Best DIY Gate Opener – Mighty Mule FM500 Vs USAutomatic Sentry 300S

The oldest DIY gate opener is the mighty mule from GTO in the past few years commercial gate operator companies have recognized the need for competition in the DIY market. USAutomatic introduced the USAutomatic Sentry 300S is made in the U.S.A in 2009 for the Do It Yourself installer. Both the sentry 300 and FM-500 are bolt-on and do it yourself installation without welding. The mighty mule FM500 only has a 12 month warranty vs. the Sentry 300 10 year limited warranty.

The American made USAutomatic Sentry 300 is far superior when you want a solar power gate opener. Sentry uses a single 5-watt panel for single gates and dual gate systems. The Mighty mule FM500 says use a 10 watt solar panel for dual gates and 5-watt solar panel for single gates, but only provides minimal cycles. Both Gate systems come with components pre-installed in the control box, the US Automatic Sentry 300S does come with two 2 button remotes while the mighty mule only comes with one.

However, the mounting brackets provided with the mighty mule limit the installation and additional brackets might have to be purchased. The Sentry provides a truly universal bracket allowing for push to open or pull to open installations. The Sentry 300 is made to work on almost any gate and the speed of operation will not vary according to gate size.

Both gate systems qualify for the solar tax credit which can save you up to 30% off solar units and I recommend going that route.

Ask the Engineer – "Gutter Covers Vs Cleaning the Gutters?"

You see ads for gutter protectors every where telling you that you’ll never have to clean gutters again, but before you buy, think twice. In fact don’t think; do research. The cost of gutter protection can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

Since most gutter covers are known for poor performance, it might make more sense to contract a gutter cleaning service several times a year for between $75 to $100 or so. And if indeed you can find a reputable insured company that will service you it’s probably the best way to go. Yet, that may be a difficult challenge; and having someone else or you cleaning your gutters may not be the way to go. Why? Answer: There are several reasons:

1. Not all gutter cleaners do a good job. Rosemary paid $75 to have her gutters cleaned and just three days later they overflowed. Did the contractor do a bad job or did enough leaves fall to clog the downspout? Answer: No way to tell.

2. The fellow Joe hired to clean his gutters didn’t have any insurance. Big problem! Unfortunately there was an accident with the ladder and the fellow sued Joe; and Joe went through a nightmare the fellow’s doctors and Joe’s own insurance company.

3. Claire had a company clean her gutters at an advertised price of $75 but ended up paying $350. The company replaced end caps, drop tubes, elbows and charged her an arm and a leg for every additional service.

4. Jim always cleaned his gutters until his ladder slipped and he ended up falling through his living room bay window and ended up in the hospital with a broken pelvis.

Yes, to avoid these issues, it looks like the smart thing to do is install a gutter protector with a promise to solve clogged gutter problems. But buyer be ware. If you choose the wrong product it can also be nightmarish with flooded basements, mildew, mold, soil erosion, and worse yet the be totally dependent on the installing company as you can no longer access your own gutters to clean them.

So let’s do some research. Basically there are six different types of gutter protection devices:

1. Screening devices which are not really recognized as gutter protection devices. Made of wire, metal, or plastic, they work simply with gravity and require routine ladder maintenance.

2. Filters, membranes, and brushes installed in or on existing gutters. Basically they are not any more effective than screens and require routine ladder maintenance.

3. Fin type with rounded front nose and solid flat top. Their advertising graphics lead you to believe that debris is jettisoned off onto the ground when instead in medium-to-high debris areas enough debris sticks to the surface to clog the gutters. Here you have to depend on the installing company for service. See resource box for photos.

4. Flat solid top with rounded front nose and a trough–fin type with trough. Since the basic fin type fails, the next progression was to add a trough. But it doesn’t take a college graduate to see that debris that goes into the trough (basic screening system) will either clog the trough or break down and pass into the gutter and clog it. See resource box for photos.

5. Flipping type gutter or rain dispersal units. These require removing your gutters and installing either a gutter with a hinge that gets flipped or fins (installed horizontal to the fascia board) to disperse the water. They both look viable until you see them work. The rain dispersal unit doesn’t work in slow rain fall and debris lays on top of it blocking it from working. The flip clean gutter requires a rain coat for when the gutter is full of putrid debris. The flip clean gutters are also known to warp rendering them useless.

6. Rounded front nose with vertical louvered water collectors and a flat solid top. Whereas with the fin type of gutter cover that will pass full sized leaves, the louvers discriminate the size of the debris the gutter cover allows into the gutter. This gutter guard is the only rounded nose type that limits the amount of debris or size of debris that can pass into the gutter.

This one system has proved that gutters can stay free flowing in heavy debris conditions for twenty years; and that’s no small feat. The only downside is that in heavy debris conditions debris can accumulate on the louvers and block them off meaning that some kind of maintenance is required.

Whereas most other products require someone to go up a ladder and clean the gutter or the cover, it can easily be done from the ground using a telescopic pole and brush. Because it’s easy to see where cleaning is required, there’s no guessing where to do the brushing. No rain coats are required (as might be with the flip type gutter) to do this simple task as it can actually be done dressed in a suit and tie.

After all, telling someone, who has to clean his gutters several times during the fall, that no maintenance will be required is like asking the him to believe in Santa Claus.

Crawlspace – Underhouse – Floods – Water Under Your House Can Cause a Variety of Problems

Standing water or wet soil in your home’s crawlspace can come from a variety of sources. These may include but are certainly not limited to the following.

(1) A leaking freshwater supply line, usually galvanized, copper, pvc or pex.

(2) A leaking sewer drain line, usually cast iron, galvanized, clay or ABS.

(3) Naturally high groundwater table.

(4) Over watering of plants around your home (creating a man made high water table).

(5) Sprinklers spraying through the crawlspace vents.

(6) Leaking swimming pools (this is rare).

(7) Improperly directed gutter downspouts.

(8) Stream or river flooding.

