Horse Racing Tips Using the Morning Line System to Find Good Bets

One of the most overlooked tools to find good bets in horse racing is the morning line. The morning line is supposed to be a general guide as to what the track’s handicapper thinks the horse’s odds will be at post time. Depending upon the skill and effort of the handicapper it can be a rough guide or a very useful gauge.

Some handicappers stick to the guidelines and do give you the odds that they think the horses will go off at when the gate opens, while others get involved in the handicapping so much they lose sight of their objective and actually give you what they think the horse’s chances of winning are in the form of odds. Whichever method or system they use, the main thing is to check them out and find out how accurate they are.

Once you know how accurate they track’s handicapper is and how much credence you can place on his or her line, the next thing to do is to compare the morning line to the actual odds. I like to do this early, as soon as the odds are posted for the race, and then 5 minutes before the race and then 2 minutes before the race. Getting an idea of how the runners are being bet and then seeing the final result can help you to spot good bets in the future.

The morning line can also help you to spot good bets that have been overlooked by the crowd. If the track’s handicapper is good and has knowledge of the local trainers and backside information, then he or she may know something about a horse that the crowd will overlook. Let’s say the morning line on a maiden runner is 7-2 but you see the horse going off at 10-1, you have to ask yourself, “What did the track handicapper see that the crowd missed, or what did the handicapper miss that the crowd is seeing?”

Those are very important questions. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and the handicapper will give comments on each race and may mention why he or she had so much confidence in that horse. Then there are other times when you will have to dig a little. Either way, if you see a big discrepancy in the odds, you should be doing some fast detective work because you may have a good bet sitting under your nose.

You don’t always have to wait for the actual odds, though. Sometimes, after you have handicapped the races, it is good to look at the morning line and then look at your own comments and opinions of the horses. Have you overlooked something?

While just using the morning line alone as a horse racing system is a poor way to make money betting on horses, it is helpful because it is another set of eyes looking over the entries and offering an opinion that is often based on a thorough knowledge of the local trainers and riders. This is particularly helpful if you are playing simulcast tracks outside your usual area. When playing in handicapping contests, it should be one of your tools to check your own opinions before filling out your betting slip.

The Advent Of Terrestrial, Cable, Satellite And Interenet Television In Your PC or Laptop

In the beginning, terrestrial television or direct broadcast television was the only way available for watching television programs. So it was only possible then to watch local or rebroadcast foreign programs.

Then the Cable television services became available. This medium of watching television was enabled by cables running from the Television house to subscribers. It was an expensive medium both for the providers and users alike fueling the quest for better and cheaper means of watching television from far and near.

The Advent Of Satellite TV Broadcast

Then in 1962, the first satellite TV was aired between Europe and North America. Television programs were successfully sent up from ground stations to a satellite in space from where signals were successful broadcast over North America. Satellite TV systems transmit signals from satellites in geostationary orbit to discriminate information to a wide expanse of on earth.

Satellite services are expensive, so Satellite TV providers have to charge high subscription fees that are considered expensive by many people who subscribe to satellite TV programming.

Satellite TV Hardware

To be able to enjoy satellite TV programs, you have to buy a number of gadgets such as satellite decoder/receiver and also install a satellite TV dish for picking up Satellite TV signals. All this are additional cost which most people could not afford.

Satellite TV Software

Then very recently satellite TV software was invented, and it became possible to watch satellite TV on computer. Not just one satellite TV, but Satellite TV networks can be watched on PC or Laptop nowadays without satellite TV hardware.

Today there a many satellite TV Internet services making it possible for people to use satellite TV software to access satellite TV online. A lot of these people are making satellite TV offers.

However, be mindful of the fact that not all of the satellite TV software vendors have the quality necessary to meet your satellite TV viewing satisfaction. Get recommendations from friends and colleagues who are already using satellite TV software before downloading any satellite TV software.

Repossession vs. Foreclosure In The UK – The Big Myths

Every so often, at a Property Networking event, I have someone come up to me and tell me that they are “interested in foreclosures”.

This normally indicates to me one thing – that they have been reading American books on property investment.

Nothing wrong with that, but In the UK, the law is quite different, and notably more on the side of “looking after the average person who falls behind on their mortgage” and less on the side of “whatever the contract said.”

The first thing to be aware of is that repossessions and foreclosures are different things.

  • In a UK repossession, the mortgage company “take back” the house, sell it, use the proceeds to pay off the amounts owed to them, and then send the balance to the borrower. The old duty to take “reasonable care to ensure…. the best price that can reasonably be obtained” has been slightly modified in the Building Societies Act 1997 to “take reasonable precautions to obtain the true market value of the mortgaged property. It is normal, though NOT needed, for the mortgage company to get a Court Order to get a repossession. The mortgage company does NOT have to sell the property via an auction – indeed, the Courts have recognised that this may well not be the best way to obtain the true market value.
  • In a foreclosure, by comparison, the mortgage company “take back” the house, sell it, and keep the entire proceeds. This is only possible as the result of a Court Order, and it’s nigh on unheard of for courts to grant this these days – normally they only ever grant repossession orders.

The second is that the big “hand the keys back myth” is just a myth.

  • If you are behind on your mortgage payments, you cannot just “hand back the keys” and have the clock stop on the interest payments.
  • A mate of mine was once a branch manager at a building society – on the day he took over the branch, he was shown a drawer containing about half-a-dozen sets of keys from people who had just brought them back, believing that this would stop interest accruing. I’ve no idea why this myth still abounds!

