Dress Code for a Limo Chauffeur

A Chauffeur dress code is a set of rules controlling what garments may be worn by a limousine driver. These rules are determined by the limousine company that employs the driver. They may set preference colors for suits, provide some uniforms or specific clothes for the driver to wear. However, chauffeur dress code has some universal rules that must be followed if your employee does not say otherwise.

Let’s look at the chauffeur dress code and what items should be worn by a male chauffeur.

Neck: For corporate runs and night outs tie is optional. However, a tie is required for weddings, graduations and other formal occasions. Bow ties are acceptable but are unusual. The top button of the collar of the shirt must be done up.

Overcoat can be worn if weather requires. Do not put overcoat over a single shirt. Wear a suit or a dark jacket.

Suit Jacket: Plain black suits are the preferred option for most limo operators, but any good quality dark suit is suitable too. Your limo company may have a color preference for a suit.

Shirt: Collared dress shirt is a necessity. It must be clean and well pressed. White is the universally preferred color for weddings and graduations, and other special occasions. For night outs your chauffeur could be dressed in black elegant shirt too. Any good quality white / black shirt will look good and elegant. Avoid button down collars.

Pants: Suit Pants that must match the jacket. Of course, preference for black if not specified otherwise.

Socks: Black or the same color as your suit. If not, at least same darkness as the suit. No logos, images of prints should be visible.

Footwear: Dress Leather Pumps. Preferably black, laced up. Note: people sometimes judge you by your shoes. It is a good idea to invest in good leather shoes and clean them every day.

Rings: A wedding or engagement ring is always allowed. Other rings should be kept away.

Belt: Leather belt that match your suit. No big belt buckles with logos or symbols.

The purpose of chauffeur dress is to represent the company and to make your customers feel in good hands. By following this dress code you will look professional and trustworthy from the second you step out of the limousine. However, the chauffeur needs much more than only to follow the dress code to impress the customers. On the other hand, a good first impression always helps.

How to Deal With a Wet Basement

Every day, we find ourselves in situations where we say "oh if I could only have done that differently". Well this could be your opportunity! When you start to research a basement problem, you will find many companies claiming to offer the latest and greatest in basement waterproofing or claiming to have all the answers and the best systems. Often, they will throw every slick line at you that they can think of to convince you they're the best! However upon closer inspection, once you get to the heart of the matter, you will find that they use the same out-of-date damproofing methods and interior drain systems everyone else does. What's worse they employ slick sales techniques that you would find on any used car lot! It's all a bunch of double-speak, flat out lies, and misdirection, which is designed to con even an Eskimo into buying ice cubes!

Now I know at this point that you are going to ask me how it is that you can trust me, well the reason is simple I am not trying to sell you anything !. I promise, if you listen to all that I have to say, and finish reading this letter, you will end up with more knowledge than you had before, and you will be ready for those "slick" salesmen that will come in the future! I want you to be better informed, better prepared, and better equipped than you are right now; and I also want to let you in on a few TRADE SECRETS that other companies do not want you to know. Before we go into all of the systems, I'd like to introduce myself, and a little bit about my background that makes me uniquely qualified to help you understand how to solve your water water or your mold problem!

I started building basements over twenty years ago when I was still in high school. I got a job working for what has become the single largest base company in Ohio. I worked on both the footer and the wall crew so I became well versed early on, in all phases of new home foundation construction and basement waterproofing. Shortly after high school I was hired by a company that performed environmental services, specifically we removed asbestos from schools and public buildings (this was in the mid eighties when the government passed the legislation to require the asbestos to be removed from all government building). I learned all there was to know about negative air flow containments air scrubbers manometers and the basics of ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN UP. I finally quit when I had saved enough money for college. I swore I would never wear a tyvec suit or a respirator again (those are the HOT non-breathable suits that we wear in mold and asbestos clean ups, its funny the way Murphy will get you when you swear not to do something). During these years I began actively pursuing one of my many hobbies and I became an amateur mycologist. I built a lab in my basement … and built myself a glove box and began to perform sterile culture techniques for the growing of all sorts of fungi and mold and mushrooms. I used Petri dishes Autoclaves and learned many of the processes used at modern laboratories today. I did spore streaking and culture analysis. I believe I grie myself the equivalent of an associates degree in mycology. When I got to college I needed a job, and I found one working for the third largest basement waterproofing company in Ohio. I was hired to service their basement waterproofing jobs that were already installed but STILL LEAKED.

I quickly began to learn that there was something drastically WRONG with essentially EVERY single basement waterproofing company in Ohio …

They all install systems with fatal flaws. They have SERVICE DEPARTMENTS to handle the "problem " jobs. I became adept at solving these problem basements "issues". I then began waterproofing basements on my own. I realized from the very beginning that if I did not want to service my basement customers and charge every year for their warranty I wood have to "fix" the systems themselves used to treat basements. I read every single book there was available on the subject. I did a TONS of experimentation in those first couple of years and began to "fix" each and every one of the problems that I had discovered associated with all the various available waterproofing systems.

Over the years I have continued to refine and improve the systems so they remain "CUTTING EDGE". About ten years ago I began to study "black mold" and the various health effects related to it. We actually developed the first completely NON-TOXIC (to humans) approach to raising mold problems.

The first thing that you have to understand is that there are only three basic solutions to ANY basements water leakage problems.

Most companies install only one of the three systems but will claim to offer all three, in reality it is not true. Most companies offer one basic system either the inside system or the outside system.

The systems: Most companies rely on an interior drain system and a sump pump to control the water. They may call it something different, but a pump placed under the floor is a sump pump, and drains placed under the floor are interior drains. This is just flat out not a good idea, unless it is the only option. I recommend that you do not rely on electricity in any situation where it can be avoided. Some companies in order to confuse the customer and gain a competitive advantage claim that only by combining the interior system with something else, usually some sort of outside work (often digging down only 12 inches) is it possible to really solve a problem (like the Big Chuck and Little John guys). The outside work generally benefits the customer very little, and allows the company to DRIVE UP THEIR PRICE and appear different from the rest of the inside system competition. Some companies, in order to eliminate the competition, actually price different methods as if they do them (even though they do not). They will price exterior waterproofing ridiculously high, the interior drain method extremely low, and their system somewhere in the middle. If you ask for one of the two methods they do not offer, you will be told they will not install that for you because it just will not work for you. Other inside system companies have come up with different interior methods, on top the footer or above the floor products. Although marketed very well, these systems fail in comparison to traditional under slab or exterior drainage systems. The reason is simple they completely fail to drain water under the slab either from the water table or from the exterior of the wall.

