Is There a Difference Between 6 Sigma, Lean, Kaizen, BPM, Continuous Improvement, and Reengineering?

Anyone new to process work can easily become confused by so many different terms that seem to mean the same thing. I wonder sometimes why we keep adding new terms to what basically comes down to “quality.” All these techniques have the same goal — to achieve improvements in delivering a product or service to the customer. “Improvement” may follow the form of more efficiency for the business or more effectiveness for the customer. All methods have a connection to the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement promoted by gurus such as W. Edwards Deming and Joseph M. Juran, among others. Some offer a more philosophical approach than a specific set of tools.

With so many techniques to choose from, do you select the newest, the trendiest, or perhaps the tried and true method? Do you have to choose one technique? Why not take the best from all and call it something else that works in your culture. You can simply call your technique Business Process Improvement, Continuous Improvement, or something similar that works in your organization. The name you decide to use makes a difference in the acceptance rate at your company because as we all know “culture trumps process all the time.”

You may find my simplified explanation of the various terms (in alphabetical order) helpful:

  • Business Process Management (BPM): A recent term that denotes process management software. It comes from the IT world and companies that have software to sell, promote this technique. It attempts to continuously improve processes by promoting business efficiency, effectiveness, flexibility, and integration with technology. I view it simply as a new spin on using technology for process improvement…not a bad thing, but did we need another term?
  • Continuous Improvement: A more philosophical concept than a technique, CI strives to constantly improve processes. It promotes a culture of innovation and constant improvement.
  • Hoshin Kanri: A strategic planning method that uses the collective thinking power of all employees to help a company rise to the top in their field. The concept of including “all” is key to Hoshin Kanri, so that the company focuses on a shared goal. “Hoshin” means compass and “Kanri” means management (or control).
  • Kaizen: The Japanese word for continuous improvement. “Kai” means continuous and “zen” means improvement. It is not another technique, but a philosophy that denotes incremental, constant, repeatable improvement.
  • Lean: Focuses on the flow of value to the customer – anything else is considered wasteful. Companies who follow Lean have the goal of reducing the time between a customer order and shipment by eliminating waste. When you think of Toyota, you think of Lean.
  • Lean Six Sigma: Sometimes viewed as the best approach, since it combines Lean and Six Sigma, this technique merges the “process variation” aspect of Six Sigma with the “process flow” aspect of Lean, both important concepts. However, the term seems more like a sales term to me.
  • Re-engineering: Focuses on the radial redesign of end-to-end processes. It ignores the current business process and starts by designing a new process from scratch based on customer needs. While popular in the mid-1990s, it did not see much long-term success because of the lack of focus on the change management or governance process.
  • Six Sigma: A statistical method (coined by Motorola) that looks to reduce variation in process performance and strives for near perfection. The “six” refers to six standard deviations. Walter Shewhart’s work in the 1920s showed that processes required correction when they reached three sigma from the mean. With the introduction of “belts” (credited to GE), it sometimes seems like Six Sigma is the best method, and while it does focus on preventing defects and helping you to understand process complexity, I do not believe that it alone is enough. If you use this technique, remember the cultural effect of any process changes.

In summary, all techniques focus on improvement; all have the customer at the core; and all want to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and adaptability of the business. As you read more about these techniques, you may notice what seems like territorial wars between some of the methods – e.g., lean vs. six sigma, or continuous improvement vs. reengineering. While you will find some differences (evolutionary or revolutionary, ongoing or one time, specific tools), you will see more similarity than differences.

In the end, simply think process improvement and spend time defining what “quality” means to your organization.

Copyright 2011 Susan Page

How to Balance on a Hoverboard

When seeing a hoverboard for the first time, people often ask us, “Is it hard to balance?” or “How long did it take you to learn?” To the initiated, these seem like silly questions, but everybody started here at some point.

The fact of the matter is that a true “hoverboard” will float above the ground without touching it. What we are talking about here is actually a gyroscopically balanced platform that will only move when “told” to move. Like it or not, over the past year these have come to be known on the internet as hoverboards. Name drama aside, the way you use one is by standing on it just as you would stand on flat ground. With your weight evenly balanced between your heels and toes, the unit will not move, even if someone pushes you. You must tilt your feet slightly toe-down in order to move forward.

