Panic Attack Therapy – To Medicate Or Not to Medicate

Whether medication is necessary in the treatment of panic attacks is still up for debt. While some believe very strongly that no drugs are needed, others maintain that the use of them has its place. A new study by the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, however, seems to support the latter view.

The study found that there is a predisposition to anxiety in people who lack a key neurochemical receptor in their brains. It is the first to find that people suffering from panic disorder and depression have a deficit in the 5HT1A receptor – about a third less than people who do not have these conditions.

5HT refers to serotonin, a hormone found in the brain (as well as other areas of the body but it's the brain activity that we are interested in here). Our brains are the result of millions of nerve cells all communicating with each other via nerve impulses. Serotonin in one such neurotransmitter. Serotonin effects our moods, anxiety levels and depression – as well as sexuality, sleep and vomiting amongst others!

Why imbalances of serotonin occur are still not known but it has been proven that anti-depressants can increase the amount of serotonin available to the body. One category, known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), preceded the breakdown of serotonin but has many bad side effects. Another category which has proven to have few side effects is SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. Some of the better known drugs in this category are Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro. They work to prevent the depletion of serotonin from the bloodstream.

The good news is that SSRIs have been found to be very effective and patients report an improvement in symptoms within weeks. The bad news is that SSRIs are addictive and so they should only be used for short term emergencies. Also, one of the effects of withdrawal is – anxiety!

Serotonin levels can also be increased using natural methods. Getting a good nights' sleep is considered essential and foods high in Vitamin B, Calcium, Magnesium and Tryptophan (turkey, soy, peanuts and almonds) help in serotonin production. Herbs such as Valerian Root and St John's Wort have also been found to boost serotonin levels.

Panic attack medications are useful and effective in the right hands. But like all drug therapies, you should have a thorough knowledge of the benefits and drawbacks before agreeing to take them.

Billiards Chalk

Billiards chalk is one of the most important accessories in billiards. Billiards players apply chalk to the tip of the cue stick between every shot. This is done in order to increase the friction coefficient of the cue tip, which, in turn, prevents the slippage between the ball and the cue tip. As billiards chalk forms a good coating to avoid miscues, it offers players a secure feeling when attempting critical shots. Billiards chalk can provide the right friction, spin and grip – factors that contribute to a satisfactory playing experience.

During the late 1800s, carbonate of lime, better known as blackboard chalk, was used on the cue tips. The problem with blackboard chalk was that it made stains on the billiard fabric. Therefore some proprietary compounds having a silicate base are used for manufacturing billiards chalk nowadays. These ingredients include silica, aloxite, and color pigments. Carbonate of lime is not used anymore. These ingredients are mixed in the right proportion and converted to round or square cakes using a hydraulic press that can apply a pressure of 15 tons. After this process, the cakes are placed on racks to dry. Compared to softer pieces, harder chalks function better.

Billiards chalk is usually green in color. Now this is available in a variety of colors including brown, charcoal, purple, plum, navy, copper, and in colors to match the pool table felt. Only a thin sheet of chalk should remain on the cue tip when applied.

There are many popular brands of billiards chalk available on the market. The features of this chalk differ greatly from brand to brand. A problem with low-quality chalk is that it can have an adverse effect on both cue tips and hands, if used continuously. High humidity might damage the billiards chalk and make it less effective.

Build A Platform Tennis Court

Platform tennis has become quite popular nowadays. This sport is being paid on a court 1/4 smaller than a lawn tennis court, racquets made of wood, & a more rigid ball. The extraordinary twist comes from the screen fencing netted around the court which can also be played upon. When you have come to love the game, naturally you would want the convenience of having your own court. In the following lines, we will give you tips on how to build your own court.

Check out some companies in the Internet that are capable of constructing different types of courts within your property. Get an estimate from them on how much it will cost to erect a private court. In and around the Internet, you will also find a lot of links there for entities that can aid you in constructing a paddle tennis court.

Go to some community sites and look for things that you can use for your court. You will be amazed at what you will find on these sites from pool facilities to court amenities. You may even chance upon a second hand platform tennis court. This is quite possible because most of these courts are designed to be taken apart and reassembled in another location. If you get lucky and stumble upon a gold mine, you will save a lot of money.

Drop by home improvement stores and do-it yourself shops. You can purchase a lot of materials for your private court such as screens for the fencing, a variety of surfaces like rubber or boards. Of course, you have to be good at handling do-it-yourself projects. You can even involve the whole family in pitching in some work for the court.

If you need more reasons to take up platform tennis as a sport, consider the following facts. This is the only ball sport that is playable outdoors during winter. It is a simple sport to learn. It is not limited to any age bracket. And can be played by anybody from amateurs to professionals. It’s an opportunity for your community to have a court facility all year long. With the additional factor of the screens, the ball is kept in play longer, and you can device innovative moves. It is a superb sport that the whole family can benefit from. Its strategic game play can be addictive. The winter season will never be the same again.

How to Cut Lattice Panels

You can use lattice panels to extend your existing fence, section off your yard or garden, or make a privacy nook within your garden. You could also create a nice decorative effect with the lattice panels. Choosing lattice lets you enjoy the refreshing natural flow of air.

Lattice comes in 4 by 8 foot and 2 by 8 foot lattice panels. PVC and wood are the most common for lattice panels. They could be installed easily when you know how to cut them.

Here are some tips to help you finish your project successfully.

1. Measurements

It’s crucial to take precise measurement for the project, especially the width. This ensures that the lattice panels properly fit into the support posts and framing. If the area that requires framing is no square, it will be necessary to perform extra cuts in order for the panels to fit correctly. Make sure there’s 1/4 inch of space on all sides of the lattice panels to accommodate contraction and expansion.

When installing on graded areas, you should cut the panels in accordance to the slope of the ground. Alternately, cut the lattice panels with a couple of inches allowance which could extend into the soil. Make a chalk line to mark off the cut line.

2. Remove the Staples

The panels have many staples which help to keep them in place. Get rid of as many staples are you can that are along the cut line. Use a screwdriver for this, in order to minimize the amount of flying small pieces of staple as you cut.

3. Tools

To cut the lattice panels to size, use a power saw (a fine toothed hard saw or a circular saw). It’s best to attach a carbide tipped wooden blade to the power saw for timber lattice. This will allow you to cut through the staples in your panels easily. It also lets you cut effectively and precisely.

4. Cutting

See to it that the “face” side of the lattice is upwards when you’re using a fine toothed saw. But the “back” side must be up when you’re using a rotary saw. To prevent the material from cracking or chipping, it’s important to cut at a steady pace. As you reach the end of each cut, make sure you provide a firm support to the panel, especially at the cut line. If the lattice isn’t firmly held down, it could tear or split.

5. Protective Gear

Little pieces of materials and sparks could fly when you’re cutting the panels. So it’s important to wear goggles to safeguard your eyes. Gloves are also a good idea.

