Changing Paint Finish – Painting Flat Over Gloss

Changing paint finish from gloss to flat can be as simple as adding a primer, then choosing your new paint color. Often, this requires just a few hours for the primer, time to dry, then a few more hours to add the next color. Once the drying time for the color of choice is complete, you are ready to add accessories, furniture, and other accents that make your room feel like a home.

There are a few basic tips and tricks for painting flat over gloss. If you do not follow the few simple rules, you may wind up with an unattractive paint finish and patches of gloss showing through the flat layer. This can give the room an unfinished or unprofessional feel, giving guests the wrong first impression about how you feel about your own home.

Consider Sanding

A very glossy coat of paint can be a real problem when you change the paint finish from gloss to flat. When this is the case, consider sanding the wall lightly in order to get rid of some of the glossiness. Use a rag to wipe away the majority of the dust before you take the next step, or it may cause some issues when you begin to primer or paint the next layer. If you are not sure whether the wall needs to be sanded, it is always best to err on the side of caution in this case, so go ahead and sand the wall.

When sanding just is not an option for some reason, consider a deglossing agent such as those found at many home improvement warehouses and similar stores. You can also find great ideas online, and some online stores offer these substances for purchase and shipping directly to your home. They are relatively inexpensive, and pretty easy to use as well.

Start With Primer

The most important step is to start with a coat of primer to cover the gloss, or it will bleed through to your new paint color. This primer coat should be the starting point for any transition from oil-based to water-based paint, too, but is especially important for transitioning from gloss to flat paint. Primer covers the first coat, and is the best way to ensure a more professional look in the long run. Latex primers are often very easy to paint, and offer a great barrier between gloss and flat paints.

Many home improvement stores sell brand names of primer, from Kilz to store brands, most with equal effectiveness. The biggest determining factor in this case is often budget, because most brand names have the biggest variation in the price tag. If budget is less of an issue, choose a brand name that is better known to ensure the best results.

As a final note, keep in mind that you have to allow time for the primer to dry completely before painting the next layer. Primer that is not completely dry will crack if you paint over it, causing unsightly cracks in your overall paint job. Allow at least twenty-four hours for drying before you move on.

Bicycle Safety Presentation – Bicycle Helmets

Over the past twenty years, because of my work, I have frequently been called upon to give bicycle safety presentations to all types of audiences from kids to cops. When I give presentations to kids, usually at a school assembly, I will typically break it into three parts. This first part is the introduction where I quiz the audience to see what they know and correct any misconceptions. I also explain that helmets and gloves are you last line of defense against injury. Knowledge and skill are the primary lines of defense. If I am talking to adults I recommend they take a course or find a course on DVD like “Bicycling is More than Balance” If they don’t ride but have kids, I still recommend they find a course so they have the information, an idea of what skills are needed and how to teach those skills. The second part is a presentation on helmets and the third part is an age appropriate video. These three parts usually take about forty to forty-five minutes. The focus of this article is the helmet demonstration.

The Lead up to the Demonstration

When standing in front of an audience to to do my presentation on bicycle helmets, the first thing I ask the audience is for a show of hands from the people who think you need a helmet to ride a bicycle. My hand does not go up. You don’t need a helmet to ride a bicycle; you need it of fall. Your first line of defense in preventing injuries is being knowledgeable on safe riding techniques and being able to implement them.

Explaining How a Brain is Injured

Without trying to scare the audience I explain what brain damage means. I explain that you don’t need to crack your head open to have brain damage and that more often brain damage is small bruise on the brain. A ‘simple’ bruise can prevent you from tasting your favorite food or seeing again. The one fact that surprises most adults is that a sever bump on your head today can cause epilepsy later in life. I will also tell the story of my wife’s hairdresser. He borrowed a bike from a friend and was riding on the sidewalk and for an unknown reason he fell and hit his head. A blood clot was removed from his head the size of a grapefruit and he had to relearn how to do things we all take for granted like speaking and holding utensils to eat. The point of this story is not scare people into wearing helmet to show the usual excuse of I don’t ride in the street or I don’t ride near cars. You can fall off a bike anytime and you don’t need to be in crash with a car to need one. At this point I show what happens to the head during the fall and at impact.

After a brief explanation that the brain is supported by the spine and that it is surrounded by cerebral-spinal fluid; I ask the audience to imagine that the helmet I am holding represents a skull, my clenched fist is the brain and my arm is the spinal column. I center my fist in the helmet and explain that when a person falls the skull and the brain move as one and if the head does not hit anything or lightly hits something the brain is somewhat protected by the fluid and all should be well. As I am explaining this I am moving the helmet with my fist centered in it downward. I then explain that when your skull hits the pavement it comes to a sudden stop but, the brain floating in fluid keeps moving until it hits the inside of the skull, and if your head bounces, the brain can hit the inside of the skull more than once. I point out, that like the ripples in a pond, the cerebral fluid in the skull will produce ripples which also hit the brain and can cause more damage to the brain.

The Egg Drop Demonstration

Now that you have gone over some of the particulars of brain damage and the audience has an understanding of how brain injury occurs and realizes how easily the brain can be injured. I begin the helmet demonstration. I used to use a bicycle helmet and a cantaloupe because the cantaloupe is about the same size and weight as a head I thought this would be a realistic demonstration but, between the cost of the cantaloupe and replacing helmets that cracked; it just got too expensive. Now I use eggs.

There are two parts to the demonstration. Part one issued to demonstrate a protected head and part two the unprotected head. For this you need the supplies listed below.

Supplies

1. Three eggs (not hard boiled)

2. 1 box of styrofoam packing peanuts or sand (clean with no rocks or sticks)

3. Newspaper

4. Sharpie Marker ( optional)

5. A table with a hard surface (optional)

Part one: The Protected Head

The physical set up is simple. Put newspaper on the ground and the box of sand or packing peanuts on the paper. Make sure enough paper sticks out from under the box to keep the floor clean case you miss the box when you drop the egg.

