Hardwood and Softwood – Lumber Wood for Furniture

Solid lumber wood has always been, and will always be the preference of serious woodworkers when it comes time to construct furniture. It is durable, resists shock and is a very sound investment, increasing the value of what you build, as well as increasing in value over the course of years.

Various parts of the world offer different kinds of lumber wood, with each having its own properties and characteristics. Because each tree offer different patterns, grains and markings, every wood, every tree, has a unique look and feel to the furniture that you create with it.

Solid lumber wood may have one of two classifications. They are termed hardwood or softwood. Hardwood is a tree that has broad leaves when it is alive, while softwood is a tree that is a needle-bearing tree such as spruce or pine, cedar or redwood. Hardwoods are, as the name implies, much harder and more resistant to damage.

Some of the most common building woods are listed below for your convenience.

Mahogany – hardwood, more aptly classed as medium hard. It is a red-brown or tan color and possesses a unique grain structure as well as poorly defined growth rings, but is durable and will hold its shape very well. It is perfect for furniture and very high quality cabinets because it is stable and will resist decay very well.

Superior and knotty alder wood is a good choice for cabinets, doors and custom mill work around the home. The fine, even texture of alder wood makes it similar to cherry although when applying stain you will get a few blotches that will provide additional character to the finished product. Its appearance and high quality make it a popular choice doors, cabinets, mill work and furniture. Once considered to be a poor boys maple, superior and knotty alder has come into its own as a hardwood for cabinetry and furniture. It even supports a market for using the knotty alder wood, for once stained the finished product can create something old world or brand new. It finishes beautifully with a light color and tight grain structure. Red alder is often used as a substitute to achieve the look of expensive cherry hardwood at a more affordable price.

Pine is a softer wood, a needled tree that grows in a wide range of areas of the world. There are pines in almost every country and where they grow may dictate some of the properties of the wood. There are White Pine, Eastern White Pine, Ponderosa pine, and Sugar Pine. The knotted characteristics of pine make it a popular choice for furniture even though it is less hard and easier to mar. It is paler yellow in color and is perfect to add warmth to your house. Pine will hold a stain very well.

Maple- a very hardwood is light in color, near blond and is a popular choice as a furniture wood. It is highly shock resistant and has even pores that make the wood look very even. It is durable and will take a stain very well, and as it is lighter in color, may be stained to resemble almost any other wood that you might like to emulate.

Beechwood-another hardwood with a very fine grain, beech is able to be used for nearly anything that you might like. Strong and stable, it is difficult to warp or bend beech. It takes a stain very well with smaller pores and a very visible grain and growth rings that create a warm and wonderful look.

With so many lumber choices available take the time to select what choice may be best for you. From alder wood to mahogany, the choices are endless.

Win Your Next Property Tax Appeal in Texas – 10 Basic Steps

First – Learn the Facts

You are most likely to succeed with your property tax appeal if you find factual errors in your property tax record, also known as an “appraisal card”. Mistakes in real estate appraisals, such as errors about the age of improvements or incorrect square footage measurements are not uncommon.

After you file a Notice of Protest, the appraisal district will schedule an informal conference with one of their staff appraisers. Bring any proof for your case to the appointment in the form of photos or other documentation supporting your claims. The appraisal district will need to keep your evidence for their file, so remember to bring extra copies.

Understand How Your Home Has Been Appraised

Harris County Appraisal District [HCAD] has over a million single-family residential properties to appraise. Montgomery Central Appraisal District [MCAD] has responsibility for valuing about 250,000 homes. The daunting reality is that there are not enough well-trained staff appraisers to go around.

In the real world, appraisal district employees sometimes are not able to inspect much beyond new construction or additions. Even when properties are inspected, the examination may be hardly more than a drive-by. It is more common now for appraisal districts to rely on aerial pictometry for various aspects of property inspection. The level of technological resources now available to most appraisal districts is impressive.

Given the overwhelming number of properties that must be re-valued, these appraisal districts are dependent on computer mass appraisal models. The mass appraisal models that counties use are inevitably imperfect, although some are better than others. Your quest will be to determine the ways and the degree to which your property and your neighborhood have not altogether fit the model.

You may ask a real estate agent to help you find some comparable homes and their actual sales prices. Most good agents don’t mind helping you, because you may work with them later. Remember you want to be able to prove that your house is in a lesser condition than the comparable sales. Try to compare your home to the best ones in your neighborhood. If you can find information on better homes that sold below your assessed value during the prior year, you may have the grounds for a reduction.

Research the Value of Your Neighbors’ Homes

The easiest way for most homeowners to develop an appeal is to use the sales comparison approach to market value in their appeal, however the sales do not always favor your case. Another angle you can try is to determine if your home has been appraised in a “uniform & equal” manner to other similar properties in the same neighborhood.

Check if the appraisal district’s value of your house is at, or below, the median of the tax appraisal value of other homes in your neighborhood. Texas appraisal districts will have this information available online through their websites.

Obtain the Appraisal District’s Evidence

Along with your “Notice of Protest”, submit a request in writing for all the evidence the appraisal district used to value your home and intends to present at an Appraisal Review Board [ARB] hearing. It is also referred to as the House Bill 201 [HB 201] packet. Review this information to ascertain how the appraisal district determined the value of your home. You may find that this uncovers shortcomings the appraisal district’s case.

Don’t Lose Hope – You Have a Few Chances to Get It Right

If you are unable to settle your case one-on-one with a staff appraiser in an informal conference, the next level of administrative appeal is a formal Appraisal Review Board [ARB] hearing. Montgomery Central Appraisal District [MCAD] will have your formal hearing the same day. They immediately escort you down the hall and show you to the waiting area to present your case. Harris County Appraisal District [HCAD] will reschedule you to return to their office on another day to have a formal hearing. You will almost always wait two weeks.

The ARB hearing will be like a minor courtroom setting in which you make the presentation of your case. An experienced senior appraiser will represent the case on behalf of the appraisal district. A panel of at least three, supposedly impartial, appraisal review board members will hear the case and render a final decision. Important Warning: The ARB has the authority to actually RAISE your property value, so consider this risk. Also, do not forget to bring extra copies of all your evidence ( five altogether ) for the appraisal district and the ARB panel.

