Discovery in Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave

On a cool March Friday in 1972, John Wallace checked out his four seat airplane at the Charlie Brown Airport in Atlanta for a flight to Tennessee. The plan was for John’s wife Youlanda, and their children Paul and Erika along with Art Smith, and Jack Pace to drive up to the Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville, Tennessee and rent a cabin for the weekend. My wife Kathy, our six-year-old daughter, Deanna and I would fly with John to the Crossville Memorial Airport in Crossville and we would spend a day of caving the next day.

We would alternate driving and flying in order to have transportation from the airport to the caves we visited in the southeast. Half of the group would fly and the other half would drive. This trip was quite a nice one along the interstate and then we followed the state road into Crossville. It was after dark when we arrived and the airport’s lights were not on. The airport is on top of a mountain and we were a little nervous about finding a place to land. John’s wife was there but could not contact anyone at the airport. John at last managed to radio someone and they turned on the lights.

It was a large cabin at the park and we settled in for a good night of rest before the trip the next day. We planned to visit Devils Sink Hole with the family and then the four of us would explore Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave on the other side of the mountain. Kathy and Deanna spent a lovely day hiking around the park while we went caving.

A few miles southeast of Crossville is located Grassy Cove, A depression between two mountains that by all rights should be a big natural lake. The rain water that falls in the cove runs north into a cave, then emerges at the Devils Sink Hole, south of the cove and over the mountain. This long mountain contains many caves and a major stream that flow completely under it. Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave is well known for being a dusty cave and dust masks are handy to avoid histoplasmosis, a lung disease common in dusty caves and chicken houses. I did come down with a light case of this later and it could very well have been from this cave. The doctor wanted to know if I had been around any chicken houses.

We entered the cave and debated about exploring the west dry passages or to venture down the waterfall at the east end of the cave. There were reported to be more caves below the water fall. However, ropes would be required and we were not prepared for that. The water fall room sounded too good to pass up so we opted for going down through the chasm and to the water fall.

The Chasm is a short drop that can be climbed if you chimney out to a narrow portion of the drop. We however chose to use the rope for the drop. We continued down to the waterfall room and poked around looking for any easy lead to continue on. John was checking behind a large rock on the north side of the passage when he noticed air blowing from the rocks. We all got excited and started helping with the easy dig.

In less than an hour we had a small hole that looked to open up below. I was elected to give it a try, I am not sure why I was first but I was grateful. I went feet first into the hole removing my hard hat in order to squeeze through. At the bottom there was a low craw that went to the northeast for about 50 feet and then a ledge with a short drop of about 5 feet into a large room sloping downward. I study the floor and could not make out any tracks. I sat there yelling encouragement to the others to come on down. We had found something big.

I felt like Neil Armstrong on the moon when I made that first step on the floor below and left that first foot print where no one had ever stepped before. The mud had a black coating on top and when you raised your foot it left a very clear orange print about 1 inch deep. It felt strange to walk down into that huge room and then look back at the lonely set of foot prints that would soon turn into a well-worn path.

We explored the one thousand feet of sixty feet wide and thirty feet high passage for the rest of the day, finding formations along the west wall and crystal gypsum flowers covering the floor as the ceiling became lower near the end. We crawled through some breakdown into a much smaller room at the end and could find no way to continue.

We were all very excited about our new find and planned to return to map this new section the following month. We returned on Saturday, April 22, 1972 with the additional assistance of my wife’s cousin, Bill Meier, and mapped the March 18th Discovery. I was working for Eastman Kodak Co. At the time and had access to the latest home movie cameras. I was trying out a new model with very low light capability for taking movies in the cave. We used a Coleman Lantern for the light source and the shutter speed set slow to capture as much light as possible. These short movies can be viewed on my caving web site.

When Jack Pace moved to Nashville he told the caving group there about the discovery. Three years later in 1975 a group of Nashville cavers pushed the end of the Georgia Room and discovered the Nashville Extension, a stream passage that extended the cave far under the mountain. This is the reason we go into caves, to see what is there.

As of the close of 2013, the largest room in Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave does not have a name. As I was the first person to set foot there, I take pleasure in naming the passage that averages thirty feet high by sixty feet wide, and one thousand feet long, the “Georgia Room.”

Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave now ranks eleventh in the state of Tennessee for the longest cave. I would like to think that we made it a little easier for future cavers to discover the miles of cave that followed in this great cave. Great discoveries were made in the following years, and then in the late 70’s the Smoky Mountain Grotto sealed our small hole with a slab of concrete marked “S.M.G.”

1 Blue Spring Cave 33 miles

2 Cumberland Caverns 27 miles

3 Xanadu Cave System 23 miles

4 Rumbling falls Cave 15 miles

5 Nunley Mountain Cave System 15 miles

6 Big Bone Cave 15 miles

7 Snail Shell Cave System 9 miles

8 Rice Cave 9 miles

9 Cuyler Cave 8 miles

10 Dunbar Cave 8 miles

11 Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave 8 miles

12 Wolf River 7 miles

13 Haws Spring Cave 7 miles

14 Zarathustra 7 miles

15 Camps Gulf Cave 6 miles

This was the first major discovery that I was involved with and I have been more excited about caving than ever and the challenge of not only exploring but documenting caves with maps, pictures, movies, and articles.

An Amazing Interview – How Jill Kinmont Boothe Turned Tragedy Into Triumph

Excitement filled my mind as I called Jill Kinmont Boothe. This was two years ago, and Jill had graciously agreed to an interview for the book I was writing. I eagerly looked forward to hearing the inspiring story of how she rose above the tragic skiing accident which left her paralyzed and went on to become a teacher and painter. I clearly remember watching the 1975 movie about her life, The Other Side of the Mountain, and soon I would be talking directly to her!

