Rules of the Hammer Throw

The hammer must pass a rigorous inspection to be certified for competition. It is the only implement in track and field that has moveable parts, and therefore must be strictly regulated. The following is an excerpt of some of the primary rules governing the hammer throw.

1. Implement must be certified for weight, length, diameter, handle and center of gravity.

a. Minimum weight 7.260kg senior men, 6.000kg junior men, 5.000kg youth men, 4kg women (senior, junior and youth)

b. Maximum length 121.5cm men, 119.5cm women

c. Minimum length 117.7cm men, 116cm women

d. Diameter of ball minimum 110mm men, 95mm women

e. Diameter of ball maximum 130mm men, 110mm women

f. Handle must form an isosceles triangle with the long sides equaling 110 mm, must be of rigid construction that will not stretch appreciably while being thrown

g. Wire must be unbroken, straight length of spring-steel wire not less than 3mm in diameter, which cannot stretch appreciably while being thrown

h. Center of gravity of the head of the hammer shall not be more than 6mm from the center of the sphere

2. Thrower must stay in the circle (7 feet in diameter) until implement lands.

3. The thrower must wait until the implement has landed before exiting the back half of circle under control.

4. Implement must land in sector (34.92 degrees).

5. Any throw that lands in the sector and is not a foot foul is a legal throw.

While different governing bodies have more specific rules about handle requirements and the acceptable tolerances of the materials used in hammer construction. These are the basic rules are fairly consistent across all leagues and levels of competition for hammer throwing.

Sleep News Alert: Using Weighted Blankets Can Help You And Your Child Sleep!

Sleep is a topic that scientists seem to constantly find interest in, not only because it is such a complex state of consciousness to figure out, but also because new advances in technology has allowed much deeper understanding of this basic human behavior.

Since sleep is something that comes as part of our basic needs, it should occur naturally and easily. For some of us, however, that is not quite the case. In fact, over 60 million Americans have reported having insomnia, cure for insomnia, sleeplessness, sleep apnea and other sleep related issues. So if you’re freaking out about why you haven’t been able to catch some decent shut-eye over the past week, don’t worry because you are definitely not alone.

But why is high-quality sleep something that a lot of people find difficult to achieve? While we wish that the answer could be simple and apparent, that is unfortunately not the case. Lack of exercise, bad eating habits, high amounts of stress, what you ate for dinner, and even the wall colors of your bedroom can all play a hand as to why you kept tossing and turning last night.

Our team members, most of who happen to be ex-sleep strugglers, are passionate about the topic and find it highly fascinating to learn about sleep and all the different new ways that can help resolve sleep issues. So when we learned about this and how it can induce relaxation and sleep, we were dying to share with all of our readers.

What are weighted blankets?

Basically, it’s a heavy blanket that hugs your body as you lie down in bed. As this blanket molds to your shape, it provides extra pressure that calms down your nervous system and leads to further relaxation. The pressure also leads to an increased release of serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain, which will lead to reduced anxiety and better mood.

Weighted blankets have been used for quite a while now to help those with autism to get to sleep faster and achieve better sleep quality. Recently, these weighted blankets have become available for both children and adults who struggle with sleep and want to use a natural, non-addictive method of achieving better deep sleep.

Who can use weighted blankets?

If you have a hard time getting to sleep or staying asleep, getting yourself a weighted blanket may just help you achieve those relaxing Zzz’s. Also, if you have a very energized and hyper child who refuses to cooperate with your bedtime rules, then getting this weighted blanket could be the most magical gift you’ve ever gotten yourself.

Where can I get myself this awesome weighted blanket and how much do they cost?

The easiest place to get blankets is probably online. You can place an order via Amazon Dot com, eBay Dot com or Etsy Dot com and find different ones ranging from $40-100. If you wish to get a weighted blanket from a more exclusive company then you can go to other online websites like Sensa Calm Dot com or Mosaic Weighted Blankets Dot com.

How to Make an Outdoor Fire Pit

A fire pit can add dimension and value to your home. Fire pits are very nice in the winter as well as the summer.

There are kits available that allow you to simply put one together and away you go. However, I find that learning how to make an outdoor fire pit is the most cost effective way to go.

The first thing you want to do is consider what you want the fire pit to look like. Think about color, height, width, location and material needed.

You want to be away from any structures or things that could catch fire for obvious reasons, so location is the first thing to decide on. For material, most rock or do-it-yourself cement should suffice.

As these things go, always check with your local authorities for ordinances and regulations regarding fire pits in your area concerning where they can be placed and how big they can be. You want to be within the law with this. If you need building permits or neighbor’s permission, get it so you are in line and legal so you don’t run into problems later on.

With that out of the way, you can map out your location and begin. Here is an idea for a basic, in-ground fire pit that is approximately 24″ inside diameter and 10″ deep.

What You Need

You will need 2 or 3 bags of quick drying cement like Sakrete or the like, enough firebrick or stone to line it with, some quick mortar, a trowel, a 2×4 piece of lumber, a small piece of dowel wood, a can of spray paint (any color will do), some regular gravel and some string.

