Steps for Cleaning Eaves Trough and Gutters

Water, leaves and dirt trapped in wood and metal gutters and eaves troughs can cause major damage to your roof and exterior siding. Maintaining clean gutters helps keep your home top condition for resale, or to maintain the lifespan of your investment.

Steps for Cleaning Gutters and Eaves Troughs

1. Before cleaning your gutters, make sure you have a secured means to access the roof – preferably with a ladder. Do not lean your ladder against the downspout or gutter, as they can easily bend or break.

2. Before cleaning your gutters, check to see that the roof is not slippery with water and debris before climbing on top.

3. To clean gutters, remove leaves and twigs from gutters by hand or with a satisfactory tool such as a small garden trowel, or an actual gutter scoop found at your local hardware store.

4. Wet or moisten solidified dirt in the gutter, which tends to be difficult to remove unless loosened by soaking. Once loose, clean out with gutter scoop or trowel.

5. With garden hose, rinse remaining dirt down the downspouts. This will indicate if they are clogged (if water drains freely or not).

6. If downspouts are clogged, run water to clean and unclog by placing a garden hose in then supply with large amounts of water until free. If plugged downspout can’t be cleared with a hose, use a small plumber’s snake or an unbent clothes hanger. Be careful not to damage downspouts.

7. Alternatively, a leaf blower can be used for cleaning gutters. The drawbacks are; the dirt may be solidified and will not blow away, you’ll be high up – often in awkward postures, carrying an awkward machine, dust may get in your eyes.

8. Use garden hose for final flush and cleaning of gutters and downspouts. (This will also reveal if there are any leaks in the system.)

9. Repair any leaks with appropriate out caulking or specific gutter repair caulking.

10. If possible, cover gutters with wire or plastic mesh. This will dramatically cut down on debris in future.

Tips and Warnings

Never hold on to the gutter or downspout for support. They are not meant to support your weight.

Make sure ladder is sturdy and well-secured.

Video Game Engineer – The Insider Breakdown

What is a video game engineer? What do they do, what is their day like, and how do they do it? In this article, we’ll discuss one of the most important members of any professional game development team.

In the games industry, engineers are usually people with backgrounds in computer science or electrical engineering; they are the wizards who transform the vague dreams of designers and artists into concrete mathematical representations. The team may come to them with requests, either for a new type of movement system or special effect, or perhaps an AI system for controlling the enemies, and the engineers will be responsible for turning those descriptions into systems that can be used in the game.

Engineers work in a variety of platforms and languages: C, C++, C#, Java®, Adobe® Flash®. They may also use programs such as Microsoft Visual Studio® or Codewarrior®. While the tools of the trade may change, the core concepts of engineering are universal. Knowing good coding practices, how to think about and organize problems, and how to create systems that interact further with other systems are high level skills that good engineers have mastered.

Furthermore, a video game engineer understands the real world limitations on the game, such as memory management or graphics capabilities of certain systems, and how to build robust and technically effective products anyway. If the lead designer, art director or executive producer comes to engineering with a specific request, it is up to the engineer to fully realize what that request actually means for the game’s under-the-hood systems.

Types of Engineers

Within this discipline, there is a good deal of specialization. We can’t possible discuss every type of engineer at every company, but we can cover the main three. Among different types of video game engineers are gameplay, systems, and tools engineers.

Gameplay Engineers focus on implementing the design of the game provided by the designers, artists, and other members of the team. Designers may approach gameplay engineers with their ideas for a concept or a system. Depending on the feature (and also depending on the team), the concept may be very well fleshed out, or it may be vague, and the designers will rely on the engineers to work collaboratively with them, adding the technical knowledge required to come up with a well defined, working system.

During the period of developing a feature, gameplay engineers will sit down with designers to make sure they fully understand what the desire is. Designers may call over engineers to hear their rough ideas, and get a simple yes/no as to whether or not such and such a feature is reasonable. Is it possible to have a rag doll physics system when you are attacked? Can we have homing missles that intelligently seek out enemies? Game engineers must be able to listen to these requests and think out what that actually would mean in terms of coding and implementation.

Any engineering feature that is seen in the game could be considered a gameplay engineering task. Grabbing power ups, speaking to non-player characters (NPC’s), spawning new enemies, the player’s very movement, all of these are examples of features that gameplay engineers are responsible for.

Systems Engineers deal more with the back-end functioning of the game’s software, which is never seen by players or consumers. This can include things such as frame rate and engine programming, rendering, and memory loading and management. If a particular level looks very choppy or slow, then it is the responsibility of the systems engineer.

Systems engineers usually have a masters in computer science or some related field, since their work takes them deep into hardware systems. They have a fluent understanding of the technology they are developing for, be it a proprietary console system (e.g., PlayStation 3) or a normal PC. They know how these platforms work and how to translate the game the team is developing onto them. While not given much fanfare, the work of systems engineers is invaluable.

The systems team is also responsible for communicating limits and constraints to the rest of the team. For example, because of system constraints, it may be possible to render only five characters on screen at once. Or, there may be a need for a loading screen between worlds. These are concerns that the design and production teams would need to be aware of.

Tools Engineers are responsible for developing and maintaining the software that other members of the team use to implement the game, called middleware. Middleware is never seen by the end consumer (unless they are shipping the game with a level editor of some sort). This might include level creation tools for designers, text or script input tools for producers, or animation and modeling tools for artists.

An effective tools engineering team will always be asking the question, “What can be made to perform faster?” It is their job to look at the situation and see what is slowing the team down the most and then tackling that problem. For example, let’s say the junior designers are spending about 20% of their time drawing out the levels on paper, and about 80% of the time translating from their notes to the actual game. Tools engineers may come and sit with them to analyze their workflow and see what they are doing. If there is a part of the process that can be automated, then they may create a tool which compresses 50 steps into one press of a button. This allows other team members to focus more on their work and less on the implementation, which results in a better game made more quickly and thus less expensively.

