China, the Way I Saw It – Episode V – The Xiamen Facade

Surprises and unexpected sights continued to be prevalent as our small group traveled to the province of Fujian and the seaport city of Xiamen (pronounced Sha-men). With a population of 1.2 million, and located in the south, the weather was just slightly cooler than that of Hong Kong. Even though it was only late March, the temperature was near 90 the day we arrived.

Of the four cities where we were to visit factories, Xiamen was one of two that had airports, Harbin being the other. As we were flying around the city in route to our landing, I noticed what appeared to be several modern high-rise apartment buildings, surrounded by an inviting looking golf course.    

“Charles,” I said to our interpreter, “look at that!” I pointed out the window, my eyes wide with disbelief.

Charles smiled. “Tomorrow, I will show you up close. I’m sure you will find it interesting.”

“Yeah… after Harbin, I never expected to see anything like that!”

“Xiamen is a designated SEZ. You will see a little more modern China, here.”

“What is a SEZ?”

“Special Economic Zone. They are trying to attract foreign investors here, so Xiamen gets a lot of government money. They even have a nice hotel for us. A joint venture with an Australian hotel chain. I’m looking forward to buying you a drink in the bar. The hotel has been opened only one month.”

“That sounds great. Vodka on the rocks… no more mao-tai.”

Charles hired a van to take us to the hotel. The breeze was warm and fresh, the absence of coal smoke a welcome breath. The streets were as busy as Beijing as bicycles came and went from every direction. We came to a sudden halt as a man dressed in rags and missing his legs crossed the street on a small board with casters. The bicyclers shouted curses and shook fists at the man as they manipulated their way around him. I could only shake my head in disgust. Where was their compassion for one less fortunate?

The hotel was fantastic… although it appeared to have been built in the middle of a war zone. Charles explained that several older buildings had to be torn down to make room for the hotel. Only the twisted and broken remnants of them still remained where they had been shoved aside to make room for the new structure. No one seemed to be concerned except my fellow American and myself.

And, then… we met Edith.

As were getting out of the van, a beautiful, willowy blond lady dressed in white slacks and white sweater floated towards us. She was breathtaking!

“Ah, my Americans have finally arrived,” she purred, her Australian accent adding to her charm. “I’ve had nobody to talk to for months now. I’m Edith, the manager of the Waterfront (I’m told the hotel was sold in 1993 and is now the Miramar). Welcome.” She held out a slim hand. “Since you are my first American guests, we must go directly to the bar and have a glass. My treat! Was the trip long? Are your tired… ?” The questions continued as she chatted all the way to the lounge.

“What a pleasant surprise,” I remarked to Charles.

“I may never leave here,” he replied.

The afternoon and evening passed quickly. The drinks were excellent and a duet of violin playing girls accompanied our dinner. Edith proved to be a great host.

The next morning, we were met by two representatives from Xiamen Machines Limited, both whom could speak English. The youngest introduced himself as John Chen and informed me that he would be the lead interpreter for the Chinese factory. They had brought a brand new Russian made van with a driver and we were informed that the van and driver were at our disposal for the entire time we were to be in Xiamen. If only we had some place to go.

John Chen made it a point to sit next to me for the drive to the factory so he could explain the sights we were seeing. Suddenly, we turned off the main street and were in the middle of a golf course… only it wasn’t a real golf course. The greens were areas of concrete painted to look like close mown grass. The fairways were overgrown with weeds and covered with rocks. There were no cups nor flag pins. There were no tee boxes and there was no club house. It was all fake.

Then came the high-rise buildings and I knew this was the area I could see from the plane. I’m sure the look on my face prompted John and Charles to try and explain.

“These are for show only,” Chen remarked.

“As I said yesterday, I knew you would find this interesting,” Charles added.

“There’s no glass in the windows… there’s no floors… the buildings are only shells!” I said in awe.

“Yes, they are designed to look good for arriving airplanes…to show that Xiamen is a modern and growing city. To attract foreign money,” Chen informed me. “We will build real buildings as the need arises.”

“What do the visitors say when they see this is a hoax?” I still couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Visitors are not allowed in this part of the city. We come here only because it is the only way to get to the factory.”

“Well, I’ll give you an A for effort. This is amazing.” I shook my head. “You fellows ever hear of the phrase ‘Chinese fire drill’?”

The factory was only marginally better than Harbin. Same product, same quality problems.The big difference which I noticed right away… they were willing to spend some money to modernize. The reason… they had money, Harbin didn’t. It was a pleasant two days with Edith providing us with a tour of the harbor, good food for dinner, and the best FREE cocktails in all of China. As we were preparing to check out, Edith whispered to me, “Send me pictures of your homes in America. I may want to apply for a job there next.” I promised her I would.

WESD51 Weller Digital Soldering Station – Review

I have been using this soldering station very often for soldering through hole and surface mount components including components in size 1206, 0805, 0603 and SOIC ICs. It is easy to set an accurate temperature on this iron – this is very important when soldering temperature sensitive components. The WESD51 digital soldering station has been designed for industrial manufacturing, but it can also be used for variety other soldering projects,including repair of circuit boards, replacement of electronic components or some soldering projects for hobbyist.

The station comes with a power unit, detachable 50W iron (PES51), iron holder and tip-cleaning sponge, and 3-wire power cord. There is a power on/off switch, power-on LED, and temperature adjusting knob on the power unit. The station has processor control and digital display. The WESD51 Weller soldering station is the digital readout version of the popular analog WES51 soldering station. The unit display shows a “Read” mode by default, which displays the current temperature of the tip. To switch into the “Set” mode, turn the temperature control knob slightly and the display will show the current “Set” temperature. In other words, while adjusting the temperature, the display shows your target temperature and then automatically switches to show the current tip temperature. Tip temperature is adjustable in the range of 350 ºF to 850 ºF (177 ºC to 454 ºC), temperature accuracy is: +/-10 °F (+/- 6° C). The temperature shown on display can be switched between Degrees “F” and Degrees “C”- the factory default is ºF. The unit’s grounded soldering iron tip, a digital readout, zero power switching and anti-static design allow the WESD51 soldering iron to meet high quality standards including CE mark. This soldering station will automatically shut off power to the tool and digital display after 99 minutes of inactivity.

