Online Travel Agencies – The Advantages and Disadvantages

Planning on having a vacation with your family? Do you want to have a hassle free option for you to set up your travel plans and choose the best travel destinations around the world? No worries. The easiest and the most convenient way to book your ticket and help you with your travel itinerary are through the internet. You can find so many websites about travel guides and tours that would certainly help you with your trip.

You can find online travel agencies that can be helpful in giving you information about great destinations around the world without going to any travel agency office or talk to a travel agent. These online travel agencies will surely give you all the comforts to set up your destination plans in front of your laptop or PC. When you choose your online travel destination, you have to remember to find the best deal that allows you to choose your own destination and at the same time gives you all the comfort and convenience.

The benefits and advantage of online travel agencies is having low cost and convenience. Online travel agencies is also available at any time, as long as you go online, you have all the time for bookings that you need to complete. With all these online agencies, you have all the option to choose the best deal and the right budget for you. It also gives the comfort in the country of destination; you are provided with the transfer to your hotel and agencies are the one taking care of any problems you might encounter.

Also, the advantage of choosing online agencies is your control on your decision without influences or pressure from travel agents. If you visit a travel agency office, many travel agents have the same tone like a salesman; remember that most of these people are working under a commission program. So basically, you might be pressured by their sales pitch and book a trip without checking other good options and much less affordable.

Usually one of the concerns for online travel agencies is the security of paying large amounts of money online. Online security is a major issue for any online business, so it is very important to make sure and choose a travel agency online with a good reputation by checking customer reviews and feedback. Not all agencies can be relied on because some of them might disappear with your money. There are so many scams over the internet nowadays, so b very careful. It is better to be safe than sorry.

So overall, make sure to choose the legitimate and quality online travel agencies to avoid scams. Always seek some tips and assistance if you’re not sure about the online travel agency. Most importantly plan your trip carefully to avoid any hassles or problems. Good luck and enjoy your vacation.

How to Seduce a Woman Using Covert Hypnosis – Under the Radar Tricks That Make Her Like You Quickly!

It's a myth that a hypnotist can put a woman in deep trance without her permission. The fact is that you can never hypnotize someone who is unwilling to be hypnotized in the first place. However, there are certain techniques you can use to go "under the radar" and mildly hypnotize a woman into liking you. When you know the techniques of covert hypnosis, you will find it easy to make a woman develop affections for you. Read on to discover the killer ways to seduce a woman using covert hypnosis and get amazingly effective results fast …

How To Seduce A Woman Using Covert Hypnosis

"Hypnotic Gaze". You can hypnotize a girl without words – by using eye contact alone! An easy tactic is to hold your gaze a little longer than usual – the ideal would be around two seconds longer than usual. The weird thing about this tactic is that a prolonged gaze would have somehow excite a woman sexually – nobody knows why it works so well! When you do this (especially when you're starting out), do this sparingly until you really master the technique. Remember not to come across as a nut job – and stop staring at her.

"The Mirror" . One easy way to make as if a woman feels emotionally connected with you is to mimic her body movements. To pull this technique off, you will need to be acutely aware of her body language. Copy how she positions her body, and all the substance things that she does. When you do this, you will subconsciously send her signals that she is in "familiar" territory, and as a result, she will put her guard down. Amazingly effective stuff!

Contemporary Furniture Design – History And Influences

Contemporary furniture design came about through the combination of enquiring, innovative minds, advances in technology and the ability to produce incredible furniture at more affordable prices. The industrial revolution also played a huge part in this, particularly in terms of cheaper materials, access to factory space and the ability to create artistic furniture pieces at a price more suited to the public at large.

From the late 19th century, designers started to look towards sleeker, simpler designs for modern furniture. Whereas in the past furniture had been constructed almost entirely from wood, resulting in heavy overstated pieces indicative of grandeur and luxury. This access to new materials and different ways of working allowed designers to make more compact and modest sized items. These new furniture designs were easier to incorporate within any required living space and also gave the purchaser an opportunity to buy items that were an expression of their own personal tastes, with less limitations. Contemporary furniture design became known for being serviceable and functional but with a creative slant that saw modern furniture often viewed as pieces of art in their own right.

Odd angles, clean lines, curved shaping and materials such as metal and moulded plastic paved the way for modern furniture to infiltrate into our consciousness. It’s hard to ignore the striking designs of contemporary furniture pieces – the fluidity and sharpness often used in these designs made people really start to sit up and take notice of modern furniture.

Many designers of modern and contemporary furniture are also noted for being incredible architects – contemporary furniture is really about functional items being seen as architectural and artistic designs. Architects such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Frank Lloyd Wright and even Antoni Gaudi started to incorporate contemporary furniture design into their overall architectural visions. Gaudi would often design furniture pieces to complement the interesting nuances of his buildings, creating a harmony between the external structure and internal decoration.

Other notable contributors to the contemporary furniture movement include Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Eileen Gray, Le Corbusier and Lilly Reich. Mies van der Rohe invented the now famous and often copied ‘Barcelona chair’ and his contemporary furniture often used cantilevers to enable supportive yet delicate framework, often created out of chrome. Mies worked in collaboration with Lilly Reich for over a decade, sharing both a professional and personal relationship. In addition to her involvement in the design of the Barcelona chair, the couple also worked together to create the Brno chair, another iconic piece of modern furniture that continues to be cited as both inspirational and aspirational.

Agoraphobia and Social Phobia – What's the Difference?

What's the difference between agoraphobia and social phobia?

I get this question all the time. That's because the two disorders have some similarities that can make them hard to distinguish from one another. For example, both the agoraphobic and the social phobic are afraid to be in public settings. Both develop a similar pattern of avoidance behavior. Both experience similar physical symptoms associated with panic and anxiety. And since both are classified as phobias, both conditions can be successfully treated with a program of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

So what are the differences between these two conditions? How can you tell them apart?

The main difference between agoraphobia and social phobia can be found in the nature of the fear causing the avoidance behavior. People with social phobia are afraid of social settings that involve groups of people or crowds.

The fears of people with social phobia include the presence of or interaction with other people. For example, a person with social phobia would feel safe walking alone in the forest on a secluded beach.

