How to Be Engaging When You Are Stuck Behind a Podium or Best Practices for a Worst Case Scenario

It’s possible there are worse set-ups for a presenter than being stuck behind a podium with a fixed mic, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. Unless the speaker is also on a stage, which compounds the separation-and the human connection. That said, you have a problem. You’re a scientist about to present at a conference and you know the scenario will be exactly as I’ve described. What to do?

For starters, find out if in fact, standing behind the podium is a requirement. It may be tradition-but not a real requirement. Ask for a lavalier or lapel mic or a wireless hand-held mic to free you from the constraints of the podium. Ask-because that podium is more than a physical barrier; it’s a psychological barrier too. It literally and metaphorically separates you from your audience making it very hard to connect. Real audience engagement comes from the connection with the speaker.

So let’s say you must stand like a potted plant behind your barrier-separated from your audience and standing above them. How can you overcome the connection issues? Here are some suggestions that will help.

1. Organize your presentation so it is memorable and easy to follow. You don’t want the audience looking at handouts or reading your slides as you speak, so be sure the whole presentation is constructed simply and logically. Structure the content into 3 major sections, as I describe in other articles.

2. Maximize eye contact. Practice your delivery until you can speak without reading every word from your notes. When you talk, look at your audience. Make real eye contact with one individual and hold it for a couple of seconds before randomly moving to another audience member.

3. Create an engaging opening. Begin with a story, a stunning fact, or an eye-opening finding. Open with a quote or an anecdote. Whatever you do, grab them from the get-go and they’ll listen attentively throughout. Your position on stage may be a requirement, but how you handle your topic is not pre-ordained. Be creative, engaging and charming.

4. Eliminate as many words as possible from your PowerPoint. Use key words only, to keep you on track and keep audience attention on you-not on the screen. The font size required for a big room is 60-72 points which means small fonts must go; eye tests are out. If you are delivering a paper, don’t put the whole thing on screen. Hand it out after you speak and your audience can read it later-or perhaps they’ve read it already. Either way, you want them looking at you during your presentation.

5. Go for professional looking graphics on screen. I’ve written lots about that and how easy it is to achieve-and it’s a “must do.”

6. Be your warmest, friendliest, most charming self. Avoid sounding stuffy, stilted or pretentious. Authenticity is engaging. Use ordinary, everyday language-yes, even for scientists. People connect with people they like and they like friendly, unpretentious people-even at a distance. Smile broadly–so your smile can be seen from the back of the room.

7. Convey energy, enthusiasm and excitement. If you must be glued in place, the least you can do is inject energy into the space. Vary the volume, inflection and pace of your words. If you’re simply going to read to your audience in a coma-inducing monotone, you might as well have emailed the talk and stayed home.

8. Gesture broadly. The body language of the speaker is an important part of the subliminal feedback loop-and the audience responds positively to openness. Since a podium hides the speaker’s body, an important component of that loop is lost. If your hands are stuck in place and your body is hidden, you risk looking like a talking head. Not good for connecting. Don’t overdo it, of course, but use broad, open-handed gestures to counter the problem.

9. Share something personal. In a formal setting, it’s more important than ever to reach out to your audience and bring them close. To do it, give away something of yourself. I’m not talking about listing your credentials or bragging about your fantastic bio. I’m suggesting you share a short, personal story that adds a human element and underscores a point you are making.

10. Move from behind the podium for Q and A if at all possible. More questions will be forthcoming if you do.

It’s true that being stuck behind a podium with a fixed mic is not ideal. But you can circumvent the obstacles with some creativity, energy, and a sincere effort to engage your audience-because they came to hear you and because they deserve it.

Negative Energies – Cleansing Yourself and Your Environment

Cleansing yourself and your environment of negative energies.

We all lead very busy lives, always on the go whether it be to work, to school, socializing, having visitors over to your house, shopping and even talking on the phone just to name a few. In all that we do in our daily lives we are constantly in contact with other people, different environments and spaces.

Wherever people have been they will leave negative energy behind as well as positive energy but it is the negative energies that affect us greatly. A person may be having a bad day and not feeling very positive, they may be angry, they may have had an argument, feel unwell and so forth. Over time these negative energies will accumulate within your home, work place and also within your own self, causing you to feel quite unbalanced and stagnant.

Everyone is affected by these negative energies although some of us are more sensitive to them than others, especially children. You can feel quite drained, tired and lacking energy or alternatively hyperactive, restless and irritable, something that we quite often see in children, not able to settle or have difficulty in sleeping, not feeling quite like your usual self, feeling uneasy but not able to identify what’s going on, lacking motivation, emotionally all over the place and generally on edge. Everyone experiences these negative energies differently, whether it be mild, moderate or severe.

So it is very important to cleanse yourself and your environment, both at home and work so as not to be affected by these energies and to maintain peace and balance.

A simple and effective way to cleanse yourself is:

White Sage Smudging.

It is well known to increase the vibration of any space, person or item therefore cleansing, purifying and clearing negativity in all forms. Smudge sticks can be used to cleanse, purify, and protect a person’s aura, the home or business. Smudging feathers which are used to gently sweep and direct the smoke in a more traditional way, (as the North American Indians do) although using your hand in the same manner is also perfect.

