EPA Disrespected by Florida’s Politicians Concerning Phosphate Radiation

Florida’s phosphate dilemma started a lifetime ago when fate and the Army Corps of Engineers happened to uncover a valuable resource called phosphate (4). Little did Floridians know, the Florida phosphate industry was born.

The Florida phosphate industry can trace its roots back to Coronet Phosphate Company started in 1906. (4) The industry was small for many years because phosphate mining at that time was back breaking work with picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows in mosquito infested areas. During the middle of the 20th century (2), phosphate mining changed forever, with the introduction of the drag line.

The mining story continues in the 1950’s by the Smith-Douglas Corp. located in Norfolk, Virginia until about 1960. Agrico Chemical Co. bought and operated the phosphate mines until 1973. At that time, Gardinier, a French mining company purchased and operated Florida’s major phosphate mines. (1)

I remember Gardinier phosphate trucks passing through the town of Brandon, Florida on State Road Highway 60 in the 1970’s. In Southwest Central Florida, Highway 60 is the main truck route from the largest phosphate mines in Bartow and Mulberry, and other sites as well, to the shipping Port of Tampa, FL.

In 1985, Cargill Fertilizer, Inc. bought and operated the phosphate mines until 1994 when the Mosaic Co. purchased the phosphate mines and still owns them today.

As you can see, the phosphate industry starting in 1950’s through present day has passed the environmental catastrophes on to the next mining company owner, one after another for over 70 years. That is how long it took to build the mountainous gypsum stacks we see today on the Florida landscape. The radioactive gypsum stacks have taken an entire generation to make.

During the last 70 years, you may ask, where do Florida’s elected officials stand? Florida’s elected officials stand with the phosphate industry and have for decades. Florida’s elected officials and phosphate mine owners love money enough to fight the federal government, the EPA’s Superfund project, and countless environmentally based lawsuits to keep the mines open for business, seemingly without concern for Florida residents.

Florida’s elected officials say the phosphate industry is too important for the state’s economy to impose fines or force the phosphate industry to neutralize their severe man-made environmental catastrophes. Am I saying Florida’s elected officials are not protecting their constituents for the all mighty dollar? You bet your bottom I am. These statements are based on well-known facts and not just my opinion as you will see, please read on.

The example that follows will give you some idea of the political power in phosphate mining. In 2003, the EPA officials stated a potential problem in Lakeland, FL. The problem was so bad that they (EPA) considered certain sub-divisions in Lakeland, FL to be candidates for emergency cleanup action. Also, low-income and minority communities might also be affected, internal documents show.

However, Florida’s elected officials intervened, and the agency (EPA) Superfund project did little more in the way of studying the issue over the subsequent decade. Local residents were kept from hearing the EPA concerns, and no remedial actions were taken. Also, no local news or national news affiliate mentioned the contaminated residential properties in Lakeland, FL sub-divisions. How can this be you ask?

Florida’s phosphate mining industry owners, who champion the second largest revenue producing industry in Florida (2), made it known that they vigorously opposed the EPA declaring the parcels Superfund sites. Such a move could make mining companies liable for up to 11 billion dollars in cleanup costs, according to estimates of the potential scope of the contamination that the EPA inspector general included in a 2004 report.

The EPA gave up their argument after a decades-long battle with Florida politicians and phosphate industry officials over the clean-up of phosphate mining toxic waste “in an area that could expose more than 100,000 residents to cancer-causing radiation levels.” The EPA submits and will leave it to Florida’s elected officials to decide the fate of the sites in and around Lakeland, FL.

As described above, the EPA did little to escalate the issue at Lakeland area sites until 2010, agency documents show. By now, EPA officials estimated that as many as 120,000 residents living in 40,000 homes are exposed to potentially unsafe radiation levels. (3)

Following news reports in 2010 about the standoff between Florida’s politicians and the EPA, the EPA officials began making plans for an aerial radiation survey that was to enable them to get a better idea of the scope and severity of any contamination (3). However, the progress stalled after a group of Florida politicians “pressured” the EPA not to conduct the survey.

Florida’s elected officials said they do not believe direct exposure to radiation from the soil is a significant risk. Florida’s officials said radium contaminated soils are not of concern, but indoor radium should be targeted instead.

Removing indoor radon contamination is generally less expensive than cleaning contaminated soil. Indoor radon pollution can often be cleaned through the installation of ventilation systems while cleaning radium-contaminated soil can require massive excavation projects at an enormous expense.

Based on the EPA, focusing on radon, but not soil contamination is not how the federal government would typically address a contaminated site. The EPA believes this approach will not account for the gamma ray exposure to residents, and does not account for the risk of inhaling or ingesting the contaminated soils.

In addition, the EPA benchmark level that Florida’s elected officials say they would use to determine whether action is needed to address indoor radon pollution is not based on health considerations. Instead, it is based on how much radon current ventilation technology is capable of eliminating.

According to the federal agency’s website, there is no “safe” level of radon exposure. (3) The US Congress passed legislation in 1988 setting a goal of reducing indoor radon levels to between 0.2 and 0.7 picocuries per liter, but the technology needed to meet this objective did not yet exist.

Even though the EPA’s Superfund program does consider the amount of radon gas entering homes, decisions related to remediating man-made radium contamination are usually driven primarily by how much of the radioactive materials are found in the soil. The EPA may have undermined, due to political pressure and the lack of funding, their “entire regulatory structure” for cleanup of radium-contaminated soils.

Reference

1. Acquisition History |State Lands | Florida DEP.

2. State of Florida.com

3. State Library and Archives of Florida

4. Florida Memory. com

Soil and Soul

Landscape painting has been a popular genre among the viewers of Pakistani art owing to its no-iconoclastic nature. Even a layman is a good admirer of landscape painting. This is one reason that we can find this style of painting, as a part of miniature painting, back in the times of the Mughals and then as a proper developing genre in the British era.

In early years of Pakistani art, we can find traces of landscape painting, used as a backdrop in the miniature-like paintings of Chughtai, while Allah Bakhsh, in pursuit to skill himself in the western technique, explored the complexities of this style.

Allah Bakhsh tried to capture his surroundings as they were appearing to his sight, in a realistic manner. Soon this realist approach was to be confronted with a more sophisticated ideology of modern realism; an avant-garde style of landscape painting that emphasized on capturing the atmosphere of a particular spot and its surroundings, and its effects on the painter rather than the objective appearance of that specific landscape.

Khalid Iqbal, the first male teacher at the Fine Arts Department of the Punjab University Lahore, during his stay at the Slade School of Art London, came under strong influence of his mentor; Sir William Coldstream who, at that time, was an important torchbearer of modern realism in England.

Later, when landscape painting was actually introduced to an academic level, Khalid Iqbal emerged as an exponent of modern realism in Pakistan in the early 1960s regarding technique and subject matter. Khalid, not only inspired the first generation of landscape painters in Pakistan, but also skilled and trained them to explore their very own styles in this genre. Zulqarnain Haider, Aslam Minhas, Ghlam Rasul opted this painting style for their very individual visual experience. These painters prefer to go on the spot to feel the atmosphere and its effect before painting anything on the canvas.

After the pioneers, the young lot, never lost interest in this panoramic style and kept on painting the colours, shadows, clouds and light of Pakistan. Ghulam Mustafa, Zulfi, Shahid Jalal, Mughees Riaz, Durre Waseem and Naela Amir established their names in terms of landscape and cityscapes.

Ajaz Anwar discovered the watercolour medium for the rendering of life and festivities of Lahore and Ijaz ul Hassan paid attention on the social issues through his symbols flowers and Amaltas trees.

On the other hand, Zebeda Javed with her distinct style, which can be titled as “Conceptual Landscape Painting,” added more colours and emotional strength to this genre. Zubeda’s style was different and somehow challenging in a time when ‘on-spot’ painting and modern realism were popular among landscape painters. The imagination, and emotional value, based on the impressions on memory, helped Zubeda to develop a more humanistic approach towards landscape painting. This style and technique received attention of many of her contemporaries and students, and the conceptual approach in landscape painting emerged parallel to the modern realism in this style of painting. Musarrat Mirza is another painter who adopted this approach in her landscapes while few paintings of Khalid Mahmud also display imagination and conceptual patterns; before he fell in love with impressionism in his later work. In a varied fashion, Moyene Najmi and Raheel Akbar Javed were also experimenting with this genre, although they preferred modern idiom of abstraction and non-representational approach in landscape and cityscape painting.

