Homeowners Guide to Home Insurance Discounts, Reduced Rates and Savings

In today’s economy, many homeowners are juggling higher bills on less earnings — facing tightened family budgets in the wake of rising costs, credit limits or even job loss. Yet there’s no need to struggle with the cost of home insurance. Despite industry increases, homeowners may be able to reduce their insurance rates by as much as 30 percent.

Nevertheless, many homeowners aren’t using insurance discounts to lower rates — even those who apply discounts may qualify for more savings than they’re getting. And lowered rates are still possible, even in today’s economy.

Consider the findings reported by independent insurance agent association, Trusted Choice, in a 2009 national survey:

“53 million household respondents ‘admitted they are probably not taking advantage of all homeowners insurance discounts or said that they simply didn’t know’ about policyholder discounts they likely qualify for.”

The survey also found that the largest percentage of respondents, about 26%, estimated they save 6-10% on their insurance premiums by using discounts. In fact, many insurance consumers could be saving significantly more-as much as 30%, according to independent insurance agencies, which often shop on behalf of consumers and help them find discounts and compare rates.

Homeowners are usually aware of the more common discounts — such as a multiple policy discount to insure both home and auto under one carrier. But there are other discounts and savings they miss.

How savvy are you as a homeowner and insurance consumer?

Find out using this quick list to explore or measure your potential for insurance discounts. It’s also the knowledge you and your insurance agent need to reduce rates for savings:

  • Dual duty — Don’t overlook the most common discount available: multiple policy discounts. When the same company insures your home and car, you can probably reduce your overall insurance costs by 10 to 15 percent.
  • New home, new homeowner? The same criteria used to qualify your home for a specific mortgage is often the same that qualifies your policy for discounts.
  • Living in a gated community? Then you may be eligible for discounts. Be sure to ask about auto insurance discounts if your car is equally ‘protected’ to boot.
  • Rooftop savings — Some insurance companies offer hail resistant roof discounts for Class 4 roofs — naturally these credits may vary with locale. Moreover, be sure to ask your insurer about potential discounts before putting a new roof on your house — you’ll probably want to capture savings if available and a flat roof without roof warranty may disqualify you from your current coverage altogether.
  • Be a new policyholder — You may find additional savings extended to new customers based on new rating models that offer a ‘sign up’ discount. If your insurer extends this discount, your insurance agent might be able to capture it by applying for a new policy with the same company.
  • Your track record counts — make sure you explore discounts for home insurance customers who have a claim-free track record… when was the last time you filed a home insurance claim? A 10-year history usually qualifies you for this discount; if you’ve never filed a claim, you may save as much as 20 percent.
  • Risk reductions — Ask your agent to identify risk reduction discounts addressing a range of interior and exterior factors: fire and smoke alarms, electrical wiring, fireplace / chimney safety, heating apparatus, burglar alarms, curb and gutter system and landscaping elements. Proximity to a fire hydrant and your community’s fire department also applies.
  • Preventive maintenance and home security – Make sure your insurance agent is aware of any alarm systems or preventive measures you take to secure property and to keep your home safe. Though discount criteria varies, you may be able to get a savings of 10 to 15 percent for a combined system that may include two or more measures: deadbolt locks, lockable garages and storage buildings, fire alarms, fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, a burglar alarm or home security system.
  • Good breeding gone bad — Like it or not, some pets have a reputation. You may adore your family pet but if Fido is a dog breed considered bite-happy or dangerous, your insurance rating may be affected or your coverage in jeopardy. Choose your pet wisely — be aware of the little issues that can turn your insurance into a big issue.
  • Score card — Expect your credit score to impact your home insurances rates. If married, you may be able to reduce your rate by listing the top scorer as the first named on the insurer’s application. Plus, if you’ve had a less-than credit score and recently improved your numbers, let your insurance agent know. You may be able to get a policy adjustment: a lower insurance rate is still possible without the need to write a new policy.
  • Raise the limit — consider the difference a deductible makes. You can probably lower your rate by raising your deductible — $2,500 is the standard deductible and you can expect a lower rate if you raise it to $5,000.
  • Agent vs. agent and the extended marketplace — Is your insurance agent an independent who can tap a broad product range? Or an agent affiliated with a name-brand company? Know the difference. Independent agents can shop around — explore options across the marketplace. Brand agents don’t usually have the same agility — they’re usually confined to the company practice or limited to brand products. Loyalty counts. Still, if you’re committed to one company brand you may be just as limited as the insurance agent who is equally missing rate reductions, discounts and savings offered by the brand’s competition.
  • ‘Home pride’ and stewardship are vital — Even many insurance agents don’t understand the role that stewardship plays in harnessing the broadest range of discounts possible. Why? The better care you take of your home, the more attractive you’ll look to insurance carriers. And the best way to harness discounts is to identify as many discounts as possible — it stands to reason that more companies mean more potential for discounts.

So, you’ll want to make sure your home qualifies for coverage from every company that offers coverage in your locale since increased competition generally decreases rates and opens your access to discounts.

In a nutshell, homeowners applying the discounts above will soon realize the many ways they can save on their home insurance — even when times are tough.

Get started on discounts for savings….

  • Shop around to compare insurance company providers and rates — what companies provide home insurance in your community?
  • Get guidance on the details — an independent insurance agent isn’t tied to one brand, so these agents can help you see the whole marketplace and get the apples-to-apples lens you need to compare products, coverage and rates.
  • Identify discounts — make sure you identify the common discounts most homeowners hit, along with other discounts that frequently miss.
  • Do the ‘homework’ — the work at home that demonstrates stewardship makes you eligible to select from the broadest insurance product range possible.
  • Optimize selection, and then maximize discounts to benefit from reduced raters and savings.

Why Origami Helps Relieve Stress

In order to understand how origami aids in stress relief, it is important to understand what stress is and why it needs to be managed. The definition of stress itself is fraught with opposing views. Hans Seyle is one of first professionals to get to grips with the definition. Back in 1956 he said “stress is not necessarily something bad – it all depends on how you take it. The stress of exhilarating, creative successful work is beneficial, while that of failure, humiliation or infection is detrimental.” He thought that the effect of stress would be apparent whether the stress be caused by a positive or negative experience.

Richard S Lazarus has since found the most widely accepted definition for stress “stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize”. As this description is the most acceptable we can summarize it by saying: That people feel stressed when they are presented with a situation, which they do not have the experience necessary to manage. The extent of the stress varies on that persons experience of a particular set of circumstances.

Stress is equated to worry or grief and it comes from many sources in daily life. Whether kids, partners or work become a toll the symptoms are the same: nervousness, anxiety, short temper, lose of sleep. Often those suffering smoke or drink more heavily. Stress is an unseen tension within us. It leads to unusual and often harmful behavior and is in the long term highly detrimental.

Origami is a great way to help manage stress. In the same way stress is a physiological problem. So origami engages both the mind and hands to produce a calming effect. The art of origami involves folding and creasing paper. This uses both sides of your brain. The brain is divided into two halves as we know, the right hand side controls the left hand and the left hand side controls the right hand. As you engage your mind to tell your hands what to do this gives both mind and body a channel or focus. As both mind and body are absorbed in the detail of folding and creasing the paper. The design starts to take shape into something aesthetic you become more like yourself. The sense of fulfillment and resulting satisfaction help relieve the symptoms which you felt beforehand. Simple origami folds and creases can be used to make a wide variety of designs. Including animals, the Japanese crane is a starting point. Which can lead on to many others from cats and dogs to elephants.

There are lots of good things to be got from origami. Once you have mastered the initial folds and creases. As ones confidence gains momentum, you can take your experience and attempt more complex designs. The method of folding remains the same, whether the design be complex or simple. I.E. the patterns are not determined by different fold types. But from the manner in which the folds are put together, forming different designs. So once the basics are mastered you are only restricted by your imagination! Recognizing the symptoms of stress is part of the battle, being proactive about managing that stress ensures the stress is minimized. As a method of balancing your body and mind origami certainly helps. If you establish a routine of setting aside even ten minutes daily to developing your origami skills this will aid in a less stressful life.

Bokashi Composting: Overview, Advantages, and Drawbacks

Bokashi composting is a program of intense composting sans oxygen whereby food scraps are fermented inside a sealed bucket by means of a bran which is inoculated with effective microorganisms. Once totally fermented, the food waste is then typically entombed inside of a backyard garden where it breaks down quickly generating nutrient rich soil.

Heritage: Initially formulated and used in Japan, the process of bokashi biodegradation has been followed for hundreds of years. It was eventually popularized by Professor Teruo Higa who identified the appropriate amount of bacteria necessary to best biodegrade organic substances.

Composition: Bokasi bran is commonly comprised of wheat bran, water, molasses and microorganisms.

How it Works?: When Bokashi bran is combined with organic waste, the bacteria begin to develop triggering the material to ferment and break down.

