The Great Blue Hole

The unofficial national pastime in Belize is enjoying the often secluded and always intriguing natural environment that not only captivates the minds of visitors on the sandy peninsula of Placencia, but in Cayo where impressive ancient Mayan ruins tickle the imagination with mystery and art.

Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is the home of exquisite waterfalls and natural pools. They are surrounded by lush vegetation and the notorious jungle cats. Belize is also the home of the second largest barrier reef in the world. The Lighthouse Reef System was made famous by the explorations of Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s. Jacques and the crew didn’t know what to expect in terms of marine life and underwater formations, so when divers discovered what is now call the Great Blue Hole they came up dripping with excitement.

Cousteau’s team started to do some research, and it wasn’t long before this 300 ft in diameter and 412 ft deep sinkhole, which is sixty miles off the coast of Belize City, was identified as an ancient underwater cave with a collapsed ceiling. The sinkhole is the center of an underwater tunnel system that may lead to the mainland. Millions of years ago a major earthquake caused the ceiling of the cave to collapse creating a sinkhole, and the reef itself was tilted to an angle of around 12 degrees.

The walls of the Great Blue Hole are ledges and overhangs. Those structures are the home of stalagmites and Pleistocene stalactites, and a few fish, but they are rarely spotted on a dive. The spectacular stalactites in the sink hole hang at an angle, but we know they cannot develop at any angle other than perpendicular so they offer divers an incredible geological experience.

At the time of the earthquake sea levels were much lower than they are today. At the end of the great ice age sea levels began to gradually rise, and the Great Blue Hole marks this process with the carved limestone shelves and ledges that occur at different depths. At one time the Great Blue Hole was not completely submerged.

The first ledges come into view at 150 ft and 165 ft and they can be explored at the south side. The base of each ledge is perfectly flat and cuts back into the limestone some 15 to 20 feet, which creates an ever-narrowing cavern until the roof reaches the floor in the back. That’s were the stalagmites and stalactites join and form columns.

The Great Blue Hole dive is one of those ah-ha moments when awareness shakes the cobwebs out of the mind and visions of unity abound, but an underwater trip around the reef would not be complete unless Half Moon Caye was part of the experience. Half Moon Caye is the home of the red feet booby birds that are only found on the Caye and in the Galapagos Islands.

The Half Moon Caye wall is covered with soft coral and huge barrel sponges, tube sponges, fans, and gorgonians. The wall drops 3,000 ft so the blue hue on ground of the shallow area makes this a movie-set experience of epic proportions, especially when lonesome sea turtles wander by, and garden eels try to camouflage themselves in the shallow bottom.

Like a giant pupil in a sea of tranquil turquoise, the Great Blue Hole sits near a 10,000 acre atoll waiting be experienced. It’s part of an open air aquarium renowned for its crystal clear water, abundant marine life, and thriving coral reef.

Lighting – Things to Consider Before You Buy

When we think of home decorating, quite often we think of furniture and color schemes. Equally as important when decorating the home is that we consider lighting; the selection we make in lighting is crucial to both décor and function within our space.

You want your lighting to bring out the best decorative features of your home. You want your lighting to allow you to function in your home in practical ways at the same time. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing lighting:

  • How well is the space lit naturally?
  • What do you spend your time doing in this particular space?
  • Are there objects in the space that you want highlighted?
  • Is your space outfitted for the type of lighting you want; are outlets easily accessed?

Once you have a general feel for the type of function your lighting will serve, then you’ll have a better understanding of what type of light fixtures your space requires and desires.

If you’re interested in overhead lighting, there are several types of ceiling fixtures that serve a variety of functions.

Chandeliers generally serve to provide the sole source of lighting in the room. They’re also often highly ornate fixtures, designed to bring out the room’s décor scheme. Chandeliers come in a variety of sizes, but are still generally reserved for larger rooms without a home. If you’re looking for overhead lighting for a smaller space, or for lighting that serves to light only a portion of the room, then you might consider pendant lighting. Pendants are excellent for lighting a limited space, and can be particularly useful for providing functional lighting in areas like the kitchen. If you’re seeking to provide general lighting for a small room, you might also consider flush mounts or decorative semi-flush mounts.

Table lamps and floor lamps add décor and lighting to smaller areas, or spaces that have ample natural light. Sconces are also an option to provide decorative lighting in areas such as hallways where only dim lighting is required.

While your lighting options may seem limitless, keep in mind functionality as much as décor; you’ll find that once you know what you need in lighting, what you want in lighting will become much clearer.

