Our To-Do List?

Well, parents, like many of you, another weekend has just come and gone and it once again feels like I just can not make any progress on my ever-growing to-do list. You've probably agree with me when I say that as parents we are stuck in so many different directions between the needs of our kids, family, extended family, our community and so many other things that sometimes it's tough to make any progress at all , huh?

Okay … For example, on an early Saturday morning not too long ago I found myself sipping coffee while banging away at my computer keyboard, doing a couple of my weekly columns while the kids were still tucked away in their beds sleeping. Soon after that, I found myself waiting in a very long line at the Motor Vehicle Department, then rushed home to bring my oldest child to horseback riding lessons; followed by bringing my youngest to a birthday party. Next, I played with my kids, squeezed in dinner and went to visit Uncle Ray who is very sick.

Sunday was just as busy as Saturday. And while folding laundry at the end of the night I mentioned to my wife how busy life has become and how I can not seem to get anything done these days. She agrees with me. I fold a few more of my kids' shirts in silence as I'm thinking about our busy weekend and I say, "You know what hun? Even though I did not get much done on my to-do list this weekend, it was still a pretty good weekend because I got to spend it with you and the kids. " My wife smiles and agreements wholeheartedly.

Now, as my Granddaddy always said, "Go learn, lead, and lay the way to a better world for all of us." Let's not fuss too much over our inability to consistently knock off some of our to-do lists. It's really just a guide anyways. Nothing more. Some things are just more important than our to-do list. And once again parents, thanks in advance for all that you do, and all that you will do …

Improve Your Home With a Beni Ourain Rug

You may just find yourself starring at a stunning Moroccan Berber rug on the floor. Berber rugs are becoming beloved staples in interior design for a wealth of strong reasons. If you're on the market for a brand new floor covering, you may not be able to resist them. Why should you even try?

Beni Ourain rugs feature geometric, angular and sharp designs and patterns that are simultaneously beautiful and intriguing. People who look at these shapes and forms often wonder what they mean. If you're looking at a Berber rug, the things that are in front of you are never random or meaningless. These tribal rugs, because of that, are ideal for people who are constantly searching for symbolism. If you want to look at a lovely handcrafted rug that's far from silly and pointless, then Beni Ourain choices are probably the solution you need.

These Berber rugs work seamlessly in all kinds of settings. They have subtle colors that do not clash with others. They're ideal for people who steer clear of interior design elements that are 'loud' or 'showy' in any way. Although these rugs are elegant and gorgeous, they still manage to stay modest and humble. If you live in a flat that has modern or futuristic decorations, a Berber rug can be an effortless addition. If you live in a large home, on the other hand, that has old-fashioned and classic decorations, it should be just as successful a fit. These rugs are the portrait of versatile. Although they've been in existence for centuries, they're equally successful in all types of design environments. They're not only suitable for contemporary design schemes. They're not only appropriate for more traditional or classic design schemes, either.

Strength is always paramount in the rug realm. These North African rugs may look somewhat delicate, but they actually are the opposite of that. They're impressively sturdy and resilient. They can hold their own. If your residential space tends to be busy and chaotic, that's totally fine. These rugs can even be great for families with active children. If you have a young son who spends hours and hours running around in the living room on a daily basis, any Berber rug you purchase should be just fine.

Rug maintenance can be a big issue for people who have lots of responsibilities and obligations in their lives. If you do not want to commit a lot of time to upkeep, however, a Berber floor covering should be optimal. Taking care of these rugs tend to be a hassle-free and straightforward process.

All You Need to Know About Embroidered Patches

Your dress has to do a lot with your personality. Who does not wish to look elegant? Efforts are always made to make your dress look prettier and elegant. This is often done with the help of embroidered patches. This is mainly a patch which contains embroidery done using threads. These patches are attached to dress either to decorate it or for other purposes. People prefer to use the patches instead of doing the embroidery directly on the dress material. You can find both embroidered as well as custom patches in the market. These embroidered patches are either attached to the dress material with the help of a heated iron or is sewn into the fabric.

The embroidery is done on the patch in such a way that it completely covers the stiff base on which it is done. A lot of these patches have an edge which is embroidered thus creating a border. Different materials are used to make patches but usually thick materials are preferred. Those patches that are attached to the fabric using a heat sensitive adhesive are permanently bonded to the fabric. Only those patches that are sewn to the fabric are removable.

The designs of the patches vary as per the requirement. The patches used by various institutions have unique designs that are used on the dress materials of their members. It carries the membership information or an emblem. Sometimes embroidered patches are used to mark designs or accomplishes. These patches are then attached to the uniform.

There are many reasons for people to use embroidered patches. One of the reasons is that they are not very expensive. The new technological developments have helped in further reducing the cost. Another reason is that these patches can easily be attached to any dress material that you prefer. You can attach them to caps, shirts, jackets, sweatshirts etc. A third reason would be that the patch will remain on the fabric once attached, irrespective of the washing or the cleaning process that it undergoes. Its contribution to fashion is another reason for the increased preference for embroidered patches. You can make the designs you like on the patch and attach it to your dress material. This will give a new and elegant look to the dress that you wear.