Kehkashan Jafri and Maliha Aga accepted and promoted the technique and style where the emotional and personal expression could get to vent in a strong way.

There are quite a number of artists, who basically are not landscape painters and have their repute in other styles, even these artists could not stop themselves from falling in love with this enchanting painting style. Iqbal Hussain, Saeed Akhtar, Rahat Naveed Masud and Quddus Mirza are such few painters who earned names in portrait painting, figurative painting or in abstract or non-representational art, but at one point or the other in their lives, they put their hands on this genre.

Interestingly, the energetic generation of young painters is all set to communicate through the colourful palette of landscape painting; Muhammad Arshad, Amjad Naeem, Munawar Mohiudin, Najam-ul Hasan Najmi, Mirza Matloob Baig, Anila Zulfiqar and Iqbal Khokhar are experimenting with their painting techniques as well as with their visual perceptions.

Art in Pakistan has seen many favourable and unfavourable circumstances during the last three or four decades; the figurative art was discouraged and new styles like calligraphic-painting evolved. However, the landscape and cityscape painting, owing to its non-iconoclastic nature, gained popularity and acceptance in our society and kept on its journey of success in splendour.

How Much Does A Log Home Cost?

“How Much Does a Log Home Cost?” is the single most asked question in the industry, and also the most difficult one to answer. The customers aren’t the only ones who are frustrated; dealers and manufacturers are fully aware that not giving an easy answer could lose a sale. However, in reality the answer is “That Depends”, and the sooner the homeowners accept this statement the sooner they can start looking in the right place.

WHAT DO I MEAN BY THE RIGHT PLACE? Like everyone else, my husband and I started our search by oohing and aahing at the majestic, multi-faceted homes with numerous peaks in the roof, giant trusses, huge windows, and big logs. What we didn’t realize right away is that every one of our favorite log homes were hand-crafted, and so far out of our price range that we might as well have been shopping for a castle.

The first thing you need to do is distinguish between a handcrafted log home and a milled log home. Handcrafted log homes will cost anywhere from 2-4 times as much per square foot as a milled log home, when you take into consideration the size of the logs and the intense labor required from the first day the logs are selected. If the logs are not evenly sized, you know right away you are looking at a handcrafted home.

MILLED LOG HOMES: If you select a handcrafted log home, you don’t need to be reading this article! For the rest of us, there are other basic factors to consider if you are looking at price: log diameter, log species, and log corners. The first two factors speak for themselves. The corner system, however, can make a big difference. For instance, think about how the logs are stacked. If you remember your Lincoln Log toy, you had to find the half-log to start the first course. This is the way a Saddle-Notched corner system is constructed. The courses are staggered and logs are notched to fit snugly together, and when you look at the corner you will see each log end lying on top of the one below it, creating a continuous unbroken stretch from top to bottom. The notches require another run through the mill, and will add to the eventual cost.

When you look at a Butt-and-Pass log home you will see a gap between each log past the corner. This is because all the logs are laid on the same plane; the first course is started with a full log and it butts up against the other wall log which runs past it. The next course reverses the process. There is no notch to hold them together, hence a less time in the mill. If you compare a butt-and-pass house to a saddle-notched house, dollar for dollar the butt-and-pass house should be less expensive. This is where aesthetics kicks in.

A home with logs that are flat inside-and-out will probably be joined with a dovetail system, where the logs are notched at an angle and snugly fit together. Think of the corner of your kitchen drawer. These also require more precision equipment and are a little more expensive to build.

There are other corner systems, but these three are the most common. Just bear in mind that the corner creates one of the big differences between one milled manufacturer’s product and another’s.

LOG PACKAGES. After you have decided on the corner system, you’ll find that every company quotes their logs differently. To get a real apples-to-apples comparison, you must ask for a quote on the logs ONLY. And remember that the logs constitute 1/4 to 1/5 the cost of the eventual house. I think you’re going to find that within the same size, species and corner system, the basic costs will not vary all that much from one manufacturer to another… not including shipping, of course.

Many companies quote on a Weathered-in Shell, which means all the components for a weather tight house: logs, windows, roof sheathing, doors. It’s tempting to get this kind of quote, but remember that you may be paying thousands of extra dollars to ship generic lumber across the country. And when the extra stuff is delivered, it’s up to you to store it all safe and dry on site. If your contractor buys the lumber locally, you can get it delivered when you need it, rather than months ahead of time.

IT’S A CUSTOM HOME. Once you get past erection of the log walls, you’re going to discover that your log home is not a whole lot different from any other custom home. The roof materials are the same, the heating systems are the same, the windows are basically the same. Most of your decisions are on the inside of the house: stock kitchen vs. custom cabinets, granite vs. Formica, wood floors vs. carpeting, tongue-and-groove vs. sheetrock, antler chandelier vs. wagon wheel… here’s where the wild differences in price can add up. It’s a custom home, remember, and the choices are up to you. In the mid-Atlantic states, the square foot price of a custom framed house and a custom log home will be pretty equivalent. When looked at from that point of view, the whole pricing equation starts to make more sense.

BOTTOM LINE: This is where we all get into trouble. There’s no agreement as to a budgeting price, because local costs vary so much. Four years ago, when I started designing my home, the magazines said to budget $150 per square foot. I thought this was outrageous, but in the end, we spent about $157 per square foot for a saddle-notched home with 8″ pine logs and some upgrades, so I’m glad I paid attention. If you start there, you’ll at least be in the ballpark.

Do it Yourself Seal Coating in 7 Easy Steps

After 25 years in this business, I’ve pretty much got it all figured out… First of all, for those who’ve never sealed their own driveway before, all I have to say is RUN! Run to the nearest phone, and call your local seal coating professional and let them do the dirty work. Some of my best customers were people that had tried to do this themselves at home. Unsuccessfully.

However, after studying this do-it-yourself guide to fun and profits in the seal coating business, you too will be able to seal coat with the best of ’em! But seriously, it’s not rocket science, and with a few basic tools, common sense, and a little manual labor, you too can learn to do this neatly and efficiently, and before you know it, your neighbors will be asking you to do their driveway. I kid you not! There could be worse things than making a few hundred dollars for a few hours labor in your spare time! So, if you want to have a little fun, save a lot of money, while preserving your asphalt investment for years to come, let’s get to it!

The basic tools for making this job quick and easy, include:

1. A weed trimmer, and preferably, a cheap, full face, plastic shield protector, or at least, safety glasses.

This is not an option! Safety is always rule number one. Besides, it hurts like hell to get hit by flying rocks,

and it would really suck (pardon my language) to lose an eye at the same time.

2. A good stiff “push broom”, preferably a “wire street broom” type. Either that, or a good stiff drink, and reach for that phone!

3. A good leaf blower, preferably the higher powered push type, but the smaller hand held type will do the trick.

4. A roll of 2 inch wide masking tape.

5. One of those metal paint stirring paddles that fit into a power drill. Often times, the fine silica sand

that is added into the seal coating material for traction, settles to the bottom of the bucket, and you can end up spending more time stirring up the stuff, than you do applying it. The best thing would be to just mix it up in the bucket it came in. You could even use a small shovel to mix it with.

6. Ideally, a professional grade 24 ” seal coating brush and handle. This is the one item that will make things so much easier and more efficient for you. You may want to include a paint brush, for hard to reach places.

Depending on the size of your driveway, you could theoretically use the smaller brushes sold at Home

Depot, but my advise here will be saving you hours of time, and hundreds of dollars, so why not buy a decent brush that will give you a better finish, and you can use year, after year? The time saving factor alone makes it a great investment.

7. You should wear old clothes and sneakers, because, contrary to popular belief, you will be walking through this stuff as you spread it out.

You should be using a Latex product, and it washes off with soap, water, and a gentle scrub pad.

One important thing to remember after you’ve stepped in this stuff is, don’t walk off of the asphalt onto something you don’t want sealed, like a brick walkway, or nice lawn.

If you must leave the area, shuffle your feet on the driveway, or step off into some mulch, sand, or a piece of old carpeting, cardboard, anything.

Even after you clean your sneakers, never walk onto your house carpeting! There’s always some material up in the treads or sides that will soil the carpet. Guess how I know this?

O.K., Let The Fun Begin!