This does not take a lot of pressure, and you will find that you actually need to lean forward slightly in order to prevent the hoverboard from moving forward without you. It takes about a minute for your brain to learn the algorithms of how much to lean forward for a given amount of toe pressure, and about 5 minutes to get good at it.

Most people who fall, do so because they try to step on the board before they understand how it works. Since the motors are activated by tilting the platform, you cannot step onto it like walking up a staircase. Instead of using the ball of your foot as you do on the stairs, you must take care to step on and off with “flat feet” only when the unit is not moving. If you step on or jump off using the balls of your feet, you are in for a short and wild ride.

The first time you use it, we recommend you stand near a wall, counter, or friend for support, and activate one of the gyros by putting just one foot gently on the board with the other foot still safely on the ground. Try moving your toe up and down, and get a feel for how it moves before putting full weight on it. Once you have found the neutral position, step up with your other foot taking care to not move tilt either foot up or down.

Once you get it, it is so intuitive you will never remember how clumsy you felt at first. The learning curve is rapid, and you will be having a blast getting around in no time!

If you have any other “how-to” questions, or any advice you would like to add, fee free to shoot us an email, or leave a comment.

Happy Scootin’!

The RV Awning

The RV awning is one of those have-to-have accessories that at 3 am, with a howling wind, you may wish you did not have!

Who can remember the half-dozen or so steps required to lower the thing under these conditions? Have you ever awakened after that midsummer overnight thunderstorm and your awning is sagging alarmingly? Have you ever tried to empty the hundred or so gallons of water that has collected in that sagging awning? Trust me when I say that you do not need to go through that "joy" of camping.

The recreational vehicle awning is designed as a sunshade, period. If, perhaps, it starts to sprinkle a bit and also kicks up a mild breeze – do not worry – your RV awning can handle that. But if those dark clouds are building on the horizon and the birds are seeking shelter, then you really should consider rolling up. And you really should consider rolling up, NOW.

Practice rolling up your awning on a calm day until you have the procedure memorized. Then do the same thing while blindfolded, with someone spraying a hose in your face. This will simulate a typical emergency storm take-down. Except for the wind, of course. For this simulation you will need three fairly burly guys, all yanking the awning in a different direction at once. Once you have gone through the preceding exercise, you will understand why the experienced camper will take down the awning at the first sign of trouble.

After being rolled up and possibly damp for several months your awning will appreciate a good airing out and a bath with warm water and a mild detergent. Use a car wash type brush to scrub the surface of both the top and the underside. A little WD-40 on the moving parts helps to free up and protect these components. Dry it thoroughly before re-rolling it.

Lower one end of your open awning to allow rainwater to drain off. Peg down the awning feet when the awning is free standing so that a gust of wind will not flip over the awning. Also, the awning may be strapped down with the special awning straps available at your local RV store. If you suspect a strong wind or storm is coming the safest thing to do is roll up the awning.

7 Caravan Must Haves

The list of things you should have ready for your caravanning holiday is highly subjective. There are however a few things that no caravanner, whether it’s your 1st or 51st time should be without. This article lists the top 7.

  1. First aid kit: In the first aid kit you should have a basic first aid manual, antiseptic spray or wipes, plasters, bandages, insect repellent and treatments for bites, paracetamol, eye-wash/eye bath, tweezers and scissors. It is also a good place to keep any other medication that you take on a regular basis. You will need to remember to top up any items that have been used. You must have a fire extinguisher or blanket in the caravan, some also have a red fire bucket with sand in it.
  2. Porch awning: This is especially important if you have young children as it can provide shade in strong sunlight, or protection from the bad weather. To make the best use of your awning it is best to also buy a breathable ground-sheet.
  3. Large water carrier: More often than not you will have a trek to the sites water pump. The carrier can be as big as 40 litres and while it’s full it’s usually stored outside the caravan.
  4. Waste water carrier: Staying with the water theme, to avoid water from your taps and shower going into the ground and turning your pitch in to a bog, you can buy a ‘grey’ water carrier. This is not suitable for water from your on board toilet.
  5. Leisure battery: A leisure battery can be connected to your caravan and supply the power needed to power the fridge and water pumps. The power will also go to the plug sockets and can buy low voltage toasters and kettles which reduces the risk of power outages.
  6. Gas bottles and stove: Although some of the larger caravans will have their own hob it will be electric. It’s handy to have a gas stove as a back-up in case of an electricity outage.
  7. Wind up equipment: This type of torch is the best to bring with you for wandering about the campsite in the evening. If you are planning on sitting outside long after the sun has gone done, then an LED lamp will use less power and save on batteries. If you like background noise then a clockwork radio is ideal.

