Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Taking Back My Youth on an MGP Nitro Extreme

It was a cool spring morning which promised to become a very hot early spring day and so the mind drifts to what could be done to make this Sunday a very special one for my son and I.
Having spent most of the day before indoors playing Star Wars on the Wii, Sunday was going to be 'outdoor day' and I was going to be out in the fresh air, not sat in front of a television watching virtual characters battle it out on screen. No, fresh air is what I needed today and so that's what I was going to get.
A few months earlier it had been my birthday and somebody in their ultimate wisdom had decided I was not going to grow old gracefully and bought me a scooter. Not any old scooter, but one with a particularly cool name. Knowing that I had a penchant for gadgets, they decided I needed on that summed up my love of all things 'mega' and 'turbo' and they bought me an 'MGP Nitro Extreme'. Now, when I first saw the words on the box I didn't really understand what it was I'd got. I thought maybe I'd been sent some kind of explosive device seeing as 'nitro' sounds like something we yearned for as kids.
However I soon realised that this was one of those trendy scooters with wheels so small they look like they've been stolen from Action Man's tank and enough metal and rivets to show it had been engineered in the fiery depths of some Pacific Rim volcano. I was going places on this thing, and hopefully not hospital.
As it turned out, the weather never gave me an opportunity to use it and so it lay dormant in the garage waiting for a time when the sun would emerge from the clouds and allow me to go hurtling down the street like a lanky and rather over weight teenager. Oh, and wrinkly. A teenager with a skin problem that makes them look 42. You get the idea.
And the sun came out and I did take my scooter to the skate park to show those whipper-snappers a thing or two about riding one of these beasts. Except just in case it was a bit hard, I went really early on Sunday morning, realising that your average teenager doesn't leave bed until way after midday on a weekend having spent the night before drinking Red Bull in a bus shelter.
So, I climbed carefully to the top of the ramp and holding the bars as hard as I could, I let myself tear down the slope, gravity taking hold of my over-plump frame and dragging me into the curve.
And here, dear reader, is where it went wrong.
You see, these infernal devices are pretty darn quick. They look flash because they are flash and the wheels are greased with the slickest, most frictionless material I have ever known. Before I could take a breath, I was hurtling at incredible speed towards a grassy bank wherein I narrowly missed a metal waste bin, sped off to one side and landed in a soft and slightly muddy patch.
If there was a moral to this story, it might be that people my age shouldn't be dealing in such dangerous sports and should stick to driving 4 by 4 vehicles on highways. But that would be defeatist. Instead, I give you this.
If you do intend to be a stupid as me and ride around like a teenager on incredibly good looking technical equipment - wear a helmet. You look a lot less stupid than someone with a massive bruise on their temple!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Display Cabinets and Shelves for Trophies

Any individual who've collected trophies and other awards over the years are proud of their achievements. May it be an academic or sports trophy, it deserves the right place in your home or office. Shelves and cabinet tops are the usual places to find trophies. But as time passes, many people tend to ignore them and leave them unclean for a long time.
A better way to keep your trophies clean and organized is by putting them in cabinets with glass doors, or on top of shelves particularly made for these items. If you have collected quite a number of awards, it is best to keep them tidy and organized in a place where you and your guests can see them. Why? Because they can be great conversation pieces or part of the design of your study room or any area in your home.
One particular piece that you can purchase or have a carpenter customize is a display cabinet. This is like any other cabinet with glass doors and sides, but they can be made especially for your trophies. Taking the size and height into consideration, you can order these cabinets online or offline. You may also talk to your local carpenter and have the work done right there in your premise or in his workshop.
You can also choose the design, style, and color of your cabinet or shelf. There's always a couple of catalogues lying around the carpenter's workshop or you can print out the design you'll find online. It is also best to keep the design similar and complementary to your home's interior. If you are going to place this piece in your study room, make sure that it will not overcrowd the space. Have the carpenter measure the dimensions of the room first before deciding on the final size and style of the cabinet or shelf.
Another good tip is to refurbish old cabinets or shelves. You may purchase them from flea markets or garage sales, or from a specialty store. You can save more by doing this since it will only take you a few hundred bucks or less in paint, glass [if needed], and labor. If you are quite artistic, this can be a good DIY project to start with.
Don't just leave your trophies on top of almost any shelf or inside a cabinet, because no one will ever know that you're good at a lot of things. Being proud of your talents and skills can be best presented through a collection of these items and more. But without proper presentation and organization, they're just vessels for dust and cobwebs as time passes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Framing and Mounting Medals on Your Walls

