Thursday, September 20, 2012

Moving Tips - A Successful Timeline For Moving

Relocating is never easy, even if your company is covering all the expenses of your move. Regardless of who is footing the bill, you can make everyone's life much easier by following a basic moving timeline. Following an organized system will prevent many potential problems and also save much of your sanity.

Eight Weeks

1. Get at least two quotes from professional movers if you choose to hire help for your move. Once you select a mover, sign the contract and make the required deposit.

2. Take things out of easy-to-forget places such as your attic, basement, and tool shed. Start determining what you will take, what you will discard, and what you will give away to family members of a charitable organization.

Six Weeks

1. Start using up anything perishable such as frozen food. Use items you would prefer not to move, especially laundry detergent and household cleaning supplies.

2. Purchase necessary moving supplies such as magic markers, packing tape, and labels. If your moving company does not provide the boxes necessary for your relocation, buy plenty of boxes.

3. Visit your child's school and request copies of all records be given to you and also shipped to your child's soon-to-be school.

Four Weeks

1. Request copies of your medical records as well as veterinary records for any pets. Get copies for yourself as well as your future medical professionals.

2. Start packing away things you want to keep but do not need until after you relocate. Label each box clearly with not only an item description, but also the room in which it should be placed. Some people use different numbers or colors for each room.

3. File a change of address card at your local post office. Personally notify all important parties such as banks, credit card lenders, and key family members and friends.

4. Call all of your utility companies and arrange for a service disconnection date. Arrange for service at your future residence.

Two Weeks

1. Get a fireproof, lockable safe box. Place any valuables such as jewelry or important papers in it. If you have a safety deposit box at a bank, visit the box and empty its contents.

2. If you are moving with your vehicle, take it to a trustworthy mechanic. Have any necessary fluid additions or tune ups made before you hit the road.

3. Call your moving company, if applicable, and re-confirm arrangements for moving day.

4. Return all videos and library books before you forget to do so.

5. Make any necessary arrangements for your pets to move safely and also get a babysitter or trusted person to take care of your kids on moving day.

One Week

1. Pick up any dry cleaning, tailored items, and the like. Make sure any debts you owe to local businesses are paid in full.

2. Transfer your prescriptions to a pharmacy in your new community.

3. Take your pets to the veterinarian for a check-up as well as any required immunizations.

4. Drain oil or other fuel out of any equipment such as a lawn mower.

5. Create detailed directions for movers and other parties helping you get to your new home. Include all emergency contact numbers, especially cell phones.

Two Days

1. Defrost your refrigerator and freezer. Unplug it and block all the doors to stay open to children and animals cannot accidentally end up in the refrigerator or freezer.

2. Put all important personal items such as a change of clothes, medications, and toiletries in a box that you will carry with you on moving day. Do the same for your spouse, children, and pets if this applies to your moving timeline.

One Day

1. Record all utility meter readings, ideally with a camera. Do the same throughout your house, especially if you have a landlord and do not want to be charged for damage you did not cause.

Moving Day

2. At the end of your move, sign a bill of inventory with the movers. Lock all windows and doors.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Technology Based Innovations Capable of Changing the Face of Education

Traditional form of classroom learning is fast giving the way to technology based learning. Different technological innovations like educational CDs, mobile devices, interactive devices, educational software systems and distant learning have proved to be beneficial. These innovations engage each and every student and establish better learning mediums.

If you own a school, you will soon feel the need of integrating these technological innovations with the existing education system. If you have a store dealing in educational products, you must know how to make profits with advanced learning products. Here is a useful discussion in this regard.

Educational CDs 
The simple concept of educational CDs is to offer information in an interesting format using audio and video capabilities. The traditional form of textbook learning has constantly failed to trigger the interest of all the students. It is better to teach and explain graphically, with the help of a number of examples. From nursery rhymes and phonics games to mathematics and science lessons, everything can be made interactive and easy to understand using these educational CDs.

