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Different Sliding Compound Miter Saws and Their Comparison

A sliding compound miter saw is one of the best miter saws and you can do so many things with it. Most of the time people ask this common question “what is in the name?”, well the word sliding compound miter saw is enough to tell a woodworker or a DIY enthusiast that you are talking about something very excellent.

It all started with a small and portable power miter saw. This type of saw is capable of doing unimaginable things.  Furthermore, advanced versions of miter saw were made and launched with much fanfare. Let us try to explore more about the best miter saw and its different models launched by different companies.

The DeWalt DW708 Model

  • The best thing about DeWalt DW708 Model is that it comes with twin rails which are vertically stacked. It has a overhead motor and high quality belt drive. A 12 inch blade is also attached and this saw looks amazing with design. This model from DeWalt is the loudest and it is suggested that one should use ear plugs while using it. Though DeWalt has been offering many more other models but this miter saw model is the largest selling model by the company.

Hitachi C 10FS has removable sliding fences

  • The Hitachi C 10FS is one of the best miter saw models launched by the Hitachi Company. It comes with a belt drive and an overhead motor. The unique thing about this saw is that it has removable sliding fences. Though it is small but it is little complicated. Hence, before you use this model for your work make sure to read to operation manual carefully. Hitachi is one of the best companies of the world and you should always insist on using original parts for your Hitachi miter saw for exceptional results.

There are basically 4 different kinds of miter saws

  • Sliding compound
  • Dual Compound
  • Compound
  • Basic miter saws

Basic functions

  • Basic miter saws are capable of cutting straight or angled, whereas the compound miter saw helps you to cut excellent bevels with variation in angles. If you want to use your saw in both the directions then make sure to follow the instructions mentioned in the user manual
  • A compound miter can cut bevels in either left or right sides. If you wish to cut bevels in two different directions, you will need to make sure that a dual compound miter saw is used.
  • If you want that both the features are combined, then the sliding compound is the ideal miter saw for your work. It comes with multiple features and is available at a cost effective price.

Follow simple safety instructions and enjoy your work

  • Whenever you plan to use the best miter saw for your work, you need to make sure that the entire set of safety instructions laid by the company are followed in a religious manner. A slight deviation from whatever said by the company may cause serious injury.
  • Before you start with the wood cutting work make sure to wear that protective gear such as glasses, ear plugs and the most important safety gloves. You also need to make sure that children are kept completely out of the reach of such equipment. Make sure that the children are not allowed to enter into the workshop.

Here are some important tips to follow:

  • Make it a routine to check everything is in place, no damage is there, and the blades are moving smoothly before making the cut. You should develop safely habits and by doing this you can easily avoid numerous problems while working.
  • You should also check if the saw is clean or dirty. If you see any dust particles laying inside the blade of the saw then you should immediately wipe the blade clean.
  • Whenever you plan to change the old blade of the best miter saw make sure to disconnect the power. At times due to lack of concentration the ON button gets pressed and may cause serious injuries.
  • Always make sure that the best miter saw is installed on a stable platform. It is good if the saw is clamped to a bench or mounted on a special miter saw stand offered by the company.
  • Always wait for the blade to wind up which means it should complete to full RPM before starting with the cut. The miter saw blade is specially designed to cut at that speed. By following this point you will be able to make perfect and precise cuts.
  • Never divert your attention. It means if somebody is trying to call you when you are doing the cutting work, you need to make sure that you give full concentration to the job. A slight miscalculation can lead to an accident.

How to find the best miter saw without a hole in your pocket?

  • Buying a high quality miter saw at an affordable price is quite easy. The foremost important thing to do is to read enough miter saw reviews on the internet. There are several honest forums that are especially dedicated to tools and techniques.
  • Once you come to know about the best reviews, it is time to search for the shortlisted saw across the internet. Most of the professional miter saw companies offer loads of information about their products on their websites.
  • You will be able to find the best miter saw through these websites at a decent price. Branded ones are little expensive but are quite durable and can be used for a longer period of time.

I believe the above said information is sufficient for you to get the best miter saw. Always remember this fact that proper knowledge about miter saw can help you get the best equipment and you will be able to achieve excellent results out of your daily work.

Stay safe and enjoy working with the best miter saw!

Old-fashioned Craftsmanship’s an Art in The Hands of Woodworker Weaver

Behind every grand scheme is a dreamer. The Sonoma County Astronomical Society had one. He was Robert H. Ferguson, a beloved club member who passed away in 1993. As a youngster, he looked up at the night sky and wondered what was out there. Many years later he made his first telescope in John Dobson’s class in San Francisco. In the early 1980s Ferguson ground, polished, and silvered a 16-inch mirror and constructed a large white Dobsonian mount for it. Youngsters loved that white scope and its white-haired inspirational owner. “The kids know a big kid when they see one,” he said.

Ferguson recognized that young people’s interest in science was lagging in school, and he wanted to do something about it. He knew astronomy could strike a spark of interest among students in many of its allied branches, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and geology. So in 1985 he proposed his telescope giveaway plan to the SCAS, which heartily approved it.