STEP #1. Proper Edging.

Before you begin application of the seal coating material, proper cleaning and preparation is critical. After removing everything from the driveway, you should use a “weed trimmer” as needed, to ensure that all growth along the entire perimeter is removed, and there is no overhanging grass above the surface edge of the driveway, and I also use the trimmer to clean up against stone walls, and garage doors, Depending how close growth is to the driveway, you may get a sharper looking trim by holding the trimmer upside down, with the cutting string vertical, to get a precise edge. Of course, NEVER, EVER, use this type of tool without proper eye protection! I use a full face shield, the clear plastic type from Home Depot. They’re cheap, and every time I hear a loud “clunk” as a rock zings off of the shield, I just gotta smile. Plus, the rocks fly up at you more often when you hold the trimmer in this upside down position. Once you’ve trimmed the edges, now comes the really fun part. The cleaning! I hate the cleaning. Well, actually, unless your driveway has heavy dirt deposits, it’s really not too bad.

STEP #2. Proper Cleaning.

It is so much easier to have two people during this part of the procedure. One person on the broom, and one person on the leaf blower. If you’re using a small hand blower, that’s fine, it’ll just take a little longer. If your driveway is relatively clean, this won’t take much time at all. Start at one end, and slowly make your way forward in a back and forth pattern, while sweeping, and loosening up any sand or soil deposits, ahead of the blower. Keep marching forward, and make sure you blow off every square inch as you keep your pattern uniform so as not to miss any debris. If your driveway is exceptionally dirty, you may want to pressure wash it first.

STEP #3. Crack Sealing.

This is something that’s a little more tricky. Some areas of the country don’t do any crack sealing, as freezing and thawing cycles are uncommon. However, water still enters, and gradually washes out the underlying base material, so if feasible, sealing them is best, as this is where most of the premature deterioration occurs. In some areas of the country, the crack sealing is the most important part of the job. Here in New England, it is critical. I use a “hot melted rubber” material, but unless you have the proper equipment, it’s difficult for the average homeowner to utilize this process. However, they do make a rubber tape, or rope, that can be applied, and then melted with a torch, and troweled out. You may want to sprinke a little fine sand on the hot rubber, so you won’t track it, or have leaves or debris stick to it before it sets up. There are also liquid acrylic fillers available, and depending on the size and quantity, this may work best for you. Any crack sealing should be done prior to seal coating, and if it’s the liquid type, follow the instructions, and perhaps give it some curing time prior to seal coating. If you use this method, I would get a cheap paint brush, and after applying the liquid crack sealant, sort of “touch it up” by dabbing the brush to help make the texture blend into the surrounding surfaces a little better. This brush should rinse out with water, and you may need it later on in this project. This would also be the time to address any oil stains that you may have. If it is a long standing stain that has soaked into the asphalt over time, nothing can solve it, but there are oil stain “primers” you can purchase to help the sealant adhere to the surface of the oil stain. It may be available where you purchase your sealant. If not, I could send you some with your wisely purchased professional seal coating brush and handle. All you need to do is pour some out, and brush it out over the stain. It should dry fairly quickly.

STEP #4. Preparing the Material.

This is where it could get messy. The best method, as mentioned, would be the long shafted paint mixer on a drill. Or have an extra empty bucket, and pour them back and forth while intermittently using something to stir it up in the buckets. Depending on the brand of sealant, sand content, and how long it’s been sitting on the shelf, this process may vary in difficulty. You may want to mix the majority of your buckets in advance, to eliminate stopping mid application to mix the next bucket. This is where it may help to have an assistant, but if the material seems pretty well mixed when you first open it, it won’t be an issue anyways. Be sure to do this mixing on the driveway, where if anything spills, it won’t matter. If you buy your material days in advance, you could always place them upside down for a few days to let the sand dissipate, and hopefully, the lid is tightly sealed, and won’t leak!

STEP #5. Applying the material.

Once mixed, start pouring it out! Try to keep it evenly spread out across the edge of the driveway in an even row from one side to the other. Don’t worry about the amount you pour out at this initial stage, and you can even dump the whole bucket at one passing, holding it out low in front of you to minimize splatter, as you move from one side to the other. It’s best to stay back 3 feet or so from the edge, just to play it safe. Once it’s on the surface, take your brush, and work from one side to the other, gently pushing a steady row of material closer and closer to the edges of the surface. At this point, you should be walking in the material, stepping gently so you’re not plopping into the material and causing splatter.

The general idea is to gradually work the material right up to the very edge, without too much excess material at the edge. You may want to practice in a non critical area first, instead of right up against a concrete apron, stone wall, or brick walkway. Hold the brush at an angle, pushing the material closer and closer, while at the same time, trying to regulate the amount of material you are pushing forward. Better too little, than too much. It’s just a little awkward to pull back the excess material when you get too much of it close to an edge. If you need to, and can’t get the brush in front of the leading edge to pull back excess material, you can always use some cardboard, your credit card (It’s the best use for them these days anyways), fingers, whatever. Another thing you want to keep handy in case of a mishap, or splatter, is a water hose. If you splatter a door in a major way, you can lightly hose it off, and I would recommend you always keep a small spray bottle of water very close by, perhaps hooked on your belt to quickly spray off any smaller mistakes.

Keep in mind, on a hot summer day, this material can dry within seconds on a hot surface, and then its too late to wash off. But don’t worry. Once dry, you can usually manage to get it off with a wire scrub brush, sandpaper, or some such thing. There are some solvents, even gasoline (be careful), that will get the material off, but some of these solvents make an even bigger mess, if on a porous surface.

Sometimes it’s better to leave a small spot than create a bigger one. I would also recommend you place masking tape over the edge surface of anything you want to keep clean, such as walkways, garage aprons, etc., at least until you become proficient at “cutting-in”. Once you’ve got your first pass completed at the beginning edge, just keep walking back and forth, pushing the material in front of you as you go along. Just relax, and let the brush do the work, but you must keep a firm grip on the brush with a gentle downward pressure, to keep the bristles bent slightly backwards. If they pop forward, or face straight down, it could “chatter” and flick material where it doesn’t belong. Just keep the brush handle at a fairly steep angle up near your chest area, and you’ll be fine. Make sure you never push the brush with the handle in front of your throat. If it catches on something, or you trip, it’s really hard to pull a broomstick out of your throat while you’re flopping all over the ground. Oh, sure, it might be great fun to watch this happen from a safe distance as you’re calling 9-1-1, but it makes such a mess! Once you get the first row started, just keep on going, overlapping the row you just finished, to help insure maximum penetration of the material.

This may all sound complicated, but rest assured, after a few passes, you’ll get a feel for it, and you’ll be off and running like a pro. As you reach the end of one row, try to regulate the amount of material as you get near the end edge, and sort of swoop the brush “around the corner”, if you know what I mean. Not a real corner, but brushing the material as close to the edge as possible, without spilling excess material off the side, and continuing forward up the side a little ways. Sometimes, I will continue up the side for 4 or 5 feet if I’ve got a good “run” going. You will find that you switch the brush handle from one side to the other in your hands, as you change direction from left to right. Are you thoroughly confused now? Great, I’ve done my job!

After you brush out 2 or 3 rows of material, you must now go back to the beginning and brush out all those foot prints you just left behind. Same thing, different technique. Now you need to step out of the path a little as you brush out the footprints in the same pattern as you spread it out. I will sometimes spread out 4 or 5 rows of material before going back to hit the footprints. This gives you a little more room to brush out a few rows of prints, while giving you space to spread out a few more rows of material without having to step in the material you just “finish brushed” the footprints out of. Make sense?

If you brush over any low spots, leaving a puddle of material in a place that the brush missed, just pick the brush up off the surface a bit, and angle it so you just brush out the low spot with the end of the brush. You can also use this technique to “flick off” any pebbles that may mysteriously appear in your material from time to time. Try to keep the rows uniformly straight, as it will improve the final appearance. Many driveways curve, or have odd shapes. Just take a look around as you’re brushing, and try to imagine the uniform patterns that make the most sense of trying to keep an even progression towards the finish line. For example, as your coming into a turn, the rows will be wider at the outside edge of the turn, and narrower at the inside of the turn, as you gradually angle the rows to try and stay parallel with the general width of the driveway. Just aim your brush straight while disregarding the previous row you brushed, as you no longer will be keeping the rows evenly spaced. It’s sort of like the luggage conveyor belts at the airport. As it hits the corners, the inside edge becomes narrower as the outside edge fans out. It’s like magic I tell ya, magic!