– Using a white sage smudge stick, lighting it over a fire proof vessel so it burns and starts to flame, then blow out the flame and the smudge stick will then smoke.

– Sweep the sage smoke using your hand or smudging feather over your head and down through the front of your body and doing the same with the back of your body. You are basically passing the smoke through your aura ( the energetic field that surrounds your entire body).

– You can also do this with your other family members including your children.

This can be done daily, two or three times a week or on a weekly basis depending on what you and your family have been doing.

Be guided by your intuition and how you and your family are feeling and behaving.

A simple and effective way to cleanse your environment:

– Close all windows and doors and begin with sage smudging, lighting the sage in the same way as personal cleansing.

– Walk around your house, work place or business sweeping the smoke in every room. Take special care to smudge in the corners of the room as negative energy can gravitate to the corners, cupboards and cabinets very easily and create a very stagnant energy in the room. Be guided to go where you think negative and stagnant energy resides other than just the room itself.

– Once the house or space has been completely smudged you then burn Frankincense granule incense.

– Place a charcoal tablet in a bowl or incense holder filled with rock salt or sand used specifically for this purpose, using a pair of tongs hold the charcoal disc and light from underneath the charcoal disc whilst holding it over the bowl. Once the charcoal is lit (you’ll know when it starts to spark) place it back into the bowl.

– Place a few granules of frankincense on the charcoal. Once it is smoking place in the room and allow the smoke to fill each room. You may like to have a few bowls of frankincense going at the one time especially if you are cleansing your home as every room needs to be done.

– Leave it burning in each room for about 5 – 10 minutes. When each room is completed open all doors and windows to allow the negative energy to be released.

It is important to perform the sage smudging as well as the frankincense for a proper cleansing. The sage will dislodge and lift the negative energies but it is the frankincense that ensures that these energies be released and leave the home or area that is being cleansed.

This can be done on a fortnightly or monthly basis depending on what is going on in your life.

It is also beneficial to cleanse in this way if you are moving into a new house, “cleaning out” the problems and energies left behind by the people who occupied the space before you.

There are many ways to cleanse but the above is a simple but effective way to clear and cleanse.

Debbie Fitzgerald.

Tips to Revamp Your Vertical Blinds For the Modern Look

Vertical blinds are very convenient to use and fashionable as well. Many a times it happens that you do get bored with same color and fabric of your blind and you want to upgrade it to something new. Fashion is ever changing and it is important that you also update the fashion statement of your house. The best way to upgrade your vertical blinds would be to refurbish the blind fabric.

There are many ways in which you can refurbish your vertical blinds. It is best that you opt for fabric as your material for vertical blinds as whenever you want you can change the fabric of the blind. While you pick the fabric it is important that you choose one which compliments the interiors of your room. The color of your room, furniture’s and carpet are very important factors to consider while you pick your fabric. You can always opt for fabrics that all the furnishing shops sell you can get variety of fabrics in different materials and colors which you can pick according to your need and preferences. These fabrics can be found in various price ranges. If you want to go for the absolute inexpensive way then the best thing would be if you buy plain cloth and get it dyed in to your choice of color. Dying in not only an inexpensive way but also you has a wide variety of option in terms of numerous shades. Yet another tip is that no matter what fabric you use you should always starch them. Starched fabrics not only are dirt resistant but also give stiffness to the material.

It is also advisable that you pre-shrink the fabric by dipping it in water and salt solution. There are many fabrics which tend to shrink after you wash them and if that becomes the case then your blinds will absolutely look out of shape and also wouldn’t be effective in blocking the sunrays. Cleaning a vertical blind is very vital hence use a fabric that can be cleaned easily. To completely over-haul the appearance of the blind you can add nice laces and sequins to the fabric. This will not only give a different look but also be very fashionable. There are wide array of sequin stones that are available and you can paste them on your fabric along with matching laces. Another interesting idea would be to paste good quality wallpaper of your choice on the vanes of the vertical blinds. These wallpapers would add an element of drama and style to your vertical blinds.

Yet another inexpensive way to restyle your vertical blinds would be to spray paint them. You need not be an artist to do spray painting but all you need is an eye for beauty. There are various kinds of spray brushes and cans are available that you can use according to your convenience. You can just flip an airbrush and create your modern art on the vanes of the blinds. In case you have an artistic bent of mind you can also draw various motifs and landscapes. Let your imagination flow and upgrade your vertical blinds in your own style.

Martial Art Jigsaw Mats – Easy to Clean and Manage Dojo Training Surface and Fitness Gym Flooring

At my camp in California, I wanted a little more cushion at our outdoor dojo so I simply layered mats on top of each other like two slices of cheese. When I want to clean them, I can easily peel them apart, and stack them up, spray them with a hose and use a cheap rag with some safe cleaners (depending on how dirty they are). To dry them off I just stand them up in the sun. Try doing this with a full one-piece mat that covers your entire floor and you will need a crane, a fire hose and the Incredible Hulk.

Something else that few people realize with jigsaw mats is that they are easily reversible. Consider this, you have lined your entire floor with an expensive ONE piece traditional mat. But then, something happens that damages the surface of the mat. This could be from a lot of use over time or an accident. Either way, you are forced to replace your entire floor with a new mat. With Puzzle Martial Art Mats you don’t have to replace them at all. All you have to do is FLIP them over and they look BRAND NEW.

