Pros and Cons of Critical Ilness Insurance Coverage

Critical illness insurance is a relatively new type of policy that is frequently misunderstood. Today, we will clarify what it is, and what it covers.

How Does Critical Illness Insurance Work?

Critical illness is similar to term life insurance, except it is paid out when you are diagnosed with an illness covered by the policy, rather than being paid out upon death. However, some people confuse this type of insurance with disability insurance, which substitutes your income if you become disabled.

Illness insurance, like term life insurance, is paid in a lump sum, should you be diagnosed with a pre-defined disease such as cancer. You decide how this amount will be spent – some people put it into additional medical treatment (especially if there are some treatment methods that are not covered by provincial healthcare), others decide to take time off work to spend with family, or to travel.

As with many insurance products, this type of insurance plan comes with an extensive insurance quote, application and underwriting process that the insurer analyzes before you can get a policy; and as with any insurance policy, a critical illness policy comes with both pros and cons.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of this type of insurance.

Pros of Critical Illness Insurance

There are several positive aspects:

  1. Funds that can help where needed: The lump sum you receive if you are diagnosed with a critical illness will allow you to get better treatment and, hopefully, fully recovery in some cases. You can also spend these funds on other needs or projects (such as travel or taking items off your bucket list).
  2. Protection for your own business: If you have your own business, you might need to work part time, after being diagnosed with a critical illness (reduced work hours are common when extensive medical treatment is required). It closes the financial gap created by your reduced hours at your company. With the funds, you could hire somebody to help out with your business.
  3. Stackable protection: Unlike disability insurance, critical illness coverage is “stackable”. With disability insurance, coverage is limited because it is based on your income, and you cannot go over that limit even if you have several disability policies. You can, though, have several policies with varying coverage amounts of different diseases. If you have, for example, two policies with benefits of $250,000 and $300,000, you can get a $550,000 payout when you make a claim.

Cons of Critical Illness Insurance

  1. Expensive: This type of insurance policy is not cheap. As an example, a Term 10 insurance policy with $500,000 coverage (Term 10 means a policy that covers you for 10 years) for a 35-year old non-smoking male without any pre-conditions costs around $180/ month (exemplary quote) whereas a Term 10 life insurance policy with coverage of $1,000,000 for the same person costs around $50.
  2. Definitions matter: If a diagnosed disease, such as a heart attack, is not aligned with the definition of this illness in the policy, your claim may be not paid.
  3. Does not cover you immediately: Policy typically comes with a waiting period (e.g. 90 days) during which you are not covered.
  4. Payout is not immediate: If you are diagnosed with a critical illness, there is “survival period” – (e.g. 30 days). If you die within that period, your claim will be not paid.

Summary

Critical illness insurance provides solid coverage for being unexpectedly diagnosed with a serious disease, but this coverage comes at a cost. It’s a good idea to work with an insurance broker to get a critical illness insurance quote and to apply for a policy. Brokers have access to multiple insurance companies and will help you navigate through the complex application process, especially if you have medical pre-conditions.

Seben Metal Detector – An Important Glimpse Into Its Different Features

Seben metal detector products are extremely controversial with comments ranging from good to bad. Some have found success in using these detectors while others are left feeling cheated. So, which side should you go for? Well, before you go ahead and decide, here are some of the features of Seben detector products that you can think over.

Seben metal detectors are often sold in eBay by a German based company. These products are primarily built to serve beginners, expert treasure hunters, and professionals (eg archaeologist). There are currently four types of Seben detector out there: Seben Extreme Power, Professional Deep Target, Versatile Perfect, and Best Price Treasure metal detectors. Most of these types are pretty light in weight, features easy-to-use controls, and helpful operation settings.

There's nothing more frustrating than always getting scraps during your treasure hunting. Fortunately, a Seben metal detector is programmed to have a fully adjustable metal differentialiation technique to help you screen out unwanted metal objects. That means can tabs, rusted nails, tin foils, or iron scraps can be excluded in your search. With the variable audio tones and large screen display, you will easily point out if you're detecting trash or something more valuable.

Depending on the model, these detectors could pinpoint large metal objects at depths that could reach up to 250 centimeters underground. For smaller objects, such as coins, a Seben can detect them 35 centimeters below the ground. You'll just have to remember to always do a regular sweeping motion to keep things going. These products also have adjustable sensitivity settings, so you can fine tune them according to your purpose and projected target.

The ergonomic design makes it possible to use these detectors with relative ease and comfort. They are light in weight, usually around 4 pounds, and have streamlined structures. And instead of complicated keypad controls, most of these have control knobs with easy-to-read display screens for your treasure hunting convenience.

Compared to White's, Tesoro, Bounty Hunter, and Minelab detectors, a Seben is undeniably a lot cheaper. That's why plenty of beginners find this suitable as their first detectors. You could buy this detector over at eBay for around $ 100 or so. But just to prove its worthiness, you can always compare it with other products that contain almost the same features as the Seben metal detector that you want to buy.

Although these are not exactly on top of their class, the different Seben metal detectors contain most of the essential elements that you would normally need to accomplish a day of treasure hunting adventure. Remember that not all cheap products are defective. But you should not also ignore all relevant information that you get from previous consumers. All you need to do is weigh the pros and cons of buying a Seben metal detector and never forget to also do some extensive research of your own.

How to Stop Being a "Commitaphobe"

For some of us, commitment is a terrifying prospect. Whether it be marriage, moving in together, or simply labelling a relationship. When things get too serious, our fight-or-flight response kicks in and we bolt like the demons of hell are chasing us.

