Get A Toro Power Shovel 38361 To Remove And Clear Snow Off Your Deck And Balcony

The Toro Power Shovel 38361 is easily my favorite tool during the winter time. Except on those days when we get a foot of wet heavy snow, then my gas-powered Toro snow blower gets all my love. But in this article, I wanted to share a specific situation where the Toro 38361 Power Shovel is the best and only tool for the job: removing snow off your deck and balcony.

Why clear the snow off your deck or balcony?

First, it can only help maintain the structure and integrity of your deck and balcony by removing heavy snow. That’s a lot of weight for it to hold all winter long.

Second, you can definitely enjoy some time out on the deck and balcony during the cold winter months. My daughter and I would bundle up on a clear night, and drink some hot cocoa staring at the stars. They seem to be brighter in the winter for some reason, I don’t know why. And I definitely find many days throughout winter grilling on the deck. It’s a popular thing for my family to do Sunday afternoons during football parties.

Why the Toro Power Shovel 38361?

This power shovel weighs less than 13 pounds, so it’s a cinch to lift and carry it on to your deck or up to your balcony. Carrying a heavier gas-powered blower is not an option, especially if you’re deck is more than a few steps up. And forget about carrying a heavy snow blower up to your balcony.

Also the surprising power from the Toro 38361 does a great job throwing the snow up and over deck rails. It’s back-breaking work to manually shovel and clear snow over 3-feet high deck rails. But the Toro Power Shovel easily and effortlessly throws snow over deck and balcony rails.

Quick tip: this may seem obvious, but clear your balcony first, particularly if its above your driveway or deck. Otherwise, you may end up throwing snow back on an area that you just plowed (like I did… twice actually).

Where can you get the best deal?

Like many products today, the best deals are found online. Particularly for the Toro Power Shovel 38361, because of its popularity and reputation, it often sells out in local retail stores too.

The Different Types of Ski Lifts That You Find on the Ski Slopes

Planning a ski trip for the first time? Somewhat nervous about how you will get up the mountain using the ski lifts? This article will cover some of the most popular types of ski lift commonly seen on ski slopes across the globe. Knowing what to expect can help improve your confidence about your first ski experience.

Ski lifts divide into two categories: aerial lifts and surface lifts. As their names suggest, an aerial lift carries you into the air and a surface lift keeps you on the ski slope.

Aerial Lifts

1) Gondola Lift

This is a type of enclosed cable car suspended from a continuously circulating cable between two base stations. For those planning a ski holiday in the French alps, this type of cable car is known as the ‘telecabine’. You will need to be carrying your skis to use this type of lift and walk in your ski boots into the cabin. There is usually a seat to sit down, which can be handy as the journey times can be considerable – maybe 15-20 minutes depending on your ski location. Some cable cars will have a small window opening for ventilation.

2) Aerial Tramway

This is another type of enclosed cabin-style cable car. It differs from the Gondola Lift only in the technical sense that it is not continuously circulating but instead reverses and changes direction once it gets to the base station. In French, this type of cable car is known as the telepherique and for those heading for the German Alps, this style of cable car is known as the Seilbahn.

3) Chairlift

This type of lift is made up of a series of chairs with usually between 2 and 4 seats, but could be up to as many as 8 seats. It is an open air lift, such that you are subject to the elements. It is very pleasant if the weather is benevolent, as you can often watch skiers and snowboarders on the slopes below you. It is less pleasant if you are being blown snow into your face, although the lift won’t operate if it is too windy due to safety concerns.

Surface Lifts

1) Button Lift or Platter Lift

This is known as a teleski in French. It consists of a small round seat or ‘button’ on a sprung pole or retractable cord. The skier grabs hold of the pole as it comes round, pulls down on it to position the seat between his legs and lets the system pull him up the mountainside. You do not actually sit on the ‘button’, rather you ‘balance’ on it.

2) T-Bar Lift

This is similar to the Button Lift. However, instead of the round seat, there is a bar shaped in the form of a T. A T-Bar lift propels 2 skiers up the slope at the same time. The T-bar does not go between your legs. Rather, each skier is sitting or rather ‘balancing’ on each side of the T.

3) Magic Carpet

This is best described as a conveyor belt which you step onto with your skis facing parallel and it carries you up the mountainside. These mostly operate on nursery slopes, as they are slow and are generally operate over only fairly short distances.

The Elevator Pitch – A Small Home Business Idea

What floor of success are you on. Are you ready to ride the elevator to success? What you are about to read will change the way you deal with the elevator. You are about to learn about a business technique that can help your business grow. Never has there been a better time to become a business networker.