Uses: Bokashi food recycling is practiced by people and companies.

In home functions, food is placed in an sealed container and the bokashi bran is added. Once a few weeks have passed, the bran and microorganisms start to digest and breakdown the organic material. Once the food is fermented it can be deposited in a compost mound, entombed in ditches, or in a backyard where it is going to easily dissolve.

Positive aspects: People that use Bokashi reference a variety of perks to using bokashi composting compared to typical food recycling tactics, including:

Speed: Organics decompose with bokashi bran for a length of a couple of weeks and are subsequently ready to get deposited in trenches or garden soil. Traditional food recycling typically takes more time (however it is dependent on your system of composting) and comes together over the course of a few months.

Scents: Since bokashi food recycling is anaerobic, the fermentation procedure has got to transpire inside of a hermetically sealed container. Thus, there is no bad odor involving bokashi composting.

Animals: Matured Bokashi organics are maintained inside a sealed container or buried in the soil and therefore, contrary to some backyard compost heaps, won’t generally bring in critters or mice.

Greenhouse Gases: No GHGs are made during bokashi food recycling. This is distinct from conventional food recycling through which greenhouse gases are created.

Health of the Soil: The water content in earth embedded with bokashi fermented food is normally higher than that of regular compost. As such, bokashi food recycling permits greater conservation of groundwater. The organic nutrients in the earth after bokashi fermentation are also less water soluble as are the nutrients derived from composting (with oxygen) and as a result are unlikely to leach away because of run-off following down pours.

Disadvantages:

Price: You will have to buy bokashi bran or mixture from a vendor like BokashiCycle.

Packaging: Bokashi fermentation is unlikely to break down and ferment compostable food packaging.

Why Do We Go Into Caves? Deaton’s Cave, a Wild Past

I remember playing on the hill side behind my Grandparents home, and finding holes in the gullies that were dug by my father and his bothers, or possibly one of my older cousins. I even dug a few myself, more like ditches covered with boards and dirt for a hid-out.

There is a strange pleasure in getting dirty, and covered with mud, not having to worry about staying clean. A good friend of mine loved to wear white overalls, which of course did not remain white very long in the cave. There is also something about crawling around that seems enjoyable.

Getting to know a cave can be quite a reward. When you are able to find your way, and even share with others about where, and how you got to a special place.

Ask anyone who caves, why they go into caves, and they will struggle to come up with an answer. They may tell you what they do in caves but not why they do it. After years of just visiting known caves, I started searching for more reasons to enter the dark holes in the ground. Mapping sparked my interest. We would talk about mapping and creating computer programs to plot the caves as we rode back and forth to the caves in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. I slowly developed a program to plot and draw the cave passages, first on an Apple computer we had at work and then improved it using Visual Basic on my personal computer at home. I even sold copies at caving events, but now I give it away on my web site.

Caves were sometimes used as social gathering places. Big Dan Cave, also called Deaton’s Cave, in Georgia has a long, and shady past. A prehistoric Turtle Sculpted from stone was discover in the 1950’s when someone first attempted to convert the cave into a recreation area. After a few dances they had a shooting and it was closed. The cave property was sold by the Deaton family.

Ray Landrum purchased the cave in 1950 for $500. Landrum constructed a dance hall in the entrance of the cave in the late 1960’s. Bands played on the concrete platform and square dances were held on the floor below. Landrum constructed a building at the cavern entrance out of emptied beer cans. He also constructed a souvenir shop at the cave and a residence above the entrance. A fire burned the entrance down and Mr. Landrum moved away. The spring was also enclosed by Mr. Landrum, and was sold in 1970 for $50,000.

Deaton’s Cave was no doubt used as a shelter by early Indians in the area; the concrete dance floor must cover many treasures from the past. The location of the cave above the Euharlee, (Indian name for “she laughs as she runs”) river provided water and fish. Deaton’s Cave is now also being referred to as Euharlee Creek Cave. Deaton’s cave was one of my first mapping projects when I was learning how to create cave maps.

Ecuador Laws: 4 Important Details About Rental Properties and Real Estate in Ecuador

Ecuador Real Estate laws should be part of the information that you will research before you move into this country. It is important for you to understand the specific laws that apply to Real Estate in Ecuador and that you will adhere to once you live in a new country. Regardless of where you plan to retire or relocate, you need to be a law-abiding resident to avoid any unfortunate incident with the local government.

Foreigners typically have to understand the rental laws in their host country because most of them like the flexibility that comes with this type of living arrangement. It is important to be aware of this so that you can avoid any untoward incident with your future landlord or landlady or maybe even a purchase of Real Estate in Ecuador. You want to keep yourself from violating any of the local laws and at the same time, you want to know your rights as a tenant and as an owner of Real Estate in Ecuador.

4 clauses in the Ecuador rental law that you should be aware of & how it affects Real Estate in Ecuador

You should be happy to know as a renter that Ecuador Real Estate laws about rental homes are tenant friendly.

To give you a brief understanding of your rental rights in Ecuador, here are the 4 important details that you have to know.

On the lease period.

Most of the rental contracts, according to Ecuador Real Estate laws, are good for one year. However, the tenant has the right to request for a two year contract. During this time, the landlord or landlady is not allowed to raise the rent. So, if you know that you can stay in a home for at least 2 years, then you may want to request for a two year contract from the landlord. If they agree but they still raised the rent on you in your second year, then you can file a complaint with the rental court (Juez de Inquilinato). Should the court rule against the landlord, they will be fined for violating the law of Real Estate in Ecuador.

On contract termination.

In case of an early termination, a notice is expected from the party that initiated the end of the contract for the Real Estate. If initiated by the landlord or landlady, the tenant should be given at least 3 months’ notice so they have ample time to look for another home to move into. If the tenant or renter initiated it, they need to give the landlord at least one month’s notice before the date they will move out. There may be some landlords who will force tenants to pay the remaining months in the contract but the latter is not obligated to comply.

On the rental price.

The Ecuador laws on renting homes and Real Estate in Ecuador, the landlord or landlady is only allowed to charge rent based on the value and current condition of the home. The law cites a formula that determines the percentage of the rent. That means if you are renting in a great home and in an affluent neighborhood, expect to pay more in rent as opposed to the homes in more modest communities. In case the landlord wants to raise his rate further than what is allowed, they have to file a petition in a rental court. You also have to know that the current law does not permit landlords to make automatic annual raises in the rent.

On the legality of the rental contract.

It is also specified in the law that the rental contract is only valid if it is duly notarized. If the contract you signed is not, then the landlord or landlady cannot take legal action against you. But if they have a copy of a notarized rental contract, then that can be presented as a valid document in court.

Important amendments to the rental law in 2012 for Real Estate in Ecuador

There had been amendments to this law and you may want to keep abreast about all of them. In 2012, the Ecuador President vetoed the Reformas a la Ley de Inquilinato and sent it over to the National Assembly for a second debate. On February 2013, the approved text of the reformed law (Law Amending the Codified Leasehold Law) was send to the President for approval, veto or disapproval.

The main amendments are as follows:

  • Municipalities are mandated to have a Leasehold Registration Office of the Real Estate in Ecuador that has renters and that will help keep records of rental contracts. The landlord has to get a registration within 30 days from the date of the rental contract. They have to present proof of a security deposit and rent certificate. Failure to comply by landlord and late registrations will be fined by up to 10% of the rental price. This office is also responsible for determining the highest rental price of a property and looking after the deposit of the tenant.
  • The rental price of any property should not be greater than 1/12 of 10% of its commercial appraisal. The landlord or landlady will be fined for any violation of this clause. They are also not allowed to ask the tenant to pay for any expense involving horizontal property regimes (or areas co-owned and used by other people). They are also not allowed to suspend the utilities of the tenant even if they failed to pay their rent.
  • Security deposits are allowed but it should not exceed the worth of two monthly rents. This amount is not to be kept by the landlord or landlady but should be deposited with the Leasehold Registration Office.
  • The landlord or landlady is allowed to terminate a rental contract if the tenant failed to make two complete monthly payments on the rent. This is true even if the payment is merely incomplete. Failure to pay the utilities for more than three months is also a valid ground for the termination of the rental contract.
  • In case of a dispute, the amendment indicates that it can be done before a leasehold judge through a verbal proceeding.

Ecuador Real Estate laws change over time, so you have to be aware of what is going on around you in case you start living in this country.

Self Service Your Lawn Mower and Save Money

Around where I live the small engine retail and service stores charge $75 an hour to work on lawn mowers and ride-on tractors. Most people can do the necessary basic service themselves and keep their mower running smoothly for years.

We all do it, we get to the end of the grass cutting season, shove the mower or tractor to the back of the shed and forget about it till next Spring. Don’t do that this year, it will cost you money and time to get it back in working order.