It’s unfair for us and the people we’re dating. So how do we change it?

Take Things Slow

There’s no need to rush these sorts of things. Relationships don’t have time limits. If you take it one day at a time and just enjoy doing things with your partner, there won’t be anything to panic over. Don’t think that after a certain time period, you need to either “move things along” or break it off. It takes a while to know if you’re with the right person and you don’t need to rush into making that decision.

Communicate with your Partner

Communication is everything. If your partner tries to take a step that you’re not ready for, let them know. If they care about you, they’ll be understanding enough to wait until you feel comfortable advancing the relationship. Make sure they know that you are still invested in them, but that you’re just not ready for the next big thing. Take time to think about why exactly you’re nervous about it and discuss it with them. Then, when you’re ready, proceed.

Focus on the Now

The biggest issue for people that struggle with commitment is that they worry too much about the future. What if we don’t know each other well enough to make our relationship official? If we move in together, what will happen in the event of a break up? If we get married, what happens if I fall out of love with you? Thinking about every possible outcome of doing something is, of course, going to make you think that ending things is the best option. Instead, focus on the present. Think about how you feel now. If you love that person, really, truly love them, then make the most of it. Don’t worry about how long it may or may not last. Just enjoy it while it does.

Change Takes Time

If you’re afraid of commitment, it’s likely because the relationships around you haven’t been great examples. You’re terrified of getting stuck with the wrong person. Don’t fret. When you do meet the right person, you will know. And taking these steps will help you to properly commit to them.

Advantages of Hiring Qualified Concrete Contractors

The busy lives of homeowners these days are the very reason why it is best to let professionals handle the concrete work needed for any remodeling project. This can be most effectively resolved with the aid of having a concrete contractor that can help you out in providing with best options and quality outputs.

There are still those individuals who take for granted the importance of working with experts instead of taking the risk of not having any work done properly. The following are some advantages of hiring the right expert in managing concrete works:

Hiring Experts Saves a Lot of Time
If you are up to having an efficient home improvement project that sticks to a particular timetable, then hiring professionals for this kind of job is the best thing to do. Not only does this save you a lot of time, it also makes it possible for all of the requirements to be fulfilled accordingly.

Of course, you can still have the project done all by yourself, but you have to consider the fact that it would take more time for you to complete everything. Having professionals work for you provides efficiency and productivity. Expect completion of work as discusses with your contractor.

Concrete Professionals are Experienced
One can easily say that jobs concerning the foundational structure of a home project are not difficult. But then again, you have to take into good consideration that there are various factors that alter the kind of tools and techniques in completing this job. Without the right experience in this field, and without the knowledge in how to effectively execute the work to be done, the entire project can be a waste of time, effort and money. Having the right professionals is an assurance that the job can be handled with knowledge and expertise at hand.

Professionals Entail Professionalism
A home project is nothing with the right kind of attitude presented by the people you are working with. Since concrete jobs are not easily carried out, you can expect professionalism for the people you will be having at home or in the place where you would like to have the job done.

All in all, assurance that high quality work will be performed is the key on this form of endeavor. Hiring a concrete contractor for this activity opens the opportunity of making the most out of having the right professionals for the project.

Precautions You Should Take While Buying Used Cars

Perhaps, the economic downturn is one of the main reasons for the growth of the used cars market. Many people opt for buying used or pre-owned cars because according to them, it is not wise to invest in new vehicles when the economy is in such a bad shape. If you are also looking to buy a used car, you should check some of the most important aspects before closing the deal.

– Firstly, you should decide your budget for buying your vehicle. You may mainly purchase the vehicle for the use of your entire family and hence, your choice of the vehicle depends not only upon your budget but on the size of your family also.

– Once you narrow down the list of the cars you are looking for, you must choose a good dealer who has pre-owned cars of these models.

– After short-listing the cars, you should make it a point to check the years of registration of the cars. Buying a car that has run more than 18,000 Kilometers is not advisable. But, while checking this, you should see if the Odometers of the vehicles are functioning well.

– The engine of a car is the most important part and so, you should check if you are able to start the engines smoothly. The other parts such as transmission, frame, tires, exhaust are equally important and hence, you should make sure that they are also in good working condition. Further, the transmission and the drive shaft should be in a durable condition. If you test-drive the vehicles along with your own mechanic, you will be able to check if all these parts including the engine and the transmission are functioning well.

– In countries like the US, you can get Car Fax reports and from them, you can know the complete history of the cars. You can know the details of the accidents, if any, also from these reports. The mileage of the cars, their erstwhile owners, etc. will also be available on these reports. You can also get the details of the inspection and service history of the cars from these Car Fax reports. The previous owners may not have reported some of the accidents but, they will also find a place on these reports.

– You should never buy flood-damaged cars because it is very risky. You can find this out by contacting the National Insurance Crime Bureau with the Vehicle Identification Numbers of the cars. You can detect this also by inspecting the cars thoroughly and by checking if there are moldy odors. If you find rust in any parts of the cars, you can conclude that floods have damaged the vehicles.

– You should check the cooling system, the radiator, the alternator and the starter of the cars. There should not be any leaks in the radiators. Brakes should be in top condition.

Even if you are well-acquainted with the dealer, you should have your own mechanic with you while inspecting the vehicles. Of course, the dealer may have his own mechanic but you should insure test-drives by your mechanic only.