Abound, there are plenty of industry gatherings, trade shows, card exchanges and Chamber of Commerce meetings. “What do you do” is the most frequently asked question at these events. What is the answer you will give? If you are serious about increasing your business, that moment is not the time to go blank. Having an answer that is well thought out, timely and easy to understand is vital for your business survival and prosperity. You have a 15-30 second window to dazzle and describe how your business will benefit theirs.

Have you ever struck up a conversation with someone in the elevator? If you have, you are more than half way to understanding and using your elevator pitch. The elevator pitch is business jargon for a quick and powerful description of your business that can be given to someone before they get off of the elevator. The elevator pitch is not just a small home business idea. It is a powerful tool than can transform your business.

An effective elevator pitch is absolutely, positively necessary for your business promotion. It needs to become a major part of your business success arsenal. Once you develop it, you will use your elevator pitch time and time again. It will not be used exclusively at networking events. You will use it whenever someone wants to know “what do you do”. It will become of your advertising, website description, letterhead and other promotional items.

As you begin to develop your elevator pitch something amazing happens. You begin to focus on the core theme of what your business is about. This thought process will naturally allow you to ground your business model. It allows you to figure out what makes your business unique and what makes it stand out from your competition.

Try it soon. People want to hear your story! Every day millions wake up looking for solutions to their problems. Head to the local office building, (one with more than one floor of course) and start having some fun. Try doing this: Ask the person riding with you, “oh, did you ask me what I do?” Of course they will be a little startled. Just smile and tell them I am working on my elevator pitch for a big business meeting. Then just spring it on them! 99% of the time, you will get a smile. Don’t forget to ask the magic question, what do you think? What they think is not as important as what you just accomplished. You promoted your business to a perfect stranger who now knows you have something to offer. You never know, that practice session may lead to a million dollar sale! Just keep practicing.

After all, it takes pondering and practicing to make your business crystal clear and enticing to others. Here is an important key. Your pitch must be short and some parts of the services you provide will be left out. That is why it is so important to focus on your companies core value proposition.

Another key element is that your pitch must be very clear. Your neighbor or brother in-law must be able to understand what you do. After all, brother in-law will be needed to promote your business too. He wants his god-children, (niece and nephew) fed properly!

“Hi, I help people turn their ideas into income using the internet. Everybody has one or two special talents and we help them profit from those talents. What set’s us apart from our competition is our phone policy, if you have a phone, you can call us.” Your elevator pitch should talk a little about what makes you different from your competition.

Make sure your elevator pitch gives them something to remember you for. As business networking becomes more and more important, we all need to spend time telling others what makes us someone they want to do business with. Your elevator pitch will provide that brief window into your business and what you have to offer. So, is the elevator pitch a great small home business idea? Without a doubt it is. Create your elevator pitch today and start sharing “what do you do” to everyone who has time between the 1st and 15th floor! Here’s to all the success you are willing to work for.

License Plates That Sell Like Hotcakes On eBay

If you want to make the big bucks selling license plates on eBay, you should stock and sell only old, rare plates. Uh, yeah…try finding those on a regular basis. Every once and in awhile those special gems will come your way at a yard sale or auction, but in the meantime, you’ve got have some cash flow. And to keep the cash pouring in, your best bet is to maintain a stash of the old reliable best-selling common tags. These are easy to obtain in bulk at inexpensive prices, and if marketed correctly, will bring you 200% to 400% profits every time.

License plates from vacation spots such as Hawaii and Florida always do well because people often buy them as memory pieces. And in Hawaii’s case, many people view it almost like a faraway land. I mean, how many Hawaii registered vehicles have you seen on the road lately? But the reality is, plates from Hawaii and Florida are plentiful in part due to the large rental car fleets needed to handle the tourist business in each state.

New York is another great seller, because New York City represents capitalism and is also a destination that many people long to visit. Unfortunately, that state’s plates are not as easy to come by. Still, you can find great bulk bargains on the older orange plates and the very hot Statue of Liberty base plate that was used by the state from 1986 through 2000. Foreigners love this one. Use the keywords Statue of Liberty in your title.

The so-called Wild West States are also very attractive to international buyers. Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Texas are four examples that illicit thoughts of the Old West in our foreign friends. Using keywords in your listing titles like Cactus, Desert or Grand Canyon for Arizona; Window Rock for Utah; Cowboy or Rodeo for Wyoming and Cowboy, Space Shuttle, and Oil Well for Texas will get you plenty of hits on your auctions.

Staying with the old west theme, international buyers are fascinated by Native American items. The Oklahoma passenger plates in use from 1990 to 2009 and the Nebraska passenger plate used from 1977 to 1986 are two very easy-to-obtain plates that sell well because they have Native American graphics on them. Make sure you include title keywords like Native American, Indian, and Peace Pipe. eBay will send you a warning about the use of these words, but since you are not claiming that the plates are Native American artifacts, you are not breaking any rules.

