Great George! The Marvelous Heritage of Norwich City Hall

To the North of the Market, Norwich City Hall overlooks the center of Norwich with a clock tower that stands 185 feet high. A landmark of the City and visible from almost everywhere in the City center, the City Hall has a remarkable heritage that is easy to overlook whilst embodied in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.

King George VI opened Norwich City Hall in 1938. The opening was attended by the largest gathering of residents in Norwich's 1500-year history. The Hall's construction was in response to increasing local governmental duties, previously taken out in the nearby Guildhall, but which had become dilapidated and unsuitable. Today it is still considered to be a definitive example of British inter-war architecture.

In the early 1930's, the original intention was to create a National monument. Architect Robert Atkinson was appointed to oversee the build and drew up preliminary plans for the new 'City Hall'. A competition was held to decide the architects that would implement the construction and of 143 entries, Charles H. James and Stephen Rowland-Pierce were chosen to assist in the project. Pierce went on to plan and supervise the restoration of the Assembly house in 1950, and through his career won numerous honors and awards for his architecture, both nationally and internationally.

Made from solid brick walls, with Clipsham stone from Rutland for the lowest storey and Keeton stone from Stamford for the majority of the exterior work, City Hall boasts a wealth of artistic and architectural details. It said that Adolf Hitler adapted the building's architectural style so much that he had it earmarked as a potential seat of regional government should Germany be successful in occupying England.

The walls of the ground floor entrance hall are inscribed with a list of Norwich mayors dating back to 1403, and along with the main landing on the first floor are lined with Italian marble. Many of the art deco-styled rooms are paneled with mahogany and other rich woods. Among various imaginative details, two bronze heraldic lions, designed by Alfred Hardiman, flank the outside of the building. The three doors at the main entrance are also bronze. These were designed by James Woodward and feature eighteen plaques that illustrate the history of Norwich, including the hanging of Robert Kett in 1549. The outer two doors display trades connected with the city, including chocolate, mustard and shoes. One plaque marks the building of City Hall itself.

Perhaps the most notable features of the City Hall are the sturdy 365-foot long balcony – the longest in England, and the imposing clock tower. The clock tower houses 'Great George', the largest clock bell in the UK, which also has the deepest tone in East Anglia.

Public areas in City Hall are open on weekdays between 9am and 5pm. To see more and to experience some of the very best views in Norwich, the tourist information center organizes tours and excursions up the clock tower one morning a month.

Find out more about Norwich .

Acoustic Jazz Guitars – Some Fascinating Facts

Acoustic guitars produce sound by acoustics through vibrations of its six strings. They have a rich history; Spain has a big contribution in developing it. The art form of jazz music has been around for quite sometime now. The jazz guitarists choose their instruments very carefully as they want a clean dry note with little or no effect. They go in for acoustic guitars of a specific kind.

Brief History Of The Instrument:

Let's first try to look at the history of the acoustic jazz guitars. Cithara is the earliest form of modern acoustic. Romans introduced these instruments, after that Moors developed the shape and made it a four string one. The six string guitar lute was very popular in Europe. The Spanish introduced a guitar like instrument Vihuela, which looked like a guitar but had to be tuned like a lute. This was then developed further and it took the current form. Modern acoustic guitars are of different types: twelve string guitar, classical guitar and bass guitar etc.

Classical guitars: They consist of nylon strings which are played by the fingers.

Twelve string guitars: This is made of six courses of paired up strings. It is a guitar often used for playing rock and roll, jazz and folk music.

Acoustic bass guitar: There are only four strings in this guitar; these strings are made of steel.

There are several types of acoustic jazz guitars like the Russian, Portuguese guitars, flat top and arch top guitars, extended range guitars etc.

Jazz Players' Guitar Selection:

There is a wide selection of instruments available for jazz players. Traditionally, they are hollow body semi acoustics, though it's not always like that. These tend to favor P90 or hamburker style pick-ups to produce the desired sound. Earlier, only acoustic guitars were used for jazz. However from 1940s, many guitar players started using the electric guitar on a regular basis. They used an archtop electric guitar with magnetic pickup.

But in 1990, there was a fresh interest amongst guitarist to go back to the acoustic jazz guitars. Now they were experimenting with archtop acoustics guitars with floating pick-up. European spruce, Sitka spruce and Engelmann spruce are mostly used for the resonant tops of flat-top or arch top models. Some guitar makers also use Red Spruce or Western Red Cedar for the acoustic jazz guitars. The archtop guitars most often have Quilted Maple and Curly Maple backs.

There are a small number of handmade flat-top and arch-top guitars. Mass produced guitars made by several manufacturers, are also available. Building a guitar takes six months for a jazz guitar. Builders spend time to choose the maples, spruces, exotic woods, building instruments. Finally they apply hand rubbed lacquer finish. Due to unavailability and high cost of premium quality tone wood, many manufacturers have started making guitars with alternate species of wood. All musicians agree that a good solid top is the base for good quality of the guitar's tone. Many jazz players prefer acoustic acoustic guitars with laminated sides and back.