Medals are symbols of achievement - may it be in sports, academics, and all sorts of competitions. For a very competitive individual, it isn't impossible to see quite a number of this item in his or her abode. The problem with some individuals is they fail to organize and flaunt their 'achievements' properly.
You might come across a friend who just lets his medals hang on whatever is accessible or available in his home - a coat hanger or available hooks and tacks where other framed items are mounted. It is such a waste to see medals lying around or hanged carelessly. It may be years ago when you've won that quiz bee competition or champed the badminton tournament in your area, but the medals you've garnered are timeless testaments to your exceptional skills and talents.
Many people have found that framing medals before mounting them on their walls is a good idea. Though not a very unique way, but putting these items in frames does not only protect them, but also keeps them organized. You don't have to worry much about the cost because you can purchase ready-made frames from both offline and online frame stores. The choices will depend on how many medals you have and how you wish to organize them in your home.
One good idea is to organize medals by the year. Some may prefer organizing by the type of competition they've joined and won. Another tip is to keep your frames uniform in terms of style and size. You may also go for styles that will complement the room's overall look and feel. So, if you will hang the framed medals in your study area, make sure that the designs will jive and not clash.
You may also find in homes larger frames that hold medals for each of the children in the family. This is also a great way to organize according to every person's achievement through the years. The medals are usually arranged per year or competition.
Laminated frames are also one of the most common methods of framing medals with diplomas. You may apply this method collectively instead of just laminating one item in one frame. As mentioned, it will depend on how you would like to organize.
Keeping your medals neatly organized in your home shouldn't be a difficult task. It can be a fun way to remember your past achievements during your school years. And it is also a cool and subtle way to flaunt your awards and enhance your walls at the same time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The History Of Chess Sets And Boards

The majority of historians believe that chess is the oldest game of skill in existence. There are written records of chess being played all the way back in the 6th century in what is now modern Afghanistan and India. This was the Persian Empire, and so the oldest chess sets and boards were Persian-made pieces used in the game they termed "chaturanga." Unfortunately, no known pieces from the first few centuries of Persian chess sets remain in existence. Maybe someday an archeological dig will be fortunate enough to discover a few pieces, or maybe even a whole set, of this early version of chess.
The Persian Empire was enormous, and it was famous for being one of the most prolific trading empires. There was no corner of the empire that these traders did not reach, and they brought chess with them. The early version of chess quickly spread throughout the empire. These early chess pieces were made from many different materials throughout the Persian Empire, depending on the means of their owners.
Very cheap chess sets and boards were made from bone in the early days of the game. More extravagant pieces were often carved from hardwoods such as ebony and rosewood. The very finest early chess sets were carved from ivory, which was favored by craftsman for its ease of carving and ability to polish to a fine shine.
Luckily, examples of some of these early ivory chessmen still survive today. Pieces were discovered in modern-day Uzbekistan, and they are in very good condition. Seven pieces were discovered in all, two pawns, an elephant, a horse, a vizier, a chariot and a king.
The next-oldest chess set in the world was found in India, and it has been radiocarbon dated to around 900 AD. These pieces were the older style chessmen that were found in the Persian Empire's version of chess.
More modern, European chess sets that players are familiar with today date from not too long after this. The earliest example of these European chess pieces were preserved in a monastery in Ager, Spain. These Ager pieces date from 1021. They are made from rock crystal that has not survived the ravages of time very well, and only a few of the pieces are in good enough condition to determine their use. The legend told by the monks that preserved the pieces over the years is that the set was originally carved for Charlemagne.
The oldest chess pieces that can be combined together to form a full set date back to the 12th century. These pieces, known as the Lewis Pieces, contain 96 individual pieces that came from four separate sets. They were made in Norway out of ivory formed from walrus tusk and whale teeth. They are in phenomenal condition, and look as if they would be fine to use in a game today if they weren't under glass in the British Museum.
European-style chess sets all had the same pieces, but there were many different competing designs for specific pieces. This led to conflicts in matches, when players would refuse to play each other due to the unrecognizability of certain pieces. A standard design for competition chess sets, called the Staunton, was constructed in 1849 by Nathaniel Cook. It is still the design used in chess competitions around the world today.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How to Throw Darts: Technique, Grip, Stance and Throw