Finally, you will find that people like brightly colored license plates. So no matter how common a plate is, you can grab some good sales simply by throwing the color into the listing title. States with a history of brightly colored license plates include Illinois, Kansas and New Mexico.

Keep in mind that all of the license plates discussed here are considered to be very common plates among collectors. But by using the proper keywords, you can sell them to non-collectors quite easily. After a few successes, you’ll see that keywords are as important to your listing titles as, well… syrup is to hotcakes.

Where To Buy Wood Stoves

Wood stoves are used for household cooking needs as well as for heating purposes. Wood stoves are available in various local stores and markets and consist of a variety of types, depending on their operating methods. The usage of wood stoves is very economical in this age of costly oil and gas fuels.

Wood stoves may vary depending on the kind of fuel used, the kind of material used for their manufacture and the different designs used for their making. Local furniture stores, household goods showrooms and antique stores are some popular place where a person can purchase a stove.

Different local stores have a variety of wood stoves available for sale. Customers can go and have a look at these wood stoves and check their functionality. These wood stoves come in many colors, shades and in beautiful designs. Customers can chose a suitable colored wood stove matching their home décor. It creates a perfect ambience in their house. Local and household stores often offer similar prices. Hence, the buyer should visit various stores in order to get the best deal. Bargaining is also permissible at such stores, improving the chances of getting a better deal.

Another important place where customers can buy wood stoves are antique showrooms. These showrooms have a variety of antique pieces on sale. Many rare and old wood stoves also available at these stores. Although these wood stoves are priced slightly higher considering their rarity and uniqueness, the quality customers get from them is very remarkable.

Online stores are another popular shopping option. The spread of the Internet has made the world a smaller market and has enabled shoppers to choose the objects they desire from the convenience of their home or office. Online stores selling wood stoves have catalogues that display features and compare different stoves. They offer some of the best discounts possible and may even provide free shipping within a limited area.

Slow Cooker – Crockpot Tips and Tricks

Slow Cooker Tips and Tricks

1. No peeking. That’s right, do not lift open the lid. Precious moisture escapes and it takes a long time to make up for lifting the lid. No stirring either.

2.Vegetables on the bottom. If you are cooking anything with meat and veges, the vegetables go under the meat. Vegetables actually take longer to cook than the meat.

3. Brown your meat first. If you take the time to do this, it will make a huge difference in how things taste. The slow cooker can only do so much.

4. Do not add extra water. Yep, put the meat in the pot without water. It will be okay.

5. Use the cheapest cut of meat possible. You do not cook beef filets in a crockpot. Look for the words, chuck and shoulder. These are fairly cheap priced cuts of meat and they really will be fine to eat.

6. Take the time to trim off excess fats from meats.

7. Cut your veges so that they are all the same size. You want everything to finish at the same time.

8. If you have a removable stoneware pot, you can assemble everything the night before and place it in the fridge. In the morning, you can take your pot out of the fridge and simply place it in the base.

9. Too much fat on top of your soup or stew? Use a piece of bread and scoop it off.

10. Slow Cookers are great for summer time eating. Don’t turn on the oven, a slow cooker will keep your kitchen cooler.

11. When your having a buffet table, use your crockpot to keep food warm. Keep rolls, hot dips, veges on the low setting. You can even use it to serve hot drinks, like cider.

12. Use your crockpot to revive stale crackers and potato chips. Place in the pot, no lid, turn on low for 2-4 hours until crispy.

13. Bake a potato – they taste so good when they are cooked all day. Wash the dirt off a white or sweet potato. Poke it with a fork a few times. Wrap in foil. They tend to darken and if you don’t like that, rinse the potatoes in a mixture of 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter.

14. If the recipe calls for: Wine or Sherry you can use Beef or Chicken Broth and vice versa.

15. Cooking times – generally 1 hour on High equals 2 hours on Low

Try this recipe to get you started on your way to easy, delicious, slow cooker food.

Chili Nuts

Chili Nuts 1/4 cup melted butter 2 – 12 oz. cans of cocktail peanuts 1 packet – 1-5/8 oz. of chili seasoning mix Put the nuts in the slow cooker. Pour butter over top. Stir in chili seasoning mix. Put lid on and cook on Low for 2 – 2-1/2 hours. Stir. Turn slow cooker on High and cook another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or cool.

For more info, check out the classic book by Mabel Hoffman, Crockery Cookery.

You might like these recipes for the slow cooker:

Granola

Building a Solar Panel – Constructing an Aluminum Frame

I have discovered the best way to build a solar panel using an aluminum frame. Constructing an aluminum frame can be confusing if you are not familiar with cutting angles. Below is a list of what you will need to construct a frame using 3 x 6 inch solar cells for a 70 watt solar panel. Our frame size will measure 27″ x 32 3/4″.