I placed a stack of cassette tapes near the tape recorder, envisioning a long interview. After all, learning to cope mentally and physically with being paralyzed must have taken years of hard work.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Jill was not interested in reliving all the gory details of her tragic accident. Our conversation went something like this…

Karen: Learning you were paralyzed for life must have been pretty devastating for you.

Jill: Well it was, except that I had so much support from family and friends. There were moments when I was teary and said “why did it happen to me?” but generally I held myself up because everybody else had to be held up. Everybody had to be strong for everybody else…I was pretty positive from early on. I don’t remember it being a horrible, horrible ordeal…

And with that, Jill went on with her story and with the rest of her life. No whining or complaining, no regrets, uninterested in sympathy – I wasn’t sure what to think at that point.

When Jill described her years as an elementary school teacher, I made a comment that I thought would lead to a candid description of the challenges involved. Once again, Jill’s response surprised me.

Karen: That must have been a challenge being a teacher and dealing with little kids without having use of your hands and legs.

Jill: It was a challenge, but just like any other teacher faces! The kids were a great resource for me because they could do all the things I couldn’t do. They could write on the board, they could organize the files, they always responded when I needed help. That was never really a problem.

Jill’s matter-of-fact attitude about her paralysis stunned me. Our conversation lasted only about 20 minutes. When it was over, I sat there scratching my head and wondering if I had enough material to write a story.

I thought of Jill and her casual attitude about her life-altering injury many times over the next few days. I admit it – at first I was disappointed because she didn’t go into detail about her feelings and all the difficulties involved with being paralyzed. I thought those details were necessary to make a compelling story that would engage the reader.

But before long the real meaning of her story hit me like a ton of bricks. Jill’s brevity and laid-back attitude were the real story. Here was a woman who had been paralyzed for over 50 years – her Olympic dreams cut short, unable to do many basic life functions for herself – and yet she had no interest whatsoever in dwelling on those things.

If Jill had done what I expected and gone into great detail about how horrible it was to be paralyzed, I’m quite sure I would have missed the incredible message her life brings us. Jill’s legacy to us is simple, but powerful:

  • Don’t dwell on unfair and painful things that happen to you in life
  • Always focus on what you can do rather than on “what might have been.”

Keep these principles in mind and you’ll find there is no limit to what you can accomplish in life, despite any challenges you may encounter in the school of hard knocks.

© Karen Wheeler Hall – All Rights Reserved

LED Christmas Lights – Are They Really the Only Choice for Saving Energy? Think Before You Shop

Did you notice last year? LED tree lights, the newest entry in eco-friendly Christmas decorations, literally flew off the shelves. Overall LED sales reportedly reached – are you sitting down? — a staggering $7.4 billion in 2009. This includes LED icicle lights, LED Christmas tree lights and other kinds of household LED lighting.

But are LED Christmas lights really the eco-winner they’re cracked up to be? Like “organic” and “100% natural,” “green” is an elastic concept. And there is definitely an eco-friendlier alternative to LED Christmas lights, but more about that in a minute.

One thing is sure: LED Christmas lights use less energy than regular incandescent Christmas lights. So compared to the large Christmas string lights and even the miniature Christmas lights you may have grown up with, LEDs are the better choice from an energy point of view. In addition, they make sense for outdoor Christmas lighting, because they don’t require maintenance and have a long life.

Another thing is sure as well: LED lighting is here to stay. It has market traction, and the industry is promoting it enthusiastically. For example, one of the big building supply chains has just launched a recycle-your-old-Christmas-lights campaign, offering a discount on LED Christmas tree lights for every string of incandescent lights customers turn in. With this kind of jump-start early in the season, sales will be off the charts this year.

The Best Thing Since Granola?

Do LED Christmas lights fit in with the granola lifestyle? Though they draw less energy, it would be a huge stretch to call LED Christmas trees and LED tree lights a natural product.

The LED light cord is made of oil-based plastics (as are all light cords these days). And the LED bulb itself is encased in epoxy, a super-hardened chemical polymer. Though epoxy is widely used in several products, epoxy resin contains Bisphenol A, a noxious substance that has been banned from some consumer items. Some shoppers are trying to keep their living space free of chemical-based products including building supplies, wood finishes, home textiles, carpets, work surfaces, etc. Others just want to reduce the amount of plastic in their lives. These consumers may have second thoughts about LED Christmas lighting.

Safety and fire prevention are paramount concerns every Christmas season – rightly so. No Christmas lights can be 100% safe. But LED lighting is promoted as being especially safe. Despite this, problems can occur. Only a couple days after Halloween, big box marketer Costco announced that it was recalling a line of Christmas figures lit with LED lights that could start a fire, most likely an electrical problem of some kind. A problem like this, early in the shopping season underscores the fact that even LED Christmas lights are not necessarily risk-free.

Like a LED Balloon…

LED Christmas lights are pretty cool. But that’s exactly the problem in some shoppers’ eyes. They’re too cool.

LED lighting has a different spectral quality. Some people feel it’s heavy on the blues and light on the yellows, reds, golds and tans – all the colors at the toasty end of the spectrum. Granted, this is subjective. But if you’re sensitive to the quality of light, LEDs may not be your choice, especially if you’re aiming for a warm, cozy feel. The new lights get mixed reviews and go over like a LED balloon among some traditionalists and aesthetes.

Going Off the Grid

Christmas doesn’t have to be a burden on the environment. Let’s say you’re serious about giving up your old incandescent lights and going green, but you can’t quite warm to the idea of LED Christmas tree lights.

Fortunately, there’s a low-tech alternative that uses even less electricity than LED holiday lights: Candlepower. In fact, Chrstmas tree candles will take you totally off the grid. They don’t use electricity to produce light — just air. This makes them the greenest alternative to incandescent and LED Christmas lights. And from an aesthetic point of view they can’t be beat. The sight of a Christmas tree bathed in the warm glow of natural candlelight will stop you in your tracks. It’s mesmerizing. The wonderful, warm feeling it evokes is difficult to describe — it’s something you have to experience.