This part requires a little audience participation. You show the audience the egg to make sure there are no cracks. You spin the egg to show it is not hard boiled, If it wobbles its a raw egg. You may want them to look in the box to show them you are not trying to trick them by hiding a second egg in the box. If your audience is kids ask them to name the egg. While there yelling out names draw a face on the egg. With face drawn and your egg named you hold the egg at chest level and ask the audience if you drop the egg in the box will it break. You then raise the egg higher and higher until you can’t go any higher before you drop the egg into the sand. Typically, I try to raise the one or two feet beyond where the audience thinks it will break. I have stood on a chair at the edge of stage and dropped the egg from ten or eleven feet high feet. Speaking from experience I can tell you that this does dramatically increase your chances of missing the box or hitting the edge and gives you a great opportunity for some theatrics about missing the box and splattering the egg.

Once you’ve dropped the egg, have members of your audience check it for cracks. if the egg hasn’t cracked, you’ll use it again for the second part of the demonstration. If the egg does have some small cracks put it aside and use a fresh egg for the next part.

Part Two: The Unprotected Head

For this part, remove the box and just leave the paper on the floor or if you have a table put the paper on the table and use it for the demonstration. This will make it easier for the audience to see the drop. Hold the egg over your head and ask if you drop the egg on the table or floor will it break. You continue to ask this question as you lower it closer to the hard surface. When you are about six inches from the floor the answers will be mixed. Keep lowering the egg to about four or five inches and then drop it. The egg will crack. sometimes it will dent or it may even split apart. Once again ask the audience to inspect the damaged egg. Compare the contents of the box to wearing a bike helmet. The sand or styrofoam dissipates the energy from the drop throughout the sand just like the styrofoam of a helmet. If the first egg cracked compare how well the sand or styrofoam protected the egg from the height you dropped it to how easily the other egg easily damaged from only four inches.

At this point I inevitably get a question about why adults don’t wear motorcycle helmets. The only I answer I can give is that some times adults don’t make the best decisions.

Keeping Roofs Leak Free – The Importance of Eaves

A roof is comprised of four elements: the main roof, the eaves, the fascia board and the gutter. A house without eaves can cause as much water damage as a house without a roof. Here is Dan’s story:

Dan had three leaks in his house that caused water damage every time it rained. Finally, late last spring, Dan put a new roof on his house. He felt good about his several thousand dollar investment until the next rain storm.

The rooms flooded again. Frustrated, he called back his roofer and had him inspect Dan’s roof. The roofer told him that there was nothing wrong. So, where were the mystery leaks coming from? Dan’s roof had no eaves. Thus, water ran down past the gutter and oozed into his ceilings.

Eaves are protrusions of the main roof that extend beyond a house’s exterior walls. They keep water from running down the exterior. A horizontal piece of fascia board is usually attached to the edge of the eave to prevent water from traveling back up the inside of the eave.

The gutters are then attached to the edge of the fascia board and eave to collect runoff from the roof and channel it through pipes to the ground. So, if Dan’s roof had a proper eave system, he wouldn’t have leaks.

But, eaves can leak if they are not properly maintained.

AHA Has 2 Ways to Maintain Your Eave System and Keep Your Home Leak Free

1. Keep an Eye on Clogged Gutters

Debris should be cleaned out of gutters twice a year. This includes the removal of leaves, twigs and mud that accumulates over the months. Clogged gutters render eaves useless as water rolls over a clogged gutter, under the fascia board and down the side of the house.

Ice dams can also clog your gutters. If they form, they should be removed. Be careful. Even gutters with screens on them need to be cleaned out twice a year as debris and ice dams can still accumulate through the screen.

2. Professional Roof Inspection

Roofing issues are best left to professionals. They know which problems to look for when inspecting your roofs. An annual inspection will ensure that everything is sealed and tight. This includes a professional gutter cleaning which will remove any debris that you may have missed.

Keeping your roof leak free can be easier than you think. Just remember that water should never run down your exterior walls and if it does, then it might be time to think about eaves.

Most houses have them and proper maintenance will keep them working properly. So inspect your eaves and protect your biggest investment, your home.

Epoxy or Phenolic Resin – The Better Choice for Countertops

The choice of materials for countertops is no more limited to granite and marble. A variety of resins have started appealing the homeowners to make their countertops even more appealing and functional. Epoxy resin and phenolic resin are two great choices in this direction because of numerous advantages they offer.

Apart from kitchen countertops at homes, these two resins are also popular for installing at laboratories and workplaces. While there are many common advantages they offer, there are few points of difference between them. The following sections evaluate these advantages and differences.

Advantages of Epoxy Resin:

Formed through reaction between epichlorohydrin and bisphenol-A, epoxy resin is a thermosetting polymer widely used as laminate and adhesive. The very first advantage of the resin is that it has waterproofing qualities. For being moisture-resistant, it serves as a long-lasting coating for countertops.

In addition, the material is completely resistant to the actions of harsh chemicals. As a result, the epoxy are popular at places like labs, hospitals and restaurants. Under harsh working conditions, the countertops coated with epoxy resin can work excellently, as the material can withstand intense physical forces.

Durability is another great aspect of the material because of the type of structure it has. Going further, they demand least maintenance and are easy to clean. Stains and marks can be easily wiped off from the surface. There is no limit to the countertop designs that can be created using epoxy. Unique and admirable designed can be obtained by tinting the material. Sophisticated and attractive countertops coated with epoxy resin are admired by one and all.

Advantages of Phenolic Resin:

Phenolic resin is obtained through the reaction between phenol and formaldehyde. One of the earliest known synthetic resins to man, phenolic is equally advantageous as epoxy. It is an aromatic material with great resistant to a variety of chemicals. Because of this quality, chemical laboratories are the most common places where the phenolic countertops are found.

Another advantage of the material is that it is resistant to fire. Phenolic resin doesn’t burn, but it has the ability to char. As a result, the material disallows the spread of fire in case of accidental breakouts. In addition, the material is heat resistant and can withstand high temperatures.

