History and The Interesting Facts of The Taj Mahal

Mughal dynasty was one of the biggest historical remembrances of India. It still preserves various architectural masterpieces like Taj Mahal, forts, gates, etc. The Mughal team was actually moved into the Indian subcontinent from modern Uzbekistan. They also have claimed the descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur. They got the administrative power of a huge area after the first battle of Panipat in 1526. Babar was the first ruler. The Mughal dynasty lost its power only by 1857 and the end ruler was Bahadur Shah II. Even the Mughals came from another country. However, they settled in India and ruled the country for a long period. Their official language was Persian plus they introduced a metallic form of money. Which, considering as a historical milestone of India. Most importantly, the country like social harmony, tranquility, and peace, especially in the period of Akbar and Aurangazeb. They followed secularism, which is the lifeblood of India right now. Here the common words provided a short explanation about Taj Mahal, the masterpieces of Mughal dynasty.

Taj Mahal is a globally renowned masterpiece of Mughal dynasty. It really is located at 3 Km from Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, close to Yamuna River. Taj Mahal means ‘Crown of Palaces’ which is thought to be one of the wonders of the world. It’s constructed with white marbles in the memory of Mughal ruler Shah Jahan’s spouse Mumtaz (widely known as Mumtaz Mahal). People belief over it as the symbol of purity of women.

You can find three gates to Taj Mahal. Taj Gate is the main gate made up of amazing creative imagination at a height around 100 ft. The gate was constructed with sterling silver by Shah Jahan, but it attacked and melted later. Now, a huge copper gate fitted by British. Close to the primary entrance gate, there is certainly a small mosque built by Shah Jahan in memory of his spouse. And also there is a small tomb of Stalunnisa, who served for Mumtaz. The gate sculpts with a few variants from Holy Quran. After the entrance, a broad and beautiful garden welcomes the people to a wonderland. The garden isn’t just blessed with trees and flowers, but also other lives like deer, peacock, birds etc.

There is 412 ft of distance from the primary entrance gate to Taj Mahal. In between that, the path is constructed with bricks. In the center of the way, a tiny furrow is designed with flowing water. Taj Mahal and its own bottoms are simply made out of white marbles. The first bottom is constructed at a height of 4.5 ft and the next bottom level with 18 ft. Taj Mahal is designed to octopus shape. Here, You can find four minarets at the four corners of the next bottom. Each minaret is looking like unique at a height of 140 ft in round shape with the support of the ladder.

There are various beautiful domes in Taj Mahal. In the middle of the Taj Mahal, there is a huge dome, which sustains a lotus kind structure. Shah Jahan’s tomb is close to the Mumtaz’s Tomb. Both tombs are beautiful having highly precious stones, carved variants from Holy Quran with dark-colored on the white marble. There was a lamp fixed by Shah Jahan, which too robbed. Now, a lamp of copper is there fitted by British in 1905 during Lord Carson. Overall, this monument is a real jewel of the world.

Advice on Getting a Concrete Driveway Repaired

Home owners with concrete driveways rarely require having these repaired, if they are well maintained. However there is an assortment of reasons why repair might be necessary to a concrete driveway. The weather is the primary reason why concrete tends to undergo stress and thereby break down over time. The repair work required may be minimal, but many times there are conditions which require the concrete structure to be torn up and completely replaced.

Minor concrete driveway repairs

Small cracks or chipping of the concrete surface is the most common complaint home owners have when it comes to repairs to concrete driveways. These should be immediately dealt with when seen to occur. If small cracks and chips on the surface of the concrete are left un-repaired, these could develop into larger problems which may require major work to be carried out. Minor repair jobs require simply cementing in the affected area or applying other bonding agents that are available at most hardware stores.

Cracks and chipping of the concrete surface occur due to expansion and contraction of concrete caused by changes in weather through seasons. Heat causes concrete to expand and cold causes the concrete to contract. If there is rapid heating and cooling, such as on autumn days and nights, the stress on the concrete may cause minor cracks to appear or for small areas of the concrete surface to chip away.

Major concrete driveway repairs

Small cracks when left un-repaired usually develop into large cracks that go deep into the concrete. These kinds of cracks require major repair work to be carried out. The other most common reasons a concrete driveway will require major repair would include buckling of the concrete. Concrete buckles when the soil beneath the concrete surface sinks. This is caused due to water freezing under the concrete during winter which causes the concrete to rise up or bulge. During the summer, the water under the concrete may cause the soil to sink, which would cause the concrete to form a slight trough. This kind of trough will crack the concrete from within and cause its strength to diminish. Over a few seasons, such buckling will shatter the concrete and cause small areas of the concrete to form bowls.

The best solution in conditions such as this is to rip away the old concrete and prepare the ground surface again, preferably with reinforcement like small concrete piles. Following this, the driveway may be poured and allowed to set.

Hiring a contractor

Depending on the severity of the problem, a home owner would require to hire a contractor to do a professional job. To go about hiring a contractor, call the contractor who first installed the driveway if possible. If this is not possible, ask around for references, or call the local directory services for a list of contractors within the area. Call these and speak to them about the problem and get quotes and job references. Always check with the references. Select a contractor with enough experience at a reasonable cost.

Roof Cleaning Products – What Should I Use to Clean My Roof and Why?

Roof cleaning products to remove black algae, moss, or fungus from your roof shingles are usually made with one of two active ingredients. In this article we will review the two different types of products most widely used by homeowners and contractors and the pros and cons of each.

The first roof cleaning product we will discuss is Chlorine Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) or lye (sodium hydroxide). This type of roof cleaning product is primarily used by professional roof cleaners due to the caustic nature of the active ingredient (sodium hypochlorite) as well as being the most economical chemical available. Industrial strength Chlorine Bleach is also a readily available product that can found at pool supply retailers which make it easy for contractors to purchase as needed.

PROS: Cheapest chemical available to use. Normally, no pressure needed when rinsing. Chlorine Bleach is readily available to purchase as needed from pool supply retailers.