The WESD51 Weller iron comes with a PES51 soldering pencil. The PES51 is a slim, comfortable pencil style soldering iron that features a Nichrome wound stainless steel element construction, a non-burning silicone rubber cord, and large selection of tips in various styles including tips for surface mount devices. The iron uses ET series soldering tips, and changing the tips is quick and easy. The assortment of tips is very extensive – there are tips for heavy duty work to fine tips for SMD including conical, long conical, single flat, screwdriver and narrow screwdriver soldering tips.

The WESD51 Weller soldering station is “one of a kind” and I strongly recommend it. It is a real pleasure to work with WESD51 soldering iron. Absolutely worth the money! It is one of the best soldering iron available on market. I give 5 out of 5 stars to this soldering iron.

Socket Wrench Terminology For the Beginner

Welcome back to our series on automotive hand tools for the beginner. If this is the first article you’ve read, don’t worry – we will take it easy on you. As discussed in other articles when you are building your new tool collection it can sometimes be hard to understand what it is that you need exactly. The last thing I want to encourage anyone to do is spend more than you have to spend in order to get the best tools you can. However, before you can understand what it is you need, we need to get you ready to understand what it is the tool does. In this article I’m going to very briefly touch on what some terminology is that you are going to need to know while selecting the best tools for your job.

Drive – this refers to the size ratchet that fits into the socket. Typically they are 1/4″, 1/2″ and 3/4″ “Drives.” The larger the ratchet, the more force you can apply to the socket and therefore to the nut or bolt that you are trying to turn. Although you can use adapters to switch the drive size between sockets it is not recommended as they often break. Also, smaller drives are meant to work in smaller places and should not be used to apply overly aggressive torque to a socket and drive combination that just was not meant for the workload you are asking of it.

Spark Plug Socket – This is a special socket meant specifically for spark plugs. It’s typically identified by its wrench-friendly head on which you can place a wrench around the outside of it. They also have a soft rubber boot inside that is meant to protect the plug while you are installing it into the cylinder head.

Flex Handle – This is a ratchet that has a head which will flex up to 90 degrees in articulation. This allows you to work in areas that would otherwise not permit you to use a straight ratchet because of clearance problems.

Socket Extensions – This may be the most valuable thing to make sure you have multiple lengths of in all drive sizes. I personally have 3, 6, and 10 inch length extensions in every drive size at all times. They go in between the ratchet and the socket wrench to extend the reach of the socket so that you can get to nuts of bolts that a deep in your engine compartment. When shopping for a set, I’d recommend the style that locks on the socket end with a push button release. Extensions often will wiggle loose from the socket at the wrong time, so having a set that locks are a huge time saver. I’d also follow the typical recommendation to be sure that there are no sharp edges on the tool, and that the plating has an even appearance and feel.

Swivel – Think of this like it is a universal joint for your ratchet. It will allow to you turn a socket that isn’t perfect perpendicular in the direction in which you move the ratchet. This is another indispensable item, and follows the guidelines for sharp edges and plating as well.

Can Black Holes Evaporate?

Black Holes are astrophysical objects that are so massive, that have gravity so high, that their escape velocity (some seven miles per second on Earth) exceeds the ultimate cosmic speed limit – the speed of light (186,000 miles per second). Since nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, nothing (matter and/or energy) once inside a Black Hole can ever get out again – or so the seemingly ironclad logic went.

However, that’s all according to classical physics. A physicist by the name of Jacob Bekenstein came up with the idea of applying quantum physics to these objects (upon a suggestion by his mentor John Wheeler – who incidentally coined the phrase “Black Hole”), and once that was done, well lo and behold, these objects apparently exhibited entropy, and therefore had a temperature and therefore must radiate and therefore can vomit out stuff. His ideas were mulled over and over again and finally agreed to and expanded on by the celebrated astrophysicist/cosmologist Stephen Hawking. That stuff that a Black Hole can regurgitate now goes under the name of Hawking radiation, or to give credit where credit is due it is technically Bekenstein-Hawking radiation. However, it’s usually just called Hawking radiation so I’ll stick with that convention.

Of course if Black Holes have a temperature, then they must follow the same laws of thermodynamics as any other object with temperature. One key point in thermodynamics is that energy exchanges between objects are at least partly determined by one object’s temperature compared to another object’s temperature. The temperature of a hot cup of coffee will stay hot longer the higher the temperature of the environment that surrounds that hot cup of coffee. A Black Hole’s temperature must be compared to whatever temperature surrounds that object when considering the fate of the Black Hole. So how does a Black Hole get temperature?

In retrospect, how this happens is obvious (as are all great ideas when applying hindsight).

There is no such thing as the perfect vacuum. That could only be achieved at a temperature of absolute zero where and when everything is 100% frozen stiff. Alas, such a state violates one of the most fundamental principles of quantum physics – the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle – where it is impossible to know both the momentum and position of anything with 100% precision. If something were at absolute zero, frozen stiff and standing still, you’d know both the momentum (which would be zero) and position (at a standstill) of that something with absolute precision.

Since there is always a minimum state of energy anywhere in the Universe (something above absolute zero), and since energy and mass are equivalent (Einstein’s famous formula/equation), then that energy state, the false not-quite-absolute-zero vacuum, the vacuum energy*, can generate mass – virtual particles. However, the particles come in matter-antimatter pairs, which usually immediately annihilate and return to their former pure energy state. BUT, and there is always, a BUT – there’s an exception to the rule – that normal state of affairs can be thwarted.

