Hurl Your Concrete Cookies

I know none of us has ever experienced this condition, but we all know of someone who has had the hurling issue, often after a period of personal discussion with some of the friends of George Thorogood.

In this instance, I’m not thinking either of the example above, or the tasty oatmeal raisin cookies my grandma made for us when we were kids. I am making specific reference to the pre-cast chunks of concrete usually four to six inches in thickness and 12 to 18 inches in diameter which are sold or provided for footings in pole buildings.

The basic concept is to throw concrete cookies in the bottom of the augered holes and place the building columns directly upon them. The general idea is for the cookies to support the weight of the building, to prevent settling.

My recommendation – RUN, DO NOT WALK, away from this as a design solution.

Why?

They are a failure looking for a place to happen.

Let’s look at what a footing is supposed to do. The dead weight of the building PLUS all imposed live loads must be distributed to the soils beneath the building. Sounds pretty simple, eh?

To begin with, the International Building Codes require concrete footings to be a minimum of six inches in thickness. This eliminates immediately any concrete cookies which are less than this thickness (most of them).

Examine a fairly small example – a 30′ wide building with columns spaced every eight feet. The actual weight of the building (dead load) will vary greatly depending upon the materials used. Steel roofing and siding will be lighter than shingles and wood sidings. For the sake of this example, we will use a fairly light 10 psf (pounds per square foot) building weight. The Code specifies a minimum roof live load of 20 psf. This means each footing must carry the weight of one-half of the width (15 feet) times the column spacing (8 feet) times 30 psf. Doing the math, 3,600 pounds.

In many parts of the country soil bearing pressures are as little as 1500 or even 1000 psf. Basically – the easier it is to dig, the lower the capacity of the soil to support a vertical load.

For every foot of depth below grade, the soil capacity is increased by 20%. Other than with 1000 psf soils, for every foot of width over one foot, the capacity also gets a 20% increase.

With 1500 psf soil, and the bottom of the footing four feet below grade, a 12 inch footing will support 2700 pounds per square foot.

A 12 inch diameter footing covers 0.785 square feet, a 16 inch 1.4, 18 inch 1.77, 24 inch 3.14.

The 16 inch footing would support exactly the 3600 pounds from the example above. However – lots of places in the country have snow loads (which the footings must support) and many buildings are wider than 30 feet, or have columns placed over eight feet apart.

Trying a 40 foot span, with a 40 psf roof snow load, same eight foot column spacing, would mean resisting an 8000 pound load! With 1500 psf soils, even a two foot diameter footing would be inadequate.

In most cases, the use of concrete cookies as footing pads proves to be both inadequate and a waste of good money. To insure a building won’t settle, (from inadequate footings), look for a plan produced by a registered design professional who is proficient in post frame building design. He/She will have the history and training to design your building to withstand the loads… which begins with the foundation.

Gymnastics Level 1-10 Balance Beam Times

· Gymnastics level 1, 2 and 3 balance beam routine has a time limit of 30 seconds.

· Gymnastics level 4 beam routine has a time limit of 50 seconds.

· Gymnastics level 5 balance beam routine has a time limit of 1 minute and 5 seconds.

· Gymnastics level 6 beam routine has a time limit of 1 minute and 10 seconds.

· Gymnastics level seven balance beam routine must be a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of 1 minute 20 (80 seconds).

· Gymnastics level 8, 9 and 10 minimum of 30 seconds maximum of 1 minute and 30 seconds (90 seconds).

Ten seconds before your time is up the person timing will either ring a bell or say “warning.” Once your time is up you will either hear a bell ring again or the person timing say “time.” If you go over time you will receive a 0.10 deduction from your average score. If you are a level 7-10 and your routine is shorter than 30 seconds you will receive a 2.00 point deduction from your final score plus a deduction for whatever is missing in your routine. The time for a beam routine will began as soon as the gymnast takes off from the mat or springboard. And the time ends as soon as the gymnast lands on the mat after her dismount. If the gymnast falls during her routine the person timing will stop the time once the gymnast makes contact with the floor. The time will restart as soon as the gymnast makes her first move to continue her routine. The gymnast only has 30 seconds to remount the balance beam after she falls off. This time will be timed separately; this means there must be two stop watches. The person timing will notify the gymnast when she has 20 seconds and also 10 seconds remaining to remount the beam. If she doesn’t remount the beam within the time limit the balance beam routine will be terminated. Within the 30 second fall time a gymnastics coach is allowed to coach and talk to the gymnast without receiving any deduction. During the fall time the gymnast may perform a skill on the mat but will receive a 0.20 deduction.

Diabetic Coma, What Every Diabetic Should Know

Diabetic coma symptoms are something every diabetic should be aware of. It is true that type 1 diabetics are much more likely to experience them than type 2, but diabetics are living longer, so the chances of experiencing symptoms is greater. One statistic is that up to 15% of diabetics will go into diabetic coma because of severe hypoglycemia.

What Is a Diabetic Coma?

Coma means unconscious. A person is in a coma if he cannot be wakened and can’t respond to sounds and sights. It does not mean the person in a coma will die. These days, with swift blood test results and and treatment, a diabetic will come out of a coma very fast. Diabetic medical alert bracelets and neck chains keep us from being misdiagnosed as drunk or epileptic when we cannot speak.

But just knowing you are a diabetic is not enough when patients are taken to an emergency room and the doctor reads their diabetic alert charms. The diabetic coma symptoms need to be diagnosed correctly so the proper treatment is started, because the complications are brain damage and death.

Oddly, either chronic high blood sugar or sudden low blood sugar can trigger diabetic coma symptoms. That’s why it’s good to know how we react to both of them.