CONS: This is a very harsh, dangerous chemical, and if used incorrectly could potentially stain, dry out or damage your shingles, remove the finish on aluminum gutters, stain painted surfaces, damage plants and grass, or create health hazards for your pets and children. Just a little bit of over spray while roof cleaning could be disastrous in so many ways. Chlorine bleach is not biodegradable and once it enters the ground it will always be there

Can chlorine bleach or chlorine bleach roof cleaning products be used without this kind of damage occurring? Yes, they can if you are extremely careful. The question you need to ask is when was the last time you did a home improvement project that worked out just the way you thought it would? No matter how careful you are, the chances that you may have over spray get on something else other than your shingles is pretty good. Just a little bit of wind can cause over spray to reach your yard or your neighbor’s yard. Most homeowners are not willing to take that chance so they either hire a professional roof cleaner or use an alternative biodegradable and safe product that we will discuss next.

The second type of roof cleaning products are hydrogen peroxide based and use the active ingredient Sodium Percarbonate, the biodegradable and safe alternative to Chlorine Bleach. Used by both homeowners and professional roof cleaners who want a safe alternative to Chlorine Bleach that is effective in cleaning black algae stains, moss, or fungus from roof shingles.

PROS: This type of roof cleaning product takes the worry out of over spray and will not harm the finish on aluminum gutters, stain painted surfaces, damage plants and grass, or create health hazards for your pets and children. It allows for a biodegradable and safe way of accomplishing the same result. You can approach the cleaning process in two different ways with this type of roof cleaning product. You can spray it on and then use a pressure washer on a low pressure setting (as much as a hard rain) for instant results, or you can spray it on and let the rain rinse away the stains naturally over approximately 90 days. This type of flexibility in the application and rinse process is another reason why homeowners and contractors choose to use this type of biodegradable roof cleaning product.

CONS: Slightly more expensive than Chlorine Bleach. Green products normally cost more than caustic chemicals. In severe cases when using the natural rinse method you may need to reapply after 90 days to achieve your desired result.

Now that you have the facts about the type of roof cleaning products available you can make an informed decision in regards to what is best for you, your family, pets, and home.

Hemp Seed Oil is Recommended in Most Tanning Lotions

Hemp seed oil is an active ingredient that makes hemp tanning lotions different from other products because it has a hydrating effect on the skin. This ability to hydrate is a result of hemp seed oil’s power to extract moisture from the air. Because of this ultimate hydrating effect, more and more manufacturers are using hemp seed oil in lotions and moisturizing product formulations today.

Hemp oil seed is used along with copper and Vitamin E extract to produce the smooth, hydrated feel. A chemical bond is formed by this combination and it is incorporated in moisturizing products for the maximum effect. Moreover, the moisture is sealed in because of the high levels of fatty acids in these products, reducing their damaging effects on the skin. The ability of hemp seed oil to seal in the moisture makes hemp indoor tanning lotions popular because they counteract its drying effects.

Because the number of manufacturers increasingly using hemp oil as the main ingredient in their products continues to grow, it is just normal to think if this is just a craze or not. But let me tell you, it really is the real deal. Hemp seed oil is a humectant. If this is your first time to hear the term, humectants are non-oily hygroscopic substances. A substance said to be hygroscopic has the ability to pull moisture from the air, slow down vaporization, and promote the retention of that moisture in the skin. This is the reason why they are becoming widely accepted among consumers. Hemp, in other words, will hydrate the skin when applied. This is also why hemp seed oil is used not in only tanning lotions but also in other cosmetic products where moisture retention is desired.

As mentioned earlier, tanning lotions have a drying effect on the skin because they contain ultraviolet (UV) lights that dry up the moisture. Thus, the drying effect is counteracted by the hemp seed oil. Furthermore, some fatty acids assist greatly in promoting the retention of moisture in the skin and hemp lotions contain a huge amount of these essential fatty acids. Therefore, the damage on the skin caused by the tanning is considerably lessened.

Another benefit of hemp indoor tanning lotions is the fact that hemp seed oil amplifies the tan, making it look more natural and darker. This is due to the natural oils contained in hemp that have the ability to intensify the UV lights penetrating your skin when tanning lotion is applied. In addition, your skin will become healthier if it uses hemp lotions because they contain more of the needed nutrients that are not found in other tanning products.

How to Go From Big 4 Audit to an Investment Bank

Many people join a Big 4 accountancy firm with the sole intention of leaving as soon as they have qualified as an accountant. If you went to a top 5 university, got a first, and qualified as an accountant at the Big 4 with first time passes, you should get an interview without putting in too much effort into your CV. There’s still a lot of work to do once you’ve got the interview though, and for everyone else with at least a 2.1 from a half decent university, you will inevitably need to try a little harder. Realistically if you are from a uni outside the top 10 with a 2:1 or less, unless you have direct relevant experience you will struggle. However, below is an assortment of useful things we think you can do/need to be aware of to help you get to the interview stage of a decent Investment banking role:

  • Be wary of the’ window of opportunity’. If you really want to move from audit to an investment bank, some (but not all) places can be put off by you having more than 2 years post qualified experience as you may lose some of your ‘mouldability’.
  • Be very clear about why you are applying to that particular division (m&a, capital markets and equity research) and know what they do and how they make money. The firms are very wary of people who just want to leave the Big 4 rather than actually want to do the role they are applying for.
  • There is plenty of help regarding CVs online, there are normally people in your department at work that will let you have a look at their CV for tips. Be aware though, that whilst doing Audit at the Big 4 is nothing to be sniffed at, most people applying to Investment banking have very similar experiences, so you will need to have something on there to make you stand out a bit.
  • Try and get some corporate finance or deals experience. Work on clients that are active in M&A, as you’ll get some exposure to this, and the more aptitude and enthusiasm you show, the more you’ll be able to get involved. The key is to focus on getting some valuation work on your CV – it is important to be able to talk about the work you have done, the assumptions made and justify the valuation approach taken.
  • If you don’t have any clients where this is the case, try to arrange an internal move to the Corporate finance/transactions department, many people see a 6 month stint in either of these departments as their stepping stone into a Bank. It will be worth it just for the CV as many job specs say “CF or TS experience preferred”. From talking to people who have made the move across, the majority moved from Transaction Services.
  • This is a fairly rudimentary one but make sure you are on top of the financial news both generally and in the sector you are applying for. This involves not just skimming the FT, but making sure you have a coherent view and you know the key numbers. They will try to get into a discussion with you to see how you think.
  • A lot of people will tell you that the interview process does not require much more knowledge on valuation than you have from your ACA qualification. However having enrolled for your CFA level 1 does help, but is not essential. The key is to have a high level view of different valuation techniques and the application of these in a variety of different industries. The level of understanding required does vary substantially across employers. However, in general, you’re not expected to be able to recite different valuation formulae at them, but knowing how people calculate the cost of equity, and actually understanding what you are trying to achieve by doing this and what factors/assumptions influence this calculation is something you need to get yourself familar with.
  • Start your own investment portfolio. In doing this you will not only automatically be aware of news flow relating to your stocks but also get a taste for investing. It is very likely this will come up in your interviews. You need to get a good idea of your favourite long/short and back it up with numbers. In going for interviews the senior guys do not want hear about punts, they want logical arguments backed up by detail. Having your own portfolio also automatically makes you more alert to news impacting your investments on a regular basis, so it can help ensure you remain on top of the key stories.
  • Use a good recruitment consultant. Investment banking roles are some of the best examples of where recruitment consultants can really help you. Greenwich Partners [in London] seem to have most of the Equity research and Corporate Finance roles wrapped up, so get your CV over to them. They also have a great, no hassling process, in fact you may have to hassle them a bit sometimes. Use your own contacts. People qualifying in the years above you at the Big 4 will have made the move into an Investment bank, so don’t be afraid to get in contact with them to find out whether there are any jobs going at their place. They’re likely to be financially incentivised to refer people, and this can be a way to get into firms that normally would instantly reject your CV because you went to the wrong University.