Type 2 Diabetes and Healthy Living – Are You Avoiding the Opportunity to Improve Your Health?

We are frequently presented with opportunities across many areas of our life: some good, some bad. In regards to our health, this could not be more evident. Every day we have choices to make, and while most of them may be minor, they can and do make a difference. We must remember small steps are still classed as progress, and we ought to ensure we are taking those steps in the right direction.

You may feel your health is on the right track. Or, you may feel you have lacked discipline, and your situation could be better. In reality, even if you have treated yourself well there is always something that could have been done better. So do not feel upset if you think improvement is necessary because this applies to all of us.

What is most important is you are not actively avoiding opportunities to change; this is the real issue.

Take a moment to consider the current standing of your health…

  • are you at a healthy body weight?
  • how is your blood sugar reading?
  • how is your blood cholesterol profile? (LDL and HDL).
  • do you have hypertension?
  • are your blood triglyceride levels within a healthy range?

There are many ways to measure your health status, and a few questions are not enough to draw a definite conclusion. But the answers to the above can help you determine the degree of change you should make.

If you are not at a healthy body weight and your blood sugar is high, you may be at risk for Type 2 diabetes. If your blood cholesterol profile is weak along with having high triglyceride levels, you are a prime candidate for heart disease. And so on.

You ought to realize at this time; you have the opportunity to correct any of the above concerns. You have the chance to address any of these issues before they escalate to something more serious.

You have the opportunity to change – right now. Will you ignore the opportunity? Will you continue to avoid it as you may have done in the past? If you have Type 2 diabetes, it is a sign you have overlooked your well-being. But the past is behind you, and you must deal with the present because it will determine your future.

Tomorrow will come and wouldn’t it be great to be in a healthier position than you are today? When your health is at risk, nothing else will matter. Don’t wait until that moment before you decide to act. Seize the opportunity to improve your health today.

Why Does Freemasonry Support Public Schools?

Each year the California Grand Lodge and its constituent Masonic lodges throughout the state proclaim one month to be “Public Schools Month.” A proclamation is routinely delivered by the sitting Grand Master, read aloud in each constituent lodge during one or more monthly stated meetings. Its purpose has always been to encourage lodges to plan a program publicly supporting Public Schools in a way that reveals for all to see the depth of Freemasonry’s commitment.

Until 2011, each constituent lodge was generally left to decide for itself what to do without the benefit of also embracing a statewide Masonic project in which it could become involved. That effort has been a rather haphazard implementation of a series of different activities by different lodges working independently of each other. The programs ranged from elaborate and energetic interaction with selected Public Schools to nothing at all.

There are many various reasons why certain lodges have done little or nothing. In some lodges the members have not been particularly active outside of lodge ritual or lodge social events. In other lodges the past leadership simply did not provide adequate vision. And in yet other lodges financial resources were inadequate to do much more than struggle to support the bare minimum of activities.

But all of that changed in 2011 for California Masons and their lodges. Grand Master William J. Bray III led the way to implementing a statewide Masonic commitment to the state’s public schools. Although it was his leadership that provided the energy for implementing the programs, the plan came from ordinary Masons who work in the trenches of Freemasonry throughout the state.

The most recent Grand Lodge Strategic Plan is the product of a survey taken by its Executive Committee and staff delivered to each and every member of a constituent lodge. Woven into the fabric of that plan was the overwhelmingly most popular response: Masonry should become a force for profoundly invigorating our Public Schools. Masons up and down the state concluded that it was important to save public education, make it better than ever before, and prove to our communities that Masons believe that a successful system of free public education is essential to the continuation of a free society.

To better understand why such a diverse group of men and women from differing political, religious and cultural backgrounds stand linked arm-in-arm in support of public schools, it is instructive to first learn how and why public schools came to dominate America’s educational system. A great deal of credit for that goes to Horace Mann – the “Father of the Common School Movement” – who also happened to be a Mason. It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that Mann’s dedication to the public school cause was due to his being a Mason. It would also be a mistake to infer that Freemasonry supports Public Schools simply because Horace Mann was a Mason. The truth of the matter is that Masonry embraces values that Mann found appealing enough to be initiated into the Craft. Freemasonry and Mann shared the same reverence for virtue, morality and the advancement of an enlightened public.

Today, Public Schools are the primary source for educating our children from kindergarten through high school. That was not always so, for from the beginning of this country until the present day advancing the cause of Public School education has been strongly opposed by parents with powerful political backing who have steadfastly resisted turning their children over to teachers for their moral education. Even in America’s early years some children were home-schooled. If their parents were wealthy enough others were taught by private tutors. However, soon after the American Revolution was concluded, Thomas Jefferson initiated a nationwide dialogue that gained such tremendous momentum that Public Schools eventually became the norm rather than the exception.

Jefferson argued that a free and independent society would be stronger if all of its citizens received equal access to knowledge – knowledge which each could then apply in their daily lives. At the end of the Revolution the nation found itself without any educational system and the people were left to fend for themselves. To remedy the matter, Jefferson – who at various times argued with equal vigor for small and large government – suggested that tax dollars be used to fund a nationwide educational system. His suggestion was ignored at the time and his idea languished for nearly a century.

By the 1840’s a few Public Schools had popped up around the country financially supported by communities that could afford them. At about this time Horace Mann began his own crusade, picking up where Jefferson had left off. Mann’s life story cannot be told here, but suffice to state that if he had not acted with energetic, single-minded dedication to what he believed was necessary, Massachusetts would not have passed the first compulsory education laws in 1852. New York followed the following year and by 1918 all American children were required to at least attend elementary school. What followed was the nothing less than the successful pursuit of something shared in common by Freemasonry and America’s Founding Fathers: equality.

At the turn of the 20th century schools in the South, as well as many in the north were segregated. In 1896, in a case entitled Plessy v. Ferguson, the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregation was legal – a decision that would be overturned decades later in the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka Kansas. What was at issue in 1954 and decided once and for all time was the ideal that all men are created equal under the eyes of the Supreme Architect of the Universe – at least when it comes to the question of equal access to education. It certainly comes as no surprise that the Chief Justice in 1954 was Earl Warren who, like Horace Mann, was a Mason. From that year forward all Public Schools have been open to children of all ethnic backgrounds.

Between 1896 and 1954, Masons throughout America led the charge for the advancement of enlightenment with its clarion call for the support of Public Schools. It is neither ironic nor wholly surprising that the first time the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, whose see is at Charleston, North Carolina, ventured out into the world of community service was to further the cause of Public Schools. Much gratitude is owed to the Grand Commander at the time, George F. Moore, for his uncompromising leadership in that venture.

