Ludomit Rozicki’s Eros and Psyche, Polish National Opera, Warsaw

Opera reviews usually carry no spoiler warnings. On the contrary, they usually begin with an exhaustive, sometimes exhausting blow-by-blow account of every contrived detail. So let this be no exception. Eros and Psyche by Ludomir Rozicki could be just another nineteenth century classical rewrite, just another femme fatale tear-jerker, but it is much more than that.

Psyche dreams of being swept off her feet by love. We feel that these Arcadian maidens occupying a green room to make up for a performance are almost imprisoned so that they might beautify themselves. Psyche is enamoured of, perhaps obsessed with a man, who has taken to visit her nightly. She reveals to a friend she has been seeing someone. Eros reappears and offers eternal love, but only on his terms. Somehow he has managed to conceal his identity, if not his intentions, until Blaks, the caretaker, inadvertently casts light on Eros’s face and then all hell is let loose. Eros condemns Psyche to suffer an eternal life of constant wandering and disappointment, a life in which Blaks will regularly reappear to deny her any fulfilment. It’s a judgment delivered by Perseus, who announces exile and eternal wandering as he hands over a passport and tickets for both Psyche and Blaks. As Psyche embarks upon her fate, we realise we must not blame the messenger.

Her first subsequent port of call is a party – perhaps a drunken orgy – in ancient Rome, a Rome that is of course not ancient for her. A couple of Greeks at the gathering lament what Romans have done to their culture, a culture inherited from their own people, including Psyche. She appears, but she is obviously out of place, of a different culture and time, and she is mocked by everyone, especially by the women, who ridicule her appearance. They label her mad and Blaks, who here is a Prefect, apparently in charge, delivers condemnation.

We move on to Spain during the Inquisition. Psyche embraces Christ crucified on the cross. There is sexuality in her obsession with the figure. She enters a convent, but still yearns for a life outside the convent. The other nuns do not trust her. She tells of her need for the sun and fresh air, but she is warned not to have ambition. She must do as she is told, because asking questions is sinful, here. There is to be a visit by the abbot, a man who recently condemned a nun to be burned at the stake. Psyche is thus warned. Her attitudes are described to the abbot, who condemns her. Blaks, of course, is the abbot, who wields power more easily than he exhibits faith. Eros appears, we think to save her, but all he offers is a facile song.

Our heroine’s next port of call is revolutionary France. She works while men drink. We learn that it was Psyche who led the storming of the Bastille in the name of freedom. She rejects an offer of marriage because she would rather serve the people. She wants to lead the commune into battle. She is too radical to be a revolutionary. She insists on principle and finds herself on the wrong side of politics. Guess who might be the pragmatic leader who condemns her beliefs.

A final scene is in a bar or nightclub, where psyche dances to entertain the drinkers, who are all men. Blaks, here called the Baron, is the owner of the club and the principal exploiter of the women who work for him. The women attract the men to the bar, they drink and the baron, not the women, makes money. Psyche laments her role, but the baron says it’s all her own fault. She laughs at offers of love, saying she wants to be independent. But, having achieved her liberation she finds she can’t cope with it.

Eros appears, perhaps to save the day. Psyche is still infatuated, but now also exhausted. Eros reveals he has an alter ego by the name of Thanatos, the personification of death, and thus Psyche learns she is doomed. Her response is to torch what remains of her life, a life that has now rejected her. Eros-Thanatos has the last word, however, by presenting Psyche with a sports car which has already crashed. He invites her to sit at the wheel and then paints her with her own blood to show the end has finally arrived.

Eros and Psyche was premiered in 1917 and Rozycki’s style is not unlike that of Symanowski, but there is also Richard Strauss in there, alongside not a little Debussy. Many of the short phrases are also reminiscent of Janacek, though usually without the bite. Given the opera’s date, we would expect Psyche, though still femme fatale, to be at least a little forward looking. She is certainly not a Violetta or Mimi, in that she is no mere victim of bad luck, disease or circumstance. She is closer to a Butterfly, but she does not accept her fate meekly and without protest. In classical terms, we may have here a Salome or Elektra, but these were anti-heroines who probably deserved what they got. Tosca got mixed up in politics that went wrong. One has the feeling that Psyche would have relished the opportunity, but it never arose.

Three other theatrically destroyed women of the era come to mind, Judith, Katya and Elena. Judith’s plight in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle parallels Psyche’s here. Judith can only know Bluebeard by probing the psychological spaces of his mind. He resents this, but allows her to continue, knowing that once she knows him, he will have taken possession of her. Similarly, Psyche is punished because she gets to know Eros, thereby reducing his control over her, a control he must reassert by condemning her. The Bartok-Balasz character, however, is more modern than Psyche, despite the existence of castles and visions. It is only when Judith understands the mental make-up of Bluebeard that he has to punish her, because only then that she becomes a threat to him. She is eternally mummified alongside the wives who have preceded her.