Agoraphobia, on the other hand, is the fear of open and public spaces, in the presence or absence of other people. People with agoraphobia typically avoid crowds or social situations because they fear having a panic attack and embarrassing themselves.

But people with agoraphobia, unlike those with social phobia, would also be afraid to walk alone in a forest or on a secluded beach because no one would be around to help if they had a panic attack or medical emergency.

But the good news is, you can completely recover from agoraphobia.

The Dangers of Using Almond Oil to Treat Dark Circles

While quite a few websites are suggesting the use of almond oil for getting rid of dark circles beneath the eyes, there are a few well known problems that can surface.

To begin with almond oil, also identified as laetrile in its edible form, comes from almonds, which are nuts. Food Chemistry Journal figures that over sixteen and a half million Americans have an allergy to nuts. Most of who aren’t even cognizant of it since the symptoms are slight and treated as an ordinary belly ache or an inexplicable rash. Regardless, should those folks use it to cure dark circles, they are introducing an allergen right next to the eyes, one of the bodies most delicate areas and will probably experience anything from a slight to a terrible allergic reaction.

Another reason to be worried is that eating almond extract is not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women since a number of studies have hinted at a hypothetical chance of birth defects. Cyanide discharge can and has happened if the enzyme beta-glucuronidase is introduced. That enzyme is present in the human gut and inside the nut itself. There is a procedure which can get rid of the cyanide molecules, although it is still poisonous if absorbed in generous amounts. Since some folks could use almond oil to treat their dark circles excessively, this may possibly be a serious dilemma.

The least harmful type of almond oil used for dark circles therapy is called sweet almond oil. The bitter almond oil version has been responsible for sickness and fatalities in a few noted cases. Actually, the FDA has prohibited the usage of bitter almond oil for medical usage; nonetheless, it is accessible for uses such as aromatherapy because it’s unlikely to contact the skin or be taken internally. The trouble is that the community is mostly ignorant of the differences concerning the two types of oils and could regrettably try to make use of the bitter almond oil as a dark circles therapy by accident.

With all the unnecessary dangers summarized above, we’re not certain why a person would choose to take the risk of employing these beneath their eyes. Particularly since there are many FDA sanctioned alternative remedies that don’t present the unsafe side effects for getting rid of dark circles beneath the eyes.

Surgery is another option. However, this is usually only a last result in the most severe cases and usually only provides a moderate improvement.

Basics of Building the Right Miniature Golf Course

A great and fun activity that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own backyard is miniature golf. Mini golf is a great and fun game for the whole family, and you do not need to go to a mini golf course and pay to play when you can learn building the right miniature golf course for yourself. Building a mini golf course is not that hard, and once you're done you'll be able to play a quick and fun game with your loved ones. The first thing that you'll need to do is look at your backyard or wherever you're planning to put the golf course. Try to see how much land you have to build your course in so that you know what you have to work with.

If a part of the yard is meant for a garden, then you'll have to build your course around it. Make a plan on paper of the land that you can place your golf course on. Then you'll need to decide where you want to put your holes. Decide on how many holes you want to put in your course and what kind of shots you want to make in order to get the ball into the holes. Once you've laid down the plan for the holes, you'll need to think about the kinds of obstacles you'll place in front of each hole.

Obstacles make the game a lot more fun, so choose ones that will make the game more interesting and complicated, but not too hard that it's discouraging. Some great obstacles include ramps and pipes. If you're willing to build and construct a great course, then you can even make moving obstacles to increase the level of challenge for your future mini golf players. The next thing you'll need to do is find out what kind of supplies you will need to use. You will need some PVC pipes for the pipes in the course, bags of sand, siding materials, planks for ramps, and other things that you'd like to include in your mini golf course.

Make a list of these things and buy them in a hardware store. It's a good idea to buy extra materials so that if ever something gets broken you can fix it or replace it easily and quickly. Once you've got your supplies, you can start to build your course. If you made a plan ahead, then you'll be able to easily build your course exactly the way you want it. You can move around obstacles and holes if they end up being too close and just change your plans a little bit. When you're done making the course, you can bring in the friends or family to see it and help you make any necessary changes to it.

Play a few rounds and keep score. This is so that the average score will set the par for the holes, to make the game fair. By following these steps, you now know the basics of building the right miniature golf course. Once you're done with this, you should have a great golf course to spend many afternoons having fun in.

Choosing the Right Laminate Flooring Underlay

The choice of your laminate flooring underlay will depend entirely on the conditions of the floor. The more you are aware of the conditions that the floor will be affected with the better you can prepare for its life. The floors get pressure from both the top and the bottom. Therefore, you need to provide good protection and conditions on both sides.

By following the right maintenance techniques, you can manage the top very easily. However, the bottom is another story. Once the flooring has been installed, you can not really work with the bottom side very easily. For this reason, it is essential to choose the best laminate flooring underlay.

Steps to choose the right laminate flooring underlay

When you decide on laying the floor, check the sub floors. You need to know if the material utilized is timber or concrete slabs. When you know about the material underneath, you will have to study it for damage or effects from moisture. When you're aware of the moisture level underneath and on top of the floor, the right laminate flooring underlay will protect the flooring.

Another important consideration is that the right laminate flooring will work effectively if you have a smooth sub floor. If it's very clean and has a smooth level then the laminate floor underlay will adhere better and not be prone to cracks. Therefore, for a concrete floor you must fill in any gaps and smooth out the surface completely. On a timber sub floor, you will simply have to nail down all the boards very nicely. To create the smoothest surface you might have to top it off with plywood sheets. The trickiest situation comes when you have a high level of moisture in the region and the sub floor is solid. These are made out of stone, concrete or bricks.

In this case, you will have to use the filler compound which is damp proof. Any of the gaps should be filled in and you should let it dry out completely before you start using the laminate floor underlay.

Now you need to work out the budget to choose the laminate floor underlay. You can have a combination or solid form between different materials. These generally include plywood, cork or foam. You can also build in more layers of sound proofing materials. However, these are slowly expensive so you can work out the additional elements based on your budget.

