Knitting Mistake – How Do I Fix a Messed Up Cable Without Ripping Back?

Cables can be great fun–until you make a knitting mistake you don’t notice until you knitted many rounds beyond the mistake. Do you rip out all your work? Ignore the mistake and hope no one notices? Here’s a better way you might try.

Isolate the error.

Yes, you have umpteen stitches on the needle, but we won’t mess with most of them. It’s just a few stitches that need their attitudes adjusted. Knit till you come to the stitches directly above the problem stitches. Let’s say there are six.

Breathe deep–and pull those topmost six stitches off your needle.

Don’t panic. Slide your good stitches far away from the tips of your needles so they stay put. We’ll work with the six stitches now hanging loose. With another needle or a crochet hook, reach between two of those loose stitches and pull the yarn up and out of those six stitches.

You now have a loop of yarn and six new loose stitches from one row below.

Pull the yarn out of each lower row until you reach the row where you’ll correct the cable crossing. Slide a knitting or cable needle into those six stitches you want to correct. Now they’re secure. Phew!

Is this a mess or what?

Yes, I know. Your knitting now looks horrible with crinkled yarn loops in a tangle at the back. No worries. Now cross that doggone cable.

Dip your original needle tips down so you can work the cross on those six stitches like you wish you’d done before.

Got your cable crossed right? Good!

As you slide each of those six newly-worked stitches from your right needle to the left, give it a tug like you’re stretching elastic between the needles. This adjusts the yarn evenly along the six stitches.

Now locate the yarn loop directly above the stitches you just worked.

Making sure you use the bottom loop of yarn, knit the six stitches. Slide them onto the left needle as before. Rinse and repeat until you’re back on the top row.

Does everything look right now?

Every stitch and cable crossing knitted right? No missed yarn loops on the back? Yes?

Now there’s no longer a knitting mistake–and you didn’t have to rip out entire rows of otherwise good knitting on umpteen stitches. Yippee!

Reverse Mortgages – What Does the Term Principal Limit Mean?

When explaining a reverse mortgage to a senior homeowner, one of the most important terms a reverse mortgage loan officer will discuss is the “Principal Limit.”

What is the Principal Limit and why is it important?

The Principal Limit (PL) is the gross amount of money the lender is willing to lend to the borrower of a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or HECM reverse mortgage, based on a formula derived from Congressional legislation and implemented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and using the following three criteria: 

  • The lower of the Maximum Claim Limit or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) appraised value of the home;
  • The age of the youngest borrower (must be 62 or older);
  • The current expected interest rate (based on the current 10 year London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR rate, plus a stated margin for the adjustable rate HECM and based on the current fixed interest rate for the fixed rate reverse mortgage).

The three listed criteria affect the PL in the following ways:

  • The higher the value of the home (up to the maximum claim limit of $625,500) the higher the amount of the PL will be;
  • The older the youngest borrower (age is always based on the youngest borrower’s age, not a blending of multiple borrowers’ ages) the higher the amount of the PL will be;
  • And, conversely, the higher the current expected interest rate, the lower the amount of the PL will be.

The reason potential borrowers should become familiar with the term Principal Limit and what it means is because it is from this cash figure that all fees and set asides will be subtracted in order to arrive at the maximum cash or loan proceeds available to the borrower.

Congress Plans to Lower the Principal Limit

Congress lowered the Principal Limit for the fiscal year 2010 signifantly to make up for a perceived budget shortfall of approximately $798 million for HECM reverse mortgages put in place within that fiscal year. HUD has announced that for the fiscal year 2011 there will likely be decreases in the Principal Limit as well. The 2011 year begins in October 2010 for budgetary purposes.

 Until the budget bill has made it through the joint Senate and House committee, been voted on and signed, we do not know what the exact amount of the cut in the principal limit will be. Senior homeowners who have investigated HECM reverse mortgages prior to October 1, 2010 should contact a reverse mortgage lender to learn how the decreases in Principal Limits could impact  them personally if they pursue a reverse mortgage.

Three Little Known Facts About Shabby Chic Style

Shabby chic is an interior design style that incorporates worn, antique furniture and vintage accessories to create a design that is both elegant and popular. Items are chosen for their worn appearance and are often heavily painted throughout the years, with many layers showing through. Fabrics are usually cotton or linen, also showing wear and tear. Neutral colors, and often soft pastels such as pink, blue, and green are the trademark of this unique style.


Although the shabby chic style has become very popular over the last 35 years, its roots actually began in the early 1900’s when in Great Britain, many large, stately country homes and their contents were left to fade and age due to financial difficulties of the home owners. It wasn’t until the 1980’s, however, that this popular style got its name. During this time, many people had a desire to express how much class and taste they had. By incorporating the ‘chic’ interior style into their homes, they were able to boast classically vintage furniture that had a history.

Fact: Not As Old As You Think

Shabby chic furniture is not always old or antique. Many new pieces are distressed (made to look old) to give them a vintage, antique look. By applying white glaze and paint, and then scrubbing and sanding the top layers, especially around the edges, furniture can be transformed from something new and modern to something shabby chic. In addition to transforming new furniture, many people buy used furniture at thrift stores and garage sales to create beautiful shabby chic furnishings for their homes. The style is all about simple elegance and incorporating a variety of pieces to create a look that is unique.


One of the best things about decorating your home in the shabby chic style is it does not have to be expensive. It is very easy to mix and match several different pieces to create a fresh look for your home without spending a lot of money. Because it is so versatile, it works well in almost every room of your home, including the kitchen and bathroom. From vintage armoires, to a dining table and chairs, the shabby chic style of decorating adds elegance to your home that is inexpensive and attractive.

The shabby chic style of interior decorating is here to stay for quite some time. Trends show that the style has increased in popularity over the last 35 years, and continues to do so. Whether it is a single piece of furniture, an entire room, or a house-wide theme, the shabby interior design style with its deeply rooted history, will surely make a statement in your home.