Janacek’s Katya Kabova is a step back into the nineteenth century by virtue of originally having been a creation of Ostrovsky, but her achievement of a finality of death does ask some modern questions. Ostrovsky’s nineteenth century provincial dramas general do away with their heroines, but it is the societies rather than the individuals that are seen at fault. When oppression and hypocrisy are cultural and structural, it is hard for any individual to oppose them. But here it is these attitudes that make female existence a tragedy. Yes, Katya takes her own life, but it is another woman, her own mother-in-law, who asks the community to witness the doing of justice and not to shed tears for a woman who brought her fate on herself. The music, in fact, ends with neither tragedy nor anger, but with a question mark. Elena Makropoulos presents a different challenge. In many ways she is in control. Like Psyche she has lived, or at claims to have done so, in many eras, has inhabited many roles and has had a string different lives. Her original fate, however, like Psyche’s, was imposed on her by a man, in Elena’s case her father. Like Psyche, Elena has become cynical about men’s motives and dismissive of their capabilities. Crucially, however, when Elena is offered the opportunity to take back control of her eternal existence, she rejects it, preferring death to repeating the same old things. Psyche was never offered control and its attainment was never in her grasp. But Psyche thinks she achieved a liberation from oppression at the end, though she was unable to cope with it. This makes her a more modern figure.

So, for a modern audience, Psyche cannot be merely a classical beauty who crosses a god. And in the production by Warsaw’s Polish National Opera, she isn’t. Each of the scenarios is transformed into a film set. Scene one is a giant green room, populated by women who clearly want to be stars. Whether Eros operated a casting couch is unclear, but the probability is high. From scene one’s green room, Psyche is cast her role in each of the other four scenes, each of which is destined to be part of a feature film in which she stars. When Blaks repeatedly frustrates her activities and condemns her, the two of them become near stereotypes for femme fatale and callous male power. If we ask if it has to be this way, we have to answer that it was a male god in the first instance that insisted it should be so.

By the end, Psyche has had enough and she torches the world that has exploited her. It ought to be a final act of self-destructive defiance but the god and men even then reassert their control. A car crash is organised and she is painted with blood. The car itself part of the trappings of the stardom she has sought, and thus Psyche potentially becomes a tabloid press headline, probably moralising about a life of debauchery or excess. Psyche thus becomes a modern victim. She is a Marilyn Monroe ruined by fame, or perhaps a Jayne Mansfield, epitome of womanhood exploited for male voyeurs.

Thanks to the internet and Opera Vision we can all view this production from Warsaw and thereby draw our own conclusions. Streamed via a smart TV or perhaps better in the case of Opera Vision via a laptop and cable, the opera even comes with subtitles for anyone who might not catch all of the original Polish. Joanna Freszel as Psyche gives a stunning performance, being vocally up the task as well as combining the confidence, ambition and assertion of a modern woman alongside the naivete and vulnerability of anyone who might fall in love. Mikolaj Zalasinski as Blaks is brilliant at using his power whilst never really appearing to be worthy of its extent, which is exactly what the character of Psyche must be thinking. He also makes the role anti-intellectual, thus stressing the contrast between the use of power and any knowledge of its consequences.

The great power of the opera, besides its visually stunning use of multimedia, is its ability to reinterpret itself. Here Warsaw opera blends action, words and music with a little film, perhaps the very film being made on stage as we watch. It is a fable that becomes real, and convincingly so. It is thought-provoking and ironic at the same time and a brilliant example of the creative vision of its production team, especially director Barbara Wysocka. And the music, by the way, is stunningly colourful.

Opera tends to be dominated by a repetition of a rather narrow repertoire. Audiences often seem more interested in asserting their social class via their theatre attendance rather than understanding the challenges of making sense of a work, especially if that sense is at all modern. Audiences tend to like what they know rather than know what they like. But, when it works – and this production of Polish National Opera certainly does – opera blends theatre and music with visual art in a way no other experience can achieve. As a genre, it is populated by a large number of long-forgotten and hardly performed works, almost all of which can be reinterpreted by committed performers to speak to our own age, mirror it and also challenge it. Rozycki’s Eros and Psyche is a superb example of the possibilities, especially as realised in this Warsaw production. Via Opera Vision it is available to everyone. Try not to miss it and then see what you think

Bifold Door Buying Guide

Bifold doors now form part of almost all new build home extensions due to their ability to open up large unobstructed openings allowing the new living space to seamlessly merge with the garden.

The intensive growth in demand for these folding sliding doors in the UK in recent years has led to a substantial increase in the number and type of different door systems now available to the consumer. They are now widely available in a choice of materials and finishes with the three most popular being thermally broken aluminum, upvc and hardwood.