If your formal ARB hearing does not have a satisfactory outcome, you may still have two additional options available. For residential properties valued below $1-million, you can file an application for binding arbitration through the office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. There are fees of $250 or $500, depending on the level of involvement of your case. The other option is to file a law suit in district court against the appraisal district. As both of these procedures are time consuming and costly, you will need to decide if they are practical in your case.

Get Started – 10 Action Steps

1. Get a copy of your property tax record, or “appraisal card”. Texas appraisal districts will have this information online through their websites. If you cannot find it, call the appraisal district office for assistance.

2. Review the appraisal record for errors in your favor.

3. Find out if you are eligible for any special exemptions and apply for them. Examples are the Texas general homestead, over 65, disabled, or veterans exemptions.

4. File a “Notice of Protest” before the statutory deadline. This is usually May 31st or within 30 days of sending your “Notice of Appraised Value”.

5. Study the appraisal district’s evidence, the HB 201 packet.

6. Try to get help from a real estate agent to identify the details about good comparable sales (… and remember who helped you whenever you have a real estate transaction that pays ).

7. Take photos of your home and the other properties you are using for comparison. If you do not have a good camera, borrow one; or ask a friend to help you.

8. Make detailed written notes about precisely what you think should be the right value and the reasons for the reduction. Prepare your presentation and be able to show the proof to support your claim. This needs to consist of factual evidence such as dated photos, documentation of recent sales, and neighbors’ appraisal values.

9. Be kind and respectful to the other appraisal district staff and ARB members. Never forget they are also human and have feelings, like you. Remember the time tested expression, “You can catch more with honey than with vinegar.”

10. If you think it stands in your best interest, appeal your case to a formal ARB hearing. This may be a roll of the dice though. Depending on the make-up of the panel and their state of mind on the particular day of your hearing, your ordeal could be more favorable or it could become even worse.

If all this seems like a good deal of effort, there is yet another way to help ensure you get the best possible outcome. You can have a property tax consultant prepare and present your case, providing professional representation for you at appraisal district hearings. You can get the benefits of this service on a contingency basis, so it will cost you nothing unless you actually save money — that you would have paid in taxes.

The Importance of Kitchen Design

Professional and competent kitchen design services are carried out by architects, interior designers, and / or efficient installers. Or, if you are design savvy, you yourself can design the look and layout of your kitchen.

Results of a survey conducted by Kitchen and Bath Business Magazine in 2010 showed that 16% of the people surveyed had already renovated their kitchen in the previous financial year, while 22% understood the importance of kitchen design services and showed interest, but were undecied due to the lack of enough funds.

The Remodeling magazine's Cost vs. Value Report for the year 2011-2012 shows that for middle-range budgets, a major remodeling of a standard 200 sq ft of kitchen space can cost up to $ 57,494; whereas, a minor remodeling would cost up to $ 19,588. For upscale remodelers, the costs could go up to $ 110,938 for a major remodel.

When you decide to invest such an amount of money in your kitchen renovation, the importance of procuring the most appropriate kitchen design services can not be overlooked. Here, invest in kitchen design to make sure that you're getting the most bang for your buck.

Unique space should be assigned to different kinds of utensils, containers and chinaware, in accordance with their usage and order of importance, so that they do not create one big mess. Design your kitchen so that you can avoid bending over, stooping or running into appliances during your day-to-day activities. Drawers and cabinets should not clash with each other or with other equipment like the oven-door when you open them. Also, the design and appearance of the floor, walls, ceiling, countertops, and the cabinetry should go hand-in-glove while suiting your taste and budget. Invest in an efficient designer and a meticulous installer to see astonishing results and a trouble-free time in the kitchen.

Anyone can design a kitchen layout, placing all the appliances, cabinets, and countertops in the right places. However, you may run into some trouble in you are planning to turn two rooms into one kitchen, for example. In such cases, a professional can help you make the most of your space, taking into account your existing windows and walls. In most cases, all you have to do is look for inspiration from online pictures on home and garden sites. The general style of your kitchen is going to be determined by the materials you buy: flooring, cabinets, countertops, and appliances.

Antiques – Wood Basics

Oak, mahogany, walnut, pine, rosewood, maple, elm; you may have some or all of these woods in your home. But, do you know how to tell the difference among them? In this month's column, we'll talk about the different kinds of wood that are regularly seen in antique furniture and some common decorative treatments.

The Basics
Wood is hard or soft. When I say hard, I mean that the wood is weak, whereas, a soft wood is supple. A good trick to tell the difference between hard and soft wood is that if you press your fingernail into a soft wood such as pine, it leaves an indentation. But, this does not happen with a hard wood such as oak.

Wood is coarse-grain or close-grain. In coarse-grain wood, the age rings in the wood are far a part, giving it an uneven appearance. In close-grain woods, the age rings in the wood are very close together, giving it a smooth, delicate appearance.

Sometimes, wood is stained. Lighter woods such as oak, elm and maple can be stained to resemble a darker mahogany or rosewood.

Some woods (mahogany, rosewood, burl walnut) are perceived to be more valuable than other woods (elm, maple, spruce). The reason for this is availability. Woods that need to be imported are more expensive than home-grown woods. Woods that are abundant are not as expensive as woods that are scarce.

Oak is a coarse-grain hard wood found in Europe and North America. Starting in 17th century Europe, oak was used to make furniture found through the home. There are several varieties including red oak and white oak. Young oak is pale in color. But, over time and with polishing, oak darkens into a rich brown color.

Mahogany is a close-grain hard wood native to northern and central South America and the West Indies. Mahogany was a popular choice in England during the mid-18th century for fine furniture making. It is a dark red color sometimes, however, it is dark brown. Red mahogany is found in the West Indies and brown mahogany is native to South America. Mahogany furniture continues to be desirable today.