Curing Bacterial Vaginal Infection at Home With Proven Bacterial Vaginosis Treatments

Don’t get lured by the big advertisements and billboards making tall claims about curing bacterial vaginal infection with over the counter creams and lotions. If you want, you can have bacterial vaginosis treatment at home itself. Unfortunately not many women think about home remedies due to lack of information about these remedies. There are some remedies that even the doctors fear talking about because it could take away a lot of business for them.

Can you imagine that a simple saline solution can do wonders for your bacterial vaginal infection? Take a teaspoon of salt and mix it in a glass of water. Stir the salt well to get a saline solution. Use this solution to wash your vagina. If you regularly use this technique the balance between acid level and alkali level in the vagina will be restored. This will cure BV very quickly. Remember to dry your vagina properly after a wash like this.

Another simple technique that can keep bacterial vaginal infection in control is by controlling the moisture level in the vagina. Moisture helps bacteria to breed and expand rapidly. If you can keep your vagina dry by wearing cotton undergarments and cloths that are loose, this will help in proper air circulation. Air circulation will help in evaporating moisture and prevent the infection from multiplying.

Yet another bacterial vaginosis treatment that works like a charm is buttermilk. Drinking buttermilk made from pure goat milk is an excellent remedy. You can even apply buttermilk to the vagina using a tampon. Both the techniques will help in controlling the bacterial vagina infection. Make sure that buttermilk does not have preservatives and chemicals.

Meaning of a Tribal Dragon Tattoo

For years we have seen the popularity of a tribal dragon tattoo grow and it does not look like slowing down either. Dragons are mythical creatures that can have many different meanings, depending on which dragon you decide for your tattoo. Being a mythical creature gives the tattoo artists a wide range to work with when designing your tattoo and it also gives people the opportunity to have a unique tattoo, increasing their popularity dramatically. A tribal dragon tattoo is very often associated with strength and power, which has made it very dominant in the art of tribal tattoos.

The more common tribal dragon tattoos are of the eastern, the western and the imperial dragons. The meaning of an eastern dragon is the nicest of all, they represent kindheartedness, good fortune and they are believed to be a protector. While the meaning of a western dragon is quite the opposite, being seen as an evil, greedy, fire breathing creature. Neither the western nor the eastern dragon have wings, the only one believed to have had wings is the imperial dragon or lung. The meaning of an imperial dragon is quite unique, it believed to have unrivaled wisdom and power which has made it the primary of the four benevolent spiritual animals in Chinese culture. The other 3 of the 4 benevolent creatures are the phoenix, the unicorn and the tortoise.

So, if you're thinking about getting a tribal dragon tattoo, it's a good idea to take these meanings into consideration. Whatever you see yourself as being kindhearted and a protector, as wise and powerful or a little more on the evil side, there are tribal dragon tattoo ideas and meanings for everyone.

Mezcal, Methanol, Moonshine and Myth

It's hard to separate fact from fiction from fear-mongering, when trying to understand the relationship between the Mexican agave-based spirit mezcal, and methishing poisoning resulting in blindness or death as the worst case scenarios. The purely physical science treats are in large part beyond my level of comprehension. At the other end of the spectrum one finds lay literature without references backing up claims and allegations regarding the likelihood of hangovers, headaches and the much more serious harmful effects; it's all cloaked in words and phrases like "as little as," "likely" and "probably." And it ignores aspartame.

Introduction

Is it appropriate to equate mezcal which has been produced essently safely and without incident by families in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca for generations, with American moonshine, with deaths due to carefully adulterating a spirit for purely profit motive, with concoctions created by naive youth , or with reports from third world countries in which ignorance of safe spirit production results in imprudent means of production or the use of equipment which contaminates? It is suggested that the alarmists draw their data from such sources.

For the past 25 years I've been drinking mezcal sold at small, family owned and operated artisanal distilleries (palenques as they're known in Oaxaca), without incident. And so have my Oaxacan friends and compadres, hundreds of thousands of villagers who have been patronizing their neighborhood producers (or palenqueros), and more recently visitors to Oaxaca angry to sample and take home what they can not find at their local bars or source from retail liquor outlets.

Otherwise all I have to rely on is my cursory review of online literature (including but not restricted to International Center for Alcohol Policies, UPI, Methanol Institute, National Institute of Health / US National Library of Medicine, World Health Organization; a list of links referenced is available upon written request), and my background in social anthropology. It was my Darwinian academic training which lead me to an internet search so that I might be able to prove what I considered to be a reasonable hypothesis, and put into perspective the tall tales I was being reading. Regarding the latter, I have read that mezcal not certified by a regulatory agency is fake, illegitimate, results in hangovers, and may even lead to blindness or death from methanol poisoning. Have imbibers of agave-based spirits been extremely lucky all these years, decades and perhaps even millennia?

The two lines of thought relating to the origins of distillation in Mexico are that indigenous groups learned to distill long before the arrival of the Spanish, or, that the Spanish learned distillation from the Moors and so bought that knowledge with them in the first half of the 16th century. The former theory gives more credence to my thought process, although 450 years of trial and error and perfecting safe distillation is nothing to sneeze at.

Just like the early Zapoteco natives of Oaxaca learned to dye with the cochineal insect, and in due course presumably through trial and error that the mineral alum served as the best available mordent or fixer, it is suggested that so too did the invaders and the indigenous peoples of Mexico learn how to distill safely. Following the same analogy, it is likely that long ago wool dyed red with cochineal dramatically faded from the sun or through washing, until the best available mordent was found; and so possibly dating back hundreds of years indeed native Mexicans (and Spanish) succumbed to unwise distillation practices. They have learned the benefit of using alum; and of taking off the methanol, and using predominately clay or copper or other "safe" metal compounds during and for distillation respectively.

Methanol Explained

Even the healthiest among us, and that includes those who do not imbibe alcohol, have methanol in their bodies. Humans get it in small amount from eating fruits and vegetables. It is not only absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, but also through the skin and by inhalation. Methanol is metabolized in the liver, converted first to formaldehyde, and then to formate (formic acid). As a building block for many biological molecules, formate is essential for our survival. On the other hand, high levels of formate buildup after excess methanol take can cause severe toxicity. An EPA assessment reported that methanol is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed.