Inside the Mind of a Sociopath

As we go through life, we like to think that the people we encounter are more-or-less like us: kind, caring, reasonable and decent. It’s hard to imagine that there might be someone in our circle of acquaintances who might have Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Unfortunately, antisocial individuals live and work among us. Being unaware of their presence and how they operate puts us at a great disadvantage. Also known as sociopaths, these people are the ultimate predators; exploiting and abusing the weak, the innocent and the ignorant. The better we understand them, the safer we’ll be.

What, exactly, is a sociopath? It’s someone who, for reasons not well understood, lacks all empathy or basic human kindness. They see others merely as objects for their use and have no qualms about manipulating or exploiting anyone or any situation to their best advantage.

A sociopath’s brain is wired very differently than a normal person’s, and we should never assume that we’re playing by the same set of rules. We must understand that sociopaths have their own, unique way of operating

A sociopath isn’t immoral so much as amoral. The notion of right or wrong is irrelevant to them. Their raison d’etre is to get what they want. They may prey on an individual, a family, an institution or even a whole country, depending on their level of power and influence.

They have no conscience and feel no remorse when they’ve done something wrong. They feel justified in every aspect of their behavior; often blaming their victim and believing that “they had it coming” or that “they brought it on themselves.”

On the other hand, the sociopath feels like the wronged party whenever they haven’t prevailed. They can be paranoid, assuming that others are out to get them or are trying to take something away from them. They are vengeful and will exact severe retribution if they feel thwarted or attacked.

A sociopath will rarely take “No” for an answer. They are relentless in the pursuit of their goals. They become enraged when frustrated and will behave punitively toward anyone who they believe has gotten in their way.

This type of person can be highly impulsive and unconstrained by the usual human self-preservation instincts. If we expect that they won’t do something because it’s risky or foolhardy, we’ll be wrong. There’s very little to stop them from putting themselves in harm’s way in the pursuit of their goals.

The sociopath in our midst can be the charming con-artist; the married celebrity with a pristine public persona but multiple secret mistresses; the ultra-charismatic, corrupt politician or the evangelical minister with an enormous, generous congregation.

A sociopath strongly craves a position of power, and will frequently seek out jobs where they can dominate, control or oppress others. Lawyers, police officers, doctors, teachers, coaches, clergy, therapists, CEOs and politicians will always have a certain number of sociopaths in their ranks.

In their roles as leaders of industry and society, sociopaths can do a lot of harm. Examples of this are big corporate polluters, CFOs who steal millions from their share-holders; police officers who abuse the citizens they’re honor-bound to protect; and coaches who take advantage of their young charges.

Other examples are therapists who sleep with troubled clients; politicians who make billions for their own private companies through war-mongering; modern-day spiritual leaders whose true goal is to sexually or financially exploit naive followers and investment gurus who promote Ponzi schemes and later blame their victims for their “greed.”

Sociopathy, like any other psychological disorder, has a range of severity. People who merely have antisocial traits tend to be thoughtless and insensitive. They are cold, calculating, greedy and overly-entitled.

Sociopaths have no qualms about breaking society’s rules or using others as stepping-stones on their way up the ladder of success. Still, many are able to cultivate a benign or even sweet demeanor, which enables them to ingratiate themselves to potential victims.

On the extreme end of the sociopathy range are the rapists, sadists and serial killers who take pleasure in causing humiliation and pain. Then there are the pimps, blackmailers and members of motorcycle gangs and other types of organized crime. They employ either charm and seduction or bribery, coercion and intimidation to entrap their victims.

The more intelligent the sociopath, the more dangerous they are. These people are the predators of the human race, and just as a great cat is able to identify the weaker animal within a group and to sneak up on it, the sociopath will recognize the needy, the vulnerable and the naive. The intelligent sociopath is more successful in part because they’re that much better at disguising their true intentions.

The antisocial individual exploits the emotional weakness in their prey in the same way a lion or a leopard takes advantage of a lame or diseased gazelle. The more clever they are, the easier it is for them to recognize and exploit the weak areas in someone’s personality.

Children are sitting ducks for sociopaths because they are defenseless against them. That’s why it’s so important for them to have good supervision. For adults, holding on to any child-like traits, such as being overly-trusting or credulous is never wise.

An attitude of healthy skepticism is far safer. Those who insist on believing that everyone is “nice” and has good intentions will be as vulnerable to being preyed upon as any actual child.

When it comes to our dealings with politicians, financial advisors or CEOs, to be well-informed is to be empowered. Along with being skeptical, knowledge and understanding of a given situation makes it that much harder to be exploited, manipulated or lied to.

In day-to-day life, we can begin to recognize the sociopaths among us by being alert to excessive coldness, ambition, aggressiveness or charm; by questioning the motivations of those in positions of power and by looking for inconsistencies in people’s words and actions. Someone who is too good to be true is often later revealed to be a sociopath, as is the overly ruthless and relentless individual.

In romance, sociopaths often start out as generous and charismatic. They’ll sweep you off your feet by showering you with attention and making you feel special and privileged. For an emotionally needy person with low self-esteem, this type of courtship is a dream come true, but it soon turns into a nightmare as the actual intentions of the sociopath are revealed.

In romance, there’s the typical abusive partner about whom much has been written. Another type of sociopathic lover is unavailable, exciting rebel. They are iconoclastic, charismatic and fascinating. They make a relationship with them into a tantalizing challenge. They might even tell you out-right that they’re no good and will only hurt you, but they do this knowing full well that it will only make you try harder to be with them.

This type of person enjoys playing with you the way a cat relishes torturing a mouse. They are sadistic, and they know exactly how it will end: with them triumphant and you devastated. They are excited by your admiration and desire, as it feeds their sense of grandiosity. How you end up is of no concern to them, and they will dump you unceremoniously when you are no longer useful or amusing.

A sociopath is incapable of taking responsibility for their bad behavior. They will never change. Any woman who is attracted to an antisocial man and believes that her love will transform him is setting herself up for disaster. These aren’t “lost boys” who need a good woman to heal them, as the movies and TV so falsely and dangerously portray; they are full-grown, ruthless predators

Whether our next-door neighbor or local politician; our boss or blind date, there are indeed sociopaths among us. Being able to identify them will spare us a lot of grief. Whether we encounter a milder form of the disorder or an outright monster, having a realistic, questioning attitude toward the people in our lives will stand us in good stead.

