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The Giant Face on Mars

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I thought I would take the time to write an entertaining piece on mars. Mars while smaller than Earth has fascinated scientists since its discovery. Back in the olden days of 1976, the Viking Orbiter transmitted an image of a formation on Mars that scientists found very amusing. This object had a strong resemblance with that of a human face. The scientists did not think much of the object and just chuckled in passing. They considered it a illusion, nothing more than lighting and shadows. The resolution from the images at the time were not that crisp or sharp and you couldn’t really tell any difference. At the dawn of the space age the scientists had much bigger and more important aspects of Mars to categorize.

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Why is water on Mars so important?

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In August of 2011 scientists discovered that during the “Spring Months” of Mars, carved surfaces in the ground form and this may have been caused by heavily salted water. It is of interest to note that water or H2O HAS been found on Mars. However, much of this water is contained at either the planets poles or underground with the vast majority of the above surface water being frozen. There has been evidence to support claims that Mars may have been covered in Oceans in the distant past however this certainly hasn’t been observed during our modern times. This discovery of “carved surfaces” of the ground may support evidence that the possibility of liquid water exists on Mars.

These new streak formations are taking place over the course of two earth months. Some of these sloping streaks are 650 feet deep. These streaks are currently only forming around the planets warmest areas, with the majority being along the equator, which is facing the sun more often. This is not proof of liquid water but the most likely explanation currently is H2O in liquid form. Now with that said; why is the discovery of water on Mars so important or rather profound?

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The Importance of Cosmic Dust

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Cosmic dust is by definition to be considered all the dust in the cosmos. What makes this matter so special or rather so different from the rest of the material of our universe? Cosmic dust can be considered intergalactic dust, interstellar dust, or even “Star Dust”.

What is really interesting however, is that in October of 2011, scientists discovered that cosmic dust contains complex organic matter. This discovery alone has the potential to unravel our socio economic norms as we know them. This means that all life that we know of may have originated from the very same materials that is contained in the very stars themselves. What if the stars were alive in a very different state? Possibly an absurd question but never forget that there are many secrets to the universe we have not discovered yet.

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How Life Insurance Kept My Family Secured

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Working as an aerospace engineer for NASA, there was always that possibility of being sent to different dangerous spots. Not necessarily outer space, sometimes just to the nearest military airport to test some equipment. The term rocket scientist, makes me cringe, but that’s the closest layman description there is to my job. I may not work with rocket fuels, or rocket engines, but I still work to create things that are taken out to orbit which should work in zero gravity.

Some days, the things I do and create get to be used by ordinary people as part of their everyday technology. I see it everyday, but the beauty of this is that ordinary citizens don’t even realize that the things they used were developed by rocket scientists for spacemen. Ours is a dangerous life: we work with chemicals and high-octane fuels and other combustible materials. My parents and my wife worried about accidents and other eventualities that could happen while I’m on the field. As an engineer, I get to fly with the astronauts during training. We also test different rocket fuel components and see how the machines would behave on space-like conditions.

At some point I did feel that I was exposing myself to a lot danger. Worried about securing the future of my girls, I took a couple of life insurance policies with a pretty high coverage. I wanted to make sure that there will be enough to spend for the children’s education so my wife will not have to worry about providing for them in case something happens to me. I got an accident and life insurance package and two (yes two) other policies: one term and the other not.

It took a couple of weeks to study different plans and find ones that suited my predicament. I knew that being an aerospace engineer was lucrative, but all of that would be useless when I’m dead. After securing the insurance policies, I also made a few more investments for my retirement. I must say that I am enjoying the fruits of my labors now and living the good life while I’m retired.

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Considering Roof Repairs? Read This

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A house is the single most expensive thing that any normal person would buy. For a lot of people, home ownership is the epitome of adulthood. You may not be married with children, but having your own home and paying for its mortgage is a badge of permanency in any given place. At some point, improvements have to be done. There would be small things to do around the house, including the lawn, driveway, trees, plants, the backyard, and so on.

Of course, a house is not a static investment. There would be other costs associated with the house. There would be utility bills, the lawn will have to be mowed, and the driveway cleared of snow in the winter. The trees also have to be pruned at some point. A patio out back might be an option but if you frequently entertain guests and like backyard barbecues, it would be a good idea to have one installed. With time, repairs would start rolling in. Eaves and water spouts will deteriorate and so will the plumbing, the cabling, and so on.

