Epoxy Floor Coatings – A Durable and Sustainable Finish!

When an industry seeks for technological advancement, it looks for the most innovate state-of-the-art production and maintenance facilities to edify its foundation. Although industry provides its customers with quality and value, it also needs to put as much pride in its facility as it does for its product. A Sluggish growth hinders success. However, one of the best ways to streamline your facility for both commercial and industrial is a new floor coating. We should not forget that concrete surface in a building bears maximum abuse, regardless of the type of building, whether it be industrial or commercial.

Concrete floors skirmishes abuse.

Concrete floors are porous and tend to create dust from the environment and hence, need some sort of protection regardless of where it’s located. For many years, measures to protect concrete floors has gone from essentially nothing to a fairly sophisticated process of etiquette protective coating or surfacing in spite of the fact industrial floors take lots and lots and lots of abuse like deterioration or contamination, impact, abrasion, chemical applications and thermal shocks, nevertheless, a myriad of other properties such as aesthetics, wear, non-skid, chemical resistance, ease of maintenance, and physical performance calls for an instant consideration. To choose adequate concrete protective material for various conditions, epoxy and polyurethane floor coating will be best suited for resurfacing applications.

Over the years, Epoxy and polyurethane coatings are used to seal commercial and industrial concrete floors.

If you are focusing on coatings that are bonded directly to the surface and offer long term protection, epoxies are probably the best choice. A high build protective film is sealed over concrete floor to produce hard, abrasion-resistant finish act as excellent water repellent. Water-based epoxies harmonize well with concrete to provide a clear finish. Also it is sonorous, so do not allow trapped moisture to escape. Excessive moisture vapour emissions in floors can damage flooring installation. According to a survey in the US, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually to correct moisture-related problems in flooring. However, epoxy moisture control systems are designed to bring moisture emission rates to acceptable levels for the flooring provided it is applied in an adequate manner, which combats flooring failures, microbiological activity (mold and mildew) and other problems associated with excess moisture. Epoxy coatings are ideal for many different industries like food and beverage, clean rooms, manufacturing, pharmacy, bio medical, warehouse distribution, aerospace flooring and many more!

Polyurethane coatings are also recommended.

Polyurethane coating is thicker coating which form a high-build protective film on the concrete surface over high build epoxy and inorganic zinc coatings to provide it with high gloss finish with exceptional weathering performance characteristics. Not only, it is more applicable to surfaces subject to high levels of wear-and-tear, but also it provides excellent resistance to abrasion and chemicals so used widely in all industrial markets. It can be used for both interior and exterior concrete and is available in water and solvent-based versions and a range of sheen levels.

Gland Packing Vs Mechanical Seals

Which is the Better Seal – Gland Packing or Mechanical Seal?

Gland packing and mechanical seals both are very important components of shafts and pumps. Countless engineering applications rely on these devices to properly function.

Although seals and packings have similar functions, using either depends on budget, personal preferences, and more importantly, application requirements. For example, rotary pumps work best with seals because they are capable of collecting, treating, and filtering fluid leakage. On the other hand, there are applications where a packing is the more appropriate choice, such as settings with corrosive surrounding, which happen to cause seals to deteriorate faster. If this is the case, a packing will last longer.

There are several other pros and cons to using either seals or packing. Below is a short comparison between a gland packing and a mechanical seal.

Gland Packing – Does It Do the Job?

Gland packing is also known as the conventional shaft seal. Many engineers don’t recommend packings for a lot of applications due to the requirements and costs of maintenance. Sealing off liquids or gases isn’t as effective either, as a packing is prone to occasional leakage. You need to regularly adjust so that the seal is well-lubricated.

There’s also the problem of abrasive liquids causing corrosion. This usually takes a toll on the life span of a gland packing, thus forcing you to spend more on replacements and repairs.

On the bright side, there are cases where packings out perform seals. They’re good with handling aggressive fluids, for example. Packing earns another point due to its performance in case there is leakage because it’s easy to adjust to keep the pump fully functional. You can’t do this with seals because you’d have to take the pump out of service.

Applications that involve ball valves, gate, globe, and valve cocks also go in favour of packing since seals need rotary motion to be able to seal off anything. It is exactly this reason that gland packings are integrated in reciprocating pumps.

Mechanical Seals – What Makes Them Any Good?

When it comes to popularity, seals win. They are implemented in a lot more applications partly because they cause very few leak problems, and they are practically maintenance free.

Sticklers for power consumption may also be inclined to use seals more because they have considerably low energy consumption. Thanks to the few leakages, seals hardly ever experience interruptions, thereby saving time and effort.

Other factors of a seal’s durability are the duration of the sealing operation, ambient temperatures, and the liquid being pumped. Pressure and temperatures cause gradual damage for both seals and packings, especially with mechanical seals. If seals are your choice for sealing equipment, remember that accidental dry running may make seals deteriorate faster.

The price of seals may also discourage you because they are a lot more expensive than packings.

Which to Choose

At the end of the day, the best way to approach this is choosing the sealing equipment that can get the job done with very few hassles. Whether you choose gland packing or mechanical seals, make an informed decision so that you can prevent snags in your budget and productivity.

Data Collection Plan

The Data Measurement Plan:

– Data Collection Plans are used in the Measure Phase of Lean Six Sigma projects.

For each performance measure (Y), update a data collection plan to:

– Include MSA (Measurement System Analysis) measure plan (Gantt chart, MS-Project plan is Optional)

– Add Financial measure plan if separate from performance Y

– Add any Time Study or other data collection plans for Value Stream Map

– Sample Size Calculation

– Input, Process and Output Metrics (confirm that the right process metrics have been chosen and logical trade-offs have been made in determining what to measure.)

– Is this project driven by Customer specifications? If so, how do you know that the specifications satisfy customer critical requirements?

– What was the process for determining the metrics in the Data Measurement Plan?

– What trade-off’s were made is determining the final set of metrics for which to gather data?

The extent to which these have been addressed or executed form the basis of evaluating whether or not to allow the project to proceed with the actual data collection.

Key Question: Does the data currently exist?

Existing Data

– Taking advantage of archived data or current measures to learn about the Output, Process or Input

– This is preferred when the data is in a form we can use and the Measurement System is valid (a big assumption and concern)

New Data

– Capturing and recording observations we have not or don’t normally capture

– May involve looking at the same “stuff,” but with new Operational Definitions

– This is preferred when the data it is readily and quickly collectable (it has less concerns with measurement problems)

Existing vs. New Considerations

– Is existing or “historical” data adequate?

– Meet the Operational Definition?

– Truly representative of the process, group?

– Contain enough data to be analyzed?

– Gathered with a capable Measurement System?

– Cost of gathering new data

– Time required to gather new data The trade-offs made here, i.e. should the time and effort be taken to gather new data, or only work with what we have, are significant and can have a dramatic impact on the project success

Check Sheets:

– The workhorse of data collection

– Enhance ease of collection

– Faster capture

– Consistent data from different people

– Quicker to compile data

– Capture essential descriptors of data “Stratification factors”

– Need to be designed for each job

How will Data Be Collected:

1. Select specific data & factors to be included

2. Determine time period to be covered by the form (Day, Week, Shift, Quarter, etc.)

3. Construct form

– Be sure to include: (clear labels; enough room; space for notes; test the form)

Tips:

– Include name of collector(s) (first & last)

– Reason/comment columns should be clear and concise

– Use full dates (month, date, year)

– Use explanatory title

– Consider lowest common denominator on metric (Minutes vs. Hours; Inches vs. Feet)

– Test and validate your design (try it out)

– Don’t change form once you’ve started, or you’ll be “starting over”!