What you’ll need: Digital camera, SAE30 oil, wire brush, spray can of black enamel paint, heavy duty gloves, container for used oil, replacement spark plug, (just in case), face mask and cleaning rags.

Drain the fuel tank and let the engine burn the last of it from the carburetor and fuel lines. The fuel in the tanks will partially evaporate over winter leaving a residue, particularly fuels blended with ethanol which will leave a gooey mess, that’s a real pain to clean out especially from the fine jets in the carburetor.

Before doing any further work on your machine, disconnect the spark plug lead. Although electrical interlocks should prevent the engine accidentally starting it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Drain out the old engine oil. For most lawn mowers the drain plug is underneath in the mower deck. For others and lawn tractors the drain plug is at the base of, and on the side of the engine. Be sure to collect the oil in a container to dispose of correctly later, don’t let the oil drain onto the ground.  Replace the oil drain plug. Leave the dipstick out to remind you there is no oil in the engine.

Clean dirt and grass off the mower, a small amount of debris in the engine will cause it to seize. Clean dirt from the engine cooling fins, you may have a cover to remove to do this. If this is the first time you are doing your own maintenance, have a digital camera handy to take photos as you work to ensure parts go back correctly. Take as many pictures as you need, use the zoom for close-ups, so as you put things back in place you won’t waste any time figuring things out. Don’t rely on your memory it will let you down!

Clean the deck, for lawn mowers tip the machine on its side, carburetor side up. Use a block of wood to wedge the blade so that it cannot move. Put on a pair of heavy duty garden gloves before removing the blade. Clean debris from the underside of the deck, wire brush and spray with black enamel paint from an auto parts dealer, always use a mask for this job. Painting the underside of the deck will prolong its life. Have a professional sharpen and balance the blade before replacing it. Then turn your mower upright.

Take out the spark plug, wire brush it clean and check the gap, 0.30″ for most. If it’s worn replace it with new. Take the plug to a dealer to ensure you get the correct replacement. Clean and replace carburetor air filter. Fill the engine with SAE30 oil, check manual for quantity required making sure not to over fill, then use the dipstick to check the level, let stand for a few minutes then re-check.  Wipe the dipstick to avoid an incorrect reading.

Check the condition of the starter pull cord. If damaged or frayed take the mower to a service dealer for a replacement pull cord. Replacing the cord can be difficult especially if the recoil spring is taken out of its housing and it’s not a task for a beginner. Lubricate the cables and if it’s self-propelled check the belts for wear and damage and replace if needed.

Wipe the machine down and store ready for next Spring and you’ve just saved yourself $100 or more.

MONETIZING TIPS: Offer this simple end or beginning of season service to family, friends, neighbors, church members and seniors clubs. Make up a poster on your PC with eye catching photos from the web. If you have a vehicle to transport machines so much the better. You only need a space in your garage or garden shed and a few simple tools to get started on a nice money-making business. Your camera can be a big help by ensuring you can see exactly how things came apart until you feel confident.

Need more info on cameras? http://www.digitalcamerainformation.net

Brian Wenham

Portable Evaporative Coolers – Champion Gadabout Models

If you are going to be shopping for a new Portable Evaporative Cooler, or Swamp Cooler as some call them, I would like to make a few suggestions. Champion Cooler Corporation makes five models in the Gadabout Series that you will find are excellent choices. Each model fits a particular need from the smallest model, the Champion M150, to the largest model, the Champion M500. I will mention a few features about each of the five models. There are dozens of businesses that sell Champion Portable Coolers online and will ship them to your home or business. I recommend checking prices and shipping costs at several of these businesses as prices can vary greatly. Go to Google or Yahoo and type in Champion Gadabout Coolers and you will find quite a few businesses listed. They will also list the features as well as pictures of each model. I will mention a few features that I like.

The Champion M150 is the smallest Gadabout model. It is shaped similar to a box fan but is about 17 inches thick. This model has a handle and is on casters for easy mobility. The fan has a 1/8 HP motor with 3 speeds. Even though this motor uses very little power it delivers 1100 CFM on high speed.

The Champion M201 is a larger model, and as with the rest of the Gadabout models, is more of a square shape. This model, as well as the next three I will describe, is generally used in garages and work shops. It is also on casters like the rest of the Gadabout units. This cooler should be used for cooling areas up to 700 square feet. The Champion M301 is the next Gadabout model and is a little larger. This model weighs about 100 pounds and may be too large for a home Portable Cooler. It has a 2 speed motor and cools up to 1000 square feet. Once again the Champion M401 is larger yet. The M401 can cool up to 1400 square feet and comes with a 4 way directional grille with easy move vanes.

The largest of the Gadabout models is the Champion M500. Even though this model weighs 195 pounds, as with the other Gadabouts, it is on casters and is easily moved around in your shop. With the Champion M500 Cooler you can cool a large area. It delivers 5000 CFM with it’s 3/4 HP, 2 speed motor. This model also has a 4 way directional grille with easy move vanes. There are two other features that make the Champion M500 superior to other Portable Evaporative Coolers. It has a 47 gallon reservoir to give more cooling time between refills. It also comes with a 20 foot cord with a GFCI safety plug.

As you can see the Champion Gadabout Coolers are made for every situation and need. I have not only used Champion Evaporative Cooler products, but I have also visited the Champion factory to watch them build their products. I recommend that you consider Champion Coolers.

FAQ on Modifying the Toyota Supra

What does BPU(TM) stand for? (BPU(TM) is a trademark of SupraStore.com)

Basic Performance Upgrades. These modifications are: A full length three inch down-pipe (with or with-out high flow cats), 3″ (75mm) or bigger cat-back exhaust system, raised boost (18psi), and the required boost cut eliminator (GReddy BCC) needed to achieve that boost without activating the factory fuel cut-off at 14-15psi. These are the modifications that have proven to provide the best HP-to-$$$ ratio.

What does the + mean when someone says BPU(TM)+? And what is APU?

That stands for any additional power producing modifications other than the basic BPU(TM) modifications. One “+” refers to Adj. Cam Gears and under-drive pulleys, the second “+” refers to a Fuel controller, ECU upgrade, etc. For instance, a Supra with the BPU(TM) modifications, plus a front-mount intercooler, would be called BPU(TM)+. If you added cam gears to that, it would be BPU(TM)++, and so on. The “BPU(TM)” term is used until you have an upgraded turbo(s). Then it is referred to as APU, advanced performance upgrades. This designation pretty much covers every modification that can be performed.

What are the first engine modifications I should perform?

I recommend starting with raising the boost of the stock turbos to roughly 18psi. This will require a quality boost gauge and a boost cut eliminator (GReddy BCC). You will achieve 15 or so PSI with the stock Down Pipe in place. This will provide an addition of approximately 30rwhp. After those modifications are completed, it would be a logical next step to install the Down Pipe and Cat-Back Exhaust at the same time. You will now be at full BPU(TM).

What do all the various “Free Mods” do?

There are many different “free mods” for the Supra TT. I will cover just a few of them here. The ones I will cover fall into three categories, boost control, EGR disabling, and TTC or True Twin Conversion.

Three of the boost control mods are: Bleeder-T Mod, Clamp Mod, and the VSV Bypass Mod. Each of these modifications raise boost levels without the use of a boost controller. But you have to keep a close eye on your boost gauge, and make sure they are not allowing the turbos to boost too high (18psi is a safe level).

The next mods, are the true twin conversion mods (or TTC). This modification disables the Sequential twin turbo operation, and causes the turbos to run constantly in parallel (both on at the same time). This is supposed to allow for slightly better mid-range power (before the secondary turbo would normally come online) and allows for a smoother power band, without the abrupt boost increase caused by the transition from primary to secondary operation. However, this does noticeably decrease low-end power, and increases exhaust noise levels, and therefore may not be desirable on the street. Two types of the TTC mod are, the traditional TTC mod which includes 2 methods, wiring the actuators, or installing a one way valve, and the Electronic TTC mod (ETTC).

The last mod I will discuss is the EGR mod. This disables the Exhaust Gas Recirculation system, which is meant for emissions, and therefore, this modification is for off-road use only. This mod is supposed to prevent the super heating of the number 5 and 6 cylinders, which may cause burnt valves.

How much power will my car make at BPU(TM)?

It varies from car-to-car, and the conditions as well as tuning. Most BPU(TM)-only Supra Twin Turbos, dyno between 370 and 410 horsepower at the rear wheels. This is usually achieved with moderate temperatures, a reset ECU (to erase anything bad the ECU may have learned), and often a little bit of high-octane un-leaded race fuel. On the street, power will be reduced, especially in poor weather, but at least 90 percent of the power should be retained.

What kind of 1/4 mile ETs and trap speeds should I run at BPU(TM)-only?

It varies WIDELY depending on driver skill. As well as track conditions, elevation above sea level, ambient temperatures, humidity, and pre-race preparation. But most fall between 12.3 to 12.9 ets with 112 to 119mph trap speeds on street tires. Times can drop well into the 11s with drag radials, a good driver, and good conditions, as well as proper pre-race preparation.