You may opt to light your Christmas tree with candles because of their beauty or because they are 100% green. But safety must be your highest priority. Use the candles carelessly and you can cause a fire. But if you take your time, position the candles correctly and use common sense, you can enjoy them all during the holiday season with peace of mind.

For our grandparents and great-grandparents who celebrated Christmas in the pre-electric era, Christmas candles were the only option when it came to trimming the tree. But they didn’t just melt the end of the candle and plop it on a branch. They used simple, ingenious candle holders, made specially for Christmas trees. Unfortunately, Christmas candles and Christmas tree candle holders fell out of use when electric Christmas decorations hit the market around World War I.

Finding a Source for Your Christmas Candles and Candle Holders

Two kinds of Christmas candle holders were used in the 19th century. One is the clip-on Christmas tree candle holder, or Christmas candle clip. The other is the pendulum Christmas tree candle holder, which has a stem that loops over the branch and a weight to hold the candle upright. But before you hurry down to the corner shop to buy them, you should realize that we’re talking about a product that was forced into obsolescence and has basically been off the market for ninety years. It can be a challenge to find.

You won’t find German Christmas Candles and Candle Clips at the mall and it’s doubtful you will even find them at specialty shops. They are still being made in Germany, but ordering them retail from a shop in Germany can be difficult. The best solution? Find a reliable web dealer in the U.S. who imports Christmas Tree Candles and genuine German-made Candle Holders. If you live in the U.K., Australia, Canada, New Zealand or elsewhere, pick a U.S. web shop with experience selling to your country.

What will it be for you this year? LED Christmas lights or Christmas candles? LED holiday lighting will undoubtedly continue to grab market share. But candlepower is a subtle Christmas Game-Changer. It’s not for everybody. But for those who like the idea of a “Slow Christmas,” it may be an option worth trying. It’s as green as you can get and it’s a way to send a message to your family, friends and neighbors to slow down, streamline and simplify.

Copyright © 2010 Kurt Donner. Use of this text in full, without changes and with attribution and original links, is permitted.

Porter’s Five Forces Analysis

If you’ve ever listened to Warren Buffett talk about investing, you’ve heard him mention the idea of a company’s moat. The moat is a simple way of describing a company’s competitive advantages. Company’s with a strong competitive advantage have large moats, and therefore higher profit margins. And investors should always be concerned with profit margins.

This article looks at a methodology called the Porter’s Five Forces Analysis. In his book Competitive Strategy, Harvard professor Michael Porter describes five forces affecting the profitability of companies. These are the five forces he noted:

  1. Intensity of rivalry amongst existing competitors
  2. Threat of entry by new competitors
  3. Pressure from substitute products
  4. Bargaining power of buyers (customers)
  5. Bargaining power of suppliers

These five forces, taken together, give us insight into a company’s competitive position, and its profitability.


Rivals are competitors within an industry. Rivalry in the industry can be weak, with few competitors that don’t compete very aggressively. Or it can be intense, with many competitors fighting in a cut-throat environment.

Factors affecting the intensity of rivalry are:

  • Number of firms – more firms will lead to increased competition.
  • Fixed costs – with high fixed costs as a percentage of total cost, companies must sell more products to cover those costs, increasing market competition.
  • Product differentiation – Products that are relatively the same will compete based on price. Brand identification can reduce rivalry.

New Entrants

One of the defining characteristics of competitive advantage is the industry’s barrier to entry. Industries with high barriers to entry are usually too expensive for new firms to enter. Industries with low barriers to entry, are relatively cheap for new firms to enter.

The threat of new entrants rises as the barrier to entry is reduced in a marketplace. As more firms enter a market, you will see rivalry increase, and profitability will fall (theoretically) to the point where there is no incentive for new firms to enter the industry.

Here are some common barriers to entry:

  • Patents – patented technology can be a huge barrier preventing other firms from joining the market.
  • High cost of entry – the more it will cost to get started in an industry, the higher the barrier to entry.
  • Brand loyalty – when brand loyalty is strong within an industry, it can be difficult and expensive to enter the market with a new product.

Substitute Products

This is probably the most overlooked, and therefore most damaging, element of strategic decision making. It’s imperative that business owners (us) not only look at what the company’s direct competitors are doing, but what other types of products people could buy instead.

When switching costs (the costs a customer incurs to switch to a new product) are low the threat of substitutes is high. As is the case when dealing with new entrants, companies may aggressively price their products to keep people from switching. When the threat of substitutes is high, profit margins will tend to be low.

Buyer Power

There are two types of buyer power. The first is related to the customer’s price sensitivity. If each brand of a product is similar to all the others, then the buyer will base the purchase decision mainly on price. This will increase the competitive rivalry, resulting in lower prices, and lower profitability.

The other type of buyer power relates to negotiating power. Larger buyers tend to have more leverage with the firm, and can negotiate lower prices. When there are many small buyers of a product, all other things remaining equal, the company supplying the product will have higher prices and higher margins. Conversely, if a company sells to a few large buyers, those buyers will have significant leverage to negotiate better pricing.

Some factors affecting buyer power are:

  • Size of buyer – larger buyers will have more power over suppliers.
  • Number of buyers – when there are a small number of buyers, they will tend to have more power over suppliers. The Department of Defense is an example of a single buyer with a lot of power over suppliers.
  • Purchase quantity – When a customer purchases a large quantity of a suppliers output, it will exercise more power over the supplier.

Supplier Power

Buyer power looks at the relative power a company’s customers has over it. When multiple suppliers are producing a commoditized product, the company will make its purchase decision based mainly on price, which tends to lower costs. On the other hand, if a single supplier is producing something the company has to have, the company will have little leverage to negotiate a better price.

Size plays a factor here as well. If the company is much larger than its suppliers, and purchases in large quantities, then the supplier will have very little power to negotiate. Using Wal-Mart as an example, we find that suppliers have no power because Wal-Mart purchases in such large quantities.