Standing water or extremely damp soil in your home’s crawlspace (under house) can cause a variety of structural problems and health concerns. Excess humidity caused by the evaporation of standing water or wet soil in your crawlspace can cause mold growth on the wooden foundation and the bottom of sub flooring. It can also cause warping or buckling of sub flooring and mold growth in the living area of the building. If your home has H.V.A.C. (heating , ventilation, air conditioning) ducting in the crawlspace and the system is compromised with excess moisture, microbial amplification may result. All of these issues can possibly create unhealthy indoor air quality. A broken sewer line in your crawlspace and the subsequent release of raw sewage onto your crawlspace soil can create an awful odor problem in your home. Also there are possible health concerns to the constant inhalation of sewer gas from an open or broken sewer line.

Some solutions to the problems mentioned above. Try to determine the source of the water intrusion and correct it yourself. This may be as simple as redirecting sprinkler heads, fixing leaky outdoor faucets or redirecting gutter downspouts. If you suspect plumbing problems, you should call a licensed plumber.

Often, there is too much water under your house for a plumber to properly inspect the pipes, you may need to call a Water Damage Restoration company. Many water damage companies offer crawlspace de-flooding and or sewage cleanup, should the leak be from a sewer drain line. After the water is removed and the crawlspace made accessible a plumber can check for leaky pipes. If your foundation is wet you may need a water damage restoration company to dry it for you, in order to prevent mold growth.

If you have over watering problems or a high water table you may need to contact a landscape engineer or a water proofing contractor to design a French drain system or other remedy to keep water from accumulating under your home. Many plumbing companies or water proofing contractors will also install sump pump systems in the low area of your crawlspace to help combat water pooling. You may also want to consider having a crawlspace dehumidifier installed to regulate the relative humidity to a level that will inhibit structural damage or mold growth. Another way to keep air flowing through the crawlspace (and thereby promoting evaporation) is by installing crawlspace ventilation fans over your existing crawlspace vents. There are also companies who can completely encapsulate your crawlspace with thick plastic, thereby effectively sealing your home off from the ground.

As you can see there are many problems that can arise from excessive water or moisture in your home or buildings crawlspace and just as many solutions. Should you suspect a problem that may need a professional solution, a good place to start is on the internet with your favorite search engine and a search for “crawlspace”. This should get you started in the right direction with any crawlspace (under house) issues you may have.

How Rain Can Be Bad For Your Car

Rain can be refreshing on a hot and humid day, but car owners usually don’t like it much, especially when their cars are newly-washed and sparkling. Somehow, rain has the uncanny quality of making the shiniest of cars dirty and grimy.

Here are few reasons why rain can actually be bad for your car.

Rain makes the car dirtier than it should be. The funny thing is, rain makes a clean car dirty, but makes a dirty car even harder to clean! When you take out your dusty car and drive it through the rain, some of the dust and grime are washed off, but when the rain stops and you’re still driving, expect the remaining mud to. Your tyres accumulate hard to remove mud, and even the underside of your car is caked with mud. Failure to do this will hasten the deterioration of your car. A car’s metal parts, when left underneath layers of dirt will quickly rust, therefore causing depreciation and eventual breakdown of the car body.

Rain puts added pressure on the tyres, wipers, fan belt, power steering and brakes. Rain or moisture causes a lot of car parts to slightly malfunction. Although cars are meant to be driven even through the roughest of rains, the moisture it produces makes some normal car functions to trip and cause some alarm to the driver.

The most obvious will be your windshield wipers, which take the brunt and force of heavy rain. And what will you do without them? Driving through rain with broken or malfunctioning wipers is extremely dangerous. Especially when visibility is near zero, you’d be better off parking somewhere safe, and allowing the rain to pass – this is the best thing to do when you know you have trippy wipers that could cause you major accidents. Keep you wipers in tip top shape.

Another victim of moisture is your fan belt. Moisture can cause your fan belt to squeal, especially if the moisture gets between your belt and the pulleys or belt tension.that all hold it in place. If you notice your belt squealing minutes after you drive through a large puddle or in the rain, chances are your belt is getting wet somehow. Have it checked out by a good mechanic.

If you drive a car with power steering, you know that the rain messes up with it, too. The power steering will fail temporarily (it locks up). Having your mechanic replace the pump regularly is a good idea, but rain and its moisture will somehow affect its normal function. Once it locks up, force it to move back and forth and little, the belt will finally give a little squeal and then everything is back to normal.

Another victim of rain is the braking system. A lot of cars have a tendency to make brake-grinding noises for the first few stops after they’ve been parked in the rain or mist. It’s because brake discs rapidly get a very light coating of rust from the moisture. Using the brakes scrapes the rotors clean again, and the noise goes away pretty fast. Your brake rotors can rust very quickly. They can make a grinding noise when you first drive your car after the rotors get wet, but it will go away after the rust gets scraped off by the brake pads.

Acid rain. Defined by automakers as environmental fallout, it is a term used to describe the deposit of damaging pollutants, whether wet or dry. These pollutants are released by burning fuels and react with other elements in the atmosphere and become acids. Rain itself is not the culprit, but when the rain dries, it leaves the concentrated acid part. Paint acts like a sponge and it keeps collecting all that acidic material.

How to avoid damage on your car – Repeated exposure is bad. If you consistently park your car in a covered area, garage or carport, you can avoid some of the worst effects of acid rain. Some manufacturers used acid-resistant paints, which costs a lot less than it might cost you to fix a problem afterward. To avoid permanent scarring, have your car washed and hand-dried frequently. Light-coloured vehicles seem to suffer less obvious damage; darker-colored vehicles will show wear sooner.

And when some paint damage has already happened, there is still hope. Hire a professional to have your contaminated paint cleaned up. A high-quality polymer paint sealant also has co-polymers and amino functional resins that will fight future acid rain while resisting the effects of soap and sun.

Rain is a natural phenomenon which brings life and helps maintain the environmental equilibrium. It may not be kind to man-made machines, but there are ways to make your metal babies survive even the harshest rain weather. The prime factors are care & responsibility but maintenance is the key.

The Catacombs in Rome – Myths and Facts

Movies and novels have popularized the idea that underground catacombs were used as hiding places for Christians escaping persecution. I learned on my recent visit to Rome that this is a myth. I toured the San Sebastian catacombs, one of nearly sixty catacomb complexes just outside of Rome. Nearly 7 million people were buried in these subterranean chambers between the second and fifth century.

