Pros and Cons of SSD Hard Disks and the Recommended Model

SSD hard disk, a relatively new media, is an architectural drive connected to the IDE controller or SATA. SSD stands for Solid State Drive. It is a developed block interleaving scheme (In SSD flash memory, chips are always a few) and wear-leveling technology cell. And in this article, I’d like to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of SSD hard disks and show some details about the recommended model, BlitzWolf BW-D1 120G hard disk.

Pros of the SSD Hard Disks

  • High speed

Modern SSDs give incredibly high read and write parameters. Even medium-sized and relatively cheap SSD show a far greater speed than conventional hard drives. The SSD drive is installed on the computer instead of the precursor, and can significantly accelerate downloads, as well as to reduce the startup time of applications and games.

  • Low noise

Clicks and clatter often accompany the work of the classical HDD. However, the SSD drives are completely silent as they do not have moving parts.

  • Low power consumption

In laptops and other mobile devices, with the SDD hard disk instead of a classical HDD, it can provide the extra half an hour.

  • High reliability

Due to the lack of moving parts, SSD drives are much more reliable than conventional HDDs, which are very sensitive to shock and vibration.

Cons of the SSD Hard Disks

  • The high price

The price of SSDs is really exorbitant compared with the HDDs. For the money you cost for an SSD with 64 GB capacity, you can take two conventional 1.5 TB HDDs.

  • A small container

The SSDs have much smaller containers than HDDs.

Recommended Model

If you are in need of an SSD hard disk, I would recommend the fresh BlitzWolf BW-D1 120G SSD. This model comes with a 6Gbps SATA interface, which can provide up to 6Gbps transmission rate and is used in most laptop computers and personal computers. The large software and intensive games will load significantly faster compared to the loading time of a regular mechanical hard drive because the read speed of the BlitzWolf BW-D1 SSD is up to 500MB/S. In addition, it supports ECC, Wear leveling, TRIM, S.M.A.R.T and RAID Protection. All this provides excellent data retention and enhances the reliability. And the DevSleep (Device Sleep) mode enables the BW-D1 to completely power down PHY and other sub-systems, minimizing the power consumed by the SSD. Finally, with a compact size of 100*69.85*7mm, BlitzWolf BW-D1 SSD can be used in slim business notebooks, gaming notebooks, PC computers and other media boxes and devices.

Mystery Solved – Boy-King Tut’s Magnificent Tomb – Exodus Miracles Affirmed!

The Magnificent Tomb of Boy King Tut – Fleshing Out the Biblical Exodus Story!

When the tomb of Tutankhamon was discovered in 1922 it caused a world-wide sensation, the splendor of its death mask of pure gold becoming a centerpiece display of the wealth and opulence of ancient Egypt. In addition, extensive in size, it contained much jewelry of turquoise, lapis lazuli, carnelian, also articles of gold, silver and bronze, plus numerous objects for the Pharaoh’s journey of death. Egyptologists, however, puzzled over how Tutankhamon, but eighteen and only the heir to Egypt’s throne, could be buried in so magnificent a tomb – the established tradition being that reigning Pharaohs built their own tombs during their lifetimes. The size, grandeur and ornamentation of each Pharaoh’s tomb and the splendor of its contents, reflected upon the length and wealth of his sovereignty.

Dr. Lennart Moeller, medical doctor from Stockholm, but also an Egyptologist, archeologist, amateur deep sea diver, etc., developed a theory in his book “The Exodus Story” to explain the anomaly: Tutankhamun, first born son of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, dies in the Tenth Plague; later, Pharaoh, pursuing the fleeing Hebrews with his chariot army, drowns and his body is lost in the Red Sea; Amenhotep’s empty tomb is therefore available while royal prince Tutankhamun is dead and needful of a burial place.

There is much extra-biblical evidence to support the theory.

The biblical “Ten Plagues” inflict Egypt

After Pharaoh repeatedly refuses to let the Hebrew slaves leave Egypt, Moses warns there will be plagues, first the Nile turning into blood, then frogs, lice, and finally locusts, darkness, and the tenth plague, death of all firstborn, including Prince Tutankhamun.

A highly important extra-biblical source of corroborative detail – to almost all the narratives of the ten-plagues plus Exodus events (as told in both the Bible and Passover-Haggadah), is the Ipuwer Papyrus Scroll. Found in Egypt in the early 19th century, it was translated and taken to the Leiden Museum in Holland where it is still kept. Described in several archaeological books of ancient Egypt, it is a papyrus scroll over twelve feet in length, called “Admonitions of Ipuwer”, written during the 19th Dynasty by an Egyptian scribe-historian named Ipuwer. Interpreted in 1909, it depicts violent events in Egypt during the prior dynasty, which seem to parallel the Biblical plagues and the Exodus story – it describes a society in total crisis, providing essentially an eyewitness account of extreme and unusual occurrences:

  • “What the ancestors had foretold has happened”, (Imhotep, the Egyptian vizier who saved Egypt from famine, 260 years earlier – thought to be the biblical Joseph – had foretold the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt.)
  • “The river is blood .. there is blood everywhere, no shortage of death .. many dead are buried in the river {The first plague}.. lacking are grain, charcoal .. great hunger and suffering”.
  • “destruction of grain” {The plague of locusts or hail}.
  • “We don’t know what has happened in the land.”
  • “animals moaning and roaming freely”.
  • “darkness” {The ninth plague}.
  • Deaths .. “children of princes, prisoners, brothers” {The tenth plague, deaths of all the first-born}.
  • “Gone is what yesterday has seen. See now, the land is deprived of kingship. See, all the ranks, they are not in their place .. like a herd that roams without a herdsman.”
  • “Poor .. have become of wealth .. Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and bronze are strung on to the necks of female slaves.” {.. and they requested from the Egyptians, silver and gold articles. And God made the Egyptians favor them and they granted their request.” Exodus 12:35-36};
  • Additional extra-biblical confirmation of the Passover plagues are the mass burial graves of Egyptians, excavated at Tel ed Daba and elsewhere, indicating a panic, no individual burials.

The Exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt

After the Tenth Plague, when Amenhotep III’s first-born son, Tutankhamun dies in the tenth plague, Pharaoh finally orders Moses to take the Hebrews and leave Egypt. Later however, when he realizes the loss to Egypt of its slave people, also learning from his scouts that they are “trapped in the wilderness” (see article “Miracles, 3500 Years Ago”), he pursues them with his chariot army.

Going beyond the plagues, the Ipuwer scroll also corroborates the biblical description of the Exodus flight: “fire .. mounted up on high .. its burning goes forth against the enemies of the land” {Bible: “by night in a pillar of fire”}.

Pharaoh and his Chariot army Drowns

Pharaoh, leading his chariot army, pursues the Hebrews to the Gulf of Aqaba, where recently discovered artifacts of coral-covered chariot wreckage plus bones of men and horses – all strewn along an eight mile undersea ridge between the Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia – indicate they had drowned (see Ezine article, “Miracles, 3500 Years Ago”).

Corroboration of these events comes from several sources – firstly, the Ipuwer scroll: “See, he who slept wifeless, found a noblewoman ..” Written long afterwards, it obviously describes conditions after the loss of the Egyptian army, composed of upper-class males. Secondly, this also supports the request of the “royal” widow of Pharaoh, in a remarkable (clay cube) Amarna letter to the King of the Hittites- asking for one of his sons to become her new husband. It was sent to King Suppiluliumas, “He who was my husband is dead and I have no son. People say you have many sons. If you send me one of your sons he will become my husband .. repugnant to me to take one of my servants .. since most ancient times .. never happened before .. write to a foreign country .. humiliating to me and my country.”

The loss of the mighty Egyptian chariot army seems to be supported by various items of evidence – Josephus, the Roman historian, quotes Monetho, an Egyptian priest, circa 300 BC, regarding the “easy” conquest of mighty Egypt by the Hyksos. (Egypt’s loss of its entire chariot army at the Red Sea seems a corroborating explanation.)

Also, Tel-Amarna letters have been found from cities dependent on Egypt for protection from invaders, begging Pharaoh to send troops – saying “no help has come”. Historians note that Egypt having lost its powerful chariot army was now incapable of sending military protection, and recovery of a demoralized Egypt would take a long time – per Dr. Moeller, it was “the beginning of the end of the 18th dynasty”.

Tutankhamun is buried in the tomb of his Pharaoh father

With Pharaoh Amenhotep III drowned in a far-off sea and his magnificent tomb completely furnished but absent a body, but with the body of royal Prince Tutankhamun needing a burial place, the obvious apparently took place, the Egyptian court deciding that Tutankhamun would be buried in his father’s tomb. The only personal item was the magnificent death-mask.

One direct reference is cited by Dr. Moeller, ” .. young king .. buried in tomb originally prepared for ‘Ay’.”

The Wiper Fly Fishing Experience

Wiper, the hybrid striped bass/white bass, is gaining a lot of popularity in fishing circles across Colorado and surrounding areas that have wiper fisheries. The greatest excitement is probably found among the relatively small circle of fly fishers who pursue them. Once you find these fish, fooling them with a fly is not difficult. The powerful fight that entails is something that will almost make you wonder why you’d fish for anything else.

Now, wiper are fairly mysterious fish and volumes have not been written on the subject of fishing for them. As with any type of fishing article, authors offer information based on their experiences, leaving the door wide open for an array of other tactics, insights, and opinions. It seems everyone I talk to about wiper have their own thoughts that have been formulated not by magazine articles and fishing shows, but from their own personal quests. This article is nothing different. I have put in many hours behind the reel searching for these steamrollers, and the following is a compilation of my experiences.

Fly fishing for wiper can be humbling, but if you get that one trip under your belt where you really get into them and figure them out, you will be hooked for life. Having these hybrid-vigor fueled fish tear line out of your hands is an amazing feeling, and we should consider ourselves lucky to have this fish available to us. It’s like saltwater fishing in the Rockies.

Wiper will eat forage fish about the width of the gape of their mouth, entitling this 6-inch shad to be dinner for the big boys.

Finding the fish:

The most important thing in any type of fishing is locating the fish. If you’re fishing trout in a river you look for pockets and runs of the right depth, size, and water speed. When smallmouth fishing in a lake, you look for certain structure and depth depending on the time of year, or you survey with your electronics. Whatever the scenario, if you find the spots where the living is easy and the food aplenty, you will find big fish.

It is often assumed wiper travel constantly and randomly around the lake in schools at generally high speeds picking off whatever food they come across. My thoughts are that this is partially correct. I have witnessed their schooling mentality and their speed of travel. One moment they will bust near the surface 50 yards to the east, and the next you will see them flashing underneath your boat and onto the west. But I don’t think it is completely random. Those frustrated by this thought, hang in there. This may not be an easy fish to locate, but I don’t think it’s a crap shot.

Every fish has some level of energy conservation written into their DNA. If they did not, they would exhaust themselves swimming about freely all day long. Think about trout in a river – the biggest fish will take the best spots where current is slight but carries plenty of oxygen and food so they can keep growing big and fat.

Wiper are no different. They have spots and patterns on each body of water that provide what they need – food. With little current to speak of in general, forage is the key. They are not so much like bass that they need cover and structure to ambush fish. They are more effective schooling and taking a team-based approach to feeding. The best example of this is when they corral baitfish to the surface, bay, or other type of trap so they can perform their signature “busting” feast.

Wind blowing into any structure makes that structure better. This complex has plenty to offer wiper, especially traps for schooling baitfish.

But what about when they are not busting baitfish near the surface? I believe they are doing similar things subsurface. Here’s where experience with a lake, knowing structure and water temperatures on the lake, and understanding wiper movement comes into play the most. Wiper like other fish will use underwater structure, edges if you will, as their highways. Perhaps it is a depth breakline, submerged road beds, rocks, sunken trees, or humps. Perhaps it’s a weed line, mud line, or inlet/outlet channel. Whatever it is, these edges define a path for them. These fish travel in a route consistent with edges and the availability of food.

