Twelve Great Options For Siding Your Shed

A few things to keep in mind when selecting your shed siding:

• Think about how your shed will go with your house. Though it may not matter to some if its not a perfect match, you certainly don’t want to violate any neighborhood covenants or create such a contrast your shed is considered an eyesore.

• What’s your climate like? Carefully selecting your siding material could avoid early rot, rust, or warping.

• How comfortable are you with working with various building materials? If your comfortable and are willing take on some of the trickier options, you’ll enjoy the rewards of a sharp looking shed.

Wood is by far the most popular siding choice for building a shed. In part wood is a popular choice for some very good reasons – it’s easy to work with, offers several appealing choices and can be very affordable. Be sure to use only wood that is treated for outdoor use and avoid rot. If you’re going for a shed with pleasing aesthetics, wood offers plenty of choices:

Tongue and groove siding will match most homes beautifully, is relatively easy to install and available in a variety of price points.

Our personal favorite is Board and Batten – offering a beautiful look, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to install. We like this option a lot – it looks great on the outside and the inside of the shed especially if you enjoy a nice rustic looking shed.

Redwood or Cedar Shakes are good choice, though not as economical to install. Cedar tends to be naturally rot resistant and as a result is a good choice for a long lasting shed.

Plywood isn’t pretty, but it’s the cheapest, reasonably durable and frankly, is very easy to install.

Clapboard, also another economical option, easy to install on your shed and very affordable. Not visually appealing but durable and easy to maintain. Clapboard are simple overlapping horizontal rows.

Vinyl, the affordable, long lasting option – if you don’t mind a synthetic look, vinyl siding will last a very long time and be very low maintenance. uPVC weatherboarding siding is an excellent choice if you aren’t looking to use a natural material to side your storage shed. You will never deal with rot or rust – but definitely not the prettiest option.

Corrugated plastic roof panels – yes, we know this isn’t a typical siding option, but this choice is very affordable, allows light inside, and is so long lasting and low maintenance you’ll grow old with it; a bit tricky to install, but manageable.

Metal, if your building your own shed using a kit, you’ll typically be able to choose from aluminum or galvanized steel. Metal is the common offering for kits and not always the best choice – though fire proof and typically economically priced that can rust and may not offer the same longevity as other options. Consider corrugated steel siding as a durable option – available in sheets for custom building.

Fibre-cement siding, it’s surprising how much this option looks like wood once you smother it in a coat of paint. You won’t find fibre-cement siding to be most the affordable option, however if your building a shed intended to look sharp for a very long period of time, this may be a good option. This option is strong on longevity but can be a bit challenging to work with – it’s not the easiest to install.

Masonry sidings are visually very appealing and will give your garden a grand accent. Lot’s of choices with masonry options – however the main drawback is cost, balance this with over a 100 year lifespan and minimal maintenance it may be worth it. More skill required to install, but if you can do it, it’s a unique option that will make your neighbor jealous.

How to Remove Wall Stickers and Wall Decals

This article is about wall stickers and wall decals that are made of vinyl. Many websites talk about how to put these on the wall, but there may be little assistance for how to remove the wall stickers.

The method for removing wall stickers and wall decals will remain the same, but it might be a little more difficult on certain surfaces and depending on the size of the wall sticker. Let’s look at some of the methods for removing.

Removing from walls

Painted walls are at the highest risk from damage when removing wall decals. This means you need to take some care and focus on avoiding this damage. It is possible to remove wall stickers from even the worst walls.

The worst walls are those that had a poor paint job to begin with. One that has multiple layers of paint and these layers have not been prepared between paint coats. Or one that has air bubbles underneath the paint.

1. Work slowly and do not rip, snatch or pull the wall sticker of the wall

2. Using a hair dryer, heat the vinyl directly at the edge you are removing

3. When the vinyl feels warm gently lift edge ( you might need to get a finger nail under)

4. As you roll or pull the vinyl away from the wall, you need to heat the next section of vinyl directly in front of the piece you lifted. Basically you are working gradually heating and lifting.

5. If you can visually see or you can feel a bubble under the paint surface you need to take care lifting over this area. If there is a second person, you can ask them to control the hair dryer while you use your second hand to press down on the bubble as you lift the vinyl off.

6. Continue until all of the vinyl is removed.

7. If there is any gum residue (not common on walls) then wipe the surface with an acetate based cleaner such as nail polish remover.

TOP TIP: Pull or roll the vinyl back against itself like it is being folded back. Do not pull the vinyl out from the wall at 90degrees as this will put more pressure on the paint.

Removing from glass and metal

When removing wall decals from glass or metal, the issue is not normally related to surface damage. It can be much harder to remove from these surfaces because the vinyl sticks so well to them. If you have a paint scraper or metal edged scraper this will be useful, otherwise it will have to be your finger nails.

1. Heat the vinyl directly in front of the area you are removing.

2. Peel/pick at the edge and pull. The vinyl is likely to tear as you do this, then you heat the next bit and remove.

3. Removing from these surfaces is more likely to leave a residue. Deal with that at the end, first remove all the solid vinyl by heating and pulling.

4. To clean the surface you will need an acetate or orange based cleaner that can lift the remaining glue. There are lots of purpose built cleaners for this, or simply use nail polish remover.

TOP TIP: If you hold the vinyl closer to the surface it is less likely to tear. For example, if you are pulling and as you pull, the piece of “free” vinyl is getting longer it is more likely to tear, simply move your hand back down closer to surface to reduce the chance of breakage.

By working patiently and not forcing the vinyl from the surface you will be able to remove the wall stickers and wall decals with no problem.

How to Remove Carpet Without Damaging Your Hardwood Floors

Removing carpet and all the components that go along with it is not difficult, it just takes some time and is a dirty, dusty job.

It is best to use a dust mask as there will be a lot of dust coming up from beneath the carpet no matter how well you have vacuumed. We also advise you to use sturdy gloves as the smooth-edge can give you nasty cuts if you’re not careful. You will also need a sharp retractable knife, a roll of duct tape, a hammer, a pry-bar, a pair of pliers, some knee pads and a shop-vac or broom.

First you will need to cut the carpet into manageable pieces. We usually cut it into 4ft strips, running the length of the room. Be careful not to cut into the hardwood floor. Once the carpet it cut up you can pull it up away from the wall and off the smooth-edge. Then start at one end and roll the strip up. When you have it rolled up, take the roll of duct tape and wrap it around the roll of carpet a couple of times and then put it outside to dispose of. Do the same for the underlay.

We usually leave one section of underlay unrolled till the end so we can put all the smooth-edge in it and roll it up so it won’t tear into your hand. There is nothing worse than getting gashed by the hundreds of tiny nails on a strip of smooth-edge as you carry them out! The fun part is now removing all of the smooth-edge. The easiest way to do this is with a pry bar or a hammer and old chisel or flathead screwdriver.

