Friday, 23 June 2017

US Circuits & Trades | Business Wire

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50 Landscaping Company Names | hubpages

Landscapers are the elves of Mother Earth, giving her life, keeping her beautiful and healing her wounds. In return, the earth gives high doses of Vitamin D and a way to earn a living.

Seems like quite the beneficial relationship! If professional landscaping is something you are interested in, read on!

Having professional-level equipment and excellent service can help you land some clients, but you'll need something that will lure them in first so they can experience what your company has to offer.

What better way to do this than to have a great business name? Your name is the first impression you will make on a potential customer, and it could mean the difference between them choosing you or your competitor.

Since most regions have lots of different landscaping companies, you're going to face some stiff competition. You need something that will set you above the rest right off the bat. Your business needs to sound professional as well as unique and catchy!

Here's a list of 50 names to help you get some inspiration.

Brainstorming Tips

When brainstorming, keep the following in mind:

Use your industry: Have a name that indicates what type of company you are, even if you don't say it directly.< br>
Use your specialty: If you specialize in something specific such as landscape design, make this clear since it can help you attract a different set of customers.

Use rhymes: Rhymes just have this way of sticking in someone's head, and the stickier your name, the better!

Use your own name: You own this company, right? Be proud! There is nothing wrong with that. Bonus points if there is a clever way to squeeze it in.

Use your location: Your town or street name could be a good source of identity and inspiration. Be sure it doesn't limit you, however. Who knows where you'll grow!

Keep it simple: Your first or last name + Landscaping is a great name for a company.

Other Things to Consider

A few more questions to ask yourself when thinking of your name:

Is it brandable? You're competing with some top-dog companies for the spotlight.

Does it have the green light online? Check for available web domains and social networking page s to see how common the name is.

Does it really stand out? Keep in mind your local competition and steer clear of any names that sound similar.

Is it easy for the average person to spell and pronounce? This will help your name be memorable.

What are the most popular or biggest landscaping companies in your region called? Use them as examples of what works.

Now that you know what to look for in a name, it's time for you to start making a list of your own. Write down 100 names and don't stop until you do! Let some of them be bad. It's okay. It's all part of the process.

Deciding on a Business Name

After you've made a list of potential names, you will then begin to chop and hack away at it to narrow it down to the ones that are really good.

Ask for help if you are the indecisive type; you might be surprised at the ideas in the heads o f others! And let's face it, people are pretty opinionated, and this is a time when you really want peoples' true opinions.

If all else fails, find inspiration in your work, whether it's cutting grass or planting a new garden. It just might plant the seed that you need to grow a few ideas!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Landscape Designer

If you're considering working with a landscape designer, finding the right fit -- and avoiding surprises midway through the project -- is largely about knowing which questions to ask upfront and being familiar with the range of services these professionals provide.

We reached out to four seasoned landscape professionals -- Peter Reader of Peter Reader Landscapes in London, Beth Mullins of Growsgreen Landscape Design in San Francisco, John Algozzini of K&D Landscape Management in Chicago and June Scott of June Scott Design in Southern California -- to get the inside scoop on the range of services available and the 10 essential questions potential clients should ask before hiring a professional for the job.

First, get your ducks in a row. Before reaching out to a professional, write a wish list for your garden remodel, establish your priorities and budget, and decide which parts of the process you'd like to hire a pro for help. With this on paper, you'll have a clear sens e of what you're looking for in a designer before you begin to contact professionals.

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Landscape Designer

1. What services do you offer? First and foremost, determine what services a landscape designer offers to see if he or she is the right person for your project."The best question a potential client can ask is: 'Are you experienced with the scope of work we want, and can you design and manage it?'" Algozzini says.

Generally speaking, landscape designers fall into one of three categories, depending on the services they offer:

Design only. Some designers specialize only in the design process. This typically includes a site analysis and discussion of a client's needs, a preliminary design, revisions based on your feedback, and a final detailed master plan for your garden. This detailed planting plan and construction document is then handed over to you (or a landscape contractor of your choosing) to take it from there.

Design-build. Others offer the design service described above, as well as overseeing plant purchase and all installation. Contractors are needed for permitting and hardscape installation -- sometimes the landscape designer is also a registered contractor, and other times they have landscape contractors on their team or ones to recommend and oversee.

RELATED: Choose From the Best Design-Build Firms

Full service -- design-build and maintenance program. For the highest-touch service, some landscape designers will offer all the above, plus oversee ongoing maintenance of the garden.

2. Can I see examples of your past work? "Consider the style of the designer in relation to the garden you want," Reader says. "If you want a modern, clean-lined city garden, have they designed any before? Or if you are looking for a cottage-style garden, do they have the plant knowledge to deliver?"