The “available and abundant” theory expressed by a variety of authors is alive and well. Wherever there is an abundance of food that is highly available to predators, you will find fish. So is the case with wiper. However, don’t expect the schools to sit still in one area for long. Instead expect the schools to travel paths between or with abundant food sources. That’s right, I said “with.” Wiper are ravenous beasts. They have been known to decimate forage populations. They are living vacuums. In understanding this, definitely consider baitfish schools structure. Wiper almost certainly corral and follow schools of shad and other forage fish when abundantly present. One of the best indicators in finding wiper is prevailing wind. Always check the leeward side of a lake which may harbor schools of baitfish.

Chasing wiper around a lake is not often considered a smart thing to do. It wears out trolling motor batteries and may tear your heart out. Don’t get me wrong, I do it myself all the time – especially when the busting activity is moving slowly in semi-predictable fashion. I am not the type to sit in one spot and fish for hours even if it is the best choice. My only recommendation is to find a happy medium.

Surface water temperatures are one important piece of the puzzle that will help you find wipers. These temps combined with knowledge of the fish’s movement and preferred forage will provide a good starting point to finding wipers on any given day. In the spring as surface water temps approach the 50’s, wiper will become more and more active. Optimal temps are relative to a body of water and strain of fish, but in general the farther away you get from the optimal range for any fish, the lower their metabolism and thus the less they are compelled to eat and the slower their actions will be.

One of the reasons we put the Fish Explorer website together is to provide information that will help you find fish in individual water bodies. Our focus on water temperatures is not simply a novelty. If you understand how water temperatures affect fish on a particular lake, you are one step ahead of the game.

As wiper become more active in the early season, they reportedly go into a false-spawn. At lakes with active, accessible inlet streams at the right time of year, as Jackson Lake in northeast Colorado often experiences, wiper will actually run up the inlets as if spawning. In other places such as Union Reservoir, we have seen hordes of wiper stacked outside the inlet in a typical pre-spawn staging. It is also possible that these fish are relating to the shad that are in spawn mode. Whatever the reason for this activity, it would be a good place to check these inlet areas early in the season and any time of year, especially when the water is flowing.

Outlets are also a good place to scope out wipers any time of year, especially when the faucets are turned on. At Jackson Lake it was reported that several hundred wiper escaped into the outlet river, compelling officials to put in a screen downstream to capture the AWOL and return them to the reservoir.

In both of these cases, one thing is for sure – food organisms up and down the chain are drawn to these areas at any time of the year, which may prove to be enough draw to concentrate these ever-feeding fish.

When surface water temps are in the mid 50’s to mid 60’s wiper fishing seems to be the best in Colorado. They will be active in the upper column of water meaning they are more readily available and recognizable to the fly fisherman. The upper column feeding means that fish will be in the shallows, or they may be over deeper water but up high. During this period, you will also witness good wiper fishing all day, as opposed to the oft-assumed theory that wiper are only low-light feeders. I believe wiper feed all day just like trout in a river, because they inherently like to expend energy by swimming around and thus must eat accordingly.

Analyzing satellite images can help you determine lake structure. In this image of Jackson Lake you can easily see where the “flats” are versus the main basin, which may lead you to warmer water areas in the early-season.

As water temps rise, the fish will typically move deeper to more comfortable water. The temps are better, the forage thinks so too, and sunlight/UV rays will be more dispersed. This is the most difficult time to find wiper, and you really need to put your time in and get to know a lake for its structure and tendencies. Often experimentation and time on the water will be the primary key to your success. During these times you may find wiper moving back to the surface column at night, dawn, dusk, and very cloudy days. This is the typical low-light feeding scenario aforementioned. Wiper will still be feeding mid-day, just deeper. If you’re like most people and like to see fish in the upper column or in close to shorelines, fish the low-light times.

As fall approaches and water temps lower, wiper will move back into the upper column and you will again be greeted with more optimal fishing conditions. As is typical with most fish species, the pre-ice season turns wiper into ravenous beasts. They will feed heavily. Catching this period will often produce larger fish due to the fact the fish have been growing all season and are eager to eat whatever they can before they slow down for the winter.

Two thoughts come to mind at this point as I run out of ideas to express on how to find these fish: non-standard structure and rise identification. As Dick Pearson describes so well in his book “Muskies on the Shield”, structure is not necessarily always stationary and permanent like points, humps, and weeds. Often edges can be defined in less physical terms. Other edges you may consider are baitfish schools, wind current, and my favorite, carp pods.

If you see a swarm of seagulls or diving birds congregating in the middle of a lake, go over and check it out, you might find a nice school of baitfish that has drawn not only flying critters, but wiper as well. If there’s a good wind, look for current or places where the wind makes a “spot” a better “spot”. Examples are wind blown vegetation edges, a wind-blown point, or a saddle. Current will concentrate forage into certain areas and the wiper will be there.

Regarding carp pods – don’t overlook them. We have fished around carp pods and hooked really nice wiper. Stay as far away from the slow-moving mud-stirring pods as you can so not to spook them. Cast right over their edges and off further to the sides, but not right into them. Spooking them may break up the pod and in turn you may lose your structure. We will often fish bugger or crayfish patterns in this scenario, as we think the wiper are taking advantage of the plethora of food items being stirred up by the scrounging carp.

By rise identification, I mean being able to look at a fish breaking the surface and determining what kind of fish it is and what it is doing. One calm day on Union Reservoir, we were looking for wiper and having a tough go at it. There were rises all over the lake that we initially determined were trout or bass taking insects. As we studied the actions more thoroughly we began to notice a difference in rise forms. One type of rise was different than the others – it was more of a quick “pop” than a quick splash or slurp. Soon we discovered these somehow transferred into wiper – although we aren’t sure if they were wiper eating insects or small fish near the surface, or perhaps a school of shad that were semi-frequently slurping the top. We spent the rest of the trip looking for this rise form, quickly casting streamers into the vicinity, and hooking into several wiper.

Observation is key no matter what sort of fish you are going after. Continuously observe everything around you such as water temps, lake structure, bird activity, insect activity, barometric pressure, weather changes, wind direction, wind speed, your partner’s headache, and anything else that could play into the overall puzzle you are trying to solve. Even the smallest things may trigger a thought process that could lead to success.

First, bring binoculars with you. When you have a lot of water to cover, extending your eyesight could give you the edge. They are an invaluable tool on the water when trying to locate busting fish. If you see or hear some splashing on a distant shoreline, break out your binoculars and see if they’re spawning carp, shore birds, or really wiper crashing bait in shallow water. Scan over the lake to see if you can find any surface disturbance or any birds actively feeding. One day a pair of binoculars might be the difference between boom or bust.

Second, it should be mentioned that we don’t always find wiper in large, tight schools. We often see sporadic wiper spooked by the boat jetting away from the boat. I don’t think these are necessarily solo fish, but I don’t think they’re in large schools either. If you see this happen, take some time to fan-cast the area looking for more. Take note of where you saw the fish and come back later. And more importantly try to find some other spots that fit the same makeup where you saw the fish, paying attention to wind direction, structure, depth, etc.

Now on to actually fly fishing for wiper…

Presenting Flies to Wiper:

Presenting to wipers with a fly is not rocket science. Consider the fly and setup you use to be a tool. When you are fishing to wiper in the upper water column, present your fly there. When fishing to wiper down deep, present there.

The type of fly rod you use is determined by what you’re throwing. You will often want to cast far, so I’d recommend not going lighter than a 6wt rod. If you’re finding wiper relating to the surface you will want to throw poppers or high-riding streamers, therefore a 6wt is adequate with floating or short sink-tip lines. If you want to fish a few feet down, throwing a 150-grain RIO 24-foot sink tip is the ticket, and again a fast 6wt rod should do the trick. When you need to get deeper, say 5-10 feet deep, throwing a 200 or 250-grain RIO sink tip would do the trick and you will want to be using a 7wt or 8wt rod simply to be able to handle the heft of these lines. Go to a 300-500 grain line to get deeper, upgrading to a rod between an 8 and 10 weight to carry the load. With a well-made rod with some backbone, you should be able to play even the largest wipers available in the state.

Having a fly rod with a strong backbone is essential for landing the biggest wipers Colorado has to offer.

The main factor with what tippet to use is strength. I am not a firm believer in leader shyness when fishing streamers to stillwater fish. As long as you’re not using telephone cable and you’re not fishing super slow, I don’t think wipers will be deterred by your tippet. I will most often use 15-20 pound fluorocarbon tippet which for me has not broken off on a strike yet. The worst mistake you can make is to go too light and break off on a fish. I’ll use a couple of feet of 40-pound mono looped to a couple feet of 20-pound mono looped to the fluorocarbon tippet. So typically my entire leader is not much more than 6 feet long. However when I fish on or very near the surface, I will go longer.

When you’re fishing to wiper, you will want to vary your retrieve until you find what works best. Typically you cannot strip fast enough through busting schools. But often you will find that quick short strip-strip-strip-pause retrieves work better in other conditions and to well-fed wiper. Vary the pause length….you may be surprised to lose hold of your line as you look up to say something to your buddy on one of the pauses and a wiper grabs the suspended fly and turns at Mach 1 in the opposite direction. One thought that should play into your technique is the belief that some of the biggest wiper will sit below schools of shad, waiting for easy pickings. If you drop your fly through and under the baitfish school you may find a heavy surprise down below. Experiment every time you go out, the mood of the fish seems to change daily.

Bait size is a factor. In some studies on bass feeding, it is proven that fish in certain bodies at a given time of year will have a preferred bait size. For wiper, I have been told that they like to eat baitfish that are as long as the width of the gape of their mouth when open. Experiment with streamer sizes if you’re having trouble locating and hooking fish. If you’re fishing with a partner, start off the day fishing different colors and different sizes until one of you has more success than the other, then switch over to the hot bait. We have had success with streamers as short as one inch to streamers as long as six inches.

Which color fly to use is opening a huge can of worms. As my good friend and perennial fisherman Phil Small says, “If it ain’t chartreuse, it ain’t no use.” That often may be the case, although we fish chartreuse very often which may skew the numbers. One theory I believe in is contrast….to use a fly that is two-colored, often with a light and a dark. The reason this may be effective is that fish see colors differently throughout the day, and therefore may pick up on the contrast if one or both of the colors is less visible at the time. You may try to “match-the-hatch” or go with more of an attractor pattern….and either may work, but I do not know of any tried-and-true pattern that works every time all of the time. It took me a long time to believe in any color theories, but I now believe color has something to do with the equation. So again, experiment daily with color, determine if one pattern is working more so than another, and run with it.

These are some of my most commonly used flies when fishing for wiper. From top, l-r: A saltwater popper, perch-colored Rainy’s CF Baitfish Streamer – unweighted, a home-tied big clouser-style shad imitation, chartreuse/white clouser, another big shad imitation, a streamer weighted body with wrap-around lead, and my favorite crayfish/bugger pattern with twist-tail.

Whether you use weighted streamers or not is another item to experiment with. We have had success fishing very light flies, lead-head or clouser-type flies, and weighted-body flies. Clouser-type flies work very well when using the strip-pause retrieve and when fishing a little lower in the water column. Weightless flies seem to work better when fishing high and fast especially on a sink-tip…but don’t fail to experiment fishing very light flies on floating line quickly right in the surface film which gives an injured baitfish kind of look. You may also try fishing clouser-type flies on floating line to fish just under the surface. If you’re looking for fish down deep, sinking lines and heavy flies will allow you to cover more water quickly.

Whether to use a sparsely tied or a very hairy fly is yet another option that the wipers will help you decide. To give some guidance based on my observations, try sparser streamers in water with good clarity, and thicker, hairier streamers in discolored water or mudlines. Flies that produce more water disturbance as they’re retrieved will appeal better to the lateral line senses utilized more so by fish in darker waters. This is also the case for night fishing.