Rosewood is close-grain hard wood indigenous to India, South America and the West Indies. Rosewood is named for the rose scent that releases when it is cut. Occidentally, I find that people confuse rosewood and mahogany. Both woods can be red in color. However, when you look closely at rosewood, you'll see fine black (and sometimes white) rings that are not present in mahogany. Another trick to tell if an item is rosewood is to pick it up. Rosewood is a very heavy wood, heavier than mahogany. In the 17th century China, rosewood was a popular choice for fine furniture makers. As well, in 19th century Europe, it was used to construct better-quality furniture for fine homes.

Walnut is close-grain hard wood found in Europe and North America. The color varies from light to a very rich golden brown color and it is not uncommon to find walnut stained to look like mahogany. Sometimes, disease leads to the unexpected. Burl walnut, the most prized form of walnut, results from a disease that attacks the tree causing a beautiful scrolled, close-grain. These days you see the look of burl walnut replicated in the plastic interiors of some higher end cars.

Pine is a pale, knotted soft wood with a wide, straight grain. It grows in Europe and North America. Pine was often used in furniture intended to be painted. Everyday furniture – kitchen tables and chairs -were often made from pine.

Maple & Elm
Maple and elm are coarse-grain hard woods found in North America and Europe. They were frequently used in utilitarian furniture. Often a veneer of a finer wood was applied to these woods.

Veneering is a technique where a very thin sheet of a more expensive wood is glued to a less expensive wood. Using less expensive woods such as elm and maple and adding a more expensive mahogany or walnut veneer allowed furniture makers to provide furniture that was affordable for a larger clientele. You may hear an antique dealer say; "This table is walnut on maple." The dealer means that the item has a walnut veneer and underneath the actual item is maple. A walnut on maple table is less valuable than a solid walnut table.

How do you tell if your furniture is veneered? Look at the edges of the piece. If you see what appears to be a seam, it is veneered. On the other hand, if the edges of the piece are seamless, it is solid.

Early veneers from the 17th century were hand-cut, so they could be uneven. But, in the 19th century veneers started to be cut by machine. This allowed the veneers to be cut very thin and even. Depending on the way the wood is cut, veneering produces different effects. Butterfly veneering occurs when two opposing end grain veneers are diagonally cut from a branch. They are applied to mirror each other.

Marquetry / Parquetry / Inlay
Marquetry is a technique where various kinds of wood are applied to a surface to produce a picture. Flowers and birds were often the subjects. Exotic woods such as ebony, satinwood and tulipwood were frequently employed.

The difference between marquetry and parquetry is the subject matter. Parquetry is a veneer that uses geometric patterns. Nowadays, you see it in parquet hardwood floors and ornate chess and backgammon boards.

Inlay is a decorative treatment where materials other than wood are cut into a design. Inlays were often made of bone, ivory, mother of pearl, brass, tortoise shell. Marquetry, parquetry and inlay first appeared during the Italian Renaissance.

Gilding is a technique wherein gold leaf is applied with gesso (a plaster-like substance) to wood. It is highly decorative and was popular during the Italian Renaissance and the Louis period in France.

Lock Bumping – A Sign of the Times?

Lock Bumping – Why is it Important to Us?

I grow up in a small town in the 1940s and I do not ever remember ever feeling a need to lock our doors. First of all, most of us were poor, so we did not have a lot of valuable laying around for the taking. But we live in a different world now.

We have had 4 burglaries in our neighborhood since July. Two of them were directly behind our house. So I had already been thinking of ways to keep our home safe. I ordered some door alarms that would deter someone from breaking in. We put in security lights. And I was feeling pretty good until I read the article about Lock Bumping.

I never cease to be amazed at all the different methods a thief will use to gain entry into your home. I thought I had heard everything. Do you even know what Lock Bumping is? Well, I sure did not, so I started doing some research to know exactly what it is and how it works.

Now if you are not familiar with it, you need to be. The fact is that most of our homes have 2 to 3 doors that have locks. That probably does not even include PVC doors, garage doors and storage shed doors that are secured only by cylinder locks.

What Exactly is Lock Bumping?

In a nutshell, using this technique, criminals use a particular-cut key which is inserted and knocked on, causing all the pin tumblers in the lock to split and the lock opens. As I understand it, it works best on cylinder locks. Most older homes are very vulnerable because cylinder locks are used. Unfortunately, that includes most of us. And here's the crazy part, there are many "how to" videos on YouTube. So anyone with a computer has access to Lock Bumping.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

So how does the average homeowner protect themselves? Here is some important information to have to make sure our homes are safe ..

  • The only real answer is to ensure that all your cylinder locks are of good quality -minimum of 5-6 pins and preferably some kind of sidebar mechanism, and are sold as bump proof. This way you will be covering yourself against not only lock bumpers but also those who have a little more skill and may try to pick the lock in other ways.
  • There is a product called Pickbuster. It is a solution which is squirted into your cylinder locks and makes them safe from lock bumping. It coats the pins inside the lock and prevents them bouncing when an attempt is made to bump the lock.
  • Check the locks to all the entrances to your house. Are they all cylinder locks? If so, consider changing them to either a cylinder lock or a lever door lock. A lever lock can not be bumped.
  • If you have to use a cylinder lock replacement, quality is really important. Most manufacturers offer 'bump proof' cylinder locks and this is an option that you should seriously consider.
  • Here's a scary thought. Most of us have sliding doors or patio doors. These are prime targets for being bumped because often times they are often mass produced and tend to have small poor quality locks. Stats show that over 50% of these kind of doors can be bump locked.
  • If you happen to live in an apartment, you probably already know that the locks have been master keyed, therefore they are easier to 'bump' open. The only real solution is to replace them with high quality 'bump proof' locks. Granted, it's an added expense, but which is more expensive, a new lock or a break in?
  • Here's a little known fact. Did you know that factory made doors of any kind tend to be fitted with the same kind of locks? Someone who business is to steal your personal belongings would know this and be looking for that particular kind of door.

Will the Insurance Company Pay if it's not Forced Entry?

