How to Study for and Pass the Internal Medicine Boards

As the ABIM internal medicine certification exam approached, we received a large number of emails from our subscribers asking for suggestions on the best way to study for the boards. The truth is there is no one path to success though there are certainly ways to increase your likelihood of passing. Regardless of whether you are preparing for board certification or trying to achieve maintenance of certification (MOC), the best tried and true overall method is to “study early and study often.” Below we lay out possible strategies and tactics (in no particular order) for passing the ABIM board exam:

1. Know the basics of the internal medicine board exam

This is obvious but a lot of people simply don’t review this prior to starting their exam preparation and instead rely on their ABIM study source of choice to provide the information.

  • Review the ABIM exam blueprint and understand the topics covered on the exam
  • A large percentage (33%) of the exam is comprised of Cardiovascular Disease, Gastroenterology, and Pulmonary Disease
  • Over 75 percent are based on patient presentations – most take place in an outpatient or emergency department; others are primarily in inpatient settings such as the intensive care unit or a nursing home.
  • While it’s not a big part of the exam, be prepared and expect to interpret some pictorial information such as electrocardiograms, radiographs, and photomicrographs (e.g., blood films, Gram stains, urine sediments).

2. Use the in-training exam as a starting gauge

If you are a resident, the Internal Medicine in-training exam is a good starting point to see where you stand. It’s simply that – a barometer of where you stand. It will give you an idea where you may be weak and where you may be pretty strong. It will also give you an idea of how you compare with your peers. Don’t alter your ABIM study plan simply based on it but it does give you an early metric of the areas you need to focus on.

3. Get a study guide to prepare for the ABIM exam

It’s important to have a good study guide that is tailored for the exam. Some of the more popular and effective guides we’ve come across are the MedStudy Internal Medicine Board Review books and Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine Board Review.

4. Join a study group

Study groups, if utilized properly, are particularly effective because they allow you to learn from your colleagues and other exam takers. Oftentimes, people will form study groups with their colleagues (ideally limited to 3-4 people) at their residency program. Tactics to use in ABIM study groups may include:

  • Focus on a new internal medicine category by week. For example, focus one week on cardiology and the next on pulmonary care. The exam can be broken into a dozen or so categories (see the ABIM exam blueprint). The majority of the subspecialty questions on the Internal Medicine board exam will focus on cardiology, gastroenterology, and pulmonary care. However, do not neglect the other areas as the ABIM wants to ensure that internists have a broad base of medical knowledge.
  • Test each other with internal medicine questions you have written yourself. We are firm believers in the philosophy that the best way to learn is to teach. If you help others learn, your knowledge of medical concepts will be greatly strengthened.

We recognize that joining a study group is often not feasible – especially for those no longer in residency programs where everyone is preparing the boards. Fortunately, we live in a digital age where being part of a study group is much easier. You can connect with colleagues through Skype, Google hangout or a number of other channels. One of our favorite approaches is to remain informed and learn through the power of social media – in particular Twitter. In a previous post, we highlighted excellent Twitter handles to follow for ABIM exam review as you prepare for certification. If Twitter is not your cup of tea, you can also connect with colleagues through the Knowmedge ABIM community on Google+. Regardless of what approach you decide, studying alongside others preparing for the same exam is a great motivational tool for success.

5. Get a question bank that fits your personal needs

What is the value of an Internal Medicine question bank? This is a discussion near and dear to our heart, of course. Question banks have become a popular tool because they bring together a lot of material in a question format and help create a test taking environment. There are a lot of question banks to choose from – so what should you look for in an ABIM qbank?

  • High quality ABIM-style questions in a format similar to the exam: The exam is mostly filled with clinical vignettes and has straightforward questions as well. At a minimum, your ABIM exam question bank should have both of these types of questions. Quantity is important – but the quality of the questions and explanations is much more important.
  • Detailed explanations that review why the incorrect choices were wrong: A question bank that does not provide you detailed explanations is probably not worth the money and time spent. As you review questions, you will inevitably get some wrong – your choice of ABIM question bank should detail why your choice is incorrect and the reasoning behind the correct choice.
  • Ability to track your personal performance: Your choice of ABIM qbank should be able to tell you your performance overall and by category. Most – not all – question banks provide you a dashboard broken down by category. The Knowmedge question bank has gone an additional step to break the categories into subcategories as seen on the ABIM exam blueprint. This allows you to review your strengths and weaknesses at a granular level. Knowing you are weak at cardiovascular disease is great – knowing you are weak at arrhythmia questions is more valuable.
  • Add-ons – Notes, Lab values, Highlighting: Depending on how you study, these may be valuable features.

ABIM exam questions straight talk:

  • No question bank – not MKSAP, not Knowmedge, not any – knows what will be on the actual ABIM exam. Based on the ABIM Blueprint, you can make assumptions on what are the most high-yield areas to study. The point of a question bank is not to give you the exact questions that will be on the exam – it is to hopefully teach you concepts you may see on the exam and how to reason through what you don’t know immediately.
  • High-quality ABIM exam review questions can be found in many places – question banks are not the only place. There are study guides, books, and even free sources. So don’t simply base your decision on question bank on the questions. In addition to the quality of the questions, what truly differentiates one ABIM exam question bank from another is whether it will truly help you build a broad base of knowledge and help you retain information for the exam. If you are not comfortable reading a bunch of text – it won’t matter how great the questions are. If you are not an audio-visual learner, the Medstudy or Knowmedge videos won’t do anything for you (As clarity, the Knowmedge qbank contains text and audio-visual explanations for this exact reason). If you are an “old-fashioned” learner that prefers printouts – USMLEWorld is definitely not for you – those who have used them are well aware their software will block you from taking print screens or copying of their content. In short… don’t follow the herd – each one of us learns differently and you need to pick the best method for you.

6. Consider whether a review course is right for you

There are pros and cons to taking a review course for your ABIM exam prep. The pros are that it gives you a serious dose of review in a short period of time. It gets you focused if you weren’t focused and some courses are absolutely excellent – we know some internists are ardent supporters of some of the professors that teach these courses. The three most popular independent courses we are aware of are:

  • Awesome Review by Dr. Habeeb Rahman – The best known and most popular independent course. Dr. Rahman has a very unique style of teaching and accompanies his lectures with his own videos. During this six day course (Sunday – Friday), Dr. Rahman provides students his own set of notes and questions to practice.
  • iMedicineReview by Dr. Shahid Babar – This three day course (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) course comes with a set of 1,500 review questions.
  • Unique Course by Dr. Satish Dhalla – A six day course (Monday – Friday) taught by one of the Top Internists in the Nation as selected by U.S. News

The cons of a review course are that they are expensive (Often over $1,000 plus hotel stay) and can be inconvenient to travel to and from. Regardless of whether you attend a review course or not, it cannot replace the pre and post-course study time that is needed. It is complementary to study time and does not replace it.

7. Review our suggested ABIM test taking strategies

The ABIM exam questions are not intended to trick you – they are intended to challenge your knowledge and ability to bring together your understanding of many different concepts and topics. Below are some of the tactics you can use as you are practicing questions and/or taking the actual ABIM exam:

  1. For clinical vignettes, read the question (last line) first and then go back and read the scenario. This way you’ll know what to look for as you are reading the scenario.
  2. Try to answer the question even before seeing the answer choices.
  3. Pay attention for keywords that can clue you in on an etiology or physical exam.
  4. Watch for key demographic information – Geography, ethnicity, gender, age, occupation.
  5. The ABIM test is not intended to be tricky but we are all human so we miss keywords sometimes – such as “least likely” – pay attention to these.
  6. If you are challenged by a longer clinical vignette, note the key items and develop your own scenario – this may trigger an answer.
  7. Most internists we’ve spoken with say time is generally not an issue – but be aware that it is a timed exam and that you have approximately two minutes per question.

We cannot stress enough the mantra “study early and study often.” The exam is challenging but it can be conquered with diligence and proper preparation.

8. Understand and be prepared for ABIM test day

  • Be prepared and confident. No matter how you have chosen to study, on test day – confidence is critical!
  • Get a good night’s rest – last minute cramming and staying up late is only going to stress you out more.
  • Get there early – don’t risk getting caught in traffic. It’s much better to be a little early than be aggravated in traffic.
  • Take an extra layer of clothing. The last thing you want to do is be uncomfortable and cold because someone decided to turn on the air conditioner too high.
  • Test day is long! Be mentally prepared for it. From registration to the optional survey at the end, the day will be 8-10 hours long (depending on whether you are certifying for the first time or taking the maintenance of certification exam).
  • Keep some power snacks with you to take during break time.
  • Review the ABIM exam day schedule so you know exactly what to expect.

