Maximize Your Drill Press

A drill press is adjustable in any shop, but there are many fixtures available commercially, or that can be shop built, that will improve production and accuracy. A cross feed table travels longitudinally and transversely on XY axes, and provides accuracy within a few thousandths of an inch, much like you would expect on a milling machine. While some milling operations can be performed on woods and plastics, do not try to mill metals in a drill press. Metal machining requires a machine with more inherent stability than you will find in most drill presses. Combination machines are available, however, that can be used both as a drill press and as a milling machine, and these can be used for metals.

A combination rotary table that can be used vertically or horizontally is a nice addition, especially if a lot of precise radial orientation is needed, and when used in conjunction with a cross feed table, an infinite number of hole patterns is available. Some rotary tables come with dividing plates that give unparallel accuracy.

If you have a three jaw lathe chuck, you can chuck a piece of round stock that will fit into your drill press chuck, and place it on your drill press table. With the drill press turned off, bring the chuck down over the round stock and tighten the drill press chuck. This will locate the center of the lathe chuck directly under the drill press chuck, and the lathe chuck may then be clamped to the drill press table. Any round stock placed in the lathe chuck will then be centered, and this will be true as long as the table is not swung out of location.

Many jigs and fixtures can be shop built to adapt your drill press to your individual needs, such as, locating fixtures for repeat or production applications, vee blocks for drilling round stock, and centering fixtures for drilling holes in the ends of round stock, just to name a few. For ease of machining, wood may be used for short run applications, but use aluminum or steel with hardened drill bushings, for longevity.

For illustrations and complete instructions for building a number of jigs and fixtures, I have written an ebook called Maximizing Your Drill Press, and it will be available soon at my eBay store, "Gazillion ebooks". Copy and paste this URL into your browser to see all of my books. http://tinyurl.com/3chxox

The Defining Skills For an Artist – Creativity and Originality

Creativity is the truest essence of artist. Being creative is the ability to produce something new by applying imaginative skills and original thinking. In effect, creativity breeds originality. Therefore, a work of art depicting a fresh line of imagination (original) in an extraordinary manner can be termed as creative.

Of course, when we are talking of new lease of thoughts & ideas, they tend more to be abstract, seamless, and independent. However, creativity and originality need not necessarily mean something extreme, innovated, and novel. The existing elements can also be added a new edge by being creative and original. This implies that artists can always expand on an idea, which has been used before by adding his own vision to it, thereby creating his own original style. Pablo Picasso clearly drew inspiration from Spanish, Greek, and Roman Art, while Paul Gauguin did so from African Art. Their works can never be confused with their models, as they were unique because of their personal styles.

Tips for Creativity and Originality

A few pointers for having the juices juices flowing include:

o Open Minded – Creative people are generally less conventional and open to new experiences and ideas. Set yourself free. You should not let rules bind your thinking and hinder your imagination. To get creative, it is important that you free your mind from any setorms. Ongoing exploration and experimentation should be the system. Stained glass and manuscript illuminations have always found favor with Paul Gauguin.

o Think Out of the Box – Think unique. Brainstorm; push your imagination to discover new things. Keep yourself driven to think with even the routine things around. Henri Laurens, who learned 'Cubism' from Pablo Picasso, applied his concepts to sculpting and went on to create some amazing masterpieces

o Take Risk-Take chances. The evolution of art over the years vouches of great creative risks taken together with uniqueness and non-traditional essence. The highly controversial 'Fauvist' movement of 1905, though short lived, changed the conventional way the artists used colors in painting.

o Knowledge – Artists need to keep learning and increasing their knowledge, in order to widen their horizons and discover new express platforms. Painters, like Gustave Moreau and Van Gogh, drew inspiration from Byzantine enamels and early mosaics. They even studied Persian, Indian, and Japanese prints.

Conscious or unconscious insight, tangible or intangible, practically anything can act as stimulus for an artist. Stay intrigued, curious, flexible, and a risk taker. Mix & portray your own blends and enjoy art!

Aspects of a Full Home Energy Audit

Many homeowners are looking for ways to make their home more energy efficient and save money on their utility bills. Often times the energy company that performs a free home energy audit only checks obvious areas like lighting and air sealing.

It is important that your home energy auditor performs a complete home energy audit. Vital aspects of your home that should be checked in a home energy audit include:

*Heating and cooling system: Learning about the energy efficiency of your heating and cooling system is essential. If this is not checked there could be an abundant amount of energy being lost that you do not even recognize. Heating and cooling accounts for a large amount of energy use in your home and can be a major source of energy loss as well. Getting a complete home energy audit that assesses your heating and cooling system is something that you don’t want to go without.

* Sealing: Although air sealing throughout your home is an obvious check, make sure it fully evaluates the air sealing. Simply checking around windows is not enough for your energy audit. A proper one should check for air leakage in your attic, foundation, and around any vents that may be letting in unwanted air.