A lot of people do not believe that a house has to be maintained and repaired. On the contrary, a house starts deteriorating the moment it is built. Some portions of a house goes into disrepair quite slowly, while others would need some form of repair all at once. One part of a house which may need to be repaired after only a couple of years would be the roof. That’s the extreme scenario and it depends on where you are located. Usually though, it just needs to be repaired because of normal wear and tear.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a galvanized iron roof, shingles or roof tiles, when somethings wrong with the roof, you have to consider if the repair costs are cheaper than roof installation costs. If it’s still intact and there’s only one portion which needs to be repaired, you would only need an expert to give you an estimate on roof repair costs. If you are in Tornado Alley, and a twister just pulled out your roof like a dentist pulling teeth, you would need an estimate of the costs before you can have a roof over your house.

The roof is not a little thing, or a trivial cost. Depending on the size of the repair, and the materials, you can get an estimate of costs and you can source out the payments. You can get a second mortgage, and use this to fix your roof, along with any other portion of the house. Most banks would be happy to lend you the money to improve your home.

Besides the total cost of the investment, and also because a house is a fixed building, these usually have the longest repayment periods. Typical mortgages range from 20 to 25 years to repay. There are some banks would allow up to 30 years to repay the loan. The length of the repayment period usually means that the homeowner would be paying the for house for his whole working life. It also means that the if you keep paying on time, you would have a good relationship with the banks.

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A Space Museum at Our Backyard

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There is a common misconception that the space program does not give any benefits to the real world of life on earth. On the contrary, a lot of the inventions, innovations and development from the space program research has been a big boon with daily applications. So called space age materials stem almost directly from the space program. Composite materials and polymers were developed to make light, strong and durable materials. Many of these applications are still used to this day and have evolved to become household names. Teflon is one example and another one is titanium alloy. The former of course is more popularly known as a line of non-stick pots and pans, while the latter is used to make very lightweight bicycles – even the folding kind which is very popular in certain parts of the world nowadays.

As a retired aero space engineer, I was able to witness some of the most advanced technologies. Others seemed small but had very practical applications, such as the fire retardant suit. Today that is being used by fire fighters as it can withstand much higher temperatures than the traditional suit. In outer space, this would allow an astronaut’s suit to withstand pressure and exposure to the elements. I have several models of that in tucked away.

I did not realize how much memorabilia and prototypes I had until I saw a tv special on space technology. My wife and I were watching it and she casually said that I had more stuff than that particular museum. I made a quick inventory in my head and had to agree. I had everything from robotic arms to flight suits and escape pods. I continue to collect items courtesy of my friends. I figured we could have enough material to build a mini museum for my daughters.

To do this, I inquired about a couple of storage containers. I needed to have the large ones because some of the prototypes I had were fairly large. Additionally, there were plenty of space in our property to hold them. This will be a great retirement project to work on.

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Is Superglue the Next Big Thing in Varicose Vein Treatment?

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My wife has varicose veins – again. She had them stripped out a few years ago but they are back and back with a vengeance.  We were under the impression that stripping meant they would be gone forever but clearly not.

These days, varicose vein treatment is seen as a cosmetic procedure rather than medical so trying to actually get the treatment paid for on your health insurance is next to impossible.  However, we spoke to our health insurance company and they said they would pay part of the costs, which was great news.

The Latest Procedures

We did loads of research and found some really interesting and useful information on how to treat spider veins in Walpole.  However, we were looking for a new treatment we had heard about – a type of glue!

Now, not all treatments are suitable for everyone and there are quite a few different ways to go when it comes to varicose veins.  In our travels through the internet, we came across a number of treatments before we found the one we were looking for:

  • Endovenous Laser Ablation is a procedure that uses heat to disintegrate the vein completely and redirect the blood flow through another vein.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation is another heat treatment that uses electricity, shot through a thin catheter inserted into the vein, to seal it off after which it disintegrates.
  • Foam Sclerotherapy is a form of injection whereby a foam or liquid is injected directly into the vein to completely destroy it.
  • Venaseal is the very latest procedure and the one we were looking for.  It requires only a local anesthetic and there is no heat involved. Instead, a type of medical superglue is injected. This sets, sticking the vein together and effectively killing it off. The glue is not dangerous and is ingested by the body over a period of time.

Choosing the Right Surgeon

Clearly, not all doctors are trained to treat all conditions and, while many turn to a vascular surgeon, this is the wrong thing to do. Vascular surgeons are trained to treat problems with arteries, not veins.