This list is not exhaustive, there are probably some things that you could not do without, like your young child’s favourite toy or the T.V but this list should see you well on the way to a perfect caravan holiday.

Things You Shouldn’t Do While Longboarding

1. Don’t jump up and down on the board while you’re moving. As a matter of fact, don’t jump up and down on the board at all. Sure, it’s springy and trampoline-like, but it just won’t be the same when it snaps into two pieces.

2. Don’t ride backwards. It’s fun at first; but you’ll start to pick up some speed and then things will be terrifying. Especially if you’re going down a hill that’s next to a cliff and there aren’t any guard rails. Woo. Hoo.

3. Don’t whip out your phone and start texting. One second you’re telling your friend what a good time you’re having, and the next second you’re picking broken pieces of wood out of your body and trying to get your front teeth out of the tree you ran into.

4. While we’re on the subject of phones, it’s a good idea to not take your phone with you. Leave it in your car; if you fall, then your phone is likely to get broken. Well, maybe you should bring your phone just in case you have an accident. OK, so bringing your phone is optional.

5. Don’t tailgate a car, bus, or anything else that has brakes. These vehicles can stop, but you can’t. There’s a good chance that you’ll run into whoever you decide to tailgate if they stop, and it will probably hurt. This rule also means don’t go skitchin’

6. Don’t ride in front of anything with 4 wheels, either. Just because they have brakes doesn’t mean they’re going to be used. Your helmet probably won’t keep your head from getting crushed, either. Think of that ad where the watermelon gets broken because it didn’t wear a helmet.

7. Don’t ride when it’s wet! Longboarding is lots of fun, but slick pavement is not. Wait at least a day after rain has fallen to skate. If you feel dangerous you can go for it, but I warned you.

8. Don’t skate without pads, unless you’re just doing some light skating. Anything hardcore needs at least a helmet and some knee pads. Knee pads are great because they transfer sliding energy to the plastic shields instead of your skin.

9. Wear proper shoes! Anything with laces. Don’t bomb a hill in your loafers, and definitely don’t get on a longboard without shoes. That’s just asking to get yourself hurt!

10. Don’t skate if you don’t feel like it! Longboarding is supposed to be fun. If you feel like it’s a chore to hop on your board and go skate, then you’re doing it wrong.

Yea. That’s about it. Go skate now.

Bridge Playing Software: Get a General Overview of the Most Popular Software

Bridge is the most popular, most entertaining and intelligent card game that is played by millions of people all over the world. Those who are not familiar with the game or simply wish to learn it will be extremely surprised to find the reasons inspiring such passion. With the help of Computer Bridge it is now easy to learn how to play bridge. However, mastering it can perhaps take your entire life.

Social benefits

Bridge provides a great opportunity to meet new people so it is considered as a social game also. It can be played at different levels – at local, national and international competitions. No matter at what level you play, you can stay assured that you will meet a network of new friends some of which can be lifelong friends as well.

Health benefits

Bridge is a game for all ages and benefits all. You can learn to play bridge at a young age so that you get a chance to play it for the rest of your life. In fact, people spend their life learning and mastering the game and still find a lot of things new when they play the next time. It is said to boost the immune system of the players along with keeping their minds young and active. Even stave off degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Above all, bridge is a relatively inexpensive pastime.

Benefits of bridge playing software

Bridge playing software helps people learn and practice bridge. However, you do not need to be a champion to play against a champion. In fact, bridge is possibly the only game where an ordinary player can play with a champion and even win an odd deal. When four people sit on the bridge table each one thinks only about the game and no one cares about the status of the other person. Bridge brings in challenges in every game and a combination of technique, teamwork and tactics helps one to win.

Most of the websites that provide accessibility to bridge software will also provide demo software so that you get aware of the working and performance of that specific bridge playing software. The demo software is free to download and there is no obligation involved. The only thing is that they are limited to only few hands because they are provided to people to try out the product. You can try out the program functions and it will help you get a feel for the program. When you will use the software you will be able to see the deficits in your game and this will prove useful in improving your game.

