Published Articles

Tools: keep them properly

You may be new to home improvement. In such a case the best advice you can remember is to keep your tools functioning well and always put back in a designated spot. To many times enthusiasm can get the best of you on your local projects, or even projects you earn a living from and keep you from taking the extra step to keep your tool new.

Over enthused home improvement caretakers tend to jump into a project, grab the tools they think they'll need, proceed to use their tools recklessly and then not return them to a pre determined area. This careless behavior will cost you more money to replace the tool when its lost, cost you more time to start and finish a project, and cost you untold frustration for having to make an extra trip to the hardware store or when the tool doesn't work right.

The benefit of keeping tools properly maintained and readily available results in quick start to end process on your project while knowing that the tools will behave as new on your next project. Cleaning paint brushes after use and returning them to where you know they are next time is a prime example. With just a little effort you can keep your brush like new for the next job.

Also at the top of the list is keeping tools, especially machinery, maintained. Using fuel stabilizer in winters, oiling and changing oil regularly, and proper use when actually using the tool will give you years of satisfaction and save you time, effort, and money. So keep your tools like new and get on with your project.

Some other advice about tools, at least to save money, is to buy tools second hand either from yard sales or from friends. They must be in good condition or able to be fixed so they are in good condition or you lose out on the functioning of your tool. Bringing second hand tools to like new condition, while getting them cheap or free, is also a rewarding experience as you have reduced expenses considerably and as a result can enjoy the benefit of worrying little about getting the project done. Even borrowed tools can reap the same benefits but make sure they are in as good a condition when you return them as they were when you borrowed them, if not better.

For example I have a new lawn mower which I keep well maintained and put away wisely when not in use. My neighbor, when she moved in next door, did not have a lawn mower so I asked her to borrow mine. She regularly mows her lawn during spring and summer with it as do I. Needless to say the machine gets a lot of use as we both own large yards with many twists and turns.

It has been three years now and the machine still acts as new, starting on the first or second pull, cutting the grass with a still sharp blade, and even the paint is still a bright red. Lesson to be learned, as you might have surmised, is to keep your tools functioning by keeping them put away and well maintained.

The No Name Restaurant

The No Name restaurant, located on Fish pier in Boston Massachusetts, is not your average seafood venue. When daily activities end, weather work on a week day or play on the weekend, and you have your mind set on some outstanding seafood at a top notch restaurant, the No Name offers a unique choice.

Don’t go looking for glamour and glitter or modern artwork bestowing the walls and ceilings. Nicely tiled floors or neatly painted walls are not the atmosphere the No Name protrudes. The ambience you immediately experience, beginning from the walk along the pier to the entryway and into the restaurant itself is similar to dining on a fishing vessel.

Just as the name, or lack of it, implies the No Name restaurant is not for those that dress in formal attire and look to dine in elaborate décor. It is casual but friendly, noisy but quaint. It is unique in that you feel the rustic, laidback, old time fishing character associated with an age of fisherman and their catch pulling into dock with their cargo. If you like the ambience of worn wood from a day long gone by or the feel of an ocean front landscape view while eating you’ll treasure the No Name.

However, the No Name makes up for quality of food and service that it lacks in glamour and glitter. The No Name has been in existence since 1917 in a day when dining out was akin to eating in shacks and sitting on crates with lighten candles providing all the luminance one needed. The reason the No Name is still in existence is just as unique as its lack of visual appeal. Its food has always been the freshest, most tasteful, and best proportioned food around.

From its early days the food and service has been the driving force behind its popularity. Just as in 1917 one doesn’t visit the No Name for special events or for the sole purpose of experiencing restaurant dining. One visits the No Name for its quality of seafood and quickness of service, or to be more accurate, to satisfy one’s appetite.

The rush to be seated, and there can be lines, and the rush to finish and leave has always, as well, been a staple of the No Name. This isn’t to say that this rush in and out is distracting of an enjoyable seafood meal. The coaxing of each progressive step from appetizers to entrees to dessert and out parallels the rush one feels to consume their meal. Ample time is given to enjoy your meal but don’t think you can sit and converse much before during and after eating.