Often times, a driveway will have a “turning apron” where you can back into and “turn around”. When you come to one of these, there are a couple of ways to address them. The best one is to stop your rows, while making sure you leave an excess amount of material at the leading edge, to minimize the potential of the edge drying before you finish cutting-in the turn-out. If you do this, also make sure you brush out the footprints right up to the leading edge, to make sure they don’t “dry-in” while you’re busy cutting-in.

Now turn and face the turn-out, and you’re sort of looking at a mini driveway in front of you. Just use the same technique as you did from the very beginning, and after you’ve finished brushing in this turn-out, stop at “it’s entrance line” leaving a little excess at the leading edge, like before, and go back to where you left off on the “main field” of the driveway. You then begin spreading the next row, and if it’s begun to dry out while you were busy doing the turn-out, try to avoid stepping in the semi dry material, and brush out a row or two while standing on the unsealed side of the driveway, until you can step back onto freshly wet sealant, and off you go.

As you begin to meet the leading edge of the turn-out, just blend the two together in as straight a seam as possible. That’s probably the simplest way of doing this. In the event of a driveway that leads straight in, with the garage off to the right, you may want to start at the far end, and work your way out, while cutting in the garage to you left, row by row, as you work your way out. There’s no right or wrong ways, just better ways. You need to think about the easiest brushing pattern for you, without boxing yourself in.

There are so many other options and possibilities too numerous to get into during this brief “homeowners” training session. Now, it’s semi important to try to keep enough material laid down ahead of you, so you don’t run dry. It really helps to have an assistant pour it out while you brush. Especially if your in the hot sun, when it may dry quickly. If the material begins to thicken up, you can always “spritz” a little water into it, and sort of brush it around and mix it up on the surface of the driveway. Like I said, it isn’t rocket science. Just use some common sense, and you can’t go wrong. Well, you shouldn’t go wrong… The material should have the consistency of maple syrup, only a little thinner. Sometimes what you buy may be a little too thick to smoothly spread out. Just add a little water & stir it up! When it is poured out, try to overlap the material already on the surface, to minimize having to “back brush” the material.

The number of buckets you will need may vary by manufacturer, viscosity of the material, and surface texture of the asphalt. You need to figure out the total square footage, length X width, and sometimes it’s easier to break up the driveway and measure it section by section because of odd shapes and such. It’s far better to have too much material than too little, as long as you don’t open the last buckets if your getting close to the end. If you don’t have a measuring wheel, or tape, you can pace off the distance. The average long stride is approximately 3 feet in distance, unless you’re really short. Therefore, 10 long paces equals about 30 feet. 5 long paces equals 15 feet. 30 X 15 = 450 square feet. The buckets should have their specific calculations printed on the side. You should probably figure in an extra 10% safety margin to keep from running out on the job site. As you’re pouring out the material, try to judge how far one bucket goes, and make an educated guess on whether you will need to open the last couple of buckets. If not, you can return them, but it sucks to run out, and if you stop and start again after a section has dried, it may be visibly obvious.

Another thing to be aware of, is that on a hot sunny day, you need to get the footprints brushed out quickly, before they “dry in.” If you don’t feel comfortable with this technique, you can always brush it out while staying just out of the material, but it’s so much more work. Also, #5. “Cutting in” Around the Edges. Often times, there will be a need to “cut-in” around certain areas. If there are a lot of little things to “cut-in” around, up the sides, or in tight areas, you can always do these areas first, and then when you get to that point with your rows, just slightly overlap with the areas you “pre-cut-in” and you won’t get bogged down with the small detail work as you’re spreading out the rows.

STEP #6. Making the final cut.

As you are approaching the end of the project, the most important finishing touch that really makes the job stand out, is ending with a nice neat “street line”. For this, it helps to have assistance. You want to lay down a strip of 2 inch masking tape across the end of your driveway. Depending on the shape, or condition of the street seam, you may want to extend the line a few inches out into the street. Have one person hold the leading end of the masking tape at one corner of the driveway, while you take the spool of tape and walk towards the other corner of the driveway. As you face your assistant, have them place their end of the tape on the ground visualizing where you want the “street line” to be. Then have them “tack down” the tape and begin slowly walking along, stepping on the tape as they go (not shuffling their feet, as this causes bunching up of the tape), while you slowly move the tape in the direction you want the line to be. This is very similar to the sobriety checks the police utilize, so save the stiff drinks until after you’re finished, and celebrating a job very well done. You’ll have earned it!

Heck, even if you buy the material, have second thoughts and never even do the job, celebrate and have a drink or two anyways. Did I mention I’m Irish? No offense. It’s easy to make the line curved if needed, to conform to the geography, simply by moving the spool of tape you are holding, in whatever direction it needs to go, while your assistant continues to slowly walk forward on the tape. The further away you are from the person walking down the tape, the easier it is to control gentle curves, or straight lines. Once the tape is down, I always step back 20 feet or so up the road, in both directions to check that the line looks OK. It may look good while your standing right on top of it, but you would be amazed at how crooked something may appear from 20-30 feet away. It’s always best to double check, as this is what people notice first and foremost.

I usually make a gentle “curve in” at each corner of the driveway, or depending, a sharp angle with a smaller piece of intersecting tape at the corner. Whatever looks best for your individual driveway. It varies. Once down, go back and make sure every inch of the tape has been stepped on. This prevents material seeping under the tape, even though it would be a minor seepage. I’m just very fussy, and demand nothing but the best from myself and my assistants, and expect nothing less from you, my dear friends. If a job is worth doing at all, it’s worth doing to the very best of your ability. You can do this, and do it well. Have faith. If you feel nervous about your cutting in abilities, you can always add a second strip of tape next to the first, for a wider margin of error.

This is the sequence I would follow to do the job. However, you may want to lay down the tapeline first, so you don’t have to stop, clean your feet, and interrupt the flow of your work progress. Now, as you are approaching the end, try to avoid putting out too much material, as you will have to scoop up the excess if you do. Just have a flat shovel or dustpan handy, in case this happens, and you can just brush it into the shovel, and pour it back into the bucket. As you are brushing out the final rows, and approaching the tape, be careful to stay “within the tape lines”, and brush out the final prints up to the tape line as close as you comfortably can. This is where you have to step off the driveway to brush out the last of the footprints from the street side of the tapeline.

If you have mulch, sand or gravel at the end side of your driveway, you can shuffle your sneakers off in that, or step onto a mat or cardboard, or simply step out of your sneakers, and finish the final row in your socks. It wouldn’t be the first time… DO NOT forget to “wipe” before walking out into the street. Oh, yes, don’t forget to “look both ways”. It would suck to be run over before you got to finish the job.

STEP #7. “Happy Endings”.

Once you have brushed out the last of the prints, if there is a little excess material in the corners, or anything, you can just gently brush it out back onto the driveway. Now for the “getting your hands dirty” part, if you haven’t already. When removing the tape, be sure to hold it over the driveway as you are pulling it up, so any excess material won’t be falling onto the roadway. If it does, just hit it with a little water, and as long as the water flows away from the driveway, cool. Otherwise, some paper towels will do the trick in mopping up the water. It might be handy to have one of your empty buckets nearby to dump the handful of messy tape into for disposal. Before walking away from the end of the driveway, make sure you place a barricade to prevent anyone from driving on it. DO IT NOW!!! Even if you live on a dead end street that hasn’t had another car on it for ten years, the minute you walk away, someone will turn into your driveway, looking for directions because they’re lost on a dead end street. Guess how I know this…? Place a row of your empty buckets across the driveway, close enough together so that even a very small car can’t fit between them, looking for those directions. If they can, they will.