That’s a basic overview of how to study for and pass the ABIM board exam. As mentioned, there is no secret sauce or method to this – you simply need to have a broad base of knowledge. There is no substitute for studying early and studying often! If you are preparing for the ABIM Boards, we wish you well – we’re here to help so let us know if you have any questions! Happy studying!

The Smith Hawken Biostack Compost Bin – How to Use It

You can use a compost bin to recycle junk from your backyard and kitchen. This kind of bin can trap warmth, manage water content, and guard compost from animals like dogs and insects. Products that offer more benefits can quicken the decaying process of your compost and give you the highest quality compost for your backyard. Consider the awesome features of the Smith Hawken Biostack Compost Bin and follow the guidelines on how to utilize the bin correctly.

Features

1 cubic yard large, the Smith and Hawken Biostack Compost Bin gives adequate space for rubbish to biodegrade so you can have good soil for applying nutrients. The advantage of this compost bin is that it can also fit in homes that don’t have enough room for compost. 3 tiers constitute the Smith and Hawken Biostack Compost Bin, where you can turn piles with manageability and rubbish can turn into excellent compost in 3-4 months. The bin is manufactured with 60 percent recycled polythene and isn’t hard to clean. Rotting, water, and rodents have no effect on the bin.

Proper Usage

Start by finding a spot to settle your Smith Hawken Biostack Compost Bin. The bin should not be obstructive but accessible enough to reach. For your convenience, make sure that you have enough room to walk around it.

The next thing you want to do is to collect backyard and kitchen junk like scraps and trimmings and putting them in your bin’s tiers. Pile them on top of each other. For instance, pile kitchen and backyard junk in an alternating manner so that compost can start immediately. Turn piles from time to time. If you’d like great results, be certain that your compost has adequate amounts of air, water, dead junk, and fresh junk.

So that your bin gets enough air, avoid placing it in a very closed area. Add just enough water to coat waste material for speedy composting. The best compost you can make is by mixing dead yard waste material and fresh waste material such as kitchen leftovers.

Pricing

The Smith Hawken Biostack Compost Bin is relatively cheap, considering how much you’re going to save on gardening necessities. The bin can sell for $100, although some residents such as San Jose residents can buy one for just $50. Search over the Internet for more pricing information and reviews.

Delivery

Transportation expenditures for a Smith Hawken Biostack Compost Bin may cost you $5.95 to $20.95, which counts on order size and weight. Usually you’d have to wait 7-10 business days for your order to arrive, but you can get express deliveries, which take only 3-4 business days. Furthermore, a bin can be transported to American homes outside the United States continent.

Utilize the advantages of a Smith Hawken Biostack Compost Bin for your garden. You simply need to place your bin in the right spot and maintain it with appropriate practices to create excellent compost for your garden. You no longer have to keep spending on ready-made compost and can wait for the bin to be delivered to your porch.

Voice Over Microphones – How to Choose the Best One For You and Your Budget

The biggest mistake voice over artists make – and that includes some professionals – is using the wrong microphone. It can wreck your work. If you market yourself on Voice123.com or Voices.com, the wrong microphone will insure you do not get hired, or if you do, that you will not get hired by that same person again.

Here we'll look at the three types of microphones most often used, their strengths and weaknesses, cost, and how to determine which one (s) to go for.

We'll talk about the types, then look at specific brands, models, and prices.

Before we start, the most important thing I can say to you is that your microphone is the most important part of your entire audio chain, no exceptions. You can have the most fabulous gear in the world downstream from the mic, but if the mic does not cut it, it does not really matter about the rest of that gear. On the other hand, a terrific microphone followed by average-priced gear will give you a superior audio product.

What are you looking to do? Are you looking for a mic that's smooth and sweet, or hard-edged and in-your-face? Are you male or female? If you want to do movie trailers and screaming car dealer ads, you need a different mic than if you're doing "guy or girl next door" – realistic – voice work, or standard announce voice work. Here are the types of mics to consider:

Dynamic

Dynamic microphones are what you see in radio stations and are what live vocalists (singers) most often use. They're rugged, reasonably good-sounding, and okay for most voices, meaning one might not sound absolutely fabulous on your particular voice, but it will not sound awful, which is not true of other types, including some very expensive microphones. A dynamic also is not nuanced. The part that pics up your voice, the diaphragm, is connected to a coil of wire; Air movement from sound makes the coil move between the poles of a magnet. The sound has to overcome the mass of the coil, and very small sounds do not get through.

This does not make them bad. Rush Limbaugh's Golden EIB microphone is a dynamic, and, again, most radio stations use them. They are good general-purpose mics, and many voice over pros use them. They are equally good for male and female voices, and you can do most any type of style with them.

If you're on a budget, a dynamic is the only choice, because the other two cost a lot more for ones that are worth it. There are cheap versions of the other two, and you do not want one!

So if dynamics are so useful, why spend more for a condenser or ribbon?

Condenser

A condenser microphone, of which there are two types, transistor and tube ("valve" in Europe), does not have the moving coil of wire attached to its diaphragm. It modifies an electrical current generated by an external power supply (found in most computer interfaces or with an external power supply, see your dealer for info, or internal batteries). Without the mechanical resistance of a dynamic mic's coil to overcome, a condenser is far more sensitive to nuance, and therefore sounds much more intimate.

Condensers come in two flavors: transistor and tube. A tube condenser, which is an expensive instrument (there are cheap ones and they make good paperweights but not microphones), is almost always the very best way to go. They sound very intimate and full, and have a great up-front sound without being aggressive. They are quite subject to problems from non-vocal speech components – 'f', 's', 'p' – and require a pop screen (see your dealer). Tube mics also produce what's called harmonic distortion, which we do not consciously hear but is responsible for what's called "tube warmth" (nothing to do with temperature!) And sounds quite intimate.

Condensers come in two other flavors: large diaphragm and small diaphragm. Large diaphragms are for when you want a big, intimate sound. Small diaphragms are said to be more accurate. However, the right one for you is the one that sounds best after making several-minute recordings with each and seeing if one is more fatiguing or if one just plain sounds better to you than the other. There are no rules. Both kinds are used for voiceover.

Many voice over artists prefert tube condensers over transistorized ones, but in all cases, what sounds best on your particular voice is what you should get. How to choose a mic? We'll get to that in a minute.

Ribbon

Here's the third type, in a class by itself: the ribbon microphone. While dynamics and condensers 'hear' with diaphragms, a ribbon microphone "hears" with a short, narrow, and very thin piece of corrugated aluminum suspended between two poles of a strong magnet.

You've seen the big, pickle-shaped microphones on Letterman's and Larry King's desks. They are RCA Model 77 ribbon microphones (used as props in this case), invented, I believe, in the 1930's. They were found everywhere for half a century. RCA quit making ribbons in the 1970's, and an enterprising genius named Wes Dooley bought all of RCA's stock ribbons (the ribbons themselves) and probably single-handedly re-introduced the ribbon microphone to the US market. His company is called AEA, and even the AEA logo is so designed as to closely resembled RCA's logo.

Ribbon mics are warm and smooth, jazz guys like to record with them, they're very nice for ladies' voices, and for certain male voices they add a nice satisfing depth. They also have a low output, which means that you have to crank up the input on your system to get a decent level from them. But raising the input results what's called the noise floor, and you can end up with a recording where you can hear hiss in the background. Wes and other ribbon mic manufacturers deal with this problem well, however, and some companies are making preamplifiers (talk with your dealer about this) specifically designed for ribbon mics.

Whether a ribbon – or any mic, for that matter – will sound good on your voice can not be known without actually trying one out. Ribbons are quite sensitive to moving air; If you blow into one to test to see if it's on, there's an excellent chance you'll destroy the ribbon. When ribbons were in common studio use, they were 'bagged' – a fitted bag was put over them – just to move them from place to place in the studio, to avoid ribbon damage from the air passing across them as they were moved .

Brands

Dynamics

There are a million brands, which of course goes for condensers, but not that many ribbon brands.

Not to worry, because there are several industry standards with which it's hard to go wrong. Here are the three most popular dynamics, and they probably outsell all the rest put together:

Electro-Voice RE20
Sennheiser 421U (see dealer about the specific one for your purpose)
Shure SM7
———
Shure SM57 / SM58 – less expensive and can be used if you do not have the money for the others

These mics, except for the last two, are in the $ 350- $ 700 range. Although each has a characteristic 'sound,' they are pretty close together in that respect. Each is well-made and dependable over the long haul, as in decades.