Introduction to PCB Assembly

Some of you might have heard of the term PCB Assembly and thought, “What’s that”?

This article is meant to shed some light on the subject.

The whole process of manufacturing electronic devices is a long and complicated one.

The starting point for all electronics is in the material – Silicon or any other semiconductor.

Through a number of long and expensive clean room processes, these “wafers” are transformed into “smart” electronic microprocessors and chips.

These chips can’t do anything by themselves, and need to be integrated onto a printed circuit board (PCB) in order to be able to do something in the end (like operate your computer or telephone).

Now, there are a large number of companies that design these chips and sell end-products. However, these companies can’t afford to purchase all the equipment required to assemble their chips onto PCBs in order to devise their end-product.

This is what PCB Assembly companies are for. These (EMS) companies have a number of Surface Mount Assembly lines, and offer PCB Assembly services to other companies who are not interested in doing this themselves.

The PCB Assembly process consists of a number of different processes:

1) Solder Paste Printing – During this process the initial solder paste is printed onto the PCB using a stencil. This is basically the binding material of the devices to the PCB.

2) SMT Pick & Place Assembly – This is the heart of each PCB Assembly line. This process takes all the individual chips and accurately places them on their designated place on the PCB.

3) Reflow/Through-hole curing – After placing the chips onto the solder paste, the boards go through a conveyor oven to melt the solder and bind the chips to the PCB.

4) Conformal Coating – Some boards require a protective lacquer coating. Conformal “Selective Coating” machines quickly and accurately provide a layer of protective coating on the PCBs.

5) AOI and AXI – Automatic Optical Inspection and Automated X-ray Inspection. These processes are key to confirming that no mistakes have been made during the assembly process

6) Reworking if needed – If any mistakes or defects are found, some devices can be reworked. Reworking consists of heating the board or device, and removing it from the PCB so that a replacement can be placed in its stead.

Each of these processes is a world in its own right and is considered a technology field in its own. There are several specialist manufacturers for each of the these PCB Assembly fields.

LCD TV Mounting Brackets

There is a variety of LCD TV mounting brackets to choose from, yet most people struggle with that simple task. Is it hard to decide which mounting bracket to buy? Of course it is not, but before you head towards you local TV store, let me explain some basics regarding mounting brackets shopping.

I assume you've already bought LCD TV. Next obvious step is buying LCD TV mounting (wall) bracket. As you already know, LCD TVs come in different sizes and so do mounting brackets. So carefully choose your mounting bracket so it can fit your LCD well. Do this as your first step since it's the most important.

After that choose the position for your LCD mounting (wall) brackets. I guess it should be a wall somewhere in your living room. It's important to know what kind of material is wall made of. Usually mounting brackets come with fastening hardware. And there is different hardware for wood and for concrete.

LCD cabling is also yet another important fact to take into account. What's the point of LCD mounting if you can not plug in your TV? It's important to ensure that your brackets leave enough space for cables. You could maybe buy LCD TV brackets with already done cable management. It would make your life easier.

Now that we've sorted out important aspects of LCD TV mounting brackets shopping, it's time to move on to less important ones. After you eliminate all those that do not fit your LCD TV size, your wall and your cable management, you still have to choose type of mounting bracket and color and material as well.

There are several types of mounting brackets. You can decide between fixed, tilting or cantilever. The main difference among them is flexibility. As the name suggests, fixed LCD mounted on fixed bracket can not be moved. Tilting LCD TV brackets offer a bit more flexibility. You can move your LCD up and down for about 10 degrees or so. Cantilever LCD mounting brackets give you the most flexibility. If you install that type of mounting bracket, you can even pull your LCD television away from the wall as well as change angles.

I hope you found this LCD television mounting (wall) brackets shopping guide informative and useful.

Blacksmith Power Hammer

The picture of a blacksmith most people have in their minds is that of a big well muscled man standing in a shop with a raging furnace in a corner and using a huge hammer to shape a piece of red hot metal. The principles of blacksmithing have not changed with the passing of time and the basic concepts of the trade remain the same. Except now the blacksmith does not have to be a huge overly muscled man with the ability to apply massive force to the hammer blow. By the end of the 19th century power hammer became available that allowed metal to be worked into shape without the application of human muscle.

