How to Fix Staircase Handrails

A staircase banister that is loose and moving while you hold onto it is not a safe banister. If you are a do-it-yourselfer you probably want to be able to fix that yourself.

First, the anatomy of a staircase should be clear. Its basic parts are the tread that you step on, the riser, which is the vertical part between treads, and the banister, the part that is on the side offering support when going up and down. The banister has three components: the  handrail , which you actually grasp when using the stairs, the balusters, posts that support the  handrail , and a newel post, a larger vertical support at the bottom of the staircase.

A  handrail  will usually shake if the balusters loosen in the mortises where they meet the  handrail . A mortise is a hole cut into a piece of material in which another piece, the tenon, will be inserted. For the first solution you should prepare: a hammer, wood shims, carpenter’s glue, a small block of wood and an utility knife. You will coat a shim in glue and hammer it into the joint between the  handrail  and the baluster. Use the small wood block to drive the shim in, keeping it between the shim and the hammer. Your purpose is to fill the gap and not to drive the pieces that join apart, so hammer with care. Trim the part of the shim that is left outside of the hole.

A second solution asks for: safety goggles, electric drill, screwdriver matching the screw head, combination bit corresponding to the used screw, flathead wood screws, 220 grit sandpaper, wood putty and wood finish or paint. Drill a pilot hole upwards through the baluster and into the  handrail  using the combination bit. You will drill under a 45 degree angle. Drive the screw in, countersink it and tighten it. Fill the hole that is left with wood putty, allow it to dry and then sand the repair spot and cover it with wood finish or paint for the aesthetics part.

If the baluster got loose in its bottom mortise where it meets the tread, you will need the same tools and expendables like in the second solution. You will drill a pilot hole down through the baluster into the tread at an angle. Drive in the screw, countersink it and tighten it. Just like in the previous case, you will then fill the hole with wood putty, let it dry, use the sandpaper to sand the area and then finish.

Interior Vs Exterior Powder Coated Iron Balusters

Many customers like the combination of wood handrail with iron balusters for their exterior deck or patio installations. So the question is always presented: Can I use off the shelf powder coated balusters outside?

Traditionally powder coated iron and metal balusters are made primarily for interior stair installations. The key is the powder coating, just like paints are designed for interior or exterior qualities. The problem with iron balusters is not that the powder coating peals or chips in exterior weather conditions – nor is rust a factor – but rather the powder coating fades. A satin black baluster, exposed to the sun’s UV rays, will, over time, become gray. Color quality is compromised.

Is there a solution? Here are three options to consider:

I’ve recommended that customers apply a UV clear coat of polyurethane on their balusters prior to installation. I’ve seen many builders in the Pacific Northwest use this method and it appears to have been effective. For the do it yourselfer a can of an off the shelf polyurethane aerosol can be used.

Matte Primed or raw iron can be purchased and pre-painted on sight with exterior grade paint or sent to a local paint finish house for exterior color and preparation. A lot of stair part suppliers offer “exterior” balusters, but these are usually not powder coated.

One of the best ideas I’ve heard was a builder in Virginia who purchased 200 copper vein balusters for exterior installation, with the intent of using an auto clear coat paint finish. He said that the product he uses is purchased from an auto detail supply house and offers the “best protection available”.

House of Forgings is the first to step up to the plate with the introduction of “Deckscape”, a line of exterior ready iron balusters. The Deckscape balusters have a 5 step anti-corrosion phosphate dip with a satin black all-weather powder coating. This is a new product featured on our web sight. The only limitation is style selection and they only come in satin black. Deckscape comes in a hammered plain bar with matching single and double forged balls, or a Tuscan-styled single and double diamond. They have also introduced a 5/8″ full round plain bar with optional single or double knuckles.

All About Glass Balustrades

 Balustrades  are those columns used to support the handrails found on balconies and stairways. Various materials can be used in the construction of a  balustrade  such as wood, stone, metal, and glass. In this article, we will highlight the benefits of using glass  balustrades  and the components involved in their installation.

Glass  balustrades  are lauded for the elegance and style they bring. Often employed as balcony railings and in pool areas, they offer unobstructed view of the outside. If used indoors, then  balustrades  made from glass allow for more natural light giving homes a more cozy and natural feel. Actually, they are boasted to coincide with most architectural designs. These glass railings are also considered safe as they are regulated by safety codes to ensure stability and support. Another feature that these  balustrades  offer is the ease of maintenance. A simple swipe with a cleaning material and you’ll be able to restore its clear and transparent look.

The components that are used to install this type of  balustrades  are the following: glass panels, panel clips, shoe mouldings, and cap rails. Panel clips – often made out of steel – are used to attach the glass panels to the shoe mouldings. Shoe mouldings then support the  balustrades  from the floor. Shoe mouldings can either be fastened or embedded to the floor. Cap rails are the ones that sit atop the glass panels connected by an adhesive or a sealant. Safety regulations dictate how much weight the cap rails should be able to support. On some designs, the use of cap rails is disregarded often depending on the use of the  balustrades .