Once again, how do I know this? One time, this woman pulled onto the newly sealed driveway just as I turned around to get the two wooden grading stakes and a roll of caution tape that I usually use as a barricade. I was literally 3 feet away and just turned my back for an instant. Actually, it’s happened twice. I was not very happy about this. No, not happy at all. The second time was a UPS delivery truck right in front of my face. At least I got to scream at him to STOP RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE! DON”T MOVE! DON’T BACK UP! DON’T MOVE OR I’LL SHOOT! DAMN…I’ll miss that UPS guy. At least he only got his front tires 6 or 8 feet into the driveway, and I had to wipe them off as he was backing off the wet surface onto the dry street. There was a faint tracking, but not bad. The bottom line is, people are just oblivious to their surroundings, and don’t pay attention. Not that I’ve ever done something so stupid, of course. The more I meet some people, the more I love my dog. Anyways… Once the barricade is in place, simply rinse your brushes thoroughly before they dry out, and you’re done. Time for that drink now! Once the material dries, it will turn a flat black color. After a few hours, you should be able to gently walk on the surface if you absolutely must, but you should wait at least 24 hours before driving on it, and preferably 48. The longer the better.

Once you begin to use the driveway, you may notice some tire scuffing, especially in tight turns of the wheel. This is normal, and simply the scuffing off of the top layer of fine silica sand that’s been added for traction. It’s similar to using a piece of sandpaper for the first time. It really stands out. Shortly, it will all blend together as you continue to use it. You should also try to prevent turning the steering wheel of your vehicle unless it is in motion. This will badly scuff the surface, and on a hot day, can actually dig into the asphalt. Well, I guess that’s all there is to it.

I meant it when I said, once you’ve done such a great job, others will ask about it, and it wouldn’t be such a bad idea, if you were so inclined, to start making a few hundred dollars an hour doing the same for neighbors and friends in your spare time. If you do decide to take the next step, I can help. This was just the tip of the iceberg. I have 25 years of experience, and that just doesn’t fit in 5,000 words or less.

Wheat Protein In Face Lift Serum, Skin Creams, and Hair Care

Wheat protein is an ingredient used in many beauty products like face lift serum because it contains not only protein, but amino acids which are readily absorbed by the skin and hair. As with most ingredients used on the skin, there can be benefits and drawbacks to wheat protein. The main benefit is the film-forming agent which can tighten and firm the skin. This is great news for women looking for a face lifting effect. Another great advantage is that it helps the skin to retain it’s moisture, which can certainly help in fighting the aging process. The drawback is that some people are allergic to wheat, and even though many women who are usually intolerant to wheat can apply it topically with no problems, there have been some reported allergic skin reactions while using this ingredient in a product. If you are allergic to wheat, you should consider asking your dermatologist and allergist before you try applying it to the skin, but know that there is a possibility this amazing ingredient can be used to help you look younger and healthier.

Wheat protein is of course derived from wheat. We’re all familiar with wheat as far as food and nutrition goes, but until recently I had not known that it was ever used in beauty products. It makes sense though, because one big rule for health enthusiasts is to not put anything on your skin that you couldn’t safely ingest. In this case, you could ingest it, and many of us do every single day.

So how does it fit into skin and hair care products like face lift serum? The protein gathered from wheat for use in skin and hair care products is hydrolyzed wheat protein. This is a protein from wheat that has been turned partially into water through hydrolysis. Proteins carry nitrogen to living cells, are wonderfully compatible with the skin, and help to sooth and moisturize.

I mentioned earlier that it has a film-forming effect. This is why it is most important to products that promise a temporary non surgical face lift. Many women are looking for alternatives to dangerous surgery and botox injections. With products like face lift serum enhanced with wheat protein, women (and men) can actually get what they are seeking. Surgery and botox last longer than the effect these products give, but there is no risk involved like there is with these other methods (provided that those with allergies have gotten the okay to use the products). So, how long does it last? Each time you apply the product, it will last about eight hours. Plus, if you are using other anti-aging products that help to erase lines and wrinkles, you’ll start to look better every time you use it. It’s perfect for a date night, a party or other social event, your day at work, or any time you want to put your best face forward.

If you’re looking for the best of the best in skin and hair care, you’ll definitely want to try products enhanced with wheat protein. Environmental enthusiasts will appreciate that it’s a renewable, biodegradable and environmental friendly ingredient. Health nuts will appreciate that it comes from a plant that humans can ingest safely. All people will appreciate the benefits of younger looking skin and soft beautiful hair. Remember to check with your allergist and dermatologist before using if you’re known to be allergic, but otherwise give it a try.

A History Of Aerial Lift Of Connecticut Bucket Trucks

Aerial Lift of Connecticut is an expert in aerial device manufacturing for vehicles, specifically lift trucks. The company was started in 1958, and was bought by Altec Nueco, a well-known vendor of secondhand trucks. At the moment, Altec NUECO provides customer support and service to Aerial Lift of Connecticut’s clients.

Equipment

ALoC’s equipment is placed on a truck’s bed and lifts the user up at heights starting from 40 to 77 feet. It has a wide range of uses among which includes changing bulbs on streetlamps, rescue operations, window washing, and construction, among others. If you are wondering how the Aerial Lift of Connecticut bucket boom trucks are categorized, it is done according to the boom’s location, which can be center-mounted or rear-mounted. The typical bucket truck has a rear-mounted lift. However, if the truck needs a chip box body, the lift is attached to the frame at the back of the driver cabin.

Before they were acquired, Aerial Lift of Connecticut had a substantial market share in bucket trucks. This is because most people feel that the ALoC bucket trucks is among the best in the market. According to customer feedback, the bucket trucks were seen as high-quality machinery that can last for decades of use. Over the years, the company has also innovated. It came up with the AL-77-53 model, which has a hydraulic-controlled elevator that can reach up to 77 feet.

Truck Installations

You will find that the Aerial Lift of Connecticut also has chip boxes and lifts available for 2WD, 4WD, and multi-axle trucks. The Aerial Lift of Connecticut bucket lift trucks have lifts for every application like construction, maintenance, firefighting, forestry, and window washing.

Examples of these are the AL-77-53 and AL-60-50 lifts, which can go upward and sideways to give you access to places that you normally will not be able to reach. The upper controls have a fiberglass tool scabbard. Also, the booms of the lift were made to be stacked on top of each other so that you can make a stronger and more durable lift. In fact, the company also sells lifts that can be put on all-terrain skidders.

Customer Care

Aerial Lift of Connecticut is also known for having a reputation for excellent customer care. Many of their satisfied clients will tell you how prompt and effective the company is when it comes to emergency repairs and yearly maintenance. When Altec NUECO took over, they continued providing superior customer service, even offering comprehensive overhaul services for old models of utility trucks. This is why, despite the competition, most people still prefer Aerial Lift of Connecticut bucket trucks.

Collecting Antique Plates – Antique Dishes to Collect

Antique plates can add whimsy, draw attention and refine your interior decorating. They can vary from the very attractive to ugly and often come with rich stories. They make excellent tableware and displays and can become items of genuine value to sell at any time.

The most effective way to know antique dishes worth is by locating the mark from the maker and discovering if that maker is well sought after. The maker’s mark is a unique stamp, trademark, and a date. It can have one of these or all three.

The maker’s mark is commonly situated on the base and can help you to identify who manufactured the piece, the period and even the location of the factory. Sadly, with all the replicas about, your maker’s mark may read “made in China” and not some famous factory.

Marks have at times includes stamps with words or names such as CJ Mason & Co., M Mason, Fenton Stone Works, or Lane Delph. Other manufacturers used markings with crowns or a coat of arms.

A common pitfall made by many collectors when antique dish shopping is the misguided connection between ‘age’ and ‘value’. Because a dish has age and may be fifty or more years old, doesn’t necessarily increase its value. Collectible plates are usually china dinnerware that is over twenty years old but other things like the year, manufacturer and even designer all contribute to the piece’s resale value.

Strangely, imperfections on antique bone china should not trouble you. In some cases it might even add to the value as an even more rare and collectible piece.

What is important is the state of your piece; is it seriously discolored, cracked or stained? Do not buy a piece in this condition no matter what price or manufacturer are attached to the piece.

Check the designs. Are they stamped, hand-painted or a combination of both? Stamped designs became popular after the 1900s. In the end you are looking for a pattern that is striking from a distance and one that compliments your decor and the elegance of your room.

If you’re interested in the pieces aesthetics and not necessarily interested in the resale value, then you should collect what ever strikes your sense of decor and your pocket. But if you are a serial collector then researching various markets, stores, and online will become your main play areas.

Fine China usually increases in value over time, as do dishes and other pieces that were manufactured in smaller volumes. Never presume an aged bowl is priceless, continually research the internet or through an appraiser.

Bone China while in the same family as porcelain, is more translucent. It may appear fragile but is in fact very strong.

