The Two Methods of MEP Coordination

MEP is an acronym used for Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing systems for building projects. With the increasing complexity and functionality of each system, MEP activities are not limited to the traditional mechanical, electrical and plumbing system but also include fire protection, gas piping, process piping, pneumatic tubing, data systems etc. This article asserts that the design has been completed by 'Design Consultants' to a certain stage and then handed to 'Installation Sub-Contractors' who will validate the design and value engineer the design through the process of spatial coordination and procurement of components to meet the requirements of the design. The coordination of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems among them and with other building systems including architectural and structural disciplines is a critical, challenging and time consuming task, especially in complex building projects with intense MEP requirements. The coordination process of Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) systems involves defining the exact location of each building system component throughout the building within the constraints of the envelope defined by the architectural and structural systems to comply with divers design and operations criteria avoiding any interferences / clashes among building systems. Assuming that most companies undertake the task of MEP Coordination, without which the site installation from a 'design only' set of drawings would be too much of a risk, there are two ways by which the following process takes place:

2D MEP Coordination
The process starts with the design from the Design Consultant. The Sub-Contractor team will typically update the 2D CAD drawings or create their own set from the start. In creating these drawings a number of sections will be drawn and frequent attention given to ceiling void spaces in which the systems and services are being laid out. In an ideal world 2D MEP Coordination can work as long as all services and systems are assessed adequately and then drawn into a 2D drawing. The sizes of the systems would need to be manually added as would the heights and distances from gridlines or walls. The contractor will have teams of people for each system (HVAC, plumbing, electrical etc) creating their drawings based on the architectural ceiling void. In this method, there is no automated system to identify the conflicts in the MEP system and therefore there is a high degree of reliance on the intuition, imagination, technical knowledge and experience of the team members to lay out the services without site teams experiencing clashes .

Visualizing the potential clashes is made more difficult due to changes in ceiling profiles, not to mention the challenge of having to understand the impact of all systems as well as structural and architectural elements that may impede or impact a system or service route. What makes things worse is that a third party can not easily review the drawings for any errors, nor can the design be easily reviewed or communicated with a project team. Furthermore, if there are changes to the design or procurement-led changes then the process of undoing and re-doing 2D MEP Coordination projects becomes very cumbersome. The inherent weaknesses of 2D CAD software also come into play, one can draw something of one size and label it as something completely different. As the systems and services drawings are not checked in some form of automated method there is no guarantee that the 2D MEP coordination process will generate a clash free drawing. During the time of complex projects, it requires multiple section views which consumes a lot of time. These time commitments come with additional costs to each contractor.

3D MEP Coordination
This process is more collaborative and allows the ability to communicate the progress of the project quickly and easily, providing 3D visuals that resemble the final system and service installation. It starts with a clear direction in terms of spatial zoning which is then used as the basis to start modeling the HVAC, piping, plumbing and electrical services. As the architectural and structural models form part of the model, it is easier to insert services and systems without creating clashes. Once the model is complete and all systems and services have been added, the ability to identify problems becomes much easier compared to the 2D Coordination method. Firstly, one is able to walk through the model using roaming software to review the model and, secondly the use of clash detection software, such as Navisworks, highlights all clashes where these are systems against other systems or systems against structure or architecture. Once highlighted, all clashes can then be corrected during the coordination stage of the project. Only once the model is interference free are drawings created. This leads to another set of benefits, unlike 2D coordination where each section must be drawn, the 3D software allows the creation of sections that are directly taken from the model. Furthermore, as the 3D software is so intelligent, the sizes of systems are directly taken from the 3D model and therefore there is no chance of services or systems being modeled as one size and then labeled as another. Beyond the coordination stage, there are several other benefits from the 3D model, including use during facilities management, energy analysis and so on.

Irrespective of the MEP Coordination method used, the need for MEP Coordination arises due to the lack of detailed coordination during the design stage. Additionally, the need for fabrication and installation of building systems in accordance with industry and Sub-Contractor best practice requires MEP Coordination to be carried out by them. The 2D MEP Coordination process provides a limited interference-checking capability and therefore can and will result in more problems on site including additional re-work, change orders and inflating budgets. All of this makes 3D MEP Coordination a more efficient and the increasingly preferred method for the long term.

Current trends in the MEP industry show the evolution of a few more specific methods of MEP coordination, with varying degrees of involvement by the design consultants and the MEP contractors.

These methods are:

  1. Design consultant provides 2D, 3D designs and MEP coordination to the MEP contractor.
  2. The MEP contractor generates the 2D, 3D designs and MEP coordination itself / herself.
  3. Design consultant provides 2D design to MEP contractor, who then creates 3D models and handles MEP coordination.

The first, and one that is gaining increased popularity, workflow method is one where design consultants provide a spatially coordinated BIM model with MEP specification components, structural and architectural changes. Therefore, the BIM model is usable by the contractor.

The second method involves the MEP contractor designing all the models, both 2D and 3D, for installation. One of the disadvantages in this method for the contractor is added stress, since the contractor is liable for the design and may not be able to employ designers with requisite expertise and he / she may even have to provide design liability insurance. There are benefits though, one is removal of abortive work for BIM modeling due to efficient use of time and then, increased profit.

Method No. 3 sees the design consultant supply architectural, structural and MEP designs in 2D to the contractor, who then creates a 3D model to assess the design. This method may face hiccups in the process because certain discriminates will be represented in 2D and some will be in 3D, with different software used for each. So, if the contractor faces any issues, s / he may necessarily revert to the designer, who will alter the 2D design, and then the change has to be represented in 3D. Obviously, delays could result.

Additionally, useful features of the process have mushroomed. Quant take-off analyzes projects with a new degree of detail, taking into account quantities, locations and extremely costs. Further, just as 3D BIM permits visualization of the completed project, 4D BIM scheduling movies lets owners, traders and teams see how the building comes together. It can be used to monitor the project on-site . Also, BIM 360 Glue generates a coordinated model, consisting of individual models that all team members can look at. This can be 'glued', or updated models can be uploaded, on a regular basis. Each user can resolve clashes faster by comparing models and directly communicating with each other.

In the dynamic world of MEP coordination, new methods and features promise to crop up with unceasing regularity. The key is finding the method that works best for you.