Getting into the Games Industry via Engineering

If you want to become a video game engineer, then you’ll definitely need a computer science degree (unless you can convey your genius in some other way). You will want to have experience working on games, and you’ll want to have seen large code bases. Engineering is one of the most hired positions out of college, so it’s definitely a career track worth thinking about.

Detachment From Attachment

Animals, lovers, customers, all have one thing in common – more you chase them further they will run from you. Have you ever wondered why all your flights are on time but the one that you want to catch desperately, go home early and you are hoping it is exact on time, invariably it is late! Sometimes, when you meet a cute girl at a party and exchange numbers, you sit besides the phone all day next day but she does not call. The moment you start your day at work, she will call!

Whenever we are desperately involved – emotionally attached to a transaction or a happening, we obstruct it. It is said that whenever you are desperate for something to happen – husband to quit smoking, boss to promote you, a guy to like you etc, you are pushing them away because of your desperation and creating an energy around you which is pushing the desired outcome away from you. You need to positive without being too attached to a cause or a situation or else you will push it away

If you become too possessive and over attached to your spouse, spouse will feel claustrophobic in the relationship and she will start going away from you. There is a fine line between  detachment  and attachment. Too much of attachment might hamper your growth and happiness!  Detachment  is not disinterest. It is possible to be detached and still be very determined. People who are detached and determined know that effort and excellence are ultimately rewarded. Let us say you apply for a job in a well known company, get very attached to the whole situation but ultimately do not bag the job. Chances are you will go into an emotional turmoil and spoil your future chances also. Instead, do not be so detached that it spells death for you! Be concern, be determined to bag the job next time and work hard towards it.

It is thus imperative for us to be attached on a minimal level. This does not discount passion or love for somebody or something. Just, too much of it bogs down the other person. In the process of too much of attachment, you do not just spoil your own emotional quotient but also of the other person.

Maintain a fine balance between determination, attachment and  detachment . Do not run after something. Make necessary efforts to procure it but do not be obsessed with it. Negative energies will keep pushing it away from you. Make efforts, yield will be positive!

Installing Duct Wrap Reflective Foil Insulation

Using reflective foil duct wrap insulation to create a radiant barrier around your duct work is one of the easiest DIY projects you can do to improve the performance of your heating and/or cooling system. Every minute HVAC systems run without effective insulation, your ducts leak valuable energy.

Properly insulating your ducts to create a radiant barrier can help stop radiant heat flow resulting in improved efficiency and less demand on your furnace or air conditioning units. This results in longer equipment life and lower utility bills.

Installing a radiant barrier using reflective foil insulation designed for duct applications is a relatively easy project if you can follow a few steps. First, decide how to run the insulation around the ducts. Create a sketch if you need to. This allows you to incorporate your measurements and identify problematic areas. You will save these harder areas for last.

1.      Place a string around the largest common section of your duct and get a measurement to determine the width of insulation you will need. Duct wrap reflective foil insulation comes in sizes measuring between 24-48 inches wide and from lengths as long as 125 feet.

2.      Add an extra ten inches width to your measurement for ordering purposes. The insulation must be wide enough to accommodate the addition of spacers. Using spacers to create an airspace helps achieve higher values, up to R-6. The other lower r-value option is to wrap the duct with no spacers. 

3.      Order an appropriate amount of insulation and reflective foil tape to complete the project. Duct wrap projects generally require more tape than other reflective foil insulation projects because tape is used more often in problematic spots to create a seal around the insulation. Many times these areas are not perfectly shaped and the extra tape helps to join and seal various pieces of insulation.

4.      Apply Spacers: Spacers are applied approximately every 4 feet. They should also be used whenever two pieces of insulation are joined together. This guarantees an adequate airspace throughout your project further increasing your energy gains.

5.      Create spacers by cutting three inch wide strips of material and wrapping them around the duct at predetermined locations.

6.      Note: Duct wrap insulation kits make applying spacers much faster. Kits contain L- shaped spacers. These are applied to all four sides of the ducts. These spacers are four feet long allowing you to cover distance much faster. Using insulation kits also guarantees a spacer where one piece of insulation stops and another one starts.

7.      Install Insulation: Cut insulation to length for specific area. Wrap duct with insulation. Tape seam. If insulation is too long it can be trimmed with razor knife or utility scissors. 

8.      Continue installing insulation until ducts are wrapped.

9.      Complete areas where obstacles were. Figure out the best way to wrap the area. Try to incorporate a gap for airspace when possible. Ensure all seams are taped. The key to these areas are to get them wrapped and taped. Aesthetics are secondary.

Walk entire duct run and ensure all portions are wrapped. Tape and seal all seams where any pieces of insulation meet. Make sure all seams are sealed. 

You have now created a radiant barrier surrounding your duct work that will reflect radiant heat, a major source of energy loss. By using spacers, an airspace has also been created that will allow the reflective foil insulation to work at its optimal level.

Rest assured that in the winter heating months, heat is being delivered where you want it, in your living space.  Much less is radiating uselessly out of your ducts. In the summer cooling months, radiant heat gain is blocked from entering your ducts allowing your air conditioning to work as efficiently as possible.

Juicing Recipes for Skin Care

Energy boosting fresh juice has powerful healing and rejuvenating properties that can help people with skin problems. Evidence illustrates that juicing helps the organs and the body cleanse itself, which results in a softer and healthier looking complexion. Our skin is the body’s largest organ so caring for the skin can be achieved by a diet which combines healthy food with fresh juicing.

The following free recipes contain fruits and vegetables, which are known to promote and enhance the skin. Using juicing recipes as an additional treatment for skin care deserves the best produce, preferably organic. These recipes are not cures for major skin concerns but consuming fresh organic juice will assist in better looking and healthier skins. When you make juicing a natural part of your daily diet you will notice a difference in increased energy and a healthy complexion.