For the investor, the first two mean that, unlike in the US, it is very unusual for an investor to get a good deal simply by finding out which properties have been repossessed, and then buying them up cheap from the mortgage company for cash in hand.

The big market opportunities that do exist are finding people who MIGHT be repossessed, and negotiating deals with them that leave them better off than they might be if the repossession went through.

The Benefits of Painted Wall Murals

Wall murals are a creative and fun way to liven cold, bare walls. And the best part: anyone can do them–you don’t have to be an artist. You can design your own wall mural using your imagination, artwork, greeting cards, or picture books. You can purchase a wall mural stencil kit to help you, or you can find a local artist to design and paint the perfect wall mural.

Painting a wall mural is not difficult, but it does take some work. Before you begin, tape off your woodwork and cover your furniture and carpet to protect them from accidental spills. Depending on the condition of your wall, you may want to apply a neutral base coat to the area where your mural will go. Interior latex paint is a good bet, but you should talk to a paint specialist at a home improvement store to make sure it will work for you. You can use interior latex paint in large blocks of color inside the mural, but acrylic paints work best for the mural’s small areas. Acrylic paints are thin and will probably take more than one coat to get the right color.

You will need a variety of brushes for your painted wall mural. Large, broad brushes are best for wide areas of color. Small, rounded brushes are best for small areas. Don’t be afraid of getting messy. Mix the colors with your fingers, sponges, or clothes.

Faux finishes can make a painted wall mural unique. Many are easy for beginners. Experiment with some techniques on extra drywall before you start painting your wall mural. Use joint compound and paint to create a fossil rock look or to make a stencil pop from the wall. Get instructions and other ideas from painted wall mural Web sites, or check out the paint center at your home improvement air. Start with simple techniques, be creative, and have fun.

Installing Vinyl Replacement Windows on the Second Floor

If you have a two story house, and you are going to replace the windows on both the first and second floor, there are little tricks that you can use to make the upper floor job a bit safer and easier. If the windows are replacement style frames, you install them from inside the house, so the only thing that you will do different than the first floor windows is to use an extension ladder to caulk the exterior. So, let’s talk about doing retrofit style windows on the second floor. You can usually remove the old window from inside the house, but if you have a picture window, you have to use the extension ladder to remove the stops holding the glass in place. Then, you can go inside the house and cut the glass free from the frame using a utility knife. Put a tarp on the ground below the window, to catch any glass pieces that may fall during the removal. Also, don’t forget to keep people and animals away from the area below the window.

Once you are ready to install the new window, you can do it from inside the house. Remember, when installing retrofit style frames, you install them from outside and raise them into place. Instead, carry the window upstairs. If it’s a slider, remove the screen and sliding panel. Then, using a helper, you can angle the window frame through the opening, extending the retrofit lip completely outside of the opening before pulling the window back toward you, and installing the window as if you were outside. Have your helper hold the center bar while you put a screw into the top center to hold the frame in place. You can do the entire installation from inside. The only time you will need to go on the extension ladder is when you’re ready to caulk the exterior. Make sure you put a generous amount of caulk where the top of the frame meets the stucco or exterior material. You don’t want any water getting past the new frame, otherwise it can work it’s way through the wall and down through the ceiling or the walls. You would be surprised how easily two people can install an 8′ wide by 5′ tall sliding window on the second floor if you remove the sliding panels and screens. In fact, my helper and I did one 10′ wide and 5′ high. That was the biggest one I ever did on the second floor. You can run a bead of caulk on the outside face of the old frame before installing the new frame right from inside the room.

Now, if you are installing a picture window, it’s a little tougher. You can’t remove any panels to lighten the load, and it’s tougher to get as firm a grip on the frame. But, on the positive side, picture windows aren’t usually much larger than 3′ by 5′ on the second floor. If you have a large picture window, or if you have several to install, I have access to suction cups that are used in the glass industry. You can attach them to the glass and use them as handles when extending the frame outside through the opening. Contact me on my website at How to install windows if you want to get pricing on suction cups. You can get the smaller, inexpensive models for around $40 each.

So, if you are hesitating to replace your old windows yourself because you didn’t think you could do the upstairs windows, now you know you can. Next week’s topic is going to be about replacing the rollers on your patio door. If you can’t hardly open your sliding glass door anymore, a couple of new rollers can make all the difference in the world.

Social Media Strategy And Branding: The Use Of A Video Game Can Be An Incredible Branding Tool

Social Media Strategy and Branding: Creating A Brand Through Video Games

Powerful brands can be created through a creative video game. The creation of brand in social media must be engaging, it must be fun, it must be visual. Video games are a medium that do this. In social media, customers want to involve themselves in your brand. They want to take content that is prepared or created by themselves and then share it with their friends. A video game is an incredible medium for doing this.

The creation and sharing of a brand by a customer is an interesting phenomenon. It is one of the most interesting observations that can be made in the social media issue. Human beings have an intrinsic need to interact with one another. When people find a product they like, they have a need to tell everyone how great it is. This is why social media is so viral. To create a world class brand, a marketer must allow for customers to do this. Modern brands are actually created and developed by customers. Customers take over the brand. The material has to be engaging, interesting, and visual. If a marketer can do this, a world class brand is going to be created.

