Why Wood Floors Are Healthier Than Carpeting

Do you know why wooden floors are healthier than carpeting? Are there allergies, or asthma in your home? Do you have pets in your home? If you have answered yes or no to any of these questions, read on.

I recently had the experience to replace old worn out carpeting with wooden floors. I knew this was a much healthier alternative to carpeting, but until I saw the results with my own eyes, the reason finally sunk in.

When you have carpeting it gets dirty and dusty – covered with animal hair – wet from spilled drinks. All we can do with the carpeting is vacuum. Then periodically once a year or whenever you feel your carpeting is an eye sore, you can hire a professional to come in and steam clean it or do it yourself.

With wooden floors immediately I knew the difference. The floors do require more maintenance especially if you have pets, but the floors are completely clean.

They can be dry moped daily or whenever you have the time, and wet mopped once a week. In this way the dirt and dust disappears and the animal hair is under control.

When you remove your carpeting take a whiff of the odor which is reking from the padding. Look at all the dust and dirt which has collected underneath the carpeting after being on the floor for years.

If you have members of your family with asthma, allergies or upper respiratory problems wood floors which require no glue is the answer.

I will say when you have a wood floor – it is recommended for you to wear shoes at all times. It is better for your legs, feet and your whole body. Even with padding underneath the flooring – it is still hard. It is a small adjustment to make wearing shoes when you are not used to wearing shoes in your home.

Thank you for reading my article. Please feel free to read any of my numerous articles on many different subjects.

Copyright Linda E. Meckler 2007

How to Build a Brick Wall

There is something about constructing walls that gives individuals a sense of fulfillment. This is the reason why that even though you can appoint a bricklayer to do the job for you; you feel that you want to try to build your brick wall yourself. Whether you plan to pursue a professional bricklaying career or just want to enjoy it as a pastime, constructing a brick wall needs careful study of the basics of brick wall construction.

MATERIALS THAT YOU WILL NEED IN CONSTRUCTING A BRICK WALL

You need to gather all the materials that you need to build your wall like a mortar mix, jointer, level, hammer, H2O, brush, wall ties, tape measure, nails bricks, trowel, shovel, line and wheel barrow. You also need to wear safety equipment at all times so that you will be protected from any untoward accident.

The trowel, which is a triangular metal shaped material is the main tool that you need to make your wall. You will need a trowel to even spread the mortar mixture as you assemble the bricks to make a wall.

STEPS IN BUILDING A BRICK WALL

A mortar mix is ​​mud-like concoction wherein the bricks are place in. To create a mortar mixture, you need combine fifteen to twenty scoops of sand and 1 seventy-pound container of mortar mixture. You will also need five gallons of H2O but it is advisable to combine the dry ingredients first before pouring water.

Place 1 gallon of H2O at a time until you achieve the consistency that you are aiming for. Bricks come in different sizes but for your first brick wall project, use the normal size bricks.Bricks are meant to be built as a veneer, which means that it should be constructed against another wall like in a house. You have to make sure that your foundation is strong enough to support the bricks. You also need to decide on the length of the brick wall that you are planning to construct.

Since the standard size of a brick is eight and a half inches long, place eight and three fourths intervals in the wall to give enough space for mortar mixture that will be spread in the joint of the bricks.

After you have placed the marks, you can now finish placing the 1st line of bricks. To accomplish this, you have to begin from left to right. Your left hand can pick up a brick from the stack and then your right hand can spread the mortar with the help of the trowel. Place an appropriate portion of mortar mix and set the brick in the mixture. Remove any residue after the brick is set in.

Repeat the whole process and continue placing down the brick until you achieve the height that you want. Remember to constantly check if the wall that you are making is level. If one portion appears disproportionate, place the bricks closer to the other side.

This simple brick wall building guide is helpful in your project but to learn more about the whole process, you can buy a DVD guide regarding the whole thing or enroll in courses that will teach you how to correctly construct a brick wall.

Decorative Outdoor Gas Fireplaces

The ongoing trend in the youngger homes is an outdoor open fireplace. This is an amenity that the households are interpreting to make their outdoor living place more fun and useful, all the year round. Many people like to sit and unlax in their backyards, after a day full of hectic work. However, the air becomes cold at night and in the absence of a eligible outdoor gas fireplace, it is problematic to sit outdoors. But thanks to outdoor fireplaces, you can now enjoy your outdoor space!

Outdoor fireplaces can either be free-standing or built-in structures. They can range from pastoral plainness to appealing extravagances. A built-in fireplace can definitely be a centerpiece in any area. The fireplaces are mainly planned by landscape architects and designers, whereas some are built by pool and spa professionals.

It is easier to buy pre-fabricated fireplaces that have been built with safety in mind. But if you are confident enough to build it from scratch, then materials can be bought from any home improvement store as well as those specializing in garden or outdoor materials.

Fix the area where you want to put the fireplace. Follow the instruction from the maker to assemble the fireplace together. Outdoor fireplaces can be set up just like indoor fireplaces, except that you do not need to instal a damper.

After installing the pre-fabricated fireplace, you can now add completing touches to your fireplace. Try adding bricks and blocks and then apply concrete or rouge with any color you like. You can even give your fireplace a stucco finish for getting that Mediterranean look.