VEGETABLE JUICES

A healthy diet with energy boosting vegetable juice recipes will give the best treatment for skin care.

Vegetable 8

1/2 Tomato

1/4 Cucumber

1 Carrot

1 Celery stalk

Handful Spinach

1/2 Red Pepper

1/2-Cup Cabbage

1 Green Onion

Very powerful skin healer, protector and cleanser.

Skin Deep

2 Beets (with leaves)

2 Cucumbers

5 Carrots

Carrot juice is a wonderful treatment for sunburn.

Carrot Blush

4 Carrots

1 Beet

6 Romaine leaves or Dark Green Lettuce

4 Spinach leaves

4 Sprigs parsley

This is a blood regenerator, high in iron and chlorophyll.

Skin Tonic

1 Cucumber

2 Sticks of Celery

1 Small to medium clove of Garlic

Root Ginger – 1 inch

Cucumber juice is beneficial for skin care as it is rich in the mineral silica, which is good for the complexion and skin elasticity.

FRUIT / VEGETABLE JUICE COMBO

Juicing for skin care will result in detoxification, weight loss and healthy looking skin.

Runners Rise

3 Oranges

2 Pears

1 Small yam

Oranges improve skin texture, moisture and reduce body heat.

Skin Smoother

5 Apples

2 Large carrots

1 Large stick of celery

1 Cucumber

Apple and cucumber encourage smooth satin skin.

Clear Complexion

2 Cups spinach

1 Cup of parsley

4 Oranges

Spinach is rich in iron and orange juice is full of vitamin C, which work wonders for a clear complexion.

FRUIT JUICES

Fruit juices make for a great morning energy boost.

Melon Mover

1 Cantaloupe

5 Ice cubes

Dash of cinnamon

Melons are powerful agents in the fight against skin cancer.

Strawberry/Grape

8 Strawberries

4 oz Green or purple grapes

Fresh juices   hydrate  and combat dry skin.

Citrus Crush

1 Pineapple

2 Pink grapefruit

2 Lemons-juice and rind

2 Limes-juice and rind

Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant that helps promote healthy skin.

SMOOTHIES

Smoothies are the best alternative for a healthy breakfast.

Strawberry Smoothie

30-60 Strawberries

9-12 Medium or large bananas

7-8 Cups fresh squeezed orange juice

1 Cup flaxseed meal

Health Smoothie

1 Kiwi fruit, peeled

1/4 Cantaloupe, with skin

1 Ripe banana

Tropical Smoothie

1 Pineapple

2 Mangoes

4 Passion fruit

2 Papayas

2 Apples

Ginger root – 1 inch, peeled

Papaya and pineapple are rich in vitamin C, E and iron to improve skin complexion and metabolism.

Hangover Remedies – 10 Tips To Cure Morning Sickness

I just woke up and I’m hung-over. What now? There has to be something I can do! After awakening, there are many things you can & should do to begin the hangover recovery process. Here are 10 suggestions to have you feeling better soon:

These first 5 suggestions for hangover recovery are recommended immediately after stumbling out of bed:

1) Re-hydrate your body with plenty of liquids. Drink plenty of purified or spring water immediately after awakening and continue throughout the morning. Tomato juice (such as V8), and other fresh fruit juices are also very effective liquids. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, often speed up the body’s replenishing process by including electrolytes and other essential vitamins. Herbal teas, such as ginger tea, peppermint tea and chamomile tea can do wonders for a hangover-laden stomach.

2) Make sure you eat a decent breakfast, especially if your stomach is relatively empty from the night before. Avoid foods with a lot of starch, animal fats or grease. A greasy sausage in the morning may psychologically or physically make your hangover symptoms feel worse! Laying down briefly after eating breakfast may help your stomach settle and speed the hangover healing process.

3) With your breakfast, be sure to take vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies. Panax Ginseng can bolster mental alertness (and physical endurance). Milk Thistle and Dandelion root herbs can detoxify your liver. The minerals Magnesium and Calcium can replace lost nutrients due to alcohol consumption. Finally, all B-Vitamins, Vitamin-C, and Acidophilus can all speed the healing process.

4) Try not to go overboard on aspirin, ibuprofen etc… – it’s easy to think you need more than is prescribed on the bottle, but frequently only a small amount will do the trick. Try to avoid stronger prescribed pain killers as they may be more addictive and have unwanted side effects such as drowsiness. NOTE: The pain reliever acetaminophen has been linked to liver damage, therefore this drug should be avoided by drinkers.

5) Just ‘sleep it off’ (if you can). After being awake and suffering for a while, consider going back to sleep (if you have no pending obligations). A good nap after you’ve already had breakfast, aspirin, some water etc…. sometimes speeds the healing process. Just an hour or two back in bed may be what the doctor ordered. Consider using an alternative sleep aid such as soft music to help you get more rest. Also, always have an eye mask on hand to block out unwanted light.

Here are 3 less conventional, yet possibly effective solutions to your hangover dilemma:

1) “Will” yourself to exercise. This may be very difficult in the midst of feeling ‘blah,’ but if you can overcome your feelings and lack of morning motivation, try to exercise any way you can. Getting your body to move ultimately energizes your spirit and mental alertness and possibly helps your body rid excess alcohol and toxins more quickly. One easy way to invigorate body and mind is to take a good brisk walk around the block.

2) Consider chewing gum aggressively, but don’t overdo it. By chewing gum fast or chewing several pieces at a time, you may make yourself temporarily more alert by increasing blood flow around the head and brain area. Obviously do not chew if you have dental issues. Also avoid chewing for too long – your jaw muscles may become tired or sore, possibly resulting in another headache.