What is a BPU(TM)’d Supra TT’s top speed?

Speeds in the mid-high 180mph range should be achievable. Once the speed-limiter is disabled, by pulling the “TRAC” fuse of course.

Will the life of my Engine and Drivetrain be adversely affected with the BPU(TM) mods?

Yes, but not by a significant amount. If the car is maintained properly, and the car is treated with some respect for the components, you should maintain much of the power train’s life. Which considering the fact that the Supra is by far one of the most reliable and durable sports cars, it will last longer than most well maintained STOCK sports cars. The only Drivetrain components that will see a significantly shortened life will be the stock clutch. It will more than likely not last much longer than 8-10k miles once at BPU(TM). This especially holds true if the car is making repeated high speed runs using 5th and 6th gear at wide open throttle. If your stock clutch has high mileage on it, or is already starting to slip, you will need to plan on a new high-performance clutch. Also the stock turbos will be subject to a somewhat shortened life span (how short will depend on how you drive and maintain the car, as well as how much boost you will run)

What’s the reliability of a 600hp Supra Turbo?

Chassis, electrical, and suspension components should see little effect on reliability on street driven Supras. The stock 2JZ-GTE engine should hold up pretty well to this power level. Just how long depends on maintenance, and how hard you drive it, and how often. But typically Supras can go for years at this power level. The transmission reliability will depend on whether it’s an Automatic or Manual. A stock automatic will not hold this much power, a built transmission will be required, and it’s reliability will depend on it’s design and construction. The 6spd Manual should hold up just fine, as well as the rear differential and axles.

The only real reliability concerns at these low power levels would surround the actual modifications you perform. Excluding installation short-comings, the components utilized, even very high quality ones, may fall short of factory component reliability, as the built in compromises that exist in everything, would lean more towards the side of ultimate performance, than of ultimate reliability (Keep in mind we are talking about a Toyota here, whose reliabilty standards are exceptionally high) This may include fuel system components, turbo components, and especially electronic wizardry. Basically a set-up that is either VERY well conceived, or utilizes OE components as much as possible, without over burdening them, would posses *near* stock reliability. And tuning of the components, and component selection, and matching, would play a HUGE role in this.

What are the power limits of the various factory components (Differential, Transmission, Motor, etc.)?

There have really not been enough failures to really pin point a limit for the various power-train components. The motor could fail at factory power levels if it was running dangerously lean. But when well tuned, the motors internals (Pistons, Rods, Crank, Head Gasket etc) are reliable to 700rwhp. But of course at these power levels, if the engine is not set-up and tuned properly, it is literally a bomb waiting to go off, however this would be just as true with a built motor. Some owners have pushed their stock internals to the limit and have well exceeded 800rwhp, and even approached 900rwhp. I still don’t understand how such an over built motor made it past the bean counters at Toyota Corporate.

The 6-speed Getrag is ridiculously strong for an OE transmission. Its limit’s will be affected greatly by driving technique, such as launching, and whether or not power shifting is used. Even driven hard, the Getrag should hold up reasonably well with 700RWHP. If you treat it with some respect, it should be able to handle around 800RWHP or more, although great care and respect will need to be practiced at those levels.

Differential, axle, CV Joint, and drive shaft failures are a VERY rare occurrence. So I don’t have much info on their failure limits. On street tires, it would be almost impossible to break any of these components at ANY power level. The tires would spin before they would put the driveline under that kind of strain. The tires act sort of like a circuit breaker. If you run drag slicks, this does not hold true of course, yet they have proven themselves to be 10 and even 9 second capable.

Will drivability, interior noise levels, and low-end power be adversely affected with the BPU(TM) mods?

Drivability is not adversely affected. Interior noise level depends on the exhaust system you choose. Some will make it far louder; some will actually make it quieter. But most are just a little bit louder than stock. But the added dBs are also combined with a MUCH sweeter exhaust note, so it’s definitely worth it. And the interior of the Supra is pretty quiet anyway, so on the highway, it will be VERY livable. As far as low-end power goes, the down-pipe will greatly decrease Turbo Lag. So low-end power and response is much improved over stock.

Will emissions be adversely affected by the BPU(TM) mods?

As long as a high-flow cat is used, emissions should not be effected, and you should still pass visual inspection. If you run without catalytic converters, you are doing so at your own risk, and you would not pass visual or emissions testing.

Will fuel mileage be adversely affected by the BPU(TM) mods?

If driven calmly, as in light throttle, mileage should not be significantly affected. Mileage will greatly decrease during however, if you drive “vigorously”, more power equals more burned fuel I am afraid.

Should I install an “Intake” (Open Element Filter)?

This is a bit of a yes and no answer. The stock filter assembly is a flow restriction, and an open element intake would increase potential flow. However, it will also draw in more heated engine compartment air, which can hurt performance. My advice is to either modify the stock filter box, or install a cool air induction box, like the Max Air. An added bonus of the open element filters, is that they allow you to easily hear the primary turbo and by-pass valve.

What about the stock intercooler?

The stock intercooler does a decent job up till about 17psi on the stock turbos, after that you would probably notice a significant gain, especially in warmer temperatures, with a nice front mount intercooler. However, keep in mind it will block some of the airflow to the radiator, as well as decreasing response slightly.

Should I replace the factory rubber Intercooler hoses with aftermarket metal hoses?

It wouldn’t hurt. But it won’t help a lot either. At the most you may slightly increase throttle response, but at least it will look nicer.

What about the fuel system, are the stock injectors and fuel pump large enough for BPU(TM)?

Yes, the stock fuel system is very safe and reliable to 450RWHP, although I would recommend a fuel pulsation damper bypass. Anything over that, and I would highly recommend having the car dyno’d, and using a wide-band O2 sensor (not a cheap A/F gauge connected to the stock O2) to check the fuel ratio at your high boost setting. 11.5:1 would be a safe fuel ratio.

What are the stock injectors rated at?

540cc/min

Would the Supra benefit from a fuel controller?

BPU(TM)’d Supras run a little on the rich side as far as fuel ratios go. This hurts power. What it does do is provide a safety margin that makes engine damage through detonation unlikely. If you get a fuel controller, and tune it properly (on a dyno, with an accurate EGT gauge, and a high band O2 (The Stock O2 sensors are not accurate), then you should be able to gain a noticeable amount of power. One of the most popular electronic fuel controllers is the A’PEXi S-AFC. The Fields SFC is good too.

What should I use to increase my boost level, an Electronic Boost Controller, or a Manual BC?

Using an EBC is the safest way to raise boost, it will prevent spiking and over-boosting. But it really comes down to your budget. If you can afford an EBC, get one. If you can’t, go with a MBC. And always keep an eye on that boost gauge. And whatever you are using to control boost, remember to not get carried away, I don’t recommend going regularly over 18psi.

What is the best Electronic Boost Controller?

There really is no BEST. Although the A’PEXi AVC-R is a nice unit, it provides much more control over boost than other EBCs, but it is also more complex to install, and tune. The new Blitz unit is also nice. Most of the large manufacturers make decent units. Just avoid fuzzy-logic equipped models if you still have the sequential stock turbos, they will become “confused” by the unnatural behavior of the sequential system.

When installing my EBC, do I connect it to both of the Turbo’s Wastegates?

The Primary Turbo is the only one with a wastegate. When in full twin turbo mode, the boost of both Turbos is regulated by the primary turbo’s wastegate. So, only connect it to the Primary’s.

Some people say I need to replace my ECU with a reprogrammed one, instead of just using a boost controller. Do I?

Reprogrammed ECUs for the Supra TT are VERY $$$. They are in the $1200 range. And they have not been proven to provide a significant increase in performance or safety on BPU(TM) level cars. Their merit shows itself on cars with upgraded Turbo(s). Just be sure you buy your ECU, or have it reprogrammed by a reputable shop that knows what they are doing. And have it tailored to your particular car (Driving habits, and Mods). And I would also recommend taking a look at the AEM Programmable system.

What is a safe boost level to run at BPU(TM)?

The general consensus is 17-18psi. Some people have taken it higher, but I don’t recommend it if you don’t have the money for a turbo replacement/upgrade.

Which Down-Pipe is recommended?

The RMM (or Rod Millen Motorsports) Cat-less Downpipe is the most commonly used. However many other brands exist. Some down-pipes, such as the Random Technology DP, feature an emissions legal high-flow catalytic converter.

Will a high-flow cat hurt performance?

It will have some effect on power output, but not a lot. Its exact effect on HP is not clear, but it probably costs a few hp at the most, maybe 5-15hp at BPU(TM) power levels.

What is a Down-Pipe?