In ancient Rome burial was not allowed within the city walls so most Romans were cremated. However Christians preferred burial because they believed in the bodily resurrection of the dead. Christian estate owners outside of the city provided land that could be used for burial. In order to make maximum use of the property the catacombs were dug very deep. The San Sebastian catacombs had five levels and stretched 17 kilometers.

The first thing our guide did was turn off the lights so we could experience how pitch-black it would have been in a catacomb. That combined with the 95% humidity and the overwhelming stench of all those rotting bodies would have made it virtually impossible for anyone to hide in a catacomb for long. While the catacombs were being constructed skylights provided ventilation and light but when the building was complete these were closed. Our guide also told us there were detailed blueprints showing the layout of the catacombs. The Romans knew where all the entrances were. If Christians had tried to hide there they would have easily been discovered.

The catacombs were big business. People paid lots of money to be buried in them especially in a coveted spot close to a martyr. Constantine spoiled that economic opportunity when he endorsed Christianity as the state religion, thus ending martyrdom. If families wanted a painting or a special symbol like a cross, a dove or a fish on the rock face near the burial spot they had to pay quite a bit extra.

We toured different kinds of burial sites. Families could purchase an entire room and be buried together. We saw longer shelves in the walls for adults, although not that long, because in the third century the tallest Roman was only five feet. There were larger arched nooks where seven or eight people could be buried together. The kind of burial opening that seemed most prevalent was the small one for children. The infant mortality rate at the time was very high.

The catacombs continued to be used till around 540 when barbarian Goths and Vandals began attacking Rome making it too dangerous to leave the city for burials. It became more common for people to be buried in or near the churches and basilicas inside Rome. These invaders looted the catacombs and many were flooded over time. By the 8th century most of the saintly relics from the catacombs had been moved to churches in Rome and the catacombs were abandoned. They were rediscovered by accident in 1578 but it wasn’t until the late 1800s that Italian archeologists began excavating them. This was dangerous work. Our guide told us one archeologist got lost in a catacomb maze for five days and nearly died.

Five Roman catacomb complexes have been partially opened and fortified to make them safe for visitors. Mussolini gave control of the catacombs to the Catholic Church in 1929 so they are in charge of maintaining the sites now. Having only seen the catacombs vicariously in movies like Angels and Demons I appreciated the opportunity to tour them in person and learn both the myths and facts about them.

Bamboo Craft – Plane Bamboo Weaving Technique

The natural, durable and attractive bamboo not only makes mats, baskets and other handicraft but is also used for high-grade packaging, decorative panels, curtains and window blinds. The bamboo window blinds, in fact, not only give a classic touch to the interior decor of a room but keep it cool as well. Bamboo craft is based on its specific weaving techniques. These weaving techniques can be classified as plane weaving, dimensional weaving and mixed weaving. To begin with, a bamboo crafter must know the plane weaving technique for bamboo craft.

Plane bamboo weaving creates two dimensional or plane products like woven mats or carpets. It is different from method of making three dimensional products such as baskets, lampshades, figurines etc. Before weaving, the bamboo culms are processed as follows to make them apt for weaving.

Processing of Bamboo for Weaving

Green skin of the bamboo culm is removed by scraping off its green surface with the help of a blade. Force is applied evenly along the culm surface to ensure uniformly colored bamboo.

The upper edge of the culm section is flattened to facilitate stripping. A sharp knife is used to cut evenly around the edge. The culm section is divided into slivers of an equal width. The number of slivers depend upon the diameter of the culm. Cutting is done carefully from the edge downwards along the length of the culm. The slivers are then completely separated to form individual pieces.

Slivers are striped into fine layers. The knife is held with the blade horizontally against the upper 1/3 of the cross section sliver. First cut is made by nipping the blade into the sliver. Then the blade is placed 0.5 to 1 mm away from the first layer. After repeating the process for a required number of times, the layers are peeled off. The thickness of the layers depend upon the need of the intended woven product.

Layers are separated into fine strips by using both the hands. The strips may be lighter or darker in color from one another. They are arranged accordingly.

The bamboo strips are then dyed and bleached with the help of various materials such as dyes, sulfur, hydrogen peroxide or other chemicals. Soaking, boiling, washing, air drying etc. methods are used for the purpose.

Plane Weaving of Bamboo

Before moving on to the process of plane weaving of bamboo, there are two basic terminology that need to be understood by the novice bamboo weaver. These two terms are – Warp and Weft. Warp is the set of parallel bamboo stripes providing the foundation on which plane weaving is done. They are positioned lengthwise on the work bench or work area. Wefts are the bamboo stripes that are inserted widthwise under and over the warp in order to make a design.

The basic technique for plane bamboo weaving is that of weaving dots into pattern. It involves combining two colors of bamboo- one light and other dark- along the warp and weft of the bamboo strips. Color intensity and contrast in the patterns are created by changing the density of the dots woven under and over the warp.

There are many other traditional methods of bamboo weaving that are also interesting to know.

10 Date Ideas for Art Lovers

If the woman or man you’re dating loves art, impress them by suggesting one of the following activities for your next date. It’s an opportunity to see them in an environment that brings them joy. Who knows – you may even learn a thing or two about art!

1. Visit the Local Public Art Gallery

Whether you’re looking at a masterpiece by Rembrandt, an Emily Carr, or the work of a local artist; art can be a natural conversation starter. To those not versed in art or painting, don’t worry about using the right language or terminology. If your date is an art lover they can teach you. If you want to save some money, check to see if the gallery has any free viewing periods.

2. Browse Privately Owned Art Galleries

Most cities have a number of art dealers who exhibit art for sale via their gallery. Some may specialize in showcasing and selling a specific type of art – such as sculptures, paintings, First Nations art – or specific artists. Check to see if they’re open to the public. If not, they may have upcoming events or exhibitions.

3. Tour Public Art Displays

Take a look around you – are there sculptures scattered throughout your city? If so, have a sculpture hunt and visit a handful of them. Many cities have a sculpture garden or park with a collection of pieces in one area. It’s a great opportunity to walk around and take some pictures of you next to various art pieces to document your date.