As you set up Check Sheets:

– Prepare a spreadsheet to compile the data.

– Think about how you’ll do the compiling (and who’ll do it).

– Consider what sorting, graphing or other reports you’ll want to create.

– Continuous or Discrete data?

– Adequate level of Discrimination and Accuracy?

– Adjust check sheet as needed to ensure usable data later, but don’t make data harder to collect.

Who Will Collect the Data?

Considerations:

– Familiarity with the process

– Availability/impact on job

Rule of Thumb – If it takes someone more than 15 minutes per day it isn’t likely to be done – Potential Bias

– Will finding “defects” be considered risky or a “negative”?

– Benefits of Data Collection

Will data collection benefit the collector? Be Sure They…

– Give input on the check sheet design

– Understand operational definitions (!)

– Understand how data will be tabulated

– Helps them see the consequences of changing

– Have been trained and allowed to practice

– Have knowledge and are unbiased

Narrow Potential Key Process Input Variables (KPIVs):

– Have the potential root causes been narrowed?

– Was a Cause and Effect (C&E) Matrix used? If so, what were the results?

– How were the KPOVs (Key Process Output Variables) rated?

– Did people who operate the process, technical experts, and supervisors collaborate to produce the C&E Analysis?

– Have you characterized the variables (controllable, uncontrolled [noise], etc)?

– Was a Pareto Chart used to select potential Key Process Input Variables (KPIVs) from the C&E Matrix?

– How many KPIVs do you have at the beginning and end of C&E Matrix?

– Are there any potential KPIVs which need immediate Baseline capability and MSA?

– Are these potential KPIVs monitored in the workplace?

– Which process steps stand out as especially significant in the C&E Matrix?

– Is there any process step that the team feel can be eliminated or combined?

Key Steps:

– Fill in the Output measure Y.

– Fill in the key stratification questions you have about the process in relationship to the Y.

– List out all the levels and ways you can look at the data in order to determine specific areas of concern.

– Create specific measurements for each subgroup or stratification factor.

– Review each of the measurements (include the Y measure) and determine whether or not current data exists.

– Discuss with the team whether or not these measurements will help to predict the output Y, if not, think of where to apply the measures so that they will help you to predict Y.

Inversion Tables Certainly Do Work

Undoubtedly the question I’m asked most about inversion tables and inversion therapy is “do inversion tables work”? You only need to look at the comments left on various websites by people who have used one to see what a difference an inversion table can make to their lives. Let’s have a look first at how inversion tables work and then see what sort of results you can expect when you use one.

There are millions of back pain sufferers throughout the country who either put up with the condition or pay an expensive chiropractor without any improvement in their symptoms. A lot of back pain is due to compression of the vertebrae in the spine. This causes problems with nerves, muscles and ligaments and any of these can result in severe pains and aches. Sciatica is another common complaint which is caused by back troubles. Inversion tables are designed to decompress the discs of the spine so that the pain is relieved. This is done by removing the weight pressing down on the spine and reversing the process so that the body is actually decompressed. When you use an inversion table, you tilt it so that your head is lower than your feet. You can continue until you are completely inverted, although some people don’t like the sensation of being upside down. It is sufficient to use an inversion of 45 to 60 degrees approximately.

The best and recommended method is to start gently, by that I mean using low angles of inversion and only using the table for 5 minutes or so. After a couple of days you can increase the angle and time by a small amount. Keep incrementing the times and angles until you are using it for 10 to 15 minutes and using the highest angle that is comfortable for you. Many people actually find it is enough to do no more than the simple 5 minutes a day. It is also common to come across people who only use their inversion table as and when they need to. Many users are able to store their table away for much of the year and only use it either when their back trouble comes back or just to keep any future problems at bay. There is no real age limit to using an inversion table and they are very comfortable to use. The tables tend to be well padded and the ankle straps produce a comfy grip while you are inverted.

What can you expect when using an inversion therapy table? In many case the results are quite dramatic. It is not uncommon to hear about people who go from chronic severe back aches to a pain-free existence within the space of a few days. I even heard of one person who tried one in a shop and liked it so much he visited the shop every day until his table was delivered. Unfortunately inversion therapy is all too often used a the last resort but there is no need for that. Prices are quite reasonable and definitely a small price to pay for having a healthy back one again.

There are a number reputable inversion table manufacturers to choose from, including Teeter Hang Ups, Ironman and Body Champ plus one or two others.

Appreciating What You Have In Your Life

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate what you have in your life because you might be looking at and longing for what you don’t have.

When you can be grateful for the love and abundance in your life right now, you are less likely to be stressed or anxious about what you feel is missing or lacking.

This isn’t always easy since the grass can look pretty lush and green on the other side of the fence, so to speak.

When you are concentrating on what’s not happening in your life, or what you don’t have, or are trying to blame or justify why things are as they are, then you miss all the greatness that is already surrounding you and blessing your life.

We can become sidetracked by, or stuck in the wanting, needing, and having, instead of being grateful for what we do have.

Sure, things, people, and situations might not be all you thought or expected them to be and here lies the problem, you have put an expectation on them, not an appreciation of them.

Being grateful for what’s in your life doesn’t mean you can’t reach for the stars or your dreams, but don’t overlook the gifts and blessings that are already there, and they are there.

You might be feeling, “What do I have to be grateful for?”, and believe me, there was a period of time in my life where I struggled with this myself.

I allowed other people and situations to take over my life; I didn’t value myself or the light that was within and surrounding me, I could only see the darkness that seemed to be engulfing me.

What I thought would be “greener pastures” turned out to be some pretty rough terrain, and once I made my way through I was able to truly appreciate all I had to let go of and still had in my life.

It wasn’t the things I owned, nor the things I believed were important, that I appreciated, although I was grateful for what I had left. What became crystal clear to me were the everyday things I took for granted, overlooked, underestimated, under-appreciated, or minimized.

I always appreciated and loved my family and friends but I never knew the magnitude of my feelings towards them and from them, and the love and support that surrounded me.

Noticing ordinary things like birds singing, or the squirrels running along the fence, or the sun shining, or the rain glistening on the pavement, was like I was experiencing them for the first time, and in a sense I was because I was appreciating them rather than just seeing them.

Nature sang to me like I had never heard it; life was something to be lived and be thankful for. The smallest and biggest things made me smile; the simplest of things like a warm cup of tea, or a hug or kind word, or a smile from a stranger brought me great joy and often a tears to my eyes.

So, don’t wait for tomorrow, or for something to change, or for something or someone better, be grateful for what is in your life right now, this very moment.

If you take a closer look, you may see that the grass on which you stand is a lot greener than you once thought. In fact, you might even want to take off your shoes and dance around with a song in your heart and gratitude in your step.

When you appreciate all that you have, life becomes more alive, vibrant, and expanded.

How can things not look and feel brighter when you are in the space of true gratitude?

Blessings are in your life everyday. Even if you temporarily lose sight of them, they are there waiting for you to embrace them.

When you value what’s in your life, you are saying thank-you to God, The Universe, for what is surrounding you now and for what is to come.

What is one thing you appreciate in your life? If you don’t already, begin today to write down what you are grateful for.

Maybe you can only think of one thing; that’s okay, in time you will be filling the page.

Some days you may have more than others, and sometimes you may have to really think about it because it might seem like the worst day you have ever had, but if you look around you, especially to nature, you will probably find more than one thing that you appreciate and may even make you smile.

Appreciate the good that already exists in your life and anticipate the miracles and magic that is to come.

You can use the insight technique to assist you in gaining insights and clarity through personal and professional challenges so you can appreciate and enjoy more of your life.