It is made of phenolic resin have a hygienic appeal. They are easy to clean and demand little maintenance. Moreover, they can last longer, thereby offering great value for money. Durability and designing flexibility are other impressive benefits that the material offers.

The advantages offered by the two types of resins are numerous and almost similar. When it comes to comparison, phenolic prove to be less expensive than epoxy. Phenolic countertops are also lighter in weight and easier to field fabricate.

Despite of these minor differences, both types are equally popular. Spend enough time choosing among the variety of designs available.

How to Choose Light Vs Dark Violin Rosin – What Is Best for Beginner Violinists?

First of all, what is violin rosin?

Violin rosin is made from hardened tree sap, and is rubbed on the violin bow to give it the friction you need against the violin strings to make a good tone. Without it, no matter how hard you press down with your violin bow you will get almost no sound.

Light vs. Dark

Violin rosins come in many shades between light and dark.

Light Rosin produces a “smoother” sound. Dark Rosin produces a “bigger” sound.

Dark rosins are stickier (have more friction), so while they give you a really good grip, this can contribute to that scratchy sound beginner violinists are so famous for. Light rosins give you a lesser grip, meaning you can’t dig in quite as well, which gives you the smoother sound.

I will tell you up front that most violinists use lighter colored rosins, but it is by no means set in stone which type you should use. Ultimately it’s all about your personal playing style and preferences.

That is why I recommend trying out a lot of different rosins until you find your favorite (many are relatively cheap, under $10). Here are some of the top factors to consider when making that determination:

3 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Violin Rosin

  1. Humidity – Humidity makes rosin stickier than usual. This means that violinists living in more humid climates (or during more humid parts of the year) may want to consider choosing a lighter rosin to offset the extra stickiness. Conversely, those living in drier climates may want to consider darker rosin.
  2. Dust Tolerance – Playing the violin with the bow causes rosin dust to collect on the body of the instrument. Lighter rosin usually produces more dust, while darker, stickier rosin can be more difficult to wipe away. If you have a dust sensitivity you may want to choose a darker rosin. There are also hypoallergenic rosins available to violinists with allergic reactions to rosin.
  3. Packaging – This may seem nit-picky, but packaging can play a part in the long term usability of your rosin. Some beginner violin rosin comes in a rectangular wooden block. This makes it easier for beginners to apply it to the bow. However, many players get irritated by this packaging because as it is used over time, the rosin breaks apart sooner than with other packaging, rendering it useless much more quickly. So: get rosin that comes in hard packaging (to protect it from bumps during travel), preferably in a round or square shape.

These guidelines have probably given you a pretty good idea of what type of rosin may work well for you. It is a good idea to use one type for a month or more, and then switch to see if you like a second type. Keep switching like this, comparing your current favorite to a new type, and eventually you can be pretty confident you’ve found your favorite violin rosin.

Corner Fireplace – What You Need To Know About Corner Fireplace Designs

While most all home buyers hope to find that perfect home which includes a beautiful fireplace, in many cases it just doesn’t happen. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t have a fireplace. Even if that new home doesn’t seem to have enough room you can always put in a corner fireplace. A corner fireplace design offers several advantages in homes without an existing fireplace or chimney.

1. If you are only looking for a cozy appearance of a nice fire, then a gel fueled fireplace is a good solution.

2. If you want a corner fireplace design that includes a wood burning unit then you can easily add on a chimney or vent to the unit.

3. A corner fireplace can take up less space than a bigger standard fireplace does.

Which areas of your home are a good fit for a corner fireplace design?

A corner fireplace can be ideal in any small room like a bedroom, but it works well in other rooms as well.

Let’s say that you have a room where your wall features or built-ins are taking up the space where a built-in fireplace should go. A corner fireplace design may be your only answer without doing major renovations.

There are so many ideas that you can come up with when it comes to finding the ideal spot for a corner fireplace.

You can also add a corner fireplace mantel to make a conversation piece as well.

To find more ideas on a corner fireplace design you can look at some of the many home design magazines or do some surfing online. You’re only limited by your imagination.

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Top 5 Skills You Need to Become a Bricklayer

Bricklayers or brickies work hard – there’s no doubt about it. If you’re averse to hard yakka, then a career as a bricklayer is not for you. If you’re interesting in starting a bricklaying apprenticeship, here are the top 5 skills you’ll need:

Must be physically fit Bricklaying like all construction jobs (unless you’re the foreman), is physically demanding. If you’re unfit, you’ll soon get found out on the job site. Bricklaying involves a lot of repetitive heavy lifting. Start getting into some cardio and strength training now to prepare your body.

Good hand and eye coordination. Building involves measuring, cutting and lining up brick work. You’ll want to have good manual dexterity. It also goes without saying your eyesight must be good too.

Can’t be afraid of heights. Working at heights, standing on ladders and scaffolding, carrying bricks and buckets of mortar requires good balance. Anyone who gets lightheaded climbing a step ladder is probably not well suited to becoming a bricklayer.

Work independently and as part of a team Starting out as an apprentice bricklayer, you’ll be working as a brickies off-sider, basically mixing, lifting and doing the menial tasks as you learn. This means you need to be able to work in a team, with good communication skills. As you progress, you’ll be given jobs to complete on your own.

Good mechanical and technical aptitude

Being able to read building designs or blueprints is essential. You must be able to follow technical instructions to ensure you abide by the engineering requirements in the plans. Likewise, having a mechanical mind will help when you’re using and maintaining equipment.

If you think you have what it takes to become a bricklayer, why not give it a shot. Even if there are one or two things in that list you’re not too sure about, don’t forget you’ll learn so much on the job as part of your bricklaying apprenticeship.

Powerlines, Property Owners, Public Utilities and The Power of Eminent Domain

In the old days, railroad agents had the responsibility of buying up land from the Native Americans for right of ways upon which they could build their tracks. One story tells of a rather shrewd Chief who understood the situation well. This Chief was approached by a railroad agent who offered to buy a particularly poor stretch of land:

Buy my land? . . . Sure, me sell for $50,000, said the Chief.