The strongest brands are created through user generated content. The two benchmarks in social media campaigns is the Fiesta Movement, involving the Ford Fiesta, and the Obama Presidential campaign in 2008. In both cases, it was the customers and followers that created and shared content with their friends. This sharing created the touch points that created the brand. Customers took over these two brands and created the brand for the principals. It is an amazing observation—but it is an observation that a modern marketer must make. In the case of Ford, 700 videos of the Fiesta were made. These video generated 6.5 million views. In the case of the video of the Obama campaign, there were 442,000 user generated videos, watched more than 80 million times. No wonder that strong brands were created.

Social media is powerful because it is so virile.

A powerful metric that a marketer must keep in mind is that according to Reed’s Law, a network of 2 quickly becomes a network 1,092. This is why a strategy of employing video games can be a powerful branding method. Video games are visual, immersive, collaborative—-and obsessive. If you can motivate a follower to create a video game around your brand, this can be a powerful mean of creating brand.

The creation of the video game can take on two methods. Either the game can be created as a stand alone game—-or the game can become a “mod”. Your brand video game may actually become the modification of a commercialized game. Modifications are major part of the video game industry. A video game is created, and the players take the game and modify it to their interests. Many video games are created with open source software for this very purpose. Game makers have discovered that mods are a great way to expand their brand.

A bench mark game might be “Civilization”. In this game, players are encouraged to take a civilization and guide it from the Bronze Age right through the present age. A game like this could be created around a brand. Players could give their insights on how the brand should develop. If done in this way, then customers would own the brand. This game would be a help to both the customers and the brand itself. There would be a large group involved in the game. There is wisdom in crowds. The crowd would figure out an infinite number of brand strategies. The marketers could watch this game unfold and adjust their brand strategies based on the information of the game. Through the use of an interesting game, that truly engages customers, a marketer could brand in real time.

Dean Hambleton

dnhambleton@gmail.com

How Has Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) Revolutionized Engineering Industry?

CAD, Computer Aided Design has brought about a technical revolution in the Engineering Industry. CAD Services can be classified into broad categories like Architectural Services, Structural Services, MEP and Mechanical Services. CAD for Engineers and Architects today is like Oxygen for the living. CAD Services is a boon for all companies’ worldwide who would like to execute CAD projects with minimum cost and quick deliverable capacity. With the consistently growing demands in construction industry and CAD services have achieved eminence across the globe. This technology has contributed immensely in development of Construction Industry, Building and Infrastructure development, Green Building concept along with other Engineering Domains like Machine Designing, Aeronautical sheets, Transformer designing, GIS, Pressure vessel designing etc..

Engineering industry today uses CAD Services to ensure Less cost, best quality, quick turnaround time along with excellent project efficiency. CAD is no longer limited to AutoCAD. There has been a great evolution in the CAD Software too. CAD professionals globally use software which is helpful in are using latest software like AutoCAD, Revit, 3D Studio Max, Pro-E, Solid Works, Inventor, MicroStation etc to execute Designing, Drafting and Modeling projects. With the help of such software, the entire project execution cycle has come to a new arena due to CAD Services. It is now possible to visualize an entire building and it’s detail even before it is completed. This is possible with the help of “Virtual Construction Modeling” also referred to as Building Information Modeling in Engineering Industry. 3D Rendering makes it possible to give any building or product a photorealistic feel before the actual construction or manufacturing of a product. This development has also caused increase in companies providing Engineering and CAD Services. With transformation of blue prints created manually to digitization of CAD Drawings, many opportunities have opened up for Architects, Engineers and Drafters.

CAD services assure absolute digitization of manual drawings to computerized drawings via scanned pdfs, hand-drawn sketches or old manual drawings. Companies are using different approaches and techniques to take utmost advantage in terms of project execution. As mentioned earlier, CAD Services are no longer limited to one particular domain or segment. Arrays of services are covered under one umbrella. Besides project execution, computerized CAD Drawings or Images are easier to maintain, save or send across to clients. There is no risk of images or drawings being damaged in course of time. Errors can be rectified easily without taking much of time and can aid to quick turnaround. In software such as Revit, a change made in one part of the model reflects in the entire model by reducing manual intervention. This also facilitates definition and extraction of individual sheets or different part of drawings and every minute detail.

These are one of the main reasons that across the globe, major construction houses or Infrastructure companies are eminently outsourcing CAD Services. This process over a period helps companies gain advantage over their competitors who do not outsource their requirements. CAD Technology has evolved into a different era in a short span of time and is constantly evolving into giving better shape to the Engineering industry. CAD Services now helps CAD companies and professionals manage their Designing Drafting or Modeling projects more efficiently. Companies offering CAD Services and companies who are constantly upgrading their technical skills will always be in an advantageous position compared to companies who still rely on traditional methods of executing projects.

Tesla Outsourcing Services is an Engineering Outsourcing Company offering CAD and BIM Services to overseas clients.

Autism – Handling an Autistic Child

Autism appears to be the leading mentally challenged disorder presently. But, exactly what is autism?

Autism, usually rearing its head in children, is described as a developmental disorder that bears impaired communication, emotional detachment and excessive rigidity. There are two types of autism – regressive and non-regressive. Autism, developing in children from about 18-months-of-age, is known as autism when children begin losing language and other developments. Non-regressive autism occurs from birth.

How do I know my child autistic?

