Basement Flooding And Insurance: Is Your Basement Waterproofing Covered?

Many people don’t think about something as simple as flooding insurance until after it’s too late and they’ve been afflicted with water-in-basement syndrome. But many do, and a basement waterproofing contractor will get lots of calls from people who want to know if they can work with their insurance company to have their services covered. The answer is, of course, “not always” — but it does happen regularly.

There are a few reasons why your particular basement flooding issue might not be covered by your insurance. The most common is that you don’t actually have flooding insurance. As much as it might seem reasonable, most “multi-peril” homeowner’s insurance policies don’t actually cover flooding — you need special, separate flooding insurance to cover things like basement waterproofing.

Even if you have flooding insurance, you might not be safe yet. If the flooding was caused by rising groundwater rather than an accident like a burst pipe, normal flooding insurance won’t cover it. “Rising groundwater” basically means “it rained so much that the water table came up over the side walls of your house and got in through cracks, etc” — but if the ‘groundwater’ rises above the ground itself and you have literal flooding, the insurance will generally kick back in and cover you.

Beware, however, because while flooding insurance will usually cover the personal belongings you have in your home, things in your basement are usually specifically excluded. Your flooding insurance will cover structural elements and ‘essential’ appliances like your heat pump, but won’t do a thing to ameliorate the costs of your post-flood basement remodeling. Even non-structural architectural elements like internal walls aren’t covered; any basement wall repair you need to have done from a basement waterproofing company will have to come out of your own pocket.

Specifically covered:

-sump pumps

-well-water tanks and pumps

-cisterns and the water inside

-oil tanks and the oil inside

-natural gas tanks and the gas inside

-pumps or tanks used with solar energy furnaces

-water heaters

-air conditioners

-heat pumps

-electrical junction and circuit breaker boxes (and their utility connections)

-foundation elements

-stairways

-staircases

-elevators

-dumbwaiters

-unpainted drywall walls and ceilings (including fiberglass insulation)

washing machines and dryers

-freezers and the food inside them.

“Cleanup expenses” are also covered, so you can count on your insurance to help you get rid of your old stuff, but not to help you replace it.

Everyone should check to find out if their community is covered by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program; if it is, they have the option to purchase some pretty decent flood insurance at pretty good prices. The best part is that membership in a NFIP-covered community is the only prerequisite. It doesn’t matter if you’re actually in a flood zone, if you’ve already flooded at least once, or even if you live on top of a hill — any member in that community can (and should) get insurance that will cover basic basement waterproofing and flood recovery.

Teens, Jobs and School: The Pros and Cons

Most teens realize at a fairly young age the old adage that “money equals power.” Money equals designer clothes, a car and insurance, and in many cases, a certain amount of freedom. And in order to get money, many teens get part-time jobs.

While the benefits and/or drawbacks of teens and part-time jobs have been researched, studied and debated since at least 1979, the teens, jobs and affects on schoolwork verdict is still out. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 50 percent of American teenagers hold informal jobs, such as babysitting or yard work, by age 12. And by age 15, nearly two-thirds of American teens have had some kind of employment. And many researchers, including those on government panels like the National Commission on Youth praise part-time work and say it contributes to the transition from youth to adulthood.

Parents and educators alike have, for decades, said that part-time jobs teach children how to be responsible and manage money. But Temple University researcher Laurence Steinberg found that only 11 percent of students report saving most of their money for college, and only three percent contribute to household living expenses. “The bulk of teen’s money goes to clothing, cars, entertainment, and in some cases, drugs and alcohol,” according to results of a study published in Harvard Education Letter in 1998.

Steinberg says, “Students who work longer hours report diminished engagement in schooling, lowered school performance, increased psychological distress, higher drug and alcohol use, higher rates of delinquency and greater autonomy from parental control.” A 1997 study by David Stern, director of the National Research Center for Vocational Education at the University of California, Berkeley, proves Steinberg’s viewpoint. In research conducted over 20 years, students who worked more than 15 hours per week had lower grades, did less homework, had higher dropout rates and were less likely to go to college than students who worked under 15 hours per week.

But Jerald Bachman at the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Project, warns not to jump to cause and effect conclusions. “I would argue that most of the problems that correlate with working long hours are more fundamentally caused,” he says. “That may contribute the to spiral, but I think the spiral is well underway at the time they elect to work the long hours.”

Though the drawbacks to a busy, part-time job are many, so are the benefits. A teenager’s job can teach work skills that school does not, and it can instill in the teen new confidence, sense of responsibility and independence. Earning money will enable your teen to buy things and to manage money. An after-school job can also provide adult supervision, especially if you work longer hours than those in a typical school day. And the right job may provide networking possibilities and set your child on a rewarding lifetime career path.

But before your child gets a job, there are some things you should know. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, “Minors under 14 years of age may not be employed or permitted to work in any occupation, except children employed on farms or in domestic service in private homes.” Children under the age of 14 can also work on farms, be golf caddies, newspaper carriers or juvenile performers in the entertainment industry. But special permits may need to be required.

Also according to many state labor laws, teens aged 14 and 15 are not permitted to work more than four hours per day during the school year and not before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. (During the summer, the amount of hours of work per day can be increased to eight.) Children under the age of 16 are prohibited, by Pennsylvania law, for example, from working in bowling centers (unless as snack bar attendants, scorers or control desk clerks), building heavy work, highway work, anywhere liquor is sold or dispensed, manufacturing, on scaffolds or ladders and window cleaning.

For 16 and 17 year olds, the some state laws say, “minors are not to work before 6 a.m. or after midnight on school days and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.” Also, not more than eight hours per day and 28 hours per school week. (During the summer, the only restrictions on 16 and 17 year olds, is that they can work no more than eight hours per day or 44 hours per week.) Young adults under the age of 18 are prohibited from working in billiard rooms; doing electrical work; operating elevators; performing crane and hoisting operations; excavating; operating machinery that does woodworking, bakery mixing, cleaning, oiling or punch pressing; roofing; welding; and doing demolition.