Choosing the right bifold door for your project is an important decision and one that should not be taken purely based on cost alone. Your budget will naturally have an influence on your buying decision but there are other important factors that need serious consideration to ensure you are not disappointed with your purchase. Here are the top five points that are considered by many as the most essential research when considering a bifold door purchase:

1. THERMAL PERFORMANCE

Since most bifold door installations will be subject to compliance with building regulations it is important to check that the folding door you are about to buy will meet your local authority's interpretation of current building regulations in terms of overall U-value performance. This calculation is based on the specification of the double glazing together with the profile design and dimensions to determine the insulation benefits of the door measured in U-values ​​with the lower the value the better the insulation achieved. The minimum acceptable under current building regulations for replacement doors is a 1.8 U-value but some local authorities will insist on lower values ​​specifically for new build extensions.

2. GLASS SIGHT LINES

Another important consideration should be the sight line or width of door profiles between each panel of the folding sliding door as this will affect the visible glass area available when the door is in the closed position. Most bifold doors are designed with dedicated profiles to minimize these sightlines as much as possible but some timber and many upvc folding doors use wide, chunky profiles that produce very broad sight lines in excess of 200mm wide that will extremely spoil your view.

3. SECURITY

Most folding doors will feature a high security locking system but many still use face fixed or flag hinges that can pose a possible security issue and allow the hinges to be removed from the outside when the door is closed. Some upvc bifold doors may also use an exposed gear system that is accessible from the outside of the door when the door is closed which can also pose a possible security threat. You can eliminate these potential security problems by ensuring you choose a folding door that has fully understood driving and hinge fixings.

4. THRESHOLDS

Although a flush threshold is the most popular option specifically for internal bifold doors this may not always be practical in some cases and a conventional raised threshold will need to be used. It is important to note that the height of these can vary somewhat with some upvc bifold door thresholds exceeding 125mm. Such a high 'step-over' threshold may create an accessibility issue for children and the older generation. The latest bifold door designs offer raised thresholds designed to minimize the trip hazard with some offering thresholds as low as 50mm high.

5. TOP HUNG OR BOTTOM ROLLING

Some bifold doors are hung from the top to allow for a minimal threshold at floor level but with all the weight of the door being supported from the top a substantial upgrade of the lintel is normally required for strength and stability. Bottom rolling folding doors are a cost effective and popular alternative since the weight of the door is transported at ground level rather than suspended from the lintel.

Whether you decide on an aluminum, upvc or hardwood bifold door it is a major purchase for your project and one that should be carefully considered to ensure the very best value for your money. Buying a cheap bifold door may prove a disappointment unless you check carefully that the door you are buying will meet your needs and expectations before you order.

What Is A Skilled Plumber? New Construction and Repair Plumbers Defined

When many people refer to finding a good plumber they do not realize the scope that encompasses. A homeowner who makes such a statement generally is looking for someone to make repairs or additions to their home plumbing system. In contrast, a plumbing contractor designing and installing new construction plumbing systems would have different needs entirely.

What are the differences between these two types of plumbing professionals? Experienced repair plumbers collect vast knowledge of various products and components, which they service on a regular basis. Their experiences working with this wide range of products gives them a unique advantage over new construction plumbers. On the other hand, those who primarily design and install new plumbing systems and their components rarely perform maintenance on them. New construction plumbers typically have production and mechanical skills that give them the advantage on new construction jobs.

As a plumbing contractor who has worked for many years contracting and servicing both areas, I have found that, generally speaking, long time service terminals rarely have the production skills needed to successfully accomplish new construction tasks as well as their new construction contemporaries. Conversely, new construction plumbers, as a rule, find it difficult to develop and master the communication and organizational skills that the typical service plumber demonstrates effortlessly. Many, if not most, new construction plumbers would not consider taking jobs that bring them face to face with the general public; they are also unfamiliar with the detailed record keeping that service plumbing requires.

It is rare that one can ever find a plumber who has mastered both ends of the plumbing spectrum. When a wise plumbing contractor finds such an individual they provide ample incentive to keep that employee satisfied and positively engaged in their business. Failure to do that usually results in that special employee becoming one of your biggest and most successful competitors.

Go Green in Home Heating With Soapstone Fireplaces

Everyone is an expert in ways to save money on home energy costs. Whether it is a recommendation to properly insulate your home or using more energy efficient ways to heat your home, there is never a shortage of advice in how to properly do so. One thing you can be sure about, however, is that you can not go wrong with using soapstone as a means of going green in home heating.

You'll commonly find soapstone used extensively for fireplace hearths, wood stoves, masonry fireplaces, and fireplace liners. It is a soft stone, softer than other natural stones like granite, but it does not burn, is not porous, will not stain, and will not etch from cleaning acids. Needless to say, care is minimal.