The vacuum energy, that which can generate particle-antiparticle pairs, exists everywhere where existence has any meaning. Part of that existence is an area called the event horizon**, which is a concept related to the concept we call Black Holes. These cosmic objects all have an event horizon which surrounds them.

The event horizon surrounding a Black Hole is that somewhat fuzzy region that separates the region (below the event horizon) from which gravity rules over the speed of light, and that region (above the event horizon) where gravity’s escape velocity can’t quite dominate that speed of light velocity. I say its “fuzzy” since it’s not razor sharp, albeit nearly so.

The vacuum energy is part and parcel of the space surrounding the event horizon, above, below and spot-on. Now, what if that vacuum energy generates a pair of virtual particles, one each popping into existence above the event horizon; one below the event horizon. Then, the particles will be unable to annihilate and recombine into pure energy. One will stay within the Black Hole. The other, being above the event horizon, can be dealt a ‘get out of jail’ card. And thus, slowly, ever so slowly, but ever so surely, these cosmic sinks loses mass, thus energy, and they evaporate.

Here’s the general picture. Black Holes can only radiate from the event horizon region which, in a very large cosmic sink is going to be very cold because it’s not radiating very much, so initially only things like the mass-less photon escapes. Assuming there’s no incoming to replace the loss, the cosmic sink shrinks, and as it gets smaller it warms up slightly (that’s what things that shrink tend to do) and can radiate particles with small mass – say neutrinos. When the cosmic sink is tiny, it’s very warm, in a relative sense, and it can go out with a ‘bang’, maybe emitting an electron or positron which is way more massive. When there’s no more Black Hole, the vacuum energy still produces at random virtual particle pairs, but there’s no more event horizon from which to separate those virtual particle pairs and thus its all back to normal – the two annihilate and return to their vacuum energy state. That’s where the popular accounts end. End of story. The ultimate fate of Black Holes will be to evaporate via Hawking radiation, even if it does take trillions of years.

Alas, the written texts forget to mention that radiation emission (and other forms of emitted stuff) is a two-way street, not a one-way street. Black Holes can acquire stuff, as well as radiate stuff. If deposits exceed withdrawals, then these cosmic sinks will always have a positive ‘stuff’ balance and thus won’t fully evaporate. Now this is perhaps why Hawking radiation hasn’t been observed. The tiny amount of Hawking radiation (outgoing) will be swamped by the greater, many orders of magnitude greater, amounts of incoming radiation and other stuff impacting the Black Hole.

Forget these universal sinks (and their massive gravity) for a moment and concentrate on Planet Earth. Even at night, you see lots of suns – stars. You see them because they are radiating photons – particles of electromagnetic energy of which visible light is a small part. In fact you only detect a tiny fraction of visual photons because your visual detection devices (eyes) aren’t that efficient. Optical telescopes pick up a lot more of them, but they’re still just as real. You are also being hit by photons in the infrared, the ultraviolet, in radio wavelengths, X-ray photons, gamma-ray photons, etc. Though Earth’s atmosphere shields us from some of these photons (ultraviolet photons are far greater in number at the top of our atmosphere than at the bottom), you still get impacted by multi-billions of them; Planet Earth many orders of magnitude more. Some of the photons get reflected back into space; these don’t add to Earth’s energy/mass balance. Overall, there are roughly one billion photons for each and every fundamental particle with mass, like electrons and neutrinos.

Now in addition Earth (and you too) gets hit with cosmic rays, neutrinos, and cosmic dust. Even if you luck out, Planet Earth gets impacted by meteors and other outer space debris, sometimes debris large enough to not only hit the surface but do considerable damage. Planet Earth’s mass increases by many tons a day, all due to Earth’s sweeping up of the interplanetary dust and small rocks that intersect Earth’s orbit. The trillions of neutrinos that hit us are so ghostly that nearly all pass right through you and the entire planet as well despite them having a tiny amount of mass, so as far as our planet is concerned, they are of little significance.

Now what about a Black Hole? Clearly these objects aren’t isolated from the rest of the cosmos and other objects therein. If you were just outside the event horizon you’d ‘see’ photons (of all wavelengths) because you’d see stars and galaxies, etc. just like you can locally. Neutrinos would still pass right through you on their way to their doom once passing through the event horizon. The Universe is full of interstellar and intergalactic atoms and molecules and dust and of course lots of larger stuff a Black Hole can snack on. Black Holes will sweep up stuff just like Earth does, only more so since it has more gravity with which to grab hold of stuff with, and also because once caught there’s no escape for the cosmic fish. Unlike Earth, everything that crosses that event horizon, that hits the cosmic sink, won’t be reflected back (like photons). Neutrinos that can pass through light-years worth of solid lead without even ‘breathing hard’ will be imprisoned when they try that trick in a Black Hole’s inner sanctum. And of course atoms, molecules, interstellar dust, the big chunks will also get imprisoned.

But we can imagine an idealized cosmos where all Black Holes have swallowed up all existing radiated particles (photons), all the atoms, molecules, the dust and all the bigger stuff – all those stars and planets; asteroids and comets; even all that mysterious ‘dark matter’. So you have a cosmos of just universal cosmic sinks and the vacuum energy (well maybe a few bits and pieces escaped, but so few to be of no consequence). Of course there is one further logical extension. cosmic sinks can swallow other cosmic sinks. Black Holes can merge to form bigger Black Holes. The final product is that the cosmos consists of one Black Hole – the Mother of all cosmic sinks – plus the vacuum energy! So you end up with one Black Hole left standing with nothing left to eat.

Okay, so the only scenario now possible is that this Mother of all Black Holes evaporates via Hawking radiation. It might take trillions upon trillions upon trillions of years, but evaporate it does. Since matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, once the Mother of Black Holes has finally gone ‘poof’, the Universe is right back where it started from – full of stuff from photons to fundamental particles which them undergo chemistry to form atoms and molecules and stars and planets and perhaps life – and new Black Holes!