With high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, you feel thirsty and have to urinate more often. You feel fatigue, and there is always nausea and vomiting, often for days. You can feel short of breath and have stomach pain. There is a fruity or acetone smell to your breath and a fast heartbeat. The symptoms are not sudden.

But low blood sugar comes on very swiftly and can wake you out of a sound sleep. You feel shaky, nervous, tired and either hungry or nauseated. You sweat a lot and your heart races. You can get irritated and even aggressive for no reason, and confusion makes it hard to think. Blurred vision can keep you from being able to read your meter as you try to check your blood sugar.

Get help fast. Someone needs to test your blood sugar, and if it is low, below 70, you are in a hypoglycemic reaction and need some orange juice or other sugary drink, or any quick source of glucose right now. Test your blood sugar again in 15 minutes, and if it is not responding and your confusion, sweating and blurred vision remain, you need to be taken to the hospital. Paramedics can begin treating you as soon as they arrive, so call 9-1-1.

Diabetic Coma Symptoms, the Three Sources

At the hospital, emergency room doctors will need to find out the source of your diabetic coma symptoms. There are three possibilities:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (diabetic acidosis)
  • Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome
  • Hypoglycemia

In diabetic ketoacidosos, the muscle cells are starving for energy because insulin is not available to them. So they break down fat cells for energy which produces ketones, leading to ketoacidosis.

Meanwhile sugar is building up in the blood because it is not being used by the muscle cells. Severe hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) causes the diabetic’s body to dump sugar into the urine, and it takes a lot of water with it. That is the cause of dehydration, unquenchable thirst and going to the bathroom constantly.

Dehydration leads to shock and exhaustion. There will be vomiting that can go on for 36 hours, so these symptoms are not sudden. As it gets worse you will see flushing and rapid breathing (hyperventilation), and you can slip into a coma.

In the hospital the doctor diagnoses by blood tests that show high blood sugar and metabolic acidosis with dehydration. You would be treated with IV fluids including electrolytes to restore the balance of fluid in your blood, and given insulin and monitored carefully to make sure you do not become hypoglycemic (low blood sugar). Patients wake up quickly with rehydration.

With diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome the ketoacidosis is missing. But extremely high blood sugar that is not controlled over time leads to lethargy, confusion and sleepiness, slipping into coma. This is seen in nursing homes among older diabetics, but it can happen to anyone who lets his blood sugar stay out of control. The patient does not recognize thirst, and dehydration will lead to a coma if not treated.

In this type of coma blood tests show extremely high blood sugar, sometimes above 1,800, and dehydration. It is treated with IV fluids and insulin therapy, and the patient recovers.

Then there is hypoglycemia. Our brains need glucose to function. If there is too little, we pass out. It’s that simple, and it can happen fast. The cause is too much insulin or too little food. Doing a lot of exercise that you are not used to, or drinking alcohol without food can drop blood sugar drastically, even two days after drinking.

Here are three things that, if you do them, could save your life:

  • Wear a diabetic ID bracelet or necklace all the time.
  • Be careful with alcohol. Eat a snack with it or don’t drink at all.
  • Teach your friends and family about the symptoms of low blood sugar and tell them to call for help if you get confused, sweat profusely, or pass out. If anyone in my family sees me sweating, they want to know why, and I’d better be able to explain clearly or they will take me to the hospital, period.

If you wear an insulin pump, you need to keep an eye on the tubing. Kinks or disconnects will stop insulin delivery, and for type 1 diabetics this can be fatal. If you have an illness, trauma or surgery, know what to do to protect yourself from high or low blood sugar. Congestive heart failure and kidney disease lead to hyperosmolar syndrome. GI tract flu and diarrhea can cause blood sugar to bottom out quickly in some people.

Manage your diabetes. Take your medicines and use your glucose monitor. Don’t ever skip insulin to lose weight. Some have actually done this. Don’t ever, ever take illegal drugs. You could get severe high blood sugar, and you will neglect your health. Diabetics can’t take that chance.

What should you do if you are faced with a diabetic in a coma? Call 9-1-1. If you are trained in diabetes treatment, while you are waiting you can test the person’s blood sugar. If it is low, give an injection of glucagon. If there is no glucagon you can rub honey or syrup on the inside of her cheek, but do NOT pour anything into her mouth. If the sugar is not low, do nothing. Do not give insulin to an unconscious person.

I hope you never need this information. If you take care of your diabetic chores daily, you probably won’t.

Essential Supplies For Architecture Students

This is a list for future students that are planning to major in architecture at a university. This is just a personal list of what I found most helpful after a semster at Penn State university.

Vyco – I had never heard of Vyco before, but it is a pretty useful material. We had to get a rather large piece of vyco, and luckily an architecture drop-out sold me his cheap. It is a softer material that gives a little when you draw so that you aren’t drawing on a hard surface. It really does make a difference.

Parallel Rule – This is one of the most essential tools for drafting. Before going to school, I had never heard of such and thing, and when I ordered it, I had no idea how it worked. Don’t be afraid though, it’s very easy to use after a quick installation. Basically, it is a ruler that slides up and down on your desk with the use of guide wires that always creates parallel lines. It can even be tilted to get angled parallel lines. A definite must for technical drafting. I don’t know how I survived without it before. Keep in mind, they’re rather expensive, but they’re definitely worth it. If you can, invest in the best you can get, because it will be a great investment.

Triangle (30-60-90; 45-45-90) – No, I’m talking about a musical triangle. I am talking about an architects triangle. You should probably get two. A 30 degree triangle and a 45 degree triangle. The come in hand for construction lines and vertical lines (in collaboration with your parallel rule).

