Everything You Need to Know About Router Bits

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WHAT IS A ROUTER BIT?

A router bit is a cutting tool used with a router to rout out (or hollow out) spaces in the surface of a generally hard workpiece. Although routers and router bits are more commonly used in woodworking applications like cabinetry and carpentry, these cutting tools can also perform in metals, plastics and various other materials. Essentially, though, these cutters are used to create joinery aids (like a dovetail joint) or to embellish work pieces with decorative or ornate effects (like formed edges, intricate inlays or surface work). With the right router bit, users can cut, trim, and shape workpieces with staggering versatility; these bits are available in numerous profiles and can be custom fabricated to create virtually any profile conceivable.

TYPES OF ROUTER BIT

Of course, there are many different types of router bit and although they all serve the same general purpose, they each do different things and achieve different results. A good router bit, though, should be sharp, should retain its sharp edge, and should be well balanced; this produces a bit that will last longer and will “chatter” or vibrate less during use. Conversely, bits of lesser quality tend to wear faster, chip easier, and chatter more aggressively. The following, then, is a basic breakdown of how router bits are most commonly categorized and their respective routing applications.

Cutter Type:

For the most part, router bits can be divided into three major types: fluted cutters, profile cutters and helical cutters. Fluted cutters are used for edging and trimming, profile cutters are used for trimming and shaping, and helical cutters, while mostly used in more easily machined (softer) materials, are designed for trimming, shaping and drilling. Of course, within these three groups, bits can be (and are) more specifically categorized – this will be reflected in greater detail below.

Construction:

Similarly, drill bits are usually fabricated with one of three compositions: solid high-speed steel (HSS), carbide tips, or solid carbide. HSS bits are the least expensive; they dull more quickly and, accordingly, are used primarily to trim laminate or for work in softer workpieces. Carbide tipped bits are the most universal bit type as they are more durable and perform (at least) reasonably well in all applications. Of course, these are more expensive than HSS bits, but they are equip to manage harder materials and they retain their sharp edges for longer periods. Solid carbide bits, as one would assume, are the most expensive and highest-performing bit type. While some might argue that their solid carbide construction is superfluous, they are durable and deliver beautiful results. Because of their cost, though, solid carbide bits are generally used by only the most practiced woodworkers.

Router bits can also be classified as edge bits, non-edge bits, or anti-kickback bits. Edge bits include a small wheel bearing which acts as a fence against each workpiece; these wheel bearings can be changed to alter the diameter of the cutting edge. Non-edge bits do not have this wheel bearing and therefore a fence (either attached to the workpiece, the router itself or to the router table) must be used with these bits. Anti-kickback bits, on another hand, feature non-cutting material surrounding the bit’s “shoulders.” This additional girth around the bit limits the material feed rate which, in turn, protects the workpiece from over-eager bit progress. This reduces the risk of kickback which occurs when a bit bites and catches the material it’s cutting. This is usually the result of material feeding too quickly. The girth of ant-kickback bits also allows the bit to stay cooler which reduces the likelihood of burnishing and allows the bit to better retain its sharpness.

Shank:

Router bits are also differentiated by the diameter of their shank or the portion of the bit that fits into the router collet. Shank sizes commonly range from about 1/2″ to about 3/8.” Although 1/2″ shank bits are typically more expensive, they are also the most popular as the thickness of their shank lends durability (in their stiffness) and also less vibration during use. Bits of a smaller shank diameter tend to be less durable and more chattery. Altogether, a 1/2″ shank bit will usually deliver the smoothest cuts and due to their greater rigidity, many larger profile bits are only available with this 1/2″ shank. Similarly, some smaller or more specialized bits are only available with a 1/4″ shank.

The shank of a router bit and a router collet must have the same diameter to be used together. Of course, collets of different diameters are available for purchase and are frequently included with the router itself. Adapters may also be purchased to help different bit shank sizes fit more comfortably.

Speed:

In order to cut, trim, and shape efficiently, router bits spin at very high speeds (ranging from approximately 8,000 RPM to 30,000 RPM). Because router bits are shaped and sized differently, though, all router bits can not / should not spin at the same speeds. For example, because larger bits have more girth and weight spinning about, they also have a much greater potential to vibrate or be, in some other capacity, out of control. Larger bits, then, should be used at lower speeds. Similarly, bits that spin too slowly can burnish and damage your materials. Accordingly, manufacturer guidelines should always be reviewed and implemented before engaging a bit.

Although, as a generality, faster speeds are more advantageous while working with router bits (they ordinarily yield a much smoother cut), speed isn’t the only factor that contributes to the quality of your cutting results. The sharpness and composition of any given bit, the material being cut, the type of router being used, feed rate, and various other factors play into the results produced by your bits. Accordingly, it will behoove you to run bits at appropriate speeds before assuming the faster you spin them the smoother your results will be.

ROUTER BIT PROFILES AND APPLICATIONS:

As aforementioned, there are numerous bit designs and, according to that profile, each bit has a different specialization. The following, then, briefly sums-up (in alphabetical order) the most common bit types and the things those bits do best.

Ball End Router Bits:

As the name indicates, ball end bits have a ball or sphere shaped formation at their bottom which routs out channels for pipes and cables.