That’s right, just use your mats with one side up for a year or two and then completely flip the entire set of mats for a brand new look. It is like getting two mats for the price of one. Since these mats are easy to move and flip you could also purchase mats that have different colors on each side. This way you can flip the mats and use them for very specific needs. For example, fitness kickboxing classes could be performed ONLY on the black side while the red side is for karate classes. This could be important to do if you allow shoes on the mat during your kickboxing class. So you have have one side that allows shoes and one side that is only for bare feet.

Also, if you do damage ONE of the puzzle mats, they are much easier to replace only one piece than it would be to replace an entire floor. You simply peel out the piece that got damaged and replace it with a new one. If you want to keeps your mats looking new, you can also just toss a cheap layer of carpet over them. This way you still get the cushion but protect the mats from dirt and cover up the lines and interlocking puzzle parts on the edge of each mat.

To see more information on Martial Arts Puzzle Mats and Martial Arts Gear, please visit the web site Pad-Up Martial Arts Equipment.

How to Clean the Filter in a Maytag Jetclean Dishwasher

If your Maytag Jetclean dishwasher is not cleaning as well lately and leaving food particles on the dishes after the cycle has ended, the filter inside the pump assembly may need to be cleaned. You may be able to save yourself the cost of having an appliance repair professional clean your filter by first checking it yourself and cleaning it if it needs to be cleaned. This article will help you to locate and clean the filter on your Maytag Jetclean dishwasher. Consult your owner’s manual for specific directions on your dishwasher maintenance and directions on how to access the filter.

The filter in a dishwasher is important because it collects small food particles and keeps them away from the drain pump. However, if the filter becomes clogged, it will impede the cleaning action of the dishwasher. Follow these steps to clean the filter in your Maytag Jetclean dishwasher.

1. Start by removing the lower wash basket from the dishwasher.

2. Remove the lower spray arm cap by turning it counter-clockwise and lift the spray arm off of the pump.

3. You will need a torx screwdriver to remove the six T20 screws that are holding down the pump cover. Note that the pump cover must be attached the same way it was removed, so pay special attention to help with the re-installation process.

4. Under hot running water, the filter can now be cleaned with a brush. An old toothbrush works very well for this task.

5. If you are not able to see the tiny holes of the filter because of the food debris, then you have found the reason that your dishwasher is not cleaning well. This is what is slowing down the water flow through the wash pump.

6. Before reinstalling, use a pair of tweezers to remove any food particles that may be clogging the lower wash arm. So now you have the pump back together, go ahead and start a normal wash cycle. After the fill cycle, you should now be able to hear the water being sprayed inside of the dishwasher with a much stronger force than before the filter was cleaned.

Don’t Let Your Muscles Age

The amount of lean muscle in the body peaks in our twenties and begins to decline at a rate of about 10% every year. Having muscle on the body is important at any age and here are the reasons why:

In your 20s and 30s, having muscle:

  • Prevents weight gain and obesity by keeping the metabolism high so that the calories taken in from food and drink are used up instead of being stored as body fat.
  • Makes activities easier to do – whether you’re unloading the groceries or playing a singles match in tennis.
  • Sets the stage for healthy aging. Maintaining lean muscle in your 20s and 30s begins the process of building up health reserves to keep us fit and healthy as we get older.

All of the benefits that you get from maintaining muscle in your 20s and 30s continue into your 40s and 40s. Maintaining your lean muscle in your 40s and 50s also:

  • Protects your knees, shoulders and hips. Having muscle takes the pressure off of the joints of the body, helping to avoid the deterioration that can lead to shoulder surgeries and hip and knee replacements (becoming much more common for people in the 50’s and 60’s).
  • Reduces the risk of low back pain. Strengthening the muscles of the core can prevent at least 80% of low back pain.
  • Better posture. Lean muscle helps us to stand up straighter, avoiding sore necks, upper backs, shoulders and lower back.
  • Increased bone density, allowing you to avoid osteoporosis and the accompanying medications with side effects that can lower health reserves.

In your 60s, 70s and beyond, the added benefits of having lean muscle means better balance and basic strength – especially important as living independently at home and preventing falls becomes top priority. Having strong, lean muscle also allows you to continue to perform your basic daily activities and continue to do all of the activities you love like traveling, gardening, golfing, playing tennis or skiing.

Here are 3 easy ways to maintain and even increase your muscle:

  • Avoid skipping meals or going on low calorie diets. Skipping meals tells the body to conserve energy as body fat, increasing the risk of becoming overweight or obesity. Skipping meals also lowers existing muscle stores making it much easier to gain weight.
  • Eat protein. Protein builds lean muscle.
  • Do resistance training to maintain or increase your lean muscle. Working out with weights 3 times a week for 30 minutes will keep your muscles in great shape.

If you introduce these tips into your life, you will see noticeable improvements within 4 to 6 weeks. So, outsmart “old” and begin building that lean muscle today.

Making Crepes – Easier Than You Might Think

Making crepes need not be an intimidating undertaking. With a few simple considerations you can soon be flipping dozens of these thin pancakes in less than half and hour. Because you can fill them with just about anything, crepes make great eating for breakfast, snacks, lunch or dinner.