The Sennheiser, and, I believe, the SM7, have what are called proximate effects: if you get right on top of them they accentuate the lows. Many announcers in radio stations like to eat them; They want that deep "Voice of God" sound. They're better used at a distance of 6-10. "The RE20 is known for its lack of the procurement effect. Etc. The RE20 was also made under a different model name, PL20. Instruments and is no longer in production. I found a PL20 for $ 150 and am still jumping up and down, for the average used price of a PL20 or RE20 is double that.

For price-to-quality, none of these mics can be beat.

Condensers

Two flavors, here: transistorized and tube. As mentioned above, a tube condenser, like any well-designed tube device, generates overtones, which our ears perceive as "warmth." I say well-designed, because ever since tubes were "rediscovered" about 25 years ago, a lot of low-priced gear with a tube or two in them has hit the market, but they are not necessarily designed by people who understand exactly what They do nor how to design a tube circuit for best effect. This section deals with condensers in general.

Probably the most-recognized condenser mic name in the world is Neumann (pronounced NOI-man), and its most popular model is called a U-87. They sell new for around $ 3500, around $ 2000 or less used. A Neumann either sounds incredible on your voice or it sounds honky. It is the microphone National Public Radio uses exclusively.

It is found in just about every recording studio of any size. It will love your voice or hate it.

There are more expensive Neumanns, and a series of low-priced models prefixed with the letters TLM. A good number of voiceover artists use TLMs (<$ 1000); In my opinion they are not nearly as natural-sounding as the U-87 or a good dynamic. I had one but sold it after a few months. It could sound really good to your particular ear, however. I make this point because tastes different, and it is surely true that one voice can sound bad on a certain mic and superb on the next voice. So how does one choose? We'll get to that in a sec.

First, you must use a pop screen on a condenser. This device stops those blasts of air from non-vocal speech components, most notably "P" sounds, to which condensers are especially sensitive. Put your hand in front of your mouth and say "P." Feel the air? If that blast hits a condenser, let's just say you do not want to be wearing headphones at the time. Now, it's a good idea to talk across (at 45 degrees) not straight into, any microphone, because all of them will react badly to P pops; It is just that condensers REALLY react to them. Many RE20 users put pop screens in front of their mics even though most people do not use pop screens with dynamics.

Cheap condensers: a big no-no.

Cheap condensers are all over the market. You can buy a microphone with a nice spider shock mount and in a beautiful aluminum flight case all for $ 75. Um, I do not thin 'so, Looooxy. They are unnaturally bright at the top end and boomy at the bottom.

The really nefarious part of this is that, if you're just starting out, your ear is easily fooled into thinking that this sounds good. It does sound sort of exciting, but it is extremely fatiguing to listen to a recording made on one. As Phil Spector famously put it, "It's all in the middle." Americans like to crank up the treble and bass. If you have a mic delivering lots of highs and lows, and someone boosts the highs and lows on their music system, your work will sound worse than awful. Expensive microphones have rolled-off low ends and smooth high ends. Upon first using one you may even think, "Wow, what's the big deal about this thing? It's boring." No, it's natural. Unboosted highs and lows. In other words, it sounds like you, not you-through-a-microphone. That's as it should be.

Remember, you are competing with people who own high-end condensers, and that's how they sound. I'll take a $ 400 dynamic over a $ 400 condenser just about every time.

Ribbon microphones

I have experience with exactly one ribbon: an AEA R84. It sounds really good. It's an updated version of an industry-standard RCA ribbon, the Model 44, invented long ago and used forever, like the 77. It's tres cool-looking, and comes with a snarky-looking padded, fitted maroon bag for transport and protection. It's about $ 990.

There are other ribbons that have excellent reputations, more hitting the market all the time, see your dealer. I'm not aware of ribbons being used that much for voiceover, but I think it's because a great number of people do not know about them. I think it's also due as much to inertia as anything – everyone learns what everyone else is using and continues suit. Also, ribbons do not have the in-your-face sound that dynamics and especially condensers have.

How to choose the right mic for you

The really best way is to call a professional recording studio and book an hour or so of their time, and have them set up an array of mics around you and test read you, each mic going to a different track of a recording. It's infinitely better to match the mic to your particular (and unique) voice than to get just anything and try to make it fit using equalization (Google "equalization for voiceover" and read it!). I recommend you test no fewer than five mics, making sure to include all the ones listed above except the Shure SM57 / 58. When you listen to yourself recorded on each one, the best one will usually make itself plain, and it's a good idea To ask the recording engineer's opinion, for s / he knows what to listen for. My method is to listen to the records of the first two, choose a winner, compare it to the third one, choose a winner, compare it to the fourth, and so on. Then do it again, only have the engineer mix up the playback order.

Do not try this test in an amateur home studio. They almost certainly will not have the mics you need to make the test meaningful, and the person recording you will almost certainly not be competent to evaluate which mic to use for voiceover; Most home studios exist for the purpose of recording music and sung vocal, not voice acting and voiceover.

What if you do not have a studio within 50 or 100 miles, or their rates are too high (although I think paying $ 100 to test several thousand dollars' worth of microphones will save you unbelievable heads, sending mics back, etc.)?

Here's what to do: if your budget allows, buy either a Neumann U-87 or a Lawson L-47 MPII. The Lawson is around $ 2000, or $ 1500 bucks less than the Neumann. The Lawson is the mic I have used for nearly 10 years. It sounds like Disney, but even more importantly, I have yet to record a voice on it that has not sounded really good.

It is sold factory-direct through a fella named Gene Lawson in Nashville, at Lawsonmicrophones.com. If you call them, you can talk right to Gene. He's a great guy.

Absent that kind of budget, get an Electro-Voice RE20, Shure SM7, or Sennheiser 421U (they come with a couple of variations so tell your dealer that you're using it for VO.

If you're not sure whether you really want to be a VO artist but would like to give it a trial shot, get a Shure SM57 or 58. They are $ 100 dynamics. As I said before, they are okay, and never sound bad on anyone's voice.

Where to get it?

If you're going to get an RE20 or Sennheiser or Shure, get it from your local music store (the best choice because service is right there, no mailorder hassles). If you do not have one, go online to one of the big catalog outlets such as Sweetwater, Full Compass, Zzounds, or Guitar Center. They have fairly liberal return policies and are easy to work with. They sell a lot of stuff and have competitive reputations to maintain. Plus, their prices are usually identical from piece to piece so they have to make up for it with really good service, all to our advantage.

If you've got the bucks for a $ 1500 – $ 2000 + condenser, go online to SoundPure.com. (Lawson are sold factory-direct only at Lawsonmicrophones.com) Sound Pure has professional sound recordists to talk to, and at those prices you need to talk to pros. Not that the catalog stores do not have pros, but their level of expertise varies. I've talked to guys who knew nothing about what I wanted and guys who knew a lot; At Sound Pure they're all pros and they are really interested in getting you what you need and not a penny more.

Tell them everything you want to do, what other gear you have, what to buy if you do not have any gear yet. They really give a great big rip about their customers and about the pro audio business in general. I can not say enough good about them. In case you're wondering about all this nice stuff I'm saying about Lawson and Sound Pure: not only am I not getting paid by them, they do not know I'm writing this article!

To sum up: If there's a pro studio near you, book an hour and test their dynamics and condensers using the method above.

When you're ready to buy, if you want to spend $ 200- $ 700, get a dynamic: Electro-Voice RE20, Shure SM7, or Sennheiser 421U. Check your local music store first – everything's so much easier that way. From $ 1500 and above (which your local store probably will not have) get a tube condenser: Lawson L-47 MPII from Lawsonmicrophones.com, or for others, go to SoundPure.com and call them. Re the RE20, EV also makes an RE27. Some people really like them, some people really do not. I'd go with the RE20.

I've worked for years to get a good sound and am writing this to try to save you some time in finding your great sound.

Frenum Piercing

There are a variety of different male piercings that can be done such as the Prince Albert, Reverse Prince Albert, the Dydo, the Apdravia, the list goes on, but one of the easiest and most common male piercings is the Frenum Piercing. The Frenum Piercing is a piercing that is done on the underside of the shaft of the penis. This type of body modification is said to enhance sexual organisms for both parties involved. I can tell you that from my experience it most assuredly does.

