All Inclusive Verse Budget Backpacking

All Inclusive Verse Budget Backpacking

Something I’ve always mentally debated is what the difference in price would be for me to take a one week all inclusive vacation to Mexico compared to doing the same trip on a tight backer budget. I recently spent a week on Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, and while my trip wasn’t all that cheap, I do know that you can get all inclusive deals out of Toronto for around $700 including flights so let’s look at the numbers.

I spent $1100 on a package with a group of friends and that included everything, all the food and booze we could eat and drink. Also the hotel we stayed at was absolutely amazing. The rooms were basically small apartments with views over pool area and the ocean and our resort also had a private beach. The private beach had its own bar and live music so all we had to do we chill out and let the waiter bring us drink after drink while we kicked back on the beach under the stars. So as you can probably imagine for this example we did spend more than you would if you were on a budget.

There were a few nights where we ventured into the town and we found a hostel that also had a bar outside and an outdoor nightclub so I found out what the cost of a dorm would be and of course I found out the cost of a 500ml bottle of Corona also. This gave me some ammo to play with so let’s look at some numbers:

Just a note that dates I looked at are in peak season – Feb 5th-Feb 12th 2014

Flights from Toronto to Cancun (return): $558

Transfer to island (return): $20

Accommodation for 7 nights in dorm: $13×7= $91

Average food cost: $10 per day x 7 = $70

Average alcohol cost: $10 per day  x  $70

Isla Mujeres, MexicoSo the rough cost I came up with is around $800 for a week of eating and drinking in Mexico as a budget backpacker. Now my figures may be a little off here, but I’ve done a bit of backpacking over the years so my initial thoughts were that once you get to a place you can always save money by living in squalor. You know what I mean…. eating cheap, staying in cheap hostels etc…. However, in the case of Canada to Mexico, the main expense is the flight and unless you spend hours on a bus or train there is no way out of this cost.

My conclusion from this is that if you have a full time job it is much more worthwhile to take advantage of an all inclusive package if you’re traveling short term. You don’t have to spend all your time at the resort, and we spent a heap of time exploring the island and surround areas on scooters and boats, but it makes no sense to me to spend a week in a budget hostel when you can stay in an amazing resort. Based on my numbers, we spent an extra $300 and we got a complete luxury experience so unless you’re traveling for months at a time I think going for an all inclusive is the best short term travel option.

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My Theory for Saving Money

My Theory for Saving Money

Over the past 12 months I’ve been putting into practice a little theory that I had. On most weekends at least one night I go out to a bar with a few of my friends for a night of drinking and socializing. I always seem to come home with a pocket full of coins so one day I had the idea that if I just saved all my coins I’d have a dirt load of money left over after one year…. and so the journey began.

I got myself a big container and for 12 months I put every single coin into that container. Every month or so I’d empty out the container and count the coins, and I have to admit that I actually found it kind of relaxing to be honest. I kind of enjoyed zoning out and doing the mindless task of counting my coins and bagging them ready to be taken to the bank. I also tracked how much I saved at each count in a spread sheet as I found it easier to keep track the amount this way due to the fact that the coins were all in bags based on their denomination.

So I guess you’re wondering how much I had in coins right? The answer is $1783.40 after exactly one year. This averages out to about $34 per week in coin savings. I honestly had no idea when I started out that that amount of coins passed through my hands and wallet, but I guess there are a few influencing factors here also.

I noticed that there were many times when I brought something that was say $5.10 and normally I would have just handed over the extra 10 cents but due to my coin saving policy I had to hand over a full $5 note, giving me $4.90 in coins to add to the kitty. So I would say that this helped me accumulate a heap of extra coins that I otherwise would not have.

saving coinsThis got me thinking about another experiment that I could do which is to save all my coins and also all my $5 notes. This could get expensive for some people but since I have a fairly stable job and I don’t have any real pocket draining expenses other than rent and my car, I could certainly do it. I seem to have drilled the habit of saving coins into my soul now so I don’t even have to think about it and I automatically save my coins.

Moving forward though, there is one thing that I will be doing differently from now on, and that is to take my coins to the bank more often. Do you have any idea how heavy $1700 in coins are? Also can you imagine how stupid I felt taking all those coins into the bank? I mean, I’m 28 years old and I felt like a child that was depositing the pocket money that his mummy and daddy had given him for doing household chores. So apart from depositing coins more often and maybe adding $5 notes the savings plan I think that my experiment was a success and that it’s something that will be a permanent part of my life for a long time to come.

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Testing Modafinil at Work

Testing Modafinil at Work

This is one test that I was very excited about. I’ve heard a lot about smart drugs but I’ve never used any on myself. On a recent night about I got talking with a friend of a friend and when the conversation turned to our respective jobs he asked if I’d ever tried engineering while on smart drugs. I was immediately keen to give it a try so we agreed to meet up a few days later so I could get “hooked up” with some smart drugs.

Modafinil is an anti-narcolepsy drug designed to stop people with sleeping disorders from falling asleep at random times. Rumor has it that if a normal person takes this stuff their concentration and brain power goes through the roof.

The test I did was to take 200 grams of Modafinil in the morning before work at exactly 7am and record my progress throughout the day to see if it increased my productivity. I used my cell phone alarm set at different intervals to remind me to stop work and record how I felt. So here we go…

At 9:30am I definitely feel that I’m concentrating much better than usual. I feel very creative and I’m really focused on my work. I feel like I’m in my own little world at work and I’m lucky that I’ve not been distracted at all so I’ve been able to focus.

