New Fishing and Kayaking Access to the Pit River

The Pit River is one of California’s longest rivers, starting in the Warner Mountains of Northeastern California and ending up at Shasta Dam, along with the Sacramento and McCloud Rivers. It is unusual in that it is a spring fed river, and does not depend on snow melt to have a steady flow. This has made it highly valuable for hydroelectric projects of which there are six along its length, operated by Pacific Gas & Electric. Three of these projects are in the canyon area around Big Bend, the numbers Pit 3, Pit 4 and Pit 5 reaches. The Pit 3 reach below Lake Britton, near Burney, has been made into a trophy Rainbow Trout reach.

Previously the Pit River’s only major drawback is that access to its canyon is limited. The fishing is pretty fabulous, with Rainbow Trout averaging about 14″ and reaching lengths of 25″ long. Pocket water is the norm, making the Pit River an ideal spot to use nymphs, especially bead head or weighted nymphs. Due to a parasite, there are no hook jaw brown trout in this section of the river.

This river is loaded with insects, from the giant stonefly in the spring to mayfly genus Isonychia in the fall. Since the canyon walls are so steep, shadows hit the water in mid afternoon, which allows for dry fly fishing.

The operators of the Pit River Hydroelectric system, Pacific Gas and Electric, has built a series of access points along the Pit 4 section of the river and paved a long section of the road through the canyon and upgraded the rest of the road to a high grade gravel road. They have built an improved campground at Ruling Creek, called Ruling Creek Campground, which has a Day use area and a Long Term camping/RV area with bathrooms and running water. It is right at the river’s edge and provides excellent access to fly fishing waters. This campground is 9 miles from Burney and 11 miles from Big Bend.

Just downstream the pavement ends and Pacific Gas and Electric have built an un-improved campground with fire pits and picnic tables that is next to a large pool. Kayakers can put in here for running the river. There is a boat take out area just above the Pit 4 Powerhouse, a distance of about 8 miles. Pacific Gas and Electric intends to raise the flow of the river in this section to winter flood levels, four weekends a year, for more exciting kayaking.

Two walk-in access trails have also been built, one just above Deep Creek, which gives access to some excellent fishing runs. Signs have been put in to help fishermen find the trails. This all becomes available January, 2012.

I have walked and waded this section of River in my younger days and I am looking forward to trying out the new access points. One thing I would like to try is to use a float tube on certain sections that have walk in access and be able to pull out before the Deep Creek area, which has some fairly treacherous rapids. The Pit River has been opened to year round catch and release fishing (with the usual single barb-less hook, artificial lures rules), and a limit of five fish during normal fishing season. Check the California Fish & Game Manual.

The Symbol of San Francisco – The Golden Gate Bridge

New York has the Empire State Building, and Washington DC has the Washington and Lincoln Memorials. Almost every major American city can boast at least one major masterpiece of architecture. In San Francisco, that emblem is the Golden Gate Bridge, recognized as one of the most graceful steel spans in the world. A tourist’s visit to the San Francisco Bay Area isn’t complete without a panoramic vista of this gorgeous structure. This isn’t a feat of engineering; instead, it is a work of art.

To truly appreciate the Golden Gate Bridge, one must first have a solid grasp of the history that lies behind it. Conceived in the boom years of the Roaring 1920’s but constructed during the depths of the Great Depression, the Bridge represents American perseverance and determination. The great project was completed in 1937, and the Golden Gate Bridge stood as the longest steel suspension bridge in the world until 1964, when the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was completed connecting the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.

The Golden Gate Bridge garners wide praise for its aesthetics. The American Society of Civil Engineers declared it to be one of the modern Wonders of the World. According to Frommer’s Travel Guides, it’s “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world.”

Though the Bridge can be viewed from points across San Francisco, the best vistas are to be had from Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Surrounding the San Francisco Bay, the GGNRA is one of the most visited units in the National Park System. Over 13 million people come to this area each year to view the great red bridge, among other activities.

The Park is deceptively large, as it is not one contiguous land area, but rather a collection of parks that runs from northern San Mateo County down to southern Marin County. It runs along 59 miles of coast. The GGNRA shouldn’t be confused, however, with Golden Gate Park, which is run by the city of San Francisco as a separate entity.

There is no shortage of things to do in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. On a warm summer day, it’s not unusual to see people biking, rollerblading, and jogging on some of the countless well-maintained paths. In addition, photography is only one art form that is used to capture the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge. Other artists employ paints, pencils, and sculpting clay to interpret the span.

A trip to the GGNRA isn’t complete without a visit to its most infamous attraction. The island of Alcatraz has been the feature of countless movies. Although it hasn’t housed prisoners since 1963, its since reopened as a museum. Its positively haunting to walk the halls of this chilling structure, once home to Al Capone and “Birdman of Alcatraz” Robert Stroud.

Spend a day or two exploring Golden Gate National Recreation Area; you’re sure to appreciate the Bridge, along with all of the rest of the GGNRA has to offer.

Diagnosing Repair Problem Parts On The NSS Pony 20 SCA

The NSS Pony 20 SCA is the largest walk behind carpet extractor that National Super Service produces. It has a large 20 gallon tank that allows the unit to clean large carpeted areas quickly and efficiently. Overall this is one of the best carpet extractors produced for the janitorial industry. Although this machine is extremely dependable and durable, over time parts can breakdown and it may need to be repaired. The Pony 20 SCA is a simple machine with just five major components that can fail. These components are the gear drive motor, vacuum motor, brush motor, pump and solenoid valve. It is quite simple to diagnose these parts and quickly repair them. When replacing parts on the NSS Pony 20 SCA is important to use OEM National Super Service parts to ensure that the machine runs correctly after repair.

The Pony 20 SCA is a self-drive unit with variable speed that can cover large areas rapidly. The drive system on this unit is powered by a 120 volt gear motor that powers the wheel assembly. The drive motor is connected to the wheel assembly by a chain, if the drive system goes bad and the machine does not move there are four components which could be bad. The first and largest of these components is the gear motor itself, this can be tested by running direct power to the motor to see if it powers up. The second component is the speed control Board which increases or decreases the amount of voltage going to the motor depending on the speed at which the machine needs to run. On the lever assembly there is a dead man’s switch which turns the brush motor on and off. Over time switch components can wear down and fail and may need to be replaced. The last component that can fail is the circuit breaker, which over time can wear out and prematurely overload. The circuit breaker is a three amp 120 volt unit that when overloaded will close the circuit to the brush motor. The other reason that this breaker will shutdown is if the brush motor is drawing more than 3 amps, this may be caused by bad bearings on the drive wheel or something caught around the wheel impeding it from going forwards or backwards.

The Pony 20 SCA recovers solution from the carpet by an internal vacuum motor which sucks the water up through the vacuum shoe on the rear of the unit into the recovery tank. If you experience loss of suction it is important to check all seals and gaskets are clean and working condition. One of the main reasons for loss of suction is a damaged dome gasket located on the top of the machine. Any holes and cracks in this dome gasket will cause vacuum leaks and you will experience loss of suction. Before looking at the vacuum motor as a culprit also check the vacuum shoe and vacuum hose on the rear of the machine for any obstructions which may cause decreased suction. There are two main components within the vacuum system. These two components are the vacuum switch and vacuum motor. To find which component has failed use a multi meter to check to see if you are getting 120 volts to the vacuum motor when the switch is on. If you are getting 120 volts to the vacuum motor then the vacuum motor has prematurely gone bad. Other ways to tell if the vacuum motor is failing is to listen for a loud high-pitched squeal or grinding which would come from the motor bearings. On occasion water can get into the vacuum motor from the recovery tank if the machine is not emptied before the water level reaches the float valve. Other ways that water can get into the vacuum motor is excessive foam in the recovery tank from carpet cleaning detergents. One way to deter foam is to use a defoaming agent by adding it into the recovery tank before use. If you are not getting 120 volts to the vacuum motor when the switch is turned on, chances are the vacuum switch has failed and will need to be replaced. When replacing the vacuum motor in the Pony 20 SCA it is also important to replace the vacuum motor gasket to ensure a tight seal for optimal performance.