The answer to that is yes, no and maybe. It depends on the insurance company you are dealing with. However there is a caveat we should be aware of. In order for an insurance company to issue a claim, there has to be evidence of forced entry. When a door is bump locked, it will not appear to have been tampered with. Even worse, a lot of times the thief leaves the door open when they leave. So then as a home owner you wonder, did I leave the door open? This would appear to be an accident to an insurance company.

Then you find yourself in the situation of not only having your personal property taken, but if the insurance company chooses not to issue a claim, you have no way to get reimbursements for your stolen items. Not a great scenario to be faced with.

What Can We Do?

If someone is determined to break into your house, they will try it. That's even more reason we need to get all the facts and make a decision on what we need to do to keep our home and property safe. Here are some things you can do:

  1. There are lots of Lock Bumping videos on YouTube and other internet videos. Take the opportunity to view some of these videos.
  2. There is also lots of useful information on the internet. Just Google Lock Bumping!
  3. Lock Smiths can help.
  4. Talk to someone in the police department.
  5. Talk to the folks at Home Depot or Lowe's and see what they have to offer to homeowners.

But whatever you do, be proactive and do something to make sure your home is as safe as it can be!

Safety is not expensive, it's Priceless!

Submit Your URL to Chinese Search Engines

It is certainly true that the Internet is dominated by the English language – it has been estimated that 75% of all Internet pages worldwide are written in English. But surprise, surprise – the world’s No. 1 language in terms of number of native speakers is also the most difficult to read – Chinese, with about three times as many native speakers (and readers) as English. China has the second greatest number of Internet users in the world (behind only the United States), and its Internet market is one of the world’s fastest-growing. Furthermore, its buoyant economy is impossible to ignore – every year millions are added to its relatively affluent middle class. You’d be surprised at how many Chinese can read English – small in proportion to total population, but large in number. You might also be surprised at how many Chinese yuppies (“Chuppies”) carry a Visa (the credit card, not the kind of visa that is stamped on a passport!).

Do you have a product that might sell well in China? That’s a hard question to answer, but as a one-sentence primer, affluent Chinese gravitate towards any product with name-brand appeal or snob appeal, and any product that is closely associated with the United States (sarcastically dubbed the “Mickey Mouse Syndrome” by certain envious economic rivals). If you are going global, you cannot afford to ignore China – and if your business has a website, it should be searchable in China.

Following are the URLs for site submission to ten Chinese search engines. The sites are all written in Chinese, but if you can get past the language barrier, anything is possible…

Top 10 Chinese Search Engines

1. Baidu: http://baidu.com/search/url_submit.htm

2. Sina: [http://iask.com/guest/add_url.php]

3. Sohu: [http://db.sohu.com/regurl/regform.asp?Step=REGFORM&class=]

4. Yahoo China: http://cn.yahoo.com/docs/info/suggest.html

5. Google China: http://www.google.com/intl/zh-CN/add_url.html

6. Sobao: [http://search.sobao.com/Computers_and_Internet/Personal/]

7. Tianwang: http://home.tianwang.com/denglu.htm

8. China-Holiday: [http://china-holiday.com/newterms/hall/it/sort.asp?sortid=259]

9. Wangluobing: [http://www.net7b.com/net7b_/denglu/index.asp] o

10. Sunwukong: http://www.sunwukong.cn/add.php

The first six of the foregoing are major players, but the rest are marginal and may well be out of business by the time you read this (then again, you never know…).

Happy hunting!

What the Bible Says About the Dry Places (Matthew 12:43)

Matthew 12:43 amp

43 But when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it roams through dry [arid places] in search of rest, but it does not find any.

The writer Matthew expresses how unclean spirits leave out of a man. He doesn’t mention whether they were cast out or just left on their own for transference purposes. When they left they roamed around awhile. Where did they roam? Dry, arid, waterless or (lifeless) places, that’s where.

What are Dry Places?

The Dictionary/Thesaurus defines dry as waterless, devoid, deficient in moisture, arid, barren, and UN garnished.

Because these two verses and reference definitions were unclear to me, I asked the Lord to give me understanding. Often hearing other believers binding, casting out demons and sending them to the Dry Places I wondered, “What are these places?”

He began teaching me that Dry Places are temporally dwelling places for demon spirits. A Dry Place is any molecular, lifeless (non-breathing) non-living, temporary instrument, object, substance that demons can travel through to get to a permanent host body.

A Solid, liquid or gas can be a Dry Place. Water is wet in the natural sense but a Dry Place in the spiritual sense because it falls under the above description. See Leviticus 11:36, 38 about water becoming unclean.

They are also paper, fabric, wood, metal, cement, plastic, food, and more. Leviticus 11:31-32

These are unclean to you among all that creep; whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening. 32 An whatever they may fall when they are dead, whether it is an article of wood or clothing or skin (bottle) or sack,

These are vehicles that Satan and his imps use to get to a host body, human/ or animal. It doesn’t matter whether it is a religious item with markings or symbols. Neither if it’s a pair of white or blue socks thrown in the bottom of the closet. The enemy doesn’t care he just needs a vehicle to get to a body!

Let’s discuss some of these Dry Places.

Paper, books, money

People handle money including people that are contaminated with spirit issues. Through these items, spirits are circulated around the world.

Old used fabrics, sheets, blankets curtains, shoes, and clothing **See Leviticus 15 verses 5-8.

Of my early years being a Christian, the Lord dealt with me about taking clothing from different people. Being a victim of poverty we were very limited with funds to buy new clothes. Family, friends and, church members donated much of what was owned. The old apartment was constantly flooded with bags of used clothing and shoes. Not to seem ungrateful, some of these items were like new, beside from being very nice. In addition to the clothing and the clutter along came the spirits the former owners were struggling with. God told me to “throw them out!”

Why? Spiritual depression had entered into my home through the clothing along with suicide, poverty, fear confusion etc. Satan for many years had used this as a channel to contaminate my home.

Spirits love to attach to clutter especially clothing because of the ability to hide there. Take note washing the clothing will not alone remove spirits they must be blessed and prayed over.

(A positive point)

God’s Spirit or anointing can permeate and bless cloths, aprons, handkerchiefs, oil to heal as well as cast out demons.