A soapstone fireplace can easily create a unique look to any home while also keeping it warm long after the fire died out. These fireplaces spread a soft heat throughout the room which is great for those cold winter nights. By installing a fireplace made from soapstone VT, a home can stay for hours, long after the fire is out and you're in bed. Another great thing about using soapstone for your fireplace is that it will last many lifetimes, sometimes even longer than your home!

Soapstone masonry heaters are remarkable in the simplicity of their design in comparison to how well they work. These stoves are basically large heat storage structures thanks to the soapstone material. When heated, the soapstone will store the heat and radiate it for the reminder of the day.

Because the heat from soapstone masonry heaters is a soft radiant heat, the air inside your home is not as discharged as it is with forced air systems or hot wood stoves. This creates a more comfortable living atmosphere with a natural indoor humidity, resulting in less respiratory strain, dryness, and infection.

They use only a fraction of the amount of fuel required by ordinary stoves. The fire burns hot from a supply of air. As the fire inside the heater grows hotter, the air supply is reduced. The heat then circulates through the heater in order to escape and in doing so is stored within the soapstone. The damper to the chimney should be closed to prevent any heat from being lost.

They work so well because the heat stored inside it is radiated out slowly. A soapstone masonry heater can remain warm for up to 36 hours afterwards. The entire process is much like the heat we get from the sun. As the sun warms the ground during the day, so does the radiant heat from a masonry heater made from soapstone. The stone releases stored warmth long after the fire is out.

3 Benefits of Metal Stairs Vs Wood

If you are building a new home or remodeling then chances are you are going to need a set of stairs.

If so, then have you thought about using metal stairs instead of wood?

Many modern and contemporary homes these days are starting to use metal stairs instead of wood. Metal stairs have three main benefits to the homeowner:

  • Strength
  • Quietness
  • Versatility

Metal stairs are far more superior than wood staircases! Most staircases made of wood use a douglas fir 2×10 sidewall or stringer that is notched and the true strength is more like a 2×6 sitting vertically. This more than enough for most homes but compared to metal it is inferior. A metal staircase can easily support the weight of the entire home! You can literally drive a truck over them and they won’t budge. This makes them feel sturdy and safe because they are.

When it comes to wood staircases noise is an issue especially if you live in a dry climate. Wood contract and expands during different seasons and weather. In the winter time they shrink from the low humidity and they make a lot of noise when you walk on them. Just getting a glass of milk at midnight can wake up other people. This is unavoidable with wood stairs because the use shims and wedges to fasten the stair treads that expand and contract. In the summer time they can be quite but are very creaky during the winter. Metal stairs on the other hand are welded solid and make almost no noise.

Metal stairs are very versatile and can come in a variety of finishes and accent materials including wood steps and handrail caps. The growing trend these days is to use a metal core for your stairs and then cap them off with either wood, stone or glass. This creates a beautiful modern contemporary look that can be custom tailored to any home style. Not only do they look great their strength is superior to wood staircases. For example a glass stair tread that is 1.5 inches think will support 1800 lbs! That is enough strength to support a SUV driving up a set of glass stair treads. When a staircase uses metal as the supporting structure it also allows the designer or homeowner to choose any accent or combination of accents they may want. For example a home can use wood stair treads and then adding a marble handrail cap for a highly customised look and feel that is not only gorgeous but highly functional.

The biggest downside to adding metal stairs to you home is cost! They are more suited for high end homes that have a generous budget. Pricing can easily be 4 times the amount of a low end wood staircase.

How to Choose a Contractor

Choosing the right contractor to suit your building and construction needs is vital to ensure that the project is completed properly, professionally and safely.

Every year, massive law suits are battled between companies and clients due to careless injuries, ill-constructed buildings or projects that miss deadlines. Whether choosing a contractor for construction needs such as scaffolding and formwork, or for temporary structures such as scaffolding and seating at a major event, a client needs to familiarise themselves with what to look for in terms of outstanding qualities of a prospective contractor.

Where to Start

To begin the process of choosing a contractor, a good approach is to select at least three reputable contractors and ask them to assess the job in terms of what they can offer.

If they are a trusted and reliable company with a good work ethic, they will answer any questions asked and give advice on important factors of construction such as materials, time frame, costs and so forth. The quality of the advice which they dispense is a key indicator as to who will do a good job and who will do an outstanding job.

Always ask for a quote and make sure that it is received in writing.

Better Safe Than Sorry…

The next step in the selection process is to assess what safety standards are upheld by a contractor.

In South Africa, there is an OHS Act & SANS 100085 with which all construction companies should be certified. Construction companies should also uphold and follow the various health and safety procedures as outlined by the Act in every construction project they embark on.