Bullnose Router Bits:

Bullnose bits are designed to create a (convex) rounded edge on the front edge of a workpiece.

Chamfering Router Bits:

Chamfering bits produce a clean angled bevel cut. These are commonly used in joinery for concealed joints and beveled edges in constructions with multiple sides. Chamfer bits are also used to create a decorative (albeit plain) angled edge.

Combination Router Bits:

Combination bits are primarily used in trimming to trim softer materials and, particularly, veneers.

Core Box or Round Nose Router Bits:

Core box or round nose bits produce a half-round groove or a groove or cove with a rounded bottom. They are commonly used for fluting and reeding.

Corner Round Router Bits:

Corner round bits are designed to create a rounded corner on a workpiece (usually furniture).

Drawer Lip Router Bits:

Drawer lip bits are used to create the acting pull-handle on the fronts of pull-handle drawers and cabinets.

Edge Forming Router Bits:

Edge forming bits (like an edge beading bit) are used primarily to create a decorative edge on a workpiece. These bits often include a pilot bearing for guidance and are ordinarily used to create a final decorative feature. Because these bits are almost singularly used for embellishment and can take-on virtually any profile conceivable, there are many different types available. To name a few of the most common edge forming bit types, one will commonly encounter edge beading bits, cove bits, ogee (or Roman ogee) bits and round over bits.

– Bead and Double Bead Router Bits:

Bead bits create a decorative quarter-round convex profile. Double bead bits so this twice with one quarter-round running directly below the other.

– Cove Router Bits:

Cove bits are used to create a concave (or indented) quarter-round into the edge of a material.

– Edge Beading Router Bits:

Edge beading bits are used to cut decorative half-round profiles called “beads” into the edge or corner of a workpiece. This edge typically features a small lip or fillet at the top and bottom of the convex half-circle cut.

– Ogee Router Bits:

Ogee bits have an “S” shaped profile and produce an “S” shaped edge on a workpiece. These decorative edges have one convex hump and one concave cove (like an “S”) and usually have a small fillet at the top and bottom of the cut. This delivers a more traditional or “antique” finish.

– Round Over Router Bits:

Round over bits produce a perfectly rounded edge on a workpiece. These are commonly used in cabinet and furniture making.

Finger Grip Router Bits:

Finger grip bits shape the drawer pull handles on the front edges of some drawers and cabinets.

Flush Trim Router Bits:

As the name implies, flush trim router bits are used to trim the edge of one material to be flush with the edge of another material. They are often used to flush veneers or to produce identical shapes in multiple workpieces. These bits are used with a pilot bearing that may be positioned at the top of the bit or at the base of the cutting edge.

Fluting Router Bits:

Fluting bits are used to carve flutes (or a concave profile) into a workpiece (usually molding).

Joinery Router Bits:

Joinery bits are used to produce a specialized type of groove for a precision joint. These, then, are used in virtually all types of construction where one workpiece must be joined to another. The most popular joinery bits are dovetail bits, drawer lock bits, finger joint bits, lock miter bits and tongue-and-groove bits.

– Dovetail Router Bits:

Dovetail bits are used to create a strong joint between materials and are ordinarily used in cabinetry, frames and shelving. They are available in a huge variety of angles and involve carving interlocking mortises and tenons (usually fan-shaped) into an adjoining workpiece.

– Drawer Lock Router Bits:

Drawer lock bits are designed specifically for the joining of perpendicular pieces (like the joining of drawer sides to drawer fronts) and should always be used with a router table. They create a wedge-shaped tenon.

– Finger Joint Router Bits:

Finger joint bits have a series of thin horizontal cutters that protrude from the bit (like fingers). When this profile is cut into two separate pieces, the grooves/extensions interlock to create a strong end or edge joint with a greater gluing surface area. Some finger joint bits feature adjustable cutters.

– Lock Miter Router Bits:

Lock miter bits have a reputation for being difficult to use but create durable and (when used properly) perfectly aligned miter joints with a large surface area for gluing.

– Tongue-and-Groove Router Bits:

Tongue-and-groove bits are used in pairs to create a tongue-and-groove joint in a workpiece. This joins workpieces together edge-to-edge (where one piece has a thin, deep ridge (tongue) and the other has a slot (groove); these pieces are pushed tightly together to form the joint).

Keyhole Router Bits or Keyhole Slotters:

Keyhole bits are used to cut the keyhole shaped slots found on the backs of hanging workpieces like picture frames. These slots, of course, aide in the hanging of these pieces.

Molding Router Bits:

Molding bits are used to create complex ornamental profiles in architectural and furniture moldings and are usually much larger than a typical edge forming bit. They can incorporate multiple profiles onto one bit and produce ornate edging for molding pieces. As these bits are more substantial, they are almost always used with a router table.

Mortise Router Bits:

Mortise bits are used to carve mortises (or square shaped slots). These are used for joinery and for carving spaces for hardware such as hinges and lock sets.