These tips will help you to zero in on the right pre-owned car.

Hill Station Train Tours Of India

Introduction

India has mesmerized the imagination of the domestic tourists in general and international tourists in special with its railway network ranking second largest in the world. The unique part of this Indian Railway network is its provision of hill stations tours by trains. Some of these hill station trains are also known as Toys Trains of India. However, India has over 63,000 Km of track laid between 7000 stations divided into 9 Zones – Western, Central, Eastern, Northern, North Eastern, Northeast Frontier, Southern, South Central and South Eastern.

1. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) connects the plains of West Bengal at New Jalpaiguri with the hill station of Darjeeling. On the way, it passes the most breathtaking scenery and climbs to a height of 7400 feet at Ghum (the highest station in India and the second highest in the world), from where glimpses of the magnificent Mt. Kanchenjunga are visible on clear days.

2. The Kangra Valley Railway

No one could have thought of making a finer selection of territory for building a new mountain railway in India than the Kangra valley. Few places can match this scenic region in the sub-Himalayas. One will stumble across a land that has cast its magic spell upon those who planned the railway and those who built the line. The Kangra Valley Railway presents to the traveler, a chance to gaze as long as he likes on the ever present panorama of snow-clad ranges and the gold green fields without being swung round every few minutes can greet the scenery. March and April are the best months to visit the valley when it is covered with wild Rambler Roses, Oleanders, Rhododendron and fruit blossoms.

3. Kalka – Shimla Railway

The Kalka-Shimla Railway with 96.54 kilometer line offers a panoramic experience to experience the grandeur of the picturesque Himalayas from the Shivalik foot hills at Kalka to several important points such as Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Summerhill, Shimla and beyond up to the silvery snow line near the towering peaks. It runs through 102 tunnels, 864 bridges, only one of which is a 60 feet plate girder span and a steel truss. The others are viaducts with multi-arched galleries like the ancient Roman aqueducts.

4. Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), the only rack railway in India and uses Abt system, connects the town of Mettupalayam with the hill station of Udagamandalam, in the Nilgiri Hills of southern India. Both towns are in the state of Tamil Nadu. Snaking through 16 tunnels and tall girder bridges, the climb offers breathtaking vistas of plantation and fir-clad hills.

5. Matheran Light Railway

Matheran means "The Wooded Head" or the jungle topped. Over its length of 19.97 kilometers, there are 221 curves, the sharpest being 1270 equal to 18.25 m., 121 bridges, only one tunnel and a steep winding gradient. Neral, the starting station of this line, falls near midway on the Mumbai-Pune route of the central railway. The journey up to Matheran from Neral takes about one-and-a-half hours.

Wilson NCode Tennis Racquet Reviews – A Buyers’ Guide to Wilson N5 NCode Tennis Rackets

Wilson nCode tennis racquets has been a popular choice of tennis racquets of many tennis players. This tennis racquets has been specially designed to suit every tennis players including beginners and professional’s tennis players.

The Wilson nCode n5 tennis racquets structure is the brand new updated version of the Wilson n5 racquet series. To ensure the performance of the racquets, it has been made with the new Wilson’s nCode technology and the Wilson Triad technology for the racquet frame. With these improvements, the nCode n5 racquet quality has been greatly improved compared with the classic n5 racquets. Players can now enjoy the new racquets with the handle and the racquet head which are separated by a thin strip of iso-zord material which provide smoother and softer feels while using this tennis racquet.

In addition all Wilson n5 nCode racquets uses Nanofoam inside the frame, this stiffens the frame for better control with vibration absorption functions. With the combination of 3 advance technology from Wilson, therefore nCode tennis racquet provide tennis players with both great control, good feel, and play comfort.

Below are the Wilson nCode n5 Tennis Racquet Specifications:

Head Size:110 sq.in/ 710 sq.cm

Length: 27.25 in / 69 cm

Strung Weight: 9.7 oz.

Balance: 10 pts Head Heavy

Swing Weight: 329

Beam Width: 26.5 mm Dual Taper Volcanic Beam

Composition: nCoded Hyper Carbon, nCoded Graphite

Power Level: Medium

Swing Speed: Moderate

Grip Type: Micro Dry Comfort

String Pattern: 16 Main / 20 Crosses

String Tension: 53-63 lbs.

Suitability Level: Suitable for both intermediate beginners players.

Wilson’s company has done a lot of research of improving the tennis racquets to make it more playable and comfortable. This is what n5 tennis racquet series made off. Tennis players will start to enjoy it after first attempt to use this racquets and some players even play for hours using nCode n5 tennis racquet.

The racquet is light weight but has the swing power and stability of a heavier racquet due to it’s heavier racquet head. Since it is light it is also suitable for defensive tennis players.

Wilson nCode n5 tennis racquets usually comes with shinning red and black colors.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro: New Redmi Smartphone With Deca-Core Helio X20 Processor

Recently, the Xiaomi company has released a new product, Xiaomi Redmi Pro. It is the first affordable smartphone to come with dual cameras. Another highlight is that it is configured with the latest deca-core Helio X20 processor. At this article, I will do a review of this new product. This article involves three aspects, including appearance design, configuration and camera.

Appearance Design

The new product features a full metal unibody fuselage with a brushed metal finish, and up front is a 2.5D glass that covers the 5.5-inch full HD OLED display. Compared with the normal IPS LCD screen, the new OLED display displays 100% NTSC color gamut and 60000: 1 super high contrast ratio. That is to say, this outstanding display will provide a more viable and pleasant viewing experience.