The Great Barrier of Communication

You might speak for a minute or one to two hours, yet in the end you find that your audiences don’t understand the word you just said. Do you have a bad communication skill or your audiences are just dumb? Lots of you must have felt the expression above. From my personal experience, the fault is neither in the speaker nor the audiences. The fault lies in the process. It is called The Great Barrier of Communication.

The results of communication’s barrier are miscommunication, undelivered messages, and meaning diminution. The barrier itself is an integral part of communication process, it can be found both on verbal and non-verbal communication.

There are several reasons why either verbal or non-verbal communication becomes ineffective.

Verbal Communication

Verbal communication is a communication conveyed through words. The example of verbal communication are speech, lecture, meeting, chants, and so on. Verbal communication is used by the majority of human population as the main method to deliver a message. The barrier of verbal communication can be divided into 4 points:

  • What has been said, can’t be heard

The first phase of verbal communication process is to deliver a message in words to the audiences. However, what has been said, isn’t always been heard by the audiences. There are several reasons why it happen.

  1. Holding communication in the middle of busy environment is not effective. The message may be cut off by the noisy sound of engines, people’s shouting, explosions, etc..
  2. The audiences’ lack of concentration will affect their ability to perceive what has been said by the speaker. This can happen if the audiences’ focus are side-tracked by the background noises or simply their mind goes off wandering.
  3. Communication through media such as telephone, microphone, video conference, radio, or television are susceptible to distortion in the transmission process. Especially where the network is still weak. The message sent and received may be incomplete.
  4. Some health problems that affect mental state,concentration, and hearing is another point of verbal communication’s barrier. Elderly and hyperactive children may need special attention. Raise your voice or get their attention while holding communication, or else they might not hear what you say.

Solution: Hold communications in the proper place. Usually inside a room, the silent atmosphere will make each communicator able to focus their mind into the communication process.

  • What has been heard, can’t be understood

Hearing something doesn’t mean your audiences will understand what it means. It is closely related to the education level and technical knowledge your audiences have about the topic. Know your audiences more before holding a communication.

  1. Using an exclusive word (words with meaning only known to some people) or uncommon word toward wrong audiences is a perfect example of how they heard what you said, but don’t understand the meaning. Difference in language and culture may also pose a barrier between communicators.
  2. Different knowledge over word meaning. Ex: For me a cup is a container that is used for drinking no matter the size and its form, while for you a cup is a container that is used for drinking which has a handle and small in size. Although this looks insignificant, the meaning perceived by each other is different, thus leading to the miscommunication.
  3. Even a simple sentences can lead to ambiguousness, depends on the word structures and audiences understanding. Make sure you have a clear spelling and correct verbal punctuations so the audiences can hear clearly and understood the true meaning.

Solution: Know your audience well. Check their background first (education, family, career, age, country, culture, etc) so you can hold the communication effectively. Use a translator or professional spokesman if a situation demands it.

  • What has been understood, can’t be accepted

This is a matter of mental states. When your audiences are filled with distrust, rage, or anxiety towards the topic, yourself, your organization, or your products, all the words coming from you will meet a thick wall of self-protection. They will reject everything you said no matter how good you deliver the message. They might don’t like the idea of standing on the wrong side all this time.

To sum it up, there are 3 factors why they can’t accept your words:

  1. Distrust over other party
  2. Their feelings about the topic
  3. Their past experience about you or your products

Solution: Build a good relationship and reputation towards other people and your own audience. The success of communication depends on the feeling each communicator has.

  • Physical Factors

People think about physical appearance a lot. A speaker with presentable appearance has more chance of getting audiences’ attention instead of a shabby looking speaker.

Audiences’ past experience with specific people also hold responsibility over the success of communication process.

Ex: Those who have traumatic experiences with “men wearing glasses” might make a judgment that all “men wearing glasses” can’t be trusted. It is because human sometimes think that “one part represent a whole”. A very shallow paradigm.

Solution: Dress up properly depending on the communication’s intention. If your communication is business oriented, you should dress up like a businessman. Mind your attitude in front of your audiences.

Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is a communication conveyed through other methods aside from verbally. The examples of non-verbal communication are journal, diary, letter, newspaper, sign language, morse code, smoke sign, and so on. Like verbal communication, non verbal communication also has barriers that will hinder the true meaning of the message from the audiences, such as:

  1. Usage of complicated words, image, and code that can only be understood by yourself or some people.
  2. Usage of imperfect grammar, misspelling, and wrong expression on the word structures might confuse some people to perceive the meaning.
  3. Different words understanding or ambiguous.
  4. The words size is too small. Normally, people eyesight is not designed to read something so small. The strain from doing so will affects reader eyesight badly in a long term.
  5. Different knowledge of sentences structure. Ex: English use Subject-Predicate-Object structure, while korean use Subject-Object-Predicate. Raw translation to each other will confuse the true meaning.