Acts 19:11-12 KJV

And God wrought special miracles by the hand of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Wood, plaster, cement,


Spirits issue through furniture, sofas, tables, chairs, desks.

Mattresses **See Leviticus 15 verses 5-8

Envision an old used or refurbished mattress brought from a thrift shop. If the original owners suffered for many years with lustful, depression spirits etc. You can just about imagine what the new owners might experience. Let the buy beware!

Staffs, rods and canes

Exodus 7:11-12 KJV

11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 for they cast down every man his rod and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

This may seem extreme but it gives a Biblical demonstration of how spirits can transfer into objects.

**If you would like to learn more about this topic please follow the links at the bottom of the page for further information.

Honda HHT35SUKA Brush Cutter and String Trimmer Review

Choosing an affordable string trimmer that can handle regular trimming jobs and heavier brush and weeds is no easy feat. Why? Because there are so many excellent products out there from 4 cycle Stihl's to 2 stroke Echo's. I have a 24cc, 2 stroke Echo that has lasted four years with only minor problems, but needed a heavier duty trimmer for weed abatement.

After perusing the internet I found the Honda HHT35SUKA, a straight shaft combination brush cutter and string trimmer. The price came to less than $ 400.00, which was all I could afford. After a little study I decided to give it a try.

Powered by a heavy Honda 35cc mini 4 stroke engine, the HHT35SUKA is quite heavy. However, bike handles and a double harness make it easier to handle the extra weight. Weighing slightly over 15 lbs, I found I could use it most of a day with little strain. That is saying a lot, since at the age of 59 I weigh in at about 148 lbs, with shoes on.

The product boasts the ability to easily transition between "regular trimming tasks and cutting brush, heavy weeds, and even small trees." However, by the time you dismantle the head, install the saw blade and change to a special blade guard, the cows in the field are gathered around you giving advice. The 10 inch saw blade is included, but is not the best quality.

The 4-stroke engine starts reliably and of course does not require a mixture of oil and gas; the manufacturer resistant upon premium. The 4 stroke engine produces less smoke and less smell and is fairly fuel efficient. The first time I used it I spent too much time in one spot and went through a tank of gas way too quickly. However, once I got into a rhythm it was smooth sailing and fewer refills.

My biggest complaint is that I have to carry pliers with me to extract the used up, shortened string. Plus, you have to measure out and insert two pieces of new string to the correct length, manually.

So, turn off the machine, undo the harness (which does not disengage as easily as advertised), yank out the used string from the head with pliers, pull the string out that I carry wound up in my pocket, cut to measure with hand pruners, insert – sometimes easily and sometimes with pliers – reattach to the harness and restart the machine.

It sounds awesome but I ever got the hang of it and was able to change string fairly quickly, but not nearly as fast or as easy as, say, a bump feed head.

The HHT35SUKA is so quiet that at first I found myself constantly looking down to make sure the weeds were actually being cut. Yes, they were, and at a good, steady pace.

People who are used to 2 cycle trimmers complain about 4 cycles not having enough power. This is because a 2 stroke engine fires only once for each turn of the piston. Every time the piston cycles, the air and fuel mixture is forced in and the exhaust forced out. Therefore, every stroke of the piston is a power stroke.

A power stroke (spark plug igniting compressed air and fuel) for a 4 cycle trimmer forces the piston down, but the momentum of the piston then only drives the exhaust out on its return. The continuing momentum again plunges the piston downwards without help from its spark plug, creating a vacuum above that sucks in fuel and air. When returning upward a second time, the highly compressed fuel and air are again ignited by the plug. In other words, in a 4 stroke engine every other cycle is a power stroke.

While the 2 cycle creates instant torque, the extra piston in a 4 cycle extremely provides more power for tougher weeds and brush, though with a slight delay in comparison to the 2 cycle. Because of their frenetic activity and less lubrication, 2 cycle trimmers tend to wear out sooner.

The HHT35SUKA comes with a double harness and safety goggles, though you will probably want to get better goggles. I purchased face protection that resembles a welder's mask, as the debris jumping up into my face increased in volume and in speed when using the Honda trimmer.

Watch out for rocks when using the blade as the ensuing sparks can start a fire!

The HHT35SUKA has a 2 year residential warranty and a 1 year commercial warranty through Honda. For more details about this trimmer go to http://www.mowersatjacks.com/Product-Details/HONDA/647610#sthash.a5OZt3e7.dpuf

Semen Can Whiten Your Teeth – Fact Or Fiction?

Can semen really whiten your teeth? Is semen good for teeth? Information about whether ejaculated human sperm can help make your teeth whiter.

Before we can make any assumptions on whether does semen whiten the teeth, the following facts should be known about ejaculate human semen before judging or coming to any conclusions.

The human semen contains a variety of ingredients, which mainly include sperm (containing DNA), citric acid, fructose, ascorbic acid, water, magnesium, enzymes, nitrogen, chlorine, potassium, creatine vitamin B12, cholesterol, phosphate, bicarbonate buffers, zinc and calcium. These are all essential for reproduction and have their own individual roles to play in the whole reproductive process, among them; calcium and zinc are held by some to be useful for the teeth, but there are no scientific proof to support that they help when it comes to whitening the teeth.

Furthermore, a comparison study between the ingredients inside a tooth whitening product and semen will give us a deeper knowledge about the effectiveness of the latter as a tooth whitener.

Hydrogen peroxides, hydrated silica, polyvinylpyrrolidone, potassium nitrate, calprox, baking soda, fluoride, strontium chloride and sodium tripolyphosphate are the main ingredients which are commonly found in different teeth whiteners on the market. The bleaching chemicals and ingredients mentioned above are not found in semen, though potassium and phosphates are present there, non of them are in the proper combination with other elements which can aid in whitening the teeth. Therefore it can safely be assumed that a teeth whitening toothpaste is a much better option, rather than depending on semen to do it.