You will notice larger nails that have been hammered into the floor every few inches, you want to pry at these spots so as to get the smooth-edge out in as big as lengths as possible. Using this leverage makes the task far easier. This is definitely a time to use those gloves! Be careful not to lift up or damage the hardwood flooring as you do this.

Once all the smooth-edge is out, break it up into manageable pieces and roll it all up into the strip of underlay you have left over. Duct tape it extra well so it will not slide out. All that is left now is to remove the hundreds of staples covering the floor as well as any nails around the perimeter left behind from the smooth-edge. This is where those pliers and knee pads will come in handy.

Finally, shop-vac or sweep up the floors, double check for any stray staples or nails and enjoy the trip to the dump, thinking about all the money you have just saved!

What is the Difference Between a Water Bowser and a Water Tank?

When is a water tank not a water tank? When it is in fact a water bowser, what is the difference then? A water bowser is a far rarer term than a water tank. A water tank is commonly used to describe a static water container which may contain either potable or non potable water.

Water tanks may be located either above or underground and are particularly useful for rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting is a term used to describe catching, storing and using rainwater. In an age where we are trying to conserve water, rainwater harvesting is a good ecological alternative, especially for usages such as watering gardens or washing cars.

The term water bower on the other hand is used to describe a mobile water supply. These are particularly useful for deploying potable water in emergency situations, for example when there is a breakdown in mains freshwater supply.

Interestingly the etymology of bowser is that it originated in 1921 as a trade name of SF Bowser Inc., the company of Sylvanus Bowser, the US inventor of the first fuel pump. It is a popular term in Australia and New Zealand where it refers to a ‘fuel oil pump’

Water bowsers are particularly useful in situations where there is no availability of mains water, for example when water needs to be moved around a farm or golf course or even for a festival.

They are commonly manufactured from tough plastic with a low centre of gravity to ensure stability. There are a surprising number of additional design considerations such as aerodynamic design and easy access for cleaning. Bowsers that need to be transported by road must be highway legal and have a suitable chassis. Further considerations include capacity of the bowser and whether or not a pump is required.

So when considering purchasing water storage, you need to question your requirements. Do you need your water supply to be mobile? In which case you need to research water bowsers. Alternatively are you looking to collect rainwater? If so you’ll need a non-potable water tank. On the other hand, if you’re looking to store water for human consumption, you need to look for a potable water tank.

A final question is ‘What capacity of tank or bowser’? Remember to consider not only the amount of water you need, but also the storage space you have available.

Company-Wide Quality Management Systems – How Do They Differ?

Before discussing company-wide Quality Management systems, it is necessary to define the definition of Quality Management (QM). Many organizations and other groups of individual people have attempted to define QM. There are several different operational definitions of quality that are commonly used in many industries. The most common definition of QM is that, it is an integrated approach to achieve and sustain high quality output, focusing on the maintenance and continuous improvement of processes and defect prevention at all levels of the organization, in order to meet or exceed customer expectations. Quality management can be classified into two broad categories, industry-specific QM and non-industry specific QM. For example, some QM programs such as ISO 14000,AS9100, QS 9000, and TL 9000 are industry specific and others, including Lean management, Six Sigma, TQM, and ISO 9000:2000, are company-wide quality management programs. Our objective in this article is to compare the company-wide quality management systems, before comparing the systems, let me illustrate the high level view of the company-wide QM systems.

The Lean QM program mainly focuses on removing non-value-added activities from processes and services in an organization. Japanese engineers, primarily Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo, developed an approach called the Toyota production system, which the Western world calls Lean management. The main components of the Lean quality management system are called the 5S system: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. Similar to the principles of Lean management, Six Sigma has drawn intense interest from the business communities. It was developed by Motorola in the 1980s and was popularized by General Electric’s chief executive officer (CEO) Jack Welch and others in the 1990s. It is a data-driven approach for process improvement. Using statistical tools and mathematical modeling in Six Sigma, one can reduce the defect rate between 3.4 per million and 2 per billion. The framework, called DMAIC (define: define the scope of the problem, measure: collect the data to analyze the problem, analyze: determine the root cause, implement: implement the solution to the problem, and control: monitor and make it defect free), is the heart of Six Sigma.

Similar to Lean management and Six Sigma, a considerable number of companies have applied TQM, which is another quality management system and is the subject of many books and research papers. It is not a new concept, but it is an extension of a company-wide quality concept from Japan. Researchers have identified several definitions for TQM. The commonly known definition of TQM is that, it is an ongoing process whereby top management takes whatever steps necessary to enable everyone in the organization in the course of performing all duties to establish and achieve standards which meet or exceed the needs and expectations of their customers, both external and internal. TQM is a never-ending process to satisfy both the internal and the external customers and the customer focus in all activities in an organization. It uses statistical tools to make defect-free processes. The core ideas presented by Deming, Juran, Crosby, and Ishikawa are the key elements of TQM. ISO 9000 is another powerful QM system similar to Lean management, Six Sigma, and TQM which is designed for all industries worldwide to support continuous improvement. It is a set of international standards and guidelines developed by a technical committee composed of experts from business and other organizations around the world to promote QM in organizations. There are five ISO standards: ISO 9000, ISO 9001, ISO 9002, ISO 9003, and ISO 9004. ISO 9000:2000 is the most comprehensive and it provides a model for quality assurance in design, development, production, installation, and services.

I’m sure that, you can understand the high-level overview of company wide QM systems. Let us compare the systems now.

Lean Management focuses on process flow. It assumes that eliminating waste can improve performance. Commonly noted benefits of Lean are improving productivity; quality and flexibility. But the importance of using statistical analysis was not valued in Lean.

Six Sigma assumes that focusing on process performance can improve operational efficiency which can improve customer satisfaction. The assumption of this approach is that, variation exists in all processes and analyzing this variance can improve performance. There are two kinds of variation in any process. One is normal variation and other is abnormal variation. Six Sigma talk about normal variation but not abnormal variation. This is a common criticism of using Six Sigma.

Unlike Lean and Six Sigma, TQM focuses on all activities. This approach would assume quality is everyone’s responsibility. All employees in an organization should put their best efforts to improve the quality of their products. It focuses on long term results which require lot of co-ordination.

Finally ISO. It is a detailed document oriented approach for quality. It is a kind of inward looking approach. The factors affecting business such as environment analysis, market demands, and business demands are not considered.

Numerous surveys of the above mentioned QM programs have been conducted around the world since 1990. Each QM system begins its quality journey from a different perspective and drives toward the common goal of customer satisfaction. Some organizations integrate one quality system into other to get maximum benefits from the quality management programs. The important lesson for any organization to learn is that, by just picking up a company-wide QM system and starting to implement them will not bring fruitful results. Organizations should use Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act approach to implement any QM system. Considering organizational needs; customizing QM program to meet the needs; conducting some sort of pilot testing to fine tune the approach before full-scale implementation would bring maximum benefits. But do not forget to fine tune the approach further by evaluating the results before standardizing your company specific company wide QM program.