The How And Why Of Bridging The Reins

When teaching my beginner jump student one day, her horse was becoming a bit strong over fences. Though she was sufficiently capable of handling him, she was slightly concerned as she suffered muscle weakness in one arm from an old injury. That weakness sometimes prevented her from maintaining consistent contact on both reins when she grew fatigued.

It was then that I recalled a technique that my old jumper trainer had taught me when I was a junior rider retraining an ex-racehorse–bridging my reins. Bridging my reins had then become a subconscious effort whenever I was on a spooky horse or a strong mount that pulled over fences. By bridging my reins, I had greater security and consistent contact. My hands didn’t grow harder, but they had a backup now. And the technique allowed me to maintain greater control over the position of the horse.

To bridge your reins, you hold them as you would normally but then turn your hands slightly to face thumbs briefly as you adjust your reins to the bridge. As the rein passes through your thumb and finger, it now goes across your horse’s neck to the other hand, where it also goes through your thumb and finger. Doing so on both reins now allows for a bridge. Then return your hands to the normal position while maintaining the bridge.

Bridging the reins gives the rider a bit more security with horses that try to pull the reins from their hands. A common technique used by those riding very forward cross country, bridging the reins also helps riders who have the bad habit of opening their fingers and allowing the reins to slip through their fingers or who are often losing contact for whatever reason. It helps the rider regain the contact without too much fuss and does not restrict the horse. It also helps riders consistently maintain contact when they are learning how to judge contact and when to fix it. Additionally, bridging the rein helps beginner riders maintain awareness of where one hand is in relation to the other; the technique assists in keeping the correct spacing between hands as well as keeping them from being held too high.

Riders who fuss too much with their reins can benefit from the technique as well as fussy horses who are affected by inconsistent contact.

Reins can also be bridged to just one hand so that you can ride single handedly over jumps. Doing so helps the rider maintain her own balance and helps keep her from leaning on the horse’s neck. It also helps in exercises for building independent aids, such as jumping with one hand out to the side. To bridge the reins to the single hand, hold the outside rein normally as you would, then place your inside rein over the top of the outside.

Bridging the reins is a good technique to try when you need more security or when you need to work on maintaining your hands as independent aids.

Nordictrack Folding Elliptical Trainers – 2 New Options for 2014

Looking for a Nordictrack folding elliptical? A good folding elliptical trainer is hard to find these days as most trainers that fold are cheap, flimsy machines that break the first week you use them.

So when Nordictrack came out with a couple of tougher, heavier, higher-end folding trainers, a lot of people were interested.

Nordictrack currently makes 2 ellipticals that fold up – the SE7i (around $999) and the SE9i (around $1499). What do they give you and how do they compare? Here’s a brief review of each:

The SE7i is the most affordable unit. It gives you a generous 18 inch stride with adjustable foot pedals that you can move further apart or closer together so you can adjust the elliptical ride to your comfort preference.

You also get incline (which changest the slope of your elliptical motion) which can help you crosstrain different muscle groups.

The SE7i also has a backlit console which makes it easy to see your workout stats and higher arm bars – which is great for taller users or homes with multiple users.

The 18 pound flywheel (and heavy machine weight) helps to add stability to this elliptical and gives you a smoother ride.

For space-saving the SE7 folds up to a 32 x 28 inch footprint. The arms fold down and it can be folded vertically and even stored in a closet or corner.

Another bonus? Nordictrack has made it easier to actually put this elliptical together. It comes with “snap assembly” which means it’s almost completely assembled in the box. There’s just 3 steps to put it together out of the box, which means it’s ready to go in minutes, not hours as is the case with other crosstrainers.

The SE9i elliptical is the higher end folding model and it adds a few more luxury touches than the SE7i.

You still get the 18 inch stride, snap assembly, incline, adjustable footpedals and 32 x 28 inch folded footprint. But you also get a larger, full-color console with built-in web browser (the SE7i is only dual-color). So you can surf the net or read your emails as you workout.

And it comes with iFit – which is a program that lets you download new workouts from the Internet, map out new trails using Googlemaps (and see actual landmarks in the console window) plus track your workout progress online.

It also has a longer warranty than the SE7i, moving arm bar controls and more resistance levels. So it’s more of a “luxury” design than the SE7i.

Which one is best for you?

It really depends on what you’re looking for. The SE7i is the most affordable model – so if you’re on a budget and don’t care about the “bells and whistles” you might prefer this model.

The SE9i is similar in design and build to the SE7i – but it has the luxury touches like the full color web browser and more resistance levels that many people like.

Plus if you tend to get bored easily and need some distraction (like browsing the web or watching YouTube videos) while you workout, the SE9i might be the best option to reach your goals.

So those are two of your best options for Nordictrack folding elliptical trainers. They give you a smooth yet solid elliptical feel – but they fold up easily to a very small footprint – so you get the best of both worlds!

Lewmar V700 Vertical Windlass Review

Taking performance in recreational boating to the next level, Lewmar have developed the brilliant V700 windlass. This windlass represents true luxury at an affordable price. This stunning looking unit is the small fry of the “V” series windlass and best suited for vessels between 20 foot to 35 foot. You will fall in love with the push-button control that allows remote operation of the windlass from a sheltered position out of the weather. And if space is at a premium on your boat then the slim profile of this product might be just the answer you are looking for. A flexible mounting system allows it to be placed just about anywhere

Made from electro-polished 316 stainless steel the V700 offers the ultimate in long lasting quality. It can handle rope or chain with ease and Lewmars WARP (wear and abrasion resistance pattern) will ensure long term high performance. This is a heavy duty unit that is also very waterproof. It has a waterproof rating of IP67 which means it is waterproof to 1 meter. Often with forward mounting on the deck a windlass is exposed to full immersion from waves sweeping over the foredeck. A high waterproof rating is like an insurance policy.

There are plenty more features as well. Tucked away beneath the sophisticated styling of the exterior, is the heart of this workhorse. This consists of a worm gearbox providing maximum strength and reliability and a heavy-duty motor protected by an impact resistant cover. Additional security is provided via a motor protection feature and anchor lock feature. Also as part of the package you get a manual recovery option, a fast recovery speed, and a reed switch and magnet fitted as standard for chain counter applications.

The kit you get when you purchase this unit includes: the V700 unit, mounting studs, gasket seal for the base, installation wrench, toggle switch, circuit breaker and instructions.

The Lewmar V700 comes with a 5 year warranty.

Lewmar is the market leader in marine applications and has developed a global support network designed to provide servicing and repairs for the full range of Lewmar products. The technologies developed by Lewmar for today’s Volvo, Vendee and America’s Cup challenges will be integrated into the mainstream products of tomorrow.

So there you have it, a high performing, compact, eye pleaser produced by a company that stand behind their products.

What is the SDS System?

What does SDS mean?

This is a common question asked by a DIY novice. To make matters worse there are three types of these drills available: SDS Plus, SDS Top and SDS Max. This article provides a basic grounding in what the SDS system is, where it originated and what part of the system you might be interested in.

Origins of the SDS System

Bosch invented the SDS drill system in 1975. Bosch advertise SDS internationally as meaning Special Direct System, though in German speaking nations it is more usually known as Spannen Durch System(meaning “clamping system”).

Types of Chuck Available

There are three standards available:

  • SDS Plus is the smallest of the three and is a very common fitting for professional and DIY use. The tool’s shank is 10mm and inserts 40mm into the chuck. It is rated for hammers up to 4kg.
  • SDS Top is the least common of the three standards. It uses a 14mm fitting that inserts 70mm into the chuck. SDS Top is rated for hammers in the 2kg to 5kg range.
  • SDS Max is a very common industrial fitting. SDS Max employs an 18mm shank with three open grooves and a locking mechanism, instead of the two rolling balls employed in SDS Plus and SDS Top. The shank inserts 90mm into the chuck. Max is rated for hammers over 5kg and is a common fitting for light industrial use.