In terms of the prompt change in appearance design, Redmi Pro moves the fingerprint sensor from the back side to the front side. And it is embedded into the physical home button below the display. This is to make way for the dual cameras setup.

Configuration

Exactly, it is powered by the latest MTK Helio X20 64 bit deca-core processor running at 2.1GHz. This powerful processor has the tri-cluster architecture to improve more 30% powerful efficiency, which allows highly intensive tasks. Comes, it comes with Mali T880 MP4 700MHz GPU. Midgard parallel processing architecture results 180% higher performance. Except for that, combined with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, it enables you to complete multitasking without a hitch.

In terms of the software configuration, it will be running the latest MIUI 8 OS, which is based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. Other hardware includes a USB Type-C port, dual SIM cards, and a 4,050 mAh huge capacity battery.

Camera

Dual cameras setup is the highlight of Redmi Pro. This is the first attempt of the affordable smartphone to come with dual cameras. The setup includes a 13MP camera with Sony IMX 250 sensor that captures the still images and a 5MP Samsung camera that captures depth information. Outstanding DSLR-quality bokeh plus hardware-level DOF processing, these dual cameras brings pretty good shooting effect.

Summary

To sum up, Xiaomi Redmi Pro has two obvious features of deca-core Helio X20 processor configuration and dual cameras setup. Beside, 5.5-inch body size will bring you nice holding feeling. It is an affordable smartphone. If you like, you can have a try!

The Power of Cultural Symbolism

Everywhere we look in society we see forms of symbolic representation which identify and illustrate our cultural ethos. Symbols that we use, as distinct from signs, carry multiple meanings depending on the context and culture in which they appear. A symbol can be a gesture, an object or a ritual that informs, solidifies and influences our social interactions. They are an important and integral element in understanding culture. They reinforce our norms, values ​​and provide an operative in which we can manifest our meanings. Symbols can also evoke emotional responses from us.

Anthropologist Clifford Geertz explained that our symbolic world is used as a vehicle for our concepts; they represent how we conceive of our world. The conception of the symbol is its meaning. Another interpretive anthropologist, Victor Turner, believed that symbols are not just vehicles for meaning, but by their very use, create meaning, understanding and solidarity in relationships. This is why he saw ritualistic symbolism as harboring core symbols which carried extra weight. The symbols function not only to represent a value or belief, but their use also affects the individual more substantially. This is because, as Turner believed, core symbols found in ritual had the ability or utility of connecting the known with the unknown. In essence, ritual acts and ritual symbolism often involve ethereal ideas which became tangible during the ritual process. Geertz also echoed the importance of ritual symbolism, and in particular, religious symbolism. He claimed that religious symbolic behavior or acts were specific creators of mood for the individual but also, because of their religious purpose, provided motivation.

However, everyday symbols and symbolic behavior do not always represent something transcendental. They may simply signify an aspect of our cultural norms and through their use, becoming effective in reinforcing these. When agents utilize and interact with these symbols, the values ​​and meanings which they represent are codified. It is for this reason that they are an integral part of cultural life. Some widely recognized symbols or ritual behaviors are thousands of years old, like those which are a distinct part of religious heritage. They have been utilized to embody and affirm the sacred ideologies which they represent and also provide utility in ritual and practice during religious worship. More mundane symbolism may be the hand shake which we may recognize as a common custom, but which may also represent many meanings like agreement, understanding or a formal but socially polite greeting. This seems like a very insignificant form of symbolism and such a mundane example. However, we can recognize the power behind the symbolic gesture when such a custom is violated. For example, there may be an occasion where etiquette dictates that a shake shake is appropriate but one's hand may be refused. It is then that the true meaning behind the gesture becomes much more apparent.

All symbolic representation has its genesis in the social, ideological and political concepts which define our culture. They are formed from these, but also inform these. Symbols do not always remain the same, but can transform through the ages and through various processes of cultural adaptation.

Let us look at a national flag as a symbol. Every nation has one and we can assume that each country regards their flag as a symbol of the unity of their people. It represents a specific identification with 'nationhood' or even 'ethnicity'. Above all, it represents a collective – a common affiliation. A great example of the symbolism entrenched in national flags and their effect can be drawn from the revolution in Libya. Freedom fighters, along with the new government, reinstated the old flag of Libya, the symbol of an independent Libya used prior to Col. Gaddafi's rule between 1951 and 1969. At the same time, people took to a type of ceremonial and celebratory burning of the old green flag, which was in place during Gaddafi's rule. The flag became part of a ritual, with its burning as a sign of celebrating freedom from tyranny. We can see from this behavior how loaded with symbolic meaning the flag is. The action was not just cathartic to the participants, but as a symbolic act, spoke volumes for outsiders too. So, we can see how something as seemingly simple as a national flag can not only represent many meanings, but can have the power to evoke high emotional responses because of the values ​​it represents. Because of this, across cultures, how a flag is utilized and treated by citizens is of utmost importance since it represents a national consciousness which may include pride, patriotism, identity and in this case, freedom.

What is clear about the power of symbolic representation in society is that although symbols serve the function of representing a concept or idea, they also have the propensity to evoke an emotional and psychological response. In fact, the importance or the emotional significance of the concept is what formulates the symbol in the first place.