By knowing what communication’s barrier are, hopefully you can deliver your message perfectly to the audiences.

Writer’s Note:

  • If you like this article and find it useful, please share it with others and give your feedback by leaving a comment or giving a rate.
  • If you don’t like this article, please give your feedback for writer’s self-improvement.

Spray On Cementitious Fireproofing – 3 Reasons Fireproofing Is Essential

Spray on cementitious fireproofing is usually a gypsum or cement based fireproofing material which is spray applied to a residential or commercial structure to prevent the structure from catching fire. With several different types of fireproofing materials available these days it can be confusing and difficult to choose one when trying to decide which type to use for your home, office or commercial building.

Here are 3 things to consider when researching the different types of fireproofing:

1) Cementitious fireproofing is usually the most cost efficient

Fireproofing materials can vary greatly from brand to brand, and it’s important to do diligent research before choosing a brand OR a provider. Typically, spray applied fireproofing is lower in cost, and many people actually prefer it. Spray on cementitious fireproofing is becoming one of the most common materials to use when fireproofing your structure, as it is cheap, efficient, and not difficult to apply. You may find your best bargains when choosing spray on cementitious fireproofing.

2) Learn more about the type of structure you will be fireproofing, and what works best for it

Different building materials won’t all respond alike to the same type of fireproofing. It is very important when doing your research to make sure that you learn what brand/type of fireproofing material will work best for your structure. For instance, cementitious and intumescent fireproofing both work well on steel structures, but may not be the best choice for wood structures. Stay conscious of this factor when shopping around.

3) Make sure the company who will be applying the fireproofing does so with adequate thickness

Sometimes when looking at a fireproofing company’s website or ad, you will see them advertise that they “never have to respray”, or that they “always spray with adequate thickness”. They do this because it is in fact something to promote. Companies who apply fireproofing material too thin on a structure will often cause it to have to be resprayed or redone because it won’t protect the building from fire. Depending on the size of the structure, this could cost millions of dollars. It’s always good to keep an eye out for companies that advertise that they do it right the first time. In the end, this can save you a ton of time and money.

Intumescent and spray on cementitious fireproofing can benefit you and your structure in several ways. However, you want to be precise with your research and make sure that what ever decision you make is the best one possible.

Dual Monitors With Different Wallpapers – A How to Set Up

Let’s get right into this so as not to waste time. Make sure that before you do this you obviously have two monitors working independently from each other or this won’t work. Also don’t forget where the location of your two background images (ex. C:Documents and SettingsStevenDesktopbg1.jpg), because you will need this later. Finally it is best to do this with as few other programs or windows open.

First let’s start with making sure you have the background for the first monitor set up. It will be the same process that you would use to normally change your background. If you’re background is already set up then go ahead to the next step. Otherwise right click your mouse anywhere on your open desktop and go to the “Properties” command at the bottom. After that you will see the “Display Properties” window open with different tabs and most likely you’ll be in the “Themes” tab. Switch to the “Desktop” tab by clicking on it and hit the “Browse…” button to find the picture for your background. As soon as you find the file open it and then hit apply and now both monitors should have the same image on them.

Next we need to get another wallpaper onto the other monitor however it won’t be as simple as just doing the same process on the other monitor but you’d be surprised as to how easy it is. Now since you still have the “Display Properties” window open in the “Desktop” tab, you’ll see another button that says “Customize Desktop…” When you click this button a “Desktop Items” window should open in a “General” tab. You want to be in the “Web” tab so click that one. You’ll see 4 buttons on the right side of this page that read “New…”, “Delete”, “Properties”, and finally “Synchronize”. You want to click the “New…” button. Now you see a “New Desktop Item” window pop up with that familiar “Browse…” button on it. Click that button and find your other picture and hit open. Next hit “OK” in the “New Desktop Item” window, again in the “Desktop Items” window, and finally hit “OK” in the “Display Properties” window.

You will now see the second image somewhere on your desktop (normally the center). If you drag your mouse over it you will see a border around it and if you move to the top of it you’ll see a bar that will allow you to drag it to one monitor and maximize it using the button third from the right. Once you have done this to your other monitor, right click and go to “Arrange Icons” and then click “Lock Web Items on Desktop”.

Now both monitors should have different wallpapers of your choosing.

Fireproof Home Safes – Be Prepared For the Worst

Many people go through life thinking, “That could never happen to me.” Even when statistics show that a person will likely get into a car accident more than once in his life, for example, people still think, “Oh, that could never happen to me.” Then, when it does happen, they are confused and unprepared.