Boat Review – 44 DeFever

We love the opportunity associated with helping lots of people when purchasing their own trawler or motor yacht. We are planning to start critiquing a variety of makes and designs that we have dealt with in the past to teach our most recent customers on the various vessels which can be found. All of these watercraft we critique have already been bought by our past clients so we do have in-depth knowledge of their design and style and capabilities. We all hope this information will be useful to new buyers in your quest.

Among the good popular trawler styles, the 44 DeFever is well suited for the cruising couple. It has a large aft deck and bridge place. The sun deck can even carry a 11-foot Whaler or inflatable. The owner’s stateroom is huge and located in the stern of the yacht. A guest stateroom is situated forward.

This lady typically transports Nine hundred gallons of diesel fuel along with Three hundred and fifty gallons of drinkable water. Range is undoubtedly One thousand five hundred miles or more. The 44 is really a dependable LRC with a full strong fiberglass displacement hull. She’s no longer in construction. The 44’s manufacturing period was from 1981 to 2004

The 44 DeFever is a uncomplicated twin-cabin, twin-engine trawler good at long-distance touring. The strongly designed full displacement hull has a high, flared bow and sufficient freeboard all about the decks. The superstructure features a large foredeck, an amidships pilothouse/salon as well as an open sundeck aft. The flybridge features a full centerline helm station with individual seating. Full-length hand rails and plentiful side decks result in protected passage between your fore and aft decks during the move.

The 44 DeFever is a 44,000 lb. boat is typically operated by dual 120-135 hp Lehman diesels, installed amidships. Tankage and power generators are positioned in the devoted fully stand up walk around engine room that features a workbench. The engine room is one of the most appealing top features of this craft.

A roomy aft “sundeck” is protected by using a hardtop with regard to sun and rain shielding.

On the inside, the chief cabin includes a galley-up layout. The galley, to port, includes a stovetop, range, fridge and lots of storage space. There’s a L-shaped dining room. The lower helm can be found to starboard and features more than enough room for your complete variety of electronic devices.

The master stateroom is aft and it has an island bunk plus a fully outfitted head along with shower. There is another guest cabin up forward having a V-berth as well as adjoining bath.

A pre-owned 44 DeFever is usually sought after by competent boating fanatics. These types of used boats tend to be sought after as a result of high quality placed into them when constructed. Any typical used 44 DeFever might have a variety of the everyday small concerns seen on previously owned private yachts. Practically nothing sticks out as a serious problem.

At the time of 1/27/2016, you can find 12 44 DeFevers available on the market which range from $149-$324 in price.


LOA: 43 feet, 9 inches

BEAM: 14 feet, 9 inches

DRAFT: 4 feet, 7 inches

WEIGHT: 44,000 pounds

HULL TYPE: displacement

PROPULSION: twin diesels, 120-135 hp

TANKAGE: 900 gallons fuel, 350 gallons water

DESIGNER: Arthur DeFever

DeFever Background:

Arthur DeFever utilized his early seafaring years constructing commercially made tuna fish boats for the San Diego fishing fleet. These vessels turned out to be incredibly dependable and seaworthy. They ventured from harbour for a lot of months at a time. They journeyed extended distances to South and Central America prior to coming back home safely with their fish. Here he started to put together the later details about his recreational trawler fleet.

Arthur’s models are usually well-liked because of their conventional lines, well-made design, and long term and sea-keeping capability. Their sensible designs that can make them perfect for prolonged travelling.

A DeFever vessel under no circumstances seems out-of-date. His old fashioned styles survive on.

Arthur DeFever, known as the leader in recreational trawler style and design, passed on in 2013.

Living Finish Defined – The Facts About Copper Sink Finishes

If you are considering a metal faucet, sink or countertop for your kitchen or bath you may have heard the term “living finish” or perhaps “organic finish”. Any metal besides stainless steel that is not coated with a sealer or a metal finish such as chrome will acquire a “patina” over time. This means the finish will change and evolve through exposure to the environment. Some call this “oxidation” (exposure to oxygen) but this patina process is also caused by other environmental factors that the metal surface might come into contact with as well as wear resulting from regular use.

When applied to plumbing fixtures, the question comes up most often regarding copper sinks. Faucet and drain hardware manufacturers generally address this issue with certain coatings that protect the metal surface from the environment, thus preventing patina or changes in the finish. However, these types of coatings (PVD or other types of clear protective finishes) are more difficult to apply to a larger surface area such as that of a sink and require a more “production” like manufacturing process. Thus many of the artisan crafted copper and bronze sinks are not sealed and will have a true living finish.

Metal products with a chrome finish or stainless steel products are often referred to as “non-living”. This is only partially true. The surfaces of these products can, in fact, dull over time depending on the environment and how well they are cared for. We have also heard nickel referred to as “non-living finish” but the fact is that nickel will patina or “tarnish” as well. However, this process is significantly slower than unprotected copper or bronze.