The next component which could fail is the brush motor. The brush motor on the Pony 20 SCA drives a rotating filament brush which is used to agitate the carpet fibers. This increases debris pickup and is optimal for food service areas and locations where dirt and grime are ground into the carpet. The number one reason that the brush motor will fail on this unit is if debris is caught up around the brush, or the bearings in the brush roll go bad. This will cause an excessive load be placed on the motor and it will wear out prematurely. Another components to check if the brush is not rotating is the brush belt, this belt could be slipping on the pulley or could be severed. If the brush is not rotating the three components which could be bad are the brush switch, brush breaker or brush motor. To diagnose these parts take a multi meter and check for voltage coming from the brush switch to the breaker when the switch is turned on. If you are getting voltage to the brush breaker then proceed to the next step. Next check for voltage coming from the brush breaker to the brush motor, if there is no voltage there, then chances are your brush motor has failed. If you are not getting voltage from the brush switch to the brush breaker then replace the pump switch with an OEM NSS switch. If you are not getting voltage from the brush breaker to the motor and getting voltage from the pump switch to the brush breaker then chances are your brush breaker has failed and needs to be replaced. In the system there is also an AC rectifier which converts AC to DC power for the brush motor. If the brush switch, brush breaker and brush motor are all getting power then chances are the rectifier needs to be replaced.

The next internal system that could go bad is the pump system. The pump system sprays cleaning solution onto the carpet. If there is no solution coming out of your machine the first thing to check is jets on the lower end of the unit. There are five Jets on the Pony 20 SCA, these Jets are quick connect jets which when turned will break away from the jet housing. There is no need to unscrew the Jets from the spray bar. If you do need to replace the old jet housings be sure not to over tighten the jets as it will crack the plastic in the spray bar. To clean jets, soak in a delimer solution and then use compressed air to clear the jet nozzles. If the Jets are clean and you are not getting any solution on your carpet there are three components which might have failed. These components include the pump switch, pump or solenoid. To test which component has failed use a multi meter to check voltage between the pump switch and solenoid pump. If you are not reading any voltage from the system then chances are your pump switch has failed and will need to be replaced. If you are getting voltage from the pump switch to the pump then one of two components could be bad. The pump and solenoid are attached together but the solenoid can be removed from the pump. On this unit the pump will run continuously run when the pump switch is engaged. The solenoid will open and close to allow water through the pump and then through the spray bar and jets onto the carpet. If you are getting power to the solenoid and the pump and you are not hearing the pump run continuously than the pump will need to be replaced. If you are getting power to the pump and the pump is running then the solenoid will need to be replaced.

Overall the National Super Service Pony 20 SCA is easy to maintain and repair. There are other mechanical components that may need to be replaced but this article covers the major components that make the machine run. It is important not to touch live wires when diagnosing the machine. For optimal performance and reliability only use National Super Service parts when servicing this unit. NSS parts can be purchased from either a local dealer or online store. Our certified service technicians can assist you in finding the correct part for your floor equipment.

Neon Signs – How To Install

Neon signs are normally produced by creating bent glass tubes that have been fabricated to form letters, words or design elements. The tubes are then mounted to a flat or sturdy backing. These signs can come in a great variety of sizes, colors, and types. We’ll discuss more about how to handle these signs as well as how to install them.

First of all, keep in mind that neon signs require a source of power. The formed glass tubes are filled with a gas such as neon and are then sealed up. They provide a colorful glow when the gas in the tubes is electrified. In order to do so, a source of power is required. For most of these signs, this means conventional electrical power.

In order to properly display a neon sign, you must place it reasonably close to a power outlet. The signs normally include a power cord that is part of the electrification circuitry. The power cord should be plugged into a conventional power outlet.

When mounting the neon sign, place it reasonably close to a power outlet so that you don’t have to string a power cord over a long distance. Keep in mind that you may not want the power cord to be seen and you definitely don’t want it to be a tripping hazard for others who may come close to the sign.

In any case, it’s important to place the sign in an area where the power cord can be very close to the power outlet where the cord can hang in an inconspicuous and safe manner. Depending upon where you intend to mount the sign, you may have to relocate a power outlet or at least provide an extension cord to an outlet near to the sign.

The next important thing to think about is mounting of the sign. Since it is an electrical device and is comprised of glass tubes, you want to mount the sign in such a way that it will remain very safe and secure in the area you place it. In other words, you don’t want to risk having the sign fall down and potentially break the glass tubes or damage the electrical components.

Many businesses like to mount their neon signs in their front windows. If you do so, make certain that it can be safely mounted to some type of framework in the window or hung from the window frame itself. Avoid leaning the sign against a ledge, as this may not provide a safe or adequate mounting surface.

Most neon signs can be easily installed yourself. However, depending on the application, you may want to consult with an experienced electrical contractor who has installed and mounted neon signs before. They are typically the best qualified to know where to install the lights and how to install them safely and securely.

Hammer the Hamstrings For Extreme Football Speed

The question about how to get faster for football come into my inbox at least a dozen times per week. I thought we had the whole football speed thing figured out, but, recently I was forced to train in a commercial gym…sadly, this was a wake-up call that most football players have ZERO idea how to get faster.

It’s rare that I step into a commercial gym to do any football strength and speed training with my football players these days. But, on the rare occasion that I am forced to go into one of these creep-joints, I’m always struck by two strange phenomena’s:

1. Most guys look like light bulbs; all upper body, no legs

2. The leg training done by most “athletes” is an embarrassment

The great majority of the leg training effort is going into leg curls, leg extensions, leg presses and maybe the occasional squat…usually done with no more than 225-lbs bar. This may be fine for the average guy, but, for those football players who ask, “How can I get faster for football, you need to train the legs hard and heavy.

Most football players should take a page from the playbook of Powerlifter’s training: you must absolutely attack the hamstrings and glutes! The oft-mentioned posterior chain (PC) is of utmost importance to athletic ability. The hamstrings, glutes, and lower back are key to being fast and lifting heavy weights in the Deadlift and Squat. Any football player can get faster and more explosive, yet many never do.

These athletes usually neglect training the muscles most responsible for speed development: the muscles of the PC.

In training the hamstrings, a few important points must be emphasized.

· The hamstring group is made up of the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus and semimembranosus muscles. All must be worked hard for maximum strength and speed.

· The hamstring muscles have two functions: bending the knee and hip extension; both motions must be trained.

· The hams are made up of a high percentage of fast twitch muscle fibers and therefore must be trained heavily. These muscles respond better to lower reps – even as low as singles!

· Because of the high amount of fast twitch fibers, the hamstrings respond well to eccentric work.1

· If they’ve been neglected, the hamstrings will have to be worked more often until they catch up to the powerful quads.

Keep these points in mind when designing a training program for the hamstrings.

The following 12 exercises will hit the hams and glutes hard and heavy.

Choose one to three of them and add them to your training. I suggest putting in one of these movements after your main leg exercise of the day (i.e. Deadlifts or Squats). Shoot for 4 – 6 sets of 4 – 6 reps per movement.

Glute-Ham Raises

You will need a special Glute-ham bench for this exercise. The movement looks something like a back hyperextension except that your legs are bent at the knee and you pull your self up with the hamstrings, glutes, and even the calves by pressing your feet into the toe board and flexing the hamstrings hard. Every gym should have one of these. For more info on this exercise and the Glute-ham bench, check out some of the writings of the Westside Barbell Club, who really popularized this exercise.