Fractionated Coconut Oil – A Carrier Oil For Skin Care

Fractionated Coconut (Cocos nucifera) oil is a very popular oil suitable for massage therapist, aromatherapists, and manufacturers for skin care products. It is the preferred oil for high quality cold process soap making. Coconut oil is expressed under high pressure from the coconut kernel, and then filtered. It is actually solid at room temperature but melts easily at body temperature. It may cause skin sensitivity in people who have nut allergies. This article discusses its healing properties for skin care.

Coconut oil is an ingredient in many cosmetic products, especially suntan lotion, shaving creams, soaps, and some shampoos, because it lathers well and is a good conditioner for scalps.

Refined coconut oil is very close, in substance, to human subcutaneous tissue and is thus more compatible with skin than other vegetable oils. Massage therapists and aromatherapists note that it does not clog pores, making it an ideal carrier oil for troubled skin or oily skin.

What in the world does " fractionated " mean, anyway? This process removes some of the saturated fatty acids from the oil by heat, to make it softer and more liquid, while also taming it's overwhelming natural odor. (This is not hydrogenation, which actually forces hydrogen into oils making them more solid). Some naturalists question if fractionated oils should be used since it is not a "whole product". Most aromatherapist prefer natural oils. This is certainly true for essential oils. However, many find that fractionated coconut oil has proved very satisfactory as a carrier, and prefer it to the unrefined oil, which tend to go rancid more quickly.

Coconut oil is an edible oil that has been consumed in tropical places for thousands of years and was prevalent in the United States as a favorite in the baking industry. However the campaign against saturated fats led to many manufacturers abandoning coconut oil.

Coconut oil is perfect for moisturizing both hands and body. It is light and easily absorbed into the skin, leaving it satin smooth. It can also be used as an intensive treatment to moisturize and condition brittle, dull or dry hair. It is great to use in or after a bath or shower for moisturizing the skin. It is a wonderful oil to use after sunning. It is excellent for scalp treatments. Massage it into the scalp and leave it on as long as possible. Some use it as a replacement for their conditioner. It can also be used for dryness, itching, and for sensitive skin.

If stored properly (cool environment out of direct light) its shelf life is very long. Its light texture makes it a good oil to use when heavier oils seem too sticky on the skin. It will also easily wash out of sheets and towels, making it a favorite of massage therapists. It may cause sensitivity in individuals who have nut allergies.

Top 5 "Tricks" Every Beginner Hockey Player Should Learn

When you’re a beginner learning ice hockey, you have to be competent in ice skating and stick handling (passing, receiving and shooting the puck). Mastering these two skills can take years and years, but as a beginner you can distinguish yourself by learning a few “tricks”. These are smaller pieces of skill that add a little style and flash to your game. Whenever you watch experts playing the game (collegiate or pro), you can see these little bits of brilliance from each player when they’re warming up and when they’re playing. Here are five that your teammates will take notice of.

  1. Running Onto the Ice – When you’re coming out of the locker room, and the gate to the ice is open, try doing a little run on the walkway. Once you reach the gate, jump on the ice and start skating. I like this entrance for that pre-game skate. Smoothly transitioning from “land” to ice demonstrates balance, and a good understanding of skating. Plus, you have just made a dramatic entrance!
  2. Jumping Over the Boards – When you’re changing lines in hockey, the open door is reserved for the people coming off the ice. When you’re inserted into the game, you should be standing by the boards, so you can jump over them and start skating to your position. Practice this, so you’re used to the feel of the ice as you jump on. You can straddle the boards, but I’ve seen players hurdle over them, and it looks very dramatic. I’ve also seen people fall as they jump over the boards, and it’s a bit embarrassing, so practice this (though see item 4).
  3. Picking Up a Puck with your Hand – During a stop in the game action, if you’re near the puck, it’s considerate to pick it up and then toss it to the nearest referee. This little action of picking up the puck with your hand will demonstrate your balance. Since you’re holding a stick, and wearing gloves, you will also have to practice taking off your glove by tucking it under your arm. Bending down to pick up the puck will involve stretching your legs apart and bending at your knees so you can reach down to the ice. When done correctly, it’s a smooth move. As your skills grown, you can practice picking up the puck with your stick, but master the hand pick up first.
  4. Popping Up After Falling Down – As a beginner, you’ll fall down plenty of times as you learn and play ice hockey. You should practice getting up from a fall as quickly as you are able. When I see professionals play, they seem to “pop up” on both feet after they fall. This is something you can practice. Wearing your shinguards (with knee pads), skate forward, and then drop to your knees. Can you put a skate down? Do you know how you’ll push up to get your other leg under you? For a simpler drill, kneel down on the ice, and then “pop up” and get to your fastest skating speed. Remember, it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up.
  5. Dribbling the Puck with Your Feet – As a beginner, it’ll be hard enough manipulating the puck with your stick, but spend some time getting used to bouncing the puck on your skates. In practice, or in warm ups, open your foot and try to “trap” the puck, like in soccer. Then once the puck is at your feet, try to kick it to your skate blade. This is a good skill when you’re battling against the boards; it may be easier to kick the puck into open space. One of the most common foot dribbling moves you’ll see from expert players is kicking the puck that is somehow well behind them, all the way to their stick. It’s a true skill move, and one that is both practical and pretty to see.

Every sport is full of little tricks, and hockey is no exception. I recommend these five to any beginner who’s starting to play regularly.

Do Changes in Barometric Pressure Affect Your Dog?

Barometric pressure is atmospheric pressure measured by an instrument called a barometer. That pressure peaks and troughs, causing the changes in our weather. High pressure is pressure greater than the pressure around it. It couples with clear, cloudless skies and drier air. Low pressure is pressure less than the pressure around it. Lows couple with wind, atmospheric lifts, warm air, clouds, humidity, rain, thunderstorms, tropical storms, cyclones, and/or tornadoes.

Studies on humans, have shown differences in barometric pressure cause numerous physical, emotional, and behavioral changes. They include, headaches, mood variations, and complaints about more aches and pains. Perhaps you, or someone you know, claims they can predict the weather better than the weatherman, simply because you feel changes in your body or mood.

So, how do these atmospheric changes affect your dog? Science isn’t quite sure. However, dog owners, especially hunters, and those with scent hounds as companion dogs, have noticed as barometric pressure drops, their dogs change the way they track. This observation leads them to believe their animals change how they follow a scent, to compensate for the changes in the way scents travel.