Rabbeting Router Bit:

Rabbeting bits are used to create rabbets or notches in the edge of a material. These cuts/notches are vertically and horizontally straight and create a step shaped profile. Rabbeting bits utilize a pilot bearing which is positioned at the top of the bit and guides it along the edge of a workpiece. Using pilot bearings of different diameters allows one rabbeting bit to produce cuts (rabbets) in multiple sizes.

Raised Panel Router Bit:

Raised panel bits are available in both vertical and horizontal configurations and are typically used (with a stile and rail bit – see below) to create profiled, decorative edges on a panel (i.e doors). Horizontal raised panel bits cut profiles while the panel being cut is flat (horizontal) on a work table. Vertical raised panel bits cut profiles into a panel while said panel is on its edge, and, because their radius is much smaller, are usually considered safer and simpler to operate.

Spiral Router Bits:

Spiral router bits are designed quite like a spiral drill bit with flutes ground around the body of the bit to form a sharp spiral profile. They are available in up-cut and down-cut configurations and, while ideal for plunge cutting, they are also used for edge forming, cutting, and trimming in a variety of materials.

Stile and Rail Router Bits:

In frame and panel construction, stile and rail bits are designed to create ornamental edges and panel slots in the edge of a workpiece (most commonly in raised panel doors and custom cabinets). These ordinarily come in sets of two matched bits but are also available singularly.

Straight Router Bits:

Straight bits come in a variety of cutting diameters and are designed to make straight cuts into a material to hollow-out an area or to produce a grove or dado in a workpiece (usually for a mortise or inlay). Straight bits are very common and may also be used for dado joining and for general material cutting.

V-Groove Router Bits:

V-groove bits are used to carve a “V” shaped groove into a workpiece. While ideal for miter folds, these bits are commonly used in lettering and sign-making.

Veining Router Bits:

Veining bits are designed to create decorative cut-in designs. They are commonly used for free-hand work and lettering.

TIPS FOR OPTIMIZING YOUR ROUTER BITS:

To conclude this journey through router bit basics, the following are a few tips to help you optimize your router bits and your experience with them.

First, you should always store your router bits separately from one another (perhaps even in their own individual cubbies). Because router bits are both heavy and fragile, you want to minimize their contact with anything they are not presently cutting. Don’t allow your bits to roll about bumping and knocking into other objects under which circumstance they will most certainly chip.

Second, keep your router bits sharp. Dull bits can damage your materials and will produce generally poor cuts. Like many other cutters, router bits can be sharpened to keep their edge.

Third, be cautious of how you handle your router. Both forcing a bit and moving one too slowly can cause overheating in both the bit and the router. An overheated bit can damage workpieces and can lose temper (which diminishes the integrity of the bit) and an overheated tool can result in internal and sometime irreparable damage. The sound your tool makes as you cut is usually a fairly good indicator of whether or not you are properly paced.

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Source by Mallory Kramer

Wooden Frames Versus Aluminum Frames For Silkscreen Printing

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Silkscreens are available usually made of wood or aluminum – how to chose? and whats the difference?

For beginners, hobbyists and doing simple prints, the wooden frames are ideal, mainly due to their inexpensive price. Any wood silkscreens I have purchased have not cost anything more than £ 20.00, and have done a great job.

Problems though can occur with wooden frames when they can warp due to regular dipping in a water tank or wash out sink when removing either ink, emulsion or both. I have found the wood can take a while to dry. There is also the problem due to continued use of the screen the mesh fabric becoming worn down and loosing on the frame, causing the frame not to register as good as it used to when newer. This makes the screens unusable for multicoloured prints as the tighter the screen mesh the better the screen will register or line up for multicolour prints.

If you want a longer repeating frame, if you become more serious about printing, or you are finding that your wooden ones due to continued dipping in water are becoming warped then aluminum may be the way to go. These can be more expensive, but they will not warp and can also be stretched and re-stretched many times. The mesh and glue are simply removed from the frame using a professional tool that does not do any damage to the aluminum. Once cleaned, the frames can then be re-stretched which will give you the ability to use the same frame for a very long time. Aluminum frames are also light weight which has an added bonus of being easy to handle and shipping when purchasing is fairly cheap.

So if you are just starting off, then try a wooden frame and do not invest too much cash, if you get the silk screening bug, (which lots of people seem to) then invest in some good quality aluminum silk screens, they will last you years and continue to give you great results even when you progress to more complex multicoloured designs and prints.

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Source by B Johnston

Interior Decorating Ideas – Decorating Your Clinic with Wall Art

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Have you ever been at the clinic, waiting for your turn to see the doctor, and all you see on the walls around you are posters on cancer prevention, reminders for you to do your annual medical checkups, dealing with rheumatism in old age, diabetes … the list goes on.

All around us, we're flooded with uncomfortable images and messages that remind us that we really need to take good care of our health. Although these posters are there for a reason – to inform and educate, they certainly add an unwelcome addition because they inject an element of fear into all of us. Here we are, waiting to see the doctor, worried sick that that illness could get worse, and all we see in front of us are images and information about illnesses and disease. We really do not need these at this time. Tell us these things when we're well, not when we're sick.