How to Develop a Compact Baseball Swing

All major league hitters have compact swings. They could not get to that level without one. What separates hitters at this level is their degree of bat quickness and bat speed. Bat quickness determines how quick they can get the bat to the ball once they decide to swing. This is one of the ingredients needed for being able to wait on the pitch as long as possible and for making contact. Bat speed determines the amount of power that a hitter will produce if solid contact is made when the ball is hit. Once again though, all major league hitters have compact baseball swings. This is vital in order to hit the speeds that major league players face.

You might ask, “If they all have compact swings, why do some strike out so much?” There are three reasons for that and one was mentioned, bat quickness. A compact swing does not guarantee a quick bat. Two, some players put more tilt in their upper body with their swing. When players collapse their back side creating un-level hips, they create more up-swing, leading to greater lift on the ball, but more misses too. Three, some players simply have better hand-eye coordination.

Developing a compact swing should be the goal of young baseball hitters too. This will be necessary if they wish to consistently hit as they move up the baseball ladder.

First, a definition of a compact swing is necessary. Compactness implies a short, tight area and this would define a good baseball swing. A compact baseball swing is one in which the bat barrel goes from hitting position (above hitter’s rear shoulder) directly to the ball as the hands descend into a palm-up, palm-down position approaching the strike zone. The bat barrel stays relatively close to the hitter’s head on the way to the ball, without taking a detour to the contact area. Why is this so necessary? The more compact the swings, the longer hitters can wait on the ball which is a huge advantage when making decisions on different speed pitches.

Following are the drills that will lead to a compact baseball swing, giving ballplayers the best chance of having baseball hitting success:

1. Place a pad under the hitters lead arm and take some swings without the pad falling out till the follow through. Hitters will develop strong quick hands and forearms with this drill and not a long arm swing.

2. Have hitters stand belly button away from a net and take swings with the edge of bat just grazing the net with a full, fast turn. This will force hitters to keep the hands close to body to avoid casting the bat.

3. Have hitter stand with net close behind them (toward catcher) and take swings missing net on way toward ball. This drill is best done with no stride and will not allow hitters to drop the bat barrel.

4. Set a batting tee hip high and even height with hitter’s rear hip. Hitters take swings while missing the tee and hitting balls at any level, even knee high – best done with dropped ball drill or soft toss flipped balls.

5. Dropped ball drill – coach holds ball up in air and drops ball into the hitter’s strike zone after the hitter takes their stride. A compact swing is necessary to make solid, consistent contact.

6. Alternate fast and slow pitches until hitters learn to have the same quick swing on all pitches – when players make good contact on both speeds while hitting balls in the direction of where the pitch is located is the goal.

Finally, hitters can perform a few of these drills in combination with the other drills to challenge them further. For example, combining the glove under lead arm (# 1) and the dropped ball drill (#5) with the tee hip high(#4) at the same time can be done.

Leyland Cypress Sunlight Requirements

Thuja Green Giant and Leyland Cypress trees will tolerate partial shade. We want to discuss the overhead Canopy, shade on one side, the impact of how being in the South vs North can effect a shady planting site. We also will cover the symptoms of too much shade, pruning the canopy shade trees and also recommend a good substitute for shady location privacy screens.

A straight overhead canopy of shade is not the best situation for Thuja Green Giant or Leyland Cypress trees. The least desirable situation is an overhead evergreen or pine canopy, because the trees under an evergreen canopy don’t even get sunlight during winter. If that is your application, don’t plant there! Sometimes it cannot be avoided. For example, in Long Island and in the Hamptons area, some neighborhood have rules about what can be cut and are very strict about cutting native trees to replace with anything not native to the area. Even so, I am not recommending planting Leyland Cypress or Thuja Green Giant trees under a canopy. I have planted these varieties under a canopy that was very high and still the shade effected the trees.

Northern locations tolerate shade better than southern locations if from decidious trees! If the shade trees are deciduous tress, at least after those canopy trees shed their leaves, the Thuja Green Giant trees will get full sun all winter. This is more beneficial from NY and northward than in southern states, because they shed about five weeks earlier in fall than southern trees and don’t green up until one month later than southern deciduous trees. On Long Island, Thuja Green Giant or Leyland Cypress trees planted under a partial canopy of scrub oaks may get full sun for seven months of winter before leaves re-appear, whereas southern states with a similar situation may only provide five months of full sun. Shade on one side of your row is normally fine, because your Leyland Cypress trees will still get the powerful straight overhead sunlight. Thuja Green Giant or Leyland Cypress trees can grow three feet per year if fertilized properly, so remember if one side of your row has shade from slower growing species, The Thuja Green Giants or Leyland Cypress will outgrow the slower trees shading trees in most cases and therefore eliminate the problem.

There are two major symptoms of too much shade;

The first is the trees thin out. At first planting if Ball and Burlap field grown trees, they will be thick at first. Over the years, shady applications will take their toll and they will thin out somewhat. The second symptom of too much shade is slow growth rate.

Providing light by pruning the offending shade trees is a great idea! If you cut limbs off an evergreen tree that is shading your Leyland Leyland Cypress row, those limbs will not grow back so it should be a one-time effort. If your arborists trim deciduous trees like Oaks, Maple trees, it is more likely to require trimming again at a later date. If the limbs on deciduous trees are cut all the way back to the trunk, on the side that shades your Leyland Cypress trees you may solve it completely. The advice here is do the tree surgery overhead before you plant the privacy hedge beneath. The arborist will probably be able to let the limbs to fall if it is done before installing the Thuja Green Giant row, but if you wait till after planting, the arborist will likely have to rope the branches down to avoid damage on your privacy screen below.

A good substite varieties are Nellie Stevens Hollies for shady applications in Zone 6 and Canadian Hemlock if located in zone 5.. Also remember, when you plant in a mature woodland, the trees nearby not only steal sunlight but will have established root systems that will compete with your new plants for moisture.

Taking Good Care of Your Deck Box – Making it Look Good All Year Round

Congratulations on purchasing the melding of storage and beauty by adding a deck box to your patio. And as you begin to use it, you will find that the deck box will be the perfect place to store everything your patio needs, while keeping them conveniently accessible to all your guests. While your cushions and other accessories may find themselves protected and taken care of in the safety and comfort of your box, the exterior of your box may find itself wearing down over time. While it may shine of natural beauty now, you will slowly watch the charm and shine fade away. A stationary target opens itself up to collect dirt, debris, and other depressing items as time goes by. Making the perfect addition to your patio look more like the perfect dirt pile.

The attraction of dirt and debris is a natural occurrence that happens to every deck box over time. Because it stays in one place throughout the year (and even year round in some cases), everything Mother Nature throws up, out, and around will eventually end up against the walls of your beautiful deck box. By knowing how you can protect and clean this piece of furniture now, you will be ensuring the protection of your investment for years to come, without all the hassle of constantly refinishing.