When places are found throughout your home that are not sealed properly, it should suggest fixes such as insulation in the attic or basement, caulk and weatherstripping around doors and windows, and foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls. These fixes will keep in the conditioned air so that you are not wasting energy heating or cooling the outside, unconditioned air.

* Insulation: They are only complete when the insulation in your home is fully assessed. Many homeowners believe they have enough insulation in their home when this may actually be a major cause of energy loss. Simply checking to see if there is enough insulation is not a complete energy audit either though. Assessing your insulation r-value is essential.

The r-value of your insulation determines how well your home is insulated. This value depends on the type insulation that is in your home. A full one will assess this and let you know if you need to improve the insulation in your home to save energy and money.

* Lighting: Lighting is a simple fix, but is not always addressed in a free home energy audit. A proper one should be extensive and definitely address the lighting in your home. With new lighting technologies, the energy you use for lighting could be reduced by 50-75%. Installing energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) throughout your home will save energy and money every month.

* Appliances: It should also include an assessment of the appliances you already have and the way that you are using them. Dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers all must be checked out to achieve a proper understanding of the energy you are already using. When that is established, your home energy auditor should then be able to give you solutions to save money when it comes to your home’s appliances.

All in all, it is extremely important that you receive a whole-house energy audit to discover your home’s energy efficiency and ways that you can save money. If it looks appealing, make sure that the auditor addresses all aspects of your home and fully assesses every area where you could possibly be losing energy.

Focus on Language Translation Services

Language barriers have always crippled business opportunities among different nations. Since long businessmen and exporters around the globe have often missed opportunities in promoting their business in different regions. As we all are aware that still English is not the main language in all countries, it accounts to about 30% of the total languages. The other leading languages ​​includes – Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch etc. although there are about 250 languages ​​(including regional / tribal) which are spoken through the world.

Now the main point of focus is to overcome the language barriers. The answer is quite simple and clear – It is totally possible. We all know that it would be very difficult for all of us to master many languages, so if we want to interact with other people we always need a translator or an interpreter.

Let me prove this by an example (It's a real example but I could not mention the identity), there was an exporter who used to manufacture handicrafts items, his items were unique and were always in high demand due to their aesthetic look and cheap pricing model. He used to sell his goods in his country as well in United States, Canada, England and Australia. He was unaware about his product demand in European and other Asia Pacific markets. But he was aware that it is very difficult to do business with those people with who he could not communicate due to language barrier. He once participated in an exhibition in New York and one lady (who was a German business woman) appreciated his product and gave him a big order without any price negotiations, which also advised him to do marketing in European markets, as there is huge craze for handicrafts. The exporter followed her advice and got his catalog and the translation into major languages, as a result he found that he was able to establish his business in those countries in which he thought was not possible. He did hire a translator / interpreter to reply to several business queries in native languages. Ultimately, he made his business successful despite of language barriers.

So this is just an example for any business people hesitant to initiate business in different languages. Language barrier is no more an issue, now. If you have any sort of business which is capable of generating revenues across shores it is the right time to start your campaign. Get your business translated in global global languages ​​and kick start your universal marketing campaign. Translate your catalog or website into regional languages ​​and start getting the real business from world. Give a boost to your income across the planet by getting more customers.

Preventing Tape Drive Failure

Contrary to popular belief, tape drives are generally robust and reliable. However, there are three common mistakes that people make that dramatically increase the probability of
tape drive failure.

Firstly, it is not well known that tape drives is different considering in terms of how long they are designed to operate each day. Each tape drive range has a specified duty cycle,
which is the maximum percent of time that the drive should be operational. For example, a drive with a duty cycle of 50% should be operational for no more than 12 hours a day, while a drive with a duty cycle of 100% may run continuously.

Secondly, it is not well known that data must be supplied to tape drives at a sufficient rate in order to keep them streaming, or else the tape suffers from start-stop motion.
It's easy to imagine the wear-and-tear these places on the tape, and how the integrity of the data stored on the tape can be strictly degraded.

Thirdly, poor handling and storage commonly causes damage to tapes and the drive. It's not a good idea to drop tapes or stack them in a pyramid on the floor; the tapes should be
handled and stored carefully. Tape drives should be kept as far away from contaminants as possible; for example, they should not be placed directly on the carpet or kept in dusty environments.

Tapes should always be stored in a different location to the server, in order to prevent a disaster that damages the server from also damaging the backups on tape. At the very least, weekly tapes should be stored offsite. To reduce the chance of fire damage or theft, tapes should be stored in a fireproof safe.

By following these simple tips, your tape backups should run reliably, and you'll avoid the expensive exercise of replacing your tape drive.