Interactive Whiteboards 
The technologies like resistive touch screens, electromagnetism, infrared lasers and many others have made interactive whiteboards as great learning mediums for the students. The products can help disabled students to participate in collaboration with other students. Just like educational CDs, these boards make learning extremely interesting by integrating different components. Collaborative engagements of students and mutual discussions are possible with whiteboard presentations. Other technology based products used in conjunction with interactive whiteboards include stylus and projectors.

Laptops and Tablets 
In the past few years, the potential use of mobile devices in classroom learning has been identified. These technology products replace the traditional text materials for better performance outputs. Moreover, they are as good as educational CDs in grasping knowledge. The students can browse information related to any subject or topic instantly and prepare better notes, projects and presentations.

The use of different types of cameras to enhance classroom learning is in its nascent stage. One good example is that of document camera that can be used to display different documents on large screens. Digital cameras are also being suggested to help the students take pictures related to their lessons and projects.

Distant E-Learning 
Finally, the concept of distant learning has been significantly improved with the help of e-learning. These setups allow the students located in different countries to attend classrooms and lectures at distant universities and institutes using web technologies. The internet and use of conference tools and technologies make it possible for the students to ask questions and queries and indulge in group discussions. At the same time, they have the access to the online resources to search for any particular topic simultaneously. Online books, encyclopedias and research papers can be accessed that definitely contribute towards effective learning.

From the educational CDs for primary classes to laptops, cameras and whiteboards for higher class learning, the technological innovations have certainly set numerous milestones. Manufacturers all across the world are engaged in improving the features and functionality of these products.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Natural Dyes - An Age Old Process Goes Back to Eco-Friendly Roots

Around since ancient times, the process of dyeing textiles has strayed from the natural to environmentally damaging. Pigments from crushed plants rubbed into cloth evolved into use of boiled water mixed with crushed fruits, wild berries and plants to distribute color through fabric. This allowed for a broader range and a more steadfast color on the fabric. With the development of high tech fabrics (nylon and polyester) that do not readily absorb the color from dye water baths, came the creation of synthetic dyes using toxic chemical compounds and heavy metals to more readily 'wash' the color into the fabric.

The use of an exorbitant amount of water for fabric dyeing has continued in today's processes. It is estimated about 75 gallons of water are needed per pound of fabric. Dioxins and mordants (mineral salts that create a chemical link to adhere the dye to the fabric) are part of the toxic run off from synthetic dye processes that find way into ground waters causing damage to rivers, lake and oceans. Approximately 1/5 of industrial pollution stems from textile dyeing. Another key factor in the dyeing process is temperature. Large amounts of energy are used to heat the dyes. Many synthetic dyes are highly toxic to workers, and may cause adverse health effects to those who wear dyed clothes. Problems caused range from skin rashes, headaches and muscle pain to breathing difficulties and even seizures.

Dye Types 
The two major types of dyes are natural and synthetic. The natural dyes are pigments extracted from natural substances such as plants, animals, or minerals. Synthetic dyes are chemicals synthesized in a laboratory some of which contain metals.

Synthetic Dyes 
Synthetic dyes fit into different classifications as follows;

Basic - are water-soluble and are used with a mordant. They are not color fast and are generally used for treating fabrics that have already been dyed with acid dyes.

Direct - adhere without mordants. They are not very bright and have poor colorfastness.

Mordant or Chrome - are acidic in character. To get the needed bonding actions, sodium or potassium bichromate is added to the dye bath.

Vat - are insoluble in water and cannot dye fibers directly but need an alkaline solution for them to adhere to the textile fibers.

Reactive - react with fiber molecules to form a chemical compound. They are applied with an alkaline solution and sometimes heat treatment is used for creating color shades.

Disperse - are water insoluble. These dyes are ground into a paste or powder that gets dispersed in water dissolving in the fabric fibers.

Sulfur - are insoluble and made soluble by the help of caustic soda and sodium sulfide. Dyeing is done at high temperature with large quantities of salt so that the color penetrates into the fiber.