In order to help you wade through this mess, below, you will find a brief description of the basic systems offered nationally and what is WRONG with them.

The first solution is to actually excavate the foundation, meaning the foundation is dug up; This is generally referred to as waterproofing (but I can insure you that in most contractors' cases, IT IS NOT). Most of the guys that do this are small 1-4 men outfits. They learn to do what they do from someone who learned it from someone etc. What these "so-called waterproofers" do is actually to re-apply the EXACT SAME SEALANTS and utilize the exact same techniques that already FAILED in the first place! This usually means re-parging the wall and smearing some tar on it like a monkey!

Have you ever known anyone that had an asphalt driveway? How often did they Have-To Re- Seal it?

I can tell you I have. When I was a kid growing up two of my neighbors had an ongoing questioning about their driveways. The first swore you needed to seal it every single year, and he did. The second one swore every two years was enough. I can still hear them arguing now in my mind's eye … LOL. The sad truth is that according to the US Bureau of Standards asphalt sealants begin to break down in only 18 months, YIKES! You see the sad truth is; they were both right! And these so called waterproofers charge an average of ten to fifteen grand just to dig up the basement and seal it again using what FAILED already.

… You See Tar Has Never Been Rated as Waterproof

Did you know that in the building codes there are actually two separate definitions for damp-proofing (tar) and waterproofing. Damp proofing by definition means "something that helps to slow the penetration of water into the substrate". HHMMM "helps to slow" sounds quite different from the definition of waterproofing "something that prevails the penetration of water" and further must pass a bending test where the membrane must be able to be bent around a cylinder.

Water proof sealants are almost all exclusively used and installed COMMERCIALLY … (that's because they are more expensive).

The extra costs are what stop the average contractor from offering you, the homeowner, a product that is effective and will last and "stand the test of time". We have developed and recommend if you plan to re-seal your foundation; that you use a MULTI-STEP EXTERIOR WATERPROOFING SYSTEM which, uses a cement-based fiber re-enforced wall resurfacing system and NO LESS than two waterproof rated sealants. This is by no means the cheapest of methods, however, and it may or may not be the BEST system to put into place. Which system you should use depends entirely on the specific nature of your problem. There are NO miracle systems than can solve ALL underlying problems. The thing I can guarantee is if you use a multistep outside waterproof system it will actively drain water away from the foundation, and the water leak will be a thing of the past, not only that, but the sealants will outlast the wood on your house GUARANTEED!

The second solution is an Interior solution which I call the sub-floor water re-directional system. This involves trenching around the interior of the basement wall and installing a drainage system around the perimeter of the inside of the basement. Many companies never explain that the system only works by completely draining the walls and any water under the slab during periods of extended rain or no melt when the water table rises. This system will allow water to be "drained" from the inside of the walls by drilling weep holes into every core of every single block then drained under the floor into a drain pipe and generally to a pump pump to then be pumped out. Other companies will often "explain" that the pipe under the floor takes all the ground water and the outside trench will take away surface water. This outside trench is shallow and worthless. They never even Mention the drainage holes drilled into the core face of the bottom row of block in the basement, under the level of the floor slab. And folks, this is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. It is also the step most often "screwed up" by other contractors. You see there are two variables that must be deal with with ensuring the effectiveness of the "weep holes". First is that when the mason was laying the blocks different masons "slough off" different amounts of mortar into the bottom course which affects the level of the "bottom" inside the blocks themselves. This means it is important to make sure that you are above the mortar bed and yet remain in the lowest part of the block.

Secondly it is ESSENTIAL to make sure that your men are educated as to the history of the development of concrete blocks, as well as all of the different core patterns that have been incorporated into them over time. You see this work is done by YOUNG men. In their short lifetime concrete blocks have only been made with Two cores. If they drill into the block where they imagine the core is today, in one of the many variations in block design that have occurred over the years, it is entirely possible, no probable that they are drilling into the web rather than the core or pocket of the block. Only by drilling into every single core of every single block does it become possible to drain the entire wall and make the system work effectively. It is entirely possible to install the drain tiles perfectly and … still leave ALL of the water dammed up inside the walls, wasting all that money and still leaving the problem UNSOLVED. In fact many times I get called after the homeowners have spent thousands of dollars to "waterproof" their basement and even THOUSANDS Moreto turn it into finished space. Only to find mold growing on newly installed drywall. This happened to one of my customers named Bonnie Rembowski. She had hired a big local company and they installed an inside system. She then hired a contractor to remodel her basement. They hung new dry wall and framed new walls. She had new carpeting installed and everything seemed perfect until … Bonnie kept getting sick.

She was treated for repeating bronchitis many times over a period of about six months. Finally one day Bonnie's doctor suggested to her that she has her house checked for mold. Bonnie called me. I began inspecting the basement and I immediately began to notice mold growing along the bottom several feet on all the newly dry-walled walls that had just been "waterproofed". I began inspecting the inside system and I discovered that even though a permit was dropped … Even though the drainage pipes were inspected and installed properly … even though there was no puddling or physical seepage the system was not working. The reason why became apparent after we broke open the floor and inspected the weep holes- JUST AS I SUSPECTED. The walls were not draining do to improper weep hole placement. Poor Bonnie.

WE HAD TO COMPLETELY GUT THE BRAND NEW BASEMENT … and disinfect everything to stop the mold and help her STOP GETTING SICK. She contacted the waterproofing company who did the job WRONG. They told her there was nothing they could do under the warranty since technically the foundation had not leaked (it was just DONE WRONG in the first place). Poor Bonnie then had to hire us to fix the basement problem TOO! Unfortunately this is not the first time this has happened to me and sadly I'm afraid it will NOT be the last.