So treat your garden or backyard with a nice looking and sophisticated outdoor gas fireplace!

Installation of Polystyrene Insulation on Fiberglass

Insulating a home can be performed by setting up a blend of fiberglass and the polystyrene foam insulation. Generally the fiberglass filling is utilized in between the hoops of the walls that are outside the home and is set up from indoors. On the other hand the polystyrene foam insulation is generally set up and fixed to the externals side of a home. The polystyrene insulation and the fiberglass insulation combine in a form where the polystyrene filling is set up on the fiberglass one. Given below I have provided the process by which these two kinds of insulation can be combined.

Utilize a measuring strip in order to determine the proportions of the place that requires to be covered with polystyrene foam insulation. Determine the altitude from the peak to the base and then measure the breadth from sides. Buy the panels of polystyrene insulation from any house development store. Utilize the calculations that have already been taken of the entire place in order to decide the number of panels you must buy.

First of all set up lone panels as they will not require to be slashed for fitting. Now set a panel straightly on the fiberglass filling and then fix it to the side. Utilize a mallet and fixers to secure the panel of the filling to the hoops in the side. Afterwards determine the dimensions of places that will require a particular range of filling cut. Always remember to create a mark on the panel of insulation with a pen or marker at the place from where you are going to cut it. Finally take the help of a sharp blade or saw in order to slash the panel of the filling to accurate dimension and after fix it on the fiberglass filling on the wall.

Advantages Of Steel Frame Kit Homes

Generally, standard kit homes are made from good old timber chemically treated against attacks from termites and mold. Although timber can also withstand the wear and tear of wood through different seasons, this material still remain vulnerable to fire. In contrast, steel frame kit homes are specifically made of steel trusses and wall frames. Because of the material, these homes rarely need maintenance check-ups and repairs. Other advantages to building steel frame houses are expanded in detail in the following discussion.

Steel Frame Buildings as Warehouses for Business

Steel frame kit homes can be used as commercial buildings, such as warehouses to store perishable goods. Wooden frame kit houses also work fine as storage areas, but they’re prone to termites and mold, not to mention a favored nesting place by birds and mice. If you’ve got food in there, then you’d be greatly concerned with the possibility these animals might invade your space any time and steal your goods. As a result, your business gets compromised and you have to spend money on repairs in case the mice gnawed holes or the rafters, walls, and foundation needed another round of anti-termite treatment.

Steel Frame Homes as Secondary Dwellings

These types of kit homes may be constructed as secondary dwellings, such as storage sheds for an extra pantry space or for chopped wood, or as storm shelters. According to expert builders, steel frame structures are more well-grounded and durable than timber frame buildings. Homes built with steel in their trusses, rafters, and frames aren’t likely to buckle, divide, distort, rotate, chink, rot or splinter because of climate changes or an incoming storm. Actually, the material is resistant to corrosion, and so, it won’t worsen and age as fast as wood and not in the same way as timber frame houses do.

Reduced Costs in Construction of Steel Frame Houses

Kit homes made of timber often need the hand of professional builders because of the measuring and refining of fittings. In comparison, steel frames are made to make it easy for owner-builders to assemble their house or shed. Whether they use their new building for commerce or for shelter, these kit homes don’t need extra labor during construction. And so, owners may save up to $35,000 in labor costs alone. In addition, they may save further maintenance costs by around $60,000 or more depending on the number of repairs done and the termite treatments needed every six months.

Concrete is Hard to Come by and Lumber Prices are Lower

I had no idea there is a shortage of concrete. Although there is a decline in demand, shortages exist in some key building products. Cement is at the top of this list. Just the demand from public and commercial buildings swallows the available raw material.

Plants in the US are operating at capacity. Inventories of the product remain low. This can lead to supply disruptions based on demand levels. So we are importing more cement this year. The quantity of imports increased over 39% in the first quarter of this year.

If the Gulf of Mexico region was rebuilding at a faster pace than it is, consumption would be greater leading to more of a scarcity of product.

Prices for lumber and its products are much lower current. This is an indication that residential construction is slowing. As demand for lumber decreases, mills are taken offline. This will eventually make the price rise again.

The law of supply and demand affects all of our products and the pricing structure at all times. As demand decreases, prices drop. When you consider all of the economic factors involved, it is amazing we can continue constructing affordable housing. It is also interesting to know that we currently import such a quantity of these items rather than produce them here.

Numerology Reveals the Hidden Meaning of Your House Number

Continuing with this series of articles giving you insight into where you live, in the meantime consider this: the house or apartment of where you live, even the block of land chosen you! That's right, even though you might think you chose where you live I have news for you, it chose you …

Developing this a little further, how many times have you heard (it may've even happened to you) of someone falling in love with a house but unable to afford it, yet – the finances became available. And, of those who had all their finances organized unable to proceed to the sale for one reason or another. It's happened to me and I'm sure it's happened to you – it's all about the where you live being where you're meant to be – lessons to be learnt – Karma to unfold or a journey to begin.

House Number Four: This is the most unpredictable of all the house numbers – with one crisis after another. The occupants often visit psychiatrists or seek someone to talk to! Expect your life to move in a completely different direction from what you had in mind if moving in here, take a tip and go with the flow for life is changing in ways you can not predict.