1) First, find the center of your fire pit’s location and mark it with the dowel wood. Now attach a 12″ piece of string to the dowel with a can of spray paint at the end. Using the string as a guide, paint a 24″ circle. Then do the same thing with a piece of string 24″ long.

2) Dig out between the paint lines 10″ deep and you have a trench that is 48″ in diameter at the largest point with a trench that measures 12″ wide by 10″ deep all around. This is your base.

3) Now add the gravel to the trench and tamp it down so it’s firm. Then mix your cement and fill the trench to the top all the way around. Level this off with the 2×4 and smooth out with the trowel. Allow to set for at least two days, possibly up to a week so it has cured properly.

4) You will dig out the inside of the pit to so it is 2 to 3″ higher than the sides, which will 7 or 8″ and lay some more gravel in the bottom.

5) Then mix up your mortar and lay the firebrick so the bottom is completely covered. You may want to lay a second layer of brick. That’s up to you entirely.

6) Allow the mortar to dry for a couple of days and you have an in-ground fire pit ready to go.

This is only one style among many, so look around and see what you want and go for it!

Essential Air Compressor Parts

Because air  compressors  are so frequently used in manufacturing plants and other industries and because they have the potential to be dangerous to work with, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is the governing body concerning air  compressors . The ASME is responsible for quality and safety assurance on most air  compressors  and air  compressor  parts. Although not all air  compressor  parts are tested by the ASME, it is recommended that you purchase those that have been.

A variety of online stores carry air  compressor  parts. In addition, you can probably find a local dealer that sells both industrial grade and home-use air  compressor  parts. Filters, hoses and separators are among the most commonly purchased air  compressor  parts and can be purchased at many locations.

Safety and quality of products should be the first concern when buying air  compressor  parts. A faulty  compressor  or internal part can mean the difference in a high-level of safety and the potential for creating hazardous conditions. Parts and accessories for air  compressors  should be tested for quality and preferably certified by the ASME. In many states, it is illegal to sell air  compressors  and air  compressor  parts that are not certified by this organization.

A simple Internet search can be a great place to start looking for air  compressor  parts. If you type “”air  compressor  parts”” into a search engine, you will get a return of hundreds, if not thousands, of relevant links. Many of these companies offer not only parts and accessories, but also service for your air  compressor , should the need arise. You must know the make, model and manufacturer of the  compressor  that needs parts as some parts are designed specifically for certain models and are not compatible with others.

If you take the time to carefully research your options, you are certain to find high quality air  compressor  parts at discount prices. The age of the Internet has opened up new doors for consumers and you should take advantage of that. These companies are competing for your business, so research the ones who offer what you need.

6 Pillars Of Successful Management

Being a manager brings with it a number of big challenges. On one hand you still have a fair bit to do personally but now you are expected to manage others too. While there are many things that can contribute to your success, I believe that there are 6 pillars that are core to your success.

Pillar 1: Manage Expectations

Your boss has expectations of you which in itself is not unreasonable. As a manager you need to manage these expectations. Part of that is about communicating and avoiding nasty surprises. Sometimes a little bit of advance notice can make a big difference to how people perceive you.

Pillar 2: Be A Great Delegator

Conceptually managers understand that delegating is a good thing. Despite this many resist delegating. It might quite simply be driven by fear. Perhaps they delude themselves into believing they can do it all on their own. The reality is that delegating effectively is key to your success as a manager.

Pillar 3: Bring Out The Best In Others

Every person you manage has something of value to contribute. The trouble is managers often fail to take the time to discover the strengths of their people. Knowing this is core to bringing out the best in others.

Pillar 4: Run Efficient Processes

So often when things are not working, managers add more and more process to compensate and fix problems. Stand back, get clear on what an efficient process would look like and find ways of making the changes happen.

Pillar 5: Manage Your Budget

Managers need to get comfortable at delivering what is expected with the resources available to them. That means staying on top of income and expenditure generated or spent, income or expenditure expected or committed and income targets to be achieved and funds still available to spend.

Pillar 6: Make Time For Managing

Managing people and processes is a core part of your role. Make sure that you are committing a significant portion of your working hours to managing rather than trying to slot it in once you have done everything.

How to Gain Happiness During Your Life Crisis – FamilyVision Column

Everyone loves 9 years old Allison. Allison lives with Mark, a confirmed bachelor. The story goes that when Alison’s parents died in an auto accident, her parents identified Mark as the guardian in their will. Allison’s biological family hates it. Mark discovers that Allison is dying. Everyone has an opinion. No one can agree on the best solution. This creates a very stressful time in Mark’s life. Any decision he selects will generate criticism. As Mark ponders these thoughts in his heart, he wonders if he will survive this crisis.

The Panic Button

How do you deal with a serious crisis? Does it bring you to tears or do you grow stronger? How does a person make a critical decision with little time on their hands? That is the question that I pondered in my heart as I reflected on the many critical decisions made over the last several years. Unfortunately, many of those decisions were life threatening ones that required immediate action.