This inside system however is ideal for situations where water is coming up from under the slab itself; in fact it is the only solution for under-slab water issues. No matter which contractor you call the same basic system is used. There are however many problems with this system as is employed by "competition" nationwide. The GOOD NEWS however is that we have modified the system to eliminate all of the potential problems and WE EDUCATE OUR WORKERS as to the history of concrete blocks. This education guarantees that this kind of a problem will not happen to you. We also INSIST on installing CLEAN OUTS which are access points set in the floor. These clean outs means that down the road you can maintain your system and "flush it out" every few years with a garden hose. It also means, heaven forbid, you have a problem with the drainage pipes clogging, that you WONT have to JACKHAMMER your floor you can have them snaked or jetted clean! Contrary to what you might have been told PROPERLY INSTALLED inside drainage systems can be the BEST solution when figuring all factors especially the Return On Investment. A PROPERLY INSTALLED inside system is also the preferred method for keeping concrete block walls from disintegrating, due to the fact that it allows for water drainage and reserves soil acid buildup to a minimum.

The last two systems are what we call "beaver" or dam systems that are installed either on top of the floor or just under the floor but on the top of the footer that channels water from the walls to either a sump pump or to a floor drain . These systems are marketed to installers typically under the Basement Systems (TM), Beaver Technology and Squid gee Dri labels, and in my opinion, offer the least protection to your basement.

The Baseboard systems that sit on top of the slab or on top of the footer have some basic flaws.

FLAW ONE: the slab is scattered several inches up the bottom block, this means that when the installer drills the weep holes above the floor level the system allows water to keep sitting in the block up multiple inches which makes humidity which leads to mold and keeps disintegrating the bottom block from the inside out. The bottom block hold the entire weight of the entire house! The LAST thing that you want is that block to crumble -DISASTER!

FLAW TWO: when the cement finisher was troweling your cement floor X number of years ago the last thing on his mind was sloping the perimeter around the basement so 50 years later some guy could glue a gutter around the edge of the basement! What that means is since the gutter is basically level it allows for pooling along the bottom of the walls and is usually just glued into place without any type of pitch added. When the water lays in it in the low sections over time it will DISINTEGRATE or break down the bond between the floor slab and the wall. Sometimes LEAKING again into the living space.

FLAW THREE: This system is still prone to the same weep hole placement errors as described above due to variations in the number of cores used in blocks over time.

FLAW FOUR: This system does nothing to drain water from underneath the slab or hydrostatic water from the exterior forced under the footing- it only partially drains the walls which is not good enough to stop MOLD from developing. The second hybrid system is the system offered by distributors of the Basement Systems (TM) called Water Guard this system is installed by breaking out approximately 6 inches of the basement perimeter concrete but digging no trench along the footing. The system has a flat drain pipe that sets absolutely level on the TOP of the footing. The level drain tile will always allow water to sit in it and can contribute to the overall humidity in the room, creating the conditions that let MOLD thrive. This means that the lowest part of the pipe is the TOP of the footer completely failing to drain or eliminate any water under-slab water from the water table or from the exterior of the wall being forced under the slab. In other words it only drains the wall and NOTHING ELSE! This system is used because it drastically limits the amount of labor used by the contractor saving him tons of money! In fact in many cases these contractors make more from this system than any other which is the reason so many of them will offer you a basically WORTHLESS system! It has been proven that the most effective inside de-watering system is one that is installed below the floor slab, and has been given an artificial pitch. It is just as important that when using one of these true under slab systems to correct the items commonly mistaken in the industry that are mentioned above, it is best to have a thorough knowledge of all of the systems at ones disposal !!!

Good luck!

What Are the Advantages of an Underground Drainage System?

When constructing your home or making improvements in your property or garden, one important area that must be considered is that of an efficient drainage system. This can prevent a number of undesirable problems occurring as well as even protecting your health.

All too often many homeowners never think about issues such as flooding or water contamination until they happen, by which time they can be faced with costly repair bills on top of the now evident need to install an effective drainage system. So what are underground drainage systems, and what are their advantages?

An underground drainage system is a solution for collecting excess water and transporting it via underground pipes to a suitable waste water disposal area. Typical water collection sites include guttering and grates in several strategic points around a property, yard or garden, and this group of systems supplies the underground drainage pipes with excess water.

The first obvious advantage of the such systems is that it is out of sight. Other drainage systems that do not use underground pipes can be quite unsightly leaving homeowners searching for a solution that is more pleasant in appearance. Underground drainage systems are out of sight and out of mind whilst they do their job serving your property. The other most significant benefit of the underground drainage system is that it prevents the obvious accumulation of water that comes with not having an efficient system in place. As one can imagine, a complete system can stop rainwater pooling in spaces at the exterior of the property, including in yards and gardens.

Water logging in these kinds of areas can kill the plants of enthusiastic gardeners and provide a serious safety hazard for anyone who has to walk through a flooded area. In addition to this, water that has pooled in a specific area can cause damage to property, machinery or other objects it is in contact with.

Underground drainage also supplies keen gardeners with another major advantages; their plot of land will not be destroyed by soil erosion caused by inefficient draining of excess water. Water which becomes stagnant in the ground can turn soil into a muddy mass, meaning that plants will not only die, but soil can be eroded away, potentially ruining a garden. There is another key advantage to installing an underground drainage system in a property, which affects the health and safety of its occupiers.

In times when your region experiences periods of extremely heavy weather, you may be a victim of flash floods. Flash floods can unfortunately bring contaminants into a garden or property, meaning that potentially dangerous elements can enter into the home and therefore come into contact with the residents. An underground drainage system supplies the occupiers with a sense of security that their property is at reduced risk of being affected in this way. With such systems in place, excess water from flooding and the potentially harmful materials it contains is transported away from the premises so no one living in the property is negatively affected.

A disadvantage; however, to underground drainage systems, is that they can be expensive to install and maintain. That said, it is a factor worth considering when an excess of water threatens the livelihood of a garden, home and its occupiers. Drainage supplies are available from a number of reputable stockists that can enable a competent DIYer to install a simple system of their owner. Similarly, trained professionals can obtain high quality supplies in order to put an effective system in place for you. Either way, an underground drainage system brings many benefits to a home and its residents, and is an option to seriously consider when constructing new house or simply making improvements to an existing one.