$50,000! Why that land is no good for planting or pasture. It is just no good for anything! the agent exclaimed.

The Chief grunted, It heep good for railroad. [i]

While this anecdote may seem silly, Kimble County landowners can take from it two important lessons: The first of these lessons is that, like the railroad, the LCRA power transmission lines are probably coming through Kimble County whether we like it or not. While we are only talking about easements and need not fear the total divestment of our ownership rights that the Native Americans went through, a taking is a taking. Public utility companies like the LCRA have the immense power of eminent domain and condemnation bolstering them.

Eminent Domain is common law principal given statutory strength at the State legislature level. It empowers government and quasi-government entities to take any U.S. citizens land for public use. The only real restrictions placed upon this power lie in the Takings Clause of 5th Amendment, which states that private property shall not be taken for public use, without just compensation[ii]

This article is not some sort of call to arms supporting legislative reform. If that is a cause you intend to support, I suggest you take a look at materials provided by the various landownership rights groups or other like-minded organizations around the country.

Rather, what this article hopes to accomplish is to provide helpful tips and background information to Kimble County landowners so that they may better prepare for what is coming and hopefully obtain the best outcome possible.

This brings me to the second lesson we may take from the wise Chief.

Landowners must be aware of and prepared to defend the value of their land. As a property owner, or the “big chief” on your land, can you simply accept what the railroad/LCRA agent thinks the easement over your land is worth? Sure and indeed your life will be simpler that way. However, their offer may not be what you feel entitled to and may be much less than what you could receive with some additional preparation.

Understand that eminent domain/condemnation proceedings are adversarial in nature. This means that even while you may or may not ultimately be able to prevent the installation of the transmission line over your property, you certainly have a voice in determining what the 5th Amendment’s just compensation will be for you. Preparation is key, you are going to be dealing with a team of professionals trained by the LCRA to adhere to a budget and a schedule. Your rights and compensation are NOT their priority.

It is apparent that there is much confusion amongst the public as to how eminent domain/condemnation actions actually work and are going to transpire. Familiarizing yourself with the progression will enable you to better make better decisions when it comes time. The following five steps are a drastically abbreviated schedule of how a normal eminent domain/condemnation matter will likely proceed.

1: If it hasn’t happened already, the LCRA will contact you and request permission to inspect, survey, and appraise your property.

2: An LCRA representative presents to you a valuation of your property and makes an offer.

3: This offer is time sensitive and must be accepted within a specific time frame. If you do not respond or if you reject the offer outright, the LCRA will then likely file their condemnation lawsuit against you.

4: Once this happens the Court selects three special commissioners to conduct a hearing on the matter. The special commissioners will be disinterested property owners that reside in Kimble County. At this hearing, you are able to present evidence to the panel in support of your valuation, cross-examine LCRA appraisers, and generally explain to them why the LCRA valuation is too low. Once the presentation of evidence is conclude, the Commissioners make a determination of value and make that figure their “special award.”

5: This “special award” is not the end game unless you are satisfied with it. If unhappy with the commissioners award, you have a short period of time in which you may object to it and appeal. In this new trial both parties start over from the beginning, and the case proceeds as if the commissioners’ hearing never happened. You will be able to choose whether a judge or a jury decides your case.

As you can see, it’s really all just about money. The steps I have outlined are your opportunities to have a say in how much you are going to receive. Essentially, you have three primary options: come to negotiated agreement with LCRA, accept the special commissioners’ award, or have a judge or jury decide how much you should receive.

Make no mistake; property valuation can be very complicated in the eminent domain context. Perhaps you have sold a property in the past; maybe you even contested the tax valuation of your own home. The appraisals and valuations in these situations are very simple calculations compared to those in used condemnation matters. Property valuation evidence in condemnation proceedings must adhere to and reflect a body of condemnation law hewn out over decades in Texas Appellate Courts. It would be wise to seek professional assistance early in the game.

Fundamentally, in valuating easements in the transmission line context, we are really actually talking about de-valuation. How much less is my property worth now that there are power lines running through it, and is that amount of devaluation also the amount of money I could be compensated with and be happy? To set the tone, throw out some actual numbers, and give you a general idea of what sort of devaluation I am referring to, consider the following:

In 1997, the LCRA actually commissioned a study to figure out just how much that its power transmission lines affected the value of the properties they cross.[iii] The geographical area studied was around Georgetown, Texas. This study was completed by an appraiser who the LCRA had hired to do all of the appraisal work on an easement acquisition project very similar to the one proposed for Kimble County. The only difference is that this study was done for a much smaller 138 Kv transmission line than the double circuit 345 Kv lattice tower we are facing today.

In this study, completed by an appraiser paid by LCRA, undeniable devaluation was found. It concluded that a transmission line easement has less than a 10% impact on price, and in most instances, less than a 5% impact on price.[v] Importantly, this is a possible 10% overall impact on price for the entire property.[vi] Put simply, if you owned targeted land around Georgetown around the millennium, the LCRA turned your $500,000.00 property into a $450,000.00. – $475,000.00 property.

For the land directly underneath and near the line, the study concluded:

“It is concluded that the area located within an electric transmission line easement has a 90% diminution in value due to the presence of the easement. [and] [i]t is concluded that an area 200 feet wide adjoining the proposed easement has some diminished value. The extent of the diminished value can be dependent on various factors which would include the location of the easement relative to the whole tract, and the physical characteristics of the remainder.[vii]

This is, of course, is ten year old data from a single source that only considers strict real estate values. Additionally, this study was conducted for much smaller transmission lines; and should be considered only as a point of reference.