The first hammers that did not use direct muscles power to strike the metal were trip hammers. These were lifted to the top of their frame water power (and later by steam) and once they were at the top of the frame, were released and fell with their own weight to make the strike. Basically, it used gravity to create the force of the blow. Power hammers are a development of the trip hammer. In the case of the blacksmith's power hammer, energy is stored in the form of compressed air or steam and using a system of mechanical linkages this energy is added to the force of gravity and increases the force of the hammer blow. Power hammers are categorized according to the force applied at the time of the hammer hitting the metal and large industrial hammers exceed 100 tones in force.

The first power hammers were steam powered and continued to be in use till the middle of the 20th century. However, by the beginning of that century, smaller mechanical power hammers became popular with blacksmiths. These hammers were powered by electric motors that powered the ram that drove the hammer. These were easier to use and since no boilers were required to create the steam pressure they occupied much less space and were also safer. The motor driven hammers were also easier to control and set for the desired force behind the hammer blow.

Modern blacksmiths power hammers are extremely precise machines, often with micro chip based controls and moveable beds that allow for the easy placement and adjustment of the metal to be worked on. Since the force of the hammer blows are variable, they can be used not just for the gross shaping of the metal in the initial stages, but also for the finer shaping and finishing required to complete the piece being manufactured.

The modern blacksmith metal artist uses power hammers that range between 25 to 500 pounds of strike force, although larger one are used for very large projects.

The blacksmith of yore used his muscles combined with his skill to produce metal objects of high quality that were often works of art. The power hammer removes the need for physical strength and allows those of slight build to shape metal and become blacksmiths and, in increasing numbers, metal artists.

Glass Mosaic Tile

Glass mosaic tiles have been around for a long time; their popularity is ever-increasing. The volume of colors, different sizes, unique shapes and styles and the endless possibilities it offers for creative design, all are growing rapidly.

While the popularity of glass tiles is growing, there appears to be apprehension with some contractors, builders and related professions. Familiar with installing traditional ceramic tile via conventional methods, they consider today’s glass mosaic tile as an extraneous element, requiring more distinctive procedures relative to installation. When glass mosaic tile is installed professionally, impeccable results are achieved. Glass tile installation professionals have an understanding of the context of glass mosaic tile products. Special installation techniques may be required to install some of the newer glass mosaic tile products. Thorough planning and accurate installation make glass mosaic tiles an ideal flooring option for bathrooms, kitchens, entryways, patios, and any other room or area in residential and commercial interior and exterior applications. The following gives answers to some frequently asked questions relative to glass mosaic tile installation.

What are some concerns relative to installing glass tile?

Glass is impervious in nature; for successful installment, good mortar mixing and mortar spreading techniques are imperative, along with consistent and accurate tile placement. Many installers encounter problems with glass mosaic tiles losing bond, primarily because they didn’t use quality liquid latex that was formulated with cement mortars. Impervious tiles require a thinly-set mortar with extremely strong bond strength. When working with glass tiles that are paper-faced, it requires more precision and skill than other types of back dot-mounted or rear mesh-mounted mosaic glass tile applications. Many installers have not had success working with these application types for those reasons. Working with glass is completely different than working with ceramic and porcelain tile. Applications with these materials are a work of art; time and concentration is critical, and precision is key to a gorgeous installation. I’m impressed with the high quality and unique work that glass tile professionals conceptualize and ultimately put together.

Are your glass mosaic tiles suitable for use in bathrooms, pools, kitchens, spas, fireplace-surrounds and even floors?

Yes, high-quality Tiles are specifically manufactured to meet the ANSI ratings to be used in residential and commercial use, for interior and exterior application.

When installing glass tiles in “wet areas,” what are some of the considerations?

The considerations include that they should be kept in a climate controlled area to avoid moisture and humidity exposure, which can adversely affect the adhesive’s strength. Tiles used as floors in wet areas can be treated with a slip-resistant sealant to reduce the slipperiness of wet tiles. Be sure to use a thin-set that is compatible with your substrate and environment. Mastic is not recommended, as bond strengths are lower than those of recommended setting materials. Mastic does not properly cure when used with impervious materials such as glass and can turn yellow behind clear or translucent tile. If you’re installing in a wet location like a shower, pool or spa, a waterproof membrane must be used. Allow a minimum of 28 days after grouting before applying water in submerged areas like swimming pools or fountains. Follow setting material manufacturer’s directions for installation, as some setting products aren’t suitable for wet or submerged applications. Also, do not use paper-faced gypsum for any kind as a substrate in wet areas.