Alternatively, if a designer's portfolio doesn't include the particular style you're looking for, check out his or her credentials for evidence of the training to make the vision of your garden a reality. Degrees from accredited landscape design colleges and memberships in professional organizations are both good indicators.

3. Do you offer garden consultations? Some landscape designers will offer one- to two-hour garden consultations. During this meeting, a designer will typically come over to your property, join you for a walk around the garden, listen to what you'd like to accomplish with your remodel and begin to bounce some ideas around for the design.

This is a great opportunity for you to determine whether you have a fit with the designer, and for the designer to see if he or she fits with you as a client. "It is important for a client to determine what role they want to play," Mullins says. "Are they interested in a collaboration, [want to] defer completely to the designer or have a clear idea for their garden and just want someone to i mplement it?"

Don't expect an initial consult to be free of charge -- it is, after all, two hours of a professional's time -- though some designers will put the consult fee toward the cost of the design if you end up hiring them.

4. What ideas do you have for our garden? After you've shared your wish list and budget with the designer, and the designer Sprinkler System has had a chance to view your property, ask what vision the designer has for your Sprinkler System Installation Rockwall landscape. Designers have different mediums of presenting their ideas for your landscape, ranging from a collage-style mood board with inspiration images for plants and hardscape materials to a two-dimensional, to-scale drawing created with a CAD program or by hand.

This is the time to speak up about what you like and dislike in the design or if you see anything that's missing from your wish list -- for exam ple, more space for tool storage, room to grow vegetables or an area with shade. Following this meeting, a designer will draw up a revised design drawing based on your feedback.

5. What is your process? A designer's process depends on the services he or she offers (see question 1). Get to know the process -- and whether you or the designer is responsible for overseeing each step -- from the beginning so that you'll know what to expect once the project is underway. If you're hiring a designer who specializes in design only, ask yourself whether you have the time or experience necessary to oversee the project installation or if the designer has contractors to recommend.

As a responsible client, you also need to be honest with a landscape designer regarding your budget for the project. "Knowing a budget beforehand is crucial," Mullins says. "It doesn't mean that a designer needs to spend the budget but dictates what [he or she] can realistically design for." If a look you like is over your budget, designers often have creative ways to stretch your budget and give you the best garden for your space.

6. What is the estimated cost? Clear communication regarding the estimated cost of the project and your budget is essential. Ask your designer for a range of cost for both the design and the installation. Most installation estimates are drawn up by a contractor based on the cost per square foot of installing areas of hardscape category/index.jsp?categoryId=2602623 outlined on the plan for the yard.

Scott shares another key question to ask your designer: "How are changes in scope handled during the design and installation process?" Given that unanticipated design changes often come up midproject, it's important to be clear on whether a designer will charge additional fees for the time it takes to change the design plan or installation.

7. Are there any ways to reduce cost? Pathways, patios, retaining walls and decks are generally more expensive than planted garden areas, so the more hardscape there is in the design, the more it's likely going to cost to install. Plus, the materials used for hardscape can vary widely for both the product and the installation.

It's best to have a conversation with a designer when you are discussing the initial plan about ways to reduce the cost of the landscape to stay on budget. The designer will have ideas about where you can save money without com promising style, and what elements are worth a splurge.

8. How long will installation take? The time it takes to design and install a landscape depends on a number of factors: size and scope of the project, availability of contractors and other installation specialists, ordering and delivery times for materials and plants, dry weather for laying hardscape, and unexpected setbacks during installation. Instead of asking a landscape designer to have the installation done by a certain date, ask for an estimated range for the project to be completed.

As eager as you may be to enjoy your new landscape, keep in mind that skilled installation of hardscape and careful planting takes time. "While landscaping on TV is inspirational and great entertainment, the actual site work rarely has a team of 24 [people] working around the clock," Algozzini says. "High-quality work is both art and science, and takes time to install."

RELATED: How to Work With a Landscape Professional

9. When will the garden grow in? The time it takes for a garden to grow in depends on the scope of the design, what types of plants are proposed and how mature the plants are when they're planted. A smaller area with ornamental grasses and perennials can grow in within a single season, but larger and more complex designs with trees and large shrubs can take years to reach maturity. Ask your designer which plants make sense to splurge for semimature specimens (like focal-point trees or shrubs needed for screening) and which plants can be purchased small and fill in quickly (like most ground covers, vegetables and ornamental grasses).

10. How much maintenance will it take to keep the garden looking good? Different styles of gardens and plants require very different levels of care. Be upfront with your landscape designer about how much maintenance you are willing to commit -- e ither your own time or that of a hired gardener -- going forward. Once you've invested in hiring a landscape designer and installing a garden, you'll want to keep your landscape alive and flourishing for years to come. Ask your landscape designer if he or she has recommended maintenance gardeners or specialists to take care of the garden going forward.