Adjustable Triangle – While this one isn’t essential, I found it pretty helpful when I needed to recreate a certain angle of a line. I had a huge 12″ triangle, which was useful for big lines, but I would recommend getting a 6″, a lot easier to handle.

2mm Lead Holder and Lead – Forget old wooden pencils for drafting, get clutch pencils. They’re a lot more durable, you have a better grip, easily interchangeable hardness of leads, and you can always keep a sharp point. Definitely a must for the technical drawings.

Lead Pointer – To go along with the clutch pencil, make sure to get a 2mm lead pointer to sharper that large piece of lead you bought. This is a nifty device that sharpens your lead as you turn the top with it’s metal teeth. It’s quite addicting, but you have to be careful becaues before you know it, you’re lead is gone. Some of my classmates started collecting the lead dust, it piles up after a while.

Kneaded Eraser – A great asset for lightly erasing lines and smudges. Definitely useful in all sorts of situation and a lot of fun to play with.

Compass Set– To be honest, you don’t even need a kit, but you never know when it might come in useful. All you really need is a compass. I prefer the ones without a bar in the middle, mainly because I get frustrated with it, but it is a lot more accurate to get one with a bar in the middle (not sure of the technical name). Compasses come in handy for, well, drawing circles. And door swings.

Proportional Divider – A proportional divider is just that. It takes a certain measurement on one end and on the other converts it to a third, a fourth, a sixth, etc… It’s very useful when scaling a drawing up or down. They are rather expensive though, but if you have the money, I definitely recommend it. If you don’t have the money for it, just get regular dividers (they usually come with a compass kit). They’ll be almost as useful.

Vellum and Tracing Paper (Rolls) – Tracing paper is always good for getting quick sketches/drawings and not wasting your good paper. Vellum is a must. It’s high quality paper that is semi-transparent (kind of like tracing paper). It is great drawing paper, definitely worth it. We used to deal vellum like it was gold.

Drafting tape – Make sure to pick up some drafting tape. Honestly, a roll is all you need, at least that’s all I needed and I used it quite a lot. You’ll use it to stick all your drawings to your board. I still have more than half of my roll.

Circle Template – Not necessary, but can be a time saver at times, especially when drawing Roman temples.

We also had a modeling portion during the semester. Here’s some of the tools we used:

Tacky glue – This is magic glue. Not really, but it was definitely useful and very quick drying. Also, while you’re in the glue aisle, pick up some rubber cement. It’s rather good for gluing paper to things.

Hot Glue Gun – While not good to use on final projects, it is good for quick study models. A definite time saver.

Utility Knife/Xacto Knife – These were a huge asset during the modeling stage. I had to cut so much cardboard, chipboard, and all kinds of paper, they always came in handy. Make sure to get some extra blades. I learned the hard way that cutting with a dull blade leads to bad things. (Nothing gruesome, just bad craftsmanship). I would suggest getting a utility knife with a pop-up case like the one listed so that the blade is easily changed, not the kind with a screw. Those are a pain.

All this ends up being pretty expensive, but you’ll use all of it, so it’ll get it’s use. If you are are wondering where to find these supplies, visit http://www.mildesigner.com where I have each product listed.

Sore Feet and Plantar Arch Correction – Putting Your Best Foot Forward

It never fails to amaze me just how many people rely on orthotics, or 'air' shoes, to reduce back pain, correct posture and lift collapsed plantar arches in their feet. Not surprising, seeing as this is what most chiropractors and other physical therapists recommend. The trouble with doing this is that it is mercly covering up a rather significant postural deficiency, and not actually rectifying it in any way. Remember that our feet are often the only contact point we have with the floor and absorb much of our weight, plus the effects of gravity, so their positioning affects everything above it to some degree.

Nothing that we can 'do' to the body is ever going to be as effective as what we can do 'with' the body, and by this I mean that realigning the skeleton and rebalancing tight or weak muscles will always be effective than manipulating it into certain positions or putting it under this lamp or that scanner.

The type of footwear we all wear, particularly for training in, does not help either. We're all bouncing about on inflated soles which, while giving us a spring in out step and feeling comfy, are actually not that great for our feet at all because once again they allow our feet to become 'lazy' and weak.

Take a look at your own feet. Do you have calls on the insides of your big toe? If so it's very likely that your feet pronounce (collapse in) which probably means your butt's not working like it should. Do you have a good curve under your arches, or are your feet as flat as pancakes? If the latter is true, maybe it's time to put your orthotics to one side and actually start correcting your feet. We can do this just as we would correct any other collection of muscles; by training them.

A really easy and simple way of strengthening weak feet and building the plantar arch back up is to pop a towel onto the floor with a small weight at the end of it, and typically scrunch the towel towards you using your toes. This works the muscles on the underside of your feet and can be done under your desk at work, or in front of the telly at home. Doing this every day will really help to restrengthen your feet, and you may be surprised how much it affects little niggles further up your body. It's called the kinetic chain for a reason – everything is connected!

Another really easy way to retrain your feet to postural correctness is by training barefoot as much as possible. This is, after all, how the body was designed to function; not wrapped up in air-cushioned glory. If your gym is funny about people wandering about bare-foot, consider buying some flat soled shoes or foot gloves, which are pretty much like socks but with a 'finger' for each toe, if you see what I mean! These feel odd to begin with, but give you a much more natural contact with the floor.

If in doubt, get checked out!

The Importance of Construction Law and Litigation

Recent problems in the housing industry and economy have resulted in a number of canceled and abandoned construction projects. As a result, the need for construction lawyers is greater today than ever before.

Construction projects involve a multitude of various contracts and many different people. Construction law is not as cut and dry as other types of law because of this.