The following article explains the basic grip, stance and throwing techniques used in the game of darts. There are also tips on discovering what works best for you and how to develop your own style.
Basics of the Grip
Aim and Direct: The chief objective of your grip should be to keep the end of the dart pointing up in each throwing stage.
Solid and Relaxed: Your grip should be stable, firm and should not put tension on the muscles of your fingers. When your fingers become white or you have difficulty releasing the dart due to excess muscle tension it is an indication that your grip is excessively tense. Keep in mind that Darts is a not a game of force, but rather touch. To keep your touch, grasp the dart just tight enough so it will not slide and you can maintain control when speeding up for the throw. The most common error is gripping the dart too firmly rather than too loosely.
Use at Least Three Fingers. Using more fingers will provide more regulation and control of the dart when gathering speed, but it makes the release more difficult as you will have to coordinate more fingers together. Finger coordination is an important aspect of release in your grip.
Shape of Dart Barrel. Not all types of grips will be suitable or functional on different barrel types. Longer barrels require the use of more fingers, while shorter barrels may require fewer fingers. Not only do you need to discover the right grip for you, but you need to discover the barrel that's right for you as well.
Say No to a Fist. The fingers that are not included in your grip should stay comfortably spread apart from the fingers that are included. For example, if you are using four fingers when holding the dart and your smallest finger joins the other four, it will cause strain on the muscles of the other four fingers and will result in a poor release.
Stance and Throw
"Right Foot Forward" Stance. To better understand the stance, examine the position of a good player while they are aiming. Players set their eye, the dart and their target in a line. When a player makes a throw, he must try to maintain the movement of his arm in a plane of two dimensions. This decreases error by eliminating sideways movement of the arm.
Distribution of Your Weight. Your weight should rest chiefly on your forward foot while your rear foot holds adequate weight to thoroughly balance your posture. Keep in mind that, regardless of which weight distribution you use, your posture should be very firm and unshakable. The forward foot should constantly remain on the ground or floor.
Leaning. The more you lean your body forward, the closer you are to the board. Conversely, the farther you lean the more physically demanding and unbalanced your throw will become. If you bend forward excessively, it will result in back strains in the long run. Practice and try to find your own best position for throwing.
Balance. Lifting your leg when throwing is discouraged. Always keep your feet on the floor.
Torso. Your posture must ensure that your body is kept still during a throw.
Dart is a game of skill that requires constant practice on your part. You have to discover your own individual grip, stance and style of throw. Put it in your mind not to merely imitate the style of other dart players. You must discover your own style by yourself.
Try out the grips, stances and throwing styles of different individuals for the purpose of comparing and finding out which aspects are appropriate for you. Trying out various styles will also help you learn the technical connections between grip, stance and throw and enhance your skill. However, you should still find your own style, the one wherein you feel most comfortable and which results in improved playing. Achieve this through constant practice and keen observation of other accomplished or professional dart players. Look into their style of play and if you can use it with ease and comfort, then incorporate it into your own style.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tips for Flying RC Airplanes