Friday, 16 June 2017

'Water cops' seek sprinkler scofflaws in drought-parched California| Reuters

By Sharon Bernstein


SACRAMENTO Calif. It was still dark on Kokomo Drive in Sacramento's Natomas district as Paul Brown edged his city-issued Honda Civic past a row of beige stucco houses with tiny front lawns, looking for water wasters.

He heard the scofflaws before he saw their lush green lawns amid the otherwise parched turf. The buzz of a sprinkler system gave them away on a day that the city, desperate to save water amid California's ongoing drought, had forbidden watering.

"If I can get a good picture - if the re's a lot of water - I'll cite them," he said.

California is in the third year of a devastating drought that has led farmers to fallow nearly half a million acres of cropland, threatened fish hatcheries and shrunk drinking water supplies for some communities.

To get people to conserve, many municipalities and regional water agencies have hired "water cops" like Brown to enforce state conservation rules.

Cities have even asked people to turn their neighbors in, and some have created smartphone apps to make the process easier.

Brown, 46, a father of four who was hired by the city as a meter reader, said he picked this area because he has fielded numerous complaints from neighbors about water wasters.

Camera and citation book in hand, he parked the car a few houses down and got out, walking swiftly to the house where the sprinklers were on. A flash illuminated the building's facade, then all was dark again.

Brown headed back to the car and wrote up the citation. A check of his laptop showed that the residents had not been cited before, so instead of a fine of up to $500, they would get a warning. On a second offense, they would have to attend a meeting on how to save water. Third time, a fine.

The city of Sacramento has about a half-dozen employees enforcing conservation rules. Like Brown, they go out on Friday mornings before dawn, patrolling neighborhoods. When they're not patrolling, they field phone calls from residents turning in their neighbors, hopping in their cars to check out serious reports on the spot.

Water use in the city dropped 25 percent in August over the same month in 2013, the most recent month for which information is available, state data showed.

Statewide, residents and businesses cut water use by 11.5 percent in August over the com parable 2013 period, enough to fill nearly 40,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, credits new rules and tougher enforcement with much of the change.

"Regulations make better results than voluntary exhortations," she said. "People want to know that everybody else is doing it."

In August, the water resources board implemented statewide rules that prohibit watering gardens enough to cause visible runoff, hosing down driveways or asphalt, and operating non-recirculating fountains.

Regulators also allowed municipalities to set mandatory cutbacks and levy fines against those who do not comply.

In Los Angeles, the city has received 4,400 reports of water wasters this year, resulting in 2,200 warning citations, said Michelle Vargas, a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles Department of Water an d Power.

L.A. has kept one water cop on the beat full-time since the state's last big drought in 2009, but it added three more this summer after the new statewide regulations went into effect.

The Southern California city of Long Beach is offering residents a water-waster app for their smartphones, making snitching quick and easy by allowing users to report neighbors and businesses for hosing down sidewalks, watering during the heat of the day or having a break or leak in their water lines.

Sometimes, Brown says, reports from vindictive neighbors lead him to visit a property only to find that no violation has taken place.

"I tell them I'm not going to cite you just because they call on you," said Brown, who carefully documents every case with photographs and a brief report. "There has to be evidence."

(Editing by Douglas Royalty)

Fire Sprinkler Recall - CBS News

About 35 million building sprinklers across the country need to be replaced because they might not work during fires, the government and Sprinkler System Installation Greenville the Pennsylvania manufacturer said Wednesday.

The sprinklers are installed in homes, offices, day-care facilities, hospitals and other buildings, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

Central Sprinkler Co., of Lansdale, Pa., discovered some of its sprinkler heads have O-ring seals that can corrode, said L. Dennis Kozlowski, chief executive of Tyco International Ltd., which owns the sprinkler company. The firm has received 13 reports of sprinklers failing to work during fires.

"We immediately shared our concerns with the authorities," Kozlowski told reporters. He noted the deterioration of the sprinklers "takes place over a very long period of time."

Tyco will provide free replacements for all the recalled sprinklers, the safety commission said. The first sprinklers replaced will be the oldest, those showing signs of damage or those in buildings such as nursing homes and hospitals.

The recall includes another 167,000 sprinklers sold by Gem Sprinkler Co. and Star Sprinkler Inc., which are also owned by Tyco, the safety commission said.

The recalled fire sprinkler heads have the words "CENTRAL" or "STAR", the letters "CSC", the letter "G" in a triangle, or a star-shaped symbol stamped on either the metal frame or the flower-shaped metal piece at one end of the sprinkler head.

About 2.5 million sprinklers installed in other countries, most of them in Canada, are also included in the recall, said Central Sprinkler spokeswoman Anne Buchanan.

People seeking more information about how to replace their sprinklers should call the company toll-free at 1-800-871-3492.