4. Take an Art Class

Spend an afternoon learning how to paint, sketch, or throw pottery. If classes aren’t your thing, get a book on painting or sketching and try to teach yourselves one rainy afternoon. Remember to sign and frame your masterpieces!

5. Finger Paint

Relive a time you probably loved as a kid. All you need is paper, paint and some rags to wipe your hands on. Get your hands in the paints and create!

6. Splatter Paint

Bring out your inner Jackson Pollack and try splatter painting. If there are no studios set-up for that sort of thing, you could improvise. Cover an area in the garage with tarps (floor, walls and ceiling); tape a big piece of paper or secure a stretched canvas on the wall; put on your old clothes or overalls, a hat and goggles; and start flinging some paint at the canvas. Put on any music that brings out your creative self.

7. Get a Caricature Sketch

In the summer time there is often a caricature artist or two set up in the tourist area of town. Sit down and let them do their thing.

8. Sketch the City

Get a pad of paper and pencil and set out into the city. Try your hand at sketching a boat at the pier, a coffee cup at the cafe, or the trees in the park. If your date is a talented sketcher, just watching them create can be awe-inspiring. At the very least you can play with an Etch-a-Sketch.

9. Local Art School Events

Are there any local art schools in your city? If so, they’ll often have at least one art exhibit during the year. It’s an opportunity to converse about the young talent in your city.

10. Build Rock Sculptures

If you live on a coast or shoreline, you may see a handful of large rocks balanced in a free-standing sculpture. To make your own, get a handful of smaller stones and start stacking them. To make it harder – try balancing some of them on their ends.

Interesting Facts About Adirondack Chairs

Rest and relaxation is something you can always look forward to in the home after a tiring job in the workplace. Before you head off and take restful a sleep in the bedroom, you can also experience some stress- busting time in the various parts of the home like the kitchen, living room and even in the outdoors. Backyards, patios, verandas and decks are great places where you can unwind and forget about the stresses that plague your day in the office. In order to make such places a comfy and enjoyable area where you can lift off some worries and tension, you need to furnish them with luxurious and soothing seats like Adirondack chairs.

Adirondack chairs are premium choices for a relaxing and soothing outdoor seat. If you are not familiar with these sets, here are interesting facts that you should know.

These chairs were originally created by Mr. Thomas Lee around the early part of 1900s. He was on vacation at his summer home in Westport, New York and had a breathtaking view of the Adirondack Mountains surrounding him. Because of the sloping hill where his summer home was located, an idea struck him to create a functional and comfortable seat which will allow him to view his majestic surroundings with so much ease. Taking 11 slabs of wood, a unique chair was created and was named for its nearby mountain range.

The original features of the chair have a straight back and seat which was placed in a slanted position that resembles a slight V. Modern designs, however, can be seen to have curved seats to make it more comfortable for the underside. The rest of the features resemble the original concept with the back rest being taller than most standard chairs and extends all the way past the head. Thus, anyone would find them great for resting their heads especially when they are out reading a book or just soaking under the rays of the sun.

The distinctive feature of these chairs are their wide arm rests and are very practical and useful for holding the beverages, food plates and other devices and accessories the homeowners would wish to bring along when they are out for an outdoor rest.

Today, these Adirondack seats are manufactured with versatile materials and colors. Wood specifically teak is the prime material of choice. Aside from this, they can also be had as resin-made. Color choices come in great and fascinating selections that are sure to add brilliance and vitality to the homeowner’s outer rooms.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Container Vegetable Gardens

Not everybody is lucky to have a yard at the back or a big garden. But it is heartening to know that with the help of container vegetable gardens, garden enthusiasts have the option of growing vegetables at their own sweet will. The box vegetable garden is a gift for all who have a passion for gardens but do not have the required space.

The indoor garden for vegetables is not only a secondary option to the yard but it is a positive choice for a variety of reasons. Firstly these containers or urns are easily found in the kitchen making the whole show environment friendly and safer for the little ones in the family. Apart from being productive these box vegetable gardens serve two other purposes – they add to the décor of the home and also makes it look stylish The small garden pots can be arranged around the porch giving it a verdant look to the dull urban image.

Understandably there are some restrictions to the expectations from a pot vegetable garden – the first one being the size of the plant that will grow in it. The best choices are radish, carrots, lettuce and the like. Small crop plants can also be grown in an indoor garden. For instance tomato and pepper do not require much space. A plus point is that one container about 24″ to 30″ can grow at the same time plants like tomato, parsley and cucumber without requiring extra sunlight or moisture. The urn thus doubles up as a veritable fresh live salad bowl.

No extra arrangement is required for these urn vegetable gardens. The containers can be anything – a jug, pail, basket, wooden box or the typical flower pot. Discarded bushels, washing tubs, big food cans, window plants as well as nursery flats can also suffice to build up the indoor vegetable garden.

Following the same principles of a indoor gardens, water plants too can be grown. The prime purpose however of the indoor green patch is decorative. Depending on the size of the pot, sweet or yellow flag iris combined with a giant arrowhead of calla lily can be planted. Unlike the vegetable gardens there are no fixed specifications for water gardens. Both of these – water gardens and container vegetable gardens are fairly easy to grow and are definitely worth giving a try for those who have a passion for gardening.

Leaving An Abuser: What to Expect and How to Stay Grounded

Abusers are extremely predictable. In my experience as a survivor and now through encounters with other abuse victims and survivors, it is apparent that the abuser’s response to separation from his or her enabler-victim taps into a collection of tactics that is shockingly consistent. So, in the event that you have separated or are considering leaving an abusive relationship, it might be helpful to get a small taste of some of the things you can expect, together with a few recommendations on how to stay grounded. Of course, these are generalities. It is impossible to predict what every abuser will do, but the pattern is often very much the same.

Upon separating from an abuser, you can expect him to:

Initiate A Relentless Assault On Your Emotions

You may no sooner walk out the door than your abuser will seek you out and confer upon you an attitude of absolute astonishment and puzzlement. “I had no idea you were so unhappy.” “Why would you do such a terrible thing to me?” But that is only the beginning. Almost without fail, the abuser will then begin a daily, even hourly, course of ongoing harassment interspersed with emotional outbursts weighted heavily with apologies and desperate pleading. The abuser will almost without fail ask to get together with you to calmly discuss things (which usually means get you in a private place where he can explain to you why you’re wrong).