Aquarians will enter your life (you may be one yourself), but as long as they are not born on Jan 26, Feb 8, Feb 17 you can let them in! Life will offer many moments where you'll be called upon to help or counsel others. This address may even look different to others in the area or the occupants considered a little 'strange.' It also joins those involved with the physically handicapped! Some personal comments: I've often seen this number to have all the electronic gadgets, computers, plasma televisions, etc. Another thing I mention to people moving to this address is to look after their back and to invest in a decent bed. Linked to the planet Uranus in Astrology and has connections with all things Astrological along with the 11th house in the Astrological Chart (see my previous series)

When we talk about the 'unusual' you have to consider the actual appearance of the building or its color, even the occupations or occupants could have considered 'unusual' either by their looks, careers or something 'harder to define.' Let me give you a personal observation for this number crops up in my life more than I would like to admit and when it does and did I notice and notice that my life plans-goals-objectives seemly alter of their own accord. I want to go one way – life wants to go another. Call this Fate or Destiny, call it what you like but I fully believe the place (s) we live are the place (s) we are meant to be living at for the energy / vibration has attracted you – just like a magnet a magnet) joins iron filings and forms patterns. I live and work at a Number Four (103) my profession is all about helping others and yes, there are a few gadgets along with an interest / passion for Astrology – Numerology. I do not have any problems with my bed but it would be nice to have someone else share it with me now and then LOL …

When we include the meanings (simple) given to House Numbers 1-9 and those reducing to these numbers we'll explore the sexuality of Numerology for like it or not we are sexual as well as spiritual animals and Numbers give a clue to both.

Game Design Jobs for Felons – Tips To Getting Hired As A Felon Game Designer

Game design jobs for felons could be a good career choice for you. This article will talk about jobs for convicted felons in game design and describe what you will need to do to get a job in this industry. Skills seem to be what sets those apart who get hired for game design felon jobs, not your background.

What is game testing and design? Almost all of us have played computer or video games so it’s not too difficult to explain it. Simply put, game programming and design is the creation and development of gaming software.

So are there about jobs for convicted felons in Game Design? Yes, of course!

The gaming industry is one of today’s fastest-growing industries in the U.S. From 2005-2008, the U.S. economy as a whole grew by 1.4 percent while the gaming industry grew by an amazing 16.7 percent during the same period, according to the Entertainment Software Association. In fact, gaming is expected to become a $58 billion business by 2012.

Around 120,000 people are employed by the gaming industry which means that there are plenty of game testing jobs for convicted felons. This industry is one where people are more concerned about what you can do now than what you have been doing in the past.

Video design professionals are paid very well. The average annual compensation per gaming industry employee was $89,781 in 2009 and this figure is not expected to decrease any time soon.

Video design jobs for felons are suitable for those who are very creative and imaginative. You should be detail-oriented and disciplined. A passion for gaming is also a good quality for a game tester.

The first thing you will need to start a career in game testing is a high school diploma. Then you will need to learn about digital game design by getting a certificate or degree in video design. Core courses in a gaming program include animation, gaming technology, video design process and level design.

Once you graduate, you can get an entry-level job in a game design or entertainment company. These video design jobs for felons will involve tasks such as working with a team to design, develop, test and produce games, or create animations and 3D scenes.

Developing games or multi-media entertainment requires different types of game design professionals such as testers, programmers, concept artists, animators, sound technicians, modelers, music composers, level designers, story writers, producers, directors, etc.

The first few months in a video design company is mostly spent learning the ropes. Typically, the first job of a video design graduate will be an internship or a job as a tester. Game testers play a specific part of the game over and over to try to spot and document any flaws or bugs in the game programs or graphics.

In conclusion, game design is a good career choice for ex-felons who are interested in video games and are creative, artistic and imaginative. To get a job in the gaming industry, you can study game design and then apply for a job in one of the top a game design or entertainment companies. There are many game design jobs for felons available because the industry is experiencing very rapid growth.

How Long Does Teak Furniture Last?

If you have done any research on teak you have probably come across a common word, "strong." Not only is teak strong but it has many properties that naturally repel aging and natural damage and weathering of other furniture pieces made of different woods. Lets go over some of the unique properties teak wood has that makes it so superior to other furniture woods.

Natural Oils. Teak produces natural oils and special resins that repel pests such as termites and other wood damaging insects. This in turn keeps the wood solid and improves it's strength quality and extends the life of the wood. Because of these resins it is unnecessary to put a protective chemical finish on the wood like you do with most other wood furniture.

Teak is easy to alter. Many people like to alter the color of woods. Teak wood is excellent to stain as it is easy to contract staining color and keep the color for a very long time without fading. Although teak wood has a very beautiful golden look, you can rest assured that if you want your teak a little more red or darker brown that you can achieve this project with ease.

Teak is ageless. Did you know that teak furniture can last up to and over 100 years? Teak holds up very well to natural weathering and its resins and oils also prevents rotting. The really nice thing about teak is that it does not split or warp like other woods do. Because of this one property, teak was the main building material of ships in the past and is continued being used in modern boats and yachts.