Perhaps this is a new and improved version of a cyclic/oscillating universe! – But then again, maybe not. There’s a fly in that ointment (but I had you going for a while back there!). That “idealized cosmos” was only a ‘what if’ thought experiment.

Firstly, it’s actually very, very unlikely all the Black Holes in the Universe will ever merge together as long as the Universe keeps expanding. Since the galaxies are getting farther and farther away from each other due to that expansion, the collection of Black Holes contained within each galaxy keep getting further and further apart from other clusters of Black Holes contained within other galaxies. It’s like the passengers in one car get more and more remote from the passengers in another car when each car is going at different velocities and heading in different directions.

Now the collection of all Black Holes in any one galaxy could well coalesce into one super Black Hole galaxy. You have a galaxy that instead of containing billions and billions of stars and debris and particles now consists of just one Black Hole – the car only has one occupant. You have a pure Black Hole galaxy, or a galactic sized Black Hole.

One might end up with a Universe composed of just these pure Black Hole galaxies, all spreading farther and farther apart over time.

But secondly, there’s another fly in the ointment. All the space that separates these pure Black Hole galaxies from each other isn’t a perfect vacuum, quite apart from the vacuum energy. All the radiating stars and stuff may have been gobbled up within each galaxy, but all of interplanetary space, all of interstellar space, and all of intergalactic space, isn’t pure vacuum. There’s still the ‘it’s everywhere, it’s everywhere’ Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR).

So what’s this CMBR? If you have a massive hot explosion (like the Big Bang event is alleged to have been), and all that heat energy expands and expands, then you’d expect the temperature of the area occupied by that energy to drop, the temperature ever decreasing as the volume that finite amount of energy occupies increases. As the energy expands it gets diluted and thus cools, but can never reach an absolute zero temperature for reasons already noted. And that’s just what we find on a universal scale. There’s a fine microwave energy “hiss” representing a temperature a few degrees above absolute zero that’s absolutely everywhere in the cosmos. That’s the diluted heat energy of the very hot Big Bang – well it has been a long time since the Big Bang event (13.7 billion years worth of time) and that energy is now spread throughout a lot of cosmic volume. That microwave “hiss”, called the CMBR, was predicted way before it was discovered. There’s no doubt that it exists.

Since the CMBR is just photons with very long wavelengths, Black Holes could suck up the CMBR photons as easily as light photons. Removal of CMRB photons, already representing a temperature just slightly about the theoretical minimum – absolute zero – would mean the Universe gets even colder, which it would anyway since the Universe is ever expanding and thus available electromagnetic energy (photons) is ever diluting. Combining the two effects and the Universe is a chilly place indeed and will get even colder.

However, it’s probably not possible for Black Holes collectively to swallow up all of the CMBR since there will come a point of diminishing returns. What happens when the temperature of Black Holes equals the temperature of the Universe at large – the CMBR? The answer is thermal equilibrium like when your hot cup of coffee cools off to room temperature. Input into Black Holes from the CMBR will equal output via Hawking radiation. For every photon emitted via Hawking radiation, a CMBR photon gets sucked in. What does that mean? It means a Black Hole can not evaporate.

What about very tiny (micro) Black Holes that are relatively ‘hot’? Might they go ‘poof’ before thermal equilibrium is achieved? Will the contents of the Black Hole evaporate into the surrounding cosmos before they can equate to the surrounding temperature? The analogy might be like a hot drop of water could evaporate into the cold atmosphere before the liquid water drop can attain the temperature of its surrounding environment.

Even so, I still imagine that in the current matter and radiation dominated Universe, incoming would still exceed outgoing.

Of course if you could take a Black Hole, isolate and shield it from the rest of the cosmos and all that it contains, so all you have is the Black Hole and its internal energy (including the all pervading vacuum energy therein). An isolated Black Hole would be in a setting equivalent to putting it into an absolute zero temperature environment. If that’s the case then outgoing would exceed incoming since there could be no incoming, and therefore that Black Hole would then radiate and slowly evaporate and eventually go ‘poof’. BUT, and there’s always a BUT, I can not envision any scenario where a Black Hole can exist in such a theoretical isolation. So, Professor Hawking is quite correct – in theory. In practice, in the here and now, input exceeds Hawking radiation output, and even in the unimaginably far distant future equilibrium will be established where input equals output.

*If it helps to conceive of the concept of the vacuum energy, here’s an analogy. Think of the invisible but energetic atmosphere as the vacuum energy. Part of that atmosphere consists of invisible water vapour. But, all of a sudden, and for reasons that must have been mysterious to the ancients, part of the atmosphere undergoes a phase change into something you can see; into something solid – like a particle. You get mist/fog (clouds), rain drops, snow, sleet, hail, etc. Then, equally mysterious, those solid bits eventually undergo another phase change (evaporation standing in for annihilation) back to invisible water vapour in the equally invisible atmosphere. And so you have the invisible vacuum energy that generates particle-antiparticle pairs which annihilate back into the vacuum energy.

**The surface area of the event horizon is the same for both incoming and outgoing so there is no need to take that (non) variable under consideration.

Near Death Experiences – A Form of Illumination That Changes Lives

When most people think of the enigma of near death experiences, they conjure up images of someone floating out of his body and going through a tunnel, of seeing a brilliant white light and meeting an angel or heavenly guide.

An Awakening

But the most amazing part of a near death experience (NDE) is what happens after the person returns to life.

In this article I will show you how near death experiences are similar to sudden spiritual illuminations – illuminations which may tell us something about this world and the one beyond.

For most people, a NDE leads to an awakening that shows them how to transform themselves, solve problems and improve their lives in powerful ways. It is almost always a life-changing event that accelerates their efforts toward personal transformation.

Although I have been studying NDEs for years, I have just recently realized the average NDE has much in common with the remarkable enlightenment experiences of mystics and spiritual seekers.

