Words of Wisdom

Advice about some of the better ideas and products I've tested and used, which are off the beaten path, so you're less likely to have heard about these
(I'm not promoting these for personal gain)

Updated 9 / 2013

 

Ethical Responsibility Automobiles
Treating Outdoor Lumber Automobile Safety
Wood Fasteners (screws) Computer Hardware
Teak Plywood Desk Roofing Work
Skylights Bed Pillows
Powered Speaker Docks LED Lighting

 

David at his desk

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Quality & Service is not expensive -- it's priceless.
Ethical Responsibility:
I aim to do what I can to set a good example in the business community working to abolish planned obsolescence in all forms. Planned obsolescence is intentional fraud, which should be a prisonable offense. Yet it has been allowed to be standard operating procedure in most industry, which has more than doubled our pollution and landfill problems.

I believe changing this one detail would do more to help the planet than all the recycling programs combined, as well as cure a lot of health issues with a lot less stress in our lives. Companies can still be plenty profitable without designing their products to fail within a time frame just beyond their warranty, even given the variables of matreial quality and manufacturing quality.

We need to pass a law, which from that time forward if it can be proved that planned obsolescence was implemented in any new products built it is illegal and the head of that company will go to jail. No patsies. I am not suggesting we force all companies to recall what they had already sold. That would bankrupt them all. Just not allow this fraud to continue.

To read more go to: http://mind-temple.com/ethics.htm

Automobiles:
As you may already know I'd love to see the major automakers build pneumatic powered vehicles, but that pipe dream is a ways off. As an auto mechanic at my Father's shop when I was younger I had worked on many different makes and I've found Honda/Acura to clearly stand out from the pack in design, parts quality, construction, driver comfort, performance, and handling as the best value.

They are still constructed with heavy steel frames, which get a lot less gas mileage than they should be getting, but that is true with all other auto makers. This is because the oil companies having bought controlling stock in each manufacturer to thwart that sort of progress, just so they can continue to sell more oil.

Honda tried to break that trend with their 2000 Acura NSX Sports car made with a rust-free lighter weight aluminum frame and even suspension parts. They are still holding up to vigorous driving over 2 decades later with no major problems. If they can make a sturdy aluminum frame bicycle these days for under $200 why do they still claim it is too expensive to make cars like this? There is also other light weight materials that can be used; like impact resistant polycarbonate plastic, carbon fiber, and titanium, which happens to be the most abundant metal on our planet. If auto makers were ethical they would be making us lighter weight cars that are stronger, last longer, safer, and far more fuel efficient than the junk they push on us deisgned to fail and financially ruin us being far less safe than they could be (see below for more details).

Rich's WaterbumpersAutomotive Safety:

Safety Bumpers: All the auto manufacturers have seen fit to not implement the most important safety technology over the last century that would be better than seat belts and air bags: impact resistant bumpers, with the same sort of system as the suspension holding your car chassis up off the ground front and back, where you would have most high speed impacts. It could be nearly as safe to drive as bumper cars at amusement parks at still much higher speeds. See my History Page for more details.

Safety Mirror: The goal of driving it to avoid accidents. Not just be safe in a collision. Blind spots are a large cause of accidents. Visibility can be dramatically improved with a clip-on wide angle rear view mirror place over your stock mirror. I feel blind without it when driving a rental car, and need to bring my mirror along.

In Europe many cars have their rear view mirrors mounted out front on the fenders, instead of on the doors. This allows the diver to see them looking through the windshield. Not having to turn their head so far to either side to see them through the side windows. Besides how it would look odd to mount a pair of mirrors on your front fenders you would loose the electric adjust feature you might have. I have a larger roof rack that allowed me to mount a wide angle mirror out in front off to the left to cover those blind spots the center mirror cannot cover, so now just looking through my windshield I have no blind spots. The down side to this is I can no longer go through the automated car wash.

Bad Weather Windshield Visibility: Another simple thing you can do to improve visibility is to use No Touch Rain Shield windshield coating spray found at many convenience stores. It is a small green can. You are to spray it on while it is wet or raining and needs no wiping to spread it over your glass. It starts to repel water immediately.  The smell is rather strong when you first apply it, so it is best to treat your windshield at least 15 minutes before driving. If not you should set the vents to 'Recirculation' for a while after spraying it on. One application last a week or two in rainy weather. It lasts longer if you don't use your wipers.