  • Aluminum angle– You will need a 10 foot piece of 1-1/2 angle, it should be 1/8″ thick. We will be making this frame to last at least 30 years, so that is why we are using 1/8″ thick angle. This aluminum angle can be purchased at your local home supply store.
  • Nuts, machine screws, and washers– To assemble our frame we will use 1/4″ hardware. We are using stainless steel machine screws and nuts because again we want this to last at least 30 years. The length of the screws should be 1/2″.
  • Carpenters square– You will need a carpenters square for keeping your frame straight.
  • Miter box for cutting angles– For cutting your frame corners you will need a miter box. You can purchase a cheap plastic one that will work fine for what we are doing.
  • Hack saw– We will cut all our aluminum with a hack saw using metal cutting blades.
  • We will need right angle pieces for joining are corners– After we cut are aluminum we will need to join it together using right angle corners. They can either be purchased or they can be made out of the scrap aluminum.
  • A flat file– This will be used for filing off any burrs of metal left from cutting.
  • An electric or battery drill with a 1/4″ drill bit– This is used to drill holes in your brackets and corners of the frame.

The first thing you need to do is place the miter box on a flat surface or bench top for easy cutting. I mounted mine to a bench using the holes provided. You need to measure your first piece of the solar frame at 27 inches. This is the tricky part of cutting any angle, is getting the angle direction in the right direction.

Next, we need to lay the angle in the miter box near one end. Laying the aluminum angle in the miter box closest to you, we will make our first cut, a 45 degree angle; this will be a cut to the right. Make the cut using your hack saw, cutting down at all times. What makes this easier is to clamp your aluminum in the miter box using either a c-clamp or a squeeze clamp, this makes cutting much easier.

After you have made your first cut, measure 27′ from the corner of the cut and mark the aluminum using either a pencil or marker. The easiest way to make this cut is to slide the aluminum in the same position as before but all the way to the 45 degree angle facing left. Carefully, place the mark on the cut in the miter box, clamp down and make your cut. Now measure the piece and it should be 27″. Go ahead and make another 27″ piece matching the one you just made, and then make two pieces the same way at 32 3/4″. Make sure you file off any burrs left from cutting.

Now we will assemble our frame. Place your frame down on a flat surface and using a square check to make sure your frame is square. Place your angle brackets in each corner and mark the center of each hole. Next, drill each hole mark using a starter bit such as a 1/8″ drill bit, and then finish each hole by drilling out to 1/4″. Using the 1/2″ machine screws, place the head of the screw from the outside, then apply the washer and nut, tighten each corner. Congratulations, you have made your first solar frame ready to mount your tempered glass in and start adding your solar cells.

Vinyl Wood Plank Flooring – It Really is a Great Choice

Vinyl wood plank flooring is today’s hottest thing going in the floorcovering industry. You’ve probably seen it multiple times and didn’t even realize it’s not real hardwood! Companies such as Earthwerks, Karndean and Nafco all have vinyl wood plank options that simulate the look of various hardwood species. If you’re looking to have a beautiful floor with the appearance of hardwood, but with the ease of maintenance of vinyl, this could be the choice you’ve been looking for! What are the benefits of vinyl wood planks compared to real hardwood?

Cleaning

Vinyl wood plank flooring is simple to clean. Damp mopping with manufacturer approved cleaners does the trick for standard cleaning.

Surface strength

Vinyl plank flooring that looks like hardwood has a very tough top layer. Most styles offered by the 4 major manufacturers have not only residential warranties, but are rated for commercial use as well. Luxury vinyl does excellent against scratches and dents due to the very thick upper layer manufactured from high quality, virgin PVC. If these vinyl planks are good enough to handle traffic for the nation’s largest retailer, they should hold amazingly in your kitchen, living room or any other area in your home.

Softness

Ok, I know this one may puzzle you, but some consumers feel that hardwood (and ceramic) looks great but is cold and uncomfortable on bare feet. Vinyl plank floors will offer a softer, warmer feeling for walking on.

Installation time

Hardwood floors, especially unfinished, can take several days to install. Typically, luxury vinyl wood planks can be installed in much less time. Less time to install means less hassle for you the consumer.

Wide selection

The options for a specific wood look are similar between hardwood and vinyl planks. The difference is the cost point. An exotic hardwood species for a floor can be much more expensive that what is offered in vinyl.

Removing Scratches From Stainless Steel Handrails

The most common reason for scratches on the stainless steel handrails on a boat is the use of a hose that has not been cleaned when washing or rinsing off.