During the Victorian era, the famous blue willow china became one of the most popular patterns to collect. It was so popular, that even fifty years later, stories about willow china still exist in children’s literature.

Another popular Staffordshire pottery was Spode founded by Joshua Spode and credited withe perfecting the formula of fine bone china.

There are many more antique plate names worth collecting; some names you will know like Wedgewood and Minton others like Moorcroft or tetsubin you will learn about as you go along.

Don’t expect to find the dishes you’re looking for all in the one place or at the same time. You must research, scour and investigate every avenue until you find the right dish style you’re looking for – and at the right price – to add to your antique dishes collection.

The Many Benefits of Taking a Snow Sauna

Have you ever heard of a snow sauna? Taking a sauna is great any time of the year. Especially if it is in a traditional Finnish sauna built out of cedar and it is heated by a wood fired sauna stove. It seems that all the stress and tensions of the day are drawn out of the body by the sun’s radiant heat that was stored in the wood that is burning. Once the stove rocks are hot the dry heat reaches deep into your body and drains all the toxins out of it. Then it is time to increase the heat by ladling water on to the stove rocks with a loud hissing sound. As the humidity rises your sweat increases removing all the grime and toxins.

A good traditional sauna is usually situated near a lake or river. When the heat of the sauna is almost unbearable and the toxins are on the skins surface you open the sauna door and head for the lakes cold water. A quick dunk in the water rinses all the poisons from your skin. You are now clean, refreshed and many times drained of energy. Only a snow sauna will make you cleaner and more refreshed.

 

If it is winter time and you live in the Snow Belt along the Lake Superior South shore you have a great opportunity to enjoy the snow sauna tradition. Winter lasts a long time in these big snow areas where in some years there are still snow banks in the cedar swamps on the 4th of July. Cabin fever is a common problem as the cold and darkness of winter and early spring as the months drag on. The snow sauna is a great way to purge your body and mind of this annual affliction.

In some places like the Keweenaw Peninsula snow starts to fall early. November snow accumulations will exceed the total annual snow depth for many Northern cities. However the snow sauna season usually does not start until about Christmas time. The timing of snow sauna season is linked to the depth of the snow. In general snow sauna season begins when the local snow depth is greater than 24 inches.

 

A snow sauna begins with a normal sauna. However that is where the similarity ends. Once a good sweat is going instead of heading for the lake to take dunk you simply jump into the clean cold snow. It is important that the snow have a good base especially early in the snow sauna season. Powder snow will not support much weight and your snow flop may end up with a hard landing. It is also important that the area that you are snow jumping into is not covered with rocks, brush, sticks and other hazards. An additional hazard can come from a hard snow crust after the January thaw or during the spring freeze thaw period.

 

As we said a good snow sauna ends with a good snow jump or flop. After you flopped and covered with snow take care to look upon the area you landed. You will be surprised to see dark deposits in the snow. These are the result of the grime and toxins that were in and on your body prior to the sauna. A true snow sauna enthusiast will make several rolls and flops before reentering the sauna for another sweat. A good snow sauna will make your body feel more alive and clean than it ever has. All the symptoms of cabin fever will be gone especially if you take a snow sauna with family and friends.

 

Nothing beats a snow sauna for improving your health and well being. You really have not lived until you have run out the sauna door and jumped into 3 or 4 feet of snow. 

Understand Your Halogen Oven

Habits are hard to break – even cooking habits, and when it comes to favorite cooking devices, we all have developed an affinity to one already. So, how about this halogen oven? Is it worth all the fuss it is getting?

Halogen ovens started as a Home TV Shopping product but quickly made its way into the mainstream retailing because of the clamor for easier access. Retailers saw the demand, and came up with the supply. But how does this oven really manage to grill, cook, broil, toast, heat, defrost, and bake?

First of all, its technology makes use of radiation heat to cook the food. No, it is not dangerous because the electricity generated transformed to heat which is controlled and will never be at a level that will pose any kind of risk. It’s similar to the electric oven and microwave ovens except the halogen bulbs are used. The heat is directed to halogen bulbs, and it is the bulbs that cook the food. The bulbs are made by respected manufacturers like GE or JML, and will last a long time before needing to be replaced.

The food chamber is made of thick, heat resistant glass that enables you to see what’s happening inside. This halogen infrared cooker, similar in appearance to the turbo broiler, uses the infrared rays to cook the food. You can cook dishes like those you can with a turbo broiler, and then some like stew and assorted grilled foods.

To add to the safety features of this cooking device, you will find an auxiliary fan that helps control the temperature. It works automatically to reduce the heat when it gets too hot. This fan controls and balances the heat so that the food is cooked evenly without over drying.

You should not be turned off by the size just because it’s a lot smaller than your electric range. This is a major plus factor because imagine the space you free up when you replace your electric range with smaller cooking equipment. You will have more room to move around, and your kitchen will cease to look cluttered – finally!

JML is a very popular brand in halogen oven products. It has consistently topped the rating along with branded ovens, but carrying a lower price tag. With this combination of reasonable pricing and quality product, it’s no wonder the JML is a company to watch out for.

The features of a JML halogen oven is what keeps it at the top of the heap, and these features are:

• Halogen Oven Features – JML ovens are packed with different cooking options that makes all other cooking devices simply obsolete. In fact, you will probably be packing up those unused appliances once you get used to the JML halogen oven.

• Consistent Performance – The JML halogen oven will not work one day and the next fail to meet your expectations. It has been consistently making the grade with everyone who buys and uses it. The only time the JML halogen oven will not give you 100% success rate is if the cook makes a mistake in the time and flavoring of his meal.

• Excellent Quality – The halogen bubs of all JML halogen ovens are as good as the best there is in the market. You will not have maintenance problems with regards this halogen bulbs. They are designed to last for years.

• Range of JML Ovens – It’s not just a halogen oven that JML is marketing. They also have microwave ovens, toasters, infrared cookers, convection ovens, among others.

• Attractive Designs – The JML products are sleek and stylish. It is not going to look awkward in any kitchen.

• Parts – The service and replacement of parts, should you need any, is easy to find. You can even do your buying online which makes it ultra convenient and hassle-free.

With these plus factors, and others, it’s no surprise indeed that JML halogen oven is doing brisk business both in retail and online sales.

The History of Automotive Repairs – Why We Need Trained Technicians in the Collision Repair Industry

Vehicle History Overview

  • They don’t make them like they used to.

The First Cars

  • The first motor cars were nothing more than a buggy and engine (Generally repaired by blacksmiths and carpenters. These cars were very expensive, which only the wealthy could afford)
  • Model T was the first car mass production on an assembly line in 1908 (Ford’s Vision was to produce an affordable car the average person could purchase)
  • Model T’s came in black only to keep the costs down. (The price came down once the assembly line was streamlined, but in 1908, the cost for a Model T started at $825. By 1913 the cost of the car reduced to $550)

Cars in the 1960s

Cars were made the same basic way up through the 60s

  • Body Over Frame
  • Rear Wheel Drive (Same concept, but the cars were very big, bulky, and heavy)

Except people in the 60s wanted SPEED! They achieved this with Big Block Motors, which created a lot of Horsepower. (The Birth of Hotrods, Rat Fink, Flames, and Pin Striping).

Cars in the 1970s

  • The government place strict fuel economy and emissions control laws
  • Customers demanded cars with increased fuel economy
  • New laws and customer demands started the automotive explosion of engineering ideas and changes in the automotive industry

Changes to comply with Demands and Laws

  • Smaller bodied cars and smaller engines
  • Aerodynamics (Increase Fuel Mileage)
  • Lighter cars by using different materials and designs
  • More work-hardened areas created during formation of panel (Body Lines)
  • Safety

Construction of Interstate Highways + Higher Speed Limits + More High Performance Cars = Accidents and More

Deaths from Auto Accidents

Federal Laws were passed to regulate safety. These laws included:

  • Installation of seatbelts
  • Safety glass windshields
  • Head restraints
  • In 1979, the first driver side airbag was introduced
  • Airbags are mandatory in motor cars produced after 1990
  • Unibody Torque Boxes: Allow controlled twisting and crushing
  • Crush Zones: Made to collapse during collision (To act as an absorber, absorbing the impact)

Modern Day Cars

  • Carbon Fiber Parts
  • Aluminum Parts
  • More Plastic Parts
  • High Strength Steel
  • Boron Steel
  • Unibody Construction
  • Space Frame Construction
  • Computer
  • Hybrid Cars

Now they even have cars that will tell you when you’re lost, where to turn, Parallel Park for you.