Improving Your Visibility to Others: You can also add some white or red reflective tape over your car's paint, like pin-striping along the sides and across the rear to help others see you at night. 3M makes that tape and it can be found at many hardware stores. It will last many years without shrinking or pealing. It is what they use for the stickers on your license plate when you renew your tags. It will not be easy to remove, so keep that in mind

Freeway Traffic Congestion: We've all had to deal with the frustrating stop-and-go traffic situation on a freeway often caused by rubber-necking as we pass by an accident, but there are many times this sort of common rush-hour traffic back-up has nothing to do with passing by an accident that has blocked off a lane or 2 of traffic, so why does this happen? It is maddening. If you could see it from the air you would see a slinky effect going on, where it slows down and loosens up over and over, which is even more confusing.

The main cause of this is tailgating and the unnecessary lane changes to find that faster lane. We would logically imagine driving close to the car in front of us would allow for more cars on the freeway at the same time, but it causes this slinky effect when we find ourselves having to make sudden braking being so close to that car, which has a repercussive effect on those cars behind us as well. This is why frequent lane changes are also a cause of this effect. I am not saying we should never change lanes, but we should refrain from the temptation of jumping into the other lane that seems to be moving faster.

What we are actually seeing is just that slinky effect in the other lane that is not timed the same as the lane you're in. Swapping lanes serves to then slow that lane down, because the car you're pulling over in front of will need to make some hasty braking to let you in and allow for the gap needed for safe driving. In turn causing all the cars behind them to brake as well until that lane is not moving at all. Slinky effect.

When one person has not paid careful attention to this they may bump the car in front of them, so those 2 cars will need to pull over to swap insurance information, now causing another rubber-necking situation. So you lane swap may have caused an accident you are not aware of, so try to keep that in mind before changing lanes when it is not necessary. If we all would drive like this congestion would be reduced substantially.

Computers:
Before I got a PC clear back in 1990 I was a Mac fan. I rented them for $8 an hour at a copy shop when I needed to do some word processing. Then in 1995 when it came time to bite the bullet and get my own computer setup I had to choose PC over Mac, like most everyone else, since there was so much more software available. That was not without it's own frustrations over the years with Microsoft promising a much better OS each time, yet failing year after year to deliver.

Finally in 2005 Apple started selling IPods like crazy, so they finally had the revinue to market their computers. They have some of the sleekest hardware on the market and their portable IOS devices are very stable and easy to use. Although, they still do not have the user-friendly productive software to go with their desktops and laptops still in 2013. If they don't work out some better software and even better hardware options for their computers Apple's success will continue to be seriously crippled. Not including an optical drive with the new IMacs is a problem they will pay dearly. From my dealing with their 'Geniuses' over the last 6 months their support staff clearly do not know their stuff. If you are wise enough to have purchased their Apple Care with your hardware they are abliged to replace or refund your purchase when they fail to solve your issues.

Apple's Time Machine back-up software was a strong draw for me in finally getting a top notch 27" IMac in early 2010, but I quickly found out it was very limited and not really usable with a virtual machine I had to run before I could wean myself off PC software. I was hoping they would have made substantial improvements with it in each of the 3 OS upgrades since then, but that never happened. Right after upgrading to Mountain Lion I started experiencing frequent crashes where it would suddenly reboot while I was in the middle ot doing something. After about 20 hours on the phone with support, 10 days in for service with 8 trips to their local stores with no positive results I finally had to insist on a full refund. Fortunately I had bought AppleCare with it, so they refunded all $3,500.

I was able to get the Techs at Frys to build me a pretty kick-ass system; with fancy lights, and a fast water-cooled chip. They even installed a solid state hard drive to load the OS on for faster more reliable start-ups, which is something I highly recommend. It has a pair of 2T raid hard-drives, so backing up my data is much less of an issue, since it is unlikely both harddrives will fail at the same time. I got 16G of much faster 1,866 MHz RAM. The tower is huge, yet quieter than a whisper. I also have a Blueray drive and a new 42" LG 3D TV as my monitor for it. I got a really neat set of illuminated Logitec Bluetooth keyboard and matching touchpad with bilt-in rechargable batteries model #810 and 650. I have a faster AC 1750 5G wireless router from Asus.

My Wife it still an Apple fan happy with her 21" IMac, laptop, IPad, Iphone 5, and IPod. I still love my IPne 4 and IPods with assorted speaker docks. The main advice I would share with you is to installed an internal solid state hard drive to load your OS and programs on for faster more reliable start-ups with your persoanl files on a separate harddrive. You won't have to wait for a harddrive to spin up after your PC or IMac went to sleap. You would also do well to get a mini RAID set up to protect your data. More RAM is also very helpful and does not cost much these days. You should have 12 to 16 gigs combined.

Very Soft pillows that do not go flat?
I have loved the softness of latex foam rubber pillows for over 15 years. They've remained pretty much just as soft and full feeling as when they were new. The oldest one has lost the cotton cover it came with from age and it's started to fall apart loosing chunks when I change the pillow cases, but do you really want a pillow to last longer than 15 years? Yuck.