Where the head of the penis and the shaft of the penis come together on the bottom is usually where a Frenum Piercing is done. The piercing is done by pinching the loose skin in that area and marking the entrance and exit holes. After the holes have been marked forceps are applied and then (usually) a 12 gauge needle is used for the actual initial piercing. A barbell is then inserted. Most people use straight barbells but captive bead rings are suitable as well, but you have to be careful that they do not snag on clothing. Everyone’s body is very different, healing time included.

The penis is a very vascular organ and usually heals quite quickly. If the piercing was pierced correctly, kept clean and depending on the individual person the heal time can be anywhere from 5 weeks to 6 months. Because the penis is so vascular, the healing process is quick, and rejection rarely occurs. However, migration with this piercing is very likely.

Having sex before the frenum piercing is completely healed can also encourage migration, which is where the jewelry is actually just pushed out by your body. Sex after this piercing should wait until the piercing is completely healed. Having sex before the piercing is healed can result in the piercing getting infected, or tearing. To help prevent infection after the piercing is healed, a condom should be worn, among other reasons to wear a condom during sex.

Although the frenum piercing is generally done closer to the head of the penis, many men enjoy getting multiple barbells or rings put in on the underside of the shaft of the penis. Another name for multiple piercings on the underside of the penis is called frenum ladder or Jacob’s ladder. Personally i think this is one of the coolest piercings that there is below the waist. Once it is healed it will give sensations to both partners that you can not get anywhere else.

A frenum ladder can go from the head of the penis all the way to the back side of the scrotum. Some women find that the frenum piercing enhances their orgasm. But for the women who find it to be uncomfortable, the men have the option of removing the piercing and putting it back in afterwards. Usually it is just a matter of adjusting the size of the barbells to suit your partner.

Many will continue and once the ladder is complete as full as it can be with “rungs” then you can start to go down your sack with rings in the same manner. However if you do decide to do this you will not be able to wear ball weights such as our Donut Ball Weights which are incredibly popular because of the increase in sexuality that they offer. Especially as you get older it is nice to get your boys back down where they belong. Even though they are about The Worlds Most Comfortable Ball Stretchers that you will ever find, you simply can not wear steel rings in your sack piercings and have it be comfortable.

Vancouver’s CC Department Store Once the Standard of Small Town Shopping

Growing up during the mid-20th century, I remember when the place to shop for clothing was at the downtown department store with it’s intricately hand painted Manikins in the front window.

Besides the well-known chain stores like Montgomery Ward and Penney’s, Vancouver, Washington was served by a locally owned old standby CC’s Department Store. CC’s was the kind of store that closed on Sundays and was known for their “better” merchandize.

CC’s was nearly a museum even by 1940’s and ’50’s standards. Shabbily genteel and somewhat dowdy it had creaking bare wooden floors, wide wooden staircase and high ceilings, but what really made CC’s stand a part from other downtown Vancouver stores was how purchase transactions were accomplished.

When customers made a purchase in CC’s the clerk handling the transaction put the money into a metal container the size of a soup can and sent it along with a sale voucher, sailing by electronic wire to a second floor central cashier. The cashier made change and returned the transaction in the same manner to the clerk so that she could close out the sale with your receipt.

CC’s is the only store I remember shopping in that handled their “cash only” transactions in this manner. Grandma was a regular shopper at CC’s and she chose the store especially for their selection of matching Cinderella brand dresses for my sister and me. I remember shopping for back to school and Easter clothes there too.

In those day women “dressed” for downtown shopping expeditions and customers like my grandmother knew the store’s clerks by name. This was a time when there was personalized service was the norm. Knowing what grandma liked to buy for us, clerks sometimes held back Cinderella dresses in our sizes for her to come in and choose from.

Besides purchasing dresses for my younger sister and me, grandma sometimes would buy an outfit and hat for herself. CC’s carried a fine line of women’s hats. In these days, hats and gloves were one of the ideals of femininity and a must for Sunday church attendance.

Standing on a corner of Main Street, CC’s was a large part of downtown Vancouver. It was also part of a more courteous era, an era when everyday shopping was much more formal. People dressed up, rode the bus and took their time browsing though the store merchandize. If you went into a store, the owners chatted with you and wanted you to spend some time. It was all part of the local flavor of a bygone era.

Concrete Rot or Concrete Cancer

If you want a lifetime job, it could be painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge – once you finish you probably have to start at the other end again. The painting continues in order to stop the steel from corroding, and steel corrosion is what causes concrete rot, otherwise called concrete cancer or spalling.

How does concrete ‘rot’ ?

Concrete is used in most commercial and residential buildings in a host of applications such as slabs, stairways, post and columns, support beams, balconies and verandahs, walls, pathways and pools. Huge volumes of concrete are involved in structures like bridges, wharves and high-rise towers. The concrete is generally reinforced using steel bars or mesh and in the larger developments significant amounts of steel are required for added strength.

The enemies of reinforced concrete are water and air. If these elements gain access to the steel enclosed within the concrete it can corrode – the steel expands as it breaks down and fractures the surrounding concrete. As the concrete cracks and crumbles, there is even greater opportunity for water and air to contact the reinforcing steel and the process intensifies. There are obvious safety issues as the structural integrity of the concrete is reduced.

How to identify concrete rot

It can be happening unseen within the concrete but as it continues it becomes more evident. You may notice rust marks running down the concrete, or the concrete flaking, cracking or crumbling. In extreme cases, large sections of the concrete will fall away, exposing the rusted reinforcing steel. Remedial treatment can involve substantial and expensive corrective measures.

A professional building inspection can identify the problem or warn of potential for future trouble. It can be water pooling somewhere, small cracks in the concrete or reinforcing too close to the concrete surface. Prevention is certainly better than cure with concrete rot – it may simply be a matter of improving drainage, painting a surface or sealing cracks with some sort of mortar or epoxy filler. If you have any concerns about concrete rot, it pays to get some expert advice.

I do like to be beside the seaside

Well yes, most of us do but it’s here that concrete rot can be even more prevalent as chlorides in the moist, salty air react more aggressively with the reinforcing steel. Concrete rot is an ever-present issue in locations close to the sea and property owners need to be constantly on the lookout for any signs of deterioration and to ensure that protective measures are maintained.

The same can be said for chlorides associated with swimming-pool chlorine or saltwater pools.

Also, there is often moisture close to the ground surface in beachfront blocks and water can soak up into the structure. Large buildings with basement or underground car parks can experience the same problem with groundwater seepage.

In summary, concrete rot is a common problem. It can lead to significant structural damage which may be difficult and expensive to repair. It is not always easy to detect, it can result in serious safety implications and it can be avoided by getting expert advice and using the right materials and appropriate construction guidelines.

Gestalt Therapy And Hypnosis

The Gestalt approach to therapy can be termed “phenomenological-existential” as it is concerned with an awareness of the here-and-now, working away from concepts and towards pure awareness (Clarkson, 1989). By the client becoming aware of their thoughts, feelings, etc the goal is for the individual to achieve insight into the situation under examination. As Yontef (1993) writes, insight is gained by studying the phenomomenological focusing, experimenting, reporting, and dialogue of the client. The philosophy behind this approach is that most people do not function in the world based on how the world, including themselves, is, but through a filter of self-deception, whereby one does not have a clear picture of oneself in relation to the world. Living that is not based on the truth of oneself leads to feelings of dread, guilt, and anxiety (Yontef, 1993).

The historical antecedents of Gestalt therapy are the experiences of its co-founder, Fritz Perls. Trained as a psychoanalyst, Perls rebelled against the dogmatic style of Freud’s approach (as had other notable founders of schools of psychotherapy, Jung and Adler. In the preface to the 1969 edition of “Ego, Hunger and Aggression” Perls wrote of this period of time as follows, “Started seven years of useless couch life.” (Perls, 1969)), and incorporated aspects of holism into the belief that ultimately the individual is responsible for creating his or her existence.

Additionally, the early decades of the 20th century are notable for their refutation of Newtonian positivism and its replacement with phenomenology. These two themes were then combined within the scaffolding of Gestalt psychology to produce an approach centred on the individual’s relationship to their existence. The structure that Gestalt psychology offered was that perception should be considered as the recognition of patterns and relationships between items in the perceptual world which fulfils the central human need of giving meaning to perceptions, experiences and existence (Clarkson, 1989).