If you have a plastic deck box, cleaning from time to time will be a much easier process – a natural attraction for those who live in places where you get all four seasons visiting. Because plastic is a solid, non-porous material, keeping it clean is a very easy process. Taking a mild cleaner (such as dish soap) and warm water to your plastic box will keep it clean throughout the year – apply when needed, and allow that natural shine to come back to your deck box. For the bigger projects, taking a harder cleaner will help get out the longer lasting stains. Always check what is in the cleaner before applying it to your plastic box; the wrong cleaner could eat away at the plastic, and eventually breaking down your box.

If you have a wooden deck box, taking care of your investment may take several more steps before it gets easier. The materials that it is made out of will ultimately determine the best way to approach the sealing and cleaning of your outdoor furniture. While hard woods like cedar can take oil treatments to keep it protected, other woods (like pine or cypress) can be stained to give it an extra layer of protection, or even painted to your pleasure. Adding these protective barriers give your box a solid layer of protection against the elements, protecting from everything the world wants to throw at it and more. Plus, once your box has this key protective layer set up, cleaning can be as simple as taking a sponge and warm water to your box.

But if your wooden deck box becomes too overloaded with dirt and debris, you can always start over by applying a gentle sanding across the entire box. Sanding down the outer layer of the wood gives you the chance to start new once again, removing the grimy layer of dirt and debris that will eventually be sitting on your box. Plus, sanding down the wood allows you to change directions that you want to go with your box. If you want to change the stain, or even paint a new motif along the box, just sand away, and start your masterpiece all over again.

Knowing how to keep your deck box clean throughout the seasons will help you have the best results, and offer the greatest protection to your investment. By taking the steps now to keep your box clean, you will guarantee years of joy and protection for all your patio accessories.

Marketing Baseball Tournaments the Right Way: A 5 Step Guide

By the year, youth baseball tournaments are becoming more and more popular. For those of us who run tournaments as a way of life, this is somewhat bitter sweet. On one hand, more tournaments means that more teams are participating in tournaments. And, if more teams are participating in tournaments…well you get the picture. On the other hand though, the fact that youth baseball tournaments have become extremely popular in recent years means that all tournament directors, even those who run established tournaments, need to fight harder to sign up teams. Part of this battle for teams consists of hosting a well run tournament year after year. But, it’s hard to host a well run tournament if all the teams in the area are playing in Joe Schmoe’s tournament down the road. I have compiled this marketing guide to assist both newcomers and old dogs in their own battle for teams and help even novice tournament directors build a successful and established tournament.

Step 1: Start Free and Easy

One of the biggest resources available to tournament directors when marketing a tournament is the internet. Yeah, I know this comes as no surprise to you – it’s 2012 not 1999. But, just because we all know what Google is doesn’t mean that every tournament director out there successfully takes advantage of the free (or extremely cheap) online tournament marketing services. In fact, this aspect of tournament marketing seems to be often overlooked.

The first online resource you should look into is the offerings available from the sanctioning body which you are running your tournament through. Almost all youth baseball sanctioning organizations will assist your marketing in some fashion. After all, they benefit from your tournament’s success. USSSA, which is quickly becoming the leading youth baseball organization in the country, will post your tournament on their website and link the post to either your own website or the registration form for no cost at all. From my experience running tournaments I know that most participants find their tournaments on the sanctioning organization’s website. It’s a quick and easy way for coaches to find tournaments. And, it’s an extremely effective and free way to market your tournament to almost every coach in the state.

Another valuable marketing service for tournament directors is Active.com. For one reason or another, Active.com is often underutilized by many tournament directors. In this case, their loss is your gain. Active.com is a website that allows users to post sporting events they are hosting. It’s simple and free to create an account and it only takes a couple of minutes to post a tournament. Moreover, Active.com has teamed up with ETeamz.com, an online platform which most youth baseball teams use to create their own websites. This partnership has led to a large number of coaches using Active.com to search for baseball tournaments. And, since Active.com is a nationwide website, its services allow you to promote your tournament to teams in other states. In my experience, Active.com has been an essential tool in pulling in teams from neighboring states and serves as a valuable resource that can turn your would-be local tournament into a regional one.

Yet another free and easy online resource that is often ignored by tournament directors is email marketing companies. Every tournament director in the country sends out emails to coaches “promoting” their tournament. Every coach in the nation gets hundreds of tournament emails a year. How do your emails stand out from others? A catchy subject line and well written sales text can only get you so far. Online email marketing services, such as MailChimp, allow you to use HTML graphics, add pictures, link to your website, and track response from your email. Most of these services are free with a small amount of email contacts (usually under 1,000) and they definitely help your email stick out from the pack.

Step 2: Hit Early, Hit Often

This marketing step may seem a little obvious but, nonetheless, it is essential in building a strong tournament. The earlier you post your tournament online, the more likely teams are to sign up. The earlier you email blast your coach contacts, the more likely you are to pull in registrations. It’s all pretty simple but rarely do I see this marketing strategy fully taken advantage of.

Your tournament’s competition may have a bigger budget for promotion. They may have a more reputable name. And, they may have more connections with more coaches. But, no matter what the case may be, you can always get the upper hand when it comes to the timeliness of your marketing. Your tournament may be one of 20 state-wide tournaments on the same weekend. But, if you post and promote early, coaches will only see your tournament not the 19 others that will eventually be posted.

I suggest putting together a promotion strategy early and following it to the T until your tournament is full. My strategy? Post your tournament online a year before the start date and send out an initial email to coaches once posted. Six months prior to your tournament, send out another email to coaches and follow up with a personal phone call a week later. Then repeat this strategy every month up to your tournament. You’d be surprised at your marketing success if you diligently follow a promotion strategy.

Step 3: Build Relationships

Too many tournament directors are wary about reaching out to coaches for help in marketing their tournament. They see the director-coach relationship as nothing more than a business relationship and keep interactions short and sweet. This is a fatal mistake. You must understand that, as tournament director, you are providing a wanted and appreciated service to coaches. And, coaches come in contact with more teams on a weekly basis than you could ever reach out to.

By building relationships with youth coaches, you are gaining a marketing partner. Don’t be hesitant to become friendly with coaches. Call the coaches that sign up early for your tournament and thank them. Exchange friendly emails with them on a regular basis. And, once you establish a decent relationship simply ask if they will mention your tournament to other teams in the area. It’s amazing how willing coaches are to help promote your tournament to other teams if you build a relationship with them. I know of one tournament director that makes a habit of sending out Christmas cards from his organization to coaches who participate in his tournaments. The simple friendly gesture pays back tenfold when he fills up tournaments year after year.