Building owners, however, shouldn't shut off their sprinkler systems because of this recall, said Joseph Hirschmugl, a spokesman for Chicago-based Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which provides safety certifications and has been testing the recalled sprinklers.

"People should remember that sprinklers are important life Sprinkler System Installation Greenville saving devices," he said, noting that the recall is a precaution.

The vast majority of the recalled sprinklers are of the GB or glass-bulb type that contain alcohol or another liquid in a bulb mounted on the sprinkler head. Heat rising from a fire expands the liquid, causing the glass to shatter. That releases the sprinkler's plug and allows water onto the fire. An O-ring seal keeps the plug from leaking.

The testing organization said in April that some glass-bulb sprinklers produced by Central Sprinkler had crystallized deposits or corrosion around the rubber seal, which indicated leaking water.

It has recommended that the sprinklers be replaced since March 2000, but at the time, Brad McGee, a Tyco senior vice president, said it was too early to consider a recall or replacement of the sprinklers.

In 1998, Central Sprinkler recalled 8.4 million Omega brand fire sprinklers because thy could fail in a fire. Those sprinklers, which were installed nationwide in schools, hospitals, hotels, offices and homes, failed to acti vate in about 20 fires during the 1990s, causing injuries and millions of dollars in property damage, the safety commission said at the time.

MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

California Residents Face Fines as Bone-Dry State Seeks to Reduce Water Use

Across the West, a historic drought - the worst in over a century - has sparked a water crisis that for the first time has forced California officials to impose mandatory statewide water restrictions.

"We need water," Gov. Gerry Brown said today. "We're gonna have to get water."

Watch: Extremely dry conditions fuel wildfires in at least five states.

There have no been no fewer than a dozen raging wildfires, from Idaho and Oregon to Arizona, Washington and Nevada.

The Bully Fire in Northern California chewed through 10-square miles and destroyed eight homes. The landscape has become a tinderbox and water reservoirs are now bone dry. About 2,200 firefighters have been working hard to keep the flames away.

Nevada's Lake Mead is now at its lowest point since th e Hoover Dam was built, officials said.

In today's announcement, officials in California announced that it is illegal to let sprinkler systems flow into the street, hose down sidewalks and driveways or use an open hose to wash your car.

"I think my husband has been guilty of coming out late at night and doing a little secretive watering underneath the trees," resident Pam Ferko said.

Scofflaws faced fines of up to $500 a day.

Previously, residents had ignored the governor's pleas to cutback - statewide, water usage actually went up - so now Californians are being encouraged to rat out their neighbors.

"Our water complaint calls have gone up exponentially from the last two years," said Terrance Davis of the stat e's Department of Utilities.

Lawn sprinklers and car washes aren't the only culprits though.

Agriculture uses 80 percent of the state's water. The drought is projected to cost $2 billion in crop losses this year, which will mean higher food prices nationwide.

Storage Protection Sprinkler Head Technology (excerpt) - Sprinkler Head, Tyco, Storage - Fire

20th century 70's and 80's warehouse to protect the development

Big drop type fire control sprinkler heads for special applications

The first warehouse specifically developed for the protection of sprinkler head is a large drop sprinkler head, the sprinkler head was developed in the 20th century 70's, K coefficient is 161, its splash plate is designed to produce more large drops enhance the penetration and improve fire fighting performance. System design sprinkler head 15 can only meet the design requirements and safety coefficient is greatly enhanced. As developed this sprinkler head, the experts found that the warehouse for high risk, the measure of performance is the sprinkler sprinkler head nozzle size and caliber of work pressure and role, rather than water density area. Large drop sprinkler head is a significant advantage of the sprinkler head can be protected without the need for shelf stor age shelves within the sprinkler head, sprinkler nozzle for the ordinary this is not possible.

? ESFR sprinkler head 80s in the 20th century, with the FM model developed ESFR sprinkler heads, storage protection has reached a new level. In order to protect high-risk items used to store high-shelf storage, but do not use the shelves within the sprinkler head, while on the shelf to avoid mechanical damage within the sprinkler head, in particular, developed SM technology. With enhanced performance of ESFR sprinkler head, there has been a new and more rigorous use and installation requirements. Although the users and designers know that you can no longer use a shelf within the sprinkler head, but often neglect the more stringent installation requirements, the resulting problems have also plagued the storage industry.

New sprinkler head technology Until the 20th century, the early 90s for most of the sprinkler head storage technology to protect the most important changes are driven by the FM. 50 years in the 20th century they developed a standard sprinkler head, but also a large drop and ESFR sprinkler head of the developer. By policyholders in their efforts to meet the needs of mainly large-scale industrial operation. Then, by the Central Company (now Tyco fire equipment company) led sprinkler head needs of the user industry began its research and development.