Conclusion

While the modern day cars appear to be made cheap and unsafe, they are actually designed to crush or collapse, while transferring the energy around the stronger passenger compartment to protect the passengers from injury.

There is considerably more damage to modern day cars during a collision than the older vehicles, which gives the perception that “they don’t make them like they used to”. However, in reality the cars are taking the impact instead of the passengers.

The lesson was designed to give you a little history, but to also emphasize that just a hammer, dolly and a few wrenches are not going to repair today’s cars. We need highly trained collision repair and automotive technicians to repair today’s vehicles.

How to Teach Gymnastics Mommy and Me Classes

Mommy and me gymnastics classes are designed for kids 18 months to 3 years old. At this age it is very hard to keep their attention. As a coach it is your responsibility to keep it fun and enjoyable, do not overwhelm them!

Every mommy and me class should begin with a short warm up. I like to start the class with something fun and active like the duck dance. This is followed by stretching. When you stretch you need to use your imagination. You may use little stuffed animals, bean bags or balls to make it more fun. If you make a pike call it an alligator and ask the kids what they want to feed it. After you finish stretching it is time to start your rotations.

Each rotation in mommy and me classes should be fun, creative and short. It is very important not to add too many stations. Too many stations makes it very hard, stressful and over whelming for the little gymnasts, moms and coaches. Make sure you don’t add to many new skills at one time. Repetition is a good thing at this age. You may have two forward roll spots, one on the wedge and one on the floor.

You need to get the kiddo’s attention and keep it by making it fun! Instead of saying jump spot to spot you could say hop like a frog on the lily pads. You could pretend the wedge mat is a big hill. The beam can become a plank that has sharks swimming under it. I can guarantee if you tell the mommy and me classes, “on this spot you do a forward roll, on the beam you walk forward, on the wedge you roll sideways….” You will lose their interest in the matter of seconds. So make it fun, be creative, use your imagination and you will keep their attention and they will learn!

Use a 30-60-90 Day Business Plan For Job Interview Success

Candidates are always looking for an edge in job interviews, and they try to gain that edge in different ways: crafting a killer resume, dressing for success, practicing interview questions and answers, researching the company, building a brag book, or even practicing positive body language. However, one thing candidates often overlook, or never even consider, is creating a business plan for interviews. Simply put, this type of plan is a short one-to-three page document that states in as little or as much detail as necessary what a candidate will do in the position that he or she is interviewing for.

To write a personal business plan correctly, you have to take the time to think out the position, your goals, and the company’s goals. You have to research the company and your specific desired position in it, analyze what it takes to be successful, and write what is, essentially, a “to-do” list for yourself. This list should take the form of incremental goals, ideally organized into a 30-day plan, a 60-day plan, and a 90-day plan. It is a lot of work to do before you even know if you’re hired, but this kind of effort will set you apart from other job seekers and absolutely get a hiring manager’s attention. Not only that, but it will increase your chances of success once you do get the job… because you’ve already mapped out how to be successful.

The 30-day part of the plan is the easiest to put together. In your research of the company and your discussions with the recruiter you are working with, you should discover what the company’s training plan looks like-how long it takes and where you receive it. So most of the items in your 30-day plan should be along the lines of attending training, mastering product knowledge, learning specific corporate systems, traveling to learn your territory (if you’re in sales), meeting other members of the team, or reviewing accounts.

The 60-day part of the plan usually includes more field time, customer introductions, reviews of customer satisfaction, fine-tuning your work schedule, and getting feedback from your manager.

The 90-day part of the plan is the “getting settled” part of your new job. It should include things that take more initiative on your part: landing your own accounts, scheduling programs, or coming up with new ways to get prospects’ attention (again, if you’re in sales), as well as continuing to get performance feedback and fine-tuning your schedule.

Keep in mind, these examples are extremely generalized. The more specific you can be in your plan, the better. Research the company and the position, even if you’ve done the same kind of work for years. Your business plan doesn’t have to be long and complicated, but it does have to show that you’ve done your homework, analyzed this job, and thoughtfully considered how you can best serve this particular company. That’s the edge that will get you hired.

What Your Spa Or Hot Tub is Trying to Tell You

You walk out to use your spa or hot tub and immediately you know something is wrong. Either the water is cold, which makes for a less than enjoyable soak or nothing is working at all. The spa appears dead.

If you have a digital system in your spa or hot tub with a digital upper control, you first look at the upper control display to see if it will tell you what is going on. Looking at your upper control, you see abbreviations like SN1 or FLO or even “—-“. What do these symbols and abbreviations mean?

The symbols and abbreviations displayed on your spas upper control are called error codes. They tell you that the spa has detected a situation for which it then tries to identify. Different equipment manufacturers use different codes to identify certain conditions found by the spa self diagnostic system.

We will look at the two spa systems I receive most questions about. Balboa controls and Sundance Spas controls.

Balboa, one of the most common spa controls manufacturers, uses the following codes.

pd = Power supply, unit running on battery backup

OH = Sensors reading 112-118 Degrees

Flo = Improper flow or pressure switch malfunction

Cool = Water temp 20 degrees below set point

ICE = Potential freeze condition has been detected

Sn1 = Hi-limit sensor malfunction

Sn3 = Temp sensor malfunction

LOC = Interlock failure – possible pump or ozone spike

(—-) = Unknown water temperature. (Displays when Spa is first powered up after refill).

Sundance Spa, one of the largest spa manufacturers, uses the following error codes.

ILOC = Interlock failure – possible pump or ozone spike

FLO = Pressure switch malfunction or Flow switch malfunction (system specific).

Hold = Flow Switch (heater is deactivated. Pump may also be deactivated).

Hold = Panel buttons pressed to many times to quickly.

HOT = PCB temperature above acceptable limit – air blower on.

ICE = Potential freeze condition.

PnL = Communication between the panel and circuit board is faulty.

(—-) = “WATCHDOG” (spa is deactivated) A problem has been detected. (system can not identify)

Sn1 = OPEN SENSOR (heater is deactivated) or SHORTED SENSOR (spa is deactivated).

Sn3 = OPEN SENSOR OR SHORTED SENSOR ( heater disabled).

(This is not a complete list and your spa error codes may vary depending on year and model.)

Notice the similarities and differences in the codes. Both use FLO,SN1,SN3 and ICE and so forth, Differences include, (—-). Meaning totally different things between the two systems. You must use the error codes for your control system to accurately diagnose the problem with your spa.

Lets take a quick look at the FLO error code. Both manufacturers state FLO is caused when a pressure switch malfunctions or a flow switch malfunctions. This can be the case in many situations, however, it is my experience that the number one cause of a spa displaying the error code “FLO” is due to a dirty or worn out filter.

(Some manufacturers attempt to narrow down the FLO error with different displays of the code, i.e., a solid FLO or a flashing FLO (FLO error blinks off and on).

Blinking FLO = Heater has been deactivated, pump is on and Flow / Pressure switch are open. (This means the system detects the spa has called for heat, the PC board has applied power to the pump, but it has not detected water flow. It deactivates the heater to avoid damage to the heater).

Solid FLO = Pump is off, flow or pressure switch is closed. (Meaning, the system should not be detecting water flow because the PC Board has not applied power to the pump, but the flow pressure switch is saying there is water flow. The flow or pressure switch is stuck in the closed position or shorted.)

A dirty or worn out filter can cause several error codes to be displayed. “OH” (over heat) because water is not moving quickly enough through the heater vessel and the high limit detects too hot of water temperature. “FLO” because the filter will not allow enough water through the heater vessel to activate the flow or pressure switch. Filters should be replaced approximately annually or bi-annually if you use two different filters. Filters should be rinsed thoroughly every month, and cleaned properly every 3 months or so.

For more information on error codes for your spa, visit Spa Parts Supply or contact your spa manufacturer for a list of codes that pertain to your spa. When in doubt, call a spa service technician for troubleshooting help and repair.