The Glute-Ham raise can be done after ever session if using only bodyweight. Or, you can add weight and use it like any barbell exercise. This is one of those rare movements where I doubt you can ever do too much.

Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs)

RDLs are similar to a straight-leg deadlift, with the exception that instead of simply bending at the waist and pulling up on the bar, you have the hips travel backwards when bending over. For many, the SLDL neglects the hamstrings while overworking the lower back. This is especially true for short-leg, long-torso lifters.

The RDL will probably do more for your hamstrings and glutes than any other exercise, with the exception of Deadlifts. It really is a very underrated movement for both athletic performance and for aesthetic appearance. The RDL can do wonders for those wishing to get faster for football.

Be sure to keep a flat back; you can use both clean and snatch grips for variation. This is a movement where you definitely want to keep the reps low. 4 X 6 is a good set-rep scheme to start with. Really push those hips back, stretch those hams out, then pop up.

This can be made more difficult by using one DB at a time.

One-Leg Deadlift

I picked up this little gem from Pavel Tsatsouline. This brutal exercise is performed with two dumbbells or Kettlebells. Place the DBs on the other side of the foot of the leg you are working. With a slight bend in the knee, bend forward at the waist and grasp the DBs.

The non-working leg should be well behind you and off the ground. Go as high as you feel comfortable with. Now, with straight arms, pull the DBs up to waist height while dragging the back foot forward until you are standing erect on two feet, with the DBs at waist height.

This is a great movement to improve football speed because it works the hamstrings one leg at a time, very similar to running.

Snatch Grip Deadlifts

I got an email the other day asking why I advocate using the Snatch Grip Deadlift (SnDL) so much and why not other variations.

Well, there are several reasons, however, all variations of Deadlifting should be used in your football strength program… especially if you want to be as fast as possible!

· Snatch Grip Deads just force you into a lower position, thus forcing the hamstrings and glutes to work harder. Plus, the benefit of the work the entire back gets.

Whenever you can involve the hamstrings more, the better off you are for building leg strength and especially for speed! If your hams are weak, forget being fast.

I would use straps on a SnDL because of the wide grip.

But, don’t go crazy wide on the grip. I’m 6′1 and my index fingers are about an inch outside of the outer rings on a York bar. I know you’ve probably seen O-lifters use the collar to collar grip, but, even when I competed in O-lifting, I didn’t go out this far.

Some would say to simply pull off of a platform, which is fine, but it’s a different movement. Part of the fun of SnDLs is how hard you must also force your abs to work to keep you from falling forward. This exercise really teaches you to sit back when pulling from the ground; an invaluable lesson for anyone wanting to improve their Deadlift.

Snatch Grip Deadlifts from a 4-inch Box

Let’s take a brutally effective exercise and make it even harder by performing it on a 4″ box (or block of wood). This exercise will absolutely terrorize the hamstrings and glutes…with a nice added bonus of hitting the upper back and traps quite nicely. One thing you’ll notice with RDLs and SnDLs is that the upper back and traps are usually pretty sore the day after. Anytime you have to hold a heavy bar and then do multiple reps in a pulling movement, the traps and upper back have to work hard to stabilize the load.

The 4″ box will create a greater range of motion but isn’t so high as to alter body mechanics significantly. If you find your form breaking down at 4″, try using a 3″ box.

Focus on sitting back and letting the hams and glutes do all the work. If there’s one mistake I see over and over again on this movement, it’s that when the weights start getting heavy, lifters start using their arms…that is a recipe for disaster. If you find that you are arm pulling, lower the weight a bit and build back up.

This exercise can also be used as a Max Effort (very heavy) movement or it can be used as an accessory lift.

Band Leg Curls

This is a great movement to train the hams in a dynamic way. The bands will help train the legs to stay strong through the entire range of motion because the exercise will get harder as you get closer to the finish.

Choke a band around the uprights of the rack, sit on a bench and place the band around the back of your ankles. The band should have some tension while your legs are extended. Now, contract the hamstrings hard and do a fast, explosive leg curl.

Band leg curls can also be done one leg at a time. 3 – 4 sets of 8 – 12 is sufficient.

Dynamic Lunges

Lunges have gotten a bad rap because most dummies at the gym use a 3-inch stride and 2lb DBs. However, when done with more moderate-heavy weights and in a Dynamic (explosive) fashion, the lunge can be a tremendous tool in your strength training toolbox.

· The lunge should be a fairly long stride, and instead of simply stepping forward and then back, once your foot hits the ground on the forward stride, explode back up.

Lunges performed in this manner are also effective because the athlete actually opens and closes the kinetic chain while performing the movement, and the lunge also helps the athlete become strong in supporting a high percentage of his bodyweight on one leg, very similar to running.

Don’t be afraid to go heavy on the lunge. No one said you must do them for sets of 15! 3 or 4 sets of 4 – 8 will hit the hamstrings and glutes thoroughly.

Dynamic Medicine Ball Leg Curl

This exercise works great as a finisher and also helps develop explosiveness in the legs.

Begin by lying face down on the ground with your legs together. Have a partner roll the medicine ball down the back of your legs.

When you feel the ball get to your ankles or the backs of your shoes, explode the ball back up to your partner with a leg curl-type motion. It may take a few reps to get it perfect, but when you do, the ball will fly up and back toward your head and your partner should catch the ball at about waist height. This is a great movement to train the hamstrings in an explosive, curling manner. If you are prone to strained or pulled hamstrings when running, give these a shot. You can up the reps on this exercise; sets of 8 – 10 would be advisable.

Please make sure to get a partner who can catch the ball.

Towel Leg Curl

You can probably tell by now that I’m not a huge fan of regular leg curls. The machines are just so limited in their movement patterns and resistance.

However, you’ve noticed I included three leg curl variations in this article. Why? Well, as I said in the beginning, both aspects of the hamstring function must be worked. But, the machine leg curl is for weenies. Both the Band Leg Curl and Medicine Ball Leg Curl are great for training the hams in a dynamic fashion, but the resistance is limited.

Enter the Towel Leg Curl. Lie face down on a bench with your legs hanging off the edge. Have a partner wrap a towel around the backs of your ankles; now do a leg curl.

This method is superior for several reasons:

1) Variable resistance: you can have your partner increase or decrease the load as needed

2) Increased resistance during the eccentric phase; simply have your partner pull harder during the lowering portion of the lift and you fight against the resistance.

3) Variable paths: you can go wide or narrow, one leg or two, during the exercise. Switching up the path of the movement will do wonders for complete development.

The Towel Leg Curl can be done for medium (4 – 8) reps. 3 – 4 sets done can be done toward the end of the session.

Kettlebell Swings

Swings are one of the best, yet most misused, exercises to train the hamstring. The Swing is performed by most as a Squatting-type movement. This style was popularized by those using the Swing as a fat loss tool, which, when done for high reps, is quite effective.

However, we are after performance and hamstring strength here, so that is not the style we’ll be using. The true KB Swing; one that is done for speed, strength, and muscle development is a much longer range of motion with a definitive “snap” at the bottom of the movement.

Notice in the video below that at the bottom, when the K-bells are all the way back, I snap them forward. It’s that reversal of momentum that is of the utmost importance! If you are doing a slow swing, you are doing a worthless swing. Make sure you pop the hips on the way up to involve the glutes as well.

Don’t be afraid to go heavy on these. It is not written in stone that you have to do ultra high reps. Actually, you should shoot for 3 -4 sets of 4 – 6 reps. They now make Kettlebells up to 106lbs, so that should keep even the strongest among us working hard. A dumbbell can be used if no Kettlebells are available.