3) Fill your sink with water and ice and keep dipping your head in-and-out until you’ve had enough. This is sure to invigorate your senses! An ice cold shower can also have similar effects.

Finally:

1) If you have a nasty headache, try using a forehead ice pack. Not only may this help your headache but the coldness might actually help jolt your overall system into overdrive. If you don’t have an ice pack, make one by filling a re-sealable plastic bag with ice.

2) Just give it time. One of the best remedies is to just give your hangover time to heal itself. The severity or duration of a hangover varies by a number of intangibles such as exactly how much, what and how quickly you drank your alcoholic beverage, the amount of time you slept the previous night and how much food you mixed in with your drinking. Generally, your hangover will peak within the first 2 hours after awakening and steadily improve throughout the day. The average person will be clear of most hangover symptoms by mid-afternoon to early evening.

As you see, there are many ways to recover fairly quickly from terrible morning hangovers, varying from scientifically proven common sense, to more radical wisdom. The biggest obstacle is having the ‘will’ to get over what ails you. Using these suggestions you can easily cut recovery time by 50 percent or more.

What’s Inside a Cigarette?

Cigarettes have thousands of chemicals in them. There are up to 600 and more flavorings and additives found in a single stick of a cigarette. But when the cigarette is smoked, it releases up to 4000 chemicals in our environment. No wonder they say that cigarette smoking is bad for your health. So the next time you smoke, ask yourself what is in a cigarette.

Nicotine is what is in the cigarette; it is the main ingredient of cigarettes. Our blood absorbs it and gives us a rush to the brain. Nicotine produces dopamine in the brain in ten seconds. Dopamine makes you happy and it is very addictive. This is the rush that people look for when they smoke a cigarette, which is why people go through withdrawal periods when trying to stop smoking.

Acetone is also found as an additive to the cigarette; yes, that is the stuff you use to remove your nail polish. Tar is inhaled into the lungs when a person is smoking. When a person smokes one pack or more a day, they are depositing about one to 1 ½ pounds of tar into their lungs yearly. Benzene is known to cause cancer. It is also used as a solvent in dyes and fuel. And this is all found in a cigarette.

What is in a cigarette that is also expelled by the car? Carbon monoxide is found in cigarettes and it prevents the oxygen being carried around the body. This is also the same chemical dispensed by cars.

And the list goes on and on; here are some more if you really want to know. Although the list is still incomplete, it would blow your mind to think that all this is what is in a cigarette:

Acacia gum, Acetic acid, Acetone, 6 Acetoxydihydrotheaspirane, 2 Acetyl pyrazine, 2 Acetyl pyridine, Alga resinoid, oleoresin and oil, Allura Red, Almond oil, Aluminium carbonate, Aluminium lactate, Aluminium phosphate, Aluminium trihydroxide, Amber oil, Ambrette seed oil, Ammonium acetate, +Amyl valerate, Angelica root extract, Anise and oil, para Anisyl alcohol, Arachis oil, Azorubin, Balsam oil, Beech tar extract, Benzaldehyde, Benzyl acetate, Bergamot oil, Bornyl acetate, Butyl acetate, Cadinene single, Calcium hydroxide, Camphene, d Camphor, Carbon dioxide, Carrot seed oil, Cascarilla oil, Cinnamyl acetate, Clove stem oil, Coriander extract, Cubeb oil, Cypress oil, Decanal, Diatomaceous earth, Diethyl sebacate, Ethyl formate, Eucalyptol, Eugenol, Formic acid, Gentian root extract, Geranium rose oil, Ginger oil, Glyceryl triacetate, Guar gum, Hexanoic acid, Hexyl alcohol, Humic acid, Hydroxypropyl cellulose, Iron oxides, Isoamyl alcohol, Isobutyl phenethyl alcohol, Keto dihydroisophorone, Isopropyl alcohol, Labdanum absolute, Lauric acid, Lemongrass oil, Lime oil, Linaloe wood oil, Linalyl acetate, Mimosa absolute, Methyl cellulose, Molasses extract, Mullein flowers, Musk pod extract, Phenethyl alcohol, Pigment Red, Polyvinyl acetate homo-polymer, Potassium chloride, Propane, Propionic acid, Propyl phenyl acetate, Pyroligneous acid extract, Quebracho bark extract, Rhodinol, Rose water, Rosemary oil, Rum ether.

And there is still more. So what is in a cigarette? Do you really want to know?

Grilled Scallops with Ginger-Lime Sauce

Summer time is great for barbequing, but aren’t you tired of burgers and hotdogs? At your next party why not try something a little classier. This scallop recipe is so easy, but so good. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can also pan sear the scallops without the skewer. Either way this dish will make your parties the most popular in the city. Be patient with the sauce making sure to reduce the liquid as direct or the sauce will be too thin. You can substitute shrimp and other seafood with this recipe as well. Enjoy!

Serves 4 – 6

  • 1 ½ lb Scallops (10/20 count)
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1 cup Ginger-lime sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh parsley – chopped
  • 1 ea.   Lime  – sliced

Begin by soaking 8″ bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Rinse scallops and thread on skewer so they lie flat. Pat dry and brush with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Place scallops on a greased hot grill. Cook turning once until scallops are done (about 4 -7 minutes). Transfer to a serving dish and top with Ginger-lime sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley and  lime  slices.

Ginger-Lime Sauce

Yields 1 cup

  • ½ cup Clam juice
  • ½ cup White wine
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh  lime  juice – from one  lime 
  • 2 Tbsp. Shallots – minced
  • 1 tsp. Ginger – peeled and minced
  • ¼ tsp.  Lime  zest – minced
  • ½ cup Heavy whipping cream
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter – unsalted, chilled

In a sauce pan over medium high heat add clam juice, white wine,  lime  juice, shallots and ginger. Reduce liquid by half. Add  lime  zest, cream and reduce to ¾ cup. Turn down to low and while stirring add the butter one tablespoon at a time until butter is incorporated.