After a scan, it turned out that my wife was not considered a suitable subject for the superglue method, so she was referred for endovenous laser surgery instead.  We were referred to this clinic for vein treatment in Springfield MA and were very pleased with the results.

The Procedure

The procedure went very smoothly and was performed on an outpatient basis, using only a local anesthetic. My wife said she didn’t feel a thing and the whole procedure took no more than one hour to complete.

I took her straight home after the treatment was given and, because we are already retired, we didn’t have to worry about time off work. She rested up, complaining only of mild pain and had to wear compression stockings for just 2 days continuously, then taking them off at night and only wearing them when she was on the move.

Because of the type of treatment, my wife has been assured that there is only a very slim chance that the veins will come back but if they do, hopefully there will be even more advanced treatments available.

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My Space: A Shipping Container Cabin

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With two little girls running around home like crazy, it is difficult to have some quiet time for myself and my “space” exploration. With dollhouses and kitchen sets littered around, there is not much room left for testing new gadgets and new technologies. That’s why I decided to move all my personal things to a shipping container in our backyard. This way, I can comfortably relax and explore freely without my young ladies underfoot, which I don’t really mind most of the time unless they happen to break an expensive gadget that’s fresh from its box.

Anyway, back to my shipping container project. You know why I am so excited about sharing it with you? Because I discovered a different kind of high putting it together and I’m sure you will love indulging on a project of your own, too.

The Materials

For starters, you will need to find used shipping containers for sale. Freight containers are very useful, flexible, and affordable. Recycling and reusing these materials is also helpful to the environment. It is not surprising to find that used shipping containers, mostly found lying around in ports, are now being widely used as green buildings, cafes, rolling stores, and vacation cabins among others. Why not? They are stackable, structurally sturdy, and very cheap.

Used shipping containers for sale can cost between $1,000 and $2,000. The ones sold by reliable vendors are pretty much in good condition.

Apart from the container itself (I needed one 40′ container because I only want a personal space I can retreat to), you will also need a few other things to complete your build project, depending on what you would like to make out of it.

It’s no secret how I’m passionate about everything related to space and advanced technology. So when my wife volunteered to help me put together a cabin with space-inspired interiors with a hint of modernism, I was ecstatic. It’s like a playroom with all my favorite things. I even have an LCD screen engraved onto a piece of boulder in it. The furnishings are neat; my workspace is well-organized; the finish is handsome. With proper insulation, my cabin also feels comfortable in any season. What more can I ask for?

The Works

Unfortunately, this project cannot be fully done in a DIY fashion. You will need some professional help, especially in putting together the electrical side of it and if ever you want to make some changes in its structural framework. But developing your own shipping container space or seeing it through to its completion is such an enjoyable and fulfilling journey.

My daughters continue to hover around my own “playroom” but I have not yet allowed them entry. As soon as I’m able to finalize the touch-ups I still need to do before my work cabin can be fully functional, I might as well invite them in so they can marvel about how neat my man-cave is and possibly inspire them to do the same with their room. Although I think they might be too young to take the hint.

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3 Things that Make Work-from-Home Simpler

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As a retired aerospace engineer, I have dedicated a certain number of hours in a day for doing productive research, writing and posting online. This requires time management, organizing and a quiet space that is dedicated to work only. I have come across many people who complain that work-from-home is not as easy as it sounds. The number of distractions are greater which makes it difficult to achieve work related goals and objectives. Here are 3 things that make work-from-home simpler and more practical, leading to productive results and financial gains. 

Delegate and Work as a Team
The concept of working independently brings down productivity and the achievement of financial goals drastically. For increasing productivity, it is vital to have an assistant or a team member for delegating portions of tasks. This takes into account the unexpected halt in work, such as the arrival of unexpected guests, system breakdown, help needed by a family member or other social commitments. When there is a team mate available, a larger number of tasks can be completed efficiently with greater financial earnings. To manage a team from home, go for cloud storage services such as  amcom. This makes file sharing, data storage and creating backup of files way easier. 

Make the Most Out of Flexible Timings
Whether you are running your own business, or working for someone else, make the most out of flexible timings. This idea revolves around owning your days and weeks. For example, it is not necessary to do grocery shopping over the weekend when the roads, malls and public places are more crowded. Avail the quiet and no traffic zone by completing Saturday afternoon chores on Wednesday morning. Similarly, if you're expecting guests or booked with a family member during the day, wake up a few hours earlier and complete your work beforehand. 