How to Prevent Strike Outs – Baseball Hitting Advice From a Former Major Leaguer

Nothing is more frustrating for young baseball players and their parents than strike outs, especially if it is a recurring event. Strike outs may lead to very depressed ballplayers and to upset coaches and parents. Obviously, continual strike outs lead to athletes losing confidence, self-esteem and usually their desire to play the game altogether. What to do?

First, explain to ballplayers that hitting a baseball is one of the toughest things to do in sports and good fundamentals, practice and patience are necessary. Further explain that there are very few kids that have natural swings and the necessary hand-eye coordination to automatically be able to hit a ball. This explanation is important so players do not get too frustrated and depressed and to give them the message that they have control over the situation if they are willing to put in the work.

Next, the results of the hitter’s at-bats must be analyzed. Sometimes, it is just a matter of the hitter becoming a little more aggressive when batting so they are not always behind in the count. Unaggressive hitters find themselves hitting with two strikes too often. If that is not the problem, check the results of the player’s swings and misses. Are they under the ball (most common), over the ball, early or late? This will lead to what needs to be done.

Following are possible solutions for each of these situations:

1. When hitters are continually swinging late at the pitch – challenge them with higher velocity that approximate game speeds. Many hitters will make the necessary adjustments on their own when they begin to see faster speeds and get their eyes used to seeing the faster pitching.

2. Similar advice – when hitters are continually early they need to face much slower pitching so they learn to wait on the ball.

3. When hitters are under the ball they need to shorten the swing. This means keeping their swing path more direct by keeping the barrel of the bat above the ball on the approach to the ball. This can be done in a number of ways including the following drills.

Hitting Drill – With the use of two batting tees set the tees a bout a foot apart and in line with each other. Place a ball on both tees with the ball closer to the catcher about a balls width lower than the ball out front. Hitters should work on hitting the ball closest to the pitcher while missing the back ball.

Hitting Drill – Along the same lines as the previous drill, set the height of the batting tee a little above the back hip and place the tee under the hitter’s hands in their stance. Pitch balls to the hitter and have them swing over the tee on the way to contact. This will help hitters develop a more direct swing path and should lead to more consistent contact.

4. When hitters are over the ball they should work on knee high pitches until they can begin to hit line drives on this pitch location. This will help them get use to driving their hands to the back of the ball while using their hips and legs in the correct way.

It is important to note that habits are tough to change and that there are times when I use “opposite drills” to change a players habits. These drills are extremely different then what the player is doing and often are not the fundamentally sound swing either, but they are the only way the hitter can break their initial bad habit. The hitting drills under point number 3 above could be considered opposite drills compared to what happens in reality with a great swing. The goal is to eventually meet in the middle with the correct swing and this is a way of doing that.

Finally, a great way to prevent strikeouts and promote more consistent contact is with front arm work. The hitters lead arm (hand) is the one that takes the bat to the ball so swinging the bat with just the lead arm will help contact. This drill will force the hitter to use the lead arm and get stronger with the front side, which is often the hitter’s weaker arm.

The Difference Between Solid Oak and Oak Veneer

To make a veneer the timber is sliced to around 2 – 3mm and glued to panels to make products such as furniture, doors or flooring.

The process of making a veneer is either by slicing large blocks of wood or a process called peeling. The appearance of the veneer depends upon the angle which the blocks are cut for wood grain and figuring requirements.

Many product variations can be achieved when using veneers. For basic products which do not have high emphasis on style and design a basic machining process is used for manufacture. For more complex furniture products a verity of high tech. machines are used to achieve the various effects in appearance. Veneers can even be made to look old or distressed.

Veneers can provide benefits in lowering the cost of some furniture making (i.e. for producing large panels at reasonable cost and making plywood,MDF and chipboard look like hardwood ).Conversely high quality veneers can be used in high end fine furniture/cabinet making.

Veneers can be used for a variety of parts in furniture manufacture and are popular on the side of wardrobes or cabinets or for full items of furniture including table tops and legs etc. As a customer you may not be a wood expert so here are a few tips that you could find useful when selecting new furniture and how to know if it is solid or veneered:-

Ask if it is completely solid, part solid/part veneered or fully veneered.

Have a good look at the item of furniture to see any signs of a veneer (you may see the thin layer of veneer around the edges of tops, panels, doors, drawers etc.)

Have a look under the item, is the wood the same as the top?

Look inside the drawers to see if the wood the same as the outside?

Try the weight of the item, solid oak products are extremely heavy (but also bear in mind that some veneered products may be heavy if, for example, a large amount of MDF is incorporated into the item.

Does it look and feel solid and accurately manufactured to a high standard?

If you still don’t feel happy type it into a search engine if the product if it has a brand name.

Remember an expensive item of furniture may not mean it is 100% solid oak and the best quality.

Dave and Busters: Innocent Fun for Some an Addiction for Others

The room is always buzzing with the sound of laughter, ringing bells, and loud music at the local Dave and Busters. This place is like the Chuck E. Cheese for adults-food, alcohol, and games- what more can a person ask for? The room was filled with the smell of food being cooked up in the kitchen, it was smoky, and the lighting was low so that the lights of the games would shine brighter-enticing those passing by to play and win tickets.

There were men and women running around with tickets overflowing out of their pockets and wrapped around their necks with smiles that stretched from ear to ear. Their D&B ticket cups filled to the brim with yellow paper tickets. “Do you think we have enough tickets for the Family Guy Monopoly game?” asked one of the guys as him and his friend ran to the prize desk to count their tickets. ” I don’t know, but if we don’t I do not want to waste my tickets on some stupid prize, I want to wait till I have enough for the game.I have been waiting to get this game forever! It has taken me more than three times coming here to get enough tickets,” said his friend. A prize that would normally cost $20 at your local Walmart can cost hundreds of dollars here, but no one pays attention to the price when they are having so much fun.

There was a big crowd around the Jeopardy game. Four people sat on stools in front of a big screen, competing against each other to see who could answer the questions correctly and get the most tickets. The game is set up just like the show you can watch at home, whoever buzzes in first with correct answer gets the most tickets. The people around them were shouting out answers left and right trying to help the four that were playing; the music being as loud as it was, made it hard for the players to hear what everyone was telling them. One girl with long flowing blonde hair started yelling, “OMG I don’t know the answer! Is it George Clooney or Brad Pitt?!” To her dismay the answer to the question was Brad Pitt. She lost the game and lost out on the ticket jackpot; the most tickets went to a tall man with chestnut color hair and dark brown eyes.