Your teen securing a job is a big step on the road to maturity. Be sure to discuss the pros and the cons with him or her. You may also want to agree to a job on a trial basis, such as “you can work x number of hours a week this grading period and then we will decide if you can keep working, based on your grades.” Maintaining good grades, continuing extra curricular activities and keeping a social life will be important to your child’s psychological health and development. Also, prepare a budget with your child, setting limits on spending and enforcing a percentage-of- paycheck-into-savings policy. Good money management skills, acquired when young, will last a lifetime. Part-time jobs can be a wonderful experience, with the right supervision and parental guidance.

Kitchen Cabinet Repair – Adjusting Uneven Doors

Learning how to do your own kitchen cabinet repair might not be as simple as you think. Like anything that needs to be fixed, your success will be determined by your level of skill and the tools that are at your disposal. One of the most common things that homeowners try to fix on their cupboards is cabinetry doors that are out of adjustment. This problem is most popularly associated with contemporary style European concealed hinges. The reason out of adjustment doors are so noticeable with this style of cupboard is because all of the gaps between them are only one eight of an inch apart.

Adjusting uneven kitchen, bathroom vanity and office cabinet doors would appear to be an easy task, but the truth of the matter is that many people fail. After a screw gets adjusted too far out and the hinge falls completely apart, many homeowner/handymen will resort to calling a professional.

Craftsmen who work with European concealed hinges on a daily basis can look at a set of out of adjustment cabinet door s and tell where the pitfalls are located. Yes, by all appearances it would seem that a second grader could make the kitchen cabinet repair because the only tool required is a Phillips screwdriver. I witnessed a disaster in doctor’s office where the physician decided to make the adjustments while he was off duty. Thank God, they kept all the spare loose parts when I was hired to fix the mess he had created.

Three Things You Must Not Do When Adjusting Uneven Cabinet Doors

1) Never adjust the doors so close together that they bind on each other. The standard distance that the doors should be apart from one another is one eight of an inch. Any margin less than that could cause the doors to bind when you try to open them. If this happens it’s possible to chip the edges of the cupboard doors.

2) When you are moving the side to side adjustment on the European hinge, never back the screw out beyond the casing of the hinge. When the hinge is separating as you turn the screw, be extremely cautious that you do not overextend the allotted boundary of the steal casing on the hinge. If you do, you must remove the kitchen cabinet door completely and reassemble the hinge parts. This is a frustrating task, so be patient.

3) There’s a front to back movement that is possible on this style of hinge. When the cabinet door is open, the edge of the door should not be adjusted tight to the cabinetry face. Here again a binding effect will occur and the possibility of damaging the cabinet face or door is more likely.

While you are making the cabinet repairs in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, garage or office, open and close the doors gently. Adjusting uneven real wood or Formica plastic laminate doors, without having experience, could end in disaster. Make sure you have allotted enough time to repair the cabinets without being in a great hurry and things should go smoothly.

Painting Without Roller Marks and Brush Marks

Most ready made paints are created for certain average conditions which generally do not exist on the day you choose to do your painting! The result of that is the paint does not flow out well to leave a smooth finish and you end up with ugly roller marks or brush marks or streaks or lap marks.

Paint in general terms is made for what would be an average room temperature or outdoor temperature for the market where those paints are sold. The problem is, whenever there is a deviation in temperature either up or down that paint will be more difficult to brush out or roll on to the wall. Indoor water based paints, Emulsions or Latex tend to dry too fast when the temperature is warmer than average, and the result of this is that each new section painted can have streaks because the piece before has dried out too quickly.

Painters / Decorators describe this phenomenon as ‘losing the wet edge’. Painting ceilings can be especially troublesome because all the room’s warm air rises up to the ceiling compounding the drying too fast problem. If you are applying water based paint / masonry paint on to outside plastered or similar walls and the weather is dry or dry with a breeze or worse still, if the sun is shining straight on to that wall while you are painting… you will have a really tough job because those weather conditions mean that you will lose that ‘wet edge’ almost as soon as you apply a roller full of paint.

It is best to choose a day that is neither too hot nor too cold for exterior wall painting etc. If you are applying oil based paints or varnish, especially outside on a good day, you will notice that your paint becomes very heavy and the brush will tend to drag making the painting process a lot more tedious. The reason for this is because the solvent in the paint is evaporating quickly in the warmer conditions and it will be necessary to thin the paint a bit to ease application.

To get your paint or varnish to flow, one historically adds some water to water based paints and some while spirit to oil based paints. That usually makes the paint flow better. There are a few negative consequences when thinning paint in this way though, for example… the paint loses some of its ‘hiding power’ which can be a nuisance when using ‘weak hiding’ colour paints (yellows, reds etc) because you will probably need to apply extra coats to get a finish and block out previous colours etc.

With gloss & other oil based paints etc, thinning in this way will make it flow better but it will kill the hiding power and lose a lot of the shine after a time. Another alternative would be to utilise a paint additive which is made to make your paint flow out and cover better in less than ideal conditions etc. You can obtain paint additives (sometimes called paint conditioners) for emulsion and oil based paints in most of the better paint stores. The water based additive (conditioner) is ideal for any colour paint but will not be suitable in water based varnish because of its milky appearance. However it does not change the colour or finish etc.

Water based paint additives are designed to keep the wet edge open and usually enable you get a finish with no brush marks or streaks. In fact some water based paint additives actually help hiding power in a dramatic way especially in weak colors like reds, yellows etc where you can save a few coats and a lot of hard work. Oil based paint additives will work well in any oil based paint and varnish. Check your paint to see if cleanup is with white spirit etc and if so it means it is oil based and suitable for that paint.