One area I have yet to experiment with greatly is the use of surface flies, namely poppers. Definitely give poppers a chance, especially in low-light conditions or in busting schools. Vary retrieves from a pop-pop pause, to ripping the popper through the surface film. The typical rule of thumb in top water presentation is to create just enough disturbance to attract fish. You’ll want to try fishing larger poppers that make more noise in choppy conditions, and smaller poppers in still conditions.

And do not forget flies other than streamers. As I mentioned before, we’ve caught plenty of wipers on bugger and crayfish patterns, especially around pods of carp when we were most inclined to throw them. The rule of abundant and available applies anytime you fish. If there’s an abundance of crayfish available to wiper, you better give it a shot. One way to know for sure what the fish are concentrating on is to look for undigested food coming out of a fish you’ve caught. One weekend fishing on Horsetooth Reservoir for smallmouth, we noticed a small orange chunk of crayfish spewed from the mouth of a bass we had on the hook next to the boat. It had been a tough day finding any smallies that day as we rotated between a variety of streamer patterns and retrieves. Truth is the smallies had turned onto the molting crayfish much like trout key in on insect hatches.

Presenting crayfish with a fly rod is not as easy as fishing a tube jig on a spin rod. You want to fish them slow and low, preferably in areas with various sized rip-rap and boulders, even ticking the rocks. Doing so will often lead to plenty of hang-ups and lost flies. To improve your efficiency, fish a short sink-tip line with crayfish patterns designed to ride hook-point-up. The best crayfish patterns are those that are tied more like a wooly bugger, with short or no pincers (chelae), and in a color leaning more towards orange/tan than dark brown. In studies that relate to this subject, smallmouth bass preferred softer molting crayfish over larger hard-shell crayfish, the former tending to be of lighter color.

The jury is still deliberating on whether fishing insect imitations to wiper is effective. I myself have not tried this one lick. Whenever I have found wiper smacking the surface in a manner that might suggest that they are eating insects, a streamer always did the trick. But, perhaps this is a technique to consider. I believe all fish eat insects at some time or another – and I would guess that wipers may do so more than one might think.

For slower fishing, and when letting our fly drop below shad schools, I like to go with a shinier and more active streamer like this sparkly clouser-style streamer.

The Battle:

The wiper fight is what you came for. These fish take a fly in what was described by Dennis McKinney’s DOW Outdoor’s Journal article “Wiper Watch” as a U-turn fashion, which I completely agree with. The initial take is a hard thump, as if they hit it going 30 MPH in the opposite direction. Setting the hook should not be a problem as they tend to hook themselves.

Getting the fish to the reel, meaning picking up all the slack so your reel drag is activated, is not difficult to do with wiper. They will typically take all the slack line at your feet out with them on the first run. Just make sure you’re not wrapped around your feet, bushes, or items in your boat before the strike. Doing so may bring the fight to an abrupt halt and will cost you about one fly.

The fight can vary, but typically they will make a very pronounced initial run followed by a rest period and subsequent sharp runs. Do not overplay the fish to the point it is exhausted, and do not try to net the fish so green that it will injure itself flailing about. Take advantage of their “rest periods” by turning their heads gently, pumping your rod, and reeling in line to bring them closer to you. Let them take drag when they want to run. Do not put too much pressure on the fish as you may wear a hole in their lip that will make escape much easier for them. And do not, by any means, give them slack line.

After a few runs, if the fish seems to be losing some steam, put more pressure on the fish to bring it to the net. Once landed, if you plan to release the fish, handle it gently, support its weight fully when lifted for a photo, and return it to the water promptly. I have had no problem reviving wiper when handled in this manner. We always fish barbless and have not lost any fish due to this factor alone (if we do lose a fish it’s typically our own fault for allowing slack.) I encourage barbless fishing for any type of fishing you may try…hooks are easier to get out of your skin when the inevitable occurs, the hooks set deeper, and as long as you keep your line taught I do not believe you will ever lose a fish due to barbless hooks. But you will lose fish to weak hooks, so use strong saltwater hooks for your wiper flies or they might come back as straight as an arrow.

Smaller Wiper can be “thumbed” out of the water, but if you plan to release the fish, be sure to support their full body and don’t leave them hanging by the lip.

In conclusion, if you have not hooked into a wiper on the fly, you’ve got to give it a shot. But be aware that it may turn you into a wiper junkie. Finding wipers is a majority of the battle, so concentrate your efforts there, and when you do find them get ready for a battle! These observations are only from my experiences and a lot is yet to be written on this subject.

High School Wrestling: Dominating in All Three Positions

Most wrestlers have a favorite position wherever it is standing, on the bottom in the referee's position, or on top in the referee's position. Nonetheless, a wrestler wants to be strong in each of these positions. In fact, a wrestler wants to dominate all three of these positions. How can this be accomplished? Let's explore.

Standing

The first thing to consider in the standing position is one's stance. Your stance should be fairly low and wide. You want to have a stable base and yet be very mobile. You want your head up and your shoulders square. You obviously do not want to be looking at your feet. You want your eyes centered on your opponent's body. You want to be somewhat on the balls of your feet. You do not want to be on your heels. You should have your hands up in front of you to guard against getting taken down. You should never be standing straight up and leaving yourself open to a takedown from your opponent. You should use a comfortable but effective stance. You need a stance that allows you to attack as well as defend. This is basic information.

Lee Roy Smith (brother to John and Pat and an exceptional wrestler and coach in his own right) notes, "To successfully execute takedowns, you must control contact. So, setups should not be overlooked. They are an integral part of gaining control and getting the takedown. "

You can control your opponent's reaction in a variety of ways. Controlling your opponent's response gives you an advantage. For instance, if you pull his head down you know he's going to pull it back up; then you shoot after he reacts.

Ways to Control Contact

  • Pull – He pulls back.
  • Push – He pushes back.
  • Twist his shoulders – He twists back.
  • Pump and fake – He reacts because he thinks you are going to shoot.

Coach Tommy Pavia likes to talk about making an opponent "heavy" on one foot. By grabbing an opponent's arm and pulling him forward, for instance, you can force your opponent to bring the leg toward you that you want to attack.

Two-time NCAA wrestling champion Cary Kolat emphasizes catching your opponent's head down a lot to tire his muscles back and eventually his leg muscles to wear him down. In addition, snapping your opponent's head down takes his eyesight away and you may be able to capitalize on his reactions as he tries to come back up. Snapping the head down can break his stance and position.

There are many ties a wrestler can use to move his opponent around and set up takedowns.

Common ties include:

  • Collar and elbow tie
  • Double elbow tie
  • Underhook and overhook
  • Double bicep tie
  • Two-on-one or Russian tie

You probably know that you need to use motion and level change to execute successful takedowns. You never want to move backwards or retreat. You may get called for stalling. You want to move from side to side without crossing your feet and move forward in a stalking manner. You need to control your opponent's movements and determine where the action goes on the mat. In addition, a good time to shoot is after you have blocked an opponent's shot or immediately after you've had a takedown attempted blocked. Re-shots are very important.

Your most common takedowns are going to be doubles and singles. They are basic and they work a significant percentage of the time. You need to drill doubles and singles often. There are several ways to set these takedowns up and finish them. You need to know how to perform a high crotch, ankle pick, and other takedowns as well.

It's important to learn to finish low and cut the corner because you will not always be able to lift your opponent's leg off the mat. You may capture a leg and yet be stuck down on the mat. You need to get on your toes, sometimes snake his leg, and grab the near or far ankle while cutting the corner and coming around to score. Momentarily being stopped does not mean you can not finish the shot and score. Practicing this position is very important.

You need to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of tosses and throws as well. You need to know how to execute a headlock, hip toss, and arm toss. Sometimes an opportunity for a toss or throw arises when you did not even have that scenario in mind.

You, of course, need to defend against takedowns as well. Sprawling is basic but absolutely essential. You need to sprawl and peel your opponent's hands off. Your legs go back and your hips go in. You may need to crossface and whizzer as well. You execute a crossface by sprawling the legs back, reaching across your opponent's face, grabbing the far arm, grabbing the near ankle, and circling behind. This is basic material but important to know and perfect.

Top Position

When in the top position, you want to control your opponent and prevent him from getting an escape or a reversal. In addition, you absolutely want to turn him to his back to score points and pin him.

Dan Gable ( Dan Gable's Wrestling Essentials DVD) and Art Keith (author of Successful Wrestling ) both emphasize being able to flow with your opponent's movements. Holding on to your opponent tightly is not necessarily the most appropriate way to control your opponent from the top. Art Keith likes to talk about keeping an opponent "in your lap" to maintain control of his hips. Dan Gable likes to compare flowing with your opponent to riding a bucking bronco. You need to get "in tune" with your opponent and anticipate his movements.

You do, of course, want to control some of your opponent's movements and eventually break him down. Just as in the standing position, you want to keep your opponent off balance. You can attack both arms and legs in a number of ways to keep your opponent from bracing himself and executing moves. Make your opponent carry your weight and drive him forward trying to get as much weight forward as you can break it down. Drive your opponent's body (ie weight) forward. This is key.

Coach Gable prefers a technique he calls "jam and control." On the whistle, you want to jam your opponent forward while making sure to keep your arms behind your opponent's arms when performing the jamming action. Repeated hip thrushes may be needed to break your opponent's position. Riding on your toes can give you more mobility and allow you to apply greater pressure on your opponent. You can execute a spiral ride, chop an arm, grab an ankle, or put in a cross body ride just to name a few options.

Pinning combinations include the half nelson, arm bar, double arm bar, hammerlock, cradles, leg turks, and pins from leg riding (turk, force half, guillotine).

Coach Guy Burdett related a story from his high school days concern technique. He stated that a wrestler who knows more techniques than his opponents has a superior advantage and is likely to win the majority of his matches. He related a story in which he obtained a video one summer that covered the half nelson. Yes, everyone knows how to do a half nelson. It's one of the first moves a wrestler learns. But, this video taught the young coach Burdett how to use leverage and angles to apply the half nelson in ways he'd never used before. Evidently, his opponents had never learned about these particular half nelson techniques either because he pinned several of his opponent's after the season started using something as fundamental as the half nelson. The lesson here is to learn the correct technique for every move and hold and to learn several ways of doing those holds and moves.

Bottom Position

When you're down in the bottom position your opponent wants very much to break you down, turn you, and pin you. Do not let that happen. Keep a fairly wide base with arms slightly bent. Keep your weight fairly light on your hands. Explode on the whistle and create space between you and your opponent. Drive your weight back into your opponent and fight for hand control. Hand fighting skills and hand control are essential. Keep your elbows in and make your opponent reach over or around your arms not inside. If he does not grab a wrist then peel his hand off. If you get broken down to your stomach and he has a wrist, you may have to "swim" your arm out to get it free. If your opponent grabs an ankle do not try to move forward. Put weight back on your ankle and peel his hand off. You never want to rest your head on the mat. You'll get called for stalling. You absolutely need to get back to your base. Your base consists of four props or braces. These supports I refer to are, of course, your two arms and two legs. If you get broken down, you need to get back to your base and get your hips back under you so you have a good center of gravity.

The hip heist is a very important technique to utilize when in the bottom position. The hip heist creates a lot of space. You should practice hip heist drills every practice. The hip heist motion is, of course, commonly seen when a wrestler executes a switch from the bottom. One of my favorite moves in high school was a standing switch. I liked to hit a switch when my opponent tried to bring me back to the mat.

The most common move from the bottom is a simple stand-up. The stand-up is popular because it works. Keep your elbows in as you come up and control his hands. Hip heist while clearing his hands and you're out of there, scoring a one point escape. The switch and sit out are important to learn as well. If you can perform a granby roll (and you should be able to), you can score points and sometimes even get a pin. But, scoring a one point escape from a stand-up is much more common and usually much safer.

You never want to end up on your back but it happens even to the best of wrestler s occasionally. For this reason, you need to learn to bridge. Effective bridging can be the difference between getting pinned and not getting pinned. Even if you do not win the match, if you do not get pinned you can at least save your team some points.