You may soon find yourself inundated with letters, text messages, e-mails, or gifts. His moods will run the spectrum from extreme sorrow to unfettered rage. Don’t be the least bit surprised if your abuser shows up where you work or your new living quarters, if he knows where to find you.

Understand that these are all strong indicators that the abuser wants you back, but don’t for one minute mistake these actions for repentance or heartfelt change. These are usually acts of desperation – to get his enabler-victim back into his world as soon as possible – to keep things from changing. There is also an element of ego involved here. The abuser doesn’t like to look bad. The agenda is to protect himself, not his victim.

Build His Case Against You

The abuser will begin to quickly go on the offense while constructing a strong defense. In a short amount of time, he will put together a thorough history of his own making meant to highlight your failures and shortcomings as well as a record of the many sacrifices and accommodations he has made for your benefit in years past. “And this is the thanks I get.” He will use it on you first, reminding you of the terrible things you have said and done, and any number of them can be used in defense of his abuse. Often, the story he concocts will have little basis in reality. Most likely the story will be constructed of lies laced with truth. When you begin to hear the tale repeated by those in your circle, essentially word for word, it will begin to take on a convincing air of legitimacy. If his record of shame is not adequate to humiliate you to the point of actually apologizing to him and returning to him out of a sense of guilty obligation, he will take it to the next level – and turn up the pressure.

To increasing the intensity, he will suddenly produce evidence of his uncompromising willingness to change. He will initiate a meeting with your pastor, agree to go to counseling, or start attending Bible study. Expect him to trumpet these pro-active efforts far and wide as confirmation of his miraculous and heartfelt transformation. As he begins to gain confidence that his story is winning him supporters, he will urge you to meet with the pastor and encourage you to talk to your common acquaintances, who will be just so happy to affirm how hard he is trying, while you are clearly unwilling to do whatever it takes to save your marriage. He has officially made you the bad guy.

Expect that he will push against the boundaries you have set to minimize conversation and personal contact, then complain bitterly that you are unreasonable if you do not accommodate him. On those occasions when you attempt to prove how reasonable you are by giving in to him, he will exploit your kindness with more game-playing.

Recruit Allies

Next, it’s time to bring in the big guns – your friends and family members. You might be stunned by how fast his story of your failure to honor your marriage vows will hit the streets. He will have the script down pat. It will be only a matter of time before you start to get phone calls or e-mails expressing disappointment in your harsh and selfish actions. People you trusted will suddenly be parroting his lies – the effects your midlife crisis or obvious hormonal imbalance is having on your relationship, or the rumors (which he started) that you are pretending to be single. You will discover from others how you have alienated your children against him, and if he can get your kids on board, he knows the pain and pressure they can bring to bear might compel you to see things his way. It is the ultimate betrayal and a cruel manipulation of those who should never be used as pawns in this self-serving chess match. Long-time friends, members of your church family, and your pastor are all essential recruits. Many abuse victims share how they have received corrective direction from pastors who have bought in, and well-meaning but deceived friends will send abuse victims articles on how to save their marriage or the terrible consequences of divorce.

There is no reasonable way of countering the abuser’s untrue, but well-rehearsed account in a single conversation with anyone, and you may well end more than one encounter feeling foolishly defensive or completely misunderstood. You may even begin to question if you’ve missed something, if perhaps maybe everything really is your fault. Playing he-said-she-said with your kids will also churn up more strife between you and send the message to your abuser that he is winning, inspiring him to continue the assault on your character to those who mean the most to you.

And all of these tactics can be traced to a singular purpose:

To Break Down Your Resistance

The end objective is to put heavy pressure on you from every possible angle. Using what he hopes will be an emotionally lethal combination of confusion, guilt, manipulation and pressure from his many allies, he has left no stone unturned in his effort to construct a wall of shame, an emotional bulldozer.

Don’t mistake this barrage of activity for love – some gallant, if desperate, effort to restore your marital relationship and a desire to see you content and fulfilled. This is about winning. Even if he promises you the sun, moon and stars, take a closer look at the extreme measures he has taken to try to get you back under the same roof. Is he genuinely concerned about why you have been unhappy and what your needs and concerns are? Is he genuinely repentant for his abusive treatment? Is he doing everything possible to re-earn your trust? Is he seeking ongoing counsel on his own initiative to begin to address his controlling, hostile, abusive ways? If he is like most abusers, the answers will not be in his favor. The aforementioned tactics are simply another manifestation of abuse.

The abuser’s bottom line is that he wants things just the way they were before you walked out the door. He intends to get there by swarming you with so-called evidence that you are wrong. Ask yourself, “What has really changed?” If you don’t have a good answer to that question, well, you have your answer.

Don’t give in to overwhelming pressure simply because you believe it might be easier to return to him while proving to him and others that you are not unreasonable. If you return home for the wrong reasons, you can bet that he will rub your nose in how wrong you were for years to come. Just because you have been trained to give in doesn’t mean you should.

What you need to do to stay grounded:

Remember Where You’ve Been

No one except you, your children and God really know what has taken place in your home. And just because some of your friends, family members and even your kids are suddenly siding with their abusive father doesn’t make them right. Of course your children want the family whole and happy, and many kids are willing to accept that Dad has changed, and Mom should give him another chance. But if nothing has really changed, then nothing will change.

Stand On What You Know

What are you seeing? Repentance? Change? If what I have described thus far is indicative of what you have experienced in separation, then you are not seeing repentance or change, only manipulation, guilt, blame and pressure from his allies. You might see some compliance, which is not to be confused with change. Compliance is when the abuser gives you the bare minimum under duress to “prove” to you that he is trying. There is no desire there, only an obligatory act that enables him to continue to point a finger of condemnation at you – his victim. Words are just words, and actions speak much louder. With that in mind, what do you know to be true?