It is the section of the exhaust system that connects the outlet of the Turbocharger’s Turbine section to the “Cat-Back” exhaust system. The Downpipe is also where the two catalytic converters are located, as well as the O2 sensor (or sensors in OBD-II cars).

I have an OBD2 car. Can I still install a Down-Pipe?

Yes. But unless the DP has a Catalyst and a second location for an O2 sensor, you will trip your check engine light, unless you get one of those O2 “black boxes”.

Which Exhausts are the loudest?

The Tanabe Racing Medallion, and HKS Hiper Titanium seem to be the two loudest systems.

Which Exhausts are the quietest?

The Tanabe Hyper Medallion, the discontinued Tanabe G-Power Medallion and the GReddy (SP) Street Performance seem to be the quietest. At anything less than full throttle, they are no louder than stock. But at full throttle they seem to “wake up” a bit.

What are some recommended exhaust systems?

It depends on your personal preferences. Below I will break down some of my recommendations based on certain combinations of preferences.

Subtle Styling / Very Low Cost:

-Random Technology (75mm, full stainless steel)

Subtle Styling / Low Sound Level / Moderate Cost:

-GReddy Street Performance (80mm)

-Tanabe Super Hyper Medallion (80mm, full stainless steel, 50-state legal)

Subtle Styling / Moderate Sound Level / Moderate Cost:

-ATR (75mm, full stainless steel)

Tasteful Styling / Low-Moderate Sound Level / Low Cost:

-HKS Dragger II (85mm)

Tasteful Styling / Low-Moderate Sound Level / Moderate Cost:

-GReddy Power Extreme (80-94mm)

-HKS Super Dragger (95mm)

Tasteful Appearance / Moderate Sound Level / High Cost / Super Light:

-Veilside Tear Drop Titanium (90mm, full titanium)

Tasteful-Wild Styling / Low Sound Level / Moderate Cost:

-TRD 2nd gen.

Wild Styling / Moderate Sound Level / Low Cost:

-A’PEXi N1

-HKS Hiper (75mm)

Wild Styling / Moderate Sound Level / Moderate Cost:

-A’PEXi GT Spec (95mm, full stainless steel)

-Blitz NUR Spec (80mm, full stainless steel)

-HKS Hiper Carbon/Titanium (75mm, CF wrapped muffler, titanium tip)

Wild Styling / High Sound Level / Moderate Cost:

-Tanabe Racing Medallion (80mm, 50 state legal)

Wild Styling / High Sound Level / High Cost / High Flow:

-HKS Hiper Titanium (104mm, titanium muffler)

What is the cheapest route to replacing the DP and Cat-Back?

Have a custom performance exhaust shop fabricate a complete 3″ exhaust system (Turbo-to-Tip). It should cost well less that $400. And then you can use the muffler and exhaust tip of your choice.

Which Fuel Cut Eliminator is recommended?

The GReddy BCC (Boost Cut Controller) is highly recommended.

What does the Fuel Cut Eliminator do?

The factory ECU is programmed to activate a fuel cut if the manifold pressure exceeds 14-15psi. It does this as a safety measure to prevent what the ECU sees as over boosting. The Fuel Cut Eliminator effectively eliminates, or at least raises the cut to a higher pressure. A reprogrammed ECU can also eliminate this function.

Which boost gauge is recommended?

Any high quality boost gauge will work well. Accuracy is the important feature to look for. Autometer gauges are a good value. The Japanese gauges, A’PEXi, GReddy, HKS, etc., have more features, but at a much higher price.

Where can the boost gauge be installed in the interior?

If you want to mount it in the dash, the two most popular places are the Clock location (which holds a 52mm gauge), and the Air Vent beside it (which holds a 60mm gauge). You can also use an A-Pillar gauge pod.

What is the stock boost pressure?

11-12psi

Are Cam Gears a good modification for the Supra TT?

Yes, they have been shown to provide a 5-15rwhp gain on a BPU(TM)’d car. But to extract their potential, you must have them tuned, by a knowledgeable tuner, on a dyno. And most of the power gains will be seen on the exhaust side. I also recommend buying cam gears which feature 5-bolts.

Are Under Drive Pulley(s) a good modification for the Supra TT?

Most of the crank-shaft under-drive pulleys require the removal of the factory torsional damper.

This is from MKIV.com :”this is NOT an external (harmonic) balancer, as the crankshaft is fully balanced, rather it dampens both the axial twisting couples produced by the firing pulses, and the radial bending moment from the accessory drive belt.”

Basically this device provides crutial isolation between the engine driven accessories, and the crankshaft. However, removal of this can provide a 10-15rwhp gain, but at a cost for long term use.

Do I need to upgrade the ignition when upgrading to BPU(TM)?

The stock ignition system is VERY capable of supplying enough fire for a BPU(TM)’d car. The stock ignition system uses 6 large coils, one for each cylinder. So the system is capable of supporting VERY impressive HP levels. You may need to change to a colder range plug with a tighter gap (see below).

What about the spark plugs, which are recommended at BPU(TM) or higher level?

Basically you want similar plugs as stock, but a cooler heat range and a smaller gap. The stock plugs are NGK BKR6EP-11 (2978) and are platinum tipped and have a .044 (1.1mm) gap. The ideal NGK replacement for a modified Supra would be the BKR7E (6097). It is one range cooler (the ‘7’), is non-platinum tipped (the lack of the ‘p’) and has a smaller .0315 gap (lack of the ‘-11’). This plug is also called the NGK 6097 and they are fairly inexpensive. Platinum tipped plugs are not desired for high power applications, Iridium plugs are more preferred. Unfortunately their doesn’t seem to be a BKR8E which might be better for high-HP Supras.

Another good plug to try is the Denso Iridium IK22 or IK24. These plugs may last longer than the above mentioned NGKs, but are also 6 times as expensive. The stock replacement plug would be the IK20, the IK22 is one step cooler, and the IK24 is two steps cooler than stock. The IK22 would be good for ~400rwhp to ~600rwhp. The IK24 would probably be a good choice above that. Two other plugs commonly used are the NGK 3330 (BCPR7ES) which differ much more from the specifications of the stock plugs than NGK 6097. Also the Rapid Fire #5 used to be very popular, but are more expensive, don’t last as long, and have fallin out of favor. Both of those plugs have been known to cause slight stumbling at idle. Plugs on Supras do not live long, usually around 5,000-10,000 miles. So I recommend replacing them with every other oil change.

What is the HKS VPC and GCC?

It is an electronic device, which electronically and physically removes the highly restrictive mass airflow sensor from the intake tract. VPC stands for Vein Pressure Converter. The HKS GCC is a device that allows further fine-tuning of the VPC.

Do I need an after-market Blow off Valve?

It is not absolutely required, but it is a good idea. The factory by-pass valve is prone to failure, and an aftermarket BOV is probably a wise investment for preventing turbo damaging compressor surge. And it sounds cool too. However, it must be noted that if you still have the factory mass-air flow sensor, a blow-off valve, which is vented to the atmosphere, may cause stumbling between shifts.

Can I run Nitrous Oxide on the Supra TT, even if I am already at BPU(TM) power levels?

Yes. Most people run 50-75 shot wet manifold systems. If you want to run a higher shot than this, you might want to consider a well-designed direct port system. I have seen as much as a 200-shot used on one of these systems, and an upgraded fuel system would be a must.

450hp just isn’t enough, what can I do?

Ah the possibilities Basically you are only limited by your imagination, and your wallet. You know what they say, speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?

The real power lies in Single and Twin turbo upgrades, and the options are limitless. You can either build a mild motor that puts out 450 RWHP all day long with instant boost response, or a 1000+ RWHP monster.

Unfortunately, things start getting more difficult after simple BPU(TM) modifications. Modification becomes more than “bolt on Downpipe, gain 50hp”. Things like tuning, parts selection, and matching combinations of parts become much more important. However, this is the case with ANY high HP car. Actually, even at exceptionally high power levels, the Supra TT is still easier to extract power from than almost any other performance car. But it should be kept in mind, that it wouldn’t be as simple as the BPU(TM) bolt-ons.

If you just want something that will toast that pesky Viper GTS. Then focus on a mild single turbo upgrade (T04S04, T60-1, SP57-SP61). Along with this, you should install a front mount intercooler, a fuel controller, fuel pulsation damper bypass and EGT gauge. This is assuming you have done all the BPU(TM) mods, plus BOV, EBC, Cam Gears. With tuning, and a few odds and ends, you should be able to pull 450-500 RWHP (490-580 crank HP) numbers while on a stock fuel system (assuming it is in great condition). This would be a total investment of approximately $6,700-$11,500 in engine/electronic components (also includes the proper gauges). If you already have the BPU(TM) mods or FMIC, etc., you will spend less than this. The difference in prices reflects the cost of higher end parts and addition of a HKS VPC to replace the restrictive stock MAF.

