Bridges of Vancouver

As a city known for its breath-taking mixture of pristine peaks, lush foliage and flowing rivers and creeks; Vancouver requires a number of bridges to connect everything together. There are eight significant bridges in Vancouver, not including the Capilano suspension bridge. Three of the bridges cross over the Fraser River that borders Vancouver on the south-side, another three cross False Creek connecting downtown Vancouver to the rest of the city, and two extend over the Burrard Inlet to link downtown Vancouver to the North Shore. This article reveals the history behind the prominent Lions Gate and Second Narrows bridges and introduces the Golden Ears Bridge, the newest addition to Greater Vancouver’s bridges.

Lions Gate Bridge

The Lions Gate Bridge, also known as the First Narrows Bridge, is a suspension bridge that crosses the Burrard Inlet and connects downtown Vancouver (City of Vancouver) with the municipalities of the North Shore – the Cities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver. The bridge was entitled “Lions Gate” after the Lions, a pair of mountain peaks in North Vancouver. The bridge includes three reversible lanes, each containing overhead lane signals to indicate the direction of traffic.

Discussion regarding construction of the Lions Gate began in 1890, when many bridge builders saw the inevitability of a bridge that would extend across the first narrows. There was much debate on whether the bridge should be built; many argued that it would spoil Stanley Park, interfere with the busy seaport or take toll revenue away from the Second Narrows Bridge. However, others thought it was essential to expanding development on the North Shore and that many of the arguments against it could be overcome. It was not until 1933 that a majority vote for the bridge construction was obtained. Alfred James Towle Taylor, a member of the proposal team owned the provincial franchise to construct the viaduct; however, he did not have the funds to purchase the large sections of land in North and West Vancouver that were needed. Fortunately he was able to convince the Guinness family (of the well-known Irish beer) to invest in the project and fund the land that was needed.

The bridge was designed by the Montreal company Monsarrat and Pratley and although it was first built with just two-lanes, it was later repainted into three lanes to accommodate increased traffic flow. Since its manufacture, the Lions Gate has been upgraded by the City of Vancouver to increase its longevity and to accommodate other forms of transportation such as bikers and pedestrians.

Second Narrows Bridge/Iron Workers Memorial

The Second Narrows Bridge is a vertical lift railway bridge that crosses what is known as the second narrowing of the Burrard Inlet. It was the first bridge to connect communities of Vancouver with those of the North Shore. Talks surrounding the construction of the Second Narrows dates back to the days of the Klondike Gold Rush where a number of railway companies were interested in building a railway from Vancouver to the Dawson gold fields. Although many attempts were made to initiate construction, many problems arose: the North Shore needed to be more developed, companies became bankrupt and could not fund the project and the onset of World War I had the government’s focus on construction diverted.

The bridge was eventually built in 1925 by John Stewart and Northern Construction, it started with just a car deck but was able to also accommodate trains in 1926. After being out of service for 4 years and hit by ships on numerous occasions, the provincial government purchased the bridge in 1933 and installed a lift section of the deck. In the 1960s, a brand new much bigger and higher six lane Second Narrows Bridge was built alongside the original structure, the original bridge was thus transformed entirely for rail use. In 1994, the new bridge was renamed to the Iron Workers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing to pay respect to those who died in accidents during its construction.

Golden Ears Bridge

Although the Golden Ears Bridge is not connected directly to the city of Vancouver, it is the newest bridge to be built in the Lower Mainland of B.C. and is the longest extradosed bridge in North America. As a project of Translink, the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority, the six-lane bridge spans over the Fraser River and connects the municipalities on the south side of Langley and Surrey with the north side of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. It was officially open for traffic on June 16, 2009.

Named after the “Golden Ears” twin mountain peaks that overlook the bridge site from north of the Fraser River, the bridge is also considered the most significant improvement to the Greater Vancouver road system since the construction of the Alex Fraser Bridge in 1986. Studies have indicated that the Golden Ears bridge will have immense long-term effects in the area, improving travel times and stimulating economic activity.

SolidWorks – Top-Down Assembly Modeling

In the Top-down assembly modeling design approach, one or more features of the part are defined by something in the assembly. Example: A layout sketch or the geometry of another part. The design intent of the model, examples: the size of the features, location of the components in the assembly, etc. take place front the top level of the assembly and translates downward from the assembly to the component.

A few advantages of the Top-down modeling approach are that design details of all components are not required and much less rework is required when a design change is needed. The model requires individual relationships between components. The parts know how to update themselves based on the way you created them.