There are many people who create embroidered patches that suit your purposes. You can customize your patches with their help. There are companies that produce patches in bulk as well as in small amounts depending on the popular demand.

Protect Your Interests When Hunting For An Apartment

When it comes time to hunt for a Dallas apartment, finding a reasonably looking listing is only the first step. As a renter, you'll need to take several more in order to garner the information you'll need to make a decision. This includes talking to the landlord, looking at the lease, inspecting the property and even doing a little bit of bargaining. Taking the time out to do these things, once you have found that perfect listing and are having to secure it before anyone else can, may seem counter production. It's not though. Instead, it will give you a chance to protect yourself during the rental process.

Before Visiting

Start by simply ruling out anything that might pose a problem later. Do not bother arranging to view a complex that is not located within commuting range, for example, even if it looks perfect otherwise. There is no point in falling for something that will absolutely be inappropriate. SAME Goes For the Checking Out An apartment with That Might Not Take When You Have Pets of a dog 's Or one 's That Refuses Strictly Potential or the if Renters Hwy Credit Is Not Quite Perfect. It is a waste of your time to visit any unit that you can not actually rent.

On Site

Once you have narrowed the search and arranged to view some units, then make sure that you take someone with you to provide an impartial eye. You'll want to do a thorough walkthrough and note an potential issues for later. Make sure you're seeing the actual unit, too. Sometimes there are distinct differences between units even in the same building. Finally, when you are satisfied and ready to sign a lease agreement, take the time to read through it carefully and make sure it meets your needs as well as your landlords'. This, again, will help you to avoid later issues.

Attracting Birds to Your Garden – Choosing the Right Bird Nest Box

Erecting a bird nest box or birdhouse can be a great way to encourage more diversity of wildlife to your garden. Birds need a nest site that is protected from the elements, and predators, to roost and rear their young.

There are many bird box designs to choose from and care should be taken to choose one that suits a species that you want to attract, or that that is known to visit the area. As a guide: small birds such as Blue Tits need a box with a small diameter hole of approximately 25mm diameter. Great Tits, Pied Fly Catchers and Sparrows require a slightly larger holes of between 28 and 32 mm diameter and larger birds such as Woodpeckers need even large holes up to 60mm diameter. Nest boxes with open fronts, are suitable for species such as Blackbirds and Wrens, and special designs are available for Tree Creepers, which are wedge shaped in design with a side access hole. Other Special House Martins and Swallows typically nest under the eaves of houses with nest made of clay and specifically designed replica nests can be purchased to suit these species.

Once you have decided on a bird box to suit the bird species you are aiming to attract, then the next decision is where to site the nest box. For most of the smaller species such as Tits and Wrens, nest boxes can be positioned in the cover of hedges and shrubs but high enough off the ground or deep enough in cover to protect from predators. Birdhouses for large birds such as Blackbirds and Starlings should be placed 1.5 – 5m high in a tree. If you are aiming to attract Woodpecker species then the nest box can be placed even higher in the Tree.

The special nesting boxes for Swallows and House Martins need to be placed where the birds build their mud and clay nests, under the eaves on the outside buildings but can be placed inside barns and outbuildings if natural nests are in place and the birds have access .

Finally, some species like to build nest sites in colonies, close together. Therefore, for species such as Sparrows, some bird boxes can be sited near each other or special colony nest boxes can be used.

Some species such as Blue Tits are quite tame and have even been known to nest in hanging baskets and post boxes close to occupation and the nest boxes can be placed fairly close to the parts of the garden that are often used. Others, such as Woodpeckers are quite nervous and it is best to place the box high in a Tree in quiet, less frequented parts of the garden.

Copyright nestboxesandfeeder.co.uk 2011

How IP-based Video Surveillance Works — Way Beyond Analog

When you’re shopping around for an IP-based video surveillance system, you will need to be particularly cautious about what exactly you’re looking at and what the individual terms mean. How IP-based video surveillance works is open to interpretation as far as some video surveillance and security salespeople are concerned — not because they are trying to confuse the issues, but because there is no genuine consensus on what the term “IP-based” or related ones such as “networked” or “web-based” means.

Originally video surveillance was done based on analog technology — closed

circuit television (CCTV) and recording on video tapes. This was fine for

recording what was going on, but it didn’t broadcast actual live information, so

it wasn’t practical for monitoring stores, for instance, from a remote location.

It simply provided what happened after the fact. The picture quality wasn’t

great and it relied on human reliability as well — someone had to remember to

change the tapes regularly, etc.

Digital revolutionizes video surveillance

With the Internet revolution and the ever-increasing presence of Local Area

Networks, technology took great strides in video surveillance in the 1990’s.

Analog camera tubes were replaced with CCD (Charged Coupled Devices) and digital

cameras became affordable for most people.