Yes, it is nice to assume that certain things will not happen to use. Nobody wants to think of their bodies deteriorating or their homes being hit by a storm or a flood or their homes burning down. Your future may seem brighter if you ignore the possibilities of disaster, but when that disaster hits and you are unprepared, the future is far from bright.

I am not saying that you need to go out and get hurricane insurance if you live in Nevada or anything silly like that, but just be prepared. Don’t go out driving if the weatherman calls for a blizzard… don’t go walking alone at night – these are examples of simple precautions that you can take to protect yourself. Another is to get a fireproof safe.

It is hard enough to know that you’ve lost your home, furniture, and clothes in a fire… and these material things can at least be replaced. But what about photographs or negatives? Children’s drawings? Heirlooms? Jewelry? These things cannot easily be replaced: they cannot be replaced at all.

There are other ways to protect these things than just with a fireproof safe, of course. You can, for instance, put your will or the deed to your house in a safety deposit box. You could also keep your photographs at home in an album and your negatives at the bank – that way, if something happens to one of the buildings, you’ll still have a backup.

With digital photography these days, it is even easier to ensure safekeeping of your photos – you can print some out, save others to disks, save them to your computer, or even put them online so that you can access them any time, any where.

Nonetheless, a fireproof safe is also a good idea for protecting your valuables – you do not have to take an extra trip to the bank just to take a look at them.

Fireproof safes also protect your valuable from burglary, too. Fireproof safes are not just for valuables with sentimental value, but also for items of monetary value, too, of course. Your items may technically be safest at a bank, but the nice thing about a fireproof safe at home is that you can access it whenever you want (as aforementioned).

It is important to know that most fireproof safes are more likely just fire-resistant, not fireproof. And some fireproof home safes are more fireproof than others. Make sure to check the rating of your fireproof home safe before you buy it.

Water Fuel Cells – What is a Water Fuel Cell and How Do They Work

By now you would have heard of these nifty fuel saving devices called water fuel cells, either through the news or automobile forums. Thousands of vehicle owners around the world have already converted their cars, vans, and trucks to use water as a form of fuel to cut down on gas consumption. And the number keeps growing, and why should it now – water fuel cells are easy and affordable to make on your own, and work incredibly well in cutting gas consumption.

But before you get busy with making your own water fuel cell, it is best you know the water fuel system better and how it works with your engine. This way, you will better understand how water can be used as fuel and a cheaper supplement to gasoline than compressed natural gas (CNG).

Using water as fuel does not mean you mix water with the gasoline in your car tank. I think that is the most common misconception people have regarding a water fuel system. Before water is used as a fuel, it is converted into a combustible gas known as Hydroxy or HHO. This is where the water fuel cell does its work. A small amount of water in the fuel cell is subjected to an electrolysis process using the car electrical system, to break it down into its atomic state of hydrogen and oxygen. The combination of these 2 atoms produce the Hydroxy gas that is then introduced into the gasoline and air mixture in your engine.

Hydroxy is known to be 3 times more potent than gasoline, and it helps improve the burning efficiency of gasoline too. With Hydroxy in the fuel mixture, the engine is able to produce a higher power output with lesser gasoline burned. At the same time, less gasoline is also wasted from an incomplete combustion process, allowing you to save tremendously on gas every time you drive. How much? With a water fuel cell installed on my Mazda, I have seen on average a 40% improvement on gas consumption.

It is little wonder why more and more people are using water fuel cells on their vehicles. It is a genuine fuel saving device that works great, and does not cost a lot to make on your own – in fact, you can get a very detailed instruction manual and the parts required in under $200. And since we are looking at hundreds of dollars saved in gas money month after month, I am sure you agree that making your own water fuel cell is a great deal after all.

How to Install Drywall

When preparing to install drywall, one of the first things to do is to check the layout of the ceiling to see what thickness is needed. If you have trusses, your layout will be 2 foot on center and you will need to use 5/8 sheetrock. If you are covering sealing joist, like in a basement and the joist are 16″ centers, then you can use 1/2″ sheetrock. Use a minimum of 5 screws per row, i use 6. Screws need to be at least 1 and 1/4″ long.

Figure how much sheet rock you will need! On the ceiling you measure width times length of the total project, and any pop outs that may be there. Divide that number by 32 if you are using 8 foot rock. If you are using 12 foot rock you will divide by 48. The number you get will be the number of sheets you will need. On the walls, you will need to measure length times how tall the walls are. Measure every wall in every room, and in every closet. You will divide the same way as you did for the ceiling. On the walls you will use 1/2″ rock. The number of screws will be the same to ensure no movement.