The primary uses of methanol are for industrial and automotive purposes. It is found in antifreeze, canned heating sources, copy machine fluids, de-icing fluids, fuel additives, paint remover or thinner, shellac, varnish, windshield wiper fluid, and more. This is known as denatured alcohol. Government regulations in fact dictate the inclusion of high levels of methanol as a compound in such products, knowing its toxicity and wanting to ensure that the public buys its liquor (in which levels of methanol are controlled, as opposed to other alcohol), in order to maintain healthy tax revenue.

But Government dictates do not prevent the drinking of denatured alcohol or it being used to fortify other beverages. In fact the literature on non-commercial alcohol, which is sometimes referred to as unrecorded alcohol, cites these "surrogates" or non-beverage alcoholics, as one of three categories of drinks which potentially create health risks. They are drunk alone (ie the classic skid row cases), and used as "cocktails" when they are added for example to fruit juices. The other two are "counterfeit" products and illicit mass-produced drinks, and traditional drinks produced for home consumption or limited local trade (license or illicit). It is suggested that artisanal mezcal falls into the second part of this third category. So yes, there is the possibility of health problems arising as a consequence of consumers imbibing Mexican mezcal with higher than "safe" levels of methanol.

Spirits Health Risks in Mexico and Internally

In central Mexico, as born out in the literature, much more than anything else the singular health problem related to mezcal and other traditional alcohol consumption is alcoholism resulting in liver cirrhosis.

In an article centering upon global methanol poisoning outbreaks, the World Health Organization cited examples of adulterated, counterfeit and informally produced spirits in Cambodia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libya, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Turkey, and Uganda. Mexico is conspicuously absent from the list.

In an article centering upon the quantification of selected volatile constituents in the Mexican spirits sotol, bacanora, tequila and mezcal, while methol was the most problematic compound and at times the samples taken were far above the levels recommended by international as well as national standards, two points are particularly noteworthy: methanol levels were not toxicological relevance; and, other legally acquired drinks such as German fruit spirits were found to have significantly higher methanol levels.

In an article entitled "Noncommercial Alcohol: Understanding the Informal Market," the International Center for Alcohol Policies reported that much of the perceived health risk stems from patterns of drinking such as chronic consumption and binging, use of low quality ingredients, adulteration, and lack of control during production or storage. In Russia and other republics in the former Soviet Union samagon is cheap and easy to make using household equipment. Kenya's poor fortifies its grain spirit, chang'aa, with surrogates. Brazil's national drink cachaca or pinga is sometimes fortified using industrial alcohol, some of which have been noted above.

And what about the United States' reowned moonshine, the unusually high alcohol content spirit typically made using corn mash as the main ingredient? Poorly produced moonshine is contaminated primarily from materials used in still construction, such as employing car radiators as condensers (glycol from the antifreeze or lead from the connections). In addition, methanol can be added to the spirits to increase strength and improve profits.

The 1994 reported poisoning from ingesting mezcal produced in the Mexican state of Morelos cite the spirit having been spiked with methanol. It is suggested that this was an aberration, though of course is noteworthy. Somewhat surprisingly, there was slightly little reported about the incidents, and they have not to my knowledge received attention in the brochure English literature centering upon methanol poisoning.

As suggested, methanol is not the only potentially harmful constituent. Lead as well as other toxic metals can poison not only as a consequence of employing unsuitable distillation equipment but also through the use of a contaminated water source. Volatile compounds such as acetaldehyde or higher alcohol can be produced in significant amounts due to fault in production technology or microbiological spoilage. There have been occurrences of certain fruit and sugarcane spirits containing the carcinogen urethane.

When is Methanol Safe?

Returning to methanol, one must now ask what is the safe maximum level of its ingestion. It was only in 1981 that the sugar substitute aspartame was approved for dry goods, and two years later for carbonated beverages. It is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol which makes up a whopping 10% of its composition. The absorption of methanol into the body is sped up when "free methanol" is ingested, and this form of the chemical is created from aspartame when it is heated to above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (ie when making sugar-free Jello). In 1993 the FDA approved aspartame as an ingredient in numerous food items that would normally be heated to above that temperature.

The EPA recommends consumption of no more than 7.8 grams of methanol daily. While the amount of aspartame in a diet soda can vary, it has been reported that a single can produce 20 mg of methanol in the body. It is no wonder that aspartame accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting aspartame. The range of afflictions reported is alarming.

The current regulation for the maximum amount of methanol in mezcal is.3 of a gram per 100 ml. It is an arbitrary standard. Query how much mezcal one must ingest to reach the EPA maximum limit of methanol of 7.8 grams daily. The FDA states that as much as.5 of a gram per day of methanol is safe in an adult's diet. Should the Mexican standard be higher, or lower?

It is no wonder that the study referred earlier identifying volatile constituents in Mexican spirits, did not find toxicological relevance in the face of analyzing samples far above recommended levels. Furthermore, as distinct from household foodstuffs and drink containing aspartame, ethanol (ie mezcal) serves as an antidote for methanol toxicity in humans.

Conclusion

There is indeed confusion in the literature concerning recommended maximum levels of methanol and at what level health risks kick in, both dealing specifically with Mexican spirits, and where they are noted purely tactically or not at all. However there is also considerability:

1. There is a paucity of reliable research and resulting literature stemming in large part from the fact that statistics regarding non-commercial spirits are essentially non-existent for various reasons (ie unrecorded since no precise government or other reliable quantitative figures exist);
2. There is a lack of collaboration between local authorities, NGOs and international experts;
3. Methanol poisoning is reliably rare in circumstances where traditional, safe distillation processes which have been passed down through generations are practiced (ie through Mexico, current United States moonshine operations, etc .; subject to 1., above);
4. There are umpteen other reasons why there are health risks associated with both license and illicit spirit production;
5. There is a concern that strict government controls encourage the consumption of non-commercial or informally sold alcohol and increase harm;
6. High quality artisanal non-commercial traditional spirits are by and large safe, both away from and notwithstanding the issue of quantity of methanol;
7. They often determine an extremely important part of local culture, often with ceremonial significance (ie consumed in a plethora of rite of passage events), and provide a source of national pride.
Aside from my Darwinian suggestion that the days of dangerous mezcal production have long passed, and acknowledging the issue of still construction, it is noteworthy that almost all artisanal distilleries in Oaxaca consist of either copper alembics or similar production equipment made in equally standardized and carefully monitored workshops and factories; Egypt in clay pots. In both cases they are essentially free of harmful levels of chemical compounds.