Having been a patient myself (and who has not), the waiting area at the doctor's office is quite a stressful place to be. As you're waiting for your turn to see the doctor, your mind is full of apprehension and uncertainty as to what the diagnosis might be. The last thing you want is to be bombarded with images and media detailing out a plethora of possible ailments you could have diagnosed with. It just adds to the stress.

Strip this entire media off the walls, I say. Remove every shred of evidence that this place is a clinic. Patients do not need reminders as to why they're there. Put in its place decorative art work. Surround the walls with art and beauty. Put some framed pictures on the assistant's counter top. Having a beautiful piece of art to look at will certainly make your wait a lot more pleasant and take your thoughts away from all things unpleasant. Art may also accelerate the healing process. This is the reason why some hospitals have beautiful art hung on its walls. This is what the patient really needs.

What kind of art to display, you might ask. Well, apart from movie or music posters, because they hardly seem appropriate, almost any other kind of art will do. A good choice would be abstract art. Pick something that has soft, pastel colors that calms the mind when looked upon. Abstract, or contemporary art, does not represent anything in its true form, but rather it is an abstract representation of it. Much of it is left for the user to interpret what it's all about. This will certainly keep the patients busy as they wait their turn. Abstract art will give the place a nice contemporary feel and make it seem less like a clinic and more like an art gallery.

There are many choices of abstract art to choose from. Prints of abstract flowers will add a nice, warm touch to the office. What about black and white abstracts? This will create an interesting contrast with the colors around it. You could also display abstract art of other genres, like collages, geometric abstracts, abstract landscapes and abstract figures, among others. The choices are plentiful. If you're not into contemporary art, why not use pictures of animals? A picture of a cute kitten or puppy can do wonders to encourage healing and comfort. If you can not keep a real pet in the doctor's office, then display a picture of one. The effect may not be the same, but it certainly is nice to look at and takes a great deal of stress off the patient.

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Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

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Source by Edwin Mah

6 Most Creative Housewarming Gift Ideas for Art and Music Lovers

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If you have a friend who sees art and hears music in everything, you would probably know what it’s like to receive a creative housewarming gift. More often than not, they are handmade, down to earth and most importantly, they are out of the ordinary. In simple words, they are simple, thoughtful and straight from the heart. So, when the time comes to return the favour, it only makes sense to do the same for the art and music lovers. So what if your mind does not bend creatively as much as theirs, shopping for gifts for art and music lovers can fun. All you need is an insight into what ‘wows’ them and the right place to look for gift ideas.

Books

Every artist and musician appreciate an elaborate book on their field of art and its old and contemporary techniques. This is why they make amazing gifts for all occasions. Since housewarming is a great opportunity to present decorative items to the recipients, coffee table books are something you can consider. Not only they add a classy touch to the coffee table, enjoying reading while sipping a hot beverage always feels nice. However, it is up to you and the budget you have decided for the gift, whether you should buy an expensive coffee table book. In case, you want to please your friend, but in a less expensive way, look for hardbound or paperback copies of books they would enjoy.

Music Collection

For a music-loving friend, there is nothing greater a gift than the gift of music itself. He or she would probably have a vast taste in music, wider than what is commonly heard. Different genres, different languages, different temperaments, your musician friend might have an inclination towards it all. You can compile his or her kind of music on an MP3 along with the songs you enjoy listening together so that he or she thinks of you while listening to it. You can even give them a music gift basket comprising of music DVDs of famous musicians from all over the world from various genres.

Wall Hanging Gifts

They make ideal housewarming gifts. Please the friend or loved one, who has recently bought or shifted to a new home, with a charming wall décor. You can spend a good amount of money on a ready made wall hanging. However, your friend would appreciate handmade décor made of jazzy embellishments and craft items. Take Do It Yourself crafts lessons online and create something wonderful depending on the theme of their interior décor.

Picture Frame

A lovely picture frame brightens up the place the moment it is displayed. These days, picture frames are available in a variety of materials. Wood and metal being the most favourite of all material, are often preferred with engravings. Make the picture frame more special as a gift by framing a painting replica of their favourite artist or someone they idolize in it. You can even frame a long forgotten picture of the two of you to bring back the memory of the good old times.

Tapestry

The best thing about giving tapestry as a gift is that, you can make one yourself and the effort that you have put in it truly shows in the intricacies. However, Do It Yourself tapestry costs more patience than it costs money. So, go ahead with it only if you think you have what it takes.

Metal Art

Metal sculptures enhance the home and garden with their elegance and rustic appearance. Wrought iron artefacts, brass figurines, copper decorative pieces look amazing in various settings and under all kinds of lightings. Besides, the more they age, the better the metal art appears that too in an effortless way. Make sure you do not pick the first thing you see in the market. Put some thought into it while making your selection.

It is wise to have a set budget in order to shop the best comfortably. However, if you have a tendency to go overboard you must buy gifts online. The best quality products are priced reasonably, asides being available in a wide variety.