With unprotected brass, bronze or copper, the patina process occurs more quickly. What happens to the metal finish over time? The answer to this question depends on whether or not a patina was applied artificially when the sink was made, the environmental factors present when in use, how much the product is used (wear) and the type of maintenance or care employed.

If you are purchasing a copper sink that has a finish (i.e. it isn’t a “shiny copper”), heat and/or chemicals have been applied to accelerate the aging process. You will see such terms as “oil rubbed bronze” or “weathered copper”. To create these finishes, the metal has been exposed to a chemical bath and possibly heat as well, that reacts with the metal and changes the color. The darker the finish, the less the metal will patina or age after it’s installed. In a way you are “shortcutting’ the patina process. Regardless, you still have a living finish that will evolve, but generally speaking, the darker the patina is to start with, the slower the change over time.

Environmental factors specific to your home and chemicals that may be exposed to the surface of your sink are the great unknown. Every application and environment is different. Humidity, airborne salinity, pollutants and oxygen work together with time to coat the metal surfaces with a signature patina. If you have a kitchen copper sink and expose the metal surface to certain acids such as those found in a lemon, you will actually dissolve some of the patina. The constant changes due to these myriad factors are treasured by some and not welcomed by others. Personally I like the rich hues and earthy browns that occur over time. I see this as “character” and appreciate the uniqueness in color and tone between two identical products in different environments.

If you appreciate a living finish, the care and maintenance of your sink will be fairly straightforward. If you wish to prevent it, this is possible to a certain extent. There are several different ways you can slow down the patina process. Applying a brass or furniture wax that does not contain polish or cleaners can slow the change in patina much the same way an automotive wax protects the finish of your car. If desired, patina on a sink can be removed with a metal polish or mild acid such as lemon juice or vinegar. Waxing the surface will preserve the shine, or the sink can be left untreated to develop a new patina.

Oftentimes we sense that our customers are fearful of a living finish….or that this type of finish will require more maintenance. Our answer is always the same – if you don’t like the patina that you eventually end up with, you can always start over! Any copper or brass cleaner will revert the patina back to a shiny surface if you like. If left unprotected, the aging process starts over again and within a few weeks you will begin seeing the metal surface darken. In addition, you can always buy a sink with a darker finish and keep the surface waxed. This will ensure the least amount of change over time. As for maintenance, occasional cleaning with soap and water is really all you need to do. If you opt to wax your sink, this is generally something you will need to do only every 3 – 6 months depending on the amount of use. You can read more about the care & maintenance of copper sinks at Copper Sinks Online.

The Symbolism in a Zen Garden

The primary structure of a Japanese garden is determined by the architecture that contain it; that is, the framework of enduring elements such as buildings, verandas and terraces, paths, tsukiyama (artificial hills), and stone compositions. It is ideal to set in small areas or places without enough light or ventilation required for a traditional garden.

There is a wide range of Zen thought in the Japanese garden. Here are some key elements as examples:

Gates (torii), fences, straw ropes, and cloth banners acted as signs to demarcate paces.

Bridges(hashi), passing over the bridge was analogous to passing from one world to the next. As Zen influence came into the forefront, bridges took on the more Taoist meaning of passing from the world of man into the world of nature, a move from this plane to a higher one

Water (Mizu) Buddhism always considered water the most apt metaphor for human existence, springing up, gathering strength in its downhill race to disappear calmly into the sea (reborn again as rain). In ponds in the garden, it creates “negative” space in the garden where nothing else resides.

Plantings. Although Zen actually decreased the plant palette when it arrived, still there are a few Zen ideas in the plantings. Large bamboo are often found in temple gardens as the canes are a perfect example of the principle of mushin or “empty heart” (the empty heart provides strength through flexibility). Plums are a recurrent Zen theme, flowering without leaf, often while snow is still on the ground (symbolizing resilience and rebirth). Pine is known as mutsu, a sound-alike for the word for ‘waiting’, so it is set in the garden as a symbol of strength and patience

Shrines were more of a mental construct than physical emplacements, a place that existed in the mind instead of a place that could be seen. The shrine is a setting of spirit. It is also a place where humans and spirit meet.

Sand or gravel represents water. Raked or not raked, that symbolizes sea, ocean, rivers or lakes.

The act of raking the gravel into a pattern recalling waves or rippling water has an aesthetic function. Zen priests practice this raking also to help their concentration. Achieving perfection of lines is not easy. Rakes are according to the patterns of ridges as desired and limited to some of the stone objects situated within the gravel area. Nonetheless often the patterns are not static. Developing variations in patterns is a creative and inspiring challenge.

Stones are the major elements of design in Japanese garden. They are considered more important than trees to the Japanese, perhaps due to the strong desire for eternity and stones represent the eternal elements in nature. In Japanese garden design, stones are used in combination with other stones, or sand to imply a natural scene or to create an abstract design. The shapes of natural stones have been divided into five categories called five natural stones. The Japanese used the characters of wood, fire, earth, metal and water to represent stone elements, and are applied to five classes of stone shapes:

  1. Taido: wood. Tall vertical. Implies high trees. Also called body stones, placed in the back of a grouping.
  2. Reisho: metal. Low vertical. Implies the steady and firmness of metal. Often grouped with tall verticals. It is sometimes called soul stones.
  3. Shigyo: fire. Arching. Branches that shape like fire. These types of branches called stone atmosphere and peeing stones. Often placed in the front and to one side of other shapes.
  4. Shintai: water. Flat or horizontal. Called level base stones or mind and body stone. Usually used for harmonization in rock groupings.
  5. Kikyaku: earth. Reclining. Often known as root or prostrate stones. Usually placed in the foreground to create a harmony appearance.

The message in Zen Garden is that every divided area remains representative of the whole of nature; the fence helps us to recognize the division and the garden should remind us of the whole. The gates in fences are very much like the bridge in deep meaning; the phrase “to go through the gate” is a metaphor for becoming a monk.

Transition between one state of existence and the next.