Much has changed since 1997, but is my opinion that it has changed in favor of the landowner rather than the LCRA. To arrive at a more fair devaluation figure, one

PICC Line: A Cancer Treatment Chemotherapy Port

Almost immediately after diagnosis of his blood plasma cancer (Multiple Myeloma), the author’s oncologist wanted to immediately (if not sooner) have a PICC Line inserted in his arm. Because the doctor could not make the necessary arrangements on such short notice, the start of the author’s chemotherapy regimen was postponed for one week. It needed to start on a Friday, but the soonest they could insert the PICC line was Monday. So the start date of the chemo had to be delayed.

The term PICC stands for “peripherally inserted central catheter.” Effectively, it is a port that allows the medical staff easy access to the blood stream (specifically to the veins) without the need to insert a new IV each and every day of chemotherapy. Although it is considered to be a “temporary” port, it can remain in place for several months.

The PICC line itself is a plastic device with ports to which IV tubing can easily be connected. In the author’s case, there were two such ports, called lumens connected to the anchor piece. These in turn connected to a single long, small diameter tube with a tiny internal diameter. The length of this tube varies, but in the author’s case, it was about 18 inches long. The line was inserted through the skin on the inside of his upper left arm. The thin tube passed through his skin and into the vein where the long tube was allowed to slide through the vein towards the heart. The business end of this tube was positioned in the big veins near the main entrance to the heart.

The base of this unit (which connected the long tube to the two lumens) was a quarter-sized chunk of plastic with two flanges on opposite sides. A single hole in each flange allowed the device to be mechanically snapped into an anchor bracket that was fastened on the inner arm with strong adhesive. The anchor bracket and the protective dressing needed to be checked and changed weekly.

From the patient’s point of view, two lumens dangled at all times from the bracket where they could easily be reached and utilized by the chemo nurses. They could easily attach IV lines to these lumens and either draw blood or put medications into the blood stream. Even though the lines were attached on the upper arm, the business end of the PICC line allowed all medications to be deposited into the blood stream near the heart.

How did they use the PICC line? Each day after arriving for chemotherapy, they wiped the end of each lumen with an alcohol swab and inserted and fastened the IV tubes. For a period of about 6 months, the author did not need to have IVs puncture his lower arm to draw blood. All blood work and chemo procedures were performed by connecting to the lumens. Blood flowed out very nicely, and chemo medications flow in nicely as well. Other than not being allowed to get any water on that part of the upper arm during showers, the PICC line was quite convenient.

How was the PICC line inserted? Although the author was not paying close attention to the details of this procedure, a nurse practitioner inserted the line into his arm in a hospital room. The author was comfortably lying in a standard hospital bed with his left arm up and hanging off the top end of the bed. The nurse practitioner numbed the area on the arm, determined how long the tube needed to be, and inserted the tube. The whole procedure took about 15 minutes. The final step was to have an X-ray taken to make sure the end of the tube was positioned properly near the heart. The author waited longer for the X-ray results than it took for the nurse practitioner to insert the PICC line.

Was the PICC line used for other things than the administration of chemo medications at the cancer clinic? The fact that the PICC line was a semi-permanent attachment (meaning it was available 24/7 for extended numbers of days), it was possible to connect its lines to portable pumps which could administer chemo drugs continuously for the four days of each chemo cycle (start Monday, end Friday). During each cycle of chemo, they connected the lumens to two portable pumps which were in a hand bag that the author carried over his shoulder wherever he went and that he hung on the headboard of the bed at night. Relatively long tubes connected the pumps to the PICC line for convenience. The tubes were fed under the shirt near the waist, up through the armpit hole of the shirt, and connected to the lumen. This allowed shirts to be changed easily while the pumps were in use.

How can one shower without getting water onto the entry point on the upper arm? The author simply wrapped his upper arm with standard kitchen plastic wrap and then taped the edges of the wrap with packing tape. When finished showering, the tape was pulled off and the plastic wrap removed. This worked well.

The more difficult procedure was keeping the bag containing the pumps from getting soaked during showers. To accomplish this, the author stretched the tubes up and over the shower curtain rod to the bag which was also hanging on the outside of the curtain from the shower rod. This worked fine as well.

How was the PICC line removed? Believe it or not, the nurse simply had to pull on the line and the long tube slid right out. Pressure needed to be applied to the upper arm for about 5 minutes after the PICC line was removed, but it was a very simple procedure. The author was nervous about the procedure because they used anesthetic to insert the line, but they said they needed none to remove it. Turns out, it came out easily without any feeling whatsoever. The nurse said she’d pull it out on 3, “one, two,… three!” and it was out. Looking away on “three,” the author looked back to a grinning nurse with the line dangling in her fingers. Everything went very smoothly.

It would have been nice to know most of this when they originally said they needed to insert a PICC line, but now that its over — the whole procedure was no big deal — and the PICC line itself was very convenient and handy during the chemotherapy treatments. The author’s conclusion: his anxieties over all of these procedures was for naught. If and when he needs to use another PICC line, he will enter the various procedures in a much more relaxed frame of mind.

Mortgage Sales Letter Tips

A good mortgage sales letter that produces leads from a cold list or generates new business from your old client list is worth 1000 times it’s weight in gold.

Lets say you have a list of 50 clients and 50 leads that you haven’t converted. If you send one letter at a cost of just .42, and $100 for printing. That’s just $142 in total costs for a basic mortgage sales letter.

One new loan can generate several thousand dollars in commission. If you get just one new loan from a mortgage sales letter, you are going to be profitable (assuming you aren’t mailing to an enormous list).

As a result, it’s important to create an effective mortgage sales letter to maximize your lead generation efforts.

The key is to write an effective mortgage sales letter that people read and respond to. Most mortgage brokers don’t know the power of effective writing and rely upon hype and trickery in their letters.

The good news is you don’t need to hype up your letter, and you don’t need to rely on tricks like the old ‘fake looking check in the window’ letter (by the way, this does work, but only if you do it without fooling the recipient).

If you want leads and referrals here are the three most important parts of a successful mortgage sales letter that will help you boost response rates and build your book of business:

1. A Compelling Headline. Almost every mortgage sales letter must have a headline. Why? I’ll let the late great David Ogilvy explain it to you:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” -David Ogilvy

The job of a headline is to get people interested and excited about what you have to say. For example, a poor headline might say, “Introducing Your Local Home Loan Specialist!”