Post and Beam Homes

With this design, post and beam homes use whole logs as a structural support. This will provide the owner a natural log surface outside and inside their home. When looking at the beginning of construction you will see many vertical log posts that carry big horizontal logs on top. Once the frame is finished then they are filled in with conventional framed 2 x 6 walls. The vertical logs are placed approximately eight feet apart. Then they are connected to one another to develop the frame.

It is the most flexible style when discussing construction and design. Where you build your new pole and beam home will influence the logs used and the design. For example, if you were building your new home in an area that is known for wood-boring insects or in a damp environment the best logs would be western red cedar.

Advantages

• Very energy efficient
• You have flexible design options
• Most houses "settle" over time but with post and beam homes there are no settling issues
• Easy to frame and wire the home
• There is less maintenance
• Depending on the design a post and beam home can take from one to four months to build
• They cost less per square foot to build
• You can have claimed ceilings

Disadvantages

• It costs more to build a post and beam home because they require larger pieces of high quality timber that is cut from large trees. This timber is then moved into place using some form of crane. Because the construction relations on fewer structural elements, the placement of the timber must be precise. Ones with the expertise in this type of construction are hard to find so their time can be expensive.

Benefits

• Strength-this is one of the strongest building methods available today. It is resistant to blizzards, heavy snows, and wind. It can also offer durability. Post and beam homes are known to withstand "the test of time."
• Aesthetic appeal-all homes constructed from post and beam frames feature exposed heavy timbers that look marvelously on the inside of the home. This also gives you a sense of warmth and safekeeping.
• The beams hold up the roof and not the walls. This means that pole and beam homes can be a big house without many walls. This is great for homeowners that like an open floor plan. For spectacular views, you can choose large windows because the heavy beams are able to support these types of windows.
• Pole and beam homes are more fire resistant because the timber that is used in the construction of these homes are stronger and denser. The wood is usually Type IV, which is more fire resistant.

The Fall of Jerusalem 70 AD: Cannibal Lady Feeds on Baby’s Flesh

The Jewish historian, Yosef bin Mattiyahu, better known to history as Flavius Josephus (c. 37-95 A.D.), in his “Antiquities of the Jews,” quoted extensively by the Church historian Eusebius of Caesaria (c. 265-369) in his “Historica Ecclesiastica” relates, in considerable detail, the Roman assault on Jerusalem in 70 A.D. His account includes a bizarre incident of cannibalism during the siege of Jerusalem by Roman troops.

Josephus’ account is of great value to historians, having been an eyewitness. Josephus had fallen into Roman hands in the defense of Galilee (he had been a soldier and fought against the Romans in Galilee, a few years before the siege of Jerusalem commenced.) He was brought by the Romans to witness the siege.

The Roman campaign in Palestine had begun with an uprising by Jewish militants in the countryside in 66 A.D. Roman troops under the command of Vespasian had been involved in a campaign against the militants in the countryside for some years before the siege on Jerusalem began.The Jewish religious community at Qumran was dislodged in 68 A.D. The war soon converged on Jerusalem in the Passover season of 70 A.D. As the Roman troops, now under the command of Vespasian’s son Titus closed in on Jerusalem hundreds of thousands of Jews from the surrounding country sought refuge in Jerusalem within its walls.

Josephus estimated the number of Jews in Jerusalem at the Passover season 70 A.D. to have risen above 3 million. As the siege progressed famine set in. Armed bandits soon formed the habit of going from house to house in search of food, breaking down doors and confiscating food or anything of value for themselves. As the food scarcity intensified conditions got worse and order broke down completely in the besieged city as roving hordes of militants went totally berserk looting, killing and ransacking homes and confiscating all stores they could lay their hands on without caring about how their victims would survive.

According to Josephus, the mad-dog behavior of the armed bandits caused great distress to ordinary people who began dying in great numbers in their homes and on the streets of starvation. In the midst of this hell was a certain woman Mary daughter of Eleazar of Bathezor, of distinguished and wealthy family upbringing. She had fled with other refugees from the her country home into Jerusalem in the spring of 70 A.D. before the advance of Roman troops. Everyone knew that she was wealthy, so she became a favorite victim of looters and miscreants who soon stripped her of everything in her possession. In the process she resisted vehemently trying often to hide her purchases, for she had money to buy food with. But the looters kept a watch on her and would thoroughly ransack her home as soon as they believed she had acquired new stores, leaving nothing for her. She soon grew weary of resisting and acquiring food for the benefit of looters. In secret she killed her suckling baby and roasted the flesh. The sweet odor of the roasted flesh attracted attention and her tormentors were on her again demanding that she give up her roast. Mary, by this time, apparently out of her mind in great distress told them coolly that she had prepared a feast for them and reserved the best part for their enjoyment. She led them to where the half-eaten remains of her baby were covered up and revealed to them the horrible sight. Even men who had become hardened by the horrors of the war were shocked and seized with fright at the sight of the roasted infant half consumed by its mother.

“This is my own son,” she said to them. “The deed is mind. Eat, for I too have eaten. Be not more merciful than a woman, nor more compassionate than a mother. But if you are too pious and shrink from my sacrifice let the rest remain for me.” At these words, the men, terribly shaken, filed out of the room quietly. No one thought of depriving her of her latest store.

Meanwhile the war escalated and survivors soon began heaving masses of dead bodies over the city walls into the valley below. So terrible was the sight of the trenches filled with bloated, oozing bodies that even the Roman commander Titus cried out at the sight calling out to God to witness that it was not his doing. Those who tried to escaped from the beleaguered city were taken by the Roman soldiers, whipped and tortured and then crucified alive before the walls of the city. Crucifixion beams sprang up one after the other into a forest of thousands of crucified bodies. Attacking Roman soldiers came upon of a group of about 6 000 women and children who had sought refuge in a part of the outer temple ground. They simply set the cloister on fire and burned the 6 000 souls to death.