They also noted their dog tends to hold their head higher in drier air, to catch scents as when the atmospheric pressure is higher. If it is exceptionally windy, their dogs have a more difficult time following a scent; most likely because the direction of the scent changes. When the barometer drops, and winds die down, indicating a low has moved in, their dogs tend to hold their heads lower to the ground when following a scent.

There are those astute owners, who are particularly bonded and attentive, who have reported they are alerted there will be a change in the weather, by watching physical and behavioral changes in their dogs. They included restlessness, panting, trembling, whining, and drooling. A number of them find their animal has a need to hide; others find their dog has a need to be exceptionally close to them.

There are owners of arthritic dogs who claim their pets often appear stiffer and have more difficulty getting up or walking, when the barometric pressure is low. They may be correct. Why can’t dogs feel the added pressure on their joints, as we do?

Bottom line – If you are conscious of the changes in your dog, that’s terrific! If you aren’t, maybe now you will pay more attention, because you’ll know what to look for. Your dog may be trying to tell you something, in the only way they know.

How to Create a Successful Bowl-A-Thon Fundraiser

This article explains how to take an ordinary bowl-a-thon fundraiser that might have produced $ 5,000 and turn it into one approaches six-figures. Below is a quick summary snapshot of the idea, followed by sections describing how it works and ideas to consider.

Summary Snapshot:

  • Potential Revenues: $$$$$
  • Revenue Source: Attendance fees, silent and live auctions, raffles, lane sponsorships
  • Advertising: Social media, press releases to local newspapers and TV / radio stations, website, signature, all communications
  • Equipment / Supplies: Event planning with area bowling establishment, tables for auction items, audio system
  • Partners: Area businesses, restaurants, corporations, bowling lane owner
  • Volunteers Needed: Extensive committee structure to handle all aspects of the event

How It Works:

This fundraising idea can be a surprisingly large fundraising event. The Domestic Violence organization of New Haven, CT uses this as their premier annual event, and earned $ 91,000. The great part of this event is that the bowling alley comes fully equipped to handle your event. Simply arrange to rent a block of lanes or the entire building for your event.

The hard part is deciding on fundraising venues. Typically, the event is either done by inviting teams to come in and compete, or by open bowling. The preference is for the teams, as you can pretty much decide ahead of time what you'll be getting for donations, as well as what you'll be needing for space. Typically, teams pay between $ 60 to $ 150 and more to compete. Prizes are donated and awarded, and team scores are posted as the day goes on.

The day is usually broken up into multiple time slots, and teams are assigned to each slot for the competition. If you have a 60-lane facility, you can see how quickly the contributions can add up. Five 2-hour time slots, completely filled, equals 300 teams. At $ 100 to enter a four-person team, that's $ 30,000 to begin with. Then there are the other added fundraisers that can be combined: silent auctions, live auctions, food and drinks, sponsorships, and even an awards dinner later in the evening.

Ideas to Consider:

So where do you come up with 400 teams? Well this becomes a perfect venue for existing bowling leagues, local businesses and associations (like Kiwanis and Rotary) to participate in. Contact each local business and ask them if they're support your event by entering 1 or 2 teams. Explain the rules, prizes and your cause. It's not too hard to come up with 1 or 2 teams in a company, and a healthy competition makes for great press releases and sponsorships.

While you're in talking with the businesses, ask if they'd like to sponsor one of the lanes during the event. Sometimes a good sign sponsorship would cost $ 200. With 50 lanes, that's an additional $ 10,000. Allow fans to attend for a small donation, or even for free. You want a lot of participation in the silent auctions, buying food you have for sale, or attending the rewards dinner event that evening. Remember that you have to charge to attend, unless you've included it in the team entry fee.

If you can get a few of the local celebrities to attend, that will draw additional people to the event. Make sure that you use the Live Auction and Silent Auction formats at the dinner.

Make the prizes fun. Come up with unusual prizes to augment the normal first, second, and third place prizes. Maybe you can get a car dealership to come in with an overall sponsor, and offer up a car for a 300-game. (Believe it or not, Lloyd's of London insures these types of rewards, based on expected risks.) The more prizes the better: most gutters, lowest individual score, highest individual score, best team jerseys, and so forth.

For more details about how this fundraiser works, you can go to www.FundraisingAlmanac.com/bowl-a-thon.php .

Cotton Vs Synthetic Towels – Which is Better?

There are a lot of opinions surrounding the relative merits of cotton vs. synthetic towels. Both of them are really fine to use. And whether toweling off after a swim during your stay at a hotel or after a bath at home, it really all boils down to personal preference. Since both have their own pros and cons, you might find that one is better suited to your tastes than the other. Your choice is just that – your choice – no better or worse than what other people prefer. But there are differences.

Recently, the use of cotton towels by many hotels and health spas has declined. This is probably because synthetic towels are generally less expensive and dry faster than 100% cotton. Generally, cotton towels are very good at absorbing moisture. This is the reason why bathrobes are most often made of real cotton. They are able to absorb the water from your body in no time at all so you can avoid feeling cold when you step out of the pool or jacuzzi.

However, this strength of cotton towels is also its weakness. Although cotton towels are very good at absorbing moisture, it also takes a lot of time before they dry out. This means that they are pretty much useless once they are soaked with water. Even if you wring them out completely, you still will not be able to rid them of moisture to make them usable again in the short term. This is why you'll find that swimmers often use some cotton towels when they are training. It gives the used towels a chance to dry up completely.

Synthetic towels, on the other hand, are free from this particular flaw of cotton towels. When absorption ability is the main issue, there is no doubt that that cotton towels will win hands down. However, synthetic towels are able to get rid of absorbed water completely even with a simple wringing. It's reliably easy to remove the moisture completely and you do not have to use so many towels. A synthetic towel is reusable in this way, and relieves you off the burden of having a pile of towels to wash frequently all at once. You can use them for longer periods of time between laundry.

The other disadvantage of using cotton is that the cotton towels are softer and often less durable than synthetics. After you have used them several times, surviving the wash becomes more of a challenge and they tend to get threadbare quicker. Unlike synthetic towels that are able to go through many more washings and stay intact, cotton towels are more prone to damage with regular use. Synthetic towels are also good for use in more demanding jobs like spills. However, when absorption quality is concerned, cotton towels are still better.