They are not cheap and rather hard to find. I've never seen them in regular department stores. They cost over twice that of an ordinary pillow, but I feel it was a very good investment when they will last over 3 to 4 times as long without going hard and flat like most pillows do within just a couple years. I got mine at A-1 Foam Rubber here in S. E. Portland, OR. http://a1foamrubber.com/

LED lightingLED Lighting:
LED stands for light emitting diode, and has made great strides over the last few years to make them brighter and whiter than before, but most on the market are far too expensive at $30+ per bulb. Costco has been selling packs of 3 bulbs 4 watts each that equal a 40W to 60W bulb, which is about half the wattage of compact florescent bulbs at around the same cost of $6 per bulb.

These LED bulbs are instant one with whiter color than any other types of light bulbs. They are suppose to last a lot longer as well, with less health issues than the compact florescent bulbs or landfill issues. Although, the manufacturers will most likely figure out a way to work in short lived planned obsolescence in these as well. We have already replace around 30 bulbs with LED lights and plan to do more soon (12/12).

I have used low intensity rope lights to light my work shop, in stead of having regular bulbs. It gives off a nice soft light that's not harsh to look up at. It took 28 strands 18' long each to light a 20' X 32' shop at a cost of $470. I have them mounted 9' up from the floor in custom aluminum reflector trays I made to direct all the light downwards attached to each horizontal roof joist. This gave me 470 watts of LED lighting for a dollar per watt, where the individual LED bulbs are twice that cost. This is compared to the 28 - 32 watt 4' florescent bulbs I was using at about twice the wattage.

I am even looking to see what I can do to make camera softbox lighting with these as well. Perhaps even rig up a flash sync, since they are so quick to reach full candle power. It should be cheaper than good strobes unit with a shorter recovery time.

Treating Outdoor & Indoor Wood:
You can get 100% pure non-toxic tung oil from The Real Milk Paint Co. for just $50 a gallon. It is thick like honey and can be diluted for better penetration with mineral spirits, or Thompson's Ultra Weather Seal for better UV protection, but it still works great in full strength. I sanded down an old mildew soaked oak cutting board and treated it with a thin layer of tung oil and it is the nicest finish I've ever seen. Exposed to the Sun it will become dried out looking within 6 months and need another coating, but just Thompson's Ultra Weather Seal is all it needs to help retain that new wood look.

Wood Fasteners:
I've done a lot of outdoor woodworking projects and rust really bothers me. Stainless steel screws are less brittle than steel screws and will not rust. You can get high grade non-magnetic SS screws from Tacoma Screw or Viking Bolt for less than you can at your local hardware stores.

We strongly advise that you set the screws using a special cordless impact driver instead of an ordinary drill. They set these SS screws far better than w/o damaging the Phillips slot. Even better than a hammer drill. Trust me on this one. If you have not yet bought an impact driver, do so. It will be one of your best tool investments. Makita makes a nice light weight driver w/Lithium-ion batteries. Their model LXDT01 or LXDT08 is the best, but harder to find.

Roofing Work:
Roofing is the single biggest problem issue of house maintenance. Flashing is the #1 problem with most any type roof cover. Chimney flashing in particular. I have written extensively on this subject:

Roofing Quality Standards
Chimney Flashing
Moss Control & Treatment

Teak Hardwood Plywood:
Special wood working outlets sell this at around $200 per sheet of 3/4" 9 ply 4' X 8' sheet.
I know that seems like a lot for a sheet of plywood, when oak plywood is 1/3th that cost, but consider what sort of lame particle board desk you could buy at any office supply store for $200?

It may take a little work and some minor tools to make it, but I made a simple sturdy 7' wide desk with monitor shelf with a single sheet of 3/4" Teak plywood and a 1/4" sheet of a less expensive hardwood plywood for the back, as seen here. I treated it with tung oil and has made for a great desk over the last decade of daily use.

David at his desk

Office Chairs: They are hard to find, but office chairs that pivot more in the front will not raise your legs up off the floor when you lean back.  Also, the arm rest don't bind up under your desk as well. I just find them more comfortable.

Skylights:
I find it very odd that most of the skylights you'll see are clear, when a white translucent skylight would help light the room better by defusing that light out into the room with a much wider spread. It also helps to minimize the bleaching effect of direct Sun light fading your carpet, furniture, and walls in that stripe where it hits as the day goes by. Another advantage is how it will not show the dirt and grime as badly as clear glass.