The next level would require a completely upgraded fuel system, and performance cams would be recommended, as well as further electronics (programmable engine management such as the AEM, or VPC/GCC/ECU combo, etc.). This would allow you to run much larger turbos and injectors. You can make it past the 700RWHP range without needing to replace the internals of the motor with stronger components, even at these power levels, if properly tuned and maintained you should retain a fair amount of reliability while still on the stock internals, as some people have eclipsed the 800RWHP level while still running stock bottom ends in their Supras. If you choose to go ahead and build up the bottom end, then the skies are the limit as far as power goes. Just make sure to have part selection, installation, and tuning done by competent and experienced persons. Although this should hold true at ANY level of modification.

Should I install a Turbo Timer?

Absolutely. Unless you don’t mind sitting in your car while it idles down every single time you need to turn the car off. A Turbo timer keeps the engine running for a preset time once you turn off the ignition. So you can remove your keys, and lock up the car and not have to worry about it, it will shut off on it’s own. This is important for the life of the turbos. If the turbos are not given time to cool down, it can overheat the oil and cause coking which will block oil flow to the turbos and damage bearings and cook seals.

How much is the Supra’s power output affected by changes in ambient temperatures?

Very noticeably, just as with most turbo cars, the Supra Twin Turbo can be very temperature sensitive. Especially with the stock turbos and intercooler. On a BPU(TM) car, I would not be surprised to see a 10 percent reduction between 50-60deg temperatures, and 90deg plus temperatures

Will the stock clutch hold the power levels of a BPU(TM) car?

It depends on the condition and wear on the stock clutch. If it is in good condition, yes, it will hold the power, pretty well in fact, although you may experience clutch slip while at full boost in high gears such as 5th and 6th. If you drive vigorously, meaning you run at high boost frequently, then the life of the stocker will be GREATLY shortened. Be surprised if you see an extra 10,000 miles after BPU(TM).

Can I resurface my flywheel when replacing the clutch?

It is not recommended. Buy a new Toyota Flywheel.

Can I install a lightweight flywheel?

Yes, but be aware that they can create a lot of noise at idle, and can transmit more vibrations and shock to the expensive Getrag transmission.

Why is pulling the TRAC fuse beneficial over just turning it off with the switch on the center console?

Just pushing the “Trac Off” button only partially disables the Trac system. It disables the Trac throttle body and TRAC function through the ABS System (on 93.5-96 only), but not the Trac system’s ignition timing retard function. Unplugging the Trac fuse eliminates both functions, as well as the 155mph speed limiter, which works through the trac system. The fuse can be found in the main fuse box on the driver’s side of the engine compartment. It must be noted that removing the fuse will cause the TRAC light to stay on, but you’ll get used to it.

Will the TRAC system improve the cars performance?

NO. The Trac system was calibrated to improve traction in slippery conditions. It was not calibrated with performance in mind. When the Trac system senses a loss of traction, it comes on hard, cutting power drastically; this will do nothing but hurt performance. I also would not rely on the Trac system for providing stability at high speeds, if you were to loose control, it would be too slow and clumsy, and would more than likely hamper your efforts to regain control.

How can I remove the factory 155mph speed limiter?

Remove the fuse for the Trac system. The speed limiter works through the Trac throttle body.

What is the Supra TT’s top speed with the Trac fuse removed?

There is some debate on this subject. There are rumors that 180 can be achieved. But by going with the numbers, 168-172mph in stock form seems possible.

What is the Supra TT’s maximum theoretical top speed? Can it exceed 200mph with enough power?

Lets find out.

The Supra TT with the 6-speed has a stock engine redline of 6800rpm, and a 6th gear ratio of .79:1, with a rear axle ratio of 3.13:1. Now we multiply our 6th gear ratio times our rear axle ratio, and we find out our final gear ratio is 2.472:1. Now we divide 6800rpm by our total gear reduction of 2.472:1 and we find out our rear axles, and therefore wheels are spinning at 2751rpm at 6800 engine rpms.

Now we need to calculate our tire circumference. The rear tires section width it 255mm, and the sidewall’s aspect ratio is .40, so our sidewalls are 102mm. Now, to convert this to inches, we divide this by 25.4, which equal’s 4.015 inches. Now multiply this by two, since we have two sidewalls making up the total diameter, and add the wheel diameter of 17″, and we see a total diameter of 25.031 inches. Now to find out our circumference, we multiply that number times pi (3.14), and we find out the circumference is 78.59 inches, now divide that by 12 to convert to feet. And we get 6.549 feet total circumference.

Now multiply our tire’s revolving speed, by the tire’s outside circumference, and we find that the tire is covering 18,016 feet per minute, divide that by the 5280 feet in a mile, and we find we are covering 3.412 miles per minute, now multiply that by the 60 minutes in an hour, and we find we are traveling 204.7miles per hour @ 6800rpm in 6th gear. If the engines redline is increased to 7500rpm, which it often is, because of a higher flowing turbo. Then our maximum speed would be 225.8mph, given enough power of course.

For more go to Http://www.ausdriftcar.cjb.net

Inigo Jones and His Architectural and Furniture Designs

Indigo Jones was a famous architect of the seventeenth century known for his unique furniture and architectural designs. He was regarded as the first significant English architect of the modern era. He made various journeys to Europe and was also known as a designer of court masques. At first, his chief occupation seemed to be designing of masques. He introduced classic Palladian style to England. The buildings he created in England were quite unique which made him famous not only in England but in the whole of Europe. His furniture designs mainly consisted of finely carved colonial designs and relied mainly on his fine sense of proportion. The materials which were mostly used in his furniture designs were marble, stone and plaster in contrast to earlier periods where furniture were mainly made of wood. This was one of the unique features of his designs too. He rarely used woodwork and whenever he used wood, he would design it in such a way to make it look like some other material.

The furniture designs of Indigo Jones were mainly found in Italy. He made several varieties of chimney pieces and doorways. His chimney pieces were made of marble, stone or oak. These were supported by many classical pillars. He made carved brackets. These were used on English cabinets and beds. He made the hanging bell flowers to appear on his carvings. He also made many bookcases and cupboards, shapes of them were in a very lighter form. Indigo Jones introduced a change in the size and shape of the panels. He also made elegant designs to grace the top of chairs and the upper ends of chair legs. The doorway designs by Inigo Jones used to be quite different from that of chimney pieces.

All his designs were planned and designed on his own instead of taking inspiration from other architects. Only his theatrical stage designs were done with help from Ben Jonson who was a contemporary of William Shakespeare. He died in June 21, 1652 but some of his drawings were also discovered during the early eighteenth century. One of the most important features of his exteriors, when compared to those of other existing buildings, is their perfect opposition to any exuberance of ornamentation. He also reduced the risk of the workers in originating the designs. This resulted in gradual refinement of craftsmanship during the seventeenth century. The hall at Raynham Hall, Norfolk, is good example of Jones’ architect and the architectural design differs from the contemporary halls built by Jacobean craftsmen. The ceilings were painted by the leading painters of the period and they were very rich and dignified. Jones became the surveyor of King’s Works and introduced his knowledge of classical architecture. The buildings at Wiltshire show his internal architectural design.

Inigo Jones was not only a great architect but his designs reflected the gradual transformation of furniture and architecture designs from the bulky designs of the medieval period to the artistic craftmanship of the modern era. He was also the first architect to bring the Renaissance architecture from Italy to England.

The Benefits and Advantages of Shower Panels

You might be wondering why the use of shower panels is becoming a common trend these days. This is perhaps because of the fact that they offer plenty of advantages. These amazing bathroom fixtures can certainly elevate one’s bathroom experience. Additionally, their integration can enhance the form and function of any bathroom area. Apart from that, they can be easily installed in any existing shower space.

If you really want to enjoy a more relaxing and enticing shower experience, then you should seriously consider investing in this amazing and interesting plumbing fixture. To convince you that owning one is a worthy investment, here are the benefits that you’ll get to enjoy when you install one in your bathroom.

Maximization of bathroom space – Since they are designed to be conveniently mounted on the wall, you do not have to worry about allotting a significant amount of floor space to accommodate the unit. In fact, they can be easily installed in any available wall space. Even those with small bathrooms can benefit with their use. If installing a tub is not possible due to the limited bathroom space, you can still enjoy a soothing and invigorating bath by opting for a shower panel instead.

Reasonably priced – As compared to tubs and shower enclosures, shower panels are a more affordable option. They are sold in varying prices to suit the budget of different users. However, you should know that their prices differ greatly depending on the model, manufacturer, and features included. But despite that, they are still very much affordable.

Can be easily replaced – This is perhaps one of the greatest benefits of a shower panel. In case the unit gets damaged, you can easily buy a replacement from any home improvement or hardware store.

Availability of a wide range of options – Due to the growing demand for this magnificent bathroom fixture, they now come in an array of styles, designs, styles, types, and sizes. That being said, there are certainly plenty of style variations for you to choose from. Even if you do not find the model that you are looking for in one shop you can still visit other shops, and who knows, they might have the shower panel that you like.