(C) Marcia Sirota MD, 2010

How Yoga is Used As a Cross Training Tool For Teen Athletes

It is becoming more and more popular for professional athletes to use yoga. The Los Angeles Lakers (basketball), the Miami Dolphins (football) and the Chicago Cubs (baseball) use yoga as a training tool for the entire team roster. Individually Pete Sampras (tennis), Annika Sorenstam (golf), Sean Burke (hockey) and Evander Holyfield (boxing) along with many others practice yoga to stay at the top of their game. Truly yoga is a perfect cross training technique complementing and expanding each athletes abilities.

Yoga extends athletic training by:

  • Increasing core strength
  • Improving pulmonary efficiency
  • Reducing performance anxiety
  • Preventing sports injuries
  • Improving concentration
  • Increasing flexibility
  • Enhancing range of motion
  • Developing balance and focus
  • Increasing endurance
  • Teaching relaxation
  • Relieving stress

Teen athletes can access these same benefits through developing a regular yoga practice which works with their sport(s) of choice.Teens who incorporate yoga into their training will find they are healthy, injury free, and better able mentally to be at the top of their game.

The most effective way to use yoga for athletes is with Sun Salutations. Sun Salutations offer a full body workout achieving greater strength and flexibility. They are ideal as a warm up routine, to use on ‘down days’ when there is not a practice or game scheduled, and during the off season. Simply performing Sun Salutations for 10 minutes a day will improve athletic ability.

A second way to use yoga is through developing mental concentration. Practicing yoga works your mind making it stronger, better able to respond and react. In addition, by practicing relaxation, visualisations and yoga breathing on game day athletes calm the mind, prepare the body, and focus energy and intent. These skills will take what you have gained through practice and provide a competitive edge.

To get the most benefit from yoga, teens should enroll in a Yoga for Teens class. These classes cater specifically to teens developing physical and mental abilities. Alternatively many sports teams now offer yoga cross training. If yours does not, talk to the coach and other team members to see if this can be arranged.

Genetic Engineering: Boon Or Curse?

Genetic Engineering is the alteration of the genes of an organism, to improve its chances of survival, boost its immunity, help in its regeneration and reproduction, and in more complex fields of study – even clone them. It is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes. It uses the techniques of cloning and transformation to alter the structure and characteristics of genes directly. It has ushered in a new era of science and technology with many successful applications. The most notable of such applications include increased crop productivity, development of insulin in hamster ovary cells, development of organs such as ‘ear’ on the body parts of mice and the most known example that really accelerated the researches on genetics and its application – cloning of a sheep named Dolly in 1997.

Today, genetic engineering is one of the most hotly debated topics in the world. Many believe and hope that it can once and forever get rid of all human sufferings due to diseases, disability, starvation, etc. On the other hand, more conservative and pessimistic people – who actually believe they are rather realistic, argue that genetic engineering will never be able to accomplish what it promises. They argue that it will do more harm than good citing the principles of natural selection and evolution.

Genetic Engineering has a wide range of applications including agriculture, animal husbandry, medicine and surgery. With its help, various species of crops have grown immune to many lethal diseases. Hybridization has helped to increase crop yield. Today, many species of crops such as wheat are genetically altered for high nutrition value and quicker and higher productivity. Countries all over the world are adopting genetically enhanced crops which have helped to minimize food scarcity, provide highly nutritious food and grow crops much immune to various illness and pesticides. This has thus brought about a new era of agricultural revolution, which can hopefully eradicate starvation and malnutrition.

However, some people believe that genetically altered crops are not healthy in the long run. There are also doubts about the effects of such highly enhanced and immune crops in the much delicate ecosystem. Genetically altered animals are also thought to bring about similar problems.

Similarly, genetic engineering which has proved revolutionary in the medical sector is also believed by some people to be morally and socially unethical. Altering some organism’s genes is thought to be against religious beliefs and values. It is also considered immoral to hybridize some organism for selfish human needs. Most of these arguments are correct and not baseless. There have been many cases of genetically enhanced crops being potentially harmful to the consumers as well as the ecosystem. Also, it is not hard to get to the point of argument that genetic engineering, especially cloning and hybridization are immoral and unethical. However, most of the people that support the ever-increasing applications of genetic engineering argue that something that might free humans from all kinds of sufferings is bound to have some drawbacks. These drawbacks are in fact correctable provided required effort is put in. Therefore, there must not be a stop to the applications of and researches on genetic engineering. It is too great an opportunity for humans to undo their past mistakes of conflicts that have brought poverty, of mismanaged civilization and development that have brought destruction of natural resources and disturbed the delicate ecosystem, and of thoughtless and haphazard technological advancement.

Take Care of Your Voice and Improve Its Quality

If you use your voice professionally, for example, as a singer, actor, teacher, lecturer, presenter, or a journalist, you should perfectly understand the needs of your speech organ. Below you will find some tips that will help you introduce healthy changes and habits into your life and will positively affect you voice.

Your body, your soul, your mind are one. They are like communicating vessels. Your voice should also be in perfect harmony with your body. Everything that concerns you, concerns also your voice. Remember that your entire body is an instrument, which is unique in its kind. What determines its uniqueness is the realm of your mind, the sphere of your spirit and your emotions. Be in harmony with your voice. Listen to your body, contemplate your thoughts, emotions, and analyze your experiences. This will provide you with the knowledge about how to take care of your voice and how to protect it. This contemplation will let you know the real potential of your speech instrument and unlock its real sound.

Each day allow yourself to relax. You can use one of many relaxation techniques, for example, practice yoga, tai chi, or martial arts. You might as well go for a walk, read, listen to music, meditate in silence, or dance. Even a few moments of relaxation can bring your voice unbelievable effects. Try to stop for a moment and focus your attention on your breath. Think about something pleasurable, about some delightful moments and experiences that happened to you. This detachment from reality will help you calm your thoughts, relax your muscles, make you feel at ease. This, in turn, will allow you to produce sounds with the lightness of a butterfly. Find a relaxation technique that works best for you and use it whenever your voice refuses to obey you. This will also help you deal with the stress, stage fright and all the negative emotions that have a negative effect on your voice.