Josephus estimated the number of Jewish dead at about 1.1 million(“by famine and by sword”). The survivors over seventeen years of age were sent as prisoners to labor camps in Egypt and the children (about 90 000) were sold as slaves.

A Character Analysis of Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown

What created Goodman Brown? A man so tormented by what even he considered to be a dream that it changed his life in a profound negative way forever. Goodman Brown was man plagued by his own conscious; he was someone who believed himself to have committed grave sin by meeting with the devil and participating in a witches meeting in his dreams. This spoke of an era where people were overcome with religious guilt and superstition. As a result of Brown’s dream he suspected everyone in the town of being cohorts with the devil, in addition his superstition and questioning of his own self overcame his ability to trust or believe in anyone else. He died a bitter, unhappy, miserable man.

In order to fully understand the character of Young Goodman Brown we must first understand the era he comes from. Although Hawthorne does not state directly whether or not the plot of this story takes place in Salem in the seventeenth century, his references to other characters clearly imply it does. His references to Martha Carrier, Martha Cory, and Sarah Cloyse, all women hanged as witches in 1692; as well as his reference to King William who ruled England from 1650-1702 tell of this horrid time where people killed, tortured, burned, executed and suspected that everyone from their sister to there neighbor might be in contact with the devil. As a result of this environment of suspicion and paranoia Goodman might have felt as though his dream was in reality a lack of faith on his part. He may have felt so guilty for experiencing this dream that he thought he, as well as the people in his life were guilty of coercing with the devil.

Goodman Brown might have been Hawthorne’s expression of his own struggles with his faith in humanity and himself. Hawthorne was a guilt ridden person and I believe that he had many instances when his faith was tested. Brown is Hawthorne to a lesser extent. Goodman Brown starts out as a good, happy, decent man; he seems very content. All of this changes when he decides against the advice of his wife faith (the symbolism is obvious here) that he should go out on a journey into the woods to meet with the devil. I believe path in the woods to be his continued decent into metaphorical as well as literal darkness. As he continues down the woods he reaches the pinnacle of his journey when he comes upon the witches meeting. Once Brown reaches this point he loses his faith despite his last ditch effort to save his wife. He never knows if he was able to save her. This doubt is what destroyed him.

Brown’s motivation for meeting with the devil is never made absolutely clear and can only be speculated by the devil’s references to others that have come into his fold. He speaks of the King, Goodman’s father and grandfather, the deacon, minister and mayor. The devil makes it appear that everyone with any power, success or for that matter anyone that means anything to Goodman is in fact allied with Satan. Although Goodman resists the devils temptations at first; as more and more people are brought to his attention as being followers of the dark one, the idea becomes more acceptable. I believe Brown’s motivation to meet with the devil was power; he wanted an advantage over others to achieve his goals. This may have contributed to his last ditch effort to save faith when he shouted “Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One”. When he arrived at the witches meeting he discovered that everyone already had the advantage of being on the wicked side and had already sold there souls for money, power, or prestige. He was able to see that nothing would put him ahead of anyone else by following through with his original task. He had nothing to win and everything to lose by making an alliance with the devil. Unfortunately for Young Goodman Brown it was too late for his soul to be saved. He reached the point of no return and not only didn’t he reap any benefit from his ordeal but lost every bit of happiness he previously possessed.

Goodman Brown was a man destroyed by his own obsession. He lived a miserable life as a result of the guilt he felt for embarking on a dark journey in his dreams; which resulted in his suspicion of everyone and a lack of trust for individuals in his community, himself and humanity. The only way Goodman Brown would have been able to save his faith would have been to never embark on the dark path.

by John Schlismann

What Every Employee Should Know About Non-Compete-Non-Solicitation Contracts

A non-compete contract is an agreement signed by an employee where he or she agrees that they will not engage in certain employment within a certain geographic area for a certain period of time after they quit or are fired. Likewise, a non-solicitation contract binds the employee not to contact the employer’s customers or remaining employees under the same conditions. These restrictive contracts have become more prevalent in Michigan, especially in the technology sector where companies believe they have legitimate business interests that need to be protected.

Non-compete and non-solicitation contracts created a number of very difficult issues for the employees. And it is not just upper level workers who are often muscled into signing such contracts. It should not surprise anyone that companies have tremendous leverage to force business owners, upper level executives and lower level workers to sign these restrictive contracts.

Many employers require that the employee sign such an agreement in order to obtain employment, or after they are hired, in order to keep their job. Unfortunately, most employees believe that they have little or no leverage and sign these contract with little thought, review or negotiation. In far too many instances, employees are willing to do anything to secure a good job and naively assume that they will work there forever. They are wrongly informed that such contracts are unenforceable, or assume the non-compete won’t ever affect them.

Much of the mythology and confusions surrounding non-compete issues today, is because Michigan’s view of non-competes has changed over the last two decades. Michigan courts used to view non-competes as anti-competitive and, thus, unenforceable in Michigan. This all changed in 1987 when Michigan passed Section 4(a) of the Anti-Trust Reform Act. It is now the public policy of Michigan to enforce reasonable non-competition provisions in employment contracts.

So, what do you do if presented with a non-compete or non-solicitation contract by your boss or investor group? Often times, the non-compete contracts pushed in front of the employees are extremely broad and effectively preclude employees from working within the entire market altogether if their employment should end for any reason. Other non-competes might allow the employee to work in their chosen field of expertise, but only if they are willing to move to a different state, beyond the competitive territory of the employer.