Pigment - need resins and high heat to adhere to the fabric.
The most dangerous and damaging to humans and the environment are Azo Dyes. The largest group of synthetic dyes, they are manufactured using a crude oil base. When put in contact with saliva or perspiration they can release aromatic amines that cause a health concern as they are carcinogenic and easily absorbed into the body.

The least eco damaging of the synthetic dyes are the Low-Impact Fiber-Reactive. These chemically adhere to the fibers of the fabric creating a strong bond hence less dye is wasted in water runoff. Being an expensive dye to use, it is also better to reclaim the dye from the used water rather than discard it. Lower temperatures needed to apply these dyes make them less energy intensive than azo dyes. Low-impact dyes typically do not contain heavy metals or toxins but are still synthetically made from petrochemicals. Not affected by saliva or perspiration they are safer to use than azo dyes but still should be avoided by the chemically sensitive. Because of the wide range of colors that can be created, eco aware clothing companies choose low-impact fiber-reactive dyes to remain environmentally conscience.

Natural Dyes 
Natural Dyes consist of colors extracted from plants, earth clays and insects resulting in less harm to the ecosystem. Although they still require metallic salts- aluminum, iron, chromium, and copper- to ensure the color stays on the fabric these benign salts are environmentally friendly.

Most natural dyes are Vegetable Dyes made from plant sources - roots, berries, bark, leaves and wood. The mordants required to adhere them to fabric are again benign salts. Vegetable dyes take a large quantity of dye to thoroughly color fabric and the impact to the environment is dependent on the raw materials used. If the raw materials came from areas heavily fertilized, the impact to the environment is greater. The key is to find natural sources or organically farmed sources which eliminate the negative environmental impact.

One of the most eco-friendly dye ingredients is Clay or Dirt. Clay and Dirt Dyes use minerals and irons from the earth avoiding the use of synthetic ingredients. Sources can easily be found that yield a consistent color. Beautiful colors can be achieved by blending different clays and adding pigments available in nature. Modern developments have improved the colorfastness of this form of dye. The process does not need any form of salt, only natural or biodegradable materials are used to improve the clay's natural dyeing abilities. There is no negative environmental impact including harm to waterways.

Make an Eco-friendly Dye Choice 
The purest eco-friendly choice of color textiles is to choose those made from color-grown cotton or natural color wool from sheep and alpaca. But for those of us who like pizazz to our fabrics there are healthier and more eco-friendly alternatives when it comes to dyeing textiles. To avoid environmental damage from toxic waste water runoff and possible health issues steer clear of fabrics using synthetic dyes especially those using azo dyes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Francisco Pizarro Biography

Francisco Pizarro was born in Trujillo, Spain, the illegitimate son of Gonzalo Pizarro who is an infantry colonel and a soldier of some distinction and Francisca Gonzalez. He was wholly neglected by his parents and was never taught how to read nor write. Due to his lack of formal education, his first job is herding his father's swine. Pizarro is also a distant cousin of Hernan Cortes.

On November 10, 1509, Pizarro left Spain in quest for the New World on an expedition to Urabi. He joined Alonso de Qjeda on a disastrous expedition to Colombia. He then accompanied Vasco Nuñez de Balboa in his journey to the Pacific Ocean while he was in Hispaniola in 1510. Pizarro later on arrested the condemned Balboa from the order of the famous explorer's rival, Pedrarias de Ávila. Pizarro then settled down as a lord of Indian serfs in Panama.

Pizarro remained a conquistador having no conquest. He went into partnership with another famous explorer, Diego de Almagro and a priest Luque in quest for the tales of fabulous kingdoms in the south. They were able to fit out a small expedition, of which Pizarro took command.

In 1524, he sailed southward but went no farther than Quemada Point. The three made an agreement which was date March 10, 1526, that all lands, treasures, vassals that they will be discovered will be divided equally between them, Pizarro, Almagro and Lugue. They then organized a second expedition which consists of two ships and they set sail for the South Seas. They have discovered Peru, Pizarro returned to Panama carrying with him many ornaments of gold and silver, specimens of wooled clothes of silky texture and brilliant hues, and lamas or alpacas which they obtained from the natives. Because he was not able to find in Panama a sufficient number of volunteers, he returned to Spain in 1525 and narrated his discoveries before Charles V and his ministers. He described the wealth of the territories and showed the gold and silver ornaments as a proof.