The hose, that may have been on the yard floor or pontoon, will have picked up grit; this grit along with the hose, scratches the stainless as it is pulled back and forth over the handrail.

To prevent this… clean the hose off before use, then place enough hose length on board for the wash. This way you will not be pulling the hose back and forth over the rails. Where the hose does meet the stainless, tie off with a cloth.

So, how do you remove the scratches?

Forget starting with metal polish, as it will only remove the very lightest of scratches. What you need is various grades of extra fine wet & dry sandpaper and some water, with a few drops of soap in to act as a lube.

Depending on the depth of the scratches (some may be just too deep) 600, 800, 1200 & 2500 would be a good selection. Follow with finer and finer grades until a reflection is formed.

Try with the finest you have to start with and only use a coarser grade if that fails to ‘flat’ them.

Example: if you have started with 1200, then use 2500 and finish off with polish or compound.

For deeper scratches, you may have started with 600, so then follow with 800, 1200 then 2500 and finish off with polish or a compound.

Stairs and Railings – Beauty or Function?

Have you really paid much attention to the stairs and railings in someone’s house? I would guess most of us have not. Usually we only think about stairs as a means to allow us to go from the main floor to the upstairs floor. When you’re in your own home or someone else’s, take a moment to have a look at the railings, balusters, and newel posts. What you’ll find are some remarkable designs and brilliant craftmanship.

There are a multitude of styles and materials used in the building of both elegant and purely functional stair cases. Whether the stairs and railings are made from wood, metal, or concrete, their primary function is to move pedestrian traffic from one level of a building to another, up or down. Interior stairs and the attached interior stair railings are often a focal point utilized by the building architect to draw attention to the other features of the room, or to draw attention away from some other aspect of the area.

Interior stairs can be something simple like a quick access to the second floor directly from the front entry way, to a more elegant presentation when placed across a wide open room using one or more landings. This type of stair can often be seen in the grand homes of southern plantations or high-end mansions such as Hearst Castle.

While the stairway itself can capture your attention, what really gets noticed are the interior stair railings. Smooth flowing and often curved and carved, hand railings serve to guide the observer and their line of sight to visually transport them from the lower level to the second story level, and sometimes beyond.

Some interior stair railings are very straight and rigid with little to no ornate qualities. They lend a feeling of strength and functionality and scream that they are not there for beauty, but are there just for structure and stability. Other railings just radiate beauty with their intricate joinery, sweeping flow of curves, and show off the talents of their manufacturer.

Intricate carvings, scroll work, large pieces of beautiful exotic woods such as Katalox, Maple, Rosewood, or even Jatoba, all with their rich and contrasting grains accentuate the railings and provide a thing of beauty for all to see.

Another class of interior stair railings are those made from metal. An experienced iron worker can take raw iron and bend, weld and twist the strips to form intricate patterns not only for the railings but for the balusters also. Wrought Iron railings flow smoothly and set off a circular stairway like wood can never do.

The designs can range from southwestern, to oriental, to anything the owner or architect can imagine. While wrought iron railings often have iron handrails and newel posts, they can also be adorned with highly polished wood handrails and lavish ornate newel posts.

Interior stair railings are as important as a grand front door, window placement or any other cosmetic enhancement in a home or office. The chosen style or railing and the materials used both go to fulfill the designers desired end goal.

Big bulky railings denote strength and functionality while lighter weight yet ornate railings add a feeling of airiness and practicality. Between those two are the railings that speak to the observer that the owner has wealth and power and wants to convey that message as soon as someone enters their home or business.

Protect Your Metal Handrails From Rust

When the metal handrails of your home are exposed to moisture, especially when they have been installed outdoors, they are prone to rusting. Not only is rust highly unattractive on your shiny metal surface, it can also have a detrimental effect on the integrity of your railings. Whilst it can be pretty difficult to keep your handrails away from moisture, there are a number of things that you can do to help prevent rust from developing.

  • Apply a protective coat of paint, primer or varnish to your metal handrails to help prevent moisture from getting too close. Make sure that you reapply these coatings every few years, as they will begin to crack and peel as they age, which prevents moisture to slip through the gaps.
  • Remove scratches using varying degrees of sandpaper as soon as you notice them developing. Not only will scratches damage the protective layer of paint you have applied to the handrail, they will allow moisture to seep through into the metal below.
  • Make sure that handrails are painted as soon as they are installed, as rusting can often begin during construction. If rusting begins before you have applied a protective coating, the metal will continue to corrode beneath the paint or primer.
  • When your handrails have been allowed to sit uncovered for a period of time, it is important that you thoroughly rub them with sandpaper and a wire brush to remove any traces of rust before painting. Rust will actually prevent the paint from taking to the metal.
  • For maximum protection, some people like to apply several protective coatings to their handrails. You can first apply a layer of paint, then a layer of primer and finish with a layer of waterproof paint. This method is still not, however, foolproof.
  • Purchase a spray-based rust cleaner and use it to remove any traces of rusting on your handrails. If you purchase an organic product, you can rest assured that it will be easy to use, all natural and pose no nasty side effects to your family.