If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that one should never drink artisanal mezcal, commercial or otherwise, while consuming government authorized products containing aspartame.

The Different Types of Porches You Can Add on to Your Home

Having an enclosed porch when it is screened or has permanent windows, is a wonderful way to feel like you are outdoors without having to end problems like bugs, rain or other elements. This article will describe the various types of porches that you may want to add onto your home and the different elements that go into it. Some of the options that will be discussed will be if the porch is just to be enjoyed during the summer or if it will be a four season porch. Also, the design elements like flooring and what kind of materials may be used like travertine tile or stone tile or wood flooring.

Adding additional square footage to your home by adding a porch is a great and less expensive option typically than adding on another type of room. This is especially true if you add on a simpler porch with screened enclosures rather than windows or solid walls. Once you have determined a budget, find a contractor that is familiar with doing these types of renovations and have done other porches prior to your project. When both of those are determined, you will be all set to determine what type of porch will suit you and your family's needs the best.

The type of porch you add on to your home should be greatly influenced by where you live and what the weather is like in that particular region. If you live in a warmer climate on a lake that tires to get buggy, then maybe a good screened style will do fine without needing more permanent walls. Adding a ceiling fan in a porch helps to keep the air circulating and you cool on warmer days. If you have pets and children, the flooring should be considered to be durable and easily cleaned. A great choice for that would be to install tile that will be good if it gets wet, muddy or dirty regularly.

If you live in a colder climate that has a very short summer season, then sometimes a four season porch with heating and cooling should be considered. This way, when it is cold and snowing for many months in the winter, you can still sit in a room where you feel like you are part of the outdoors while staying nice and warm inside. Many people choose to have a beautiful wood ceiling installed in their porches to bring a natural style inside the porch. With a four season porch, you can furnish and decorate as any other room without worrying about the elements damaging anything. Wood beams on a higher ceiling are also great design elements to consider if your home is in a wooded setting.

Whatever size or style of porch you decide to add on to your home, it should fit your budget and your taste. This additional square footage added to your home will also increase the value of your home as you are adding an extra room to enjoy.

The Optimum Cichlid Aquarium Set Up

The groups of fishes commonly referred to as Cichlids, compose a vast group of, generally larger and more aggressive fishes from Africa and South and Central America with a few species being found in Asia. They offer such a large variety of bright colors, shapes and habits that they have become one of the most popular fishes kept by hobbyist's world wide.

This is the diversity of species, breeding habits and feeding that it becomes necessary to set up different groups of Cichlids in different tanks. Some of these include African Cichlids, American Cichlids, Dwarf Cichlids or Discus. It is usually recommended that you keep these like minded fish together and do not mix them in general.

Selecting and Positioning Your Tank

Always try to choose a tank with the largest possible surface area and volume as most cichlids grow quite large. Make sure you always have a glass cover to stop your fish jumping out.

Position your new aquarium so that you avoid direct sunlight hitting the aquarium for too long as this can cause excessive algae problems.

Choosing Gravel, Decor and Setting Up

Cichlids are quite territorial and the more holes, refuges and interesting "zones" you can create make for a much harmonized community.

A good starting point is to place in your tank a background that can offer the realism and natural environment that these fish will feel very relaxed and unstressed in. Check out the cichlid mansion range from Aquarium + Reptile Rocks Inc if you want something extraordinary.

Next is the gravel we advise a fine blended gravel as too coarse a gravel size allows unheaten food and waste to accumulate in the pockets between pebbles away from water flow that break it down. There are several varieties to choose from. Clean your gravel in small quantities in a bucket. Three or four rinses should be sufficient. Place the cleaned gravel into your tank along with a little water.

Next to add some more "zones" you can add cleaned rocks and driftwood and position them. Triangulate your decorations to create a greater depth of field and provide an amphitheater where the fish can congregate in a community setting. Try to slope your gravel slowly towards the rear and sides using rocks and logs to create tiers and depth. The lightweight rocks from A + RR Inc like quartz rocks, north head ridge, barnacle, rock pool and charred wood make this fun and easy to do. When you have the major decorations in place, add a little water, if this is a little dirty from the gravel siphon this dirty water out again into your bucket.

Next fill your tank. Avoid disturbing the gravel by using a plate or newspaper onto which you can direct the water flow. Some coral sand is a good addition to an African tank, while white Rift Lake Sand looks great for Africans also but can show up detritus badly. These aspects will be discussed further later.

Preparing your Tap Water

Next we must treat our tap water to remove harmful chlorine and ammonia. There are several products that will remove both, the best value is Amquel Instant water Detoxifier.

It is also necessary to replace electrolytes like, magnesium, and potassium making in tap water.

The electrolytic aquarium salts are essential to fishes well being. Not only provide an anti-bacterial effect, but help fishes produce body slime to protect themselves from infection and create an essential osmotic barrier so they do not dehydrate. Make sure it is dissolved before adding to your aquarium.

There are also several products we can use to specific water conditions for African and Discus. To calculate water volume: consider 10cm x 10cm x 10cm = 1 liter. So length (cm) x Width (cm) x Height (cm) divided by 1000 = Volume (liters).

Biological Filter Supplementation

The Best way to get crystal clear water is to pro-actively provide bacteria cultures as biological filter supplement. In our opinion WASTE CONTROL and CYCLE used in conjunction with one another or HBH TERMINITE are the best way to enhance your filtration and stay ahead of the game. People using these products simply do not encounter the same problems as people who take a minimalist approach (do not use a filter supplement) and end up constantly reacting to problems. These bacteria cultures help convert all organic wastes to ammonia then further to nitrite and finally to nitrate. To establish your tanks bacteria populations can take several weeks but is accelerated greatly by adding supplements. Do not overstock your new aquarium during this run in period.