Here is my top 10 list of employee tips if you find yourself staring down the barrel of a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement:

1. If you are considering signing a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, be prepared to live with it as written. You may not be able to afford a court action to attack it. Even if you can fight the contract in court, Judges have a wide range of discretion and are unpredictable in how they will handle one of these contracts.

2. Do whatever possible to avoid signing a non-compete or non-solicitation contract. Make an initial stand that you won’t sign and see how flexible your employer may be. If you they want you bad enough, they may be willing to live with a trade secret agreement instead.

3. If forced to sign a non-compete, negotiate the terms as narrowly as possible. Make sure that it is reasonable in its scope (duration, market description, geographic region).

4. Remember, the employer must have a legitimate business interest to protect. Force the employer to tell you exactly what they are attempting to protect. Typically this means protecting trade secrets, confidential information or an investment in an employee’s training and skill. Get it in writing. If you are never exposed to any such information or do not receive the training, you will be in a good position to have the non-compete declared invalid.

5. If forced to sign a non-compete, obtain extra compensation, a signing bonus or compensation for a period after your employment ends (severance package).

6. Try and avoid non-compete language, in favor of a non-solicitation clause, which precludes you from instigating contact with your employer’s customers if you should leave. Properly drafted, this will still allow you to go work for a competitor and will also allow customers who contact you to be serviced by you moving forward. It is much easier for a new employer to insulate you from contact with certain customers, than to find a position for you which does not compete against your former employer.

7. If you are forced to sign a non-solicitation clause, make sure to distinguish between customers which you bring to the employer, and customer provided through your new employer. Only agree not to ‘solicit’ customers after you leave. Don’t agree not to service them if they seek you out, or are already customers of your new employer.

8. Never agree to pay the employer’s attorneys fees if you should choose to challenge the non-compete. Oftentimes, employees are forced to court to request the Judge to limit the non-compete terms. You are going to have to pay for your own attorney’s fees; you don’t want to have to pay for the employer’s attorney as well.

9. Monitor employees who leave the company while you are still employed there and determine whether or not the company is forcing the non-compete terms against those employees. Companies may not “cherry pick” employees to enforce a non-compete. If you can show that the company failed to enforce the non-compete against others, your non-compete may become unenforceable.

10. Make sure you tell any prospective employer if you have signed a non-compete agreement. It doesn’t do any good to obtain a new job and have your new employer receive a threat letter 30 days into your new employment. It is better to be up front and allow your new employer to try and negotiate the non-compete language in a way that allows your employment.

Once an employee signs a non-compete agreement, options become more limited in seeking new employment. Yes, non-competes can be attacked in court. Yes, an employer has to have a legitimate business interest to protect in order to support the non-compete. Some non-compete language is too broad or do not protect legitimate business interests. Courts should strike down such non-competes or limit the terms to a more reasonable scope. However, employees are often not in a position to pay thousands of dollars to an attorney in order to attack a non-compete in court. Such a lawsuit is the last line of defense for an employee looking to challenge the non-compete.

Employees must be extremely careful in entering into either non-compete or non-solicitation agreements. Too often, employees convince themselves that they need the job so badly that they are willing to sign anything. When the job doesn’t work out, those same employees can find themselves without employment prospects moving forward. Sophisticated employers specifically ask new job applicants whether they’ve signed non-compete agreements, and many will avoid hiring such employees who have signed them. Many prospective employers know that they will be viewed as the ‘deep pockets’, and will be dragged into court if they hire someone who is allegedly violating a non-compete contract. These new employers do have liability if they benefited by the employee’s skills and customer contacts in violation of the non-compete.

In today’s economy, and especially the tech economy, no job is secure. Even if you are fortunate enough to have an employment agreement which mandates that the company keep you on staff for a number of years, there is no guarantee of permanent employment in Michigan. I always tell my clients, hope for the best, and plan for the worst. In other words, assume that your employment will not work out. As with many legal issues, a couple hundred dollars spent up front for attorney advice, can save the employee thousands of dollars down the line, and put that employee in a position to obtain gainful employment if they lose their job. When it comes to non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, an ounce of prevention is really better than a pound of cure.

Microwave Ravioli

Summer is here and sometimes that makes it difficult to want to slave in the kitchen. I use my microwave a great deal, but I use it even more in the summer. My family appreciates the nice meals and I appreciate not having to spend so much time in a hot kitchen. With this recipe you won’t even have to turn your stove or oven on. Give it a try.

I use a Tupperware Rock N Serve large deep container for this recipe. If you can find a similar container give it a try. Just remember that you only want to use microwave safe containers for the microwave. Containers that are not microwave saft can release unwanted chemicals into your food. Glass is usually a safe option if you don’t have the Rock N Serve container or something similar.

Ingredients

1 (16 oz) package of frozen Ravioli

1 qt jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

1 small can of mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped bell peppers

2 cups of mozzarella cheese divided into 1 cup portions

Place all of the ingredients except for 1 cup of the cheese in your microwave container. Cover the container but try to leave a vent of some sort. This is why the Rock N Serve is good because it has a vent on it and that makes it easy for the steam to release while cooking.

Cook on high for 8 – 10 minutes or until the Ravioli is hot and tender. Stir. Top with remaining cheese. Microwave on high without a cover for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Pros and Cons of Air-Conditioners and Coolers

Both air-conditioners and coolers can help in keeping your home cool in summers. Coolers usually work on the principle of adding moisture to incoming hot air and releasing cool air inside the rooms. The heat in the air forces the water to evaporate which helps in generating cool air. The cool air generated by the machine, is pushed in the room with the help of a fan. The air that is pulled from the atmosphere passes through a filter before it is pushed into the room.