By following the above tips you can rest assured that you have done everything in your power to protect your metal handrails from the hazards of rusting. As well as making your balconies and stairways look entirely unattractive, rusting also poses other sorts of risks, including decreasing the integrity of the metal and even allowing clothes to get caught as you walk past. Take steps from the very beginning to prevent this from occurring.

How to Make Your Home Safe for a Kitten

Bringing home a new kitten is very exciting. They are very curious and love to play. Cats can easily hurt themselves, though, with many common household items. Preventing your new kitten from getting sick or injured requires planning. Follow these tips to keep your feline friend safe in your home.

1. Keep window screens secure in order to prevent your cat from falling.

2. Place small objects out of your kitten’s reach in order to prevent them from accidentally swallowing

them.

3. Store cleaning products in cabinets with childproof latches.

4. Replace potentially toxic plants with non-toxic or artificial ones. Consult your veterinarian or the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center for a list of plants to avoid. Some common, potentially harmful plants are aloe vera, chives, ivy, and mistletoe.

5. Some common household items can be toxic to cats if eaten. Keep moth balls, coins, dryer sheets, and potpourri away from your pets.

6. Do not leave hot stoves unattended. Cats may jump up and burn themselves.

7. Give your kitten cat safe toys only.

8. Do not let your cat play with string unsupervised. This can easily be swallowed and cause serious health problems.

9. Always keep your drier closed and be sure to check inside before turning it on. Cats love to sleep in warm places!

10. Never leave people foods out for your cat to get into. Foods such as raisins, grapes, tea, uncooked meat, etc. may be dangerous.

11. Buy cord runners to cover electrical cords. Cats may electrocute themselves if they chew on them.

12. Medications may be toxic to your cat if ingested. Keep them out of reach.

It is important to think like a parent – kittens are a lot like small children and can hurt themselves easily. Following the tips above will help keep your new cat safe and happy.

Motivational Alignment

Motivation can be an extremely complex attitude to define, nurture and enhance with people. It’s different for every one of us. Motivational values, attitudes, perceptiveness and potential in every one changes from day to day, from situation to situation. If you can align the right values with the individual and their environment, your motivational methods will work better. Motivational methods of any sort will not work if the people on the team are not aligned. People are motivated towards something they can relate to and something they can believe in.

World Class Athletes know the importance of motivation, peak-performance and alignment in order to achieve success and set world records. When I think back to one sports figure that epitomized motivation alignment and focus, it was Roger Bannister – the first human being to break the four-minute-mile barrier.

The prevailing thought of the day was that no human being could possibly break the four-minute-mile barrier, many thought it was humanly impossible, the body could not physically move that fast. However, Roger Bannister, a medical student, fought the prevailing thinking and training methods of the day and pushed his body in the rudimentary labs of Oxford – really the world’s first human-sports performance lab.

All the media journals said it was impossible to achieve this great milestone and many in the sports world agreed, but this did not discourage Roger Bannister. The barrier was broke on May 6th, 1954, when Roger Bannister sped past a field of 45 other runners to finish the mile with a record of 3:59:4. A new world record had been set.

Roger Banister went on to graduate from Oxford and has practiced medicine for over 40 years and was recently knighted by the Queen. He realized early in life that one of the most basic elements of motivational psychology is that you always reward positive behavior that is aligned with a motivational focus.

When we align the goals, purpose and values between people, teams and organization we then have the most fundamental aspect of motivational alignment. The better the alignment and personal association with the team’s goals, the better the platform for motivation. When people find it difficult to align and associate with the coaches or managers aims, then most motivational ideas and activities will have a reduced level of success.

What used to motivate people years ago is no longer valid. Some people don’t necessarily want more money, a bigger house or a foreign sports car. The new currency in 2007 seems to be a want of more personal fulfillment – being self-actualized, as Maslow said in his hierarchy of needs.

We want the time to pursue the goals we want, the job that really fulfills us, while spending more quality time with friends and family. Times have changed. You should view the following motivational methods and ideas as structures, activities and building blocks, to be used when you have a solid foundation in place. The foundation is a cohesive alignment of people’s needs and values with the aims and purpose of the organization.