A few factors that determine supplier power include:

  • Supplier concentration – The fewer the number of suppliers for a given product, the more power they will have over the company.
  • Switching costs – suppliers become more powerful as the cost to change to another supplier increases.
  • Uniqueness of product – suppliers that produce products specifically for a company will have more power than commodity suppliers.

It’s important to analyze these five forces and their affect on companies we want to invest in. The Porter Five Forces Analysis will give you a good explanation for the profitability of an industry, and the firms within it. If you want to know why a company is able, or unable, to make a decent profit, this is the first analysis you should do.

The Benefits of Ripstop Nylon Fabric

Ripstop nylon fabric is a very popular material because of all of the benefits that are attached to it. This fabric is most popular for the fact that it is very difficult to tear, and since it was first introduced onto the market, people have been using it in a variety of industries around the world, from military uniform manufacturing to the construction of parachutes and camping gear.

The Light Weight of Ripstop Nylon Fabric

Ripstop nylon is a light weight material, and this might come as a surprise considering how durable it is. The thread pattern is what makes the fabric resistant to tears, but it can also be woven in a way that allows the fabric to be so thin that it is almost transparent. The light weight of the material makes it ideal for the construction of travelling gear, since it is sturdy enough to carry heavy loads without adding to the weight of these loads. If you have ever gone camping you will appreciate the fact that your bags, tents and clothing will be able to provide you with the comfort and support you need without adding onto the weight of your carrying gear.

The Colors and Textures of Ripstop Nylon Fabric

This fabric is available in a wide range of textures and colors and this is what makes it great for a variety of purposes, including clothing, flags, camping equipment, battle uniforms and even yacht sails. The variety of textures allow for the manufacturers to choose the type of feel that they need to produce specific items, such as clothing or parachutes. When manufacturing clothing, manufacturers will ensure that the clothing is soft on the skin while retaining its durability.

Waterproof and Fireproof

Ripstop nylon fabric can be manufactured in a way that makes it both waterproof and fireproof, and these benefits make the material perfect for outdoor, military or public service gear. Firemen uniforms are often made from this material, because it is sturdy enough to withstand harsh conditions, and it will not set alight when in the presence of a fire.

Military personal and campers are often exposed to harsh elements, such as snow and rain, and the waterproof qualities of this material will ensure that these individuals are not endangered or made uncomfortable by cold, wet weather seeping through their clothing and gear. The fact that this material is also airproof makes it ideal for cold and windy locations, since the air will not be able to get through the clothing or gear to cause discomfort or illness.

The Inexpensive Alternative to Silk

This type of fabric has long been used as a cheaper alternative to silk, especially when it comes to constructing parachutes, and it combines the benefits of silk with the benefits of a sturdier material. When combined with softer materials, Ripstop nylon fabric is capable of being soft and flexible while retaining its tear-resistant qualities, and this flexibility makes it the ideal material for a range of different industries around the world.

Decorating Dining Tables Using Placemats

Where in the world did the idea for placemats originate? Some say they started in China and were made of wood or bamboo reeds. Others think they were simply fabric versions of a table cloth, but easier to launder. Perhaps it started with the cave woman, who used a giant leaf or slab of stone to differentiate one meal setting from another. In any case, it’s fairly obvious that placemats rose to the informal dining occasion because they saved the hostess time, protected the family table, and offered an exclusive setting for one.

Like every other simplistic invention, placemats evolved into every type and manifestation imaginable and are now become the chameleons of the dining experience.

Once relegated to the plastic variety and displayed in neon colors that could be wiped clean with the swipe of a dishrag, the somewhat unappreciated placemat is now available in the finest fabrics and features sophisticated colors that reflect high style for upscale decorating.

Combining Elegance and Function

Many mats used for table decorating are still of the wipe-clean variety but are referred to as “laminated and cork-backed for heavy-duty use and easy care”, and yes, they are useful, beautiful, and designed to last for years. Maintaining elegance and functionality are the hallmarks of the versatile placemat and modern technology has encouraged its perfection. Many are even made slightly wider than others to easily accommodate silverware.

In fact, for everyday use, the tablecloth has become a thing of the past. And vinyl tabletops went the way of the horse and buggy years ago.

History at Hand

Now depicting some of the richest images of the past, the mats using historical reference and replication can add special interest to a table like no other accessory. The placemat reigns king of the table today and you’ll find it in the classiest homes.

Take the Naseau Vine Placemat for exquisite table decorating. Europeans and American colonists in the so-called “age of exploration” had an avid interest in things foreign and exotic. The Nasseau Vine is an accurate representation of a beautiful black and white tracery vine pattern inspired by an 18th century French gown crafted of hand-painted silk and now featured in the colonial Williamsburg collection.

Then there’s the elegant Lightfoot House Placemats. Their design was adapted from hand-painted wallpaper depicting peonies and mums, birds in flight and hanging baskets. The blue and white pattern was popular in Europe and America in the 18th century and the original wallpaper is in the collections of the colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

The Furber Fruit Placemat is another elegant style, based on an interpretation of 18th century prints in the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation collection. Robert Furber, an English nurseryman, published Twelve Months of Fruits in 1732 and from his paintings of gloriously beautiful images, there are now vibrant representations accurately portrayed in a set of placemats.

Cloth over Vinyl

If your tastes run to high-style yet easy-care fabrics, The Magnolia Placemats Napkins set are stunning scalloped edged, quilted beauties, showcasing “the flower of the south” in rich color and design. Sage green is the perfect background for the grand white magnolia with its dark green foliage. These placemats are enhanced by matching napkins and magnolia napkin rings. Their easy-care feature is that they are 100% cotton and machine washable. They are also reversible to a striped pattern, so will serve double-duty before hitting the washing machine.