Before you begin hanging the rock, you should check to ensure the walls are all nailed good and there isn’t any warped 2×4’s in your walls. Use a straight edge, lay it across the 2×4’s horizontally to find any warped boards. Replace the boards that are bad. This is especially important where cabinets and tubs will be. You also need to go to your equipment rental store and rent a sheetrock jack to install the rock on the ceiling, this is done before the walls are started.

There are screw tips that are sold in hardware stores that are made for installing rock. The tips have a bell on them to stop the screw before it breaks the paper on the sheetrock. You don’t won’t to break the paper around the screws for this will weaken the rock. You sure don’t want a piece of rock coming down on your head. The other tools you are going to need are a T-square, a kick jack, utility knife, phillips or cross point screw driver, a key hole saw for cutting around electrical boxes, and small stool or ladder. You may also need a small hammer.

Hang the ceiling first and return the sheetrock jack. Make sure you stagger the joints on the rows of rock. This will ensure a better tape job for it will decrease movement. When hanging the walls, you install the upper row first and then the bottom row. This is done because trim or baseboard will cover any gap that is left on the bottom. If you have a wall that is 9′ tall, then fill in the middle with a 12″ strip, this will make it easier to tape.

Well, good luck on your project! There are so many other tips to tell, this is just basic’s.

Gym Flooring

Gym flooring is a fundamental component for comfort and correct operations of a gym. Several factors should be considered before purchasing a new gym floor. These are playability, durability, longevity, maintenance and price. A gymnasium floor requires a specific grip.

Rubber gym flooring is a popular flooring used in gymnasiums. It has high durability and is comfortable to the feet. Solid rubber flooring provides protection for equipment. Rubber floors are easy to install and clean. Vinyl and laminated floors are also widely used. Vinyl is easy to clean and comes in a variety of styles and designs. But it is vulnerable to water damage. Vinyl lasts for a long time, but the chances of peeling are high. Vinyl sheet gym flooring is flexible. There are also engineered wood floors, bamboo flooring, laminate wood floor and hardwood flooring.

There are tile gym floors designed to have the same rigid feel as a wooden floor, with less noise and no moisture problems. Gym flooring tiles are installed over rubber underlay for added noise reduction and surface flexibility. However, moisture always finds its way through the seams of tile into the rubber underlay.

Gym floor covers are used to protect gym flooring, reduce maintenance costs and to turn the gymnasium into a multi-use facility. Some gym flooring mats are built totally with PVC. They have a pressed anti-slip surface, and are comfortable, safe and stable. Some gym flooring mats are made of premium rubber material and have interlocking edges, borders and covers. Some have interlocking tiles designed specifically for gymnasium activities. They absorb shock and noise that is caused by heavy gym equipment and have long lasting durability. Other gym flooring mats are made of recycled rubber.

Penis Enlargement Pumps Can Be Dangerous To Use

You and I know that it is fact that most guys want to have a bigger penis if they could. As such, businesses have capitalized on this male obsession and have produced many male sexual enhancement products to achieve this end.

However, are these male sexuality products effective? If so, how safe are they?

For the purpose of this article, I have researched many so called penis enlargement products and have come to the conclusion that the more reliable and safer ones are pills made from natural herbs. This is because the active ingredients of most of these supplements I have seen are from herbs that are traditionally used by various cultures to improve and increase blood circulation to the penis in order to increase the firmness of erections. At the same time, since the penis is gorged with more blood, it will naturally be bigger, at least at that moment when it is erect.

However, there is a penile enhancement product that I think can be potentially dangerous. This product is the penis vacuum pump. The penile pump is supposed to draw blood into the penis by force making it bigger. This is done by suction is a manual manipulation that may actually damage the penis.

The vacuum pump is usually a transparent cylinder which is placed around your penile area. A rubber tube is connected to a manual pump or an automated pump which then sucks air out of the cylinder creating a vacuum in which the penis is forcefully pulled into the cylinder so that it is stretched taut. This in turn causes the chambers in the corpora cavernosa to expand so that it can contain more blood making the penis bigger. Manufacturers often recommend that you use the pump everyday so as to maintain and improve on the size increases.

As described above, this method of penile enlargement actually stretches your tissues forcefully and as such may cause physical to your sex tool such as torn tissues, broken blood vessels, impotency, urination complications and even painful swellings. Ouch! That hurts, doesn’t it?