A better headline would be, “Susan Johnson Saved $498.95 Per Month On Her Mortgage Payment — Here’ How You Can Save This Much or More!”

That headline needs a little work, but it’s light years ahead of the average mortgage brokers marketing letter.

2. Stories Sell. Nothing gets people more involved and motivated to take action than a good story. Instead of cramming a pitch about your products and services down your prospects throat (which puts them into the defensive mindset), tell them a story about a client who saved money instantly. And as a result of saving this money she could pay for child care or get a mini van, or go on a vacation that she has been putting off for a few years.

They key is to write a story that fits into the mindset of your audience. If you are targeting subprime mortgages, tell a story about how a down and out client with no hope. How he brought his family out of a rental in a bad part of town to owning a nice home in a wonderful school district.

3. Call To Action. The next important area of an effective mortgage sales letter is the call to action. You want your prospect to take action and call you or fill out a return reply card.

For example, a weak call to action would be, “Call me at 555-555-5555 between the hours of 8am and 4pm Monday through Friday.”

A stronger call to action would be, “For a free no obligation consultation to see how much you can save on your mortgage payment call me now: 555-555-5555. We can schedule a time to meet and discus your financial situation, or do it on the phone. You can reach me at 555-555-5555 anytime during normal business hours. Or, you can call my toll-free 24-hour voicemail at 1-800-555-5555 and leave your contact information and I’ll send you more information.”

In addition to a headline, a story, and a strong call to action, your mortgage sales letter should include a Post Script (PS), and testimonials. Studies show that up to 80% of your readers will read the PS first. This is where you restate your benefit in a conversational way. Testimonials are very effective in establish credibility, and they reinforce your claims.

If you follow these simple guidelines to a more effective mortgage sales letter, you will generate more qualified leads and referrals.

Sit down and write a mortgage sales letter tonight instead of watching Fringe or Dancing With The Stars. Send it to your current clients, and old leads. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Car Interior Improvements – How to Improve My Cars Interior Looks

Ever since the day I sat on my very first set of sheepskin seat covers I have looked for a place to get them myself. The reason behind this is because I was so impressed with the sheepskin covers I couldn’t ever forget about them. Have you ever tried something that you just couldn’t ever forget about. I’ve tried other things in my life, like red velvet cake that I couldn’t never forget. There is just one big difference. I can get red velvet cake any time I want it. Sheepskin is something I just couldn’t find locally.

Back then when I got my first taste of sheepskin, there was no internet. If I wanted something like this I had a hard hunt on my hands. I finally gave up on finding sheepskin covers. I never forgot about them though. I remember like it was yesterday even though it was over 20 years ago. I remember when I sat in that Cadillac and thought wow! I had no idea that a seat could feel so good. These seats felt better than modern day memory foam!

Good sheepskin seat covers actually feel like you are sitting on air. The fleece actually feels like it keeps you lifted off the seat. They hug your body and just feel so comfortable that is is really hard to explain. Except to say that its really hard to forget. Now I say good sheepskin because all sheepskin is not the same. You can go into a parts store now and find some cheap sheepskin covers. These are not good sheepskin covers. When I say good covers I’m talking about covers that are made to fit your cars specific seats.

Seat covers that are custom fit to your specific seats makes all the difference in the world. Real quality sheepskin is made from Australian Marino Sheepskin. Its kinda like buying cheap no name shoes vs Nike shoes. There is a big difference in the cheap shoes and Nike shoes. Some things you get what you pay for and Sheepskin is one of them.

Your best bet is to look online for a good sheepskin dealer. Look for Australian Marino as well as a guarantee. I would also look for a dealer that offers a you a phone number to call. Its always good to talk to the dealer if possible. Avoid buying seat covers from sites with drop down menus. These menus are wrong almost 50% of the time. Its much better to get a dealer to match your seats covers by sending them your vehicles information or calling them with your information. This way you know for sure you will get sheepskin covers that fit your car correctly.

I’m going to give you a small list of things to look to happen if you decide to go with sheepskin as your choice for your car seat covers.

  • You will fell the most comfort you have ever felt in your vehicle.
  • Sheepskin will feel warm in the winter and really cool in hot weather.
  • Sheepskin will be really easy to keep clean.
  • You will be surprised at how proud you will feel when others sit in your car.
  • You will be trying to get others to get sheepskin for there cars too.

Engineering Job Outlook For 2014 And Beyond – The Future Is Looking Bright For Engineers

The Engineering Marketplace is a multidisciplinary profession with a vast amount of specialties and projects that can range from the simple process of designing a residential home to the more complex seismic, mechanical, environmental, energy and/or design engineering.

As all engineers have their area of expertise whether it be a specific type of project or an engineering specialization all focus their attention in doing an exceptional job; but no matter where they work or what their specialty is, most engineers are all concerned with the marketplace job outlook for their profession into the next few years.

As the market has started to rebuild and the country has moved out of the recession companies are starting to slowly rebuild their workforces, build back up their staff and make strategic hiring decisions based on positioning their company for the future growth they expect.

Employers are being very selective though, they are looking for engineers that think like business people, engineers that have a strong engineering background, understanding of client relationships and how to manage multiple projects and stakeholders at one time. The most highly sought after disciplines are in electrical, process, mechanical, computer, civil and environmental engineering. Individuals with physics or advanced degrees are in the greatest demand. Chemical and manufacturing engineers are in the least demand, unless an individual has a very focused specialized skill set that an employer is seeking.

There are a ton of engineers currently looking for work, whether be new graduate, a middle career technical engineer or a senior level executive; all will find in 2014 and beyond very robust amount of hiring activity.

Whether in private industry or governmental agencies the job marketplace shows great signs of future growth. 95% of engineering graduates are finding work within 6 months or graduating college, and career level engineers are starting to see renewed interest by employers as the marketplace rebounds. This rebound seems to be due to the large quantity of jobs growing out of the need improve the country deteriorating infrastructure and to adapt to the needs to address global warming.