The Right Tools

Before getting started making crepes you will want to make sure you have the right tools. Some people like to invest in an electric crepe r, but it is just as easy to learn to make crepes in a non-stick pan on the stove top. A crepe pan, while not completely necessary (you can substitute any non-stick skillet), does help to produce consistent results. These are very shallow pans, typically about 11 or 12 inches in diameter.

If you use an electric crepe maker, you will also need a wooden spreader, called a rateau, or rake. Learning to use the spreader can take a bit of practice.

Crepe Batter

For successful crepes, you will need to begin with the right consistency for the batter. Crepe batter is easy to make more liquid, so you might want to start out with a thicker batter. Gradually add in more milk until you are getting good results. The batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream. Thinner batter will make crepes that tear, and thicker batter will make spongier, heavier crepes.

The Technique

  • You will need to play around with the heat to get your pan to the right temperature. It should be quite hot, so that the pancake cooks quickly on one side, but not so hot that it burns before you get a chance to turn it.
  • Pour about 1/3 cup of batter in the hot crepe pan and tilt and swirl the pan to spread the batter. Alternatively, if you are using an electric crepe maker, this is where you will want to use the spreader.
  • As you cook, stack the crepes on a plate. You do not need to worry about them sticking together if you have cooked them correctly. They will stay fairly warm snuggled together but you can also cover them with a clean dish towel if you are making a lot and want to eat them warm right away.

Ideas for Filling

Crepes can be eaten with both sweet and savory fillings. If you are going to eat the crepes for breakfast or dessert, you will probably want to add a little sugar and vanilla flavoring to the batter.

Sweet crepes can be filled with fresh fruit, yogurt, creme fraiche, jam, butter, sugar, chocolate, chestnut spread, or just about anything that appeals to you.

Savory crepe fillings can be more complex, but you can also eat them with very simple fillings. For example, layer them with a slice of ham and grated cheese, roll, and bake in the oven for a few short minutes.

Top 5 Things You Will Want To Include On Your Beach Accessories List

As the weather turns warm, families are heading to the beach and looking for ways to stay cool around the pool. It is a great idea to make a complete beach supplies list before you head to the water. Keeping your summer gear organized and within reach makes your day more fun and enjoyable for everyone–especially if your family is large or you have different ages of children going with you. Perhaps the most important piece of equipment needed is a roomy pull or push cart with large wheels to make transporting all of your supplies from the car to the swimming or sunbathing area easier.

Five suggestions for the most important beach accessories are listed below to help you make your own list.

Umbrellas protect your skin from harmful UV rays. This means protecting eyes with proper sunshades, using sunscreen to protect your skin, and wearing big wide brim hats to cover your head and protect your ears, nose and face from sunburn. Consider buying individual chair umbrellas or a large family shade for a place to come out of the water and rest up.

Flip-flops will protect the feet from the hot sand, broken shells and possible broken glass. It is a good idea to wear flip-flops when using the outdoor shower to rinse away the sand before returning to the car, too.

Beach mats and oversized beach towels serve double duty. By having a specific beach towel, whether it’s personalized or has a theme for each family member means there’ll be no confusion as to who has which towel. Plus, even on the warmest day, it feels good to wrap up in a hooded beach towel after coming out of the water. With a nice beach mat or towel to lay on, they’ll enjoy a comfortable place in the shade or sun so they can enjoy the weather.

Beach balls and toys in age appropriate styles are fantastic for family fun and sand games. Consider a ball that lights up on impact for night-time activities. These nifty toys are easy to spot after sundown and are great for every age. Buckets, shovels, toy trucks and shovels are all great toys to take to the beach as well.

Water bottles for everyone! Keeping your body hydrated is definitely important and water is your best source of hydration for everyone.

Making a beach supplies list should include sunscreen and personal totes to carry toys, towels and flip-flops. By practicing some basic safety tips and having a plan put together will make sure everyone in the family has a great time. Look for lightweight, washable summer gear for easy transportation and clean up.

Hang a Deck Gate – How Tos and Expert Tips


Tools Required:

  • Power Drill/Driver
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Awl
  • Center Hole Punch or Centering Drill Bit (optional)
  • Plumber’s Level and/or a 24″ long Level
  • Styrofoam block length to support gate (included)

STEP 1 (Clean Working Area):

Using the Gate box and/or Styrofoam packaging material as a cushion, place the deck gate on your deck floor (being careful not to scratch or mar the finish).

STEP 2 (Install Hinge to Gate):

Make certain that you have purchased a good quality outdoor gate hinge and hardware of sufficient size and weight-grade to support a gate weighing at least 35 pounds! Also, be certain to use all of the screws that are provided by the manufacturer. Before continuing, determine the orientation needed for the hinges purchased so that the gate opens from the correct direction (inward or outward).

Place your first hinge just about even with the bottom of the Top Rail in a vertical alignment that is square/perpendicular to the edge of the gate. If available, have a second person hold the hinge in place for you.

(Note: Depending on the hinge product used, a small Plumber’s Level may be helpful to ensure that the hinge is plumb & aligned properly.)

Use a Center Hole Punch or an Awl to mark the center of the screw holes. Using a Centering Hole Drill Bit will be more accurate and will allow you to skip this step.

Using a drill bit that is smaller in diameter than the screws being used, pre-drill the hinge holes to a depth that is slightly less than the length of the screw. If you have a Drill Bit Gauge, use a bit that is two sizes smaller than your hinge screws.