Seven club-built telescopes were awarded to seven students in 1986, the first year of Striking Sparks. Ferguson and his friend and fellow club member, Larry McCune, paid for all the materials out of their own pockets at that time. As polka and accordion music wafted through the garage, they fabricated the telescopes’ mirrors, tubes, and mounts. Ferguson cut mirror blanks out of 14-inch-diameter plate glass using a “biscuit cutter” fashioned out of an ammunition shell casing and attached to a drill press. He chose an initial size of 5 1/2 inches instead of the standard 6 inches so the mirrors would fit inside the inexpensive PVC plastic irrigation pipe sections he had selected for the telescope tubes. For focusers he used drainpipe fittings as eyepiece drawtubes. McCune designed the telescope mount, and his original design is still used to this day.

  • Beginning in 1987, an average of 10 telescopes have been made and given away annually. One SCAS member is now assigned the responsibility of grinding and polishing one primary mirror. Club members Herb Larsen and Steve Follett test each mirror and figure its shape from a sphere to a paraboloid.
  • Once all the mirrors have been precisely figured, more volunteers don work shirts and tool belts and gather at Cloverdale High School’s wood shop. Lynn Anderson, the school’s shop teacher and an SCAS member, supervises the construction work. As table saws scream and other power tools whirr and drill, pieces of plywood begin to take on the familiar telescope shape.
  • Two weekends later members glue and nail together the mounts and paint them white. Each telescope is then equipped with a Telrad finder and a rack-and-pinion focuser. Finally, the optics are mounted and aligned inside the PVC tubes. The Striking Sparks scopes are now ready for action.

Each telescope costs $175 to build, and 10 sponsors are usually easy to find. For years former Sparks program chair Cindy Megill and other members had set up telescopes in shopping centers and held raffles to raise funds for the program. Nowadays each telescope is sponsored by an individual, family, service organization, or business.

Every year the club shops for 10 sets of Telrads, secondary mirrors, focusers, eyepieces, planispheres, red flashlights, and star charts. Astronomy companies such as California’s Orion Telescopes and Binoculars and Scope City, New York’s Adorama, and Arizona’s Crazy Ed Optical have given generous product discounts and donations. Bob Fies of Aluminum Coating in San Carlos, California, aluminizes the mirrors in his garage.

“It seems like we tackle a million tasks each year to pull off Striking Sparks,” say program coordinators Vicki Tandecke and Victoria Vertrees. “We don’t know how we get it all done, but when we see a child hug his or her new telescope or see the look in a proud teacher’s eye, we know it was all worth it.”

The Personality Itself, of Course, is not a Further Item in The Inventory

About halfway through the installation of Sol LeWitt’s art on the fourth floor of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, a small alcove gallery is given over entirely to Autobiography, a work from 1980. Autobiography consists, by my calculation, of 1,071 simple black-and-white photographs, arranged in 3×3 square grids. The pictures are of an almost striking banality, with a degree of photographic distinction near zero, and they show, for the most part, the most ordinary of objects: tools, balls of twine, shoes and articles of clothing, kitchen utensils, snapshots, books, houseplants. Except for the flat-files and drafting instruments–triangles, T-squares, templates, protractors, rulers and the like–their counterparts would have been found in most households of the Western world at the time. The inventory defines domestic normality for persons of a certain class–not too wealthy, not too poor. More metaphysically, the objects participate in what Heidegger designates as Zuhandenheit–the “Ready-to-Hand”–the kinds of things one notices only when they are not ready to hand, their absence impeding the smooth flow of daily life. Their inventoried presence accordingly testifies to the orderliness of this household, in which everything is present and accounted for, and to the organizational disposition of Sol LeWitt, whose household it was.

The personality itself, of course, is not a further item in the inventory. We know from external sources that LeWitt was about to vacate his living space in 1980 and move to Spoleto, Italy; and that he wanted to photograph each object with which he lived. In a video interview, Sol LeWitt: Four Decades, on continuous view outside the lobby gallery, the artist tells the exhibition’s curator, Gary Garrels, that a far better picture of him can be gotten from the photographs of all the things he lived with than from an ordinary portrait. The question has been raised as to why he did not then title the work Self-Portrait. My sense is that it is because “autobiography” implies the concept of a life, and a life is something lived. The ordinariness of the objects inventoried further implies that there is nothing out of the ordinary in LeWitt’s life, that it could be the autobiography of Whoever, Wherever. It may be remarked that there is no photograph in Autobiography of Autobiography itself–though it would be philosophically daring to have included the representation of the life as a further item in the life represented. I cannot forbear observing the philosophical significance of the fact that Autobiography fails to include a photograph of LeWitt himself. “When I enter most intimately into what I call myself,” the philosopher David Hume once wrote, “I always stumble on some particular perception or other…. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception.” There is no experience of the self, Hume concludes, and so the term is without meaning.