As Climate becomes more and more a reality; civil and environmental firms foresee the government taking a more active role in protecting the environment, as well as, addressing the major infrastructure demands our country is facing in maintaining the roads, highways, and structures around the nation. This basic trend has led to the creation of many renewable energy, civil, environmental and mechanical engineering jobs around the country. Propelling the industry forward and spurring growth in the economy at the same time.

So for engineers the past may have been rocky, but the future is looking brighter than ever. 2014 and beyond are showing signs of an extremely robust hiring market.

Family Addiction Recovery – Detachment With Love As a Tool For Recovery

Detachment is a tool for family members’ addiction recovery. It is also a therapeutic goal for family members in recovery. Detachment, in an addiction context, means letting go of efforts to control or take responsibility for the addict.

Alcohol/drug addiction not only has a typical progression for the individual, there is a progression to the family dynamics of addiction as well. As addiction progresses, the addict becomes more and more disabled by the addiction. In this progression, family members feel compelled to take on increasingly more of the addict’s roles and responsibilities. They often take on the job of “parenting” the adult addict.

Family members, trying so desperately to fix the problem, often feel like they have lost themselves in the process or have become someone that they never wanted to be. They experience a wide range of significant emotional and mental health symptoms in the process.

The addict feels compelled to continue to the use the chemical in the face of negative consequences. Family members are similarly “compelled”. They observe someone that they love losing control over his/her life. They feel that the “must” do something to prevent it from happening or to fix it. This compulsion to take control is a typical part of the family dynamics of addiction. In a family system, this shift in responsibilities marks a pathological adjustment to the behavioral, emotional, relationship, spiritual, and physical changes of the addict as s/he progresses in his/her addiction.

As the addict continues to decline, the system incorporates the addict’s changes into the structure and function of that system. Family members, in their attempts to solve the problems of the addiction, try reasonable problem solving behaviors that do not work on addiction. Their efforts to solve those problems amount to adjusting to the pathology of the addiction in a way that tends to maintain the dysfunction. These problem solving efforts are labeled “enabling” because they enable the addict to continue his/her drinking/using behavior by removing the “natural, negative consequences” of that behavior.

This does not mean that family members cause the addiction. Nor are they responsible for the addict remaining in the addiction. The family member is not responsible for another person’s disease or recovery from it. Yet in the disease, the family member becomes hopelessly entangled in the destructive family dynamics of addiction.

In order for family members to recover their health and control over their own lives, they must detach with love from the addict. It helps family members to understand how their compulsion to fix the addict, helps perpetuate the problem, rather than solving those problems. The attempts of family members to “fix” the problems are viewed by the addict as “control”.

In obsessing about the addict, family members lose themselves in the process. Family members often describe not knowing what they are feeling. They often question their own sanity, especially in a struggle to find out “the truth” about a suspected lie.

Family members often find themselves locked in a cycle of obsessing about the addict’s behavior, emotionally reacting, and compulsively attempting to make them change. Family members are certain that they know what is best for the addict, or what they need to do, to solve the problem. They invest emotionally in their solutions and feel compelled to impose those solutions on the addict. Family members continue the same problem solving behavior despite evidence that it is not working. No other possible solutions are considered; largely because family members are so invested in their solutions that they cannot imagine that there could be another way.

Detachment is a tool that helps break that pattern. Detachment does not have to involve anger. Detachment with love does not involve a hostile withdrawal of love or support. It does not involve a hopeless or desperate acceptance of the unacceptable.

Detachment with love is about mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically letting go of unhealthy entanglements with another person’s life and responsibilities. Detachment with love involves letting go of problems that are not yours to solve. In family addiction, this detachment is about relinquishing responsibility over that which you have no authority and no power. It implies taking responsibility for one’s own issues, feelings, behaviors, and happiness. Detachment with loves means to stop removing the natural negative consequences of the addict’s behavior and to allow them to suffer those consequences.

Detachment with love allows family members to take better care of self. By detaching with love, you free yourself up to “care about” the addict, instead of “taking care of” them. For the family in recovery, “detachment with love” means letting go of the compulsion to be responsible for the addict. It allows a family member to return to being the person s/he was before s/he became someone else in the process of trying to take responsibility for the addict’s addiction.

Can Sound Insulation Reduce the Noise Problem in Your House?

Do you find the echoes in your home quite disturbing? Well, the answer is very simple. You cannot tolerate the echoes in your home whether it is the sound of furniture movement, machines, food processor or even your own voice, you cannot bear it reverberating in your hallway. Even the pleasant sound of your wind chimes gets so irritating that you may rather prefer to make it a part of your garden d├ęcor by hanging them in the veranda. If you wish to get rid of unwanted echoes, try sound insulation.

If you are planning to go for a floor repair or, if you are looking for laying new flooring, then you can address the sound control problem with the type of flooring you place. For example, install carpeting or use rugs on bare floors can help control sound. Without sound insulation, you are constantly exposed to different types of sounds and noises; however they can be categorized into two types: airborne sounds and impact sounds.

Airborne noise travels through the air and is produced from things like your television sets, music systems or simply as a result of people talking. But, the second type of sound results from footsteps or from the vibration of large appliances while they run. You may know that both of these sounds are available in a typical house or apartment. With a proper sound insulation, you can easily deal with the two types of sounds. The insulation basically absorbs the excess sounds from the room to make it a tranquil place.

You can use sound insulation products in the floor, walls or the stairs to reduce the sound that can travel through these areas. You might have heard about the acoustic insulation that is responsible in absorbing as well as reducing the noise that is airborne or results from impact.

This insulation system can also solve the problem of noise that reaches from one home to another. This is a very obvious problem in apartments or the multi-story buildings, therefore acoustics must be considered while the apartments are constructed. Besides, the homes in the vicinity or the ones with common walls also require sound insulation. You do not want to be called a noisy neighbor neither do you want the sounds from other homes disturbing you.