Remember that the bottom position is not simply a defensive position. You need to be thinking in an offensive way. There are ample opportunities for escapes and reversals from the bottom position. Even though all positions require protection at times, you should always be concentrating on being offensive and scoring even in the bottom position.

A wrestler needs to practice and drill frequently every position and several moves to become successful. Therefore, make sure you have a good knowledge base and that you know proper technique.

Some Resources to Consider:

  • Dan Gable's Wrestling Essentials DVD
  • Tom Brands' Domination Pinning – Cross Wrist Series DVD
  • Situational Wrestling from the Bottom Position DVD by John Smith
  • Successful Wrestling by Art Keith
  • Winning Wrestling Moves by Mark Mysnyk
  • The Wrestling Drill Book by William Welker

A wrestler needs to be proficient in every position (standing, top, and bottom) if he is going to be successful in wrestling.

How To Effectively Remove Mold For Good

Mold is a fungus that takes root in nature and your surroundings. It enters your home as tiny spores. The spores need moisture to start growing. They are known to destroying your health as well as household articles. It is easy to locate these spores as they originate in humid or soggy areas. Mold is known to grow fast and it can cause severe damage to your homes. It can affect your documents, textiles, floor coverings, rugs, and even the walls and ceilings of your house.

The mold grows best where there is dampness or humidity from a leaky roof or wall or carpets and furniture that stay wet for a long time. There is no way to get rid of the entire mold and mold spores from your home but you can control the mold growth by following a few tips for removing mold in order to keep your home dry and yourself healthy.

To get rid of mold effectively, the area affected with mold needs to be dried out. Dehumidifiers, pumps and spongy materials work very well on getting rid of the damp conditions that are required by mold to flourish. To make sure that the atmosphere and surroundings do not turn too wet, get hold of a piece of equipment that can be of assistance to check out the moisture around the home.

Also when making laborious effort to tackle an outbreak, make sure that the areas that are facing the problem of mold are sealed off from the rest of the house. Try to make use of synthetic sheeting to hinder any spores from spreading in the air and moving to new locations. An exhaust fan at a window in the area being cleaned will be of help to transmit the spores out of the house and keep the area dry.

If you choose to use commercial products instead of domestic objects for removing mold, you can make use of CLR. CLR is easily available at local department stores and retail outlets. It is one of the best products available in the market for removing mold. With just a swift application and a quick wipe down, the mold is known to vanish. You can also try using products like Mr. Clean Magic Eraser that is also very popular. This product can also be used to get rid of mold and a whole lot of things you apply it on.

Following these tips for removing mold can be of assistance in not only preserving the appearance of your home and getting rid of unpleasant odor but also the physical condition of the members in your house. Following these simple tips for removing mold will reduce the mold growth in your home significantly and lend a hand to put a stop to occurrence of allergic reactions, asthma or any other respiratory problem as a result of wet carpets or furnishings in your home.

Mirrors – A Self-Reflection Story

So many things have changed over the years. So many times I have looked in the mirror-my reflection staring back at me. Those dark brown eyes that aren’t light enough. Or big enough or slanted enough. I scrutinize every detail. My cheeks are far too puffy. My cheekbones aren’t defined enough. My nose is far too big. Why did I have to inherit the famous nose? My lips, not big enough, not kissable enough. Barely even there. My neck far too long. My shoulders have accumulated a padding of fat for all these years. My waist isn’t small enough. Neither are my hips. My thighs…too fat. My legs…too short. My feet are too big for a lady.

Prying myself from the mirror, I began to walk. Through the comfortable cream colored hallway simply yet tastefully decorated with pictures of the family, their eyes continuously following me, I walked. Walked past the modern country-themed kitchen filled with the aroma of the maple glazed chicken that I had just taken out of the oven. Walked through the family room, ignoring the softness of the cream rug, ignoring the beckoning of the dark chocolate chair oozing wthi comfort, ignoring the pleads of the adjacent patio filled with the aroma of the rising sun to turn back, get a cup of steaming hot green tea and a book and relax. Ignoring them all, I walked. I walked through the door and never stopped. I don’t know where I was going, no idea how to get there but I kept walking.

The more I walked, the more the words resounded in my head. The more I walked, the more they kept pounding and pounding, screaming, bellowing to be released. I held the door. No. They could not escape. I will not let them. I must not let them. I walked. I walked. They grew and grew and grew. Too much! No! They must not be released! I sighed in resignation.

Too soon.

Now they were no longer solid. Ingenious things words were. Liquefied, they poured freely through the cracks of my mind. After all these years, the walls had begun to disintegrate, slowly chips of the bricks and mortar had begun to crumble into dust. Dust settling. Amassing. I could no longer see, my eyes swimming in tears. I realized then I had always been blind. Blind to the world and its obvious warnings. No. I was never blind. I refused to see. I refused to believe. I stood unseeing. The world no longer needed me. Well, it never needed me in the first place. I guess I had always wanted to feel as if I had some purpose here upon this earth. How long I stood there staring at the nothingness, I will never know. I just knew that I stood there long enough to be immersed into the blackness. It pulled me down further and further into its core. Sticky like tar, it fought to keep its catch but it need not to-I had given up.

I don’t know how long she stood beside me. In fact, I was not aware of her until she spoke:

“Hello.”

I did not respond. I heard nothing more. I must be hearing things.

Then she touched my shoulder. Her warmth radiated, trying to reach me, trying to pull me from the darkness. I turned to face her. She smiled. I stared at her.

“The sun don’t shine like it used to anymore.”

It took a moment to register what she had said. Still I did not comprehend. My eyebrows knitted in confusion. The sun always shone that way. What on earth was this woman talking about? On this day out of all the rest, I had somehow managed to attract one of society’s oddities.

She smiled once more. Again I felt it, that small tug.

” You’re crying.”

I gingerly touched my face. I thought I had stopped crying long ago. The tears would just not stop. Why was I crying in front of a stranger? Stop it! I commanded my brain to tell my eyes to stop pouring forth their souls but my brain heeded not. Then she hugged me. Strangely I did not push her away. I did not wonder why. All I knew was that this woman had such unbelievable warmth and I wanted more. I needed it to be mine. I cried until I had exhausted my reservoir.

Finally I pulled myself away from her, embarrassment flooding over me in huge torrents.

I opened my mouth to ask her why she had chosen to talk to me, but nothing came forth. The words were there I knew it but they were stuck in that sticky, black tar. She smiled once more. Ah that woman and her smiles. Keep smiling! I felt it! Another tug. Smile. She stared into my nothingness; I felt the tar grow restless. It did not want to release its catch. Now I was in a liminal state. Did I want to go? Did I?

” I was like you once.” How do you know who I am? You don’t even know my name. I frowned.

“I know who you are. Because you are the way you are, the sun don’t shine like it used to anymore.”

She sat on the grass as she said this. I remained standing, unsure of my next step. Something about her made me stay; maybe I wanted to be pulled free from this ever-consuming, multiplying, bubbling, thick, hot tar.

She spoke once again. This time her voice was not quite a whisper yet soft and not quite a shout yet resoundingly loud:

“It is dawn.

It is time for my lover to go

He has marked his territory

I am his

But he is not my own

My love like soaked leather

Ensnares him

But a Samson he is

And loosens himself

Every

Single

Time

Bewildered

I am

His kisses reassure

Ah! They press sweet longings

(the hardest kind)

I want him

I need him

I am his

But he is not my own

Night after night

When demons walk as men

The gilded serpent comes

And devours

Sweet musk

An entanglement to behold

Michelangelo’s gut-wrenching sighs echo

As he looks but cannot capture

Magnificence

Shimmering butterflies

Mark his path

My body

Chocolate

Covered with gold

The sun rises

Envious

Sends the wind to tarnish my gold

I stand

Aware of my naked shroud

I plead for my butterflies to return

They return

They don’t touch me

They fall to my feet as dust.”

She turned to me and said, “That’s how you feel. You gave him your all, he made you feel loved. Then he turned right around and threw your heart on the ground, stomped all over it and called it nothing. You don’t know what to do; the butterflies just won’t turn into gold anymore.”

Pensively I stared at her. What right did she have to knock down my already dilapidated wall? What right had she that enabled her to dig into the cervices of my mind and divulge its secrets? She smiled once more as if reading my thoughts. And looked at me. And looked. Her eyes holding no accusation, no sympathy but wisdom and strength. Suddenly I heard words. They were coming from my mouth. They were tumbling over each other, fighting for freedom-the light. Ah she must have loosened the tar, the witch.

“There are so many things I wish that I could change about myself. Why did God create me this way? Was I a sick, sadistic joke on his part?”

“Change them.”

What was this woman saying? Normally people would say,” Child, you are graciously and wonderfully made,” and boy had I prepared a rebuttal. Now here I was a grown woman, taken completely aback.

“If you don’t like what you have, then change them. People do it all the time.”

“B…b…but…”

“Listen to me.”

Her voice stopped all my blathering. It entrapped me, holding fast in case I decided to run. But it need not to. I was going nowhere.

She began once more:

Sitting in the well-worn sofa I finger the tips of my nappy hair; I had long discarded the wig. My wandering eyes sweep the small room. Nothing out of place. My Atomic Physics text gapes at me with its crisp pages and white smiles. My notebook lies beside it. I had begun the first question when he had arrived. He. It was always him. Always. Him. I lean forward intent on finishing what I had started. I always finish my tasks. But my mind wanders. Absent-mindedly I wipe at the light dusting of snow that serves as the only reminder of my last visitor. He had spoken in deep, sweet, caramel entanglement of a baritone. His lips had begun to leave a sticky trail which I had no time to clean. I had stopped him. Effort was not necessary.

Silvery dust settles upon my scantily clad body. Shimmering black stockings with strategically placed holes cover my legs. My thick, warm legs that hold sweet honey. I touch my thick, full lips and catch a scent of him. He had been on me for far too long now. I rise to shower. Holiness washes over me. I watch as my sin flows down the drain. Every night my sin flows down the drain. There must be a reservoir of my blackness down there. Good. The lord has washed me whiter than snow.

I sit in front of my mirror. An ironic smile spreads across my face. He had been the reason for the mirror. What did he see? Did he see beauty or did he see another black gal with the sweetest treasure he had ever known? I leave. I did not want to know.

***

He knocks at my door. Again. Why must he always come? I frown but then I remember that I need him. I open my door. Milk infused with the lightest sprinkling of cinnamon floods my entire space. Nothing is my own now. I fight back the anger. He cannot leave-he must not leave. He touches my face and whispers, “Coffee in my milk.” The ignoramus! Was I to be pleased by that? Was I to be pleased that someone had sweetened this strong coffee?

***

I stare at the unopened letter, my Atomic Physics book beside it. It has been four years since he had first visited me. Will he come again today? I didn’t want him to. I open the letter.

I sit in front of the mirror. An ironic smile spreads across my face. He had been the reason for the mirror. What did he see? Did he see beauty or did he see another black gal with the sweetest treasure he had ever known? I reach for the black, thick high boot lying leaning by the chest of drawers. I hold the heel. I feel the blackness seeping within my soul. I smash the blasted mirror, shards flying everywhere. Some have marked my face. I smile. He was not coming today.

***

There was silence after she had spoken. I had lived her life. I was her and she was me. She knew my innermost secrets. I looked down at the woman who had dared to destroy my rotting exterior. Her hair was the dark earth curled with the tears of forest nymphs. Her cheeks high with royalty were kissed with orchids for roses were not hers to bear. The Blue Mahoe loved her and loaned her his stature. The stealthy panther cried and his teardrops found a home in her eyes. Mother Earth had hugged her ever so tightly, proclaiming her love and gave her broad, plump hips. Venus saw her and bade Cupid to kiss her lips. Her lips cried for her Nubian god instead, and swelled when they saw him.

She stood and left without saying a word of farewell. I did not stop her. I have heard all that I needed to hear. Spotless, I stood, not a speck of tar had remained. She had been the solvent that had doused the tar, burned it away, rendering it immobile and useless. At last, I could see. I had walked and I had reached my destination.