Filtration

All good filters provide ample filter media surface areas for the colonization of aerobic (oxygen breathing) denitrifying bacteria which break down fish waste. The greater the volume of the filter and the greater the flow rate, the larger the population of bacteria to keep your tank clean. This is Biological filtration. All good filters should provide some sponge as Mechanical filtration. Chemical filtration is also important. We always use ammonia remover as a safeguard. Carbon is also beneficial but Purigen is superior. It is rechargeable and will also remove log logs from your tank (That is if you did not use the Charred wood from A + RR Inc). Remember to rinse loose particles out before adding to your filter.

Filter Types

Freshwater Trickle filters offer the most filtration for large seriously stocked tanks.

External Canister filers like the PRIME, EHEIM, FLUVAL or VIA AQUA are the best of the commercially available filters. They offer the largest volume of media and can be concealed from view. All these brands have a simple priming system and excellent taps to isolate water in the tub while the filter is cleaned.

Hang On styles like the AQUACLEAR and AQUAONE are also very good. They can probably provide the best value if your budget does not permit an external canister. Simple fill the filter box with water and turn on. Water is pumped through the filter and gravity flows back into your tank.

Internal motorized filters like the CRYSTAL, RIO, and EIHEM are popular for smaller tanks or as a secondary filter for extra circulation in a large tank. Internals usually do not interfere with top glass or hoods. These can be placed under one of your lightweight rocks.

Air Operated filtration is often not sufficient for cichlids. We do highly recommend air bubbling in Cichlid tanks. Be sure to use a Check Valve so that water can not flow back into your pump if power goes off.

If you have a Cichlid Mansions or Amazon background from A + RR Inc you can conceive a lot of the plumbing from view which makes for a very attractive set up.

Water Changing

Although nitrate (residual waste) is reliably harmless, the levels will accumulate and become dangerous if regular partial water changes are not performed to dilute nitrates. Cichlids are large fish that eat a lot, so nitrates accumulate quickly. PH is also dropped dangerously lower by organic waste accumulation. Therefore, no matter how good your filtration is, you still must water change regularly. We recommend a 1/3 – water water change fortnightly to keep pH above neutral and nitrates low.

The best tool to assist you with water changes is a Lee's Gravel Vacuum. They allow you to remove the dirtiest water from around the gravel and replace it with clean, treated tap water. This task is easier to do and a better job done if you have lightweight rocks and d├ęcor. We recommend you test pH and nitrate weekly to ensure your water changing maintenance is sufficient to maintain this balance. PH can be maintained using PH UP, but the only easy way to remove nitrate is by water changing.

An important tip when changing. Rinse your filter media in your old aquarium water rather than under a tap as the chlorine in tap water will kill off the precious filter bacteria living in the foam and other media. If you follow these procedures you should never have to completely break your tank down to clean it out.

Heating

If you want to keep Cichlids you will need to heat them. A good guide is approximately 1 watt of heating per liter of water. A higher wattage heater than necessary is often a good choice though because they can be used on larger aquariums. Position your heater in a back corner at a 45 degree angle so that heat does not rise directly onto the thermostat. Make sure that there is good water movement around the heater to ensure that the element is heating. Large cichlids can get quite boisterous, so a heater guard will stop your heater being broken. We believe it necessary to also install a thermostat to check the heater. The stick on types are the best in our opinion as the suction cup type soon do not stick and require replacement.

Lighting

Lighting is necessary to view your fish at night time. To achieve this we find it better to illuminate your tank from afternoon until bed time when people can more easily enjoy their tanks. Lighting left on all day will unduly cause excessive algae problems. For best results with plants we recommend high intensity full spectrum white lighting. We like to use Aquastars, Arcadia's or Power Glo's.

The African Cichlid Tank

The African Rift lake Cichlids from Lakes Malaqi, Tanganyika and Victoria have become a popular variety of fish for people who desire dramatic color, size and movement in their tanks. African cichlids are quite aggressive and fast moving and should be kept in tanks set up for a community of African cichlids.

Natural Habitat

African Cichlids inhabit the rocky shorelines of the rift lakes of Africa. The water in these lakes is quite hard and alkaline. Large schools of fish graze algae from the rocky outcrop reefs. Amongst the algae live small crustaceans which also constitute part of the diet of African cichlids.

The bottom of the lakes is sandy. Innumerable caves formed between the boulders offer protection to young fish and brooding females. Check out the Cichlid mansion and Amazon range of backgrounds if you want realism and something special. Most species from Lake Malawi are mouth brooders and constitution a large proportion of the species available in the hobby. A lot of the Tanganyikan species form lifetime pair bonds and protect their young, while others are also mouth brooders.

Rift Lake Water Conditioning

To recreate the hard alkaline water required by these fish, shell grit or coral sand should be added to your gravel or used exclusively for the bottom. African Rift lake sand is also becoming popular, but can show up detritus badly. Good quality African Cichlid water conditioners like the Seachem Rift Lake Salt and Buffers are a real advantage in creating the right water conditions.

There are several products that will remove both chlorine and ammonia, but the best value is …. Amquel Instant water Detoxifier.

Setting up African Rift Lake Cichlids

As African cichlids come from rocky shoreline areas of the lakes, we suggest that intricate rockwork form the basis of your set-up arranged to form area's with numerous caves. The rockwork should be predominately built up around the back and sides to leave a communal amphitheater where all the interaction and displays take place. A + RR Inc has a large range of rocks which are extremely attractive and offer plenty of hiding places. Plants are not essential to your African community tank because African Cichlids, being omnivorous, will eat your plants except for something like Anubias. One option here is to cut some holes in barnacle rock which allows the greenery to be seen but protects the base in the gravel from the fish. Plastic plants instead make a good addition.

Adding African Rift Lake Cichlids

Try to crowd your African cichlids without taxing your filtration and water change management. This stops individuals from becoming too dominant and harassing others.

We find it best to start with small to medium sizes of fishes of several species in groups of four.

(4 Electric Blue, 4 Electric Yellows, 4 Venustus, 4 Red Empress)

Of the Lake Malawi fishes, the most common species are Zebras, Pindani, Lombardoi and others. People often start with these species as they are cheaper and show color while still young. Many hobbyists progress to the slightly more expensive and spectacular 'Haplochromis' group, like Electric Blues, Red Empress and the Peacocks where only the males exhibit the most amazing color as they mature. In general Take Tanganyika fishes are a bit more expensive and comprise some of the most thought after species like Frontosa, "Lanprologus" and Trheus.