Teak is easy to clean. Patio furniture always looks to be the most aborted furniture pieces of a home. When you have yard parties people spill drinks and food all over your patio furniture. Unlike cloth pieces that never let go of stains, teak is easy to clean. When a teak piece of furniture needs cleaning one can clean it with these everyday house supplies; hose, mild soap, and a gentle scrub brush. Just combine the water and soap and use the brush to lightly scrub off the mess. Simple use the garden hose and spray off the chair and your all done!

To conclude a teak chair can survive years upon years of frequent use without any special care. This alone makes teak wood furniture one of the most thoughtful after types of furniture in the world!

Work Ethics and Etiquette – Leaving Your Job Through the Front Door

About a year ago, my friend (and former co-worker) Steve was having issues with a manager. He is -or used to be- sentenced to bursting into flames when he disliked the way he was talking to or when he felt that something was unfair. One August afternoon, he had enough with this supervisor, confronted him (maybe even using some expletives) and walked away from the facility, never to be seen again.

Unless you've already gotten another job, leaving your current one in a tempestuous manner will certainly not help you in your quest to find a new job. Employers usually perform reference checks on candidates so if Steve applied for a job in a different company or decided to re-apply to the company where he quit, what do you think HR is going to say when required by the recruiter? That moment of "Wookie Rage" may condition your professional future for a long time. Diplomacy is mandatory.

This may be an extreme example of how not to end a job relationship. There are also grays.

Keeping your team on the loop

If you are transferring to another department make sure your boss and teams know beforehand about your intentions to leave (same rule applies when migrating to a different organization). Big companies have migrated to online recruiting platforms. Internal applications are now typically handled through the company's portal or intranet which have automated notification services that inform the person's direct supervisor when an employee is exploring new opportunities. And let me tell you, I (nor, I think, anyone) appreciates finding out that someone is leaving the team through an automated notification. Sadly, It happens a lot. People will find out you are planning to leave sooner or later. It'd Rather be sooner.

Letting your boss know you are leaving does not mean that he or she will start looking for ways to fire you if you do not get the job you are now applying for. On the contrary, it will give the company time to find someone to fill your spot and make an orderly transition. In the case you do not get the job … well, they get to keep you for a bit longer.

What you get from it

Letting those around you know about your plans can bring a wealth of benefits for you. When I left my last job I made sure everyone knew-before I applied for the new one, even knowing that it was not sure I would get it- my intentions and the reasons I was leaving. When I was finally given confirmation that I was accepted in my new position, I got not one, but 2 farewell parties (with cakes and everything), more than 30 cards (including a Gift Card: thank you Nurse Jan !!!) and the director of the program offered me her help, give references or advice if I ever run into problems or needed something in my new job. She did not have to do it, but she did it anyways. My former direct supervisor? We go sailing together every other week (or when our schedules permit).

The second possibility is that you could be tempted to stay either through a promotion or raise. If you do not say anything about your departure, this will never happen.

Sneaking behind everyone's back is bad work ethics, poor teamwork and a way to be remembered in an unfavorable light. This is particularly important in today's hyper-connected world. Some people fear what his / her boss may say or do if they applied for another job so they choose to keep it under the carpet until the " right moment to say it ". Usually that right moment is often known as too late . I'm sure there are a myriad of other possible reasons why people do not notify their superiors or co-workers but I sincerely do not know them. If you do, I'd love to know.

Quality Plantation Shutters – How to Tell the Good From the Bad – Part 1 of 3

Plantation shutters can be purchased at almost every price imaginable. If you’re not a professional in the shutter industry, how do you distinguish between high-quality and low-quality products? There are a number of factors you can use to compare plantation shutters before making a commitment. In this article, we will explain how to tell the good from the bad.

Only wood plantation shutters will be discussed, since shutters made from MDF, composite, and polymer materials are different enough from wood plantation shutters in design and construction as to make fair comparisons impossible.

Telling High Quality From Low Quality

Let’s compare two typical plantation shutter panels to illustrate the differences between higher and lower quality shutters.

Visualize this: both panels are 12″ wide by 21″ tall. They’re made from the same Basswood, and have 3-1/2″ louvers. Even with these elements being identical, you will see some surprising differences in the design, construction, and components of the imported and the custom-made shutter.

Good Design Means A Better Fit With Your Window

The first difference between these two shutter panels is in the number of louvers they have and the overall louver area. The higher-quality shutter has 5 louvers, while the lower-quality shutter has only 4. The reason has nothing to do with aesthetics, but with how the shutters were designed. One is a true custom-made shutter that was designed and manufactured for a specific window; the other is known as “cut-to-fit.”

This design difference is the single most important factor in understanding a shutter’s quality. Here’s why:

The factory that makes the lower-quality shutters makes them to predetermined sizes; in this case, the heights of the shutters are made in 3-inch increments. So the factory makes shutters that are 18″, 21″, and 24″ tall. If none of these dimensions fits your window’s measurements exactly, the U.S. distributor takes a shutter the next size up and cuts it down to fit your window. This means the shutters have to be designed with taller rails and wider stiles so these pieces are large enough to cut down. For most customers, the result is a shutter with a larger area proportionally of stiles and rails, and a smaller area for the louvers. Fewer louvers mean less light and a more restricted view.

In contrast, the higher-quality shutter is customized to fit the window right from the start. Each shutter is designed to fit the measurements of a specific window in your home. In this sense, it’s like a suit that’s been tailor-made for its owner from the cutting of the fabric to the final fitting. The result is a more balanced shutter and a brighter and airier window.