Designers usually use the Top-down assembly modeling approach to lay their assemblies out and to capture key design aspects of custom parts specific in the assemblies. There are three key methods to use for the Top-down assembly modeling approach. They are:

Individual features method: The Individual features method provides the ability to reference the various components and sub-components in an existing assembly. Example- Creating a structural brace in a box by using the Extruded Boss/Base feature tool. You might use the Up to Surface option for the End Condition and select the bottom of the box, which is a different part The Individual features method maintains the correct support brace length, even if you modify the box in the future. The length of the structural brace is defined in the assembly. The length is not defined by a static dimension in the part. The Individual features method is useful for parts that are typically static but have various features which interface with other assembly components in the model.

Entire assembly method: The Entire assembly method provides the ability to create an assembly from a layout sketch. The layout sketch defines the component locations, key dimensions, etc. A major advantage of designing an assembly using a layout sketch is that if you modify the layout sketch, the assembly and its related parts are automatically updated The entire assembly method is useful when you create changes quickly, and in a single location.

Complete Parts method: The Complete parts method provides the ability to build your model by creating new components In-Context of the assembly. The component you build is actually mated to another existing component in the assembly. The geometry for the component you build is based upon the existing component.

This method is useful for parts like brackets and fixtures, which are mostly or completely dependent on other parts to define their shape and size.

Hummingbird Fishfinder Mount Installation

One key decision you need to make before purchasing a Hummingbird fishfinder is how and where you are going to mount it. You need to ask yourself one question: are you going to be using your fishfinder on just one boat, or are you going to need to move it from boat to boat as needed?

Let’s take a look at the options you have if you want to permanently mount your fish finder to one boat and leave it there.

Economical fish finders will come with the standard-issue mounting bracket and transom mounting transducers. This is the least expensive way to mount your Hummingbird fishfinder and is perfectly acceptable. You want to find a spot near the “captain’s chair” or wherever you will be fishing from. You will mount the bracket using the included hardware to any flat surface where you will not be drilling into other wiring or mechanical parts, usually a place made of wood or metal.

The display is then attached to the bracket, and tightened down to secure it. A wire is run from the display back to the transducer. Depending on the boat, you may be able to hide the wire under flooring or where the cables for the steering and motor controls are. Wherever you run the wire, make sure it is secure and out of the way of incidental contact.

As far the transducer is concerned, you will want to mount it on the transom in a spot where it will be submerged both at low speeds and high speeds, avoiding interference with the prop, preferably on centerline. If your boat has a ladder, mount it on the opposite side to avoid entanglement and possible damage to the transducer.

When you screw it the mounting bracket, make sure you use a bedding compound suitable for marine use, such as Bostik 920 or similar product, to prevent leaks. Be sure the transducer is aligned so that it is pointing straight down, as many transoms are angled. Remember, you want to make sure the transducer is mounted securely, since it will be subject to a lot of force at high speeds.

Another type of transducer is called a “through hull” transducer, common in inboard boats. These are attached to the inside of the hull, usually in back towards the transom. A hole is drilled into the hull, in which the transducer is placed. There is some debate as to whether you would want to actually drill a hole into your boat, as technology may change over time and you may want a different fishfinder some time down the road. Others are leery of possible leaks, although if properly installed, this should not be an issue.

A third option is what is termed a “shoot through hull” transducer, where the signal is directed directly through the hull of the boat. These are used on fiberglass boats, and have the obvious advantage of not having to drill any holes in the hull. They are typically glued to the inside of the hull with an epoxy glue for a strong solid bond.

The disadvantages of this kind on mounting system are:

  • The signal is generally weaker that other mounts, as the signal must pass through the boat as well as the water.
  • They cannot be used on aluminum, wood, or steel hulls.
  • They are typically more difficult to interpret fish echoes as well.

The advantages are:

  • They cannot be knocked off the boat by a submerged rock or stump
  • It works well at high speeds
  • There is no marine growth on the transducer itself since it never comes in contact with water

The last type of mounts are used for portable units. The obvious advantages of these are the fact they can be moved from boat to boat, and do not require any permanent installation on or in your hull. Brackets are available to mount your display unit using clamps that attach to the side, corner, or bench of your boat. Transducers can be mounted using suction cups or brackets that clamp to your boat. They make mounts for trolling motors, and even have trolling motors with transducers built right in them.

As you can see, there is a way to mount your Hummingbird fishfinder on any boat. Evaluate the above factors, and you will find the right choice for your situation.

