Durability and Beauty of Granite

It isn’t much of a wonder that granite has been in use for thousands of years in every conceivable application where there has been a need for exposure to the elements.

There aren’t many materials that have more varied uses than granite. It can be both a dull and uninteresting stone, or quite colorful and beautiful. The one endearing trait that makes it exceptional is its permanence. Before it was rather commonly used for kitchen countertops, it had a long history of use in many other locations.

Due to its seeming invincibility, granite has long been the choice for tombstones. This is true in almost every country where granite can be mined and used. In past centuries, granite was more often used in a very rough form, and many head stones didn’t have identifying lettering on them.

Finely polished and dimensionally milled tombstones are almost exclusively made from granite, whether memorializing a pauper or a king.

Granite Defined
A true definition of granite: an igneous rock that is coarse-grained and made up of crystals, which contain feldspar and quartz. In practice, many similar materials may be called granite. When the definition is degraded to mean rock with feldspar in it with interlocking crystals that can be seen with the naked eye, we have material that is of a lesser standard.

Some materials that are considered granite under the second meaning are gneiss, granodiorite, gabbro, anorthosite, monzonite, and syenite. While this might be splitting hairs a bit, in certain applications the material with the pure meaning is needed.

Construction Uses of Granite
Many tall buildings have a foundation of granite, and it is often used on building exteriors in commercial applications. Depending on the required effect, granite may be rough, smooth, or polished to fit the builder’s intentions. Cut granite stones are very common in the construction of bridges, too.

Granite that has a rough textured face will generally have smooth ends, tops, and bottoms so that the stones fit tightly together. Granite is used both as a structural and a facing material.

Whenever possible, engineers prefer the use of granite curbs over that of concrete. Granite is far more attractive and stronger as well.

Granite in the Home
One of the most popular uses for granite is for countertops. At one time, these were very expensive because there were only a few facilities that had the machinery to cut and finish the material. However, the demand for these durable surfaces has led many shops to invest in equipment to make their own tops, and this in turn has produced more craftsmen who have the expertise to work with granite.

The consumer is the winner as more cabinet makers enter the field of granite tops. It is now much faster to have cabinets fitted with stone countertops than just a few years ago. If you have an existing kitchen to retrofit with granite tops, you may only have to wait for two or three days, where it once would have taken two weeks or longer for the tops to be shipped and installed.

The demand and availability has also produced a more competitive marketplace, and granite tops are more affordable than they have ever been. Although they are by no means inexpensive, they are now more within reach of the average homeowner.

With more granite slabs being manufactured, there is a much wider selection of colors available. Most consumers want to choose the slabs that their tops are made from, not just select from a range of colors. This provides a more personal touch to the construction process.

Because every piece of granite is different from every other, each new owner has a countertop completely unique from every other one in existence. The careful homeowner can expect to keep granite tops for as long as they own their home; not many other materials are that durable.

It’s easy to see why so many satisfied customers choose granite as their countertop choice, and many find other uses for this material throughout their homes. Just because granite is the most common of rock found on the face of the earth doesn’t detract one bit from its appeal to the masses.

The next time you look at a picture of Mount Rushmore, just remember that you can have that same ageless material installed in your own home.

Choosing a Type of Digital Camera (DSLR, Bridge Or Instant?)

One of the initial barriers to entering the digital photography field is selecting appropriate equipment. The sheer range of cameras and paraphernalia available is both breathtaking and daunting simultaneously.

One of the easiest ways to narrow your search is to decide what kind of camera you require by thinking about what you want from it. There are three main types of camera out there for those entering the world of digital photography.

If you are planning on taking your digital camera out and about with you, possibly on a night out on the tiles, perhaps a simple point-and-click camera would be most suitable for you. They behave in a similar way to a mobile phone camera with the whole process being very compact and easy making it ideal for snapping without flapping around with dozens of settings. The results of these point and shoot cameras are often very impressive and as far as simple, good quality photography goes they are hard to fault; especially as many of them begin to allow more manual control over the shooting process.

Then there is the awkward middle ground. This is filled with an aptly named range of ‘bridge’ cameras which resemble the more complex DSLR cameras despite being closer to the simpler, instant point and shoot cameras. They have non-removable lenses, different internal workings and often have smaller sensors. All this in theory suggests they are weaker than entry level DSLR cameras but this isn’t strictly the case. More often than not, the lens found on bridge cameras is superior in quality to kit lenses supplied with DSLR cameras. The quality of the lens is a huge factor to consider when trying to achieve good quality images.