Feeding Africans

Feeding African Cichlids the right type of foods is very important. African Cichlids have extremely long intestinal tracts, like omnivores, which means that foods (meat, worms etc.) will take a long time to digest. Inappropriate foods will rot in their stomachs causing bloating, sickness and sometimes death. For this reason foods with a large proportion of spirulina and vegetables are best. Our favorites, HBH VEGE or Cichlid Flakes and Pellets are perfect. Super Bits are also eagerly taken but we do not like to feed Super Bits exclusively, but rather combined with Spirulina based foods. Frozen bloodworm and brine shrimp are also good for most species, but meats and live blackworm are definitely no-no's.

The American Cichlid Tank

American Cichlids are larger growing and slower moving than their African cousins. They are also far more predatory and are happy with a higher protein than Africans. For these reasons we do not recommend keeping American and African Cichlids together. Of course there is always the odd exception.

Natural Habitat

The natural habitat of the Central and South American cichlids is quite different to that of Africans. Logs and branches in general replace rocky outcrops still having a background that can provide safe secure retreats are important. We feel darker gravel such as the Red Gravel blend suits the reflective colors of Americans, compared to lighter substrates spawners who will form a pair bond. Spawns can produce hundreds of fry, the parents will try to protect and nurture their babies instinctively. It is not uncommon for pairs of fish to spawn in the community tank, although it is illegally that the parents will be able to protect babies from the hordes. Most American cichlids have also been in the hobby for a lot longer than Africans. Species like Oscars and Red Devils have become household names.

Water Conditioning

American Cichlids are quite tolerant of water conditions, but a pH close to neutral and low nitrates (regular water changes) provide a comfortable environment. Always treat new tap water well with XXXXXX and XXXXX as with all fish.

Setting Up for American Cichlids

Use plenty of logs. Submerge some rocks into the substrate and add more structure on top … Do not be concerned by excessive color from new logs as this will become less with regular water changing. You could use charred wood from A + RR Inc here as well. Plastic plants attached to small crevice rock will provide a splash of color. Of course you can use one of the Amazon or Cichlid mansion backgrounds that will create a stunning base for you to expand on.

Adding American Cichlids

Try to set up a large variety of young fish to grow up together. That way you will have far more compatible large fish when they grow up. Our favorite species are Oscars, Red Devils, Texas, Firemouths, Severums etc. Give them plenty of room to grow. Often people will ask, "What can I put with my large Oscar who has lived alone for a year?" if you put another single fish in, there is every chance that the new inhabitant will be killed. We advised it is better to trade in large fish and start with a community of smaller Americans.

Feeding Americans

American cichlids will consume a large variety of foods. HBH make a range of American specific cichlid foods. Advance the size of the pellets as your young fish grow. A wide variety of frozen foods are recommended in conjunction with live foods including feeder fish. Only offer feeder fish as a treat, otherwise they will become fussy about accepting prepared foods.

Dwarf Cichlids

The most popular dwarf cichlids are the Apistogrammas and Microgeophagus (Rams) from South America and the Pelvicachromis (Kribensis) from the Congo River system of Africa. These dwarf cichlids are a popular community fish that may spawn in a community tank and exercise parental care over their young if there is enough cover. They prefer a good varied diet of prepared frozen and live foods.

Discus

Discuses are a popular group of cichlids kept by enthusiasts all over the world. Many claim Discus are the "King of Fishes". Discus are definitely a fish that require some experience, although they may be kept in a community tank. The major requirement to keeping Discus well is good water management and the best foods. Discuses seem to metabolize quickly and need to be fed often with high quality prepared and frozen foods. The best are Tetra Bits with daily frozen food like Beef Heart and Liver and Discus Dinner. Once Discus are feeding well they are competitive and hardy.

Discus are usually happy in low nitrate water with pH slightly acidic and soft water which is very warm 29-32 Degrees Celsius. For breeding Discus, the fish need to be well conditioned on the best foods. The best range of water conditioners for Discus are the Seachem range of Discus Buffers.

The major problem with Discus is their susceptibility to parasites like gill flakes as well as intestinal worms and flagellates. We advise regular treatments for parasites with General Cure or Worm-Rid, especially after Discus are newly purchased or moved. Intestinal worms are best treated with Worm-Rid and flagellates with Octozin. An inexpensive, yet very good book is the Barron's Discus Fishes.

Enjoy setting up your tank and we love receiving your pictures of the products from A + RR Inc (Aquarium + Reptile Rocks Inc).

Detached Retina Symptoms – Fast Action Can Save Your Eyes

Are you experiencing hazy vision or are you bothered by floating specks? These are symptoms of a detached retina which needs immediate attention from your doctor. If not attended to right away, then this condition can lead to blindness.

In order to properly function, the retina should receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood vessels underneath. When it separates from the blood vessels, the condition is called retinal detachment. In the United States alone, approximately 20,000 people annually suffer from retinal detachment. It is the result of an eye injury, cataract surgery, or an extreme case of nearsightedness.

Men are more prone to having this condition than their female counterparts and its sunset is higher in people with eye tumor and hypertension. Genetics also play a crucial factor in the development of the condition as it has the tendency to run in families. Doctors characterize it as a medical emergency which requires immediate surgery because it could lead to the permanent loss of vision in the affected eye.

Although the condition is painless, detached retina symptoms manifest themselves prior to the detachment. It involves the shrinking and sagging of the vitreous fluid within the eyesballs. The tugging of the retina results to the sensation of flashing images. When strong enough, this may cause the retinal tear and consequential damage the small blood vessels paving the way for blood to see into the vitreous.

Whether or not surgical procedures will help is determined by the condition of the patient. For example, if there is only retinal teething but no detachment from the blood vessels below is involved, laser treatment or photocoagulation can undo the damage. Likewise, performing cryopexy, which involves application of cold temperature to produce a scar which holds the retina in place, can also repair the damaged retina.

Surgical procedures are only saved to when there is a detachment of the retina. The treatment should be performed at once because rods and cones die when detached from their source of nourishment for an extended period of time. This could lead to permanent blindness and nothing can bring back the loss vision.