This combination meant that video surveillance could do two things: go live

over the Internet or a closed network for surveillance and provide clearer,

crisper images that could be tracked and manipulated easily. For law

enforcement, digital surveillance meant it was much easier to zoom in on images,

track particular scenes and enhance features.

The basics of IP-based surveillance

A digital camera “views” the scene in front of it, broadcasts the video

images as a digitized signal over a LAN line (Local Area Network) where it’s

then transmitted to a computer or server. The server in turn manages all of this

information. Depending upon the software used to manage the digital images, it

can record, display or retransmit the images to anywhere in the world.

The software package can easily be upgraded to allow for analyzing data,

selecting specific “flagged” items to watch for and a host of other functions,

making it a truly customizable security tool.

True IP-based digital surveillance uses CCD cameras that use signal

processing that send packetized video streams over the LAN through a Cat 5 cable

rather than a coax cable network, utilizing greater bandwidth and standard

TCP/IP communication.

It also provides more intelligent data mining and information retrieval. If

security is an issue, full digital surveillance also offers the added advantage

of data encryption opportunities to protect against image tampering — something

not possible with analog recording.

Recently, a few companies such as D-Link and Linksys have also developed fully

digital cameras that actually have completely integrated, built-in web servers

so that no external computers are needed for operating them. The signal is

transmitted directly to the terminal location for storage or play-back.

Halfway there…

The “middle of the road” of video surveillance is upgrading video

surveillance by utilizing a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). A DVR system is not

really fully IP-based, but is step toward the more advanced IP technology. In

actuality, a DVR system uses the same camera and structures for cabling as the

older CCTV analog systems, but the old VCRs have been replaced with DVR for

storage of the data. The data is converted to digital so that it can be stored

on hard disks, but the quality of the images captured remains analog since this

is how it originated.

When shopping for a system, be sure to ask if the system is digital based on

the recording (DVR) or on the camera, since many manufacturers consider a system

digital by virtue of the DVR storage system even if the camera recording the

images is still analog.

Going all the way

Some people will move to the hybrid models of a CCTV/DVR system when they

first move beyond an analog system because it seems like the next practical

evolutionary step in video surveillance. However, shifting to this method

largely ignores how IP-based video surveillance works.

With CCTV/DVR surveillance you have actually simply delayed the inevitable by

adding on a relatively new technology (hard disk, digital storage) to an old

technology (analog video over coaxial transmission lines). Rather than moving

forward into something new, you have prolonged the demise of the old.

Advantages of IP-based video surveillance

The leap into completely IP-based technology is the best bang for your buck

both monetarily and in terms of security by far. Digital surveillance can be

done over a LAN network, of course, but TCP/IP transmittal of surveillance makes

sense for remote monitoring of multiple locations and for remote recording of

data onto back-up servers and hard disks for long-term storage.

With IP-based video surveillance, you can connect your surveillance camera or

cameras to any network or wireless adapter, and you are extremely flexible in

your placement of the camera itself. A typical PC-attached video camera, while

providing digital picture image quality, still has to be within approximately

ten feet of the computer itself.

Set-up of an IP-based video system is easy — once you’ve set up an IP

address, you’re up and running and it’s extremely stable and reliable. Because

this is the technology of the future, it is also upgradeable. You won’t be

outgrowing an IP-based video surveillance system any time soon because new

developments are based on improving this market. Therefore, you will be able to

add on and improve this system for years to come while older, CCTV+DVR hybrids

will dead-end and become obsolete.

Comparing analog and IP-based video surveillance

A better way to understand the differences between analog and IP-based video

surveillance may be to compare the two and how they work:

Analog or CCTV+DVR video surveillance

o Easy to use — operates like a VCR

o Changing cassettes and rewinding regularly means human error frequently interferes with effectiveness

o Image quality is poor

o Storage tapes wear out over time

o Broadcasting images live isn’t practical

o Storage is bulky

o Uses analog recording, recording in low-grade picture quality and inability to search and track easily

o Adding DVR systems must be done in ‘blocks’ of 16 channels

IP-based video surveillance

o IP-based recording means instant transmittal of images anywhere in the world

o Can monitor multiple cameras from one remote location

o No decrease in recording quality over time or with repeated replays

o Digital picture quality far superior to analog

o IP-base recording is highly compressed for easier storage and can be transported over a variety of media

o Digital images can be encrypted for security purposes

o Updates and add-ons are relatively inexpensive through software packages and Internet computer networking

o Adjustable frame rates

o Remote or shared viewing may be done over the Internet or a wireless connection

o Standard IP video compression techniques are used

o IP surveillance cameras may be added individually or in groups according to your needs

If you are contemplating increased or upgrading video surveillance for your

company or home, understanding how IP-based video surveillance works will make

your decision easier. It is the future of video surveillance and, although in

the short term may be a bit more expensive, is obviously an investment in

superior quality and flexibility.

This article on “How IP-based Video Surveillance Works” reprinted with


Copyright © 2004-2005 Evaluseek Publishing.