Large caliber (ELO) fire control water jet stren gth / function area Sprinkler System Installation Arlington of sprinkler heads

ELO sprinkler head start is the central D64-type sprinkler heads. It was designed to use only one K161 sprinkler head, which can be generated under high water pressure in the lower water density, more cost-effective. In order to validate its performance, in the 20th century, the early 90s was an entity fires pilot projects. The basic process of this project is the original pilot project to repeat the warehouse, the only change is replaced by ELO sprinkler head, and at a lower injection pressure have the same density. In these experiments, ELO sprinkler head and the old sprinkler head not only play the same performance, but in addition Sprinkler System Arlington to one of the tests are clearly better than the performance. In the design of the new warehouse protection, or no real reason to use K115 smaller sprinkler head, NFPA13 required density 14mm/min (0.34gpm/ft2) or higher, or greater use of K11.2 sprinkler head, illustrates this point.

Large-caliber special application type fire control sprinkler heads

Central has developed UltraK17 sprinkler head in order to lower the required pressure to achieve significant and large drop sprinkler head performance. FM carried out by entities in the fire test, the sprinkler head to protect the carton piled up on the shelves of plastic materials within the warehouse shelf without the need for sprinkler heads.

Large diameter hanging-type sprinkler head

As demands for higher pressure, the original K202ESFR sprinkler head is often difficult to bring the design, so central in the development of the K363 FM sprinkler head. rotection-sprinkler-head-technology-excerpt-sprinkler-head-tyco-storage-fire-319d216be73.html

Monday, 12 June 2017

Above the Law

Morning Docket


Staci Zaretsky

Justice Neil Gorsuch (Photo  by Getty)Justice Neil Gorsuch (Photo by Getty)

* President Donald Trump will reportedly visit the Supreme Court later this week for Justice Neil Gorsuch's official investiture ceremony. Based on the president's prior behavior, it may only be a matter of time before he refers to his appointee as an "absolute disaster" whose "mind is shot." [USA Today]

* Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by President Trump af ter he was asked to remain in his post, says phone calls he received from Trump made in an effort to "cultivate some kind of relationship" made him uncomfortable. In response, a spokesman for Marc Kasowitz called Bharara a "resistance Democrat," and said "he deserved to be fired." [Washington Post]

* In other news, Marc Kasowitz, who will likely be setting up an office on White House grounds where he can run President Trump's defense, has reportedly told White House aides to hold off on hiring their own lawyers -- a move that would only be in his client's interest, and against their own. [New York Times]


* President Donald Trump will reportedly visit the Supreme Court later this week for Justice Neil Gorsuch's official investiture ceremony. Based on the president's prior behavior, it may only be a matter of time before he refers to his appointee as an "absolute disaster" whose "mind is shot." [USA Today]

* Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by President Trump after he was asked to remain in his post, says phone calls he received from Trump made in an effort to "cultivate some kind of relationship" made him uncomfortable. In response, a spokesman for Marc Kasowitz called Bharara a "resistance Democrat ," and said "he deserved to be fired." [Washington Post]

* In other news, Marc Kasowitz, who will likely be setting up an office on White House grounds where he can run President Trump's defense, has reportedly told White House aides to hold off on hiring their own lawyers -- a move that would only be in his client's interest, and against their own. [New York Times]

* In defense to a lawsuit, the Justice Department has likened President Trump to George Washington (yup!), alleging that Trump isn't violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by accepting payments for goods and services like hotel bills and golf club fees from foreign governments. [Bloomberg]

* In the wake of former FBI director James Comey's tell-all appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will now have to testify himself on the ongoing probe int o Russian's election interference. Hmm, what will the recused AG have to say for himself? [New York Times]

* "It was really disgusting and really scary." Joseph Amico of Las Vegas was arrested after he allegedly called New York lawyer Douglas Wigdor a "n**ger lover" and threatened to blow up his firm. Wigdor is representing plaintiffs in a racial discrimination lawsuit against Fox News Channel. [New York Daily News]

* Miguel A. Mndez, Stanford Law's first Latino professor, RIP. [Stanford News]

Ebikes: I Sing the Ride Electric

Let me make a prediction: You will buy an E-Bike, and like me, you will love having one.

2016-12-26-1482782513-3355061-WallerangM02Xpreview.png Wallerang Ebike

Over the last six months, I've been testing a wide variety of E-bikes and have come to believe strongly that E-bikes are in the future for many of us, specifically those over 50, but in time, for everyone. I've tested bikes from brands you know such as Trek, Specialized and Raleigh, and ones you haven't such as Swedish Ebike company Wallerang (which turned out to be my favorite but more on that later).