The Elements of Choice

There are table placemats to commemorate every season including holiday placemats and those to suit every occasion, every taste, hobby, avocation, or need. Paper placemats for children to play games on, kitchen mats, collectibles, placemats with political messages, cartoons and comic strip heroes, exquisite representations of the hunt, horses, and the elegance of the chase. There are round, rectangular, straw and wheat grass table mats; floral, stripe, paisley, leaf, map and beach themed mats, and vinyl placemats in all the colors of the rainbow.

Hats Off to Modern Dining

There is still a time and a place for the crisp tablecloth, sterling silver cutlery and exquisite crystal for the extra special occasions in our lives. But for most other times, the placemat allows us to change our minds with our moods, is truly the chameleon of the dining room experience and remains one of the most versatile and adaptable additions to our lives. So, it matters not the origins of the homely placemat. It has evolved into the ultimate tool in table decorating and deserves our hats off as we sit down with family and friends to dine at leisure and to share our meals in caveman style with a modern twist.

Carrara Marble Subway Tiles Combined With Hexagon Mosaics For a Modern Bathroom

One of the hottest current trends in interior design is the use of Italian Bianco Carrara White Marble, not only as a design accent, but also on bathroom floors, walls and showers as well as kitchen floors and backsplashes. Consumers looking for a high quality finished product with a more modern design are increasingly turning towards the unique beauty of hexagon mosaics and another timeless classic, marble subway tiles. Just like subway tiles, hexagon mosaics are also available in different sizes, the most preferred being 1″ hexagon mosaics and 2″ hexagon mosaics. Nowadays, a new fashion set by designers is using hexagon tiles for flooring in bathrooms or shower stalls and cladding walls with subway tiles. Generally, an elegant looking marble rug motif is created using basketweave tiles bordered with 1 inch hexagon mosaics; cladding the walls with subway tiles compliments the all-over design. An alternative to this application is 2 inch hexagons for flooring and 3×6 marble subway tiles for walls. Since both mosaics come with several natural stone alternatives, colors, textures and either a honed finish or a polished finish, the variations are almost endless, making it harder to choose your final design which will, in the end, all depend on your preference. But, the real question is marble or ceramic and glass tiles? While it may seem that there is no correct answer to that, it’s no secret that choosing natural stone over glass or ceramic provides more sophisticated look and a much healthier choice.

A main concern of consumers when it comes to using marble mosaics on the floor is whether a polished finish has the potential to be too slippery, particularly when used on the bathroom floor. It is a common misconception that polished finish marble tiles and mosaics are too slippery when wet. Because the size of the individual hexagon shaped tiles, a finished floor will have quite a bit of grout space, which provides traction even when wet, allowing the customer to choose the finish that works best with his or her design vision. Another frequently asked question is about the maintenance and care of marble tiles. This question was actually answered by the Greeks, Romans and Ottoman Turks whose showering and bathing rituals are still famous and who always preferred natural stones for their living environments, not only because of the beautiful look provided by natural stone, but also for the endurance and longevity of marble tiles. Marble tiles are also remarkably easy to maintain. Marble is easily cleaned with plain water, eliminating the need to use harsh and potentially toxic cleaning materials on a regular basis.

Hexagon marble mosaics give your design project a beautiful and classic finished look with a modern flair. Using marble mosaics in any color Bianco Carrara, Crema Marfil, or even White Statuary marble (also known as Italian Bianco Statuario) will increase not only the beauty, but also the value of your finished project. Purchasing marble products on the internet can be a daunting task, but can be very rewarding when purchased from the right site. Customers can contact us directly with questions about our materials and the designs and colors available. The highest quality yet most affordable carrara marble tiles and bianco carrera mosaics with competitive prices available at will perfectly compliment any room or area in any home or office.

4 Easy Ways to Drain Rain Water From Your Swimming Pool

Has a recent rainstorm caused the water level in your swimming pool to get too high or perhaps even caused it to start overflowing? If you’re worried about the high water level leading to other pool problems, it would be wise to begin draining water immediately. Depending on the type of pool and equipment installed, there are a number of different methods that can be used to drain water from a pool to bring the water level back to the correct level.

Submersible Pump – the easiest way to drain excessive rain water from your pool is by using a submersible pump. Depending on the size of the pump, it should take no more than an hour or two to bring the water level back to the appropriate level (half way up the skimmer intake). If you don’t own a pump or know someone to borrow a pump from, submersible pumps can be rented at any local equipment rental shop.

Built In Drain – you may already know if you have one, but many pools are built with a drain built into the wall that will automatically drain water when the water level gets too high. It is very common for these drains to get clogged with debris over time rendering them ineffective. If the built in drain in your pool is clogged, a qualified plumber should have the proper tools to get it unclogged.

Standard Garden Hose – check to see if your pool has a hose bib plumbed into the pool equipment. If so, hook up a garden hose, turn it on and the water will start draining any time the pool equipment is on. Be careful to monitor the water level during this process. If too much water drains, other pool problems may be headed your way.

Pressure Side Pool Cleaner – for pools with pressure pool cleaners (automatic cleaners propelled by water pressure created by the pool equipment), the cleaners feed hose can be used to drain water from the swimming pool. Simply remove the cleaner head from the feed hose and use the water pressure that normally moves the cleaner to drain water. Again, keep a close eye on the water level during this process and don’t allow it to drop too low.

As a swimming pool owner it makes sense to be prepared to drain rainwater from your pool after a big rainstorm. After all, it happens every year and I am guessing that the problem will never go away!

How Many Morningstar Farms Patties Are Allowed on Medifast?

If you are a vegetarian following the Medifast diet or just looking for some variety in your meal planning, some of your options for your Medifast lean and green meal include meatless patties made by Morningstar Farms. But you might be wondering just how many Morningstar Farms patties are on Medifast anyway, right? So let’s take a look at the guidelines.

First of all, you should know that there are three different vegetarian brands of patties that you can eat when following the Medifast diet. They are Morningstar Farms, Boca Burger and GardenBurger.