Learn to Trust Your Instincts

As abuse victims we are trained to doubt our convictions and diminish our feelings. We are told that we expect too much and sacrifice too little. Now that you are apart from your abuser, you will need to re-learn to trust those red and yellow flags that pop up when you read those hostile e-mails or hear manipulative messages over the phone. When everything in your heart screams, “Danger;” listen to that inner voice. Learn to say ‘no.’ Keep those boundaries in place. You have erected them to protect yourself and your family. When you find yourself confused, seek counsel from a trusted counselor, confidante or support person who recognizes what you are dealing with and can help you to see through the insanity and stand strong.

Stop Being Shocked

Even after years and years of manipulation and verbal attacks, I wonder why we as victims are still shocked by the cruel things our abuser says or does. He may begin a conversation calmly and rationally (which he has probably rehearsed before he ever engages), and you are no sooner sucked into the notion that common sense might just prevail when he strikes. He will likely target your sensibilities – your faith, your children or your reputation – and you will still be surprised by the maliciousness of the attack.

Stop being shocked. In every encounter, expect his real attitudes and motives to be revealed in an overtly ugly and offensive way. Then you will not feel guilty when you are compelled to walk away, hang up or tell him, ‘no.’

Quell Any Inclination to Prove Yourself

This is not about what others think about you; this is about you choosing to do what is right and best for yourself and your family according to the dictates of your conscience. Some people in your circle and even in your own family will probably not “get it.” There comes a point where you are wasting your breath to try to explain what some people simply cannot understand, and it is simply easier for them to condemn something they have never experienced. Many abuse victims must by necessity keep a safe distance from certain people who are na├»vely critical.

Standing on the truth sometimes means refusing to read or respond to those idealistic your-marriage-can-be-saved articles from your church-going friends. I’m sorry to say that it will probably be a poor use of your time and energy to respond or try to enlighten those people. Odds are good that you will find yourself in an unproductive conversation that leaves you frustrated and emotionally deflated.

For those whose children come home after a day with Dad with a mind full of half-truths and well-honed criticisms, it is more difficult to remain silent. Kids who have been fully indoctrinated may not be receptive to any defense on your part, so it is best to keep things short and simple. “That is not exactly the way it is,” or “You’re just going to have to trust me on this,” or “I know this is hard for you. It’s hard for me, too, and I am trying to do what is best for all of us,” may be some appropriate ways of minimizing drama. Some kids will mimic the name-calling or manipulative tactics they have seen used. Demand respect, and let them know that such behaviors are unacceptable.

As painful as it is, it may simply take time – sometimes years – for our children to see the truth for themselves. My eldest son gave me little but grief and angrily questioned my decision to divorce his father for seven long years, while I continued to love and reach out to him. Only two years ago did he confess how wrong he was and apologized to me with tears how he had treated me during the time he believed his father’s lies. It was a long, rough road, but I could not tell him what he refused to receive and ultimately had to discover on his own.

Wait

Time reveals truth. Virtually every abuse victim I have encountered shares a moment of profound weakness – when their abuser has come to them in utter despair and seemingly bared their pained soul, confessing their failures, begging forgiveness with passion and promises that everything will change, that they will never love another. Everything in us wants to receive the abuser’s enlightened revelation and rush into his arms and sing the Hallelujah Chorus.

Please wait. Do not allow one encounter to birth doubt in your mind or alter your view of him. Make no snap decisions. As eager as you are to believe it all, I hope you will take a step back. Let time reveal where his heart truly lies. Keep it all business. Then watch and wait. More often than not, his outpouring is another desperate ploy, all part of the game. For those who choose to maintain a healthy skepticism, it is often only a matter of days and sometimes a few short hours before an abuser is frustrated by your tepid response, and he will often become not only angry but enraged. This man who declared his love for no one but you will attack with a vengeance when you fail to give him the reaction he sought.

Waiting is a wise strategy in virtually every scenario when dealing with an abuser. Hasty decisions will end up costing you, boundaries will fall, and you may end up wondering why you ever gave him an inch, because now he is barking at you to lighten up and give him a mile.

Refuse to be railroaded. Give decisions time to stew. Get feedback from others you trust. Consider the costs and the consequences. Don’t act until you have a confident peace.

For those walking this difficult road, I hope this information helps you to stand strong and stay balanced and focused on the end goal – a healthy and abuse-free life for you and your family.

*Statistically speaking, most abusers are men. For the sake of simplicity, the male gender is used in this article; however, it is also recognized that many abusers are female. The reader’s understanding is appreciated.

The Diversity of a Personal Trainer’s Work Environment

One of the great aspects of being a personal trainer is the variety in not only the people you get to work with, but also the settings you get to work within. Personal trainers are no longer just restricted to a gym setting. There is actually a wide variety of locations/settings trainers can work in these days. Generally personal trainers have the following as options for work location:

– Private Health Clubs

– Commercial Health Clubs

– Medically-Based Fitness Facilities

– Community Wellness Centers

– Personal Training Studios

– Physical Therapy Clinics

– Retirement/Senior Centers

– YMCAs/JCCs

– College/University Centers

– Recreational Settings

– Corporate Fitness Centers

– In-Home Training

Each of the above provides a trainer with various perks and benefits. As example, with Commercial Health Clubs you will probably be able to make a decent yearly salary as Commercial Health Clubs (especially franchises like Bally’s) market heavily. This is a plus for you as it helps to bring in a regular amount of potential clients. However the downside is you may feel at times like the company is more about the bottom dollar as opposed to the client and/or trainer.

Another example is Non-Profits such as YMCAs (Young Men’s Christian Association) and JCCs (Jewish Community Centers), which tend to be the opposite. You may find the pay is not comparable to Commercial Health Clubs, but they at times provide better benefits. In addition, the camaraderie is far more evident with non-profits. For some, working in the community for a real cause can be more fulfilling than receiving a big paycheck.

Another option for personal trainers that is somewhat of a balance between commercial health clubs and non-profits is In-Home Training. In home training is great as it provides complete job flexibility (as those who train in-home tend to be their own bosses), the money you collect per session is one hundred percent yours (as opposed to working for a facility and they take 40-60% of the session fee), and you can provide a great service that many people would love to participate in (as many do not go to fitness facilities due to feeling uncomfortable, lack of time, etc).