How Does SDS Work?

All SDS tools have a cylindrical shank with various grooves down the sides. On SDS Plus and SDS Top bits there are small grooves to provide rotary force and two closed channels for a ball roller to fit into. The ball roller allows the bit to move back and forwards freely whilst under hammer action. SDS Max employs three ball rollers.

SDS Plus tools are fitted by pressing the chuck backwards towards the body of the drill and inserting the bit. Removal is carried out in a similar fashion. SDS chucks are keyless.

Advantages of SDS

  • Quick exchange of tools
  • No chuck key required for tool exchange
  • Improved hammer action compared to normal varieties
  • Rotation Stop or Hammer Only action enables versatile use

Disadvantages of SDS

  • Cost of tools is higher than normal fittings
  • Chuck requires regular lubrication
  • Chuck must be kept clean internally else damage can ensue

In Conclusion

The SDS system gives modern power tools a versatile edge over older competitors. SDS tools are generally more powerful than their conventional cousins. Although bits used in the system are more expensive they are long lasting and durable, usually being tipped with tungsten carbide (TC) or similar material to give longer life.

SDS Plus is a very common fitting for power drills used by both professionals and serious DIY enthusiasts. SDS Top is an uncommon fitting and this may or may not be an issue to your purchase choice. SDS Max is usually a light industrial fitting only as it is used with hammers rated over 5kg. Hammers as this rating are usually used for light demolition work.

How to Choose Floor Tiles For Your Home

Your home is your very own personal space where you can give a free run to your creative ideas. And choosing good floor tiles can indeed seem an easy and challenging task, especially if you do have a creative bent of mind! The size and design required for your flooring should be calculated before choosing a quality floor tile set for your home.

The size of the flooring is very important, for example larger tiles can be easily laid and needs little maintenance. But, you should make sure that your flooring is flat and even before choosing large sized ones, as even slight deviations can look ghastly and very much noticeable.

Tiles design should also be chosen with care and should suit your home environment. Ceramic, granite, marbonite, mosaic, sandstone, vitrified or porcelain tile are very popular and can produce a wondrous effect on your home flooring. Similarly, there are numerous floor tiles design in ceramic range such as ornate, artistic, check board, square, rectangle, triangle, fusion geometric, circles, etc.

If you’re planning on laying granite flooring, you can avail or choose from a plethora of designs and colors. Granite, being a natural high quality stone is very durable and looks extremely appealing with a polished finish.

Many people also prefer to use vitrified tiles to beautify their floors. These are created artificially by vitrifictaion procedure and processed (for making it water resistant and stain proof). These tiles have superior features as compared to granite or marble. Choosing floor tiles design in vitrified varieties can be real fun as there are endless possibilities such as designing your very own personalized print image through digital printing for them.

A visitor or guest entering your house is likely to notice your floor immediately as he steps inside. So if the flooring is exquisite and impressive, it will leave a great impact on the visitors. Tiles are natural home ornaments that actually give it a real feel and beauty. Nowadays, many homeowners are opting for designer tiles on their home flooring to produce a personalized look to the whole house.

Actually, when it comes to choosing floor tiles design, there is innumerable choices and varieties in the market. You can take the valuable help of an interior designer or flooring expert while laying the flooring of your home. There are wide range of choices in styles, types, textures and designs in floor tiles. It is best to study about the different types of floor tiles and their usefulness. Some types can look extremely beautiful without being durable, while others may look dull but guarantee long lasting durability.

You should be clever enough to choose a flooring that is tough and beautiful in appearance also. Good planning is main key to buying the correct type of floor tiles for your house. You can start by leafing through online sources for different ideas and design structures. You can also compare prices and opt for a competitive and affordable priced floor tile set.

Formalism in Art – The Significance of Forms

Formalism – The Concept and History

Different art historians give credit to different artists and critics for proposing the concept of Formalism. Greek philosopher Plato (428 BC-348 BC) made a reference of ‘edios’ (forms) in his Theory of Forms or Ideas. According to him, human eyes can see an object as a fundamental form, modified by the plurality of its existence. For instance, color red is a form, which can exist in various tones and shades. We do not perceive each one of these variants as different factors, rather as single color (factor) in different settings. Around the late nineteenth century, French writer and painter Maurice Denis (1870-1943) argued in his article ‘Definition of Neo-Traditionalism’ that the visual aspects of an art work is more significant than its theme. English painter & critic Roger Eliot Fry (1866-1934) and English art critic Arthur Clive Heward Bell (1881-1964) took the idea forward. During the early twentieth century, the duo promulgated the sensory distinction between ‘significant form’ (structure and arrangement) and representational factors in an artwork, giving priority to the former.

Style and Influences

Formalism emphasizes on the style of execution, like brush strokes, color combinations, lines, light, and other structural aspects. In effect, such works are measured in the terms of their perceptual impact, instead of their sentimental force. Abstract art genres Impressionism and Post-Impressionism (particularly, the works of Paul Cézanne) were the significant influences on the development of Formalism.

The Artists and the Artworks

One of the most prominent works in Formalism came from German painter Josef Albers (1888-1976). His highly acclaimed series ‘Homage to the Square’ (1965) was composed of over one thousand paintings created over a period of twenty-five years, commencing 1949. He famously called this series ‘platters for color,’ where superimposed squares in different colors created the desired Formalist appeal. Albers did not attempt to represent any emotional undercurrents, definite theme, or storyline in this series. The focus here was to create different optical responses for the fundamental form (square) in varying situations (color combinations). For example, some paintings may appear bright and optimistic, while others may seem gloomy. Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) developed a new style of Formalism known as ‘Neo-Plasticism.’ He painted oil canvas variants of thick black grid partially painted in the three primary colors namely, red, blue, and yellow. Examples of this style include ‘Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow’ (1930), ‘Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red’ (1937-42), and ‘Composition 10’ (1939-42).

Conclusion

Formalism continued defining the Modern Art landscape until the 1960s. Most of the abstract styles and artists have supported the dimension in one form or the other. Genres, like Structuralism, Constructivism, Color field painting, and Geometrical Abstraction have been on its forefront. Therefore, Formalism is considered the most significant factor leading to the transition from traditional Representational Art to the Modern Art.

How to Stage a Dining Room in 7 Simple Steps

When preparing your home for sale, every room counts. The dining room is no exception; often this room of the home is a central hub of family life and entertaining. This room of the home can often be very personalized with family photos, heirlooms and collections as well. By effectively staging your dining room, you’ll have potential buyers planning their house warming dinner party in no time. The following tips will give you a head start on having a show home worthy dining room that potential buyers will flock to.

1. De-clutter.

Dining rooms can often be full of large furniture and lots of surfaces. Credenzas, buffets and china cabinets are typically covered in ‘stuff’ which can be very distracting to potential buyers. It can also cause buyers to think that there may not be enough storage space. Clear all surfaces of collections and clutter and leave a few key pieces out on display.

2. De-personalize.

This is the time to take down your gallery of family photos. This is a crucial step in home staging; when potential buyers see photos of your family, it is incredibly difficult for them to imagine themselves living in the space.

3. Pack and store collections.

If you’re an avid beer stein collector or have an extensive porcelain doll collection, this is the time to pack and store these items until you move into your new home. Not only will this free up a lot of space, it goes a long way in de-personalizing the room.

4. Assess traffic flow.

Is it easy to move and walk around your dining table? If you have large scale furniture that dominates the room, strongly consider storing the pieces until you move. By clearing out large pieces of furniture, the room will feel much bigger and spacious. Ensure that potential buyers can easily move through the room without having to squeeze past large items of furniture.