While the cut-to-fit technique is less expensive, the overall lower quality is obvious even to the casual observer.

The Right Hinge Makes A Stronger Shutter

Two basic types of hinges are used on shutters: butt and non-mortise. When you unfold a butt hinge, it can resemble a butterfly, with the left flap the same size as the right one. With butt hinges, the two flaps fold together (or “butt up”) against each other.

In contrast, the left and right pieces of an open non-mortise hinge aren’t the same. Flaps on a non-mortise hinge fold one-above-the-other or one-inside-the-other. With non-mortise hinges, the two flaps are each only half the height of the hinge.

For butt hinges to fit properly, the edge of the shutter has to be mortised, or chiseled out, so that the hinge is counter-sunk into the shutter and its surface is flush with the surface of the shutter. In contrast, non-mortised hinges (as their name implies) do not require this sort of modification to the shutter.

It’s less expensive for manufacturers to use non-mortised hinges, since they don’t require mortising. However, non-mortise hinges are weaker than butt hinges, since each hinge flap is only half the size of a butt hinge flap. Weaker hinges may hold up well for a few years, but quality plantation shutters are made to last for decades.

Two Layers Are Better Than One

When plantation shutters are finished with paint or clear topcoats, some manufacturers try to save money by applying just one layer of topcoat over a stain, or only one layer of paint over primer. High-quality shutters have at least two coats of each.

A painted plantation shutter with only one coat of paint will have a rougher feel than one with two or more coats. And stained shutter will have a richer luster if a second layer of clear coat is applied.

Buy A Quality Shutter…But Don’t Buy More Than You Need

There are literally thousands of shutters on the market today. Most of them display a mix of high-quality and lesser-quality characteristics. Buying quality is important; but buying more shutter than you need is a waste of money. Hopefully you are now armed with the information to shop knowledgeably for the quality shutters you need and want for your home and lifestyle.

Disadvantages of Having Parrots For a Pet

Parrots can be pretty hard to take care of. Unlike other pets that can be left alone in their cages, parrots are restless creatures who you have to check up on a couple of times every day. Here are just some things that parrots can do to your home.

Parrots can be pretty messy

If you are the type that would like the house to be spotless, try to reconsider getting a parrot or any pet for that matter. Parrots can be really messy, even a small parakeet.

Their food can be flung everywhere even when they are inside the cage. Your floor can be filled up by pellets, seed, and nutshells. Sticky foods may also be plastered on the walls, on the bars of the cage and even at the ceilings. Foods will literally be everywhere.

Another problem that you may have are their poop, which you really have to clean everyday. And they are not that disciplined to only poop in one place. They actually poop everywhere, in bars, in their food dish and even with the toys that you give them. They may even poop in between bars, which may end up on the floor and sometimes even on you.

If you have a cockatiel variety or the grey breed, you will also have to contend with the powder that they have on their feathers. The feathers will stick everywhere. So, you really have to dust everyday.

Because of this, you have to scrub the cage, their dish and the whole of the area at least once a day to prevent bacteria from settling in and of course the bad smell.

2. Parrots chew on everything

Parrots love chewing wood. In fact, owners of parrots often give them wooden toys to play and chew with inside their cages. Parrots however are not satisfied with just these toys. When they get the opportunity, they will chew on everything that they get their hands on. They will puncture your clothes, your furniture, even your books.

This can be really frustrating especially if you are the type of person who wants a clean house. Parrots are not recommended in homes that have dainty and fragile furniture. They should also not be placed in areas where they can break things and chew on antiques.

Be careful with wearing jewelry because they will sure to grab it or chew it. Parrots love shiny things. They can claw the stone right out of your favorite jewelry.

Be All That You Can Be: The Company Persona and Language Alignment

It’s not just CEOs and corporate spokespeople who need effective language to be the message. The most successful advertising taglines are not seen as slogans for a product. They are the product. From M&M’s “melts in your mouth, not in your hand” to “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” bathroom tissue, from the “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” of Alka-Seltzer to “Fly the friendly skies of United,” there is no light space between the product and its marketing. Words that work reflect “not only the soul of the brand, but the company itself and its reason for being in business,” according to Publicis worldwide executive creative director David Droga.

In the same vein, advertising experts identify a common quality among the most popular and long-lasting corporate icons: Rather than selling for their companies, these characters personify them. Ronald McDonald, the Marlboro Man, Betty Crocker, the Energizer Bunny — they aren’t shills trying to talk us into buying a Big Mac, a pack of smokes, a box of cake mix, a package of batteries; they don’t even personalize the product. Just like the most celebrated slogans, they are the product.

Walk through any bookstore and you’ll find dozens of books about the marketing and branding efforts of corporate America. The process of corporate communication has been thinly sliced and diced over and over, but what you won’t find is a book about the one truly essential characteristic in our twenty-first-century world: the company persona and how words that work are used to create and sustain it.