A perfect guitar suitable to the different styles of playing jazz, takes time and fine artsmanship to achieve. Acoustic guitars are very interesting instruments; they are hassle free in handling and easy to carry. Before the invention of electric guitars, all guitars were acoustic. The terms classic guitar, steel string guitar, folk guitar, all are actually used for acoustic guitars. The various combinations of woods, strings, along with the design and construction elements contribute to the overall performance or tone of the guitars. Experts believe that tone of well-made acoustic jazz guitars improves over time.

How To Read Your Construction Industry Financial Statements

How to Read Your Financials

Many smaller and mid-market companies in the construction industry find that critical information is misunderstood or ignored because their reports and schedules are inaccurate, often because the reports are used primarily as a tool for the accountant to prepare a tax return or to fulfill a bank -reporting obligation, so they do not contain enough information for you to control your business.

But your reports and schedules, when organized, will inevitably help your profits. They represent the "financial control" of your business. It is imperative to understand how to read your financials.

A Balance Sheet
In simple terms, a balance sheet is a snapshot of the assets and liabilities of your company in a particular moment in time. It shows where you stand with what you own and what you owe on a particular date. Your assets are listed "at cost" minus any depreciation or amortization taken over the ownership period of the asset; nothing is shown at fair market value. Your balance sheet should list the amount of money the stockholders will receive before capital gains taxes on liquidation, plus or minus the fair market value of the assets versus the value stated on the balance sheet, (or the "short fall" if there is a negative equity).

The purpose of the balance sheet is to control the accuracy of the income statement. If your balance sheet is substantively inaccurate on the opening or ending date of the income statement period, then the income statement will be substantially wrong. For example, the income statement for the year ending 12-31-06 would need an accurate balance sheet dated 12-31-05 and 12-31-06.

I met with a new client recently whose accountant not only lost his records for the past three years, but could not locate his records for the current year. Knowing that accountants do not ever lose that many records and knowing that accountants normally back up their computer records, I knew we had a big problem. My client thought he had generated about $ 6 million in revenue from the past twelve months as a result of the revenue generated from his high-end New York City co-op remodeling projects. He had pretty good job cost and billing data but needed bank financing. He had a horrible bid-to-award ratio, and he needed guidance with his plan of revenue and profit for his company.

He needed to know:
• What his margins should be in order to win bids
• How to identify who his customers should be
• If his bid margins allowed for profit after general conditions and overhead
• Whether he was making money or losing it
• What had happened to his business over the last three years

My client and I were in a situation where we could not wait for his new accountant to slowly reconstruct his last three years of records, so we sat down and created a balance sheet. I interviewed him to determine what he owned and owed, located records which included his bank statements; accounts receivable; retainages receivables; an inventory of his trucks and computers; his vendor and subcontractor payables; the amount of debt on his trucks, cars and equipment; the jobs he had in progress; and the estimated costs of those jobs to complete. With that information, I created a balance sheet that covered the beginning and the eleventh month of his fiscal year.

Finally, satisfied that we had two "good" balance sheets, we simply computed the change in his equity section from one date to the other, adding back in the dividends that were checks other than payroll or expense reimbursements to itself during that period. Then, we looked at the payroll records to compute what he earned in salary during that same eleven month period. Our final step was to combine what he earned in salary and profit for the eleven months reviewed. The combined information, within a quick couple of hours, gave us the amount the client had earned. So, when you are unsure of your financial situation, use this short-cut to make sure your balance sheet is correct. Otherwise, look no further at your financials; they will likely be inaccurate and useless.

Estimated Cost to Complete Jobs / Projects
It is my experience that nearly all contractors use the "percentage of completion" method of recognizing revenue and cost other than the residential developer / builders who use the "completed contracts" method of accounting for revenue and cost. "Completed contracts" means just that: When the job is completely done, you "book" or record the total income and expense of construction on the income statement. No income, job expense, profit or loss related to the specific job is to be recorded on the income statement until the home settlements. Prior to that, the job costs appear as an item on the balance sheet named "work-in-progress." Revenue appears as customer deposits, deferred revenue or an item of debt.

"Percentage of completion" means that revenue is recognized as income at the rate the job is completed. Job costs are recognized at the rate that they are incurred in ratio to both revenue recognized and total job costs expended to date, plus what is estimated to be incurred to complete the job. Your balance sheet will have an asset entitled "costs in excess of billings," meaning that you have costs you have not or can not bill right now to the customer on jobs in progress. A liability account, or "billings in excess of costs" means that the contractor has billed the customer for work not yet done – which is where all contractors would prefer to be placing the contractor ahead of the customer on a cash flow basis.

If the costs in excess of billings are greater than the billing in excess of costs, you will likely have a cash flow problem. This means that either you are spending faster than you are billing, your project managers are behind in getting their bills out, or you have costs on your balance sheet that are really losses such as job overruns or change orders that are not or will not be approved. All jobs with costs in excess of billings should be lumped together under a liability account on the current asset side of the balance sheet. Always double-check for losses not yet recorded. You, as an owner, may not know about the losses. A project manager may simply fall behind in billing, which costs you interest expense, poor vendor relationships, cash heartache and sleepless nights.