Transcendent Illumination

In 1901 Richard Bucke, M.D., published a book about people who had undergone extraordinary inner illuminations. It was the first book of its kind. And, today, over a hundred years later, Cosmic Consciousness is still in print!

Cosmic Consciousness studied the nature of transcendent illumination. Bucke wrote about the experiences of famous individuals, such as Pascal, Thoreau and Francis Bacon, whose spiritual eyes had been opened by means of amazing inner experiences.

What do near death experiencers have in common with recipients of cosmic consciousness?


Both groups tend to report similar outcomes: the loss of the fear of death, an overwhelming sense of joy and attunement with the cosmic universe, intellectual and moral quickening, a newfound sensitivity to others, an enhanced intuitive capability and a deep reverence for life, among other things.

In both groups the experience is unforgettable.

And life-altering.

Jacob Boehme

Richard Bucke wrote about the life of Jacob Boehme (Behmen), the German philosopher, who had his first illumination in the year 1600. Jacob had a total of three major revelatory events, the last being in 1610. In the end, Boehme, like the other individuals about whom Bucke wrote, found himself radically changed by his strange encounters with enlightenment. He was left with no fear of death, a profound sense of joy, and a new, incredibly rich view of the world.

Boehme, a simple, uneducated man, went on to write about his experiences and live an extremely productive and inspired life. He found considerable fame. Many learned scholars met with Boehme to discuss his philosophy, and Boehme’s ideas influenced the thinking of philosophers for years to come.


The lives of many near death experiencers have been touched in similar ways. Their accounts of extraordinary journeys into the unknown sound much like those of the historical figures featured in Bucke’s famous, one-of-a-kind book.

Although NDEs are not glamorous experiences (quite far from it), they often result in a type of illumination, which can alter a person’s life in profoundly positive ways. Others can draw inspiration from these amazing accounts, and find new ways of enhancing their lives.

For example, by embracing your relationships more and seeking the hidden beauty in every moment, you can apply the wisdom of the NDE to your every day life. You may endeavor to see the old experiences with new eyes — mundane experiences like walking or gazing at the architecture of clouds.

And, I believe, these illuminating events can teach us much about the nature of reality and what it means to be human. No one knows for certain what happens upon dying, but NDEs seem to suggest people retain consciousness after clinical death. Certainly, by studying the stories of people who have undergone a NDE, and those who have had flashes of cosmic consciousness, we can come to a greater appreciation of the hidden realities within and without.

Most of all, we can ponder the riddles of existence and ask those questions which most need to be asked.

LED Lighting Systems Offer Latest Technology Lighting Solutions

The way you light up our homes could have negative and positive implications on our environment. No doubt, therefore, by making transition from one lighting system to another, you could help save the otherwise vulnerable environment. As far as home lighting is concerned, new strides are being made not only in energy efficiency, but also the longevity of light sources. Herein lies the strength of LED lighting systems. In fact, by just changing one of your regular incandescent light bulbs to a LED light, you can help to protect the environment and save money. LED or Light Emitting Diodes Light are diodes (electronic components that let electricity pass in only one direction) that emit visible light when electricity is applied, much like a light bulb. LEDs are used as indicator lamps in many devices, and are known to offer latest technology lighting solutions for modern residential lighting.

Why switch to LED lighting systems?

Given their proven ability in saving energy cost and their, LED lighting solutions have come a long way from being used only for notebooks (laptops) and flashlights to being used in parking areas, street lights, traffic lights highways, corporate offices, hotels, public buildings, restaurants, gallery, lounge, cars and signboards. The benefits of LEDs are myriad indeed.

One of the most proven benefits of LEDs is their energy efficiency. LED lighting systems are known to offer twice the efficiency of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs). It has been estimated by the Department of Energy that by 2025, LEDs have the potential to reduce national energy consumption for lighting by 29 percent, saving $125 billion on the electric bills of US households. The LED light bulbs can boast of long lifespan of between 40,000 – 80,000 hours. While incandescent light bulbs are known to last around 1,000 hours and fluorescents for roughly 10,000 hours. The fact that they are eco-friendly, makes LEDs one of the most sought-after lighting systems. The LED lighting systems adopt latest technology in energy solutions and are devoid of the dangerous chemicals like mercury emitted by ordinary incandescent bulbs.

LED lights do not also have to contend with breakable or dangerous parts such as glass, fragile filament and fragile tube. They are hence resistant to heat, cold, and shock. Even in the domain of heat generation, LEDs reign over ordinary lighting systems in that the heat generated by them is always below 60°C. Also, performance of LED lights is not affected by frequent switching. In view of their latest technology lighting solutions, LEDs are finding applications in various industries. One of them being the car industry which is switching gear to eco-friendly LED lighting arrangements. Not only that, their solid-state nature coupled with a wide array of colour options make LEDs ideal an ideal choice for decorative lighting, signage and displays as well as mood lighting.

But this only a part of the story, as new technologies pervade human life and innovations becoming the buzzword in lighting solutions, LED lighting systems would sure become a craze among the environmentally-friendly consumer. So, why wait when you have the choice to save your planet without giving up on your taste for good living.

Installing Leak Barriers on Your New Roof

Weather Watch or StormGuard Leak Barriers.

Use either Weather Watch or StormGuard Leak Barriers. Weather Watch Leak Barriers offers these features…a mineral surface for better traction, Fiberglass reinforced for added strength, 1.5 squares or 2.0 squares per roll, split back release film which makes for an easier installation, Repositionable Weather Watch Leak Barrier is designed to be set in place and repositioned if need be, it is less likely to stick itself, it uses a time released adhesive that reduces hassles if material folds on itself during the installation, seals to almost any surface, seals to all the critical areas, seals nails, staples, and seals to plumbing vent pipes.

StormGuard Leak Barrier features a good traction in heat film surface, it is fiberglass reinforced for extra strength, 2.0 squares per roll, split back release film which makes it easy to install, of course it is repositionable if need be. And as it will seal itself to many different surfaces, deals to roof decks, nails, staples, and roof vent pipes.