Own the Right Technology
The possibilities of staying mobile yet completing tasks and jobs on time are simply endless with today's technology. Choose the most suitable laptop, tablet or smart phone and take your work with you. There are times when it is essential to remain unplugged, but for running a good business and balancing the act of working from home, these technological aids are actually quite important. Having the means to stay active, send prompt reply to clients, revise, edit or jot down important points while on the go brings consistency and success in any work-from-home job.

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Formula 1 Car Racing Technology

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Among motor racing enthusiasts, Formula 1 racing is one of the most exciting. For me, the thrill that it offers to spectators is different from that of NASCAR or the Indy 500. This is why I always make sure to witness the F1 race held every year at the Circuit Gilles Villaneuve in the city of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. There is nothing like watching the best drivers in the world at the wheel of racing cars that are going at speeds of more than three hundred kilometers an hour, overtaking and outmaneuvering each other to get to the chequered flag at the end of the final lap. One thing I never forget, though, is to wear earplugs at every race since the very powerful engines of the race cars can generate a lot of noise. Luckily, there are numerous online sites where I can purchase good quality ear plugs, such as http://www.gotstock.com.au/personal-protective-equipment/hearing-protection/earplugs. Wearing ear plugs is a must in every race to protect my hearing and it also enables me to enjoy watching the races more.

As far as technology is concerned, Formula 1 cars are at the pinnacle. On the average, a Grand Prix racing team spends five hundred million dollars annually to develop and build a racing car; and every year, a new car is built according to regulations set by the sport’s governing body, the International Automobile Federation or the FIA.

What makes Formula cars so expensive? Firstly, they are made of carbon fiber and other materials which are handcrafted in automobile factories. There is a team of engineers and technical personnel dedicated to building the engine, chassis and all the other electronic contraptions that go into a single race car. Additionally, numerous simulations and tests are conducted on how the car would react during certain scenarios in a race.

The engine that an F1 car is equipped with is very powerful. For this year, the FIA has ruled that cars use V6 engines instead of the V8 that were used last year. The reason for this was to make technology more eco-friendly without sacrificing on energy. Although you can say that a car with 8 cylinders delivers more on power than one with just 6 cylinders, Formula 1 cars have been fitted with energy recovery systems. These systems capture the waste energy generated during braking and transform these into electrical energy, which the drivers can access for additional power. Additionally, cars also contain a device that is capable of capturing exhaust heat and turning it into electrical energy. With these new technologies in place, Formula 1 cars have become more efficient in using and reusing energy.

With the advancement of science and technology, I am certain that corresponding improvements in car technology can likewise be expected. Hence, motor racing enthusiasts and fans of Formula 1 can look forward to better, faster and more energy-efficient cars in the years to come.

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How to Deal with Airplane Ear

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In my experience as an aerospace engineer, I have encountered a lot of people who complain of experiencing pain in their ear during or after flight. They often ask me what to do and all I say is that it is normal and will go away in a short while. But to get it out of my chest I will write what I know about it.

Airplane ear is caused by tremendous pressure exerted on your eardrums. It happens when the pressure in your middle ear is not the same as the pressure in the environment. We all know that as the plane goes up, so does the pressure. Technically it’s called barotrauma, aerotitis media, or barotitis media. Some people experience it as the plane ascends or descends, both of which cause drastic change in air pressure.

The common things to do to avoid having airplane ear are to chew, swallow, yawn, or basically just move your jaw. You can also use some ear plugs to protect your ear from pressure change. However, some people still get airplane ear despite doing these things. They feel moderate discomfort in their ear, their ears seem stuffy, and they have temporary hearing loss. These symptoms are quite normal and nothing to worry about. In most cases, including mine, they will eventually fade out.

There is a popular method used even by pilots to control the pressure in your ear and it is called the Valsalva Maneuver. This method is simple enough for anybody. Just grip and seal you nose with your thumb and forefinger, then try to blow through your nose. Make sure your mouth is closed and your teeth are clenched. This will work well for most people.

But when symptoms last for more than a few hours or even days after the flight, then it might be time to reconsider. It is never normal to feel severe ear pain for several hours. It’s also not normal if you hear ringing in your ear, a condition known as tinnitus. You may also feel like your world is spinning, known as vertigo. This will in turn cause you to vomit. Worse, there may be bleeding from your ear.

These symptoms are in no way signs of normal airplane ear, so it’s best to go see a doctor. Some people I know who experience this relied on over-the-counter medicine and the situation worsened. Therefore, in any serious medical situation, it is really advised to consult your doctor before deciding to take it in your own hands.