Bar Graphs and Presentations

Let’s make business reporting simple again. In the age of information, many of us are experiencing information overload. There is such a thing as gathering and presenting too much data, and the business world struggles to present information in a rich, powerful, and stimulating manner without crossing the information overload threshold. Remember when you were young and just conquering the skill of reading. Sure reading was fun, and our minds processed a lot of information from the words that we read, but didn’t the illustrations in the books have a more lasting affect? The old saying reminds us a picture is worth a thousands words. We can use words to describe a situation, but a picture really encapsulates the ideas we are trying to get across.

We can apply this lesson to the business world. When presenting information to a conference room full of business professionals we are eager to first obtain, and then retain their attention. This can be achieved through pictures. Now, I am not suggesting that you take your doodling and add it to your presentation, but what I am suggesting is that you make better use of custom charts such as  bar  graphs and  bar  charts in your presentation.

 Bar  charts and  bar  graphs can offer a simple, but meaningful representation of the information you are trying to relay to your audience.  Bar  graphs can leave a more lasting impression in the minds of your audience members than a slide offering a comparison of quantified data. For instance, when you see a  bar  chart, what jumps out at you first? For most people the tallest  bar  is the  bar  that is noticed first. You might also notice the shortest  bar  rather quickly as it stands out as well. In all likelihood, as a presenter you are hoping the eyes of your audience members will gravitate to the extreme ends of the spectrum, either the tall  bar  or the short  bar  on the  bar  chart. Now that you have captured the audiences’ attention and directed it towards the information you wanted to discuss, you are free to continue with your presentation.

Or perhaps you want to use your  bar  graphs in another manner. Rather than emphasize really high sales or really low variable costs, you wish to show an increasing sales trend. In this scenario, your  bar  chart would represent your monthly sales across a certain time period. Upon presenting the  bar  chart, it would be clear to the audience that sales had increased substantially each month from January to August. Again, by using  bar  graphs you have painlessly grabbed the attention of the audience, directed it toward the topic you wanted to discuss and now you can make the points that are important to you.

When using  bar  graphs in your presentation, be sure to keep a few things in mind. Label the  bar  chart clearly so the audience doesn’t spend all its time trying to figure out what the  bars  represent. Make your  bar  charts vibrant – use strong colors to make  bars  of interest standout and soft subdued colors to make the other  bars  less conspicuous. Keep the information represented by the  bar  graphs as relevant as possible. Just because you have a beautiful  bar  chart doesn’t mean it should be used in your presentation. If you have created  bar  charts that will enhance your presentation then incorporate them into the presentation, otherwise leave them alone. Most importantly, be creative with your visualizations and have fun. Your audience will enjoy your presentation more and come away having learned everything you hoped they would.

Gay Male Sex Toys

Regardless of whether you are new or experienced in the use of male gay sex toys, there are numerous adult products available specifically targeted at the homosexual male in today’s marketplace. Some male sex toys such as the cock ring, even though this is by no means an adult toy exclusive to the gay male market, has been around since as far back as 1200 when it was first used by the Jin and Song dynasties by the Chinese, whereas the Fleshjack brand of Fleshlight male masturbators was launched specifically for gay men in 2007.

Gay Sex Toys for the Inexperienced Male

Products tailored more towards the beginner in homosexual male adult toys include items such as male sex toy starter kits. These kits are a relatively inexpensive way of trying out a whole host of male-specific products and consist of adult sex toys such as penis pumps, butt plugs and cock rings. A butt plug, also known as an anal plug, is also a firm favourite within the gay male community as it stimulates the anal passage. Anal beads also fall into this category. The majority of anal bead strings feature beads that graduate in size the further you go up the string meaning that the user can insert as many beads as they feel comfortable with. Many also come with a hand grip for easy release. Butt plugs are available in a variety of lengths and girths depending upon what level you are at. Some anal plugs are available as anal training kits and usually comprise of three different sizes of butt plugs. A cock ring is commonly employed by men of all sexual orientations to enhance and prolong the quality of an erection by restricting the blood flow to the penis.

Traditional Sex Toys for Gay Men

Sex pumps temporarily help to enhance the length, girth and hardness of the manhood by creating a vacuum in the cylinder which causes extra blood to rush to the penis. Male sex dolls feature vibrating and non-vibrating erect cocks, deep anuses and inviting mouths for endless possibilities. Dildos with balls and realistic vein and penis head detailing also are also popular. For the more experienced gay male, anal vibrators and vibrating butt plugs provide variable speed manipulation for the anal passageway. Anal plugs with ridges either part of or all the way along the length of the shaft also provide supplementary anal stimulation. Vibrating cock rings facilitate a similar reaction but for the penis. A pleasure wand is a double ended device that massages the scrotum and balls with one end whilst the other end sends stimulating vibrations to the anus/prostate. Male g-spot stimulators pivot to massage the g-spot deep inside the anus generating an incredibly intense orgasm.

Male Masturbators

Male Masturbators are another popular male sex toy for all male sexual orientations although male masturbators do not just come in the form of false vaginas and masturbation sleeves. In today’s marketplace several male masturbators cater specifically for gay men. They include vibrating anuses and tubes that have openings in them in the form of an anus. The most popular of the gay male masturbators available are the range of Fleshjacks. A member of the Fleshlight family (a new kind of masturbation tube), Fleshjacks not only feature the characteristic real-skin feeling within the tubes but the openings come in the form of butts and anuses while some of their inner sleeves replicate the insides of an anal passageway making it the most realistic penetrative feeling from a male masturbator.

The most important thing to consider whether new or experienced in the use of gay male sex toys is that the anus does not produce any natural lubrication so it is imperative that an anal lubricant is used to make penetration a much more pleasant and easier experience.