With football players, I’ve found this movement to be great when performed as a warm-up to a Max Effort (heavy) leg exercise. It’s great in that situation for waking the hams and glutes up and letting them know there’s work to be done!

Swings can also be used after a heavy movement, on speed day or at the end of a session as a finisher.

Upright Sled Walks

Pulling sleds and pushing Prowlers is a great way to condition, but it can also be used as an alternative way to develop the legs. When most pull or push a sled, they do so on an angle. In order to target the hamstrings you must pull from a very upright position.

This is best done while wearing a harness, but can be done by attaching the strap to a lifting belt. When you begin pulling, keep your body as upright as possible and rather than just walk, use your feet to “pull” the ground toward you. To see this in action, next time you walk your dog, get behind him and notice how dogs (all animals) step and pull the ground towards them.

You’ll know if you are doing this correctly because when you do you’ll feel an intense tightening in your hams.

Sled walks can be done in place of any of the other hamstring/glute exercises listed above. Start with 3 trips of 30-yards, and try to work up to 6. At that point, add weight.


If there’s one thing that makes the cardio crowd gasp in horror more than me telling them I think cardio is a waste of time, it’s when I tell them that instead of jogging on some God-forsaken treadmill, I go out and sprint!

Sprints are the long lost training tool that can improve your conditioning, torch bodyfat, and develop a killer set of hamstrings. Even if you are not an athlete, sprinting is still a great idea. The very act of sprinting places a tremendous and unique stress on the hams, glutes, and hips. Just take a look at the legs of any sprinter or NFL Cornerback, and you’ll get a good idea of what sprinting can do for your legs!

Remember, for the purposes of hamstring development, we will keep the sprints short. We are not after conditioning here (that’s another story for another article).

Start with 4 – 5 sprints of 30 yards. Build up to 8. Then, you can start playing with distances; try 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and even some Backpedal Sprints. If you haven’t sprinted in a while, start slow! You may not feel much while you’re out there running, but sprinting can cause big time soreness.

Treat sprints like the Upright Sled Walks: they can be done as an alternative to any of the other hamstring exercises or they can be given their own day. I’ve found that most athletes like to knock the sprints out right after their dynamic (speed) lower day. Some like to do them at the end of a heavy leg session. Experiment and see what works best for you.

There you have it. If your hamstring training is lacking pick two or three of these movements, put them in your program and watch your hamstrings produce Extreme Football Speed!

Explore Singapore, the Fascinating Mosaic of Cultural Diffusion!

Singapore History:

It would not be an exaggeration to say that millions of global tourists, flocking to Singapore in search of fashion, shopping, glitz and glamour hardly know the proper history of this island city-state located on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It is a wonder, that being the smallest country in Southeast Asia, Singapore happens to be the site of several ancient port cities and a possession of several empires in its “not-so-well-known” history.

To start with, when Singapore was colonized by the United Kingdom in the 19th century, it was nothing but a small Malay fishing village, the first records of its existence being made in the Chinese texts as early as the 3rd century. The island which then bore the javanese name “Temasek” and which happened to be an outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya (an ancient Malay kingdom on the island of Sumatra) empire, gradually rose to become a significant trading city. However, throughout history, it had to bear the brunt of several political conflicts, which altered its destiny in course of time.

For example, Singapore was a part of the Sultanate of Johore, until it was set ablaze by portuguese troops in the Malay-Portugal wars in 1617. Again, in 1819, British East India Company made a treaty with the Sultan of Johore and established Singapore as a trading post and settlement. Later, seeing instant growth and immigration from various ethnic groups to Singapore, it was declared a crown colony by Britain in 1867. Its status was soon raised to that of an entrepot town by the ruling British empire due to its strategic location along the busy shipping routes connecting Europe to China.

Destiny had written a few more dramatic twists and turns for Singapore, “The Lion City”, as it also called. Further occupied by the Japanese Empire in World War II, it finally became part of the merger which formed the “Federation of Malaysia. Finally, after much tussels with the Federal government in Kuala Lumpur, the nation ultimately acquired independence in 1965.

However, what we see today as a tousists’ paradise was for many years, a fledgling nation struggling for self-sufficiency. Overburdened with mass unemployment, housing shortages and lack of land and natural resources such as petroleum, it was a sociopolitically volatile and economically undeveloped nation, relying massively on foreign investment and government-led industrialisation. The situation started changing after Lee Kuan Yew joined as prime minister in 1959. Within three decades, his administration curbed unemployment, raised the standard of living and developed Singapore’s economic infrastructure, thus elevating Singapore into a developing nation and subsequently to developed status.

In the recent years, the country has tackled various disasters, the major ones being the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the SARS outbreak in 2003, and terrorist threats posed by the Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

Singapore Economy:

It is really heartening to know that with 63 surrounding islets and with a total land area of 682 square km, the main island of Singapore, with its market-based economy, has grown into a thriving centre of commerce and industry in just 150 years. Successfully increasing its manufacturing base after being a ‘backward fishing village’ for many years, Singapore today thrives on various industries including shipping (Singapore today is the busiest port in the world with over 600 shipping lines sending super tankers, container ships and passenger liners), electronic components manufacturing and above all its booming travel/tourism industry. The island city state located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula that has suffered various political and economic onslaughts is now home to four million people, also boasting of one of the highest per capita gross domestic products in the world. The economic progress of Singapore as a nation can be an enriching example of how a mere “fishing village” and a British naval base for decades can be reborn as an important financial, commercial and educational center for South East Asia.

The credit for this resurrection goes to the PAP Government, who, assisted by a far-sighted Dutch economic adviser, realized the need of maintaining its colonial inheritance by attracting foreign capital from the developed world to establish export-oriented industries, while at the same time building up a modern service sector in Singapore based on banking and financial services. Needless to say, this economic strategy proved a phenomenal success, producing real growth that averaged 8.0% from 1960 to 1999. Thus, relying on foreign investment and expertise, while at the same time building up strong state enterprises, the provision of infrastructure, housing, transport and other basic services for the local population began increasing notably, and the old Singapore consisting of overcrowded and unsanitary slums was demolished strategically.

In recent years, the trade policies of the Singapore government which included commitment to free trade, active export promotion strategy, the ‘open arms’ policy towards multinationals and the support of trade liberalization have made Singapore an economically stable nation. In due course of time, Singapore has also developed an export trade that thrives on medium and high-technology electronics components. Such trade undoubtedly focuses on the key-strengths of Singapore, including “hi-tech” sectors as information technology and bio-technology.

Singapore Culture/Religion:

A cosmopolitan society with harmonious interaction among various different races, the inherent cultural diversity of the island is a source of one of the prime attractions of the nation. To be precise, this cultural diversity is the ultimate result of the diversity of the population, the intermingling of various ethnic groups and the amalagamation of Chinese, Malay and Indian immigrants. It is not unnatural for one to witness a Malay wedding taking place beside a Chinese wedding at a void deck, on the ground floor of a HDB apartment block in the Singapore city. Infrequent intermarriage between the Chinese and Indians are not unusual occurrences in Singapore. Besides indigenous Malay population, Singapore houses a majority of third generation Chinese as well as Indian and Arab immigrants. Thus, the diverse mix of races result in a significant degree of cultural diffusion with its unique combination of ethnic groups. Maybe that is one of the reasons why one would find very little culture that is specifically Singaporean. However, there exists a Eurasian community and a community of Peranakan or “Straits Chinese,” (a community of mixed Chinese and Malay descent).