Getting to the No Name can be as much fun as filling up at you table. Fish pier sits on Boston harbor and offers not only spectacular views of the ocean but also many stores, other restaurants, hotels, and unique Bostonian flavors you’ll only get at this venue. From the narrow winding streets, originally used as paths for cattle, to the old brick laden quaint buildings that abound throughout the waterfront, to the modern skyscrapers of the nearby financial district, the area is abundant with old time Bostonian character.

Just like in 1917 the purpose of dining at the No Name is to fill up and get on with your evening. An event shouldn’t be the purpose of dining at the No Name. The purpose is to enjoy superb seafood, quick but excellent service and to take in the unique old time rustic ambience it offers.

Home Improvement

I've done my fair share of home improvement projects over the years. I own a house so the need there is essential. I've also contracted to other locations, which although not an essential endeavor, requires the same amount of commitment. One nuance about taking on projects, weather to improve or maintain your own residence or improve someone else’s, is that a project, after the initial planning and process excitement, can become overwhelming.

Home improvement, when the now how is there can be fun and rewarding, let alone getting paid for it. However even when knowledgeable about a project, when time goes by and your down the road continuing the work the realization pops up that maybe you've taken on more than you can handle. This has happened to me on numerous occasions.

I become enthused about the finished product only to realize that, somewhere down the line I may have taken on to much. I know that I can finish the project but stumbling blocks arise and I become frustrated and bewildered not wanting to continue. That’s when I know that I must now finish the project, not with enthusiasm, but with distaste and low energy.

So when thinking about a new project it becomes necessary to first think how much work there is and how knowledgeable I am about doing it right. One of the first pitfalls when starting is to think, “Hey, this is fun. I’m glad I started this project.”

The reason this is a pitfall is because when sitting quietly, pondering the final look and the initial process, one tends to glamorize the work. When the actual work begins adrenaline takes over, excitement starts, and you become complacent about how easy everything is. After the initial rush of adrenaline subsides your energy subsides as well. On top of that obstacles arise and time evolves into much more than initially planned.

You end up spending more money than planned, increasing the frustration and lowering your energy even more. Unnecessary hardware store trips become the norm. It then becomes a chore to finish everything especially if high quality is of the utmost concern. This isn’t to say every project is like this.

Some projects and they can be fewer than you think, can and are fun. They tend to be the projects you have done before or are especially experienced with. Working on your own residence increases the motivation and that tends to lead to a project that is more fun. As experience develops and you become fluent in your work on the type of project it also increases your motivation and consequently your energy.

I didn’t write this article to stop you from starting your home improvement project but beware that residential maintenance can be an awesomely challenging endeavor. Just make sure you can deliver the final product with the quality you planned and that it is easy enough and you are knowledgeable and savvy enough to pull it off.

Cigarettes are *BAD*

Cigarettes! Just the name of the product conjures up thoughts of bad health, black lungs, poor indoor air quality and altogether an evil invention. It is no wonder that a good percentage of the population that smokes wants to quit. So why do people smoke? Why is it so hard to quit? And how does one quit? The aim of this article is to show the harm of smoking, why it is difficult to quit and, conversely, how to go about doing so.

Of course we have all tried cigarettes, some of us still smoke. Some have already quit, good for them. Others want to quit and still others don’t care. What’s important is to first realize the health problems with smoking. Many of us already realize the dangers associated with smoking but for those who don’t or don’t care, or for those thinking about starting there is one phrase you may want to think about, “smoking kills.”

Smoking can be fun. It tastes good, relieves stress, and gives one something to do. However this blessing in disguise hides the fact that smoking does cause many of us to die weather it be cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, or tongue. We all can agree that cancer does in fact kill so it is befitting to say that cigarettes do to. Emphysema, breathing problems, heart conditions are all illnesses we can do without, but not if we smoke.

People start smoking not because it is addicting, they have not become addicted yet. It usually starts in early adolescence when others close to them smoke. It is the cool thing to do. It has some masked qualities associated with it. Relieving stress as mentioned is just one. It is also, weather we like it or not ingrained in the fabric of our culture.

Smoking’s unhealthful aspects are only relatively recently known. Up until the 1940s, give or take a decade, smoking’s risks were not well known or were easily swept under the table. Smoking became a normal part of our everyday life. Smoking is easy to do but quitting is another matter.

