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28 Oct 2016 

Mailbox manatee | The Wider Image

"If you don't like the weather in southern Florida either wait 20 minutes or drive 20 miles."

Wolfgang Rattay, Reuters Photographer

I was pretty much tired of looking at thousands of soccer pictures every day at our Miami office where we edited the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

I had to be cured from a fan picture allergy I contracted during four weeks of looking at pictures of all kinds of fans from all over the world, most of them with their mouth wide open, showing their teeth to me like I was a dentist.

So I thought the best way to spend my two full days off from looking at thousands of World Cup pictures before the last two games, was to drive down to Key West on the famous and scenic Atlantic Ocean drive, the 127.5 mile-long Overseas Highway (U.S.1).

This spectacular road, completed in 1938 atop the ruins of a railroad that was destroyed by the Labor Day hurricane in 1935, connects more than 30 populated islands in the Keys. I always wanted to try out a Harley Davidson and the temperatures in southern Florida are perfect for Easy Riders.

A Heritage Softail Classic with leather saddle bags on each side for my equipment was easy and reasonably cheap to rent. But I should have read my travel book more carefully. It basically says that "the exposed coast poses dangers to those sealant over driveway on land as well as at sea. Tropical storms, hurricanes and tornados are always possibilities".

What it did not say was that the first 20 miles of US1 between the outskirts of Florida City, south of Miami, and Key Largo, would give no shelter whatsoever. Black clouds gathered over the street and a second later a hefty lightning and thunderstorm hit the road. I was wet within seconds and the visibility in heavy rain was zero. I decided to keep driving at 10 miles per hour, the maximum speed that my sight allowed. This seemed to be the better option than to stop and get hit by one of the lightning bolts that perpetually seemed to hit the concrete driveway repair products road.

As fast as the shower appeared it was gone. I was completely soaked. The good (and bad) thing about traveling in Florida by bike is the weather. Apart from my brand-new leather gloves and shoes (that were finally dry a week later when I was already back in Germany) is the fact that one dries very quickly. Driving a bike at 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun is like being blow-dried by a huge hairdryer. At normal cruising speed of 50 miles an hour it takes about just 20 minutes.

In Key Largo I stopped at a Cuban restaurant to take in a Latin Café, the very tasty Cuban alternative to an Italian Espresso (it is made like a regular Espresso, but a lot of sugar is already stirred into it while brewing - a real recommendation).

Key Largo is not the nicest place to stay, and after an Espresso at the Latin Café, I kept driving. My weird journey wasn't over yet. The next remarkable thing I saw along the road was a regular US mailbox built into a little wooden thatched house in South Seas style. Just a few yards down the road another mailbox drew my attention since it looked like Miss Piggy of Sesame Street to me. And the weird mailboxes did not stop. Another hut, a wooden truck and a fish mailbox followed. To me it seemed homeowners along US 1 must have a competition going on who can come up with the weirdest mailbox creation.

I decided to drive back to take a series of pictures of the strangest looking mailboxes. Believe me: there were more to come. A concrete Flipper mailbox for instance, a huge fish mouth, and several unique American versions either with flags, or the one that defies any description: a creation that looks like a pig with red lipstick and a U.S. hat.

Only a couple of miles later I passed another Flipper mailbox when a man came out of his house and put in a letter to be picked up by the postman. I stopped and asked him whether he wanted to pose for a picture for me. "Yes, of course". I told him that I was doing a series of weird mailbox pictures along the Overseas Highway down to Key West.

He had no explanation as to why people were so creative with their mailboxes. "That's how it is down here," he replied to my question.

What can I tell you? In my view the best mailboxes are to be found between Mile 97 and 57. Further down to Key West the highway is spectacular. Atlantic Ocean to your left - Gulf of Mexico to your right. It was fun to let the very special Harley sound roar in the streets and have a lot of people look at you with a mixture of abhorrence and admiration. So I decided to go back and stay overnight in one of the places I had seen along the road.

Dark clouds and falling raindrops made me stop again. I found cover in a seedy bar where people were smoking cigarettes and joints. And I learned an important lesson: "if you don't like the weather in southern Florida. Either wait 20 minutes or drive 20 miles".

Too bad that the first 20 miles were the point of no return, no cover and there was no waiting 20 minutes. But that is another story.

The next day I visited the mailboxes along the other side of the road with the uneven numbers. The best mailbox creations were again between Marathon (mile marker 57) in the Middle and Key Largo in the Upper Keys. The highlights were a cat, a bus, a turtle and a peaceful little white wooden church that belonged to a small house of worship.