Air-conditioners give the desired cooling effect by using compressors to convert incoming hot air into cool air. These machines are based on the principles of thermodynamics that run by removing the heat and moisture from the air. They are ideal in areas where the moisture content in air is high.

Most people who live in hot and dry areas prefer coolers over air-conditioners because they are cheaper. However, people who don’t mind spending a little extra prefer air-conditioners because they are more effective and efficient when compared to coolers. Recent advancement in technology has made it easier for air-conditioners to produce cool air that does not contain bacteria. However, cool air from the coolers can contain bacteria which can cause breathing and other health problems. Most people who suffer from allergies and asthma avoid getting a cooler because it can aggravate their problem. Since air-conditioners generate germ-free air, they can be used in hospitals and laboratories. These machines are advanced when compared to coolers and come with features like humidity, speed and temperature control.

Another advantage of buying air-conditioners is that they can easily cool large area in a few minutes. It also has the ability to maintain a constant flow of cool air which helps in providing uniform cooling throughout the room. Since these machines are highly effective, it is preferred by both domestic and industrial users. Advancements in technology have made it easy for people to adjust the temperature when needed. Most machines have a screen that displays the desired temperature that you have set for your room. This temperature can be adjusted according to your requirement.

Coolers are popular with people who live in hot and dry areas as these machines can cool their homes without drastically increasing their electric bills. Coolers are known to consume less energy when compared to air-conditioners. Also, people who have limited budget prefer buying portable coolers that can help in cooling several rooms. These machines can be used to cool an open room which is not possible when you install an air-conditioner.

How to Install a Manual Boost Controller Without Blowing Up Your Engine

Prior to installing any manual boost controller, it is important to have already added a high flowing exhaust and an aftermarket air intake/ air filter. This will ensure the car is able to breath, and will allow the turbo to spool easier.

It is imperative to have installed an aftermarket boost gauge. Most stock boost gauges are not accurate, even at stock boost levels, and lose further accuracy once stock boost is increased. Without an aftermarket boost gauge you risk damage to the engine from overboosting.

How It Works:

The wastegate actuator determines your stock boost levels. The boost controller interrupts the pressure line that runs into the wastegate actuator, allowing you to increase boost over stock levels.

Step 1:

Find your wastegate actuator which is usually attached to the turbo, unless you are using an external wastegate. The wastegate actuator will have a vacuum line port that runs to a boost source. The boost source is usually either the turbo’s compressor housing, the intercooler pipes, or the intake manifold. This vacuum line is where the manual boost controller will be installed. If there is a T fitting in the vacuum line between the boost source and the wastegate actuator, it will have a separate vacuum line that runs to the boost control solenoid. If you have the T fitting, remove the line that runs to the solenoid, but leave the solenoid plugged in.

The barb on the boost controller that connects to the wastegate actuator will have a small hole drilled into it. It is important to leave this hole open, and never switch the wastegate barb and the boost barb.

Boost controllers typically come with approximately 3 feet of vacuum line that you can cut into 2 pieces of desired lengths. The first piece will connect from the boost barb on the controller to your boost source. The second piece will connect from the wastegate barb on the controller to the wastegate vacuum port. Tip: if you have difficulty sliding the vacuum lines onto the barbs, use a little bit of oil to lube the barbs. Block off any open boost sources with vacuum caps and use cable ties to secure all vacuum line connections. We recommend using Premium Fuel with all turbo cars, especially once you have increased your stock boost.

Step 2:

Now that the boost controller is installed, it’s time to test the car. We recommend leaving the adjustment knob exactly where it was when you received and installed your MBC when you begin testing. Turning the adjustment knob clockwise increases boost, turning the adjustment knob counterclockwise decreases boost. This step is very important to keep an eye on your boost gauge to make sure you do not overboost and cause any damage to your motor.

Drive your car in an isolated area where you will be able to stop and go several times without interfering with traffic. Slowly press the gas and watch your boost gauge climb. If the boost gauge does not hit your target, increase the boost. If the boost begins to exceed your target, decrease the boost. Repeat the steps as necessary. It typically takes between 5 to 10 adjustments to get the boost exactly on your target. We recommend starting by adjusting the boost knob in 1/2 turn increments, and as you get close to your target you may need to make smaller adjustments. Never adjust more than 1/2 a turn at a time.

Each car has a maximum safe boost level, depending on upgrades to the vehicle and the characteristics of the fuel system, specifically how much fuel your pump and injectors can provide. It is important to research and know what the maximum boost level your specific car can safely run.

This guide serves as a basic starting point for manual boost controller installation. If you have an external wastegate or twin turbo vehicle, the installation technique may vary slightly.

The Zodiac Connection and the Triangle of Compatibility

What has a clock, the elements and animals got to do with one another? The answer is compatibility.

In Chinese Astrology, the year in which we were born is represented by one of the 12 animals in the zodiac and one of the 5 elements in the universe i.e. wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each of the animal symbolism is associated with an element which has a polarity of Yin and Yang. For example, a person can be born in the year of the Rat with the element of Yin Wood. This is based on the Chinese system of counting the years known as the 60 year cycle. In this cycle, the years are formed by the interaction of 10 celestial stems and 12 terrestrial branches. These stems and branches are also called heavenly stems and earthly branches, simply because our luck is governed partly by heaven’s decree and partly by human action. The 60 year cycle is an important feature in Chinese Astrology known as the Four Pillars of Destiny which takes into consideration the year, month, day and hour of birth. For want of simplicity, we can take just the year pillar to determine the compatibility between animal signs.

Most people are familiar with the 12 animal signs in the zodiac namely Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

But do you know that by looking at the positions of these animals relative to one another on the face of a clock, we can find out their compatibility?