Use Of Rebound Hammer In Testing Strength Of Concrete

Rebound hammer as you may know is used for checking strength of concrete. It is also called Schmidt Hammer in honor of Ernst O. Schmidt, who invented it in 1950s. This test depends on a principle according to which the way any elastic mass rebounds is dependent on hardness of surface on which elastic mass gets impinged.

Importance of Rebound Hammer Test

These hammers help to judge concrete’s compressive strength and such tests are additionally used to check whether any concrete mixture is as per defined standards or not. It could be catastrophic if any concrete mix is weaker than required and could lead to structural failures. Therefore, such kind of quality check using these hammers is very important for construction companies to perform. NDT or non-destructive testing such as these on samples are also economical for companies to undertake compared to destructive testing.

How Rebound Hammer Works?

At the time of test rebound hammer’s impact-bolt hits concrete surface with a specified force and after such impact the hammer rebounds. Total rebound distance is measured and recorded with the help of a sensor & shown on the display screen. Let us now look at the steps to check strength of concrete with the help of this test.

Checking Concrete’s Strength

  1. First of all the test surface is made smooth with the help of grinding stone.
  2. Some test impacts are performed using these prior to final measurement & evaluation.
  3. Checking is done to make sure that all the settings are in place.
  4. Hammer is kept totally perpendicular to test surface and is pushed towards the surface.
  5. The surface is tested with about twelve impacts & the average used. Additionally, impact points are kept apart by around 25 mm.
  6. Test results are then checked.

Types of Rebound Hammer Tests

There are two basic types of these tests, the first is mechanical and the second is electronic rebound hammer.

  1. Mechanical Rebound Hammer: It measures how much mechanical travel is completed by impact mass on rebound. Things affecting it include guide rod friction, scale’s drag pointer friction, gravitational pull and velocity between mechanical & unit parts.
  2. Electronic Rebound Hammer: This makes use of actual rebound coefficient which represents correct coefficient of physical rebound.


Thus we can clearly figure out that these tests are quite important to know whether concrete mix used is as per standards or not. These are an integral part of NDT and help construction companies spend less as compared to destructive testing.

How To Render – Made Easy

Rendering a wall is the act of applying a layer of material such a sand & cement (lime can also be used) to a brick or masonry wall to render it smooth. The wall may then be painted if desired.

Things you’ll need: Wire brush, Plastic or wooden float, Wire scratcher, Steel trowel, Wooden battens, Straightedge, Spray bottle

Preparation is the key: Make sure your wall to be rendered is really clean and etched so you get maximum keying and suction between render and masonry. Chip away any old render or loose mortar. Brush off any organic growth or material. If the bricks have a smooth surface texture, chip away at the front of the bricks to create a key for the render.

Fix vertical battens to the wall about 10mm thick, and about every 900mm, packing them out where necessary to take up undulations in the wall.

When fixing the first batten to a corner or the wall, make sure it is straight and upright even if the wall is not. Each space between these screeding battens will be filled separately. This method is the easiest way to keep the render flat and even. Before you start, spray the wall lightly to make damp…this will help to achieve good suction.

Render Mix: 1 part cement….6 parts clean sharp sand (tip..try and use plastering sand)

Add the correct amount of clean water to get the best trowelable mix, too wet and it will slump and too dry and you won’t be able to apply it (it will crumble). Also add a waterproofing plasticizer to the mix..this helps to stop water penetrating the finished render and improves flexibility

Application: Starting at the top, load the hawk and then pick up the mortar on the trowel. Pushing upwards in a slight arc and keeping a firm pressure, build up the render on the wall between the battens. Level this undercoat off by “see-sawing” the straightedge upwards along the battens. When each bay is filled scratch the surface using a wire scratcher. Allow to dry before removing the battens and filling with the same mortar mix.

The render coat can be built of up to two or three layers, first a rough keying scratch coat 5-10mm, a second body coat of 10-15mm with scratching and then a final coat 5-8mm (the thickness can vary depending on the state of the wall..i.e. a “straight” or “plumb” wall should only require the two coat system.

In hot conditions outside you may need to control excessive drying, shrinkage and cracking by keeping the render moist with a sprayer (though not dripping wet)

Finishing: To achieve a matt slightly rough finish, rub over with a plastic or wood float, or a steel float for a smooth paintable finish.

Goal Setting For the Successful Painter

One thing all successful business owners have in common is that they are intensely goal oriented. They know what they want, and, are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish what they set their sights on.

When I started my painting business I didn’t have a plan, I took any job I could find, hoping to make enough money to pay the bills. In fact, just paying the bills was all I did for another nine years! When my wife and I finally decided to start a family I realized things would never get better until I changed the way I thought about my painting business.