5. Choose a table setting.

This doesn’t necessarily mean setting the table with complete place settings; it can be as simple as placing a nice runner down the middle of the table and placing a set of vases as the center piece with some greenery or fresh flowers.

6. Lighting.

As always, lighting is a very important part of the room. If you have a chandelier, ensure it sparkles by giving it a thorough cleaning, including the light bulbs. If your fixture is outdated (if it’s brass coloured, it’s time to be replaced), head down to your local hardware store and choose a new fixture. This is a very cost effective way of updating the look of your dining room.

7. Clean, clean and clean again.

As with all rooms in the home, ensuring your dining room is sparkling clean is not optional. The floors should be swept, dining room furniture dusted and polished and all marks on walls should be addressed. Don’t forget the light switch covers either, every little detail counts.

How Your Old Carrot Peels and Apple Cores Can Make You Healthier and Be Kind to the Planet Too

You may think that throwing your carrot peelings and apple cores in the garbage has no effect since they will decompose anyway. But even natural plant matter will last for years when it’s sealed in a plastic bag and tossed into a landfill.

As a great example of community responsibility, the city of Seattle, WA offers free composting bins to all residents. This keeps over 800 million pounds of garbage out of their landfills! Not only can you help divert your own kitchen waste from the dump, but you can create rich nourishing humus for your own garden, whether it’s an acre or an old wine barrel on your patio.

WHY SHOULD I COMPOST?

o Over 21 million tons of food waste is generated each year in the USA. If this were composted, the greenhouse gases saved would equal taking over 2 million cars off the roads.

o You will add valuable nutrients back into the soil and your garden will be healthier and your vegetables will be more nourishing to you and your family.

o You will save money by not having to buy garden soil and mulching materials, and that will save the energy to transport those products to your store and your garden.

WHAT IS COMPOST?

When organic materials such as leaves, vegetable food scraps, manure, and garden waste decompose in a controlled environment (your composting bin), a rich and fertile humus is created that will improve and fertilize your garden soil.

Your plants are much healthier because:

o nutrients are added

o drainage is greatly improved, if your soil has a lot of clay in it

o if your soil is sandy, the compost helps it to retain water

If your compost pile is cool, worms and insects will find their way into it and help to transform your waste into food for your garden. But it helps to get the conditions right. Provide these friendly critters with sufficient air, water and food, and they will be your garden’s best friends.

IS COMMERCIAL COMPOST THE SAME AS “HOME-MADE”?

Homemade compost is better for microbes and nutrient diversity, but bagged compost does provide organic matter and some microbes. Beware that composted manure may be mostly water by weight.

If you have a large garden where the soil needs added nutrients, you may want to purchase cheap bags of composted manure or bulk compost from a local commercial composter, then add your own compost as needed.

If you are purchasing compost, keep in mind that there are no regulatory labeling requirements on bagged compost. Grade A composted sewage sludge is probably the safest, because it is the only type of compost that requires testing for heavy metals and pathogens before it is approved for sale to the public. Feedlot manure is much more dangerous from a pathogen point of view, since testing is not required.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE?

Even if you only have a small apartment balcony or back porch, you can compost in a plastic bin (about 18 gallon size or larger). Drill or punch holes about an inch or two apart on all sides, on the bottom and in the lid. Set it inside another slightly larger and shallower bin (those under the bed bins work well for this). Put a few rocks or bricks between the two so there is a space for air flow. Add your waste, and shake the bin every couple of days. If you have room for two, you can add to one for several months, then stop adding to it and start the second one. Continue to shake it occasionally until it is brown, crumbly and earthy smelling. You can use this compost for small balcony planters, or even your houseplants, if you don’t have room for a large garden.

WHAT DOES MY COMPOST NEED TO THRIVE?

For great quality compost, mix materials high in nitrogen (such as clover, fresh grass clippings) and those high in carbon (such as dried leaves and straw). Moisture is provided by rain, and by fresh kitchen waste, but you may need to add water to keep it damp. Turning or mixing the pile frequently provides oxygen.

Your compost needs to breathe:

Without sufficient air, your compost pile will decompose, but more slowly… and it will be a lot more smelly! So make sure you have lots of space for air in your pile. Straw works great for keeping the pile from matting down. If you don’t have access to straw, be sure you break up any clumps and try turning it with a spade or garden fork regularly to fluff it up.

Your compost needs to drink:

You want just enough moisture to coat each particle in your pile slightly, providing the ideal environment for thirsty microbes. It should be as damp as a towel that has been wrung out. Wetter than this and it will start to get smelly. Generally your kitchen waste will be moist enough, but if you are adding dry leaves from your yard you may want to moisten them slightly. If your pile is open to the elements, cover with a tarp in rainy weather. Too much moisture can cause temperatures to fall within the pile and make it smelly. Not enough moisture prevents the pile from heating up and slows down decomposing process. Check your compost pile’s moisture level weekly and adjust it if necessary. Add water to increase moisture, or add dry material to help dry it out.

Your compost needs to eat:

Your friendly compost-making bugs have two food groups… and it’s always best to mix the two if you can:

o Browns (Dry) – These materials are high in carbon and include straw, dry leaves, wood chips or ashes, peanut shells, pine needles, vegetable stalks and shredded cardboard or newspaper (avoid colored paper and inks). You may want to moisten these a bit as you add them to your compost pile.

o Greens (Wet) – These are high in nitrogen and include kitchen fruit and veggie waste, green leaves and grass clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds, and even seaweed. Horse manure is great, but it is better if it is well aged. Check at a local stable.

Your compost needs to stay warm:

If you live in a cold climate, your compost pile will most likely be dormant during the winter. It will be in fine form as soon as spring heat starts to warm it up again. Compost doesn’t need to be hot — 50% Fahrenheit is just fine.

You may be considering hot composting (110 to 160 degrees F), because the heat produces quick compost (in weeks rather than months), and kills most seeds and plant diseases. However, studies have shown that compost produced at high temperatures has less ability to suppress diseases in the soil. High heat may kill the beneficial bacteria necessary to suppress disease.

COMPOSTING TIPS

o Balance of fresh and dry: Compost piles with a balance of one part fresh to two parts dry materials break down the quickest. Add one garden forkful of fresh material to the pile and top it with two forkfuls of dry material. Then mix them together.

o Size: Compost piles that are at least 3 cubic feet (3 ft. x 3 ft. x 3 ft.) heat up faster and break down more quickly.

o Kick-start your compost pile: If you’re just starting your compost pile, add a shovelful of high-quality garden soil to help kick-start the microbial activity in your pile.

o Mixing: If possible, mix the compost once a week to move material from the outside of the pile in. This keeps the pile from compacting. (compaction reduces airflow and slows down decomposition)

o Smelly?: Healthy compost smells earthy – if yours is smelly, it’s too wet. Turn it more often and add more dry matter to help dry it out. When your compost is too wet, it eliminates the oxygen in your pile — which slows down the decomposition process and encourages anaerobic microorganisms to thrive… increasing the stink! It might also smell bad if your mixture has too much garden debris or kitchen waste. Bury it deep within the compost and add more dry matter.

o When it’s finished: The compost should be dark brown, earthy smelling, and moist to the touch. Compost at the bottom of the pile typically “finishes” first. You’ll know your compost is finished and ready to use when it no longer heats up and when original ingredients are unrecognizable. This generally takes 6 to 12 months.

o Nothing’s happening!: If you notice that nothing is happening, you may need to add more nitrogen, water, or air. Cold composting may take a year or more to decompose depending on the materials in the pile and the conditions.

o The compost pile is too hot: If your compost pile is too hot, you might have too much nitrogen. Add some more carbon materials to reduce the heating. A bad smell also may indicate too much nitrogen.

o It’s attracting flies and insects: Adding kitchen wastes may attract insects. To prevent this problem, make a hole in the center of the pile and bury the waste. Don’t forget… do not add meat scraps or any animal matter, pet manure, diseased plant material, weeds, fats or oils, or dairy products.

o Can I use fresh manure?: Don’t. This could burn your plants. Make sure manure (NOT dog or cat feces) is well-aged before it goes in your garden.