Let's take another mundane symbol, the white dove. This symbol is widely recognizable across cultures. Sometimes, it is used alone, and sometimes, it is used in conjunction with other symbols. Most of us would say that it represents or is a symbol of peace. Why do we think it represents peace? We have to look at the origins and history of the symbol to understand why.

The symbol of the white dove and the olive branch has its genesis in the biblical story of Noah's Arch. After the flood, the dove returns to the Arch with an olive branch indicating that the flood was over and a new beginning was at hand. So, the symbol of the white dove along with an olive branch has its origins in Christian story telling. However, the use of the symbol of the olive branch within that story already had prior importance in history, since it was the early Roman symbol for peace. From this, we can understand why it was transported by the dove and its reason for incorporation into the story. After all this time, the symbols of the white dove and olive branch have become integrated into our cultural system so that they automatically become one of the most widely recognized symbols for peace. The reasonable reason for this is most likely due, to a large degree, to the spread of Christian based education across the globe over the centuries. However, the symbol has varied over time. We often see, despite to promote a more secular tone, the white dove without the olive branch in logos of various organizations. Its popularity of use rests largely on the fact that it is has an immediate recognizable meaning, making it an effective and powerful symbol.

Whether symbols are sacred or mundane, they make up a significant part of any cultural fabric. They have the power to transform a concept into a reality, to speak without words and to effect emotional responses from us. Understanding the meaning behind symbolic behavior and symbols themselves allows us great insight into our world and what we deem important and valuable.

Innovations In Construction Technology: Hercules Single Strand Tensioning Systems

Prior to the 1950s, one of the biggest recurring costs in the construction industry was replacing concrete forms that had cracks and fissures brought on by the ravages of age and stress. Time consuming and costly, it was a continual headaches that most companies and their clients dreaded. Pretty soon an experimental method of using concrete in the construction of bridges and buildings arrived in the form of prestressed concrete, in hopes of reducing this costly and constant maintenance. Experimentation leads to product development, and one of the most popular innovation survives to this day, the Hercules Single Strand Tensioning Systems.

The Advantages of Using Prestressed Concrete

The science behind producing prestressed concrete forms for construction purposes overcomes the material’s natural stress points and allows for using it in construction without the need for reinforcement. It also allows for more flexibility in the use of concrete, enabling construction companies to pour and create longer spans of bridges, floors or beams that would ordinarily not be possible without first utilizing a costly network of reinforcing rebars and bars to act as load bearers over time. Its success in use has made it the preferred choice for use in high rises and nuclear reactors everywhere, thanks to its stress reducing nature.

Tendons made out of high tensile steel cables or rods are strung throughout concrete forms made out of steel. By pouring the concrete into the forms, it forms around these tendons and their adjustable clamping devices to create a longer and thinner slab. Without all the joints associated with using bars and rebars, the finished product is just as strong, easier to use due to its reduced weight, and has its weight bearing load points evenly spread throughout. When weak points develop in reinforced concrete, it generally begins at the joints of the pipes. With strung cables being stressed through the slabs, there are no joints and no potential for future problems in weak points developing.

Hercules Single Strand Stressing Systems

While the technology rejuvenated the construction industry, especially when it came to building infrastructure sites like bridges, it was not completely flawless. Early stressing methods either manually drew the cables through the hardening concrete or the cables were laid first and the concrete carefully manipulated around and over them, adding a lot of manpower and labor hours to every project. What they were initially saving in repair and replacement costs started to be eaten away in payroll hours.

Prestress Supply Incorporated developed one of the first automated concrete stressing systems in the early 1960s, and with only a handful of companies in practice that were devoted to developing this new technology, they soon became industry leaders and would remain dominant in the market to this day. Their Hercules Single Strand Stressing Systems, as well as later innovations, operate on a design that utilizes low pressure hydraulics with jacks and chucks that distribute the tension cables faster and without the shock gaps that can form through the manual pulling.

New Innovations

Known for decades as the stressing system with the gentle touch, the latest systems Hercules B and Hercules C are still very easy to use and guarantee the safety of all employees using it by allowing them to set the exact pressure needed on the cables and chucks to create the stress network, eliminating tension snapping and damage to the delicate workings.

Built around an open-face draw system, the newer models make it easier than ever to change out cable, jacks, chucks and pulling jaws. They also feature the ability to switch strand diameters throughout the forming, without having to completely restart the process, should your designs call for it. One hundred percent mechanical in nature, with no electronics to short out, Hercules Single Strand Tensioning Systems are ideal to use in any environment or terrain. Even replacing forms on bridges are now easier, since the systems allow workers to pull, form and install on site with ease.

11 Common Reasons For Team-Building

In 24 years of team building with groups I have interviewed many executives as they contemplate the decision to hold some kind of team development program. From shorter, lighter, fun programs to in-depth interventions for really stuck teams the goals for team building vary broadly or can often be inadequately defined.

Most clients are not team building experts and so speak of the symptoms of bad teamwork; lack of communication, lack of trust, redundancy of effort, or lack of progress where it is needed most because this or that work group is not 'getting along'. It is often a very helpful process for them to have the consultant help define specifically what the issues really are and what desired alternatives for teamwork might be possible. I often help my clients figure out what is really going on with the team and what it is that they really want rather than the way they are treating one another today.