Before being elected Grand Commander in 1914 by the Supreme Council, Moore – a prolific writer – auditioned his Masonic position in favor of Public Schools in such publications as The New Age – a predecessor to today’s Scottish Rite Journal. His attempts, made before the onset of World War I, were well received everywhere – including in New York which was prompted by men such as Moore, as well as organizations such as the Scottish Rite to pass it’s compulsory education laws in 1918. In the years after Moore had passed his elected position as Grand Commander on to John Cowles, the Scottish Rite became known throughout America as the great promoter of nationwide literacy through the auspices of Public Schools.

California Masons were no less active in their support of Public Schools. In 1920 Charles A. Adams, Grand Master of Masons in California made Public Schools a Masonic project for the first time. The demands for manpower made upon the populace by World War I led to the flight of thousands of teachers from their classrooms. More important jobs awaited them: combat overseas, attending to farmlands to grow the food necessary to sustain a struggling nation, and manufacturing factories that had to fulfill ever increasing demands for the production and delivery of war materiel. Grand Master Adams witnessed the accompanying fallout with great alarm. Approximately 600 schools were closed throughout California – an extraordinary number for that time.

Although Freemasonry has consistently refrained from engaging in or taking sides in the world of public politics, Grand Master Adams prudently weighed the advantages and disadvantages of doing so on behalf of Public Schools. At its core, Masonry had always inculcated in its members the importance of pursuing knowledge. Its ritual sought to impress upon candidates for Masonic degrees the importance of studying the liberal arts and sciences, such as grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry. And the very idea about the establishment of Public Schools throughout the nation seemingly originated with our first President – and one of Freemasonry’s most prominent members. In a letter to his Vice President, John Adams, George Washington wrote:

“Wise and judicious modes of education, patronized and supported by communities, will draw together the sons of the rich and the poor, among whom it makes no distinction; it will cultivate natural genius, elevate the soul, excite laudable emulation to excel in knowledge, piety, and benevolence; and finally it will reward its patrons and benefactors by shedding its benign influence on the public mind.”

There was additional Masonic precedence for Grand Master Adams to draw upon before deciding what to do. De Witt Clinton, who served as Grand Master of Masons in New York, as well as Governor of that state, embraced the cause of Public Schools so emphatically that he is known today as the “Father of New York Public Schools.” While serving as Grand Master of Masons in Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin openly endorsed the adoption of Public Schools in that state.

With that history and precedent to support him, Grand Master Adams determined that California Masons should take a public stance in support of strengthening the Public Schools system in this state. He knew that Masonry had a long-standing belief that public education was essential to sustaining a free society. Indeed, Masonic virtues promoted a concept that went far beyond encouraging the mere accumulation of knowledge: equal access to knowledge promotes freedom and strengthens the middle class without which democratic principles fundamental to this Republic will wither away and eventually disappear. On those grounds it was easy for Grand Master Adams on August 30, 1920 to issue the first Masonic Public Schools Week Proclamation.

The history of Masonry’s support of Public Schools did not end there. That support has continued since then in every Masonic jurisdiction, but was perhaps most profoundly demonstrated by the continuing nationwide work by the Scottish Rite. For example, seizing upon the examples set by Grand Commanders Moore and Cowles – that freedom is the most significant blessing any man can enjoy – Brook Hays, a Thirty-Third degree Scottish Rite Mason and Arkansas congressman literally sacrificed his political career for Public Schools.

A lay-preacher and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Hays also took a stand against many of his Southern Baptist cronies by leading the public charge against Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus who opposed providing public education equally to all races. Owing to Hays’ courage and persistence, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the Arkansas National Guard to go into action. By his command they advanced into that state and restored obedience to the new law of the land – Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas – and thereby forever linked all of America and Freemasonry to a commitment to a free public education for all people.

In 1985 when Fred Kleinknecht was elected to serve as Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, Public Schools were under assault by various religious organizations bent upon wresting control of education from the hands of a secular public. Two Masonic values were under attack: the freedom of religion and the right of all people to a free public education. Kleinknecht was determined to continue the work of his predecessor, Henry Clausen, to keep religion separate from the state – the one and only certain way to prevent the tyranny of theocratic doctrine. Grand Commander Kleinknecht would forever be dogged during his tenure by religious fundamentalists who eventually turned their ire directly against Masonry – an ire that to this day has not entirely abated.

It didn’t help Kleinknecht’s position in the eyes of his persistent detractors that Clausen had previously taken a firm public stance against prayer in Public Schools while serving as Grand Commander. To those fervently pressing for inclusion of prayer in Public Schools, Clausen’s stance was viewed as emblematic of all that is wrong with Masonry. The result has been a continuous and unrelenting effort to discredit the Craft and its members. It is no surprise that the assault by some powerful forces upon Public Schools has also increased and poses a threat to a bedrock of human freedom.

Today our Public Schools are operated at the state level by departments of education, and locally by school districts, as well as publicly elected or appointed officials. By one estimate there are approximately 15,000 such school districts operating throughout the nation. Most are supervised and run by individual counties. Because there is little federal oversight, curricula differs from state to state – a fact that has prompted some to opine that greater coordination or centralization would even out the existing disparities among the states in student performance.

While literacy rates among students at all levels in elementary school are perhaps the most important issue for Masons to focus upon, it is equally important to understand why some outspoken critics of Public Schools blame poor performance upon the system and its teachers, but give little credit to either when students perform well. The maxim “follow the money” is particularly relevant.

First, Public Schools are funded by tax monies paid by taxpaying citizens. No one likes paying taxes and when they are asked to pay more than they have in the past, many people point fingers of blame at supposed inefficiencies within the system.

Property taxes pay for most of the cost of Public Schools. Although some monies flow into the system from parents, private fundraising, as well as federal, state and local governments, it remains those taxes which comprise the lion’s share of funding. In California, a so-called “taxpayer revolt” and well-financed political campaign led to the passage of something referred to as “The People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation.” While the benefits and harm of that law can forever be debated, one fact about Public Schools is beyond debate: since the 1960’s when California schools were highly ranked among the nation’s Public Schools, there has been a steady decline since The People’s Initiative was made law. Today the state’s Public School students now rank 48th out of 50 states in many surveys about student achievement.

For Masonry the challenge is not about endorsing or opposing higher taxes, or even to adopt a position in that emotionally-charged debate. Rather, the challenge is to fully comprehend the forces at work for and against Public Schools. Our discussion is not about whether to support Public Schools – it is about how best Masonry can do so. Consequently it is essential for Masons to engage in a dispassionate discussion about Public Schools without getting drawn into the politics that never seem far away. Perhaps the forum our Craft provides, devoid of political ambition, is the best forum within which that discussion can take place.

On April 1, 2011, the California Grand Lodge will “kick-off” its strategic plan to make a profound difference in public education. Celebrations up and down the state will take place at various Public School sites intended to communicate clearly and very publicly that Masonry intends to work for the advancement of Public Schools. It intends to do so because a productive, educated middle class is fundamental to the perpetuation of a free society. Enlightened people will not easily relinquish the freedoms first established by the Founding Fathers.