When children are born with Down’s syndrome, it is harder to trace autism in them then it is to trace in a non-Down’s syndrome child. Social and emotional developments are delayed in an autistic child. If tracing autism in a Down syndrome child is close to impossible for you, look out for the following.

Autistic loneliness – Generally, children with Down’s syndrome are loveable and enjoy being hugged or love to hug. However a child with autism usually prefers to be by himself. Autistic children consider people as objects rather than people.

Changeless routines – Even a slight change can cause a child with autism to go berserk. Sameness breeds familiarity for them.

Lack of eye contact – Autistic children do not make eye contact, but instead they often look ‘right through’ people.

Repetitive movement – It has been observed that autistic children can sit for long hours while waving an object and staring at it.

How do I, as a parent, handle a child with autism

Autistic children usually display intense emotions. Mrs Pillay is a mother whose 5-year-old son, Somesh, has been diagnosed with mild autism. “Even though it’s just mild autism, he is extremely sensitive and cries over nothing at times. He is in normal day care but when these episodes take place, he has to be separated until he calms down. Sometimes he stares into oblivion for hours,” explains Mrs Pillay about Somesh.

Somesh’s condition for mild autism is nothing out of the usual. Working with an occupational therapist is probably the best for both Mrs Pillay and her son. Autistic children suffer from seizures, ranging from mild to severe, at times. When a child is seizing, never move him unless he is danger of falling down the stairs, etc. Try to gently turn the child on his side and loosen the clothing around his neck.

If a holiday celebration is coming up, plan it wisely. Gifts and toys do not make a difference to a child with autism. Mrs Webber remembers her daughter, Christina now 16, back in the old days when everyone would be busily tearing open their presents on Christmas morning. Christina, then 5, would sit and stare, focused on an ornament hanging from the tree. “She never touched a present and even when we unwrapped her gifts for her, she would merely ignore us, the gifts and just about everything else in the room,” remembers Mrs Webber with a tear. Rather than toys, shower the child with love and attention, which according to most therapists are what many autistic children are lacking in today.

What happens if autism is left untreated?

If left untreated, autistic children’s social skills and speech skills will not develop effectively. The number of children who recover from autism without any help is extremely low.

What treatments are there available for autistic children?

There is no cure for autism but there are many treatments available for autism. However the treatment that suits the child may vary from individual to the next. Listed below are those that are not only popular but have seen good effects as well.

Behaviour Modification – Highly structured and skill-oriented activities that are based on the patient’s needs and interests are carried out with a therapist and extensive caregiver.

Communication Therapy – Autistic patients who are unable to communicate verbally , communication therapy is used to initiate language development.

Dietary Modifications – At times, altering the diet, digestion may be improved and food tolerances or allergies may be eliminated and therefore behavioural problems (caused by these tolerances or allergies) may reduce.

An autistic child can be as different or similar as a normal child, depending on how you look at him and treat him. At the end of the day, he is your child and will always be. No amount of denial or leaving him for long hours in special needs schools will change that. It’s time for every parent to make a difference and embrace the child for who he is rather than for what he is.

ICF vs SIP – A True Cost Analysis

The use of ICF construction and SIP walls is strongly debated in the sustainable construction industry. Both wall systems are very energy efficient and create super insulated walls that meet LEED accredited standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Both products will construct such an airtight space that heat recovery ventilation systems are needed to produce airflow. These systems must be carefully installed to eliminate thermal breaks in the super insulated space. Traditional stick framing can claim up to R-20 walls. This, however, only considers the highest rated component in the wall, the insulation. Other lumber and utility members in the wall contribute to thermal bridging which is a main factor in heat gain and loss. Both ICF and SIP wall sections contain solid insulation material that will effectively eliminate conduction and convection in the building. In addition to energy efficiency, one of the greatest benefits that both systems share is the ability to construct quickly and accurately.

It is evident that both of these wall systems provide sustainable construction, but when it comes time to build, which one should you use? As most building decisions eventually do, it all comes down to cost. When analyzing the cost of these wall systems, it is important to understand the price varies according to each design, availability, and installation. This topic is debated by company representatives all over the internet. I am not a salesman for SIPs or ICFs, so consider this a fair analysis.

Cost per Square Foot?

It is very difficult to provide an estimation of cost based on square footage. Many factors are involved that can only be accounted for in the exact specifications of the architect’s plans. A general cost for square foot of gross wall area may be compelling as a feasibility estimate in theory, but more factors must be involved according to design to make an appropriate estimate. One can research and find a wide range of cost estimates by vendors and builders. The average of these values should not be considered to estimate cost since they are from people trying to sell you a product. Instead, I have analyzed the trends of these values to find that the difference of these prices suggest that SIP construction costs 5-10% less than ICF construction per square foot.

Design

Window and door placement and shape must be accounted for when the fabricators make cuts in panels or forms. Waste is produced in this process while labor is involved driving the cost up. In some cases, the cost can be optimized in the design of the home by strategically dimensioning the home including window sizes and wall lengths according to dimensions suggested by multiples of panel or form sizes.

Many manufacturers consider structural live and dead load analysis of the design when estimating cost. This analysis of the plans will more accurately explain what thickness is needed where, and how much. The materials for ICF are more expensive; namely the concrete per square foot. Also, a prefabricated product is not being delivered to the site so the labor cost is more by the time the ICF walls are installed. The overall price for materials and installation of an ICF wall system can be gauged at about 30% higher than traditional poured walls.