Beetle Breeding – Family Cetonidae

Although beetle breeding is not a commonly found hobby in North America, it’s a very popular past time in Europe and Asia. In Japan, many children TV shows such a Digimon and Pok√©mon base their characters on beetles and other insects. Stores specializing in the culture of beetles exist where hobbyists can purchase everything they need to start breeding beetles at home. Although many families of beetles are found in beetle husbandry, this article will focus mainly on the Cetonidae family, also known as Flower Beetles.

Step 1. Preparing the substrate. Before acquiring your beetles, you should make sure you have the proper material to keep your beetles. Cetonidae beetle larvae require decayed deciduous hardwood material in decomposition. A 20% decayed wood and 80% decayed leafs is required. Such ingredients are commonly found in hardwood forest such as maples, oaks and beech. Coniferous trees such as pine and other “Christmas trees” must be avoided at all cost. These trees contain toxic resin which is deathly once ingested by larvae.

Leaf Litter: Try to avoid newly fallen leafs as they lack the proper state of decomposition and the micro-ecology necessary for the proper the digestion of the decayed matter. The best time to collect your leaf litter is before the fall of the tree leaves which is late summer / early fall. It is even better if you can collect tree leaves which have been decomposing for a few years already. With the help of a light shovel, you can scrape and collect the leaves until you reach the hardened floor of the forest.

Decayed wood: As with the decayed leaves, the wood must be properly aged before it is given to the larvae. Fresh wood is useless and will not be consumed. Rule of thump to decide if the wood is of proper consistency: the decayed wood must be able to be chipped apart with a spade or even better, be able to be torn apart with your hands. Before you render it to proper size with a garden shredder, it is better to break it apart into smaller chunks. Unlike other beetle species which sustains mostly on a wood diet, I personally feel that the degree of decay is unimportant for flower beetles as long as break apart easily.

Preparation: Although you can use a common weed whacker to break down both your leaf and wood material, the best tool I have found is the use of a garden shredder. You just need to slowly add the leaves and decayed wood in small quantity at a time so as to not jam up the mechanism. The use of protective goggles is highly advised. Another tool that is successful is a leaf blower inverted to vacuum in the leaf instead of blowing it and in the process, shred the leaf to proper consistency. This technique only works for decayed leaves and free of hard branches which might damage the blower. Once mixed, the substrate should have a healthy “Earthy” smell. Water might be added in if the humidity is not adequate. To test the proper humidity level, take a handful of substrate and squeeze it hard. If it remains a clump for a second before breaking up then humidity level is adequate. If you squeeze the clump and water is squeezed out then you risk killing your larvae.

Sterilizing: Many literatures suggest you sterilize your substrate before using either by heating, water soaking or even microwaving it. Although smaller invertebrates such as spiders and centipedes may be present in the leaf and wood material, most will be eliminated during the mulching phase. Others who survive this phase are mostly harmless to your beetle larvae due to the large size the larvae acquire. The other drawback of sterilization is the elimination of beneficiary bacterial culture present which is a necessity for the development of your larvae.

Step 2. Acquiring your beetles. One reason why beetle breeding has not taken off in countries outside of Europe and Asia is the strict governmental regulations about importing exotic insects. The Asian Longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), although accidentally introduced in wooden crates from Asia and not a direct result of beetle hobby, has become a major pest in the United States and Canada. If you live in these countries, please inquire with your local law agency before ordering exotic insects. If you don’t have any experience with beetle husbandry, I suggest you start off with the smaller species such as Eudicella sp or Pachnoda sp. They have shorter life cycle from egg to adult (about six months) and are good beginner species. The larger species take about one year to complete the cycle and may require more attention from the breeder. You can find beetle larvae and imago stage in various forums and classified pages which specialize in beetle breeding.

Larvae: Before ordering, try to find if other dealers offer the same species at lower price. Beetles procreate at a very fast pace and the Law of Supply and Demand can vary extremely fast from year to year. Rare species may be offered at exorbitant price until it is found in many breeders’ hand and the price reaches a more affordable price the following year. Once you have found a source which offers larvae, try to acquire them at the youngest age as possible (preferably L1). Unless ordering from a reputable breeder, larvae can be exposed to unnecessary stresses such as temperature and lack of nutrients which the buyer is unaware of. This will result in smaller adult or even the lost of the larva. Weaker larvae may not have the necessary energy to complete its final cocoon prior to changing into an imago. Death usually follows such condition. It is also cheaper to procure beetles in larva stage then adult stage.

Imago (adult): As in the case of ordering beetles in larval form, the buyer should acquire young adults which are of no less then a few weeks old. The imago must be active and able to feed. Extreme caution must be taken when ordering adult beetles. Many dealers (not all) from Africa will offer wild caught beetles but are in fact scammers, waiting for you to send them money first before sending you beetles. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Upon reception, if your beetles show sign of lethargy, broken tarsi (legs) and scratched elytras, these may tell you that your beetle may have lived a long life already. There is a generation description terminology widely accepted by breeders. A WC term represents a Wild Caught specimen. A WF1 is the descendant of WC. A F1 is the descendant of WF1. A F2 is the descendant of F1 and etc…

Step 3. Keeping your adult beetles.

Preparing the breeding tank:Before releasing your adult beetles in a tank, it is necessary to prepare the proper breeding container first. An old fish tank or a large plastic storage box is a perfect container to keep your beetles. But please make sure that you have proper aeration in the container. Modification to the plastic box lid with window mesh may be necessary. For smaller and medium size species such as Eudicella sp. and Mecynorhina sp., a substrate depth of 15-25 cm would be enough. For larger species such as Goliathus (which will be featured in a feature article), I recommend a depth of 30-50 cm. I also compact the bottom 30% of the substrate into a harder layer. Some species such as Goliathus prefer to lay their eggs in a harder substrate and others don’t mind ovipositing in a looser substrate. It is also recommended that you burry a small wooden branch/log in the substrate as some species seem to prefer depositing their eggs near them. This may simulate in nature the need to lay their eggs near trees and the wooden branches may be thought of as “tree roots.” In addition, small branches must be added to the tank. This allows any beetle that has been flipped on its back side to grab onto something to help it turn right side up. A beetle that has turned upside down may struggle for hours until it dies of exhaustion.

Feeding: In Asian countries, you can buy fruit based beetle jellies. Some are specialized with protein to increase egg production. However they are expensive to purchase outside of these countries. Fortunately, fruit beetles will accept any soft fruits such as banana (the most commonly used), papaya and cantaloupe. The fruit can be served in a bowl that is not too deep as the beetle may not be able to climb back out. I have used ashtrays with success and they are available at your local dollar store. Citrus fruit are not recommended. The fruits should be changed at the first sign of molding. Although I have never read any concrete studies showing that adding protein to the diet of beetles has increased their egg production, I have sprinkled fish food flakes on the surface of the fruits given to my beetles. I figure thousands of Japanese can’t be wrong! The disadvantage of feeding your beetles with fruits is the appearance of fruit flies. If not kept in check, the flies will invade your breeding room. Frequent change of the food source will solve the problem. Another solution is to make your own non-fruit based beetle food. A fellow breeder has shown me the use of sugar base syrup with was fed to his insects with the help of a sponge. The beetle would lick the sponge until the liquid has all been absorbed. I have in turn have used his recipe to make a home make jelly which is readily accepted by my beetles.