There is important work remaining to be done by California Masons. A kick-off celebration without something of substance to follow is little more than a show – not an effort to make a profound difference. Public school advisory councils drawing upon the talents and resources of Masons within their geographical boundaries consisting of a mix of age groups to discuss and decide upon ways to implement the Grand Lodge’s strategic plan hold out much promise for success. Masonry is at its best when it coordinates its lodges into a force for good. The advisory councils can be such a force.

Equally important, public school advisory councils provide an opportunity to California Masons that might not otherwise exist: the opportunity to engage members who are searching for something meaningful with which to make a personal commitment. As they progress through the various stages of initiation, from the First to the Third Degree, Masons anticipate learning about how they can be a part of something that changes society – and changes it positively. Our fraternal support of Public Schools offers the Craft a wonderful, perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put Masons to work to implement Masonic values dedicated to the hope that freedom will always prevail and that the pursuit of knowledge will forever be available to the rich and the poor, the high and the low – to all regardless of station in life.

Do Love and Marriage Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage?

On April 9, 2005 at 12:30 PM in London, England Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles finally married after 33 years of an on-and-off relationship. Why has the relationship of these two people survived all these years?

During the very public break-up of Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana, Charles and Camilla’s clandestine relationship had became fodder for the scandal- mongering media.

Here is the birth data of the three principle players in this soap opera: Prince Charles was born November 14, 1948 at 9:14 PM, GMT, London, England 51N30, 00W10.

Camilla Parker Bowles was born July 17, 1947 at 7:10 AM, GDWT, London, England, 51N30, 00W10

Princess Diana was born July 1, 1961 at 7:45 PM BST, Sandringham, England. 52N50 00E30

Where does the pattern for a relationship begin? What is the chemistry that attracts a tall beautiful model-like girl to a short bald guy, or a tall handsome man in a Brooks Brothers suit to a not-so-pretty girl in faded Gap jeans? It definitely is not a trine between composite Sun to composite Venus!

Before I go any further, there are a few facts to take into consideration when exploring any chart, much less a relationship, with consideration to age, culture, class and background. A Saturn configuration for a middle-aged couple, the Royal couple, or someone born in a Middle Eastern nation will manifest differently than someone born, say, in the 1960’s in New York City.

A relationship consists of many components, including the family experiences that they bring into the union. The female will pack her relationship (or lack of relationship) with her father and the relationship her parents have with each other, into her purse. He on the other hand will pack his relationship or lack of relationship with his mother and the relationship of his parents into his backpack.

In this respect, the Royals are no different and that is why houses are so important in this system of astrology.

The MC denotes the exact moment of birth, and in Uranian Astrology is considered the most personal point in the horoscope. It is the only point that moves with exact precision, 1 degree every 4 minutes. Twins born 3 minutes apart have a 45-minute arc opening. For this reason we use the Meridian house system at all times. You will notice that the Asc is different from the Meridian 1st house cusp. That is because the Meridian 1st house cusp is your perception of yourself, as your Asc is others’ perception of you. The Asc is the mask you wear to meet and greet others. As Wayne Booher, my friend and mentor put it, “your Asc is your family name as your Meridian 1st house cusp is your first name”. The MC or Meridian is calculated from the local sidereal time whereas the Asc is calculated according to one’s latitude and relates to one’s environment and those one encounters at that location.

The composite Sun is the physical union of the relationship, and the composite Moon is the emotional union of the relationship. The composite Mercury is the communication of the pair, the composite Venus is what they both value and the composite Mars is how they work together as a unit. One cannot look at a composite chart without considering the experiences each individual brings into the relationship in these areas.

To check the personal aspects of the individuals I look to see where each planet of party number one falls in party number two’s houses, of each of the six personal point horoscopes. The six personal points are (beginning with the three inner personal points) the MC ( the I, me), Sun (husband, father), Moon (wife, mother); the next three are the outer personal points: Asc (the environment, the other), North Node (intimate connection, the ties that bind) and the Aries Point (the outer world, the public at large).

In looking at the six personal point horoscopes the arrow on the 360 degree dial that indicates the beginning of 0 Cancer points to the individual’s MC, for the 10th house of the individual’s MC horoscope, the Moon for the 10th house of the Moon horoscope, and 0 Cancer for the 10th house of their Aries or Earth horoscope. The arrow of 0 Capricorn should go on the Sun as the Sun becomes the cusp of the 4th house of the individual’s solar horoscope. The arrow near 0 Libra should be placed on the Ascand the Moon’s North Node in order to show the Asc and Node’s 1st house.

After placing both charts, including Meridian house cusps, around the 360 degree dial, (each chart in its own color), I look to see into which houses each person’s planets fall in the other individual’s six personal point horoscopes, and aspects they make, if any, to the other person’s planets

I then look at each one’s SU/MO midpoint, perception of husband and wife, and VE/MA midpoint, where the love and attraction falls. After I have done that, I am ready to create the composite of the relationship which is the midpoint of their planets. In Uranian Astrology we look at the hard aspects because that is where the chemistry happens.. A VE of one party sextiling the MA of the other party, for instance, causes no sparks. But the VE of one square or semi-square the MA of the other may have them ripping off their clothes as soon as they hit the bedroom!

Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles first met in the fall of 1972, according to”House of Windsor” by Donald Spotto. At that time he would not have been permitted to marry her due to the fact that she was a commoner. She went off and married Andrew Parker Bowles, and he married Diana Spencer.

The marriage between of Prince Charles and Princess Diana enabled Charles to fulfill his duty of producing an heir to the throne who would be accepted by the people of England. Unfortunately, she was in love with him, but not he with her. (While checking to see where Prince Charles was, mentally and emotionally, at the time of his marriage and where he is now I added his pSU to the equation). When he married Diana his pSU was 25 Sag. 34, was transiting his MC 6th house, he was fulfilling his duty and responsibility, especially since his only job was to produce an heir as he waited to ascend the throne. His pSU of 11 degrees Capricorn, went into his MC 7th house the year she died, and we all know that after she died he set up house with Camilla.

Now back to a brief exploration of Prince harles and Princess Di’s relationship, before we move to the present royal couple. Her SU and ME were in his 12th house: he never fully saw or heard Diana, and to reaffirm what I wrote about his job at that time, her SU/MO (husband and wife) was in his MC 10th house, his career, his reputation. Because his SU/MO fell in her MC 1st house, she had to appear as his wife at all times, and present herself in a fashion befitting such a state. Their SU/SU, (the composite SU), fell in her 8th house, giving her money and altering her life forever, and for her love. (the 2nd and 8th houses are not only money but love as well). The 8th house is the love one receives from others, and with the SU/SU in her MC 8th house, she expected love from the union. To affirm that expectation, her VE/MA was exactly square his MC.