Overall personal training as a profession has a lot of perks. People can do it full time and make a great living. It is also flexible for those who need it. An example of this would be stay at home parents. By being a trainer, a stay at home mom/dad would be able to earn a small income on the side while still being able to take care of their children (if the gym they are employed at has day care). Finally it provides variety. You will be able to work in the setting of your choice with the type people you want to train. In the end, personal training is a great profession to get into. You will more than likely find exactly what you want and will as a result wake up everyday looking forward to work.

Classic Songs About Shipwrecks

While much has been written, recorded, and exploited about the sinking of the Titanic over a hundred years ago, other shipwrecks have gotten little attention. A few have gained some notoriety through films, although all but one of those flicks has basically disappeared.

One famous sea disaster owes its renown not to a movie, but a song. The Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank on November tenth exactly forty years ago, was the subject of a smash hit for Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot.

The song narrates quite precisely what happened to the freighter on the day it capsized in Lake Superior. It was transporting a heavy load of iron ore from Superior, Wisconsin when it was caught in hurricane force winds. All twenty one of the men aboard perished when it capsized, only two hours from its destination.

Like the Edmund Fitzgerald, the story of other ships have been told in songs. The Titanic has been, of course, the most often used, most recently by legendary songwriter Bob Dylan on his album The Tempest. There is also an excellent bluegrass tune about the Titanic, “The Great Ship” by an Ohio group called the Dry Branch Fire Squad.

Here are five other songs that refer to shipwrecks, none of which ever came close to the chart success of Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

“The Thresher” by Phil Ochs

This U.S. Navy submarine, which was destroyed 220 miles east of Boston on April 10 of 1963, resulted in the loss of all 129 of the people aboard. The folk singer wrote about the world’s worst submarine disaster for a song on his album All the News That’s Fit to Sing.

“Ruben James” by the Kingston Trio

In 1941 a German U-Boat torpedoed this Navy destroyer, resulting in the deaths of 100 lives even before the United States had entered World War II. The folk trio managed to turn the event into a popular ballad with a catchy chorus.

“The Scorpion Departs But Never Returns” by Phil Ochs

Officially known as the Yew, this ship nicknamed after a spider was transferred to the French Navy in 1944. Although it did not sink until two years after his death, Ochs’ ballad from his Rehearsal for Retirement album referred to the ship’s leaving the United States to never return.

“Andrea Gail” by the Cobblestones and “Fishermen’s Song” by Jari Makala

Both of these tunes concern the vessel made famous by The Perfect Storm, the Academy Award film starring George Clooney. The first is a rock song, while the other mixes touches of Irish and Scottish music.

“Lord Grenville” by Al Stewart

The ship in this opening tune from The Year of the Cat was named the Revenge, on which the title Vice Admiral was commander. He steered the ship in direction of Spanish treasure in 1591, only to become separated from the rest of the fleet. An all-night battle with fifteen Spanish ships discouraged his men to the point where his crew surrendered. Although Grenville had been mortally wounded, the 49 year old explorer was taken prisoner and died aboard an enemy ship.

Building A Storage Shed Ramp

Storage shed ramps are a part of life that people don’t think about until they need to use them. Kind of like a toilet but not quite as serious. Not being able to use the toilet results in certain catastrophic implications whereas not being able to use a shed ramp means rolling your lawn mower into the garage where its biggest crime will be to compete with the car for valuable storage space.

Shed ramps are built by running boards on edge from the shed wall under the door, down to the ground. These boards are called stringers. I don’t know why they are called stringers, they just are. I know string is not very strong, surely not strong enough to hold a lawn mower, so it does not come from string. But when you put a board on its edge and use it to support a ramp or stairs, it’s called a stringer. Anyways, after running the stringers from the shed floor level to the ground level and then putting deck boards on them you will have a shed ramp. It’s that simple. The only hard part is figuring out the shed ramp slope and the resulting cuts on the wood stringers.

A good shed ramp has the perfect slope. Not so steep that you need to check and see if you are pushing the lawnmower up a cliff and not so shallow that it sticks out into the yard far enough to set up lawn chairs and have a barbecue on. The perfect slope is about 3 inches of rise for every foot of run. What this means is that a shed floor that is 12 inches from the ground would have a ramp that is 4 feet long. Of course this slope is purely personal. I have had good luck with it and so I am preaching it as the “law of the shed ramp slope”. So after you get the slope of your shed ramp determined you can then start to figure out how to cut all those angles to get the ramp’s stringers to sit flat on the ground and to get the upper end of the stringers to sit flush against the shed wall.

The trick to getting these cuts right is to have someone else do the math for you and then use their knowledge to build your ramp. Using a chart that has all the ramp slopes figured out is one of the simplest ways to get a perfectly sloping shed ram. You simply figure out your floor to ground height and then follow the diagram to learn the lengths of the stringer cuts. Then mark the cuts on your 2×6 board and cut away.

After you have cut out the first stringer you need to test it by setting it up against the shed wall and checking the cuts to see if they lay flat on the ground and against the shed wall. Remember to make sure that the ground where the shed ramp stringer touches the ground is flat and level, otherwise the ramp will not sit flat on the ground. Once you are happy with the first ramp stringer you will take it and trace its outline on the other stringer boards and then cut those out.

Once the ramp stringers are cut out you are ready to screw them to the ledger board that will hold the stringers to the wall of the shed. They are screwed together before attaching the whole thing to the shed wall so that the connection between the ledger and stringers is stronger than if you screwed them to the ledger after attaching the ledger to the shed wall. Once the ledger and stringers are screwed together you are ready to use 3″ long lag screws to screw the ledger board to the shed wall. Use 1 lag screw about every 12 inches and start them 4 inches from the end of the ledger. This will give you 4 bolts in a 4′ wide shed ramp.

The final step is to attach the deck boards. I would recommend using the 2×6 lumber for the deck boards, just like a deck in the yard. Simply attach them to the stringers using 2 – 3 inch long screws at each stringer. The decking boards should be spaced with at least 1/8″ space between the boards so water can run off the ramp and also so the boards can expand and contract with the weather.

When the deck boards are all installed you are ready to use the new shed ramp. As simple as it is there is a certain satisfaction of rolling your lawn mower up a ramp that you built. I would recommend only testing the ramp a few times because taking the lawn mower in and out of the shed more than 4 times in one day constitutes the need for a bathroom break.