Bottom line, glass  balustrades  offer style but do not otherwise compensate stability and utility. They are a great addition to your home because not only can they enhance its overall appearance, they are also easy to clean and maintain as well.

Samsung PN50B550 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV – Introducing One of Samsung’s Latest Masterpieces

At last, you can finally experience a visually breathtaking high-definition picture from your very own living room with the Samsung PN50B550 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV. This high-definition plasma television comes with multiple advanced features, such as the Samsung E-Panel technology, which helps to conserve energy consumption while still delivering an incredible dynamic viewing experience, all without sacrificing any amount of power or quality.

There’s much appeal in terms of the look of the Samsung PN50B550 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV. Not only is there an nice reflective glaze over the entire body of this plasma HDTV, but a unique color additive, known as the Samsung exclusive Touch Of Color design. In this, a deep red color accents the edges of the television’s frame, which gradually fades into the inner black frame, giving it an eye-catching appearance that fits perfectly in any living room.

If there’s one concern that people hold in regards to high-definition plasma TV units, it’s the issue of burn-in. Fortunately, with the Samsung PN50B550 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV, burn-in is a concern of the past. This model television features several burn-in preventative technologies, as well as general advancements that assist in preventing burn-in from ever happening in the first place. high-definition cable and satellite television, movies, and video games are all perfect and without issue on the Samsung PN50B550 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV, as the only time you should ever be concerned about burn-in is if you were to leave a movie or video game paused on a single screen for several hours time.

The Samsung PN50B550 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV is quite diverse in regards to available media input ports. You’ll be able to make use of a traditional A / V input port, have two available ports for component cables, and finally, a whopping four HDMI input ports. With HDMI, you’ll see and hear only the very best in video and audio technology. It should also be noted that the use of HDMI cables allow the video and audio signals to travel across a single cord, so when you use HDMI cables instead of A/V or component cables, you simplify connections, as well as minimize cord clutter around your Samsung PN50B550 50-Inch 1080p Plasma TV.

The Wish I Wish Tonight – Book Review

Can you really go home again? While our memories of childhood, teenaged years, and college may be bittersweet or even deep dark chocolate delicious, going back in time is a difficult task to attempt. Dare we even try? In Barbara Elliott Carpenter’s novel “The Wish I Wish Tonight,” the drive to move forward and hang onto the past is a struggle many can relate to. Letting go of the past is sometimes a better option.

This concluding book in Carpenter’s Starlight Trilogy is a completion of certain chapters in the main character’s life. Sissy   Bannister  has gone through some challenging times and her character has been a joy to have known. Readers who are new to the series will be able to enjoy this book and all three in any order, but for those who have witnessed her growing up in the trilogy this last title is a satisfying conclusion. Following Sissy in her career to New York City is exciting and fulfilling, and witnessing her homesickness for West Virginia is something we can all relate to as we make our own lives away from family. The emotional roller coaster of her high school reunion is again a familiar encounter with poignant moments to recall in real life. Some lingering questions are answered, some new ones are addressed. In this stage of her existence, Sissy faces some of her demons, some of her family’s demons, and is attacked by yet another one along the way. The result is a growth that only time and experience can provide.

This work of fiction reaches out to readers on many personal levels. The issues are ones that are familiar, and so the reader can relate to the characters and plot. It is an entertaining work but also a thought provoking one. Getting lost in a fictional world is delightful and coming away from a book with some lingering thought to goals, life lessons and family is a blessing. As always, Carpenter presents a polished and well rounded offering. She has a true gift for evoking emotion, showing her plot like a well loved home movie, and depicting real life, even when it is a made up one. With hope for from this author, I heartily recommend her works.

The Wish I Wish Tonight

by Barbara Elliott Carpenter

ISBN-10: 1434342301

Review by Heather Froeschl

Be Cautious When Making a Cloud Switch

In an IT influenced business landscape, CEOs are in a quest to integrate innovative technologies that can help them foster their overall business standing and build trust and credibility for their customers. In this regard, cloud computing seems to be a futuristic technology that embodies a potential to turn businesses into bigger success stories without incurring huge capital expenses. This buzzing technology has covered almost all the industry segments, leveraging them to transform the out-of-date practices into a more realistic, easy to use, and prudent way.

This amicable technology has all the traits that are positive for expansion and economic strengthening, reports suggest. Unlike other techniques, cloud solutions demand astute approach for its implementation. Execution or migration of a business from conventional to this advanced mode seems to be an enticing journey. To be honest, it is! However, you need to fathom following pointers:

Which Cloud Solution is best for Your Business Growth?

Baffling situation always arrive when you are provided with manifold alternatives for the same thing you are hunting for. Same goes with cloud hosting, wherein you have the options to select from public cloud, private, and hybrid cloud. But, which one is better – this is the major question?

So, let us take a quick glance at each one of the cloud platform for better understanding:

Public cloud is the most economical plus simple to use platform that allows both businesses and individuals to sign up at a pay per use basis. An extensive pool of resources is available to users that can be scaled up or down as per the website/application’s demand. This public solution possesses immense scalability and IT resources to cater to the requirements of any size organizations.