Reductionist approaches could neither account for the richness of perception, and its immediacy (for example, see Koffka, 1935; Gibson, 1966), nor take into account the importance of the observer. This led Perls to the idea that the actual awareness of an individual is more trustworthy than an interpretation of any data that a person might provide a therapist with and is primarily a description of movements between ‘figure’ and ‘ground’. The figure is the item of attentional focus at any one time, and the ground is the remainder of perceptual awareness. These movements, or ‘cycles of experience’ can become disrupted by being incomplete or unresolved and it is this ‘unfinished business’ which Gestalt therapy attempts to address. These ideas probably did not constitute a therapeutic approach until 1951 when Perls opened the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy, despite the fact that the first recognisable Gestalt therapy book was published in the 1940’s (Perls, 1969).

Accompanying this combination of ideas, based on the thinking of Gestalt psychologists, philosophers (e.g., Lewin, 1952), and politicians (e.g., Smuts), was the fundamental concept of the person as basically healthy, striving for balance, health, and growth (Clarkson, 1989). The unfinished business referred to earlier is seen as an obstacle to these processes, restricting the person’s ability to function fully, often termed by Gestalt therapists as ‘dis-ease’. Van de Riet (Van de Riet et al., 1980) encapsulates the idea that dis-ease is a consequence when people do not experience themselves as being psychologically and physiologically in balance with their environment.



“As action, contact, choice and authenticity characterize health in gestalt therapy, so stasis, resistance, rigidity and control, often with anxiety, characterize the state called ‘dis-ease'”

The stasis, resistance, rigidity, and control prevent graceful flow through cycles of experience.

Having briefly outlined the core of Gestalt therapy it is necessary to consider some of the techniques that Gestalt therapists use in order to consider how they might be incorporated into hypnotherapy. Although there are techniques that are closely associated with a Gestalt approach, there are two caveats we must bear in mind. First, as Berne (1970) noted, gestalt therapy does use any techniques exclusively:



“Dr. Perls is a learned man. He borrows from or encroaches upon psychoanalysis, transactional analysis, and other systematic approaches. But he knows who he is and does not end up as an eclectic. In his selection of specific techniques, he shares with other ‘active’ psychotherapists the ‘Moreno’ problem: the fact that nearly all known ‘active’ techniques were first tried out by Dr. J. R. Moreno in psychodrama, so that it is difficult to come up with an original idea in this regard” (Berne, 1970: 163-4).

Second, that in Gestalt therapy, technique is considered secondary to the relationship developed between the therapist and the client, as Resnick (1984) writes:



“every Gestalt therapist could stop doing any Gestalt technique that had ever been done and go right on doing Gestalt therapy. If they couldn’t, then they weren’t doing Gestalt therapy in the first place. They were fooling around with a bag of tricks and a bunch of gimmicks” (1984: 19).

Based on these two caveats we might argue that anything of an ‘active’ nature which is incorporated into hypnotherapy would constitute Gestalt, or alternatively that without explicit training in the Gestalt client-therapist relationship there is nothing we could do which would be Gestalt. However, as the spirit of Gestalt therapy is very much identified by its use of specific techniques that is the approach that will be taken in the following discussion.

The techniques that are associated with Gestalt therapy are closely related to the idea that clients should want to work towards self-awareness through a mastery of their awareness processes. This is in contrast to patients who firstly are actually seeking relief from discomfort, although they may claim that they wish to change their behaviour, and secondly clients who expect that relief will come via the efforts of the therapist. Thus, Gestalt therapy is “an exploration rather than a direct modification of behaviour…the goal is growth and autonomy” (Yontef, 1993). The techniques are modifications and elaborations of the basic question, “What are you experiencing now?” and the instruction, “Try this experiment, or pay attention to that, and see what you become aware of or learn” (Zimberoff & Hatman, 2003).

Perhaps the most well known of all techniques that are identified as Gestalt is the empty chair. This is where clients project their representation of a person or an object, or part of themselves into an empty chair and they then present a dialogue between what is projected into the chair, and themselves. In some cases the client moves between the chairs, but either way, the idea is that inner conflicts become expressed and so the client heightens their awareness of them. This in turn forces the client to take responsibility for their difficulties so that they can make choices to resolve the sources of unfinished business (Stevens, 1975). As Becker (1993) writes, this is the whole point of Gestalt, to “take people who are conditioned and automatic and put them in some kind of aegis over themselves.”

Similar to the empty chair, another common technique is known as topdog/underdog. A dialogue is performed between two aspects of the client’s personality, the topdog representing the introjecting demander of perfection, expressed by “should” and “must”, and the underdog, which is a manifestation of resistance to external demands. Through the dialogue “resolution, compromise, understanding or permanent divorce becomes possible” (Clarkson, 1989). This is attained by the individual becoming aware of their internal battles, which often lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety, and depression.

The Gestaltist focus on awareness is not confined to awareness of cognitive processes, such as dialogue, but also physiological processes through a process termed bodywork. This involves the client consciously noting where they experience tension in particular situations, or how their pattern of breathing changes. Once aware they can learn strategies to reduce these reactions, which have produced both physical and mental discomfort.

As Zinker (1978) writes, “this may include the person’s awareness of his body, its weight on the chair, its position in space, its minute sounds and movements.” Here the individual is taking responsibility for their body and taking charge of choosing how they want to react. Sometimes these tensions are based on a preoccupation with earlier circumstances. If the client is not responding to the current circumstances then they are seen as projecting the past to the present, so old patterns of responding, rather than new, experimental approaches are dominating their life (Parlett & Hemming, 2002). Working to release the physical manifestations of those old patterns can lead to greater engagement and awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings (Zimberoff & Hatman, 2003). This approach is also known as establishing sensation function (Clarkson, 1989) and is considered useful for clients who have become ‘alienated from their senses’ or those with narcissistic attributes who have ‘experienced it all’ (Clarkson, 1989).

The importance of bodywork is made clear by Becker (1993) who suggests that physical expressions are closer to truth because the mind is engaged in deception and sabotage: Perl’s basic assumption was that the body and its total processes are somehow anterior to and bigger than the mind. Gestalt conceives of the mind as an interference, as a way of blocking the total momentum of the organism in some way. Not only that, but the mind is not even the noble part of the organism that we always thought it was. For most people the mind and the creations of the mind work against the body. They work against the best interests of the total person.

In line with other psychodynamic approaches, Gestalt therapy includes dream work. The Gestalt position is dissimilar to Freud, in that Perls did not think of the unconscious as an inaccessible region of the mind which dreams could provide access to if interpreted correctly – Freud’s ‘royal road to the unconscious’ was Perl’s royal road to integration. His view was more in line with Jung, who saw dreams as existential messages for the dreamer. In dream work the client is typically asked to relate the dream in the present tense as if they were experiencing the dream in that moment. From this the client develops an awareness of the existential message and how it consists of projected parts of the self.

The above descriptions of some of the techniques associated with Gestalt therapy should neither be considered exhaustive nor exclusive. As cited earlier, Resnick (1984) amongst others clearly believes that Gestalt therapy is not and cannot be tied to particular techniques, it is about the relationship between the client and the therapist.

An important part of this relationship is that the therapist is acting to guide the client towards greater self-awareness, responsibility and ownership of emotions, thoughts, sensations etc in order to complete any ‘unfinished business’ so that s/he may move smoothly through cycles of experience. The experienced therapist is able to adapt to the particular client in order to achieve this, relying on a wealth of techniques and skills. This essence of Gestalt therapy allies it more closely with cognitive behavioural approaches than typical psychodynamic methods because it relies less on interpretation of the client and more on their active participation. It is perhaps this that makes it possible to incorporate aspects of Gestalt therapy into hypno-therapeutic practice.

Interestingly Levendula (1963) suggests the view that a Gestalt therapist would be in a more advantageous position if he would combine his approach with hypnotic techniques. For example, the Gestalt therapist teaches the increasing of awareness through experimental exercises. The hypnotherapists can achieve this much more easily by directing the patient’s attention to become sharply aware of an idea or sensation or memory which thereby becomes a “bright Gestalt” while the rest of the perceptual field recedes into a background. The hypnotic state itself corresponds to the Gestalt-background principle, and the Gestalt formation becomes more or less an automatic function of it. …the combination of Gestalt therapeutic principles with hypnosis enriches both approaches.

From this it is clear that Gestaltists are being advised to incorporate hypnotherapy into their practice. The following discussion will consider whether hypnotherapists can introduce aspects of Gestalt therapy into their work.