  • Still, not everyone would photograph each of his possessions, as if for a yard sale, and organize them into a set of 3×3 grids. Nor can the work be rid of one’s own subjectivity by organizing its components meticulously. If anything, character and disposition are revealed through the order or absence of order in one’s life. In a way, the LeWitt exhibition could itself be titled Autobiography.
  • It is difficult to believe that someone who took and arranged the photographs as compulsively as LeWitt appears to have done would leave the content and organization of a life’s worth of his art to another. “If you require a monument,” Sir Christopher Wren inscribed in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, “look around you.”
  • The relevance of this to LeWitt’s oeuvre, in whole and in part, lies in the philosophy he articulated in a crucial text, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” first published in Artforum in 1967. In the late 1960s there would have been relatively little to appreciate in the work other than the way it exemplified the theory. In its own right it was what the Italian critic Achille Bonito Oliva recently called “minimalial,” even if it was not Minimalist in the strict ideological meaning

“When an artist uses a conceptual form of art,” LeWitt wrote, “it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair.”

The implication is that the work of art is the transcription of an idea, in the medium its idea specifies. In 1967 it would have been LeWitt’s practice to transcribe his own ideas; but later, when he began to do the wall drawings that were to become the genre most distinctive of his work, he more and more left the transcription of his ideas to what he terms “draftsmen.” In a text from 1971 he wrote, “The artist conceives and plans the wall drawing. It is realized by draftsmen. (The artist can act as his own draftsman.) The plan, written, spoken or a drawing, is interpreted by the draftsman.” It is fairly clear that between “artist” and “draftsman” there is a functional distinction involving different skills, and that it is in no sense necessary that a single individual incorporate both functions.

An example of a work for which the plan can be spoken is Wall Drawing #51: All Architectural Points Connected by Straight Lines. Blue snap lines. A “snap line” is a length of chalked cord, tautly stretched along a flat surface. It is plucked, like a violin string, leaving a straight line, the color of the chalk. The number of vectored lines will be a function of the number of “architectural points” the lines connect. Wall Drawing #51 was done in 1970 and “installed” that year in the Museo di Torino in Turin, Italy. Its latest installation, done in 2000, can be seen on the extreme north section of the east wall of the fourth-floor gallery, where the viewer will initially register it as a network of pale blue straight lines connecting corners with corners. It may have been done at other times, on different walls, and one hopes it will go on being installed, transcribed by different draftsmen, when we are all long gone. The installations themselves can be painted over or destroyed in other ways, but the plan itself has only the reality of a concept. And it need never have existed in the form of a drawing. It would have been enough for it to be a plan, scribbled down as an instruction to the draftsman or communicated by phone or on a tape, and so need no more resemble the set of its embodiments than a set of scrubbed floors need resemble the injunction “Scrub the floors!” Neither must the transcriptions resemble one another, as long as they comply with the plan. The distribution of “architectural points” will differ from actual wall to actual wall. I find it delicious that there are lines that connect the corners of the room with the corners of the alarm systems that happen to be placed in the wall chosen for the present installation of #51–and perhaps chosen to illustrate the point. In the catalogue illustration of the same work, the lines densely converge on the electrical outlets near the floor. It looks like the maps of airline routes one sees on in-flight magazines, shown radiating out from hubs.

There is an unmistakable skill in using snap lines to make nice, clean vectors on the wall, and there is no reason to suppose that LeWitt himself has such skills. The aesthetic of #51 is really inconsistent with casual, smudged marks, and part of the pleasure of the work derives from the impeccability of its execution. Compare it, though, with a 1972 work that shows a page from a publication about art, and indeed the art of certain of LeWitt’s contemporaries–Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris, Jasper Johns and several others. It addresses the topic of “human control,” which of course plays a central role in LeWitt’s philosophy. I don’t know who the author is. In any case, the plan of the work is in effect its title: From the Word “Art”: Blue Lines to Four Corners, Green Lines to Four Sides, and Red Lines Between the Words “Art” on the Printed Page. My hunch is that the draftsman of this work was LeWitt himself, using colored ink and pencil, and perhaps one of the straightedges we see in Autobiography. But anyone possessing the minimal skills required to execute diagrams in high school geometry class could do this work. Who but LeWitt, however, could or would have formed the concept of connecting the word “art,” as an isomorphic set of physical entities composed of ink molecules, with the perimeters of the physical surface on which they are deposited, as well as with one another? The work is witty, slyly deflationist of the concept of art as well as some of its theories, and exceedingly arch in the way it refers, as work, to the content of the text it unites with its page. The pleasures here, as with #51, are only marginally sensuous. They are largely conceptual pleasures, and perhaps best appreciated by those who belonged in the same intellectual atmosphere to which the works themselves belong. (I have to say that I love these works!)


Brown Bagging Nutrition

Decisions, decisions. Should you take your lunch to school or should you buy it? Brown-bagging is a good way to create a nutritious, inexpensive lunch. But who wants to get up earlier to pack it?

Buying lunch is much more convenient; however, it also can get expensive. And it may not always be healthy. How can you know?

Armed with some nutrition basics and a little planning know-how, you can take control of your lunchtime choices-even when you’re on the run.

Make It Your Way

If you’re a last-minute sleeper, prepack foods and store them until needed. When you’re packing your lunch, keep the environment in mind. Use reusable paper and plastic bags. Try plastic ware that can be cleaned and used again and again. Also think about buying an insulated lunch box.


Some foods lend themselves to being stored in the freezer. For example:

  • prepared sandwiches (without the “extras” such as fresh vegetables or condiments)
  • single-serving boxes of fruit juice and containers of yogurt (When frozen, these can help keep other foods in your bag cool until it’s time to eat.)
  • single-serving portions of quick breads and muffins in small plastic bags
  • leftovers from dinner, such as lasagna, soups, and burgers – if you have access to a microwave oven at lunch.