Private cloud is also one of the known computing models, specially architected to meet the demands of a single organization and/or its branches. Businesses that gear up for this option, security and ownership are the two prime factors they should be more focused on. Flexibility is lesser when compared to public cloud, however security is upmost.

Hybrid cloud, which is believed to replace all the computing models, is a combination of two or more cloud platforms, such as public, private, and community cloud. It allows businesses to have control over their resources, enjoy economies of scale while keeping a vigilant eye on security circles.

Cautious Approach is Mandatory: Once you have decided on which platform your applications will run – you are required to decide who will be the best provider to partner with. How secure your websites or data will be with them? Well, it completely depends on the level of security that your vendor has implemented. So, be sure when you are planning to make a cloud switch.

Are Crossover SUVs As Safe As You Want Them to Be?

We all might have noticed the intense rise in the sales and popularity of small crossovers. They seem to be much more practical than the large SUVs as well as sedans, and have attracted a large proportion of young customers. Consequently, these small SUVs have risen really high in the number of sales as well as popularity. However, recent tests have shown that quite a significant number of the popular crossovers that run the streets today are not as safe as they are actually supposed to be! This test was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and only two of all the crossovers that participated actually crossed the limit of the passing marks.

The two SUVs that passed the test were the Subaru Forester and the Mitsubishi Outlander. Actually, in true terms it was just the Subaru Forester that actually scored good as the Outlander just scored an acceptable score. All other SUVs could not even cross this ‘acceptable’ mark. It is interesting to note that both of these SUVs had been redesigned recently. Apparently the engineers at Mitsubishi and Subaru kept a keen eye on new test that IIHS introduced!

The new test that was involved in the regular IIHS series of tests was the ‘small overlap crash test’. This test replicates the effects of the vehicle hitting a strong and fixed object like poles, etc. from the front. The SUV under test is made to drive front first into a rigid five feet long object at a speed of 40 miles per hour (64 kilometres per hour). The test replicates the consequences of the vehicles frontal corner being damaged. This test checks the efficiency of airbags and seat belts in a much better way than other frontal crash tests do. IIHS has now created two different categories – ‘Top Safety Pick+’ and ‘Top Safety Pick’. The two above mentioned SUVs which passed the newly introduced ‘small overlap crash test’ were granted the title of ‘Top Safety Pick +’ while the other SUVs which couldn’t pass the test, put did fairly well in the remaining tests were listed under the latter category.

The Institute’s Vice President, Joe Nolan was quoted as saying that “With the redesigned Forester, Subaru’s engineers set out to do well in our new test, and they succeeded. This is exactly how we hoped manufacturers would respond to improve protection for people in these kinds of serious frontal crashes.” The institute has placed the Subaru Forester and the Mitsubishi Outlander in the ‘Top Safety Pick +’ category and has declared them as the safest choice of all of the SUVs that were tested. The SUVs that were listed in the ‘Top Safety Pick’ category were Kia Sportage, Jeep Patriot, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV-4, Volkswagen Tiguan, BMW X1, Buick Encore, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson. The Toyota RAV-4 has however not been given the new test yet. The Institute says that the SUV will not be tested until next year as there are pending changes which are to be made which will improve the SUV’s safety statistics by many folds.

Eating Out In Paris On A Budget

This is Paris and it is raining, which is as it should be. Paris rain is not as the rain of other cities. It is softer, benevolent. It caresses, rather than soaks.

Perhaps the main reason I come to Paris is because of the food. Not that I am a true gourmet. More a gourmand. It is perfectly possible to spend an arm and a leg on food in Paris. I am still in a state of shock after paying $17.50 for a single glass of beer. Granted, I was sitting on the pavement on the Champs Elysees and granted, I could have sat there all day. But I am still in shock. Normally I steer well away from such high-priced nonsense.

When you go to Paris – and you should go at least once in a lifetime – make your own discoveries. I am assured it is possible to get a bad meal in Paris. It simply has never happened to me. At the following restaurants you will only get great meals.

First and foremost, La Crémerie Polidor. If it was good enough for Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Andre Gide, Jack Kerouac, Paul Verlaine and Paul Valery, it is good enough for me. For lunch yesterday I had the plat du jour, which was cassoulet in the classic style. It cost $10.

This restaurant has never heard of nouvelle cuisine. Its style of cooking is still firmly embedded in the twenties. (In fact, it opened 20 years earlier.) As are its decor and standard of service. And the fact that it does not accept credit cards.

With my meal I had a pichet, a small jug, which is about a third of a bottle of Chateau Magondeau, a Merlot, which has won a Medaille Concours Agricole and is generally well spoken of. A full bottle would have been silly, but a pichet at $10 was just right. This system of serving excellent wines in less than bottle quantities is splendidi. In most restaurants you can have a carafe of house wine, which normally will be singularly nasty and probably will have come from Algeria or Morocco and be chemically treated. Sometimes you can detect that someone are the grapes first. You can drink it at a pinch. But you have to be desperate.