Use a power driver to attach/screw the hinge to your gate being careful to NOT over-tighten or strip the screw holes. If you are not experienced in the use of the power driver, be sure to practice on a piece of scrap material. Repeat above for the bottom hinge.

STEP 3 (Attach to Deck Newel Post):

Special Note: Depending on the material, size and final weight of your gate, it is critical that your newel post is plumb and strong! Preferably, the post should extend down through the deck floor and be blocked to the joists/beams underneath the deck. This is required for Trex Accents gates.

It is helpful to have a second person to attach the gate to your deck. Hold the gate up next to the newel post at the proper height desired (close to the top of your railing).

A long piece of Styrofoam (the same as the width of your gate) is provided. Place it underneath the bottom edge of the gate to help hold it in place.

Properly align the top hinge where it attaches to the newel post (according to the hinge design being used).

Use a 24″ level to make sure the gate is positioned plumb & level. It will be helpful to use wood shims as part of this step.

Use a Center Hole Punch or an Awl to mark the center of the screw holes. Using a Centering Hole Drill Bit will be more accurate and will allow you to skip this step.

Using a drill bit that is smaller in diameter than the screws being used, pre-drill the hinge holes to a depth that is slightly less than the length of the screw. If you have a Drill Bit Gauge, use a bit that is two sizes smaller than your hinge screws.

Use the power driver to attach/screw the hinge to your Post being careful to NOT over-tighten or strip the screw holes.

Keeping the length of Styrofoam in place and using available shims, level the gate in place. Then attach the bottom hinge in the same manner as described above.

STEP 4 (Attach Latch to Gate):

After making certain that your gate is hanging properly in the correct position and smoothly swings open and closed, begin to attach the latch purchased.

First attach the gate latch part by placing it at the desired comfortable height (normally about even with the top hinge). Depending on the hardware design being used, you should attach it on the inside face of your gate.

Hold the latch in place on your gate and lightly mark the holes with a pencil. After verifying you have the latch marked in the proper position desired, pre-drill your screw holes in the same manner as mentioned above. Then attach/screw the latch using a power or hand screwdriver.

STEP 5 (Attach Latch to Newel Post):

Hold the latch part that attaches to your newel post in position so that it lines up with the gate latch part and closes/locks in place properly. Make a light pencil mark to keep the position.

After verifying that you have the latch marked in the proper position desired, pre-drill your screw holes in the same manner as mentioned above. Then attach/screw the latch part using a power or hand screwdriver.

Best Options For The Best Dallas Cowboys Cornhole Boards

Are you looking for the best options for your Dallas Cowboys Cornhole Bean Bag Toss Game Board Sets? Cornhole has become very popular in recent years, and so have the options, especially if you are a Dallas Cowboy Fan and want to have the best Cowboys board sets to show your colors.

Before we look at the features of the Cowboys board sets, you should know we have tried out many sets, and we clearly favor and recommend the boards from Victory Tailgate. We also play on these boards and in our opinion they are the best, and we will explain why.

In fact unless someone can top these sets we will likely not recommend any other board set. These are just so well made and the other sets are just flimsy, cheap, and they often come damaged, decals peel off, the bags bounce, the sets are uneven and don’t rest well on the ground. Just read the reviews and compare, heck nothing is more irritating than playing on a cheap set that robs you of points!

These Cornhole board sets are perfect for your backyard, they are also great for picnics, family get togethers, tailgating or basically anytime… There is nothing better than making your brother in law who is a Redskin fan play on your Cowboys Boards.

We have always been huge horseshoe players, but the advantage of Cornhole is that at a tailgating event you can easily set up your cornhole boards, using less space, and anyone (kids and the gals) can play cornhole.

All of these boards are constructed to ACA regulation size. They are very sturdy and the top board is made using 1/2′ cabinet grade plywood. What that means for you is that when you toss your bag and it hits the board, it will NOT bounce in the air as if you just tossed the bag onto a trampoline like the smaller cheaply made sets do. The legs are sturdy, solid and they are made so that the boards will not rock or be uneven when set up. The legs also fold for easy storage and travel.

The game comes with 1 set of 8 bean bags, 4 of each color. They are the heaviest quality we have seen and take a good beating on pavement for quite a while before needing to be mended or replaced. They also come in nice heavy duty carry cases- 4 in each carry bag.

The Cornhole boards were packaged extremely well, the boards come in excellent condition.

Lets Look at the Pros and Cons of these boards:


Regulation made, sturdy, excellent craftmanship, will last a long time.

Bags also made well, will last longer than your cheap varieties

Everyone in the family or gathering can play

Can be set up anywhere/portable

As a Dallas Cowboys Fan can sport my teams colors-In a wide variety of ways!

  • can get plain boards- then paint or decal
  • can get painted boards

The price is great for the value-you are getting the best, just look at the reviews from other customers.


As these boards are so sturdy, they are a bit heavy, each board weighing around 30 pounds

Food For Thought:Cowboys Board Sets

The estimated cost for materials for one of these sets is around $50

A Handyman can throw a set together in about three hours.

We purchased the plain set, sanded it a bit more and then decided to paint. We purchased the three Cowboys Colors and it cost around $60 for the paint, We used spray paint.