These items can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator:

  • assorted cut-up fresh veggies in plastic bags (When you pack the veggies in your lunch the next day, toss an ice cube or two in the plastic bag to keep them cool until lunch.)
  • portioned pasta, potato, or rice salad in reusable plastic ware
  • prebaked potatoes or leftover vegetable pizza – if you can get to a microwave oven (or you like to eat them cold)
  • mini-containers of condiments and salad dressings.

Many foods can come straight from the cupboard, such as:

  1. ready-to-serve soups (Several brands are now lower in salt and fat. Either bring soup in a thermos or heat it in a microwave at lunchtime.)
  2. single-serving boxes of raisins and other dried fruits
  3. portioned bags of pretzels, mini-rice cakes, breadsticks, baked tortilla chips, or other low-fat crunchies
  4. portioned bags of fig bars, vanilla wafers, gingersnaps, graham crackers, or other lower-fat cookies.

Mix and Match Sandwiches

Even a plain ole’ turkey sandwich can become a gourmet treat when you add fresh spinach and cucumbers and onions and chutney and…It’s time to get out of your sandwich rut and start cross training your palate. Mix and match the types of breads, protein foods, fruits and veggies, and condiments you use. Choose one item from both the bread and protein columns and one or more from the vegetable/fruit and condiment columns.

They Do It Their Way

With a quick zap of the microwave oven, you can have prepared macaroni and cheese, burritos, pizza, tacos, and more. They’re fast and convenient, but are these foods healthy?

Some of these meals can provide up to 60 percent of their calories from fat and more than two-thirds of your sodium requirement for the entire day. Before you put a packaged meal in your grocery basket, read the label to make sure it meets the following criteria:

  1. No more than 3 grams of fat for every 100 calories
  2. No more than 800 mg sodium
  3. No more than 100 mg cholesterol

Let Someone Else Do It Your Way

If making your own lunch is not your bag, let someone else do the work. But don’t sacrifice good nutrition for convenience.

While yesterday the phrase “fast food” typically conjured up images of grease, many convenience food stops have now expanded their menus to include additional selections for the health-conscious consumer. If you’re not sure how an item is prepared, ask. The chart above can show you how hidden extras can add up to a lot of calories and fat.

However you decide to do lunch, be sure that you put nutrition in the bag.


Guidelines for Ordering

Lower-Fat Lunches

  • Choose roast beef or the new 91 percent fat-free hamburger sandwiches over regular hamburgers. 4-ounce 91 percent fat-free hamburger = 320 calories, 10 grams fat 1 roast beef sandwich = 340 calories, 10 grams fat 4-ounce regular hamburger = 410 calories, 21 grams fat
  • If ordering regular hamburgers, ask for plain, smaller ones, and top them with your favorites among mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles. * Choose a plain grilled or BBQ chicken sandwich instead of a fried chicken sandwich. 1 grilled chicken sandwich = 289 calories, 8 grams fat

(without mayo or sauce) 1 fried chicken sandwich = 685 calories, 40 grams fat

(with mayo or sauce)

  • Request a plain cheese pizza with vegetable toppings rather than with extra fat-filled cheeses and meats. 2 slices cheese pizza = 375 calories, 10 grams fat 2 slices of double cheese = 545 calories, 25 grams fat

(with pepperoni)

  • Choose low-fat frozen yogurt instead of a shake. 1 frozen yogurt with cone = 140 calories, 5 grams fat 1 vanilla shake = 350 calories, 10 grams fat
  • Order a baked potato instead of french fries. 1 plain baked potato = 290 calories, 0 grams fat fries (equal weight) = 840 calories, 40 grams fat
  • Choose a vegetable salad. Ask for oil-based instead of cream-based dressings. Request it on the side, and use it sparingly. 1 small salad = 25 calories, 0 grams fat 2 ounces ranch dressing = 350 calories, 37 grams fat

Level-Up Your Efficiency and Budgeting With Vacuum Sealers

The kitchen is a place for innovation, patience and efficiency. It is where a household will be able to prepare its meals, store its produce for the days to come and generally ensure the health and well-being of those living in it. This may sound like more than it really is, but those who have to maintain a home understand how difficult it can be to work in the kitchen. Think about it: you have to figure out meal plans, make sure there is enough food and they are stored properly, and of course watch out for expiration dates. A lot of planning and budgeting goes into it, and new families often have to figure out how everything will pan out for the beginning.

One of the reasons why kitchen appliances, big and small, are so popular is that people need specific tools in order to create different meals. This goes doubly so for those who like to experiment in the kitchen and who love trying out new recipes and making gourmet meals at home. The other, equally significant, reason, is that there are some tools that make the budget easier to manage by means of improving storage and shelf life.

One such tool is a vacuum sealer. A plain old vacuum sealer may not look like much when you first get to know what it is, but once you actually understand how it does its job and how you can use it for so many different things, it becomes a brilliant companion in the kitchen. The way a vacuum sealer works is that, you will put your food in a special bag, and the machine will suck out all the oxygen from the inside, trapping the food, and sealing the bag shut with an airtight heat seal.