Detached retina symptoms are usually treated using one of three surgical methods, some of which are integrated with photocoagulation or cryopexy. These surgical procedures are designed to close retinal holes or tears in order to minimize the tugging of the retina from a shrinking vitreous. The kind of procedure to be recommended by the surgeon is dependent on the kind, size, and position of the detached retina. These procedures can successfully treat over 90 percent of retinal detachment patients although another treatment is sometimes needed.

Submit Your URL to Chinese Search Engines

It is certainly true that the Internet is dominated by the English language – it has been estimated that 75% of all Internet pages worldwide are written in English. But surprise, surprise – the world’s No. 1 language in terms of number of native speakers is also the most difficult to read – Chinese, with about three times as many native speakers (and readers) as English. China has the second greatest number of Internet users in the world (behind only the United States), and its Internet market is one of the world’s fastest-growing. Furthermore, its buoyant economy is impossible to ignore – every year millions are added to its relatively affluent middle class. You’d be surprised at how many Chinese can read English – small in proportion to total population, but large in number. You might also be surprised at how many Chinese yuppies (“Chuppies”) carry a Visa (the credit card, not the kind of visa that is stamped on a passport!).

Do you have a product that might sell well in China? That’s a hard question to answer, but as a one-sentence primer, affluent Chinese gravitate towards any product with name-brand appeal or snob appeal, and any product that is closely associated with the United States (sarcastically dubbed the “Mickey Mouse Syndrome” by certain envious economic rivals). If you are going global, you cannot afford to ignore China – and if your business has a website, it should be searchable in China.

Following are the URLs for site submission to ten Chinese search engines. The sites are all written in Chinese, but if you can get past the language barrier, anything is possible…

Top 10 Chinese Search Engines

1. Baidu: http://baidu.com/search/url_submit.htm

2. Sina: [http://iask.com/guest/add_url.php]

3. Sohu: [http://db.sohu.com/regurl/regform.asp?Step=REGFORM&class=]

4. Yahoo China: http://cn.yahoo.com/docs/info/suggest.html

5. Google China: http://www.google.com/intl/zh-CN/add_url.html

6. Sobao: [http://search.sobao.com/Computers_and_Internet/Personal/]

7. Tianwang: http://home.tianwang.com/denglu.htm

8. China-Holiday: [http://china-holiday.com/newterms/hall/it/sort.asp?sortid=259]

9. Wangluobing: [http://www.net7b.com/net7b_/denglu/index.asp] o

10. Sunwukong: http://www.sunwukong.cn/add.php

The first six of the foregoing are major players, but the rest are marginal and may well be out of business by the time you read this (then again, you never know…).

Happy hunting!

Personal Protective Equipment For Hot Work

When working in a high heat environment – including gas welding and cutting, electric arc welding, and carbon arcing or plasma arc cutting – you are exposed to a number of hazards, specifically:

  • Molten metal,
  • Toxic gases, fumes, and vapors
  • Harmful radiation
  • Excessive noise
  • Electrical shock
  • Fire hazards

Personal Protective Equipment is an important step in protecting against these hazards (and in most situations, is an OSHA requirement). The type of work being performed will dictate the safety gear that needs to be worn. However, there are five categories of equipment that should be considered when doing all hot work.

  • Respirators: Respirators provide protection from the inhalation of harmful gases, fumes, and vapors. Respiratory protection needs to be considered when hot work is performed in confined or enclosed spaces. Air-purifying respirators should be worn when doing hot work on surfaces containing lead, cadmium, or mercury. Supplied air respirators (air-line respirators) should be used when hot work is performed on beryllium. Respirators may also be necessary when working on surfaces covered with toxic substances, such as solvents or paints, since the high temperatures involved may vaporize these materials.
  • Eye protection: Using appropriate eye protection is important to protect your eyes from both ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation. Welding, cutting, and burning goggles which are shaded are used to protect from UV and IR radiation. To protect your face from flying materials such as slag, a face shield should be used in conjunction with goggles. Welding helmets with shaded glass viewing ports are used during carbon arc welding to protect the face, neck, and eyes from UV and IR radiation. When selecting eye protection for hot work, it is very important to ensure that the proper lens shading is used for the work performed. (And remember that anyone working or standing near the work area should also wear appropriate protective eyewear.)
  • Protective clothing: Hot work (obviously) produces heat, creating a burn risk. Protective clothing helps to reduce the chance of burns from sparks and slag. For high temperatures, the best protective clothing is leather or fire retardant garments. When wearing leather or fire retardant garments, it’s important to remember that the protection they offer will be compromised if they are soiled with oil, grease, solvents, or other flammable or combustible substances or if they are in poor condition (holes, fraying, etc.). Pants should not have cuffs. Also, if garments have open pockets, the pockets need to be Velcroed or taped shut to prevent sparks or slag from entering.
  • Foot protection: Heavy objects (metal plates, for example) and falling sparks and slag can cause foot injuries. High-top leather boots or low-top leather boots in conjunction with leather spats provide protection from sparks and slag. In order to protect toes from heavy objects that are dropped, the boots should be safety (steel-toe) boots.
  • Hand and wrist protection: Hand and wrist protection are also important PPE because high temperature tasks expose your hands to cuts and burns (both from heat and UV or IR radiation). Leather welding gloves generally provide the necessary protection during hot work. Leather gloves also provide a degree of cut resistance-an important factor when handling sheets of metal or other sharp materials. For carbon arc welding, long-cuffed leather gloves are most appropriate, and for welding, cutting, or burning, short-cuffed welding gloves. Like protective clothing, in order to provide adequate protection, leather welding gloves need to be in good repair and free from flammable and combustible materials such as oils, grease, and solvents.

Other PPE to Consider

Other PPE that should be considered depending on the task and work area including:

  • Hearing protection for environments with very loud intermittent noise or persistent loud noises.
  • Head protection (i.e., a hard hat) for work areas where there are potential overhead hazards from falling objects or materials.
  • Personal floatation devices when working in an area where there is potential for falling into the water.
  • Fall protection systems such as positioning systems or personal fall arrest systems for work performed at heights.