Sugar Base Homemade Jelly

  • 200 ml of brown sugar
  • 800 ml of water
  • 1 Tbsp of agar agar (gelling agent derived from seaweed)

Add sugar to water in a cooking pot. Bring water to boil and stir well to melt all the sugar. Once sugar has melted, add the agar agar to pot and stir. Turn off heat and let mixture sit for a few minutes. The liquid will have a slight syrupy consistency at this point. Pour mix in ice cube trays and let sit at room temperature. Once syrup has cooled down, it will jellify and you may remove the cubes from the tray. Store the jelly cubes in the refrigerator and take out whenever necessary.

Temperature: Although most beetles kept in captivity are tropical species, I have kept mine with success at room temperature of 20-25 degrees Celsius (68 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit). Cooler temperature will make your beetles become lethargic and may stop feeding.

Humidity: Although there is no need for your beetle to drink as it consumes all the necessary liquid through the fruits it consumes, your tank should still be at an acceptable humidity. The ideal humidity level would allow you to sustain the proper humidity required as explained under “Decayed Wood” section above. A hand held vaporizer is adequate for the job. However, when you will have several breeding tanks to vaporize, you may want to save yourself a Carpel tunnel syndrome and use a pump vaporizer similar to the ones used for spraying insecticide. Please make sure it’s one that has never been used for that purpose however.

Lighting: In addition, you have to keep in mind that flower beetles are diurnal creatures and a source of luminosity is a necessity to simulate sunlight. A neon light is an adequate substitute when left on for 12 hours a day. An incandescent light source may generate too much heat if placed too close to the beetle container. Never expose your beetles to direct sunlight if you keep your beetles in a covered container as it may overheat and kill all your beetles.

Mating: A good female: male ratio is 3:1. Depending on some species, some males are territorial towards other males of their own species. Rule of thumb is that if it has horns, there is a good chance it will show aggressiveness. However, Cetonidae beetles will never engage in violent combats such as Dynastidae beetles where males can literally dismember each other. Flower beetles’ combats are more like shoving matches and push its opponent off a branch or female. The larger the specie of beetle, the longer it may require for a newly emerged female to start lay eggs even though mating occurs on a regular basis. A pair may be encouraged by placing a male on top of a feeding female.

Community tank: Tanks with mixed species of beetles can be very pretty to look at. However, I do not recommend this practice for several reasons: 1. Once larvae are found in the substrate, the breeder will not know the specie it belongs to. 2. If sub-species of the same beetle are kept together, inter-specie breeding may occur. The hybrids are not well accepted in the breeder community as they prefer to sell/trade pure stains. However, hybrids may be of interest for curiosity reason and offer forms and patterns not found in the wild. These strains should be made aware when selling/trading to others or should not leave the breeder’s breeding.

Egg Laying: Egg laying occurs when the female disappears for several days and you see vertical tunnels visible on the surface of the substrate. Different specie will have distinct preference of the substrate level where the female will deposit her eggs. Some will prefer the middle of the substrate whereas others will prefer to lay her eggs at the bottom. When egg laying has started, proper misting of the tank is crucial. If the substrate was left too dry, the water may not be absorbed immediately and the water may seep at the bottom of the tank and drown the eggs. After several weeks, eggs may be retrieved from the tank or left to hatch on its own. The egg resembles small oval rice. It will absorb moisture from its environment and grow larger, whiter and more spherical as well. Incubation usually takes between 2-4 weeks, depending on the size of the beetles. Usually a novice breeder may not have the patience to wait and will dig in the substrate to satisfy his curiosity. This may be done carefully with a tablespoon and sifted gently. Experienced breeders may decide to let Nature take its course and let the eggs hatch in the tank. This method however may not be possible as the larvae of some species (especially the larger ones such as Goliathus and Mecynorhina) have a tendency towards cannibalism and separation is the only way to reduce this behavior.

Larvae rearing: As explained previously, a larva undergoes three instars (molts) during its larva growth: L1, L2 and finally L3. The length of each instar is again closely related to the size of the beetle specie and ranges from a few weeks to several months. On a side note, the width of the head capsule at the L3 stage can be measured with a digital caliper and is a good measurement for the final size of the adult beetle. Each larva can be reared in its own separate container. For smaller species such as Pachnoda, a 1 L. container may suffice whereas for larger specie, 1-2 L. containers with a regular substrate change may be adequate. A favorite container of mine to use is the Mason jar used for pickles. The glass allows you to see the development of the larva. Whenever adding a larva to new substrate or changing an old one with new substrate, you should always include some of its original substrate, whether from the breeding tank or raising container. This is because beneficial bacteria are present in the adult beetles’ waste product and larvae frass (poop). This bacteria culture is needed for the larva to properly digest the substrate. Some breeders include larva frass in the breeding tank to encourage the females to lay eggs. It is a known fact that adding protein supplement, in addition to a high quality substrate, such as dog food and fish flakes increases the size of the larva which results in a bigger adult beetle. This is particularly true for the medium/large beetles such as Chelorrhina and Goliathus. However, once your breeding program includes more species and/or larger population, individually supplementing each larva with a portion of protein supplement becomes tedious and eventually becomes chore. In addition to the extra work, special attention has to be given to the quality of the substrate when following the extra protein diet. The uneaten food eventually attracts mites and other parasites when the substrate is particularly humid. Population explosion of mites frequently happens when the problem arises and is not taken care of. Although a mild infestation is not a concern to the larva, once the population explodes and covers the entire larva, the mites may block the larva’s spiracle (little breathing holes on both sides of the abdomen) and asphyxiate it. Another supplement which can be added, particularly for smaller species such as Pachnoda and Eudicella, is fruit slices such as apple and pear. The fruit will not spoil as fast as dog food and will not attract mites as easily as dog food as well. But care has to be taken nonetheless and uneaten portion be removed and replaced with a fresh piece. Once a larva has reached the L3 instar, you can even sex your larva (with practice) by locating the presence of the Herold organ. This organ becomes eventually the sperm duct in the male beetle and is represented by a small dot near the end of the abdomen.

Pupation: Once a larva has reached its maximum size after a few months of consuming leaf and wood substrate, it is ready to finalize its life cycle. The first sign that a larva is ready for pupation is when it stops eating and turns to a yellowish taint. Some species will show sign of wandering on the surface such as in the case of the Goliathus (which will be addressed in an article of its own) and a loss of weight. It is crucial that the container which the larva is living in not to be disturbed at this point. The larva will crawl deep in the substrate and construct its pupal cell. The cell consists of basically a mix of particles from the substrate and a bonding substance produced by the larva. Once hardened, the cell becomes waterproof and protects the larva inside. When the larval cell is completed, the larva undergoes the pre-pupa state where it coils into a C-shape, becomes wrinkled, turns in a yellow color and the claws bends into an unusable state. It is important to comment that if you breach a small hole in the cell, the larva may or may not have the necessary energy to repair the cell. This is based on how close it is of the pre-pupa state. If it’s early enough then you are lucky and the larva will repair the gap. If it’s too close to the pre-pupa state or the hole too big, the larva will escape its completed (but damaged) cell and die to the lack of energy to repair or create another cell. If it’s already in pre-pupa state then the larva will be unaware of the damage and continue its metamorphosis. An interesting observation is that 75% of your beetles will actually form its cell against the wall of the container. Thus if you have a glass jar, you’ll have a front row seat to observe the complete transformation to its imago form. The pre-pupa state lasts for a few weeks and eventually undergoes to its final state, the pupa state. The pupa state is a mix between its larval form and its final imago form. The pupa form will have an orange color and will be active within its cell as it wiggles around. This final pupa state will last several weeks depending on the size of the specie. Once emerged, the adult beetle may be taken out of the cell for examination (well…mostly due to beginners’ excitement) but must be buried under a layer of fresh substrate after and left alone. The beetle will climb out by itself once it is ready and begin its adult beetle life. If you decide to let the beetle emerge from its cell by itself, you must make sure that the humidity level is kept constant. A dried out cell becomes hard and will be difficult for the imago to pierce its way through. Once the metamorphosis is complete, the imago will rest. The period will range from a few weeks to several months as in the case of the Goliathus before it is truly ready to emerge from its cell.