  • The first thing you have to understand is that oxygen promotes bacterial growth. In short, if food is exposed to air, it will spoil much, much faster. Since a vacuum sealer essentially removes the air from inside the bag, bacteria will not be able to grow as compared to when it is exposed to oxygen. In turn, this means that you will have to waste less food by throwing it away.
  • How many times have you bought groceries in bulk during sales, only to have to toss it in the rubbish after a few months? You will see very many vacuum sealer reviews stating how much money they have saved due to this machine, or how it made buying and storing food much more efficient.

Another rather common occurrence in the kitchen is freezer burn. Freezer burn is when the surface of the food stored in the freezer becomes dehydrated as it is exposed to the freezing, dry and cold temperature. This will greatly ruin the texture of some foods, such as broccoli. You will end up throwing that away, as freezer burned food is a bit difficult to appreciate, especially compared to fresh ingredients. That’s money wasted.


If you use a vacuum sealer on your food before storing it in the freezer, it will be protected from the cold air- and, once you bring it out for cooking, it will still look, smell and taste fresh even if it was stored for weeks. The vacuum sealer works brilliantly for veggies and meat, especially. Talking about meat, having the bag devoid of air will help the marinating process go faster. The marinade sinks quicker into the meat, greatly shortening the processes of preparation and cooking.

  1. A vacuum sealer like the foodsaver V4880, as the name would suggest, will not only save your food but save you loads of money as well. In hindsight, that was actually a clever name for a product, as it really gets the point across.
  2. Aside from food, it can also be used to pack away other items such as cloth, linen and metal objects, all of which eventually degrade when exposed to the elements. All in all, a food vacuum sealer will not only save you money from buying food, but also from having to buy tools and clothes that have gotten ruined over time.

At the end of the day, a mechanical tool should complement humans, by making tasks quicker, more efficient and have better results. A vacuum sealer is one such tool.

How Did We Live Without essential housewares? (part 2)

1930: Frozen Foods

Naturalist Clarence Birdseye was working in northern Canada when he realized that quickly frozen fish retained its flavor and texture better than fish frozen slowly. Once back in the States, he kept experimenting, bringing out a line of frozen vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish in 1930. Two years later, Good Housekeeping’s Walter H. Eddy, M.D., reported that frozen foods “offer a means of securing fresh-flavored fruits and vegetables regardless of season.” The public was slow to catch on, but when WW II’s tin shortage made cans scarce, the freezer door opened wide to commercially frozen foods.

1932: Room Air Conditioner

A fan blowing on ice was the best room cooler we had until 1902, when Willis Carrier devised a copper-coil contraption for a Brooklyn printer. His invention and its successor, the room air conditioner (the large cabinet, above, to the left of the desk), improved productivity in the workplace and made skyscrapers possible.


1933: Detergent

Cleaning clothes used to be a dirty job: Women would boil water in large tubs, mix in shavings of lye soap, scrub stains with a flour-and-water mixture, then add starch and bluing (hence the name “Blue Mondays”). Curds of soap mixed with water stuck to clothes and turned them gray. And forget about tackling tough stains. Then Procter & Gamble came up with a better sudser-upper: detergent. Dreft came first, in 1933, and Tide followed in the 1940’s.

1939: Television

“I hate TV,” Orson Welles once remarked. “I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can’t stop eating peanuts.” He’s not the only one: Since RCA came out with its first set, a huge cabinet with a tiny picture, television has transformed and advanced our lifestyles like no other medium. Just think, countless Americans had no idea that President Franklin D. Roosevelt used a wheelchair. Now, for better or worse, we see everything–from the explosion of the Challenger to Jerry Seinfeld’s standup routines.

1940: Dishwasher

When the servants started chipping the china, Illinois socialite Josephine Cochrane washed dishes herself. She invented a hand-pumped dishwasher in the 1880%; an electric motor was added in 1913. Versions were sold primarily to restaurants and hotels until a fully automated model was developed in 1940. It was then that dishwashers began to take over after-dinner duties at home.

1944: Sunscreen

It began as a sticky, red goop concocted from petroleum by a World War II airman and future pharmacist who was looking to save the skin-literally–of his fellow servicemen in the South Pacific. Back home, he modified his formula, adding cocoa butter and jasmine, and tested it on his own bald head. Sold as Coppertone Suntan Cream, it wasn’t an instant hit; before we grasped the perils of sun exposure, we wanted to promote tanning, not prevent it. These days, no smart woman walks down the street without sunscreen.

1955: Microwave Oven

Back in 1945, a researcher at the Raytheon Corporation noticed that a candy bar melted in his pocket when he passed by a microwave power tube. He grabbed a bag of popcorn, held it in front of the device, and watched the kernels pop almost instantly. And thus we discovered that microwaves can cook. The first domestic model was the wall oven from Tappan (pictured above); Amana’s countertop Radarange appeared 12 years later, in 1967. Back then the Good Housekeeping Institute’s demonstration of the Radarange was a source of amazement to those who toured the facility. We’d zap custard cups of cake batter and watch as our guests went wide-eyed–the cupcakes rose in seconds. Today, we’re utterly dependent on the microwave for defrosting, reheating–and popping popcorn.