If you’re in California, there are some good eye doctors in Orange County practicing at the Tustin Hearing Center. My friend has been there some years ago and he found the service efficient and reliable. To help you out, a professional eye doctor should be able to diagnose why the pain doesn’t stop, how to treat it, and what (not) to do next time you’re in a flight. They may recommend using hearing aids to help with the temporary hearing loss. You can check out some good hearing aids in Orange County that you can try (http://www.tustinhearingcenter.com/).   

The important thing is to seek the advice of a seasoned ear doctor when you feel that the symptoms are not normal anymore. This will prevent any serious problem from happening.

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Investing in Modern Security Systems

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The home is a place where people should feel safe and protected all the time. Keeping strangers out of your private place is necessary, especially if there are children living with you. With so many crimes involving criminals trespassing or breaking and entering, people are getting more conscious about the security system that they have in their entire house. A lot of components are being used in security systems today, such as burglar alarms, CCTV cameras, automatic door locks, and more. It is pretty obvious how technology helps protect people so they can have peace of mind and rest assured that their security and privacy are maintained.

I once watched a movie where the lead character and his family were living in a fully automated house. Everything inside the house can work automatically by just saying the command phrase. It even has face recognition, wherein the facial features of a visitor have to be encoded by the homeowner first before the door opens for them. This is the type of security setup that I want. It’s state-of-the-art, but way beyond my price range, so I chose not to pursue the idea.

For people who cannot afford to get a fully-automated security system, other options are also available. In Toronto, home fixtures such as windows and doors can be upgraded by installing in them a wireless security system. This is a process wherein a microchip is placed in doors or windows, and so that if they are opened while the system is engaged, a signal will be transmitted to the base station that will automatically dial the police hotline for emergency.

In most states, companies who offer different security services are very in demand. They are suitable for people who live alone or are at a physical disadvantage, such as the disabled or elderly. By asking for a company’s assistance, everything from consultation, design, security system unit, installation, repair, and maintenance are covered.

There are no doubt security systems may cost a great deal of money, but investing in a home security system is worth it. Feel safe all the time and exchange your worries for peace of mind.

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Facing up to Aging

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My wife recently decided that she was just too young to have wrinkles and wanted to do something about it. She was thinking about a full facelift but I had to stop her from just rushing off to the nearest clinic. I was sure there were other ways, rather than going under the knife of a potentially under-experienced surgeon or, even worse, one that isn’t even qualified.

I was right. If did quite a lot of research and came up with dermal fillers. Over the years, anti-aging procedures have come along in leaps and bounds and dermal fillers look to be one of the best.  It takes no more than 30 minutes to perform and, instead of full surgery, it requires a plumping solution injected into the dermis.

Are Dermal Fillers a Viable Alternative to a Facelift?

Absolutely. Although it isn’t a permanent procedure, it works to plump out the dermis layer of skin to reduce wrinkles and make scars look better as well.  The filler actually lasts for about a year and the technology has made it far more natural than conventional cosmetic surgery.

The fillers are made from different ingredients depending on where you go. We looked at dermal fillers and found a good source of information from a reputable clinic on the internet.  The type of filler used is dependent on the type of wrinkle and where it is.  The most common ones are acid fillers, which is a gel made from acid particles and collagen, which is one of the original methods of anti-aging. However, collagen injections only last about 6 months, as opposed to the acid, which lasts nearer to 12.

What are the Benefits over Cosmetic Surgery?

For a start, dermal fillers are not as invasive as cosmetic surgery and there is far less stress to the body.  There is no need for extended recovery times and there is no anesthetic – the results are virtually instant.  It’s also a far more natural looking procedure, and it doesn’t leave your face looking as if it has been glued in place!  It’s cheaper and because it is temporary, you can choose not to do it again when the time is due.

What are the Risks?

All procedures come with some sort of risk but, compared to full cosmetic surgery, dermal fillers are a walk in the park!  Side effects are rare and mild, lasting only a day or two. I was told my wife might look a little bruised and may itch but it would only be temporary. I was also told that the worst that could happen was an allergic reaction but as we used a professional clinic that provided the dermal fillers in the Calgary area, there would be qualified doctors on hand in case of a problem.

I told my wife that she didn’t need to do it but you know women, if they don’t look their best, they are not happy. And if my wife is not happy, you can be sure that I won’t be either – she’ll make sure of that!  One thing I do need to say is that you must always use qualified professionals if you want the right results.