The moment I sat down and wrote out a plan for the life I was determine to have was the moment my life changed. That plan quickly turned into clear goals, and those goals gave me the inspiration and the drive that enabled me to quadruple my income in one year.

In this article I’ll show you how to apply three simple, easy-to-follow methods and techniques to set goals that will put your painting business (and your life) on the fast-track to achieving extraordinary results.

Step 1-Decide exactly what you want

When you become absolutely clear about your goal, your ability to achieve it increases dramatically. Earl Nightingale put it this way, “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going. It’s as simple as that.”

The first step in goal setting is to decide what you want to achieve in your painting business. Realize you have virtually unlimited potential to be or have anything you desire. It’s simply a matter of wanting it badly enough, and being willing to work hard enough.

Once I knew exactly what I wanted it all became clear. I cut all ties to the type of painting work that was holding me back. With no prospects on the horizon I told all the builders I was working for to find someone else to do their painting.

Making that one clear decision put the gears in motion to take immediate action and carry out my plans or I’d soon be filing for bankruptcy! Just knowing there was absolutely no way I would let myself or my family down forced me to create my dream business and that’s helped me accomplish all my goals.

Step 2- Write your goals down

The simple act of putting your goals in writing makes them visible and more tangible. It’s no longer just a though in your head. Seeing it on paper will help you to determine your priorities, get organized, and find it easier to stay focused on what you want.

Write your goal in a positive way, make them time sensitive, and be sure to include a plan of action. For example instead of writing, “I would like to double my income in the next year or two.” Be more specific and positive by writing, “I will double my income this year! I’ll do that by starting one hour earlier each morning, increasing my advertising budget by 25%, making five more sales calls each week, and hiring two more people, enabling me to operate a second crew.”

Next, give your goals power by writing them in the present tense and relating them to your own life goals. Try adding something like, “What a great feeling it is to own a successful business. Because of all the money I’m now bringing in I’m debt free. I’m now able to take my family on great vacations anytime I want! – Next stop; Disney World!!

Step 3- Take persistent action

Motivational speaker Anthony Robbins says, “Goals are just a dream with a deadline.” Make up your mind that you’ll do something everyday that brings you closer to your goals. Your business goals should reflect and support your personal goals

Become selfish about how you spend your time. Get in the habit of asking yourself, “Will this decision take me closer or further from my goals?” Decide right now that you’re no longer willing to pay the price your old habits are charging. Take an active role in your decision making and refuse to just, “go with the flow.”

The primary difference between high achievers and everyone else is persistence. As soon as successful people become fixed on a goal they take immediate action and don’t stop until the goal is achieved. If you’re not operating your painting business the way you dreamed, it’s because you just haven’t found strong enough reasons yet. Strong reasons fuel your emotions with a burning desire to take persistent action to create the business (and life) of your dreams.

Just remember to slow down occasionally to enjoy the journey. In its own way it’s as exciting and as fulfilling as the destination. Dream big dreams and set big goals. Always shoot for the moon that way even if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars!

Does a Cat’s Behavior Change After Being Spayed?

Some people believe that after spaying a cat that they will become more defensive or even aggressive. But this is simply not true, if anything spaying your cat will make their quality of life much better.

The belief that cats become more aggressive after spaying might be due to the fact that after they come home from the veterinary clinic, they might act out for a few hours upon returning home. The cause of this is unknown, but this behavior quickly disappears.

One of the main benefits of having your cat spayed is that they will not go into heat at all, so you don’t have to worry about them meowing and looking out the windows and trying to escape through open doors whenever they are in season. Also male cats will stop coming around your house.

Also spayed cats are actually healthier. You don’t have to worry about certain types of cancers, and on average they live slightly longer.

Another common concern that people have after staying their cats is that they will gain weight. Some people think that this might happen because a slower metabolism.

This is actually been proven not to be true. Regardless of whether the cat is spayed or not most house cats are overweight and obese, simply because lack of exercise and too many treats.

If you are still debating on whether or not to have your cat spayed please talk to your veterinarian. You’ll see that the benefits far outweigh any possible risks that your cat might experience.

The Difference Between Symmetric and Asymmetric Automotive Lifts

Automobile lifts originally date back to the invention of the Otis lift, but we do not need to go into history to understand this subject. It is enough for us to know up until the 1980s the most popular type of automotive lift for sale, as well as the most popularly used type were the in-ground type. These elevators for cars had the machinery for lifting the car or truck beneath the ground. Throughout the 1980s many garages found that their car lifts needed major repairs, and that they often needed a complete overhaul of the mechanism installed under the ground. Furthermore new customers looking for a garage elevator did not find the idea of having to dig a hole in the ground a very cost effective idea.