Step 4: Go Old School

Online marketing is quick, easy, and cheap. And, often online marketing is extremely effective. But, never underestimate good old snail mail. Every tournament director in the nation promotes their tournaments by way of email. And, don’t get me wrong, there are many good reasons to do this. But, do you make a habit of opening and reading every mass email you get? Or do you simply hit the delete button? Even the most successful tournament marketing emails I send out don’t receive much higher than a 15% open rate. The average email in this industry is opened by approximately 6% of every contact it is sent to. If you’re emailing 100 coaches, you’d be lucky if your email was read by 15 of them.

Snail mail, on the other hand, tends to be a lot more effective. After all, I personally open every letter I receive. It may seem outdated but, I suggest sending a personalized letter to every coach in your contact database and invite them to participate in your upcoming tournament. Your letter is sure to be read and appreciated. Heck, if I was a coach I would definitely sign up for a tournament that I was invited personally invited to.

Step 5: Pound the Pavement

When it comes to marketing your youth baseball tournament, other tournaments can become one of your biggest assets. Every spring and summer weekend in every city in the county there is sure to be at least one tournament being held. Youth baseball tournaments are marked by high attendance and tons of down time for teams. Take advantage of these other tournaments when marketing your own. Make a habit of spending an hour or two at other local tournaments every weekend. Hand out fliers, mingle with coaches, and promote your own tournament. First of all, by doing this you put a face and a name to your tournament. Secondly, you build relationships (see Step 3). You’ll quickly find that you are going above and beyond almost all other tournament directors; an action that will surely pay off. When marketing any product, what can be better than a large amount of your target audience hanging out in one place? Use this opportunity to your advantage.

Failure is not our only punishment for laziness; there is also the success of others. -Jules Renard

The tools for success in building an established youth baseball tournament are in your hands. You can use this guide in any way you’d like. But, if you take these 5 simple steps and run with them, your effort is sure to be rewarded.

Bridging Finance – Advantages and Disadvantages

The most important advantage of using Bridging Finance is that you can complete the purchase of a new property before the sale of your existing property has completed. As organising the sale of your existing property and co-ordinating the purchase of a new property can be extremely difficult and create stress and pressure. If there is enough equity in your existing property you may be able to incorporate the finance needed for all of the fees involved. A Bridging Finance Loan is a temporary home loan which enables a purchaser to buy the property of their choice without being held up by the lengthy sales process. This can be a huge plus when you find the property for you and you do not want to risk losing it through a lengthy chain in your sale. You can also use Bridging Finance to avoid moving into rented accommodation and move straight into your new home.

Bridging Finance also has the advantage of having a quick process and has many different uses. It can be used for funding auction finance, first and second mortgages, home renovation and refurbishment, new-build development and construction as well as debt consolidation. Many Bridging Finance providers offer a option to defer fees to be charged until the completion of your sale and then added to your new mortgage, this can be useful in keeping the costs down.

There are several disadvantages when using Bridging Finance that you should be aware of before choosing this route. You may be required to have sufficient equity in your current property to support the purchase of both properties. As well as this you should also note that until your existing property is sold your interest payments will keep adding up, this can lead to difficulties if you do not sell your property quickly. Taking out a Bridging Finance home loan may force you to sell your property at a price lower than you wish to due affordability. You will be charged interest on the entire amount of the new loan. A Bridging Loan is only designed for short term use to bridge the gap between your purchase and sale usually only between 6 to 12 months, obviously the shorter the term of the loan the less cost there will be to you.

When using Bridging Finance you will pay a higher rate of interest this is because Bridging Finance is seen as riskier by the lender. It can be difficult to find a bridging loan this is because the risks are high so not many lenders are involved in the bridging market. There usually is a large amount of paper work and money involved as the finance covers two properties. As the loan is short term lenders do not make the same kind of money as with a traditional mortgage. This makes providing Bridging Finance less attractive for lenders and subsequently results in there not being many available lenders in the market. So when you need a bridging loan quickly this can be awkward, if possible strike up a relationship with an institution that provides bridging finance before the time arises. As a bridging loan can be costly you should be absolutely certain that the property is worth it. If you really cannot do without the property then bridging finance could possibly be the best solution.

Power Tools History

Since the ancient Egyptians began using a hand-powered lathe centuries ago, man has striven to make arduous building and assembling tasks easier, quicker, and more efficient through power tools. We’ve come a long way from those sand-covered turning machines, but the end goal is no different from our desert-dwelling ancestors. Today, nearly every home in every industrialized country houses and uses power tools.

Even though the concept of the power tool has been around for a long time, it wasn’t until the late 1800’s when the first modern-era power tools became possible. The advent of electric motors made highly-efficient stationary and portable power tool technology a reality, and high-speed assembly lines made power tools both affordable and profitable.

The Bosch company was at the forefront of power tool technology in those early years. Founded in 1886 Germany by Robert Bosch, the company initially focused on automobile components with integrated electric parts, and was responsible for such developments as the first low-voltage magneto ignition. Before long, companies in other industrialized nations began developing the first electric power tools, and Bosch introduced its first power drill in 1932. Today, Bosch still engineers and manufactures automotive parts, and its power tool division has grown to include nearly every household and assembly tool on the market – including power drills, belt sanders, circular saws, and more. As part of the company’s growth, it has acquired other successful power tool manufacturers that started during the same early 20th century era.

In 1923, American inventor Raymond DeWalt introduced the world’s first radial arm saw, a sliding circular saw that could make long cuts with accuracy. One year later, he founded the DeWalt power tool company in Baltimore, Maryland; another company that has grown substantially over the last 85 years. At the forefront of portable power tool technology, DeWalt’s power tools are revered by carpenters and homeowners alike for their long-life, durable cordless battery-styled power drill, circular saws, and other power tools; and the company currently manufactures over 200 types of power tools worldwide.

Founded in 1915 in Japan, the Makita Corporation has also staked its reputation on cordless, battery-powered power tools – most notably, the hand-held drill, which Makita introduced in 1978. Nine years later, the company had a full arsenal of cordless, professional-grade power tools for contractors. Today, Makita manufactures over 350 different power tools, both portable and stationary, and the pronounced teal color emblazoned on all of their tools is often mimicked by others trying to capitalize on Makita’s reliable name.

The early 20th century proved to be a hotbed of power tool advancements, and many companies worked hard to develop profit-turning innovations that moved their products off store shelves and into people’s homes. While the term power tool traditionally conjures thoughts of electric drills and sanders, machines like the pipe threader and utility pump are also considered power tools. This is the area the Ridgid company focused on when it was founded in Elyria, Ohio, in 1923. Still a leader in the plumbing tool industry, Ridgid now has a power tool division that focuses exclusively on contemporary power tools and has released its own saws, drills, and even air tools.

A.F. Siebert founded the Milwaukee Electric Tool Company one year later in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Known for manufacturing heavy-duty power tools, Milwaukee is best know for the ‘Sawzall,’ one of the most widely-used reciprocating saws in the world. Like their power tool manufacturing competition, Milwaukee currently produces portable and stationary power tools like circular saws, drills, band saws, grinders and sanders – over 500 different models in all. Unlike their competition, many of Milwaukee’s power tools are released in both 120 and 230 volt models, drawing the line between household and commercial/industrial power.