The Functions of Cable Kit and Tile Backer System

The cable kit for underfloor heating is a great choice since it is the most versatile form of heating system and can take up any shape and size of a room. Therefore, whether you want to install it in a small area or a large area, the cables can fit according to your choice.


In the kit, you will find a long cable wire, which is single length and can be easily secured to any size of floor by using an adhesive tape. Unlike the cable mat where it is fitted to a mat, the tile backer board system uses the cable on any existing floor by covering it with tile adhesive. Hence, it can be said that such flexible and simple system allows the fixture in any complex flooring structure.

Many advantages come with a cable kit. You can install the single wire cable onto any irregular surface and make use of the full flexibility of the wires. The best part is that you can install it in a kitchen area or the bathroom wherever you feel that installing is difficult.

Now when you talk of tile backer board fitted with cables, it is the most useful thing for underfloor heating purposes. Such a board is perfect for any kind of wet areas like the kitchen and the bathroom. The properties bring in many advantages along with the board since it helps in saving energy and heat.

If you want waterproof insulation in one operation then the tile backer board is the perfect choice. The best part is that you can use it to any sub-floor or framework of metal or wood and wall, thus making it a dual functioning system by turning it into a construction and insulation board for any construction task.

A tile backer board is perfect for underfloor heating system, since it can be used for concrete floors without allowing any heat loss at all. When you install it beneath a floor, you will find that the floor is warmed up in no time at all. Now if you replace the tile backer underfloor heating system with any other kind of underfloor heating system, you will find that the floor will take more than couple of hours to get warmed up.

If you are wondering how the tile backer board is used, then know that board is cut with a sharp knife and then the boards are placed in between the walls with a kind of adhesive mesh tape that is used to keep the it in place. The mesh tape is actually used to reinforce the joints. Once this is done, only then the tiling can actually commence.

Hence, it can be said that the combination of cable kit and tile backer system ensure that any wet area in your room can get sufficient amount of heat during the wet days.

An Overview of the Six Sigma DMAIC Tool

The speed, cost and quality improvements achieved by the Six Sigma program are made possible by the proper use of the appropriate tools. The core of these tools revolves around the DMAIC model. DMAIC is a five phase process that allows operators, supervisors, managers, and business owners implement various strategies and gain specific knowledge of the business processes that are used in the production phases of their products and or services.

The first phase is Define. This phase helps to identify opportunities for improvement as well as deliverables for the customers. The definition portion includes the establishment of a project charter, a project team, specific stakeholders, estimates of implications on business, evaluating the requirements of the customers, project management, and a plan of communication.

The various individuals involved in the entire process include the customers, employees, shareholders, and managers of the operation as well as the Six Sigma Professionals, who may or may not be the business people stated previously. These people are listed as well as the possible impacts to their job or daily duties due to the Six Sigma Improvements. These estimations of impact are listed for each party as nil, low, average, or substantial. Once this determination is made, the team will be able to identify which areas will impact which stakeholders the most.

The next phase is Measure. This is when one attempts to quantify the existing state of the processes, paying special attention to speed, cost, and quality. In other words, this phase is used to find the areas that overlap and affect other parts of the process, while allowing the project team to get an idea of how to fill the gaps that have been identified. This portion includes a detailed process map, collected data on output and input variables, a process capability analysis, as well as actions recommended to harvest the fruits that are ready.

The next step is the Analyze Phase. This is where the collected data is assembled in such a way as to give a project team the ability to extrapolate and weigh the data in order to gain insight into the overall process and where it needs improvement. The analysis aspect is the most important aspect of the Six Sigma tools and should be undertaken by experienced personnel who are able to look at all the possible aspects of business activities including cycle times and defect rates.

Improvement is the fourth of the five fingers used in the DMAIC Six Sigma Process. This includes the use of Pareto charts to help identify areas of priority. It helps to prioritize areas in which the most productivity is yielded as well as where most time is wasted. The goal of this phase is to implement changes in areas where a larger percentage of efforts are expended rather than what is gained in profitability.

The last and final aspect of the Six Sigma DMAIC Tool is Control. It is imperative to measure and track ongoing practices to ensure that production goals, quality of product, production efficiency, and customer delight continue to trend in the proper directions. The control tool is used to measure these aspects and to detect when things start to degrade so as to offer solutions in a rapid fashion and keep losses to a minimum.

Window Repair for Your Home – Tips to Select A Good Company

Broken windows in your home can be a huge security risk. Not only can they allow access to an intruder in certain circumstances, but someone in your home can also get hurt on the sharp edges. Your home will also lose its insulation if it has a few broken windows. Further, this is also esthetically unappealing. Therefore, window repair has to be done without any delay, and it also should be done by the best possible company.