Regular window glass is not good for a skylight because it can get broken easily if a branch falls on it during a wind storm and become very dangerous falling shards of glass. These can be made with glass that has been tempered, or even laminated for impact resistance. If the top layer is tempered it will be harder to break and only break in small round pellets, in stead of dangerous shards, just like the side windows of a car. Laminated glass has a thin soft rubber layer in between that will insulate better and holds the glass together if it were to be broken, just like the windshield of a car. That layer can be made with the white translucent rubber I spoke of above, or the glass can be etched to defuse the light.

Powered Speaker Docks:
I've been and audiophile for over 3 decades and I would not have considered Philips as a name I would associate with high quality, but that seems to have changed. They still sell plenty of low end products, but their DS9000 is a very impressive speaker dock. I would hold the quality of this unit up to Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, or Boston Acoustics, but not as expensive. I was intrigued by the unique classy design. I got a chance to hear it play at Fry's using my own music off my IPhone. I was very impressed with it's clear sound and tight bass even at low volume, but was reluctant to pay $500 for it.

I saw it on Amazon listed as a refurbished unit for nearly half it's list price, so even though I was not in need of another speaker dock I could not resist. The remote is small and looks classy, but not as responsive as I'd like. You have to be at just the right angle to get it to work. Also, I have not figured out what the advantage is to their app they have you download onto your mobile device. It seems to work just fine w/o it. The only issue I have is when I left my IPhone docked over night while on vacation and my alarm went off at full volume! It is the fault of my cell phone that has it pump out that loud to force the tiny internal speaker to be able to wake me up, but far too loud when docked. Clearly something the designers had not anticipated.

This is not a small portable speaker dock at nearly 2' wide and rather heavy, but I still wanted to wrap it in my robes, stuff it in a duffel bag, and take it on the plane with us as a carry-on for our trip to Disneyland, along with other vacations we've taken, much to my Wife chagrin. I love the design style and good clear sound, which can be turned up outdoors and not feel so limited, like I would with most any other small speaker systems I've tried. At full volume it does not seem to clip, like most powered speakers do. Even at low volume the bass is remarkably rich, where other definitely fall short. I've now had it well over a decade with frequent use in our bedroom and taken in the bathroom to play loud during my showers in all that steam and it has shown to be well built and durable. Even taking it to my construction job sites several times. This remains one of my best purchases to date.

Phillips Soundsphere:
I see they now makes a speaker set w/Airplay that uses the same sort of no vibration cabinet technology, but they are $300 more and have other disadvantages, so more is not always better.

Audioengine 5+:
A powerful powered desk top or book shelf set of speakers (seen in the photo at the top of this page) also sound amazing and cost $100 less:
http://audioengineusa.com/ 

I've had a pair on my desk for about 2 years with daily use and have been very pleased.

Other Words of Wisdom

"The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind."
Khalil Gibran

"Smoke at Night
Love is a smoke made with the fumes of sighs"
William Shakepear

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Mother Teresa

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Maya Angelou

"Be careless in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul."
Mark Twain

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
Maya Angelou

"We don't have time to sulk. We had to come out and get a victory."
Sheray Thomas

“Right now, just speak gently your words of wisdom to the youngsters.
Sooner or later, those words will arrive at the right place in their hearts.”
Toba Beta

“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”
George Carlin

“I don't need anything to get high. I'm high on life.”
Melissa de la Cruz

“Human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container.”
Wallace Stevens

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
Mother Teresa

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
Albert Einstein

"You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him."
Audrey Hepburn

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
Mark Twain

“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No­when I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.”
Abraham Lincoln

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
Plato

"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination."
Jimmy Dean

"Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love says 'I need you because I love you.' "
Erich Fromm

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
Mark Twain

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
Francis of Assisi

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
Albert Einstein

"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."
Marcus Aurelius

"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."
Henry Ford

"Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then."
Katharine Hepburn

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."
Samuel Beckett

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
Mark Twain

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
Albert Einstein

"It's much easier on the emotions when one sees life as an experiment rather than a struggle for popularity.”
Criss Jami

“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies.... It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.”
Albert Einstein

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."
Albert Einstein

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."
Abraham Maslow

"Morality is of the highest importance - but for us, not for God."
Albert Einstein

"Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?"
Benjamin Franklin

"The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining."
John F. Kennedy

"I want to know all Gods thoughts; all the rest are just details."
Albert Einstein

" is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony."
Thomas Merton

"Grasp the subject, the words will follow."
Cato the Elder

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Below is a photo of our
Better Business Bureau's
NW Business Integrity Award
for the year 1998

1999 Better Business Award

We were also a 1997 finalist for this same award. See our referral web page to see how we managed to be honored with this special award

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