In comparison, an ICF wall needs to be thicker than a SIP wall in order to achieve equal R-value. Thicker walls mean more material that also contributes to a higher cost compared to SIP construction.

Local Availability

Local availability can contribute in variance of price, and level of green construction. Not all contractors build with SIPs or ICFs, but as this construction, and production becomes more popular the price for both will come down. Contractors and manufacturers are most abundant in the Midwest and Southwest of the United States, making these regions cheapest to build using SIPs and ICFs. Investigate which contractor and manufacturer (SIP or ICF) is more local; this makes the project more sustainable and will most likely offer lower prices. However, beware of inexperienced contractors because it is a new building practice. In accordance, more experienced contractors typically can charge less.

Return

Sustainable building is encouraged by the return investment. An airtight, superinsulated home created by either of these wall systems allows for lower operational costs due to monthly utility bills. In addition, the HVAC equipment required to heat and cool this superinsulated house does not have to be as powerful, saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on initial HVAC costs. While these savings are equal between the two systems, other returns are not. Homeowner insurance savings are between 15-25% for ICF construction due to fire protection ratings and disaster resistance. However, no serious gains in equity are made for when it comes time to sell. At this time, tax benefits do not exist for building LEED projects, but it is hopeful that in the future they will. If considering a LEED scorecard in your decision, SIPs will score higher because it is a pre-built panel assembly.

Conclusion

SIP construction is generally considered less expensive when deciding which sustainable building envelope to use. However, each project varies in price of each according to design specifications. Design can be optimized to standard dimensions of each wall system to encourage lower costs. Whichever product is manufactured closer to the site is more sustainable and will cost less in comparison to each average cost. Considering this the cost difference between the two may increase or decrease. ICFs may cost more but they generally offer more return in terms of insurance deductions. Overall, it is important to investigate all of these aspects when deciding which will be less expensive.

Aromatherapy Basics

Aromatherapy is considered one of the country's biggest businesses today! Need proof? Take a trip to every natural food and herb products store and you will see a variety of aromatherapy products on display. Although relatively new in the United States, aromatherapy's popularity has escalated to unprecended heights as part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) since its "birth" in the 80s.

What is aromatherapy? There is still some controversy surrounding this topic. Some claim that aromatherapy is all about fragrances and is commonly perceived as anything that exudes sweet-smelling odor such as that of depicted candles and potpourri. Some even claim that the oils used should not even be of natural origin. This is not the true element of aromatherapy. In its absolute meaning, aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from natural botanical sources to influence the physiological and psychological well-being of an individual.

Aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils for healing and therapeutic purposes, traces its origin back from the Neanderthal times. The method was so commonly used all through the ancient period that it transverses the boundaries of distance and culture. It was so widely practiced that you can see references from ancient Chinese, Egyptian, Indian, Roman, Tibetan, Australian and New Zealand, North American, South American, and Middle Eastern sources.

What are essential oils and how are they used in aromatherapy? Essential oils are the volatile liquid products extracted from plant sources. These oils are extracted from the plant materials either through steam distillation, expression, or through the more recent method of supercritical CO2 extraction.

In steam distillation, steam is directed towards the plant material, which vaporizes the more volatile components of the plant. This process yields two products – the essential oil (contains oil soluble products) and hydrosol (containing water-soluble products). Rose water is one of the most popular hydrosols produced using this method.

Expression is more popular used in extracting essential oils from citrus fruits. In this process, the peel of a citrus fruit is grown or scraped in order to release the oil. No heat is applied in this method so the oil produced smells essentially the same as that of its source. The oils from lime, lemon and grapefruit are obtained through this method.

In supercritical CO2 extraction, carbon dioxide is used to yield a high-grade extract which has a very similar composition as that of the natural material.

What conditions are usually treated by aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is effective for a wide range of conditions and ailments. Basil oil, for example, can be used to counter depression, sharpen the memory and treat headaches and migraines. Others have stimulating effects on the bodily systems such as the digestive and urinary tracts (bergamot oil) and the circulatory system (black pepper oil). Still others can be used as analgesic (clove oil), as topical antiseptics and disinfectants (tea tree oil, eucalyptus, sandalwood oil, etc.) and insect repellents (bergamot oil, citronella oil). Some even act as aphrodisiacs (Jasmine, Rose, Sandalwood and Ylang ylang oil)!

Applying the essential oil depends on the nature of the condition or ailment to be treated and the desired effects of the therapy. It can be through intervention (proven to positively affect the psychological well-being of a person), topical application, or ingestion.

Although relatively safe, some people may experience allergic reactions to some of the oils. Cross-sensitivity, or the potential to experience allergic reactions to similar substances, may likewise be another possibility. This may be caused by the presence of adulterants in the oil that you are using. To be on the safe side, take extra precautions whenever using any products. Essential oils are very concentrated so for skin applications, remember to use a concentration not greater than 5% to avoid negative reactions. If you are going to employ inhalation methods, please be advised that exposure should not be more than 15 minutes in 1 hour.

When in doubt, always consult with a qualified practitioner.

Some wonderful tidbits of information. We humans are not the only ones who benefit from these wonderful oils. Plants use these naturally occurring essential oils in controlling and healing infections, humidity, hormonal effects and in attracting or repelling insects, birds and animals.