Best known for the Skilsaw they invented in 1924, the Skil power tool company evolved out of the Michel Electric Handsaw Company when they entered the power tool market. Fueled by the ingenious circular saw invention, the company elevated itself to the upper echelon of the small power tool industry with jig saws, grinders, sanders, and a whole slew of handheld, cordless power tools. In 1996, the Bosch company purchased Skil but still keeps its power tools on shelves worldwide as one of the most popular power tool lines on Earth.

The Delta company has changed hands several times since it was founded by Herbert Tautz in 1919 in his Milwaukee, Wisconsin garage. Tautz focused on small tools but when Delta was purchased by Rockwell in 1945, the company made a profitable shift to the stationary tools – like planers and bench sanders – it’s renowned for today. Delta isn’t the only name this line has carried, however; Rockwell enveloped the company on takeover before selling it to Pentair, which re-introduced the Delta name before selling out to Black & Decker in 2004.

A veritable power tool power house, the Craftsman brand was coined by the Sears company in 1927. At first, the company primarily manufactured common hand tools like hammers and screwdrivers; but soon jumped on the power tool bandwagon and is now one of the top-selling producers of all power tools, both stationary and portable.

S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker founded the Black & Decker small machine shop in 1910 in Baltimore, Maryland; and the duo found their niche in the power tool industry by inventing the electric drill seven years later. The pistol-grip and trigger style drill became popular and is now a staple on construction sites and in households alike. Realizing the profit potential of power tools, Black & Decker has grown and acquired several other popular power tool brands, including DeWalt, Porter Cable, Delta, and Kwikset.

As industrialized nations become increasingly technology-driven, power tool production stands to increase as lightweight, powerful, and longer-lasting batteries try to match the power and reliability of corded power. Versatile contemporary models and thousands of accessories continue to make everything from woodworking to metal machining easier, more efficient, and more profitable for manufacturers, contractors, and homeowners alike. As power tools have become affordable for nearly everyone, only the hammer has resisted an electric redesign destined to change the way we work forever.

Thank You For Taking The Time To Read This Article.

Making a Go Kart From a Riding Lawn Mower

You may have a riding lawnmower sitting in the back yard that became too much work, as the deck rotted out, the mower stopped working. All the riding lawnmower is good for now is towing wagons, and it is not very good at that. One thing that is dependable on the riding lawnmower is the engine, the tires and some other essential goodies for a fantastic go kart.

Unfortunately, the riding lawnmower requires some education to drive, a clutch push in here and an adjustment there are required to get the unit riding. So using the riding lawn mower as a make shift go kart is not realistic or safe.

You had some other intentions for this rusting hulk that you have not yet discovered. You have not discovered how it is possible to transform the parts of the riding lawnmower into a go kart that is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.

The transformation requires the following:

  1. Go Kart Plan
  2. Vertical Engine Drive
  3. Tubing for the frame work
  4. Wood, fabric, and foam for the seat
  5. Rear Axle and drive sprocket
  6. Bearings for the rear axel
  7. Clutch
  8. Chain
  9. Brake system

Tools required:

  • Welder
  • Hack Saw of saws-all with metal cutting blades
  • Standard wrench kit (Includes allens, hammer, sockets, locking pliers and screw drivers)
  • Drill and or drill press

The rest of the items from the riding lawnmower can be used for the go kart. The front tires, the rear tires, the steering mechanism, steering wheel, the foot pedals and obviously the engine.

Disassembly Of The Riding Mower

To start the riding lawnmower should be disassembled to find out which parts are going to work best.

What you will discover is that the rear wheels will require some modification, because the hubs to the wheels are typically built into the rear wheel and require a keyed shaft to cause them to rotate. Not a problem, the wheels can be adapted to fit onto a standard go kart axel quite simply by welding a 1 inch coupler to the wheel hub. The coupler is then kept in place with a cross bolt, this prevents the wheel from sliding off of the axel shaft.

The front wheels can either be taken off of the riding lawn mower, or the whole front axle system can be cut in two and then widened to the desired width of the go kart. Typically the width of the frame is 20 inches, and the wheels are about 40 inches apart.

A good go kart plan will have a simple steering system, so it might be easier in the end to scrap out the steering system and use the parts that the plan shows. Typically the plan will allow you to fabricate the steering system from tubes and plate. A good knowledge of a drill press and welder is handy here. Keep the steering shaft and the steering wheel for placement in the go kart later.

Go Kart Frame And Plan

The frame should be constructed using the go kart plan as a guide. A typical flat-style go kart will require a flat garage floor for proper frame alignment. The go kart plans that I prefer require the side profile systems to be constructed first then mated together with cross pieces. The side pieces are similar to trusses on a bridge and give a measure of safety acting as constraint to prevent occupants from spilling out. Additionally the truss system provides almost three times as much strength as a flat style go kart. And finally the truss system does give the go kart an aesthetic look, or a cool look to it.

The frame is constructed of 1x1x.08 square tubes that are cut to the proper dimensions and then placed on a board style fixture for alignment prior to welding. The tubes are held in place with 2×4’s that are screwed down to the board. The 2×4’s are placed such that the tubes cannot be moved and are held in place much like a picture frame would be constructed. Once the pieces are fitting properly in place, the tubes can be tacked in place and then the whole side unit can be removed from the fixture.

Once the side units have been constructed, the center spacer tubes can be fitted in between the side units and then they too can be tacked in place. Once the whole frame has been tacked up then the whole frame can be welded solid.

Plates and Engine Mounts

The next step is to fit the plates that hold the pedals, the steering mechanism, the seat mounts, and the engine plate. If a vertical engine is being used, the motor mount for the engine on the riding lawnmower can be cut out using a saws-all. (This will take about 20 patient minutes of cutting. Be sure to wear ear plugs and have extra blades on hand. Lubing up the blade helps keep the blade from dulling too quick.)

The vertical engine can then be fit into the frame work around a vertical engine drive system. Some users will try to use a transmission off of a riding lawnmower, however this actually can be quite complicated, heavy and not wide enough for the go kart you are making. Others purchase a second-hand right-angle transmission. The best solution is to use the vertical engine and mount it into the frame work without adding a large amount of weight, then adapt the engine to the vertical engine drive.

Rear Axle

The next phase is to mount the rear axle per the go kart plan. The axle is held in place with bearing plates that stick vertically up off of the frame rails. The bearing mounts in the cut out of the bearing plate. Positioning of this plate dictates where the wheels will be located both length wise and vertically in the go kart frame.