Healthy body and mind are also linked with a better voice. Exercising regularly and being in shape helps your mind stay healthy. Physical activity is an excellent form of eliminating stress and physical tension. Through exercising you supply your body with strength, vitality, and appropriate dose of positive energy. Find a type of exercise that suits you best, do it regularly, and soon you will notice the differences in the level of your energy. Your voice will also start to sound more energetic.

To make most out of your speech organ, you need to learn about its structure first. You need to know a little bit of theory which will give you some knowledge about the functioning of your voice in different situations. Look for any information you can find about different speech and vocal techniques. Find some books for actors and singers, consult with experts, attend voice classes, courses and exercise regularly.

Here are simple steps you can take today to improve the quality of your voice:

Speak more slowly. The slower pace will help you produce calm, healthy and more accurate sounds.

When you speak or sing, try to open your mouth wider. This will help you avoid any tensions of the muscles responsible for the formation of sound.

Think about something pleasurable when you speak or sing. This will make your voice sound more gentle.

Regardless of what profession you use your voice for, remember to properly warm it up first. To avoid straining your voice, do some simple physical exercises, like squats or jumping. Relax your body and calm your mind. Take a few deep breaths. You can also yawn, stick out your tongue, make silly faces or snort like a horse. After you finish using your voice, it is also important to let it cool down. Do some voice exercises like you did before. Relax your articulation muscles and stretch your body.

Protect your voice against sudden temperature changes. It causes changes in your blood flow and makes your voice sound unnaturally. Try to maintain a constant temperature that is convenient for you and ventilate the room where you work as often as it is possible. If you work in a room with air conditioning on, drink more water to keep your mucous membranes hydrated. Avoid talking, singing, or shouting outdoors, especially at low temperatures or strong winds.

What you eat can also affect the quality of your voice. It is important to maintain a balanced and healthy diet that will have a positive impact on your body, as well as you speech organ. Poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits (except citrus) and herbal teas are recommended for a better sounding voice.

Drink lots of water. Water hydrates your whole body, which also positively affects your mucous membranes and vocal folds. How much water you should drink depends on your lifestyle and also on your health. If you suffer from any disease, especially kidney problems, you should consult your doctor first. Drink water, not only before using your voice, but also during and after your work. Remember not to drink water which is too cold.

Coffee, strong tea and alcohol are bad for your voice. You should drink no more that one cup of coffee a day. If you have to drink more, drink decaffeinated coffee instead. You should also limit to a minimum consumption of any other beverages containing caffeine. Avoid drinking strong black tea brewed for a long time as it may dehydrate your mucous membranes. Do not drink larger quantities of alcohol directly before or after using your voice. Alcohol dries up your mucous membranes, slows down your muscles and lowers your level of energy needed to produce good quality sounds.

Cigarette smoking is your throat’s greatest enemy. Smoking not only damages your overall health but also dries your vocal folds and bombards them with chemicals contained in cigarette smoke. This also applies to passive smoking. As a result your voice may sound flat and your breath may become shallow.

Home Improvements – Window Types And Frames Explained

Frame Materials

Since the frame can account for as much as 25% of the total window area; it should be at least as well insulated as the glass. Several different frame types are available.

Solid Wood and Clad Wood

Solid wood frames are a good choice from an energy standpoint. The colour choices are unlimited but wood does require regular re-painting inside and outside.

Clad wood frames are protected on the exterior with a covered of pre-painted aluminum or vinyl. Clad frames are more expensive than plain wood but eliminate exterior painting. Claddings must be well designed to prevent water from becoming trapped behind them.


Aluminum frames are durable, and good designs are available for residential windows, aluminum conducts heat rapidly. To prevent condensation and frost from forming on the frame, the frame and sash must be equipped with well-designed thermal breaks.

It is difficult to judge whether an aluminum frame is equipped with a good thermal break. One thing you can do is ask people who have lived with the brand you are considering whether they have experienced any condensation problems.

If a metal window frame has a CCMC number, it has passed the CSA A-440 standard test for condensation resistance. Be particularly wary of inexpensive aluminum replacement windows.


Vinyl frames provide good insulation and do not require painting. However, some manufacturers reinforce the vinyl with metal, which can decrease the frames insulation value. Wood reinforcing is preferable.


Fiberglass window frames are a recent innovation available from a limited number of custom manufacturers. Fibreglass frames will hold their shape permanently and will not warp, shrink, rot, bow, dent or twist.

Air Leakage

If you are going to the expense and trouble of replacing windows, make energy efficiency one of your most important considerations. I talked about draftproofing in an earlier article, so I will focus on air leakage here.

There are some major air leakage areas in the basement. After construction the sill plate can shrink away from the concrete foundation and leave you with a wind chill factor. Leakage in the header area wastes money and can make the floors upstairs chilly.

Let’s not forget the attic. Care should be taken to seal around all the openings in the attic floor, such as ceiling light fixtures, plumbing stacks, exhaust fans and chimney chases. Otherwise warm moist air can escape into the attic, where it can condense and cause moisture damage. Before leaving the attic remember to weather-strip the hatch and latch it snugly.


Extreme air sealing will make power ventilating a necessity. Care should be taken to enable all power exhaust systems to have adequate replacement air inlets.

It’s Just That Easy!

Beware of Poisonous Trees Near Fish Ponds

If you are a pond keeper it is imperative to ensure that certain species of tree that are poisonous are kept away from your fish pond. The vast majority of species shed their leaves, particularly during the fall. The last thing you want is for your Koi and other pond fish to eat the leaves, as they fall into the water.

Even if the leaves are not poisonous the increased levels of organic matter falling into or blowing into the pond is bad news; the leaves eventually decay on the pond floor. Decaying vegetation increases the levels of ammonia and carbon dioxide; nobody wants that!

A net covering is a viable solution but does in my opinion detract from the overall look and feel of the pond; needs must in many cases however!

You may think that I’m okay because I have a pond surface skimmer to remove the leaves. Although the pond skimmer will remove the leaves, it may not do so in time. Koi are inquisitive, hungry creatures that will investigate any new pond presence pretty much straight away!

