I will share a well-kept secret with you: Go to Schwangau and see the Neuschwanstein Castle village at the border of Germany and Austria.

Having lived in Dubai during the boom years, and seeing new buildings emerge like mushrooms, I cannot believe how unspoiled the Neuschwanstein Castle area is. Despite more than 1 million tourists visiting Neuschwanstein every year (and 3 more castles in a 3 mile radius), there are no high-risers, no ugly modern buildings (a tribute to a great local government who puts tradition over financial gains). Instead you will feel as if time has stood still: old farms and mountain chalet style houses abound and you still see farmers on their bicycles leading their small herds along the road to the pasture – a marvelous heart-warming sight in a first world country. So here are my top 10 reasons for spending your winter and Christmas Holiday in Schwangau and the Neuschwanstein Castle area.

1. Magic Neuschwanstein Castle & The King Ludwig Story

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most famous and arguably the most beautiful castle in the world. It attracts more than 1 million visitors per year from all over the world and even inspired Walt Disney to come up with the Magic Kingdom/ Cinderella castle. Through Hollywood The Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle, however, might be even better known than the stunning original in the Alpine mountains of Bavaria. Neuschwanstein Castle was built by King Ludwig II in Bavaria. His mysterious death in a nearby lake remains the substance for rumours to this day.

2. Great Skiing and Winter Sport Opportunities (downhill, nordic, ice skating)

Within a 5-30 minutes drive you will have no less than 5 ski resorts and 140km of slopes for downhill skiing / snowboarding / ski touring at your disposal. There are slopes for all abilities and ski schools as well as ski/snowboard rental opportunities in almost every resort. Almost all resorts provide a snow-garantuee providing additional powder snow should the weather not comply. With mountain huts scattered all over the Alpine mountains, you will find plenty of reasons to stop for sunbathing on the terraces sipping a hot drink or enjoying a plate of rustic mountain hut food, like “Kässpatzen” (small local noodles tossed in mountain cheese) or “Kaiserschmarrn” (torn pancake with raisins and almonds topped with apple or cherry sauce). You can even go night-skiing right under Neuschwanstein castle. Schwangau also provides 30 km of nordic skiing tracks, 2km of which are also flood-lit at night. Finally, there are tobogganing slopes from many mountain huts and in most ski resorts and ice skating opportunities on one of the 6 lakes in the immediate neigbhourbood.

3. Romantic German Christmas Markets

German Christmas Markets (“Weihnachstmarkt”) are famous for their cosy and romantic Christmas atmosphere. You wouldn’t want to miss them. Schwangau runs a culinary Christmas Market in November and Füssen, the medieval cobble-stoned town 3 miles away runs a magic Christmas Market most of December. Imagine strolling through a maze of stalls displaying treasures from wood-carved figures, “nutcrackers”, little pottery items to all kinds of Christmas decorations while the air is filled with the sweet smell of mulled wine and freshly baked waffles.

4. Wellness Opportunities to Relax & Treat Yourself

There are plenty of wellness offers in the area such as massages, sauna, light therapy etc. Of special interest are the hot pools at the royal spa thermal bath (“Königliche Kristalltherme”). Connected indoor and outdoor pools allow you to enjoy the warm steaming water while raising your head in the ice-cold air – just imagine the feeling of snow flakes falling all around you melting instantly as they hit the warm water. Across the fields you see the nordic skiers sliding by and against the mountain behind them emerges Neuschwanstein Castle. An experience not to be missed !

5. Breath-taking Horse-sledge Rides through the Winter Wonderland to See Wild Deer Being Fed

You can rent your own horse-drawn sledge or join one of the regularly scheduled excursions to the castles, the mountain huts or the deer feeding area in the woods. Wrapped up in warm blankets you’ll enjoy the clean fresh air and the breath-taking panoramic views of snow covered mountains and white valleys. One of my personal favourites is seeing the wild deer being fed so close to you that you can nearly touch them. To avoid them rushing away, you’ll hardly dare to breathe trying to stay silent as you see the majestic male deer slowly approaching the rest of the herd: a magic encounter with the wild !

6. Dramatic New Year’s Eve Fireworks Wherever You Look

In Germany New Year’s Eve is always celebrated with fireworks wherever you look. Everyone in this country can buy and launch their own and most families do. Why not try it yourself while you are here? Imagine watching the fireworks over one of the castles holding your loved one(s) and making a wish for the new year ahead. It makes for an unforgettable moment. After midnight many families engage in a tradition called “Bleigießen” (lead pouring) to predict everyone’s good fortune for the new year. Little pieces of lead are melted in little pans over the flame of a candle. Once the lead is liquid you pour it into a bowl of cold water where it instantly forms a shape. Everyone then has fun interpreting the meaning of this shape to predict the pourer’s fortune for the coming year. You can buy the full “lead pouring” kit at supermarkets in Germany. Good luck J !