This man with the dark brown eyes and chestnut hair is the center of which our story revolves around. His name is Derek Foster. Derek does not look like your typical arcade junkie but I can assure you that he is. He looked like he walked right out of GQ magazine’s southern men edition and into the bar tonight. His hair is slicked back, he has a little stubble on his face, and he is wearing wrangler jeans and a plaid button down shirt. He has tan work boots on and a John Deer belt wrapped around his waist. With every correct answer he gets on the Jeopardy game, he lets out a “Yea!” His voice is deep and has the smallest hint of a southern drawl.

“I am addicted to Dave and Busters,” Derek said as he took a quick sip of beer. “I am here every week… sometimes two or three times. It is a good and quick escape from reality. After I get out of work at the lumber yard I like to come here and blow some steam off- ya know play whack-a-mole and try my hand at Jeopardy.”

The game floor is crowded with people playing their games. While I follow Derek to his next game, I can’t help but smell the mixture of alcohol, sweat, and food that is circulating throughout the entire place. The smell of the alcohol is strong; mainly because of how many people has spilt their cup of boos on the floor while being shoved around the game floor.

We make it to one of Derek’s favorite games, the wheel of tickets. “This is how the game works,” he said with intense looking eyes. “First you push the lever on the right all the way down, now you must make sure that you push it hard or else the wheel will not spin. After you push the lever down all you have to do is wait and see what number the arrow lands on. This is the easiest game and you get the most tickets from it.” Derek put his hand on the lever and pushed down as hard as he could, the wheel must have gone around at least six times before finally stopping on the number 50. Tickets began filing out of the machine, but Derek did not take his tickets, instead he played again and again until he had over 500 tickets. He then folded up all of the tickets neatly and put them in his Dave &Busters cup.

“My goal is to get that giant purple and black stuffed gorilla for my little sister… it is 10,000 tickets. I am almost half way there! Hopefully I will have enough tickets before her birthday which is in four weeks,” Derek said as he stared up at the gigantic monkey.

It is just about midnight and people begin to file out of the building one by one. The room becomes more and more quiet with every person that leaves. Some are rushing to the prize counter to cash in their tickets and getting their prizes before having to go home while others are saving their tickets so they can get a better prize the next time they come in. Derek is one of these people. He makes sure all of his tickets are tucked tightly away in his D&B cup, slips his jacket on, and walks to his car in the brisk cold night. “Maybe next time I’ll have enough for that gorilla, but not today.”

Building Outdoor Bulletin Boards – Ten Simple Features to Include on Your Display

When building outdoor bulletin boards for your school, church, community or homeowner’s association, these ten simple features will make your message center more usable, project a professional image, and most importantly, provide long-lasting, easy maintenance.

Larry Kontny, Secretary Treasurer of the Magnolia Terrace Homeowner Association in Mont Verde, Florida, made the mistake of purchasing poor quality bulletin boards last year.

“The back rotted out of the first bulletin board we purchased”, said Kontny, “and water got inside, and of course, the water and the humidity ruined all the letters.”

Water and humidity is a major concern for folks who live in this community of 130 home sites about 20 miles west of Orlando.

“Anyone who has lived in Florida knows of the heavy thunderstorms during the rainy season. This new one I just installed is much better constructed, and the frame is much stronger than the earlier one we purchased.”

1.Use an anodized aluminum frame that has a moisture barrier backing and silicone sealant.

“The first board we purchased had a particle board backing that sucked the water up like a sieve”, said Kotney. “The letter board warped and became spongy.”

2. Shatter-resistant door windows prevent injury and liability. Vandalism or kicked up stones from a passing truck can cause a cheap window to break.

Do not use glass, safety glass, or acrylic for the door window. Use a polycarbonate brand like Lexan or Makrolon SL.

3. Make sure that your door windows and posting surface have a UV inhibitor which cuts down on the destructive effects from sun rays. Some automotive part stores sell clear UV glass tinting film that can be applied to the window.

“The sun rays caused the enclosed cabinet to heat up like an oven. The board facing the southern exposure faded in months and some of the letters melted and got brittle”, said Kotney. “We’re going to have to replace that one too.”

4. Louvered vent caps should be installed on the cabinet’s sides to dissipate any heat build up or ambient humidity. The vent caps should be screened to prevent insects like spiders or wasps from entering the bulletin board’s cabinet and nesting.

A louvered vent also stops condensation from fogging up the door window by preventing a temperature differential.

5. Lockable doors secure access to the posting surface so postings are official.

“One morning I came out to find some kids had rearranged the letters to spell a profane message.” said Thomas Keane, past president of the Limestone Acres homeowners association in Wilmington, Delaware. “The neighborhood association was not amused.”

6. The door frame should have full length piano hinges to support the weight of the door when opened. Using just a couple of small hinges will wear out quickly and fatigue the aluminum case frame.

7. The door frame should have a rubber gasket seal to prevent vertical rain from seeping through the gap.

A tight door frame is important especially for residents on coastal areas that experience strong vertical winds.

8. The cabinet should be at least 3-1/4″ depth. This allows room to add extra letter panels, chalk boards, dry erase boards or bulletin boards.

These extra types of panels make your community message center very versatile and allows creativity for holidays or different occasions.

9. A name header can be included on the display cabinet or sign pediment. A name header provides identity and recognition for outdoor bulletin boards.

10. Make sure the cabinet comes with a one year manufacture’s guarantee. Any problems due to improper materials or assembly are going to happen during the first year’s exposure to the elements.

Kontny says he appreciates his new bulletin board that was supplied by a reputable manufacturer free of charge. “I like it, they didn’t have to do it”, says Kontny of his new bulletin board. “In fact, we will be replacing another one soon, which has been destroyed by the sun’s rays, and I’ll be getting another one just like this because it’s easy to maintain.”

A Welcoming Front Porch with the Right Vinyl Railing

There are practically as many varieties of front porch stair railings as there are front porches. Colors, building materials and styles available can be combined in so many different ways that each front porch can be unique and individual.