The right selection of tree species will certainly provide a welcome respite for your Koi, goldfish, toads and other aquatic life from a hot summer day, as its shadow prevents the water from heating quickly.

The welcoming shade helps to block out UV rays, in turn helping to control the build up of suspended algae and blanket weed. The cooler water helps oxygen to dissolve from the atmosphere into the water much more easily.

When selecting trees to place around a pond avoid the following, or select them at your peril! The laburnum, bay, laurel, yew and lime tree all cause problems. Other species, whilst not necessarily poisonous have large root systems that will eventually interfere with your liner pond; the poplar varieties, willows and sycamores are examples to avoid.

The following list is suitable for planting in backyards, containing a fish pond or water garden:

* Some of the ash tree varieties are a good choice, as they do not cast too much shade and their root system does not spread like wild wire. The Mountain ash has elder type umbels of flowers in spring, followed by bright red berries in the fall that are almost eclipsed by the stunning red foliage. The Japanese Mountain Ash produces large orange berries.

* Crab apple trees are a fairly small tree species that are a great choice for landscaping around a fish pond. The Japanese Crab apple and the scented Malus Pink Perfection are good choices.

* Other good choices are Hawthorns or Mays, particularly if you need something really tough and hardy. Why not try the Crataegus prunifolia for autumn colour.

* The Swedish silver birch (Betula dalecarlica) is great if you are looking for light foliage and a bark that gradually goes whiter over time.

If you have an outdoor pergola, situated near to your pond and are looking to add some evergreen variegated climbers then make sure that you avoid deciduous climbers, such as ivy. This plant species is amongst the most poisonous of all climbing varieties.

If you are determined to select evergreen deciduous climbers then the Silver Queen (Euonymus fortunei) is a great option as it grows rapidly and hardly flowers at all; occasionally it does produce flowers but you can easily prune it back.

Teenager Travels Through Time With Hunky King Tut in New YA Novel

Fifteen-year-old Rosa is one of those rare people gifted with the ability to hear the dead speaking to her. Usually, however, the dead are pesky people who want to talk to her while she’s busy doing things like taking math tests; in one such instance, when she tries to get rid of the dead person so she can concentrate, she finds herself in a shouting match and is soon after sent to the principal’s office.

Of course, no one believes Rosa can really speak to the dead, so her life isn’t easy, but it’s about to get a lot more interesting. Rosa is already obsessed with Ancient Egypt, but she can hardly believe it when King Tut not only starts speaking to her, but he appears before her eyes. Once she gets past noticing what a hunk he is, she realizes he’s trying to enlist her on a time travel mission that not only seems impossible but downright dangerous.

Hunk or not, Tut has his heart set on his ancient love, his wife, Ankhesenpaaten. They have been separated for centuries, but now she is trying to communicate with Tut through Rosa, and Tut needs Rosa’s help to lead him to his love’s final resting place.

Time travel does indeed happen, and before Rosa knows it, she’s witnessing Tut’s life story as well as facing the fierce General Horemheb, who succeeded Tut’s family as pharaoh and wants to wipe out all traces of Tut’s family history in Ancient Egypt. Before the story is over, Rosa will find herself channeling the dead, being locked up in a tomb, and discovering that all the gold in King Tut’s tomb is of little value compared to true love.

Cheryl Carpinello’s new novel Sons of the Sphinx is a riveting madcap ride through a fascinating time in Ancient Egypt’s history. Readers meet not only King Tut but his controversial father, King Akenhaten, and his famous stepmother, Queen Nefertiti. Insights are given into ancient life, and Egyptian mythology is explored. Best of all, the story is both fun and educational, which led to its designation as a “Literary Classics Award Winning Book.” The book also has a glossary in the back of Egyptian gods, people, places, and terms.

Cheryl Carpinello, as a longtime educator and the author of several other young adult books, including Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend and The King’s Ransom, knows how to entertain young readers in a way that makes them want to learn more. And as an adult reader, I learned a lot about King Tut and his time that I didn’t know, and I now want to learn more, so if I feel that enthusiastic about this book, I can just imagine how excited I would have been as a child reading this book. I’m certain it’s destined to be a favorite among young readers.

A companion volume to the book, titled Tutankhamen Speaks, is also available; it tells King Tut’s full life story in his own words.

The Lucrative Role of the Import/Export Agent – A Great Way to Make Money From Home

Since the dawn of time, mankind has been involved in trade of some sort or another. The role of middleman followed not far behind. Today, the middleman – or agent – remains one of the most attractive business models for those with no capital to invest. And the added benefit is that, unlike franchisees, agents work solely for themselves. But, where do you begin to get into this kind of business? Well, a bright idea helps:

Here are three recent success stories:

  • Frank Audsley lives in Croydon, south of London. He’s making over €2,500 a month exporting wine to the Far East. In late 2010 he enrolled on a training course for Import/Export Agents with an utterly open mind on what sector to work in. “I really hadn’t any idea at all of what products to get started in. But one night I saw a short item in the news about Chinese people developing western tastes. A light went on my head and I went to check the course’s database of leads. I knew I’d seen a European Winery seeking export opportunities. Amazingly we had a deal agreed and the first buyers found within two months!”
  • Meryam Gul is a shopkeeper from North London. She imports Garden Fencing from India to the UK. She says “I always wanted to get involved in International Trade, as I saw relatives in Cyprus make a handsome living from it. “I discovered how to get involved in import and export without risking any capital – good news as I had few savings. The fencing opportunity just fell into my hands – an advertisement I saw alerted me to an Indian supplier seeking representation, and when I contacted him we really hit it off. I’ve since learned how to track down buyers for him, and the product is a good one and virtually sells itself. My husband looks after the shop now, I’m projecting an income of £50,000 in this, my second year of trading.”
  • Jamie Atwill is a local government worker in the Midlands. He imports organic olive oil from Portugal to Ireland and the Netherlands – “I was on holiday with my girlfriend in Galicia, where she comes from. We popped across to Portugal for the day and found this fabulous olive oil for sale at what amounted to a farm shop. We took details, but only on returning to the UK did we think about importing it here. My girlfriend did a bit of research and came up with the agency approach as the best for us – because we didn’t have any capital to spare. And just the very next day I spotted an advertisement for a home-study course the press. “Between us we got started by the end of the first manual, and within six weeks we had negotiated an exclusive deal with the farmer for Ireland and the Netherlands, and were already getting samples to wholesalers all over the two countries. We have nearly a dozen customers already buying the olive oil on a regular basis, and we are about to move into organic wines from the same region of Portugal.”