Leak barriers are not designed to hold up to direct sunlight for any long periods of time. Weather Watch or StormGuard Leak Barriers are never to be installed if the exposure could exceed for 60 days.

Leak barriers should be installed at the eaves to give protection from wind-driven rains and ice dams, in all valleys, a full 36″ width throughout the entire valley length, around all plumbing vent pipes, 20″ square section applied tight to the pipe, around the dormers for added protection under the flashing areas, around all chimneys to safeguard against any leak sources, at roof slope transition areas when a roof pitch flows to a lower pitch, there is a danger of ponding water, around the skylights to seal off critical areas that may leak, and at the rake edges, hips, and ridges from protection from wind-driven rain.

When installing GAF-Elk Leak Barriers at eaves, install anywhere there is the threat of a snow load, most building codes require installing Leak Barriers at the eaves, extend up the roof to at least 24″ inside of the warm wall, the “warm wall” is the interior finished wall, two courses of 36″ are needed on a typical structure, lap second course over first by 3″ using the selvage edge to keep straight, and hand roll lap for adhesion purposes.

When installing Leak Barrier on top of drip edge cut into 10′-20′ lengths so it is easier to handle, examine the deck, make sure it is clean, dry, and free of debris, install the gutter and remember to re-attach all leader pipes, install non-corroding metal drip edge, aluminum or galvanized steel, nail every 8″-10′, install full width of the membrane and flush to the drip edge, roll back the top half of the membrane to remove and to release the film, seal the membrane to using a roller, for safety reasons, back every nail 18″ along selvage edge, roll bottom front half to remove release film, remove release film to install to the deck and drip edge, seal the membrane, again, using a roller.

Extend laps 6″ minimum at any seams, hand roll these laps to seal. Do not leave the membrane exposed for longer than 60 days because it is not designed to be exposed for long periods of time. And for any additional courses, waterproof roof deck protection should reach a point 24″ inside the interior wall line. If any extra courses are needed or required, the top lap must be at least 3″ and hand rolled for good adhesion purposes.

Fireproof File Cabinets – How to Make the Right Choice

You will always have greater peace of mind with fireproof file cabinets. Even as a fire disaster strikes you are well assured that very important files remain safe and secure. You should know though that fireproof filing units are not all the same. Different brands and models resist different degrees of fire. How do you make the right choice?

The first point you should check is a filing cabinet’s UL classification. Some brands are certified for one hour fire resistance while others are certified for two hours. Aside from resistance to fire, file cabinets are also often tested for impact and explosion tolerance. These are also factors you should check to ensure that your papers get the best protection possible.

Fireproof file cabinets should also be chosen based on their filing capacity. Bear in mind that their primary use is, after all, for the storage of paper documents. You therefore have to choose a cabinet that is best able to secure the kinds of papers you will be dealing with. Like the usual filing units, those that are fireproof come in lateral or vertical type and can accommodate either letter or letter and legal size documents. Drawers can range from two to five.

To help you make a quick decision, it makes sense to go for a trusted name in the industry. Research on the names of various manufacturers of fireproof file cabinets and look for corresponding buyer reviews and feedback. This is the fastest way for you to find out which brand names buyers prefer to put their money on.

Wallpaper – Great Wallpaper Ideas For Your Desktop

Wallpaper is the first thing you see when you switch your computer and the last image that is shown when you shut down your PC. Wallpapers are great display for desktop since it enhance the image of your screen, making it even more fun to use your computer. If you want to change your desktop display then the tips discuss in this article can definitely help you a lot.

Most computer users do not give importance to their desktop backgrounds, so they can ignore it even if wallpapers can do more than just provide your PC with great display. You see, wallpapers can also soothe tired eyes and help brighten up your mood especially if you have a cool display.

So, if you are changing your desktop background make sure that you choose one that is pleasing to the eyes and appropriate. In fact, since it is Christmas why not just considers wallpapers with the holiday theme, you not only have a cool display screen but you can also imbibe the spirit of the season in your computer.

Take note, the image you will choose for your desktop can say a lot about your personality. So, it is wise to consider only appropriate desktop display that will not offend anyone, in case they saw your computer screen. Besides, there are numerous wallpapers to choose from online and so finding one is not going to be problem.

Keep also in mind that there are free Christmas wallpapers online and so there is no reason to pay for one. Just browse online and you are bound to find a website that promotes free wallpapers that caters to this season of gift giving. If you prefer something that is not associated with the holiday season, there are also year round wallpapers available.

If you have no idea what is the most appropriate wallpaper to display on your desktop, here are some great ideas to consider:

1. Image of entertainers you adore.

2. Photo of a well-known personality that inspires you to do your best is also a good screensaver.

3. Funny cartoon characters can even bring back good memories from childhood, so try it.

4. Paintings or artworks you really like.

5. Photos of flowers, animals, sky, etc.

6. Breathtaking sceneries like the beach, mountain, and other landscapes.

7. Christmas wallpapers

The recommended wallpaper theme contains subtle images that can surely enliven your day and refresh your mind and tired eyes.

Fireproof Safe Buyers Guide

Not too many people know, but the number one cause of personal damage every year is caused by fire. Each and every year, small businesses in your city lose billions of dollars’ worth of property all due to fire accidents. Most fires typically cause damage to valuables such as jewelry, important paperwork, electronics, and other personal possessions.

To cut down on or even prevent this loss of property, business owners and home owners are now purchasing fireproof safes to protect important documents and other artifacts. In fact, fireproof safes and file cabinets are among the most in demand security products today and with prices starting at around $200, it’s easy to see how a simple investment can make a big difference in preventing loss. Whether it is important documents, valuables, heirlooms, media files, or other important items, fireproof safes can offer the peace of mind you get from knowing your valuables are protected.