Horse Racing Handicapping Tips For Horses Switching Leads

You may have seen a jockey shifting his or her weight from side to side as his or her mount came down the stretch while you were watching a horse race and wondered what was going on. It was something you should have noted. Part of good horse racing handicapping is being observant and profiting from the little things you notice. What was happening was that the rider was trying to get the horse to switch leads. If the horse tired badly in the stretch, the chances are that it failed to switch leads. A wise trainer and jockey will work on the problem with the horse and if they solve it, the same runner may run a better race next time out.

Horses lead with one foot or the other as they race and of course, the dominant leg will get more use and get tired as a result of that. Switching to the other leg and leading with that leg down the stretch is an excellent way to get a little more out of the horse. Many horses do it naturally and don’t need to be taught or reminded to do it. But sometimes, during the heat of battle, they forget.

The jockey will often be aware of that and purposely throw his or her weight to the side trying to get the horse to switch leads. Sometimes the tactic works, the horse switches leads and finishes the race with a good run. If the horse fails to switch leads, or waits too long before doing so, it may appear to tire badly. Part of good horse racing handicapping, and trip handicapping in particular, is watching the stretch run and noting when a horse shifts leads. It may appear as though it has shifted gears.

The problem with this, of course, is that you may not know if the horse will switch leads in its next outing. You may see it running against the same caliber of horses and if it will switch leads. One key may be if the trainer doesn’t drop it in class. He or she may have worked the horse and successfully got it to switch leads. If that is the case, and the trainer thinks it can win, it will often return in the same class or may even move up a little.

On the other hand, if the trainer drops the horse, it is a red flag. It may be that the horse needs the drop in order to win or maybe it just won’t switch leads. Some horses manage to win without switching, but often need to race below the level they could win at if they would only learn that basic racing move. If you note that a horse failed to switch leads but has a competent trainer, watch the betting and class of the race it is entered in next. They are excellent keys to whether or not the problem has been solved. However, bet cautiously because you never know until the ultimate test, the race itself.

Buying an Existing Self Storage Facility

So what are the factors to consider when you purchase an existing self-storage Facility? The traditional measure for determining value is the capitalization rate, or ratio of net income to purchase price. As investors, we are always striving for the highest return on investment, (ROI) but what if you’re considering several properties with similar cap rates? What follows is an assessment of what can influence your decision to invest in one facility over another- all things being equal.

The first step is to determine your own investment objectives. Are you going to be an active or absent owner? How will you manage the property? Will you hire a management company? What sort of return do you require? What are your investment objectives? How long do you plan to hold the property before reselling? Answering these questions will help you find the best property for your interests.

Site Selection

You’ve probably heard the ago old saying “the three most important things in real estate are location, location and location”. Well, it is one of the primary factors to consider, as it’s just about the only thing about a property you can’t change. With a poor site, you’ll have to spend more money and effort on marketing to keep your units filled, and you will almost always be at a disadvantage compared to your competitors who are located on a main road near other retail stores, or in the main traffic areas in the market. But what makes for a good location? Storage facilities tend to do better in spots well suited for retail business.

A site should be convenient, visible and easily accessible to attract customers within the trade area. Chain retailers have site selection down to a science, and their approach can work for you too. Use the following criteria to evaluate the viability and quality of a Self Storage Facility. You can rate a site on a scale of one to 10 in six categories, multiplying each score by the indicated weight. Once you’ve determined the number of points for all areas, add them together. If a property doesn’t score at least 500, it’s unlikely it will be able to compete in the market over the long term. This is a very creative way that I gleaned from Aaron A. Swerdlin, who is with Storage Investment Advisors LLP. His list is as follows:

Visibility

Visibility is among the most important characteristics of a site. As the market becomes increasingly competitive, visibility becomes more critical.

0-1-Sign only, no view of office from street

2-3-Large signage, no view of office from street

4-5-Signage and office are visible from street going one direction

6-8-Signage and office are visible from street in both directions

9-10-Full project visibility (Multiply the score times a weight of 15 for total points in this category.)

Access

Access is clearly a major issue, but modest compromises can be made for a site that is otherwise superior.

0-2-Not on a main street access is very difficult 3-5-Access is clear but not direct 6-8-On a main street with only right-turn options 9-10-On a main street with a center turning lane. (Multiply the score times a weight of 10 for total points in this category.)

Traffic Count

Drive-by traffic is an important source of business. However, excessive traffic can also inhibit access.

0-1-On a rural road

2-3-On a feeder road

4-5-On a main road with 10,000 to 15,000 cars per day

6-8-On a primary road with 20,000-40,000 cars per day

9-10-On a primary road at a freeway intersection (Multiply the score times a weight of 9 for total points in this category.)

Site Configuration

Frontage and potential expansion are the significant issues to watch for in this category.