Each construction law firm specializes in different areas, but will likely address legal issues such as:

  • Construction delays–delays have become a very serious issue as money becomes a problem for contractors. But even if the contractor or the person who spearheaded the project no longer has money to finish a project, he or she still owes a great deal of money to investors. Many projects have been abandoned because of this issue.
  • Cost overruns and change orders–this is when an individual investing in a construction project believes that he or she was lied to when the deal was first sold and a solid monetary number was listed.
  • Contracts–as previously mentioned, there are many contracts involved in any construction project. There are contracts between investors, contractors, employees, renters, etc.
  • Defective work claims–when money starts to dry up, it is common for contractors to try to cut corners by finishing the work on the project in a very cheap and poor manner.
  • Defects such as roofing defects, water intrusion, structural life safety issues
  • Liens
  • Insurance coverage disputes
  • Mold and mildew claims
  • Documents related to the project including loan documentation

Most construction projects have so many elements to attend to that it is difficult to proceed without a knowledgeable construction lawyer.

Importance Of Building Materials

Most people take buildings and structures for granted. They overlook the fact that these structures are laid down and constructed one small piece at a time. It is actually these small solid pieces that make up structures ranging from simple buildings to mega structures. The common belief that cheaper is always better is flawed when it comes to building materials. Hereon, we will discuss the role of building materials in construction works.

Building materials can range from simple bricks, cements and tiles to more intricate tools such as safety equipment and tools. These raw materials are the bread and butter of building your desired structure. Therefore choosing an appropriate supplier for your structure would be the foundation of your building and one of the most important decisions you would have to make. The problem with the society is that people are willing to slack on quality to save costs. However, working with a good supplier can help you get good deals at reasonable prices for your materials as well as labor charges.

Generally the suppliers are the ones who are in charge of making the final distribution of building materials to the clients. Therefore they would have the best perception on the quality of the materials. Choosing a reliable and trustworthy supplier can ensure that you get the highest quality materials at affordable prices. It is also important to note that the quality of building materials cannot be overlooked if you wish to construct a structure which is both physically and technically safe and sound. The poorly designed structure and low quality materials used are the primary reasons contributing to the collapse of the Sampoong Department Store in 1995, which resulted in widespread damages and loss of lives.

A reliable and knowledgeable supplier would know what you require for your building by looking at your tender plans. Occasionally, building materials require a certain degree of product certifications to ensure that materials used are quality controlled. Product certification is not mandatory on everything but a knowledgeable supplier would know and distribute materials that are. Some of these suppliers will have incorporated product quality systems to ensure that materials used comply with building codes and statutes. These incorporated systems ensure that the materials used meet minimum building code performance requirements.

Choosing the supplier which synchronizes well with your project can help ensure that materials get delivered on time. Constructions of structures are considered to be hefty investments and the contractor or owner might not be able to afford any unforeseen delays or glitches. Besides timely delivery of materials, reliable suppliers may also provide warranties for defect materials delivered.

Besides raw materials like bricks and tiles, safety equipments and tools are also essential for the development and construction of a building. Construction workers put their lives at risk when they scale high rise buildings to lay a brick or tile. Scaffoldings and harnesses are an important part of construction work as they help prevent unwanted accidents from happening. Safety tools such as paddings, helmets and protective clothing help protect workers from getting injured during the construction process. Together, they help provide a safe working environment for workers to lay the basic building materials to put together the final finished structure.

Interesting Facts About Silver Spring

Situated just outside of Washington, D.C., Silver Spring, Maryland has been a residential destination for families living in the area for years. While D.C. is the go-to for monuments and museums, Silver Spring is quickly becoming one of the more desirable places to live outside the district.

So what is it that attracts so many people to Silver Spring? Here are just a few fun facts about the Montgomery County town.

Important Discoveries

Silver Spring is where one of the largest television and internet companies are headquartered. Discovery Communications is the world’s number one nonfiction media which includes channels like the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Investigation Discovery and Planet Green; channels everyone likes to flip to when relaxing in their condo or apartment. During the always popular Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, this multi-media company celebrates with a 466-foot shark named Chompie who sits atop corporate headquarters.

The Best in Film

Leaving your apartment or condo to see one of your favorite films takes on a whole new meaning when visiting the American Film Institute Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (AFI), located in Silver Spring. This historic landmark is dedicated to preserving the art of the moving image. Most of AFI’s programming concentrates on films that are typically not available anywhere else including independent features, foreign films, documentaries and classic cinema.

Best Cheap Eats in Maryland!

When Silver Spring residents are in the mood for a fantastic meal that won’t cost an entire paycheck, they look no further than Ray’s the Classics. Ray’s has quickly become a Washington, D.C. metro area staple due to the fact that Ray’s hand-selects only the finest natural, farm-raised, corn-fed beef available anywhere, at any price.

Take a Hike

One of Washington, DC’s hidden treasures is Great Falls. This national park is within driving distance from DC and can be entered from either Virginia or Maryland. Great Falls features over 800-miles of scenic views and spectacular waterfalls. The trails vary in difficulty. This is a great way to get out of the city and get some exercise. After a day out in nature, you will return to your home and be ready for a nap!

There is no limit to the numerous activities that the Washington, DC region has to offer. Whether you are meeting up with friends at a movie or grabbing drinks at a bar, Silver Spring is a destination you have to visit.

How to "Cook" Ramen Noodles With No Heat

Most people think that you need hot water to cook Ramen noodles. For years now, I have eaten Ramen noodles on camping trips, car trips, and many other times when I have been away from a heat source.