A really good window repair company will ensure that the job is done well and to your complete satisfaction. After all, window glass repair is a very specialized task. Look for a company that offers:

– Very quick service since you can not be expected to live with the security risk. In fact, you bought to get your new windows within a couple of days at the very minimum
– High quality windows using glass that is strong, clear and durable
– Service by well-trained people who can do a good job using the right materials
– A reasonable pricing so that you do not have to spend a great deal of money on your windows

If many of your windows have been broken then you need to contact an emergency board up service so that the rest of your property can be protected as well. In fact, you can even have your glass windows boarded up in anticipation of bad weather. Needless to say, the nature of the problem ensures that the work bought to be done in the quickest possible time even if you have given the company very short notice. Further, you can also use this service in case you are planning to be out of your home for a very long time. A boarded property can easily be kept safe from vandals as well as damage by natural calamities.

Do keep in mind that quality is one of the most important things to be considered when it comes to the question of windows. It is always a good idea to go with a costy company as long as it offers excellent quality of product and service.

Have a talk to people in your neighborhood if you are not sure about which window repair company to hire. In fact, your real estate broker might also be able to offer you points on which company offers the best glass repair service in your area. The overall result is a well-maintained property.

Single Color M & M's Are Both Attractive And Healthy

Traditional colored M & M's feature a candy shell that surrounds milk chocolate. Since 1941, these have been available in packages that contain several colors. In recent years, single color M & M's have come onto the market, modernizing this traditional favorite. Although one color tastes no different than others, people still have their favorite hues. Adding some of the attractive M & M colors to the bulk candy display is an aesthetic and, surprisingly, healthy move.

Colored M & M'scontain real chocolate, which consist of unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, and sugar. This has a melt similar to an ice cube, creating a full-bodied experience. Competitor chocolate often features vegetable fat, which feels waxy when it melts. The result is a less tasteful experience and causes some people to only purchase the real thing. Even though imitation cheap bulk candy may be cheaper, it often is not worth carrying in the store.

Since common belief, chocolate used in products like single color M & M's has numerous health benefits. It is a plant-based food that is rich in flavonoids, which provide antioxidant power. Antioxidants help the cells of the body resist damage created by free radicals. Damage due to free radicals can result in an increase in bad cholesterol oxidation. In addition, plaque can form on artery walls, making a person more susceptible to heart issues.

The primary types of flavanoid found in chocolate used in single color M & M's are flavanols. In addition to their antioxidant qualities, flavanols lower blood pressure and cholesterol. They also improve the flow of blood to the heart and brain and make blood platelets less sticky, helping to prevent blood clots. Flavanols are what provide cocoa with its pungent taste and chocolate makers are researching ways to keep levels of flavanols high during processing. As far as fat goes, only one-third of the fat calories contained in chocolate are represented by palmitic acid, a saturated fat that may increase bad cholesterol.

Although dark chocolate is considered healthier than milk chocolate like that contained in single color M & M's, all chocolate has flavanols. As researchers discover ways to maintain more flavanols in processed chocolate, the health benefit gap will decrease. Enjoying small amounts of chocolate a few times a week can provide the body with much-needed antioxidants. By offering colored M & M's in their candy jars, shops provide a way for customers to fight heart disease.

The goal when eating chocolate is not to overdo it because too much of a good thing can have consequences. Also, shoppers looking for the most health benefits should opt for candy like bulk color M & M's over items that include a lot of extra ingredients in addition to chocolate. Although chocolate should never become a food staple, it is much better for our bodies than scientists previously thought.

Single color M & M's contain real chocolate, with a colorful new twist. The traditional colors like brown, yellow, green, red, and orange are available. There are also new favorites like blue, purple, maroon, and cream. White and black have recently come into fashion and gold and silver are available to provide some extra flair. Store owners can even add different shades of green, blue, purple, and pink to their bulk candy display.

Foundation Repair Expert Answers Your Questions

Whether you’re at home just pondering away about foundation repairs or if you’re curious about a particular repair – what’s wrong, who does the repairs, and how is it repaired? One Connecticut expert answers several important foundation questions.

Q: What is the cost of fixing a foundation in Connecticut?

Foundation repair costs can vary greatly, sometimes by hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The cost depends on a number of variables, but the main factors are described below:

  • Foundation type. Some foundation types are more easily repaired than others. For example, a poured concrete wall is usually less difficult to fix than a wall constructed from stone or brick.
  • Area and magnitude of damage. As might be expected, the more extensive the damage, the more expensive the repair is likely to be.
  • Accessibility for repair crew & equipment. When access is limited, such as in a narrow crawl space, it will become more difficult for workers and their equipment to maneuver-most likely increasing repair costs.

Q: What are the methods of fixing a concrete slab foundation in Connecticut?

A concrete slab that has cracked and/or shifted up or down will probably be stabilized with piers and brackets or by mud jacking. Steel piers installed beneath or alongside the slab can connect the slab to better load-bearing soil or bedrock. Steel brackets connect the piers to the slab. Many slab repairs can be completed within one or two days.

Q: Who can I call to repair a stone foundation in CT?

A foundation repair contractor who has experience with older houses should be able to handle this type of repair. Sometimes the existing stone foundation can be repaired. In other cases, damaged sections of the original foundation may need to be replaced with new materials – either poured concrete or concrete block. No matter the solution, an experienced foundation repair contractor can repair these stone foundations.

Q: How do you repair a shifting retaining wall in Connecticut?