The good news is that some of the building regulations are outlined to ask for specific sound reduction and insulation. Now it has legally become important to install proper insulation products in the home or building while construction is going on. Besides, there are some experts who can advise you on the matters of sound control products that are suitable for your home. Plus, you can also get some valuable guidance for renovating a building. Furthermore, if you are living in a home that needs insulation, then you can find about sound insulation from a professional who has a solid reputation in the industry.

With proper assistance, you can implement convenient sound reduction and insulation for the interior of your homes. This solution helps in maintaining calmness and tranquility inside your home.

Natural Hydraulic Lime Mortar

Mortar and Longevity: Will Our Buildings Stand the Test of Time?

Did you ever look closely at the exterior of brick or stone home, and see hairline cracks running up the wall? Or sometimes the mortar joints have lots of cracks running across them, so that the mortar looks like it could fall out in 3-inch sections. Even an old (or not so old) concrete block building, like a garage, can have joints cracking out all over the place.

Natural Hydraulic Lime Mortar

Whether your a homeowner, or someone in the building trades, you may have noticed mortar joint failure, and maybe you had a thought like, “What is going on here? I thought masonry was the best exterior-supposed to last forever!!!”

Isn’t a stone home supposed to last forever? What about the castles in Scotland and the palaces in Prussia?

We are stonemason’s, and these are questions we have started to ask also. For us, our livelihood depends on the answers because we can already see cracked mortar joints in work we did 5 years ago! Could the mortar that we were trained to mix and use be flawed?

Why do patios and sidewalks crack so quickly-often in less than 10 years? Why does almost every stone, brick, or block building show cracks in just a few years after it’s built? That’s not the longevity we expect from using such historic and time-tested materials!

Materials scientists have been asking these same questions. After studying those castles in Scotland and masonry buildings all over the pre-modern world, the answers are starting to come out. Turns out the mortar we use today is not at all historic. Time has tested it, and it is failing the test.

A little construction history might help at this point. For at least 7,500 years, man had been using (roughly) the same process to make mortar: burn high-calcium limestone by layering wood and stones inside of a really fat chimney (kiln) and then lighting it on fire. The resulting burnt stones are then crushed and mixed with sand and water to make mortar. The burnt lime reacts with the water, causing it to get sticky and then harden, lasting for centuries or longer in between the stones in a wall.

This lime is called hydraulic lime because it hardens without the presence of air. Getting hard is a chemical reaction that is different from just drying out. It will get hard under water.

Now don’t confuse hydraulic lime with hydrated lime. Hydrated lime is a different process, a different material altogether. Hydrated lime can’t be used as the binder in mortar because it never gets hard. Hydraulic lime does.

Now, jump forward in the history of mortar to the late 1800’s when various inventors began experimenting with new processes and materials for making cement. Portland cement, the almost exclusive binder and hardener in today’s mortar, concrete and stucco. It got its name from the Isle of Portland in the English Channel where limestone had been quarried for centuries and admired for its building qualities. By 1878, the British government had issued a standard for Portland cement, and in 1907, production began in the United States. It came to be the main ingredient in mortar and concrete throughout the country by the end of World War II.

Now, Portland cement has proven its superiority to hydraulic lime in many departments.

In the speed-of-getting-hard department: Portland’s the champ.

In the waterproof department: no contest. Portland wins.

In the hardness department: Portland wins again.

Game over? Not yet.

As it turns out and according to research on the old hydraulic lime mortar, using Portland may be a strategic error. At least, as far as longevity is concerned.

It all boils down to the way we think about buildings and how they weather. Everyone knows that the point of a building is to keep out water, right? In recent decades research on building materials and techniques has gone farther and farther down the road of keeping out 100% of all moisture and all air. Now we are combating mold, air quality, and condensation problems.

But back to the Portland vs. hydraulic lime debate.

In the longevity department: no contest. Hydraulic lime wins. Hands down. Why?

Yes, Portland cement seals out water. Hydraulic lime allows water to penetrate. The problem is that most masonry units (like brick, stone, and block) absorb small amounts of moisture from the air and rain. Hydraulic lime acts like a wick to get that water back out – FAST!! Portland won’t let the water pass, trapping it in the wall where it does damage-cracking the joints and even the faces of the bricks or stones. That’s why you see the faces of old brick buildings popping off. Repointing with Portland destroys the building-FAST! Repointing an older building using Portland cement starts the countdown to it’s demise.

Yes, Portland cement is harder. But harder is also more brittle. Portland is fired at about 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit, as compared to hydraulic lime’s 1,800 degrees. When you look at the two under a microscope, hydraulic lime particles are like plates that interlock; Portland’s are like needles. Any movement in the building is going to make Portland crack all over the place, while the more flexible lime mortar can move with the building without cracking.

It gets better.

When you get down to the microscopic level, Portland cement has salts in it that actually degrade the mortar from the inside out. This stuff starts decomposing as soon as it gets hard!

You guessed it: hydraulic lime has a little secret of its own, and its not the kind that brings the wall down. Hydraulic lime has small amounts of free lime-lime that never reacted with the water in the beginning, after it was burned. This free lime actually dissolves in the water that is escaping out of the wall, and in the process it fills any cracks that may have formed. The experts call it “autogenous healing.” Like a lobster growing back its claw, I guess.

No wonder they used it for 7,000 years, Plus. No wonder the historic restoration movement is switching from Portland-and-lime mortars to historic, hydraulic-lime mortars.

Hydraulic lime is still a bit hard to find in this country. To my knowledge it’s not produced in the U.S. yet. What we use is imported from France. Different grades can be used to make plaster, stucco, lime paint, mortar, and even concrete.

So next time you’re wanting you’re chimney repointed, a stone or brick historic building restored, find a historic restorations contractor who knows about hydraulic lime. As a mason, the choice is clear to me. What’s the point of building new or restoring the old, if our work is not going to stand the test of time?