Such a significant degree of cultural diffusion has given Singapore a rich mixture of diversity for its young age. One of the prime examples is the Singapore’s cuisine, a massive cultural attraction for tourists. Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian, Italian, Peranakan, Spanish, French, Thai and even Fusion tops the menu. To speak of art and culture, Singapore is identified globally an emerging cultural centre for arts and culture, including theatre and music. Often called the “gateway between the East and West”, it has seen the emergence of several performing arts groups, especially in theatrical arts. A number of productions were staged successfully and several groups, including TheatreWorks, have performed overseas too.

As a cosmopolitian and multi-racial society, Singapore has also been the seat of major festivals from various ethnic groups associated with their respective religions. Those again, reflect the diversity of races residing there. While the Chinese are predominantly followers of Buddhism and Taoism, there are even Christians, Catholics and “free thinkers”: ones who don’t confirm to any religious faith. Thus, in today’s Singapore, religions tend to cross racial boundaries and even merge in unusual ways, combining a little of the mysteries of the older generation with the realistic world of today.

Singapore Travel/Tourism:

Celebrated and renowned worldwide as a delightful haven for tourists, Singapore has been able to earn major revenues courtesy its booming tourism industry. With the rise of tourism in Singapore, there is a stiff competition among hotels to run for the best slot. There are cheap airline travels to Singapore today, including apex fare, discounted airfares to Singapore and the like. A seat for the world’s most delectable seafood, awe-inspiring sea-beaches, impressive bird-parks and night safaris that account for wonderful wildlife adventure, Singapore today happens to be a little dynamo in Southeast Asia, embodying the finest of both East and West. Truly, the dynamic city rich in contrast and colour captures the hearts of millions of global tourists with its harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture and above all, its unbridled energy.

While on entering this cosmopolitan, multi-cultural city, one experiences the mélange of flavours from around the globe, the multicultural heritage of the nation is bound to sweep one off his feet as he discovers an ever-changing mosaic of fascinating contrasts. Thus, the amalgamation of ancient beliefs and contemporary culture, of rich legacies and sleek modern living makes Singapore an ever-youthful, ever-enchanting nation for tourists.

Tourist interests in Singapore: While tourism is continually infesting ChinaTown, a cultural section of Singapore, with shops and street vendors offering a glimpse into the days of old, the Asian Civilizations Museum (a diverse cultural museum) is there to exhibit antiques like a ninth-century Buddha and a Chinese snuff box. For lovers of art and architecture, the Thian Hock Keng Temple (Historic Taoist temple near Singapore’s waterfront) happens to be a “must watch” religious site. Another wonder is the unforgettable Singapore Art Museum, which, since its opening in 1996, offers an immense rotating collection of Singaporean and Malay sculpture and art. If you are a connoisseur of shopping and fine dining, there is Orchard Road, the ritzy shopping and dining area, often referred to as the “Park Avenue” of Singapore. For the lovers of spectacular underwater beauty, there is the Underwater World of Sentosa, showcasing the awe-inspiring beauty of a whole different world beneath the seas.

All said and done, the strategic location of Singapore, its cultural contrasts and diverse tourist attractions contribute to its success as a leading destination for both business and pleasure.

Painting – Some Technical Aspects

Painters must be aware of all the intricacies of painting but for the novices, we bring a snapshot of certain technical aspects of painting which will help them out in developing this art.


This refers to the medium used in paintings. It is the color type which is applied on the canvas. The choice of media depends on the solubility, viscosity and miscibility of the fabric or base used. Some examples of painting media include oil paints, pastel paints, spray colors, water colors, enamel paint and wax paint.


Styles of painting vary from person to person. It depends upon the comfort and interest of the painter. It may also include the use of brushes and paints. In fact, every painter is famous for a particular style of art. Some common forms of painting styles are:

Western: folk, graffiti, body painting, abstract figurative, Oriental and primitive.

Eastern: ink and wash, Persian miniature, madhubani, samikshavad and mughal.

Modern forms

Paints are a thing of past. Now, almost each and everything is used in painting. Be it paper pieces, sand, dust, cement, wood or any other material, they are widely being used in giving texture and extra look to the paintings.

Digitization has also brought various software in the market like Adobe Photo shop, corel draw, image maker and many other which can insert any design, shade or style which you can ever imagine of.

Recent time applications

Gone are the days when painting was done on canvas through brush and paints, exhibited, sold and over. Now it finds its applications in a host of other fields also. The basics and studies of painting are being used in interior designing for decorating houses. Painting provides an insight onto various color combination s and contrasts which enables interior designers to make heaven out of homes.

Another application of painting is in fashion designing where designers create aesthetic and graceful dresses of beautiful color combination s. Here also, the fundamentals of painting come handy in deciding which color or shade suits best on a particular complexion and figure.

A final word

Painting is a universe in itself and you will get more engrossed in it if you will delve deep into it. There are treasures to be found in this area but it requires patience and long years of hard and sincere work. It can be opted both as a hobby and as a profession. The difference lies in the commitment and pursuit.

How to Use Patio Umbrella Lights With Low Voltage

One of the more clever forms of patio lighting there is, is what is known as umbrella lights. A lot of us have patio umbrellas and when you think about it, they make excellent stands for a bit of lighting. Especially with the type of umbrella which is combined with a table (round table with the umbrella in the middle, typically), patio umbrella lights make a lot of sense. You can get several designs which simply clamp to the umbrella pole; some are solar panel powered, others come with batteries. Both can be nice enough – although they may not provide as much light as you would like. No matter how those batteries are charged – from a solar panel or via mains voltage – they have to be fairly large to provide any real light power for a usable amount of time. But if you want some more light, and you don’t usually move your umbrella around a lot, there is another option for you.

Low voltage lighting is just the thing. Yes, most solar – and battery driven umbrella lights are also low voltage lights. The difference is not in the voltage, but in the available electric current. Batteries can store only so much power in watts, and watts are electric current over time. The more watts you spend, the faster you discharge the battery. Now, a good, strong source of light would be something like halogen bulbs, or some of the more powerful LED arrays. These like to be fed some current though, so batteries are not practical. Instead, you could use a low voltage lighting transformer to power them. This would give you all the power you could want, since the transformer is connected to mains voltage. So if you chose 12v bulbs, you would need a 12v transformer. You could power any amount of bulbs with it – just buy one powerful enough. It wouldn’t give in, until your fuses do.

How would you go about the installation in a practical way? Basically, there are two paths. One is to mount the low voltage transformer close to the light fixtures, like at the base of the umbrella. In that case, you would run a mains cable to the foot of your umbrella. The other way is to put the transformer further away, like in a waterproof box under the patio – or elsewhere. This way, you might get away with using a much thinner cable running to the umbrella, a cable you might hide under a carpet – or simply route directly down through a hole in your patio floor. Which one you choose is up to you. Perhaps you also have other lighting installations on your patio requiring low voltage, which could make it practical to have a single, large transformer – and then run cables from that.

If well-planned, your patio umbrella lights could become part of a large, flexible and energy efficient lighting system, which would make a lot of jaws drop. Why not go for it?

Numerology’s Life Path (4); the Path of the Builder

Ever meet someone who gets ahead in life by their own efforts; lives on a budget and sacrifices to get ahead; and is possibly a workaholic? Chances are, they are part of the 11% percent of the population living on Life Path (4) the Path of the Builder. These individuals have birthdays which when summed, and then reduced by Fadic addition give us a (4) result.

(For example Oprah Winfrey, born on January 29th, 1954; 1 + 29 + 1954 = 1984 = 22 = 2)

Note that your Life Path is Numerology’s equivalent to your Sun Sign in Astrology; telling us what the primary factors are in shaping your Destiny.