The common wisdom says that cotton is more luxurious than synthetic. But since both of them have their pros and cons, you can just choose the one you think is best suited for your taste or particular use, although many people purchase towels as an afterthought and cost and / or impulse become the overriding purchasing factor.

Know About Roofing Services

Replacement is critical for a roofing system. No matter how big or small your residence is, various kinds of ruptures happen due to severe atmospheric conditions or material wear and tear. Replacing the roof involves a lot of initial investment but some of the best service providers can economize your expenses. It also involves a lot of time as it takes quite a number of days, sometimes even months to get done. And while the roofers are working on your project your life becomes so unsettled and disorganized. Overpriced repairs impact and hinder the design and performance ability of the building with constant cracks and other disfigurements.

Industrial roofing is a business that is flourishing very quickly these days. The reason being the repair and maintenance of roofs is very important. If you have a beautiful house it becomes necessary to pay attention towards its saving from time to time. There can be sudden leaks or cracks that may develop into a bigger problem and therefore it is better to be prepared than to regret later. When it comes to roofers there are industrial and business roofing improvement specialists that provide a complete installation service for all kinds of roofing systems like pitched roofing, flat roofing, coating and slating, sheeting, felting, waterproofing and general maintenance.

Roofing project handling includes various schemes that can be chalked out as per client's requirement. Initially one is required to request a quote or a rough estimate that how the project will look like. Depending on the quantity and quality of work the roofers forecast the budget and timeline and schemes to change the appearance of your roof.

The roofing services staff contractors of contractors that take care of decoration and design, window fixing, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians. There are many service providers that are quite experienced and have a dedicated team to ensure top quality driven service that reflects craft and value effective solutions.

Everything you should know about Roofing

Roof Restoration – complete make-over of your roof

With the assistance of consultants that can help you to reconstruct the most integral part of your house, the roof replacement process is tailor-made according to the customer.

While getting your roof repaired one have individual desires and experiences that come into aspect. This field of business requires time and patience in dealing with the interests of customers. Well- maintained roofs last for a lifetime and therefore one should get this done by licensed professionals adhere to the norms and safety of the roofing.

Many roofing services provide complimentary services as well like fanlight windows, installation of electrical panels, restoration work and repairs, brick work and chimney repairs. Read the customer reviews and browse through the services of roofers and then decide which one to pick for your house.

The Meanings Behind Eagle Tattoo Designs

When you are looking at eagle tattoo designs, there are various meanings behind them. After all, everyone from the Americans to the Egyptians has been known to worship eagles. To some, eagles represent the sun. To some, they represent freedom and liberty.

As I said, it represents liberty to a lot of people, including people in the armed forces, who often sport them. They are also said to signify wealth, strength and power. In combination with other things, such as flags or banners, eagle tattoo designs can be the ultimate patriotic symbol.

Bald eagle tattoo designs might be a good choice if you want to show off your pride in or love for the United States. That is because bald eagles have been a symbol of freedom in the United States since the country was established, practically. Because of that symbolism, they are becoming increasingly popular in the United States.

It is also important that you realize that some cultures, such as the Native American, believe that they are religious in nature. To Native Americans, eagles are almost magical. They are considered to be the king of the birds.

It can also represent a soaring spirit. You might consider getting one if you have high goals in life. That way, you can show off your inner eagle.

Men choose eagle tattoo designs to declare their independence. Eagle tattoos represent strength and a bit of a loner quality. So, if you want to show your independent side, you may want to get one.

When it comes to choosing from designs out there, it is not that simple. There are many possible tattoos to choose from. So, you should not just simply choose any design without any consideration.

The good news is that there are many easy tattoo galleries and websites on the Internet to help you make your choice. As an online gallery member, you will have access to thousands of possibilities. Remember, too, that the designs can come in many sizes, colors, shapes and with many different fonts. So, eagle tattoo designs can be fully customized to suit you and give you the perfect tattoo that you can enjoy for years.

The Optimum Cichlid Aquarium Set Up

The groups of fishes commonly referred to as Cichlids, compose a vast group of, generally larger and more aggressive fishes from Africa and South and Central America with a few species being found in Asia. They offer such a large variety of bright colors, shapes and habits that they have become one of the most popular fishes kept by hobbyist's world wide.

This is the diversity of species, breeding habits and feeding that it becomes necessary to set up different groups of Cichlids in different tanks. Some of these include African Cichlids, American Cichlids, Dwarf Cichlids or Discus. It is usually recommended that you keep these like minded fish together and do not mix them in general.

Selecting and Positioning Your Tank

Always try to choose a tank with the largest possible surface area and volume as most cichlids grow quite large. Make sure you always have a glass cover to stop your fish jumping out.

Position your new aquarium so that you avoid direct sunlight hitting the aquarium for too long as this can cause excessive algae problems.

Choosing Gravel, Decor and Setting Up

Cichlids are quite territorial and the more holes, refuges and interesting "zones" you can create make for a much harmonized community.

A good starting point is to place in your tank a background that can offer the realism and natural environment that these fish will feel very relaxed and unstressed in. Check out the cichlid mansion range from Aquarium + Reptile Rocks Inc if you want something extraordinary.

Next is the gravel we advise a fine blended gravel as too coarse a gravel size allows unheaten food and waste to accumulate in the pockets between pebbles away from water flow that break it down. There are several varieties to choose from. Clean your gravel in small quantities in a bucket. Three or four rinses should be sufficient. Place the cleaned gravel into your tank along with a little water.

Next to add some more "zones" you can add cleaned rocks and driftwood and position them. Triangulate your decorations to create a greater depth of field and provide an amphitheater where the fish can congregate in a community setting. Try to slope your gravel slowly towards the rear and sides using rocks and logs to create tiers and depth. The lightweight rocks from A + RR Inc like quartz rocks, north head ridge, barnacle, rock pool and charred wood make this fun and easy to do. When you have the major decorations in place, add a little water, if this is a little dirty from the gravel siphon this dirty water out again into your bucket.

Next fill your tank. Avoid disturbing the gravel by using a plate or newspaper onto which you can direct the water flow. Some coral sand is a good addition to an African tank, while white Rift Lake Sand looks great for Africans also but can show up detritus badly. These aspects will be discussed further later.