The composite SU/SU fell in his MC 3rd house; to him their marriage was more about image. His VE/MA fell in her 4th MC house; I am sure that there were aspects of her that he cared about when they first started their relationship, but after their marriage the fact that his VE/MA was also the midpoint of his MC 3rd house cusp and her Saturn, and his ME = Di’s NE/Charles NO, (definite indications of communication problems), it all fell apart. Another indication of their mismatched relationship was her O/UR=VE and his SU. This combination tells us that she never felt secure about his love for her, and that this combination brought out unstable emotional behavior in her. She had every reason to believe there was a problem with his Saturn 156 ½ (multiples of 22 ½) to their MO/MO, and opposite their ME/ME. I have found that if a couple has good communications their problems can be worked out, but if the communications are bad or non-existent even working with a therapist won’t help the relationship.

I would like to introduce the 90 degree dial and transits and solar arcs, to this topic.

On the 90 degree dial planetary pictures look different than they do on the 360 degree dial. A square or conjunction on the 360 degree dial may not look so on the 90 degree dial, especially if the orb is larger than 1 degree. On the 360 degree dial you can have a planet (the SU, for instance) 45 degrees away from the MO and 135 degrees away from VE-that would be known as an indirect planetary picture. On the 90 degree dial the SU will appear to be opposite both the MO and VE.

When Charles and Diana married, the SU/SU =tKR. Kronos made their relationship royal; in other words they became a Royal Couple. The trouble that was about to strike them can be found in tSA/tMO = SU/SU = Diana’s UR. No one should get married with tMO/tSA=SU/SU, a emotional hindrance in the physical union, for the physical union suffers because of a depressed or insecure wife. Diana bit off more than she could chew, with tSA 22 ½ to her nSA. Yes SA is formal commitment, but reality sets in, and for someone who has a MO/UR=VE, she was forced to grow up too quickly.

Now let us go to the present Royal Couple, Charles and Camilla. If Camilla’s birth time is correct her MC and ASC are almost conjunct Charles’s. We know that his birth time is correct so we can check where her planets fall in his MC houses and we can see where his planets fall in her SU, MO and NO houses, which are the relationship personal points. Her SU and ME fall in his MC 1st house and his ASC 12th house. This means that he sees her and communicates with her, even though others do not, or when they are allowed to, do not “get it.” We all had to be introduced to her by her long-time friend. When their wedding plans were made public many of her dear friends gave long interviews about her, as they tried to give a personality to what the world knew as “the other woman.” Her MO, VE are conjunct his MC 1st house cusp; she truly cared about him and always had a warm spot in her heart for him from the moment they met.

I have to stop a moment to relay another observation: Camilla’s MO, VE was conjunct Diana’s SU. The interlacing of these planets leads me to think that Camilla knew Diana’s weakness and insecurity and was able to weave herself back into Charles’s life when it suited her.

Back to the happy couple: Camilla’s ME is 22 ½ to her PL – she can read between the lines, – and 45 to his SA. If Charles does not listen to her, or does not like what she is talking about, she knows how to assess the situation and work with it, without causing any problem between the two of them. Her NO is 135 degrees from his VE and his NO is 111 ¼ to her SU (on the 90 degree dial her NO looks as if it is opposite his VE and his NO appears to be 11 ¼ from her SU). As I said earlier, it is the hard aspects that create the body heat

Nodes are karmic ties, and combined with PL, either in hard aspect or by midpoint, are karmic relationships. At a workshop on relationships given by Wayne Booher, he said to look at the NO/PL axis to see what karmic bonds are present. It is written that when Camilla met Charles she said that since their great grand-parents were lovers why shouldn’t they become lovers? Well, her NO/PL = his SU, KR, and his NO/PL is 11 ¼ from his SU, KR which means that it is 11 ¼ from her NO/PL. Theirs is definitely a karmic relationship. This tells me that Diana’s goose was cooked before she even met Charles.

At this time I will be referring mostly to their planets on the 90 degree dial and I will be using their whole, half and double solar arcs. At the time of their marriage Camilla’s whole solar arc was 55.32, her half solar arc was 27.46 and double was 111.04. Charles’s solar are was 57.18, half 28.39 and double 114.36

On the day that Charles and Camilla married, her nSU/pSU, (where she was at that time in her life) on the 90 degree dial fell 45 to Charles pMO, which tells me that on that day his heart belonged to her. Their SU/SU = her VE by her double solar arc, and his 3rd and 9th house cusps and his pMO by his solar arc, and his ZE by his ½ solar arc. His natal NE/PL = MO: he is powerless due to his mother, the Queen and at the same time this planetary picture indicates his sensitivity. He does not like being forced into emotional power plays.

Their MO/MO falls right on his SA and brings in her ME, PL: she understands that emotional neediness has no place in his realm.

His SU/her MO = her pMO/tZE; she was excited to finally become his wife. His MO/her SU is 11 ¼ to the composite SU/SU and his VE by her solar arc. Transiting SA was opposite his SA and composite MO/MO – the death of the Pope most likely had cast a slight shadow on their gaiety, and theirs is a more mature marriage than his first was.

They both deemed themselves lucky the day that they got married. Transiting Jupiter was on his MC and her MO/his VE and was 22 ½ to his nSU/pSU, and 22 ½ from his MA and was hitting her JU and her SU by her solar arc. Her SU/JU = his MC, MA, shows that she is lucky that her husband has an occupation that gives her pleasure emotionally and financially.

What does the future hold for our happy couple, or should I say the threesome. Prince Charles is the oldest prince waiting to become king in the history of the English Monarchy. Everyone is wondering if Charles will ever be crowned King? Will the world see Camilla became Queen? Will the Queen turn over the throne to Prince William? When Prince William is crowned King, at his coronation everyone will be looking at him but remembering Princess Diana.

What’s The One Magic Move In Your Golf Swing That You Absolutely Need To Do Correctly?

There are probably four ( 4) things in a Golf Swing that you could call magic. They are magic because when done correctly and in a timely fashion the whole affair reacts as if by some yet unknown magical spell. As if there were some outside control over the swing.

The ball explodes off the clubhead, and you feel like you didn’t really do much. It’s effortless. And it is almost anti-climatic in that you are normally used to expending huge amounts of energy to hit a really bad shot. Right?

However, if the truth be known you would admit that you have never really felt that. And if you have, you have no idea in the world what you did to deserve that once in a lifetime feeling.

You may never be asked the question so you are in no danger of having to make up a story that will make you feel bad later.

But, I did just ask the question and you are lucky we are not in the same room so you don’t have to answer. Just answer to yourself. And the answer is ?

I know already.

The other day I was playing with some friends at our club.