As I think about my decisions as the head of my household, I knew everyone did not agree with my decisions and as a consequence created strained relationships. In the role of a church leader and in my job, I constantly come across people who must make decisions in a crisis. Decisions made in very short timeframes create much anxiety. Some of these decisions relate to personal health, death in a family, relationship drama, and financial obstacles.

Any of these situations can knock a strong person to their knees. Before I discuss some helpful tools, let’s discuss some practical facts that make a crisis difficult for us. A crisis is defined as a decision point in an unstable condition involving an impending abrupt or decisive change. Living in a crisis can cause an emotional or traumatic change in a person’s life.

A decision is defined as an act of reaching a conclusion or making up one’s mind. When you add a crisis, with its emotional baggage, to a decision, you have created a situation that most people find difficult to cope. Dr. William Black, author of Finding Strength, explains, “The reality of our existence is that life can be hard. We have difficulties to face….For each of us, life’s trials may be detrimental to our ability to function in everyday life.”

The Crisis Club

If you are a human being, your life will include of a series of easy to complicated decisions. Some critical decisions include selecting your life insurance, buying a home, or accepting a job offer. A rational approach to decision-making under a normal situation would be: (a) define the problem, (b) weigh the pros and cons, and (c) select the best solution. Given this simple process, what then makes a crisis difficult? There are several things that make a crisis a challenge for most people, which are: (a) shortness of time, (b) the emotional component, and (c) the immediateness of a response by the individual involved.

Wouldn’t it be easy to just deal with a crisis in a logical manner? In most cases, this is difficult to do. For example, a doctor is faced with disconnecting his mother from life support. His head tells him that it’s the logical thing to do, but his heart tells him that she’s his mother. Therefore, the emotional drain and the additional adrendine clouds our sense of judgment in a crisis. However, individuals can take comfort that you can take some positive steps in making a good decisions. Here are some proven methods for getting through these crucial times:

  • Seek comfort through pray and meditation. These solutions have stood the test of time.
  • Determine how much actual time you have to make the decision. If possible, use all of the time you have to make a good decision.
  • Write down the problem. Can you define the actual decision that needs to be made?
  • Write down the possible options to your problem. Do you have enough information? Is more research needed?
  • Weigh your options by analyzing the advantages and disadvantages.
  • Get advice from reliable sources you trust. Can you trust Aunt Susan to give you her best advice when she’s emotionally attached to your problem (she may)?
  • Trust God. Although this may not be popular in our culture, the reality is that people, as humans, are limited. It better to believe that God will correct the situation.
  • Make the best decision, move on, and accept the consequences.

The Right Perspective

Fortunately, a crisis is not the end of the world. You might actually view it as a new beginning because you will gain strength through these ordeals. There are countless stories of marriages torn apart and families destroyed due to a faulty decision mode in the heat of a crisis. Don’t make that mistake. Keep a positive outlook on life. Start today!

Consider planning out how you will address a crisis before it happens. Talk with others who have been “battled tested” through a crisis and learn from them. Remember, good things can come from bad situations. Be encouraged and start planning today.

Truck Bed Mat – Bed Protection Plus Liner Protection

A truck bed mat works in two ways to protect your truck. Used alone it’s one of the tougher bed liner choices. But it’s also a sensible way to protect a more expensive liner. Here’s why it’s the best protection.

Sure a spray on bed liner looks like the perfect finish for your pickup bed. No doubt a spray on liner is tough as well as good looking. After all, in many cases the spray on liner is even guaranteed for life.

It isn’t guaranteed that it won’t be damaged. It’s just guaranteed that it will be repaired. Until it is repaired, you’re driving around with a damaged liner. Who needs that?

That’s where truck bed mats enter the picture.

You have two types of mats you can use… There are rubber mats and carpet mats. Either is tough and can stand much use, but each is a bit better for certain uses.

Rubber bed mats work best in really hard use. The liner material is almost impossible to destroy. Any kind of rough cargo, concrete blocks for example, are no problem at all. The material just can take most anything. Really grimy, filthy loads don’t bother these either. Who wants a greasy mess on a liner? That’s no problem for the rubber mat.

Then there are carpet mats.

Carpet is tough too. But certainly really messy lads are going to make a mess of carpet. Not that the carpet couldn’t take it, it’s just a mess to clean. No, carpet liners work best for protecting fragile cargo, for cushioning and for padding. If you end up on your knees on a truck bed, carpet can really protect your knees too.

A truck bed mat is cheap protection for the paint on your pickup. But it’s more. It’s also a great way to protect an expensive bed liner from damage. Sacrifice the easy to replace rubber or carpet bed mat instead of the much more expensive liner.

Carpet Cleaning – What Not to Do

Do you value the carpet in your home? Considering that it was a few thousand-dollar investment, you certainly should! Instead of forgetting about your carpet and neglecting it, you should afford the carpets in your home the appropriate time, money and effort required to keep them looking good in the years to come. Have you ever been in an old home with 20 to 30-year-old carpet? Apart from probably being an out-of-style color, the carpet certainly will no longer maintain its original give or agreeable smell. The smell of old carpet is never pleasant. You can prevent this from developing prematurely by knowing what things you should not do if you hope to maintain the good appearance of your carpet between professional carpet cleanings.