How to Form Odd Shaped Concrete Structures for Your Landscape

Ever wonder how they made those odd shaped concrete buildings or curves or triangle shapes? It is not a secret and your imagination is about the only limiting factor. Money of course helps for purchasing materials but in many cases used lumber or plywood will do just fine. Be inventive. A cardboard tube from the inside of a carpet roll when cut in half, makes a great sluice or slide form for a fountain or stream. The wood reels left over from an electric cable roll make a great inside form for a circle for a doughnut shaped form. All these things are free for the asking. There are also specialty materials available such as a product called “wiggle board” which can be flexed to achieve nice smooth curves to the faces of the finished concrete. Take a walk through your local big box store with the thought of finding things that can be used to form concrete. You will be amazed at what you find. Empty pails laid sideways in a wall form make perfect port holes or round window openings. Square, round, triangular or just about any shape you can imagine can be found. You can always make your own shapes as well. Lets take a look at how to form a curved wall.

Starting out with a plate on the floor to create the wall shape you want is your first step. You cannot bend a two by four of course so you use a larger piece of lumber and cut the shape (or part of it) from that. If the curve fits on a two by six, lay out the curve and cut it out with a saber saw. If the curve is longer than your board or more than what can fit on a two by six, use a two by eight and so on. Once all the floor pieces are cut, make a duplicate set which will be the top plate of your form work. Lay the pieces out in place and fasten them to footing or floor. The curved wall is now much easier to build. Using standard two by four lumber, place them as close together as possible along the floor plate to create a curved wall. Install your top plate. Using one quarter inch thick Luann plywood, and starting at one end of your form affix the plywood to the studs and then gently bend the plywood around the wall. You may want to coat the plywood with form oil prior to installing it and although this makes the installation a bit messy, it softens the plywood and makes it even easier to bend. Fasten the plywood to every two by four. This adds strength to your form work and keeps the plywood in place as it dries out. Once the face form is complete you can complete the backside of the form and pour your concrete. Odd shapes may be built into the face of the form to provide recess’s in the concrete or holes in the wall and so on.

Free form concrete can be great fun but requires a concrete pump that can shoot a concrete product called gunite or shotcrete. Any shape is possible and is limited only by the pull of gravity. Rebar, foam forms and other items can be used as temporary forms for the concrete until it hardens. In-ground swimming pools are quite often made of gunite which is how they get those great curved wall sections and shapes. It takes a crew to use a gunite pump but once the basics are learned with enough helpers you can use one as well.

Concrete when suspended in air needs some type of reinforcing to help support the weight of the concrete. If you are attempting to do suspended stairs for example, get an engineer to design the rebar layouts for you. Concrete is very heavy and can cause serous injury or worse if a collapse occurs.

Try forming some small architectural elements in your garden and pour them using a bagged redi-mix. Steps, small walls, a pool or pond and then move on to the larger features. You will be amazed at how easy it is to make these great looking features.

Pete Ackerson

Your Friendly Building Inspector


BICES-Building Inspection & Code Enforcement Software system

What is Depreciation? Accounting For Non-Accountants

If I was to ask four people what depreciation was, I’d probably get four different answers:

  1. The amount of wear and tear on assets,
  2. An allowance to help replace assets,
  3. An accountant’s device to reduce tax, or
  4. A way of allowing for inflation.

All four would be wrong. Accountants are not known for explaining things well – which may account for the above misconceptions – but I’ll try to explain it so that:

  1. You will understand something more about your accounts,
  2. You can impress your bank manager and others with your accounting knowledge,
  3. You will understand why depreciation is in your accounts and budgets but not in cash flow statements,
  4. You can understand and prepare budgets better, and
  5. You will be able to understand the accounts of – and make better decisions about – businesses you might consider buying or investing in.

My explanation of depreciation starts with expenses and assets:

Anything you spend money on, in your business, is what we call a debit:

  • You pay your phone account so you have a phone expense.
  • You pay for a new car so you have an asset, the car.

We pay out for both but accountants treat them differently. Why is that?

The reason is time.

  • Any spending which is “used up” within a year is an expense – the phone bill is used up and you now have nothing to show for it. It’s an expense.
  • Any spending which is not used up in a year (your car lasts more than a year, hopefully) is called an asset. At the end of the year you still have a car to show for it.

Expenses go into the Income Statement* and reduce profit and, therefore, tax. The Income Statement shows your income and expenses.

Assets go into the Balance Sheet* and have no effect on profit. The Balance Sheet shows what you owe and own at any point of time.

Now, what happens to assets?

So, you buy your car and its cost goes into the Balance Sheet, along with land, buildings, plant, equipment and other assets. The Balance Sheet shows you what assets you own… but not how much they are worth. These assets stay in your Balance Sheet till your accountant does something with them… and what he or she does is depreciate them.

As you know, all assets except land wear out and eventually cease to exist. So we leave land in your Balance Sheet at its original cost, till you sell it. We do not depreciate land.

All other assets will wear out or get “used up” somehow – a bit like your phone bill, but over a much longer time. Of course, when you buy a car, a bulldozer, a trawler or a computer, we don’t know how long you will keep each one. The best we can do, at the start, is to guess just how long it will remain productive for you. Accountants’ attitude is that an educated guess is better than nothing at all.

We might guess that a building will last 50 years so we’ll transfer 2% of its cost from the Balance Sheet to the Income Statement each year. After 50 years we’ll have transferred all of its cost and we’ll have a Balance Sheet book value of $0.00.

We might guess that your office furniture will last 10 years so we’ll transfer 10% of its cost from the Balance Sheet to the Income Statement each year. After 10 years we’ll have transferred all of its cost and we’ll have a Balance Sheet book value of $0.00.

Depreciation is the cost of an asset, spread over its useful life. The amount we transfer from your Balance Sheet to your Income Statement each year is what we call depreciation.

So now you can quote the accounting definition of depreciation, can’t you! It’s the cost of an asset, spread over its useful life. Talk like that and people will think you’re an accountant!

I’ll make it easier with numbers:

You buy your car for $30,000. You estimate that it will last you 5 years so we depreciate it at $6,000 per year – one fifth per year.

After year one, its book value is $24,000 (cost $30,000 – depreciation $6,000)

After year two, its book value is $18,000 (last year book value $24,000 – depreciation $6,000)

Each year $6,000 goes out of your Balance Sheet and into your Income Statement and, as it’s an expense, it reduces your profit by $6,000.

Profits and Cash Flows are not necessarily the same

The above explains why you can have huge profits and a falling bank account… or huge losses and a rising bank account… or both profits and bank balances going up or both going down.

There is no connection between profits and bank balance (or cash flows) – depreciation is one of several reasons for that. Depreciation is simply a book entry – it’s just a transfer between accounting statements.