We have all seen the YouTube videos of the Ace flyers, making dramatic swoops, loops, and spins with near perfect precision, but the fact of the matter is that no one starts out as an ace flyer. It takes years of practice to do those stunts. That is why I would recommend starting out with a good simulator program for your PC. There are many on the market today, so do some research and find one that works with the type of A/C and flying you are looking at doing. Also get into your local RC flying community. Start showing up and asking questions of some of the more seasoned flyers, most will be only too glad to share some of their ability on the subject. And when it's time for your first flight, your new buddies will be there to help you out.
Always do a preflight check before takeoff. First, turn on the transmitter, then the airplane. Do a basic hand test of the plane to make sure everything is functioning correctly, then do a range check, collapse the antenna on the transmitter, walk 50-100 feet away and check that your equipment is responding properly. Determine wind direction and speed by throwing a light material (grass clippings work well) into the air.
When you are ready for takeoff face your A/C into the wind. If you're launching you're A/C by hand, give it full power and launch it with a straight and level toss into the air and quickly grab the controls. If this is still new to you, have a friend launch your airplane for you. If you are taking off from the ground slowly advance the power and wait for it to gain enough speed for takeoff
Once you're in the air, keep the throttle at full power until the plane achieves sufficient altitude, allow yourself some room to recover from mistakes, and then reduce the throttle to half power. Practice flying in an oval pattern, turning in the same direction for a while. After you have feel comfortable with one direction try flying the opposite direction. When the oval gets too easy, mix it up and try a figure eight. Remember to keep the A/C as level as possible; raising the nose too much can make it stall.
When you are ready to land your airplane face it back into the wind, slowly reduce the throttle and glide it in, when you are about five feet off the ground cut the throttle completely. Raise the nose of the A/C at the last second, for a perfect three point landing.
Well that's the basics. Thanks for reading

Monday, March 19, 2012

3 Ways to Handle Sports Parents That Want to Be Too Involved

Parents form one third of the youth sports support system (alongside coaches and other volunteers). They are the ones driving your athletes to practices and games, providing nutritious half-time snacks, organizing team parties and filling your stands...yes, they are invaluable! Most parents are content in their roles as fan and supporter, but how is a coach supposed to handle a sports parent that decides their place in on the field?
Here are 3 ways to manage the "helicopter" (that hovering) sports parent:
Establish ground rules 
Make it very clear to your sports parents at the beginning of the season that the only people allowed in the dugout or on the field are the coaches and players. You can explain that you want to minimize the amount of distractions that could divert your player's attention away from the game. Having mom or dad watching from the sidelines, for some unfocused athletes can be distracting enough! Your sports parents need to respect you as the coach and your decisions if they fully expect their kids to do the same.

Set up a code of conduct before the season starts of what kind of behavior is and isn't acceptable during practices and games. Many sports organizations already have policies in place and you can just enforce the rules. Over involved and zealous sports parents tend to be the ones that become "those obnoxious sports parents" over the course of the seasons-the ones that coach from the sidelines, yell at the officials and argue with other parents. You want to prevent that behavior from happening before it has a chance to. Some parents may take offense to being pushed back to the stands, however, simply reinforce that it's for the well-being and safety of their child and other children.
Get them involved in a small way 
Some parents can't help themselves...they love their kids! They have good intentions, but they want to be involved in everything their kid is doing, including your team. If you find yourself dealing with a parent that wants to help, find a way to let them participate but in a way that actually helps you or your sports organization. Get them to catch for your relief pitcher or take the soccer players on a warm-up jog around the field. Let the parent handle some of the smaller tasks so you can focus more on the game at hand. It makes them feel involved (and keeps them occupied) and frees up some of your time! Maybe they can help at the snack shop or take on some additional much needed volunteer roles in your sports organization (help is always needed!).

It's better to have a sports parent working for you then working against you. If you can get them involved without usurping your authority as the coach than everyone gets what they want and you don't to worry about a confrontation later on in the season.
Speak to them privately 
If you have to talk to one of your parents, make sure it is done privately. Talk to them before or after practice or a game and explain why they need to reel it in a little bit. It's not that you don't appreciate their dedication to the team and their child's athletic career (of course you do!), but they need to treat you like the coach so their child sees you as the coach as well. Again, it's a matter of respecting you as the coach and also a fellow parent. You don't want to do this in front of the other parents or the players as it's embarrassing and might make your parent defensive. Most of the times sports parents don't even realize they've crossed a line, so a quick and private reminder will get everyone back on track.

Every team is bound to have one mom or dad that thinks they missed their calling to be a youth sports coach (you can remind them there is always room for more volunteers!). Involved parents are great, but there is a fine line between involved parent and helicopter parent. As a coach, you have to find a way to remind them that YOU are responsible for the coaching, safety and well-being of the team without causing and friction between you and them.