A whimsical unified chaos of majestic royal robes is seen. Purple meticulously mixed with the softest lilac infused with a passionate auburn, speckled with purposefully arranged heavenly snow that seems to bathe itself a magnificent golden radiance is the canvas upon which I now gaze in awe. The air is filled with the faintest scent of newness. Diamonds shimmer upon the verdant knoll that I have temporarily dubbed my earthly abode. Mother Earth had begun to shine in all her glory, ushering the birds to their homes, sending the animals that have worked and played all day to their well- deserved rest. Bathing me in a cool breeze, she beckons me to look to her sky once more. I refuse. Instead, I run. This time I knew my new destination and I knew just how to get there.

I did not stop running until I passed the majestic oak door that bore the secrets of my home, through the family room seeping with comfort, past the kitchen barely holding onto the scent of the maple glazed chicken and down the hallway with its incessant stares. I paused, a bit hesitant but it must be done.

I looked in the mirror-my reflection staring back at me. I stared long and hard with these dark brown eyes that aren’t light enough or big enough or slanted enough and smiled with my lips that aren’t big enough, not kissable enough.

And walked away.

It was then I heard the imploring cries of the patio and I succumbed. The wind that I had run away from found me and wrapped me with surprising warmth. It kissed my eyelids, kissed my shoulders and hugged my every curve. It began to tilt my chin upward, and I sighed. Not the sigh of the hopeless but the sigh of the content. Gently the wind caressed my cheek, leaving golden butterflies. My skin warm chocolate was now glistening with honey. A new fear seized me. What if the sun grew envious and made this wind taint my love? The wind reassured me with whispering sighs and begged me to open my eyes. I saw the remnants of the sun’s majestic robes sweep across the sky. It sent one lone beam to accentuate my golden shroud. I smiled. The sun just don’t shine like it used to anymore.

12 Baseball and Softball Batting Cage Buying Tips

There are some basic points that you must know before buying a batting cage. When you buy a batting cage you are making an investment that should provide you with years and years of top quality batting practice. Here I discuss what I believe are the 12 most important things to consider when you purchase your home, team, school or backyard batting cage. Remember these batting cage buying basics:

1. Batting cages nets come in a variety of sizes but they are all rectangles. The net itself must have square corners to save construction time and cost. The sizes of a cage vary with the length, width, and height of the netting. Be careful about buying cages that are too narrow. These cages do not allow older batters to take a comfortable swing and finish. The greater the width and height of the batting cage, the better sensation a batter has when a ball is hit. The wider and higher cages allow the batter to read the path of the ball when it comes off the bat. A short and narrow cage tends to “smother” a hitter. The higher and wider cages are also safer for the coach, player or parent throwing batting practice.

2. Batting cage netting is most commonly available in three common twine sizes which are #21, #36, and #42. The lower the number, the smaller the twine used in construction and the lighter-weight the cage will be. Heavy-duty cages such as the #42 better withstand the elements of time and use therefore they offer more durability and added years of use.

3. Batting cages are most often available in black. The twine is dyed black and UV is added to the netting. Black cages seem to last longer and in my opinion, they look better.

4. When you buy a batting cage do not just consider the cost of the cage, but you must also calculate the cost of shipping. Many companies have shipping managers that provide you with an added service of securing the lowest shipping cost possible.

5. All cages require a support structure from which the cage will be hung. The longer the cage, the more support sections that will be required to hold it in place. The smaller and more light-weight a batting cage is, the less support structure it must have. You can plan on putting a support section at both ends and every 20 feet, if you want your cage to be hung adequately without a lot of droop. So a batting cage60 feet long would require at least 4 supports for a heavy-duty net and you may get by with three supports for a light-weight net. You may also need cable or heavy duty rope suspended between your supports to maximize cage support.

6. You can not fit your space to the batting cage. You must fit your batting cage to the space you have available. Step off you or measure the area you have available. Make sure to order a batting cage that will best suit your available space. Do not allow space to deter your commitment to a batting cage purchase. Small cages in the 35, 40, and 50 foot lengths are long enough to allow great batting practice work.

7. Your chosen area must be level and it must drain well. If you can afford the additional cost, you may want to add a floor to your cage. There are two materials that make a great floor. Cement or concrete is the most costly. You may want to cover your hitting zone with indoor-outdoor carpet to extend the life of your leather baseballs. If you use rubber pitching machine balls in a pitching machine, they will withstand the abrasive properties of the cement cage floor. Another great floor alternative is to use weather treated 2 x 4s to build a raised floor. You will border all sides and ends of your batting cage floor with the 2x4s and stake them into place. You will then fill the inside floor area with a commonly used infield material, crushed stone. This provides a raised dry hitting surface that will offer a safe and less abrasive surface upon which to hit.

8. You are going to need to purchase a protection L-screen to protect the pitchers throwing batting practice. Make sure that your L-screen is a sock style made of at least #42 netting to insure that it will withstand the heavy-duty abuse it will be subjected to. A square protective screen is also a great investment to consider if you will be using a pitching machine often. There are screens specially designed to protect the person operating the pitching machine.

9. You will need a plate for batter and pitcher reference during batting practice. The pitcher will use the plate to throw the various pitch locations and the batter will use it to adjust to certain situational hitting drills. If your cage has a suitable floor, you may want to paint a plate and batters box to add a much appreciated feature.

10. You will need a power source if you have plans to light your cage and to use a pitching machine. Make sure that you can reach a source with extension cords or run a permanent source if you can do so safely.

11. If you have additional questions or need additional assistance, shop with a company that takes orders by phone. This allows your to ask questions and get answers. Depending on the description and details listed on a website, may cause you to order a cage that is not suitable for your needs. Most reputable batting cage companies have toll-free phone numbers and a staff available during business hours to offer you advice and information before you buy.

12. For many families the best and most user-friendly and trouble-free approach to buying a batting cage is to buy a complete batting cage package. These packages contain the net size and weight of your choice and a batting cage frame specifically designed to match the net. These packages are easy to assemble. Most of these batting cage packages can be assembled by two persons with about 2 hours of work. These batting cage packages can easily be taken down in the off-season and stored if there is a need to do so. Many of these packages include everything you need including the protection “L” screen. When the package arrives, all you have to do is carefully read and follow the step-by-step instructions to assemble your new batting cage.

Irresistible Carp Pellets For Maximum Fishing Success!

You probably use pellet baits. But there is far more to using, adapting, boosting and even making pellets than most anglers ever realised! You can have far more success exploiting pellets when you know far more about them and what to do to vastly improve any pellet bait! Better still you can make your own homemade pellets and give your fish maximum reasons to feed using incredibly potent ingredients and especially powerful components; so read on now!

There was a time when the majority of carp anglers used trout pellets in one way or another and the choice of pellets was quite limited compared to today. Pellets were usually ground up and made into boilies and paste baits. Pellets were also used as free baits but most often simply introduced with no additional treatments or adaptations to make them far more effective at making fish feed.

The thing to think about is that pellets such as trout pellets, salmon pellets and halibut pellets are designed to put weight on farmed fish for maximum profit. They are not optimised to make fish feed most of all. They are optimised to ensure the most feed gets efficiently biologically converted so the farmer has healthy fast growing fish to profit most from. Feed triggering efficiency is not the main aim at all! This point is a massive one to remember every time you use any pellets not designed specifically for carp fishing! This point means that you must treat pellets to maximise their feed triggering impacts!

You might well assume that for instance that halibut pellets are ideal for carp however they are certainly not ideal for health and certainly not optimised for maximum numbers of bites. These pellets are designed for fish with a higher protein requirement and a higher energy requirement which additionally means that such sea fish and salmonids such as salmon and trout have a higher oil content than carp require as carp metabolism is lower over all that these other fish.

Halibut pellets are high oil and used in volumes by numbers of anglers all the time on lakes is bad new for carp as this imbalances their ability to generate energy and burn off stored fats and glycogen in and around the major organs, and affects blood triglycerides and cholesterol in the body detrimentally. High oil impacts produce vitamin E deficiency and as this is a very potent antioxidant this reduces the immune system and other roles and functions in carp.

Fatty liver is just one symptom of excessive salmonids and halibut pellet use by the herds of anglers using these in spod and PVA product mixes and as other forms of free baits. It is insane how many carp have enlarged livers that form a bulge in their side which so many anglers simply ignore not realising they are harming fish health by using such pellets! The impacts all add up and in fact slow down the fishing especially in the later autumn, the winter and spring because the excessive and ignorant use of pellets by the masses simply means so much oil is converted and stored for vital energy, that very little feeding is required outside of optimum water temperatures for carp feeding!

I used to be a fan of oily fish meal baits and oily pellets, but not any longer now I know what harm they do. In the early day of using halibut pellets before the herd jumped on the bandwagon I used three grades of them each having a different rate of breakdown do to different levels of components. This made for great fishing for a short time as I could exploit this staggered breakdown to make it very difficult for fish to detect which bait was the hook bait. In fact after much initial success it only took the fish in my local lake 5 weeks to begin to go off halibut pellets and start to pick them up with great caution, to the point where numbers of bites were aborted, and a noticeable drop in bigger fish was noticed compared to initial use.

I altered my approach by cutting the large pellets I was using into fragments, and shortening my hook links. Again this approach worked for a while, but the main problem was that the bait was not new any longer and the fish knew they were dangerous even though they at them.

There are so many options you can use to overcome fish caution using your own creativity. Of course you can use buoyant fake pellets on the rigs. You can disguise your hook and rig with pellet paste. You can make pellet boilies in alternative shapes, textures, with different flavours and colours and so on. There are many ready made pellet paste and pellet boilies on the market including pop up baits and neutral buoyancy type wafter baits that negate the weight of the hook. This is a very vital point to fool the warier fish.

Preferably you will take full advantage of the new generation of specifically designed carp pellets available today. But some are far better than others. Again you need to bear in mind that fish become wary of familiar products pretty quickly, and anyway there is no need to cut your chances of success when you can be the very first to introduce a new bait to a water. To guarantee this massive advantage making your own homemade pellets can be the most powerful edge as I know from experience.

You need to think about why pellets are very successful. Originally baits used in carp fishing were predominantly water soluble and this was why such baits worked so very well as their components could react with water and as solution impact upon fish receptors very effectively. Paste baits and small particle baits with a high water content and trout pellets were among the main baits used for carp fishing before the advent of readymade baits.

You can do almost all the things in pellet form as you can with boiled baits using the same massive range of ingredients and liquids but personally I prefer paste and pellet bait formats and avoid heated baits for a huge list of reasons! Boiled baits are a bait format that can be less effective than many other bait formats. This is because carp have associated danger with hard round or barrel shaped baits containing egg for decades and the conventional sizes shapes, surface textures, ingredients and liquids and general characteristics mean boilies are very easy to associate with danger from previously being hooked on them.

You can of course apply all bait theory and ingredients and additives and so on to pellets to make highly water soluble baits. But of course you can also make homemade baits that are not round, that have rough textures and completely alternative nutritional profiles and totally alternative ingredients and additives etc compared to well over 90 percent of ready made baits. Such unique homemade baits can be made in any alternative shape as they do not have to be made by machine rolling pressing or extruding or heating!

Making homemade pellets means you can tailor your recipes extremely precisely for cold winter temperatures and also for the hottest summer temperatures so you exploit the practical function and chemical and physiological aspects etc of carp in the bigger scheme of things all year round.

I have been an obsessive fan of homemade bait making for decades since I noticed that the new readymade baits from the bait companies could easily be out-fished. In fact the more ready made baits that are round or barrel shaped and smooth surfaced are used by the masses on a particular water, the easier such baits are to out-fish using ready made baits. The reason for this is very simply that you can systematically remove out of your own bait formats and bait recipes any commonly used substance, and you can create baits so different in function and characteristics that you have removed virtually all reasons for carp to be cautious of them. Of course carp are wary of baits they have been hooked on before and this means for me that ready made baits are only a compromise for anglers either without the time or the vision to utilise superior solutions.