1959: Pantyhose

Call it a major response to the mini. It wasn’t until Twiggy and her long-legged friends started hiking up their skirts that the need for hosiery able to go the extra mile became obvious. And women everywhere said good-bye to the inconvenience and discomfort of garters and girdles.

1961: Disposable Diapers

Marion Donovan, an inventor and mother, cut up shower curtains, then added a layer of absorbent material and snap closures. Ta da!–the first disposable was born in 1951. But it took a grandfather named Vic Miles (who happened to be a Procter & Gamble engineer) to design a mass-produced disposable diaper. Enter Pampers. First sold in Peoria, IL, they didn’t play there until their price was dropped five years later from a dime to six cents each. Today, 95 percent of American babies are diapered disposably.

1977: Personal Computer

The granddaddy of today’s desktop models, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC), unveiled by the University of Pennsylvania, boasted 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighed 30 tons. Three decades later, ENIAC’s power could be contained on a postage stamp-size silicon chip in a case that could sit on a desk. When Apple, Radio Shack, and Commodore introduced personal computers in the 1970%, the Information Age was born. Letter writing, shopping malls, and checkbooks are fading fast, while e-mail, e-shopping, and e-banking are state of the art.

How Did We Live Without essential housewares? (part 1)

Is it 2000 already? How time flies when you don’t have to scrub clothes, lace up corsets, or wash diaper after diaper! Our list of the top 20 innovations of this century.


Electric Iron Imagine how tedious ironing was when it was done by beating clothes with mallets or wielding a heavy metal box filled with hot charcoal. Then came the “Hotpoint,” the first iron electrified not only at the base but also at the tip, so it could press pleats, ruffles, and around bottom.

1907: Electric Washer

Washing clothes once meant slapping them against rocks, bending over a scrub board, or cranking a hand-operated wringer. Maytag’s Pastime (below), the first mechanical washer produced in large numbers, was introduced in 1907, but it wasn’t until 1937 that Bendix Aviation unveiled a fully automated model-which rattled so much it had to be bolted to the floor. Early dryers, also developed in the 1930’s and so hot they scorched clothes; line drying won out until temperature controls were introduced after WW II.

1908: Vacuum Cleaner

Houses were dirtier in the days of brooms and carpet sweepers, which often kicked up more dust than they removed. When electric suction machines started popping up, one of the most effective was night janitor Murray Spangler’s model, with goat-bristle brushes, a motor, and a pillowcase to catch debris. His prototype became the first Hoover.



Refrigerator Guardian’s Frigerator, an electric “icebox” that became the Frigidaire, was created as an alternative to storing food in cellars, on windowsills, or in insulated boxes chilled with a block of ice. In 1921, Good Housekeeping included an electric refrigerator in a “model kitchen,” but it was decades before prices came down enough for just about everyone to take advantage of the fridge’s ability to reduce food spoilage-and trips to the category store.

1920: Sanitary Napkins

After the Romans switched from blades of grass to bulky woven fabrics, innovation in menstrual products came to a standstill until 1920’s Kotex pad. That was (and is) great, but some would argue that the Tampax tampon (1934), brainchild of Denver gynecologist Earle Haas, M.D., was the real breakthrough. As discreet as they are disposable, tampons allowed freedom of movement and overall comfort that women had never known.

1920: Radio

Radio communication began at the turn of the century, but the first licensed commercial radio station didn’t go on-air until the Roaring Twenties. Radio brought the nation together to hear a president’s fireside chats, Amos and Andy, firsthand accounts of the crash of the Hindenburg, and late-breaking weather reports. “TV gives everyone one image,” notes former presidential speechwriter and GH columnist Peggy Noonan, “but radio gives birth to a million images in a million brains.”

1921: Adhesive Bandages

Designed by a cotton buyer with an accident-prone wife, the first ready-made bandages, Band-Aid brand from Johnson & Johnson, were 2 1/2″ by 18″ strips that consumers cut to fit. Today, there are countless varieties, from sheer to Mickey Mouse to antibiotic, for all our cuts and scrapes.

1924: Paper Tissues

In the days of handkerchiefs, sneezes stayed with you, tucked soggily in your pocket, the whole day through. Thank you, Kleenex, for debuting the first disposable (and more sanitary) alternative.

1925: Blow-Dryer

When the handheld electric dryer was born, it looked remarkably like today’s: pistol-shaped, with an aluminum body, wooden handle, and two heat settings. It didn’t become a must-have item, however, until Vidal Sassoon introduced wash-and-dry haircuts in the 1960’s. Women no longer had to choose between sleeping on rollers or sitting under a bonnet hair dryer.


1927: Brassiere

“I can’t say the brassiere will ever take as great a place in history as the steamboat, but I did invent it,” boasted Caresse Crosby, a debutante (and Robert Fulton descendant) who pieced together a bra out of two handkerchiefs, pink ribbon, and a cord. It was a welcome relief from the constricting corset, which sometimes prevented the wearer from taking a deep breath. Actually, a Parisian corsetmaker had concocted a similar contraption in 1889, but it was Crosby who coined the name and sold her idea to Warner’s. Maidenform dreamed up to modern bra with “true cup support” in 1927.