Some earth behind the wall may need to be removed so that the retaining wall can be pulled back into proper alignment. It may also be necessary to install drain lines that prevent water from building up behind the wall. The work of pulling a retaining wall back into its original position is typically accomplished with helical anchors and hydraulic jacks. The anchors are designed to screw into the soil, which are then pulled deeper and deeper by helical plates being welded to pier shafts. Once stable soil has been reached, a bracket is attached to the end of the pier and the wall is jacked back into alignment before permanently affixing the bracket.

Q: What kind of foundation crack repair services are available in Connecticut?

Minor cracks in foundations can often be repaired by the homeowner or by a remodeling contractor. However, if the crack is wider than ΒΌ in. or if the foundation has not only cracked but also shifted, it’s important to enlist the services of an experienced foundation repair specialist. If a crack reappears after it’s been repaired with patching mortar or sealant, this indicates that a structural issue exists and a foundation repair contractor should be called.

Q: What are the solutions for concrete block wall repairs or cracked brick wall repairs in Connecticut?

A foundation repair specialist can provide both repairs. It’s important not just to fill cracks in block or brick walls, but to also determine why the cracks have occurred in the first place. If unstable soil and settlement problems exist, you can expect cracks to recur until the structural problems are corrected.

Q: Who do I call for cellar foundation repair in Connecticut?

Technically speaking, a cellar is a crude or early form of basement foundation. In a cellar, the foundation walls are typically made from stone or brick, and the foundation is likely to have a dirt floor. Repairing this type of foundation is tricky because the space is often cramped, dark and damp; also, rubble stone walls are likely to have been built without proper footings and with weak mortar. Seek out the services of a foundation repair contractor with historic house experience.

Q: What is “underpinning repair,” and what are the particulars to this kind of repair in Connecticut?

This type of repair usually involves installing steel piers beneath or adjacent to foundation elements (walls, slabs or footings) that have settled. Underpinning, also known as “piering,” helps to stabilize a foundation that has shifted because of unstable soil. The piers are driven deep enough to connect the foundation to bedrock or soil with adequate load-bearing characteristics. Steel brackets connect the piers to the foundation element. In addition to pier installation, underpinning can also involve installing footings or grade beams if these elements can contribute to greater foundation stability.

Q: How do I find a concrete foundation repair contractor in CT?

Foundation repair contractors, also known as foundation repair specialists or experts, are trained to correct a wide variety of foundation problems, including concrete foundation problems. Because repairing a home’s foundation can have serious repercussions if improperly done, it is important to find a contractor certified, backed or approved by an organization such as Foundation Supportworks.

Q: What is foundation pile driving?

“Piles” and “piers” are two terms that are used interchangeably to describe the posts, pillars or tubes driven into the soil to reinforce or stabilize foundations and other structures. Driving piles (or piers) is a strategy that foundation repair contractors use when surface soil conditions cannot adequately support a structure. Piers driven to reach bedrock or suitable load-bearing soil provide the structural support that the surface soil lacks. Foundation repair contractors rely on two main types of piers: push piers that are driven into the soil like giant spikes and helical piers that are turned into the soil like huge screws. Both types of piers are made from steel with a corrosion-resistant coating.

Q: Some of the floors in my house are out of level and excessively bouncy. How can I level and make the floors firmer?

Many older houses were built using undersized floor joists, which can cause bouncy floors. When the main floor of a house dips out of level, it’s often because a foundation wall has settled or because the post-and-beam framing that provides mid-span support has settled. Both settlement problems can be corrected by an experienced foundation repair contractor. As for the bouncy floors, these can be stiffened by first jacking the dipped floor section closer to level and then “sistering” larger floor joists against the existing undersized joists.

Water and Athletes

Water is one of the most important nutrients an athlete can consume. Almost 60% of total body weight is water. It helps to maintain body temperature, improve digestion, and helps with circulation and excretion of wastes. Sweating is how the body regulates its temperature. If an athlete does not drink enough water, they are not able to sweat adequately and their body temperature will rise. This can negatively impact their physical performance and cause dehydration. Even a very small amount of dehydration can affect their athletic performance. And thirst is not an indicator of dehydration. It can happen before an athlete even becomes thirsty.

The body will pull water from its reserves when it's stripped of liquids to maintain a safe body temperature. If the body is chronically low on water, a variety of hormonal changes can occur. Caffeine, alcohol and diuretics can all drain the body of water, and extra water should be taken to avoid an imbalance.

The small intestine can absorb water at a rate of 8-10 ounces about every 20 minutes. Drinking cold water is better because it will enter the small intestine faster. Take small sips before, during, and after your workout. Make sure not to drink large amounts all at once. Space it out.

The only way for an athlete to prevent dehydration is to make sure they are properly hydrated before, during, and after training. Customize your water intake to the sport you will be training in. Make sure you have water readily available during training and make sure you drink enough water before and after training. Know what your sweat rate is. It can be different for different people. Know how much fluid you will need to replace. A good rule of thumb is to drink about 20 ounces of water for every pound of weight lost because of sweating.