A step up from that is réserve maison, or réserve du patron. This is much better and very drinkable. At the top in quality and price are the wines which qualify for the title vin delimité de qualité supérieur (VDQS), or appellation d’origine controlée (AOC). These can be truly splendid wines, but can be pricey and a bottle much too much to drink for one person.

Some restaurants serve great wines by the glass or small jug and the good ones get the Coupe de Meilleur Pot, which is a much-coveted award. This means that you can sample the grand wines of France – and grand wines, indeed, they are – without doing dire damage to either your wallet or your liver.

The best places to experience this superior plonk by the glass are in bars run by the Ecluse chain which keeps expanding. Originally there was one Now, I think, there are five bars. On offer are Bordeaux wines by the glass, some of them grand cru. These bars also have, beyond argument, the best chocolate.

Back to Polidor for the moment. The ideal time to go there is around 1.30, when the first mad rush is over, but the atmosphere is still there. They don’t accept telephone bookings.

To get to it, take the Métro to Odeon on Boulevard St Germain de Près and walk through Carrefour Odeon and then up Rue Monsieur le Prince to number 41. It is not a flashy frontage and easy to miss. The unisex toilets are very probably a historic monument.

After eating a literary lunch, go back down to St Germain de Près and turn left. You will shortly come to three great Paris institutions: Aux Deux Magots, the Café Floré and Brasserie Lipp. It was at Aux Deux Magots in 1964 and 1965 Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir held literary court.

You can have a glass of wine or a tea, typically with lemon, or a coffee and huddle over it for hours without disturbing the waiters of Aux Deux Magots, who have seen it all.

Always and ever you will see some tables occupied by Parisian lovers. They lean forward over the table with their spines concave, their buttocks jutting and their legs intertwined under the tables. Looks damned uncomfortable, but they do it by the hour. In Aux Deux Magots there was a dark-haired couple – both handsome – who were seemingly frozen eternally in this posture of adoration.

If you are on a tight budget, there are many restaurants which serve better than acceptable food at ludicrously low prices.

One example is Chartier, in Montmartre, which is at 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre. Take the Métro to Montmartre, come out into Rue Montmartre and take the first turning on your left.

This is an immense restaurant, which looks like a set designer’s idea of a waiting room for the Orient Express – always crowded, always noisy. In the old French tradition, the waiter writes your order on the paper table-cloth. At dinner for two, one had fish soup (great), the other fresh shrimps (likewise), followed by veal (better than good) and shashlik (dreadful). To go with this, a bottle of Côtes de Provence rosé and some cheese to follow.

Total price 28 euros, under $40.

If you are on a very tight budget the answer is to picnic.

Start off with a loaf of bread. These are called baguettes, cost three francs each, and were the glory of France. Sadly, they have in recent years deteriorated because the bakers do not like working through the night to make fresh batches. So they make them the day before and deep freeze them. Another black mark to progress. Baguettes, nevertheless, are still better than any other bread.

To buy it, head for a boulangerie. Easy to find – they are everywhere and emit a glorious smell of warm bread. If you want the best baguettes, head for the shop with the biggest queues, Parisians know their bread.

Nearby will be a charcuterie – food shops in Paris come in clumps – where you can buy pâte, quiche, ham, saucissons (sausages) in all varieties, especially the dried, smaller kind. They will slice up the sausages for you. Many charcuteries also sell hot take-away dishes in plastic containers although I tend to avoid these as being too messy.

An example: for lunch in a charcuterie in the Rue du Faubourg du Temple I bought a portion of feuillette de jambon; a portion of museau de porc vinaigrette; some potato salad and a portion of salade Chinoise. There was enough there to feed me until I was full to groaning and yet it only cost a few euros.

Now, if you are a greater glutton than I, nip into the fromagerie, which will be somewhere on the same block, and experiment with cheeses you have never tried before. If you are quite open with the shopkeeper and confess ignorance you will sometimes find a selection of small portions being made up for you as a sampling kit.

Lastly, the wine. Treat yourself to a bottle with a cork in it. Again, tell the wine merchant the type of wine you want and that you are learning about French wines and you are poor. You will be pleasantly surprised at the friendly advice and assistance you will be given.

Where to eat your picnic? On a recent trip I ate my picnic meals in the little park at the Pont Neuf end of the Île de la Cité. Behind me, the Gothic wonders of Notre Dame. In front of me, the Seine.

I ate like a king in solitary splendor. I was alone, but I was not lonely, I had all of Paris around me.

How to Get Your Husband to Leave the Other Woman

There’s no question that no matter what the circumstances are, an affair is devastating. But, it is even worse when the husband can not seem to tear himself away from the other woman or leave her alone. Very often women contact me and ask “how can I get my husband to leave his girlfriend,” or “how can I get him away from her when he can’t seem to leave her alone.”  Often, wives who want to lure their cheating husbands back resort to manipulative tactics meant to make their husbands feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous, but this often only reads as desperation and paints you in a more negative light.  Men do not often have the moral radar or sense of responsibility that women have, so the tactics which would work for you or I may not work at all on your husband.  In this article, I’ll tell you what I believe is the best way to both get your husband to leave the other women while maintaining your self respect.