The company persona is the sum of the corporate leadership, the corporate ethos, the products and services offered, interaction with the customer, and, most importantly, the language that ties it all together. A majority of large companies do not have a company persona, but those that do benefit significantly. Ben & Jerry’s attracts customers in part because of the funky names they gave to the conventional (and unconventional) flavors they offer, but the positive relationship between corporate management and their employees also plays a role, even after Ben and Jerry sold the company. McDonald’s in the 1970s and Starbucks over the past decade became an integral part of the American culture as much for the lifestyle they reflected as the food and beverages they offered, but the in-store lexicon helped by setting them apart from their competition. (Did any customers ever call the person who served them a cup of coffee a “barista” before Starbucks made the term popular?) Language is never the sole determinant in creating a company persona, but you’ll find words that work associated with all companies that have one.

And when the message, messenger, and recipient are all on the same page, I call this rare phenomenon “language alignment,” and it happens far less frequently than you might expect. In fact, virtually all of the companies that have hired my firm for communication guidance have found themselves linguistically unaligned.

This manifests itself in two ways. First, in service-oriented businesses, the sales force is too often selling with a different language than the marketing people are using. There’s nothing wrong with individualizing the sales approach to each customer, but when you have your sales force promoting a message that has no similarity with the advertising campaign, it undermines both efforts. The language in the ads and promotions must match the language on the street, in the shop, and on the floor. For example, Boost Mobile, which caters to an inner city youth demographic, uses the slogan “Where you at?” Not grammatically (or politically) correct — but it’s the language of their consumer.

And second, corporations with multiple products in the same space too often allow the language of those products to blur and bleed into each other. Procter & Gamble may sell a hundred different items, but even though each one fills a different need, a different space, and/or a different category, it is perfectly fine for them to share similar language. You can use some of the same verbiage to sell soap as you would to sell towels, because no consumer will confuse the products and what they do.

Not so for a company that is in a single line of work, say selling cars or selling beer, where companies use the exact same adjectives to describe very different products. In this instance, achieving linguistic alignment requires a much more disciplined linguistic segmentation. It is almost always a more effective sales strategy to divvy up the appropriate adjectives and create a unique lexicon for each individual brand.

An example of a major corporation that has confronted both of these challenges and still managed to achieve linguistic alignment, even as they are laying off thousands of workers, is the Ford Motor Company — which manages a surprisingly diverse group of brands ranging from Mazda to Aston Martin. The Ford corporate leadership recognized that it was impossible to separate the Ford name, corporate history, heritage, and range of vehicles — so why bother. They came as a package. Sure, Ford maintains individual brand identity, through national and local ad campaigns and by creating and maintaining a separate image and language for each brand. For example, “uniquely sensual styling” certainly applies when one is talking about a Jaguar S Type, but would probably not be pertinent for a Ford F 250 pickup truck. But the fact that the CEO carries the Ford name communicates continuity to the company’s customers, and Bill Ford sitting in front of an assembly line talking about leadership and innovation in all of Ford’s vehicles effectively puts all the individual brands into alignment.

The words he uses — “innovation,” “driven,” “re-committed,” “dramatically,” “dedicated” — represent the simplicity and brevity of effective communications, and they are wrapped around the CEO who is the fourth-generation Ford to lead the company — hence credibility. The cars are the message, Bill Ford is the messenger, the language is dead-on, and Ford is weathering the American automotive crisis far better than its larger rival General Motors. Again, the language of Ford isn’t the only driver of corporate image and sales — but it certainly is a factor.

In fact, the brand-building campaign was so successful that GM jumped on board. But Ford quickly took it a step further. In early 2006, they began to leverage their ownership of Volvo (I wonder how many readers did not know that Ford bought Volvo in 1999 and purchased Jaguar a decade earlier) to communicate a corporate-wide commitment to automotive safety, across all of its individual brands and vehicles. Volvo is one of the most respected cars on the road today, and aligning all of Ford behind an industry leader is a very smart strategy indeed.

So what about the competition?

General Motors, once the automotive powerhouse of the world, has an equally diverse product line and arguably a richer history of technology and innovation, but their public message of cutbacks, buy-backs, and layoffs was designed to appeal to Wall Street, not Main Street, and it crushed new car sales. At the time of this writing, GM is suffering through record losses, record job layoffs, and a record number of bad stories about its failing marketing efforts.

It didn’t have to be this way.

The actual attributes of many of the GM product lines are more appealing than the competition, but the product image itself is not. To own a GM car is to tell the world that you’re so 1970s, and since what you drive is considered an extension and expression of yourself to others, people end up buying cars they actually like less because they feel the cars will say something more about them.

Think about it. Here’s a company that was the first to develop a catalytic converter, the first to develop an advanced anti-tipping stabilization technology, the first to develop engines that could use all sorts of blended gasolines, and most importantly in today’s market, the creator of OnStar — an incredible new-age computerized safety and tracking device. Yet most American consumers have no idea that any of these valuable innovations came from General Motors, simply because GM decided not to tell them. So instead of using its latest and greatest emerging technology to align itself with its customers, GM finds itself in a deteriorating dialogue with shareholders. No alignment = no sales.

Another problem with GM: No one knew that the various brands under the GM moniker were in fact . . . GM. Even such well-known brands as Corvette and Cadillac had become disconnected from the parent company. Worse yet, all the various brands (with the exception of Hummer, which couldn’t get lost in a crowd even if the brand manager wanted it to) were using similar language, similar visuals, and a similar message — blurring the distinction between brands and turning GM vehicles into nothing more than generic American cars. Repeated marketing failures were just part of GM’s recurring problems, but as that issue was completely within their control, it should have been the easiest to address.