Top 5 Things Not To Say To A Pisces (Or Pisces Rising Sign)

1. Here, take the crown. It’s your turn to rule.

Huh? Wanna scare the beejeebers outta your Pisces? Shove them to the front of the line. I don’t think so. Pisces are rare creatures that love to serve (More than Capricorns!) But you cannot force your Pisces to do anything. No. If you’d like them to take charge of something, ask them to HELP YOU. Then give them the outline, the task at hand. Once they feel secure in their position, wow! Watch them go…swim little fish swim!

2. You should be more direct.

Gimme a break. First of all, that’s an outright criticism. They loathe personal attacks. Be more responsive to their feelings and WHY they’re not direct in the first place!

Second of all…Have you ever seen a fish swim up to the glass and whack it to get your attention? Nope. Pisces will infer, indicate, use innuendo, sometimes to the point of passive aggressiveness…ooh, they’re just scared of the frontal approach is all (and sometimes you wished they’d swim far away from Martyrs Anonymous!)

But unless your Pisces is a mix of Gemini and Scorpio, there is no such thing as direct. There is hinting and there is suggesting and there is saying, “Sure, whatever,” a lot. They would never harm you. BUT they equate directness with possible harm.

If however, your Pisces starts to attract a lot of bullies, it’s an indication that they need to set boundaries! Help them by showing them that it’s okay to say, NO. No simply means ‘no thank you.’ It doesn’t mean, ‘I condemn you to death.’ (must be some past life thing.) Then get them to an acting class where they can work it out as someone else.

3. Wait! Stick around…hold it!…

Poof. They’re gone. How do they do that? When ever they say, “I’ll call you right back,” be aware…they operate on a different Galactic Calendar and clock…where right is left and back is front and time is twisted into an eternity and never the twain shall meet.

Your Pisces is fragile and needs lot of down time. The odd thing is that Pisces fills that down time with more stuff to do so the endless ‘TO DO’ list short circuits their timing and inner clock. Oh, they can be there on time…that’s not the issue. They’re responsible and prompt and reliable. (as long as they’re not addicted to Dancing with the Stars or Prison Break).

Pisces distracts itself from the word ‘deadline.’ They envision fish hooks and no bait. Pisces likes to morph a lot. Let them. Give them space. You’ll never figure them out anyway. Just tell them that you need them and they’ll show up. Ta da! Hey! Where’d they come from? How the hell do they do that?

4. Tell me the TRUTH!

I’m sorry. You just can’t yell that to a Pisces. First of all they don’t like yelling and second it implies that they’re liars. But wait…there are those breed of Fish that are addicted to being cynical, held in emotionally, and their only form of communication is conspiracy theories and yelling or the silent treatment. Those are the childish Pisceans of the world. God love them and let’s help them to feel safe. But regarding your typical “super friendly, with a million friends in their date book kind-a-Pisces”…just don’t yell at them. Simply make an observation about their behavior. Let them know that you see them!

They have the guilt thing and feel completely responsible for the world’s ills. (Yeah, like it’s their fault for inventing reincarnation and Karma or something). Pisces already knows that the truth will set them free. They just keep swimming around past their negative inner voices that tell them there is no freedom.

Pisces is devout and pious and metaphysical. They love to hear HOW someone made it out of the darkness and into the Light. They think that particular truth might be theirs so they’ll try it on for a while and see. Ideal Vision is the most precious resource to a Pisces. They must have the ideal in front of them as a model. But then again, they’ll put themselves down because they’ve not reached the ideal. (Hence the morphing business.) Which can seem like crazy making when all you want to know is…their truth!

5. I dare you.

Here we go again. Trying to get Pisces to do something in the most direct way will result in their disappearance for sure. (see the movie Jumpers? Yeah, like that.) The world seems so harsh to Pisces. They need their distractions.

Sometimes that excessive painting or photography or those glasses of wine or foreign packs of cigarettes or to be the prize winning member on Netflix all become the crutch for living with so many different realities on this Earth. It’s a lot you know! Back off.

Never dare your Pisces. But do hold them and love them and help them to feel safe in THEIR world first, and then in yours. Eventually they build a bridge to the outside and although that bridge may be invisible to others, it helps Pisces have a way out of the madness that is human chaos.

Encourage their art and beauty and vision. Pisces make great illusionists, artists, actors, scientists, and politicians. They look for the hows the whys and the deceptions-to unlock the mystery or to be the mystery! That’s Pisces.

Michaelangelo was a Pisces-irate in his vision because he absorbed the intensity of life. Albert Einstein was also a Pisces. Couldn’t maintain a marriage to save his life, but he gave us a vision of the world we never knew existed. Shri Baba Meher was a Pisces. Devout, holy, bringing the illusion into reality.

Have you noticed that this entire Top 5 report seemed to stray from the titles, it’s an amorphous homage to Pisces! Thanks mom and dad! If ever there were two Pisces so much alike and so much at odds…two fish swimming together in opposite directions. Pisces…the ultimate magic act.

Stress Relief for Perfectionists

If you have a habit of trying to make everything in your life perfect, and controlling all the results of your projects and relationships, you probably have a stress level that is off the chart, and you might not even realize how harmful that stress is because you are so used to pushing yourself past the pain threshold.

You may have been cramming your work schedule so you could take some time off for a holiday or special occasion, but then – to be sure the holiday turns out perfect, of course – you end up taking care of all the shopping and preparation yourself, overloading your calendar with things that you feel you absolutely must take care of or else disaster will ensue, and cutting into your sleep time to get everything done. It does not occur to you to cut the list short. Instead, you cheat yourself out of relaxation time, you eat each meal in a hurry and you race around getting it all done. And then, inevitably, you feel so stressed that you can barely enjoy the end results no matter how wonderful they are.

The problem with the disease of perfectionism (and it is indeed a dis-ease) is that you don’t get any time off from it. Your mind simply won’t allow you to do that, because if you slack off (what other people call relaxing), then you punish yourself with guilt feelings, shame and blame.

Wherever did you get the idea that you must constantly be busy in order to prove your worth to the world? I know from experience that perfectionism generally has roots in childhood when you were striving hard to gain approval and admiration from parents and other caregivers or teachers. You got the notion that by being perfect, then you would finally get the love you sought, but instead, you got trapped in a lifelong habit of being unable to do “average” work in any area of your life.

Perfectionism is a hard taskmaster, and does not allow you any wriggle-room for less than stellar performance in work, play, hobbies, homemaking and relationships. You may be stressed to the max, but you won’t even admit that, because that would be an admission that things aren’t as wonderful and, well, perfect, as the facade you have so carefully structured in your life.

At first glance, it might seem that being a perfectionist means you are someone who takes pride in doing a good job. But when it goes deeper and darker, the habit of perfectionism means you are unforgiving when you make an inevitable mistake. You are your own worst critic, and you cannot take pleasure in the simple joys and accomplishments of your life. Nothing measures up as being worthy of acclaim, and so you flog yourself mentally and keep pushing toward that ideal and impossible perfectionism.

To offset perfectionism and get your life on a healthier path, start by taking some time to notice your emotional needs. If you make yourself half-crazy trying to be sure all the details are taken care of for the rest of the family, you’ll end up resenting the effort you’ve made if they aren’t suitably appreciative. Learn to cut back on doing too much for everyone. Let others help out, and stop being responsible for tasks that can be delegated to others.

If you’re the mom who always bakes, and you just don’t have the energy to do it for every dinner or every special occasion, then don’t! Buy a cake at the grocery store and present it with your usual flair. Bite your tongue: no excuses and apologizing are necessary. Avoid launching into a long involved reason why you were too tired to bake and fall all over yourself saying, “I’m sorry” — this adds to your stress and adds to an uncomfortable feeling in the whole party. In addition, that attitude perpetuates the idea that not baking the cake from scratch means you are imperfect and unlovable.

If you’re the dad who always barbecues for neighborhood parties, using your famous homemade sauce, but you were busy all week with extra hours at work, then go ahead and buy the bottled sauce. Remind yourself that you can always make your specialty some other time. Maybe it becomes an annual event that you enjoy doing, instead of a painful obligation that your old perfectionism has made you feel was necessary.

The point is, so often we get caught up in thinking the tradition of what we make each year has to remain the same. But when your lifestyle has changed due to economic shifts, and you’re working longer hours with less leisure time available to you, don’t stress over what should be a relaxing weekend.

You perfectionists out there, give yourself permission to use mixes, bottled sauces, and store-bought baked goods. Make a new tradition… make it all about spending time together with people you care about and love.

Ease up on your stress load, and you’ll be happier for it.