One of the central tenets of Gestalt therapy is that clients experience events in the present, that is they re-enact past events in the present. By re-living them they can focus on their experiences, both psychological and physiological and thus gain understanding. Awareness was considered “the key to unlock insight and ultimately bring behaviour change” (Zimberoff, & Hartman 2003). Bringing the experienced past into the experiential present is one important property of hypnosis.

Through hypnotic age regression, working with dreams etc clients can re-experience events that have occurred at some other time as if they were happening in the here and now. This is not merely a cognitive reliving of a copy of the event, but a fully nuanced resurrection of the experience. As Zimberoff, & Hartman (2003) state, “Keeping the client’s awareness on concrete detail is a constant in hypnotic age regressions, because it promotes presentness emotionally and viscerally (emphasis in original). Of equal importance is that the client’s awareness can be focused on different aspects of their experience through repeated re-experiencing of it, allowing for a detailed, and concrete re-living of the experience in all its original strength and from physiological and psychological perspectives. This then fulfils Rosen’s (1972) view that “Patients move best when they are moved” (emphasis in original).

It is clear that the Gestalt concern with realistic, present, re-experiencing of events is an important aspect of hypnosis. The concerns of Gestalt therapy with direct insight, rather than insight through interpretation would be a novel addition to hypnotherapy. To include this perspective is a philosophical and conceptual shift rather than a technical one and depends on the therapist’s own preferences. However it is quite possible to achieve.

Hypnosis is also useful in intensifying aspects of an experience, by directing the client to pay closer attention to particular details. For example, someone who wishes to stop smoking might be asked to strongly feel the sense of relief and strength from being able to take deep breaths of fresh, clean air. Greenberg and Malcolm (2002) have demonstrated that success in using such techniques as the empty chair are at least partially determined by the degree of emotional arousal experienced during the use of this technique. Here we can envisage that the client can be asked to imagine a dialogue, or in the case of multiple actors in the re-lived scenario, a conversation, where they can concentrate on aspects of themselves or others that are blocking their ability to resolve past issues.

Many hypnotic techniques are relatively passive in that the client is asked to view an event, rather than to participate in it, but there is no conceptual reason why this more active, almost didactic approach could not become a more integrated aspect of hypnotherapeutic practice. Indeed, in clients who are able to speak whilst hypnotised it might allow the therapist even greater understanding of the experiences that the client is reliving, and for the therapist to take a more active, flexible role in directing the client’s interactions.

As described earlier, Gestalt therapy makes use of experimentation in order for client’s to experience new sensations, and to become aware of old patterns of responding. For this to work we are effectively asking the client to suspend disbelief, for example to suspend the idea that they cannot say something to their parent. This may be difficult for some clients, especially where they have developed strong conscious strategies to protect them from predicted negative outcomes. Hypnosis, by inducing an altered state of consciousness, may be able to circumvent these strategies, allowing the client to explore options in a safe fantasy world that is experienced as vivid and real. S/he can then explore conversations with others, actions etc that may not be considered options when in a non-hypnotic state.

As suggested earlier, this active participation of clients is not common, but there is no reason why clients who have strong powers of visualisation cannot be directed under hypnosis to engage in experimentation. Usefully as a single scene can be replayed many times under hypnosis it allows the client to perform a variety of experiments and to compare and contrast the resultant emotions etc. Naturally they can also be directed to pay close attention to the details of these new experiences, so that they can be vividly recalled post-hypnotically.

As Gestalt therapy is primarily concerned with the client’s willingness to take responsibility, and the therapist’s ability to develop novel ways in which the client can come face-to-face with aspects of their life they have projected onto others, or denied control of, the main way in which hypnotherapy can incorporate aspects of Gestalt technique is twofold. Firstly hypnotherapeutic practitioners must be trained in Gestalt conceptual philosophy so they fully understand their role, and have the intuition and flexibility to carry it out in a range of situations and across a broad spectrum of clients. Secondly, just as Freud selected patients who were willing to accept his fundamental law of psychotherapy, perhaps the hypnotherapist must be selective at consultation with clients who show a motivation to change and a willingness to take responsibility for that change. Without these two features hypnotherapy cannot truly address “the key problem of people in our times…inner deadness” (Clinebell, 1981).



References

Becker, E. (1993). Growing up rugged: Fritz Perls and Gestalt therapy. The Gestalt Journal, 16(2). Available at http://www.gestalt.org/becker.htm

Berne, E. (1970). Review of gestalt Therapy Verbatim by F. Perls (1969). American Journal of Psychiatry, 10, 163-4.

Clarkson, P. (1989). Gestalt counselling in action. London: Sage.

Clinebell, H.J. (1981). Contemporary growth therapies. NY: Abingdon Press.

Gibson, J.J. (1966). The senses considered as perceptual systems. NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Greenberg, L.Sl. & Malcolm, W. (2002). Resolving unfinished business: relating process to outcome. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(2), 406-416.

Koffka, K. (1935). Principles of Gestalt psychology. NY: Harcourt, Brace & World.

Levendula, D. (1963). principles of Gestalt therapy in relation to hypnotherapy. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 6(1),22-26.

Lewin, K. (1952). Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers. London: Tavistock Publications.

Parlett, M. & Hemming, J. (2002). Gestalt therapy. In W. Dryden (Ed.) Handbook of individual therapy. London: Sage.

Perls, F.S. (1969). Ego, hunger and aggression. NY: Vintage Books (first published in 1942).

Resnick, R.W. (1984). Gestalt therapy East and West: Bi-coastal dialogue, debate or debacle? Gestalt Journal, 7(1), 13-32.

Rosen, S. (1972). Recent experiences with Gestalt, encounter and hypnotic techniques. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 32, 90-105.

Stevens, J.O. (1975). Gestalt Is.Utah: real people Press.

Van de Riet, V., Korb, M.P., & Gorrell, J.J. (1980). gestalt therapy, an introduction. NY: Pergammon Press.

Yontef, G. M. (1993). Awareness, dialogue, and process: Essays on Gestalt therapy. Highland, NY: The Gestalt Journal Press.

Zimberoff, M.A. & Hartman, D. (2003). Gestalt therapy and heart-centred therapies. Journal of Heart-Centred Therapies, 6(1), 93-104.

Zinker, J. (1978). Creative process in Gestalt therapy. NY: Vintage Books.

Bathroom Renovation – Get It Done by the Experts

Even a small bathroom can be fortified with costly bathroom accessories for a complete overhaul. But before you appoint any bathroom remodeling contractor for the job, you must set up a budget and plan the project in advance and then go for bathroom renovation. As a next step, you must find a company that provides all sorts of home improvement services that include kitchen remodeling, bathroom restoration, tile installation, laminate floor installation and backsplash installation

Say Hello to your Bathroom with Exclusive Bathroom Renovation

As a first and foremost step, you must understand what all are involved in safely and successfully completing your bathroom restoration project with paramount results.

Let us first go to your small bathroom and find which areas need special attention and care. For this, you may not need professional assistance. But once you are done with your personal inspection, don’t forget to call a reputed home improvement company that can take care of the highly complicated process of bathroom renovation. Who can say that certain minor issues are overlooked while you did the inspection? But nothing goes unwatched or missed by experts who are conducting such works for several years. They will ensure that they use the take the most creative approach with the faucet wall and build a little ledge just next to the window, without blocking it. This is what is called smart renovation work.

Think of adding small yet smart bathroom accessories

It is quite common that when it comes to bathroom remodeling or restoration, the professionals who would take care of the project will alter all the floor tiles and also add a new sink and bathing tub. But these are quite common activities. Think something different and ask your bathroom restoration contractor to try something different that can turn the overall appearance of your lavatory. Add stylish curved shower rods, designer mirror on the wall and hand bright colored curtains around the bathing area. Simple things can often create wonders. Go for them!

Protect bathroom walls from water and spills with Backsplash Installation

A backsplash can act as bathroom armor, shielding the defenseless walls from water and dribbles. But that does not signify it cannot make a splash, too. If you are all set for a comprehensive bathroom upgrade, check out some dazzling bevy of backsplash beauties that will safeguard your bathroom walls and enhance the overall look of your bathroom.

Backsplash tiles are a sort of protective covering that goes along the wall behind such fittings as a counter or a sink. They usually make cleaning easier as they defend the wall from splashes of water. The typical backsplash for a bathroom is a lined border of about 18 inches. However, within this space is a world of some awesome design options that can allow your ingenious muse run wild!