Employees should be fully trained by a Construction Education Training Authority (CETA) approved college or educator. It is illegal in fact to have labourers who are not trained in accordance with the SANS 10085 as promulgated in the Construction Regulations, which is a part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act).

When standards are increased by the government, the company should train their employees immediately to meet with this standard of safety. If a client is considering the use of a construction company that is not up to par with these standards, the project may become hindered by injury of labourers or bystanders and both the construction company and developers may face serious legal action.

What You Want Should Be What You Get

Another important aspect to consider when hiring a contractor is to become familiar with the materials and the types of surface work which can be used as a decoration if your project is going to have flat areas, such as a terrace.

There are many ways in which simple effects such as decorative concrete can add a cost-effective and aesthetic benefit. It is a good idea to make sure that the contractor is up to date with these techniques before they begin labour.

The crux of whether or not a contractor is trustworthy, experienced and capable of doing the job you require correctly is how they react when asked for some local references.

Any contractor based in one location or even dispersed nationally should be more than happy to provide the addresses of some previous construction jobs which they have completed. If they cannot offer any references, or their references do not seem to exist, then hiring them is going to be problematic.

It is important that those wanting to hire a contractor do check previous jobs with someone who is experienced in formwork and scaffolding, as mistakes are easily hidden from a layman’s point of view.

Finally, the decision as to which contractor is right for the job should not only be based on the findings of the points discussed above, but also on gut instinct or whether you are able to effectively communicate with them. If a contractor does not “feel right” for the job, or is not respectful to you there is no point in hiring them for the contract as there needs to be a healthy working relationship between both parties.

How To Fix The Physx BulletStorm Error

Physx is a driver that is one of the leading graphics drivers that was designed by NVidia, and it was designed to aid in the number of critical ‘Physics’ based functions on your games. The Physx driver allows for human realistic movement and effects and vehicle effects and also other advanced graphical features. Although the error may appear when you try to play a game or use a certain piece of software that includes special advanced graphical features, it’s surprisingly easy to fix and use.

What Causes The Physyx Error?

Generally what causes the Physyx error is the computer not being able to read the file and this has a direct impact on the game you are trying to play or software you’re trying to run. This can be caused by a number of things, one of which is the file structure being changed, which results in the file being unreadable by the computer. Another reason why the error occurs is Windows not having the files or settings required to run the program, furthermore the windows registry might play a major part in the regular occurrence of the Physx error.

How To Fix The Physx Error

There are a number of steps that you need to take in order to fix the Physx error. First of all you need to re-install the Physx graphics driver. This will reset specific settings that the computer has made for the driver so that when you re-install it, the computer will think that it is the first time the driver has been installed.

The next thing you need to do is to restart your computer as this will reset all other settings after re-installing the Physx graphics driver, which makes it less likely for any other errors to appear unwillingly.

The final step that you need to do is to clean out the registry, and this involves re-structuring the entire registry in order for the computer function better. The registry is a virtual database that stores important information that enables the computer to carry out specific functions such as initiate the Internet. When you double click the Internet icon the computer then searches through the registry to find the instruction, which enables you to view the Internet. Often the registry can become damaged corrupt and sometimes it’s structure can alter which means it takes longer for the computer to search for specific instructions, which can often causes errors to occur. Frontline Registry Cleaner 2.0 is able to re-structure the registry, clean and fix any errors and also remove any junk files that are causing your computer to run slow and cause errors to appear.

Take Pride In Your Home With A Fresh Coat Of Paint

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest and best things you will do in your life. However, with homeownership comes much hassle and upkeep. One of the best ways to give your home a new look on an affordable budget is with a new coat of paint. You can completely change the appearance of your home and help create a look that fits your unique personality and style.

Obviously, painting your home is a job that you can do yourself. However, hiring a residential painting company can help you to get projects done quickly and perfectly every time. When you hire a company, they will have all the supplies and knowledge needed to complete your job. This will take away a lot of the extra stress that comes with DIY work.

When choosing a company to paint your home, you will want someone who can work with your budget. Unfortunately, quality remodel work can become very costly. A good company will help you to find a solution to your remodel needs that will your specific budget. They will make sure that you get your dream home without spending more money than you can afford.

Another great benefit for choosing a company to help you with your painting projects is that they will handle all the preparation work and cleanup. They will repair and prep all walls before applying any paint. They will also make sure to protect all of your flooring and furniture before beginning. Then, after finishing the work, they will do all the cleanup for you.

A fresh coat of paint is not just important on the interior of your home. The appearance of the exterior of your home is what those passing by will notice first. You do not want your home to be the eyesore of the neighborhood. You can help add value and beautify your home with a quick remodel job.