If you think that water is just too plain and boring, then try a good sports drink with your favorite flavor. The most important thing is to make sure you replace fluids and avoid dehydration. If you have to have the flavor to make sure you drink more water, then whatever works for you is best to ensure you do not suffer dehydration.

If you have signs of dehydration, like weakness, headache, thirst, dizziness or chills, not only is your athletic performance going to suffer, but you are putting yourself in danger of a heat related problem. It's better to avoid that in the first place by making sure you are drinking enough water to stave it off in the first place.

Using Curtains As the Perfect Furnishing Touch

If you are looking for that perfect finishing touch to any room, why not consider adding some curtains. Even if you thought that your room did not need any more decorations, try some curtains and see what a difference it will make. The trick is to have the perfect fabric that will fit your personality and you will be able to turn a plain window into something beautiful.

When you are looking for the perfect curtain, look around the room where they will be going. What type of style is in there, classic or modern? A fun design or a room fit for a king? The possibilities are endless. If lace is something that you are interested in, why not drape it over your window for a beautiful look? Something that is also very important in finishing off a window is the curtain rod. It is also very important that it coincides with the rest of the room. It is important that the curtain rod is the same size as the window and the curtain.

The next thing that you're going to want to consider is how big is the window? It does not look appropriate to have heavy dark fabric on a small window just the same as something light and lacy does not fit well on a bigger window. If you have a funny shaped window this may be a little harder for you. For instance a bay window may be a little difficult to cover. In cases such as this, look online for ideas or ask a decorator for their opinion.

It is very important to use your imagination. Pretend for the afternoon that you are a designer and you do not have enough money to have a professional make your curtains. There are quite a few curtains for style and regular stores that will look beautiful. If you are into the traditional look, consider having something that you have made yourself out of a family heirloom old style fabric.

Beautiful curtains can cost quite a bit of money. No matter if they are handmade in your home or made by a professional. Whether it is a cute design for your kid's room or a beautiful addition to your dining area, the most important thing to remember is the fact that it will have to keep up with the other decorations in the room. If you have the perfect curtains for the room, you are going to be a success.

Hurricane Preparation to Help You Stay Alive and Be Safe

As you begin to take in the news about Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma, not to mention Jose coming in behind her, you may wonder about your little area of the world; Is it safe and can you escape if a large funnel of wind, rain, and waves come after your town? With the appropriate hurricane preparation, hurricane supplies, and some planning, you can be safe. It will also help your family get closer together.

Hurricane Planning

A great hurricane guide and the hurricane kit it recommends will see you through hurricane. Think about what is coming when you are in the path of a hurricane. There will be a fairly wide swath of storm with winds (based on whether it is category 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) of up to 200 miles per hour. No matter where it ‘makes landfall’, as it is heading toward you, trees can be ripped up, roads can become buckled and electrical power lines will start to fall. This, of course, makes it dangerous to be out on the roads, even if you want to go out.

You will probably be out of power before you even feel the wind and/or rain, so use the time you have to watch the television and listen to the radio about what is coming. During this time, the planning you will need to do, if you have not done so by now, is fairly straight forward:

Gather materials together to help you survive for a few days. This will be your ‘Go-Bag’ or hurricane kit and should be prepared in advance for when it’s necessary.

* Paper maps of the local area from your neighborhood to the safest place you believe you can get to are a good idea. This might mean to the State border or, at least completely out of the danger zone. Do not depend on the Google Maps app in your cell phone as the signal may not even be there for its operation.

* Hand crank radio to listen to news and disaster updates. If you have a good battery operated one, get plenty of batteries now, so you will not have to go to the store, which will probably be out by the time you get there anyway.

* Water for every member of your party. You will need approximately one gallon for each member for each day. Pack more if it is hot and you will be doing any kind of strenuous activity to survive. Do not be as concerned about water for bathing as this luxury can be ignored for a couple of days.

* Medications: Pack all regular, normal medications for everyone. Include a lot of antiseptic, or sanitary wipes. A full First Aid kit should also be packed. A bottle, or tin, of water purification tablets should also be in your bag. You will also want to include any real valuable paperwork and/or things that looters like to get if you are not there to protect them.

* A sharp knife, a tarp for shelter and sleeping bags can also be included. Be careful about packing any guns unless you know the laws in your area, and the area you are going into. Do not depend on the authorities looking the other way all of the time in this matter.

* Food: Your hurricane supplies will need to contain enough food for your family. This should include simple things that do not need to be heated, as this convenience might be hard to find for a while. Previously bought dehydrated foods is the ideal.

If you are going to be able to move out of the area in your car or truck, weight may not be an issue, however, if you will be walking out, or catching a ride from someone else, weight will be a big issue and all of the above supplies will need to be broken down into a backpack or duffel bag for each member of your party, so plan this out carefully.