The following are some of the most common reasons organizations cite for participating in a team-building program:

1) Have Fun

For whatever reasons some group just wants to have fun. Although almost any team experience can also be used as a valuable teamwork learning opportunity, sometimes fun is the objective. Organizations may already have detailed training and development programs in place and want a 'break from it all' or just want to have a good party, nothing more. Sometimes this is influenced by the culture of the organization and weak or immature leadership. Without passing sentence here, it is worth mentioning that a high energy shared experience has many positive benefits such as: seeing one another in a different light than at work, creating a relaxed atmosphere where people might be more comfortable talking to someone at a different level in the organization, or bonding with one another because of some kind of shared activity like a softball game. If expectations for building teamwork are low and opportunities are not defined some longer term benefits will unduly occur, but not necessarily the highest priority benefits that a work group may need.

2) Get everyone together, have a shared experience

Often planned by the well meaning, shared experiences hopefully take into account the comfort and participation level of each person. Rock climbing, for example, might be an intense trust building exercise for some, where it is an embarrassing reminder of one's lack of physical condition for another. The motivation here is one of defending the group culture and anchoring a sense of identity by doing something together. Typically, this might involve participation in entertainment together, corporate Olympics or company picnic type events, going on a dinner cruise together etc. Any activity where everyone is together in the same place doing more or less the same thing can help anchor the idea of 'the unit' or 'the group'. This is not a very sophisticated objective but many companies are reticent to search for deeper meaning or learning because they fear the cultural push-back of not doing something 'cool enough' to keep each clique and faction happy. There is of course, no limit to spending money on extravagant events but many of these provide little in the way of long term intrinsic benefit to the team when everyone returns to the 'same way of working together' the next week. These types of events are almost like bribes to keep the worker happy, rather than opportunities to learn and become better as a team.

3) Celebrate Recent Achievements

Although similar to number 2 above, this type of team event actually has more structure and content and serves a very useful purpose for the team. Key points include:

-Acknowledging that everyone has been working hard, validating the rationale for asking a lot of workers on a regular basis.

-Acknowledge that the plan has worked and the goals have been reached. This inspires belief in leadership and engenders support and belief that future initiatives will also be successful.

-Gives credit and recognition to those who deserve it. Most employees crave acknowledgment for the contributions that they make and relish being treated as a valuable contributor to the group.

-Builds a sense of identity as a team member of a strong, capable and successful team.

4) Presented or Perceived as a Workplace / Company Benefit

Once again, a 'perk' for working in a particular company may be a luxurious travel trip or junket that could be called team building, when in reality it is a personal benefit many employees look forward to because of the great meals, resort hotel and far away location. Some work cultures routinely provide these types of benefits but few have real beneficial teambuilding structure. More often they are filled with additional sales or technical training or are used to unveil next year's goals- ever more aggressive and demanding than the last, which are supposedly to go down with the spoonful of sugar that the luxurious junket serves to provide. Re-calculating next year's sales or production goals with team building does not always mix.

5) Interact with Senior Management, Key Customers or Vendors

Sometimes team building is a good way to force interaction with the objective of solidifying relationships. This may seem a little ingenuous at first, but well structured team building programs are actually a great way to deepen business relationships, which must first be acceptable personal relationships. A shared experience such as a ropes course or team initiative exercises can open up and stimulate all kinds of interactions and discussion that bring people closer together. Deepening communication and collaboration, learning about one another's leadership and decision making styles, and exploring strategic approaches to quality and improvement in fun ways together can make for stronger teamwork through the value chain.

6) Build Communication Within the Team

Every group can do better with their communication with one another. It is the most common objective for team building and is nearly always at the heart of what coworkers want to do better when they get back to work. Modeling group communication skills should be woven into all great team building programs.

7) Cooperation / Collaboration between two groups

This is a very common ratione for team building programs and should be used more often, particularly where two work groups or departments form vital parts of the value chain such as sales and production, or engineering and marketing. Each group needs to better understand the demands and capabilities of the other and to work towards a realistic set of expectations that creates both efficiency and a way of operating that everyone can live with- especially the customer. Sometimes a lot of healing and conflict resolution will need to take place with a healthy dose of getting everyone surrounded in better possibilities for getting things done in the future.

8) Merger or Acquisition

When the dynamics and infrastructure of an organization changes everyone wonders how it will affect them. Once they get past the question of whether or not they will still have a job, the next logical questions cluster around what will be each employees roles and responsibilities, and how will things be different on a day to day basis? Workers need assurances. Will the status quo be maintained or will there be sweeping policy and procedure changes? How will changes be introduced? Calling this team building is really a stretch, but often the need is to get everyone together and communicate a new approach or philosophy and hopefully, integrate operations and new requirements quickly for no loss in production. It is a classic organizational challenge, but one that can be made smoothed with a well designed team building program. After all, the new must integrate with the old with the result of a better and more capable result.

These team-building programs must be designed carefully.

9) New Management / Leadership

Many military groups are cursed by a changing command every two years or so. Each new commander conducts to make his / her mark and make a unique difference that has never been seen before. These commanders know that they need to establish a new pace and climate quickly, coalesce the high influencers and important departments into an even more effective machine and direct the machine towards the achievement of ever more ambitious goals. Every one involved dreads the integration of a new commander and does their best to remain under the radar so as not to get noticed or focused upon as an opportunity for improvement or change. The private sector lacks the role specificity and severity of structure characteristic of the military but makes up for it in political intrigue and the introduction of complexity and lack of humanness.

Integrating new leadership and a 'new approach' is a great reason to undertake a team-building program. For success the key is to focus on what works already, the voice of the worker, readiness for change, and consensus on areas that need improvement, rather than some disconnected and ambitious management by objectives approach by an executive who has not been there and done that. A humble new manager that listenens rather than tells, that strides to understand rather than redefines, who use subtlety rather than dictate to institute a new rhythm will use a team building program for one of it's highest potential benefits.