An E-bike is a two-wheeled bicycle-like personal transport device that has a motor that is powered in part by a rechargeable batter y. In some cases pedaling the bike engages the battery (pedal assist bikes) or even recharges it (although that is not always the case). Others have a throttle. Either way, a motor is engaged that helps power the bike faster, or makes hills or upwards grades easier. In cases where you might have dismounted and walked the bike up a hill, you can now cruise; where others passed you, you can now pass them.

Your friends may think of an Ebike as cheating or tell you that if you are not pedaling all the time, what's the point. They do not get it: An Ebike allows you to bike more often, in more places -- and for those who rately bike at all, it creates a compelling, easy reason to do so.

With an Ebike suddenly you can take rides and bike trips that seemed daunting; or work commutes that you feared would make you sweaty are suddenly manageable. It also gives a psychologica l boost - it increases when you might ride and how often and opens up a world of biking to those who thought it too much work. As I said, perfect for aging boomers who want the illusion of youth without the work.

My romance with Ebikes started about six months ago when I came into possession of a first generation Ebike by A2B. It has a throttle and goes up to 20mph. The battery is built into the stem and charges in a few hours. However, the bike is very heavy and clunky, closer to a moped than a bicycle. Still I have used it with great pleasure around Santa Monica and it is fun to run errands with. It also provided a great introduction to Ebikes and gave me a sense that what I was looking for did not need to be faster, but it needed to be lighter and look more like a bicycle. Also I was looking for it to maintain the same strength going up hills as did my A2B which, despite its weight, is quite powerful.

In California, where I live, Ebikes have become so popular that the legislature recently passed regulations defining motorized bicycles by class, according to speed and other features. Class 3 Ebikes go over 20 mph and are not permitted on ocean bicycle paths; class 2 ebikes (20 mph and under) are treated like regular bikes.

This is just one indication that the Ebike market has exploded. For further proof, a few weekends ago I attended the Santa Monica E-Bike Expo held at the Santa Monica Pier beach parking lot where I was able to inspect and try more than a dozen different brands of E-bike.

2016-12-26-1482783136-5254753-SpecializedTurboX.jpgSpecialized Ebike

Traditional bike brands such as Raleigh, Trek and Specialized (Specialized calls theirs "Turbo Bikes) have all introduced their own branded Ebikes. In addition there are many other specialized, American and European brands dedicated to Ebikes including Stromer, Tempo, Bulls, Gazelle, Kalkhoff, Riese and Mueller, Wallerang and Yuba. Each has its own distinctive positive attributes - as well as drawbacks. Which model is best for you, is a matter of how (and where) you will most use the bike (on trails, on city streets, etc..) as well as price, features (do you need it to haul cargo or kids) and some are distinguished by style.

There are those who will argue the virtues of whether the ebike is rear wheel powered hub or front and whether the chain is encased or not; how many gears and how you shift them, and the location of the battery. Is it a mountain bike, a road bike, for commuting or off road. For some it is purely an esthetic question of what looks the best. However, to me, what matters most is how you feel riding the bike.

As a caveat, I will note that there are many crowdfunded ebikes on Indiegogo and Kickstarter, most of which are priced at substantial less than the models I tested. Some of th em require you to assemble them, and servicing them is more of a promise than a guarantee. As a result, my own survey is limited to the brands below all of which have US distribution and are serviced by the stores that sell them and/or their U.S. distributor or manufacturer.

Let me start with my favorite, Wallerang.

Wallerang is a Swedish bike company from Gothenburg, Sweden. They like to call themselves a marriage of Scandinavian design and Japanese technology. They've set up U.S. headquarters in Santa Cruz, CA. The bikes are all purpose commuter bikes with a aluminum frame, a Shimano mid-step electronic gear shift (with an automatic setting). The frame is non-suspension but they do have models with front shocks. They are also built with a modular system allowing for a variety of cargo carrying choices front and back. But all of that is just justification for the fact that from the moment I rode their M.02X Smartbike, it just felt right. What is great is that you jus t get on and ride and the gear shifting and power assist are all automated. This was the Ebike for me.


Wallerang Smart bike (posed with model Therese)

The M.02X has a suspension fork is available as a step-through. This means you sit comfortably on the bike and on whatever terrain you ride. The power when climbing is strong. I liked the silent drive unit and the shifting with three easy to click buttons (and the fully automatic option) make riding simple. There is cycle computer that comes standard with gear, range and battery indication. From the moment I sat on the Wallerang I felt not just comfortable but like I wanted to go somewhere on this bike. The price, (around $3600) is steep. But if that is within your budget, I can say that there was no Ebike I liked more, no bike that I would be eager to use as often as possible on as many roads as possible.