The painting took about three hours, a rush job as we wanted to use these ASAP

For the price it would have saved us time and money if we had just purchased a painted set, but I am satisfied with how they turned out.

For something even more flashy a better option might have been to get the Dallas Cowboys decals and apply to the plain set.

We also spruced our Cowboys Board Sets with Blue Neon lights, they are easy to install, take a 9 volt battery and we have countless hours on the original battery that is two years old.

We also ordered an extra set of Bean Bags as honestly I never expected the bags that came with the set to last so long, of course in blue and silver/gray.


  • Buy Victory Tailgate Boards-non painted
  • paint your own in two or three color combinations
  • you can also forget the paint and purchase a Dallas Cornhole Decal that would be in the long run cheaper than buying a set with the decal already applied.
  • you can paint say just two colors and then apply a smaller 12″x12″ decal
  • You can buy one of the many already painted color schemes in Dallas Cowboys Colors from Victory Tailgate- again likely cheaper to buy already painted than if you decide to paint!
  • You do have options though to make your Cowboys Boards as you wish!

Our Recommendation

If you want a Cornhole Board Set that will last a long time, look great and be totally 100% compliant with ACA Regulations, then you want these Victory boards, heck we have played in local tournaments and our boards were far superior than some we have played on, very easy to get spoiled when you have the best! How you design them is up to you!

The Sparkle That Has Made The Dallas Diamonds Back To Back Champions

The Dallas Diamonds are a women’s professional football team. They are based in Dallas and have been the back to back champions for the last two years.

One of their newer recruits is Brittany Bridge a volleyball coach who has doubled as a hard-hitting defensive back in the football team. Bridge may be a rookie but she now plays most of the game and has taken control of the ball a few times. She is only 5 foot 6 inches and 125 pounds and had never played contact sport until now, but she is pretty tough.

Another player is Kasia Reese. When she played fifth grade football she never managed to get the ball because she was a girl. She is now the rookie receiver for the Dallas Diamonds. There are still some men who think her, and they, are something to laugh at. They only think this until they see the aggressive tackles and offensive and defensive line players who weigh more than 200 pounds. They are sceptical at first but, once they go and see a game, they change their outlook.

They play at Birdville Stadium in North Richland Hills. Their season begins on July 22.

According to Ms Reese, the women earn a pittance. So small is this amount that it does not even cover the amount of money she pays for gas to take her to practice. The hours are also taxing since they drain the time she could be spending with her husband and three kids. Since she is not getting compensation it amounts to a point of pride and the love of the sport that keeps her going. She has recruited a friend of hers, Donna Valdepena to football as well.

Another player is Karen Seimears. She is in her fourth year as quarterback for them. As well as this, she is the Director of the Media Technology Department at Shannon Learning Centre in Haltom City.

The 2006 Championship Weekend is to be held in Roswell Georgia. There is also going to be a WPFL Women’s Conference focusing on women’s health, sports and business. A Youth Clinic will also be open to youth aged 6 to 18. This is the eighth season for the WPFL (Women’s Professional Football League) and it is committed to furthering the opportunities for women in football. There are now 17 teams in the leagues and it continues to build each year.

Players in the women’s teams like Dallas Diamonds [] can be as rough and tumble as those in the boys’ clubs. The team in 2005 crushed one team so severely that this opposing team quit in the third quarter. In another game, the Diamonds beat a scoreless team by 90 points. Now, the Dallas Diamonds are aiming for another championship victory.

How to Troubleshoot a Hot Tub Heater

I have been asked this question by so many customers. Why won’t my hot tub heat up? I have talked people through this process over the phone and have sent them a list of information on how to test the spa heater themselves. I do not normally recommend that an end user try to troubleshoot their own spa. Working with electricity can be dangerous and working with electricity and water can be deadly. It is always recommended to contact a qualified service technician for any troubleshooting. That said, many people are more than capable of troubleshooting their own spa heater and this guide will assist them.

Spa & Hot Tub Heater Troubleshooting Guide

An easy to follow Spa & Hot Tub heater Troubleshooting Guide. Troubleshooting a spa heater can be a simple procedure if you have the right tools.

Note: This troubleshooting guide is meant for trained spa service professionals. It is not recommended for the spa owner to troubleshoot their own spa.

Tools you will need to have are:

A Multimeter, to check voltage, and a Clamp on Amp Meter, to check for amp draw at the element. You can not accurately troubleshoot a Spa heater element without these tools.

Multi-Meter: Used to test for voltage at the heater element terminals.

Amp Meter: Used to check for amp draw by the heater element.

You will also need various hand tools. Screw drivers, Pliers, open end wrenches, etc.

Note: Spa must be full of water and in normal operating condition to perform these tests

To test the heater element, you must: Check voltage at heater element

1. Turn Power off to spa. (This means to shut off source voltage to the spa at the breaker or disconnect).

2. Open equipment area and locate the heater assembly.

3. Open the spa heater assembly to expose the heater terminals.

4. Make sure all other wires and connections are away from the heater terminals.

5. Open spa filter housing and remove filter. Replace filter lid and secure for operation.

6. Double check area around heater terminals to make sure you have access to the terminals with the multi-meter probes, without the hazard of touching other contacts.

7. Remember, when you re-apply power to spa, you will be working with 240 volts of electricity. Water and electricity do not mix.