In Europe the most popular automobile lifts were two post ones that were installed above ground. The installation process was much easier than that of the American in-ground and American garages soon started installing these types of elevators. Unfortunately the European vehicle lifts were made for European cars, and these were narrower than American cars. The space between the hoisting posts was much less than what was needed, and the front car doors could not be opened except with great difficulty. This was due to the fact that the vehicle lift posts were too close to the vehicle.

The answer was the asymmetrical car lift. All two post elevators have four lifting arms connected to the two posts. Each post has two of these hoisting arms, one for the part of the car that will be in front of the lifting post and the other arm for the part of the car that will be behind the hoisting post. Asymmetric lifts use a shorter lifting arm in front of the post and a longer one behind the post resulting in a configuration where only 30% of the vehicle remains in front of the posts while 70% remains behind them. However this configuration creates an unbalanced load on the lift and and results in higher maintenance costs to keep the lift in service. The problem is solved by turning the posts from facing each other outwards to 30 degrees towards the load centre. A fully asymmetric vehicle lift will have unequal arm lengths and hoisting posts rotated at thirty degrees, while a lift with only different arm lengths can still be referred to as an asymmetric car lift but is really only half-asymmetric.

The advantage of this type of lift is that the vehicle door can be opened and closed with ease and it does not give the same problem of the narrow gap. However you may now buy symmetric car lifts that have a wider gap between the two posts, and this is not a problem for most garages, especially business garages that have a large space to use. Nevertheless the asymmetric lift makes it easy for you to open the car door in a lift that takes up far less space and is thus considered ideal as a car lift to be used in home garages. Garage owners that need a lift for larger vehicles will be less interested in asymmetric lifts and more interested in symmetric lifts, because larger vehicles are generally longer than cars and their doors can open fully when using the latter type of lift. It is therefore important when looking to purchase a lift to consider what type of vehicle you will need to lift, as well as your space requirements.

What Is An Elevator Speech – Why Is It So Important?

You are in a business meeting or perhaps at a networking round table. Maybe you ARE actually in an elevator (or lift if you are England) when someone asks you: “So, what do you do?”

It’s an inevitable question. Sometimes it is formalized, often it is one of the first things you are asked when you meet someone for the first time. This is the chance for you to give your elevator speech. But what IS an elevator speech? Surely it isn’t rehearsed, word perfect speech or monologue? How did it get it’s name in the first place and do you really need one?

The Elevator Ride – Ok, I know it’s a cliche but the term “elevator speech” comes from it’s close cousin “elevator pitch”. The idea stems from the fact that a typical elevator trip is perhaps 30 seconds to a minute in length. I know some are longer and some shorter but you get the idea. Furthermore, chances are that some of those elevator rides will allow a short conversation to take place. Again, I know that many of us would rather not talk to strangers in an elevator but assume for a minute you are asked the “what do you do?” question.

You have a short time to engage and grab the attention of the other person by succinctly explaining what you do in a way that gets them to want to know more. In the case of an elevator pitch this is likely made to someone who might be interested in investing in your business idea.

In any event, assume you only have the time it takes from elevator doors closing, to doors opening. You need to be able to get the message across in that time.

Real Life – although there are probably very few occasions you will be in this situation, it pays to learn from the analogy. You have 10 to 30 second to grab attention. That’s it! You may not think what you say is an elevator speech but it most certainly is. If you chose not to use that terminology and prefer 30 second introduction, or 30 second infomercial that’s fine, but the goal is the same.

So, how do you get that attention in such a short time?

  1. Avoid time wasting detail – stick to your name, company name as an intro. “My name is……. from company X” is fine and you’ve already used a few seconds.
  2. Tell them who you work with “I/we help (this type of client)
  3. Client problems you solve – “who have (this type of problem)

That is all you need. It will be enough to get attention and before the elevator doors open you stand a good chance of being asked for more information or even getting a business card.

Keep your focus on what you are trying to do – get that expression of interest. You are not in an elevator that takes 3 minutes to travel from the first floor to the 10th floor – you do not have time for lengthy anecdotes and explanations. The analogy works, even if it is cliched!

Switch Plates – How To Install New Ones

Installation of new switch plates is a great way to add your personal touch to your home’s décor. Most homes have the standard white or ivory plastic ones, but you have a large variety of custom options to choose from if you want something a little different. While you may think you are not the do-it-yourself type, this is a project that is not very difficult, and one you can accomplish with a few extra minutes.