The first thing to decide upon when you are creating a front porch railing is what materials you want to use. There are many different materials available for railings. PVC and vinyl are some of the best choices of materials for front porch railings for a number of reasons. PVC and vinyl are slip resistant, do not splinter and have no dangerous sharp edges (if they are properly installed). These materials are very long lasting, and offer other benefits as well. PVC and vinyl do not retain heat and so will not be too hot to touch on a hot day, as metal railings are. PVC is resistant to ultravioilet light, and so will not fade as some materials do. Water cannot permeate PVC, and the material is just about maintenance free. It is also available in a variety of colors so you can let your imagination run wild. If you like the look of wood, but want the easy care of PVC, you can even get PVC railings in a wood grained pattern.

Wood, is of course, another popular material for porch railings. For a traditional, classic look, many people choose wood. Different woods create different looks, so you can be imaginative here as well. Cedar is a naturally preserved wood that is resistant to decay and insect infestation. Cedar endures even in the most moisture prone environments. You can also make front porch railings out of composite materials. The advantage of composite materials is that they look like wood products, but are easier to care for. They resist rot, insects, UV rays and moisture better than most wood products. They will not splinter as wood will, a quality many consider important.

You may also consider using iron as a material for your front porch railings. Many people like the rich look of iron railings and they are very durable. Iron railings can add an elegant touch to your home. If you have your iron railings custom made, you can have very beautiful designs that may be unique to your home. People have had such things as animal designs or family crests incorporated into the design of the railing. Iron railings can take a lot of abuse and can weather almost any storm.

If you choose the right material for your front porch stair railings, you will assure yourself years of enjoyment from your front porch.

Enjoy the Benefits of Englander Pellet Stoves

With the current economic recession, everyone wants to know every cost cutting options that they can do in order to make ends meet. Everyone now seems to be interested with the alternative energy sources and fuels. With all these oil price increase and almost every items prices skyrocketing, who else will not be looking for cheaper alternatives? Several months ago, Englander pellet stoves became sort of talk of the town because they are reliable replacement or alternative for your home heating needs.

It's so special because it can be bought in various sizes depending on how much space you intend to heat in your house and you must have knowledge about how your home can be best insulated. Prepare the layout of your home and the estimated sizes of rooms that you need to heat so that you will have to get better quotes or prices. Aside from that, you will also need to decide whether you want the stove either be your primary or secondary heat source for your home. These factors and many others will help you decide before actually purchasing your own Englander pellet stoves.

Wood pellets are much more convenient and cheaper than a traditional wood stove because they are easy to store and if you're the type of person who moves a lot, it's also easy to move around. There are less ashes to expect than the usual wood stoves making it CO2 neutral once they're burned. Another question that needs to be answered before the actual purchase is the area of ​​a pellet where pellets are to be burned. Usually ranging from 40 to 100 pounds, you can choose the hopper sizes. I would suggest that you buy Englander pellet stoves with hoppers big enough to hold at least one-day's worth of pellets. You also have the choices of manually operated or automatic controls.

If you're looking for a cheaper yet reliable heating stove alternative, Englander pellet stoves are your best bet because it's not only safe to use, offers various options but it's also available in all home improvement or leading department stores.

Daytona 500 Race Car Theme Party

Race fans may enjoy the Daytona 500 Party more than watching the race at a sports bar with enough attention to party planning. There are two main elements to a sports party: food and a big screen television. A small TV will due in a pinch if traffic flow is considered in the viewing room.

When this is a necessity try setting the food in a separate location from the TV This will encourage non-race conversation to take place away from the serious sports fans. That will allow for less tension with those trying to concentrate on the smaller screen. TV
trays will be welcome addition to the viewing area allowing fans to grab snacks and quickly return to their race without the awkward balancing act that a plate and beverage would otherwise necessitate.

New for the coverage of the 2007 Daytona 500 stockcar race will be its prime time schedule. The race will begin at 4p.m. and last well after dark. Be prepared to entertain guests for hours since they may be inclined to stay well after the end of the race. Pre-race coverage starts early so do not plan any other activities for the day of this race!

It is likely that both a late lunch and dinner will be expected for a Daytona 500 Party. Cold cut platters, potato chips and themed paper party goods can be the best approach to feeding this crowd during the long race. Another idea would be to use slow cookers for baked beans or cocktail wieners. Buffet style serving is a must and cold beverages need to be kept on ice near enough for race fans to quickly refresh their own drinks.

When all preparations are made the only thing left is to listen for the instruction: "Gentlemen, start your engines!"

Comparison Between Egyptian and Mesopotamian Religions and Beliefs!

The religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians were the dominating influence in the development of their culture. The Egyptian faith was based on a collection of ancient myths, nature worship, and innumerable deities. Sumerian lives were spent serving the gods in the form of man-made statues. There was no organized set of gods; each city-state had its own patrons, temples, and priest-kings. The Sumerians were probably the first to write down their beliefs, which were the inspiration for much of later Mesopotamian mythology, religion, and astrology. Sumerians believed that the universe consisted of a flat disk enclosed by a tin dome. While the Mesopotamian’s didn’t have anything quit to scale with the pyramids, they did use and build ziggurats for religious purposes.

Both civilizations were centered on religion. Egypt believed in many gods. The gods Mesopotamia believed in tended to be absolute rulers to whom the people owed total devotion. In both civilizations religious leaders were given very high status and held in high regard. Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt are two religions that believed in monotheism. Both Egypt and Mesopotamia were polytheistic, that is, they believed their worlds were ruled by more than one god. Both civilizations believed that the gods created them. Both cultures also believed that they themselves were created for the purpose of serving their gods. Both worshipers took their names from the numerous gods and the cults that honored the deities, and priests in both religions were no special clothes, and made daily offering in the temples and held annual festivals open to public.