So, in the first year, your bank account went down by the cost of the car ($30,000) and your profits only went down by the depreciation expense of $6,000.

In the second year, the car had no impact on your bank account but you took another $6,000 (depreciation) off your profits. And the same in the next three years.

The same thing happens when you’re preparing your budgets – depreciation expenses are in your profit budgets but not in your cash flow budgets.

Buying businesses and making intelligent investing decisions

The above may seem like a lot of intellectual equine output that has no particular relationship to your real life… to anyone’s real life, really!

However, one thing you will have learned here (or somewhere else) is that the book values that assets are shown at in Balance Sheets have no relevance to the value of those assets. Book values are simply the mathematical balance of what’s left after some depreciation is taken off. And, since depreciation is a best-guess in the first place, anything to do with it should not be relied on in terms of asset values.

If you’re investing in a business, then, don’t rely on the assets’ book values for anything. The book values mean absolutely nothing to you. If you don’t know what they’re worth, don’t look at the accounts but get a valuer to value the assets for you.

What I’ve left out

Depreciation is a large subject and my aim has been to explain the main workings of it. I would be irresponsible if I did not warn you that there are things I have not explained:

  1. Why we do not depreciate most assets the same amount (e.g. $6,000) every year,
  2. What you (or your accountant) do with when you sell an asset you’ve depreciated, and
  3. The Tax Office’s many rules on depreciation.

If you have any more questions about depreciation, call me.

* Every so often, the people who control accountants come out with different names for the same old things. I’d never dare suggest that it’s to confuse people but I have noticed that each new name for an old thing is progressively bigger and bigger each time.

For example:

What we used to call an Income Statement now has to be called Statement of Financial Performance. What we used to call a Balance Sheet now has to be called Statement of Financial Position. Anyway, I guess it keeps someone happily employed!

How to Use Active and Passive Virus Protection

When using your computer there are active and passive ways to ensure your home PC is being protected against unwanted virus, trojan, and malware attacks. The active means is activities you participate in to protect and maintain your computer. The passive means is usually setting up a software program making some settings and then being able to forget it and let it perform its operation when it is set to perform that function.

Let’s look at some passive measures;

Firewall – Your firewall program, either as a separate program or part of an anti-virus suite, once its settings are at the level of protection you require – its done.

Anti-virus – Your anti-virus program will have a section for settings for an automatic scan, setup your preferred time and day for operation and set your repeat preference, usually weekly. Please note this operation will only be performed when your computer is on and running.

Email – Once your email program is setup for spam, your emails that come through that you have helped tell it what is spam and what is not, is set.

Internet settings – Found in control panel, ensure you have the highest effective operational settings that will always ensure additional security and privacy.

Computer not in use – Turn off both your home computer and your internet modem (unless the modem is in use via cable or wireless for other home users)

Let’s look at some active measures, additional actions for active measures are usually only required as an additional protection measures, or when one believes there are active infections on the home computer;

Firewall – Your firewall program may be opened and set its security to higher setting, useful when required to download software or updates and one still needs to temporarily connect to the internet.

Anti-virus – Update immediately, and run a manual scan.

Email – Once your email program is setup for spam, your emails that come through that you have, now require a manual check to ensure no legitimate emails are in the spam box as false positives.

Other means of active measures may include if you suspect virus activity, is to turn off connection to the internet, run a virus and malware scan, delete all temporary files and do this process again in ‘safe mode’ of windows.

How to Service a Car

Car servicing is something that every auto owner has to indulge in at least some time of the year. The best method to service your car is to go to your car service station and have the servicing done methodically; according to your car maker. Consider this. You car is up and running smoothly but the mileage figures show that you need to have it serviced. Certainly, this is the right thing to do but have you surprised what actually goes in to make you pay that servicing bill every 6 months?

Servicing your car is a simple DIY job that you can learn quickly and easily save some good money.

If you have never served your car before personally, here's your resource-
Servicing Basics

Car servicing essentially means inspecting the car thoroughly for any damaged components, and replacing some parts periodically that wear out over time. The parts that require inspection are the tire pressures, the brake fluid levels, air filters, oil filters, spark plugs, wheel balancing and alignment, battery fluid levels, etc.

If you review carefully it is definitely possible to do all this by yourself, as below-

You will need a complete car tool kit as provided by your car maker when you purchased the vehicle. This will usually consist of all the spanners that you might need.

The correct grade engine oil. Engine oil needs to be replaced every 5000 miles (This figure will change as per the car type and make. Check your car manual for your car.) The type and grade of oil required for your car can be found in your car manual.

To get started, a typical car servicing will involve the following steps-

o Hosting your car up to check the underbody. This can be done on a ramp or using a jack. A quick inspection of the underbody will let you know if there is any damage.

o When you are done with this, you will now need to replace the engine oil. Always remember that the engine oil should never be checked or replaced while the engine is running. To proceed, you will need to unscrew a bolt that is just below the engine oil chamber and drain the oil in to a pan. When all the oil has been drained you will need to screw the nut back in tightly. You can also change the oil filter and it is usually just adjacant to the oil chamber. Use the correct type and size as specified for your car.

o You can lower the car now and fill the new engine oil. Be sure that you do not pour excess oil over the dipstick mark as this is going to be very difficult to drain off. Wait patiently for the oil levels to settle.

o The other things you will need to check include the spark plugs. Spark plugs need to be cleaned periodically. Unscrew the spark plugs from the engine and clean them with a soft cloth. You will need to shine the plug contact points using sandpaper. Fit them back in, and now check out the air filter. Cleaning the air filter is easy and you can use your vacuum cleaner to do the job.

o You will also need to check out the suspension. Bump the car and observe how long it takes to settle. Ideally this will take no more than 3 bumps. Also check out for any spills, or leaks coming out of the shock absorbers.

o Now you will need to check out levels of brake fluids and top them up if necessary. Also, inspect the brake shoe condition by removing the wheel and inspecting the braking unit. If worn out, you can easily change them on your own.

With this done you are completed with the major servicing part of the car. The remaining things include oiling your doors and the hinges, checking if your lights are working, testing if your seat belts are working, and measuring the tire pressures (front and rear).

This may seem a long list to do but if you observe a typical car servicing process you will understand the nuances within no time. An easy way to proceed is by creating a check list for the different things will need to do. This way you can be sure of not missing out on any parts that need to be serviced.