For each of these brands, you want to check the Nutrition information as you need to select patties that have less than six grams of carbohydrates each. If none of these brands are available to you or there are some other meatless patties you would like to try, I think it would be fine to just follow the same guidelines, but I would also try and match the nutritional stats for the approved products when looking at a different brand.

Your serving size for the Morningstar Farms (or other brands) is two patties as part of your lean and green meal. As you can see the serving is quite generous and that should keep your appetite comfortably in check while taking care of your hunger and your nutritional needs for the day.

While you won’t be able to enjoy your Veggie burgers with a bun, since bread isn’t on the plan because of the high carbs, you might want to try some lettuce wrappers as a nice alternative. Romaine lettuce makes a great wrap, but for a little more crunch try some Iceberg lettuce. Other popular lettuces for making sandwich wraps are Red Lettuce, Butterhead letuce, Raddicchio and large spinach leaves.

To make your lettuce wraps, you can just slice up the Morningstar Farms veggie burgers, add some chopped onions, some cabbage and heat it all up to spoon into your lettuce wrappers. If you eat dairy, consider adding two tablespoons of low carb ranch dressing for a delicious option. And if you don’t eat dairy, you could cook your veggie patties in two teaspoons of canola oil rather than using a non-stick cooking spray. Or stick to the non-stick spray and cut up 5-10 black olives and add those to your lettuce wraps for a great tasting Medifast lean and green meal.

When Dogs Feel Dizzy

Even dogs feel some dizziness just like us. This happens when an ear is infected and affects the sense of balance as one of the ear’s functionality. In dogs, it is called simply dizziness or “labyrinthitis” in medical term. It comes from the word labyrinth, a part of a complicated structure of ear composed of saccule, utricle, and the semicircular canals. The labyrinth serves for eye movement synchronization and in maintenance of coordination, balance, and posture. Ear infection is the most common result and affects the normal posture of a dog. Loss of balance is evident as well, followed by the lacking of coordination, making the dogs to vomit. Others manifest a condition of nystagmus where a dog has the fast jerking movement of the eyeballs.

What You Must Do?

o When a dog is in a woozy situation, it may find itself very difficult to walk or even hold up or tilt its head. Before contacting the veterinarian, take the first step to help him relieve momentarily from dizziness.

o Cover the dog with a blanket, even if it is not shivering or doesn’t show any signs of shock. Never try to make the dog eat or drink, or try to shock the dog out of the dizzy spell (for example, smacking or shuddering it).

o Immediately call the veterinarian to see the cause of the dizzy spell. It is important to see your dog even if it feels okay. Talk with the vet for the future prevention and treatment in case the dizziness occurs again.

What Causes Labyrinthitis?

o The most widespread effect of the condition is the ear infection. This brings disturbance to the inner and middle ear when a dog has an improperly treated disease in the ear. This can relieved through antibiotic, but depending on the status of the infected area. Sometimes, a surgery is required.

Other conditions that lead to dog dizziness are cancer and heart disease. Invasion of the brain area by a tumor or anything that surrounds the ears affects balance, while heart disease supports dog fatigue.

o Dietary health of the dog should be monitored. When dogs have a low level of glucose, it may feel dizziness. This needs the doctor’s attention to consider the replacements of the dog’s diet.

o Bug bites or stings, especially from bees also can cause dizziness in dogs. Sometimes, a dog gets dizzy after a bite or sting because it is allergic to bee stings. A dog sometimes gets dizzy when being bitten by a bug. This is because of the allergy the stings bring.

o Recovery from vestibular disease

o Drug intoxication, poisoning

o Head trauma

o The prolonged use of some antibiotics like neomycin and amino-glycoside can result to dizziness that may lead to deafness.

How to Treat Labyrinthitis?

The best treatment is to know the underlying cause. Medications to be given require the proper prescription to help relieve the symptoms and the future occurrence of the condition.

Parking Lot Towing Enforcement Signs Under The Pennsylvania Code

Like much of the Pennsylvania Code, state regulations on the posting of signs for private parking lots is somewhat wordy and can be difficult to understand. One key provision to notice, however, is that it is illegal to tow any vehicle unless the signs posted in the parking lot are fully in accordance with Pennsylvania law. Thus, it is very important that any Pennsylvania business owner with a private parking lot fully understand the regulations in place to ensure the business lot contains the proper signs in the proper places.

The Code covers two different types of signs used in any private parking lot. The first is defined as “Public Notice Signs,” which show messages referring to the entire lot, such as “Parking for XYZ Business Customers Only,” or simply “Private Parking.” These signs must be posted in specific areas, and must also follow several other regulations. If the parking lot has clearly defined entrances and exits, the law is fairly straightforward and states that a sign must be posted at EVERY entrance to the lot and that each sign must be facing traffic. Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Code is not as clear on what is required in parking lots with no clearly defined entrances, such as those that are simply open to the street on one or more sides. In these cases, the Code states only that signs must be posted so that they are “readily visible to an ordinarily observant driver.” How many signs are necessary, or where exactly to place them, is difficult to pin down, so business owners may be best off following the law of “better safe than sorry,” and posting signs very clearly at relatively small intervals throughout the lot. It may also be helpful to speak with a representative from a towing company or even local law enforcement to make sure the signs are posted properly.

Of course, having signs posted in the right locations is only half the battle. Business owners must also ensure that their signs are displaying the correct message in the correct way. To this end, it is important that any signs posted in a parking lot contain three pieces of information as follows:

  1. The primary restriction: essentially the basic message of “Private Parking,” “Parking by Permit Only,” or another phrase along these lines. This message needs to use letters at least 3 inches high. If the sign is more than 75 feet away from an entrance, an extra inch has to be added for every additional 25 feet. As for the width, the letters must be at least 1/8 wide as the required height.
  2. The secondary restriction: this includes the additional information such as which hours of the day or days of the week the sign applies. This can also include a warning that unauthorized vehicles will be towed and/or the charge that will apply. The secondary restriction is NOT required for a sign, but is generally helpful, even if it simply states “No Parking, Any Time.” The secondary restriction requires letters at least 2 inches high. If the sign is larger, the secondary restriction letters must be at least half the size of those in the primary restriction.
  3. The name and telephone number of the owner (or other person in charge) of the lot. The towing company will likely also post their own signs containing their own information.