However, semen ingestion is known to lower stress and raise the women’s mood due to its sugar based enzymes, and a recent study also shows that selenium, an ingredient found in semen may also serve in protection against cancer, but as far as whitening of the teeth is concerned, semen does not seem to be promising at all. It would be advisable to go for a laser clinical tooth whitening session or purchase a professional at home teeth whitening kit if you want to be through about it. Any of these will give you better results, greater assurance and a whiter, brighter smile than semen.

A Look at Shinto Spiritual Practices in Anime

In its most textbook, academic explanation, Shinto defines the spiritual practices of the Japanese people outside of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. However, it did not arrive at a conscious title until the arrival of these other faiths. Shinto is a religion that also has been adapted towards many Buddhist philosophies through the process of religious syncretism.

Gods in Shinto, which are also sometimes identified as nature spirits, are known as Kami. Individual Shrines are dedicated to different Kami, and are identified as ritualistically pure places. This outlined ritualistic purity stems from the community with nature that the Shrine shares. Shinto Shrines are generally marked from their entrance with a Shrine Gate, called a Torii in Japanese. This Gate marks the passage of the unclean secular world into the pure world of holiness. Just about every manga and anime series focusing on life in Japan, from Bleach to Lucky Star, either will show a Shrine or a festival that takes place at one.

As was previously mentioned, Shinto has achieved syncretism with Buddhism among some believers. In Tite Kubo's Bleach, one can see elements of both religions. The concept of the reincarnation of the soul is a philosophy that stems from Buddhism, which in turn borrowed it from Hinduism when Buddhism first arose in India. Many of the principals of wandering spirits, however, are a Shinto philosophy. It is also demonstrated in the symbol of the Daruma, or the small red Buddhist statutes afforded to some worshipers. Almost one of these items is found within the Kurosaki household. Of course, among other members of the faithful, this level of syncretism does not occur.

Among more traditional Shinto systems of protection that indicate Shinto philosophy and belief alone, Ofuda are quite common. These are talismans of protection for the household. However, for the individual, a Shinto priest may protect one with an Omamori, or a personal amulet of protection. Omikuji are commonly cast at Shinto ceremonies. These are sheets of paper around which an individual fortune is cast. One reads it and wraps it around a tree. The spirit of the tree will make it come true if it is positive, and ward it off if it is negative.

One final point concerning Shinto is the incredible system of personal honor that it entails. To speak to one personally, one uses a great number of honorifics including -san, -sempai, -sensei ex cetra. Likewise, Shinto has long stressed the demand for protection of others and the willingness for personal sacrifice. Whether it be Shimada Kambei or Okamoto Katsuhiro in Samurai 7, or Ichigo Kurosaki in Bleach, anime and manga have long served as an extension for this belief.

8 Ways to Burn Belly Fat Without Exercise

Looking to burn belly fat without exercise? Or, if you are like me, searching for additional ways to burn belly fat beyond traditional exercise. Here are some great ways to increase your metabolism without getting on an exercise machine, lifting a dumbbell or doing abdominal routines.

1) Walk

Walking has been heavily documented as the best thing for sedentary people to add to lose weight permanently. Everyday find opportunities to walk more often. To the corner store, around the house, or in place. It really does not matter as long as you walk at least 30 minutes daily. Consistently increase your walking pace to 3.5 miles per hour.

2) Stand Up

Standing burns 33% more calories than sitting. Be sure to stand for a total of 3 hours daily to burn belly fat. Next time you find yourself sitting on the couch watching TV, Stand Up! For an increased effect walk in place as you watch TV.

3) Suck In Your Stomach

Yes, merely sucking in your stomach will tighten up your belly and strengthen the muscles underneath your future six-pack. Here’s what you do – Suck in your stomach as far as you can (Pull inwards, not squeezing). Focus on pulling in your belly button as far as you can. Hold for 5 seconds, keep breathing, and release. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat, this time focus on pulling in from the top of your belly. Alternate. You will feel the burn.

Start off with 10 reps twice a day. Over the next two weeks increase the frequency and the duration of sucking in your stomach farther and farther, more and more often, holding it longer and longer. In your car, at your desk, walking, remember don’t hold your breath. Eventually you want to get to the point where you are doing it constantly and unconsciously.

4) Turn Off The TV

People who watch television for 3 hours daily or more are 60% more likely to be or become obese. Watch TV for an hour a day and find something else to do. Garden, clean, build something, whatever as long as you find yourself moving.

5) Breathe

Did you know the number one method to eliminate waste from our bodies is exhaling? When you burn fat, your body creates a lot of toxins that must be eliminated. If you have ever had a science course you will undoubtedly be familiar with the fact that mass cannot be created or destroyed, only converted. When you burn wood, the mass of the wood is converted to energy and gas. The same thing happens when we burn belly fat in our bodies. We in essence, breathe out all the fat.

If you were sealed in a glass container that just happened to be sitting on a scale, and you lost 40 pounds, the scale would not show the weight loss. Why? Because the weight of all the fat lost would be trapped in the air of the sealed glass container. What I am trying to say is, breathe! Practice deep breathing exercises, short breathing techniques and any other breathing exercise that interests you.

6) Take a Bath

Do not worry, this is not as easy as it sounds. Here we are talking about cold water immersion. Water cold enough to make you shiver. Fifteen minutes of shivering is equal to jogging for 15 minutes. In their training, Navy SEAL’s are forced to sit in the ocean as waves crash over them for up to an hour. This is not warm water, rather 45-50 degree water. Due to the severity of this training, SEAL’s are constantly monitored for hypothermia. This is not recommend or endorsed.

Instead there are two techniques endorsed to burn belly fat.

A) Fill a bath tub with very cold water to ankle height. Get in. Walk in place 2-4 minutes. This is much more bearable than what the Navy does, but yet still triggers an increase in your metabolism that lasts quite awhile.

B) Take a bath as normal but instead fill the tub as high as possible with water at room temperature, 70 degrees. The water should not feel warm, but rather cool. Get in, read a book, practice your breathing exercises, etc. for 30-60 minutes. Drink ice water to speed the effect.

After 10-15 minutes you will find your body slightly shivering. This is good, but do not push it. When your body tells you it’s time to quit, get out. There is no need to rush. In time you will be a pro at burning belly fat trough cold water immersion without risking your health.