General information about Import/Export is generally easy to find. Websites like Alibaba and Tradekey are great sources of trade leads, and support is available from a variety of government bodies, trade associations etc. However despite opportunities like these there is surprisingly little on the web (or anywhere else for that matter) about how to become an Import/Export Agent. There’s big overlap in the skills set required whichever way you approach the business, but the Agent’s business model is quite different:

1) It allows you to get into world trade without risking your own money or your bank manager’s on stock – a risky business, particularly when you’re starting out.

2) Because you aren’t legally a principal in the deals you put together, you are not utitmately legally responsible if anything goes wrong.

3) Compared to an import/export distributor, you are able to have a more flexible approach to business. You are able to “follow the money” into newly developing markets comparatively easily, which makes this business model particularly resilient to recessionary business cycles.

4) A full-time agent could quite possibly have agreements in place with half a dozen or more suppliers, a making all sorts of different products for different markets. So variety is the name of the game!

While it doesn’t always feel seem like it when you watch the news, world trade is currently booming, and it’s a great time to get started. Even in the UK there are opportunities. British manufacturing, after years of neglect, now finds itself in a comparatively strong position for export, with a weak pound and low interest rates. Many of them would be pleased to hear from you…

Names have been changed in this article for reasons of privacy.

Beware! Before You Adopt From A Dog Rescue, You Must Know The Correct Answers For The Application?

If you are considering adopting a dog from an animal shelter or a dog rescue group, that is wonderful! Every dog adopted from a shelter or rescue group helps to eliminate despicable puppy mills and, more importantly, saves a dog’s life. Unfortunately, some dog rescue groups make adopting a dog almost as difficult as adopting a child. The first hurdle you must clear is the initial adoption application. An “incorrect” answer here will send you home in shock and empty-handed. For this reason, it is important that you read this application BEFORE you fall in love with a specific dog.

Most rescue groups–especially puppy mill dog rescues and breed-specific rescues–require that you submit an adoption application and have it approved before they will even talk to you or allow you to see their dogs in person. You will be able to look at pictures of available dogs on the rescue website; but until they have approved your application, that is as far as you can go. Fortunately, not all rescues are so terribly demanding; and by comparison, shelters are downright welcoming!

I cannot overstate the importance of this initial application! Please understand that I am an honest person. I do not lie and would never tell anyone to lie on an application. Having said that, there are certain answers that, if stated on an application, will immediately disqualify you. When you read the application, you will need to determine if any of these apply to you. Then you will need to decide how you want to handle the situation. You can try to avoid having to admit the truth, or you will need to look for a less demanding rescue group.

For the questions below, I will give you the “correct” answer, by which I mean the answer the rescue wants to read or hear from you. I will also give you answers that will disqualify you. If there is some other acceptable answer, I will state that as well. For a few questions, I will just say NOTB–None Of Their Business–or I will just tell you to go elsewhere.

Typical “Problematic” Questions:

1. How much money do you make? This is one of those NOTB questions. Supposedly, they want to make sure you can afford to adopt a dog, but I consider the only answer to be given here is “I make enough.”

(Just FYI — some rescues are actually discriminatory; and questions dealing with salary, type of home, where you live, etc. are used to weed out certain people.)

2. How much time during the day will your dog be alone?

Disqualify: All day or I work all day.

Correct: NONE. Someone is always home.

Acceptable: Not much time. I go home at lunch and my neighbor will let the dog out two or three times a day.

3. How much time will your dog have to spend outside alone?

Disqualify: All day.

Correct: None.

There is no other acceptable answer.

4. Is your yard fenced with a 5′ (or 6′) wooden fence?

Disqualify: No fence; electric fence; 4′ chain link fence. (I have not found any rescue that will accept an electric fence.)

Correct: Yes, I have a 5′ (or 6′) wooden fence.

Acceptable: This will depend on the dog. For an older small dog, a shorter fence might be acceptable.

5. Do you have children? What are the ages?

Disqualify: Baby or children under 6.

Correct: No children, or all are 10 or older.

Acceptable: Ages between 4 and 10 will depend on the dog.

6. What pets have you owned and, if you don’t still have them, state why not.

The second part of this question is NOTB! They are trying to find out if you have put any pets down or have returned any.

7. Where will the dog sleep?

Disqualify: Outdoors.

Correct: In the house, with us, in a crate.

8. Is everyone in the family enthusiastic about getting a new dog?

Disqualify: Any answer that isn’t YES.

Correct: YES.

9. Have you ever returned or given up a pet? This might be worded: Is there any acceptable reason to return a pet?

Disqualify: Yes.

Correct: Never. I would never do that.

Acceptable: This can be tricky. If an adopted animal and your current pets could not work things out, you might still be approved.

10. Have you had a pet put down?

Disqualify: Yes. Most rescues do not believe there is any acceptable reason to put down a dog. Aggression is never an acceptable reason. Severe injury or illness might be considered acceptable, but that depends on the rescue. Some believe in the “as long as they can breathe” philosophy for keeping an animal alive.

Final thoughts:

Before you get attached to a dog, read both the adoption application AND the adoption contract. If you realize that you will not get approved (small children, live in apartment, yard not fenced, etc.) or you cannot accept some of the contract requirements, then do not bother to look at pictures of their animals. Instead, look for a different rescue or go to your local shelter or Humane Society.

Puppy mill rescue groups and breed rescues tend to have an inherent distrust of human beings. Thus, their requirements are very strict. Rescues that make a concerted effort to save dogs from euthanasia at shelters are more people friendly and understand that their first goal needs to be getting these animals into loving homes.

Be patient and check websites frequently. Visit your local shelter frequently. Your perfect dog will find you!

Technology Transfer Case Study – Pathfinders for Independent Living, Inc.