If your "bills in excess of cost" are always substantially higher than your "costs in excess of billings" it is good for current cash flow as long as that difference is rising. However, this will give you a false sense of cash security once the job comes to an end because the cash flow slows down. The excess billings over costs are not profit; they are simply a positive cash flow timing difference that will change from time to time.

The "schedule" of closed jobs and the open jobs "estimated costs to complete" should be prepared more than once a year when the accountants request it. This maintains a current review of each job's status and addresses problems while the job is ongoing, since you will have problems to face during the project. Do not wait until the job-close-out meeting to address them, when everyone wins they'll do better next time. Instead, confront problem situations earlier in the project. Review schedules and reports to estimate an opportunity to bid higher or correct a problem in the bid process. This is critical to remodeling companies, as most problems occur during the preconstruction process, specifically in estimating errors or "buy out" of material errors, and in remodeling, jobs are shorter, problems become permanent losses quickly, and persist more often than not in new jobs before the problem is identified.

The Benefits of Regular Reporting
Our firm instituted a weekly job review and estimated cost to complete process for one of our remodeling company clients, Xylem Builders, Inc (t / a Archadeck-South Shore & AX Builders). Job margins for the client increased by twenty points as a result of immediately identifying problems and making corrections in preconstruction in new jobs. The company has never incurred a monthly loss in now over a year, sales have continued to rise, they have attained a positive equity after 3 consecutive years of losses … all within two months of implementing weekly job reviews and estimated cost to complete. As previously stated, remodeling projects begin and end quickly, so mistakes will hurt the current job and likely repeat in new jobs. Those mistakes do not have to be repeated if you institute weekly reviews and estimates.

It can be difficult and time-consuming to correctly prepare an estimated "cost to complete schedule" for larger jobs in their early stages, yet it is worthwhile. You may continue to assum your estimate is correct. However, the estimator, project manager, job superintendent and controller must review a job early on to determine what is needed to complete and extremely improver looming problems as early as possible. That step will create better value engineering, change orders will be billed in a timely manner and job profit will increase.

Schedule of Cash Flow and Working Capital
The schedule of "cash flow and working capital" provides a map of where your cash resources covering the period of the income statement originated. It consist of profit, new loans or repayment (principal due more than twelve months in the future), purchases or sales of capital assets and depreciation. All of these have the effect of increasing or decreasing cash. An accurate reading of the schedule allows for better billing practices, better collection practices and advances slower paying of vendors and subs. It shows where and how money was used to absorb losses, the debt principal repayments and may contribute to faster paying of bills. It advances poor billing practices, slow receivables and reflects retention receivables, purchase of equipment or other assets. If the opening and closing period balance sheets are correct, then this schedule will be correct. Remember, though, if the balance sheets are not correct, do not waste your time looking at this schedule or any other financial statement because they will be wrong!

Working capital is defined as the total of "current assets" consisting of your cash, receivables, retainages, costs in excess of billings, work-in-progress, inventories and prepaid expenses minus your current liabilities. Your current liabilities are complied with your lines of credit, principal payments of debt due within twelve months, accounts payable, accrued expenses, accrued payroll, accumulated taxes, bills in excess of costs, customer deposits and deferred income. A greater than 1: 1 ratio is important.

Your bank may require a defined working capital ratio, so check your loan documents. If your actual ratio is too high, you're probably wasting the use of your cash and resources by making them too idle. A good business analyst will determine the amount of excess working capital / cash that is funding the income statement profit versus normal operations. I have seen many multi-generational businesses with excessive working capital, but upon quick analysis of a profitable income statement, I saw a generous financial income derived from discounts from vendor early pay, interest income and low interest expense. It was a poor business operation masked by the working capital wealth of the company.

Income Statement
Your income statement should be a validation of what occurs with your jobs in the field, assuming that your opening and closing balance sheets are correct. Your income statement should be in the same category as your job-cost comparison to your estimates, and it should be in a format that highlights whether components of your business are operating according to plan. In order for your income statement to be used as the effective management tool and "sanity check" that it was meant to be, the following components must exist:

• It must be an accrual, not cash basis statement. Accrual means you have recorded all your receivables and debt inclusive of payables on the balance sheet.

• It must include not only numbers next to the expense categories but also percentages of revenue next to the number.

• The only revenue in your top line should be job revenue. No interest income, rebates, purchase discounts or sales of equipment should be included.

• The costs of construction must be detailed to identify construction labor and payroll added costs, subcontractors, materials (not net of early pay discounts), equipment rentals, revenue-driven liability insurance, superintendents' costs or other direct costs of construction as detailed in the estimate and tracked in your job cost reports. Some or all of these are your "direct job costs". Labor, materials, subs, equipment rental, permits, direct insurance, etc., are at a minimum included on your job cost reports, regardless of software, and in the estimate.

• Indirect construction costs such as mobilization, trucks, pagers, cell phones, supers, trailers, etc., may be what you call "general conditions." Define what you mean by "general conditions," and categorize these costs separately on your income statement. This will allow you to see if the general conditions you are using in your estimates are making or losing money. General Conditions should be a profit center.

• Categorize your preconstruction costs of estimators and bidding / selling expenses separately on the income statement. Divide the number of bids or estimations produced into this total, and see what it is costing you to bid. Add that to your bid-to-score ratio and you may find that not only are you wasting money in bids you'll never get but also how much you are wasting.