7) Take A Steam Bath

Sweating is an excellent way of detoxifying. But, do not do this after your cold water immersion, the effect on your metabolism would be lost. You can artificially cause your body to sweat by taking a sauna or a steam. When your body is hot by fever, exercise or by steam, your heart rate increases. Blood circulation increases to cool the body, perspiring takes energy, thus burning calories and releasing hundreds of toxins. Another excellent method to burn belly fat.

Please, do not be mistaken. I am not recommending dehydration. In fact I recommend drinking lots of water, even bring water in with you to stay hydrated. Make sure it’s HOT water, cool water will defeat the purpose. If you are dehydrated you will not sweat as much, if at all.

Start with 10 minutes but keep 20 minutes as the maximum. No access to a steam? No problem. Have a seat on your toilet, turn the shower on, HOT, with the door closed and the fan off. You can also put a sauna suit on to increase the effect. Drink lots of water. You could even walk in place to burn additional calories.

8) Do what the Shaolin Monks Do

Technically, I guess you could call some of these techniques exercise, however these will firm you up, and make you tougher than weight lifting, without touching a dumbbell.

A) Stand with your arms straight at your sides and your elbows locked. Forcefully press your palms down and raise your straight fingers back quickly. Repeat 49 times. You should feel this in your forearms and triceps. Do this daily and your arms will be as firm as a wood board.

B) Stand with your arms at your side. Imagine a fly at chin level at the edge of your reach. Forcefully, fluidly, throw your arm up with your left shoulder focusing on speed. Imagine catching the fly in your vertical fist, and squeeze it as hard as you can. Hold it for a second. Now, throw the right arm up and squeeze, then throw the left fist up and squeeze hard. Repeat 49 times. This will firm up the arms, chest, shoulders and improve your coordination.

C) Stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Spread your legs wider than shoulder width and squat down 1/4 of the way. Pause. Stay in this position as long as you can, aiming for 5 minutes to start. Keep your arms up. If you can only hold this for 30 seconds. No problem. Stand up, rest a moment and repeat until you have reached 5 minutes. This will tone your legs like no other exercise can. Shaolin Masters can squat down to parallel and keep their arms outstretched for an hour, easily.

Some of you may not think these are easy ways to lose weight, but they will cause your body to burn belly fat while burning body fat. Follow these tips for burning body fat with our recommended diets, or better yet, add them to the burn belly fat exercise routine to speed your results.

Toxic Black Mold Removal – Can You Do it Yourself?

If you have small areas of toxic black mold you can remove them yourself if you are very careful. Very large areas really need professional advice and removal. If you are going to attempt cleaning up your home of toxic black mold yourself then you need to be aware of the problems you may encounter and how to deal with them. You should always wear adequate protective clothing which includes gloves and breathing masks as it is important not to breathe in spores from the mold as they are very toxic. it is important that you not only remove all visible mold, but that you find any mold growing in hidden places such as in the walls or inside appliances such as air conditioners. You will also need to deal with the conditions that caused the toxic black mold to grow in the first place.

Identifying Damp Areas

The first thing to do before you even attempt to remove the black mold is to find out why it is growing and deal with these problems. Anywhere there is moisture that has accumulated can allow the black mold to grow so look for leaks in your roof or chimney, leaking pipes especially those that are hidden in walls and floors, condensation especially in bathrooms, blocked or leaking gutters etc. You should also check the humidity in your home and and make sure that it is below 55%. A hygrometer can be used for this and you should make sure that you check, not just the usual living areas, but also your basement, your attic, inside closets and cupboards especially those used for storing food and in your bathroom. If you find the humidity is above 55% then you will need to deal with this by using dehumidifiers. In bathrooms and basements make sure that you have adequate ventilation. Ensure that vents from air conditioners and clothes dryers lead to the outside so that they do not increase the moisture level in the air inside your home.

Toxic Black Mold Removal

Step one – Preventing Black Mold Spores From Spreading

Before you begin removal of the black mold you need to consider the ways that you are going to use to prevent any of the toxic spores from spreading through your home. Each room needs to be treated separately and you will need to seal off the room properly before you start. Shut off any ventilation systems and use heavy-duty plastic bags and duct tape to seal vents, windows and doors. You need to keep the dust levels as low as possible so before you start mist the area lightly mist with water to damp down any dust that may be caused during the removal process.

Step two – Removing the Black Mold

Once you have the room exceptionally sealed and the area to be treated damped down you can start to clean. Thoroughly cleaning using soap and then disinfect with a preparation specifically made to kill mold. Black mold may be growing in areas where it is not visible so you need to clean all the surfaces where the spores may have landed. After cleaning the areas thoroughly dry them. Non-porous materials such as plastics, metals, glass etc. can be reused. Some semi-porous materials, such as wood and concrete, may have been so damaged that they need to be replaced and many porous materials such as paper, ceiling tiles, carpets, insulation etc. can be so heavily damaged by black mold that they may also be unusable.

Disposing of Contaminated Materials

It is important that you do not dispose off contaminated materials in such a way that you reinfect other areas of your home. All contaminated material should be placed in heavy duty plastic bags and sealed carefully. Do not carry the infected materials through your house but use a window to place the bags directly outside. They can then be taken to a landfill for proper disposal.

Preventing Black Mold Regrowing

As we have noted earlier it is extremely important that you deal with any problems that have arisen that have allowed the black mold to thrive. In addition to repairing any broken pipes and gutters that may be causing more moisture in your home, plan on a regular tour of inspection to catch any black mold that is growing before it gets out of control. Include areas that you may not visit often such as basements, cellars and attics. Inspect your roof regularly for leaks especially after the winter and while you are there make sure your chimney is undamaged as these can be a major source of leaks from the roof.