A standard to measure the fire resistance of any specific safe has been created so safe buyers can know how much fire their safe can stand up against. There are security safes that will range anywhere from half an hour to four hours. If you’re shopping for a security safe, be sure to look for the rating that lets you know the specific safes level of fire protection.

Water damage from activated sprinkler systems can also damage a safes content, so be sure to look for a safe that offers water resistance.

In order to meet these standards, a fire proof safe must experience rigorous fire resistance tests to guarantee that their contents are fully unharmed from the effects of the extreme temperatures.

Independent testing firms and other laboratories place safes manufactured by different companies through these tests to ensure that the unit meets certain norms and guidelines.

One thing to note is that fireproof safes can be rather expensive due to their special construction. Since special construction is commonly applied, the selling price can be slightly more. One good point is that many brands and manufacturers offer free after fire lifetime replacement warranties should the safe be damaged in a fire.

Buying a security safe that features fire protection is a great investment to give you peace of mind knowing that you are protected from burglary and fire.

What Causes Acid pH?

We use too many drugs, which are acid-forming; and we use artificial chemical sweeteners like NutraSweet, Equal, or aspartame, which are extremely acid forming (not to mention the neurotoxin characteristics!). One of the best things we can do to correct an overly acid body is to clean up the diet and lifestyle. Stress and physical activity (insufficient or excessive amounts) also cause acidification.

Research shows that when food is metabolized and broken down, it leaves certain chemical and metallic residues, a noncombustible “ash” which, combined with our body fluids, yields either acid or alkaline potentials of pH. Certain foods are “acid-forming” in nature, whereas others are known to be “alkalineforming.”

Note that a food’s acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, lemons are very acidic; however the end-products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline so lemons are alkaline-forming in the body. Likewise, meat will test alkaline before digestion but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid forming.

The body becomes imbalanced and overly acidic primarily as a result of five things:

1. An acidic, low-oxygen environment in the body which is a result of eating diets that are heavy in sugars, dairy, meats, refined grains, fast foods and processed foods. These foods are all lacking in essential micro-nutrients; they leave behind an acidic ash following digestion.

2. A lack of the proper building blocks for the cell membranes that don’t allow for the transfer of oxygen and nutrients into the cells. Cell membranes are made up of lipids (fats), and the body will use whatever form of fats that you are consuming, even if they are toxic and will clog the cells. Eat healthy fats, such as hemp seed oil, coconut oil, olive oil and butter.

3. A lack of permeability of the cell membrane will cause a build-up of cellular toxicity which further damages the respiratory mechanisms within cells; not allowing the cell to breathe and remove waste, forcing the cell to switch over to the fermentation process of energy production in order to survive.

4. Poor blood and lymph flow due to the lack of movement and exercise.

5. Extended indulgence in toxic emotions.

Which Foods Are Acid-Forming And Which Ones Are Alkaline-Forming?

Researchers find that most people are at least slightly acidic; their pH is low. Most of us habitually consume a diet high in meat, high in carbohydrate, high in fat and very little, if not completely inadequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. That means that most of us will experience a continual acid pH and the older we are, the more “acid” we tend to become.

How Do I Know If I Have Acid pH?

pH measures the balance between positively and negatively charged ions in the body fluids, i.e. blood, urine and saliva. A low pH number indicates that your body fluid is on the acidic side. A high pH number indicates you have alkalinity. This delicate balance is an important indicator of overall health.

Blood pH should be slightly alkaline (7.35 – 7.45). Below or above this range means symptoms and disease. A pH of 7.0 is neutral. A pH below 7.0 is acidic. A pH above 7.0 is alkaline.

Urine pH levels can indicate how well your body is assimilating minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. These are called the “acid buffers” because they are used by the body to control acid levels. When acid levels begin to increase, the body becomes less capable of excreting acid. It must either store the acid in body tissues, or buffer it-that is, borrow minerals from organs, bones, etc., in order to neutralize the increase in acidity. Urinary pH should fluctuate between 6.0-6.4 in the morning and 6.4-7.0 in the evening.

Test Strips can determine your urinary pH. When urinary pH is continuously between 6.4 and 7.0 (depending upon the time of day), you’re functioning in a healthy range.

Saliva pH – The results of saliva testing can indicate the activity of digestive enzymes in your body, especially the activity of the liver and the stomach. This reveals the flow of enzymes running through your body and shows their effect on all the body systems and your tissues. Some people will have acidic pH readings from both urine and saliva-this is referred to as “double acid.” Salivary pH should stay between 6.4 and 6.8.

Drop Ceiling

Before you start your basement ceiling decide weather you will drywall your basement ceiling or install a drop ceiling. If you find it difficult to choose, consider some of the advantages and disadvantages below.


– The idea of being able to access the electrical wiring to add or remove some lights in without having to damage the drywall is one of the advantages of a basement drop ceiling.

– Air ducts need to be repaired or even replaced.

– How about water leaks from hot or cold water lines? Any repairs and modifications that you might need to do on these lines and ducts can be very costly if you have to open an area in the basement ceiling. But not with a dropped ceiling, just remove as many ceiling tiles as needed and put them back when you are done. It is that simple. In my opinion, drop ceiling tiles are by far the best choice for a basement ceiling.

– You can choose from different styles of ceiling tiles and textures. Choose your tiles carefully. Keep in mind that the bigger the tiles the less work since you do not have use have to use as many.

– Once the tiles are in place the ceiling is finished without having to tape and paint it.


– Reduction of head room – a minimum of 4in is required to slide the ceiling tiles in place.

– Cost, ceiling tiles cost more money then drywall, although there is a way to cut down on the cost of a drop ceiling.

Vinyl Tiles Floor – How to Install Vinyl Tiles Flooring

If you are looking to install new flooring, you want to make sure you choose a flooring material that is both durable and attractive. You have lots of choices for durable and attractive flooring materials, among them vinyl tiles. Many homeowners are choosing vinyl tiles flooring because they are long lasting, not to mention attractive.