Style & Material

Consider the current theme and design of your room when selecting new switch plates. If your room has a more contemporary look and feel, you perhaps want to consider simple metallic ones. With a more rustic country-feel to your home you would want to perhaps consider wooden versions, perhaps with a design on it to match the theme of your home.

If you are replacing the switch plates in a room with a specific theme, such as a little girl’s room with a princess theme, you are bound to find a something to specifically match the theme; giving you the ability to continue the theme in all aspects of the room.

Between intricately designed metal switch plates and simple wooden ones with painted decorations, you have a wide variety of new selection to choose from. The limit on the variety of what you can put in your home is only limited by how much you want to look for the right ones.


The installation of your new switch plate is an easy project you can do yourself; however, you will need to follow a few tips to ensure your own safety. Be sure to follow any and all guidelines provided to you by the manufacturer of the selection. Read them over clearly before you start this project.

Before starting the installation process, turn off the power to that room at the main switch. Any time you are dealing with a screwdriver and live wires, you are in a dangerous situation. Turning off the power at the main switch will minimize the danger for you.

Carefully remove your old switch plate and set it aside. Next, line up the new one with the existing switch frame. Using your screwdriver attach the new one to the switch frame. You may want to only partially screw one part of the plate at a time to make sure everything lines up before tightly fastening it.

A simple but fast-to-complete project, changing out the switch plates in a room can dramatically alter the look of the room; lending a whole new personal touch while allowing you to bring a little more of your personality into your home a the same time.

The 6 Best Slow Cookers and Crock Pots to Buy

Looking for a slow cooker that has all the right features that you want and need can sometimes seem like a Herculean task with so many companies making slow cookers these days. So, in order to help make your task just a little easier here are 6 of the best slow cookers that are known for their great and useful features.

Hamilton Beach 33967 Set It And Forget It Slow Cooker

The Hamilton Beach 33967 Set It And Forget it all of the features you will probably ever need. Let’s take a look at these features and see what actual users think about this handy kitchen appliance.

Size- 6-1/2 quarts, large enough to make dinner for a family of 4, roast an entire chicken, or make a pork or beef roast. It is also plenty large to make a casserole for that church dinner, or soup for that winter skating party.

Shape- This cooker is oval shaped making it easy to roast that chicken in the traditional position.

Insert- Easy to wash stoneware insert.

Lid-Glass lid that seals to make transporting easier.

Programmable cooking time- You program this cooker to cook for a set amount of time and then the cooker will turn itself to warm.

Temperature Control Settings- For those who aren’t sure just how long they want that stew to cook, the Hamilton Beach 33967 also allows you to set this appliance to a range of 3 temperature settings, high, low and warm.

Temperature Probe- For those who want their meat to be cooked to just the right temperature to be safe and healthy to eat. You can also use the temperature probe for cooking. Just insert the probe and when the internal meat temperature reaches the right temperature this slow cooker automatically turns itself onto warm.

Most users seem to love the Hamilton beach 33967 Set it and Forget it, awarding it 4.3 stars out of a possible 5.

Crock Pot SCCPVL610_S

I chose this model partly because it won the editors choice from Wired magazine. From the company that began the slow cooker trend, the Crock Pot SCCPVL610_S offers users a nice slow cooker for making meals.

Crock Pot SCCPVL610_S features

6-quart capacity is perfect for 7 or more people or a 6-pound roast

Easy-to-use locking lid featuring lid gasket provides extra seal for less mess on-the-go

Programmable digital control lets you program cook times anywhere from 30 minutes up to 20 hours

Shifts to warm setting automatically once the cook time is complete

Removable oval stoneware that is also stylish for your table and is safe for the dishwasher, oven and microwave

The Crock Pot SCCPVL610_S has aprogrammable timer. Users like it, giving it 5 stars.

Crock Pot SCR 3000 SS

From the company that began the slow cooker trend, the Crock Pot SCR 3000 SS offers users a nice slow cooker for making meals for one or two people, or soups and casseroles for a group.

Size- 3 quarts. Just big enough for that small chicken, that pot of hot soup, or a small roast for two.

Shape- round. While many people prefer the oval slow cooker, the truth is that a round crock pot takes up less space on the cabinet making it easier to use on a daily basis.

Insert- Easy to clean stoneware insert

Lid- Glass

Temperature control settings- High, low and warm

The Crock-Pot SCR 3000 has no programmable timer and no meat probe; it is just a simple and easy to use slow cooker made in the Crock Pot tradition. Users like it, giving it 4 stars.