House Preparation

It could help ensure you have a drier place to come back to. All things that can be picked up by the wind and thrown into your windows should be taken inside. This can also prevent looters from getting them. This includes lawn furniture and those cute gnomes that are in the yard that can make nasty torpedoes when thrown through a patio door. The BBQ grill in the shed or garage and tables and chairs should be brought inside too.

Several days before the storm hits, if there are still lumber yards open, get plywood and mount these over at least the large picture windows you have. It won’t matter if your house is destroyed or blown away, but, if not, these few steps will help keep things together and less water and damage can enter into your house. You could go to the point of putting sand bags in all exterior doors and basement entrances. Many communities offer a large pile of sand in some situations like this. By checking the news, you can find out if this is available in your area.

Even if you evacuate to a local safety center, established in a secure area by the city or State, the preservation of your home will help you get back to business quicker after the all clear has been sounded.

If the storm is not actually going to hit your house physically, you may decide to hunker down inside. Follow the instructions above for the preparing of your home, and consider acquiring a generator. This might be needed because, even if the hurricane misses your house or neighborhood, your electrical power comes from a bit further away than that and may be turned off.

Check List

A quick look at your hurricane preparation:

  1. As soon as you hear about the storm, track it’s progress through TV and radio.
  2. Start packing your Go-Bag.
  3. Check for open lumber yards and clean up the yard.
  4. Check into generator availability if you are going to be staying inside.
  5. Evacuate if, and when, directed to do so, following your plan, and be patient on the roads as there will be many people fighting for their piece of it.
  6. If you are going to a local safety center, be courteous and know that everyone is having a hard time of it as well.

7 Ways on How to Invest For Your Retirement

Investment Plan for Your Retirement

There so many investment plans available out there. The following points will guide you to choose the most appropriate one for you with lesser risks and commitments to manage. The points are based on the fact that, after a while they are going to be appreciating business ventures for your retirement.

1. Annuity

Annuity is a plan whereby an insurance company in exchange for purchase price enters into a contract to pay an agreed amount of money every year while the annuitant is still alive.

Annuitant- is the person on whose life the contract depends.

Annuity- is the amount of money paid to the annuitant.

The benefits of an annuity especially when used in connection with retirement provision is that it would ensure that the retiree has an income for a convenient number of years. The best type of annuity is deferred annuity because it gives you life time benefits.

2. Bonds

A bond is a loan to either a government or a corporation, whereby the borrower agrees to pay a fixed sum of interest usually semi-annually, until your investment in full. Treasury bonds are secure, medium to long-term investments that typically offer you instant payment every six months throughout the bond maturity. Treasury bonds have a fixed rate meaning that the interest rate determined at auction is locked in for the entire life of the bond. This makes treasury bonds predictable, long term source of income.

3. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

Exchange traded fund is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges just like stocks. An ETF holds assets such as stocks, oil future, foreign currency, commodities or bonds and generally operates with an arbitrage mechanism to keep its trading close to its net asset value, although deviations can occasionally occur. These assets are divided into shares where shareholders do not directly own or have direct claim to the investments in the fund.

ETF shareholders are entitled to a proportion of the profits such as earned interest or dividends paid.

4. Stocks

In Kenya the main stock market is Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE). A stock market is a place where public limited companies and other financial institutions, come to buy and sell bonds and other derivatives. NSE acts as a third-party broker and allows investors to buy and sell shares independently through share dealing platforms. You can directly and indirectly invest in stocks. Direct investment means that you buy shares from a company and become a shareholder while indirect means you invest in more than one company therefore spreading the risk. Indirect investment is done through an open-ended fund and the money is secure so that even the company defaults the money is still safe.

5. Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are some of the most overlooked yet probably the easiest way to invest much more than both stocks and bonds. A mutual fund is a pool of money, often from similar minded investors. You can sell your shares when and if you want. All shareholders of the fund benefit from the fund and share in any losses. There are five categories of mutual funds where you can choose the one which best suits you.

6. Real Estate

Real estate is a retirement investment plan you should never overlook. Landon said ‘look for what’s going to give you the most bang for your back’. Real estate as a front is a very lucrative opening. However, one must research the market and know the current and emerging trends in the sector. The location of the real estate matters a lot and should be well selected. Some of the major locations can be near universities, developing towns or big company sites. In any investment capital becomes the main organ to jump start the investment. Research on different financial organizations and try to compare their payment and funding terms. You can still opt to become a Real Estate Trader. A real estate trader is one who buys property with the intention of holding them for a short period and sell to make a profit.

7. Pension Plan

Pension plan is a retirement plan that requires an employer to make contributions into a pool of funds aside for a worker’s future benefit. The pool of funds is invested on the employee’s behalf, and the earnings on the investment given to the worker upon retirement. In Kenya even self-employed workers can still contribute to the social security fund to help them when time comes.

Retirement is a process where every living worker must come to terms to. Retirement is just like any other investment but a more crucial one since when you retire you productivity goes low due to health and age. You can start now and by the time you retire have significant benefits that can help you live a befitting like after retirement. Take a step today and plan to invest for your retirement now and be a happy retired worker living a good life and building the economy even at old age.