0-2-Less than 2 acres, no frontage, flag lot

3-5-No room for expansion, long or narrow site, perpendicular to road 6-8-Room for expansion, reasonably square site, good frontage

9-10-Excellent frontage, corner location, square/rectangle site, room for expansion (Multiply the score times a weight of 8 for total points in this category.)

Competition

Competition is another important issue. Properties with less existing competition or barriers to entry for future competitors are best.

0-2-Large project next door 3-5-Nearby vacancies, planned projects or sites under construction 6-8-Low vacancies, no competition, no new projects planned or under construction 9-10-Rents increasing, no vacancies, no building planned or under way (Multiply the score times a weight of 12 for total points in this category.)

Demographics

Higher household income levels are generally conducive to self-storage because customers can afford it. But some areas with smaller homes and no basements are also promising because customers need it.

0-2-Lots of basements, low and declining income, population of less than 50,000 within a 5-mile radius, population growth of less than 1 percent per year.

3-5 – a fair amount of basements – stable income of between $26,000 to $49,000 within a 5 mile radius and population between 50,000 to 100,000 with.1-.5% growth rate per year.

6-8-Few basements, per-capita income of at least $25,000 per year, single-family residential backup, population of 100,000 to 200,000 within a 5-mile radius, population growth of 1 percent to 1.5 percent per year.

9-10-No basements, per capita income of at least $35,000 per year, high-end apartment backup, population of at least 200,000 within a 5-mile radius, population growth of more than 1.5 percent per year (Multiply the score times a weight of 10 for total points in this category.).

Self-storage is a retail business, which is why facilities are often referred to as “stores.” So look for projects with good retail locations. You won’t find a Wal-Mart in a industrial park, so don’t buy a storage facility in one! You want a visible, accessible site in the heart of your customer base. This will be your most important marketing tool, especially if prospects can see the building itself-not just your signage-from more than one direction. You don’t necessarily need a lot of frontage, so long as it’s clear to customers who you are and how to access your site.

High occupancy will serve as evidence of sufficient demand in the trade area, but if occupancy is low, you need to determine whether the property or the market is to blame. You can make changes to management, product offerings, etc., but you can’t change your location. Reviewing the competition and the relative vacancies and rental rates is the best way to make the call. If vacancies are high and rental rates are declining, the demand is simply not there. If rates are stable or increasing, you can rest reasonably assured of future business.

Quality of Construction

The type and quality of self-storage construction vary widely. Admittedly, a dollar of income from a low-quality project spends just as good as that from an upscale facility, but class matters in ways that count. Customers are generally more attracted to an aesthetic site, which means better occupancy and higher rents. A well-built project also requires less maintenance, which translates to lower expenses. It’s generally easier to finance and insure a higher-quality project. And when you’re ready to exit the investment, a better project will sell faster and for more money.

Evaluate a project with an eye towards buying the best you can afford. Lots of features and amenities can be added after a facility is acquired, so focus your evaluation on items that can’t be readily altered. Here are a few quick guidelines:

-Concrete or brick construction is superior to metal, which can corrode or rust. Wood can be susceptible to rot, insect infestation and fire.

-Concrete drivers are more durable than asphalt, but both are superior to gravel. It’s best to have drives of at least 25 feet in width and turns with room for moving trucks. An access-control gate is practically a necessity, and it’s best if customers can get to the office without having to go through it. A project with no climate-controlled space can be at a competitive disadvantage.

Pitched roofs are better than flat roofs. Standing-seam roofs have a long life and are low-maintenance. Screw-down roofs are good too, but the washers that make screws watertight can deteriorate over time, necessitating replacement. Flat or built-up roofs tend to be more problematic. Septic systems are less desirable than municipal sewer service. Insulated buildings are more comfortable for customers and better protect their goods. Exterior units need a weather lip to prevent water from entering the building.

Size Matters

As a rule of thumb, large projects are those with at least 45,000 square feet; mid-size projects range from 30,000 to 45,000 square feet; and small projects have less than 30,000 square feet. Large projects, which enjoy a better economy of scale, are generally more desirable. This demonstrated by the fact they trend to trade at lower cap rates. Operating expenses for small facilities tend to represent a larger percentage of gross income. With a higher break-even point, they carry more risk.

Buying a facility with room to expand can be highly profitable-provided that authorities will allow you build more units and customer demand is there. When you expand a project, only variable expenses increase, so a larger percentage of the additional income goes to the bottom line. Expansion can also make it possible to resell at a lower cap rate or refinance at a lower interest rate, thereby deriving additional value from the existing income stream.

Knowing what to look for in a property allows you to make better buying decisions. Seek opportunities with long-term viability. Closely examine each location, keeping in mind that storage is a retail business. Consider quality, remembering expense items such as upkeep. You may not find the perfect site, but with intelligence and a little luck, you can hit upon a property with optimal factors for value and growth.