There are people who believe that if you go with this type of flooring, it will negatively affect the value of your home should you decide to sell your home and move. Chances are these people have never seen high quality vinyl tiles or if they have, the tiles were poorly installed. If it’s durable and attractive vinyl tiles you are after, it is important that they be installed the correct way.

When you are looking at the flooring options available, make sure you do not just focus on this type of flooring. There are other flooring materials out there that you should look at before you make a decision. However, if you do decide you want this type of tiles for your new flooring, you will discover that you have plenty of choices here too in terms of styles, patterns, and colors. You are sure to find vinyl tiles that are going to match your home decor.

Stone, concrete, wood, or terrazzo flooring tend to be expensive flooring materials. However, you can actually find vinyl tiles that resemble these flooring types after installation. Vinyl tiles are durable so you won’t have to worry about installing them in high traffic areas of your home. With this type of flooring, you can be sure that they are going to withstand any wear or tear, and they will continue to look as attractive as the day you installed them.

Many homeowners love having this type of flooring because they are so easy to maintain. These tiles do not require a lot of cleaning or even special cleaners and tools. And if a tile gets a crack or sustains some damage, you only need to take out that tile and put in a new one – problem solved! Your floor looks good once again.

When you are sure this type of tiles are the right flooring material for your home, the next step is for you to find out how you can install the tiles. Vinyl tiles are easy to install but mistakes do happen. So make sure you buy extra tiles. To begin installation, prepare the base floor. Ensure the base floor is level. There should not be any holes, raised areas, or anything that will prevent the base floor from being completely flat. Remove any nails or tacks, fill up the holes, and sand down the bumps.

When you’ve got the base floor smoothed and leveled, you are ready to install the vinyl tiles floor. Don’t stick the tiles down right away; try to lay out the tiles in the pattern you want. When you are satisfied with the general layout of the tiles, you can start sticking the tiles to the base floor. Once the last tile is installed, you have vinyl flooring you are going to be happy about for many years.

Centrifugal Pumps

Since the olden times, man has been trying to find some convenient ways of lifting water to higher levels for water supply or irrigation purposes. It is believe that the idea of lifting water, by centrifugal force, was first given by L.D Vinci (An Italian scientist and engineer) in the end of 16th century. Then this idea was put to experiments by French scientist and they designed centrifugal pump, having impeller and blades. At that time, the reciprocating pumps were very popular. Then a continuous advancement of this pump has brought it to high degree of perfection, which is used all over the world these days.

Types of Pumps

Though there are many types of pumps these days, yet the following two are important the subject point of view:

1. Centrifugal pump, and

2. Reciprocating pump.


A pump, in general, may be defined as a machine, when driven from some external source, lifts water or some other liquid from a lower level to a higher level. Or in other words, a pump may also be defined as a machine, which converts mechanical energy into pressure energy. The pump which raises water or a liquid from a lower level to a higher level by the action of centrifugal force is known as a centrifugal pump.

It will be interesting to know that the action of a centrifugal pump is that of a reserved reaction turbine. In a reaction turbine, the water at high pressure is allowed to enter the casing which gives mechanical energy at its shaft; whereas in a pump, the mechanical energy is fed into the shaft and water enters the impeller (attached to the rotating shaft) which increases the pressure energy of the outgoing fluid. The water enters the impeller radically and leaves the vanes axially.

Casings for the Impeller of a Centrifugal Pump

A centrifugal pump consists of an impeller, similar to that of a turbine, to which curved vanes are fitted. The impeller is enclosed in a water tight casing, having a delivery pipe in one of its sides. The casing for a centrifugal pump is so designed pump is so designed that kinetic a delivery pipe in one of its sides. The casing for a centrifugal pump is so designed that the kinetic energy of the water is converted into pressure energy before the water leaves the casing. This considerably increases the efficiency of the pump.

Get it Right – Lean Or Skinny?

Do you want to be lean, or do you want to be skinny? Do you know the difference? It’s real and it matters. Deciding whether you want to be lean or skinny is like deciding whether you want to lose weight or lose fat. Which one you choose makes a huge difference.

It is easiest to show the difference between lean and skinny with two sets of women: high fashion models and the athletes who competed at the Olympics (Guys, if you would feel more comfortable, think of marathon runners and sprinters. The analogy isn’t exact, but close enough for this). High fashion models are almost always skinny. They may be beautiful and sexy (that’s really a job requirement), but look closer. They usually look like they haven’t eaten in a while. They also look frail and fragile, like a strong breeze would blow them over or like they would have trouble carrying their own groceries.

Getting skinny is relatively easy: don’t eat. I’m sure many top models do some sort of exercise as well, but there’s a good reason models look like they’re starving. Most of them eat very little.

Now think about the female athletes who just competed at the Olympics. They’re lean and strong. Many of them are beautiful and sexy too. But they certainly don’t look like they starve themselves. And they’re not frail or fragile. There’s no question about whether they can handle the physical demands of day to day life.

Getting lean is a lot harder than getting skinny. Athletes combine a healthy diet with serious physical training. Athletes sweat and work hard to develop their bodies, which helps them to succeed at their sport. They work both to lose fat and to build or maintain muscle.

Skinny people have little fat on them, but little muscle either. Lean people have little fat on them, but they have real muscle too. And that muscle makes all the difference. Muscle burns calories, meaning you can eat more without gaining weight. Muscle makes every physical activity easier. Muscle protects your joints and bones, making you less likely to be injured.

Getting lean instead of skinny is harder, but the benefits are undeniable. Honestly, who would you rather look like: a high fashion model or an Olympic athlete? What would you rather be: skinny and frail, or lean and strong?

If you would rather be lean and strong, then you need to focus on fat loss instead of weight loss. While you lose fat you need to build muscle or at least preserve the muscle you already have. Find a fat loss plan instead of a weight loss plan. You’ll be glad you did.