Mesopotamian religion saw humans as the servants of the gods, who had to be appeased for protection. Egyptians believed that the gods created all humans but were also controlled by the principle of maat, or order. Unlike followers of Mesopotamian religion, the Egyptians had a strong belief in the afterlife, which they expressed by building elaborate tombs such as the pyramids. The Sumerian afterlife involved a descent into a gloomy netherworld to spend eternity in a wretched existence as a Gidim (ghost). Egyptians believed that their gods had created Egypt as a sort of refuge of good and order in a world filled with chaos and disorder. The major god for much of Mesopotamia was the sky god Enlil; later th e worship of Enlil was replaced by the worship of the Babylonian god Marduk. For Egyptians, Amen-Ra was the most powerful deity, chief of the pantheon. Statues of winged bulls were a protective symbol related to the god Sin Mesopotamia, while the ankh, a kind of cross with a loop at the top, was a prominent representation of life in ancient Egypt. The Enuma Elish tells the Mesopotamian story of creation and explains how Marduk became the chief of the gods. The Egyptian Book of the Dead was a guide for the dead, setting out magic spells and charms to be used to pass judgment in the afterlife. Ancient Nippur was the site of the chief temple to Enlil, while Babylon was the location of Marduk’s sanctuary. Thebes and the temple complex of Karnak were home to the worship of Amen- Ra. In the modern world the remains of these early religions can be seen in Egypt’s pyramids, tombs for the pharaohs, and in Mesopotamia’s ziggurats, temples to the gods. The New Year’s Festival was a major event in Mesopotamian religion, while Egypt’s most important festival was Opet. Because Egypt was the “gift of the Nile” and generally prosperous and harmonious, Egyptian gods tended to reflect a positive religion with an emphasis on a positive afterlife. In contrast, Mesopotamian religion was bleak and gloomy. Ancient Mesopotamian prayers demonstrate the lack of relationships with gods and goddesses who viewed humans with suspicion and frequently sent calamities to remind everyone of their humanity. Such was the message found in the Gilgamesh Epic.

Although the religions of both civilizations shared many similarities, the differences were vast. The most notable ones are the importance and belief of afterlife and the relationship between Gods. Because of these differences, we believe, the civilizations were different because in early times, civilizations revolved around their beliefs and values but unfortunately, there was an end to these great civilizations.

Is It Possible To Determine If My Husband Is More Likely To Help Me Conceive A Girl Or A Boy Baby?

I sometimes hear from women who have just married (or are seriously dating a man) and they are trying to gauge which baby gender this man might help them to produce. Some people may find this desire petty or silly. But I understand this inclination. Many women have dreamed about the child that they might have all their lives. And, many are already married and committed to the relationship no matter what gender might be in their future. So, although they are curious about which gender they are more likely to produce, it’s not as if they are going to end the relationship if they don’t get the gender they want.

I heard from a woman who said: “I was married six months ago. In a few more months, we want to start trying to have a baby. I have my heart set on having a girl baby. Is there any test that he can take to make sure that he can conceive a girl? Or to tell me which sex he’s most likely to conceive?”

This woman might be happy to know that, barring some sort of injury or illness, a health man is said to produce equal amounts of Y perm (which produces boys) and X sperm (which produces girls.) This is one factor in ensuring that the birth rates are close to equal. She was somewhat happy to hear this, but she was also a little disappointed that she couldn’t do some sort of diagnostic test that was going to tell her what gender might be in her future.

It’s my opinion that there is a test that you can take, but it test the woman, not the man. You can test the mother-to-be’s PH. A woman who is more acidic is said to have a better chance of having a female baby because that same acidity discourages the Y sperm. The test is simply done at home with a PH tester. They typically come with a chart to tell you where you fall in terms of being acidic or alkaline.

Many people mistakenly assume that if they test and find they are acidic, then they are absolutely going to have a girl without question. Or, they assume that an alkaline reading means a boy. It doesn’t. It only means that you have a vaginal environment that is more conducive to one type of sperm over another. Your husband, partner, or boyfriend will still probably deposit equal amounts of Y to X sperm. But, your vaginal environment may discourage some of those sperm. Still, it’s likely that both X’s and Y’s remain, regardless of the vaginal environment. That’s why it’s important to do more than one thing to influence your baby’s gender.

Timing your conception before ovulation (for a girl) or after it (for a boy) is one more way to discourage those sperm that you don’t want hanging around and fighting for the egg. Plus, the sexual positions that you use can be classified as girl or boy friendly. All three of things are important because each one will help to discourage or get rid of the sperm that you don’t want so that more of the sperm that you do want (in this woman’s case, it was the X or girl sperm) have the best chance of being the first one to make it to the egg and then producing the gender that you prefer.

So to answer the question posed, while a doctor can certainly test your husband’s for sperm count and general health, most men have both boy and girl producing sperm in roughly equal numbers. But testing the woman’s PH can tell her if her vaginal environment is more or less friendly to girl sperm. If this woman tested and found that she was alkaline (which is more friendly to boy sperm) she could change her diet or try a douching regimen to become more alkaline. And, she could conceive before ovulation as well as use the correct sexual positions.

Forget Phones – Skype is Much Better

Alexander Graham Bell (the inventor of the telephone) may be turning in his grave, because the conventional phone seems like it’s on its way out. Skype is the latest and greatest way to communicate with anyone in the world for free via the internet.

To get started you will need some essential hardware. The most common method is to use a computer, but some smart phones have a Skype facility. With a computer you can either use a headset or a handset. The headset looks like a pair of headphones with an added microphone reaching in front of the wearer’s mouth. On the other hand the handset looks like a mobile phone, and is held to the ear in the conventional way.

If you are using Skype for long periods at a time your arm may ache if you have to hold the handset to your ear. Also you only have one hand free, so your typing may be a bit hampered. The solution is to get a headset which leave your hands free to type, write, cook, or whatever. Despite having to hold them. handsets actually actually some pretty neat advantages. The buttons on the device allow you to accept or end calls, or to dial numbers, just like a normal phone really. I like this feature because it is very intuitive to use, making it ideal for beginners. It is generally more convenient to use the buttons on the handset than use a keyboard and mouse, and it allows you to leave your display switched off – saving electricity. I have seen handsets used to excellent effect in shops, where many short calls can be conveniently managed.

As I mentioned earlier, smart phones more and more are Skype enabled. The only drawback is that you need a Wi-Fi connection for it to work, but if you have one available you could save a fortune. Considering the high costs of mobile phone calls, many people have managed to justify buying an expensive smart phone, simply because of the free Skype calls.