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Source by Iliena Bosu

All About Koi Fish Tattoos

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Koi fish are commonly known as Carp fish everywhere. In Eastern cultures, especially in China and Japan there are many superstitions and myths involving the Koi fish. These tattoos are quite colourful and every colour symbolizes a particular characteristic and has various meanings. It come in various hues including red, blue, yellow, gold, white, black and grey. It has to travel many miles upstream for food and sustenance. One popular myth of the Eastern culture states that if a Koi fish is able to swim upstream of a particular waterfall to reach the highest point known as the Dragon Gate on the Yellow river, it gets transformed into a dragon. This is why they usually represent the strength, determination and perseverance of the fish apart from other virtues.

The legends started in China but the Japanese too embraced the carp fish associating it with many of their legends, fables and stories. These tattoos also symbolize good luck hence are tattooed with other charms associated with luck like cherry blossoms and lotus flowers. They are usually tattooed on in places where they can be viewed easily like arms, legs, torso and shoulders. People of the Eastern world truly believe that this tattoo should be chosen with care and it symbolism should be true to your personality and in harmony with that person’s surrounding.

The design that is tattooed swimming upstream generally symbolizes that the person is currently struggling with something in life. If it is tattooed on running water it courage and ability to persevere in the face of adversity as well as focused and goal oriented. A design that is tattooed swimming downstream represents that the person has overcome his/ her struggle. It can also be depicted as love for someone of the opposite sex, wealth and prosperity, family and fearlessness. Usually these tattoos are done on a large scale and are big.

A red Koi fish represents love, strength, masculinity, bravery and energy. It is believed to be the strongest and can swim against strong currents. A blue one represents masculinity and fertility as well. Five golden Koi fish means wealth and prosperity as well as good luck. A black one represents success after a change and is usually associated with the fish that gets transformed into a dragon. A dragon Koi fish represent overcoming all the obstacles and reaching your goal. It is usually tattooed on to represent a new chapter in life or rebirth.

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Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

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Source by Marvick Zack

Reduce Stress and Prevent Burnout With the 3 R’s – Review, Regroup, Renew!

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The 3 R’s: Review, Regroup, Renew!

It is a privilege to be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and employee. These roles, however, should not replace the role of individual. Many of us are pressured to make the most of our time each day. When we do have time to ourselves, we usually fill it with errands-housecleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, banking, etc. Our spouse, kids, parents, siblings, friends, and boss all take a piece of our day, but when was the last time you took time for you?

It’s important for individuals to practice the three R’s: review, regroup and renew! Eking out a few moments just for you is critical in order to maintain energy for the millions of things you do everyday. Stress is cumulative. Without relief, it will build upon itself until you reach the final point of burnout. But you can stop this progression, and even reverse it, by simply taking time out for yourself. Individual “down time” can help you put things in perspective, reduce stress, and prevent burnout. By taking care of yourself, you are better able to take care of others.

You don’t have to schedule a week long vacation in order to have some individual “down time”. Let’s face it, family vacation is the antithesis of “down time”.

Here are a few things you can do to rejuvenate and enjoy some “down time”:

Do absolutely NOTHING

One of my favorite songs is “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode. Kick off your shoes, sit in your favorite chair, relax your muscles and just breathe.

Get a massage or a facial

Get that kink out of your back and shoulders with a massage or relax with a soothing facial at the local spa.

Go on a “self” retreat

If you need to get away, but only have a day, fill the gas tank, grab a map and drive to a cozy little town or hop on the ferry for a day trip to a local island.

Make a date with yourself

Treat yourself to a gourmet meal for one at your favorite upscale restaurant. Chew slowly and savor every bite.

Take an art, dance, singing or music class

While signing your children up for classes, sign yourself up as well. Many programs offer separate classes for children and adults at the same time.

Cruise an art gallery or museum

Soak up the energy and appreciation of your fellow man’s creative genius. Many museums and galleries offer free or discount days every month which will allow you to enjoy “down time” for little or nothing.

Testimonial

My good friend, playwright Sheritha Bowman, has many different roles. As a wife and mother, she’s the cook, chauffeur, doctor, lawyer, teacher, and occasional referee for her three outspoken kids. During her “down time”, Sheritha is busy writing, rehearsing, and directing her stage plays; she’s also working on a novel. As we all do, Sheritha also spends a lot of time worrying. One night after a show, Sheritha discovered that she had misplaced her keys. She searched frantically in every nook and cranny she could think of. Feeling a little defeated, Sheritha walked back to her car, only to find the keys in the ignition! Sheritha said two things crossed her mind: she was grateful that her car hadn’t been stolen and she was reminded of the Scripture, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matt. 6:27). After this event, Sheritha decided to have a little “down time” and while the kids were at school, she did something wonderful-nothing. She reviewed the things and situations that caused her worry, she regrouped and put things in perspective and this, in turn, allowed her to renew her energy.

After hearing Sheritha’s story, I was reminded of a quote by Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frederic Amiel, “So as long as a person is capable of self-renewal, they are a living being.”

Was ist meine Immobilie wert

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

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Source by Kimberly Harden

Makoto – The Samurai’s Watchword

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When I first came to Japan, I was confused by the way some people used the word “sincerity.” They seemed to be using it to mean something very different from what I had always understood the word to mean. To me, a sincere person is one whose words and actions reflect the deepest feelings and beliefs of their better nature–I had certainly never thought of a sincere person as one who would commit violence. But in Japan, I heard the word sincerity being applied to people like the 47 ronin; 47 “masterless samurai” who killed and cut off the head of a shogunal official by the name of Kira as revenge for a perceived insult to their lord.