There are many remedies on the market to help us quit. Anti smoking gum, pills, and cigarettes themselves, in certain forms, all aim  and claim to help us quit. However there is one and only one quality that will enable these remedies to work or enable us to quit outright. That quality is the desire to quit.

Many people try to quit. They use the products or go cold turkey with only moderate results. If the desire to quit is there, a person will quit. It may take more than a few attempts but eventually he or she will quit. Why? The person who desires to quit has made up his or her mind that they are going to quit. The willpower becomes stronger because the mind has been made up.

A prime example of how the mind controls ones actions is the activity of exercising, weather it be running, swimming, calisthenics, or any of the numerous other means to keep fit. One does exercise for the purpose of keeping healthy. If a jogger runs it is to keep fit. If the willpower is not there and the desire to keep a body toned and in good shape is absent, then the exercise will be lackluster, difficult, and un-enjoyable. He or she will fail in their goal of keeping healthy.

If, on the other hand, the goal of keeping fit is motivating the exercise, he or she will succeed. The desire, similar to the desire to keep healthy by quitting smoking, will outweigh any thoughts about not continuing. The desire to reach the ultimate achievement is the driving force. This is the same with wanting to quit smoking.

Many people try to quit smoking with little or no success. Many people also try to quit and succeed. The differentiating factor between these two groups of people is one group’s desire to quit. The mind dictates the outcome for this group. The desire to quit controls the final result. The other group only goes through the motions to quit, not really wanting to and readily fails. So if trying to quit, use your mind over your actions and know you want to stop smoking for the reason of saving your life.

Barn Wood

There is a little known procedure that turns woodworking projects into rustic, beautiful, and unique works of art. From household furniture to common stairways to doorway trim, this unique and brilliant idea is a far cry from traditional woodworking processes. The process is to turn old barn wood into products of exceptional beauty and elegance.

The idea is the brainstorm of the Amish peoples of southeast Pennsylvania. They acquire old barns which have met their demise and are ready to be demolished. They manufacture the old wood into pieces of furniture, stairways, or trim for homes throughout the Northeast. The household works of art are delivered to wholesalers in unfinished but complete condition. The wholesalers, within their ready equipped shops, finish the products with a process that is makeshift but efficient.

As the box trucks arrive at these reseller destinations, driven by the Amish themselves clad in their straw or felt hats, space is organized for the cargo of barn wood furniture and stairways. Workers, after exchanging laughter and stories with these unique people, start the finishing process with tools that meet the task.

From sanders run by old bulky air compressors to spray booths that add a durable and lasting shine of lacquer the barn wood pieces are turned from planed and raw products into rustic but elegant pieces of beauty. The process is linear. First preparation is careful to fill holes left by the aging of the barns weathered by Northeast cold, heat, and wind. The wood is then sanded smooth erasing the unevenness while blending the seams and bringing forth the unique grain.

A simple spray from a spray nozzle inside a spray booth with ventilating fans running to protect workers from toxic fumes, seals the porous wood getting it ready for a cherry or pine wax to give it color and durability. After careful inspection for minor inconsistencies the old wood is given another spray of lacquer to finish the product and make ready for display in the showrooms.

The showrooms themselves are adorned with exquisite pieces of shining beauty. Crammed from wall to wall the rustic stairways and furniture wait only days to be picked up and driven far and wide to decorate homes owned by families of various ethnicities. The appeal of the product is a source of the various buyers that cart their wares away in everything from car trunks that hold single pieces to box trucks looking to resell to the public.

Only by word of mouth does the unique product pervade the public knowledge. Advertising is at a minimum as the wholesalers let the unique process and rustic beauty spread the word. Perusing by onlookers, fascinated by the finished product and by shear enthusiasm, gets the word out to other dealers of antiques and home décor.

From far and wide the public comes to view and purchase the furniture, stairways, door trim, and even rustic chairs. Their appearance is befitting of the appeal that draws crowds from all over the Northeast. Filling the homes throughout the countryside the finished product elaborates homes with a unique flavor. Old but beautiful, rustic but glamorous the process of turning old New England barns into works of art makes for a business that will continue to evolve as long as New England barns dot the landscape.