Preparing your Tap Water

Next we must treat our tap water to remove harmful chlorine and ammonia. There are several products that will remove both, the best value is Amquel Instant water Detoxifier.

It is also necessary to replace electrolytes like, magnesium, and potassium making in tap water.

The electrolytic aquarium salts are essential to fishes well being. Not only provide an anti-bacterial effect, but help fishes produce body slime to protect themselves from infection and create an essential osmotic barrier so they do not dehydrate. Make sure it is dissolved before adding to your aquarium.

There are also several products we can use to specific water conditions for African and Discus. To calculate water volume: consider 10cm x 10cm x 10cm = 1 liter. So length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm) divided by 1000 = Volume (liters).

Biological Filter Supplementation

The Best way to get crystal clear water is to pro-actively provide bacteria cultures as biological filter supplement. In our opinion WASTE CONTROL and CYCLE used in conjunction with one another or HBH TERMINITE are the best way to enhance your filtration and stay ahead of the game. People using these products simply do not encounter the same problems as people who take a minimalist approach (do not use a filter supplement) and end up constantly reacting to problems. These bacteria cultures help convert all organic wastes to ammonia then further to nitrite and finally to nitrate. To establish your tanks bacteria populations can take several weeks but is accelerated greatly by adding supplements. Do not overstock your new aquarium during this run in period.

Filtration

All good filters provide ample filter media surface areas for the colonization of aerobic (oxygen breathing) denitrifying bacteria which break down fish waste. The greater the volume of the filter and the greater the flow rate, the larger the population of bacteria to keep your tank clean. This is Biological filtration. All good filters should provide some sponge as Mechanical filtration. Chemical filtration is also important. We always use ammonia remover as a safeguard. Carbon is also beneficial but Purigen is superior. It is rechargeable and will also remove log logs from your tank (That is if you did not use the Charred wood from A + RR Inc). Remember to rinse loose particles out before adding to your filter.

Filter Types

Freshwater Trickle filters offer the most filtration for large seriously stocked tanks.

External Canister filers like the PRIME, EHEIM, FLUVAL or VIA AQUA are the best of the commercially available filters. They offer the largest volume of media and can be concealed from view. All these brands have a simple priming system and excellent taps to isolate water in the tub while the filter is cleaned.

Hang On styles like the AQUACLEAR and AQUAONE are also very good. They can probably provide the best value if your budget does not permit an external canister. Simple fill the filter box with water and turn on. Water is pumped through the filter and gravity flows back into your tank.

Internal motorized filters like the CRYSTAL, RIO, and EIHEM are popular for smaller tanks or as a secondary filter for extra circulation in a large tank. Internals usually do not interfere with top glass or hoods. These can be placed under one of your lightweight rocks.

Air Operated filtration is often not sufficient for cichlids. We do highly recommend air bubbling in Cichlid tanks. Be sure to use a Check Valve so that water can not flow back into your pump if power goes off.

If you have a Cichlid Mansions or Amazon background from A + RR Inc you can conceive a lot of the plumbing from view which makes for a very attractive set up.

Water Changing

Although nitrate (residual waste) is reliably harmless, the levels will accumulate and become dangerous if regular partial water changes are not performed to dilute nitrates. Cichlids are large fish that eat a lot, so nitrates accumulate quickly. PH is also dropped dangerously lower by organic waste accumulation. Therefore, no matter how good your filtration is, you still must water change regularly. We recommend a 1/3 – water water change fortnightly to keep pH above neutral and nitrates low.

The best tool to assist you with water changes is a Lee's Gravel Vacuum. They allow you to remove the dirtiest water from around the gravel and replace it with clean, treated tap water. This task is easier to do and a better job done if you have lightweight rocks and d├ęcor. We recommend you test pH and nitrate weekly to ensure your water changing maintenance is sufficient to maintain this balance. PH can be maintained using PH UP, but the only easy way to remove nitrate is by water changing.

An important tip when changing. Rinse your filter media in your old aquarium water rather than under a tap as the chlorine in tap water will kill off the precious filter bacteria living in the foam and other media. If you follow these procedures you should never have to completely break your tank down to clean it out.

Heating

If you want to keep Cichlids you will need to heat them. A good guide is approximately 1 watt of heating per liter of water. A higher wattage heater than necessary is often a good choice though because they can be used on larger aquariums. Position your heater in a back corner at a 45 degree angle so that heat does not rise directly onto the thermostat. Make sure that there is good water movement around the heater to ensure that the element is heating. Large cichlids can get quite boisterous, so a heater guard will stop your heater being broken. We believe it necessary to also install a thermostat to check the heater. The stick on types are the best in our opinion as the suction cup type soon do not stick and require replacement.

Lighting

Lighting is necessary to view your fish at night time. To achieve this we find it better to illuminate your tank from afternoon until bed time when people can more easily enjoy their tanks. Lighting left on all day will unduly cause excessive algae problems. For best results with plants we recommend high intensity full spectrum white lighting. We like to use Aquastars, Arcadia's or Power Glo's.

The African Cichlid Tank

The African Rift lake Cichlids from Lakes Malaqi, Tanganyika and Victoria have become a popular variety of fish for people who desire dramatic color, size and movement in their tanks. African cichlids are quite aggressive and fast moving and should be kept in tanks set up for a community of African cichlids.

Natural Habitat

African Cichlids inhabit the rocky shorelines of the rift lakes of Africa. The water in these lakes is quite hard and alkaline. Large schools of fish graze algae from the rocky outcrop reefs. Amongst the algae live small crustaceans which also constitute part of the diet of African cichlids.

The bottom of the lakes is sandy. Innumerable caves formed between the boulders offer protection to young fish and brooding females. Check out the Cichlid mansion and Amazon range of backgrounds if you want realism and something special. Most species from Lake Malawi are mouth brooders and constitution a large proportion of the species available in the hobby. A lot of the Tanganyikan species form lifetime pair bonds and protect their young, while others are also mouth brooders.

Rift Lake Water Conditioning

To recreate the hard alkaline water required by these fish, shell grit or coral sand should be added to your gravel or used exclusively for the bottom. African Rift lake sand is also becoming popular, but can show up detritus badly. Good quality African Cichlid water conditioners like the Seachem Rift Lake Salt and Buffers are a real advantage in creating the right water conditions.

There are several products that will remove both chlorine and ammonia, but the best value is …. Amquel Instant water Detoxifier.