Yes, the vacuum pumps do temporarily increase the size of your sex tool, but is it worth the risks involved? Since there are many other safer methods to enlarge your penis or to have better erections such as the herbal supplements mentioned earlier in this article, why should anyone of sound mind wants to take such risks? Having a damaged manhood is no laughing matter. Besides being a physical infirmity, it is also a big blow to the male ego.

There are also penile exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles in the penis. The penile muscle is just like any muscle in the body and will grow bigger with the right and regular exercises just like doing the dumbbell curls to make your biceps bigger.

As such, I think the most effective and safe way to make your tool bigger is to take supplements to improve and increase blood circulation and to do penile exercises for a stronger penis.

Lean Process Improvement in City Government

Today’s municipalities face unprecedented challenges. The public’s resistance to tax increases has resulted in flat tax revenues which contribute to perennial budget shortfalls. Compounding the problem, state governments are struggling with billion dollar deficits of their own reducing the givebacks to city and county governments making it necessary for these government entities to do more with less. Concerned city leaders searching for an answer will be interested in a highly successful management approach that has been recently accepted in government. The approach is based on the work of quality guru W. Edwards Deming who repeatedly demonstrated that excellence can be achieved at the least cost through process improvement.

While originally implemented in manufacturing, these process improvement principles have proven equally applicable to service industries, including government. City workers must rely on broken processes to accomplish their tasks and provide value to the customer. Deming’ s approach, dubbed “Lean Thinking” (by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for its ability to do more with less, focuses on removing unnecessary non-value added steps within these processes.

DOING MORE WITH LESS

Many organizations in today’s economy face a similar do-more-with-less challenge. Interestingly, those who are successfully meeting it, regardless of industry, share a commonality – the focus on process improvement. This approach to improving performance and efficiency (doing more) while using the minimum amount of resources (with less) is called “Lean.” Lean Process Improvement does not relate to layoffs or downsizing. Rather, the Lean approach focuses on doing more with existing resources.

WHAT IS LEAN?

Lean is a program of organizational improvement that empowers each and every worker in your organization. The essence of lean thinking is to engage staff members responsible for the work in redesigning it, keeping in mind the need to provide the best possible product or service to your customers and to increase their personal performance and job satisfaction through process improvement. Lean engages everyone in streamlining their work processes by identifying and eliminating the steps within the process that are wasteful.

Lean is based on the customer’s perception of value. In Lean if a process step or activity is something that the customer is willing to pay for then it does not add value. In other words if the step doesn’t increase the form or function of the product or service it is non-value-added or in the language of Lean waste.

HOW DOES LEAN WORK IN CITY GOVERNMENT?

Lean partners city workers from every department and at every level to improve the processes that make up and facilitate the delivery of city services. It enables and supports those who perform each process and know it most intimately to streamline and cut the wastes of time and resources from the process itself, a little at a time.

The Lean program is not accomplished by creating more work for already overburdened city employees. Rather, it is a liberating program. It simply allows workers to use their creative genius to do their jobs more effectively and more efficiently.

The power of lean is derived from the speed and flexibility of its approach and the involvement of all employees. Because employees are encouraged to recommend change and participate in implementing change, they buy in to the Lean process.

LEAN PRODUCES THE SAME RESULTS FOR EVERY INDUSTRY

Contrary to popular belief, Lean thinking is not just a manufacturing strategy nor is it a headcount reduction program. It is a continuous improvement strategy with universal application because its emphasis is on improving processes. The Lean Approach puts the customer first, increases employee involvement, and creates a workplace that actively supports and nurtures real ongoing improvement.

Lean applications have been effective and successful in every industry in which they have been applied including service industries such as banking, law enforcement, insurance, uniformed services, city, county and state government agencies, service bureaus, and most recently, health care. When tailored to the individual organization’s specific needs and systemically applied, Lean Process Improvement has produced the same outcomes, regardless of industry:

o Increased performance

o Increased delivery/effectiveness

o Cost savings

o Increased employee satisfaction

o Increased customer satisfaction/quality

CONCLUSIONS

Lean management is not a new concept in city government. The cities of Fort Wayne, Indiana and Grand Rapids, Michigan have implemented Lean and achieved some outstanding results in reducing costs and cycle time. There is no question that differences exist between a manufactured product and a city service. But common similarities exist in the value delivery systems of city services and a manufacturing operation, delivery systems made up of complex processes. Because all work is a process, many aspects of process improvement methodologies and other Lean tools can and do apply to city government processes.

Forward thinking City Managers recognize both the application and the implication Lean has for improving city government operations. Lean’s history of delivering process improvements in every industry that has applied the concepts demonstrates the wide-ranging utility of its principles.

Types of Garage Doors – Get Your Pick!