I did not get wet again on the last part of my trip.
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28 Oct 2016 

Why Where You Divorce Matters: Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property

Where you divorce matters. Each state has its own unique rules governing the allocation of assets during the divorce process, and these rules can vary significantly. A court in New York and a court in California will follow strikingly different rules in dividing the assets of divorcing couples. This sharp divergence between state laws is somewhat unusual -- in other areas, such as business law, the laws of each state tend to conform to a single norm.

Equitable Distribution States

Most states use a set of rules called "equitable distribution" to divide a couple's Maryland divorce lawyer assets. When a court follows equitable distribution rules, it divides assets between the couple fairly, in light of the couple's circumstances. The equitable distribution standard is very loose, and invests considerable power in the judge.

Judges in equitable distribution states generally consider a number of different factors when they divide a couple's assets. Typically, they consider the ability of each spouse to support him or herself after the divorce. In particular, if a spouse has forgone career opportunities to raise children, that spouse will family lawyer often receive a greater share of assets.

Courts also consider the duration of a marriage. If the couple's marriage only survived a short time, the court may prove reluctant to give one spouse money earned by the other. Courts also consider the age, general health and vocational training of each spouse. Some courts consider the amount of alimony and child support paid by a partner in deciding if an award of additional marital property is warranted. Some states have rules preventing a judge from using equitable distribution principles to drive a party into poverty. Some states also urge judges to award each spouse at least one-third of the marital property.

Community Property States

In a minority of states, judges apply "community property" rules when they divide a divorcing couple's assets. In these states, judges simply divide the couple's joint assets in half. This makes for a quick and clean division of marital property. Judges do not attempt to divide assets fairly, so they do not consider the employment prospects, age or health of either party.

Of course, judges in community property states consider a party's age and employment prospects when they award alimony and child support. In a community property state, a spouse that stayed home and cared for the children may receive extremely generous alimony and child support payments. Some community property states have extremely generous alimony laws.

There are only nine community property states. California and Texas both follow community property rules. Other western states, such as Nevada and Idaho, also follow community property rules.

If you don't feel your state's divorce laws are fair, you can always try to negotiate a divorce settlement with your spouse. Couples that elect to create a post-marital agreement can divide their assets in the manner that best fits their situation because they aren't bound to follow the laws of their state when they divide assets privately. State rules are used by courts to divide assets, but couples can elect to divide their assets as they see fit.

The vast majority of divorces end in a negotiated settlement. Very few divorces actually go all the way through trial. Obviously it's in your best interest to hire an experienced divorce attorney who can negotiate a favorable settlement for you and also be prepared to litigate if necessary. Trying to negotiate your own divorce can have devastating results as you may unwittingly be relinquishing your rights in the process.

In a society where divorce is common, divorce laws play an important role in all of our lives. Those who understand the basics of equitable distribution and community property laws better understand the inherent risks of marriage and the reality of divorce.
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28 Oct 2016 

Home Improvement :: How to Repair Concrete Driveways?

Polyurethane products are the simplest and fastest products available to repair concrete driveways. With these easy instructions your concrete driveway repair will be stronger and last longer than with traditional repair methods.

Standard concrete repair methods are time-consuming, taking a lot of tools, time and labor to complete. With polyurethane repair materials, concrete driveway repair is quick, strong and simple. Roklin's concrete repair products come in a complete package ready to repair concrete driveways. With a few simple hand tools, repairs are simple. There is no need to undercut, grind, or saw-cut cracked or damaged concrete. Simply sweep or blow out the damaged area, mix your materials and apply to repair cracked concrete driveway.

Repair Driveway

Concrete Driveways won't last forever. Even the best laid concrete is subject to wear and tear, not to mention damage from sprinklers or other sources of water. Since driveways must carry heavy weight loads, the repaired area must be able to withstand significant pressure. The problem with concrete driveway crack filler, driveway concrete sealer and driveway cold patch is that the material is not as strong as the original concrete, and the bond is not always secure. When the repair breaks down, the damage is even worse than before it was fixed. What started as a simple driveway crack repair has turned into a major rehabilitation. With polyurethanes, the repair is strong yet flexible, preventing further breakdown. FlexSet actually bonds to the concrete driveway repair, making it last longer than just patching concrete driveways.

Year-Round Repairs

Polyurethane repairs can be done in most any weather. Provided the driveway can be dried before you begin, there is no need to worry about temperatures. FlexSet can be ordered with a catalyst for use in cold weather. With traditional repairs- patching concrete driveways using concrete driveway crack filler, driveway concrete sealer and driveway cold patch, the weather must be right and even with the best weather, it can take a minimum of five days wait before you can park again. With FlexSet, your concrete driveway repair will set up in under an hour regardless of humidity or cold.