Even if you are formulating a bait recipe and having it rolled by a bait company the fact is that you have just lost a major potential advantage over carp defensive instincts and that is that almost inevitably the surface, shape and density of the baits will in some way be almost certainly similar to most other ready made baits! Not many anglers appear to have figured the profound implications of using smooth and rounded familiar baits. Only when you have experienced using baits that have as little resemblance of ready made baits as possible and used them in testing directly against standard rolled ready made baits can you experience the drastic improvement in catches. The difference in catch rates can be simply unbelievable and I am not alone in experiencing this phenomenon, many of my eBook readers now know all about this too! Perhaps you can see why I am so passionate about making homemade baits now!

I expect you want some instant tips on pellet uses. I will not give anything really potent here. If you have been using pellets straight out of a bag, then I suggest that you might try getting some of the potently bioactive citrus oil on a high PC lecithin base type flavour from Phil at CW Baits on request. This example of a unique flavour was deliberately custom designed to harness the powerful biological potency of special citrus oils and components and is really something unique. If you have not done this yet I suggest that next time you use a pellet or a mixture of them, mix them with CC Moore Marine amino Compound mixed with their unique liquid Red Venom which is a great alternative when you wish to avoid the ever so over-used Robin red. Robin red is now becoming a danger signal as it has been used in ready made baits for decades. I have avoided using this additive for years and benefited big-time!

Just one example of an additive to really improve the quality of water soluble protein in your baits while avoiding milk and egg proteins is CC Moore hemp protein powder. Teamed with the pure hydrolysed krill extract liquid this company offers you can easily begin to adapt ready made baits of all formats or even just exploit these two products to make completely unique baits. Making a coarse pellet based on hemp powder, crushed and whole hemp and crushed nuts bound not with carbohydrate binders but with high protein binders only plus boosted concentration liquid foods is merely a functional idea for a starting point for a range of possible homemade baits.

My head is spinning with so many ideas I could offer that have caught me outstanding catches of big fish but you need to develop your own thought process to creatively invent your own unique fishing edges with bait and bait applications.

I could list 500 additives and liquids you could use in your alternative pellet mixes for any fishing purpose. The trick is in knowing which substances are specifically so potent that you get excited just thinking about using one of them or a unique combination of them, knowing which ratios and levels will produce maximum feed triggering impacts in the short and long term. You need to consider the fact that it is extremely prohibitive for bait manufacturers to use very high levels of quality protein and extremely potent extracts and other very costly substances in making their baits, because their main aim is to make a profit.

This is why it is so easy for you to beat ready made boilies and pellets by making the stimulatory levels of incredibly stimulating components in your homemade baits massively higher because your aim is to get as many bites as possible, and not to make a profit! So if your wish to make milk protein based pellets or corn steep liquor or enzyme treated liver or pure bloodworm extract pellets for example then you can literally make them as potent as you can with no restraints!

Part of this choice is how to improve the palatability of baits so fish repeatedly eat more and more of your bait the more they eat. Obviously this is a fantastically vital part of improving baits because this means maximum numbers of chances of fish picking up your hook baits again and again until they get hooked! These effects can be built into baits so they act in cumulatively habit-forming and even addictive ways. The term addictive is no joke because the fact is that teleost fish are the ancient ancestors of us and we share so many physiological similarities. When you take a much deeper look at the food groups and things such as the most biologically active components of flavours you soon discover substances when used in the most appropriate dosage, concentration and in unique combinations that can be harnessed to catch far more fish and I have spent years researching and testing this whole subject!

We get addicted to very many substances and the food industry exploits this to manipulate your food buying choices and patterns. Homemade bait making and improving ready made baits is just the same; you have power to make your baits as potently biologically active, as enzyme active, as palatable, and as internally stimulating and addictive as you desire.

You do not know what you are missing until you actually experience the incredible satisfaction of catching new personal best fish after new personal best fish on baits that you have very specially adapted or have actually designed and made yourself! It is your choice! I regard the best value bait as the kind of bait no fish has ever experienced before and which catches me the most big fish possible in as short a period of time as possible.

If your mentality is still merely the price of a deal on popular ready made baits then you are not truly getting it about true value for money and instead are missing the whole point about bait! I would always much prefer to fish exploiting just 1 kilogram of the most potent homemade baits a lake ever saw than with 50 kilograms of a popular ready made bait, even if the cost of my 1 kilogram was the same as the 50 kilograms of bait. I hope you get my point about potency here.

Using more bait is not a guarantee you will catch the fish you aim for particularly if others have hooked that fish on the same or a similar ready made bait you are using! However when you present fish with a totally new experience, well as they say, carp do not have hands with which to test baits do they? What do you think they are going to do with a uniquely potent uniquely alternative profile bait, and how would you feel if you were the only person who knew the recipe of such a bait when it catches the biggest fish in your lake? Revealed in my unique readymade bait and homemade bait carp and catfish bait secrets ebooks is far more powerful information look up my unique website (Baitbigfish) and see my biography below for details of my ebooks deals right now!

By Tim Richardson.

Convert Your Single Family Home Into A Legal Multi Family Home

Will it really be legal?

It can’t be done legally! I’ve heard it literally hundreds of times, yet in my concrete cutting business, one that is crucial in the conversion process, I have seen it done hundreds of times. How you may ask? It’s actually not any more difficult than most major home renovations. And if you ask what are the benefits? That is a simple one: it can increase the value of your home by 50% and sometimes double. It also allows you to legally rent your new apartment(s) out to cut your personal living expenses.

Still sound impossible? Well, if you call your local building department and ask if it can be done, you may get laughed at but depending on your city or town’s local by-laws you may be surprised to find out that it isn’t at all uncommon. However, there are several conditions that must be in place before a building inspector would even consider handing you an application for a building permit. You may or may not already meet the criteria for this undertaking, but if you don’t, you may be able to easily make the necessary changes.

These conditions in most cases are/but not limited to:

* Ample parking for each unit – usually two parking spaces for each unit are necessary depending on the amount of bedrooms. If space permits, parking can easily be increased on your property with some excavating and/or by adding concrete retaining walls.

* Ceiling height – If the basement or attic is to be converted to an apartment there are limits to how low the ceiling can be. Lowering a concrete basement floor can be accomplished, in most cases, by cutting and removing the existing concrete, digging the dirt out and pouring a new concrete slab.

* Egress – This is the ability to enter and exit the new unit. There must be a set amount of windows and doors of certain widths and lengths. This is where our expertise comes in to play. We are a professional concrete cutting service. We cut egress windows and doors into concrete foundations and openings for the installation of basement stairs and bulkheads.

* Each unit must have a bathroom and kitchen in order to be considered legal.

We once cut in some egress windows for a woman in Revere, MA who already had an “illegal” in-law apartment that she easily converted it to a “legal” apartment. She had been asking $259,000 for her single family home but couldn’t sell it. After seeing her neighbor convert her home into a two family she did the same. She completed the conversion and ended up selling her property for $379,000.

I remember doing a job for a man in the prestigious community of Brookline, MA in Boston. He owned a condominium in a six unit building which each came with a storage unit that was one sixth of the basement of the building. He told the other five-condo owners that he needed additional storage and that he was willing to pay them to purchase their storage units. He ended up buying the other five storage areas for $15,000 each, 1,200 sq feet of prime real estate for a total of $75,000. We ended up cutting and removing the concrete slab and cutting in a doorway in the foundation for him. He lowered the basement floor and converted it into a beautiful condo and sold it for over $1,000,000.

These examples are evidence that anything is possible. By checking with your local building department and doing your homework, you too may be able to convert your single family into a multi-unit property.

(c) 2007 New Hampshire Concrete Cutting and Core Drilling, All Rights Reserved

Re-Using Cardboard Packaging – The 10 Best Knives For Cutting Cardboard

Cardboard The 10 Best Knives

Cardboard is composed of treated, pulped wood chips formed into sheets and layered. Most cardboard sheets consist of 2 flat layers with a corrugated layer in the middle, giving it a wood like strength.

In the UK, retailers, wholesalers and distributors up and down the country are increasingly re-using their packaging materials. Not only does this help to keep down business costs, it also saves natural resources, conserves energy and reduces waste. As it is a strong, versatile material, cardboard boxes may be re-used a number of times, cut down to smaller sizes, or made into ‘new’ boxes. With increasing public awareness of environmental issues, customers have come to accept recycled packaging. Shops and businesses are now partly defined by their carbon footprint and environmental policies.

Cutting cardboard is one of the toughest tests for a knife. A plain edge knife will quickly become blunt when cutting cardboard, a serrated edge will make the job easier but will not make a clean cut. Many high end knives have blades which are more than 3 mm thick, these may become stuck when making a long cut in a sheet of medium grade cardboard. There is also the danger of the blade accidentally closing on the back cut, unless a lock knife is used. Even then, continual, heavy-duty cardboard use will put a major strain on the locking mechanism.

1 – Peanut Knife– This is a small penknife with the largest blade measuring less than 3 inches. The chrome vanadium steel has unbelievable edge holding properties and seems to hold an edge indefinitely. The thinness of the blade is also well suited and the shape of the main blade gives a sharp point to make a piercing cut. Good value semi production knife, legal to carry in public in the UK. However for heavy-duty work a thicker, locking blade may be preferred.

2 – Delica 4 Knife Flat Ground BladeThe 2010 flat ground blade model is well suited to cutting cardboard. The point is finer then the previous delica 4 model ideal for piercing cuts. The blade is thin enough to make long cuts and the lock back is suitably strong for most scenarios. The VG10 steel is good at holding an edge although will need re-sharpening after medium use. Good value production lock knife with high grip handle and pocket clip, available with G10 or FRN handle scales.

3 – Spyderco Lava Knife Unfortunately now discontinued, the Spyderco Lava knife is a design classic. With the blade open, the knife has curved grip points for the fingers and thumb and the blade is orientated in a downward direction, increasing leverage. Although the flat ground, leaf shaped blade is very short, the knife is excellent for piercing and making short cuts through heavy grade cardboard. The locking mechanism is completely reliable; a longer blade would be required for cutting large sheets of cardboard.

4 – Spyderco Native Knife – The spear point, swedge grind, tip of the Native Knife is excellent for piercing cuts or making ‘scoring’ cuts, without cutting straight though the cardboard. However, due to the thickness of the blade it may become stuck in large sheets of cardboard. The S30V steel is superior to VG10 steel in terms of holding an edge and the locking mechanism is practically unbreakable.

5 – Spyderco Centofante 3 Lock Knife – A thin, hollow sabre ground blade with a spear point, swedge grind tip, makes an excellent cardboard piercing knife. The jimped thumb ramp gives good leverage and the lock back is reliable. The VG10 steel is good at holding an edge, however a flat ground blade would be better to cut large sheets of cardboard and S30V steel holds a better edge.

6 – Spyderco Centofante 4 Lock Knife – The Wharncliffe shape blade has a swedge grind tip, which makes a very fine point and is very good for making an initial cut. The edge of the blade is perfectly straight which is good for making long cuts, although a flat grind instead of hollow sabre grind would be better in this scenario. One of the best medium priced lock knives for cardboard cutting, with VG10 steel blade.

7 – Spyderco Urban Knife Foliage Green Handle – One of the best shapes, with a flat grind leaf blade, giving a very fine point. The thumb ramp and finger choil jimping gives an excellent grip, non-locking knife with safety notch joint to prevent accidental closing. A locking blade may be preferred for more heavy-duty work. S30V steel also hold s a better edge than VG10. The Urban knife is legal to carry in public in the UK.

8 – Spyderco Urban Knife Safety Orange Handle – The wharncliffe shape VG10 steel blade provides less of a sharp point and is not ideal for piercing. The straight edge is good for making long cuts in light to medium grade cardboard; a lock knife is better for heavy-duty work. UK legal carry knife.

9 – Spyderco UK Penknife Leaf Blade – The S30V steel blade holds an excellent edge, the flat grind, spear point blade is slightly thicker than the Delica 4 flat grind blade. All round good knife for both piercing and making long cuts with thumb ramp jimping, which aids leverage. Non-locking knife, which is legal to carry in public in UK.