The wind was blowing 30 MPH. A tough day to play. The kind of day where balance and and swing speed were very important.

I was faced with a head wind on a par four, a slight dog leg right. As I sized up the conditions in my mind I decided I would test the theory of “when it’s breezy, swing easy.”

At the same time I figured that I would hit a little cut shot and fade it around the corner. That would give me a wedge into the green. Good idea!

Here’ the problem, I had to hit it far enough or I would have been blocked out on the next shot.

I can hit the cut shot OK but it takes some distance off the shot and it tends to go a bit higher than my normal trajectory. And so the wind would really have an affect.

I set up slightly open and thought to swing along my foot-line would give me a good enough fade to do the trick. But that damn wind.

About half way down in the toward impact, I committed a carnal sin of golf. That’s right, I changed my mind.

I decided that to get around that corner I would have hit all of it. Blast it. Smack the snot out of it. Get down on it.

And so I did!

I hit the most gawd awful shot. I swung about as hard as a guy could swing, and man, did I ever hit a cut shot. More like a boomerang. Incredible!

Incredible bad is what I mean.

This is a shot that I almost never would hit. But the point of this is to tell you that when you do stuff wrong in the golf swing bad things happen with the golf ball.

And it doesn’t matter who you are or what your handicap is. The ball just does not care! And your golf swing gives you what you give it. No doubt about it.

So you see a good player who ignores the basics gets poor results. A poor player who ignores the basics get poor results.

They are the same!

Now, what is that magic first move in your downswing. Let’s find out!

First I want to make sure you understand that I am making a huge assumption here. And that is that you are already in a great position in your backswing. If you are not, you may as well turn off your computer now.

It will do no good to get the first part wrong and then be in constant correction and partial confusion the rest of the way down to the golf ball.

It’s easy enough to do, the backswing I mean. So that is the first part.

Oh yes and this. Once again let me remind you all that there are no good players with bad grips. By now you know what a good grip is, so now would be a good time to take a ” good grip”

Drum Roll! The First Magic Move In Your Downswing is not a turning of the hips.

Sorry for wrecking a long held theory. Turning the hips is a formula for a reverse weight shift. Do not do this.

The first magic move on your downswing consist of three elements.

Here they are:

1. First move is a bump of your hips laterally toward the target while keeping your head in it’s same relative setup position. It is very important to understand why these two things are so vital.

The bump laterally of the hips shifts the weight to the forward leg, this eliminates the reverse weight shift and the “no weight shift” keeping your head in its original position is probably not possible, but the idea is to not move your head toward the target. That means that you keep your head behind the ball. This is crucial to the mechanics of the body.

As you bump your hips laterally and keep your head behind the ball, this move will rock your shoulders so that you are now in a position where your right shoulder is lower than your left and you are in a power position to hit from the inside of the target line.

From here you cannot hit from over the top. Nice right?

Now for you skeptics. You will note that I have not said a word about turning you hips. You may have have read that you need to do that. Turn your hips.

Bury the thought.

Here is the test that proves that you will turn your hips whether you want to or not. And so you need not concern yourself with it.

Get in a set up position. You don’t need a club. Turn into your right side as if on your backswing.

Now bump your hips laterally, bump them as far a you can ( slowly) keeping your head in it’s relative position. Keep bumping.

As you continue to bump your hips you will soon see that you physically cannot bump any further and guess what happens.

Your hips turn. There you have it! And now you have made me say it. Turn your hips. But you don’t have to do anything it is automatic.

Try it!

2. The Second move is a drop of the right elbow to the right side while maintaining the angle that exists between your clubshaft and your right arm. As well as the angle between your right wrist and your right forearm.

That sounds like a lot to remember.

Here is some good news. You don’t have to remember it. You just have to know about it.

When you bump your hips laterally, and you were in a good backswing position, your arms will

automatically drop into the correct position at you right hip. The one thing that you can do to make sure of this is, another drum roll, nothing.

That’s right , do nothing.

And I do mean nothing. Your hands and arms should just go along for the ride. Do not try to have them do anything. Turn them to stone, or wood , or metal or whatever you want. But do not make them do anything.

This is a great example of getting out of your own way. Let your arms follow your shoulders as you bump your hips laterally and they will go to the correct place. Pretty cool stuff right?

3. Now just hit the ball. You will be in a perfect position to attack the golf ball from the inside with power and accuracy.

Now let’s test this a bit. Take a club, get into your backswing position. Slowly bump your hips laterally and allow your hands and arms to go where they want.

Did they drop down almost to your right hip? They should have. Do this a number of times until you get the feeling of the bump and drop. It is not going to be easy. But if you do this you will hit the ball as if by magic.

Who else does this. Well for one, Tiger Woods. You can see proof of that if you watch his swing and take note of his position as he bumps his hips laterally.

His arms drop and most notable, he gets into a squat position This is seen by looking at his knees. You will see both are bent, and are leaning toward the target. And they are well separated. Sort of a bow legged look.

His head is still where it was at set up, but occasionally you will see him squat so much that his head drops down or he gets shorter. This is a small problem that we don’t have to worry about.

It’s because Tiger Woods develops tremendous torque in his golf swing. Something we probably could not achieve.

But what we can do is achieve the exact positions as Tiger Woods just by doing the simple things that are correct in our golf swings.

Is it magic? Sure it is. It’s as magical as you want to make it. You will hit the ball as if by magic. That’s close enough isn’t it?

So try this. Believe me it works. It’s another advanced lesson, but so what. You will have to know how to do it some day if you continue to play golf.

Why not know it now?

Caution. Do no listen to your buddies at the range. They have listened to someone else, who has listened to someone else, who has listened to someone else, and on and on and on.

This first move down is absolutely correct and every good player does it. So should you.

Go get ’em! Let me know how you do.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Residential House Plans

A residential house is any facility that is designed for living-not business. The house ranges from a one bedroom house to an apartment building with hundreds of units. While the houses are of different sizes and come in different designs, there are a number of common factors that you should consider when coming up with the right design for your property. Here are some of the factors:


Your lifestyle is your way of living. Before you choose a given plan you need to consider the size of your family, occupation, presence of handicapped people, and the number of people you expect to be visiting you. For example, if you have a large family and you like working from home, you will not only need to have a large house with large rooms, you will also need to have many rooms that you can convert into an office.


How much are you planning on spending on the house? You should sit down with your architect and come up with designs that won’t cost you a lot of money. The design of the house greatly determines the amount of money that you will spend in the long run. Complex designs are by default more costly.

Government regulations

It’s not uncommon to find regulated residences. The regulations limit you on the size and type of house that you can construct in an area. The cool thing is that many architects will let you know of any regulations in the area. If the professional is unsure of the regulations, it’s upon you to research and find out.