8. Make sure no water is near the terminals where you will be working. Also, make sure you are not kneeling or standing in water while testing for voltage at the heater terminals.

9. Re-apply power to spa and turn thermostat up to cause heater to come on. Listen to spa to see if operation sounds normal.

10. Turn multi-meter on and plug probes into the meter as directed by the meter instructions. You will be testing voltage.

11. Carefully place one probe on one of the element terminals.

12. Carefully place the second probe on the other heater terminal.

13. Read your multi-meter for voltage at the element.

14. Remove both probes, and write down the voltage you read from your test.

15. Turn power off to spa. If you received “0” volts at the heater terminal, your problem is most likely not the heater element. If you received the correct voltage at the heater terminals, you must now check for amp draw at your heater.

Check amp draw at heater element

1. Turn power off to spa. (This means to shut off source voltage to the spa at the breaker or disconnect).

2. Find wires that connect to the spa heater terminals.

3. Clamp one wire that goes to your heater element, with your amp-meter.

4. Make sure all wires are secure and safe for operation.

5. Re-apply power to your spa and turn thermostat up to cause heater to come on.

6. Check amp-meter to see if amps are being drawn by your heater element.

7. Turn Power off to spa.

8. Write down the amp reading from your amp-meter. If you received an amp reading from your heater. Your heater element is working. You need to look for problems elsewhere.

*I f you received the proper voltage at the heater terminals, but received no amp reading when the spa was operating, the heater element is bad.

What to do if heater element tests good during these tests, but does not heat spa, during normal operation. Remember step 5 in the voltage test. You removed the filter. Check condition of filter, run spa for 24 hrs without filter in place to see if spa heats normally. If spa heats normally with filter out, replace filter with new.

Now be aware every hot tub / spa is different. If you have a digital system, make note of any displayed error codes. The new digital systems on the spas today will do much of the troubleshooting for you if you know what it is telling you, but let’s leave that for another article though.

How to Fix a Broken Cabinet

Cabinets are meant to last for decades. However, there are circumstances that may ruin them long before they are meant to deteriorate. Certain accidents, for example, may greatly damage various parts of the cabinet.

Now, when your cabinet gets broken, you are provided with two choices: to replace the cabinet with a new unit or to repair it. The first choice is definitely easier. Economically speaking, however, fixing a broken cabinet can be a better choice.

There are many ways to fix a broken cabinet, and these basically depend on the actual parts damaged and the level or degree of damage. A slightly damaged cabinet is generally easier to fix than a severely broken one. Damage to the smaller parts of the cabinet is also easier to repair compared to damage on larger parts.

Problems on doors and hinges (inefficient swaying of doors, doors drooping on one side, etc.) are among the easiest to fix. Sometimes, tightening the hinge mounting screws easily solves the problem. If this doesn’t work, you may try replacing the hinge screws with larger and longer ones. If the screw holes or mounting locations are already badly damaged, you may try moving the hinges to a different spot where the wood is stronger.

Broken cabinet drawers are also quite easy to fix, especially if they are simply stuck or jammed. Tapping the drawer slightly is often an effective way to pop the drawer slide back in place. Sometimes, only the runners need to be replaced. If the problem is with the slide, then one must determine whether the problem lies in the screw holding the slide or the slide itself. If one or more screws holding the slide have fallen out, then replacing the screws can solve the problem. But if the slide itself is already broken, you don’t have much choice but to replace the slide with a new one.

A broken cabinet frame or damaged cabinet wood probably requires the most work. If the damage is minor and on a part that is not too exposed, you can just re-assemble the broken pieces and hold them together with wood glue. For more severe damage, one can replace the large piece of wood that is broken with a newly cut piece of the same wood species. An alternative is to use an epoxy wood repair kit to seal the broken area.

So if your kitchen or bathroom cabinet is broken, assess the damage first before replacing the cabinet with a new unit. If the damage is minor, then you can save a lot if you fix it instead of buying a new one.

Remove Old Cabinets That Were Built In Place Using Nails

Periodically, we will have to remove an older set of kitchen or vanity cabinets that were fastened together and installed using nails rather than screws. If this is the case with your remodeling project, you WILL NOT be able to save the cupboards to be installed somewhere else. When you are finished taking them out, there will only be a pile of parts and pieces.

Take a flashlight and search inside your cupboards. If you do not see any screws, then this method of removing cupboards is for you.

Tools Needed:

  • Hammer
  • Small Single Handed Sledge Hammer
  • Pry-bar
  • Gloves
  • Safety Goggles
  • Razor Knife
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Skill Saw
  • Assorted Screw Drivers