Breville BSC 560XL Series Slow Cooker

Another one of the best around is the Breville BSC 560 series. It is designed to meet the needs of large families or those people who love entertaining. Its larger size makes it great for entertaining large crowds.

Size- 7 Quarts large enough to make to make Sloppy Joes for your son’s entire football team. Can easily cook a 7 pound chicken, 2-3 pound roasts, or make enough chili for that chili cook-off competition.

Shape-The Breville BSC 560 Series is a rectangle cooker that looks more like an electric roaster than a handy soup and casserole cooking appliance.

Insert-Cast Alum Insert allows you to sear and cook meat all in pan.

Lid- Stainless steel

Temperature Control Settings- High, low, and warm. This Breville slow cooker has no programmable timer and no meat probe.

Users who purchased this appliance seem to find many uses for it awarding it 4.4 stars out 5.

Cuisinart PSC 3 1/2 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

Cuisinart appliances have become quite popular and the Cusinart PSC 350 is no exception.

Size- 3 1/2 quarts

Shape- Oval



Programmable cooking timer-Up to 24 hours

Temperature Control Settings- This Cuisinart has something slightly unique when it comes to temperature control settings. As well as having the traditional High, Low, and Keep Warm settings. this appliance also has a setting for simmer making it the ideal cooker for making those soups and broths. It does not have a meat probe.

This cooker is ideal for families of 2 or 3 people.

Hamilton Beach 33135 3-in-1 Slow Cooker

The Hamilton Beach 33135 3-in-1 offers more options for people who need of varying sizes. This cooker comes with a stainless steel base and 3 different size inserts.

Size- 2, 4, And 6 quart cooking

Shape- Roundish

Inserts-3 varying size ceramic

Lid- Glass and fits all three vessels

Temperature Settings- High, low, and warm. This cooker is not programmable and has no meat probe.

The Hamilton Beach 33135 is the ideal cooker for that couple who often has company for dinner and loves entertaining. The three various size vessels are all nestled together for easy storage while allowing you to cook the right amount of food for any occasion. It rates 4 stars from users.

The different features offered by these slow cookers go from simple traditional slow cooking to all the latest technology. There is sure to be one that meets your specific needs. If you have one of these models already, let us know which one you think is the best slow cooker in the comments below.

Installing Polycarbonate Or PVC Roofing Sheets

Polycarbonate sheets can be used as walls or as roofs. Polycarbonate Roofing Sheets come in variety of color, profile and sizes. The price of these sheets varies immensely depending on the profile. The most common profile is a corrugate plastic roofing sheet. The guarantee, which comes along with these sheets, may range from a few months to lifetime depending on the quality of these sheets.

Roof Pitch:

Most of the manufactures of polycarbonate sheets advise an approximate fall of 1 in 5.7 i.e. a 10 degree pitch. You will need extra shielding from weathering elements if you take a sheet of less pitch.


Most of these sheets can be cut with the help of a fine tooth saw or garden scissors. The better of the quality of these sheets, the easier it is to cut them. If you want to cut a sheet at a time, you can even use a disk grinder or carborundum. The only disadvantage is that cutting more than one sheet at a time can lead to fusion and welding of sheets.


Before you fix the sheets, drill the holes. The adequate size of the holes is almost 8- 10mm. The holes should be a little larger than the screw’s shaft (at least 2mm) so that there is enough space for the screws to expand and contract. For more details, you can refer to the guide that comes along with the roofing sheets.


You can get appropriate screws from the manufactures of polycarbonate roofing panels. The easiest to use are the one with hexagonal heads. Most sheets are needed to be fixed at every fourth corrugation.

Grilling Planks and the Pleasures of Planking

Cooking on grilling planks, or planking, is becoming a favorite of outdoor cooks everywhere. This “planking” is a fool-proof process of cooking because the plank keeps the meat from drying out, as well as providing a sweet and smoky addition to the meat.

Normal grilled foods can dry out quickly when left on the grill, but a plank is soaked with water before grilling, and therefore moisture is constantly moving around the meat. The smoldering plank adds a subtle essence that compliments other flavors without taking over. Every kind of meat from beef to fish benefits from the flavors added by grilling planks.

Plank Wood Choices:

Today, planks for grilling are available in all grilling specialty stores. They come already packaged and sized to fit most grills. There are subtle differences in different wood types for plants, and oftentimes this flavor is masked by heavy grilling sauces and spices.

The two most popular types of woods for grilling planks are alder and cedar, but other woods produce their own delicious flavors.

– Alder produces a very delicate flavor that works best with milder foods. It is a good match for salmon and other fish and seafood.