10 – Spyderco UK Penknife Drop Point Blade – The drop point S30V steel blade has a slightly thicker point than the leaf shape blade. A better grip is provided with dual finger choil and thumb ramp jimping. Lightweight, UK legal carry knife with pocket clip. Good for fine to medium grade cardboard choose a locking knife for heavier grade cardboard.

What Are the Most Popular Tattoo Languages You Can Use? Find Out Inside!

A popular trend over the years has been different wordings and language designs for those looking to get a tattoo. Some people like to have a tattoo in memory of someone, or often times there are those that love to have a saying on their body that only they know the meaning too because of the foreign origin of the language. Let’s go over a few of the most popular wordings and languages for tattoo design.

Greek Wording

A new popular trend is Greek wording. The letters look really neat and it generally looks good in ink. A common place for these are on the bottom part of the forearm or the calf or shin. Definitely ask your tattoo artist if they can translate your favorite name, quote, or saying in Greek and see what it will look like on you, you may like it!

Japanese Wording

Obviously this is most popular in Japan, but here in America these is becoming more and more used because of the intricate Japanese wordings and designs. A lot of this language is drawn in what looks like wording pictures so they usually end up look pretty cool. Most things can be translated so research a little and check it out!

Chinese Wording

One of the most popular yet is the Chinese style of writing. Much like Japanese, this language when written, looks great! Most Chinese images tell a story, so there’s much to be told by getting one of these works of art ink’d on your skin!

Project Network Diagrams: Important Tool for Project Time Management

Management of a project brings about many challenges for the project manager. One of the frequently encountered challenges is in the arena of Time Management. As any practicing project manager can attest, time is one of the most important project constraints frequently encountered in practice. The other two project constraints are project budget and project scope. Time constraint can be particularly challenging when customer imposes a predetermined target completion date even before the project planning begins or is still in-progress. And to compound this further, the customer imposed target date is usually ahead of the planned completion date. So, what is a project manager supposed to do under such circumstances?

Project Time Crunch: Handling Options

Project managers must carefully consider all possible options that can assist in matching the planned project completion date to customer specified completion date when the latter date is earlier than the former date. As a starting point, project manager can determine if schedule compression techniques can help in meeting the target date, and if that doesn’t work then negotiate two possible alternatives with project sponsor(s) and key stakeholders:

Reduce number of objectives/deliverables for the project. This reduces scope which in turn assists in reducing work and thus can help to make the target date achievable, or

Negotiate to change the target completion date for the project to at least match the planned completion date.

Prior to escalating the matter to sponsor and/or key stakeholders, it is advisable to explore if schedule compression can help. Schedule compression involves two techniques-Crashing and Fast-tracking. Crashing involves assignment of additional resources to tasks in order to assist in completing them faster. Fast-tracking involves performing several tasks concurrently especially if they have no direct dependency on one another and can be done in parallel. Now, crashing does increase project cost due to the employment of additional resources and for this project manager must take into consideration the project budget along with contingency reserve to ensure project costs does not exceed available funds. Note that a project manager can employ both the techniques in the same project if necessary.

Project Network Diagrams

In order to decide on the schedule compression approach and which tasks should be brought under the purview of which schedule compression approach, project manager must use the project’s network diagram also known as Network Logic Diagram. Let’s now understand the role that Project Network Diagram (PND) or Network Logic Diagram (NLD) can play in assisting project managers undertake schedule compression. PND can be of two types: Activity-on-Arrow (AOA) and Activity-on-Node (AON). Activity-On-Node (AON) PNDs are also known as Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM). In this article, I will focus on AONs or PDMs as they are more popular and frequently used in practice and in software such as Microsoft Project.

PDM/AON & CPM: Understanding Benefits

AONs are created based on activities or tasks obtained from the project’s Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). While WBS provides several details such as which tasks when completed can provide which project deliverable, it does not incorporate relationships or dependencies between tasks. Dependencies between tasks are either graphically depicted or described in tabular format for a PND. This helps in understanding the type of relationship between tasks and in what sequence they should be performed. In addition, PNDs can have multiple task sequences and each such sequence from start of project to finish defines a specific path in the PND. The delineation and understanding of all paths in a PND are important as it lays the groundwork for determining planned duration of the project as well as those tasks which directly impact the project’s completion date and thus cannot be delayed. A very specific method called Critical Path Method (CPM) is used for PNDs like AONs in order to determine the following:

  • Planned project completion date
  • Early start and finish times for each task in the PND
  • Late start and finish times for each task in the PND
  • Available Slack or Delay time for each task and the project itself
  • One or more critical tasks and paths in the PND

Arming oneself with all the details above can greatly assist in determining the following:

  • Which tasks can be delayed and which tasks cannot be delayed
  • Analyze dependencies to determine which tasks can be done concurrently in order to undertake fast-tracking if necessary
  • What is the planned total duration of the project?

Closing Thoughts

It must not be difficult to understand now that PNDs such as AONs is an important tool in a project manager’s toolbox to use in order to handle time constraint challenges or simply undertake schedule planning for a project. Knowledge of this very important tool along with application of network analysis technique called Critical Path Method (CPM) is a required skill even when it is done using robust scheduling software like Microsoft Project. This is because the actual task dependency set up even in Microsoft Project must be done by the project manager and it is often necessary to go beyond the defaults used by the software. It is then and only then that the software’s true power of being able to generate what-if scenarios can be utilized to the max which obviously cannot be done by always relying on software defaults. In addition to task dependencies, tasks can be set to have lead or lag times as well. Lead time is when a successor task is allowed to have a head start and can begin prior to completion of the predecessor task, and Lag time allows for the successor task to be delayed from starting by a defined time after the predecessor task completes.

Besides being useful in practice, anyone who aspires to get certified as a PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) will have to know all the basics regarding PNDs and use of CPM in order to prepare well for the important Project Time Management knowledge area. In this brief article I have focused on extolling the benefits of PDMs/AONs as they can significantly aid in management of project schedule and its constraint related challenges. I would like to encourage all readers new to this topic to consult any project management book that covers the basics of this topic in a comprehensive manner, and start using them in their projects.

Lessons Learned – The Flight 401 Disaster

The acronym CRM is commonly understood to stand for customer relations management. It has another meaning however in the aviation world, Crew Resource Management. The job of flying a commercial aircraft from one airport to another can be likened to a project; it has a start date (departure), an end date (arrival) and delivers a unique product or service namely the safe transport of the passengers at their destination. CRM became a hot topic and important discipline in the aviation industry after the crash of Eastern Airlines flight 401 in the Florida Everglades in 1972. The television show Mayday aired a piece on this tragedy recently and I think the lesson learned by the aviation industry is one that can be applied to the project management profession.

Flight 401 flew from JFK in New York to Miami the night of December 29th, 1972. The airplane was a Lockheed L1011-Tristar, which as state of the art at that time. The flight crew was led by the Captain, Robert Albin Loft, and included Flight Engineer Donald Louis Repo and Co-pilot Albert John Stockstill. In addition to the standard cabin crew were Warren Terry, a co-pilot, and Angelo Donadeo a maintenance specialist. These latter were “dead-heading” to Miami. Dead-heading is airline slang for hitching a free ride to return to their home base. The pilot had 32 years experience flying for Eastern, and the engineer had 25 years experience. Although the co-pilot had much less experience than Loft, he had more experience with the L1011 and previous flying experience in the air force. This was the team in control of the cabin.

Flight 401 received permission from the tower to take off at 9:20 pm that night and proceeded south over Norfolk Virginia then over Wilmington North Carolina and then out to sea for the rest of the flight. The planes navigation system would bring the plane to “Barricuda point” over the Atlantic and then it would start its turn westward over West Palm Beach and then south to Miami. Shortly after take-off Warren Terry decided to move from the cabin to a vacant seat in first class which left Angelo Donadeo the lone “dead-header” in the cabin. Co-pilot Stockstill flew the plane while pilot Loft operated the radio. This was standard procedure for Eastern and was the way in which it gave its co-pilots flying experience.

Eastern Flight 401 arrived at the Miami airport at about 11:20 pm, behind National airlines flight 607. The National plane was directed to land on runway 9 right leaving runway 9 right for the Eastern plane. Just before landing the crew on flight 607 radioed the tower that they were having trouble with the landing gear in the plane’s nose and were having to deploy it manually. They also asked that the airport have fire trucks ready for their landing in case they should experience trouble.

When it was Flight 401’s turn to land a few minutes later the signal light for their nose landing gear failed to turn on. Stockstill asked Loft if he wanted to circle until the problem was fixed. After conferring with the control tower, Loft instructed him to circle. When Stockstill asks about retracting the landing gear Loft instructs him to leave it down and then pushes on the throttles to compensate for the extra drag. Loft did this even though Stockstill was still flying the plane.

The problem light was located on the co-pilots side of the plane but Stockstill couldn’t reach the light because he was still flying the plane. The tower instructed Flight 401 to turn north and then west on a course that would take them over the Florida Everglades. The plane reached an altitude of 2,000 feet and then leveled out. Loft instructed Stockstill to put the plane on auto-pilot and then try to extract the light bulb so it could be replaced. Stockstill succeeded in extracting the panel holding the light and gave it to Repo so he could replace the bulb. Donadeo witnessed this transaction but says he did not see Repo replace the bulb with a spare. Repo attempts to replace the panel but inserts it sideways so the light is still inoperative. Loft orders Repo to inspect the landing gear visually from a small bay below the flight deck accessed through a trap door. As Repo is disappearing into the “hell hole” Stockstill is now struggling to remove the panel without success. The cockpit recorder captures the conversation which shows Loft’s frustration with the malfunctioning light and the rest of the crew’s laughter reveals that no-one is taking the incident seriously at this point. Stockstill is still struggling to extract the panel.

At this point an altitude warning is heard on the recorder but Loft and Stockstill are still completely focused on the landing gear light. Their discussion totally ignores the warning and focuses on the light, the likelihood it is merely burned out, and their certainty that the nose gear is down at this point. Repo appears through the trap door and announces that he cannot see whether the gear is down or not. Loft directs him to try again. Meanwhile, Stockstill has one hand on the steering yoke, which also controls the altitude of the plane by controlling the angle of the flaps, and one hand on the panel holding the light. Donadeo witnesses this as he moves to the bay to help Repo. Stockstill is heard on the recorder telling Loft that something has happened to the altitude. Loft’s last words are “Hey, what’s happening here?”

At this point, Flight 401 disappears from the controller’s radar screen. A hail from the controller to the airplane produces no answer. The airplane had crashed into the Florida Everglades about 18 miles west north-west of Miami. It hit the swamp at about 220 miles per hour and slid for 1/3 of a mile breaking up into 5 pieces before finally coming to rest. Out of a total 176 passengers and crew, 103 died in the crash. Due to the quick response time and heroic efforts by an airboat operator by the name of Robert Marquis, who happened to be on the scene, and the Coast Guard 73 passengers were rescued from the swamp.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responsible for conducting investigations of all air incidents. Naturally more attention is paid to investigations of crashes where lives are lost like the Flight 401 accident and the NTSB brought all their considerable resources and expertise to bear on this crash. Their investigation began at the crash scene and they found the control panel almost entirely intact so were able to determine the exact time of the crash (11:42 pm), that the panel containing the nose gear indicator lights was jammed sideways in its receptacle and that the two light bulbs were indeed burned out. From the flight recorder they were able to determine that plane speed was 198 knots when the plan crashed and the throttles were in full forward position indicating that the crew had likely become aware of their situation at the last moment and tried to pull the plan up. The NTSB also had the assistance of Angelo Donadeo who had survived the crash.