For instance, if you belonged to the animal sign of Rat, you are most compatible with the Dragon and the Monkey. How? Well, a clock has 12 divisions based on the hour hand. By positioning the Rat at 12 o’clock, you can see that the Dragon and the Monkey, being 5th and 9th in the order by which they take their place in the Zodiac, are 4 and 8 positions apart respectively from the Rat and therefore, takes up positions at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock on the face of the clock. In other words, they are also 4 hourly apart from one another. On the face of the clock, they formed a “triangle of compatibility” also known as 3 harmonies based on the Four Pillars of Destiny. Hence, these animals get along well with one another. By extension, all animal signs that are 4 numbers apart in the zodiac are considered most compatible with one another

The combinations of animal signs and their intrinsic elements that form the triangles of compatibility are listed below:-

Pig (Yin Water) – Rabbit (Yin Wood) – Goat (Yin Earth)

Tiger (Yang Wood) – Horse (Yang Fire) – Dog (Yang Earth)

Snake (Yin Fire) – Rooster (Yin Metal) – Ox (Yin Earth)

Monkey (Yang Metal) – Rat (Yang Water) – Dragon (Yang Earth)

If you were to observe closely, in each of the above 3 animal combinations, they are all 4 numbers apart in the zodiac and correspondingly, 4 hourly apart on the face of the clock.

On the contrary, if these animal signs are 6 numbers apart from one another in the zodiac or directly opposite each other on the face of the clock, they are considered to be most incompatible. For example, the Rat and the Horse, being 1st and 7th in the zodiac, takes 1 o’clock and 7 o’clock respectively on the face of the clock and hence, formed one of the most incompatible twosomes in Chinese Astrology. In other words, they clash with one another.

The following are the 6 clashes between the animal signs in the zodiac:-

Rat – Horse

Ox – Goat

Tiger – Monkey

Rabbit – Rooster

Dragon – Dog

Snake – Pig

As you can see, the animal signs we are born with and their relative positions in the zodiac or on the face of the clock will determine whether we get along with one another or clashes. A case of exhibiting animal magnetism or law of the jungle so to speak!

Sieve Analysis for Determining Particle Size Distribution

For quality control programs, test sieve analysis is imperative. The gradation of particles is critical to the way a product or material performs when put into use. Sieve analysis is the most common way to ensure particle size distribution. This is because it is the simplest, most cost-effective method for ensuring proper particle size. Since it can be performed on organic and non-organic materials of various sizes, including tiny particles, it is useful for an extensive variety of applications.

The Procedure

Aggregates such as manufactured powders, granite, crush rock, or other organic or non-organic granular materials can be used in gradation laboratory tests. A typical gradation sieve includes a nested column of wire mesh sieves. A weighed sample of whatever material is being tested is poured into the topmost sieve. It will have the largest openings. The sieves are graded so that each lower sieve will have smaller openings than the one above it. The column of sieves is placed on a device that produces a shaking movement, allowing materials to rest on each sieve according to its particle size. Each sieve is then weighed, and the sample weight on each sieve is divided by the total weight of the original material. This gives the percentage of various particle sizes in comparison with the total weight.

Results of Sieve Analysis

The results of sieve analysis tests are very useful for determining the properties of a particular aggregate. For example, asphalt or concrete mixes must contain a precise amount of specific-sized aggregates in order to function as intended. Sieve analysis is also useful for producing appropriately sized well screens for water production.

Additional Methods

There are many different ways that sieve analysis can be performed. The type of method used will depend on the aggregate that is being measured. For instance, if you need to measure long, needle-shaped, or fibrous materials, the horizontal sieving method may be the most fitting method to use. For this method, the sieve stack is moved in horizontal circles on an even plane. For fine, dry powders, the sonic sieving method is often used, which involves lifting the particles in the sieve and dropping the column forcibly. Within the column, oscillating air moves at a high frequency. Wet sieving, throw-action sieving, and air jet sieving are just a few other methods used to perform sieve analysis.

Calibration Services

In order to ensure quality control, it is important for laboratories that perform sieve analysis to calibrate the sieves that they use from time to time. Sieve calibration services are offered by professionals for both new test sieves and test sieves that are already in use. When seeking professional calibration services, it is imperative to choose a reputable calibration company that can assure a great amount of accuracy. An experienced company that performs many calibrations a year in a professional laboratory and that has a strong reputation for top-notch services will ensure the best results. Calibration services should be an integral part of your quality control program so that you can offer the most reliable products available.

3 Simple Rules For Framing Art, Prints and Posters

I’ve been designing framed and matted art for almost 10 years and have I got some great tips for you! First of all, don’t feel bad if you think you don’t have the “eye” for design. Framing and matting art is definitely a learned skill, combined with a bit of flare.

I’ve had the luxury of working in an art framing facility which has allowed me to spend endless hours matching artwork to mats, mats to frames and frames to art in dozens of colors and sizes. So, without further ado, allow me to share some simple rules that will make your final decision pain-free….and beautiful.

1. Choosing your Artwork: This is so personal. All I can say is that there is no ugly piece of art. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Remember this one rule – let the artwork speak to you. It may remind you of something, someone or some place that comforts your soul or simply puts a smile on your face. Maybe the colors alone uplift your spirit or soothe your mood. The rule is simple – if it touches your heart, then to you, it is Art.

2. Choosing a Mat: In the art framing industry, we call the border around the picture the “Mat Board” (“Mat” is the short-version). Adding a mat is a personal choice. The only way to know for sure if a mat is necessary is to try it. If you are at a store, hold the mat beside the print. Sometimes, you will feel that the artwork or photograph simply doesn’t need a mat. Keep in mind that there is an added cost to consider.