Getting Your Electricity For Free

INTRODUCTION

There are actually three main alternative sources for electricity: 1) The Sun, 2) The wind 3) Running water. Of course there are others but these are the ones you will most commonly find solutions for on auction sites such as eBay. This guide shows what you have to look for when making your buying decisions.

MORE VOLTS IS BETTER

The first and most important thing to remember is that the lower the voltage of the system you buy, the thicker wires you'll be needing for it. The reason for this is based on a very simple piece of math called Ohm's law which states that voltage equals current times resistance. Therefore if you have a regular mains wire at 120 volts and capable of handling 60 amps of current – if you then choose to run a 12 volt power source through this wire you will only be able to carry 6 amps. To get the same amount of electricity through a wire at 12 volts you would have to have a wire capable of supporting 600 amps. Because of Ohm's law if you decrease the voltage 10 times you must multiply the current 10 times to get the same electrical throughput.

Even if you skipped through that little explanation, the results of it are simple, you really should try to buy the highest voltage system you can. If you can get 24 volt panels instead of 12 volt you will half the size of wire required – or if you can get a 48 wind turbine, the wire you will need will only be 1/4 the size it would have to be for 12 volts. This will save you a lot of money on wire.

The only downside is this. Lower voltage panels and equipment are generally cheaper as they were designed to run on standard car batteries. The higher voltage equipment you buy, the less you will find and the more it will cost. Therefore, when looking at what is available you should weigh up the different costs of equipment and wiring. This means get a good estimate for how much wire you will be needing first and find out the prices you can buy it for.

BATTERIES OR GRID TIED OR BOTH?

If you are not connected to the power grid you have only one choice – you must buy batteries to store the power you generate so you have it available for when the sun is out or at night or when there's no wind etc. The best batteries to buy economically are golf cart batteries. They are designed to allow many deep discharges and recharges. Regular car batteries simply will not do – the lead in them will be used up and the batteries killed in no time at all. Even marine batteries are still not as good as golf cart batteries (although they are a lot better than car batteries). Most golf cart batteries are 6 volts so you will have to create strings of them in series to make up the voltage of your system.

Alternately, if you have grid power you can actually use the grid as your battery. When your alternate power source is providing excess power you can sell it to the grid by spinning your meter backwards. However, this can cost several thousand dollars to get the right equipment as required by your power company. But then again, buying enough batteries to keep you going can cost about 2/3 of that – and you will have to replace them every 5-7 years or so. So make your choice. Some people have a smaller battery bank and also tie to the grid – this provides electricity to your house when there is a grid power outage. However, it is the most expensive of all three options.

Generally, even though it may cost more, unless you are experienced and confident with charging dozens of batteries safely (including the hydrogen gas released by them does not get ignited and is safely ventilated), and prepared to maintain the electrolyte and distilled water levels, it would be recommended to go for the grid tie system if you can – it will be plug-in and forget.

WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED?

So, when you have made your decision, if you are going the battery route you need to search for deep cycle batteries and power inverters that will invert from your system voltage up to 120 volts. If you are doing this yourself you will have some idea of ​​the power consumption of your house. If it is about 3Kw then you need a 3Kw inverter with 6Kw peak (to handle high short loads such as motors inridges starting etc). Many companies make inverters.

There are two main types: True sine wave inverters and modified square wave. Sine wave are the best and the most expensive – but they are as good or better than the power supply, so all your equipment will run smoothly. Modified square wave inverters are a lot cheaper but can make some hifis or TVs crackle. They can also make some electric motors such as fan motors hum. If this annoys you, you can get suppressor devices for many household items – or you may have to replace some of your items for ones that handle noisy power supplies better. The saving you will make getting a cheaper modified square wave inverter could more than fund replacing some of your less tolerant appliances.

If you are going for grid tie then simply look for grid tie systems. They will be true sine wave to ensure you give the grid as good a supply as it already carries.

SOLAR, WIND OR HYDRO

If you have south facing rooftops and at least 5 hours of sunshine per day, solar should work well for you. Alternately you can buy mounts that attach to a pole and track the sun for you, in which case only your average daily sunshine will be important. If you have wind above the national average then wind turbines are also something to consider. Beware though, some can be quite noisy. Also, for best results you need to mount them high up and may need planning permission etc. If you are lucky enough to have a stream or river running through your land you may well be able (subject to any planning requirements or restrictions) to install the easiest power generation equipment of all. A hydroelectric turbine is very easy to install, requires minimal maintenance, is less subject to high wind problems and can generate a lot of power, depending on the water flow.

GET A PROFESSIONAL TO INSTALL

Having read all the above you should have a basic idea of ​​what you can do to save on your electricity. But you really must consult a qualified electrician skilled in low voltage work. They will save you a fortune on mistakes you will likely make – plus they may well save you from electrocuting yourself. In conjunction with your electrician you should be able to draw up the specifications for an economic system that will pay for itself within 5 years.