10) Pull together for a new strategy and new direction

When this motivation is genuine it can be very powerful. Hopefully top management knows where they are going before asking everyone to jump on the new bandwagon with them. They need to have definitive plans and be uniquivocal about their commitment. In this case the message to employees and workers is one of engending the motivation to support the leadership who knows how to work their way out of the current situation or crisis. These type of team building initiatives will fall on deaf ears if they are not well thought out and well executed. The core of the message sent to employees in this situation is that we will pull together to weather this crisis and we will support each other and work together to get it done. Employees quickly see through disingenuous lip service and lack of commitment from key executives who do not put their money where their mouth is and lead with their own example.

11) The dysfunctional group

Dysfunctional groups are made up of dysfunctional individuals, so requiring a series of individual behavioral changes that will need to take place for the group to change it's modus operandi. This is truly an artful process involving very sophisticated approaches to getting the group to want to commit to a new approach, to see something in t for them individually and collectively to operate differently together, and to let go of ego-based defenses and negative behaviors that disrupt the smooth functioning of the work group.

Typically, the dysfunctional nature of this work group is costing the company a lot of money and frustrating everyone around them. And also, most in the organization are scared to confront the obvious, challenge unproductive behaviors and demand these individuals to elevate themselves to a higher standard for the well being of all concerned.

Because of 'who they are' in the organizational hierarchy, the issues are treated like political hot potatoes or spoken about in hushed tones or overly sensitive terms, rather than being labeled as the immature, unprofessional inefficient and ridiculous behaviors that they are. Everyone agreements that there is a better way of operating out there if they would only open themselves up to the possibility. Herein lies the rub. Facilitating commitment to move beyond the current state to a better future state is the entire purpose of the team building experience, and it takes very skilled and professional handling. Like a delicious baby chick emerging from it's shell, the possibility of a more satisfying way of operating needs to be handled gently. New ideas need to be carefully introduced and subscribed to with very specific expectations on everyone's part as to how they will happen. Overcoming a history of lack of trust and moving into a more collaborative, open and honest future together means that this decision and agreement must be seen to be made by each group member. Herein lies the finest art of facilitated team building. Often a group like this will require continued support for some time so as to be reminded of their commitment and so as not to backslide into old behavioral patterns.

Corporate team building programs can have varied goals or combination of goals and require a flexible, customized approach. The goal is results; a better functioning, more satisfied and productive work team, whether on the front line or at the top executive level. People are people at whatever level of the organization, and often need the power and leverage of a well designed team building program to remind them that they can indeed work together, and even in fact, enjoy it.

How Do You Mend a Broken Heart and Get Your Love Back?

Ever have that sinking feeling where do you feel the pit of your stomach go right through your feet? Just like you're riding a rocket fueled elevator. For me that ride is just like the ride you get when your love says "I'm leaving!" You know it was a silly argument. You probably know in the scheme of things it was petty and absurd. But for your own vanity, you could not let it go.

Probably starting off with a disagreement of what you feel like eating tonight. Then it just gets worse. Suddenly before you know it you are in a full blown argument. Like a mutt shaking a bone though one off you will let it go. Names are called. Escalating until someone touches on that open wound. Maybe you did not know it but suddenly you have hit "pay dirt!" Then you think about the conversation, "Why did I say that!"

Then the awful realization cold seconds from the refrigerator is probably the best thing on tonight's menu. That is if you can eat at all. You hear the car revving in the drive, a squeal of tires, look outside see a cloud of smoke and smell burning rubber and faster than you can say 'sorry!' the love of your life is gone. The realization still has not sunk in as you are still in battle mode. Then slowly you start to cool down. You know they have to come back sooner or later. But they do not.

Then the phone rings. You answer it, but suddenly instead of being sorry either you or you lover are at it again. A series of calls, texts and sudden silence. A long cold silence. They are gone. Sometimes forever.

At this point, you probably are feeling like the cold turkey in the fridge after Thanksgiving. Plucked and torn to pieces. Then the realization of what you had. That special smile only for you. Those beautiful eyes. The kissable lips. Those many warm loving nights together. Then nothing! Gone! All alone. Suddenly the first fat tear escapes your eye, running slowly down your cheek. Then the flood gates open. Poor me!

Despite the urge to text and call every 5 minutes, this really is not the best time. More often than not even though you may be cool and regretful, your love may still be hurting. This is just not a tiff, but you know the other party has given you notice. The emotional no longer required pay slip. In this situation there is a myriad of emotions, of loss, of guilt, of hurt and anger.

The last thing you want to do is trigger a Nuclear Winter. Go slowly and think how you would like to be treated. Perhaps you may be at fault. Perhaps even you have really done something wrong. If you have you can still salvage the situation. But be warned. A text, an email or a phone call may not cut the mustard. If you are the guilty party leave it a few days. Write a short unreserved apology. "Dear ….. I am truly sorry for hurting your feelings. I feel very bad about what happened realizing it was my fault. Your love … etc. " Send this letter by mail. Give it a day or so, if you hear nothing then a quick phone call, just asking how they are. Whatever you do not start or become involved in another fight. Keep it light. Ask if they want to meet over a coffee or whatever it is that is appealing to them.