While the majority of business owners may opt for some version of a pre-made sign, these regulations should always be kept in mind. Finally, one last thing for business owners to consider is the requirement for signs which apply to hours of darkness. If a “No Parking,” sign applies at all to hours in which it may be dark, it is required that the sign be either illuminated or “retroreflectorized.” A retroreflectorized sign must also be placed so that it will be seen in the headlights of any car entering the lot.

The second type of sign regulated under the Pennsylvania Code are “Reserved Parking Signs,” which have messages regarding individual parking spaces. These include Handicapped signs or signs designating a space or area for a specific person or type of vehicle. The first essential regulations for these signs pertain to their size, which must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches, and the height of their lettering, which must be at least two inches high. Such signs should be posted in front of each individual parking space. In the case of parallel parking, the signs must be posted at intervals of no more than 100 feet. Business owners can also choose to mark specific spaces using the pavement or curb, but it is required that these markers be easily visible (again to an “ordinarily observant driver”) AND that the parking lot have a Public Notice Sign stating that the spaces require a permit.

Spaces for the handicapped, along with their accompanying signs, are required by law for all business parking lots in Pennsylvania. It is important to note however, that each handicapped space must be marked not only by the standard handicapped parking sign but also by a second sign indicating that violators will be towed along the minimum and maximum fines for this offense. The second sign is to be posted below the first, which should be posted below any other signs for the parking space, at least 60 inches off the ground. Finally, if either of the signs is missing or “obsolete” (written on, mangled, etc.), it is the responsibility of the parking lot’s owner to replace it as quickly as possible at his or her own expense. While all of this may seem rather convoluted and complex, the task of establishing a business’ parking and towing services is an important one. In most cases, standard signs can be purchased for a lot, and must simply be posted properly. As mentioned before, it may be helpful for business owners to consult someone with more knowledge on the subject, such as a police officer or towing company.

Phosphate Industry Siege On Alafia River And Watersheds

The Alafia River watersheds and smaller tributaries in the area are known to be used as “navigable waterways” by the state of Florida during the early-19th century by European (1) settlers. During the early-19th century before and during the time of Florida’s statehood, the Alafia River was traveled by early Americans on a daily basis. The fact mentioned previously settles any doubts this river and its watersheds are defined as a navigable waterway and is considered public domain for travel, leisure, and commerce.

A settlement called Riverview took root near the mouth of the Alafia River in west central Florida. Riverview is the first recorded settlement in Florida on the Alafia River in (1) 1835. The first area settled by pioneers from the 19th century is near the present day Bell Shoals Bridge just outside of Brandon, Florida. This area of the Alafia River watershed is one of the most scenic areas on the river. The river takes two dramatic bends while flowing under the Bell Shoals Bridge causing the river banks to erode into thirty foot bluffs on both sides of the river.

Bell Shoals Bridge was one of the great spots for fun on the river during the summer months. (2) The bridge is about twenty feet above the average water level at this particular bend in the river. The depth of the river at the bridge was usually around twelve feet deep. The river water clarity was generally about eight to ten feet of visibility, so most of the river bottom was not easy to see. My friends and I spent many a day swimming in the river and jumping off the bridge into the river; it was great clean fun.

Lithia Springs was a great fun spot feeding millions of gallons of aquifer water to the river, daily. In the early to middle 70’s the springs fed millions of gallons of cool crystal clear aquifer water into the Alafia River all day every day. Unfortunately, the phosphate industry demands so much water from the local aquifers that the main spring at Lithia dropped over ten feet, and the small spring no longer exists, but the rocks where the little spring did exist are still visible.

Tubing down the river from Lithia Springs was awesome. The spring was a great place to start the tubing trip because just about a half mile down river was a small set of rapids that dumped into a vast underground cavern. We used to start tubing at Lithia Springs and tube down the river about three hours and end up at Bell Shoals Bridge.

Once one passes Bell Shoals Bridge, the river gets fairly deep and slows to a crawl. The area is perfect for slowly drifting in the cool, shaded river, relaxing and catching some rays. Tubing from Bell Shoals Bridge to Riverview takes about three hours, but the trip was well worth it. During the voyage, it was not uncommon to see a family of the manatee, alligators, various water snakes, and other fellow tubers.

The river empties its contents into the Tampa Bay estuary in west central Florida among the mangrove islands, sandbars, and oyster beds just west of Riverview. This area holds one of the most critically environmentally challenged waters and ecosystems in Florida. The region contains significant environmental treasures such as breeding grounds for many species of fish, mollusks, shrimp, oysters, clams, manatee, and the like.

Historically, the Riverview phosphate plant causes toxic waste releases creating miles of dead zones in the Alafia River and Tampa Bay estuary. Phosphate industry officials call these massive kills and dead zones just a “mishap.” The “dead zones” may last years depending on the volume of poisons released into the environment from the phosphate facilities.

However, the phosphate industry wanted a phosphate plant built at the mouth of the Alafia River on the back of the Tampa Bay estuary. Interestingly, Tampa Bay is the largest estuary and is environmentally critical to commerce on the west coast of Florida. The Tampa Bay estuary is a navigable waterway by definition, but Florida’s elected officials “decided to permit” the phosphate industry officials to alter navigable waterways to build a phosphate plant. Historically, the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA says, “the Florida phosphate industry is the worst environmental hazard in the state.”

Why did Florida elected officials “permit” phosphate industry officials to construct a phosphate plant in the best environmentally critical ecosystems on the west coast of Florida? This area brings in billions of dollars yearly from tourism alone. Unfortunately, phosphate industry officials are not environmentally savvy and continue to pollute the Riverview area along with Tampa Bay and the Alafia River watershed.