• Keep the office and support staff under an administrative expense category. Be sure to allocate the workmen's compensation insurance, vehicle and equipment insurance, depreciation, payroll taxes, benefits, safety and training to the indirect or general conditions as appropriate.

• Show purchase discounts and interest income as "other income" after computing profit or loss from the construction operations. These are financial incomes which are earned due to ownership, equity and working capital, not from operations.

• Compare the percentage of gross profit from jobs completed and jobs in progress to your income statement. This should be done before general conditions are deducted when you compare the percentage of gross profit. Be aware of additional profit that you may earn in gross profit from the labor rate that you use in estimating versus your labor rate posted to job cost sheets or categorized on your income statement. If you use your own equipment in construction in lieu of renting it, separately analyze these costs to see if you are making or losing money in this regard. If you are approaching a profit from this, that's great, but it will likely distort the gross profit from construction if your estimate utilized a fair market rental rate.

Meet regularly with your outside accountants if they are construction knowledgeable or your construction business advisor and / or your controller on a monthly basis to review your balance sheet, income statement, working capital, source and use of funds statement and completed jobs / estimated costs to complete schedules. It establishes control in your business. It also helps create the "sanity" of profit, helps avoid the "insanity" of making the same mistakes over and over again and advances you from losing profit-or your construction business itself.

Building Constructive Relationships With Your Manager and Your Employees

Unless you're at the very top of your business there is always someone to answer to and there are usually people who answer to you further down the line. Sometimes this two-way street can become minefield of office gossips, politics and general bad behavior. As a frontline leader how do you ensure that you create genuine relationships with your manager and your direct reports that are good for business?

It's not about being the nice guy, although manners never go astray! Building a genuine working relationship take time and effort and revolves around respect. Starting with your direct reports the best place to start is to develop a habit of providing balanced feedback.

The key to giving balanced feedback is to make sure that it's timely. You need to give it there and then – do not wait until the end of the week, or for the weekly catch up. It's relevant in the moment. When you're in the moment giving the feedback you also need to make sure it's accurate and detailed. Do not just give a vague, great job response. Make sure you drill down into the behavior that is being done well, that will meet your goals. These are the critical behaviors required to lift performance from average to high performer.

With a good technique of delivering feedback you then need to concentrate on the ratio. Unfortunately it is human nature to comment mostly on the things that need correcting or changing, and only occasionally give positive feedback. And, when we do give positive feedback it is often nothing more than a pat on the back with 'great job' attached to it.

The most effective ratio for frontline leaders to their people is to provide at least four positive comments to every corrective comment. Your people will gradually begin to realize that with your genuine feedback you are really making a difference to how they do their job, and helping them to perform better.

Building a constructive relationship with the manager you report to is just as important as the people who report to you. Do not leave it to your manager to ensure this relationship works, you need to do your share of the work.

As organizations give more responsibilities to their frontline leaders this relationship comes into its own. Your manager can delegate some of their activities to you, such as policies that affect frontline employees. Given the creative scope, the appropriate support and coaching from a second-level manager, frontline leaders have more to contribute to your average organization than most senior leaders give them credit for.

Genuine relationships form the ground work for engaged employees, and engaged employees go the extra mile in their work and are open to change. It's not only good for business but it's good for probably improving your business.

Build Big Biceps and Chiseled Abs With Staggered Sets

A lot of guys that workout have body parts they love to train. For me, it's my biceps – and nothing beats the pump that comes from a few sets of preacher curls. On the other hand, many people also have body parts that hate to train, such as legs, back or abs.

The bugaboo for me was abs. Oh I wanted a shredded six-pack like the ones on the covers of bodybuilding magazines – but I hated the work required to flatten and tighten my abs. Then I tried staggered sets of arms and abs training and entered the brave new world of the washboard waistline.

What are "staggered sets?" Staggered sets integrate your favorite body part training with a workout for one that you'd otherwise avoid training. For example, if you love to work your chest but hate to train calves, with staggered sets you do one set of calf training for every three sets of chest work that you completed. A sample chest / calves staggered set workout would be three sets of bench press followed by one set of standing calf raises, then three sets of dips followed by one set of contained calf presses, then three sets of incline bench press followed by one set of sorted calf raises.

When I used staggered sets to train my abs, I integrated my abs work into my arm training in this same 3-to-1 fashion to ensure that I trained my core. For every three sets of arm training I completed I also did one set of abs work. Since I loved training arms so much, before I knew it, my abs became flatter and tighter than I ever imagined because of the staggered sets workouts. If you want to try staggered set workouts for your biceps and abs, here's one of my favorites to help get you started.

Sample Staggered Set Workout – Biceps / Abs

Dumbbell Preacher Curls – 1×8, 1×6, 2×4 followed by 1 set of 25 – 100 abdominal crunches.
Concentration Curls – 1×8, 2×6, 1×4 followed by 1 set of 25 – 100 reverse crunches.
EZ Bar Preacher Curls – 2×8, 1×6, 2×4 followed by 1 set of 25 – 100 twisting crunches.