The kitchen – hazardous to your health?

Knives, boiling oil, scaling water, flames, electrical sparks, chemicals that will eat through flesh …Wow! Sounds like a medieval torture chamber, doesn’t it? But it’s really a slightly exaggerated description of the hazards in the most dangerous room of your house–the kitchen. One out of 10 Americans suffers injuries in the home each year. The majority occur in the kitchen. Many of these accidents are due to our own lack of preventive actions–eliminating potential hazards.


Let’s take a look at ways to make your kitchen a safe place for food and converstion instead of a minefield of accidents waiting to happen.

It’s Electric

All those new electrical appliances have made big changes. In some older homes, the amount of electricity required in the kitchen by microwaves, toasters, blenders, and toaster oven often exceeds its wiring capabilities. One clue to this overload is a dimming of the lights when an appliance is started. A more obvious clue is fuses blowing or circuit breakers tripping when kitchen appliances are used. Discoloration or heat around outlets can also be a warning. An electrician should be consulted when these clues appear.

Another hazard is not maintaining electricasl appliances. For example, a refrigerator needs room to “breathe.” That means it requires dust-free space around it for ventilation. Toasters need to be kept clean, but never by dumping them in water. All electrical appliances need to have cords that are not worn or run under rugs, as well as secure plugs. Never wrap cords around appliances, especially those that give off heat.

And be sure electrical outlets are not overloaded. Never connect more than one heating or two motor-driven appliances to one circuit. When disconnecting an appliance plug, make sure your hands are dry and pull the plug itself, not just the cord. It’s smart to disconnect appliances when they’re not in use or when you’re leaving the house.

Using extension cords is not a good idea. An appliance cord is made to withstand the wattage of that appliance, but an extension cord may not be. Also, throw away any extension cord that does not have three prongs, and be sure outlets in your home accept three-prong plugs.

You have probably heard it’s not wise to use a knife to go fishing for your bagel when it’s stuck in the toaster. You can get quite a shock. So far stuck bagels, unplug the toaster first. While you have it unplugged, clean the crumbs out of the bottom.

Since electricity and water don’t Mix, do not position appliances near the sink. If a mixer or toaster is pushed into a sink filled with water, electrocution may quickly follow.

Cooking Concerns

Have you ever left a towel or pot holder on the stove and smelled it burning? This ia common cause of kitchen fires. So is reaching across flames and having your long sleeve ignite. Here are a few more tips about using the stove:

  1. Turn pot handles inward, but be sure they are not over another burner in use or you’re in for a burned hand.
  2. Clean beneath stove burners. Collected grease can start a fire.
  3. Keep matches in a metal container and away from children.
  4. Be sure curtains or towel cannot blow over flames.
  5. Never spray aerosol cans near an open flame.
  6. Remove stove knobs except when in use if you have toddlers in your home.
  7. Do not leave small children unsupervised in the kitchen.
  8. Have a spoon holder near the stove so spoons are not left in hot foods and burn your hand.

Sharp Knives, Spills, and Poisons

Did you ever lose control of a knife and try to “catch” it only to discover you caught the blade instead o the handle? Knives head the list of hazardous household tools. They cause more than 350,000 serious accidents yearly. Believe it or not, the first step in preventing cuts is to have your knives sharpened. Dull knives require strong pressure, and they can slip. Sharp knives go where you want them to with little pressure. If a knife starts to fall, LET IT FALL and step back. The floor can handle the damage a lot better than your hand. Don’t use knives to do jobs other than cutting. Knives are not meant to pry open lids or turn screws. Store knives in a place where all the points can face the same direction and where they cannot be reached by children.


Falls in the kitchen are usually related to spilled objects, food, and drinks on the floor. Clean up spills immediately.

Last but not least is thhe fact that under your sink is a chemistry lab full of poisonous substances. Cleaners, waxes, shoe polish, dishwasher soap, bleach, lye–the list goes on and on. If there are children in your home, these items should be locked in a cabinet children cannot open.

Some of your fondest memories will be centered around the kitchen. Take the time to be sure no nightmares will originate in your kitchen instead.

5 steps to successful juggling: a full-time job (Part 2)

3. Get help.

There are two kinds of assistance that can make your juggling more effective. One is help with child care, yardwork, bookkeeping–any task you handle yourself now that takes time and energy away from your writing. You might feel that, especially if you’re working on a novel or another long-range creative project that isn’t bringing in any immediate money, you can’t afford to pay someone else just so you can steal more writing time. But if you’re not getting it done because you’re too busy chasing a toddler or mowing the lawn, then the minimal fee you pay someone else to free you up for an hour or two a day will be well spent.

The other kind of assistance I recommend comes in the form of a class or a coach or an editor or a group that can help you improve your writing and make the time you spend at your computer more productive. You may feel that you’re juggling so many things now, the last thing you can squeeze in is another few hours a week taking a fiction-writing workshop at a community college or conferring with a writing partner. But especially if your time is limited, you want to make those few hours count-to write the best possible prose in the time you have and not spin out subpar work that will only need to be rewritten or scrapped. So the short-term investment in your writing skills now can actually save you time in the long-run.