Placement of the rear axle is critical for proper weight distribution which affects steering dramatically. This is known as 50/50 weight distribution. A good go kart plan will take the weight distribution and placement of the rear and front axels into account. Once the rear axle has been placed, slide the rear sprocket, and the rear brake disc into place and then mount the rear tires to the rear axle and check ground clearance.

Ground clearance is typically about the thickness of a 2×4 for good handling.

The output shaft for the vertical engine drive typically will have a clutch mounted to it. The chain then can be mounted to the clutch and rear drive sprocket. This is where I like to have a chain tensioner because it does not require that the rear axle be shifted back or the engine system moved forward. A simple roller skate mounted to hinge system (spring loaded of course) will provide the adequate tension of the chain. Make sure you put the tensioner on the slack side of the chain (i.e. the bottom side of the clutch system.)

Steering System

The next phase is to mount the front steering system. The front steering system typically is a 1x1x.125 wall cross tube with steering knuckles mounted on either end. I like to mount the steering tube with plates so it can be removed. It also allows the steering system to be moved forward or backward. The steering shaft is mounted to the cross tube by a bushing plate that is welded to the cross tube. The steering shaft is supported by an upright tube that comes from the frame itself. This keeps the steering wheel from moving sides to side, up and down and inward and outward.

The steering wheel then can be mounted to the steering shaft. The steering linkage is attached to the steering shaft-plate and then the linkage is routed to each front wheel knuckle. Make sure the steering system is tight and not loose when complete.

The Seat

The next phase is the seat. Typically a wood seat is constructed. Then a cushion is inserted into the wood frame work. Then the whole system is covered with either a vinyl material or a heavy fabric. The covering is held in place with an industrial type stapler gun on the back side of each seat. The seats consist of a seat and a back that is angled up at about 15 degrees. The plates that were mounted to the frame work have holes in them where wood screws can then be screwed into the seat backs to hold the seats in place.

Mounting The Pedals

The next phase is putting the pedals in place. The key to pedals is that they are pulled back into position with spring force. For the throttle I like to have a spring back by the engine pulling hard, so that when the throttle is released it slams shut. Same for the brake, I like to have a large return spring pulling back on the linkage.

Mounting the Brakes

The brakes can now be put into the go kart frame. The important issue with go kart brakes is that they float. If they do not, they will bind. The best thing to do is let the disc float and lock down the brake mechanism to the frame work.

Mounting The Bottom Plate

The final phase is putting the bottom sheet on to the go kart frame. This is essential to prevent foot injury. It provides a bottom shield which is essential to go kart design. The sheet can be made from sheet metal used on duct work. The easiest way to mount the sheet is to use a self-drilling and tapping screw and power it in with a drill. Space them out about 3 inches apart.

Final Checks

Make sure all the pieces are tight and not wobbling. Also make sure the drive system is actually working. And obviously double check that the brakes are actually working. It is a good idea to have a stop switch, which basically a wire that goes to the point wire (typically black). When the switch is activated it shorts the wire to the frame stopping the engine.

The amount of time required to make such a go kart is about 7 weekends if not longer. Be prepared for the long haul on this project, but it is well worth it when complete.

Wholesale Business: How to Start a Beverage Distribution Business

Combine Wholesale Distribution with the Beverage Industry and you get one of the most profitable and fun businesses in the world.

This article will give you an introduction into this great business, how you can start and how much money you can make on each case of beverage sold. Is beverage distribution for you? Find out right now.

Beverage distribution is one of the easiest and most profitable businesses I’ve seen.

I like it because you don’t need a lot of customers to make a lot of money. You can easily make an extra $5,000 with a few customers.

You will see why beverage is one of the best businesses in the world. I started in beverage while I had my tool and novelty distribution business. I was looking for new products, products that I did not need to exchange so often and that I could sell over and over again to the same customers. This last part was key.

You see, when I was selling tools I figured that I could sell up to 1,000 tools per day or more but every customer was unique. In other words, if you buy a hammer at a store on Monday chances are you will not go on Tuesday and buy another Hammer. Even if it only costs $1.98!

Don’t get me wrong, the “tool distribution business” is a wonderful business and I still love it. I was just looking for another type of product to add to my current items.

I figured out that in order to sell the same product over and over again it would have to be a food product. So I started going to trade shows and looking at chocolate, potato chips, candy, and other products. I even looked at name brands like Hershey’s. The problem was that I could not buy directly from the manufacturers and the profit margins were super low, about 12%. I was used to up to 70% profit margins.

Finally I ran into a beverage manufacturer of an Energy Drink. They were just starting with their product and it was easier to become a distributor.

Now let me tell you a bit about Energy Drinks. Energy Drinks are the new Super Profitable products. Everybody makes money, the manufacturer, the distributor and the retailer. You see, Energy Drinks sell for $1.99 to $2.40 at the stores for 8 to 16 ounces. This is incredible if you consider that you can buy a soda that’s the same size for $0.50 to $0.75. Even a 20 ounce soda runs you about $1.25.

Distributors love the product because they make about $8 per every case they sell compared with about $2 to $4 for their other products.

Let’s get back to the Beverage Business. The great part of this business is that if you have only one customer going into the store buying your product you sell at least 1 case of that product per month.

You see; if you sell a soda someone can buy a soda every day, compared to a hammer, where people don’t buy a hammer every day. So you need fewer customers because you sell more per day.

For example: Let’s say you have only 100 stores that you service yourself and sell 3 different beverages. You sell one Energy Drink and 2 Sodas. You make $8 from every case of the Energy Drink and $3 from every case of soda.

If you sell only 1 case of the Energy Drink per week per store and 3 cases of each soda you’ll make about $600 profit from the sodas per week and another $800 profit per week from the Energy Drink. That’s $5,600 profit per month with only 100 stores and only 3 different products. It’s very easy to ramp up to 5 or even 8 products. This is why I love the beverage business.

Now let me tell you a bit more about Energy Drinks. They are the category that is growing the fastest of any other drink. It grows up to 70% per year in the US compared with 2% growth for soda. Companies are still growing from 100% to 300% per year every single year. The best part is that there is no end in sight.

Not only that, the Energy Drink Business is incredibly fun. You get advertising and promotion from companies, you get to do club and store promotions, get t-shirts, hats, gifts, extra commissions and free product from the Energy Drink companies. You also get free racks, coolers, sometimes even refrigerators.

Copyright 2006 Cube 17, Inc.

Ohio Weather – Understanding The Seasons

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you have to do is. . .

Live here!

“How’s the weather?” It’s not just a mundane conversation starter. The weather in Cleveland Ohio is a serious question to many. Many people relocate or have the possibility of relocating to Cleveland and this is a genuinely needed answer. I get asked about the weather frequently by people living in other parts of the country. Some have never seen snow or have heard horrifying tales of our winters. Some don’t consider our summers hot enough for water sports or vacationing. We have the beach and ski slopes, concrete cities and patios for dining, and mature woods and parks for picnics. Cleveland is a mosaic of urban, suburban and rural pleasures. For most people around the country, weather isn’t perceived to be an issue and most are aware of their climate and normal weather activity year round. Some even expect the next day to be similar to the previous. Here in Cleveland, the weather typically fluctuates day to day, week to week and month to month. We have four seasons which complement each other constantly. As a rule, one will glide and transition smoothly into the next. There are surprises along the way and it’s never boring. I enjoy the change and look forward to the beauty in each season. There’s always something new and each day is a gift. We don’t take the seasons for granted and around every corner there is something new. Let me explain. . .