The Key to a Good Salad Dressing

Salad dressing is easily a billion dollar industry in North America, and a typical bottle of dressing contains perhaps fifty cents worth of ingredients and three dollars worth of markup. Yet most of us have everything we need to make a good salad dressing from scratch at home, and the chances are that a homemade dressing will be both tastier and healthier than the ready-made kind.

As a child I lived for a time in Italy, and I remember how simple salad dressings were in restaurants there. A plate of salad greens was brought to the table, with perhaps two or three thin slices of tomato, and you used the oil and vinegar already on the table, along with a light sprinkling of salt, to dress your own salad to taste. You might think that would lead to overly oily or overly acidic salads, but the fact is that you quickly get used to the perfect balance between the two major ingredients of any self-respecting salad dressing. Even a ten-year-old can figure that out after a few tries.

If you start with oil and vinegar and then branch out with a few other ingredients to spice things up, you can soon create a million varieties of salad dressing, a completely new one each day. The key is to have a basic idea of proportions for the major ingredients, and then to try something new each time, with whatever you have on hand.

In my experience the best salad dressings are oil-and-acid based. If your acid is vinegar, the proportion should be roughly four parts oil to one part vinegar. If you use lemon or lime for the acid, start with the same proportion and add more oil or juice according to taste, as the acidity of lemon or lime can vary based on the variety of fruit and its freshness.

This may run contrary to what health advocates tell you. I remember getting a present one Christmas consisting of an empty salad dressing bottle with proportions for dressing ingredients, and the proportions were two parts vinegar to one part oil. The idea, presumably, was to help people cut down on fat intake, but I would guess that the main impact would be to make people cut down on salad intake, since the resulting dressings were so acidic and thin that no one wanted to eat the salads they were doused on. The fact is that the oils in salad dressings don’t fatten you up nearly as much as the starch in French fries, pasta or breads, or the sugars in soft drinks or juices. Fats help satiate hunger, while starches and sugars keep you coming back for more.

For the oils, I always start with extra virgin olive oil. It contains a higher proportion of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids than most other vegetable oils, and to qualify as extra virgin it has to be cold pressed, which preserves the nutritional value of the fatty acids. Supermarket-bought vegetable oils, on the other hand, have been extracted using heat or chemicals and are processed to extend the shelf life of oils that would normally spoil or degrade in light or heat. In other words, they have had the healthiness squeezed out of them so that you can keep a bottle of corn oil on your counter for months without it ever changing in the least.

Two other favorite oils of mine are hempseed and flax seed oils, which are also cold pressed. Because they contain omega fatty acids, which are particularly good for you but also particularly prone to breakdown in light or heat, you need to keep these oils refrigerated and in the dark. Hempseed oil has a deep green color and a grassy taste, while flax seed oil is more golden in color. If you want a little more exotic flavor you can buy small bottles of walnut or hazelnut oil (assuming no one in your household has tree nut allergies) and add a small amount of those to the oil proportion of your dressing.

My favorite vinegar is Balsamic, but I try not to use it to exclusion, partly because it is more expensive than wine or cider vinegars but also because it can be overpowering. A little goes a long way, and at most half your acid should come from Balsamic vinegar unless you want that flavor to completely dominate others in your dressing.

I stay away from distilled white vinegar simply because it has no taste of its own other than the acidity of the acetic acid. Flavored vinegars such as raspberry or cherry or tarragon vinegar are a nice addition, but don’t spend a fortune on fancy bottles of these – just dump a few raspberries or cherries or a sprig of fresh tarragon in an empty maple syrup jar, fill with white or white wine vinegar, and wait a few months. You’ll save a fortune and you won’t need a trip to the gourmet store next time you need to stock up on fancy vinegars.

Any salad dressing worth its salt has to be a little salty, but not too much. My favored salting method is to add soy sauce, usually the same proportion as the vinegar. If you do add dry salt, a little sea salt goes a long way. It’s best to blend the salt with the vinegar before you add that to the oil, as it dissolves better.

While we’re on the topic of dissolving, a hint of sugar also helps a salad dressing sizzle. To me the perfect salad dressing is a harmonious balance of sweet, sour, salt and oily, and the sweet usually means a teaspoon of raw sugar or maple syrup in a full, reused salad dressing bottle. If your dressing turns out too acidic because you added too much vinegar, adding a tiny bit extra sugar can tone the acidity down substantially.

Once you’ve mastered the blend of oil, vinegar, salt and sugar, it’s time to start experimenting with different enhancements. A little crushed dried oregano works well; minced green onions or garlic or shallots can be left in the dressing for weeks without risk of spoiling, and will give it that extra kick; and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, or even plain old yellow mustard, will liven things up substantially. The key is to try something new every day.

My mother in law is constantly asking me for the recipe for my salad dressing, and I can’t really provide one to her, because every dressing is unique. Occasionally I overdo the acid or salt and people are disappointed, but mostly my salad dressings please because I can adjust the flavors as the dressing comes together, and there’s no way to write down exactly what proportions went into the dressing. Or perhaps there is a way to measure, but it takes the fun out of it.

Making a great salad dressing is really just about starting with the basics and practicing again and again until you’ve mastered it. And half the pleasure is in realizing you’ve got a new dressing, never before tried in those exact proportions, that just happens to work! So give it a try – using the basic proportion of four parts oil, one part vinegar, one part soy, a dash of sugar, and whatever else inspires you – and start the variations from there. With a crisper full of lettuce and a willingness to play around, you’ll have countless delicious salads and you’ll soon master the art of making a good salad dressing.