Do not let stains dry before cleaning them. No matter what has been spilled onto your carpet-juice, mustard, spaghetti-you should clean it up right away. Even if your dinner must go cold as you scrub the spot, it will be worth it to get the staining material out by carpet cleaning without delay. Dry stains are not only harder to clean, but they are also given the opportunity to sink deep into the carpet and possibly into the carpet backing. This will result in mildew growth which can lead to the unpleasant smell associated with old carpet.

Do not assume that because you cannot see dirt in your carpet that there is none. Especially if you have speckled carpeting, you may not be able to spot the dirt simply by glancing at your carpet. That is the entire purpose of this kind of carpeting, after all, but dirt still settles nonetheless. By neglecting your vacuuming duties, you allow the settled dirt to cut into the carpet fibers and damage them. Allergens also thrive in un-vacuumed carpet, so if you have a sensitive allergy, you should employ carpet cleaning in the form of vacuuming at least once a week.

Do not wear your shoes around the house. If you do not feel comfortable in bare feet, buy a pair of shoes you wear exclusively inside the house. Have you ever looked at the bottom of your outdoor shoes? You certainly do not want all that dirt and mud dragged across the clean carpet. These are all great ways to keep your rugs from wearing out between professional carpet cleaning sessions, which should occur every 12 to 18 months to lengthen the life of your carpet.

Setting Up The Rug Doctor To Clean Your Carpets

The Rug Doctor is obviously a popular piece of equipment for rug cleaning DIY’ers and those wanting to save a bit of money over professional carpet cleaning services. Does the Rug Doctor work? Yes, it absolutely does! The problems with the Rug Doctor surface when the people who rent it either have a poor understanding of the machine or limited experience with cleaning carpets all together which often leads to a poorer than expected result after they are finished.

Today, I am going to explain the proper way to set up a rug doctor so the next time you get one home, you will walk away completely satisfied with the job it does on your carpets. Let’s get started!

1. When you get the Rug Doctor Home, unlock the handle and swing it out and up into the upright position. There are 4 to choose from. Choose whichever one seems like it will be the most comfortable for an extended day of cleaning (we are speaking of ergonomics here!)

2. When operating, the 2 needle jets on the bottom of the machine deliver a measured amount of cleaner through the nozzles and onto the rug. The row of bi-directional brushes operate at 3200 cycles per minute allowing every side and angle of the carpet fiber to get scrubbed. A vacuum extracts 80% of the cleaning solution from the carpet right after use. The Rug Doctor is fairly bulky, therefore you will need to remove all of the furniture from the room before starting the machine.

3. Give the carpet a thorough vacuuming to remove and surface dirt and debris. This will allow the deep cleaning of the Rug Doctor to be more effective.

4. To add the Rug Doctor cleaning solution to the machine, fill a bucket with approximately 8 liters of warm tap water. Shake the Rug Doctor solution thoroughly and then add 150 ml to the bucket of warm water. This will be enough solution to clean one full sized room.

5. On the Rug Doctor, there are 2 compartments for fluids, one at the bottom (this is the compartment to put the clean solution) and the upper tank, which is where the cleaner goes after it is used and sucked back up by the machine. In order to reach the red base tank to fill it with clean solution, you will need to remove the upper recovery tank.

To remove the recovery tank, simply un-clip the retaining handle from the top of the unit, and fold it down and out of the way. Once un-clipped, the recovery tank will lift easily out of the way giving access to the lower tank. Now, you can pour your bucket of clean solution into the lower tank. Once your solution is in the lower tank, replace the recovery tank and re-clip the handle to hold the components in place.

6. The last step needed for your Rug Doctor setup is to look on the top of the machine. That is where you will find a white rocker switch. One setting on the switch is for ‘hand tool’. The other side of the switch is for ‘carpet cleaning’. Make sure the switch is set to ‘carpet cleaning’ in order to commence the job.

If the switch is set to ‘hand tool’ it will spray a continuous steam of cleaning solution onto the carpet soaking it far too much (as well as getting your carpets far too wet) to be cleaned properly. Just make sure before you start cleaning to have that switch set properly.

That concludes the simple steps needed to be taken in order to set up your Rug Doctor for proper carpet cleaning. Later, I will be examining the proper steps to take to do the cleaning itself. Stay tuned!

Four Pros and Cons of Owning Student Accommodations

The thought of renting residential property to students probably does not leave a very good taste in the mouths of most people. Why would you buy a property only to have it ruined by immature, boozed up young adults? Judging from some of the stories you hear or may even remember yourself from your student days, you may be right. The fact remains though, students need somewhere to live and for the discerning buyer, this can prove to be an attractive investment opportunity. Here are 4 positive and negative attributes of student housing.

The Pros:

1) Students are happy to live in dwellings that may not necessarily have the most up to date fittings. Meaning you can spend less on the investment and maintenance costs are reduced, as the expectation on new fittings is not there.