Understand That You Probably Can’t Reason With Your Cheating Husband:  Many women request that I give them tips meant to “make my husband understand what the affair is doing to me,” or  “make him see how much the affair is hurting me.” What they don’t understand is that men aren’t rational thinkers, especially when they are in the midst of affair.  As hard as it is to hear, it’s very unlikely that your husband is going to hear what you are saying and respond with, “you know, you’re right.  Let me stop this right now.”  It’s not fair, but it is the way it is.

You are likely not going to be able to change your husband’s thought process right now.  And, you need to understand that it is highly likely that he is having the affair to replace something that is missing within himself.  Notice that I said himself.  Please understand that the flaw is within him, not within you.  Men cheat because they want to feel desirable, young, alive, competent, and vibrant.  And overwhelmingly, this is an emotional need rather than a physical one, despite the common perception.

Know That The Other Woman Can’t Keep Up The Facade Forever:  If you take nothing else from this article, please take this.  The appeal of the other woman often lies in how she makes your husband feel about himself.  It’s not about how she looks  or her age.  It all lies in how she presents the whole low maintenance package. She often does this by taking a light hearted, no strings attached approach.  She doesn’t make demands.  Everything is cool with her.  She’s completely laid back and doesn’t require much.  But, you and I both know that no woman can keep this up forever.  She’s like every woman who puts her best self forward for the first date, but a short time later he’ll be seeing her in knee socks and an old tee shirt and he’s going to wonder why in the world he risked everything for this.  She’s going to start wanting to know where he is or demand more from him and suddenly what was so alluring about this relationship is will be gone in an instant. A recent survey indicated that almost 90% of men are incredibly sorry about their affair, so understand that the odds are overwhelming that your husband will come to regret this woman.

The key for you is to know this and to bide your time with dignity and respect.  Because if you act in a way that is beneath you or is unattractive, then they will both looking at you like the poor wife who got the bum deal. And, unfortunately, this is not an attractive picture and you’re at a distinct disadvantage when this happens.

Turning The Tables: As hard as it may feel at first, you must take care of yourself outside of this whole affair business.  If your husband is acting like a complete idiot, that’s really his problem, not yours.  Put him on the back burner until he realizes his ridiculous mistake and comes crawling back.  Focus on yourself.  See your friends.  Do what you have always wanted to do.  Get yourself a new wardrobe or hairstyle.  Do not wait around on him and make sure he knows this.  But, don’t add another wrong to the situation and cheat yourself.  This is just going to make things worse and make you more confused.

What you are really trying to accomplish is a scenario that plays out just as your husband comes to his senses. And when he glances your way, he sees a confident, graceful, self respecting, attractive woman who is honestly too good for him right now.  Whether she decides to take him back or not is entirely up to her.  But, she’s not going to belittle herself by chasing after him or rewarding his unfortunate behavior. Instead, she’s going to allow him to catch her, if she chooses to do so.

Don’t Drink Tap Water – 10 Reasons Why Not to Drink Tap Water

If you and your family drink tap water often, then this article is going to be an eye-opener. Are you aware of all the potential dangers you expose yourself to when drinking municipal tap water? Here’s 10 reasons why you should NEVER drink tap water again:

1. Roughly 10% of all the water we drink has been used before; there’s no such thing as NEW tap water!

2. Municipal water plants use chlorine to disinfect water during the treatment process. And when it eventually gets to your home, it still contains high levels of chlorine and chlorine byproducts (THMs). In fact, EPA guidelines allow up to 4 parts per million (ppm) of chlorine to be used in the disinfection of public water supplies; a standard pool kit states that using more than 3ppm of chlorine is not even safe to swim in!

3. “Cancer risk among people that drink tap water with chlorine is as much as 93% higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine” – U.S. Council of Environmental Quality

4. It’s been determined by the Ralph Nader Research Group that U.S. drinking water contains more than 2,100 toxic chemicals that can cause cancer. Water utilities only test for about 75 of them.

5. Over 90% of all U.S. water systems contain traces of at least 10 synthetic chemicals and lead.

6. “Lead is the #1 environmental health threat to our children.” – U.S. EPA

7. The EPA estimates that over 98% of all homes have fixtures, pipes, or solder joints in household plumbing that can leave trace amounts of lead in tap water. Even low levels of lead can cause reduced IQ levels, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems such as hypertension and attention span disorders in children.

8. When you drink tap water, without using an effective and reliable filtration system, you’re forcing your kidneys and liver to filter out all the iron, chlorine, synthetic chemicals, and other contaminants.

9. Researchers from the U.S. EPA and the National Geological Survey have found antibiotics, birth control drugs, anti-depressants, and even caffeine in many water samples from across the country.

10. Seeing that only about 1% of the water supplied to our homes is used for consumption, it’s not even logical for municipal plants to completely filter all the water that goes through it. The only logical solution is to install point-of-use water filters at home so you can be assured that all the harmful chemicals, lead, chlorine, and other harmful substances are taken out.