Spring- Just breaking from the winter months, spring is mild and new life begins. Being able to witness this is priceless. After the cold goes away, it’s as though we’re in a totally different place. Tulips and trees begin to blossom, Life is apparent and defined in word wildlife which show signs of happiness. The smells and sights are pleasing to the senses. It’s literally a breath of fresh air. Not too hot and not too cold, appreciated to the fullest.

Summer- The summers in Northeast Ohio are perfect. We experience three plus months of graduated warmth and the days are hot enough to enjoy activities on our fresh water ocean, Lake Erie. Boating, sailing, jet skiing, rowing, parasailing, and swimming are just some of what we offer. We have many beautiful beaches public and private. Edgewater Park offers walking and bike trails and gorgeous sunsets with a full downtown view. Parks are in full bloom and there are plenty of outdoor activities. There are Islands to party and play, amusement parks, carnivals, street art festivals, outdoor concerts on the water, and many sports to enjoy. The temperatures are anywhere from the low 70’s into the high 90’s. Humidity isn’t typically an issue and we don’t generally have the massive daily thunderstorms like in the southern states.

Fall- If you’re having a bad day or life/work has become monotonous for whatever reason, all you have to do is go outside. As simple as it seems, it’s the ultimate cure. There are no medications on the market available for purchase that compares to fall in Ohio. A drive or walk in the park can instantly lower blood pressure and brighten any bad mood. Unless your senses are impaired, you can’t avoid or possibly turn an eye to the beauty that is at ground level reaching toward the clouds. The colors are amazing and the crisp clean air is breathtaking. Cool but not cold, leaves covering both trees and earth. Winds just barely present enough to mix the elements into aromas and sounds to sooth. Rustling leaves and wildlife at work preparing, it’s absolutely the finest of times on earth to be outside. Ohio offers many Amish farms and apple orchards to spend a Saturday. Pumpkin patches and a true Halloween and Thanksgiving environment. Holidays in Ohio are straight out of Hollywood and enviable.

Winter- It doesn’t matter which sport or activity you enjoy, you can have it in the Cleveland Ohio area. Within thirty minutes from downtown in the winter months you can ski, snowboard, toboggan, sled, and ice skate in public square. Winters are usually a blend of mild but cooler days and downright snowy, blistery cold conditions that make you appreciate a roast in the oven, warm scarf and gloves, your favorite blanket to cozy up in and watch movies, and the smell of fireplaces brewing in the neighborhood, and of course Christmas. Christmas in Ohio is beyond magical. There’s nothing like watching large windless snowflakes slowly fall to the earth on Christmas Eve. Blankets of fresh sparkling white reflect the festive lights on the trees and homes. Baking, holiday shopping and festivities are meaningful and the weather helps define Christmas. Santa doesn’t wear shorts in Cleveland. ‘Tis the season to live in Ohio.

The four seasons and constant weather changes in Ohio lead to what humans are meant to do, adapt. We enjoy adapting frequently and each day is something new. Perhaps it helps make Ohioans some of the friendliest people on the planet. People seem to come together during each change. It’s something that affects us all even if we’re strangers. Drivers in Ohio are courteous and friendly during not so friendly weather. It’s an unspoken unity. The first day of warmth after the cool brings everyone outdoors and there’s just a hard to explain comforting feeling in the air and among people alike. It gives us a constant reason to communicate to strangers, smile at another driver slowly barreling through a drift, raking leaves in the yard next, carrying a blanket and basket to a grassy opening at the park, walking your dog on a peaceful sunny day. We share these days and reasons for living with others equally. It’s almost as beautiful as the weather itself. Something as important, complex and simple as the elements we share, are equally significant to the relationships and human contact we all benefit from. “How about this weather?”

Western Art – Neo-Primitivism – A Contemporary Edge to Primitvism

Neo-Primitivism – The History

After Russian painter and art theorist Aleksandr Shevchenko published his book ‘Neo-Primitivism’ in 1913, a completely new genre in art was formed with the same name. However, other accounts suggest vice-versa. According to them, Neo-Primitivism began much earlier, with its official launching in 1909, at the third ‘Golden Fleece Exhibition.’ The art form is said to span over 1907 through 1912. Although, it was primarily a Russian art movement, it became equally popular in the Western nations. Neo-Primitivism was fundamentally a radical modern sect with primitive style executions and therefore, named so.

The Details

The characteristics of Folk Art, like lubok, embroideries, distaffs, icon painting, and spoons, formed the basis of Neo-Primitive works. The frames were usually one-dimensional, flat imageries with bold color schemes, and visible brushstrokes. The paintings lacked, not only in visual depth, but also in their intricate or visionary representations. The Neo-Primitive works often look like child-art, with the distortions of forms and space.

The Artists

Russian artists Aleksandr Shevchenko’s (1883-1948) publication describes a harmonization of Russian Folk Art with some different art forms, like Futurism and Cubism. French Post-Impressionist and Cubist Paul Cézanne’s (1839-1906) body of work was also a great influence on the underlying philosophy of Neo-Primitivism. The original protagonists of this style were Mikhail Larionov (1881-1964) and Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962), though they were not the only ones. Other famous artists associated with the movement were Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935), Vladmir Tatlin (1885-1943), and Marc Chagall (Russian-French, 1887-1985).

The Artworks

Mikhail Larionov’s, ‘Soldier in the Woods’ (1908-09) is a perfect example of Neo-Primitive elements, where a brightly painted canvas in primary colors, depicts a horse smaller than the soldier is. Similarly, Natalia Goncharova’s ‘The Evangelists,’ (1910), is a set of four, oil on canvas works, 204 cm X 58 cm in dimensions each. This religious work is a leading example of icon painting, which depicts the four authors of the Gospels. The set is remarkable for its straight-forwardness, simplicity, linearity, and colors, in each piece.

Conclusion

An exhibition in Paris, featuring the native art forms of Australia, Oceania, and Africa, popularized Neo-Primitivism in the Western world. The directness of themes, bold expressiveness, striking color combinations, vigor, spontaneity, and innovation, caught the fancy of the Western artists in no time. Neo-Primitivism, in the Western world, has come as a blanket term for various types of art, including ‘Body Art.’ In broader terms, any art, which subscribes to the philosophy of Primitivism, represented with a modern outlook is Neo-Primitivism. Primitivism suggests that the life was more simple and honest for the ‘unschooled’ primitive civilizations!