Talents and Abilities

Builders main goal in life is to build a life’s work based on their own efforts. They require planning and organization in their lives. They relish hard work and effort; are dependable, loyal, and sincere in their actions. They love to see the results of their efforts. They will take risk, but only ones that are carefully calculated and thought out. They will maintain a budget, and not risk more than they can afford. They are thrifty, practical, strait forward people.

Builders treat life as a serious matter. They are willing to put up with hardship and self-denial in order to reap benefits later in life. Generally, their life gets easier as they get older, and reap the fruits of their earlier labors. Builders typically have great skill in using their hands in some fashion. They are conservative thinkers, preferring tried and true methods to get things done. They like to make decisions slowly, and hate to improvise.

Problem Areas for Builders

Builders tend to be workaholics, and have a fear of new and original ideas; they don’t trust them. They also tend to be very rigid in their thinking, and don’t like to compromise their values. Their early life tends to be difficult until the efforts they put out start paying off.

Life Path (22 ) Sub-Class, the Master Builder

About 80% percent of Builders born in the 20th century have a birth-date that reduces to the Master Number (22) before it is reduced to (4). These people for a sub-class of Builders called Master Builders. They can achieve literally anything once they set their minds to it. They have a great wellspring of potential ideas and the practical good since to make use of them. Master Builders usually achieve great things on a large scale; they don’t build small.

Famous Life Path (4) Builders

Famous people with this Life Path include: Minnie Driver, Joseph Fiennes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kate Hudson, Peter Jackson, Jewel, Val Kilmer, Chris ODonnell, Will Smith, Chris Tucker, and Usher.

Famous Life Path (22) Master Builders

Famous people with this Life Path include: Woody Allen, Joan Allen, Tori Amos, Pamela Anderson, Bono, Jeff Bridges, Tom Brokaw, Joy Browne, Amanda Bynes, Sean Diddy Combs, Michael Crichton, Sheryl Crow, Russell Crowe, David Duchovny, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, Edie Falco, Bill Gates, Jeff Goldblum, Helen Hunt, Ice-T, Elton John, Harvey Keitel, Nicole Kidman, Tea Leoni, Eva Longoria, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Rachel McAdams, Paul McCartney, Matthew McConaughey, Demi Moore, Van Morrison, Mike Myers, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dolly Parton, Luciano Pavarotti, David Hyde Pierce, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Tim Robbins, Roseanne, Adam Sandler, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Seal, David Spade, George Strait, Quentin Tarantino, Vanessa Williams, and Oprah Winfrey.

Build Your Own Brick Or Stone Mailbox

Have you ever wanted a masonry mailbox? If you have then you’re in the right place to learn how to build your very own brick mailbox or a stone mailbox. I will go over all the materials and tools needed to complete this project and approximate costs.

I am going to go over the brick mailbox because it will be easier for you to complete. First you will need your design laid out, the simplest way to build your maibox is a 24 Inch square with a 16inch block pillar in the center. Next you will need to gather all your materials, you will need 3, 80 pound bags of Quickcrete, 16 8 inch block and 12 4 inch block and then roughly 200 brick of your choice. You will also need to pick out a good sturdy steel mailbox and a piece of sandstone that is 26 inches square and 4 inches thick for the top cap. The tools you will need are a good digging shovel, wheelbarrow, hoe, trowel, hammer, striking iron and and masons brush.

Step one, dig down 36 inches and 4 inches bigger than your mailbox base in the above example you would dig a hole that is 32 inches square. If you are on a street with underground utilities running along the street you are only going to be able to dig down no more than 12 inches, you will have to check with your utilities to find this out. Ideally though you should make it 36″ deep to clear the freeze line, especially if you live in the north.

Next prepare your footer by driving a grade stake down into the center of the hole 8″ off of the bottom, this will be the thickness or height of your footer. Now mix your quickcrete thoroughly and pour it into the hole till you just cover the grade stake, try to make footer as level as possible, it may be somewhat difficult especially since you will be reaching 3 feet into the ground. Now let your footer set up and return the next day to build your mailbox.

The next step in the process is to build the center block column our of the 8 inch block and 4 inch block. find the center of your footer, mark it and measure 8 inches each direction, this will be where your main column will set. After you have marked out your square mix your mortar and start laying block. Place two 8 inch side by side and try to make them as level as possible, first course is most important, if you can’t get it level in the first course be sure that you are level and straight by the third, which should place you right at about 4 inches below ground level, now continue to lay your block up 5 more courses, be sure that these are straight and level. After you have laid these you need to install your brick ledge, you do this by using the 4 inch block. Place the block around the base of the column as close to the column as possible up just three courses which should place you at once again 4 inches below grade.

Now that your column and brick ledge are in place its time to install your brick. Run your brick on top of the brick ledge which should work to fit the brick perfectly. Be sure to switch bond every course to make sure you are left with a nice looking brick job. Every course check for level and plum to be sure that your mailbox is not leaning, and then strike your joints every 2 to 3 courses as well, so they dont get two hard on you. If you are installing brick correctly you should have 3 courses of brick to every course of block, so if you laid 4 courses above grade then you should end up with 15 courses of brick. to the top of the block column.

Now it is time to install your mailbox, take your mailbox out of its packaging and place it on top of your column and brick with the face of it facing the road, test open the door to be sure that the brick below is not interfering with the door. Your mailbox door should be resting approximately 1 to 2 inches off the face of the brick. Now continue to lay your brick up and past your mailbox, you will have to make cuts with a saw or with a hammer if you are skilled enough to do it. Be sure to fill mortar in around mailbox to lock it in place.

After you have struck all your joints and brushed your work down it is now time to install the cap, you can do this with brick or buy a piece of sandstone that is 4 inches thick and that is 1 inch bigger on all sides of your masonry column, in the above example the sandstone should be 26 inches square. Run a bead of mortar all the way around your top course, now place the sandstone lightly on top and level it up, remove excess mortar and voila you have yourself a brick mailbox, If you are skilled enough you can do the above project with a stone veneer, but it is only recommended if you are familiar with the masonry trades.

Ethocyn Anti Aging Molecule: Can You Get a Real Face Lift by Using an Ethocyn Wrinkle Cream?

Looking great is critical to our self-image and a nice skin is very important to feel young: We all want to have a beautiful, smooth and firm skin that allows us to feel good about our appearance. Face lift plastic surgery is a solution but an increasing number of people wants to avoid surgery because of anesthesia, complications, risks and all side effects that could occur.

You are searching for a non invasive, non surgical face lift alternative. What should you do to have the youthful skin you are looking for?

First let us talk about 2 types of important skin fibers: collagen and elastin.

  • Collagen is a protein forming the structural grid that holds other skin structures. It gives the skin its strength and durability. Collagen does not stretch very well.
  • Elastin is also a protein. It is more stretchable than collagen and helps maintain skin resilience and elasticity. It provides skin with snap back like a rubber band. Elastin makes smooth, firm and resilient skin

What happen to our skin as we age?

When we are young, (before the age of 25 or 30 – depending on our genetic disposition) our skin has high levels of elastin – on average, 14-18 percent.

As we age, our skin unavoidably loses the elasticity and firmness it once possessed in younger years and it has nothing to do with the damages caused to the skin by environmental factors, such as sun, wind, smoke, pollution, free radicals, etc: Our elastin levels naturally decrease. Clinical trials confirm that in patients 40 years and older elastin levels could drop to as low as 0.1% and on average are in the 9% range. For this reason, after the age of 25-30, our resilient skin gives way to sagging and wrinkling, and can no longer snap back into its original firm shape.

For Dr. Peter T. Pugliese, a skin physiologist “The single most important cause of age related skin wrinkles and sagging is the loss of skin elastin fibers. Everyone, whether female or male, will begin to lose skin elastin fibers at age 25. Elastin fibers are the restorative force in the skin.”