Finding a residential painting company that offers multiple services will help make sure that your home projects can be completed by one contractor. Painting the outside of your home can definitely create a new, cleaner look. However, having fresh paint but a broken-down patio will make your project seem pointless. It will be to your benefit if you find a company that can do repairs, paint your home, offers staining services, etc.

If you are having both interior and exterior work completed on your home, it is important that the company you choose will work diligently to protect your belongings. Covering floors and furniture is fairly obvious, but your landscaping is often overlooked. When completing exterior work, it is smart to remind the company you are working with to cover all landscape work.

If you are building a home, you will want to find a company that can come in and finish your paint work on your new residence. Finding a company that can work with other contractors and completes all paintwork on time will be crucial. Starting off your home with a beautiful coat of paint will really add to the home’s value and curb appeal. Also, if it is done correctly the first time, it will last you longer.

Using paint to create a home that is something to be proud of and reflects your signature style can be both difficult but extremely rewarding. You will want to find a residential painting company that will complete work on the type of home you own. You will want a company that can complete work quickly, beautifully, and on a budget that fits your needs. Turn your home into the home of your dreams by giving it a fresh coat of paint today!

Cloud Mining Contracts – Are They a Good Investment?

As readers of my blog know, I will only promote products and/or services that I myself use or invest in. I wanted to provide an update to the cloud mining contracts that I recently purchased. Cloud mining works differently than traditional mining in that you do not purchase any hardware to do the mining for you. This means you do not incur large electricity costs associated with owning your own machine. It is all done by others and you are simply buying into a pool. When I started them on May 23rd I wasn’t really too sure what to expect.

Since two weeks have passed I figured I have a good amount of data and info to provide a solid report. The first contract I started was with Hashing24. They only offer Bitcoin mining. The way it works with them is you buy whatever hashing power you want (for more on that see my post “mining”). They have plans that are as low as 100 GH/s and cost as little as $18. Because they offer indefinite contracts, you pay a small daily maintenance fee of $.033 per 100 GH/s.

The upside to Hashing24’s model is that once you pay your upfront amount you can theoretically collect daily payments forever. In that manner it is similar to buying an immediate annuity.

In the interest of full disclosure I purchased 4500 GH/s ($800). After the daily fees are subtracted and, depending on the value of Bitcoin, I make around $7 per day. If we extrapolate that out it would be about $210 per month with a break even point of just over four months. That’s not too bad an investment because everything after month four would be pure profit. One thing to also keep in mind is that the mining difficulty will increase in the future which will eat into your profits.

On May 25th I decided I wanted to start a contract to mine Ethereum. The Ethereum blockchain technology is being embraced by all the major crypto companies and I actually believe that it will one day pass the value of Bitcoin. It currently about half its size with a market cap of $20,505,000,000 compared to Bitcoin’s $41,888,000,000.

I purchased my Ethereum cloud mining contracts through Hashflare.io. At first I purchased 35MH/s and later to decided to add another 15MH/s. The contracts are for one year. Hashflare also allows you to change the percentage of hash power you want in each pool. If you see one pool performing better, you can put a higher percentage into that one.

The cost for 50MH/s was $1,090, but I got more bang for my buck because I paid in Bitcoins and the value of my Bitcoin purchase appreciated. This meant that my Bitcoins went further and, in reality, effectively cost me around $900. Let’s go conservative and take the higher amount of $1,090.

The calculator on their site predicts that at the current price of Ethereum ($223) I would make $2,358 off my $1,090 investment. That kind of return makes it worth the risk to me.

Again, because I am a long term investor in both Bitcoin and Ethereum, I view this as a solid opportunity to diversify your portfolio and at the same time attempt to make some passive income. Keep in mind that cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and that can wildly impact your potential profit. Do your homework first. If you are a long term investor in cryptocurrency, this appears to be a worthwhile play.

Making Ice At Home

We all enjoy a fun gathering or party where you invite your friends or family to your home. It’s great having company on the weekend to relax and chill together. With that you need to cater food so a braai is usually the easiest solution. And, of course, drinks are the order of the day for such gatherings. For that, you need to have enough ice at hand.

Many people opt to buy ice from a store so you could get a few bags of ice but then you’ll need to keep it frozen in a freezer. If you don’t have a big freezer you have to be creative with keeping it frozen as long as possible so that it lasts throughout the night or until your guests go home. If you are one who has guests visiting your home very often then it might be worth getting an ice machine. With an ice machine you can make ice on demand so that you always have enough of it available for your guests. There’s no need to go to the store to get bags of ice when you can simply make it at home.