Completely servicing your car will need a few hours but you will end up saving a lot of money. Beside, it's fun too and a lot of learning.

2010 Top 10 Best Dating Cars for Guys

There is a saying: “You have to dress to impress on your first date”. It is certainly true, but we all have to admit that for guys the most important thing on the first date should be their ride. Just picture this scene: you’re at her door in tuxedo with a bouquet of 25 roses (her favorites). She opens the door, takes you by the arm and you slowly walk her towards your Baby Blue color 1998 Toyota Corolla with multiple dings, scratches and a bumper sticker that says “Nirvana”. If she is a smart and beautiful girl she will fake faint right there on the spot or will bolt and run away like Usain Bolt. Women don’t really care that much about your attire, flowers or manners. Your ride on the opposite will speak volumes to them and in most cases will make them totally blind to everything else. Now picture another scene: you’re at her door with one hand holding your falling down pants and in your other hand a 24 ounce can of “Milwaukee’s Best” wrapped in a brown paper bag. She opens the door and since she is a smart girl she is about to fake faint or almost ready to bolt like Mr. Bolt but she peeks over your right shoulder and sees your 2010 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder Convertible parked in her driveway. And because she is a smart and beautiful girl she takes you by the arm and walks you down to your car. The rest of the story is up to your imagination.

It’s very simple my friends – your future and your wife to be is determined by Your Ride. Cruel but true, that’s why Date My Ride website came up with a list of 2010 Top 10 Best Dating Cars for Guys. Rides are not listed in any particular order or sequence. Those are simply the Top 10 must haves.

  1. 2010 Chevrolet Hurst/Camaro. This one is the perfect ride for the first date. The new 2010 Camaro will sure knock your date off her feet. Stylish body flow, aggressive grill, 20 inch rims (bling, bling) and 420-hp 6.2L V-8 powerful engine will absolutely close the deal on your first date. Plus this sweet ride is a huge ego booster – no girl will ever care of your looks or clothing when you are pulling into her driveway with this sweet new ride.
  2. 2010 Rolls -Royce Ghost. This one right of the bat makes a statement – I am over 60, I am filthy rich, I could die pretty soon and leave you fighting with my heirs over the money. With ride like this one – 212.6 inches long, price tag of over $300K, 536-hp 6.6L V-12 engine you will attract the hottest gold diggers from all over the world. The news flash for gramps – no gold digger will care about your looks, jaw implants, hearing aids or Alzheimer’s when you are proudly drooling behind the steering wheel of this bad ass coffin!
  3. 2010 Nissan GT-R. When chicks are going to see you in the ride such as 2010 Nissan GT-R two things will come to their minds – “Fast and Furious and Vin Diesel.” This ride will create an impression of you that you are as buff and tough like Mr. Diesel. Put few stripes or flames on the hood; throw in some monstrous speakers and this 485-hp 3.8L V-6 Turbo engine tow seater will become a love ride. No coed will ever say “No” to you when she sees you in this ride flying down the street or doing smoky wheelies. Plus you will be able to smoke every Civic or Corolla at the traffic light. The only bad news is that this ride isn’t cheap – $84K, so your part-time job at Chuck E Cheese’s won’t cut it.
  4. 2010 Audi R8. Even James Bond- Agent 007 wouldn’t be ashamed to ride in this baby. 2010 Audi R8 should be every man’s dream. If this is your ride you can be well assured that Miley Cyrus would be fighting Sarah Palin about who gets to go out on the date with you. With this ride even if you are resembling George Costanza from Seinfeld – short, bold, no job, living with parents you absolutely will be dating the most gorgeous women! 525-hp 5.2L V-10 humming engine will make any kitty purr in this powerful ride.
  5. 2011 Jaguar XJ – Series.You want to impress Desperate Housewives from LA, NY, NJ, and OC? Get this kitty cat – 510-hp 5.0L V-8 engines wouldn’t be bad for David Beckham either. The look of this car just says: “I am in it to win it” and “Of course I am a Gentleman”. Somehow this ride asks you to dress nicely so you become part of the car. And because of all that Euro/British hype ladies would be expecting you to be at the par with this car. Two words to describe this ride: “Gentlemen’s Choice”.
  6. 2010 Ferrari California.The name says it all – “Ferrari California”. To have this ride you must a) live in LA, b) be one of those want to be A list or at least B list celebrities c) “have your dealer on a speed dial” and oh, almost forgot d) you must be skinny. If you meet all of the above this 460-hp 4.3L V-8 engine convertible is Your ride. Just keep in mind you will be attracting certain types of women with those common elements: a) she lives in LA, b) she is one of those want to be A list celebrities, c) “she will have her dealer on a speed dial” d) she will probably be a D size and oh, almost forgot e) she will be skinny.
  7. 2010 Ford F – 250 Super Duty.Smell of beer, wood, gun powder, dogs and fish mixed with other women’s perfume that is the smell of a real man driving this Bad Boy! Who cares that his ride is bigger than his 1966 modular home sitting on stilts. A real woman needs a real man and real men drive real bad as trucks such as 385-hp 6.2L V-8 engine Ford F-250 Super Duty! And the best thing about this ride is that you can literally hoard loads of women in its bed.
  8. 2010 Toyota Prius.You get this ride and every girl with “Green Peace” t-shirt will fall for you. Being “green” is fashionable these days. Even some actual A list Hollywood celebrities drive Priuses. But be forewarned that this 134-hp 1.8L engine bucket looking ride won’t score you any point with hot gold diggers, desperate housewives or girls from The Hills. Most likely you and your date will end up hugging the trees on a first date.
  9. 2010 BMW M3 Convertible.This ride is an ultimate must have date car for guys. It is amazing how the sound of three simple letters Be-eM-double U will sweep your date of her feet. You won’t even need to buy any alcohol, just give her a ride in this 414-hp 4.0L V-8 convertible and she will feel absolutely drunk. Any man becomes a superhero when he drops those three simple letters to the woman….Be, eM, double U….
  10. 2010 Mercedes -Benz CL65 AMG. No Top 10 car list is complete without the Benz. Women in all age groups, demographics and social levels will pay attention to you if you come to pick her up on a first date in this ride. We have to stress this again that you looks are not important if you are cruising down the street in this $200K plus, 604-hp 6.0L V-12 symbol of wealth. Get your date in a car, relax, adjust your hearing aid or pick piece of spinach from your braces and let this ride do its job.