2) Students typically live in groups meaning the rental return is usually strong. Students expect to be charged market rates for lesser quality housing as they realise they are a risky investment.

3) Long term contracts. Students are usually prepared to sign up for a fixed tenancy period as part of the tenancy conditions. This guarantees your rent for a set period of time.

4) Added benefits. You may be able to charge students extra for services like lawn mowing or cleaning. Provided you have the time and energy to do this, it can be a good way to keep an eye on the property.

The Cons:

1)Students will have parties and chattels like carpet will suffer accordingly. Whilst replacing fixtures more regularly is not an appetising thought, some consolation can be taken from the fact you can replace it with cheaper quality products.

2)Upkeep and maintenance around the investment will suffer. Students often shy away from doing anything other than the bare minimum. This means lawns will not be mowed, gardens will not be weeded, windows will not be cleaned and showers will probably grow some sort of fungus!

3)Paying rent may not be the top of the priority list for students. Falling behind in rent and chasing students up for payments may be a common occurrence

4)The value of your home may not appreciate in value in line with other homes due to the stigma attached to student housing

Whilst this list is by no means a certainty and the issues do not necessarily apply to students alone, it is a brief warning on some of the things you may encounter.

Planning Your Thailand Holidays

Thailand holidays can be customized to fit virtually any traveler’s budget and personal tastes. Because tourism is such a vital part of the Thai economy (representing a larger percentage of Thailand’s GDP than that of any other Asian nation), almost every part of the country is equipped with food and lodging catered toward foreign visitors. Furthermore, the nation’s amazingly diverse geography offers a wide range of activities to choose from. No matter what it is that you’d like to do on your holiday, there are surely several, easily-accessible places in Thailand that offer it at a price that fits your budget.

Planning Your Thailand Holiday

For most of us, the first steps in planning any holiday include setting a budget, determining how long our holiday will last, and deciding when we can go. As you walk through these steps in planning your Thailand holiday, here are a few important points to consider:

  • The price of lodging in Thailand runs the gamut from as low as around £8 GBP per day (about $5 AUD/USD) for a bed in a hostel, all the way up to hundreds of pounds per night for five-star accommodations at world-class, international hotels
  • In my personal opinion (and this is shared by a great number of foreign travelers I’ve met over the years), you should plan on spending a minimum of 10-14 days in Thailand during your holiday if you want to visit the country’s major attractions without being rushed
  • Because Thailand’s tropical climate is hot, humid, and rainy for much of the year, the country’s “high season” for tourism is during the comparatively drier, cooler months of November through February

Some additional thoughts on these points…

With regards to prices for food and lodging, while it is accurate to say that daily rates cover quite a wide spectrum, it is also true that you can find many incredible deals throughout the country if you know when and where to look. For example, in September 2010 I was able to book four nights at a legitimate, five-star luxury hotel in one of the most-popular sections of Bangkok (Thailand’s most-expensive city) for just under £90 GBP per night (that’s approximately $60 AUD/USD). In an upcoming article, I’ll discuss some of the most-effective strategies for finding bargains that maximize your holiday budget.

When determining how much time to spend in Thailand, it’s important to remember that, for those of us traveling from an English-speaking country, our holiday will include at least two very long airplane flights (on the way there, and the return trip), and adjusting our body clocks to a significant time difference. For me, this leads to a feeling that jetlag and travel always shortens my actual time in-country by two days. I’ll pad the amount of time I expect to spend seeing the sights, or relaxing by two extra days for this reason.

As for choosing a time of year to visit, avoiding the hot, humid Thai summer and autumn monsoon is a valid consideration for many travelers. Temperatures often approach 40° C during those months which, coupled with the tropical humidity and almost-daily thunderstorms, can be a bit overwhelming for some visitors. The flipside of this equation is that airfares and lodging are dramatically cheaper during this so-called “Low Season”. If you’re on a tight budget, and don’t mind a little heat and rain, you’ll find that your hard-earned money stretches a lot further at this time of year.

The Five Regions of Thailand – Where Should I Go?

To see the remarkable amount of geographic and cultural diversity that exists within Thailand, all you have to do is compare the country’s five unique regions: the Central, East, North, Northeast, and South. Depending on how much time you’re able to spend in-country, you may be able to visit all five during one stay (personally, I wouldn’t try this unless I had a whole month to spend on holiday). If your time is more limited, you should probably focus on no more than two or three areas, and leave the others for future Thai holidays.

Central

Because the vast majority of foreign tourists arrive, and depart, from Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, it’s highly likely that your visit to Thailand will include a stay in the nation’s capital. A bustling city of 11 million (most Bangkok residents will tell you that this official estimate is probably low by as much as 50%) and the heart of Central Thailand, Bangkok offers its visitors a fascinating cross-section of the nation’s past, present and future. Here you’ll find everything from the historic Royal Palace (dating back to the Kingdom of Siam), to ultra-modern shopping malls, vibrant entertainment districts, and a thriving business center that is quickly becoming the largest in Southeast Asia.