UNTIL YOU CONSULT YOUR ELECTRICIAN

Do you want to save a lot of electricity now – and also have less of a draw on your alternative system when it's installed? Then search for low energy bulbs and replace every single incandescent bulb in your house. They will use 5-7 times less power and also last about 10 times longer. In fact there are now LED bulbs that use 10-15 times less power (although you may need a few of them as the technology is still young and they are not as bright as they will be). Even so – LED bulbs use so little power they will hardly spin your meter at all.

Also, get any manual thermostats in your house replaced with programmable ones. Then you can get your heating and AC to turn on and off when you choose and at temperatures you choose. You'll save much, much more than the cost of replacing your thermostats in just the first year. And if you can stand it – do not heat your house above 68 degrees and do not cool it bellow 82 degrees (Use ceiling fans to cool the extra few degrees down from there – fans use 10% of the power that an AC system does) . Almost every 1 degree of heat or cooling you save reduces your power bill by 7%. So a full 10 degrees most of the year will cut your bill by 70%.

Oh, and did you fill all the cracks around you home where there's a draft? That'll save you huge amounts of money for just the cost of a few tubes of caulk.

And, last but not least. When it's dry and windy unplug your clothes drier and hang your washing on the line. For the amount of power one hour of drying in a 6Kw drier uses you could run a low energy 7 watt bulb giving off 40 watts of power for 857 hours. Or more than a month. Put another way, you could run 35 of these bulbs all day and night for 24 hours for the same amount of power used in that one hour spin drier. But on a mildly windy day your clothes will dry inside one hour on a washing line.

See how much free power mother nature gives you? Take it – it's yours!

Reasons for Choosing Unfinished Hardwood Floor

There are a lot of advantages to using today's laminate or pre-finished hardwood floors, because they make the job much quicker and easier. However, there are times when people want to start with unfinished hardwood floor materials in order to create their own custom floors. It may be that they want a color they just can not find commercially, or it could be because they want to make sure that the floor will hold up to the traffic and use it will get in their home. Whatever the reason, unfinished flooring is still available, even in this hurry-up-and-finish world we live in.

If you've scoured the local home improvement and flooring stores and still have not been able to find a color that you feel will look best in your home, unfinished hardwoods could be the answer you're looking for. They give you the opportunity to choose or mix a stain color to any shade you would like. Choosing a rich grain and a darker stain will lend elegance to any room. Lighter colors will lighten up the space and make it seem larger. Designer colors, such as woodrose, deep ocean blue, or mustard yellow, can give your room all of the pizazz of carpeting along with the elegant durability of hardwood flooring.

One of the things that impressed me negatively about my daughter's laminate floor was that it was not very scratch-resistant. Even though they do not actually use that room in their home, the kids still run through it, the front entryway opens into it, and it's a temptation space for children to play with their toys. They have lived in their home for six years now, and the floor is scratched to the point that if they finally decide to use the space for a formal living room as it was intended, they're going to have to replace the flooring first. By purchasing unfinished wood, you will be able to make it as durable as you want by using multiple coats of polyurethane varnish, and you will not run into the scratching problem other types of floors can give you.

Although unfinished hardwood floors are not as easy to get up and running as other kinds of flooring, it is a good option when you want to give your floors some kind of special treatment. If you want floors that are beautiful, unique, and long-lasting, unfinished hardwood may be the place to start looking.

Choosing the Best Patio, Porch and Deck Furniture

Finding the ideal patio furniture that feels good and looks great is the goal here. Remember that you are making a purchase that you will live with for a very long time. It is important for you to take many things into consideration as you make your purchase decisions. What patio furniture will complement the site the best? How do I want to use the patio furniture? Will it be mainly for relaxing, eating, entertainment? How many people do I want to seat? How long will the patio furniture need to last? How much maintenance will be required? How much do I want to pay to get the best patio furniture for my money?

These are all very valid questions and while not a complete list of questions, it should give you enough to get started on your decision of what patio furniture to purchase. So, let's talk about it. Finding the right patio furniture to fit your needs and wants is the key to your happiness. Any outdoor furniture you purchase will work for a time, the question is how will it please you a year from now? Think about what you want to use the patio furniture for and how it will fit into your area and landscape. Think about how you can mix and match to get your best look. Think about your needs to move the furniture from place to place in your setting and the options you might need to consider.

The first patio furniture I purchased came with an octagon table and 4 chairs. Within a very short time, I realized that I could not seat enough people for my needs. I could use two other chairs that I purchased with the set, but how could I get them around this table? I ended up making a round top to go over the octagon table top that would give me the expansion I needed. Now, I have to use a table cloth to make the round top work. While this solution has worked out OK, but, I should have thought through this further.