4. Just say yes.

I’m horrified when I think of how much work I used to turn down because I thought that I didn’t have enough time, or that I wasn’t really interested in that assignment, or that they weren’t paying quite enough (or at all). I had more time and energy back then, I think, but less capacity to juggle a lot of work and more fear that I couldn’t handle it all.

  • Now, I just say yes. To almost everything. People are sometimes surprised that a much-published author is enthusiastic about spending an evening with a book group or writing a blog post for a small website, but I’ve learned that you can’t judge the benefits of projects purely on the basis of money, and having the chance to talk one-on-one with an enthusiastic reader or write something completely from the heart can be worth as much as a big payday.

I’ve also learned that I can handle a lot more time commitments than I thought I could. The more you do, I think, the more you can do, and writing faster, producing more, trying new things and taking risks all create energy rather than draining it. If you’re going to say no to something, make it the school bake sale or the lunch with the neighbor who only likes to complain. When it comes to writing opportunities, just say yes.

5. Take the long view.

You might feel so consumed with juggling every day, every hour, every minute, that you don’t think you have the time to step back and take a long view of what you’re trying to accomplish with your writing. But developing a vision of where you want to be in a year or what kind of book you’re trying to write down to how you want your cover to look and your author bio to read can help you focus what you’re doing with your precious writing time.

  • If the books you admire and want to emulate are hardcovers with a literary feel, then your preliminary efforts should be focused on enhancing the language and deepening the characters in your work, more so than on developing the kind of spine-tingling plot that defines a more commercial book.
  • On the other hand, if it’s a nice fat advance you’re after rather than the National Book Award, you should be constantly studying bestselling novelists like Dorothea Benton Frank and Harlan Coben for clues to what makes their books so widely appealing, and see how you might model that in your own work.

Then, if you want to be ready to send that manuscript to agents in a year, that means you need to produce roughly seven finished pages (or a scene or two) a week–or, more realistically, 15 weekly pages (two to three scenes) in order to finish a first draft in six months, get feedback from trusted readers, and allow yourself a few more months to revise and polish. Taking the long view can help you set realistic goals that will help keep you on track.

That way, all the effort you put into your daily juggling will get you, in the end, a finished product that makes it all worthwhile.

5 steps to successful juggling: a full-time job (Part 1)

Are you trying to juggle a day job, a family, and the writing of a book that lies close to your heart? So am I, despite having already successfully published 20 books–and that’s increasingly the reality for widely published writers as well as aspiring authors, rye got three books coming out this year–my historical novel The Possibility of You, a humor book about dogs called Rabid, and a collection of essays–and I also co-run a million-monthly-visitor website (the baby name guide Nameberry), pen monthly columns for two magazines and contribute regular features to several others. And oh, right, there’s the husband, the three kids, and the house that always seems to need something.


But making a living as a writer, stretching your creative horizons, and dealing with the realities of the tough economy and publishing atmosphere demand that you stay nimble. Few writers, no matter how successful, can afford to spend a few hours a day (or a few months a year), writing, and then take the rest of the time off to fish or tour the great bars of the world.

So how do you juggle a range of different writing projects along with the usual need to earn a stable income and care for the people you love? It doesn’t just happen on its own, I’ve found, but is definitely manageable if you follow the kinds of guidelines I’ve developed over 25 years as a professional juggler. Try these time-tested strategies, and you’ll find yourself seven steps closer to a daily life that lets you shake your moneymaker and satisfy your soul.

1. Never do the laundry.

After my first three months writing at home when my daughter was a baby, my house was clean, my child was happy, and I felt calm and organized–but I hadn’t gotten much real writing done. That’s when I made Rule No. 1 for myself.” Never do the laundry. Not during your writing hours. Do not just throw in one teensy load, do not merely switch the wet clothes to the dryer, do not simply fold these few shirts before they get wrinkled. It’s a slippery slope, and if you let laundry–or any other household chore, no matter how seemingly light–intrude on your writing time, you’ll end up with pristine clothes and a blank page.

Whether you realize it or not, part of the lure of any nonwriting project that is crying out to be done-paying your bills or balancing your checkbook, raking the garden or organizing your bookshelves–is that it’s so much easier to accomplish than typing your way through the climax of that difficult scene.

But your writing time is your writing time, and in a practical as well as a psychic sense, those hours will be most productive if you let no other tasks intrude on them.


2. Set goals by scene or passage, not by words.

Daily goal-setting is a time-honored staple of writing advice: Sit in the chair and don’t get up until you’ve written 1,000 words. Or until you have two or five or 10 pages neatly stacked on your desk.

But for me, and I bet for you, too, it’s much more effective to think in terms of scenes of your novel or memoir or screenplay, or passages of an essay or article.

Writing one complete scene each day-and by scene I mean a dramatic unit with an inciting incident, rising conflict, a climax, and an ending that includes a new question or kicker into the next scene–is an excellent goal if you have an entire morning or afternoon to devote to your fiction. If you get to write only before the rest of the house wakes up or when your baby takes a nap, you might aim to complete a scene or two every week.

The typical scene unfolds over four to eight pages, so you’ll build up pages at the same rate as if you were driving toward a word or page goal–but the extra benefit will be in the results themselves: well-thought-out scenes that make up a more cohesive first draft. Try it and see for yourself.