The Secret to Building Solid Muscle Mass

Are you looking for the most efficient, insanely fast and effective way to build muscle mass? If like me you have scoured the internet reading contradicting advice from a variety of different sources then you may be confused as to what path to follow!

The secret is there is no secret. Let me say that again, there is NO SECRET to this! No magic pills, no secret formulas, no special shortcuts. Building muscle mass takes hard work, time and discipline. If your not the kind of guy who can motivate himself to get to the gym at least 3 times a week, come rain or shine, regardless of what mood your in or how you feel then forget it! This take dedication, real dedication, you will have to force yourself to hit the gym even when you don’t feel like it, you will have to discipline your self to eat the right food at the right times – nutrition is in my opinion by far the most difficult to get right, its 24/7. You do not get a break you must be getting your nutrition right 90% of the time or you will fail. Now this all might not sound very positive or motivating but what I am trying to impress upon you guys (and girls?) is realistic expectations of what it takes to succeed, I do not want anyone to commit themselves to any goal with out the proper mindset or knowing what there are going into.

I promise you if you follow the three golden rules set below you will consistent and slowly over time build and maintain at least 1lb of muscle mass per week. They are:

1. Build the habit of consistently hitting the gym at least three times per week, regardless of ANYTHING!

2. Eat the right kind of food at the right kind of times.

3. And thirdly and possible least important of the three, proper supplementation. I personally only use creatine and whey protein shakes as I find this is all I need, you may be different. Experiment to find what works for you but don’t be fooled by glossy advertising campaigns, you do not need SUPER GATOR 2000 or any of the other latest gimmicks to build solid muscle mass. Just follow the 3 golden rules and you will see results!

Freeview Boxes Buying Guide

Freeview boxes have become popular in the United Kingdom during the past few years. Freeview boxes are meant to give you an access to the different channels which are not available via dishes or your cable provider. To be precise, you can view existing and new channels in digital quality via freeview box. It comes with a lot of advantages and one of them is no subscription charges. Also, you do not have to get huge dishes fixed in your roof tops in order to view your favourite channels.

Freeview boxes have a lot to offer to the customers. They will give you an access to 30 entertaining TV channels and 20 digital radio stations, and that too without any subscription. All you need to do is to pay for your TV license like you already do every month. Not only would you be getting an extra dose of entertainment, but you will also get to view a sharper image and a very clear sound. It will broadcast channels through your rooftop aerial, so all you need to do is to make sure that it is in a good condition.

Since there will be a lot of models available in the market, you need to select the right one for you. When buying a freeview box, you will have to keep a lot in mind, so that you make the right decision. Scart sockets are an important part of freeview boxes. When you buy one, you will definitely get a scart socket. However, in order to connect more devices, you can either buy an extra scart sockets or look for a freeview box offering two or more sockets.

Imagine having a five times better quality picture in comparison to what you are getting now and that too without any monthly subscription. Also, you will get Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Price is also a very important factor while buying freeview boxing guide. The price range starts from £20 and increases with the features and other stuff. One of the added features is recording, and some of the boxes also support interactive services. If you want, you can also get the services of subtitles.

You need to make a list of your own requirements, so that you exactly know what you want. If you do not want a unit with so many services, you can simply go for the one that fulfils the basic requirements i.e., extra digital channels. You can easily find FVB in the market. Another option that you might want to consider is online buying. You might need an aerial to get a crystal clear view. The reason is that you need a power aerial in order to catch the signals and get a better picture.

In order to learn more about freeview boxes, you are advised to read online reviews. This will help you a lot in making a decision as to which box you should go for. After exploring your options, you can select the one that is suitable for you.

Hosting a Grand Opening Party

Opening a new business is a scary and involves a lot of hard work, especially in the current economy. More than ever, people who are brave enough to start out on a new venture need as much help in spreading the word of their new business as they can possible get. And many experts agree that a business’ grand opening is a vital day and pretty accurate assessment of what its future will hold. In other words, many people believe that the more successful and busy your grand opening is, the healthier and stronger business you will have. So how do you have a big, attractive grand opening party, one that attracts plenty of people, keeps them around for a little while, and gets them talking to their friends about this great new place they found? There are a couple of ways through inflatable rental balloons and party tent rentals.

First things first. In order for your potential customers to turn into regular clientele, they have to first notice your business and be attracted to it, wanting to come in to see what services or goods you are providing. One of the best ways to do that is with outdoor inflatable balloons. Inflatable outdoor rental balloons are fun and can communicate a lot simply by their shape and a short, well-worded banner attached to their front. Besides being able to add a banner communicating a short message about your new business and what it is providing to the public, it is a good idea to have the banner and inflatable ad made in bright colors. The best eye catching colors are reds, oranges and yellows. But be sure to choose a color and inflatable rental balloons that compliment your business, branding, and logo designs and colorings. You don’t want to draw negative attention on your grand opening in a “its so horrible I just can’t look away”. The more unique your and relevant your inflatable ad is, the better it will be at convincing people to not drive by your grand opening party, but to instead stop and check things out. And, depending on what type of banner and inflatable balloon you get, both could be used for future promotions as well, making it a great investment for your business. 