Parasites:

Mites (Acarina): All breeders who experiment with protein additive will have to encounter mites at some point in time. They look like little yellow nodules that conglomerate in little groups all over the larva. Although harmless in small numbers, the problem occurs when there is uneaten pet food and a humid substrate. If unattended, the mite population will explode exponentially and completely cover your larva. The mites will block the larva’s spiracle and kill the larva. You must then completely replace your substrate with fresh substrate. For larger species such as Goliathus, I have had good result by gently rubbing the larva with wet fingers. For smaller species, you can place the infested larva in a dry environment for 12-24 hours. The mites require a wet environment to survive and prolonged exposure to a dry substrate will kill most of them. The breeder should return the larva as soon as the treatment is over as this dryness also causes unnecessary stress to the larva. There is another technique to completely remove the mites from your larva. However, this method requires that the larva has not reached the third L3 instar yet and vigilance is required from the breeder. You must observe the larva for signs of molting (either L1 to L2 or L2 to L3). As soon as the molt occurs, you must remove the newly molted larva from its substrate and place it a fresh substrate as the mites will not have time to migrate back to the larva.

Nematodes: These tiny worms are found in soil and are most likely introduced when collecting leafy material for your substrate. As with mites, they enjoy wet environment and love uneaten dog food. Although not known to cause any harms to your larvae, it is quite disturbing when you open a jar and instead of seeing your larva, you are welcomed by hundreds of worms crawling on the surface. The treatment is to replace the substrate with fresh substrate.

Fungus gnats: The fungus gnat resembles small flies. They lay their eggs in vegetative litter such as found on forest floor (also a desired material by the breeder). Once hatched, they swarm your breeding room and can even make breathing (for the human) difficult if you don’t want to swallow any. Rolls of sticky fly tapes hung from the ceiling will usually solve the problem.

Fruit flies (Drosophila): These flies occur when fresh fruit (especially banana) is given to the beetles. They can breed at an extremely fast pace and the fly maggots will spoil the fruits faster. Regular change of the food source will keep the population in check and using jelly will eliminate the problem. As with the fungus gnats, rolls of sticky fly tapes will trap many of the adults. Quickly inserting a vacuum hose in the breeding tank will also eliminate many flies as clouds of fly will take off from the fruit. Extreme care must be taken not to “suck in” your precious beetles.

Plastic Surgery – The Truth About Neck Lifts

If you hear a faint “gobble-gobble” noise every time you look in the mirror, your ego may be telling you something. It might be saying: “Time you invested in a spot of old platysmaplasty!” In laymen’s terms, platymaplasty is a neck lift operation, a cosmetic procedure that tightens the skin of the neck and confines a turkey neck to history.

Yes, men get turkey necks as well – although with the invention of the tie they can hide it easier than women can.

Let’s face it: unless you have God-like genes or indulge in two hours of excruciating neck-lifting exercises daily, most of us have necks that begin to sag, droop and look generally less pleasing the older we get. Some people believe that women with turkey necks and relatively young faces have had facial plastic surgery – the sad fact is that our necks age at a much faster rate than the rest of us. And yes, men get turkey necks as well – although with the invention of the tie they can hide it easier than women can.

All About Having a Platysmaplasty

If the gobbling is getting louder every day, it may be time to consider surgery. While a platysmaplasty may sound gruesome, there’s a reason – it is! A two-three hour operation in which the neck skin is tightened and excess flesh surgically excised away, this procedure is done under general anesthesia, for the most part, and involves at least one night in hospital.

Your surgeon will make tiny cuts to your hairline, beginning in back of and in front of the ears, and will then tighten or shorten the muscles to make them appear more taut. He or she may also involve a bit of the old liposuction to make the jaw appear more chiseled. Some people opt for a combined neck and face lift together to result in a more youthful appearance overall, while others choose a brow or eye lift as well.

Whatever you choose, the recovery period is not short, and you may experience some swelling, bruising and other unpleasant side effects for the first few weeks, during which time most people refrain from going to work. In fact, it can take up to six months for a full recovery to take place.

However, the vast majority of people who opt for a neck lift operation are happy with the result, although of course they vary according to the patient’s age, skin elasticity etc. It rarely has serious complications, although any surgery involving general anesthesia carried its own risks. To minimize the risks overall, shop around for a reputation, and use one certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, or its equivalent.

Taking It on the Chin

One option to a traditional neck lift is a relatively new procedure called, simply, the (chin) sling. Made entirely from Gore-Tex plastic, it is inserted under the skin from earlobe to earlobe. The beauty part is that it is a permanent insertion, and that the surgeon can tighten it, when necessary, to make the neck appear tighter as well, in a procedure that takes only about 20 minutes. So top-ups are relatively easy…

An article in the facial Archives of Plastic Surgery gave the thumbs-up to the sling, saying that 90 percent of patients who had it inserted into their neck for at least three years were happy with it. Of those who weren’t, two suffered infections and two needed fluid to be drained from the area. The vast majority also said that they would recommend having the procedure to a friend. No matter slack-jawed days, then!

Alternatives to Surgery

If you want to get rid of your turkey neck without going under the knife, try these alternatives…

* The homeopathic “Natural Sculpting System” advertises itself as a natural alternative to liposuction, and promises to get rid of turkey necks in just a few treatments. A specially concocted gel and lotion are applied to a specially made cloth, then wrapped around the specific area. Voila – no more gobble gobble – or so the manufacturers claim…

* Although most plastic surgeons would say that having a turkey neck is usually down to genetics, some people swear that specific exercises can keep that old piece of poultry at bay. Try “guerning” regularly in the mirror, gargling with mouthwash for one minute or more at least twice daily, and/or do exercises that make your neck completely taut, then keep the position for up to ten minutes at a time.

* If you have lots of wrinkles on your neck, you can consider Botox injections, which will relax muscles and make the wrinkles appear less noticeable.

* Invest in lotions and potions to smear on your neck that stimulate the production of collagen.

* Thermage. This med-spa technique involves heating deep layers of the skin where collagen is located, to stimulate its production and therefore improve skin elasticity. Skin looks tightened and pores appear smaller – what’s not to like?

* Smartlipo. This is used to reduce the appearance of a double chin and make the neck look sleeker. Both the neck and jowl are given a new, more contoured look as fat is melted and collagen tightened using a thin laser-fibre tool. Sometimes it is done in conjunction with Thermage for a two-pronged attack on the old bird.

If you decide that plastic surgery is your only option, remember that it rarely works miracles, and that you shouldn’t expect to go under the knife looking like Winston Churchill and wake up looking like Pamela Anderson. Realistic expectations are necessary when it comes to undertaking any form of cosmetic procedure, so discuss the procedure well in advance with your surgeon and understand in detail what you are having done.

If you don’t want an operation and no other alternative seems to make your turkey neck recede, remember that investing in a high-necked shirt or a brightly colored scarf can work wonders. And if all else fails, you can always save money on buying that turkey next Thanksgiving…