If you've got a body part that you hate to train, especially if it's your abs, try working it with staggered sets. You may never fully enjoy training this body part, but it's a lot easier to take this "medicine" when you combine it with your favorite workouts.

Screened Porch Kits

Did you spend last summer not sitting on the porch because of bugs – especially mosquitoes? Maybe you did sit on the porch but simply felt it was too exposed for your taste. It was the case, then you really need to think about getting a screened porch kit before our outdoor time starts.

Porch enclosures are more than just putting up wood and stapling in some screening. You now have many options. Metal framing comes in various colors, wood comes in various types (eg, cedar), the roof can be insulated aluminum or flat pan, the screens can be fiberglass or solar, you can have insulated kick panels, and even include a doggy kitty) door.

It is important to consider your environment – especially if you live in an area with heavy snow or extreme weather conditions. The structure needs to be sturdy enough to withstand snow (and snow does weigh a lot) as well as large amounts of rain, or maybe even hail (if you live in an area where tornado activity is present).

Probably one of the best benefits of a porch enclosure is that your outdoor items including furniture, tables, decor, etc., are going to be protected from the elements – such as direct sunlight and heat. This alone is what makes a porch enclosure a great value. That and the longevity of use. This is why after you have installed your newest addition, it can easily be used as a warm and inviting sunroom, and / or have expired usage time to become a three-season porch.

As with any type of renovation, you can choose to do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. In either case, a screened porch kit will be used – simply because a kit has all the necessary pieces. Having a plan is key since this will become an addition to the outside of your home. Take into account how the porch will look and the best way to make it really look like an integral part versus something that was just quickly put up.

Depending on what type of area you live in, you may need to get permission from a homeowner association as well. They will want to see the plans and – most importantly, know exactly how the outside will look. For example, are you using the same material as the outside of your home (eg, vinyl or wood) and will it be painted the same color. Do not be surprised if their response pushes you into make a more formalized plan – something you should be doing anyway.

Overall, a screened porch kit is an excellent investment – both from the additional usable footage it adds to your home (and it will increase the value of your home) and the enjoyment it will give you for years to come. It is amazing how one small change can bring about such quality of life.

The Many Uses For Ground Penetrating Radar Services

While there are alternatives to using ground penetrating radar services, they are not generally as thorough and non-invasive. When it comes to finding out what is under the surface of any tract of land that may be built on or dug up for whatever reason, this radar has the unique ability to find what other methods may miss.

Your Old Maps Are not Enough

What about old survey maps, building blueprints or schematics? Do not these show where everything is? Not always, since home owners, or owners of any building, may have done work that is not on the maps or blueprints. There is also the possibility that work had been done on the land before the records were kept. Things change, and not everyone records the changes, so there may be underground issues you will need to be aware of.

• Old septic and sewer lines no longer in use may exist without your knowledge. These were supposed to either be removed or filled with gravel to avoid a cave in as the tank corrodes. Not everyone followed those regulations and you will not want to lay a slab for any structure to have it collapse when something underground gives way.

• Abandoned wells were usually capped off, but there is no way to know where they are without someone recorded the location. These can be hazardous, not only to a potential building project but for anyone walking in the area that is not aware of the possible danger.

• Underground pipes and cables may not be accurately represented on maps and surveys. So before any digging commences, it is a good idea to use ground penetrating radar services to locate any potential dangers lurking under the surface.

• Caverns, voids, water tables, and even soil type can be seen using radar. And this information can be invaluable when it comes to commercial building projects. Different soil types can generally call for a modification in the building to be raised or the materials that will be used.

While X-ray is considered to be a good alternative to ground penetrating radar, the only way it can be as effective is if the X-ray is taken from both top and bottom, which really negates the whole point of using it. Radar uses high frequency sound waves, which can be read with specialized equipment. In layman's terms, the sound waves bounce off objects in the ground in a pattern to determine size and shape, and depending on the density of the soil, the sound travels at different rates. This is how the subsoil type can be determined, based on the information received.

The future of any construction project can depend very much on the type of sub soil that exists, since drain and stability are important factors. Major projects always test the sub soil for any potential problems, since excessive drainage can lead to erosion of the soil right out of under a poorly slab foundation, underlining the entire structure. This is yet another of the many reasons ground penetrating radar services are utilized before a project begins.

Work at Home Assembly Jobs

Work at home assembly jobs are all over your local paper and the advertisements show up on the internet everywhere. Although many of the advertisements promise big bucks for your work, you need to look at those advertisements with caution. You need to look closely at work at home assembly jobs before you get taken in by a scam.

Scams are everywhere today. With the advancement of society comes new ways for people to take advantage of one another. Many work at home assembly jobs my be someone just looking to scam you out of your money, yet there are some legitimate work at home assembly jobs out there, too. The risk to you from work at home assembly jobs comes from the upfront money you provide up front for supplies and then the time you put in to do the work.

With legitimate work at home assembly jobs, you will usually be sent supplies that you will need to complete the projects or you will have to purchase the supplies you need. The company will typically send you detailed instructions and patterns for you to follow. Once you complete the projects, you will send them to the company for review and payment.