What type of grout should be used when installing glass tile?

Any sanded or un-sanded grout can be used on the tile.

Creating a Faux Venetian Plaster Look

Plaster was common for covering walls in the 19th Century, but with the advent of drywall, plaster fell by the wayside, since it was costlier and took longer to apply. However, with many homeowners looking to recreate the look of plaster walls, the art of creating faux Venetian plaster finishes grows in popularity.

You can buy fake Venetian plaster or hire a trained professional to finish your walls with real Venetian plaster. Some decorative painters train in Italy, but many take classes in the United States.

To create that look yourself, you'll find lots of help on the Internet or in a growing number of books. Do your initial experimenting on a test panel and not on your walls. That way, you can make mistakes without having to clean them up and start all over.

Start by using a textured paint with a consistency slightly thinner than joint compound. It's available at most good hardware centers, since it's commonly used to hide wall and ceiling imperfections and cracks.

Holding a trowel like those used to apply cement to the curved surfaces of swimming pools, apply the textured paint. The larger the trowel, the more surface you can cover with each stroke. Distribute the paint fairly evenly. You can go back later to achieve the texture you're looking for. Hold the trowel at about 45 degrees for the first pass, then flatten it out a little to create more texture.

Let that coat dry for about twenty-four hours before moving to the second step, which is applying paint to your textured surface. A satin finish works best.

Let that coat dry for at least an hour before applying the top coat, a water-based glazing liquid, with a medium nap roller. A glazing medium, tinted to your desired color, works better than watered-down paint, because you're going to go back immediately after you've finished and take most of it off again, and you would not be able to do that with watered-down paint. It dries too fast.

Once the glazing liquid has been applied, use a rag towel to begin removing it, using a circular motion. Go over the surface, allowing the glaze to collect in the low spots in your textured paint, until you no longer see any swipe marks. do not press down too hard and ruin your textured surface, and do not worry about mistakes, because you're making them BEFORE you tackle your walls.

Let the surface dry for about a week. It will have the look and feel of plaster, adding class and warmth to your room – at a fraction of the cost of real plaster work.

Things to Think About When Picking a House Painter

It makes sense to take a little time and do some research before you choose a house painter because your house is most likely the biggest and most important investment you will make. You should make sure that you get the best person or company and there are lots of types of painters and contractors ranging from large companies down to individuals.

The next step after you determine that you are going to hire a professional painter to locate the best person for your project.

Some people have friends, neighbors or relatives who recently hired one. Referrals from friends and word of mouth will often lead to the best and most reliable recommendations.

For people who don’t have access to first-hand referrals, these are great tips:

Ask local builders, interior designers or even employees at your neighborhood hardware or paint store if they have any good recommendations. Real estate agents can also have good leads for house painters. If you drive around your neighborhood to get color ideas and you see a beautiful house, you can knock on the door and ask who they had paint their house.

Check with your local trade organization, Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau to see if the organizations recommend any painters or painting companies on their websites. Some of these groups may also have a list of painters with a lot of complaints or a history of issues.

You can often see before-and-after pictures and some testimonials on websites or by looking at ads in your local newspaper.

Search for the name of your city followed by the words “house painter” in Google and then check out what comes back. To find a painter in Denver, for example, type in Denver House Painters. In Naperville, Naperville House Painter. The websites of the painters may give you an indication of their professionalism and the quality of their work so make sure you click through to. Lastly, you can also check out the yellow pages in your phone book and make a few calls to prospective candidates.

Selecting a good contractor to paint your house is important as your house is probably the biggest investment you have. If you follow these guidelines, do your research, and carefully consider the possible candidates, you will be able to find a quality painter and end up with a beautiful house.

Lighting Ideas – Using a Chandelier

Chandeliers are a tricky source of light to use appropriately. Located in the center of the room, the provide light that can be either shone directly downward or diffused throughout the room, usually broken up using reflection. In this article, I will discuss how to use the unique lighting of chandeliers correctly in lighting design.