Their lord had lost his temper, drawn his sword and attacked the man inside the Shogun’s castle in Edo, for which crime he was ordered to commit seppuku. His heirs lost all rights to his ancestral lands, and his samurai retainers suddenly found themselves unemployed. 47 of his former retainers showed their “sincerity” by, two years after the fact, taking lethal revenge on Kira, the man their lord had attacked. For this they are held up as paragons of the spirit of bushido and sincerity.

As my Japanese got better, I came to realize that this odd usage of the word sincerity was a problem of translation. When people told me that the 47 ronin had “sincerity” what they meant was that they had “makoto.” Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary defines makoto this way: “sincerity; a true (single) heart; faithfulness; honesty; fidelity; constancy; devotion.”

But makoto is a difficult word to translate because it carries a lot of baggage. The standard translation, “sincerity” lacks the martial connotations that are part and parcel of “makoto.” For the samurai it had an almost mystical sense, and during World War II, the concept of makoto was put to evil use. It was one of the concepts that spurred both foot soldiers and the kamikaze pilots to hurl themselves into certain death in a misguided demonstration of “Japanese spirit.”

The concept of makoto went out of favor after World War II. For example, a number of revisionist samurai movies were made in the 1960s, the most famous example being Masaki Kobayshi’s 1962 film Harakiri, that took an unromanticized and critical look at bushido and attendant ideas such as makoto because of the way they had been used for control of the individual by the state.

The 1970s, however, saw a revival of nationalism–this time in the form of economic nationalism–and the notion that Japan was somehow a uniquely unique nation with a singular climate, culture and sensibility. Makoto, specifically, saw its rehabilitation due in no small measure to a book written by the British Japanologist and translator Ivan Morris. The Nobility of Failure was written partly in response to the bizarre death of the famous novelist Yukio Mishima–who killed himself by committing seppuku–and dedicated to his memory. Japanese poet Ryusei Hasegawa writes in a review of the book that:

…this book has changed my outlook on life. For years after the war, I have been feeling something fishy and dangerous about the word makoto, sincerity, standing as it did for the ideal of the nation dominating the people. In the name of makoto, it was possible to exact selfless service to the nation for military causes in the past and economic causes now. And yet I realized with embarrassment how deeply attached I have been to the ways of living with makoto. But the weight of makoto is now being reassessed and redefined in my mind. The spirit of makoto can serve as a spring board to live to a ripe old age. I am confident that this concept of makoto can help us to serve not one nation, but all humanity, whether the action itself be effective or not.

I’m not sure what Mr. Hasegawa means by that last sentence, but it’s not an uncommon sentiment among conservatives, especially those who subscribe to theories of Japan’s inherent uniqueness and superiority. Fujiwara Masahiko writes in the introduction to his 2005 bestseller, The Dignity of the Nation, which makes the claim that the Japanese have a sacred mission to save the world by teaching all of mankind the tenets of bushido, that, “We must again be ‘Japan the proud, Japan the different.’ By serving as a model for the rest of the world, Japan can, I believe, make a contribution to the whole human race.”

Professor Saito Kazuaki gives an interesting definition of makoto in a 1987 essay, Heroes and Hero-Worship–Ivan Morris’ Views on the Japanese Fascination with Failure (which has the kanji for makoto written in calligraphy on its title page):

All those heroes, together with the kamikaze fighters treated in the final chapter of Morris’ book, who, incidentally, no longer have to be labeled as ‘crazy’ or ‘mentally disordered’ thanks to Morris, have in common the spirit of makoto, which lends poignancy to their lives of failure. It is the cardinal quality of the Japanese hero, denoting purity of mind and motive, and a rejection of self-serving objectives. It despises pragmatic ways of thinking and doing. It is moral fastidiousness. The rational, not subjective, righteousness of a cause itself is unimportant. What counts most is the honesty with which the hero espouses it…The Japanese respect for makoto tends to assume the presence of readiness for accepting joyfully the final catastrophe in the mind of a Napoleon or any other hero. Makoto is an ethical, religious concept

A historical figure who lived this ideal is Saigo Takamori, the real “last samurai” and one of Japan’s most beloved heroes. He died in a quixotic fight against the recently established, modernizing Meiji government–the very government which he had been instrumental in establishing just ten years earlier. He was fighting to preserve the samurai as a class, but was vanquished by a modern conscript army of peasant soldiers. In their final confrontation, he refused to surrender even though he was outnumbered 60 to 1. He died, along with every last one of his men, in the hail of gunfire that met his final suicidal charge.

But nobody in Japanese history is as closely associated with “makoto” as are the Shinsengumi. The Shinsengumi were a group of samurai swordsmen whose job it was to patrol the streets of Kyoto and to find and kill the many anti-shogunal ronin who advocated returning the Emperor to a position of real power at the expense of the Shogun, during the last turbulent years of the shogunate–from 1863 to 1868. They followed a very strict interpretation of bushido and were merciless when facing an enemy. Both their banner and their uniform were emblazoned with the kanji character for makoto.