Pathfinders for Independent Living, Inc., a nonprofit organization, was founded after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Pathfinders provides information and assistance to elderly and disabled individuals and their caregivers on how to live as independently as possible. Its core value is to Promote Self-Reliance . The culture within Pathfinders is one of friendly support. Pathfinders' IT leadership proposed a project to design and build a network infrastructure that would provide security for sensitive data, data storage, Internet access, email access, updated applications and hardware, and user training. Changing the environment would affect the organizational structure and culture of Pathfinders. This paper discusses the organizational changes that occurred due a change in technology.

Technology Transfer

Technology transfer describes activities that have the aim of establishing measurable process improvement through the adoption of new practices. Assistive technology reduces the gap experienced by disabled and elderly individuals in accomplishing daily activities. Some of these technologies are text telephones, Braille computer monitors, infrared pointing devices, artificial limbs, and assistive software. Introducing and encouraging the use of these technologies and many others to Pathfinders' consumers, is a responsibility of the independent living specialists.

The independent living specialists assist the consumers in identifying the assistive technologies needed, applying for funding to purchase the technologies, and educating the public on the various technologies available. However to provide its services to its consumers, Pathfinders had to adapt to current information technologies.

A Strategy for Technology Transfer

Recognizing the relationship between technology transfer and process improvement is fundamental to Pathfinders' approach to change. Technology can not be changed without some impact on the process or personnel that use the technology, be it an increase in productivity, a reduction in cost, or a fundamental change in method. A number of key issues had to be addressed for the technology to be successfully transferred. These are divided into several categories; technology issues, process changes, and changes in culture.

Technology Issues

Pathfinders would join the Information Age by installing, new computers, file servers, network printers, a local area network (LAN), and Internet access. The installation process required preparing the PCs before delivering them to Pathfinders, then a visit to the office site to build the network and deploy the equipment. The PCs were standardized on Microsoft applications. Following the installation of the network, etc., training on the use of the software was provided. With the installation of the infrastructure complete, each independent living specialist and the executive director had a personal computer, email, and Internet access.

Designing and building a training center provided the opportunity for anyone to come in and learn more about computers and office application software. Pathfinders provided some basic training courses. Additionally, computer books were available for use with the computers to learn how to use the programs. Access to the Internet was provided. Funding was allocated through federal funds to support the changes in technology.

Process Changes

Before the technology changes, there were only two stand-alone PCs available for use by the staff, these PCs were very old, running DOS applications. Employees were forced to share the PCs or use typewriters to complete correspondence. Data was maintained on floppy disks and hardcopy. Access to the Internet for research was accomplished by going to the local library, which consumed valuable resources of time and personnel. Deploying the new infrastructure significantly changed the way the employees worked. The changes in infrastructure have real-time access to the Internet, consumer data, and improved data security.

Changes in Culture

Prior to the deployment of technology, the employees were equal in their knowledge of using the available tools at Pathfinders. With the delivery of their network, a fundamental change occurred within the employee dynamics. An atmosphere of resentment developed due to an imbalance of knowledge and workload. Some of the employees went out of their way to assist the advancement in technology theby, improving themselves and their work processes. They pursued the educational opportunities offered to them by Pathfinders and enhanced their knowledge of computer applications. Productivity for these individuals increased, causing an increase in satisfaction by Pathfinders' consumers.

Conversely, there was a minimum of employees, who took a place in not exception these changes. These individuals spent much of their time complaining that they could not do the work using the tools provided, or requestedly requested help from the employees that understood the technology. Defense mechanisms were employed to justify their reactions to the new technology. These employees viewed the technology change as a threat and wanted nothing to do with improving their computing skills or their work environment. However, as training and practice in using the improvements to the technology progressed, acceptance began to increase and resistance began to decrease. Change is difficult in all organizations but to stay in business Pathfinders was forced to change with the times.

Pathfinders operations depend heavily on federal grant money. Each year Pathfinders must forecast how that money will be spent and report that the goals of the previous year have been met. The Federal reporting system began as a hardcopy report that evolved to an online reporting system. Without the changes in technology, Pathfinders would find it difficult to apply for Federal grant money or report its disbursement.


Careful consideration was employed to determine if a change in IT infrastructure was warranted within the Pathfinders organization. Potential obstacles were identified and anticipated. One of those obstacles was the affect that a change in technology would have on the organizational culture of Pathfinders versus the improvement in customer service. Pathfinders identified that resistance to change and fear played a role in the effectiveness of the change. Additionally, Pathfinders identified that as the staff moved along the learning curve, acceptance of the technology increased and fear of the technology declined.

Big Sky Montana Fishing Guide

Big Sky, Montana is home to the largest skiing area in the United States. The outstanding winter sports combined with numerous summer activities like fishing, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking and rafting have made Big Sky a popular year round destination for vacationers craving outdoor recreation. Big Sky also happens to be close to some of North America’s best fly fishing.

Gallatin River

If you close your eyes and envision a perfect trout river, the Gallatin River would surely remind you of the river in your dreams. This gorgeous fishery begins in Yellowstone National Park a short jaunt from Big Sky. The scenery along the Gallatin was made famous by Robert Redford’s classic “A River Runs Through It” where all of the fishing scenes were filmed. After tumbling out of the park it flows past Big Sky junction and enters the Gallatin Canyon of the next 30 miles. Upon leaving the canyon the Gallatin becomes a beautiful meadow river lined with cottonwoods on its journey to form the Missouri near Three Forks. The river offers great trout fishing throughout its course. The highest trout numbers occur below the Big Sky junction after numerous underground springs improve the productivity of the river. The canyon boasts thousands of trout per mile and fishing can often be fast and furious. Rainbow trout in the 10-17″ range dominate the fishery here, but the occasional brown trout provides some diversity. The trout in the canyon are not terribly picky and a well presented attractor dry fly or small bead head nymph is all that is needed to provide steady action. Once the Gallatin leaves the canyon trout numbers begin to drop but trout size increases. The Lower Gallatin produces fish in the 20-28″ range each year and is a favorite destination in the fall for those searching for trophy fish.