When products, services, and language are aligned, they gain another essential attribute: authenticity. In my own market research for dozens of Fortune 500 companies, I have found that the best way to communicate authenticity is to trigger personalization: Do audience members see themselves in the slogan . . . and therefore in the product? Unfortunately, achieving personalization is by no means easy.

To illustrate how companies and brands in a competitive space create compelling personas for themselves while addressing the needs of different consumer groups, let’s take a look at cereals. Anyone can go out and buy a box of cereal. But different cereals offer different experiences. Watch and listen carefully to their marketing approach and the words they use.

Most cereals geared toward children sell energy, excitement, adventure, and the potential for fun — even more than the actual taste of the sugar-coated rice or wheat puffs in the cardboard box. On the other hand, cereal aimed at grown-ups is sold based on its utility to the maintenance and enhancement of health — with taste once again secondary.

Children’s cereals are pitched by nonthreatening cartoon characters — tigers, parrots, chocolate-loving vampires, Cap’ns, and a tiny trio in stocking caps — never an adult or authority figure. Adult cereals come at you head-on with a not-so-subtle Food Police message, wrapped in saccharine-sweet smiles, exclaiming that this cereal is a favorite of healthy and cholesterol-conscious adults who don’t want to get colon cancer! Ugghhh. Kids buy Frosted Flakes because “They’re grrrreat!” Adults buy Special K because we want to be as attractive and vigorous as the actors who promote it. When it comes to cereal, about the only thing parents and kids have in common is that the taste matters only slightly more than the image, experience, and product association — and if the communication appears authentic, they’ll buy.

And cereal certainly sells. From Cheerios to Cinnamon Toast Crunch, more than $6 billion worth of cold cereal was sold in the United States alone in 2005. If you were to look at the five top-selling brands, you would see a diverse list targeted to a diverse set of customers. The language used for each of these five brands is noticeably different, but in all cases totally essential.

In looking at the first and third best-selling brands of cereal, one might initially think that only a slight variation in ingredients mark their distinctions. Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios are both based around the same whole-grain O shaped cereal, but are in fact two very different products, beyond the addition of honey and a nut-like crunch.

The language behind Cheerios is remarkably simple and all-encompassing — “The one and only Cheerios.” Could be for kids . . . could be for young adults . . . could be for parents. Actually, Cheerios wants to sell to all of them. As its Web site states, Cheerios is the right cereal for “toddlers to adults and everyone in between.” The subtle heart-shaped bowl on each box suggests to the older consumer that the “whole-grain” cereal is a healthy start to a healthy day. But the Web site also has a section devoted entirely to younger adults, complete with testimonials and “tips from new parents” talking about how Cheerios has helped them to raise happy, healthy children. The language behind Cheerios works because it transcends the traditional societal boundaries of age and adds a sense of authenticity to the product.

While you could probably live a happy and healthy existence with Cheerios as your sole cereal choice, there is a substantial segment of the cereal market that demands more. For the cereal-consuming public roughly between the ages of four and fourteen, a different taste and linguistic approach is required. Buzz the Bee, the kid-friendly mascot of Honey Nut Cheerios, pitches the “irresistible taste of golden honey,” selling the sweetness of the product to a demographic that craves sweet foods. While the parent knows that his or her child wants the cereal because of its sweet taste (as conveyed through the packaging), Honey Nut Cheerios must still pass the parent test. By putting such statements as “whole-grain” and “13 essential vitamins and minerals” on the box, the product gains authenticity, credibility, and the approval of the parent.

Two different messages on one common box effectively markets the same product to both children and parents alike, helping to make Honey Nut Cheerios the number three top-selling cereal in 2004. So with the addition of honey and nuts, General Mills, the producer of the Cheerios line, has filled the gap between toddlers and young adults, and completed the Cheerios cradle-to-grave lifetime hold on the consumer.

To take another example, if you want people to think you’re hip and healthy, you make sure they see you drinking bottled water — and the fancier the better. No one walking around with a diet Dr Pepper in hand is looking to impress anybody. These days, there’s almost a feeling that soft drinks are exclusively for kids and the uneducated masses. There’s a cache to the consumption of water, and expensive and exclusive brands are all the rage. Now, there may be a few people who have such extremely refined, educated taste buds that they can taste the difference between Dasani and Aquafina (I certainly can’t), but the connoisseurs of modish waters are more likely than not posers (or, to continue the snobbery theme, poseurs). You won’t see many people walking around Cincinnati or Syracuse clutching fancy bottled water. Hollywood, South Beach, and the Upper East Side of New York City are, as usual, another story.

There’s one final aspect of being the message that impacts what we hear and how we hear it. How our language is delivered can be as important as the words themselves, and no one understands this principle better than Hollywood.

At a small table tucked away in the corner of a boutique Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Beverly Hills, I had the opportunity to dine with legendary actors Charles Durning, Jack Klugman, and Dom DeLuise. The entire dinner was a litany of stories of actors, writers, and the most memorable movie lines ever delivered. (Says Klugman, an Emmy Award winner, “A great line isn’t spoken, it is delivered.”) Best known for his roles in The Odd Couple and Quincy, Klugman told a story about how Spencer Tracy was practicing his lines for a movie late in his career in the presence of the film’s screenwriter. Apparently not pleased with the reading, the writer said to Tracy, “Would you please pay more attention to how you are reading that line? It took me six months to write it,” to which Tracy shot back, “It took me thirty years to learn how to say correctly the line that took you only six months to write.”