Secondly, once you have people’s attention and have convinced them that it is worth their while to stop, you want to keep them around for your grand opening. Your business will start off on a great foot if you have lots of people and if they all enjoy sticking around. The more fun and the more information a potential customer gathers from your grand opening party, the more they will talk favorably about your new business. Depending on what time of year your grand opening is and what your local weather is like, remember that its common sense that if people are comfortable (as opposed to hot and sweaty, or cold and shivering), they will have longer attention spans and remember their stop at your new business more fondly. Many grand openings are crowded occasions, meaning that plenty of people are standing around in your parking lot. A good idea to help keep those people comfortable and around longer enjoying your grand opening party is to have a party tent rental set up. Tent rentals provide shade from the sun, block out some of the cold winds, and keep people dry from rain.

A Practical Guide to Using Horseshoe Studs

Horseshoe Studs, Caulks or Calks are metal devices that are screwed or driven into the bottom of your horse’s shoes. By protruding from the bottom of the shoe, they can help to provide traction over muddy or deep footing, such as sand, and help your horse jump more confidently.

Before using studs, holes are “tapped,” or drilled, into both heels, and sometimes the toes, of the horse’s shoe. Obviously the size of the hole must accommodate the stud and generally in the US, farriers will tap a hole that supports a 3/8″ diameter stud. Therefore, unless you have a special requirement for a smaller hole, such as a pony with very small feet, you should try to stick with 3/8′ studs.

The first time you ride your horse with studs you should fit him with some small road studs and let him walk around unmounted for a while to get used to the new feeling (this does not mean turn him out in a field with studs in – horses should never be turned out in studs!)

Here are some simple rules for using studs. These relate to “screw-in” studs rather than “drive-in” studs because screw-in studs are by far the most commonly used types.

Do’s: o ALWAYS use studs in pairs, with one on each side of the hoof.

o ALWAYS use small, blunt studs on the inside of your horse’s shoes. A large, pointed stud can injure him.

o ALWAYS put protective leg boots on your horse when riding in studs.

o ALWAYS put studs in just before you will be riding and remove them as soon as possible afterwards.

o ALWAYS use the smallest stud you can, considering the conditions. While slipping is dangerous for your horse, a little slipping is much better than jarring your horse’s legs with huge studs. Try to find a stud that allows a little slipping, but not so much that your horse’s balance will suffer. Studs should be selected that will sink fully into the ground, otherwise they will unbalance the foot.

o ALWAYS try to have someone help you by holding your horse when you are putting studs in, especially if you will be using a Tee Tap (see below).

o ALWAYS be very careful if you have a horse that is likely to kick out at other horses or people. If you have such a horse, try to limit the amount of time you use studs.

Dont’s: o NEVER turn your horse out with studs.

o NEVER leave your horse unattended in a stall with studs.

o NEVER trailer your horse with studs.

o NEVER use studs if your horse is lame.

o NEVER put yourself in a position where a horse with studs in can step on you. It is very easy to break a toe this way, even in riding boots.

Your Stud “Toolkit” Ahead of time, you should assemble the following items:

o A selection of studs. Remember that depending on the footing, you might not use the same studs on the inside and outside of your horse’s shoes, or you could use different studs on the front than the back shoes. o A horseshoe nail or some type of flat but pointed “pick” to remove stud plugs. Screwdrivers are generally not suitable as they tend to be too “fat” to fit between the plug and the shoe.

o A stud hole cleaner. This is used to remove any debris from the stud hole. Some people use the horseshoe nail for this, but there are many specially-designed tools that will work faster.

o A tap of some type. This is used to clean and sharpen the edges of the threads your farrier drilled into the stud holes. There are many types on the market. The traditional type is a Tee Tap or T-Tap, so named because it is the shape of the letter “T”. Recently round “Safety” Taps have become available on the market. These are safer because if your horse steps down on a Tee Tap it can cause an injury whereas a Safety Tap is less likely to cause a problem because it is flat and shaped like a hoof. There are some self-tapping studs starting to come onto the market that should remove the need for a separate Tap, however it is still a good idea to keep a Tap on hand.

o A wrench. This is used to tighten and then remove the studs. You can use a regular adjustable wrench found in most toolkits, although over time the wrench may wear the edges of your studs, making them difficult to use. There are also a number of special wrenches made specifically for horse studs. Even if you use a purpose-made wrench, it is probably not a bad idea to have an adjustable one too.

o A box to keep everything in one place! Studs have a notorious “homing” instinct and will disappear at the smallest opportunity. If you don’t capture them in a box, you will never find them again next time you need them.

o Rags or a small sponge. For removing oil or grease from your studs (assuming you oiled and stored them correctly the last time you used them) Studs are definitely slippery when greasy and will jump on this opportunity as part of their escape plan!