Predator Proofing Your Rabbit Hutch

As classic prey animals, rabbits that spend time in outdoor rabbit hutches need to be protected from whatever predators are present in the area. Rabbit owners who shop for commercially available rabbit hutches can see that some appear to be more “predator proof” than others.

There are single level rabbit hutches with a wooden living area coupled with an attached wire enclosure exercise area. The entire unit rests on the ground and if not properly anchored could be subject to tipping over by a powerful predator, like a large dog.

Two level rabbit hutches feature a variety of styles of attractive weatherproof wooden living quarters with a wire enclosed exercise area directly beneath them. Ramps enable your rabbit to go back and forth and some of the living areas feature additional rooms and even storage compartments where owners can keep their supplies. While generally heavier than single level models, these rabbit hutches are still susceptible to tipping, although less so.

Commercially available rabbit hutches claim to keep your precious pet rabbit safe from predators, but none of them take one facet of predator behavior into account: predators in a variety of sizes can dig!

Many rabbit owners feel their outdoor rabbit hutches are safe from large predators since secure fencing encloses their outdoor areas. It is true that it would be difficult for a large dog to find a gap in the fence, but they can find a weak spot and dig their way under it. Once inside your fenced area, they find a potential meal waiting for them in the hutch. Any outdoor rabbit hutch with a wire enclosure resting on the ground is subject to a predator digging under the wire enclosure and getting in. Smaller predators, like raccoons, foxes, and even cats are more likely to get through your fence barrier and they dig as well. So how do you predator proof your rabbit hutch from a digging predator?

It’s not an easy task but if your location has significant numbers of free roaming predators, it is essential. The basic idea is to dig a trench around the base of your rabbit hutch and add wood or wire of sufficient length to force the predator to dig deeper.

Wire is the more difficult material to use since it is harder to cut and its flexibility makes it harder to place in the trench in the straight line you’ll need to then secure the added protection to the existing rabbit hutch material. If your rabbit hutch has a wooden strip around the base, the added wire protection can be secured directly to the wood. Wire to wire connection requires appropriate hardware, like u-bolts spaced around the perimeter.

Wood treated with weather resistant preservatives is much easier to install. Cut the wood to the desired length and width and then either screw the added protection to the existing wood perimeter, or screw the existing wire perimeter to the wood. An added benefit of doing this is making the rabbit hutch more tip proof as well. Most rabbit owners have a deep affection for these wonderful pets and keeping them safe is a concern for them. Taking this step, while difficult, will go a long way towards ensuring the safety of your pet rabbit.

The Facts About Miter Saws

Miter saws are one of the most popular, most widely used power tools in the tool industry today. Because of their portability, convenient capacities, and overall accuracy, a miter saw can be found in nearly every wood-shop, garage, or pickup truck. Miter saws are generally designed to produce fast, accurate crosscuts into a workpiece, typically for framing or molding applications. The workpiece is pressed up against an angled fence to ensure the most precise cutting angles as you work. The fence generally sits at a 900 angle, but can be adjusted as needed for a particular cut. While most miter saws have a miter index that allows users to precisely modify their cut angle in one degree increments, most also have capacities which allow for quick and accurate cut stops at common cut angles like 150, 300, and 450. These precise miter cuts are made with the downward motion of a circular saw blade that spins with the power of the tool’s motor.

There are several types of miter saw available, the standard miter, a compound miter, and a sliding or compound sliding miter saw. The standard miter has a blade pivot from right to left to cut miters; this saw is however becoming less popular as compound miters have more applications and are only slightly more expensive. Compound miters have the ability to bevel cut, or tip the blade to either the left or right side (00 – 500). Some can bevel in both directions allowing operators to miter and bevel within the same cut (-500 through 500). A sliding miter saw is just like a compound miter but with extension rods that allow the saw blade and motor to move forward and back. This motion increases the blade cut capacity enabling the cut length to be longer than the blade diameter. Sliding compound miter saws also have a depth cut setting to cut dadoes into materials at a variety of depths. Sliding miter saws, because of bigger capacities and more applications, tend to be more expensive than the standard and compound miter saws.

Blades:

As one would think, the price of the saw, and of the blades as well, tends to rise with the size of the saw and blade. Blade sizes range from eight, ten, and twelve inches; ten and twelve inches being the most popular sizes. Not only does the blade price increase with size, but also with tooth count. It is important that you use the proper blade for each application. Blade changes are generally pretty simple, so don’t avoid blade switching out of inconvenience. Using an improper blade can cost you much more in the long run than a few short minutes to pop on a new blade: when cutting, to achieve a cleaner, more precise cut, use a blade with more teeth, for a quicker, more rough cut, use a blade with fewer teeth, when crosscutting be sure to use a crosscut blade, and so forth.

Blade Changes:

To change your blade you first need to remove the guard and pivot the blade mount cover, or access plate, away from the blade and remove the center nut. Make certain to turn the nut in the direction indicated on the saw as most are reverse threaded. While this area of your saw is open you should blow any lingering dust or debris. Dust will accumulate around the center of the blade which can effect the blade’s alignment and consequently, the accuracy of its spin. You should also check the washer and mounting plate for security and for any dust or residual buildup. Simply use any standard scouring pad to remove rust or residue.