Through the cockpit recorder, the physical evidence, and Donadeo’s testimony the NTSB were able to reconstruct the accident. The plane had approached for a landing and deployed the landing gear. The indicator lights for the nose gear failed to light which could mean that the nose gear failed to deploy or the lights were malfunctioning. The flight tower orders them to change course to a path over the everglades and maintain an altitude of 2,000 feet while Loft orders Repo to visually inspect the landing gear. Good so far. Next, Loft tells Stockstill (who has control of the plane) to engage the autopilot. The plane maintains its altitude, then drops 100 feet, levels out, and maintains that altitude for 2 minutes. After that the plan starts a gradual descent. This descent is so gradual the crew doesn’t notice and after 70 seconds the plane has only lost 250 of altitude. The 250 feet is sufficient to trigger a warning chime that can be clearly heard on the recorder but is ignored by the cabin crew, who are totally focused on trying to replace the burned out indicator lights.

The planes rate of descent, which had begun so gradually, gathers momentum. A further 50 seconds and the plane descends below the 101 foot level which triggers another alarm which the crew do notice, but by this time the plane is descending at a rate of 50 feet per second. Stockstill responds by giving the plane full throttle but the corrective action is too late and the plane crashes.

The autopilot is engaged by 2 switches on the control panel but can be disengaged by applying pressure on the control column (or yoke). The NTSB surmises that when Loft turned to Repo to tell him to visually inspect the nose gear he accidentally disengaged the autopilot by bumping the column. The autopilot does not become totally disengaged at this point but will maintain whatever altitude the pilot selects by pushing forward or drawing back on the column. Accidental bumps against the column account for the further descent of the plane.

The NTSB report recommended a number of technical improvements which might have prevented the tragedy. The visual inspection apparatus in the inspection bay proved to be too difficult to operate by Repo contributing to confusion in the cabin. The board recommended a change to the apparatus making it operable by one person (the pilot had to switch a light on which was located overhead, there was no evidence Loft did this). The altitude warning system sounds once and then flashes an orange light. At altitudes above 2500 feet this light flashes continuously, below 2500 feet it only flashes once. The board recommended it flash continuously at any altitude. The NTSB report noted the attention focused by the cabin crew on the burned out lights but made no further recommendations at that time. Subsequent incidents where pilot and/or crew error led to disaster, or near disaster, triggered the creation of Crew Resource Management (CRM) and a mini-industry sprang up to teach pilots how to maintain control of their crew and aircraft.

By this time you will be asking yourself “what in the world does all this have to do with me or any other project manager?” The answer, in a nutshell, is this: the same lack of focus by the leader which caused Flight 401 to crash can cause a project to crash. Project managers can learn some lessons from that tragedy and employ some CRM strategies of our own.

The fact that stands out above everything else in this tragedy is the focus of the entire cabin crew of that airplane, including the pilot, on two burned out light bulbs: total value $12. Cost of the lack of focus on flying the plane: a $15M airplane plus 103 lives. The lesson is clear; the project manager cannot lose focus on the overall project goals and objectives because of the failure of a minor task or deliverable. The pilot on an aircraft has overall responsibility for the success of the flight and the safety of the passengers and crew. The project manager has overall responsibility for the success of the project, although the responsibility seldom extends to personal safety. The pilot has command of the cabin crew and is responsible for assigning tasks to that crew in such a way that the airplane reaches its destination safely. The pilot cannot afford to lose focus on that responsibility because the crew is struggling to resolve a relatively minor technical issue. As it turned out, the landing gear was down and the plane could have landed safely. The crew either knew this, or strongly suspected it because they were examining ways of changing the light bulbs. If Loft had assigned the replacement of the bulbs to Stockstill or Donadeo (he was in Loft’s charge) he could have focused on flying the plane and averted the disaster.

Project managers should accept the responsibility of meeting the overall goals and objectives of the project. This means that when a build fails, or trouble reports mount, or a new application doesn’t meet performance expectations we cannot become so bogged down in correcting the situation that we lose sight of the overall project. We must make intelligent use of the resources given to us to meet project objectives. Assign investigation of the causes of the failure to someone on your team who has the necessary experience and knowledge and then trust them to deliver. If you haven’t got such a person on your team, approach your sponsor and ask for the resource. Don’t allow a sense of responsibility for fixing all the problems on your project to detract you from your primary responsibility: overall project success.

If ever you find yourself in the position of wanting to get down in the trenches and get your hands dirty resolving a technical problem that is plaguing your project, remember the experience of pilot Robert Loft. Don’t let your stakeholders down and crash the project by focusing on a $12 part rather than a multi-million dollar project.

Osteoporosis – What Are Risk Factors For Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. Osteoporosis can be invented and treated. Although anyone can develop osteoporosis, it is common in older women. It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of all women and 25 percent of all men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Gender. Fractures from osteoporosis are about twice as common in women as they are in men because women start out with lower bone mass and tend to live longer. Also, women experience a sudden drop in estrogen at menopause that accelerates bone loss. Slender, small-framed women are particularly at risk. Men who have low levels of the male hormone testosterone also are at increased risk. From age 75 on, osteoporosis is as common in men as it is in women.
  • Age. The older you get, the higher your risk of osteoporosis since your bones become weaker as you age.
  • Race. You are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis if you are a white or Asian woman. Black and Hispanic men and women have a lower but still significant risk.
  • Family history. Osteoporosis runs in families. Having a parent or a sibling with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk, especially if you also have a family history of fractures.
  • Frame size. Men and women who are exceptionally thin or have small body frames tend to have higher risk because they may have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
  • Tobacco use. Those that smoke are at higher risk for osteoporosis since tobacco use contributor to weak bones.
  • Exposure to estrogen. The greater a woman's lifetime exposure to estrogen, the lower the risk of osteoporosis. For example, you have a lower risk if you have a late menopause or if you began menstruating at an earlier than average age. However, if you have a history of abnormal menstrual periods, experience menopause earlier than your late 40s or have your ovaries surgically removed before age 45 without receiving hormone therapy, your risk is increased.
  • Eating disorders. Women and men with anorexia nervosa or bulimia are at higher risk of lower bone density in their lower backs and hips.
  • Corticosteroid medications. Long-term use of corticosteroid medications is damaging to bone. Corticosteroid medications include prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone. These medications are common treatments for chronic conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. If you need to take a steroid medication for long periods, talk to your doctor about monitoring your bone density and recommending other drugs to help prevent bone loss.
  • Thyroid hormone. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. This can occur because your thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism) or because you take excess amounts of thyroid hormone medication to treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
  • Diuretics. Diuretics are drugs that prevent the buildup of fluids in your body. Diuretics cause the kidneys to excrete more calcium, leading to thinning bones. Diuretics that cause calcium loss include furosemide (Lasix), bumetanide (Bumex), ethacrynic acid (Edecrin) and torsemide (Demadex). If you currently use one of these, talk to your doctor about switching to a different diuretic.
  • Other medicines. Long-term use of the blood-thinning medication heparin, the drug methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications and aluminum-containing antacids can cause bone loss.
  • Breast cancer. Postmenopausal women who have had breast cancer are at increased risk of osteoporosis, especially if they were treated with chemotherapy or aromatase inhibitors such as anastrozole, letrozole and exemestane, which suppress estrogen. This does not hold true for women treated with tamoxifen, which may reduce the risk of fractures.
  • Low calcium intake. A lack of calcium plays a major role in the development of osteoporosis. Low calcium intake contributor to poor bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Medical conditions. Medical conditions and procedures that decrease calcium absorption, such as stomach surgery (gastrectomy), can affect your body's ability to absorb calcium.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Bone health begins in childhood. Children who are physically active and consume adequate amounts of calcium-containing foods have the greatest bone density. Weight-bearing exercise is beneficial, but jumping and hopping seems particularly helpful for creating healthy bones. Exercise through life is important, but you can increase your bone density at any age.
  • Excess soda consumption. Caffeine may interfere with calcium absorption and its diuretic effect may increase mineral loss. The phosphoric acid in soda may contribute to bone loss by changing the acid balance in the blood. If you do drink caffeinated soda, be sure to get adequate calcium and vitamin D from other sources in your diet or from supplements.
  • Chronic alcoholism. Alcoholism is one of the leading risk factors for osteoporosis in men. Excess consumption of alcohol reduces bone formation and interferees with the body's ability to absorb calcium.
  • Depression. People who experience serious depression have increased rates of bone loss.

Osteoporosis – What Are Risk Factors For Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. Osteoporosis can be invented and treated. Although anyone can develop osteoporosis, it is common in older women. It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of all women and 25 percent of all men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Gender. Fractures from osteoporosis are about twice as common in women as they are in men because women start out with lower bone mass and tend to live longer. Also, women experience a sudden drop in estrogen at menopause that accelerates bone loss. Slender, small-framed women are particularly at risk. Men who have low levels of the male hormone testosterone also are at increased risk. From age 75 on, osteoporosis is as common in men as it is in women.
  • Age. The older you get, the higher your risk of osteoporosis since your bones become weaker as you age.
  • Race. You are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis if you are a white or Asian woman. Black and Hispanic men and women have a lower but still significant risk.
  • Family history. Osteoporosis runs in families. Having a parent or a sibling with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk, especially if you also have a family history of fractures.
  • Frame size. Men and women who are exceptionally thin or have small body frames tend to have higher risk because they may have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
  • Tobacco use. Those that smoke are at higher risk for osteoporosis since tobacco use contributor to weak bones.
  • Exposure to estrogen. The greater a woman's lifetime exposure to estrogen, the lower the risk of osteoporosis. For example, you have a lower risk if you have a late menopause or if you began menstruating at an earlier than average age. However, if you have a history of abnormal menstrual periods, experience menopause earlier than your late 40s or have your ovaries surgically removed before age 45 without receiving hormone therapy, your risk is increased.
  • Eating disorders. Women and men with anorexia nervosa or bulimia are at higher risk of lower bone density in their lower backs and hips.
  • Corticosteroid medications. Long-term use of corticosteroid medications is damaging to bone. Corticosteroid medications include prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone. These medications are common treatments for chronic conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. If you need to take a steroid medication for long periods, talk to your doctor about monitoring your bone density and recommending other drugs to help prevent bone loss.
  • Thyroid hormone. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. This can occur because your thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism) or because you take excess amounts of thyroid hormone medication to treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
  • Diuretics. Diuretics are drugs that prevent the buildup of fluids in your body. Diuretics cause the kidneys to excrete more calcium, leading to thinning bones. Diuretics that cause calcium loss include furosemide (Lasix), bumetanide (Bumex), ethacrynic acid (Edecrin) and torsemide (Demadex). If you currently use one of these, talk to your doctor about switching to a different diuretic.
  • Other medicines. Long-term use of the blood-thinning medication heparin, the drug methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications and aluminum-containing antacids can cause bone loss.
  • Breast cancer. Postmenopausal women who have had breast cancer are at increased risk of osteoporosis, especially if they were treated with chemotherapy or aromatase inhibitors such as anastrozole, letrozole and exemestane, which suppress estrogen. This does not hold true for women treated with tamoxifen, which may reduce the risk of fractures.
  • Low calcium intake. A lack of calcium plays a major role in the development of osteoporosis. Low calcium intake contributor to poor bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Medical conditions. Medical conditions and procedures that decrease calcium absorption, such as stomach surgery (gastrectomy), can affect your body's ability to absorb calcium.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Bone health begins in childhood. Children who are physically active and consume adequate amounts of calcium-containing foods have the greatest bone density. Weight-bearing exercise is beneficial, but jumping and hopping seems particularly helpful for creating healthy bones. Exercise through life is important, but you can increase your bone density at any age.
  • Excess soda consumption. Caffeine may interfere with calcium absorption and its diuretic effect may increase mineral loss. The phosphoric acid in soda may contribute to bone loss by changing the acid balance in the blood. If you do drink caffeinated soda, be sure to get adequate calcium and vitamin D from other sources in your diet or from supplements.
  • Chronic alcoholism. Alcoholism is one of the leading risk factors for osteoporosis in men. Excess consumption of alcohol reduces bone formation and interferees with the body's ability to absorb calcium.
  • Depression. People who experience serious depression have increased rates of bone loss.