Sometimes, you might need multiple pieces to accomplish your needs. As an example, I have a screened porch attached to my home where the hot tub, grille and dining takes place. I also have a gazebo and dock down at the lake where I also entertain and need seating and table options there as well. My biggest challenge was how to balance the two areas. While the two areas are far enough apart that the patio furniture would not have to match, I did want some continuity so that there was not a stark difference between the two areas but yet, I did not want them to be identical.

One of the best suggestions I can give is consider the Adirondack. There are so many options in the Adirondack patio furniture line. You can consider the traditional Adirondack chair and ottomans but there are also other considerations. There are Adirondack style dining tables and chairs. There are cocktail tables and there are even indoor furniture in the Adirondack style such as bed room furniture, living room furniture and the like. The good thing is you can tie several rooms together and still give them their own unique look with the same type furniture. Or, like I did, you can tie two outside areas together with completely different looks from the Adirondack style patio furniture. It is a great look, with lots of options that are easily adaptable to your most diverse settings. Enjoy.

Systematic Debt Management

Importance Of Debt Management

How do you define a debt management system and how important is it? A debt management system allows you to take control of your financial obligations. Paying off your arrears is of prime importance. In addition, implement strategies that will help you handle your finances and have to be firmly followed every day. Following are some of the essential components of a debt management system

You have to come up with a budget since this will tell you how much your earnings are and how much of the amount goes to expenditures. Keeping a record and keeping track of your finances are fundamental so you would know where your money exactly goes. Sad to say, only a handful of people actually create a budget. Records show that about 10% of the Americans spend 10% more than their income.

Follow Your Budget

You have to strictly follow what is on your budget. Always observe what you have written down. You will know that something is wrong, when your bills keep mounting up and you have need for finding a way out of all your obligations. Make every effort to get back on track. It may take a while but it is possible.

If you are unable to adhere to your budget, what you really need is a program to assist you in achieving better result. Don’t worry because there are several programs that will support you and your financial obligations. These programs provide you with sound counsel on how you can focus on the things that you really need to do. Your plan should be practical and doable. Don’t set your goals too high; otherwise, you will not accomplish anything. Normally a debt management system runs for four to six years.

Negotiate And Bargain

You can also enlist the help of professional credit counselors who will teach you the value of managing your finance. They will assist you in restructuring your debt payments by combining all your monthly payments as one. They in turn will take care of distributing your payments to your creditors at the same time reducing your interest rates and no late fees.

Debt negotiation companies will discuss on your behalf with your creditors. Debt negotiators will bargain with your creditors in lowering the amount that you owe but not the interest rates that go along with your financial obligations. This is rather drastic but also the fastest way of eliminating your debts. On the average it will take three years to completely pay off your liabilities.

Dumbbell Workouts

Dumbbell workouts are a cost-effective way to exercise at home. Dumbbells are small, portable and versatile enough to create a complete personal workout. A few sets of dumbbells, or even a single dumbbell with adjustable weights, can be used very effectively for strength and muscle-building exercises as well as fitness and weight-loss routines. And the manageable size means you do not need a lot of space or a partner to spot you.

Free weights such as dumbbells allow your muscles to work in a wide range of motion that many fitness machines and expensive gym equipment effectively deny you. In fact, you can get a total body workout by using your dumbbells to provide resistance against your body's natural movements. A well-structured program of dumbbell workouts that complement each other is all you need to develop a stronger, fitter body, where you are.

A further advantage of dumbbell workouts is that dumbbells require more control than fixed or mounted weights. Having to balance the weight means you exercise the smaller stabilizer muscles that might otherwise be neglected. It's important to work your way up slowly and correctly, always maintaining the proper form to avoid overextension and possible injury.

Try to do dumbbell workouts that target different areas of your body, and alternate them for maximum effectiveness. The key is to be consistent, maintain intensity and train progressively by adding weights or reps regularly. Training hard three or four times a week is sufficient, and be sure to take a week's rest after every six to eight weeks of training to allow your body to fully recover, and to keep you motivated.

The basic dumbbell workouts for the chest and biceps are commonly known. Hammer curls, chest presses and flies are simple and effective. Alternate these exercises in short bursts on a flat and incline bench to fatigue your muscles as much as possible. Concentration curls are quick and easy to do on the edge of your bed or even in the office. Do not be tempted to use momentum to swing the weight. To target your triceps, do sets of overhead extensions, french presses and elbow extensions.

Legs and calves are often not associated with dumbbell workouts, but after a few squats, standing calf presses and lunges, that will quickly change! Maintain the correct posture by keeping your back straight and your head up. You can add an extra dimension to calf raises by sitting on an exercise ball while resting the dumbbells on your thighs.

The last areas you will be targeting are the back and shoulders. Target your back with single arm rows and bent over rows (standing or lying down), each time lifting the dumbbell to your side and releasing in a slow, controlled movement. Always keep your back straight, especially if you are also doing dead lifts. Shoulder workouts usually consist of standing or sitting shoulder presses, lateralises, reverse (face down) flies and front raises. Exhale on the upwards or outwards movement, and exhale as you lower the dumbbells slowly.