Setting up African Rift Lake Cichlids

As African cichlids come from rocky shoreline areas of the lakes, we suggest that intricate rockwork form the basis of your set-up arranged to form area's with numerous caves. The rockwork should be predominately built up around the back and sides to leave a communal amphitheater where all the interaction and displays take place. A + RR Inc has a large range of rocks which are extremely attractive and offer plenty of hiding places. Plants are not essential to your African community tank because African Cichlids, being omnivorous, will eat your plants except for something like Anubias. One option here is to cut some holes in barnacle rock which allows the greenery to be seen but protects the base in the gravel from the fish. Plastic plants instead make a good addition.

Adding African Rift Lake Cichlids

Try to crowd your African cichlids without taxing your filtration and water change management. This stops individuals from becoming too dominant and harassing others.

We find it best to start with small to medium sizes of fishes of several species in groups of four.

(4 Electric Blue, 4 Electric Yellows, 4 Venustus, 4 Red Empress)

Of the Lake Malawi fishes, the most common species are Zebras, Pindani, Lombardoi and others. People often start with these species as they are cheaper and show color while still young. Many hobbyists progress to the slightly more expensive and spectacular 'Haplochromis' group, like Electric Blues, Red Empress and the Peacocks where only the males exhibit the most amazing color as they mature. In general Take Tanganyika fishes are a bit more expensive and comprise some of the most thought after species like Frontosa, "Lanprologus" and Trheus.

Feeding Africans

Feeding African Cichlids the right type of foods is very important. African Cichlids have extremely long intestinal tracts, like omnivores, which means that foods (meat, worms etc.) will take a long time to digest. Inappropriate foods will rot in their stomachs causing bloating, sickness and sometimes death. For this reason foods with a large proportion of spirulina and vegetables are best. Our favorites, HBH VEGE or Cichlid Flakes and Pellets are perfect. Super Bits are also eagerly taken but we do not like to feed Super Bits exclusively, but rather combined with Spirulina based foods. Frozen bloodworm and brine shrimp are also good for most species, but meats and live blackworm are definitely no-no's.

The American Cichlid Tank

American Cichlids are larger growing and slower moving than their African cousins. They are also far more predatory and are happy with a higher protein than Africans. For these reasons we do not recommend keeping American and African Cichlids together. Of course there is always the odd exception.

Natural Habitat

The natural habitat of the Central and South American cichlids is quite different to that of Africans. Logs and branches in general replace rocky outcrops still having a background that can provide safe secure retreats are important. We feel darker gravel such as the Red Gravel blend suits the reflective colors of Americans, compared to lighter substrates spawners who will form a pair bond. Spawns can produce hundreds of fry, the parents will try to protect and nurture their babies instinctively. It is not uncommon for pairs of fish to spawn in the community tank, although it is illegally that the parents will be able to protect babies from the hordes. Most American cichlids have also been in the hobby for a lot longer than Africans. Species like Oscars and Red Devils have become household names.

Water Conditioning

American Cichlids are quite tolerant of water conditions, but a pH close to neutral and low nitrates (regular water changes) provide a comfortable environment. Always treat new tap water well with XXXXXX and XXXXX as with all fish.

Setting Up for American Cichlids

Use plenty of logs. Submerge some rocks into the substrate and add more structure on top … Do not be concerned by excessive color from new logs as this will become less with regular water changing. You could use charred wood from A + RR Inc here as well. Plastic plants attached to small crevice rock will provide a splash of color. Of course you can use one of the Amazon or Cichlid mansion backgrounds that will create a stunning base for you to expand on.

Adding American Cichlids

Try to set up a large variety of young fish to grow up together. That way you will have far more compatible large fish when they grow up. Our favorite species are Oscars, Red Devils, Texas, Firemouths, Severums etc. Give them plenty of room to grow. Often people will ask, "What can I put with my large Oscar who has lived alone for a year?" if you put another single fish in, there is every chance that the new inhabitant will be killed. We advised it is better to trade in large fish and start with a community of smaller Americans.

Feeding Americans

American cichlids will consume a large variety of foods. HBH make a range of American specific cichlid foods. Advance the size of the pellets as your young fish grow. A wide variety of frozen foods are recommended in conjunction with live foods including feeder fish. Only offer feeder fish as a treat, otherwise they will become fussy about accepting prepared foods.

Dwarf Cichlids

The most popular dwarf cichlids are the Apistogrammas and Microgeophagus (Rams) from South America and the Pelvicachromis (Kribensis) from the Congo River system of Africa. These dwarf cichlids are a popular community fish that may spawn in a community tank and exercise parental care over their young if there is enough cover. They prefer a good varied diet of prepared frozen and live foods.

Discus

Discuses are a popular group of cichlids kept by enthusiasts all over the world. Many claim Discus are the "King of Fishes". Discus are definitely a fish that require some experience, although they may be kept in a community tank. The major requirement to keeping Discus well is good water management and the best foods. Discuses seem to metabolize quickly and need to be fed often with high quality prepared and frozen foods. The best are Tetra Bits with daily frozen food like Beef Heart and Liver and Discus Dinner. Once Discus are feeding well they are competitive and hardy.

Discus are usually happy in low nitrate water with pH slightly acidic and soft water which is very warm 29-32 Degrees Celsius. For breeding Discus, the fish need to be well conditioned on the best foods. The best range of water conditioners for Discus are the Seachem range of Discus Buffers.

The major problem with Discus is their susceptibility to parasites like gill flakes as well as intestinal worms and flagellates. We advise regular treatments for parasites with General Cure or Worm-Rid, especially after Discus are newly purchased or moved. Intestinal worms are best treated with Worm-Rid and flagellates with Octozin. An inexpensive, yet very good book is the Barron's Discus Fishes.

Enjoy setting up your tank and we love receiving your pictures of the products from A + RR Inc (Aquarium + Reptile Rocks Inc).

Linksys E1000 Router Set Up and Troubleshooting

All Linksys E series routers work on the N technology. You can get wireless speed up to 300 Mbps. You can connect wireless computers, wireless printers and other Wi-Fi devices up to 300 Mbps. Linksys E1000 is nothing but Linksys WRT160N router with a new Cisco connect software.