With the aforementioned benefits, buying a shower panel is indeed a wise move. Increase the value and function of your home through the addition of these functional bathroom fixtures.

P90X Equipment Needed – What to Buy and How to Save Money on P90X Workout Equipment

What is the P90X equipment needed?

Recently a good friend of mine purchased the P90X workout program. After spending approximately $150, he realized that he did not have all the equipment that was required to complete the program.

So he asked me to write this article and break down exactly what are the best choices for equipment and not have to spend a great deal of money.

Here’s a List of the P90X Equipment Needed:

1. Adjustable dumbbells, dumbbells or resistance bands

2. A pull up bar (however if you decide to purchase resistance bands you can forgo the pull up bar.)

3. A yoga mat or exercise mat (optional)

4. Push-up stands (optional, but it will help you avoid wrist strain)

5. Yoga blocks (optional)

6. A sturdy chair

There has been some debate online regarding the resistance bands vs. dumbbells for the P90X DVD exercise program. So let me give you a few pointers that’ll help you in making that decision as well.

First, you have to determine how much room you can set aside for the dumbbells. In the beginning, you may only need two or three sets of dumbbells at different weight levels. For example, when doing the “heavy pants” exercise for your back; you will be able to use more weight than when you’re performing a bicep curl.

One solution for this would be to purchase an adjustable dumbbell set. Unfortunately, they are a little on the expensive side. Fixed weight dumbbells cost an average of one dollar per pound. Consequently, if you purchase two 50 pound dumbbells it should cost you around $100. Sometimes, you can purchase a used set on eBay or craigslist. However, you should not pay more than $.50 per pound.

Getting back to adjustable dumbbells, they do fluctuate in price, but typically you will pay somewhere between $3-$5 per pound. As you can see, they are more expensive however, having a set of adjustable dumbbells like the Bowflex SelectTech will save you some space.

If you don’t have a great deal of room to work out in and don’t have a couple hundred bucks to blow, then you may want to consider purchasing a quality set of resistance bands. One of the advantages of resistance bands is when it comes to doing the pull down or pull up exercise. In the beginning, very few individuals can perform more than one or two pull-ups. If that’s the case, you can do pull downs with resistance bands. This will build up your strength and develop your back muscles the same way as chin-ups or pull-ups do. That will save you approximately 50 bucks because you will not need a pull up bar right away.

Typically, a good quality set of resistance bands will run you anywhere from $50 to $100. So, they are much less expensive than fixed weight dumbbells or even adjustable dumbbells.

Hopefully this article will help you when you decide to purchase the P90X equipment needed to perform your first cycle.

Is Professional Tile Cleaning Worth the Price?

It is time to clean your grout. Saying that one phrase often makes people sick or worse, depressed. Is it really worth paying someone else to handle this sometimes daunting task? Let’s see what the benefits and drawbacks are to this relatively new home service.

First of all, many people are unfamiliar with this home service. Carpet cleaners have been around for years and most people are aware of the service or have had their carpets cleaned at one time or another. Whether or not the customer has been satisfied with the cleaning service is an entirely different matter. With any service that centers on your home, trust is a big factor in taking that first step into allowing someone else to work on your prized possession. As of course there are many terrific carpet cleaners in the industry, there are just as many that give the industry a bad name. This is true for any industry, but once you have been duped or had poor service, you are reluctant to return down that road.

This brings us to the world of tile and grout cleaning. Is it really worth paying someone to do what most people assume they can do themselves? If you search the internet, there are countless home remedies and solutions for cleaning your grout yourself. In some cases these solutions are not bad options. Minor spot cleaning and pet stain removal can come in handy in many instances. However, if you are staring at an entire floor that needs restoration or just a good cleaning, you may be up against a monster.

Anyone that has ever been down on their hands and knees with a scrub brush and some horrible chemical can tell you that it is anything but easy. It can be smelly, messy and tough on your body and there is always the chance that you may even make things worse looking then before you started. So you are wondering, when is he going to tell me what makes paying for this service so great and why I should spend my hard-earned money to do just that. Well, lets find out!

First of all, you should be aware that not all tile and grout cleaning services are created equal. The old adage “You get what you pay for” holds true here just as if you were comparing the purchase of a new car, printer or camera. You want to make sure you are getting a quality service you will be happy with; but not one that will break the bank. Depending on your region of the country, you can expect to pay anywhere from .75 cents to $1.50 per square foot of tile cleaned.

This is standard and of course could vary depending on the condition of the grout or if there are existing sealers that have to be removed first. So on average, a 400 square foot kitchen would cost you between $300-$600 depending on your area of the country. Many people would look at that number and say that is ridiculous. I can get my entire house of carpet cleaned for less than $200. Well, lets take a look at the real difference here. This will also help you qualify a true tile and grout cleaning company versus a carpet cleaner acting as a tile and grout cleaning company.

The keys to a quality tile and grout cleaning job are contained in these four components. Emulsifier(detergent), pressure, heat and extraction or vacuum. If your tile and grout cleaning company does not have these four components, you can easily eliminate them from contention. Here are the reasons why.

Water on its own will not be enough to get the job done. Your tile and grout cleaning company needs to have a sufficient detergent to tackle your particular job. The detergent is used to loosen the dirt and grease molecules from your tile and grout. Without this, you might as well be throwing water at oil, with a result you might expect.

Pressure, and here is one of the major ones besides the detergent. If you spray a normal garden hose on your driveway, you may wash off the surface dirt. However, if you really want it to look new, you grab a pressure washer and do the job right. The same holds true with cleaning grout. Grout is porous and is a cement product. Now, I don’t recommend taking a pressure washer to your kitchen floor unless you want to bring your swimming pool indoors. You do need pressure however; and not just steam pressure.

Most carpet cleaners deal with pressure between 100-500 psi to clean carpets. To clean tile and grout, you really need to start out around 1200 psi and can go upwards from there. If your carpet cleaner’s machine will not provide that much pressure, then you can eliminate him/her from your list. Now, if they do a good job cleaning your carpets, keep them for that. You just will need to find someone else to do your tile and grout cleaning. Pressure is key, as it loosens the dirt and grease from the grout. It works in conjunction with the detergent to get down deep into the grout’s pores for a thorough cleaning.

A scrub brush will not and cannot do the same. A brush only gets the top layer and then either pushes the dirt farther down or just moves it to another surface. You may see some adequate results, but in most cases they are only temporary, as the dirt that has been pushed down will find its way back to the surface.

Heat is not always a necessity, but most of us know that when you add heat to most any cleaning procedure, you get better results. Now of course there are exceptions and I am aware of that. You wouldn’t want to clean silk at 200 degrees, but we are talking tile and not fine fabrics. Heat not only helps loosen grease particles trapped in your grout, but it also helps kill bacteria that are present as well. Trust me on this one, there are definitely germs and bacteria growing in your grout. Grout is like a sponge, it will soak up everything.

Lastly, extraction or vacuum is essential. What good would it do you to have your grout cleaned only to leave the dirty water sitting on your clean tile and grout. It wouldn’t be clean for long. Having a powerful truck mounted vacuum is very important. When you are putting that much water down onto the floor, you want something that will extract it rather quickly and fully. This not only will fully remove the dirt from your newly cleaned surface, but it will also help your floors dry out much quicker.

Armed with this information, you can now make a more informed and hopefully confident decision when you decide to have your tile and grout professionally cleaned. Remember, no company is perfect, but with the proper equipment and trained professionals, the job can be done right. Just make sure you qualify any cleaning company before they start the job. Ask for references and make sure they can answer all of your questions completely and that they have the four components to properly clean your floors.

Next week, we will talk about sealers and their role in a residential application.

Please fell free to contact me with any questions.

The Myth of the Management Team

Every business has problems. That is why the average life span of a large industrial company is 40 years. Some are learning disabilities where companies are not prepared to learn from their mistakes. They insist on doing the same thing every time. Even when problems occur no one examines the cause of the problem. The problem is an embarrassment that should be swept under the rug and forgotten rather than be used as an opportunity to learn. Handling these dilemmas and disabilities is the Management Team. Below is a quote from Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline – the Art & Practice of the Learning Organization.” Does this sound like your company? If it does start worrying!

The Myth of the Management Team

Standing forward to do battle with these dilemmas and disabilities is “the management team,” the collection of savvy, experienced managers who represent the organization’s different functions and areas of expertise. Together, they are supposed to sort out the complex cross-functional issues that are critical to the organization. What confidence do we have, really, that typical management teams can surmount these learning disabilities?