Ramen noodles normally take 3 minutes to cook. The directions say that you simply add the package of noodles into at least two cups of boiling water, and you will be ready to eat within 3 minutes.

For Ramen noodles to be “cooked”, they need to fully absorb the water until they are soft. Heat helps to expedite this process, but it is by no means absolutely necessary. Ramen noodles can absorb cold water just as easily as hot water. The main difference is that it takes longer. Here’s a short guide to help you cook your Ramen noodles with no heat:

1. Find a container that holds a minimum of 12 or 16 ounces of water.

2. Empty the packet of noodles into the container

3. Fill the container with cold water

4. Wait 30 minutes

5. Mix in the seasoning

6. Enjoy!

That’s it. Pretty simple, right? I have found that 30 minutes is a good amount of time for the noodles to become fully soft. Sometimes I might wait up to an hour. The length of time can vary depending on the temperature of the water. If it is extremely cold, it will take longer than if it is lukewarm. Just check on it from time to time if you are in a hurry.

Of course, this whole method presumes that you don’t mind eating cold noodles, but I have found that they are just as tasty when they are cold as when they are hot.

Pride and Prejudice – An Analysis of Narrative Technique in Jane Austen’s Classic Novel

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice utilizes a combination of narrative voice and dialogue, or telling and showing, to effectively create the impression of a social world inhabited by a variety of characters. The novel is written in the 3rd person, where the narrator isn’t an actual character in the story (as in 1st person narration), but a separate entity. In Pride and Prejudice they are also omniscient, allowing them to enter a particular character’s mind and inform the reader of proceedings from his or her perspective. This article explores some of the sophisticated narrative techniques Austen employs through analyzing an excerpt (found on pp.33-34, Oxford World’s Classics edition) from the novel.

The first section of the excerpt – beginning from ‘And so ended his affection’ (p.33) – is predominantly dialogue. The omniscient narrator enters a brief state of abeyance as the novel’s two principal characters – the protagonist Elizabeth Bennet and the standoffish Mr. Darcy step forth to convey the story in their own words. This is a major process of showing, known as direct speech or dialogue, and is typified by the exact representation of a character’s discourse, enclosed within quotation marks, and read as if it were occurring in real time, instead of being merely reported back to the reader. Such a process is effective for creating a sense of intimacy between the characters and the reader, as well as eliciting a more immediate response from their dialogue, such as sympathy or judgement. For example, the reader is instantly able to discern the contrast of opinion between Elizabeth and Darcy, in this instance their differing views on poetry. Such disagreements between characters echo the linguistic theories of the Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, who believed that words were essentially interactive – an idea that he defined as ‘dialogic’. He regarded all language as fundamentally a dialogue of conflicting voices, and usage of direct speech in prose fiction is a means of artistically orchestrating these voices.

The frequent use of dialogue in Pride and Prejudice brings forth the issue of veracity. Which character is the reader to believe? Bearing in mind the supposed truthfulness of the narrator can also be called into question. The veracity of Elizabeth’s dialogue is strengthened when the author doesn’t employ a detached narrative voice to describe the protagonist’s thoughts, but focalizes the proceedings through her, meaning that the reader views the story from Elizabeth’s perspective, seeing the current milieu through her eyes while comprehending the story via the narrator’s voice: “the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble… She longed to speak, but could think of nothing to say” (p.33). This process serves as a means of eliciting empathy on the part of the reader with Elizabeth, as opposed to assuming a position of ironic detachment – a quality that is typical of Austen’s writing, and something she employs frequently with other characters, most notably Elizabeth’s mother, the overbearing Mrs. Bennet.

Further on the narrative perspective shifts away from Elizabeth as the reader encounters the use of indirect speech, “Mrs. Bennet began repeating her thanks to Mr. Bingley” (p.33). The difference between direct speech – such as dialogue – and indirect speech is that with the former the reader is presented with the exact words a character uses, enclosed in quotation marks, where as with indirect speech they are merely told what has been said. In this instance, the reader is made aware of the fact that Mrs. Bennet apologizes to Mr. Bingley, but remains unenlightened as to the woman’s exact turn of phrase.

The narrative voice then assumes an initially uncertain position. The line: “tax Mr. Bingley with having promised on his first coming into the country to give a ball at Netherfield” (p.33) isn’t spoken by any particular character, neither directly, through the use of dialogue, or indirectly, as in employing indirect speech. Instead it is an example of a sophisticated narrative technique known as ‘free indirect speech’. The voice appears to be that of the narrator, although it has temporarily adopted the style and intonation of Lydia, the youngest Bennet daughter. The line however isn’t focalized through this character as the reader isn’t given Lydia’s perspective, such as earlier in this paragraph where the viewpoint was clearly that of Elizabeth. It is also important to realize that Elizabeth’s thoughts weren’t conveyed through a process of free indirect speech as there was no slippage into her manner of articulation.

The ingenuous and self-confident aspect of Lydia’s free indirect speech anticipates the concise yet detailed character description that begins the following paragraph. The reader learns that the youngest Bennet has “high animal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence” (p.33), personality traits that undeniably concur with the nature of her free indirect speech. This portrayal isn’t focalized through any particular character but is solely that of the narrator, assuming a detached attitude to enable a vaguely comic impression of Lydia. The reader is much more likely to sympathize with Elizabeth over her younger sister on account of this narrative choice.