Madison River

The Madison River is frequently rated as North America’s number one trout stream. This legendary fishery originates in Yellowstone National Park and flows through one of Montana’s most picturesque valleys on its journey to form the Missouri river. The Madison river has it all: great hatches, spectacular scenery, huge trout and great water. A day float fishing the Madison from a drift boat is prerequisite for any Montana fishing trip. The upper portion of the River is designated for wade fishing only and is an ideal location to target large, strong and healthy browns and rainbows in swift rocky pocket water. The large rocks and swift current are not for the faint of heart, but those that are willing to do some aggressive wading are always rewarded. Throughout most of the Upper Madison Valley, the river flows through what is fondly referred to as the 50 mile riffle. This swift, shallow stretch of water offers ideal trout habitat from bank to bank. This amazingly productive stretch holds lots of browns and rainbows of all year classes with fish up to 30″ caught each season. Below Ennis Lake, the river changes character dramatically as it enters the tumultuous Bear Trap Canyon. Big Sky Angler guides Brian and Miles McGeehan are two of a very small handful of guides qualified to offer fishing trips through the class V whitewater run. Bear Trap is safely the premier one day float fishing trip in North America. After exiting Bear Trap canyon, the Lower Madison slows in gradient as its currents wash over large weed beds filled with sculpins, mayflies and crayfish. Some of the largest trout in the Madison reside in its lower waters and it is a prime destination in the spring and fall when water temperatures are ideal for trout fishing.

Yellowstone River Fishing

The Yellowstone is the longest undammed river in the lower 48. After carving its way throughout the length of Yellowstone National Park, it travels through Paradise Valley and eventually across the state of Montana to join the Missouri River in North Dakota. This large river is ideal for float fishing and offers some of the best dry fly fishing in Montana. Most Big Sky Angler trips take place on the 100 miles of water from Gardiner at the park boundary to just beyond Big Timber. Impressive hatches of caddis flies, stoneflies and mayflies bring fish to the surface from April through July and again in the fall. In the late summer months, the Yellowstone is home to some of the best terrestrial fishing in Montana, including some awesome grasshopper fishing. Numerous alfalfa fields near the river fill up with the large insects in late July through September and are frequently blown into the river on breezy afternoons. Large trout become reckless when chasing these large tasty morsels and a day of “hopper” fishing ranks high on the list of many international anglers.

Small stream fishing

Big Sky is surrounded by small mountain streams that are filled with eager trout ready to pounce on a well presented dry fly. Speciman creek, Fan creek, Portal Creek, Moose Creek, Storm Castle Creek, Swan Creek, Hell Roaring Creek and the Taylor Fork all offer secluded fly fishing to small trout. A short three or four weight rod and a box of attractor dry flies is all that is needed to have an action packed day on these small creeks.

Simple Budgeting Tips – What Are Some of the Items Found in a Typical Household Budget?

If you’re new to budgeting, you’re probably wondering where to start. That’s easy, you should start by looking at your typical monthly expenses and create a master list of every expense. Budgeting can be overwhelming, but if you take simple steps and start with a list of your expenses, you’re much more likely to have a more comprehensive and accurate budget model. Here are the top categories that you must include in any household budget, starting with the largest costs.

Housing Expenses

This list is by far the biggest part of most people’s budget. Housing expenses include your monthly mortgage or rent, as well as the utility expenses such as gas, electric, water and sewer. Other related costs of housing include any homeowners or renters insurance, property taxes and private mortgage insurance. Monthly or annual homeowners association fees are also part of your housing expense, as well as any maintenance on your home or home improvements. Make a list of all your expenses related to where you live and that should complete the budget items for this category.

Transportation Expenses

Transportation is typically the second largest budget expense for most people’s household budget. Transportation costs include any type of travel related to everyday life. For example, any car payments, drivers license fees, registration fees, bus passes or taxi rides would be part of your transportation expenses. Other budget items include any car insurance or parking fees. Plane trips are included here if they are part of your everyday life, but would fall into vacation or entertainment if they are for pleasure. And don’t forget to add the cost of your car’s maintenance, oil changes, and of course, gas.


Food is the next largest part of most household budgets. When preparing your budget, you’ll want to include any costs related to the food that you eat on a daily basis. This includes any grocery store trips and wholesale club visits, however, you’ll want to remove any non-food expenses from these bills. Other food budget items include dining out, coffee, snacks and the cost of any vegetable or fruit garden.


Entertainment can mean a lot of different things. Basically, anything that you do for pleasure that is not a required expenditure. Big ticket items in this category include such costs as boats, campers, snowmobiles and ATVs, as well as the costs that go along with them such as insurance, gas, maintenance, and any trailer costs. The day to day entertainment expenses that you’ll want to add to your budget include such things as movie theaters, dinner theaters, social events, parties at home or away, going out with your friends, trips to museums or sporting events, and anything else that you do for pleasure that isn’t a vacation. Other expenses that fit this category include your TV, satellite, cable, Netflix, or Hulu subscriptions, as well as any video game costs.


Although it can be considered an entertainment expense, vacations should be broken out separately in a household budget. Vacation expenses include the travel, lodging, dining and entertainment expenses while you are on vacation. Make sure you include all of the little expenses like gas, taxis, souvenirs, airport shuttles, and tips at hotels and restaurants.


Communication expenses also make up a substantial portion of your monthly budget. These include costs for Internet access, your home phone, and any cell phone and cell phone data charges. Also, make sure you add in the cost of your phones and even computers if you use them primarily for communicating with sites like Facebook or skype.

Holiday and Gifts

While collecting the items for your budget, don’t forget to include a monthly allowance for holiday and gift costs. Holidays include all of the extra food and entertainment expenses, as well as decorations, costumes and sweets. Gift costs include all the gifts you buy each year, for holidays, birthdays, and for all the parties you may attend.


Everything not covered above can be lumped into miscellaneous expenses. Once you’ve collected these expenses, you can break them into any budget categories that you want to include in your budget.

These are all of the typical expenses found in a budget. Notice that income is not included, but will be when you create your budget. And now that you know what type of items are found in a typical household budget, you can start collecting and tracking your expenses to get ready to create your own personal budget.