So, to defend your bathroom walls and also to give the space a plush look, ask your home improvement contractor to provide exclusive services like bathroom reformation and backsplash installation. Remember that you must appoint only an accredited and acknowledged home improvement company that has a sound track record of providing paramount quality services. This will ensure you about top quality work and satisfaction.

Roof Shingles – How to Eliminate Shiners!

If you’re looking for “roof shingles – how to” information, you’ve come to the right place. One key to both speed and quality is to avoid shiners.

“Shiners” are nails which have been installed too low and show on the exposed portion of the shingle. They are a common cause of leaks on shingle roofs that have been installed with a nail gun.

The best way to avoid them is to focus right on the nail line while you are nailing. When you concentrate on that line, your brain and arm will be on “auto-pilot” putting the nails in the right place.

You’ll find that when you do get one, it’s because you let your concentration slip. Eventually, focusing on the nail line becomes a habit that you won’t have to work at.

Roof Shingles – How to Fix the Few Shiners You Do Get!

Some roofers fix all of these problems at the end of the job, but it’s better to fix them as they occur. There are two reasons for this;

First off, if you wait until the end of the job, you will probably miss some… and they can come back to haunt you later.

Also, they’re a hassle to fix. It breaks up your rhythm and slows you down. If you have to stop and fix every one as you go, you will find yourself being a lot more careful where you put those nails.

The best way to fix one of these potential leaks is to pull the nail, lift the shingle and seal the hole with flashing cement. A little cement will ooze out of the hole, but this can be masked with a few granules to make an invisible and permanent repair.

Develop an Inclusive Attitude (Inclusivity)

What do I mean my inclusive attitude or inclusivity?

‘The tendency to include, whether it be people, view points or material products in groups, discussions, product lines etc’

Why is the concept of inclusivity so important in human relations?

‘Inclusivity or an inclusive attitude is important in human relations because it implies that we welcome people in rather than shutting them out. The desire to include as many people as possible in discussions.

Inclusivity implies being open to many view points rather than limited to just a few.’

How does inclusivity apply to you in real life?

‘It means asking the opinion of many people, considering the feelings of many people and being open to many different cultural, gender, lifestyle and racial viewpoints.’

The opposite to inclusivity of course, is exclusivity and while exclusivity might be a good idea when applied to designer clothes or accessories. It can be toxic when applied to human institutions.

The concept of exclusivity or an exclusive attitude lies at the core of corruption, wars and many other problems in the world to day. This is because exclusivity implies the exclusion of people according to some criterion which is the root discrimination and prejudice.

Exclusivity engenders an atmosphere of us and them, pitting one group against another. It highlights the differences between people and leads to tension and violence between groups.

Inclusivity or an inclusive attitude however engenders an atmosphere of cooperation and team work across all groups in society. It highlights the things that we have in common and allows us to relate to each other across the whole spectrum of human beliefs and activities, rather than forcing us to define ourselves through our opinions on a limited number of issues.

Everybody is different and inclusivity allows us as a people to take advantage of our different talents, abilities, view points and ways of thinking making us stronger for it. Exclusivity on the other hand, divides us along these lines and makes us weaker.

Incidentally the word inclusivity does not exist in the dictionary unlike its counterpart exclusivity. This to my mind serves to illustrate a tendency towards exclusion in society. My objective is that it should be a word and we can make it so by being inclusive and saying that we strive for inclusivity.

So I say ‘be inclusive!’ try to include more people in your life. Make yourself open to new viewpoints. Try to be respectful of others peoples opinions and beliefs and complement people when they make a good point even if it is not in agreement with yours.

My being more accepting and thoughtful towards others you will make yourself and the people around you happier. We cannot change the world overnight but we can make our own lives better.

What Is The Difference Between Luminous and Fluorescent Paints?

Luminous Paint

This is a special paint that comes in a light green colour. Once on the surface with the special undercoat, the paint ‘charges up’ when light is available. When lights fail, for example, in a power cut, the surface will glow in the dark for a limited time which could help people find their out of the building. It is therefore ideal for use in enclosed areas to identify exits in case of emergency.

Key Qualities

  • Luminous Paint is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use
  • Ideal for exit directions, emergency doors or even for artistic/theatrical effects
  • Available in 500ml and 2.5 litres
  • Suitable for use on wood, metal (with a metal primer), plaster and concrete/masonry.

Fluorescent Paint

This paint is the ideal way to identify hazards. It is a high visibility paint that comes in 5 colours. It works by converting UV light into visible light and is also reflective. For example, it will shine bright when car headlights shine onto the paint on a skip. It will always appear brighter than adjacent non fluorescent colours, highlighting hazards, fire fighting equipment, emergency exits, etc. Please note that this will not show any benefit in darkness without light shining on it. If you need this, use Luminous Paint.

Key Benefits.

  • Fluorescent Paint is designed to create a neon effect finish
  • This product is a high visibility coating which is effective in daylight or under lights at night
  • Ideal for use on bicycles, skips, bollards, fishing floats, bridges, signs etc
  • Can be used internally and externally
  • Fluorescent Paint is suitable for use on wood, metal and masonry

3 Step process involves

  • Base for Fluorescent Paint
    Provides a high density white base coat which is essential for the Paint system to function.
  • Fluorescent or Luminous Paint
  • Protective Coat for Fluorescent Paint
    A clear coating for use over SPO Fluorescent Paint, protecting the colour and finish from wear. Especially useful outdoors to protect from the weather or in high traffic areas such as floors.

The clear coat is an absolute necessity for exterior applications, both products will have a tendency to fade outside and the clear will slow down this fading process. The maintenance schedule for the Fluorescent paint externally is likely to be a 6-12 month re-painting cycle.

Note – both of these paints work best as a two or three paint system along with a foundation base and a clear protective coat for high wear or exterior environments.

Identifying Birds on Jekyll Island – Bird Types and Characteristics for Bird Watching Success

Jekyll Island is one of Georgia’s premier sites for identifying birds. Since the island is on the Atlantic Flyway (and is one of the 18 sites along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail), it’s visited by a variety of feathered fliers migrating, like snow birds, to better climes.

The best times for identifying birds on Jekyll are the spring and fall seasons. A particularly good time is in October, during the Jekyll Island Birding and Nature Festival.

What type birds can you see on Jekyll Island? There are several prominent species that either visit the island or make it their home. This list, while not comprehensive, provides tips for recognizing some of the island’s winged visitors.

Wading Birds:

  1. Wood Storks – these large wading birds (part of the stork family) are mostly white, with brown heads and black faces. When these birds are in flight, look for a strip of black on the trailing edge of their wings. Their long, down-curved bills are yellowish.
  2. Sandhill Cranes – the Florida subspecies of this crane sometimes drops in on Jekyll Island. Sandhills are tall, long-legged birds colored gray overall, with white cheeks and bare, red-colored foreheads. These cranes are sometimes confused with the Blue Heron. Sandhill Cranes, however, fly with their necks outstretched; herons fly with their necks curved into an “S” shape.
  3. Blue Herons – another large wader, herons have slate-colored feathers, reddish-brown thighs, and white heads adorned with a pair of distinctive black plumes trailing from just behind the eyes to the back of their heads.
  4. Egrets – there are several different kinds of egrets, but most are white with gray legs and orange bills.

Shore Birds:

  1. Gulls – several dozen species either visit or live on Jekyll Island. Their sizes range from medium to large. For the most part, they have white and gray feathers with black markings on their heads and wings. Gulls like to hang out at the beach, and sometimes rare gulls will make an appearance.
  2. Piping Plovers – this is an endangered bird species. Piping Plovers are sand colored, and about the size of sparrows. Adults have yellow-orange legs, with black, visor-like bands across their foreheads stretching from eye to eye. They also have black rings around their necks.

Other Birds:

  1. Ospreys – hawk-like raptors, ospreys grow about 2′ long. They’re brown on their upper bodies, and are grayish on their heads and undersides. Osprey’s wings are black, and they wear black “masks”.
  2. Bald Eagles – these majestic birds (our national symbol) have been spotted around the causeway, along Jekyll Creek and on Raccoon Key. They’re large, with black bodies, white heads and necks, and strong, curved, yellowish-orange beaks.
  3. Songbirds – include the Yellow Warbler; Cardinals; Tanagers; Grosbeaks; Mockingbirds; and many more.

There are way too many species to mention in a short article. Your best bet for correctly identifying birds on Jekyll Island is to bring a good field guide, like the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America.

You’ll also need a quality pair of binoculars or a spotting scope. A good digital camera is a must, as well as a journal to note down the birds you identify.