All the E series routers have Gigabit Ethernet ports which can give you speed up to 1000 Mbps wired connection speed. E1000 router works on 2.4 GHz wireless signal. E2100L router also works on 2.4 GHz wireless signal. This router has a USB port on it. You can connect the USB hard drive to the router and share the hard drive with all the computers connected in the network. E2000 and E3000 routers work on 2.4 GHz as well as 5 GHz powerful wireless signal. You can connect your gaming devices, blue ray players, DVR system to this router for smoother and faster video streaming.

Linksys E1000 router setup:

All the E series routers come with the great Cisco connect software for the easy installation. Before installing the router, make sure that your Internet is working properly through the modem. Connect your computer directly to the modem and try to go on line. If you are able to access the Internet from the modem, then your Internet is working properly. Now insert the CD in to the same computer. Do not run the CD on any other computer. Use the same computer that you used to connect to the modem. Follow the steps of the CD. It may not ask you to connect the computer to the router. But it is recommended that you should connect your computer to the router for the initial set up of the router. You will need to connect the computer to one of the Ethernet port on the router and the modem to the Internet port on the router. That means there will be 2 connections to the router. Now go to the next step on the set up CD. It will take up to 5 minutes to set up the router.

Definitely you can setup the router without CD also. You just need to open the setup page of the router and change the settings manually.

The Cisco connect software is a very intelligent tool. It will check your Internet connection settings and it will try to set up your router automatically according to those settings. It will also create wireless network automatically with the unique network name and password. On the final step you will see that the router is set up successfully. It will open the window where you can check the settings of the router. It will create an option on your computer in the all program list. If you want to change the settings of the wireless network, you can open the Cisco connect software and change the settings.

The Cisco connect software will run only on Windows XP with Service Pack 3, Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 or better, Windows 7, Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.9, Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.11, Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.8, Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.1.

This software will also give you option of parental control where you can limit the access to the Internet according to time as well as websites. This software is capable of creating a guest network access. You can limit the number of guest computers. The guest wireless network will be totally a different wireless network. This guest network works on different IP address range so that the guest people can not share your main wireless network. The guest will not be able to access the router settings or the computers in the main network. But you can set up the Guest network only if you run the Cisco connect software.

Once you have the main computer up and running through the router. You can use a small flash drive to create a set up key. On your other wireless computer, connect this USB set up key and run the program. It will connect your computer to the wireless network automatically. It will search for the wireless network and it will connect on its own. You don’t need to do anything. You can run the USB set up key only if the wireless connection is managed by the windows connection manager. If you change the wireless settings of the router using the set up page of the router, the Cisco connect software will stop working.

If you are not able to set up the router using the Cisco connect software, you can set up the router manually. But you will not be able to use the advantages of Cisco connect software like USB set up key or Guest network access. You can open the set up page of the router and change the Internet connection settings manually according to the Internet service provider.

The hardware warranty for Linksys E series router is 1 year but the free technical support is only for 90 days.

1 + 1 = 3 – Teamwork and Individual Success

Brian Tracy said: 'teamwork is so important that it is actually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it'.

Leverage is an important reason to combine resources and work in a team. Working together you can leverage other people's strengths, leverage your time, leverage other people's time and leakage all the resources that you have available to you.

What exactly do I mean when I say 1 + 1 = 3? – Maximizing resources to achieve a common goal and individual goals. That's what it means – every individual achieving their results and together achieving more through the common results.

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment towards the organizational objective is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results according to Andrew Carnegie. You can look at any team, whether it's a team in business, a team in sport, even the individual 100 meter runner, Usain Bolt, he may do all the running but he has a team of individuals around him who are all focused on him breaking records and becoming the fastest man in the world in any race that he chooses to run in. So everyone working together on that same vision allows the individual to be successful but overall as a team they succeed as well.

How Do You Make the Math Work? Interesting question! I believe there are four key things you can do.

1. Get clear on what the compelling reasons are for other individuals to work beyond achieving their individual goals and to contribute to achieving a broader goal or vision. These reasons need to move beyond reasons for the business or for you, there has to be something in it for them, that age-old adage of what's in it for me applies here.

2. Use the right language – engaging, persuasive and collaborative – language that helps people understand that it's all about how you work together.

3. Promises made, promises delivered. If you make a promise you have to be able to deliver it. There's no point saying to someone 'look, if you do this for me, I'll get you promoted', if you can not get them promoted. If all that you can do is make a recommendation, then be clear on that and say, 'look, if you help me with this, this will go a long way to getting you promoted and certainly I'll include it in a recommendation for that to happen '. So be very clear, do not over-commit and make sure you have a plan.

4. Nothing can be achieved without a plan. A vision without a plan is simply a dream.

Thick Pavers vs Thin Pavers

What is the difference between thick and thin pavers? Where should you use either product? Do thick pavers cost more than thin pavers? Can I install thin pavers on top of my driveway? These are common questions we get from homeowners all of the time.

Thick pavers range from two and three eighths of an inch to three and half inches in thickness. They are typically used in new construction. When you build a new home and choose pavers for your hardscaping, thick pavers will be used. If you add a new pool to your existing home and decide to install pavers as the decking surface, thick pavers will be used. If you want a new patio in your backyard, thick pavers will be used. If you want to redo your driveway with pavers, the existing concrete should be removed, and thick pavers will then be installed on top of base material.

Thin pavers were created to remodel existing pool decks, patios, sidewalks, and front entries. They are perfect for any non-vehicular application that remodels an existing concrete slab. By a technical definition, thin pavers are not considered pavers. Instead, they are considered to be a tile. Their thickness relative to their shape prevents them from being considered a paver. Typically, thin pavers are anywhere from three quarters of inch in thickness to an inch and a quarter. Since they are about half the thickness of regular pavers, they should cost less, right?

Unfortunately, on a material only basis, thin pavers cost the same as thick pavers. The reason for this is that overwhelmingly, thick pavers are in much higher demand than thin pavers. Therefore, it is a burden on the production company to produce their less frequently demanded thin counterparts. Paver manufacturers are in business to produce as many pavers as quickly and as efficiently as they can. When they have to shut the system down to change out shape molds and adjust machinery to accommodate thin paver thickness, they lose a lot of valuable production time. It can take hours to switch from one mold to the next. Additionally, since thin pavers aren’t ordered as often, the order quantities are frequently less and the manufacturer is forced to produce less pavers per mold and color. This inefficiency causes increased costs for the producers and they pass those costs on to their customers. So even though thin pavers use fewer raw materials to be produced, they take up more time, and time is money.