The Importance of Filter Maintenance for Home and Business

When it comes to your home or business, there are three things you should always strive to save: time, money, and resources. By making sure your filters are well maintained, you can achieve all three. While there are disposable filters on the market, it is better to get filters that are reusable and have them professionally cleaned. A professional cleaning is often more thorough, and can increase the life of a filter, which means less frequent replacement, and lower overall cost to your business.

There are several different types of filtration processes that may apply to you, depending on your business. In addition to chemical filtration, there is also industrial, woodworking, concrete, as well as human and pet food filtration systems that a professional filter cleaner can assist with.

Chemical Filtration

Businesses that produce chemicals are under high levels of scrutiny to keep their operations environmentally safe while continuing to meet an increasing demand for their product. The key to accomplish this is through proper filtration. Companies that do not achieve these goals not only risk making a negative effect on the environment, but also hurt their public image.

Some of the most effective chemical filters are made from polyester, Nomex, needed Ryton, p84, PTFE, and Teflon. Professional cleaning processes are designed to maintain the integrity of these materials. When these filters last longer, it prevails potentially useful filters from being sent to the landfill before their time, and saves you money.

Industrial Manufacturing

The manufacturing process can leave a lot of unwanted things behind. Filters fill up with black carbon residue, animal fat, heavy metals, and more. Whether your filter is made from polyester, nanofiber, or even covered or paper filters, a professional filter cleaning company will be up for the challenge.

Woodworking Filters

Filtering a woodworking bag is a top challenge, and that may be part of the reason why is one of the most often asked to clean. Pitch especially presents a big problem, one that many wood workers respond to by tossing the bag. But when these bags are effectively cleaned, the can be re-used a half dozen times. Custom made filters are the most efficient, and a good professional filter cleaning and manufacturing company can develop these to suit your needs.

Concrete / Asphalt

The price of asphalt and concrete filters can add up very quickly. Asphalt filters run as high as $ 60 each, and using 600 filters in a collector is not uncommon. When hydrocarbons build up inside these bags, airflow is restricted and production is reduced. Especially before winter sets in, it is a good idea to check filters to make sure they are still in good working order.

If a concrete filter is not working like it should because it needs to be cleaned, a filter cleaning pro can get it working like new. Between the money saved from not having to replace the filter, and its greater efficiency, the money you save will be well worth any expense you might incur from professional cleaning.

Food Filters

If you manufacture food, whether for human or pet consumption, keeping your product clear of any potential dangerous substances is especially important. Increased regulations have led to more recalls in both the human and pet industries, and quality checks that were once more relaxed for pet food are now held to the highest standards. By assuring that filters are clean and working properly, you not only insure that your products are safe for your customers, but also prevent the loss of money that comes from reduced product output or public relations problems in the event of a recall.

Whether you mix chemicals, concrete, or pet food, contact a professional filter cleaner to find out how to make your process as environmentally friendly and cost effective as possible.

Koi Pond – Dispelling Myths About Concrete

What do some liner promoters and salesmen say about professional pond installations using concrete and rebar, plus mortar to hold the rocks?

(1) “One problem with concrete and mortar construction is that of cement alkali leaching out for some time after construction, poisoning the pond water with high alkalinity. It also leaves unsightly white deposit build-ups at the points of exit and on the surface of rocks in the waterfall.” NOT TRUE!

If the concrete you use to pour the shell is a 7-sack mix with 40% pea gravel and stealth fiber mix, the concrete is so dense that no leaching can even occur. Also, because of the density of the concrete, it is not only waterproof, but stronger than normal 5-sack mix used to pour driveways, patios and sidewalks. Finally, if you coat the finished surface with Thoro-seal, one of several non toxic concrete sealers, it cannot leach.

(2) “When you use mortar mix to secure the rocks in a waterfall, the water that soaks into the porous mortar joints, leaches out alkali and phosphorescence that poisons the pond. TRUE in the past, but not anymore. Regular mortar is porous, allowing water to pass through, dissolving and collecting the cement residue. This had been a major concern of mine for many years. After the completion of a waterfall, I would have to run the waterfall for two or three weeks, shutting it off every 4 or 5 days, and acid-clean the white alkali residue off the rocks that had built up.

Then, when we were finished, we would have to acid clean and rinse out the pond. Fifteen years ago I discovered a secret formula that would render the mortar mix non porous and waterproof. It also makes regular mortar mix three times stronger. It is produced by adding one 45# bag of thinset (used to apply ceramic tile to a shower wall) to two bags of type S mortar mix. Once it cures, it becomes so dense, it is totally waterproof and will not leach any alkali after it cures (3 to 4 days). In addition, this mix is so strong in its holding ability that once it cures, a sledge hammer is needed to remove a rock. In most cases, the rock breaks up before coming free from the secret formula mortar.

It is not only waterproof, but it bonds very well with all types and textures of rocks. It will create a watertight barrier that comes in handy when building rock dams in the waterfall. The main feature of my special formula is that it allows for much more creativity. You have the ability to raise the water level above the confines of the concrete shell without water leaking through the mortar joints, as in the case of regular type mortar mix. This special mix is not for sale in the stores, and never will be, because I give the formula away for free! This discovery has revolutionized the effectiveness of mortar mix and its ability to bond, waterproof, and prevent alkali leaching.

A Dramatic Test

A 4,000 gallon swimming pool was converted into a concrete koi pond with two large waterfalls, held together with my new mortar mix, and an 8′ x 12′ island. The rocks surrounding the island, were also held by the new formula. When the project was completed, all the surfaces were given a quick, mild acid wash, and the pond was filled and dechlorinator was added. The following day, $3,000 worth of my own personal koi fish were transferred into the concrete koi pond. They all swam calmly around the island, inspecting every nook and cranny.

None of them experienced any stress and they remained in their temporary quarters for three months with no incidents. If that dramatic demonstration was not enough to convert the skeptics, nothing will. So what is the bottom line? Pond liners cannot be guaranteed not to leak, for a myriad of reasons. Concrete and rebar ponds, if built properly, will stay leak-free for decades, if not generations. You be the judge. You’re the one investing your hard earned money and time into it.