The following items are also nice to have:

o A magnet for your arm or a magnetic dish. This is useful for keeping steel studs in one place while you work and will reduce the possibility of your studs escaping! o Rubber or cotton plugs or blanks. Most people put plugs in their stud holes when they are not using studs. This keeps the holes clean. There are rubber and cotton plugs and also metal stud blanks. If you use cotton plugs, soak them in oil to prevent the holes rusting. Stud blanks are metal screw-in plugs. If you use these, you will also need a….

o Blank Wrench or Flat-Head Screwdriver. A Blank Wrench is an Allen Key and is inserted into the stud blank to screw the blank in and out of the stud hole. Some stud blanks are designed to be inserted and removed using a Flat Head Screwdriver instead of a Blank Wrench.

o Stud cleaner and lubricant. Your studs will last much longer if you clean and grease them after use. Many people wrap them in an oily rag for storage, or you can use a product such as WD-40. Pretty much anything that repels water will work. There are also specially made stud cleaners available on the market.

Putting Studs in Ideally you should take a lesson from your farrier or trainer before attempting to put studs in yourself. Make sure you and your horse practice at home, until you can put them in and take them out easily, before using them at a competition. If your horse has plugs in his stud holes you will need to remove these first with your horseshoe nail or other implement.

HINT: It is a good idea to take the plugs out, clean the holes and replace the plugs before you leave for a competition. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to remove a plug when you only have 10 minutes until you should be warming up your horse!

Next you will need to clean out the stud hole with whatever tool you have chosen. Make sure that you remove all traces of dirt and debris. Putting studs into dirty stud holes can ruin the threads on your horse’s shoes. Then (unless you are using self-tapping studs) you will need to tap the stud hole with a Safety Tap or Tee Tap. Unless you have a very quiet, experienced horse and are experienced with studs, we recommend using a Safety Tap. Basically, you will place the end of the Tap into the stud hole and screw it into the hole. Another benefit of a Safety Tap is that you can’t screw the Tap in too far and potentially bruise your horse’s hoof, which is possible with a Tee Tap.

HINT: Self-tapping studs are a new option where the stud has a special thread that will clean the threads on your horse’s shoes as you insert it. Because they are new, these studs are more expensive than traditional studs, but as long as you don’t lose them, they could be a great timesaving investment. Now you can insert the studs. Begin by screwing them in by hand and finally make them nice and tight with your wrench. Be sure that you don’t over-tighten them so that you can’t undo them after you finish riding!

When you are finished riding, remove the studs, plug the holes and store the studs in some form of oily rag or plastic bag with a water repellent – any kind of oil, grease or WD-40 will work. Make sure you keep some rags or a sponge on hand to wipe up the grease! Put your studs back in their box – if you don’t they WILL escape!!! And don’t forget to have a great ride!

For more information on types of studs and when to use them, please visit

Color Symbolism of Gray – A Tangent of Balance & Neutrality

Colors symbolize emotions, so much, so that they influence our thoughts and make us perceive things differently. Through ages, colors have been given varying connotations, driven sometimes by their natural occurrences, while some others by their distinct associations with certain elements. Gray color is a mix of two colors with exactly opposite properties and therefore, carries the qualities of both. White and black colors in varying combinations, give the various shades of gray color. White is a color that reflects all light and appears the brightest. Therefore, the color symbolism of gray is matched with abundance and illumination. Black, on the other hand, absorbs all light and reflects nothing. This makes it the color of the hidden and nothingness. The two constituent colors of gray have an effect of counterbalancing each other’s attributes. Therefore, it is strongly associated with balance and neutrality.

‘Gray area’ is an expression used to describe murky elements, which can be neither considered positive (symbolized by white) nor negative (symbolized by black). Gray is linked with sadness and despondency. This interpretation is derived from occasional gray clouds in the sky that prevent sunlight from reaching the Earth, thereby creating a depressing atmosphere. Artists through the various sects of painting have used gray skies to highlight unhappiness and sentiments. Renaissance painters used the shades of gray for painting the clothing of the peasantry, the bourgeois, and the underprivileged, which were a real life depiction and a technique for highlighting the other significant aspects of their pieces. The holy men and the hermits of the Elizabethan era in England also used gray clothing to signify simplicity. Gray was a popular choice of the European painters for creating under painting, which a monochrome basic painting used as a base for the full-fledged colored painting. One of the classic examples of a gray scale under painting is Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ ‘Odalisque.’

In the European nations, the color symbolism of gray advocated mourning, death, and lamentation, because of the color of ashes. The Biblical interpretation of gray is repentance, selflessness, purity of thoughts, fasting, and worship. It is linked with the season of ‘Lent’ (days immediately preceding the Holy Week). Gray is universally symbolizes intelligence, due to its reference to the gray neurons in the brain. Gray can be used in combination with different colors. The color scheme in such cases derives its essential character from the other colors being used. Gray color individually portrays formality, sophistication, seniority, deference, experience, wisdom, reliability, traditions, security, vegetated life, lack of distinction, sentiments, demise, dirt, and pollution.