How could we stop losing elastin fibers and restore a better elastin production in our skin?

Chantal Burnison, an American biochemist, specifically designed a new product to mimic, or simulate, the process that naturally occurs in young skin: She invented the Ethocyn molecule.

What is Ethocyn?

Ethocyn is a patented, clinically proven, unique ingredient that effectively stimulates increased production of important elastin fibers, which are crucial for maintaining healthy, youthful looking skin. Ethocyn is scientifically proven to be essential in the fight against and treatment of skin aging.- in an eight-week study, Ethocyn was proven to increase elastin production in the skin by 88%.

Over 20 million dollars has been spent on the testing of Ethocyn to validate its efficacy. Clinical trials have been conducted at prestigious independent universities around the world such as UCLA and the University of Shanghai.

All these clinical trials concluded that Ethocyn is a skin care ingredient that can safely and effectively return your elastin fiber levels to that of a 20 years old — resulting in firmer, smoother, younger looking resilient skin, with less wrinkles. The skin should be tighter and less sagging. This is also true for other areas, such as the neck and the backs of the hands.

Clinical trials also prove that the results are especially noticeable with the dynamics of facial expression and speech. For example, frown or smile lines that stay after the expression changes and slowly return to the neutral position, following use of Ethocyn the increased elasticity will allow the skin to snap back into the appropriate position, as it does in younger individuals.

What should you do to have the youthful skin you are looking for?

Ethocyn is hypoallergenic and it is compatible with other skin care products. You can find Ethocyn in the finest wrinkle creams and serums. Used twice a day in the morning and in the evening these anti-wrinkle creams or serums will help you to to turn back the hands of time. You should notice results within the first or second month of use.

Remember also that changing the look and feel of skin is about more than just applying a cream twice a day. Healthy, youthful skin starts with a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating and exercise.

Self Defense – Why Knowing How to Defend Yourself is Important

While driving to an upscale tourist area of Clearwater Beach Florida near Tampa one winter night, I was involved in an odd series of coincidences. At an intersection a few miles from my destination a car pulled in front of me from a side street and I ended up following it into the wide traffic circle that leads to the waterfront. As coincidence would have it, the car in front exited the circle in the same direction I was going. At every turn over the course of about five miles, the car in front seemed to be anticipating my turns and leading to my own destination.

The coincidences didn’t end there. As I approached the condo tower where I had family visiting, the car in front, to my continued astonishment, turned into the building parking area ahead of me. The driver pulled forward and casually entered the code for the security gate with my car idling behind. I’d seen this gate in action before and knew it would linger in the up position long enough for me to coat-tail in after them, so I did. I assumed the two occupants of the car had noticed, but as I harbored no ill intent, I gave it little thought beyond that.

I drove in past where the driver of the other car parked, to the opposite end of the guest parking area and headed to the security lobby entrance for which another code must be entered to gain admittance to the building lobby. Two women were approaching from the area where the other car had parked and as it was after 10:00 pm it was an easy bet that they were the occupants of the vehicle I had followed in, there was no one else around.

As they approached I entered the code as I remembered it but as these were only temporary accommodations for my visiting family I forgot the correct entry combination and tried the wrong code twice with no success. The women stood back, regarding me a few paces away where they could see the security screen and they continued to eye me warily. One asked in a suspicious tone what I was doing and I explained I was visiting family, but had forgotten the code. They looked dubious, and after having followed them so far to reach this point, I’d say for good reason.

It was cold out that night and I had just come from a Krav Maga class, (a form of hand to hand combat training) dressed in black sweat pants and a black hooded sweat jacket, not that black is my favorite color, it’s just what I happened to wear to class that night. I must have looked suspicious and considering that I had just followed them to this point from five miles and many turns away, circumstances didn’t improve my case any.

They waited in an uncomfortable silence not knowing quite what to do next. After a long moment one woman stepped up to the security pad and with one eye on me, punched in the code to open the doors and they both quickly entered. Not knowing the correct code, I again coat-tailed in after them, their anxiety appeared to increase. The bolder one, the one who questioned me, summoned the elevator but stood surreptitiously watching me out of the corner of her eye.

When the elevator doors opened the two quickly entered, and once again, I entered after them. There we all were; two women and a strange man late at night with no one else around, a stranger who had followed them for miles, coat-tailing them at two separate security points and displaying no actual knowledge of necessary entry codes.

These two women broke every rule of urban survival; first they disregarded the highly suspicious (though purely coincidental) circumstances of our meeting. The two then continued to put them selves at increasing danger by entering ever more secluded areas, knowing they were being followed by a suspicious character, and apparently ignoring their own better judgment. They were dubious enough to challenge my entry into the building, but were too intent on making their goal of the 8th floor to consider the implications of walking into that elevator with me. These events had all the possibility of becoming a very dangerous situation.

As an instructor of self defense and hand to hand combat, as well as being involved in the personal security business, I could have advised them on a much different way to handle the situation as it had developed.

What should they have done?

First; they should have exited the parking area and driven to a populated location where there were witnesses. They might have also exited the parking lot and observed whether I followed them out, and then dialed police if in fact I did. They failed to act at this first opportunity when it appeared that I was tailing them in a suspicious manner.

Second; after approaching me at the secluded outer entrance of the building, and seeing that I didn’t know the code to get in, they should have turned and made their way quickly back to their car. They could have alternately made their way out into the open, lighted, area of the parking lot where if the situation deteriorated, they could be more easily seen and might have called for help. They did neither; they entered the secluded lobby, allowing me to enter in after them, a very bad mistake given the circumstances.

Now there we were, isolated from the street and any possible help from a passing stranger. At that point they had gone in deep and it could have been a very bad situation if indeed I was a rapist or a murderer. One of them might have escaped out of the lobby but not easily, and neither of them took any measure to ensure their survival. They essentially offered themselves up even though they seemed vaguely aware that they were doing just that!

The last and final point is when they entered the elevator: As soon as I followed them in they should have rapidly exited. If I exited with them, it would have been all the indication needed that they were at that moment, in serious trouble and in a possible life threatening situation. With all the coincidences that had led us here, you would have thought the situation would not have gotten this far. But it did!

Neither of the women produced a stun gun or pepper spray. Even at this late point, either of those items would have been a game changer. Simply holding a hand over a pepper spray can, just inside a purse would have allowed one of them to spray and temporarily blind me before I could effectively act. As it is I feel lucky they had no such protection, because at that point in the elevator they should have produce a stun gun and let me have it, or sprayed me with Mace and asked questions later.

Lucky for us all it was just a bizarre coincidence between two women late at night and a suspicious looking stranger, who, fortunately was only a regular family guy going to pick up his wife and daughter from a family gathering. Nobody got hurt and we all lived happily ever after, but it might have ended very differently.

As advice for women, I highly recommend Krav Maga or other self defense classes, especially those tailored for women. Do not however attend a few classes and assume you are prepared. You must train diligently and build muscle memory so that your training will keep you acting in an emergency even if your mind submits to the chaos of being attacked.

If you haven’t the time for the dedicated training required for real physical self defense, then tools such as pepper spray, a mini stun gun or a personal alarm can save your life and should be carried with you at all times. Remember; it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Finding the Right Ice Cream Truck Freezer to Fit Your Budget

If you are thinking of running your own ice cream truck business then you’ll know that one of the most significant, important and daunting investments you must make is in your ice cream truck freezer. I know, because I was in the same position as you a few years back. Now I’m running my own successful ice cream vending business in Boston and hope that I can help you to avoid some of the obstacles I faced when I was starting up.