Historically, the Riverview phosphate plant is a site where many of the industries worst environmental catastrophes occurred. Unfortunately, the Riverview phosphate plant is one of the largest in Florida with a phosphogypsum stack over two hundred feet in height and covers about one square mile. This “stack” is a radioactive phosphogypsum pit full of toxic acidic sludge. Billions of gallons of lethal sludge fill the stack where sulfuric acid and other deadly liquids pool. The large pit surface produces a poisonous sulfuric acidic aerosol, polluting the air in and around the plant all the time, “day in and day out”. The poisons are carried as far as the wind permits, sometimes for miles.

Why would Florida’s elected officials allow this type of industrial environmental harm to continue to occur in such a critical environmentally challenged ecosystem? For the record, phosphate industry officials donate millions of dollars annually for “access” to both political parties in Florida, this is no secret.


1. European settlement | Alafia River Watershed Excursion. –

2. The Bridges of Alafia River State Park, Florida |

Turtle Mating – Why Does the Male Turtle Flutter Its Claws?

Turtle mating-have you ever wondered how these slow-moving and serene animals procreate?

Thanks to the substantial information that is now available regarding turtles and their anatomy, physiology, quirks and oddities, we now know quite a lot about how they mate.

The languid turtles have limbs that are comparable to those of tortoises, but the turtles’ feet have elongated claws. Their long claws serve them in mounting logs in order to bask in the sun, an activity that they seem to enjoy, and which is essential to their thermoregulation. Their long claws also come in handy when they move or clamber from one place to another on land. Did you know, however, that these long claws also serve a purpose in mating?

Before the actual mating happens, male turtles will usually fight over a female. This “courtship stage” among the competing males can last up to forty-five minutes. The bigger male would normally be aggressive, and display its dominance towards the other turtles by fighting and clawing at their faces. There are also some classes of turtles, such as the Red-Eared Slider, which mate underwater. When the dominant turtle finally establishes its superiority among the other male turtles, it will then scuttle over or swim towards the female to mount her and begin mating–that is, if the female is receptive to him! If not, she may become aggressive towards him. Turtle mating ranges from ten minutes to several hours.

If the female accepts the advance of the dominant male, the male will use his long claws in a seemingly odd manner. Just prior to mounting the female, the male turtle will begin to flutter his claws in a vibrating motion on the female’s face. Sometimes the turtle will also do the same waving gesture on the female’s head. Generally, it is the back side of its claws that the male turtle uses during this behavior. A turtle owner, who had personally witnessed this behavior, added that after the male had asserted his dominance over the other males, his biggest male turtle began stroking the female’s nose using its claws. Within minutes, the female turtle had allowed the male turtle to mount her for mating.

Some experts claim that male turtles do this in order to stimulate the female for mating, while others state that this behavior is the male’s natural manifestation of excitement.

The Most Important Golf Skill That is Very Seldom Taught by Most Golf Pros is How to Relax in Golf

You just have to watch a Professional Golfer’s swing to see the importance of knowing how to relax in golf. There are actually two components involved in the process of learning this fundamental. They are both equally important.

The first component is relaxing your mind. The second component is relaxing your body. When your are able to relax physically, you will find that you can hit the ball farther and more accurately. When you are able to relax mentally, though, you will find that you are able to overcome distractions, focus better on the task at hand, and achieve amazing results.

Knowing How to Relax in Golf is the MOST important of ALL SIX of the Golf Swing Basics that help you Play Golf Better.


Being able to have a relaxed or peaceful MIND is the MOST important ability to have while playing the game. Being able to have a relaxed BODY is a byproduct of this ability as well as relaxation exercises before, and even during, a round of golf.

In the Bible, one of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 26:3 which basically says that in order to have a peaceful (relaxed) mind, you must first have a stayed (or focused) mind that is trusting in a positive result. The mind is relaxed only when we are able to focus on ONE THING at a time. So what must you focus on in order to stay peaceful and relaxed when you are playing golf? The answer is that you must have a progression of things you focus on separately.

First, you focus on the target while you visualize what the path that your ball is going to take as it moves to that specific point on the golf course. But, remember, most of the time your real target is NOT the same point where you intend the ball to end up at (due to wind, slope and course conditions).

Then you must change your focus, for a moment, to be on what the proper club selection is for your intended ball path.

Then the length of your proposed swing must be planned according to what club you selected. Then your proper setup position must be set according to what you have practiced that works best for you. And then, finally, THE BALL when you make your swing (NOTHING else but the ball at this final stage of focus).

Nothing else can cross your mind while you perform each of these tasks of focus, in progression, in order to be relaxing your mind during a round of golf.


Doing stretches before you play or practice is very helpful in knowing how to relax in golf. There are many exercises that you can do before playing a round of golf. A few of them should be done before you tee off on the first hole. Whenever you feel that you are tightening up during a round of golf, these can be repeated at any time.

Have you ever tried to hammer a nail into a board with an extremely tight grip on the hammer? It’s difficult and time consuming isn’t it? By relaxing the grip on the hammer and relaxing your arm and shoulder muscles, you are able to hammer the nail into the board more swiftly and easily.

Well, the same fundamental of relaxing your grip on the golf club achieves the same results in hitting the golf ball farther and with more consistency. Someone should be able to slide the club out of your hands quite easily if you hold it out to them.

Think of your body as a fulcrum for a whip. As a whip becomes thinner and looser the closer you get to the tip, your shoulders down to your hands should be looser and more flexible also. If you watch the swing of golf pros on television, it looks like they are not even swinging very hard. Yet their club head speeds and ball distances are well above the average golfer’s.

In order to relax, it helps to take a deep breath and exhale before and even during your swing. Try not to hold your breath during your swing, as this will tend to tighten your muscles. This principle is used in many sports including martial arts.