Preparing For the Winter

Taking the right precautions

As a high value home insurance policyholder, you’ll be covered against the financial losses sometimes caused by the fickle fingers of frost and the wicked winds of winter.

Comforting as insurance is, there’s nevertheless no substitute for taking a few precautions before the onset of winter. That way – no matter how tight Jack Frost’s grip may be – you and your property can weather the worst of the weather with equanimity.

For example, if you keep your central heating on constantly, you will cut down the likelihood of frozen or burst pipes. If you set it at a low temperature when you’re away for a short time, or turn the water off at the mains if you’re away for longer, it will help.

Aside from these simple precautions, it’s a good idea to have all the water pipes, tanks and cisterns in your home insulated, especially in unheated areas such as lofts, outbuildings and under floor spaces. Fixing dripping taps also helps. It’s surprising how a gentle trickle of water can freeze and then completely block a pipe.

Tackling a frozen pipe

If you do discover a frozen pipe, you should turn off the water at the mains and turn off the stopcock that feeds your cold water tank, if you have one. It’s important to protect everything around the frozen pipe, to avoid any collateral damage if it bursts. Gently warm the frozen pipe with a hairdryer or hot water bottle, then open the tap nearest the frozen pipe and begin thawing the pipe from the tap side of the frozen area.

If a pipe or tank should burst, turn off the water at the main stopcock and switch off all central heating and other water heating systems. Let all the water in the system drain out, by turning on all the taps, and then engage a reliable plumber to carry out the repairs. If you don’t have a regular plumber, most of the water companies operate approved plumber schemes. One of their people should be able to help you.

Storm force precautions

The risk of storm damage can be reduced by securing any loose roof tiles, guttering or external pipe work and replacing any parts of the system that are broken, before the winter. It’s also a good idea to put any moveable items such as garden furniture into store as they could either be damaged themselves or cause damage to other things by being blown about by high winds. Another wise precaution is the removal of any loose branches from the trees around your property and the secure fixing of any loose fencing. If you live in a particularly large building, or in an exposed area, it’s advisable to have a lightning conductor installed.

Finally, it’s a very good idea to replace any cracked windowpanes before the weather turns cold, as putty takes a long time to dry in chill conditions.

Before the flood

If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, or if weather reports suggest floods are heading your way, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you’re prepared.

Keep the doors and windows shut and move anything of value – indeed, as much of everything as you can – upstairs. Place sandbags around the perimeter of your house, especially in front of doorways and places where water could seep in. Prepare an emergency kit, in case you are trapped or need to evacuate your home. This should include blankets, torches, waterproof clothing, a supply of food and water and a first aid kit. Make sure you know how to turn off the electricity and gas supplies so that you can do so in the dark, if necessary.

Finally, you should prepare a list of important emergency telephone and mobile numbers, including any emergency help-lines provided by your local water company and your insurance company.

If you’d like to know about preparing for a flood, please go to http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk where you’ll find plenty of useful advice and information.

How to Make Cabinet Doors

A refinishing job is just the thing to enliven a dreary kitchen. Perhaps you have marred and stained cabinets, or you just need a new look. Figuring how to make cabinet doors look like new is a cheap way to give your kitchen a facelift.

The first step is to pull all the cabinet doors off the wall. If you’re planning on reusing the cabinet hardware a quick tip is to tape it inside the cabinets of each door so you know where each hinge and knob goes.

Once all the hardware is removed you can cart all the doors outside for a strip job.

If the doors were coated with a polyurethane varnish then you’ll need to make sure that all of the varnish is removed before you can continue. You can use a combination of sanding and chemical strippers to make sure everything is removed.

Now comes the grunt work. You’ll need to sand down the entire face of each cabinet. If it had a particularly deep stain applied to it before then it might take a while to scrape through all the old stain. You can start with a coarse grit on an orbital sander until all the old stain is removed. Be sure to always use even pressure when sanding so you don’t create any divots in the cabinet face.

Once all the old stain is removed you’ll need a sanding block and several different fine grades of sand paper to properly finish the sanding job. Start at coarser grits and work your way down until you have a nice smooth cabinet face with out any scratches in it.

If you are planning on replacing the door hardware then fill in any hardware holes with wood   putty . Sand down the  putty  until it’s flush with the cabinet face.

Use a sponge to wipe down the doors. Now switch to rags and keep wiping the doors down until no saw dust remains.

Now it’s time to apply the stain. Mix up whatever color you’re going to use and sponge it onto the doors. Be sure to cover the sides as well. Since stain dries fairly fast you can get a couple coats on in an afternoon.

Once the stain is dry you’ll want to move the doors back inside for the next step. This will limit any dirt, leaves or bugs sticking in the final varnish coats.

Set up some saw horses in the garage and place the cabinet doors on them.

Brush on the varnish making sure there aren’t any small bubbles in it. Let dry and apply a second coat.

All that’s left now is to bring the doors back into the kitchen and reattaching the hardware and hanging them back up. You have a completely revitalized kitchen now. Learning how to make cabinet doors look better isn’t as hard as a carpenter would like you to think. Doing it yourself is a bit labor intensive but you’ll have a great new kitchen look in about a weekend.

Above Ground Pools – Repair All Metal Side Wall Problems

This page will explain to you all kinds of steel side wall repairs, here are just a few: side wall rusted around the skimmer or return jet, rusted to the point of rupture, and actual rupture of wall.