This is the physical appearance of the natural and artificial features of an area. These features include: soil, rocks and other features. The architect should guide you on the design of the house after visiting the construction site. From observation and tests, the professional should know how deep the foundation can be and how important features such as drainage systems will work.


To have a good design of your residential house you need to pay a lot of attention to the architect you hire. As rule of thumb you should ensure that the professional has a degree or Masters degree in architecture. You should also ensure that the professional is certified by the relevant regulatory body.

While you can find good architects by doing local online searches, the best and easiest way of finding a great professional is through referrals from friends and relatives. This way you not only know the professional side of the architect, you will also know his/her character.

3 Common Causes of Septic Tank Odor In The Home

If you live in a rural area, there’s a good chance your house is equipped with a septic tank. The septic tank will normally go unnoticed during day-to-day living, but it sometimes makes it odorous presence well known.

If you are experiencing an odor from your septic tank, it is usually caused by one of three things.

1. Dry Drains

A dry drain is probably the most common cause of septic tank odor in the home.

Nearly all drains include what is called a “trap” somewhere along the pipe. This is a U-shaped segment of pipe filled with water which prevents gases from traveling through.

If the water should dry up, however, the gases are able to leak into your house. This most often occurs in places such as guest bathrooms or other places where the drain is used infrequently.

The solution to this common problem is to simply run water through the drain. This will refill the trap and stop the gases from reaching your house.

To avoid future dry drains, you should use them periodically to prevent them from drying up.

2. Problems With The Vent Stack

Septic tank odors can also be allowed to enter your house because of a problem with what is known as the vent stack.

The gases produced by the tank are released via a pipe that extends through your roof. This is the vent stack.

If this pipe should become clogged with leaves or other debris, the gases will not be able to travel through and will be forced back down into your house.

Leaves covering the opening of the vent stack may need to be manually removed.

Even if the gases are allowed to pass through the vent stack, a strong wind with some down force may blow the gases back down to your house again. This is normally fixed by raising the height of the stack.

3. Faulty Seals/Gaskets

Yet another possible cause of septic tank odors within the home is a broken seal or gasket along one of the pipes.

This commonly occurs near the base of the toilet, and you should be able to detect it by smelling around the area.

Unless you are a handyman, it is probably best to call a plumber or other professional to repair the seal. It should be a relatively simple job, and not too expensive.

Wrestling Drills For Balance And Muscle Memory

Keeping in Shape with Wrestling Drills

As with any sport, it’s important for wrestlers to perform a series of wrestling drills to keep them in their finest form on and off the mat. Since wrestling is a sport that requires brute force and agility, the repetition of these drills not only builds strength in the necessary areas, but also helps to build muscle memory which can be essential in winning wrestling matches. Try these wrestling drills during practices or as a part of the pregame warm-up.

Aim for the Knees

First, here’s a drill called “Knee Grab” that’s appropriate for wrestlers of all ages. To begin, two wrestlers of comparable strengths stand facing each other in their regular stances. Both wrestlers should have their hands facing downwards and extended out near their knees.

In this drill, the wrestlers will attempt to use their hands to grab their opponent’s knees while trying to keep their opponent blocked on the outside. Make sure the wrestler really grab for their opponent’s knees as opposed to just a mere tap or slap. Run this drill for 2 or 3 sessions of 20-30 seconds in length, allowing the wrestlers a 10-20 second rest between sessions.

When performed correctly, this drill can be quite physically demanding. Since performing countless wrestling drills can become monotonous, some coaches like to inject a little competitive spirit into their drills. This is one of those drills that functions really well as a mini-competition, with the winner of each pair facing off with a winner of another pair until only one wrestler remains victorious.


Next is the “Grabber” drill, which is great for building upper-body strength. To begin the drill, two wrestlers stand facing each other in their regular stances. At the sound of the coach’s whistle, both try to get their opponent in a body lock or to get behind their opponent while remaining in an upright, standing position.

The best moves for winning this drill are the duck under, arm drag to body lock, or the wrist lock. Some coaches will allow head locks for this drill as well. Perform this drill for 3 sessions of 30 seconds in length, allowing at least a 10-20 second rest between sessions.

A Fine Balance

This next drill called “Hopper” is a simple yet effective way of helping wrestlers develop and maintain their balance. To begin the drill, two wrestler stand facing each other in their regular stances. At the sound of the coach’s whistle, one wrestler grabs and holds their partner’s foot at waist level. They are permitted to move the foot as much as possible without bringing it above chest level.

The goal of this drill is for the wrestler on one foot to constantly readjust their balance to avoid falling to the mat. Run this drill for 2-3 sessions of no more than 20 seconds, as it is quite tiring for the wrestler on one foot.

Construction Site Management – Material Storage

A construction site has many materials at any one point. Most of these are usually in their raw state, meaning that they will undergo some process before they can be input into the building to form a part of the building. They come in different forms and can be categorized as below;

· Factory Goods: These are mostly off the shelf items, they are unique in the fact that they can easily be resold and are therefore easy targets for pilferage. They are also delicate in the fact that they have unique storage requirements. Examples here include;

o Cement: The most important attribute to consider in the storage of cement is the fact that it reacts chemically when in contact with moisture. For this reason, it should be kept under shade and on a platform, away from excessive moisture.

o Ceramics: These include water closets, wash basins, Tiles and the like. They are extremely delicate and will easily break. This attribute is also shared with glasses. They should therefore be properly packaged in padded cartons and away from areas of much activity, usually under lock and key.

o Ironmongery: These include locks, hinges, handles and the like. Owing to their small sizes, they are prone to pilfering. These should also be kept well locked and only issued under strict accountability.

· Raw materials: This category belongs to the main items like stone, ballast and sand. These are not prone to the previous problems like weather and pilferage. However, they have one attribute that is being bulky. They consume a lot of space on site and require a generous allocation of storage space. These are best stored in bays and contained using things like stones, in the case of sand.

· Workshop finished items: This category also includes semi-finished items, for example in the case of timber. Items here are usually ready for installing in the works and are mostly purpose made. Some may have been imported from overseas and in their exact measurements. This means that damage or loss of such will lead to a very expensive work of replacement. Examples here include Fixtures, timber, roofing materials et cetera.

Material storage is a very important part of site management. How materials are delivered and dispatched determines how easily things flow. In almost all cases, site space is usually restricted and as such, material storage should be very well thought out. One thing to consider is that only the important and requisite materials and items per time should be stored on site to minimize on the risks mentioned above. Records should be kept very in good accuracy of all materials required, ordered, delivered, accepted, stored, dispatched, put to the works and any deficits. Good material storage ensures the following benefits on site.

· Easy movement around site

· Reduction in waste and damages

· Reduction of loss by theft or otherwise

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.


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.


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.


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.