“Makoto” can actually be written with three different kanji, or ideograms. The kanji that the Shinsengumi used is made up of two parts that are each full-fledged ideograms in their own right. On its own, the left side of the character means “speak,” and the right side means “become.” So visually, this kanji connotes the opposite of “empty words;” it is an excellent pictograph of “sincerity.” As many imperial loyalist ronin learned in their final moments, the Shinsengumi were deadly sincere about their mission.

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Source by Eric Hilton

Fabric Painting for Beginners

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So you want to learn how to paint on fabric? That’s really cool and a great decision. There is so much you can do with fabric painting as a craft whether it’s for fun or profit. There was a time when this craft was considered a skill only for the schooled artist or the creative person. Not so, or should I say, not so anymore. It is certainly a craft that can easily be developed and in a very short time frame.

There are so many people becoming involved in fabric painting in general but regardless of how many folks enter the field you can develop your own style; it’s like having a fingerprint, it’s completely yours no matter where you go your style will reflect you. You can and should put your unique twist to your work. Folks will begin to identify a certain look or style as your distinct signature piece.

Painting on fabrics can reflect realism such as land or seascapes, floral or plant creations, geometric patterns, cartoon characters or a selection of beautiful colors and textures. You can basically apply the paint in any form you like to create artistically pleasing designs.

Once you have practiced and feel comfortable with your new painting skills you may want to try various mediums to paint on. Many people choose tee shirts, but did you know that you can paint on your sweats, bags, purses, dance wear, sneakers, hats, jeans, ribbons, scarves, wall hangings, upholstery, bedding and anything else that would sit still long enough for you to paint it.

Great Benefits

The benefits to fabric painting are also gi-normous (new word- a combination of gigantic and enormous). Consider the benefits of creating a whole new wardrobe for you. Gift giving also becomes more personalized with a signed work of art from you; you may begin to see an increase in friends when word gets out of your new found talent and generosity. Decorating the home and dressing your family really becomes more fun too, for you and the kids. Now you can create the painted outfits with the coordinating sneakers and hats to match.

An important consideration you should keep in mind when painting is the type of fabric you choose to paint on. If it is 100% cotton, then you can count on it shrinking and your design seizing up it. But there is a solution for just about every challenge you will encounter. The solution for this one is to simply pre-wash your fabrics without using softeners or starches and allow the fabric to dry completely. You will need to iron all ridges and creases out of the fabric to have a smooth surface to work on. The easier option is to paint on a pre-shrunk fabric or a cotton blend; you will avoid the shrinking altogether by doing this.

As a beginner, you would also want to paint on light or white fabrics. Your colors come out closer to what is represented in your paint container that way. To be effective with painting on colors take a little more practice and may require a totally different set of paints. For instance if you are painting on black or dark fabrics, you will need to use opaque paints for this to be effective.

The bottom line in painting on fabrics is to have fun, gather all the necessary information and get going. So what are you waiting for? There are many masterpieces inside of you just waiting for the opportunity to come out. Go for it and enjoy!

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Source by Teri M Bethel

I Don’t Know Who My Husband is Anymore – Tips and Advice That May Help

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I recently received correspondence from a wife who was feeling increasingly distant from her husband. Over the past few years, she had noticed some changes in her husband. And, these were changes that she didn’t like all that much. She told me that her husband used to be easy going and laid back. Today, he was critical, uptight, and judgmental. But, every time she tried to bring this up with him, he became offended and pulled away from her.

The last straw was when she found out that her husband had hidden a demotion at work from her. She heard about it from the wife of a coworker. It had happened months ago and yet the husband had remained silent about the whole situation. He had lost some accounts and was apparently in a downward spiral at work, and yet he had kept this news which affected both of them to himself. This lead the wife to believe that he might be hiding other important things from her. She told me, in part: “I’m not sure if I know who this man is anymore. He is not the man I married. I don’t believe in divorce, but I’m not sure that I want to be someone who won’t even be honest with or share things with me.”

I’m asked about situations like this quite often. And, I don’t completely buy the theory that someone can change who they are overnight or even over large periods of time. Often, I find that the circumstances surrounding that person have changed. And, the person’s reactions to these changing circumstances are sometimes reactions that the other spouse can not embrace or does not approve of. This doesn’t mean, however, that the husband is a different person and that she no longer knows him. What it means is that his reactions to new and troublesome situations feel quite foreign to her.

In my opinion though, this marriage could most certainly improve and even survive. This might require some give and take on the part of both spouses. But, I didn’t buy the theory that the husband woke up one day as someone else. And, this was actually good news for the wife. I will discuss this more in the following article.

Looking At Both The Circumstances And The Person: It was very easy and tempting for the wife to focus solely on her husband’s changing personality. But, she had glossed over the very notable changes in their lives. The economy had forced them to drastically change their lifestyle and this had brought on a lot of additional worries and pressures. Within the last 18 months, they had added a child to their family and the husband’s mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Because of the economy, the husband had lost many of his sales contracts that the family had relied upon. He likely felt very helpless, frustrated, and vulnerable as the result.