OK, let’s get started, we’ll start with the most common of all side wall problems and that will be rusted around the skimmer and return jet. First thing to do is drain the pool to about six inches below the skimmer or return jet, while the pool is being drained, take off the top rails above and on both sides of the skimmer, you might have to take two sections off on either side of the skimmer or return jet. Once that is done, take off the coping (plastic piece holding the liner in place). By this time the pool should be drained enough to take the skimmer or return jet off the side wall. (All references to the skimmer, return jet and holes in the side wall, will be referred to as skimmer)

Now, that’s all done, gently pull the liner up and over the side wall and expose the rusted or damaged skimmer hole. Next you determine how much you have to cut out to get rid of the rust, example, let’s say you determine that you are going to need to cut a hole 12 X 12 inches then you will need a piece of galvanized metal 24 X 24 inches to cover the 12 X 12 hole. The galvanized metal should be at least the same thickness or the next size up. If your not sure take a piece of the wall you cut out, for sizing.

OK! You got the galvanized metal and your ready to put it in place so all you have to do is cut the hole for the skimmer, you can use the skimmer as a template to cut the hole. Your next step is to position the replacement piece so that your skimmer hole is level, the easiest way to do this is measure from the top of the side wall to the replacement on both sides the measurement should be the same. Then use some duct tape to hold it in place. A little trick to keep all those metal filings from going between the wall and liner is to put an earth magnet on the drill bit while drilling and use a medium speed on your drill and the magnet will not fall off. Once in place you can get your drill and rivets ready, the size of rivets you should use is anything from 3/16 to 1/4 inch, get a big box because you will be spacing them 1 inch apart.

Let’s get on with the drilling layout, with a tape measure make a line 1 inch in from all edges and a second line 3 inches in, now on the one inch line put a hole in each of the corners, next from each corner hole you measure 1 inch both horizontally and vertically. Now from here we measure three inches from each corner hole and drill another hole, but before we drill anymore holes we want to put in a couple rivets to hold the replacement in place solidly. As you noticed the holes are two inches apart continue from each corner until you reach the center.

Now for the three inch line we put a hole in the corner and one hole in each direction two inches from the corner hole if you have done it right it should be in between two rivets on the one inch line so that all the rivets are staggered. Once you have all the rivets in place you can drill the holes for the skimmer. The final step is to duct tape all the metal edges so their is nothing sharp to pierce the liner when put back in place. Now all that is left to do, is to put everything back together the way it came apart.

This concludes the instruction for repairing the rust around the pool skimmer and the return jet and any hole in the side wall, for instruction on how to replace a whole section please read on.

Heaven forbid, you actually have had a blow out, if your liner got ruined then it is an easy task to take it out and repair the section before putting in a new liner, if you were lucky and your liner just got stretched a bit then things get a bit trickier. If you were really lucky you probably noticed a soft spot in the wall and checked it out and realized it was going to need repair soon. If any of these scenarios fits your problem then the remedy is at hand. Read on.

First, you will have to take about half the pools top rails off. Of course if you are replacing the liner than they all have to come off. Next remove the coping and lift the liner over the side wall. Now depending on the size of the hole, you will need an extra two feet of galvanized metal the same size in height as the existing metal. Cut out the rusted piece and put in your new piece. Now from the end of the new sheet of metal measure in three inches and score a line from top to bottom on both ends, and a similar line nine inches in from the ends.

Also, make sure your lines don’t line up with one of your upright supports, if they do slide your panel one way or the other so that they don’t line up, OK, starting from the top measure down one inch on the three inch line and two inches down on the nine inch line and mark a drill hole, and you continue on both lines two inches apart till you reach the bottom. Drill three or four holes, then put in some rivets from the inside out, you want the flat part on the inside of the pool, and then continue drilling. When you have finished with the rivets put some duct tape on them and on the edge of the metal and put your Pool back together again. I hope these instructions helped you get more years of pleasure out of your pool.

If you have any questions please submit them at Above Ground Pools and Decks

Classification of Historical Fencing Technique – The German Long Sword

Modern analysis of fencing technique includes the grouping of like actions into four basic classifications: actions not intended to result in a touch, offense, defense, and counteroffense. This classification scheme helps systematize training, improves analysis of competition outcomes, and provides a broad understanding of what happens in a bout. Although some have tried to superimpose the modern system on historical fencing in the Middle Ages, there are essential differences in doctrine and technique which suggest the need for a uniquely historical classification system.

The following analysis is based on German Long Sword practice. It may be applicable to other Long Sword traditions, to other weapons, and potentially to Renaissance period fencing. For example, this same system may be applicable also to understanding the small body of surviving English Long Sword material. However, additional study is needed before I will make that assertion.

An examination of Long Sword technique suggests that there are five classifications of actions: guards, offense, renewal of offense, defense, and counteroffense.

In modern fencing a guard is a static location of the blade the fencer adopts when there is no ongoing offensive or defensive action, and is not considered an actual action. This differs from the Medieval understanding of a guard as a place that fulfills a number of roles integral to the other classes of actions. Guards are mobile, with frequent movement between guard positions. A guard is defensive when it closes a line to a potential attack. A guard may be counteroffensive when it poses a direct threat to deny potential action by an opponent (an example is Long Point). A change in guard may force adoption of a different guard by the opponent, creating an opportunity for the offense. In some Medieval systems three guards are part of an attack as starting, middle, and ending points, and ending an attack in a guard position is frequently only a transition into the next attack launched from that guard.

Offensive actions are initial blade actions intended to hit an opponent who has not already initiated an attack. The fencer who has seized the initiative by committing to an attack first is the attacker.

Renewals of the attack are considered offensive actions in modern fencing. However, in the Long Sword renewal of the attack is a core part of fencing doctrine, filling three key roles: maintaining or regaining the initiative following a parry of the initial offense, denying an opponent the ability to make a defensive or counteroffensive action, and physically forcing the opponent to give ground under the sequence of blows. Unlike in modern fencing, where renewals are limited in number and carry risks imposed by the rules, renewals of the offense use different techniques and are as important as the initial offense itself.

Defense is typically viewed as being actions which block an attack with the blade or evade the attack but do not attempt to hit the opponent. This is a valid way to classify actions in German Long Sword. Unlike the counteroffensive action which seeks to intercept the attack, defense accepts the attack and takes action after it has been evaded or blocked.