The trapezius, where your back and shoulders meet behind your neck, should be worked separately. Dumbbells lend themselves perfectly to shrugs and upright rows. To perform a shrrect correctly, stand with feet apart and knees slightly bent. Let the dumbbells hang against your sides, arms straight, and lift your shoulders as high as possible for three seconds. Be careful not to let your shoulders roll back. Upright rows follow the same principle, this time lifting the dumbbells to your chin.

Expensive and complicated equipment will come and go, but dumbbells will always be the staple diet of those who want to keep their exercises functional, reliable and fun. With these dumbbell workouts, you may never need to see the inside of a gym again!

Ten Tips For Finding Time To Write When You Have No Time

1. Set aside a regular time each week for your writing and make it sacred. Even if you can only find a single time slot, for example Sunday evening, put it in the diary and make it A FIXTURE. Tell everyone you know that you're busy and honor this time. It may seem a small step, but it's a way to signal to yourself and others that you are committed.

2. Write only what you love. Nothing is going to make you write if you are not passionate about what you are doing. When considering a writing project, ensure it is something you really WANT to write about. If you can find the passion, you are halfway there. Your desk will draw you like a magnet.

3. Perfect your writing space. Make sure that the place where you write is conducive to your work. It's difficult for anyone to work at a desk that's strewn with bills or work-related reports. Think carefully about what kind of space you would like to create for your writing. Does it include a pin-board covered in inspirational post-cards? A vase of flowers? A perfectly clear space? Or, if you can not manage a desk, might it involve an early night curled up in bed with a journal? Make this a space you long to return to. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

4. Just 'open the file'. Every day. I learned this one from time management coach Mark Forster. The biggest excuse for not writing is that we 'do not have time'. We believe we must have huge swathes of uninterrupted time if we are to be truly inspired. Thus, we often do not write at all. But what would happen if you made a true commitment to just 'opening the file' every day. You go to your computer or desk, you open the document you are working on and you commit to writing for five minutes. Try it. Five minutes can become ten, fifteen … suddenly an hour has passed. Trick yourself into working. Daily.

5. Simplify your life. This one is essential. And it goes deeper than you may think. What are you so busy with that you do not have time to write? Is there any way in which you could simplify your life? What could you let go of in order to find time to write? What would happen if you decided to say no more often and set up stronger boundaries about yourself? Could you resign from a committee? Get your shopping delivered? Stop wasting time surfing the Internet? List ten ways now in which you are complicating your life. And commit to taking three actions to create more time to write.

6. Carry notebooks wherever you go. You know this, right? But do you do it? First, it's about the notebooks being there, when you're impressed. But it's also a way of allowing a thought to develop over the course of a day or a week. Get down the initial inspiration and watch the idea twist and change. If you do not record it, you may lose it. A notebook congratulates you to 'write when you're not writing'; to be constantly musing on the development of your work.

7. Find a place you can escape to. Maybe it's a nearby café or the reading room of an art gallery. Again, make this a regular date. When you are outside your normal environment, away from distractions, it is easier to focus on the task in hand. It does not matter where you write, it just matters that you do it. Many of my clients write on the train, or in their lunch hour. One notes for the first hour after her toddler is dropped off at nursery. Do not assume you must be at your desk. What matters most is momentum.

8. Make a game of it. Set yourself a weekly target in terms of word count and make yourself accountable to somebody else for reaching that target. Set up a reward for yourself, if your weekly target. It's amazing what you can do when you have an incentive. Remember, if you only write 500 words every day, you'll have a draft of a book within 6 months.

9. Use the 'mosaic' method. As I write, I'm considering taking a course in making mosaics. It happens to me that mosaics, like novels, are built from tiny fragments, that, taken alone, are not a work of art – yet when they are assembled, formed into patterns, they become something entirely different. Do not make the mistake of believing you need to see the entire picture before you begin. Think of it as laying down single tiles (single words). Each day, you lay a few tiles; you'll see your pattern build. You do not have to have a template. You simply have faith that a pattern will emerge. But you have to put those tiles down, even if it's just a few.

10. Do not let the well get empty. If you find yourself lacking in inspiration, it's possible you're pushing yourself too hard. Working all hours? Sitting at your desk in the evening, staring at a blank screen? Too much pandering to screaming children? Not enough time to just stare at the sky? If you do not make time for creative play, you'll have nothing to write about. It's SO important to fill that creative well. What small thing can you do today to ensure your creativity will flow? Visit an art gallery? Dig the garden? Read a fascinating book about the Russian Revolution? It does not matter how you recharge your creativity, but if you do not have 'input' you will not have 'output'. It's that simple!