Central Thailand’s other primary attractions include the historic city of Ayutthaya (Siam’s ancient capital), and the western coast of the Gulf of Thailand. This part of the gulf coast is especially popular with Thai families and honeymooners thanks to its quiet, clean beaches, abundance of affordable hotels and resorts, gorgeous golf courses, and relative proximity to Bangkok (about two-and-a-half hours by car). If you’re looking for a quiet beach getaway, that’s close enough to Bangkok that you won’t need an airplane or boat to get there, the gulf towns of Hua Hin and Phetchaburi are perfect for you.

East

The region generally considered as Eastern Thailand lies to the southeast of Bangkok, and is bordered by the Gulf of Thailand to the west, and Cambodia to the east. Home to the growing coastal city of Chonburi and the popular tourist destination of Pattaya, the main attraction of this area is the proximity of its beaches to Bangkok (less than a two-hour drive).

Whereas western gulf resorts like Hua Hin tend to primarily attract Thai nationals, the eastern gulf is a magnet for western tourists thanks to Pattaya’s notoriety as one of the world’s wildest party towns. This bawdy image has been slowly changing in recent years, however, as developers have opened a string of new family-oriented resorts and attractions along Pattaya Beach and its surrounding areas.

North

Northern Thailand is distinctly different from the rest of the country in terrain, climate, and culture. Bordering Myanmar (Burma) and Laos to its north, the region is mountainous, heavily-forested, and noticeably cooler than anywhere else in the country (particularly in the High Season). The Lana culture (a hybrid between Thai, Burmese and Laotian influences) prevails throughout the region, and can be seen in the décor, dress, and food offerings in cities like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

The principal city in the north, Chiang Mai, is Thailand’s second-largest and an absolute must for any visitor to the country. The heart of Chiang Mai is still surrounded by a moat and 1,000-year-old fortifications that protect some of Southeast Asia’s oldest, and most-important, temples, while the rest of the city is dotted with universities, art galleries, and enough lodging and entertainment options to satisfy any type of traveler.

Chiang Mai is also the jumping off point for backpackers to explore the area’s famous mountain trails, as well as anyone who is looking for outdoor adventure activities like white water rafting, elephant safaris (i.e., riding an elephant off into the jungle for day or two), and otherwise getting up close to the region’s wildlife (including monkeys and tigers). There are so many exhilarating things to do in this part of the country that you’re guaranteed to enjoy yourself.

Northeast

Thailand’s northeast (dominated by the province of Isaan) is a heavily agricultural region that borders both Laos and Cambodia along the Mekong River. Khmer culture (i.e., ethnic Cambodian) is the prevailing influence on Isaan’s people and the majority speak the Khmer language, in addition to Thai and several other regional dialects. This influence is also seen in Isaan cuisine, which is distinct from traditional Thai food for its heavy use of sticky rice, and extremely spicy chilies.

While this relatively undeveloped part of the country has not been a traditional tourist destination, recent government projects (notably the restoration of numerous ancient, Khmer archaeological sites) and the rapid economic growth of Isaan’s major cities Buriram and Khon Kaen have begun to draw more visitors over the past decade. The city of Khon Kaen is of particular interest to anyone interested in making a land crossing into Cambodia.

South

When talking about the south of Thailand, the first names that come to mind are Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Phi Phi (better known to foreigners as the Phi Phi Islands). White, sandy beaches, sky-blue water, and idyllic settings that look like they’re straight out of a Hollywood movie set (mostly because they are, but that’s for a later article) are what define this region of the country. In short, it’s your run-of-the-mill tropical paradise.

The south of Thailand is generally considered to be the thin peninsula that separates the Gulf of Thailand from the Andaman Sea, and extends all the way south to the border with Malaysia. This stretch of land, and the islands that skirt both of its coasts, are home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world, as well as world-class facilities for every other water sport imaginable. That’s all in addition to the incredible beaches, lagoons, and panoramas that the area is so famous for. With that said, I’m sure that it comes as no surprise that I highly recommend you include at least one of this region’s fantastic resorts in your Thailand holiday.

The Hardest Part of Your Thailand Holiday – Getting There

Well, it may not be entirely accurate to say that the hardest part of your Thai holiday will be finding a way to get there. It’s more likely to be forcing yourself to board the plane home at the end of your stay. I once heard it said that the only place in the Land of Smiles where you don’t see happy people is the international departure lounge at the airport. More often than not, that seems to be true.

In all seriousness though, finding an affordable airfare has usually been the most difficult piece to put in place when I’ve planned my holidays to Thailand. With the price of jet fuel continuing to soar, this has become even more difficult over the last couple of years. In many cases, I find that I wind up spending as much on my airline ticket as I do on the entire rest of the holiday combined.

Nonetheless, there are a few helpful techniques I’ve acquired over the years that generally lead me to the lowest available prices at the time of my departure. They require a great deal of flexibility with regards to departure days and times (and you won’t be getting any non-stop flights to Bangkok), but I do feel confident that they save me money in the end. I’ll delve into this subject in detail in the near future.