Sadly, legitimate work at home assembly jobs are few and far between. In many cases, the company will have you send money for supplies, which they may or may not send. Then you spend the time to assemble the products and pay to send them back to the company where they will reject your work. With these work at home assembly jobs scams, you will lose your valuable time and money.

There are a number of ways that you can find out if your work at home assembly jobs are legitimate. Legitimate companies that offer work at home assembly jobs will often list their companies in the telephone directory. These same companies offering work at home assembly jobs will also have a real address, not just a PO Box or website. Also check with the work at home assembly jobs to see if they have retailers, distributors, or a customer base.

Another great way to check into the work at home assembly jobs you are considering is to check into regulatory agencies. For example, the Better Business Bureau has a number of affiliates that report on work at home assembly jobs, and you can investigate those companies on the Better Business Bureau website. You can even file a claim with the BBB is you have a concern. The Federal Trade Commission also offers the same type of information about work at home assembly jobs.

Read the rest of the article here: Work at Home Assembly Jobs .

Laminate Flooring – Exceptional Durability

Laminate flooring offers exceptional durability. Laminate floors are remarkable for their unmatched reliability and affordability, these very factors account for their immense popularity.

Unlike hardwood, laminate floors are not pure wood. Instead, they consist of a wood composite base over which come layers of melamine-impregnated paper covered with a scratch-resistant layer that contributes to their amazing durability. The advantage they possess over hardwood is that the scratch-resistant wear layer is immune to dog claw scratches and all kinds of other scratch marks. Laminate flooring is also less expensive and easier to install than hardwood. But it still adds elegance to the room and lends the impression of real wood; therefore, this type of flooring looks much more expensive than it actually is.

Exotic Impressions from Armstrong is an example of wonderfully durable laminate flooring. The elegant finish it's provided with gives it an appearance of exotic hardwood, and it is available in great wood-inspiring colors such as exotic walnut, cherry bronze, and cherry natural. It also comes with a 30-year limited warranty. Pergo's Prestige is extremely attractive and resistant to scuff and stain. It's also effective against moisture. It has a 25-year triple plus warranty and comes in colors such as savanna oak, Brazilian cherry and rustic oak.

Laminate floors can be either attached to the sub-floor or its pieces connected to each other. The latter is a floating floor that can be replaced easily whenever necessary. Laminate flooring of the former kind is more stable and produces less noise. As it is moisture-resistant, there's almost no place in a home where laminate flooring can not be used.

An online store can give you instant shopping and purchasing opportunities for all kinds of laminates. You can browse the range of colors and finishes offered and make your choice.

Where Can You Find Chinese Lacquer Products?

As Chinese lacquer products are becoming more popular, ever more people are wondering where they can source them. These products are often used in home decor magazines or given away as gifts. In this article we will discuss four places that you can find Chinese Lacquer products. We will also give you a few helpful hints when it comes to purchasing these items from suppliers.

Online

The most obvious place (and best) place to find Chinese lacquer, is to search online. There are a lot of online stores that sell these wonderful pieces in the west. If you're in the United States and looking for a supplier then just Google specifically for your area. Most online shops will ship their products to anywhere in the United States.

eBay

A lot of shops and Chinese lacquer products sellers are selling their products on eBay. It's a simple way for buyers and sellers to connect for a variety of products. When purchasing products from eBay make sure that the seller has a trusted reputation and the minimum amount of negative reviews. If they do have negative reviews, make sure that you go and see what they are for. Sometimes buyers will give negative reviews for silly reasons and you do not want to miss out on the opportunity of finding the perfect product for you.

Specialty Stores

There are specialty shops all over the United States which specialize just in selling Chinese products. Go and see if you can find Chinese lacquer products in their store. If they do not have the products you want in the store, ask them if they can recommend you to someone.

Tips for buying Chinese Lacquer products

When purchasing any sort of products, make sure that you do your research before hand. You want to be able to get the best possible price. Compare prices between different shops and see which one is offering the better deal. Really exceptional online shops will even offer you a bonus gift for purchasing through them. It's these sort of online shops that you should be looking for. Also keep in mind that you work with someone who is knowledgeable about Chinese lacquer products. You want to purchase products from someone is supplying quality products to the public.

With these tips you'll be able to find your Chinese lacquer products quicker than you though. There are fantastic lacquer products out there – you just need to find them.

How to Save Money Using Carpet Remnants

If you are looking to redo the carpeting in your home, you may wish to consider using carpet remnants in some of the rooms. This is something that may sound strange at first, but you would have surprised at the quality you can find following this money saving method.

All rooms are equipped with a TV, cable / satellite channels and a mini bar. Instead, this is a very popular method that people and contractors use in the smaller rooms such as bedrooms, offices, and dens. The do this for several reasons, all of which will help you understand why using such remnants can be very worth the little extra time it takes to find them either online or in the store.

First, you can save a lot of money by using carpets remnants. You can save over 50% versus traditional, full length carpeting, which can obviously add us in our current economic environment. Not only that, but you can find this discounted carpet remnants for all types and for all brands of carpets. So what is the reason for the discount? It's very simple – contractors and other carpet layers always have extra carpet. The main carpet rolls obviously will not fit perfectly for every home and job, so the leftovers are left for people to use as remnants.