Purely as a source of lighting (that is, without considering what they look like in themselves), chandeliers come in two types: downward-shining chandeliers and spherically-shining chandeliers. Downward-shining chandeliers are chandeliers where lamps shades or other obstructions are used to have all the light from the light shine downwards. These chandeliers are most typically used in dining rooms, and are used as task lighting for the purpose of eating. The difficulty with these chandeliers is that they can actually be too good as task lighting. The light they shine downwards can reflect off of the surface of the table, causing glare in people’s eyes when eating. As a result, they should always be used in tandem with a table cloth or with a table surface that is not especially reflective. It is also important when using a downward-shining chandelier to ensure that the naked bulb cannot be seen by those who are eating. Having it be so makes it uncomfortable for people to look upwards while eating.

Spherically-shining chandeliers, on the other hand, are used both in foyers and in dining rooms. These chandeliers will often have lights that look like candles (from the French “chandelle” for “candle”), and this light shines upward, downward and in all directions. The quality of light from these chandeliers has two features. First, because it is omni-directional, it does not serve as well as task lighting for eating. In the dining room, you will likely need to augment the chandelier with additional light sources. Second, the light is usually refracted using beads, crystals, glass and reflective metal. As a result, the light that comes from a chandelier seems to “flicker” slightly, creating sparkling spots of lights on walls and other surfaces. This provides an attractive light source that can beautify your entire room.

Decisions on Appetizers and Cocktail Hours

In order to have even more time to socialize or to give the married couple some time for pictures or quiet, the trend of cocktail hours has re-emerged. Of course, these aren’t the only reasons that you may want to contemplate a little fun before the actual start of the reception.

For the wedding party

After the rush of pictures and the excitement of the ceremony, a lot of the wedding party can become disheveled and unkempt. By giving them a little time to get freshened up, all of the reception pictures can be just as lovely as the ceremony ones.

Of course, if the wedding party has to transport themselves to the reception hall, a cocktail hour can give them enough time to get there and get organized as well. They can put away anything that they brought with them to the hotel or to the ceremony, plus change into anything that they may have brought with them–more comfortable shoes, for example.

A cocktail hour is a great new way to have a receiving line. The wedding party can meet and greet the guests as they arrive at the reception hall, even show them to their seats if they’d like. This way, the only thing that anyone is waiting on is the bride and groom.

For out of town guests

If you just couldn’t schedule the wedding and the reception back to back, then you may be in luck with having a cocktail hour. When your guests are from out of town, they don’t necessarily want to go back to their hotels before heading over for the reception, so they can have the option of going for light appetizers and cocktails.

This also gives them the opportunity to mingle with everyone in a less intense setting. There won’t be all the dancing and cake cutting, so it can be a lot calmer. Plus if the wedding was earlier, the guests are probably hungry, so you’ll be feeding them as well. And drinks can help to liven up any bunch of people.

A cocktail hour is a great way to warm everyone up and get acquainted before the arrival of the couple and the start of the reception. And since you’re feeding everyone a little something to begin with, you may also be able to have a less complicated dinner menu–if you’re on a budget.

So if you’re deciding on whether or not to have a cocktail hour, why not just do it? It’s an inexpensive way to keep your guests from having grumbling stomachs.

Wall Clock – Only in Your Dreams

It was a very wintry morning in the upper Midwest. The night before it had snowed about 8 inches of the white powdery stuff. It’s 6:00AM and I’m out in my driveway shoveling the snow to clear the way for my car.

It took me about 2 hours to complete the snow removal job around the outside of my home. And like always, I shovel off the snow around my retired neighbor’s house. Agnes is 78 years old and she just doesn’t have the strength to handle the snow removal anymore. She always invited me in (after I shovel around her house) for a cup of hot coco.

Well this day was no different than the past. When I finished shoveling around Agnes’s house, she stuck her head out the front door and invited me in. You know, hot coco always tastes best after a good workout in the winter snow.

During my visit with Agnes, she said that she had a wall clock in her living room that stopped running. She said that the batteries must have gone dead. So we both went into the living room and sure enough, the large wall clock in the living room was not running. I proceeded to remove the clock from the wall and changed the batteries with batteries Agnes had already bought. She was so pleased that the clock on her living room wall is now running again.

Next thing you know, my cell phone is ringing. It’s my mother. She said that she had a dentist appointment and that when she went to start her car, the car would not start. I told her I would come over to her house and give her a ride to the dentist. When I got over to my mother’s house, we had no time to spare, so we got in my car and drove off to her dentist appointment.