© 2006 Jacqui Lofthouse

Guide to Choose the Right Exterior Paint Finish for Your Home

When it comes to wall painting an important element to consider while choosing the paint is its finish. There are a range of exterior paint finishes you can choose from for your home but the trick is to make the correct choice. Not every paint finish is the same and meant to be applied on every surface, this is a thumb rule you need to keep in mind always. Below mentioned are the choices exterior paints offer that you can choose from.

Textured finish: Textured paintings are hugely popular choices for exterior paints. Exterior walls need to be rough and sturdy to bear the heat, wind and the dust that changing seasons come along with. Applying textured finish paints give a thicker coating to the walls and make them appear stronger. Making use of different brushes can help you get desired textures ranging from marble finish to concrete and much more. Irrespective of the paint hue you choose from the color chart, you can make your exteriors look stunning with such finish paintings.

Flat finish: Flat finish paints add a very clean and elegant look to the exterior walls. Such paints do not have any shine or gloss and when applied to the walls give effect like the outer cover of an egg shell. Light does not reflect through such paintings and the walls painted with this emulsion finish are easy to clean. If you are a person who likes to clean up the walls and likes seeing them neat and tidy all the time then flat finish paintings are apt for you. However these paintings are not meant for wooden or metallic surfaces, so stay away from using it over your window panes, door handles etc. The durability and longevity element of this paint is the highest amongst most of the paint finishes currently available.

Gloss finish: When making exterior paint choice you can consider gloss finish paintings too. These paintings have high sheen in them which is very apt for painting surfaces like window panes, door handles etc. If you want to highlight a specific area within your wall, gloss finish will totally do justice to it. You can browse through the numerous hues available with the help of a color chart and create your own combination for exterior wall painting.

Satin finish: Satin finishes have a hint of shine in them, comparatively less than gloss finish. You can paint the entire exterior surface using this finish and manage to get an appealing look for your abode. These paints attract low amount of dirt and dust which makes them easy to clean too. From pressure water washing to dusting to harmful sun rays these exterior paintings can take it all.

There are many options in exterior paint finishes that are sure to choose the right one.

6 Custom Outdoor Signs in Chicago

Chicago is a recognizable city. Its skyline and the buildings in it are well known, and the outdoor signage on these buildings helps make them unique and memorable.

Below are 6 of the top custom outdoor signs in Chicago that help make the city the instantly recognizable one it is today, proving that the right signage choice can help a business stand the test of time.

  1. Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in America, making it a historical and beloved piece of Chicago culture.

The Wrigley Field custom outdoor sign on Clark and Addison has been in place for over 80 of the ballpark’s 100 years and has existed in several iterations (including dark blue) prior to the iconic red it is now known for.

Installed in 1934, it was commissioned by the Federated Sign Company of Chicago with the initial purpose of advertising. The marquee promoted the day’s game to encourage day-of ticket sales. The marquee was initially fern green and featured similar cascading styling still seen in the present day iteration of the sign.

  1. Drake Hotel

The Drake Hotel, known for its luxury and opulence, opened its doors on New Year’s Eve 1920 and became a fixture of high society in the roaring 20s. The Drake is now a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program of over 260 hotels nationwide that are recognized for preserving and maintaining historic integrity, architecture, and ambiance.

The Drake Hotel custom outdoor sign is a significant and well-known piece of art in Chicago. The sign uses unique gothic script and was illuminated in 1940, setting its place in the Chicago skyline and becoming internationally identifiable. Historically, the Drake emitted a pink neon glow at night, but now with new LED bulbs, the glow is a lavender hue.

  1. Chicago Theatre

The Chicago There, built in French Baroque style at a cost of $4 million, opened its doors in October of 1921. The theatre features ceiling murals, a timeless lobby, and an elegant staircase, making it the first large movie theatre of its kind in America, setting a precedent for theatres to follow.

Its exterior is equally recognizable, featuring a replica of the French Arc de Triomphe above the State Street marquee. The auditorium is seven stories in height and more than half a city block wide.

The Chicago Theatre’s custom outdoor sign vertically spells “CHICAGO” and is nearly six stories high. Signs of these caliber are increasingly rare, and the sign and marquee themselves are considered landmarks. Nearly demolished in 1986, the theatre has been restored and the sign and marquee remain.

  1. Aragon Ballroom

The Aragon Ballroom was built in 1926 in Uptown at the cost of $2 million. The Aragon was considered one of the most elaborate ballrooms of its time, featuring chandeliers, mosaic tiles, arches, balconies, and unique terra-cotta ceilings.

While the Aragon is no longer used as a ballroom, it does host a number of concerts, making it a favorite venue of many music fans in the Chicagoland area. Its custom outdoor sign is instantly recognizable and a quintessential part of its neighborhood’s culture.