Second, by using different remnants in various rooms in your home you can add a level of style that does not come when you use the same carpet through your whole house. So, you get savings and style at the same time.

Cobra Golf SL Putters

Cobra Golf is predominantly known for its drivers and wood clubs, but they have an innovative line of putters as well. The line is not extensive and does not include classic putter styles, but the basics of high MOI (moment of inertia), and a CG (center of gravity) that is low and well back of the putter face are clearly major design goals. This high MOI produces forgiveness on putts not hit exactly on the sweet spot, and the low and back CG means that the ball will skid less and get rolling quicker. There are three basic putter head designs in the Cobra SL Series, and these come in several varieties, including putters with heel and center shaft attachments, ladies models, and putters for left handed golfers as well.

There are a number of common threads in the Cobra SL series of putters. All are mallet style designs with a forged steel weight bar that runs completely around the back of the putters. This is primarily how the high MOI is achieved. Weight has also been removed from the tops of the clubs and a light weight urethane material is used there. This urethane substance has the added effect of dampening some vibrations and giving the golfer a more sensitive feel at impact. The putter faces are all made of aluminum, and the face contains a milled face pattern which, along with the CG that is low and back, causes the ball to skid less and get rolling faster along its intended line. The alignment aids are very prominent on all the models, and a yellow dashed sight line, called a fiber optic sight line, is used each of the clubs as well.

The Optica SL-01 model has a traditional mallet putter look, but this is elongated by the weight bar which runs completely around the back and is some distance away. A rather thin solid bar runs from the back of the putter face, through the mallet section and connects to the metal weight bar. On top of this is the yellow dashed fiber optic sight line. There is also a channel on the top of the putter which is about an inch or more in width, and this is also part of the alignment system. The SL-01 is a heel shafted putter, whereas the SL-02 is exactly the same as the SL-01 but is a center shafted club.

The Optica SL-03 has all of the same basic technology features and materials described above but has a different head shape. Still a mallet looking putter because of the weight bar running around the entire back of the putter head, the SL-03 has a modified trapezoid shape behind the putter face. The diagonal lines of the trapezoid curve inward in an arc, and so there is empty space between there and the metal weight bar. The alignment aid is again very prominent and is about as wide as the diameter of a golf ball, and it includes two of the yellow dashed alignment lines. The SL-04 has the same exact design as the SL-03, but the latter is a heel shafted putter whereas the SL-04 is a center shafted club.

The Optica SL-05 is once again a mallet style putter formed by the semicircular weight bar around the back. The putter face and the weight bar are connected by a straight bar of material that is about an inch or more in width. This bar also serves as part of the alignment system, and on top of it are 3 yellow dashed sight lines. As with the other odd numbered models, the SL-05 is a heel shafted putter, and the SL-06 in turn is the same design except it is a center shafted club.

There are ladies models for the SL-01 and SL-03, and all the models come in both right and left handed versions. There are some choices in putter length which can be either 33, 34, or 35 inches, although all three lengths are not available for every model. For example, for lefties, only the 35 inch length is available on both the SL-01 and SL-03 models.

The Cobra Golf SL Putters are attractive and modern looking, and they appear to be well designed for functionality as well. Several PGA Tour players use these putters, so you know they perform well or the pros would use something else, as there are hundreds of models to choose from, and these players can use any clubs they like.

Brick Paver Durability

How durable are pavers? Do they last longer than concrete slabs? Which is more prone to cracking? If I want a new patio or driveway, which product is going to give me the most bang for my buck? When trying to decide whether to use pavers or concrete, these are some of the primary questions people ask. Lucky for you, we have the answers!

Pavers and concrete are very similar. In fact, both products are made with cement. When you hear pavers referred to as "brick pavers", typically, that means the paver was made with clay instead of cement. Pavers are technically concrete; however, they are produced prior to installation and have to adhere to certain technical definitions to be considered a paver. The definition of a concrete paver is a cement based product that is produced with aggregate, sand, water, and color dye which contains a maximum aspect ratio of four and typically has a surface area less than one hundred square inches. The aspect ratio of a paver is its length divided by its thickness. A common four inch by eight inch brick shape, which is two and three eighths inches in thickness has an aspect ratio of 3.37. The reason the aspect ratio is so important is that it quantifies the durability of a paver. If you have a large concrete slab with a few expansion joints cut into it and you want to determine how strong it is relative to its own size, then the aspect ratio is the quantitative way to figure it out. Let's say your driveway is ten feet wide and one section, between expansion joints, is ten feet long. Now, in order to determine that slab's aspect ratio, you'll also need to know how thick the slab is. Let's give your concrete contractor the benefit of the doubt and say he loved your driveway extra thick and that it is six inches from top to bottom. If you take the length, ten feet and covert it to inches, you'll get one hundred and twenty inches long. Now, divide one hundred and twenty by the thickness of the slab, six inches, and your aspect ratio is twenty! What does this mean? Basically, it means that your concrete slab is a lot longer and wider relative to its thickness and therefore more brittle and easier to crack.