Tools needed: FlexSet A push broom or blower Drill Trowel or Lute

First ensure that the damaged area is clean and dry. Sweep or blow out cracks so there is no loose debris. Using Roklin's FlexSet Concrete Repair Product, carefully pour contents of bottle "a" into provided 5-gallon bucket then add special sand. Next, shake thoroughly and pour bottle "b" into sand mixture. Mix with a paddle-mixer, using a drill. When mixture is completely wet, pour FlexSet onto damaged area and use a trowel or lute to smooth material into cracks. When damage is sufficiently smooth, toss topping sand by hand over repaired area to create a uniform look and feel. Your driveway can be ready for vehicles in about an hour.
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28 Oct 2016 

How to Seal Your Driveway

Every house could use great curb appeal. When making improvements most people think about the siding of the house, or how good the landscaping looks, but often times one big "first impression killer" is overlooked. Probably because it is under foot...or, actually, under tire.

It's the driveway. Making this large behemoth look better is just as easy as throwing a new paint color on the wall of the living room. Think of this project as painting the driveway sealant over driveway and it won't seem so daunting. The most difficult part of the job is moving the heavy five gallon buckets of material around.

Sealing makes your driveway look a lot better, and last a whole lot longer too. The type of driveway discussed here is the asphalt driveway, also known as black top, one of the most common surfaces. Here is what you can expect if you plan to tackle the project yourself.

The materials required include crack filler, there are a few types, and the sealer. The tools you will need are a stiff bristle broom (a push broom is the easiest to work with), garden hose, trowel, squeegee on a stick, and a strong back. The strong back can usually be borrowed if you have a good friend or a neighbor's kid who can help you out.

Before shopping for your materials, take a quick assessment of your driveway.

Measure the length and width and multiply to get square footage. The sealing material comes in 5 gallon containers that weigh about 55 lbs each. Each 5 gallon bucket should cover 300-400 square feet (read the label for exact coverage). Be sure to get the material labeled "driveway sealer" and not "asphalt coating" or "asphalt flashing cement". The latter are designed for roofing and foundation water proofing projects. And always grab an extra bucket, you'll probably need it.

As part of your assessment, look for cracks in the driveway and determine how deep and wide they are. If you find the cracks are small, approximately 3/8 inch, you'll only need to buy a rubberized asphalt crack filler. This is a pourable, "thick as molasses" material found in a small quart bottle or tube and costs less than ten dollars.

If you find some larger cracks, approximately 1/2 inch, a driveway crack and joint filler could work out better. It comes in tubes just like caulk, and you apply it in the same way. Each tube is just under five dollars.

For low or rough spots, you'll want to get a trowel patch product which has the consistency of cream cheese. This material comes in a small one gallon bucket and you spread it with a trowel. Each one gallon bucket will run you about ten dollars.

Those larger cracks, or areas where the asphalt is crumbling requires a "tamp and set" or "stone mix blacktop patch" type of filler. You can find it in one gallon buckets for ten dollars and it has a granular consistency similar to Rice Crispy Treats before they set up.

Once you have everything, don't jump right into filling and sealing. Check the weather and make sure you have a few days with no rain and give the driveway a good cleaning.

Clear away any how to repair driveway cracks grass or weeds from the edges of the driveway, the finished product looks a lot better with a clean edge. If you haven't done this in a few decades, you may find more driveway than you knew you had and your one car driveway now fits two.

Remove all the loose pieces of asphalt and clean out all the cracks as best you can using a stiff bristled broom or even a screw driver or chisel if necessary. This is very important. Then hose down the driveway and give it another sweep to be sure you got everything.

If you have any oil spots, you'll want to treat the stain with a spot primer so the new sealer will stick to it. The primer is easily brushed onto the spot costs less than ten dollars a quart.

Now you are ready to attack the cracks. Fill the smaller cracks with the rubberized liquid crack filler or caulk type material. Use the trowel to smooth out the material so you don't have any lumps in the finished masterpiece.

For the wider rough spots spread the trowel patch with the trowel no more than ½-inch deep. If your spot is deeper, let the first coat dry over night and apply another ½ inch layer. The material dries from the top down so don't assume that since the top seems dry its dry all the way through.

In the areas that are crumbling or too deep for the other fillers, fill them with the tamp and set granular material. se a hand tamper to compress the material and to make it level. Remember it is important to remove all the old broken pieces first.

Let all of the patches and fillers dry over night.

Now its time for the sealer...well almost. This stuff is loose and can splash, so tape off the areas with blue painters tape where your driveway comes in contact with landscaping borders, or concrete walkways.