It was on the way to the dentist, my mother mentioned that the clock in her kitchen was not working. I told my mother that when we got back to her house, I would check to see if the batteries are dead and replace them if they are dead. When I mentioned batteries, my mother said that it would also be a good idea to pick up some new batteries at the hardware store on the way home from the dentist. She also said it would be a good idea to change the batteries in all her smoke and gas detectors. I said that I would do all the battery changing when we get back to her house. This put a smile on her face.

By the time I got home it was 4:00PM. I took my shoes off, put on my comfy slippers, put on the late afternoon news on my TV and sat down in my recliner to watch the news.

This is when it all started. I must have fallen asleep immediately. The adventure I went through in my dream had everything to do with what went on earlier in the day.

My dream started out with me shoveling snow in front of a retail store. I was on the sidewalk in front of the store clearing away the snow. The good part is that I was almost finished clearing the snow from in front of the store. This storefront sidewalk had to be as long as big city block. I’m feeling beat, as though I was shoveling snow for several hours in front of the store. A good feeling has come over me, knowing that my snow shoveling job has finally come to an end.

As I’m standing outside in front of the store, I look up to the front outside wall of the store and a big lighted sign reads “WALL CLOCKS MAMMOTH MART.” I’m thinking to myself, “Where am I?”

My curiosity overwhelming me, I decide to go into the store and have a look. Well let me tell you that this is the largest store I have ever seen. It would probably take 5 to 10 minutes to walk from the front of this store to the back. This is how large this store is.

The second thing I notice, after the store size, are wall clocks. Walking down the main isle, I’m thinking that there must be every type of wall clock in the universe on display here. This is amazing!

There was a display for every type of wall clock imaginable. These displays seemed to be set up in random order. As I slowly walked from the front of the store to the back I saw wall clock styles such as Country, Children’s, Novelty, Antiqued, Kitchen, Cuckoo, Modern/Contemporary, Rustic/Lodge, Retro, Traditional, Whimsical, Old World, Sports/Collegiate, Neon and the list went on and on and on…

On display along with the style of each wall clock was a sample of the different types of finishes these wall clocks came in such as Brass, Wrought Iron, Medium Wood, Dark Wood, Light Wood, Black, White, Silver/Chrome, Multi-Colored, Rattan/Wood, Blues, Bronze, Greens, Brass-Antique/Satin, Pewter, Stainless Steel and this list of finishes also went on and on and on…

As if this wasn’t enough information for each wall clock display to provide, each display also provided samples of available features some of these wall clocks offered, such as Day Clock, Musical, Atomic Clock, World Clock, Single Chime Clock, Dual Chime Clock, Triple Chime Clock, Gallery Clock, Weather Clock, Neon Clock, Picture Frame Clock and With Pendulum. Like I said about style and finish, this list also went on and on and on…

There were themed wall clocks such as Animal, Educational, Floral, Food and Drink, Holiday, Retro, Scenic, Sports/Cars and Tropical/Nautical. There were clock types such as Indoor Clock, Outdoor Clock and Indoor/Outdoor Clock. There were clock number types such as Roman Numerals, Arabic/Standard and No Numbers. There were samples of display types such as Analog and Digital, not to mention sample of shapes such as Rectangular, Round, Square and Novelty Shapes.

I’m telling you, these wall clocks come in sizes from small to as large as 7 feet in diameter, for those who are interested in a wall clock in the size of their choosing.

By the time I reached the back of the store I was well educated in Wall Clocks. I was amazed at what was available to choose from when it came to these wall hanging time pieces. I thought to myself that not only do these wall clocks supply me with the time of day, along with other optional features, these wall clocks provide an artful and elegant touch to the room in which they hang.

And then all of a sudden as if it was the top of the hour all the chiming, musical, cuckoo, bell and electronic clocks rang out in one tremendous alarm. This woke me up as I jumped from my recliner. I realized I was only dreaming about this humongous wall clock store. I thought to myself what a wonderfully strange dream.

My afterthoughts of my dream were me thinking, “Is there really a store of that size dedicated to wall clocks?” After pondering over that thought for a few minutes, I came to the conclusion that the only place you could find the variety and selection of the wall clocks in my dream, would be to shop online.

If a new wall clock is in your future, don’t just dream about it, go online and see all the endless options awaiting you.