When compared to concrete, pavers cost more. Not only do they cost more to produce, but the steps taken to properly install them are more numerous and costlier than those taken to install concrete. Beneath pavers, one and a half tons of base material needs to be installed and compated for every one hundred square feet of area. This means that not only do you need to purchase this material and pay for its delivery, but you also have to excavate the area you areaving to a depth that will not only accommodate the paver, but also about four to five inches of base and sand.

If you make the investment in pavers, you will not be disappointed. Sure, they cost more than concrete slabs, but they are much more durable and less likely to crack. In fact, most pavers come with a twenty five year warranty against cracking! Their color, shape, and texture options are unmatched and they will last a lifetime. Contact Park Avenue Pavers for more information about your new paver patio!

Liuhe Pagoda (Six Harmonies Tower) of Hangzhou China – History and Information

Liuhe Pagoda or Six Harmonies Tower is a tall multi-storied pagoda in southern Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. Located on the Qiantang River, at the foot of Yuelun Hill, the pagoda was built in 970 AD during the northern Song dynasty but destroyed in a war. It was then rebuilt and ruined several more times. The current wood and brick structure dates to 1152.

Being one of the impressive masterpieces of ancient Chinese architectures, Liuhe pagoda attracts thousands of tourists every year. The 196.5 feet tall pagoda has 13 stories outside and 7 stories inside. The six harmonies refers to the 6 directions (heaven, earth, east, west, north and south) as well as the six regulations of Buddhism. A bright lamp installed in the top can also served as a lighthouse.

The pagoda was originally built by the ruler of the Wuyue State (which is an area that now become a part of Zhejiang province). It is also believed that one of the reason for building Liuhe pagoda is to calm the tidal waters of Qiantang River as well as to become a navigational aid. During the night, lanterns were lit almost everywhere in the pagoda so that boats and ships on the Qiantang River could see the building and use it as a navigation tower. You can also see 104 large iron bells hung on its flying eaves as this was done to ward off harmful spirits who responsible for the heavy tides which had caused so much flooding before dykes were finally constructed.

Every story of the pagoda consists of 4 elements; the interior walls, the exterior walls, a zigzagged corridor and a small chamber. This octagonal tower also has a spiral staircase which leads to the top floor. Each of its seven ceilings are carved with painted figures such as birds, flowers, animals and characters. When the pagoda is viewed from the outside, it may appears to be layered-bright on the upper surface but dark underneath. That is harmonious alternation of light and shade.

If you climb to the top of the pagoda, you can see a beautiful and impressive view of the Qiantang River Bridge spanning the surging tides of Qiantang River. There is also an exhibition center near the pagoda that displays many details about other important ancient pagodas in China including all the information about their architectural style. That gallery is also known as the Pagoda Park.

Fireplace Cleaning and Maintenance

People experience pleasure having their own fireplaces in their own homes. It is considered a central appliance in a room due to the warmth and comfort it provides. But to keep it working that way, people need to do a bit of effort to keep their fireplaces working well and they should also make sure to remember fireplace cleaning and maintenance tips.

The fireplace needs regular care and clean-up to ensure a secure and cost-effective fire. Creosote, a combustible tar-like matter that builds up in the chimney and flue, should be cleaned out by a professional to do away with at least one possible fire hazard. The fireplace and its accessories must be given routine cleaning all through the wood-burning season to eradicate a buildup of ashes, soot, and creosote tars.

To maintain the efficiency of fireplaces, cleaning and maintenance should be kept regular. During yearly inspections, the chimney should be examined for damage, buildup and proximate to combustibles. The place around the chimney and the fireplace must be kept tidy and free from debris. The flue should be checked for obstructions like birds' nests, and overhanging branches must also be cut. The fireplace, in general, must be cleaned when necessary. It must be directed to make sure that there is sufficient protective linings and smoke ducts and that the chimney should be in good condition. The fireplace must likewise be kept clean so it would appear more pleasant to use and also to make it a better attribute for guests and visitors.

Some tips for fireplace cleaning and maintenance include the following:

· To keep the brass shiny, a toothbrush and Worcestershire sauce should be used. The brass knobs and the door or metal parts around the fireplace can be cleaned by scrubbing since this would keep the area tidy and gleaming.

· Doors should be open for venting. Avoid fire that burns longer than five hours.

· To avoid hot embers from jumping onto the carpet, the screen should be kept close. Place a non-flammable rug directly on the fireplace. This is to avoid sparks from ignoring the carpet or wooden floor.

· Do not leave the fire unattended, especially when there are small children.

· Use a chimney cap to avoid animal nesting, water damage or debris. This is also to avoid obstruction the chimney.

· Clean out the firebox once a week. To help coals heat faster and to retain their heat longer, an inch of ash must be kept in the bottom to work as an insulator. Before the ash is taken out from the firebox, open the damper to avoid ashes spreading out. Do not use a vacuum cleaner in cleaning out the ash.

· Use a brick cleaner when cleaning a brick fireplace. Use lemon oil every month or two to clean exterior slate hearths.

· Clean gas logs once a month using a soft bristle brush. Avoid cleaning them right after a fire. periodically remove the excess ashes and unburned logs from the fire.

These are just some of the ways to ensure that the fireplace performs at its best. In addition, it's always an advantage to follow the fireplace cleaning and maintenance pointsers religiously.