On the other hand, mats can be quite complimentary and should never be overlooked without consideration. Here is the simple rule for choosing a mat if you like the look of it around your art: select a lighter tone or neutral color. You can look for a paler version of a color that is within the print itself, too. If the mat color is too dark, it will overshadow the image, making it appear lost. So, I prefer lighter tone mats. I find they always accent the artwork beautifully.

I also love a black mat, but only on certain occasions. When I use a Stainless Steel frame, I find that the black mat is gorgeous. BUT, the picture is almost always a photograph and mostly a black and white image. If you want to add a mat to your artwork, play it safe and choose cream. If you want to save a few dollars and you feel the artwork is beautiful all on its own, then leave the mat out.

3. Choosing a Frame: several key questions to ask yourself before you can make this selection.

a) Is the artwork contemporary or traditional? Contemporary is a fancy word for modern. It is always abstract or photographic, but it can also be floral or scenic – as long as the artwork has clean lines, trendy colors and a current, up-to-date feel. Traditional is somewhat “old fashioned” and can appear “time-honored”, as if it were created many years ago. Still life drawings, mature landscapes, Victorian children are all good examples.

Contemporary artwork suits black, brown (including bronze) and metal frames, while Traditional marries well with the champagne, silver or gold ornate frames.

b) What is the style of the room that your artwork is going to be placed in? This is not nearly as important as matching the frame to the art, but it is still a consideration. For example; children’s rooms are vastly different from dining rooms, while a contemporary kitchen has a different style to a traditional family room. It is worth mentioning here that the trend for 2009 is in mixing it up. Traditional rooms are inviting modern frames and contemporary rooms are welcoming traditional frames. So, focus on the artwork and hang your framed print in whichever room you want!

c) What is the size of the artwork? Whatever style you choose, keep this rule in mind. Never select a large frame for a very small print. Frames are supposed to compliment the artwork in a subtle way. In simple terms, the frame should be understated, rather then overwhelming. Personally, I only use frames that are 2.5″ – 3.5″ in width for artwork that is 22×28 and larger.

Thinner frames (0.5″ – 1.75″) are ideal for art that is 18×18 and smaller. Although I have seen thinner frames on much larger pieces, I feel that it doesn’t do anything for the artwork. Either you go big on large art or you minimize the frame completely, opting for a Flush – Mounted frame or a Stretched Canvas finish. In the end, everyone has their own unique taste when it comes to Framed Art and all I can do is offer you my simple rules as guidelines. Remember, you’re the only one who has to love it, because you’re the one who has to live with it!

Buying Carpet Squares – Learn How to Comparison Shop

So you’ve decided on buying carpet squares to do a room or rug? Well, you have joined the many other flooring consumers that have become intrigued with the concept of modular flooring other wise known as carpet squares or tiles. Rest assured, you’ve made a great decision. Carpet squares are the friendliest flooring to install yourself and give unmatched design ability in carpeting. What many consumers don;t know is how to comparison shop carpet squares before they buy. Trying to pick the right carpet squares or tiles and get a great deal can actually be quite confusing.

You will hear and read terms on websites like commercial, residential, patterned, solid, price per square foot, per square yard, and price per box. You may also be under the impression that buying direct from the one manufacturer that sells direct is a good deal as well. With so many choices, how can anyone buy carpet squares or tiles with confidence knowing that they got a good deal? It’s actually a few simple explanations and a little math!

The first thing you need to become aware of is that carpet tiles and squares are offered in two major styles, commercial and residential. The commercial carpet squares are the modular carpet tiles you see in airports, casinos, hotels, and high end shopping stores. Commercial carpet squares are usually very low pile height, and have a construction that has mostly level loops of yarn tufted evenly or unevenly if it has a pattern. Commercial squares and tiles have a wide range of design selections and will last a very long time.

Seams in patterned commercial carpet tiles and squares can be hidden easily be quarter turning the tiles as you install them. Residential carpet squares are usually plush or frieze carpet styles that have been manufactured into a modular carpet tile design. Milliken is a predominate manufacturer in this market who sells through distribution across the country. These residential styles are popular with those who like the idea of ease of installation. The drawback to residential carpet squares is that the flexibility of creating unique designs is harder to achieve due to limited options, no graphics or patterns.

Now that you have a basic grasp of carpet square and tile terminology, the hard part is figuring out how to compare actual prices when looking to buy. Some dealers and carpet tiles outlets sell this modular carpeting by the square foot, others by the square yard, and yet others price modular carpet tiles by the box. On top of this, carpet squares come in different sizes. Carpet tiles and squares are offered in anything from 18 inches by 18 inches all the way up to 39 inches by 39 inches. You will find though that 18 inch, 24 inch, and 36 inch sizes are pretty common.

Some manufacturers even list these in centimeters instead of inches. To safely compare prices, break everything down to the price per square foot. If you see a price on a style you like but the price is for a box of carpet squares, see if the box quantity show square feet. You can then take the price of the box and divide it by the number of square feet to get your price per foot. When shopping for modular carpet squares, if you run across a price that is a price per square yard, just take the price per yard and divide by 9 (9 square feet in a square yard) to give you your price per square foot.

Don’t give in to the fluff when shopping to buy carpet squares! There is a lot of propaganda out there on the web and in design magazines! There is one major manufacturer that sells direct ( I won’t mention the name). Just because you’re buying modular carpet squares direct, doesn’t mean that you the consumer are getting the best deal. It only means that the manufacturer is pocketing more of the money! You may have a local carpet outlet that stocks discounted carpet tiles and squares.

You may also be able to find a closeout deal on carpet tile flooring at the local chain home improvement store. More than likely, many of the best deals will be on the web from stores out of Dalton, Ga, the carpet capitol of the world. The important thing to remember is that anything over $2.50 to $3 per foot is overpaying when thousands of other choices are available. In the end, a very realistic idea on a price for carpet tiles is around $.89 per square foot.