As there are several choices of materials for garage doors; there are also several types of them. There are two general categories of doors, the tilt-ups and the section roll-ups. Each category, further branch outs into several types of garage doors. Under tilt-up doors are the following types: canopy door, retractable door; swing-hung door; or the up-and-over door. For the roll-ups category, here are the common types: sectional doors; overhead door; and the roller door.

Tilt-up garage doors are those types which swing upward to open, and slides parallel into the garage ceiling. Tilt-up doors are space-consuming. Hence, the fa├žade of the garage should be spacious to allow the door to swing up. This provides a bigger entrance space for vehicles. These types are ideal for spacious garage area as for huge household garage and commercial garage. These can also be installed easily, hassle-free.

The canopy garage door is one of the tilt-up types. Unlike the common tilt-up types, when it opens, it leaves 1/3 of the door hanging up exposed outside the garage. It works just like the common house door. This type however, guarantees maximum security. Hence, it is most likely ideal for luxury cars garage. It is just not recommended for automation.

Another tilt-up type is the retractable door. Recommended for spacious garage, this type goes with the usual tilt-up magic. The door swings upward and slides parallel into the garage ceiling. The car inside can park in front of the door as it goes out of the garage but not too close. Compared to the canopy type, retractable door is pulled back to the garage ceiling. It can also be automated.

Some other tilt-ups types are swing-hung and over and above garage doors. These can be fully automated. Also, the car can not park too close to the door. These are just like the usual tit-up types.

On the other hand, the roll-up doors are those which vertically move upward through a rolling system into the garage roof. These are the space-saving types of doors since the roll-up types do not consume the front space when it opens. Thus, the car can park close to the door as it opens. Types of garage doors under the roll-up category are recommended for non-spacious garage area. Oftentimes, these types are automated electronically even through a remote control.

One type of roll-ups is the sectional garage type. The name suggests the type of door, as it is divided in panel s/sections. These panels move vertically upward as the door opens and is stored through a rolling system. This is ideal for limited garage area. This type is usually automated.

The roller garage door is another roll-up type. This is one state-of-the art type which uses remote control to open and close the door. The driver no longer goes out of the car to facilitate the door opening or closing. Also, it is advisable for garage with narrow driveway.

Lastly, the overhead garage door is also a roll-up type. It uses a rolling system to pull upward the door and roll it into a drum by the garage roof. It is electronically automated making it easier to facilitate entrance and exit of vehicles.

Indeed, there are multiple choices of garage door types for multiple needs and demands. The two basic categories are the tilt-ups and the roll-ups. Look for a category that could serve you better, and then pick from the different types which will suit you best.

Home Improvement With Benches and Awnings

If you’re a home owner concerned about increasing the value of your home and property, don’t neglect the exterior, particularly if you have a yard or garden. With a small amount of work and a bit of an eye for landscaping, you can use these two elements to make your garden or back yard a votive island of calm around your home.

First, look for sight lines. You don’t want your awning to block any of the views from the house; take the time to use a bit of trigonometry to place your awning first. Remember that something that’s twice as far away will look half as tall (that trigonometry that we mentioned earlier); moving the awning farther away from the house will keep it from obscuring a view downrange.

Second, think about what it’ll be used for. If it’s meant to be a sunshade, or otherwise be simply decorative, it doesn’t need to be watertight. On the other hand, if items for the yard or decorative items are going to be stored under it, it needs to be able to keep the rain off as well as the sun.

Awnings should be chosen for color coordination with your yard – they’re going to be a place to sit comfortably in the summer with the sun kept off you. Benches and awnings are natural complements, and less of a financial hazard than the dreaded gazebo, which requires more extensive construction and drainage work.

When looking for benches, again, focus on the kind of style you want to do. Decorative stone benches can lend a refined, aristocratic air to the lawn; many are also topiary benches with built in flower beds. For those on a more frugal budget, benches in the Windham and Rock Reading styles are wood and ironwork, and can be had inexpensively, since they arrive pre-assembled, and are meant to be installed by the owner.

If you choose to go with a wooden bench, be sure to treat it with a weatherproofing compound to keep the wood from absorbing water, losing its natural oils and cracking and fading. Much the same way you’d work to maintain an external deck, you’ll want to take the same precautions with any wooden furniture. Fortunately, most wooden benches use stainless steel for their “ironwork” so they won’t rust out from underneath you without a lot of time and work.

Decide if you want your bench to be anchored to the ground, which will require placing a small concrete slab and anchor bolts, or if you want it to be mobile, or movable later. And, like the discussion on sight lines, focus on what you want to see from the bench when you place it.