Identifying birds is easy on Jekyll Island, and you’ll always have plenty of winged subjects to practice on. But don’t get cocky – you can’t call yourself a real birder until you learn to recognize a bird by its song.

Being able to name a bird your looking at, however, lends a whole new dimension to bird watching. It will leave you with a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment for years to come.

Build a Storage Building: A Five Step Guide for Building a Brick Shed

To build a storage shed in your backyard takes planning and creativity. Most sheds are constructed from wood when built from scratch, others are assembled from shed kits and are generally constructed with plywood or metal. Some sheds, however, are built using brick because the owner wants to match the construction of the house or because the owner believes he is adding strength to the structure.

Perhaps one remembers the story of the Three Little Pigs and fears the big bad wolf blowing down his outdoor shed. Nevertheless, a brick shed will outlast a more traditional wooden shed if neither structure is maintained.

Look, if you maintain your shed then either construction material is just fine. For this reason and this reason alone, I only recommend building a shed in from brick if, and only if, your decision is aesthetic and not structural. Any well-built shed will last several lifetimes if properly maintained.

That being said here is a brief five-step guide for building a brick storage building or shed in your backyard.

Step 1

The first step in any construction project is to determine the location of the shed. Make sure you choose a location that is relatively flat, has good drainage, is not directly on any property line, is not too close to trees which may cause problems for your shed roof or foundation (remember trees have a large root system below the surface). Also make certain that your shed foundation is not interfering with any electrical, cable or water lines. Overlook any one of these and you’ll have a potentially costly problem on your hands.

One other thing to think about at this stage is to make absolutely certain that your shed design complies with local building codes and zoning ordinances. The best way to do this is to apply for a permit. In some cases, if you live in a planned community, you may need permission to build the shed from your Home Owner’s Association. Don’t make the mistake of not asking because the HOA has broad powers to make you comply with their decisions.

Step 2

Once all approvals and permits are obtained it is time to clean the area where your shed will be built. Remove any debris, roots, weeds, rocks, and other hindrances. Level the ground if necessary. Using a chalk line or stakes, draw an outline of the shed’s footprint on the ground.

Step 3

Now it is time to start digging. Your task is to create a foundation for your shed. Building a strong foundation determines the strength and stability of your shed and is a step that must not be taken lightly. Depending on where you live, you’ll need to dig to a depth that is just below the frost line. This will assure that your shed will not heave due to ground swells caused by expanding soil due to freezing. Your minimum depth for a solid foundation is eight inches and most areas require no more than thirty-six inches. It is best to check with your local building department to know the exact depth to dig. You can rent a small back hoe or trenching machine, or you can hire an experienced excavator to do this step for you. You want the bottom of your trench level all the way around.

The outside of the trench must be about one inch beyond the outline of your building and should be four to six inches wide. Now using 2×6 lumber and stakes, create a form extending above the level of the ground.

Step 4

It’s time to pour concrete for your foundation. Pour the concrete to a level of about two to three inches above ground level. Unless you are a martyr call your local concrete supplier and order a truck with the right amount of yardage to fill the hole. Tell the company the dimensions and they’ll tell you just what you need. Ask for advice about the mix needed for strength and permanence for your area. Make sure the top of the foundation is relatively level though it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth. Leave the concrete to set. In about 24 hours remove the forms but don’t toss the material away. You can reuse it for door frames and other things like ceiling joists. Normally this is the time to call for your first inspection. Do so before you proceed.

Now you may want to pour a concrete slab for the shed floor. Again call your concrete supplier and tell him your dimensions. A 3 to 4 inch slab is sufficient for your purposes. You’ll also want to buy some rebar or wire mesh to add strength and stability to the slab.

Step 5

Now mark the foundation walls for rough door openings making sure you account for the finished size of the opening and go wide enough to accommodate that size. Also, if you are adding windows make sure you know where to leave openings for the rough opening as well.

Spread your bricks on the ground and set a level string around each wall of the shed. Mix a batch of mortar (rent a mortar mixer from your local home center) and apply a layer of mortar to the foundation to accommodate around 5 to 7 bricks. Lay bricks one at a time making sure they are level. Use the string as a guideline. Repeat all around the foundation wall. As you build layers repeat the same idea but place your bricks so they are centered over the space between the two bricks below. Repeat until you have reached the height of your building.

At the door and window openings you’ll need to place a header across the top of the opening so the bricks above will remain in place. You can use a thin steel header or a piece of 4×4 timber to act as a header. Don’t overlook this step.

The final step is to build your roof. This is a common shed building activity so I won’t go into that here. When you build a storage building from bricks you have to pay attention to the details of the construction process. Follow these steps and you’ll build a strong brick shed.

Extraordinary Guardian Angel Tattoos and Their Exact Meaning

Guardian Angels are truly extraordinary but do you have any idea who yours is? If you want to get the precise Guardian Angel tattoo that means something to you first find out who your angel is. After you figure out the day of the week you were born on, you will be able to figure out who your angel is.

Be certain to choose a tattoo that is unique that encompasses your angel. Most people just decide on generic tattoos and end up regretting them since they ditch the tattoo parlor not realizing that they will most likely see that matching tattoo on others. Here are the days of the week and their elected angels.

1) Monday’s Guardian Angel is St. Gabriel. Holding God’s covert messages, he was the one who told Daniel the close of the world and announced to the Virgin Mary how she would carry and become the mother of Jesus son of God.

2) Tuesday’s Guardian Angel is St. Raphael. He is the Cherub of a Christian’s expedition onto heaven and guides us in our search for true happiness. He provides us with the light to protect us from dangers that fall upon us on our expedition to heaven. His name means good well being and wealth which he brings to us on our crossing.

3) Wednesday’s Angel is St. Uriel. He stands for divine righteousness with the weighing scale in his hand examining all the good and evil we do in relation to God.

4) Thursday’s Guardian Angel is St. Sealtiel. The Archangel of contemplation and love giving us the tools to overcome the problems of hedonism. Some of these may include drug dependence and taking life.

5) Friday’s Angel is St. Jhudiel. God’s vessel of compassion. compassion is God’s love so we can make it through temptations and get forgiveness within life. This gives us grace for the mind and body.

6) Saturday’s Angel is St. Barachiel. Barachiel is assigned to watch over God’s adopted children. He was instructed to care for them at the side of the choir of angels.

7) Sunday’s Angel is St. Michael. Michael is the commander and chief of all the hierarchies of the heavenly hosts. He vanquished Lucifer and his supporters in the first uprising against God. He is connected with miracles and the almighty command of God.

These are your days of the week and their chosen Angels. Now find out the day of the week your birth date falls on and you can get that Guardian Angel tattoo. Now that step is taken care of it is time to find unique tattoos, print them out and take them to your favorite tattoo artist to imitate.

5 Fundamental Principles of Insurance

Insurance is a contract, a risk transfer mechanism whereby a company (Underwriter) promised to compensate or indemnify another party (Policyholder) upon the payment of reasonable premium to the insurance company to cover the subject-matter of insurance. If you are well conversant with these principles, you will be in a better position in negotiating you insurance needs.

1. Insurable interest. This is the financial or monetary interest that the owner or possessor of property has in the subject-matter of insurance. The mere fact that it might be detrimental to him should a loss occurred because of his financial stake in that assets gives him the ability to insure the property. Castellin Vs Preston 1886.

2. Umberima fadei. It means utmost good faith, this principle stated that the parties to insurance contract must disclose accurately and fully all the facts material to the risk being proposed. That is to say that the insured must make known to the insurer all facts regarding the risk to be insured (Looker Vs Law Union and Rock 1928). Likewise, the underwriter must highlight and explain the terms, conditions and exceptions of the insurance policy. And the policy must be void of ‘small prints’.

3. Indemnity. It stated that following a loss, the insurer should ensure that they placed the insured in the exact financial position he enjoyed prior to the loss (Leppard Vs Excess 1930).

4. Contribution. In a situation where two or more insurers is covering a particular risk, if a loss occurred, the insurers must contribute towards the settlement of the claim in accordance with their rateable proportion.

5. Subrogation. It has often been said that contribution and subrogation are corollary of indemnity, which means that these two principles operates so that indemnity does not fail. Subrogation operates mainly on motor insurance. When an accident occurred involving two or more vehicles, there must be tortfeasor(s) who is responsible for accident. On this basis, the insurer covering the policyholder who was not at fault can recover their outlay from the underwriter of the policyholder who is responsible for the incidence.