  1. Congress Plaza Hotel

The Congress Plaza Hotel, originally called the Auditorium Annex, was originally built in 1893 to accommodate visitors to the World’s Columbian Exposition (also known as the World’s Fair). The hotel didn’t acquire the name Congress Plaza Hotel until 1908. For a time during the outbreak of World War II, the government purchased the hotel and used it as a headquarters for U.S. Army officers, but in 1945, a group of Chicagoans purchased the hotel and reopened it to the public.

The hotel’s iconic neon sign is tall and features “CONGRESS HOTEL” in all capital letters. The height of the sign makes it easily seen from quite a distance away, and some believe that the hotel sign emits an eerie glow. Coincidentally enough, its storied history has lead to rumors that the hotel is haunted.

  1. Marshall Field and Company

Marshall Field was an entrepreneur and the brain behind Marshall Field’s department stores. Marshall Field’s was known for its excellent customer service, catering specifically to women’s needs. The store included lounges, restrooms, a library, a nursery, telephones, and customers could even check their coats or hold meetings at the store. When the streetcar was invented, Field invested in one of the lines to ensure that trains stopped directly in front of his store, making access to the store as easy as possible.

Marshall Field’s may be no longer, as it was purchased by Macy’s in 2006, but the memorable clock and signs remain in the State Street Macy’s location. Still located on the original State Street entrance sign is a bronze plaque for Marshall Field and Company in honor of the business Field erected.

Top 10 Things To Keep In The Car In Case Of An Emergency

Driving at any time of the year can be dangerous, but it is especially important to be careful driving in the winter. Winter driving can bring the hazards of snow, ice, freezing rain, sleet, blackouts, whiteouts, and much more. If your car breaks down at any other time of year, you've still got a good chance of being able to take care of it yourself. However, in the winter, the days are shorter, the weather is colder and it is not at all comfortable to break down in a snowstorm! There are also more ways to break down in the winter; not only can your car run out of gas, but it can also get stuck in the snow.

If you are starting to panic, just relax; there are some things you can do to prepare for car emergencies. Here the top ten items to keep in your car in case of an emergency:

Snow shovel – You never know when you'll get stuck in the snow, and you also never know if a good Samaritan will be around when you get stuck. Even in the summertime, cars can get stuck in the mud, and a shovel would still help in that situation.

Candle – Even though a candle may be a lot smaller than a car, it can still keep you and your car warm in the winter if you happen to break down or get stuck in a snow bank.

Blanket – If you ever break down in the winter, a blanket or sleeping bag is a very good thing to have!

Spare tire – Always a handy item to have when something happens to one of your car's tires.

Tools – It is important to carry the right kind of tools in your car to help you in case of an emergency. Tools such as a jack, ratchet, lighter

Air Compressor – Many stores now sell mini compressors that are just for this purpose. A lot of perfectly good tires start to lose air after a while and an air compressor is a quick fix when you are stuck on the side of the road!

Flashlight – This one is pretty self explanatory. You never know when something will happen, and if you happen to break down after dark, a flashlight quickly turns into a lifesaver. Without a flashlight, all the tools in the world will not help you in the dark!

Food – This one may sound strange, but the truth is, people get hungry, and if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, some granola bars and bottles of water are a big help!

Cell phone – Nowadays, car emergencies are not as bad as they used to be, because of cell phones. As long as you have good service in the area you happen to be in, you will be just fine.

First Aid Kit – This is perhaps the most important thing to carry in your car – especially if you have children. You never know what is going to happen, and even the slightest accident can cause some injuries to you and your loved ones that can be easily remedied by a well-stocked first aid kit.

Exercise The Right Way – The Deadlift

Other articles in this series looked at a number of exercises, mainly from the perspective of developing a comprehensive muscle building program. Sometimes we take things for granted, especially when it comes to performing the basic exercises that determine the core of most bodybuilders' training regimes. It is useful, therefore, to describe in detail the processes involved in actually doing these exercises. This will help beginners to start out using the correct techniques before moving on to potentially more dangerous heavy weights. If it also helps more experienced lifters to redress some of the little faults that have almost imperceptibly crept in over the years, all the better. In this article we'll take a close look at the deadlift. MUSCLES TARGETED: gluteus maximus, semimembranosus, semitendinosis, biceps femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, rectus femoris STARTING POSITION Stand with feet flat and placed slightly less than shoulder width with toes pointed slightly outward.
Squat down with hips lower than shoulders and grasp the bar with a closed, alternated grip.
Place hands on bar slightly wider than shoulder width apart, outside knees and with elbows fully extended.
Place bar roughly 1 inch in front of shins and over balls of feet. UPWARD MOVEMENT Lift bar off floor by extending hips and knees.
Maintain a flat back and keep hips ahead of shoulders.
Keep elbows fully extended.
Keep bar as close to shins as possible.
When bar passes knees move the hips forward.
Keep body erect at point of full knee and hip extension. DOWNWARD MOVEMENT Allow the hips and knees to flex to slowly lower the bar to the floor.
Repeat or finish set.