My second favorite was Kalkhoff, which boasts its German engineering and its pedigree of having made bicycles for almost 100 years, making all their own components in Germany. They are premium commuter Ebikes with a dozen different styles including features such as electrical gear shifting and combination back pedal and disc brake, bike lock and battery lock. They have pioneered smart displays and Bluetooth enabled navigation. They are well made and have entry level bikes that retail in the US for under $1600 (although of course one covets the higher price models). If I was looking for an entry level Ebike in price, Kalkhoff provides good value.

As for the other Ebikes I tested: Raleigh makes a line of Ebikes that are moderately priced (for Ebikes) which is to say in the $1600-$2600 range. They handle well and produce a strong push when pedaled. However I found the bike Electrician Service College Station somewhat stiff in its handling and not as comfortable as I would have liked. Specialized's Turbo Ebikes are more in the $4500 price and above price range, but they make powerful mountain bikes to take you up hills (a claimed 530 watts of power!) and are attractive and well-made (personally they are more expensive than I'd spend but if money is not an issue I would recommend trying them).

Trek makes commuter bikes that begin around $3000, have a mid-drive motor, and have long range battery and come with Trek's warranty. The Trek was stiffer ride, did the job well but it was more about efficiency than pleasure. I would say Trek is a safe reliable choice, but I wasn't crazy about how the bike felt (again this is highly personal but I felt on the Trek as if my butt would wear out before the ebike did).

2016-12-26-1482783476-959895-YUBAIMG_55974edit.jpg Yuba SPicy Curry Ebike

Some of the brands you might not have heard of include Yuba which make cargo Ebikes and ones that can accommodate young kids as second (or even third) passengers. Priced in the $3-4000 range they weigh between 55-70 pounds, but are around six feet in length and really can haul your groceries or kids around town.

Gazelle Ebikes also in the $3-4,000 range, are a Dutch brand that has a retro look (leather seats and handles). Their ebikes are practical and have a spare simple design. The ride is comfortable and the bikes are not too heavy. More stylish are Farragut Ebikes which look like classic bicycles. The ride is somewhat stiff and I didn't find them as comfortable or powerful as other brands but they are attractive.

Stromer is a Swiss ebike that is perhaps the most solid of those I tested. The Stromers are serious ebikes, they feel a little bi t heavier (and they are more expensive) but it is fair to say they are the Cadillac of the crowd and the one many Ebike stores recommended to me for all around use.


Bulls Ebike

The Germans made a strong showing at the Ebike Expo. Bulls has been in the Ebike market since 2010, mostly in Europe, and has a wide variety of Ebikes from fat-tire off road models to commuter bikes - they are priced at middle and higher range ($3500 and above). The one I rode was an all-purpose model and it handled well. They have a wide range of drive systems and models but I didn't feel they were as intuitive to use as I might have liked.

BMW (yes that BMW) makes an Ebike ($3,430) featuring Bosch motors with a 400 watt battery and shimano disc brakes and a top speed of 25 mph (m aking it a class 3 bike). The design is clean and there is a ten-gear system (a bit too much for me). There is an onboard computer that makes gear recommendations.

Another German company is Riese and Muller who make more than a dozen models (including folding bikes, some with multiple batteries allowing for an extended range, (also with Bosch motors) as well as cargo ebikes that carry their cargo in front. Their bikes have a distinctive look and appear well engineered (some look somewhat Rube Goldberg-esque). However, I am not sure about the extent of the US dealership service and support.

At whatever price point you choose, and for whatever best suits your needs there's an Ebike for you. And biking with assist is better than not biking at all! As for me, I know I'm going to upgrade from A2B sooner rather later.

So in closing let me say: Happy Trails and I hope to be passing you soon!

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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Hidden Portrait Found Under 'Mona Lisa' Painting

A hidden portrait underneath the "Mona Lisa" has been discovered by a French scientist, who said he uncovered the image using reflective light technology.

The digitally reconstructed image of the hidden portrait was presented at a press conference in Shanghai on Tuesday by scientist Pascal Cotte, who's been analyzing the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece for over a decade, the BBC reported. Pascal said he uncovered the image using a multi-lens camera that took images of the painting under intense light.

The hidden portrait features a sitting subject who looks almost identical to the "Mona Lisa," minus small but significant differences.

The sitter in the image appears to be looking to the side rather than directly at the viewer, and the sitter does not seem to have the enigmatic smile that's intrigued "Mona Lisa" viewers for over 500 years.

< br>Cotte told the BBC that he believes his findings challenge the widely accepted theory that the "Mona Lisa" is a painting of real-life 16th century Italian woman Lisa Gheradini, who was the wife of a Florentine silk merchant.

Pascal Cotte, a French scientist, claims he has found a hidden portrait underneath the Mona Lisa.

"The results shatter many myths and alter our vision of Leonardo's masterpiece forever," he said. "When I finished the reconstruction of Lisa Gherardini, I was in front of the portrait, and she is totally different to Mona Lisa today. This is not the same woman."