The emperor ordered him to establish a province of New Castile and undertake the southern conquest. So he returned to the New World with his half brothers, Gonzalo, Herando and Juan Pizarro, his cousin Pedro and Martin de Alcantara. They set sail to Peru at the end of 1530 together with his 180 men, of whom 27 were cavalry. Within ten years, Pizarro made the empire of Peru his own.

In 1537, Pizarro's rivalry with Almagro led to a conflict. Cuzco was taken over by Almagro after one of Pizarro's half brother; Juan Pizarro was killed during a revolt. Pizarro wasn't able to fight because of his age, so he sent his brothers to Cuzco to fight Almagro. They killed Almagro but as retaliation, Pizarro was assassinated by one of Almagro's followers in June 1541. Pizarro lived a life of violence and he died a violent and a bloody death.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Profile of 2013's Free Schools

The UK Government has recently announced that 102 prospective free schools have been given the go-ahead for 2013. It displays an increase in the adoption of this particular government initiative and so it is perhaps an appropriate time to look at what this means for the landscape of the English schools system.

Now in its third year, the initiative is certainly becoming more popular. The approval system had given permission to 65 schools last year, of which 50 will open this September (2012). The first batch of pioneers in September 2011, however, only consisted of 24.

Who is Setting Them Up?

Of the 102 new free schools eligible for 2013 there is a mixture as to who is/will be behind their establishment. They are all being set up by either those in the education profession already or local communities but the full break down is as follows:

59: Existing education professionals; including teachers, headteachers, educational organisations, existing schools and universities, of which: 

5 are private schools converting to free schools to access public funding
2 are backed by universities
43: Local community groups; including charities and, parent groups

What Are They?

The majority of free schools being approved will be defined as mainstream schools, however there are a number of specialist schools being set up alongside these, as would be expected due to the remit of free schools to satisfy particular local education needs. The schools can be defined as:

85 mainstream schools, of which, 

40 are primary
28 are secondary
10 are all through (primary and secondary)
5 are for 16-19 year olds
1 is for 14-19 year olds
1 is for 5-7 year olds (i.e., reception school)
12 alternative provision schools for those who are unable to attend mainstream schools 

5 special schools
2 are all through
1 is primary
1 is secondary
1 is for 14-19 year olds
Perhaps most controversially for the opponents of free schools in particular:

33 are religious schools, of which, 

20 are faith schools which will be permitted a degree of selectivity in their admissions based upon religious beliefs
The relatively high proportion of religious schools in the mix can be seen to bear out the concerns that religious groups will be more able and more likely to set up free schools. The belief is that this results from the fact that they are likely to already have access to the infrastructure as well as the organisational structure they need to get them up and running, in contrast to private individuals attempting to form organisations themselves from scratch.

Where Are They?

The largest concentration of schools will be in London (34, 1 in 3), followed by the South East and North West. Although one of their aims is to improve the education possibilities in particularly deprived areas, the North East only has 3 opening despite its higher than average levels of depravity. Interestingly there are pockets of the country where there are no new free schools opening at all such as in: the southern counties of Wilts, Dorset, Somerset & Hampshire (including the Isle of Wight); the central midlands (around Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire etc); South Yorkshire down into Derbyshire; North Yorkshire across into Cumbria.

The full breakdown by region is: 

34 (33%) - London
16 (16%) - South East
12 (12%) - North West
10 (10%) - East of England
9 (9%) - South West
7 (7%) - West Midlands
7 (7%) - Yorkshire and Humber
4 (4%) - East Midlands
3 (3%) - North East
The DfE's own research suggests that the Independence awarded to Academy schools in general is yielding dividends with their results seeming to outstrip the rest of the sector whilst the success of their US counterparts in New York also bodes well. However time will tell whether these burgeoning free schools can continue that success and fulfil their remit to plug the specific social and educational gaps in their local areas.