Finally there are digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLR). These cameras tend to encompass all features found on the simpler as well as having full manual controls. These cameras tend to be more expensive and as a rule come with a poor standard lens. The main plus for these cameras is the expandability that can be achieved through changing the lenses and adding accessories to hep you take the best photographs possible. The main downsides are the costs involved for both the main body of the camera and for additional lenses and the bulky nature of them. It is also worth considering that removable lenses on DSLR cameras usually only fit one brand of camera so if you choose a Sony DSLR as your first camera and purchase lenses you will be locked into buying further Sony DSLR cameras in the future if you want to use your existing kit.

So which camera? It is best not to get caught up with the megapixel war as often this is almost irrelevant – it is accepted that five megapixels is all you would need to blow pictures up to A4 size! What is worth considering is what you want from the camera, how you want your hobby to evolve and what you feel most comfortable with. Price is a factor, however high end instant cameras and bridge cameras are easily in the range of entry level DSLRs.

Personally speaking I opted for an entry DSLR (the Sony a200) and I love it. The entry level lens is below the quality you find in bridge cameras of similar price, but I plan on using a range of lenses as my hobby develops to take specialist shots. However, if I was going to spend the majority of my time taking pictures of scenery or people from standard distances without getting too arty I would have chosen a bridge camera with the single, better quality lens and further if I wanted to carry the camera with me and take drunken pictures I would have gone for the most compact option in the form of an instant camera.

Do research, read as many reviews as you can and ask people who enjoy photography what they think just be wary that they might well be biased and only be willing to suggest equipment made by the same manufacturer as they use. Once you know which cameras appeal to you most try and get into a shop and play about with them. Feel the quality of the finish and use the controls and see if you feel comfortable with them. I had my heart set on a Nikon D40 until I had a chance to play with one alongside the Sony A200.

Overall take your time, have a play with cameras that are on your short list and consider what you actually want from a camera. Most cameras are capable of taking beautiful pictures suitable for most purposes. You need to select the hardware that matches all your criteria be it a DSLR, a bridge or an instant camera.

How to Get Organized in the Car – Organization Tips For Safety and Convenience

How to get organized in the car is a challenge facing all families who own one.  In order to have pleasant trips whether they are long or short, some planning and forethought is required. 

It is also necessary to set some priorities and pay attention first to those things that are the most important such as the safety of the people who are in the car.

The most important planning tasks then for how to get organized in your car requires paying attention to basic safety and that means using the proper restraints.

  • Make sure that you have child car seats that are age and weight appropriate for the child that uses it.
  • Child car seats should be fastened safely into the car following manufacturer’s directions.
  • Children should always be in their child car seats when traveling in the car – no exceptions.
  • Adult passengers should be safely buckled in for the trip no matter how short.

With everyone fastened in they will not become a human projectile in the event of a sudden stop or collision.

However, anything else in your car that is not fastened down will become a projectile if the car stops suddenly. Even a small object flying around in your car can be lethal if it hits someone in the head so make sure that there is nothing in your car that is not fastened down.

In other words store your junk in the trunk!  If you do not have a trunk, there are commercial car organizer products available that can be safely fastened into the back of the SUV or hatchback.  They will keep all the sports equipment, CD’s, diaper wipes, paper towels and other items safely contained in the back of the car.

Here are more car organization tips for your automobile safety and convenience:

  1. Make sure you have a first aid kit. It should contain the usual assortment of gauzes, tape and bandages. Getting organized for health and safety in the car also means including some medication such as over the counter pain relievers and antihistamines. If any one in the family is on regular medication a small supply of personal medication is also recommended but be sure to replace it often as medications can deteriorate in quality in the extreme temperature variations in a car.
  2. Keep a supply of pre-moistened hand wipes in the car. While antibacterial  hand wipes are not usually recommended for common use,  in this application they are the best. You just never know when you are going to be using a public washroom or roadside “facilities” and there is no sink or no soap. They also come in handy for making sure the kids get washed up before snacks in the car (or even washing up afterward!).
  3. Keep a roll of paper towels in the car.  You just know somebody is going to spill something at some time.  They come in handy if someone has a nosebleed or even if you or someone else has to change a tire.
  4. Keep your documents organized. You will want the auto club phone number, owner’s manual, registration, license and insurance information to be easily found when you are stressed. You just know that you are going to need them when you are not thinking straight such as when the police officer says “Vehicle and license registration please.”  Getting organized in the car means knowing where you put it so you can find it fast.
  5. Make sure you keep a flashlight in the car. It is also highly probable that you will get that flat tire or dead battery when it is dark so make sure you have a flashlight so you can actually read the phone number of the auto club!  A hand cranked model is best so you will never be frustrated by dead batteries.
  6. If you have a baby make sure you have extra diapers and diaper wipes. If you have ever had to wait for 3 hours in a traffic jam when a bridge was closed you will know that having extra diapers is essential!

Getting organized in the car doesn’t have to be mysterious.  Think first about safety.  Then when you think about how to get organized anticipate what might happen and plan as if those events were going to be a certainty.