The good news is that if you are considering pavers for your home and you want to remodel an existing concrete surface, your job cost will be less than if you want to build something new. This is where the cost benefit of going with a thin paver versus a thick paver comes into play. To learn more about thick or thin pavers and how they can help beautify your home, contact Park Avenue Pavers today.

How to Take Care of Your Boiler

In order to keep your boiler and central heating system working well, there are certain things you should do. Firstly, show some love to your boiler. It works hard all year round to provide heat and hot water to you and your family, and it causes very little trouble, asking for practically nothing in return. However, the one thing it does need is a boiler service, and this will help to make sure you are taking care of your boiler properly.

A boiler service is not a lot that you have to give your boiler in return for its consistent heat output and reliability. Many people just assume that their boiler is fine and there's nothing to worry about, but faults can occur at any time in a boiler's life. Plus, the older it is then the higher the risk something might go wrong. If you have a boiler and are planning to book a boiler service in, there are some other things you can do as part of your homeowner maintenance checklist.

Firstly, make sure you clean the boiler every now and then. We're not talking about getting deep inside and pulling it apart, but just a light dusting can make all the difference. Obviously, it largely depends where your boiler is kept, but some that are fully exposed will need to have the tops cleaned to make sure no dust particles are getting stuck inside the boiler.

In addition to this, check that the pilot light is on. When this goes off, you know something is wrong. You might not be able to check this on your own, which is fine, but you will often find it easy to identify on older boilers. Get the engineer out to check the pilot light if you are at all unsure. They are trained in this line of work.

Keep checking your radiators to make sure the heat is pumping through the house. If a radiator is cold, it could mean your central heating system is not working properly and this means your boiler is in need of a health-check.

The Character Dolls Of Kenner Parker Toys

Founded by three brothers in 1947, the Kenner Company produced several popular toys such as their popular building and construction toy sets in 1957 called the Girder and Panel, 1959's Give-A-Show projector, and 1963's the Easy-Bake Oven. Then in 1957, the company was acquitted by General Mills which also remarkably merged Kenner Products into its own Rainbow Crafts division wherein its first product after the merger was Play-Doh.

The first few dolls that Kenner produced were the 1972's vinyl Blythe doll which measured 11.5 to 12 inches. The doll came with different changeable hair and eye colors. This doll is one of the thought-after vintage collectibles which can reach several hundred dollars to acquire. Another doll it popularized in the same year was the 18-inch Gabbigale with a battery-operated talker. The doll was made of hard jointed plastic body with vinyl head, painted eyes, and rooted hair.

Still in 1972, Kenner also introduced the 6.5-inch Garden Gals which has a red watering can and then followed by the 18-inch tall Sweet Cookie. In 1973, 16-inch tall Baby Alive was launched which was a battery-operated drink-wet doll. It also introduced Stretch Armstrong which was composed of stretchable vinyl that can stretch as far as four feet and return to its original shape.

By the year 1977, Kenner acquired the license to manufacture action figures for Star Wars with the trilogy running from 1977 through 1985. The action figures measured 3.75 inches and became a standard in the industry that sells action figures. It also began manufacturing other actions figures based on the hit TV series The Six Million Dollar Man. The 13-inch doll characters were Lee Majors, Jamie Sommers, Oscar Goldman, Big Foot, Masketron Robot, Woman Robot, and Steven Austin. It also tried penetrating the toy car die-cast market by launching Fast 111 but it did not gain much of the market's response.

The Kenner dolls became more popular when it created action figures based on DC Comics' superheroes which were included in the series called the Super Powers Collection. Each action figure doll comes with an action feature such as throwing a punch when the doll's legs are squeezed. Other dolls that were also based on books and movies were 1978's Hardy Boys and 1981's Indiana Jones. Doll collectors who are fanatics of television series and movies will certainly appreciate collecting dolls from Kenner. Anyone who also has passion for unique action figures and dolls will find Kenner's battery-operated models amusing.

Parts of a Deer Antler – Deer Rack Anatomy 101

Deer antlers are an incredibly fascinating biological phenomenon. The shape of antlers range from very small sharp “spikes” to fantastical typical and non-typical racks. To better understand the parts of a deer antler, we will first examine some basic deer antler terminology, the difference between horns and antler then follow up with the correct name for every part of the deer antler.

Antler Terms

Point: a projection on an antler that is at least one inch long.

Rack: refers to the set of antlers on a particular deer. All racks are divided into two classifications; typical or non-typical.

Typical: typical racks are those antlers that look like a a classic or “normal” rack. On a 10 point buck (a buck with a rack that has a total of ten points,) the buck would show five matched points on each side, and the location of these points would be in typical locations.

Non-typical: non-typical racks, by definition, are racks that do not look normal. They may exhibit unmatched points (for example 3 points on one side and 5 on the other,) they can have points growing off of other points or the points themselves may be abnormaly shaped.

Antlers vs. Horns

Horns are found on mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bison and other game. Horns, unlike antlers, grow all throughout an animals life. If they are lost or damaged for any reason, they cannot be replaced. The surface of horns is made of a keratin, much like human finger nails. They are alive, in that they receive nutrients by blood vessels that are inside the horn.

Deer, like elk and moose, have antlers, not horns. Antlers, are not made of keratin, they are dead bone that grow out of the skull of the animal. Antlers tend to be much longer than horns, and have numerous branches. Deer grow yearly and shed their antlers on a yearly basis. Antler tissue is said to be fastest growing mammal tissue known to man. Even the largest rack on a mature deer is grown in about three to four months!

Parts of a Deer Antler

Pedicle: The base of the deer’s antler, where the antler bone meets the head of the deer.

Beam: The central stem of the antlers, from which all other points arise.

Brow Tine: The first division or point off of the beam.

Bay Antler: The second division (or point above the brow tine).

Royal Antler: The third division on the antlers (or point above the bay antler).

Surroyal Antler: The fourth division or point above the royal antler.

Fork: The end of deer’s antlers, where the central beam divides in two.

Palm: The end of a deer’s antlers where the central beam divides into several points, resembling the human hand.

Crown Tine: A tine growing at the very end of the deer’s antler, the points above the fork or palm.

These terms should help you correctly identify and discuss the different parts of a deer antler.