General Tips:

Miter Table Top: It’s not only important to keep dust away from your blade, its also crucial to keep dust off the miter saw table. Keeping the saw table surface clean keeps you safe and ensures a cleaner, more precise cut. It’s also good practice to not oil or lube the table top as you don’t want any materials sliding or slipping during a cut. Essentially, it’s important to keep the saw table surface clean, but also to keep it slip free for the security of your materials and fingers.

Miter Fence: A good fence is crucial for cutting accuracy. All miter saws come with a left and right fence that connect in the middle of the saw. These standard fences are very accurate and great for perpendicular cutting. Because they are aluminum, however, they can bend or break relatively easily so remain cautious with your saw even when just making adjustments. Independent fences are also available for purchase. These are remarkably accurate and tend to yield pretty commendable results.

Dust Bags: Because saw dust can be a problem with miter saws, dust bags are essential for shop cleanliness and safety. They make a surprising difference in keeping your tools and parts clean, but also save operators from inhaling airborne particulates. The dust bag connects directly to the miter saw and collects excess dust and debris during use. Some saws can also be hooked up to a shop-vacuum for easier disposal and better collection.

Upkeep:

Brushes: Be certain to check your brushes every-so-often for wear and tear. It’s important to keep healthy brushes in your tools for performance purposes, but it also helps in diagnosing a problem. If you already know the condition of your brushes, you either know the brushes are bad, or that the problem lies somewhere else.

Power Cords:Check power cords for cracks or fraying. Faulty cords will obviously prevent power from getting to your tools, but they also present a safety hazard. Additionally, if you must use an extension cord, use the shortest length possible reach your project.

Cleanliness: Keep the tool blown out and your parts clean and tight. Lube the blade pivot joint around once per year depending on frequency of use. Wipe saw blades clean after every use.

Miter saws are a superior power tool to have on hand, and their accuracy, durability, and portability render them nearly indispensable for many woodworkers. For framing, molding, and other carpentry applications, miter saws are, by most accounts, the king of the wood-shop.

A Will Vs A Revocable Living Trust – Which is Better?

There's a big debt going on over whether a will is sufficient or if people really need a living trust.

What's the answer?

The truth is, both are great estate planning tools and choosing the right one for you will depend upon your individual needs.

Someone who's just starting out for example, may not yet need all the bells and whistles that a living trust can offer. With only a small accumulation of assets and a limited number of heirs, a will might just be the perfect solution.

It's when you start adding in extended family members, mortgages, children, grandchildren, vacation homes, and the like that you begin to see the need for something a little more comprehensive.

Yes, a will still still take care of the basics but you'll be missing out on some very unique benefits that the living trust can offer.

For example, a living trust allows your heirs to skip the probate process and instead, inherit your assets without court supervision. A trust also keeps your estate private, away from the prying eyes of con artists and overly aggressive sales people looking to make a quick buck.

A living trust can do things like offer incentives to your heirs and protect disabled dependents who rely on government assistance programs. It can even protect your assets in the event you suffer from a disability later on in life.

So, is one better than the other? No, but there's definitely a choice that's most appropriate for you.

The only way to decide which tools are best for you is to talk with a qualified estate planning attorney.

Seller Financing – An Overlooked Source of Funding

Over the past two decades the US economic environment has been blessed with the gift of FED driven low interest rates. This trend has created a norm that has bode well for entrepreneurs that have had the capital to put down a 10-20% down payment to secure a small business loan, but has left cash-strapped starry-eyed startups with seemingly few options for cash outside of venture capital and other equity siphoning sources. This shift towards borrowed capital has created an illusory barrier to entry driven by the modern attitude to seek cheap cash loans to secure financing; a tendency that has fostered a lack of creativity among fledgling would-be entrepreneurs. Like bartering, consignment and deposits on future contracts, seller financing is a concept that has been lost in this fa├žade.

Seller financing is a self-evident notice; the seller of the asset is the lender, and the buyer is the borrower. Instead of the borrower getting a loan from the bank, the person selling the asset lends the borrower the money for the purchase in the form of a promissory note. Much like a traditional loan, this note typically includes interest, a repayment schedule, and consequences for default. However, there are stark and not so obvious advantages to both the seller and the borrower in this model.

For the seller, the loan is being backed by a tangible asset with a guaranteed rate of return depending on the agreed upon interest, 4 to 7% in some cases … not a bad "investment" (Trulia, Contributor pg.1) . Should the borrower default, this asset returns into the seller's possession accompanied by any money that has already been paid. Likewise, during this time the seller still technically owns the asset, but is no longer liable for tax, insurance, maintenance, etc. These loans ordinarily range from 5-10 years, and with such a short time frame the integrity of the asset is generally maintained.

For the would-be entrepreneur, acquiring funding in this sense creates an opportunity for ownership without generally having to come up with a significant amount of cash up front. In fact, all terms of this loan are negotiable, and can be constructed for a new business's specific needs. The interest rate, the length of the loan, and the money up front can all be made to best accommodate both the seller and the buyer. The loan could even be supervised by performance metrics, giving the new owner the flexibility to grow the business organically.

Do not get me wrong, seller financing has not gone completely to the wayside … it just does not seem as instinctual as it once was; regulating more frequently in transactions organized by an older more experienced generation.