As for now though, please peruse the rest of the site and be sure to leave any comments or suggestions you may have beneath the appropriate article. You can access the article directory by going to our main Holidays in Thailand page.

Housing Trend – Jewel Box Homes

A new trend in housing has arrived in Central Florida: Jewel-box houses, as they are being called, are modest-sized homes that are constructed with premium materials, ornate detailing and custom interior-finishes.

The good thing about these new homes is that they appeal to a variety of demographic groups. Young professionals and newlyweds, as well as two fast-growing segments, empty-nesters and retirees all fit within the “jewel-box” target market.

Many factors, including energy efficiency and budget reduction play a role in the need to downgrade from larger homes to smaller ones.

Although “downsizing” has traditionally been referred to negatively, it is now a buzzword. “Homeowners are taking that portion of their budget that would have been used for larger living spaces, and using it for better details in smaller spaces,” says Stephen Gidus, co-owner of PSG Construction in Orlando. Large homes with formal dining and living rooms, oversize foyers, and huge master bedrooms and bathrooms clash with the casual and relaxed way that Americans live today.

Sarah Susanka, author of “The Not So Big House” agrees that jewel-box houses are the way to go, “In most homes, the kitchen is the heart, the place where family and friends gather. Americans take quick showers, they don’t luxuriate in soaking tubs. So why not invest in areas we regularly use, and eliminate those that are mostly for show?”

The furniture industry is also following suit. Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president/marketing at the American Home Furnishings Alliance, says “that manufacturers are making furniture that is smaller and more multipurpose: love seats instead of sofas, expandable dining tables, home-office armoires with fold-down work stations, and compact corner units for big-screen TVs”.

It seems that the jewel-box trend could have some staying power if positioned to the right audience. What more proof could you need to downsize?

Foundations – What You Need to Know

OK then, you have done your site investigation, the outline planning is through and you are ready to start designing your foundations. Here’s what you need to know.

There are five main types of foundation common to low-rise buildings within which category domestic housing falls. What type of ground you are building on will determine what type of foundation you will need to use.

Foundations and how they work.

· Trench Fill

· Strip Foundation

· Wide Strip Foundation

· Raft Foundation

· Piled Foundation

One Important note. When you expose your trench you need to get building control, NHBC or an independent structural engineer to inspect your ground prior to pouring your foundations. Forgetting to do this could mean digging up your foundations as a worst case, especially if the ground is not suitable for the type of foundation you intend to pour.

Stay safe get your inspections done.

Trench Fill.

Trench fill refers to a technique used to fill up deep foundations trenches. What happens is this, you go to site and dig out for your foundations, but you end up about 1600 or perhaps even 2000mm below ground level. Well obviously you don’t want to fill all of that depth with good strong foundation concrete, so you order a weak concrete mix from your ready mix company and pour that into the trench until you reach the depth at which you propose to lay your foundation concrete.The trench fill needs to be only as strong as a good supporting soil, to provide a suitable base for the strip foundation.

Strip Foundation.

A strip foundation is the simplest form of house foundation. It consists of a Gen 1 grade concrete laid to a width of 650m wide and usually to a depth of 350mm, with reinforced steel to either top or bottom of the foundation or in some cases both. It is preferable to have an engineer design the foundation for you, and provide you with dimensions prior to starting. Strip foundations are being replaced with wide strip foundations and are now relegated to supporting internal walls within the dwelling.

Wide Strip Foundations.

Wide strip foundations are similar to ordinary strip foundations except that they are wider. They are made wider in order to spread the load over more area of soil. The wide strip foundation is usually used in poorer bearing soil conditions.Wide strip foundations are usually 1 m wide x 450 mm deep, with reinforced steel to either top or bottom of the foundation or in some cases both, although an engineer can specify other dimensions depending on ground conditions and the load being imposed onto the foundations.

Raft Foundations.

Basically this is a slab of concrete laid over the base of the house with reinforced steel supporting the concrete. While the raft foundation is still used it is slowly going out of fashion, as there is a tendency for the raft to tilt in very poor soil conditions.

Piled Foundations.

As good quality sites become scarce, the poor weak soils that previously had been unexploited are now being built on. Weak or fluid soils or soils that contain a large proportion of compressible elements are prime candidates for piling.A pile is simply a square length of concrete with four reinforced steel bars running through it.

The pile is normally 350mm square depending on engineers specs and can be anything in length from 4m to 12m.The engineer specifies how many piles are required to support the house and where they need to be placed. This is normally at junctions and intersections within the house.Simple piles are driven into the ground using a ram. They are pounded down until they refuse. That is they won’t go down any further.

Once all the piles are driven in the tops are cut off leaving only enough to steel exposed to tie into the beams. Next a mud-mat or 50mm layer of concrete is laid over the site. Then the line of the house is marked out as well as all internal load-bearing walls. Then a small retaining wall is built to either side of the piles in order to form a trench within which the foundations can be poured.

Once the block work has been completed, reinforced steel is placed into the area where the concrete will be poured and as per engineers designs is laid and tied to form a steel cage that forms the basis for the foundations. These are tied into the top of the piles. Once the steel has been laid, fitted and tied the concrete is then poured in the same manner as you would pour a strip or wide strip foundation.The concrete is agitated using a poker in order to get all excess air bubbles out of the foundation.