Mr. Bingley is another character of whom the narrator encourages the reader to empathize. This is evinced in the following: “Mr Bingley was unaffectedly civil in his answer” (p.33), as well as the dialogue between him and Lydia towards the end of the extract. The subtle intimacies as to Mr. Bingley’s and Lydia’s personalities are effectively consolidated through the sections detailing their direct speech. The dialogue clearly indicates Mr. Bingley’s genuine concern for Jane, the eldest Bennet daughter, “But you would not wish to be dancing while she is ill” (p.34). This is contrasted with Lydia’s typically unabashed persuasiveness as she swiftly ripostes by stating she will insist that Captain Carter should also give a ball as well as Mr. Bingley.

This excerpt is a revealing example of how Austen utilizes a variety of sophisticated narrative and dialogic techniques to successfully convey and develop her story. Methods of both telling and showing are effectively employed. The reader encounters a range of narrative voices that, through artful organization, are able to impart the story’s proceedings in an interesting, innovative and exciting manner.

Anemic Housing Market Means Debtors Can Eliminate Second Mortgages Through Bankruptcy

Home prices continue to languish badly in spite of signs of a slowly recovering economy. While many people who found themselves unemployed as a result of the financial meltdown of 2008, the housing market has struggled even more to recover. Local markets are flooded with a surplus of inventory as many try to downsize or relocate. This is compounded by a record number of foreclosures and short sales, which drive prices down. More stringent loan criteria from lenders can delay or undo closings and preventing sales to go through. Zillow.com reported that the average home price in Portland for October 2010 was $233,000, down from the July 2007 high of $299,000. These statistics have important implications for homeowners contemplating bankruptcy, or drowning under high interest second mortgages.

At the height of the housing bubble, one hundred percent financing was in vogue by virtue of so-called 80/20 mortgages, i.e., a first mortgage for eighty percent of the purchase price, and a second mortgages for the remaining twenty percent. The second mortgage is typically at a much higher interest rate than the first mortgage, and may carry other burdens such as a balloon payment or pre-payment penalty.

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy (also referred to as a wage earner repayment plan), it is possible to “strip” liens, such as a second mortgage. This is possible where the first mortgage exceeds the value of the collateral, i.e., the home. As a result of falling housing prices, this is often the case. Noting the regional average drop in housing price is twenty-two percent from the height of the market, it is highly likely that the average home purchased in 2007 is worth less than eighty percent of the original purchase price, in spite of efforts by the federal government to spur new home buying.

In this scenario, a where a home has fallen below the value of the first mortgage, the homeowner can seek to “strip” the second mortgage, by converting it into unsecured debt, and then discharging it through the bankruptcy. The net effect is to void the second mortgage. If the debtor can afford to continue making payments on the first mortgage, they can stay in the home. This can lower the total house payment by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Even though the general economy has shown recent signs of recovery, the housing market is still very soft. Some estimates indicate that Oregon has more than forty months of inventory bogging down housing prices. Thus, for years to come, the anemic housing prices will favor debtors who bought in at the height of the market with 80/20 mortgages, and allow these homeowners to strip or eliminate their second mortgages, while staying in their homes with only the payment on the first mortgage to pay. At the same time, homeowners can eliminate other unsecured debt, such as credit card bills, medical bills, and certain other debts.

Flipping That House in Oregon – Big Profits Or Big Headaches?

Flipping, the real estate investment vehicle in which you purchase a property below value and soon sell it for a profit, is a very good way to generate positive cash flow. Cash flow is important if you want to pay the bills and feed the family. Flipping has become a big business. I encourage my protégées to buy and sell for a profit without getting into the rehab business if their goal is to be an investor.

In Oregon you need to be careful how you proceed with a flip. If you buy a house and sell it without doing work on it you will not butt heads with the state construction contractors board (CCB). But be careful. If you think you can buy a house, remodel it, and then sell it, you can – if you have a general contractors license or a developers license. In other words, it’s regulated by the state. The purpose is to offer some semblance of protection to the consumer.

The stated mission of the CCB is:

“The Construction Contractors Board protects the public’s interest relating to improvements to real property. The Board regulates construction contractors and promotes a competitive business environment through education, contractor licensing, dispute resolution, and law enforcement.”

A general contracting license with allow you to do the work yourself on a house you plan to buy, fix up, and sell. A developers license will allow you to buy, hire contractors to do the rehab, and sell.

Who needs to be licensed?

According the CCB:

Oregon law requires anyone who works for compensation in any construction activity involving improvements to real property to be licensed with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB). This includes roofing, siding, painting, carpentry, concrete, on-site appliance repair, heating and air conditioning, home inspections, tree service, plumbing, electrical, floor covering, manufactured dwelling installations, land development and most other construction and repair services.

A CCB license is also required for:

*those who purchase homes with the intent to fix them up and resell them, even if they do not perform the work themselves.

*material suppliers that receive compensation for installing or arranging the installation of the materials.

It’s not difficult to meet the requirements for a contractor or developer license. You simply take a short course that costs around $200 and you learn about OSHA, lien laws, and such – there’s very little in it about how to be carpenter, etc. You then take a test which adds an additional $50 to $100. The test is designed, like most state tests, to be passed so the state can collect fees. You can get through it. When I was first licensed all I needed was a bond and liability insurance, which cost about $125 if I remember correctly, and $50 for the state license, and I was a contractor – no course to take and no test.

The hard part of the process now is securing liability insurance you can afford. My insurance broker, Bob Gorham at Century Insurance in Bend (541-382-4211), has done a good job for me in the past. The insurance part of the equation is tough but you have to obtain it in order to comply with the state regulations.

Who does not need to have a license to work on a house?

The July issue of the Construction Contractors Board Bulletin says the answer to that question is:

1. A person who works on their own house

2. A person who furnishes the materials, supplies or equipment and does not for compensations, install or arrange to have them installed.