All too often, teams in business tend to spend their time fighting for turf, avoiding anything that will make them look bad personally, and pretending that everyone is behind the team’s collective strategy – maintaining the appearance of a cohesive team. To keep up the image, they seek to squelch disagreement; people with serious reservations avoid stating them publicly, and joint decisions are watered-down compromises reflecting what everyone can live with, or else reflecting one person’s view foisted on the group. If there is disagreement, it’s usually expressed in a manner that lays blame, polarizes opinion, and fails to reveal the underlying differences in assumptions and experience in a way that the team as a whole could learn.

“Most management teams break down under pressure,” writes Harvard’s Chris Argyris – a long time student of learning in management teams. “The team may function quite well with routine issues. But when they confront complex issues that may be embarrassing or threatening, the ‘teamness’ seems to go to pot.”

Argyris argues that most managers find collective inquiry inherently threatening. School trains us never to admit that we do not know the answer, and most corporations reinforce that lesson by rewarding the people who excel in advocating their views, not inquiring into complex issues. (When was the last time someone was rewarded in your organization for raising difficult questions about the company’s current policies rather than solving urgent problems?) Even if we feel uncertain or ignorant, we learn to protect ourselves from the pain of appearing uncertain or ignorant. That very process blocks out any new understandings which might threaten us. The consequence is what Argyris calls “skilled incompetence” – teams full of people who are incredibly proficient at keeping themselves from learning.

So how does your company stack up? If your company is what Senge describes as a ‘Learning Organization’ then there is no need to protect your turf, no need to accept compromise, no need for management to know everything. In a Learning Organization the knowledge that employees have is used and each member of the management team is there to support the other. They realize that everyone wins if the team does well and they also know that a failure is just another term for a learning opportunity.

Wouldn’t you like to work in an organization where your opinion counts and where you CAN make a difference in the companies success? Where you don’t have to pretend to be busy, or pretend to know everything. So how do you create a learning organization? It starts with creating learning individuals in learning teams which then cascade into a learning organization.

Through an effective facilitated process team members learn to work collaboratively, learn from their mistakes and continually challenge their assumptions about reality. Above all they work together as a team to solve problems and improve results.

A Learning Organization is possible!

Off Gassing in Mobile Homes – 5 Ways to Reduce Chemical Off Gassing in Your Mobile Home

Mobile homes are often considered an economically effective housing solution. What is often not considered is the tremendous amount of off gassing from the mobile home itself and from products used in mobile homes that can send harmful chemicals into the air. This becomes an unhealthy situation quickly because of the initially tight seals, and lack of ventilation. Here are 5 ways to reduce the chemicals that mobile homes off gas; and reducing these chemicals will help you and your family stay healthy.

Avoid Carpeting If Possible

New carpet is infamous for the “new carpet smell”. That smell is often the off gassing of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde. Without proper ventilation, you and your family are subject to formaldehyde vapors which can cause your eyes and nose to burn, sore throat, headache, dizziness, and nausea, and frequent exposure to higher than normal levels of formaldehyde has been proven to cause serious long-term health issues.

Older carpet is a haven for numerous pollutants such as dust mites, pet dander, and small particles of dirt and/or sand, all of which are difficult to remove with a regular vacuum, and go airborne with normal daily activity. These microscopic pollutants can greatly aggravate existing problems such as allergy and asthma, and can cause symptoms that just make you miserable such as sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion not unlike that of a cold.

Ventilate

Use a fan to move the air through your home, and if weather permits, open windows to help exhaust fumes from your home. It is important to change the air rather than to just re-circulate it.

Keep Temperature and Humidity Stable

Many of the offending chemicals such as formaldehyde are affected by increases in humidity and temperature. Keeping both humidity and temperature low will decrease the amount of formaldehyde that will off gas into your air.

Allow Products to Off Gas Elsewhere

If you are planning to purchase products such as new carpet or that are known to contain solvents, adhesives, exposed particleboard, ask that they be opened and allowed to sit in the warehouse to off gas before they are brought to your home.

Use an Air Purifier to Remove Chemicals

All homes continue to settle after they are built. When mobile homes settle the seals loosen and chemicals and materials that have been previously sealed are now unsealed and can evaporate into the air. Using an air purifier that is specifically designed to remove airborne chemicals such as formaldehyde will help insure that the indoor air you and your family breathe is the healthiest it can possibly be.

Chicken Maison Won’t Be Cooped Up

Two things are required any time someone reviews a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant that offers rotisserie chicken. First, there must be a comparison to Zankou Chicken’s bird as the benchmark. This is followed by maybe a paragraph or two about the garlic paste that goes with it.

This review will be no exception, so let’s get it out of the way: Yes, Chicken Maison’s rotisserie is similar to Zankou’s. Both spend time twirling in a see-through oven until the skins tan to a radiant golden brown that’s only a shade darker than George Hamilton. Heat-squeezed of its fat-which has basted the meat beneath-the spice-rubbed chicken’s skin shrinks to a gossamer thinness. And the pallid-white garlic paste called toum? Both restaurants give you plenty of it to apply like balm across any surface made of hen or pita bread. Chicken Maison’s similarities to Zankou end here.

Chinese chicken salad in a Lebanese dive? Only in OC.

Though the skin on Chicken Maison’s bird isn’t as crisp or intensely flavorful as Zankou’s, the meat is moister, which is good because Zankou seems to sacrifice its chicken’s juiciness (especially around the breast area) in service to getting that skin just so.

Now on to the garlic paste. Zankou’s toum is so powerful it can double as smelling salts. Chicken Maison’s is a kinder, gentler kind of paste. You can almost spoon it up and eat it like mashed potatoes. I’m not sure you even need it if you order the bird pre-drenched in the lemon-garlic or lemon-basil sauce blend, which are two options Zankou doesn’t offer.

It’s at this point that the Armenian Zankou and the Lebanese Chicken Maison diverge even further. The latter was founded in 2005 in Torrance by Mario Karame. It has grown to two other branches, all managed by family, including the newest at a barren L-shaped mini-mall anchored by a Target where Costa Mesa ends and Santa Ana begins. But while Zankou keeps it simple with no more than a few permutations of its core protein as dishes, Chicken Maison’s menu strives to be more ambitious.

First, there’s the stuff you expect: Gyro meat from a spinning spit is shaved into deeply spiced, crispy petals featured on a plate or in a sandwich. Dense and craggle-crusted falafels are either stuffed with tabbouleh into pitas or plain as a main dish.

Then there’s the stuff you’ve never thought of seeing: A massive plate of chicken pesto fettuccine-which can feed a family of four with leftovers for the dog-has noodles that are slightly overcooked and bloated, but it’s redeemed by a zesty pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.

But the item that will prove my point that Chicken Maison is capable of doing anything it bloody well wants? The Chinese chicken salad. Save for the too-bitter red cabbage, this is the best bastardization of a bastard dish you’ll find anywhere. Containing all the prerequisites (Mandarin-orange wedges, strips of chicken, torn romaine lettuce, sesame seeds), it’s tossed in a dressing perfectly formulated to be tart-sweet but never insipid. And when the flavor gets picked up by the delicate Persian cucumbers or soaked up into the fried pita chips used as croutons, you forget why you ever scorned other versions.

As good as it is, though, it’s really just a primer for what I consider Chicken Maison’s true purpose: the kebabs. These are enormous things, gilded in char. No kebab specimen is more glorious or generously portioned than the kafta. Order one for lunch, and you’ll need nothing else for the rest of the day. Aggressively seasoned and made aromatic with diced onion, spices and mint, this molded meat cylinder has the thickness of a boa constrictor and the length of a submarine sandwich-easily five burgers’ worth of crumbly, juice-dripping ground beef.

Lamb, beef steak and chicken also get the kebab treatment. You’ll find each bamboo-skewered morsel too large to put your mouth around; knife and fork are required. All are fire-licked and smoke-seeped, but the lamb kebab becomes nothing short of extraordinary when eaten with a simple buttered baked potato and a char-flecked grilled veggie kebab-in which a mushroom, onion, tomato, zucchini and bell pepper get impaled on a stick.

And, of course, there’s hummus, and it is good, topped with diced tomatoes and parsley. I recommend choosing it to occupy spot No. 1 for your first combo side dish. The second spot? Well, there are too many to list here. I like the house potato salad. It eschews mayo for vinegar (or is it lemon?) as dressing. Pick it over the rice, even if it has raisins it.

For dessert? Brownies. Yes, Chicken Maison has wonderful brownies-not-too-sweet, chewy, cocoa-y blocks wrapped in cellophane and hearty enough for two. It’s more proof that the place does soup to nuts. Oh, I didn’t mention the soup? There’s soup.

Chicken Maison, 3332 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 434-0244; Chicken Maison, 2709 Manhattan Beach Blvd. Redondo Beach, CA (310) 725-0035; Chicken Maison, 3901 Pacific Coast Hwy. Torrance, CA 90505 (310) 465-1050

This review appeared in print as “Flying the Coop: Chicken Maison’s menu goes way beyond the titular bird.”