All you have to do now is wait until the concrete hardens and you can start building your house. Normally with piled foundations you use pre-stressed slabbed floors. This is a very safe and fast method of building.

Bridge of Love

Perhaps I should have been more interested in the pending Geography lesson, but the kid who slipped into the seat next to mine tugged at my curiosity more than the teacher could.

Opening my notebook to a blank page-and on the third day of school, I did not have to dig very far to find it-I instinctively retrieved a pencil from desk as the freckled, curly-haired boy next to me did the same.

“I didn’t see you the first two days,” I said, laying the first girder of the invisible bridge that began to arch from my desk to his.

Shaking his head, he laid the second with his own words. “No,” he said, as he sharpened his pencil, “we just moved here last night, so I had to miss ’em.”

Watching him write his name on his notebook, I attempted to silently form the words with my lips, but the sounds somehow escaped through them.

“Jason Crough,” I said. “Rhymes with ‘cough.’ I had one of those at the end of the summer.”

“No,” he corrected. “It’s a little weird. Everyone thinks it sounds like ‘cough,’ but it’s really pronounced ‘crow,’ like ‘go.'”

Raising my eyebrows at the oddity, I tried to ask him where he had previously attended school, but was flooded by an audible “Shhh” from the teacher.

“All right, class,” she pronounced, as she began her sermon, “we should all be on page six of our Geography books.”

Drowned by the running water as I sat at the kitchen table in my friend’s house that evening, I once again said, “We only did part of this geography chapter today.”

Yet the release of his staccato cough forced me to repeat it.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” I asked him at length.

“Yes,” answered his mother, as she massaged a still-wet dish, tuning into the conversation as if she received it on some wavelength I had not been aware of. “He’s getting better, and I appreciate you’re helping him with what he missed today.”

Nodding, I scribbled the name of the new student on the paper. “This is what you missed,” I said, after his mother had retreated to the sink.

Coughing yet again, he said, “Jason Crough. Who’s this?”

“Just a new kid who just moved here and just started school today,” I answered. “But it’s not pronounced ‘Crough,’ like ‘off.’ It’s pronounced ‘crow,’ like ‘so.'”

Disagreeing, he spat, “No, it isn’t! It’s ‘Crough,’ like ‘cough.'” Looking toward the sink, he yelled, “Mama, look at this name,” and then lifted the paper as she approached him, forging that invisible, yet almost euphoric link with her.

“How do you pronounce this?” he asked.

Contemplating it for a few seconds, she responded, “Why ‘Crough,’ like ‘cough.'”

Craning his neck toward me and beaming triumphantly, he said, “You see!”

What I “saw” was that this was his mother-a person who had raised, nurtured, and loved him from inception and whom he therefore viewed as someone equal to God Himself-and that that was far stronger and more important than the pronunciation of any name.

How Electron Beam Welding Works

Electron beam welding is a process that is foreign to most people who are not highly involved in manufacturing, even though the technique was first developed almost 60 years ago in 1958. Most of the time, when we are imagining the process that affixes two pieces of metal together, we picture a man in a hooded mask armed with an extremely hot flame. However, this is not the case when using this technologically advanced technique. This method is commonly used in a variety of industries, including automotive part production, aircraft engine manufacturing, and the energy industry.

The negatively charged ions used in this method have a great deal of kinetic energy, which is energy that is produced due to movement. If you remember your high school science, these particles are constantly in motion, rotating quickly around the nucleus of an atom. When these ions are placed into a vacuum and forced into collision with the atoms in solids, this kinetic energy is transformed into heat. The heat then enables the desired melting and connection to occur.

The benefits of electron beam welding are many. By using this technique, the energy can be concentrated so that it melts only a very small area. This allows smaller parts to be joined together in a fully automated process that would otherwise be too costly to manufacture, which is why it is often utilized in the technology industry. This precision allows for the reduction, and often the elimination, of scrap normally produced in binding. Along with the reduction or elimination of scrap, this method also eliminates the need to further process or finish the joined product.

Electron beam welding can also allow the technician to precisely control the amount of heat generated during the operation. This has several benefits. The ability to control the heat makes it easier to bind dissimilar materials that have different melting points. The material with the lower melting point can be precisely targeted and the energy output can be limited to only the exact amount needed, which can reduce the loss of material. Furthermore, because the heat controls are so focused and precise, this technique has a higher weld penetration than other methods, with less distortion of the joint.

This technique takes place in a vacuum, which is an area where all the air is sucked out. This environment helps prevent the ions in the process from dissipating, enabling them to be better focused. These conditions are good for eliminating contaminants that would normally be in the air and could possibly weaken the joint.

Electron beam welding is an excellent example of practical science. Although it was developed in the 1950’s, this method of binding two materials together has evolved and matured along with the science that informs it. Today, small-chambered vacuums and high-speed machines make it possible to take full advantage of the extreme preciseness of this method of manufacturing.