How to Build Six Pack Abs – 4 Amazing Tips to Get an Awesome Stomach

Many women find six pack abs sexy. In fact, for some women, six pack abs are the ultimate symbol of male sexiness. It's no wonder that a lot of men are busy spending their days in the gym doing various exercises in the hope of creating those six pack abs. Sadly, many of those men will fall short in their quest of getting great abs, because they do not have a clear idea on how to build six pack abs most effectively. Here are 4 amazing tips on how to build six pack abs effectively.

Vary your exercises – Human muscles stop responding positively to workouts if they're always trained with the same repetitive exercises over and over. So to get your abdominal muscles to develop properly, you need to vary your exercises. Try to change your workout routine every 3 or 4 weeks. This way, you'll also get to avoid the boredom of a repetitive workout.

Do cardio workouts – You should perform cardio training 3 times a week for 30 to 40 minutes each time. There are many cardio workouts that are fun and effective such as running, swimming, biking and hiking. Cardio workouts are useful to help your body burn fat and maintain a healthy metabolism. Make sure you consume carbohydrates within 30 minutes of a cardio workout to replace the calories you burn in the workout.

Include plenty of protein in your diet – The next tip on how to build six pack abs is to eat lots of protein. Protein is the basic building block of muscle tissue, so even if you spend a lot of time exercising, your ab muscles will not develop properly unless you include plenty of protein in your diet. Protein also makes you feel full longer and speeds up your metabolism, so your body gets to burn fat faster and more effectively.

Consume lots of vegetables – The last tip on how to build six pack abs effectively is to load up on the vegetables. Vegetables are calorie free, so you can be sure that eating lots of vegetables will help you prevent hunger but will not cause your body to store extra fat. Vegetables are also good for your health since they contain lots of nutrition that are important for the body.

Porch Swing Cushions

Porch swings are increasingly becoming a welcome fixture in almost all houses. The thought of having a spot wherein one can just sort out his thoughts, have some fun time reading the daily paper, day dream and make plans for the future, in the comfort of his garden, with the wind brush against his skin and the chirping of the birds as his background is really enticing.

A porch swing is one house feature that was once considered a space – eater. Most couples as well as individuals would rather maximize the floor area of ​​the living room, or the dining room than set up a porch swing, which they claim they would never even use. But, the past years have seen more and more this fixture being built. Why? They serve as a sanctuary when the bedroom or the entertainment room looks to be suffocating. They become a "resting place" when one can no longer find solace with the television or the radio.

Generally speaking, porch swings are built to be sat on for some period of time – they are meant to cater to a person's need for privacy, peace and quiet, for as long as he wishes. However, in the long run, the solid structure of the fixture may let itself manifest and make one feel uncomfortable – like sitting on a pile of stones or some crooked metal.

Cushions. They do spell the difference between comfort and utter dissatisfaction coupled with irritation. These add – ons allow provide for a softer and more cozy feel to the fixture as they balance the hard feel of the fixture. Porch swing cushions allow one to shift from one position to the other without giving someone a scratch or a breeze caused by the wood or steel when it comes in contact with the skin, as what usually happens. They also give the owner or the user a leeway on how to utilize the space and increases the activity options – one can choose whether to read while sitting, listen to classical music while lying, even do yoga! Porch swing cushions also make the fixture safer for kids who are playing around and would like to experience the outdoors as these cushions support the body and protect it as well from hard falls or sudden slips.

To buy a porch swing cushion or not? The answer is obvious. Grab the phone and make arrangements-now!

Improving Topsoil

The activities involved with construction remove, bury or damage soil, and it may seem that adding new soil is the only way to create a landscape and garden, but with today's methods it's easier and less expensive to improve the existing soil than to invest in new topsoil.

A poor soil, for instance one damaged by construction, can be improved by mixing in organic matter. This can be accomplished by applying one to three-inch layer of compost, and mixing this compost in with the existing soil.

If it proves necessary to add new topsoil, evaluate the soil quality before buying it. The most important soil qualities to consider are: the soil texture, the organic matter content of the soil, the pH of the soil, and the soluble salts in the soil. Naturally occurring topsoils vary broadly in quality.

There is no one official or legal definition for "topsoil". Practically, topsoil can be considered the top six to ten inches of soil, or the soil down to the depth exposed by plowing or through cultivation.

Topsoil usually differs from the underlying soil by having a higher organic matter content, a darker color, better tillage possibilities, and a higher biological activity. This includes earthworms, bacteria, and fungi. Topsoil is less compact than the underlying subsoil and thus facilitates plant growth.

Testing the soil is the most reliable way to evaluate its quality. If the soil has low fertility levels, fertilizers can be applied as needed. It is however not easy to improve a soil which has undesirable physical properties.

The physical condition of a soil depends on the texture of the soil. Soil texture can be defined as the percentage of sand, silt, and clay in its content. Topsoils with highly desirable textures have sand, silt and clay contents within the following ranges: sand 40 to 65%, silt 25 to 60%, and clay 5 to 20%.

Types of topsoil with desirable textures include: sandy looms, silt loams, and loams.

There is a marketing and communications association that was formed to assist entrepreneurs in the topsoil business and the general public. 1.800.TOPSOIL provides an easily remembered number where people can get information about the availability of good topsoil. 1-800-TOP-SOIL members include the finest Topsoil and Landscaping supply companies in the nation.

They currently have members spread through the United States. In order to find the topsoil and landscape supply company in your area, that is right for you, call 1.800.TOPSOIL.