Sealing is awkward at first, but be patient, you'll build a rhythm and blow through the work in no time. Stir the material, then pour a small amount at the high end of the driveway. With gravity working in your favor, gently pull the material back and forth with the squeegee. The squeegee glides better when you pull it so don't push. Using light pressure on the squeegee, leave a nice coat on the driveway without any thick lines between strokes. Continue this process down the driveway.

If it was several years since the last time your driveway was sealed, or it was in poor condition, a second coat may be necessary. The second coat will use approximately one third less material than the first, but remember to allow for dry time between coats.

Most of the products recommend drying times of 24-48 hours, but check the labels before parking your car because those tire lines are difficult to remove. Humidity extends the waiting period. If it's humid give it another day before driving. You've waited this long, what's another day. Give it 24 hours before walking on it. Use the old empty buckets to block the driveway while it dries.

Some areas are just too big to repair. If you have a crack that spans several feet or the driveway is crumbling in more places than not, you may need to consider a whole new driveway or a professional to do the job. If you are in doubt, get a few estimates and talk to the friends and family. Trying to patch and seal a driveway that is completely crumbling everywhere could be throwing away good time and money.

A properly installed and maintained driveway should last thirty years or more. If you stay on top of it, and give a skim coat every two years, sealing the driveway becomes an easy job that extends its life and gives your home great curb appeal.

Jason Gurskis is a licensed home improvement contractor based in Mystic Island, New Jersey dedicated to making homes more comfortable, durable, and energy efficient.
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27 Oct 2016 

Choosing Plumbers In Leeds - Get The Right Plumber For The Job by Si Murphy

Plumbers and plumbing contractors are Virginia plumber not really the same thing.

If a person have a leaky tap, a blocked kitchen sink drain, or some other typical plumbing related problem, you will be most probably dealing with a plumber. On the other hand, plumbing contractors are generally commonly called only whenever there is a serious plumbing related challenge or brand new plumbing is to be installed in an addition, a brand new home, or during a significant home improvement undertaking.

There will be certain benefits of choosing one or the other in specific situations, and in some situations, both may well be effective to correct the problem. There are very few plumbing related matters that should be taken lightly, however, and new installs and significant plumbing related problems are even more considerable tasks! Being aware of when and if you have to call up a plumbing contractor is the first step in a quick and efficient repair which can last for years.

Plumbing Contractors Are Most effective for Major Plumbing Issues

Any time it comes to major domestic plumbing problems, qualified plumbing contractors will be your go-to guys. There's really little need to check with yourself what exactly comprises a important plumbing issue: Whenever you have one, you will probably realize rather rapidly!

Plumbing contractors are not likely to take on small jobs such as leaking sinks or backed-up shower drains; in most situations, plumbing contractors are only called in for large plumbing issues like removing and changing defective septic systems, the complete or near complete replacement of piping, or the comprehensive refurbishment of radiator heating systems.

In some circumstances, a smaller plumbing company is headed by an experienced plumbing contractor; if you deal with such a company for the lesser domestic plumbing projects, you may be more confident (and probably even better served) by sticking with this firm for more substantial concerns. However, if major plumbing dilemmas are found, you must not really rely on your neighborhood handyman to deal with the issue as he or she is not likely to possess the tools or man power in order to do the work easily and correctly.

Plumbing Contractors for New Structures, Major Works, and Improvements

While they are absolutely the right people to call with regard to major plumbing problems, the the greater part of the work done by plumbing contractors is focused on completely replacing or newly fitting plumbing for an entire space or structure. Right here is where plumbing contractors and plumbers are merely not interchangeable; qualified plumbing contractors have special training that the ordinary plumber doesn't have, and it's that training that prepares these professionals for these more substantial, way more involved jobs.

Plumbing contractors also pop up in circumstances that many house owners might not anticipate. Gas connections and flues for heating systems , installing of water heating units (including solar panel and hydronic heating and cooling systems), and the installation and care of safety systems like gas control valves, water conditioning devices, back flow prevention equipment are all tasks where plumbing contractors are most likely to play a role.

Hiring a Plumbing Contractor

When you are entering a major building or renovation project or dealing with a major plumbing related problem, taking a bit of time to find the right plumbing service provider could save you lots of headache throughout and soon after the undertaking. Since the projects these professionals deal with are generally costly, a little bit of of legwork when you decide on your plumbing contractor can end up saving you thousands! Do try to remember, that no matter just how good an estimation one firm offers, a cheap price is never a alternative for great service, since you often end up having to pay the difference in stress and heartache! That being said you can make a deal even with the best
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