3. An owner who arranges for the work to be done by a licensed contractor. But this exemption does not apply to a person who in the pursuit of an independent business, does the work themselves or arranges for the work with the intent of offering the structure for sale before, upon or after completion. It is considered prima facie evidence that it was the intent to offer the structure for sale if the owner does not occupy the structure after completion.

4. A person who performs work on property they own even if they do not live there. And an owner’s employee can perform work.

5. A real estate licensee who performs work on the structure that the real estate licensee manages under contract.

For more information on licensing, you can call the CCB at 503-378-4621. Their web address is http://www.oregon.gov/ccb.

Flat Styles: The Future of Web Design?

There is virtually no design element which offers a more meaningful shape to minimalism than what flat designs do. Their earliest history can be traced back to the times when designers felt that there was an urgent need to replace the much popular skeumorphic style. Skeumorphism can very simply be described as a design concept which entails the representation of design items that resemble their real-world counterparts.

All you need to find out about them and why do you need to find out about them

Flat styles were definitely viewed as an answer to the limitations of skeumorphism. If the digital space had difficulty in accommodating the skeumorphic elements, the flat style was seen as a greater fit for the digital landscape with all its (the digital landscape’s) limitations. Today flat styles are regarded as one of the most dominant trends ruling web design. So, if you are in talks with a website designing company regarding the possible layout of your website, you should ideally expect them to know about flat designs. Here is more about them.

Flat styles look great when they are rendered within the restraints of minimalism but they are definitely adept at handling a considerable degree of complexities as well. At the very core of these styles is artistic minimalism. The immediate benefits of employing this particular style have been listed below:

  • Flat designs are compatible with responsive requirements
  • Since they are backed by structured and crisp visuals, they render an overall touch of visual maturity that hardly any other web layout can guarantee
  • Speedy loading times
  • Easy user navigation
  • Typography is simple, which in turn, facilitates readability

Today we have flat 2.0, which adds complexity to minimalistic layouts. While the older versions avoided the “grandeur” of shading, the new version employs it effortlessly. Today, flat layouts have embraced more dynamic colors or bright hues to compensate the lack of visual effects that its earlier versions were known for. The modern flat styles employ a string of energizing colors contrasted with a few dull elements in a bid to create a more engaging user experience.

The typography of this particular kind of layout consisting of sans serif and uniform stroke width remains simple and easy to read as well. It should not really be forgotten that designers put particular emphasis on readability while working with this particular style. The ghost button has emerged as almost a regular feature of this particular layout. It works well with the overall nature of this layout since it doesn’t scream for attention but is there to facilitate user experience as well.

How to find them

It is extremely important on your part to find designers who are duly aware of the latest trends ruling the digital landscape. You should know where your money is going. You should try and employ the best of skills in your budget. Do read reviews of companies before hiring them – just as a means to secure an idea about their credentials.

Glass Shelves Or Wood Shelves – Which Is Better For You?

Since there are so many types of shelves and bookcases available on the market today, a lot of people are unsure which is better, and why. Here we’ll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of wood shelves and glass shelves, and also when one is better than the other.

Wood Shelves

Almost all wood shelves sold today aren’t actually real wood. Wood shelves today are usually made of a solid core of pressed cheaper wood or plywood (sometimes called “engineered” wood), and then covered with a finish, paint or veneer. These shelves are significantly cheaper than real wood, and often they are lighter and stronger than real wood too. The best of these shelves are covered with a veneer, which is a thin sheet of real wood. The veneer, if applied professionally, will give you the feel of a real wood shelf even though the core is not real wood. Not only are these shelves less expensive, but they are made more and more with recycled materials, so they save trees and protect the environment at the same time.

As good as veneered wood is, it isn’t the same as real wood shelves. If you really want the most beautiful and rich wood colors, then real wood shelves are the only way to go, but be prepared to pay for it!

Glass Shelves

Glass shelves are not all the same. Just like with wood, you need to know which type of glass the shelves are made from in order to know what you’re buying. When looking for glass shelves, you should be concerned with getting shelves that won’t shatter or chip easily. Most glass will break if dropped, but tempered glass is designed not to shatter into a million little shards. Also, it’s less likely to crack or chip if knocked. If the glass is heat strengthened, then it is about twice as strong as regular (annealed) glass.

Thickness also is an important element in determining shelf strength. A thick standard glass shelf could easily be stronger than a thinner tempered glass shelf. Glass shelving units should come with a rating regarding allowable weight on the shelves. Ask about it carefully before you buy.

When one is better than the other

Okay, now that we know a little more about glass vs. wood, when is one better than the other. When deciding between the two ask yourself a few questions:

1. What am I putting on these shelves?

If you are putting heavy or large items on the shelf, or big books, then wood might be the better choice. While there are strong glass shelves available, you don’t want to take a risk, or start to weigh every item that you want on the shelf. With wood, you simply fill up the shelf and sleep well at night knowing that it’ll hold.

If, however, you are displaying a collection of baseballs, vases, golf balls or anything else that’s small, glass shelves highlight the collection, and draw the eye to what’s on the shelf, instead of to the shelf itself.

2. Where are these shelves going to be in my home?

If you want a shelving unit for your kitchen, for example, it’s easier to clean grease off of glass than off of wood. Toxic cleansers won’t affect glass, but they can chew up wood pretty badly. The same with humidity and residue that are in a bathroom.

If you want these shelves in your living room, you might prefer the warmth and inviting feeling that wood gives you over the cold, modern look of glass.

3. Who will have access to these shelves?

Kids are great, but accidents do happen. Not only will a knock damage or even shatter a glass shelf, but it might very well cut the person who knocked into the shelf.