How to Swap an H22 Into a CRX Chassis Using a Hasport Mount Kit

This can be a rather difficult swap if attempting it without any instructions or guidance. However, these step-by-step directions can make it a breeze. An H22 engine in an 88-91 civic or CRX chassis exaggerates the old power to weight ratio theory for unbelievable acceleration.

Let’s begin with assuming you have already removed the stock engine. We will start this engine swap by prepping the engine bay. The first step is to remove the passenger side transmission mount bracket that is welded to the frame. It will require the use of a drill with a large drill bit or spot weld drill bit to drill through the factory welds and remove this bracket from the framerail. After removal, use a grinder or similar tool to smooth the framerail of any debris or sharp spots left from the drill.

Next, bolt the passenger side transmission bracket that is included in the Hasport mount kit to the passenger side framerail using the 12mm battery tray bolts and factory threaded holes. You will need to use a sharpie or other marker to trace the outline of this bracket on the framerail. Remove the bracket and grind or sand the paint from the area you traced to prep it for welding.

Bolt the bracket back into place and stitch weld the bracket onto the frame rail. Be careful to fully penetrate the weld, but not burn through the factory frame rail. After the area has cooled, spray primer over the exposed welds and apply your color choice paint over the primed area to prevent corrosion.

Next comes the tricky part. The factory F/H series transmissions are very large and will require some modification to the lower portion of the rail below your newly installed bracket. It is easiest if you lift the engine partially into place to see what area needs to be cut. After cutting enough clearance, you will need to fabricate a brace out of sheet metal or similar material to properly reinforce the frame rail. This can be skipped, but be advised!

Now, some fun stuff. You will have by this time already gotten over the fright of cutting into your car, so this will be a breeze. Use a medium sized sledge hammer and put a large dent in the upper portion of the firewall to make room for the huge H22 intake manifold. It may help to partially lift the engine into place to get an idea where to “put” this dent.

Bolt the rear Hasport Mount onto the lower crossmember using the supplied hardware included with the Hasport Mount Kit. On the timing belt side of your new H22 engine, remove the timing belt covers and unbolt the factory engine mount bracket. Bolt the new Hasport motor mount bracket into place and reinstall the factory timing covers. The covers may need slight trimming to clear the billet hasport mount bracket.

Remove the H22 transmission vehicle speed sensor and replace with your factory 88-91 civic / crx cable driven speed sensor. This should be a direct fit into place. Bolt the Hasport cable to hydro conversion lever assembly onto your H22 transmission. Due to the large size of the H22 engine, you will need to either shave the outer power steering pulley, or install an under-drive style crankshaft pulley that does not have a power steering groove.

Bolt the included Hasport alternator bracket onto your h22 engine using the hardware supplied with the Hasport H22 mount kit. Then bolt your factory D series alternator bracket to the Hasport alternator bracket. You may need to slightly bend your dipstick tube for clearance. Using the remaining factory hardware, bolt your stock D series alternator “upside down” onto your H22 engine. For easier installation into the engine bay, you can wait until the engine is installed to bolt on the alternator.

Now comes the fun part. The easiest way to install an H22 engine using a Hasport Mount Kit is from the bottom. You will need to lift the car up on a hoist and “lower” it down onto the engine. When the engine is nearly in place, bolt the rear engine “L” bracket into place using just the two upper bolts. Leave the two lower bolts for the rear bracket out until the other mounts are bolted in. You can now bolt the timing belt side mount into place, followed by the transmission mount. Only hand tighten these for now. Go back to the rear bracket that bolts the engine to the rear mount and install the two lower bolts. Now tighten all of the engine mount bolts to factory specs.

For wiring, you will need to modify your stock engine harness to fit the Prelude engine. For simplicity, a new custom wiring harness can be also purchased. The axles you will need to use are custom made by Hasport and are to be installed using the H22 intermediate shaft.

The Keys to Successful Hot Tapping

With hot tapping procedures now commonplace in many industries, there are a plethora of companies worldwide offering both hot tapping services and equipment. Unfortunately, as with any industry, there are accidents that result from improper hot tapping procedures or faulty equipment. Trained and qualified personnel, reliable equipment, and parts specifically designed to meet the needs of the line being accessed are all vital keys to a successful and safe procedure. Accepting a lower standard in any of these areas could result in a tragic accident.

Trained Personnel

Even though it is generally considered safe and reliable, it requires individuals who understand the process as well as all the potential problems. Right off the bat, an understanding of high pressure systems and how they operate is essential. This begins at the design phase where custom-built systems must be able to withstand the pressure and the environment where the hot tap will be employed. Even a slight miscalculation in this area could end up being a significant problem.

In addition, when hot tapping operations are manually operated or assisted, the integrity of the personnel involved is vital. Workers need to follow specific instructions to the letter as well as practice all safety procedures. This is especially true in deep water situations where the condition of high pressure lines is often unknown. Workers who are lax in procedure or safety regulations are simply inviting disaster.

Proper Equipment and Parts

Because each hot tapping scenario is different from the next, most companies providing equipment and parts do so on a customized, case-by-case basis. Parts and equipment must be designed to meet the specific needs of the project and its unique environment. Therefore, it is essential that these parts and equipment can handle the job. Using a supplier with a long standing reputation for quality is always a good idea.

At the forefront of this area is the actual hot tapping machine itself. Some materials are harder to tap into than others, and the machine used must be appropriate for the material. The machine must drill the hole, insert the valve, and then retract the bit; all while maintaining the integrity of the line. A machine incapable of doing this properly is an open invitation to disaster.

In addition, valves and sleeves rated it for the pressure and able to be sealed airtight are also vital. A soft seal sleeve, for instance, is necessary in an environment where using a standard welder would be impractical or dangerous. Such soft seal sleeves typically use a self-sealing liquid gasket material to ensure it is airtight.

If these procedures are done properly, they are relatively safe and easy to perform. Not only do they allow for the service of high pressure lines without having to interrupt those lines, the procedure can often be done in a matter of hours, if not minutes, per tap. The convenience and money-saving aspects of hot tapping only add to its attractiveness.