Spencer Tracy knew how to be the message — and his shelf of Academy Awards proved it.

Excerpted from WORDS THAT WORK by Dr. Frank Luntz. Copyright 2007 Dr. Frank Luntz. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.

Etosha Camps: Okaukuejo or Halali? The Better Option

Etosha National Park has three camps inside the park, but which is the better option, Okaukuejo or Halali? Namutoni is the third camp, and by far the least popular. Why? The waterhole doesn’t draw in the large numbers of wildlife as the other two camps.

Of the two, which camp is the better option?

Halali Camp is the newest of the three camps and the most relaxed, in a stretched mopane woodland setting. The rooms have en-suite toilet/shower. Camping has toilet/shower facilities, braai areas, and electrical outlets. There is also a bar, restaurant, swimming pool, and the Tsumasa Trail up a small dolomite hill to the summit. A small floodlit waterhole, at this Etosha Camp, was built about three hundred meters behind the camp attracting elephants and rhinos along with other game animals.

Okaukuejo is Etosha’s oldest resort, located near Andersson Gate. Climb the tower to have a 360° view from the park’s highest vantage point and spot game far off in the distance. In the evenings, relax on the benches in front of a floodlit waterhole visited by Etosha’s game animals including giraffe, elephant, lion, and black rhino. The rooms have en-suite toilet/shower. Camping has toilet/shower facilities, braai areas, and electrical outlets. There is also a bar, restaurant, museum, swimming pool, and post office.

As you can easily see, essentially the two Etosha camps are the same. However, it is the waterholes, and those around the camps, that visitors generally use as decision makers.

Okaukuejo is famous for its waterhole having the ability to attract large numbers of wildlife -elephant and rhino visit regularly -on any given day. It’s seating around the waterhole spreads far and wide leaving ample room for visitors to cozy in comfortably.

Halali’s waterhole on the other hand provides a feeling of exclusive seclusion, a quiet hide tucked amongst the rocks, the same rocks you sit on whilst waiting for wildlife to appear. The hide, at this Etosha camp, is perched above, allowing for great views of wildlife only few feet away. Halali is also in the center of the park with excellent year-round waterholes attracting large herds and hungry prides.

No matter which camp you choose, or if you divide your time between the two, you’ll certainly fall asleep to the roars of lion, the crying of hyena, or the callings of the various other wildlife that call Etosha home.

It is important to note advance bookings must be made at Namibia Wildlife Resorts main office in Windhoek or online. Reservations for Etosha camps cannot be made over the telephone, and should be made well in advance.

When booking with Etosha NWR, you need to stick to your itinerary, as it is very difficult to change your plans, especially during the holiday months or at the end of July and August. During these months the park is full and the resorts and camping spots are generally completely booked. It is sometimes possible to camp without reservations, however to keep your trip smooth it’s better to book your reservations in advance.

Reception offices are at each Etosha camp and are open from dawn to dusk. It is here you pay for your stay and park fees that are due. It is important to note that all park fees must be paid at the reception office before attempting to leave the park as you can’t pay at the gate.

Combine your visit to Etosha with Sossusvlei. Get started planning your safari today! http://wildsafariafrica.com/about/your-specialist-in-african-safari-planning/

Discover the Most Dangerous Forms of Water Pollution & How You Can Protect the Health of Your Family

There are many different forms of water pollution, all of which are caused by people's carelessness. Agricultural run-off is a serious problem and one of the largest forms of water pollution. Large factory farms use huge amounts of herbicides and pesticides that all wash into the ground water when it rains, polluting the groundwater for thousands of miles around.

The herbicides and pesticides are deadly cancer-causing chemical compounds that can not be removed from the water by any method but proper filtering. The thousands of tons of manure from these farms also run into the water carrying herbicides and pesticides that the animals have ateen as well as the bacteria and microorganisms in the manure.

Industrial Waste is another major form of water pollution. Factories, large companies, manufacturers, mills and plants often dump their waste directly into the rivers, lakes, streams and oceans. Those who do not dump directly into the water, dump into the ground, causing more groundwater contamination. Recent studies have identified 2,100 of the 80,000 chemicals in North American drinking water to be carcinogenic chemicals.

Household Waste – You and I are water pollution culprits too. Every time someone pours a cleaner, detergent, soap, chemicals, medicines, paint, solvents or anything else that does not occur in nature down the drain, it becomes a form of water pollution.

Sewage – Many countries and states still dump raw sewage into the harbors and bays. Millions of tons of raw sewage are being dumped into the water every day. In some countries raw sewage runs in the gutters along the streets. This sewage obviously puts many different types of toxins into the water.

What Can We Do?

The best thing we can do to protect ourselves is to install a certified multi-layer water filtration system in our homes. All water that you come in contact with must be decontaminated- not just your drinking water.

The chemicals and metals in the water can see through the skin or be inhaled in the form of steam, as well as being ingested. Protect your family from all of these forms of water pollution with a proper water filter.