These tips can help you improve the value of your home considerably, and make your yard a pleasanter place to visit!

Awnings – A Great Shade Solution

As a home owner, if you are looking to add style and elegance to your home’s exterior, while creating an outdoor haven, there is nothing to beat an awning. An awning can be defined as a roof-like covering over a window or door, or above the area of a sidewalk. It serves as a shelter, and is often made of canvas or plastic that is tightly stretched over a light structure of aluminum, iron or steel and sometimes wood.

Sometimes, with the addition of columns, an awning is able to stretch from a building to an entryway, for example, an entrance to a restaurant or hotel. Such awnings help to provide shade from the sun, a shield from strong winds, as well as protection during rains and snow.

These woven mats date back to Egyptian and Syrian civilizations where they were used to shade market stalls and homes. They went on to become rather common in America in the 19th century, and iron plumbing pipes which were used for the awning frames became widely available and affordable. What’s more, because these pipes could be easily bent and threaded together, it made it possible to produce a range of different shapes and sizes. The material used for making the awnings was usually canvas, and although its lifespan was limited, the low cost made it an attractive choice.

Awnings that are made of aluminum or materials other than fabric tend to be more durable, as they do not deteriorate or rip in the winter, under the weight of the snow. Furthermore, while light colored awnings allow light to penetrate and give an airy atmosphere, the fact that more sunlight comes through, makes it less economical.

The most popular awnings are the retractable ones, which include a variety such as the lateral arm type which can provide shade to a patio, and can be retracted with either a motor or manually to let the sun in. The side arm types are used to shade windows, and the tension shade helps to shade sunrooms.

In order to get the full benefit of your awning, you need to ensure that the fabric is cleaned, the debris brushed off and all parts of the awning washed at least once a month. As it is an outdoor product and is exposed to natural elements, it needs to be taken care of in order to preserve its good looks and service life.

Why Does Concrete Crack?

It doesn’t seem right that something as solid and hard as concrete can crack. Unfortunately, concrete does crack, and can do so very quickly under particular conditions and circumstances. This is an issue that thousands of home and property owners all across the nation are discovering every day. It is a situation that is all too common; a proprietor lays new concrete down only to witness immediate cracking within a few weeks of installation. This is a very frustrating and time-consuming obstacle for any property owner to handle. The thought of wasted money and concrete repair can be overwhelming to even the most well-versed and experienced contractor or property owner. Pool decks, verandas, sidewalks, parking lots, driveways, and more are likely to crack is the concrete is not installed and cared for properly. Continue reading to learn the truth behind cracked concrete and how to prevent new concrete from cracking shortly after installation and placement.

Concrete Paving

Many questions start to arise once a contractor or customer notices cracks and crevices in their newly paved concrete foundation. They wonder if the concrete technician added too much water to the mix; or if the sand content was too high. Was fiber or wire mesh installed? Were the saw cuts placed correctly? Although it is easy to blame the contractor that installed the concrete, they are not always the root of the problem. There are natural circumstances beyond our control that can cause pavement to crack. Surprisingly, the main culprits behind self-destructing pavements have to do with cold weather and hot weather.

In the northern parts of the nation, freeze and thaw cycles are the most common reasons behind cracked concrete pavement. This cycle begins when water inside the ground freezes from cold temperatures; and when water freezes it turns into ice and expands. This increase in mass can cause the ground to rise or shift, causing anything above it to do the same. If concrete pavement lies above a frozen and lifted ground, the concrete is likely to be implicated as well. When seasons change and the ice melts, pavements are shifted and moved again because there is a void where solid ice once existed. This results in more cracking and damage. There is not much a property owner can do to prevent natural occurrences like this; however, in order to prevent a freeze thaw cycle issue, wait until spring and summer to install new concrete. This way it has time to strengthen and solidify before harsh weather can cause its deterioration.

In contrast to freezing temperatures, concrete can also crack in extreme heat. In the south and coastal regions of the United States, it is common for pavement to rupture from extended sun exposure and heat. Just as ice expands within the ground, heat causes concrete to expand and move as if it were baking in the sun. Once the sun or temperatures go down, the concrete retreats back to its normal state. This consistent expansion and decreasing in size can make pavement more susceptible and vulnerable to cracks, crumbling, and deep crevices.

The fact that concrete is moving and shifting is the damaging factor; not the magnitude or weight of the damage. In order to prevent natural occurrences and weather from damaging your newly lain concrete, be sure to discuss the best times to install new pavement with a licensed concrete professional. Always use a reputable and licensed paving company that can answer your questions about concrete installation, or concrete repair and protection. They are the industry experts that can facilitate proper concrete placement you can trust.