It is tempting to consider the return stroke following a displacement of the opponent’s blade (the modern riposte) as being part of the defense, especially given the emphasis in German doctrine on the importance of such a stroke. However, at the moment of contact between the blades the two fencers are in indes, and time stands still for a millisecond. If the attacker seizes the initiative, it is a renewal of the attack. If the defender moves first, it is theoretically his attack to which the original attacker must react or be hit.

Counteroffensive actions are strokes intended to intercept an attack and inflict a hit before the attack can reach its target. Ideally, the counteroffensive action both blocks the opponent’s action and lands a hit on the attacker (the cross or thwart stroke is an example). A second key function of counteroffensive action is to deny the opponent the ability to initiate an attack safely (one of the functions of long point) by establishing a credible threat that the opponent must first remove. Finally, cutting away actions to end the engagement are inherently counteroffensive as they are intended to allow an exit and to discourage pursuit.

The afterblow, a feature of fencing with the Long Sword well into the late 1500s (and probably through the 1600s), is a special case. An afterblow is delivered by the original defender, hitting the attacker as he attempts to recover and reposition after the attack. It is tempting to regard these as attacks, but I think they should be classified as counteroffensive, as they were intended to redress the balance in the fight by inflicting at least as much damage as has been received. Long Sword competition rules allow one fencer (the competitor who had established his position as king) to negate an attack completely and win the bout by afterblow.

Unlike in modern fencing where there is substantial agreement that a specific action belongs in a specific category, historical actions may be understood as fitting in more than one category. An excellent example is the family of Master Cuts from the German Long Sword tradition; these cuts can be delivered as offense or as counteroffense. The classification of the technique depends more on the tactical intent of its use than on the specific method of execution.

Applying a classification scheme to German Long Sword technique is important to understanding the balance of technique in the historical record. This serves as the basis for designing and developing training programs that teach students not only technique and tactics for the Long Sword, but also a coherent doctrine for its use.

How to Dig Out a Fence Post and Concrete Footing Using Hand Tools

Confirm Digging is the Only Option

To begin, evaluate the condition of the post and the concrete. Intact posts are a significant benefit and will make removal much easier. Posts in good condition that are still sound make their removal much easier. Also evaluate the concrete base (if present) – is it still solid or is it cracked/crumbling?

If the post is broken or the concrete is cracked there may be no other way than to dig out the post and concrete base, but before resorting to heavy manual labor try the Wood Post Puller method – its biggest strength is that is works in synergy with all of the lifting and digging methods to improve effectiveness and can easily remove posts and concrete bases that stymie other techniques.

After you determine there is no other way than to dig out the post, the following instructions will make this difficult task as easy as possible:

How Deep and How Much to Dig?

Dig a hole next to the existing post and concrete base approximately the same size as the post and base – don’t dig all the way around the post and don’t dig a hole that is larger than the post – it is just extra work digging and then re-filling the hole after you are done.

Do you know how deep the post is buried? The following are typical starting lengths before posts are set in the ground:

  • 4×4 wood posts will typically be 8 feet long set 3 feet in the ground
  • Metal t-posts will typically be 7 feet long set 2 feet in the ground
  • Galvanized posts are typically 8 feet long set 3 feet in the ground

If you are not sure, you can also measure the height of the post that is above ground (or the length of the piece if it is broken off) and approximate the length that is buried. Dig your hole at least 75% as deep as the post that is buried – for example, a typical wood post will be buried in the ground 3 feet or 36 inches, so dig down to a depth of at least 27 inches (36 x 0.75 = 27).

Digging Technique

Start the hole using a round point spade to get through any turf, roots, or other surface debris. As the hole gets deeper, a trench spade (also referred to as a ditch spade or trenching tool) will make the digging easier until you are down to about 16-24 inches. With shovels and spades you are using your legs and body weight to loosen the soil for removal – keep going until the hole becomes too tall and narrow to gain leverage at the bottom and then switch to the next stage.

This is where you transition to tools that are driven by arm power – the post hole digger and digging bar.

Tip – Choose a post hole digger that is smaller and lighter – unless you are a weightlifter type, the large heavy post hole diggers with the fiberglass handles will wear you out – the smaller, lighter post hole diggers are more maneuverable and will be more effective for most people, even if they sacrifice some reach.

Tip – Use a digging bar – a San Angelo bar is designed to make digging easier – it has a chisel head to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and to trim the sides of the hole, the other end of the bar is a point for breaking up difficult soil. Other types of digging bars will include a tamper head on one end for packing loose soil. Look for a bar that is high quality heat treated carbon steel – no need to pay extra for a brand name, digging bars are available at discount supply stores for approximately $25.

After you have reached the target depth, use the chisel head on the digging bar to clear out any soil remaining between the post and your hole. As you dig a round hole next to a round post foundation there will be a ridge that should be removed.

Removing the Post

Now you begin the removal process, the general concept is to tip the post into the hole you just dug. Start by simply pushing the top of the post towards the hole, it may break free from the soil and slide into the hole – then you can insert the pry bars underneath the post and concrete and lift it out. If the post doesn’t move, try jamming the pry bar into the ground next to the post or concrete footing on the side opposite the hole and pry it towards the hole. To increase the leverage from the pry bar, use a scrap piece of 2×4 or other wood on the ground to form a fulcrum and prevent the pry bar from sinking into the ground.

If the post still won’t move, use the digging bar to expand the hole around the circumference of the post footing by digging sideways. Continue prying the post out and enlarging the hole around the post until it breaks free and tips over into the hole. The critical part is to break the post loose – sometimes a few well-placed hits with a sledgehammer are needed for persuasion to get the post moving – after it moves even a fraction of an inch the war is won and the post will come out.