In an upcoming documentary for the BBC, art historian, Andrew Graham-Dixon, said he studied historical documents linked to the "Mona Lisa" alongside Cotte's findings and came to the same conclusion as Cotte.

Reflective light technology used to analyze th e Mona Lisa.

"I think the new discoveries are like a huge stone thrown into the still waters of art history," Graham-Dixon said. "They disturb everything that we thought we knew about the Mona Lisa ... [T]here may be some reluctance on the part of the authorities at the Louvre to think about changing the title of the painting because that's what we're talking about. It's 'Goodbye, Mona Lisa.' She is somebody else."

The Louvre Museum declined to comment on the findings, saying it was not a part of the scientific team that studied the painting.

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, exhibited at the Louvre in Paris in 2007.

Other art historians remain skeptical about the claims that Cotte's findings could prove the "Mona Lisa" was someone else other than Lisa Gheradini.

Oxford University Professor Martin Kemp, one of the world's leading experts on Leonardo da Vinci told the BBC that he believes Cotte and his team is "ingenious" but "the idea that there is that picture as if it were hiding underneath the surface is almost untenable."

He added, "I think there's no doubt it is Lisa."

Saturday, 10 June 2017

How to prepare your lawn for spring

When the winter season ends, you will probably want to spend more time outside, appreciating the Sprinkler System Mckinney warm weather and the simple pleasures of a nicely kept lawn. Here are a few steps you can take toward creating and maintaining a healthy and gorgeous lawn.

Remove Sprinkler System Mckinney debris

Rake away the debris from the fall and winter months, including leaves and sticks. This will give you a fresh start for the spring. If you have leftover rubbish on the lawn, this can get in the way of mowing, watering, planting seed and so on. Raking has the added benefit of loosening the surface of the soil, encouraging healthy airflow.

Chris Lemcke, national technical director of Weed Man (a lawn care company), advises raking up last year's leave s and matted grass that were hiding under last fall's leaves and sticks left in the yard. This can keep the thatch level at half an inch or less. It will also allow you to care for the lawn properly.

Apply more grass seed

Look for areas with weak grass growth or dead grass. Use a strong rake to open the surface. Mix the grass seed with new, healthy soil. Then spread this soil/grass seed mixture over the surface. Don't forget to regularly water this area to foster hearty and fast grass growth.


Mulch is a protective covering that you can apply to soil to lock in moisture. "Mulching with a depth of 2 to 4 inches around the bases of trees, shrubs and in flower beds will retain water and keep plants warm," says Lemcke.

Water deeply

Many homeowners water their lawns often -- but with little water. However, it's better to water only when your lawn needs it with a lot of water.

If you water deep and sparingly, you will train the grass r oots to dig deeper into the soil. Whereas, if you water lightly and often, you will train the roots to stay near the surface, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Snow mold

Look for snow mold. This condition is caused when the grass doesn't receive enough oxygen because it's been covered in snow. Snow mold reveals itself when the snow melts.

If you rake your lawn before the arrival of snow, this can reduce your risk of snow-mold. Some people, with a history of snow mold, try to avoid this condition by mowing the lawn well into t he autumn and spreading snow evenly across the lawn during winter. The latter, however, is deemed excessive by many people.

Mow high

Mow your lawn with a sharp blade. You should also mow often because grass doesn't adjust as well to infrequent mowing. If you keep your grass a bit on the longer side, it will grow thicker and healthier, with a better-established root system.

Better roots help your grass survive insects or drought. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, many turf grass species should be kept between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches.

Law prof: Comey firing creates 'major credibility problem' for White House, GOP

A top constitutional law professor told Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCallum" Wednesday that President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey had created a "major credibility problem" that could necessitate the appointment of a special prosecutor.

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley told MacCallum that he had previously opposed the idea of a special prosecutor to investigate possible ties between Russia and Trump's campaign because "I'm not too sure what the crime is."

However, Turley added that "the way the White House fired Comey -- and the when, more importantly -- does give greater justification for the appointment of a special counsel."

Turley added that a better time for Trump to fire Comey would have been soon after his inauguration in January and said the White House needs "to recognize the realities here.

"The president has been criticizing the Russian investigation for weeks. He's been making it known that he's not happy with it," Turley told host Martha MacCallum. "To lop off the head of the FBI director after that [extended] criticism creates a real appearance problem, and appearances matter in a political system."

Despite his criticism of the timing of Comey's ouster, Turley dismissed suggestions that Trump was attempting to head off the investigation into Russia's actions during last year's election campaign.

I criticize many of those folks that are saying, 'This had to be because the investigation's closing in on Trump,'" the professor said. "I don't see the crime, so I don't see how it's closing in on Trump."