– Cedar, which is the most aromatic wood of all, produces a deep but gentle flavor perfect for spicy, bolder meats like pork.

– Hickory planks give an intense smoky flavor that works well with chicken and beef.

– Oak gives a moderate flavor that blends well with various meats, including poultry and fish.

– Birch, poplar, pine, and other resinous wood give a bitter flavor to meats, so avoid using them.

Planking Tips:

  • Before grilling, soak planks in water to help keep the meat moist. Grilling planks that have been soaked produce maximum smoky flavor, and the plank is less likely to burn. Soak for at least one hour.
  • Use a soaked grilling plank right away since the wood will start to dry out fairly quickly.
  • Close the grill immediately after placing the plank and meat on the grill. Most of the smoke is generated at the beginning of the grilling process, so you want to capture and use as much of that smoke as possible.
  • Arrange the meat on the plank in a single layer, because meat touching the wood will get the most flavor from the wood.
  • Always use oven mitts to remove the plank after grilling. Place it on a heatproof platter or baking sheet. The edges of the grilling plank might be charred and smoldering for a short while after.

You will soon begin to love the results of using grilling planks and maybe turn this cooking method into your regular grilling routine.

The Business Plan – Describing Your Business Opportunity

The first real stage of writing your business plan concerns describing and articulating your business and what it hopes to achieve. This stage requires you to explain, as clearly as possible, what your business does.

It serves the purpose of outlining your personal vision for your business. So you will not only be explaining what it does, but also what you do and what your business is going to offer to the market.

Your first step is to put together an overview of your business. Firstly, you must be able to state when you started trading or are planning to begin trading. You also have to make sure that you include details of the progress you have made to date.

Then explain the kind of business you are running or are intending to run. This section must be as clear as possible so that your readers – whether they are potential investors or future employees or partners – can understand exactly what it is you do. If you can clarify what sector it is in – e.g. retail, manufacturing etc. – then this will make the picture clearer for the reader too.

Your next job is to outline any history that is important to the business you propose to run. For example, if you bought the business off someone else, it will obviously be important that the business plan shows some details of this transaction, as well as information on the seller of the business.

You must then outline the current legal structure of the business. This means ownership, the structure of the company as it stands in law, and so on.

Finish up the overview by articulating your vision for the future. This means thinking about the plans you have for the business as regards growth. It also means creating a picture of what your company will look like in the future.

After the overview, you then have to describe your product or service in detail. To get this section right, you must explain what makes it different to other products and services in the same sector, as well as the benefits it offers to the customer. To interest investors – or just to keep you on the right path as developments occur – you then have to outline what developments you are going to bring to your product or service. If you are going to run a cafe for example, you may plan to add another story in the future, to add value.

If you hold any patents or design rights, now is the time to declare them. And to finish up, describe the key features of your industry, in such a way that your product or service has a recognisable role in it.

At all times, make sure that you don’t throw in too much jargon, or industry specific terminology. If you are going to use the business plan as a means of acquiring investment, the last thing an investor wants is vocabulary they cannot understand.

So that is a detailed outline of the section of your business plan where you describe your business opportunity. This is often the most difficult section to complete. Be confident, follow the steps above and you will then be on your way towards completing your plan.

How to Fix Timber Balustrades and Hand Rails on an Upper Family Room

Family rooms are resting living areas usually located on upper floors in a home. This rooms are are used for watching television. This areas do not have walls on the side next to the stair well. This requires railings and balustrades to be fixed on this part of the room without walls. The balustrades are fixed and blended with the floor finish. The method of anchoring to the abutting wall and floor is crucial to the strength of the railings.

The fixing of timber balustrades on an upper family room, is done before the final floor finishes. The reason for this is to avoid drilling holes onto the timber and concrete floor after the finish is done. In a home where it is done as a replacement, the area of the wall and floor is first stripped of the finishes. There are different timber balusters used in the construction. The shapes can be square or round. The timber used is hard wood for durability.

The family room timber balustrades are fixed onto a four by two timber screwed into the concrete. This timber is laid on the four side to have a rise of two inches. It is drilled and screwed into the concrete along the edge of the stair well. The balusters are made with a steel dowel that will be screwed onto the four by two flat timber. This balusters are spaced at one foot center to center. They are there inches thick. The hand rail is fixed on top.

The height of the timber baluster is three feet. The hand rail is fixed into the wall at least three inches inside. The length is the same as that of the stair well. Once the hand rail is in place, the railing boards are then fixed. This are six by one inch thick. They are spaced at eight inches center to center. After they are in place, varnishing can be done to the desired effect. After this wall and floor finishes are then carried out as desired.