The ice cream truck freezer which the professionals use is the cold plate – you simply charge it overnight and it will give you perfectly chilled novelties the next day. These freezers are heavily insulated with poured polyurethane walls and a smooth metal finish with hinged doors that keep the cool air in the freezer when you open it. Its main drawback is its hefty price tag – at $5,000-$7000 they aren’t cheap. However, there are a few places where you may be able to locate a used cold plate freezer for significantly less.

Nelson manufactures the majority of cold plate freezers and they come in many different varieties. The freezers can have from 1 to 3 storage bays and an optional fridge section that you can use for drinks. Most full sized ice cream trucks use the 3 bay freezer with fridge and this is what I used.

The best place to buy a used freezer is on Craigslist, but its not always easy finding one. The problem with buying a used freezer on Craigslist is that you don’t know what shape the compressor is in and if you need to get it repaired you can end up spending up to $1,000 just to get it back up and running. You usually won’t save a lot of money buying your freezer separate from your truck or van so I suggest that you buy them together unless you find a truly amazing deal.

Many people who are new to the industry don’t realise that there are also a few viable alternatives to investing in a cold plate, most notably the dry ice container and the chest freezer. Both will cost you considerably less money than a cold plate, albeit with some fairly significant drawbacks. Still, if you are on a tight budget or only intend your business buying a dry ice or chest freezer may be a better choice until you get your business going and can afford to upgrade to a cold plate.

Why You Won’t Be the First Gas BBQ on the Moon

Since the invention and popular use of the gas fuelled BBQ, many urban myths have flourished popularised by rare, yet widely publicised, stories of explosions, fire and injuries. Every time my BBQ suffers a ‘blow-back’ my wife runs indoors convinced that the BBQ is about to explode and take half our apartment block with it.

Blow-back? For gas BBQs and many other gas stoves they operate with little or no noise and yet occasionally a loud ‘pop’ is heard before the sound of rushing gas like a blowtorch. If you look underneath your barbeque you will see that the flame from your gas burner has migrated from calmly and quietly burning from the correct apertures along or above the flame ring or ‘burner’ as some may call it; to a violent blowtorch like flame originating at the gas and air mixing chamber where the gas connection first connects to the flame ring or burner. This is the point where my wife makes her emergency exit and heads for the hills, despite my reassurances.

Here’s the common misconception. The gas flame has for whatever reason, transferred to the mixing chamber and because it now resembles a flame thrower the natural and uninformed opinion is that the flame will now burn back down inside the LPG hose into the LPG cylinder causing a catastrophic explosion worthy of CNN news helicopter coverage and four fire trucks responding.

No it won’t. Two things stop that from happening. Firstly, there is a net outflow of gas from your cylinder, which is why the incorrectly burning flame sounds so ferocious. Secondly, inside the gas hose is just gas (LPG); there is no air. LPG is flammable between 2% and 9% concentration in air. That’s a very narrow flammability range. Have you ever tried to light your gas burner atop your stove and it seems like gas is pouring out at an alarming rate and your stove’s piezo is clicking and sparking away but the gas still won’t ignite?That’s because the gas is too rich to burn. The same goes for your gas hose connecting your gas cylinder to your gas BBQ.

So what should you do? Calmly, determine which of your burners beneath your grill is the offending burner and switch it off. You’ll hear the same ‘pop’ noise as the flame extinguishes now that the gas has ceased flowing. Then, turn the gas on again and ignite the burner in the usual fashion and continue cooking your lunch or dinner. Oh, you may also have to go and find your wife or friends from wherever they are hiding and reassure them that dinner is served.

Turkey Fryers – Electric or Propane?

Given the proximity of the up coming holidays, many people have been considering deep frying a turkey for the first time. There are many different kinds of turkey fryers out there to choose from. Primarily outdoor propane deep fryers or indoor counter top electric fryers. The differences between an outdoor deep fryer and an electric fryer vary greatly. We will start with electric turkey fryers.

First and foremost, electric fryers are made for indoors. You can take your electric fryer outdoors to use one day at a time. But you should bring it back indoors once everything has cooled, and put it away. It should never be left out on your patio like a backyard grill. The morning dew alone is enough to ruin the inner workings of an electric deep fryer.

You can take an electric deep fryer camping if you have electricity, but you can forget about tailgating with one unless you have a generator.

An electric turkey fryer can be a large counter top deep fryer. My first fryer was an electric counter top turkey fryer. It not only fries small turkeys as well as deep frying anything you want, but you can also steam and boil with it. I’ve been known to make Low Country Boil right in my house in the middle of the winter.

Not all so-called electric turkey fryers, are actually deep fryers. These units work with high radiant heat. They technically roast, not deep fry. There is really no oil involved. Less mess to clean up. You can roast other meats in these units, but you can not fry up a batch of french fries in one of these.

Most electric turkey fryers have a safety shut off feature if the oil becomes too hot. They mostly all have a thermometer or temperature gauge as well. This is a great feature because most of these units will tell you that your oil is up to temperature by a light on the gauge or unit. This is also good if you are frying things other than turkey. If you are frying up multiple batches of things, like Buffalo wings or onion rings, you should always let your oil come back up to temperature between batches.

Now, speaking of oil temperatures, electric fryers do take longer to heat oil than outdoor propane deep fryers. It also takes longer between batches to come back up to temperature. You want fried crispy food, not oil logged greasy food. So pay attention to your oil temperatures. Don’t get hasty and put food in before it’s time.

Lastly, you don’t have to worry about the kids and the dog needing to have somewhere else to play. Odds are they are not playing on the counter top or in the kitchen, so the odds of your indoor electric turkey fryer getting knocked over by a game of soccer or football are next to nil.

Now we’ve discussed electric turkey fryers. Let’s move on to outdoor propane turkey fryers.

There is the issue of LP gas. You must have a propane tank to cook with, but this affords portability and versatility. You can go anywhere! The beach, camping, tailgating, or even just a different place in your back yard. And speaking of versatility a traditional turkey fryer consists of a stock pot and an outdoor propane cooker. Not only can you deep fry with them, you can stew, boil and steam food. You can make chili for a cold weather camp out or have a New England clam bake right in your back yard. Always make sure you have an extra LP tank around, just in case.

Have you ever deep fried food in your house? The fact that your outdoors is great, because now your whole house won’t smell like you deep fried a turkey two or three days later.

Even though you are outdoors there are still safety features to keep in mind. You always want to be on stable, sturdy ground, and not near any buildings or materials that can catch fire. The kids and the dog will now have to find a different place to play than where you are set up. If it rains you cannot take your outdoor turkey fryer indoors. Do not take it on the porch or in the garage, as this could just end in a really bad day!!!

Frying oil will heat faster with a propane fryer than an electric one. Even after you put a whole turkey in the oil, it takes a significantly less time to come back up to temperature, than if you were using electricity. Most traditional outdoor fryers do not have a built-in temperature gauge though. You need a deep fryer thermometer and you need to monitor your temps. There will be no little light telling you that the oil is ready. There is no safety shut off either. Again you need to monitor your temperatures and turn your regulator valve down if need be.

Traditional turkey fryers always run the risk of overflow and flare ups. This can occur if placing the bird too quickly into the fryer, or if it is wet or not properly thawed. A way to avoid the danger of overflow and flare ups is to get a safer fryer. These units typically have the flame on the back side and self-contained fire tubes. Any overflow that may occur would happen at the front of the unit. No hot oil or flame should ever come in contact. All the same safety precautions should still be taken. Like having an all-purpose fire extinguisher handy at all times and protective gloves.

Electric or propane, indoors or outdoors, you should never use water on a hot oil fire.

Never leave your fryer unattended, indoors or outdoors.

Whether you decide on an indoor electric turkey fryer or an outdoor propane deep fryer, weigh your options, research, and make an informed decision. Which fryer is best? That decision can only be made by you.