Steps for Removing Old Cabinets

  1. Shut off the water supply to the sink faucet and the power supply to the range, dishwasher, hood vent or space-saver microwave.
  2. Remove the sink and all of the appliances. You may need another person to help with the sink. Most older homes have cast iron sinks and they are super heavy. I’m not joking here, DO NOT try to take a cast iron sink out alone.
  3. IMPORTANT: While you are trying to remove cabinets, be careful NOT to pry against the walls too hard. Most likely, they are made out of drywall or plaster board and are somewhat fragile. Try and remember to just pull things away from the walls-rather than prying against them.
  4. Cut all of the caulk lines everywhere that they are adjoined to the cupboards and counters against the walls, floors or ceilings.
  5. Put on your safety glasses and cut large sections of the Formica countertop, oversize base cabinet bottoms, face-frames and toe sections into smaller pieces. You can do the same with the upper cabinet bottoms that are large as well. Do this with whatever saw you feel the most comfortable using.
  6. If the backsplashes are only three quarters of an inch thick (3/4″), they are glued to the wall with liquid nail. Insert your putty knife between the wall and splash, then drive it downward using the force of your hammer. Continue to do this in several places until it comes loose from the wall.
  7. If the splashes are thicker than three quarters of an inch (3/4″), the chances are really good that they are attached to the countertop. There is no need to wedge the putty knife behind if they are attached to the top.
  8. With your gloves and safety glass on, you can begin the removal process by hammering the countertop in an upward position. Once it has begun to loosen, you can use the pry-bar to lift it higher. I can almost hear the squeaking sound of the nails already! Eventually, you should reach the point where you can grab it with both hands and pull it off of the cabinet.
  9. Take all of the drawers out from their respective locations.
  10. Using your hammer and sledge hammer, dismantle all of the cabinetry parts. Start by banging on a finished ends, then the face-frames, next pry on the bottoms and lastly the backs. The cabinets should remove rather quickly if you follow that pattern. Any time a cabinet part is difficult to remove, cut it into a smaller piece. Most of these old kitchens were manufactured using pine and plywood. They also were glued together with carpenters glue. This can make them stubborn to get apart sometimes.

You should always be on the lookout for roaches. Who knows, if your lucky, you may find an old newspaper article from the late 1950s. I retired when I discovered an old safe that had a million dollars stashed underneath the toe base of a kitchen cabinet in Hollywood. I think the home originally belonged to Jed Clampet of the Beverly Hillbillies. Having a little fun during the project is a good thing!

The trick to making all of this easier is to cut as many parts into smaller pieces before you start ripping them out. This will make it easier for the trash man or for you when carrying the parts out of the house and throwing them in your trash containers.

Anytime you remove old kitchen cupboards, be prepared to find things that need to be replaced or repaired. It’s not uncommon for there to be water damaged areas where mold has been growing. Sometimes places where leaks were years ago are found on the ceilings. Outside the cost of your new cabinets, have a little extra set aside for unexpected repairs.

Arowana Care: Arowana 101

Popularly known as a household pet, the arowana fish is a freshwater bony fish which belongs to the Family Osteoglossidae (coming from the Greek words osteos meaning “bone” and glossa meaning “tongue”; literally bony-tongued). This name is gotten from the fact that their tongues have a “tooth” which they use to grind against the tooth in the roof of their mouths. Another interesting about the mouths of the arowana is that they use them to hatch their eggs, an adaptation known as buccal incubation. In fact, on average, an arowana can hold hundreds of eggs in its mouth, where the young ones would eventually feed.

These fishes have a bony head and an elongated, slender body. Their scales, shaped by the turbidity of their natural habitats, are large and heavy with mosaic patterns and canals; in some species, the scales even acquire a glossy and reflective surface. Aside from these scales, their fin patterns also give the arowana fish a distinct look. Their dorsal and anal fins have soft rays and are long based, while the pectoral and ventral fins are small. Also, they are known as obligatory air breathers, fishes which need to fill their swimbladders with air not only to float, but also to obtain oxygen. These swimbladders resemble the lungs in the sense that they are lined with arteries and veins.

The arowana fish is naturally carnivorous, and are shaped by evolution to be excellent surface feeders: they get their food by jumping. Specialized muscles and aerodynamic body shape enable them to become powerful jumpers, some noting that they can jump as high as 6 feet. These heights suit their diet of flying insects, small arboreal mammals, and low flying bats. Two species of the arowanas are found in the Neotropical region, one in the Southeast Asian region, and two in New Guinea.

Having an arowana fish as a pet can be tricky, but the rewards make the struggle all worth it. That’s why there are certain points and tricks to remember on how to maximize the joy from keeping an arowana. First, arowanas are really huge fishes with sizes averaging to 37 inches, and they like to be alone. Many hobbyists, however, had found ways to mix in a little bit of a company with large and active fishes like plecostomus catfish and tinfoil barbs; others which are smaller and weaker tend to be dinner. Second, they move around A LOT, and that’s why there needs to be a sandy base and a huge room for movement. To keep them from being stationary, however, many enthusiasts had already seen the benefits of placing a table tennis ball in the tank; something which is moving.

Third, they need a hell lot of nutrition, and it is better if it is alive. Be careful, however, not to introduce disease. Also, fat should be avoided as to prevent the drop eye disease. Variety should also be introduced as to prevent the onset of nutritional deficiencies, as well as the fishes getting tired of the diet. Mixes of insects, chopped meat, and pellets have been proven effective.

Fourth, it should also be known that they are naturally shaped to become excellent jumpers; they jump randomly. This calls for a tight lid. Lastly are the tank conditions; something an arowana fish tends to be meticulous about. The water should be fresh and have a well-kept pH level of 7 (neutral). The temperature also should not be far from 80 Fahrenheit, since the arowana is an equatorial fish. Again, because of its size, be prepared to have huge space for a tank which holds about 50 to 120 gallons.

The rest is for the arowana fish to ask for.