Top 5 Qualities of Succesful HOA and Condo Association Boards

As a HOA and Condo management specialist, we have certainly dealt with our fair share of vastly different people who make up our community’s board of directors. They come from all walks of life and from all different backgrounds. Some are very productive and accomplish numerous things for their community while others struggle to make even the smallest of decisions.

Over our 25 years of working with our board of directors, we have learned what it takes to have successful community leaders. We have come up with the Top 5 qualities that make up a successful HOA or Condo association board of directors.

5. – Balance

An efficient board of directors always has a well rounded balance about it. A balance of men and women of varying ages and backgrounds helps keep things interesting. Younger people tend to be more aggressive with their ideas wanting to look for alternatives to their current situation where older board members tend to be a bit more conservative and less resistant to radical change. The mixture of the two help avoid total chaos.

Varying backgrounds help add hands on knowledge to the group. Someone of a construction background would certainly be interested in a building or redesign project where as someone from a accountant background would be certainly be interested in the long term financial success of the association.

A diverse board of directors helps bring a different perspective to the table and helps ensures that the community is fully represented by all members of the association

4. – Common Sense

It is important for a board of directors to have a bit of “street smarts” or common sense when making community decisions. There are times which you have to stop, stand back and think about the situation

Community documents are written when the community is first established. Some HOA and condo communities have been around for 50 years, and over time, things do change. If your community has rules or policies that are aged and no longer relevant, it is important for a board to know to stop the insanity and make the appropriate changes.

Having common sense usually means also not being stubborn and looking at the big picture. For Example, let’s say you have an insurance claim because a storm took down a portion of your community fence. Your community has a $1000 deductible which is pretty standard. If the damage is say $1850, as a group it would be a wise decision to pay the repairs in cash instead of making the small claim. Why would they do this? Because ultimately, the following year your premiums will most likely go up and will quickly eat into the $850 of short term cash savings that the community experienced over the short term.

3. – Communication

A board of directors that fails to communicate effectively fails to accomplish what they need to do for their HOA or condo community. This means not only amongst themselves as a board, but also working in sync with the current management company as well.

Every reputable association management company should have a plethora of communication options available for both your community’s homeowners as well as the board. When a decision is needed from the board, it is crucial that the board make sure that they can come together and make that decision. Weather a board is meeting in person, emailing back and forth, or even in a live chat room, it is important for the board to be able to communicate all the details of the issue, come to a decision, and do all of this in a timely manner.

Conveying what the board wants accomplished to the management company is just as important as the board making the community decisions. Some associations work best with a assigned point of contact on the board to communicate with the management company, to prevent a variance of opinions and extra confusion.

2. – Selfless and Unbiased

Being a HOA or condo association board of director means being a volunteer who represents the entire association in which you live. However, although a volunteer you do have minimal responsibilities that you must maintain.

There is no room on a community’s board of directors for anyone that has an axe to grind. Don’t even run for your association board if your only goal is to get your neighbor in trouble for all these years that he has annoyed you with his or her antics. Getting elected to the board also does not give you permission to hire your buddy as the landscaper and recommend community improvements that only affect your area of the neighborhood. All decisions need to be made with the overall interest of the entire community.

I have even been witness to extreme cases in which board members, after serving their board term, attempt to enter the property management industry and attempt to take their community with them to another company. This is a very greasy business tactic and does not speak well of any ethics that you might be bringing to your new company. If you are not currently in the industry, and then you wake up one day thinking ” I can do this” think again. As well as you may think you know your community, imagine catering to the needs of 10 more communities that are all completely different from yours with unique needs and expectations.

1. – Active

This stands alone as the number one factor in the success of an association board. Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it.

In order for a community to thrive, it must have an active participation amongst the leaders. This means more than anything, doing all the little things:

  • Attending all HOA related meetings possible – if your schedule doesn’t allow it, don’t volunteer
  • Giving your vote when a decision is needed – making basic community decisions is a main role of being a board member
  • Attending community events that you help plan – this sends the right community message to other homeowners
  • Obeying the deed restrictions – don’t be a hypocrite, these apply to you as well
  • Maintaining financial responsibility – You don’t want to be on the association aging report for fellow board members to see, it causes undo hostility amongst board members.

There is also a fine line between being active and involved, and being obsessed with your position. Remember, you are a volunteer with responsibility; this is not your career. If at any point you feel that you are taking on too much, or doing everything that’s when you need to make some adjustments. Talk with your association management company to make sure you are on the same page with them. If something isn’t being done that the management agreement calls for, then bring it to their attention. Also, don’t be afraid to distribute duties amongst the fellow board members. There are some people in a group that will sit back until called upon. They are your fellow board members, they are there to help as well.

There is no perfect recipe for a good HOA or Condo association board of directors. A well-run community does start with a committed group of community volunteers leading the charge and making wise decisions for the community as whole. Maintaining core values and maintaining the responsibilities of a HOA or condo association board of directors will lead to a well-run association.

Considering Wicker Furniture – Things to Consider When Buying Wicker Furniture


Wicker is available in many styles and colors. You can also choose between natural wicker and resin wicker. Natural wicker is made from either rattan or bamboo and is more appealing because of its natural beauty, strength and flexibility. The only drawback is that it requires some cleaning and maintenance. If you want less maintenance and more durability, poly resin wicker is a good choice. This is especially true if it's exposed to the weather. Colors choices include white, mocha, tan, black or natural. Many styles are available including Victorian and Contemporary


When choosing wicker furniture you will want to consider the location the furniture will be placed in. For instance, if your furniture is going anywhere inside your home, like a bedroom or closed in patio, natural wicker is a good choice. If you intend to use it outside where it will be exposed to the sun and rain, you may want to consider resin wicker. However natural wicker has proven to be very durable in whatever area it is placed. It just may require a little more maintenance.

Either way, natural or resin wicker is a good choice for indoor or outdoor use and will last many years. Space is also a consideration as you do not want to purchase pieces that are too big or too small for the area.


Wicker made from Rattan is generally considered more durable than bamboo or other natural materials and can better withstand the elements, like rain, snow wind and humidity. Synthetic wicker or resin wicker is considered the most durable and does not degrade. It is also flexible and can be made in many styles and colors that match the beauty and uniqueness of natural wicker. Both natural and resin wicker furniture requires low maintenance. Usually dusting or wiping down with a wet cloth is sufficient.

Wrap Up

Hopefully this article will give you enough information that you can make an intelligent decision on what kind of furniture you need for your home. Color, style, design and space are important factors in deciding on the choice. Wicker furniture, either natural or synthetic, can be an ideal choice for your patio, porch, pool or garden area. It is lightweight and it's durability, flexibility and environmental friendliness make it the best choice you can make for your home. Also wicker is more affordable than most furniture. There are many places you can buy wicker furniture. Shopping online is the best way to get the best deals. Now that you know a little more about Wicker, you can see that it is a great option for those who want great looking and durable furniture for their home.