Planting Kentucky Bluegrass

One species of grass that is native to Northern Asia, the mountains of Algeria and Morocco, and most of Europe is Kentucky bluegrass. This kind of grass has become more popular and common in some areas of the United States that are humid and cool. Kentucky bluegrass was transplanted to the United States by the European colonists, who brought along mixtures of grass seed. This type of grass flourished in the area of New England where it was introduced and now you can find it in the other areas of the United States.

In the United States, Kentucky bluegrass is very recognizable due to its boat shaped blade tips. The normal growth of Kentucky blue grass is one and one-half to two feet high, but it varies with the season. The growth of this type of grass is triggered by how long the days are, rather than the temperature.

Before you begin planting Kentucky bluegrass, you need to know that it will take about two to three pounds of seed for each 1,000 square feet of land. You can sow this seed any time during the year, but it will grow better if it is planted in the fall or spring. After you plant the seeds, you need to water it a least twice daily for the first two weeks and if it is extremely warm, then you may need to water it three times a day until it takes root. Once you begin seeing sprouts, you can cut back on the watering regimen.

When you compare Kentucky blue grass to other types of grass, you will learn that Kentucky bluegrass needs as much as two inches of water each week to stay healthy. By watering the Kentucky bluegrass abundantly, you will find that the grass will stay bright and green even during the summer. It is important, however, to water the grass no less than an inch to help make the roots grow deeper and stronger. If you are having a drought, and your grass does dormant, then it will only need about an inch of water every two weeks or so. This amount of watering will help keep the grass crowns alive so that when it rains, the grass will liven up quicker.

Another thing that you need to know about Kentucky bluegrass is that it requires a large amount of Nitrogen. During the first year of the trees life, it will need five or six pounds for the tree to grow strong and tall. You can probably cut back the amount of Nitrogen needed by half after the first year. It is best to use some kind of slow release nitrogen source so that you do not burn the tree and so it is more convenient for you. You will find that it can be applied very liberally in this way and not as frequently, which can save you time and effort.

One of the down sides of Kentucky bluegrass is that it is very susceptible to pests, both crawling and growing. You may also encounter a large weed problem with this type of grass, too. The weeds most common to Kentucky bluegrass include crabgrass, clover, and dandelions. These weeds are usually easily controlled with herbicides that work before the weeds appear. There are also several insects who love to nibble on Kentucky bluegrass. These include white grubs, billbugs, and sod webworms. You need to watch for the insects becoming a problem and apply pesticides when needed. You may also find that the Bluegrass is susceptible to disease. You can prevent disease by adding a strain of Bluegrass that has resistance to disease. If you have alkaline soil, then you can find that your Kentucky bluegrass develops iron chlorosis, which is seen by yellowing in the veins of the grass.

You will find that Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular and common types of grass in the whole United States. It is easily recognizable and, if a few simple rules are followed, it is easy to plant and maintain. If you follow the tips above, you will be enjoying your beautiful Kentucky bluegrass in no time.

3 Must Have Essential Oils to Calm Your Pet

The reason I love animals so much is that they give off an attitude of happiness, innocence and unconditional love to their people.  Our pets are just as happy being a part of our household as we are of having them with us.

But sometimes an animal comes into our life that is a bit “out there!”

For instance, the dog that has an irrational fear of rain and won’t for the life of him go outside to potty during a rain shower.  Or the cat who hides for hours when a friend comes over.  Or, how about the dog with attachment issues that destroys the house while you’re at work?  Any of these sound familiar?

My cat’s, Sammie and Max, love to hang out on our screened-in patio.  But whenever the garbage truck comes rolling in, they flee for their lives!

It might sound crazy to us, but whatever your animal’s fears or wacky behaviors may be, they are completely legitimate in their minds.

Using essential oils on your animals can really take the edge off of their anxiety, big time!

Because of an animal’s heightened senses, they respond very well to essential oils.  In the wild, animals eat specific plants to heal themselves.  In captivity (our homes), the plant kingdom is not readily available.  Using essential oils on your pet gives them access to the vast healing properties of nature.

The three best essential oils to calm your pets are:


Roman Chamomile

Peace & Calming® (a blend from Young Living)

These essential oils can be used to support your animal with; fear of rain and thunderstorms, separation anxiety, hyperactivity, trauma/abuse, depression, Illness, trips to the vet’s office, grief/loss of another family pet and any other situation that causes great stress for your animal, such as garbage trucks!

When you apply essential oils to animals, always remember less is more as animals are very sensitive to essential oils.

Also, with animals, it’s best to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil such as organic olive oil.  I recommend one part essential oil to 1 part carrier oil for all animals EXCEPT cats. The dilution ratio for cats is 1 part essential oil to 10 parts carrier oil.

Use caution with cats!

Any of the essential oils listed in this article are safe for dogs and horses, however; cats are a different story! Cats are extremely sensitive to essential oils containing phenols, such as oregano and thyme. Cats can not effectively metabolize phenols because they lack an enzyme in their liver to digest the phenols. Avoid Peace & Calming® essential oil blend on your cat, as it does contain phenols. Lavender and Roman Chamomile essential oils ARE safe for cats.

How to apply essential oils on dogs, horses and cats:

For calming dogs:

Mix 1 drop Lavender, Roman Chamomile or Peace & Calming® essential oil with 1 drop carrier oil.  Rub this mixture on your dogs pads, ears or comb through their fur.  Apply any time you sense your dog is stressed.

For calming horses:

Mix 1 drop Lavender, Roman Chamomile or Peace & Calming® essential oil with 1 drop carrier oil. Rub this mixture on your horse’s muzzle, ears or cornet bands. Apply any time your horse is stressed.

For calming cats:

Mix 1 drop Lavender or Roman Chamomile essential oil with 10 drops carrier oil. Rub this mixture on your cat’s pads, ears or comb through their fur. Apply any time your cat is stressed.

By the way, the essential oils in this article are also good for easing your anxieties, too!  Dilution is not required on humans.  Just apply a drop or two on your wrists, shoulders or behind your ears.

And the next time you’re opening up a bottle of lavender essential oil, share some with your animal friends!  They’ll thank you!

© 2008 Christa McCourt