How Water Expands The Crack in Chipped Windshields

The extreme weather conditions of Winter can be damaging to a chipped windshield. Winter and Summer can be the worst time of the year for those chipped and cracked windshields. The winter weather can be brutal on windows with cracks, most of us do not realize how the structural integrity of the windshield may be jeopardized. You may have a small nick or chip and put off repairing your windshield then time goes on and winter brings rain and freezing temperatures frosting up your windshield. Using hot water or the defroster to get rid of the frost on the window can cause the crack to expand and promote further cracking that may cause expensive replacement of your windshield. Water entering a crack through a chipped, cracked or nicked windshield can be a real problem, and the compact of getting the water and moisture out is a very challenging task if not done properly, but it is very essential in able to repair the windshield correctly.

After water enters a cracked windshield it is very difficult to remove and almost impossible to repair properly if not removed before repair. To remove the moisture from the cracked windshield a vacuum must be applied to the chipped or cracked area of ​​the windshield. Sometimes drilling the chipped or cracked area is necessary to remove air and moisture. The windshield must be heated in the chipped or cracked area usually by using a heat lamp allowing the water to be vaporized and the water vapor can be removed under a vacuum before repair.

We all know what happens to water when it freezes. What happens to the water that entered your cracked windshield when it's below 32 degrees or colder? It freezes and expands, now what do you think is going to happen to that small chip and or crack? Most cracked out windshields started as small rock chip or crack and ignored until it's to late to repair. Do you now need a new windshield because that small chip has a crack that spread across the windshield?

This is what can happen when winter rains allow water to enter your cracked windshield, and winters cold temperatures freeze the water that is now inside your windshield, which can and will lead to cost replacement of the windshield. The constant temperature changes also cause the windshield glass to expand and contract helping small cracks or star breaks to expand, when this happens it can cause the windshield to crack all the way to the edge, if not promptly and properly repaired by a windshield repair technician .

So in conclusion it comes to our attention that winter is the time to have your windshield repaired right away before moisture penetrates the windshield and winters freezing temperatures cause expansion, further damage and cause the windshield to crack out.

Weeden House Museum – One of Alabama's Treasure Keepers

Alabama is blessed with great tourist spots that provide moments of reply or even grand relaxation to the stressed visitors. There are resorts, beaches, camp sites, theme parks, and gardens from north to south that undrawnly draw in millions of visitors a year. Among the most visited sights in Alabama is the Weeden House Museum. This museum is located at 300 Gates Avenue in Huntsville, Alabama.

The museum was originally built around 1819 by Henry C. Bradford and is considered to be a good example of Federal architecture. It is composed of two-story brick house with features that include a spiral staircase, an outstanding leaded glass entrance fanlight, and even hand-carved mantels.

During the Civil War, this museum was taken over for the use of Federal officers. This museum was the home of John McKinley, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and Barley M. Lowe. It is also the birthplace and lifelong home of countrywide famous artist and poet, Maria Howard Weeden (1846-1905).

After the Civil War, Maria Howard Weeden, who the museum was named after, helped support her poor family by teaching art in the house. Maria was born in that very house on July 6, 1847 and as the youngest child in the Dr. William Weeden family, she had little formal art training. However, even without the formal training, she was actually quite well-known for her watercolor portraits of the old ex-slaves. Critics say that her art work was designed to reveal the character of the subjects in her paintings as well as their sense of humor and philosophy of life in associated poems written in their dialect. Maria had books that were published by Doubleday, McClure and Company.

Weeden House Museum is currently owned by the City of Huntsville and is leased by the Twickenham Historic Preservation District Association. It first opened as a house museum in 1981. From then on, many people have visited with the purpose of viewing the great works of art as well as the intricate architectural details.

Historic Homes Tour of different houses in the Twickenham District benefits The Weeden House Museum. The museum is open for all with a small entrance fee. This federal style house is also a favorite spot for weddings and receptions. However, the main goal of this museum is to preserve the furniture and architecture of the federal period, making it a really an important home for cultural heritage of the state of Alabama.

It is definitely a vacation spot you do not want to miss. You too will certainly appreciate the detailed beauty in the Weeden House Museum.

Alternative Operating Systems for Mobile Devices

Undoubtedly, Android has a greater advantage over iOS in terms of extending the functionality of mobile devices. Android has a host of applications that add more features to what the phone of tablet can do by default. Moreover, the installation of mobile apps provides third-party providers easy access to users when delivering their services. For instance, feed apps provide daily updates in real-time to users who read the news and weather reports using their mobile device. However, Android and Apple's proprietary operating system are not the only firmware available to users.

Ubuntu for Android Phones and Tablets

The default Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean operating system in Android phones was developed from a Linux-based architecture. Although they perform well according to the hardware's specifications, users who prefer an operating system similar to the one they have in their desktop computers or laptops can get Ubuntu for mobile use. Versions 12.x or higher of this Linux distro have been re-engineered to function with touch screens and run efficiently on portable electronic devices.

Ubuntu for Android works effectively on multi-core high-end phones and tablets. Users can open multiple tabs in browsers and open multiple applications at the same time. Plus, the tablet or smartphone can handle two workspaces together, too, just like with a desktop computer. Through over-the-air updates, the firmware gets upgraded with the latest version and allows more applications to work efficiently on its system. The software comes with default applications, such as the Ubuntu Music Player, Chromium Web browser, Google Calendar, Thunderbird E-mail client, Google Docs, VLC Player, Ubuntu Photo Gallery, PiTiVi, Gwibber and Android dialer.

Symbian Belle for Nokia Smartphones

Nokia has been a leader in the mobile industry. Most phone users probably started with a Nokia than any other brand. However, the advances in mobile technology have shifted user preferences towards phones with operating systems that developers can create applications for quickly. This is why Android took the lead from iOS within a few years. This also means that Nokia must also change along with the trends.

In response, the company has developed Nokia Belle, which is the latest firmware update for their smartphones that operate on Symbian S60, which includes Nokia N7, Nokia C7, Nokia C6-01, Nokia E7, Nokia X7, Nokia E6, and Nokia 500 . Owners of these units may upgrade to Belle through the desktop suite or through their network provider. After the update, the new OS allows up to six home screens that can be customized with dynamic and live widgets. It has a pull-down taskbar and improved apps for navigation, image editing, and web browsing. On the whole, the new user interface has similar features as an Android phone.