For home use, it is ideal to opt for a unit that is small enough to fit in your kitchen. A commercial ice maker might be a bit too big for your kitchen, but you do get smaller versions that are suitable for home use. The TC180 Ice Making Dispenser is a great option due to its size. It is only 38.8 centimetres wide so it’s just a little wider than a ruler. It is 66.3 centimetres deep so it could slide in next to a standard cupboard or fit perfectly on a countertop. It is just under a metre high at about 88 centimetres and you can adjust the leg height a little higher or lower. What makes this catering equipment beneficial to home users is that it has a storage bin capacity of 5 kilograms. This built in storage facility means that you don’t need to dispense the ice into a separate bag or container in order to keep it frozen in your home freezer.

It makes little cubelets that weigh about 1 gram which is great for any type of drinks you serve your guests. If you have a big party for your birthday or a special occasion, you are assured that this ice machine can churn out about 135 kilograms over a 24 hour period. There will be enough cubelets for your guests all day or night long. For this unit to be able to do this, it requires a permanent water supply and drainage area. So be prepared for this when you install it. Most importantly, enjoy the icy drinks and chill with your friends and family.

Advice for People Who Need Carpet Cleaning Services

Carpet cleaning is one of the jobs at home that should never be taken for granted. Dirty carpets can spoil your indoor air and become breeding grounds for microscopic insects and molds. In other words, soiled carpets can become a peril to your family’s health. Many people don’t know that carpets at home should be cleaned about twice a year and more frequently if there are kids and pets at home. The matter with cleaning them is that it can be one of the most taxing housekeeping jobs. This is why many people simply hire carpet cleaning services.

Many cleaning companies offer this service as well as other house cleaning and laundering services. Most consumers want the best cleaning services, but it’s hard to gauge which cleaning company offers the best service. You should then figure out what kind of carpet cleaning you want to achieve. Do you want your carpets to be vacuumed? Do you want the stains to be removed? Or do you want a complete washing and disinfection of your carpets?

Many cleaning companies offer quality cleaning services. If you want to find out who offers reliable services, then go ask the customers how well they are satisfied with the job done by their cleaner. Ask them if they can find anything that is objectionable with the service offered. Another thing to consider is the cost charged by the carpet cleaner. The cost can go up if you want the cleaner to pick-up the dirty carpet and deliver it to your home washed and cleaned.

The right carpet cleaner knows how to take care of your carpets, which can get worn out with the wrong cleaning technique. Strong detergents can cause discoloration or dullness of your carpets. Carpet cleaning would be useless if you end up with an ugly carpet.

You can minimize the need to clean your carpet by regularly vacuuming your carpets. Vacuuming removes dirt, which otherwise can accumulate in your carpet and become hard to remove. At the same time, you have to remove stains right away. There are available carpet cleaning agents that remove stains. They can be used easily, as you only need a clean cloth. Spot clean stains before they get stubborn.

Make sure that the one doing the carpet cleaning is a qualified professional. Expert cleaners identify the type of carpet and determine how much cleaning a carpet needs. Cleaning is more than simply soaking a carpet in water and detergent. It includes careful choice of cleaning method used. Only professionals can do that.

Washing carpets should be done at the site of the cleaning company for thorough cleaning. Vacuum cleaning and spot cleaning of carpets can be done at home. You can invite the cleaner to your home. Carpet cleaning services are essential for keeping good indoor air quality.

How To Remove Dark Circles

There was a time when I loathed waking up in the morning. This was because I would have to look into the mirror and see those dark circles staring back at me. But when I got to know about some simple remedies that can help cure the condition, my joy knew no bounds.

If you too are one of the many individuals tormented by dark circles, worry not, there are several home remedies for dark circles. These simple and easy-to-do solutions will not only lighten your dark circles but also nourish and hydrate the skin under and around your eyes.

“How To Remove Dark Circles”

1. Cold cucumber slices

Cucumbers contain antioxidants that can reduce puffiness around the eyes. As a natural astringent and a coolant, cucumber causes the skin tissues to contract, making dark circles less prominent. Place finely cut cucumber slices on each eyelid. Leave it on for 5 minutes and rinse.

2. Cold tea bags

The caffeine present in tea bags shrinks blood vessels and reduces fluid retention in tissues making the skin around your eyes look vibrant and glowing. Cold tea bags cause skin tissues to shrink, leaving your eyes looking less puffy. Take two already soaked tea bags and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Remove and place them on each eye for 5 -10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and repeat 1-3 times a day to see effective results.

3. Mint leaves

Mint leaves contain menthol that improves blood circulation and soothes and rejuvenates skin. It is natural astringent and contracts the blood vessels around the eyes, reducing the blue tint. The vitamin C in mint makes the skin around the eyes appear brighter. Make your own mask at home by blending mint leaves and applying them on the affected area. Leave it for 10 minutes before rinsing.

4. Milk

Milk contains vitamins A and B6, which help build new skin cells. The vitamin B12 in milk naturally lightens dark skin. The selenium in milk protects skin from harmful free radicals and sun damage. Just soak two cotton pads in cold milk and squeeze out excess. Place the cotton pads on the eyes covering the dark circles. Leave it for 20 minutes and rinse with cold water. Repeat thrice a week.

5. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is an effective moisturiser and has anti-inflammatory properties. Clean the under eye area with moist cotton and apply massage aloe vera pulp under the eyes for 10 minutes. You don’t need to rinse unless you find it sticky.

6. Turmeric and mint leaves

Turmeric is known to rejuvenate tired and sagging skin. In a blender, puree mint leaves and strain to extract the juice. Add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric to the juice. Apply the mixture to the affected area and leave it on for 20 minutes. Allow it to dry and wash with cold water.

7. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is extremely moisturising and contains vitamin E and antioxidants that help repair damaged skin cells and dryness. It also is rich in lactic acid that tightens skin. Before going to bed, apply extra virgin oil on clean under-eye skin. Massage gently in clockwise and anti-clockwise direction for a few minutes. Leave it overnight.

8. Tomato

Tomatoes are natural bleaching agents. They contain antioxidants that reduce discolouration around the eyes. Try this potent home remedy to banish dark circles: Extract tomato juice and mix ½ tsp of lemon juice and 2 tsp of gram flour to it. Apply the paste under the eyes and leave for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with cold water.

Thanks

Wood Puzzles

Kids never seem to tire of playing with wood puzzles over and over. Children just love bold, colorful images of animal puzzles.

You can make your own scroll saw puzzles with just a little imagination. Find a picture of animals (coloring books are a great source) and make your own pattern. Trace the pattern and then decide where you want the cuts for the puzzle. The cuts all depend on the child. For a very young child you would make bigger pieces and for an older child you can make the puzzle more difficult.

Materials

  • 3/4 "Pine or Basswood
  • Sealer-primer
  • Paint-enamel acrylic latex
  • Paint pens
  • Sandpaper-fine
  • Spray on adhesive or rubber cement

Tools you will need

  • Scroll saw or coping saw
  • # 9 saw blade
  • Power sander (but not necessary)
  • Paint brushes, either foam or bristle

Instructions

Use a power sander or hand sand the wood on both sides. Make a copy of the pattern and glue it onto the wood with a spray adhesive or else rubber cement. I prefer to use the rubber cement because it works best for me.Cut the outside lines of the pattern with the # 9 blade. Next, cut the individual pieces by cutting on the inside lines that you made. Remove the pattern and sand the individual pieces with the fine sandpaper. After the wood is very smooth, apply the sealer primer. When the sealer is dry, apply 2 coats of enamel, letting it dry between coats. Be careful that you do not get to much paint where the pieces fit together. Make the eyes with the paint pen and then you are done.These are great gifts for children and they are also very good sellers at craft shows.

Characteristics of Local Area Network

The networks must be transparent to the users. The network and the distributed applications running on it must be as reliable as if they were running on a single computer. In addition, the network must provide self-healing capabilities that can reroute network traffic around broken cables and failed components and be flexible enough to react to business-related changes in its environment.

Local area networks used to be very simple but now they are different structures, at least five computation standards for transmissions, and two standards for the information required to manage the network. Local area networks have become so complex that they require their own operating system.

Networking continues to be the least understood and most critical component in an organization’s Information infra-structure. Most organizations committed to client/server computing agree that linking Local area networks is not the place to skip to save money. The advice is to try not link is compatible Local area networks with different platforms such as hardware, software and operating systems.

Characteristics

1. Interconnected device

2. Backbone networks

3. Desktop high-speed local area network

As Local area networks spread through an organization, bridges and routers are used to connect them. For example, a router could be used to move information among Ethernet, token ring and fiber distributed data interface networks. Users would most likely not realize the full 100MHz of fiber distributed data interface throughout; because the router is manage all connections.

Backbone networks also connect Local area networks, but also provide high-speed transmission and control the flow of data among the various networks. High speed Local area network connects desktop machines directly to the fiber distributed data interface network and, therefore, it has access to the full 100MHz transmission speed. This configuration is designed for high volume, data intensive applications, such as those that transmit graphics information and images.

The two most common Local area networks are Ethernet and International Business Machine’s token ring. Ethernet uses base band coaxial cable or shielded pair wire and can operate at 10MHz. Its protocol is carrier sense multiple-access with collision detection.

This requires a sending device to monitor the network and send the message only it senses the network is not in use. If a collision is detected, the device must stop the transmission and try again when it senses the network is clear.

Token ring uses shielded pair wire or optical cables and can operate at 4 or 16MHz. Its protocol is called token ring. A special signal code, called a token, is passed from stations to station. If a device wants to transmit a message, it wants for the token to come by, takes it of the network, and transmits its message. The token is return to the network after the transmission is completed.