4. What kind of lighting is available for this shelf?

Lighting is important for highlighting the contents of the shelves. If you are putting books on the shelves, then it’s only really important to see the spines. If you have smaller items that you want to display, then with glass shelves you gain a lot more visibility, especially of the things towards the back of the lower shelves.

Glass or wood, you have a lot of options and decisions to make. If you are interested in more info and lots of advice, take a look at The Home Shelving Guide for answers to all of your shelving and storage needs.

Breatharianism – A Life Without Food

Vitamins and Nutrients

That’s all good and fine,” you might say, “but what about nutrition, vitamins and minerals?”

More and more people are realizing that perhaps there is more to the expression that “we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience.” Personally I believe this expression is too superficial. I prefer to think of Spirit living in chemical and electric vehicles, four-layered body suits, if you will. What if our bodies could not only be sustained in vibrancy and filled with health by Spirit itself working in conjunction with the chemical laws of this world, such as sunlight, breath, sounds and colors and through the absorption of the minerals through our soil and even through the power of our mind? Who or what really sustains our bodies?

What is Breatharianism?

In the strictest term the label Breatharianism is a way to describe those who live without food and water. Perhaps a person who occasionally drinks water or a tea in a social setting may also be considered a breatharian. The moment a person eats fruits or drinks fruit juices s/he would be labeled a fruitarian. A person taking in other liquids such as soups, vegetable juices, fruit juices, etc., would be considered a liquidarian. The English alphabet and the human mind are funny in this way, we must label something in order to understand it.

Well Known Breatharians

Jasmuheen from Australia does not consider herself a Breatharian even though she claims not to have eaten for at least a couple of decades; she says that she drinks water and on occasions coffee. Zinaida Baranova, a woman from Russia who is now in her 70s, stopped eating over a decade ago after having had way too many physical conditions that were considered incurable. Genesis Sunfire, a personal fitness trainer and Breatharian from England, talks about his 17 year long journey to Breatharianism. I find him to be one of the most real individuals, saying it as it is, not holding back, sharing his struggles unselfishly and being transparent about his journey.

Our Fear of Death

Choosing a life with no food remains a non-reality for most humans and it’s supposed to be this way. Let’s face it, at the core level most humans still retain animalistic urges such as the need for a permanent roof over our heads, and even if we become homeless, all is good as long as we have food and clothing to keep warm. The moment we take away food and water our very existence is threatened and death through starvation is imminent.

So how can millions of people die of hunger and thirst while a few prove that living without food is not only possible but actually healthier for those select few individuals?

Benefits of Breatharianism

Everyone embarks on this journey from wherever they are physically, mentally and spiritually. The line between starvation and Breatharianism looks uncanny similar. As stated above, people adopt this lifestyle for their own personal reasons. Anyone’s reasons to walk this often difficult journey must be right or one is simply walking a path of starvation and eventual death. 99.99% of you reading this will maintain your opinion that Breatharianism is a stupid idea. And you’re absolutely right. If it is just an idea then it is a stupid one indeed. Walking this journey because you want to prove a point to your friends or to your ego, because you want to lose weight or because you want to save money is just plain stupid and irresponsible. In my own experience, walking this journey because of anything other than a spiritual calling will result in failure. It is Spirit that longs to sustain you and unless you are guided by Spirit you will fail to walk this journey and won’t be able to command your body with the light, air and minerals and vitamins it does need to continue to function.

Beware of Scams

Humanity is at a crucial point of evolution. We have just moved from the Iron age to the Bronze age and shifted from the Piscean (emotional) era to the Aquarian (mental) era. In other words, humanity is evolving and with this evolution comes the internal calling to express more of the true spiritual essence that we are. With this calling comes a host of so-called spiritual teachers and gurus who are grossly misguided, making a buck at the expense of longing souls who are thirsting to expand. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid for time and one’s expertise. But let’s be realistic. Governments want control over your life (and your money). Religion wants control over your soul (and your money). Businesses don’t give a shit about you or your life, they just want your money. And then there are spiritual predators, the most dangerous and most predatory kind, who want the control of who gets to ascend and who doesn’t. And of course they claim to have all the tools you need to make your ascension into the next dimension…

Trust in this: you have been given everything you need to create your own ascension. There is no short cut to spiritual growth, you must put in the work.

Spiritual Predators vs. Spiritual Leaders

Unfortunately so-called Breatharians are popping up all over the place trying to convince you that one way to become a Breatharian is by going through their program or their process. They claim that within a certain number of days you’re not only a fully developed Breatharian but you’re also ascending to another dimension. Don’t fall for it. Your salvation lies with you and only you. Don’t ever give the power of your salvation over to anyone else. I know many who have gone through such processes, me included, and none of them have gone for more than two weeks before they ravishingly devour food again (including the teachers). If it was this easy, don’t you think everyone would do it?

Here is an easy way to spot a spiritual predator from a true spiritual leader. A spiritual predator will tell you what to do and how to do it but fails to help you fix the mind that prevents you from your true spiritual growth. A spiritual leader on the other hand will bring you closer to yourself by simply helping you utilize your faculty called thinking and letting you figure things out for yourself while accompanying you along the journey. A spiritual leader acts as a coach, a friend, a confidant who will exercise more patience than you may have ever experienced in your life. He or she will never tell you what to do because this journey is indeed one of the most challenging journeys you will ever undertake. And no process or class or workshop can or will prepare you for this path… Dismantling the “I” (ego) that you think you are is only one aspect of this path. Making room for and allowing the true “I” to shine from within is only the tip of the iceberg.

Breatharianism can be the ultimate journey towards health, peace, freedom and happiness – a journey worth the struggles, a path filled with aha moments and spiritual diamonds in the rough along the way.