7. Delicious Local Food Specialities

The local food is delicious and you will find plenty of restaurants to choose from. Pork dishes like “Schweinshaxe” (pork knuckle) are frequent but game and fish are also local specialities as is the famous “Apfelstrudel” with vanilla sauce or ice cream. A local speciality is the “Brotzeit” which are big platters with cold cut meat and cheese served with fresh German bread, freshly baked “Brezen” (big soft pretzels) and bread rolls. Finally, there is variety of local beers to try and why not visit the local brewery or the cheesemaker for a guided tour on how those delicacies are created?

8. Luxury & Rustic Hotels and Holiday Accommodation

There are lots of cosy holiday apartments and luxurious hotel rooms to choose from. Lately more and more luxury holiday apartments cater to the growing demand for a truly relaxing and luxurious holiday. Most architecture is kept in the typical “Allgaeu” style, a variation of the mountain chalet using lots of wood on the facade and featuring wooden balconies on several sides of the house. There are also many working farms which offer accommodation combined with an experience of true farm life. For a first world country and the village of the King’s Castles Schwangau has an astonishing amount of dairy farms. So get ready to hear the gentle ring of the cow bells wherever you stay 🙂

9.Welcoming and Friendly People Who Celebrate Their Traditions

From the moment we arrived in this region, people have been extraordinarily friendly and forthcoming. They are helpful, authentic and genuine. Everyone takes great pride in their traditions and heritage and all through the year there are festivals displaying local dance, music, clothing (“Lederhosen” and “Dirndl”) and of course beer. Most people in Schwangau speak enough English to hold a conversation and many do so readily with astonishing fluency. There is also a growing international community in the region and of course tourists from all over the world. This makes Schwangau a true “international village”. When you come drop me an email and I will help you with insider knowledge about this dream location.

10.Great History

With so much natural beauty, high Alpine mountains and crystal clear mountain lakes all in the same small region, it is hardly surprising that the bishops and German Kings built their castles here. Even the Romans and Celts had decided to settle here. In fact, the Via Claudia Augusta, one of the big Roman trading roads leads right through Schwangau joining the province of Germania through Austria to Rome. You can find Roman pillars and visit a whole Roman villa on your magic trip to this exceptional place.

Resizing Your Rings: Most Rings Can Be Resized

People resize rings for many different reasons. For some it is weight loss or weight gain, and for others it is simply to be able to wear the ring on a different finger. Resizing is very common and can be done on most rings, but there are some exceptions. To better understand when sizing can and cannot be done, one must understand the process.

Making a Ring Smaller

Decreasing the band size on a ring is fairly easy when done by a jeweler. For the ring to be made smaller, the jeweler must cut out a small portion of the band. The ring must then be reshaped to the proper circular shape and then it can be soldered back together. The jeweler must make a weld that is virtually invisible, and it must then be polished and smoothed so that no indication of the sizing is visible.

This method can easily be used for rings with a plain shank or band. Rings which are ornate or have a design which carries around the complete band will need to be rebuilt over the sizing. There is sometimes an area on ornate rings which has been left for resizing. This area, however, is usually used for making the ring larger instead of smaller.

Some rings have jewels all around the band or are channel style less than half way around the band, and may require the jeweler to remove the gems before sizing. This depends on the setting and pattern. For rings being made smaller, the diamonds or gems may be moved to balance the setting of the ring.

Making a ring larger

Increasing the size of a ring can be done two ways. When a ring needs to be made just slightly larger, sometimes a jeweler can stretch the ring to the desired size. The ring needs to be cut and an additional piece of the shank or band soldered in if the size increase is a half size or larger. If a jeweler needs to resize an ornately patterned ring, or one with jewels throughout the band, the sizing can pose a problem. The jeweler will discuss options with you which may include changing the setting.

Rings not to re-size

You should not try to re-size a ring which has channel set stones more than half way around the band. If the ring has an elaborate setting or certain types of gems, some of the stones may need to be removed and reset before the ring can be sized. If the ring is an antique or is an older white gold ring, there may be some discoloration around the repair area. It is not always possible for the jeweler to know the cause of the discoloration. Most jewelers will make every effort to minimize lines or discoloration on the ring. Usually it is only noticeable with the use of a magnifying glass. It is imperative that you discuss options with your jeweler.

Celtic rings with the design all the way around the band can be made slightly larger or smaller without distorting the pattern. Increases or decreases of a significant amount are usually not successful without distortion to the pattern.