The wife conceded that all of these factors weighed heavily on her husband, but she asserted that this still didn’t give him the right to act like a complete stranger. And, she certainly had a point. But, sometimes if you can look at it from your husband’s point of view, you might see the situation a bit differently. This can help your perceptions which can in turn help your situation.

Seeing Things From The Husband’s Point Of View: I will admit that I didn’t personally know either of the parties involved. But, I have heard from many husbands in this situation. And here’s what many of them tell me. They will often say that they see it differently. They will say things like: “My wife used to accept me for who I am. In fact, she used to love who am. Today, she seems to loathe the personality traits that she used to love the most. She just doesn’t see how much pressure I’m under and how much is on my shoulders. I’m doing the best that I can for our family. But, instead of seeing this, she just criticizes me and this only makes me feel worse about myself. Doesn’t she realize that the more she criticizes me, the more I am going to withdrawal and the more she is going to see the person that she doesn’t like all that much? Am I perfect? Of course not. But she would probably get a better result if she would support me and try to help me rather than to criticize me.”

Moving On From Here: Hopefully, you can see that both spouses have valid points of view. The wife had every right to be concerned about the changes in her husband. But, the husband had every right to ask for support rather than criticism. I suggested that the next time that the wife wanted to bring up this issue, she might approach him from a place of concern and support rather than from a place of criticism. Instead, she might say something like: “I’m noticing some changes in you that hurt and frustrate me and I’m pretty sure that you’re not having the best time either right now. Is there anything that I can do to help or support you right now? I want to lighten your load, but I can’t do that if you keep things secret from me, become defensive and critical, and keep me in the dark. I miss the man who used to make me laugh and I know that you miss the woman who supported you no matter what. Can we work together so that both of us get more of what we want?”

Granted, one conversation was probably not going to magically turn this situation around or solve all of the couples problems. But an attitude of cooperation will often go a long way toward making some improvements. If the husband felt more understood and supportive, he was less likely to be secretive and critical. And once the wife started to see the attributes that she loved and was very much missing, she was going to have an easier time being supportive. So, the whole cycle would start to feed on itself in a positive way rather than a negative one.

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Source by Leslie Cane

6 Most Creative Housewarming Gift Ideas for Art and Music Lovers

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If you have a friend who sees art and hears music in everything, you would probably know what it’s like to receive a creative housewarming gift. More often than not, they are handmade, down to earth and most importantly, they are out of the ordinary. In simple words, they are simple, thoughtful and straight from the heart. So, when the time comes to return the favour, it only makes sense to do the same for the art and music lovers. So what if your mind does not bend creatively as much as theirs, shopping for gifts for art and music lovers can fun. All you need is an insight into what ‘wows’ them and the right place to look for gift ideas.

Books

Every artist and musician appreciate an elaborate book on their field of art and its old and contemporary techniques. This is why they make amazing gifts for all occasions. Since housewarming is a great opportunity to present decorative items to the recipients, coffee table books are something you can consider. Not only they add a classy touch to the coffee table, enjoying reading while sipping a hot beverage always feels nice. However, it is up to you and the budget you have decided for the gift, whether you should buy an expensive coffee table book. In case, you want to please your friend, but in a less expensive way, look for hardbound or paperback copies of books they would enjoy.

Music Collection

For a music-loving friend, there is nothing greater a gift than the gift of music itself. He or she would probably have a vast taste in music, wider than what is commonly heard. Different genres, different languages, different temperaments, your musician friend might have an inclination towards it all. You can compile his or her kind of music on an MP3 along with the songs you enjoy listening together so that he or she thinks of you while listening to it. You can even give them a music gift basket comprising of music DVDs of famous musicians from all over the world from various genres.

Wall Hanging Gifts

They make ideal housewarming gifts. Please the friend or loved one, who has recently bought or shifted to a new home, with a charming wall décor. You can spend a good amount of money on a ready made wall hanging. However, your friend would appreciate handmade décor made of jazzy embellishments and craft items. Take Do It Yourself crafts lessons online and create something wonderful depending on the theme of their interior décor.

Picture Frame

A lovely picture frame brightens up the place the moment it is displayed. These days, picture frames are available in a variety of materials. Wood and metal being the most favourite of all material, are often preferred with engravings. Make the picture frame more special as a gift by framing a painting replica of their favourite artist or someone they idolize in it. You can even frame a long forgotten picture of the two of you to bring back the memory of the good old times.

Tapestry

The best thing about giving tapestry as a gift is that, you can make one yourself and the effort that you have put in it truly shows in the intricacies. However, Do It Yourself tapestry costs more patience than it costs money. So, go ahead with it only if you think you have what it takes.

Metal Art

Metal sculptures enhance the home and garden with their elegance and rustic appearance. Wrought iron artefacts, brass figurines, copper decorative pieces look amazing in various settings and under all kinds of lightings. Besides, the more they age, the better the metal art appears that too in an effortless way. Make sure you do not pick the first thing you see in the market. Put some thought into it while making your selection.

It is wise to have a set budget in order to shop the best comfortably. However, if you have a tendency to go overboard you must buy gifts online. The best quality products are priced reasonably, asides being available in a wide variety.

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Source by Iliena Bosu