At 12pm I’m still feeling very interested in the work I’m doing and I’m finding it easy to concentrate. I had to attend a short design meeting from around 11am to 11:30 so I was not able to push myself to just focus on the work in front of me to see how hard I could push myself. I did find that I had a fairly clear mind in the meeting and I was able to follow along with everything very well. I also found that I was not bored at all and that I was interested in what everybody had to say, which is unusual for me.

3pm – I took a quick lunch and got back to work as fast as I could and I was able to zone back in. I have to admit that so far today I’ve been able to get a heap of work done. So far I’ve felt no side effects and to be honest, I don’t even feel any sort of buzz from the Modafinil, I just feel like I’ve had a good day at work and been able to get a lot done.

smart drugsI finished work for the day at 5pm and the afternoon session was so much more productive than it otherwise would have been. I was able to focus and work right through until the end of the day. Generally if I work hard in the morning I find myself getting tired in the afternoon and I tend to slack off as I feel I’ve accomplished enough for the day so this last hour was a big productivity boost for me.

It’s hard for me to say if there was any sort of placebo effect going on with me during the test but I would have to admit that I did at least twice as much work as I would do on some other days. I was lucky that I only had one meeting and I was able to focus all day and really test this stuff out. All in all, I don’t know if I’d take Modafinil on a regular basis at work. I didn’t feel like I had any super powers or anything like that and I’m sure it’s not good for you long term.

I also didn’t seem to suffer any side effects which seems odd as I took the maximum recommended dose of 200 grams so I thought I might feel something odd, even some sort of slight headache or something, but there was nothing. I’m going to keep this “smart drug” in the back of my mind and maybe I’ll do another test in the future, maybe for a full week or something when we have a tight deadline to get a project finished.

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The Color Changing Faucet That Stole My Breath!

Quite recently during one of my weekend escapades, I came across a color changing kitchen faucet.  During this particular trip, I was staying with an old bachelor friend and it is in his kitchen that I first encountered this faucet that had a light that virtually changed colors, from blue to green, from green to red.

This being my first encounter with such technology, I was so mesmerized that I could practically feel my “manly fidgeting sense” awakening. I wanted to immediately pull apart the whole faucet (and most probably spoil the entire mechanism in the process) just to see how it worked.

Now, since there were no cheap hotels and hostels involved in this get-away, I was saving a dime or two so I figured I could as well make myself a useful guest by preparing all our meals and doing the dishes. Not that there was much cooking to do since we spent the entire weekend drinking and dining out, but I always made sure I prepared a heavy breakfast the whole weekend.

It was during my self-assigned kitchen duties that I came across the color changing faucet and from that moment on, I spent almost every minute I could afford scrubbing the dishes (almost to a fade), not because I enjoyed doing them anyways, but just so I could keep ogling at the faucet and the beautiful colors it emitted.

This particular faucet happened to be a LightInTheBox Single Handle Color Changing Pull Down Spring Kitchen Sink Faucet with Swivel Spout, and as I later came to learn, the faucet changes color as the temperature of the water changes. For example, as soon as the water heats up, the light will turn from blue, green and then to red.

When the water is cold, the LED light will emit a blue light, the color will then change to green as the water heats up and eventually turn red as the temperature gets higher. As soon as the water reaches a temperature of 123-212F, the red light will start flashing, indicating that the water is too hot and will probably scald your hands badly.

My host soon noticed my strange attachment to his dishes and I finally had to admit that I was totally in love with his faucet, not his dishes.

As soon as I got back from the trip, I immediately hit the internet in search of this miraculous faucet; I had long decided I was going to have it installed, come rain or shine(I just hope and pray I would have enough willpower to keep from meddling with this one).

I soon realized that other than color changing faucets, there were a wide range of modern or fashionable faucets all over the internet, including a particular one that turned on and off just by a touch. I immediately ordered this one together with the color changing one and am waiting rather impatiently for their arrival. There are many other fashionable models out there that caught my attention but unfortunately, I don’t have time to write about them, but if you are as mesmerized as I was, you can always get info on some of the different brands here.

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Troubleshooting My Vacuum Cleaner

vacuum cleanerMost guys love to tinker with things right? I’m no different and I love playing around with things and pulling them apart. This often leads to issues when trying to put said item back together but I’ve learnt a little lesson about pulling things apart, and that is:

“If it ain’t broken don’t touch it, but if it is broken, its fair game!”

My latest escapade comes in the form of messing around with my vacuum cleaner. I swear I have the worst luck in the world when it comes to vacuum cleaners because I can never seem keep one alive for more than 12 months. Granted I don’t go all out and spend a heap of cash, but still they should last more than a dam year right?

For this post I thought I might take you through exactly what I did to troubleshoot and fix my vacuum cleaner.

Now if you’ve ever blown a vacuum cleaner then you will be very familiar with that burning oil smell that generally signals the death of the motor. On this occasion however, I smelt a different “burning rubber” sort of smell. This gave me some hope as I had only just brought this particular vacuum online after reading some stuff on this website about what types of vacuums are best for pet hair. I actually had a sneaking suspicion that all the cat hair I suck up may have be the reason the last one died.

The vacuum in question here is a Hoover Floor Mate Wet/Dry Vacuum, FH40010B which is an upright vacuum cleaner that is apparently good for pet hair, so let’s go through what I did to troubleshoot it.

When I first smelt the burning rubber I stopped the vac and checked it for smoke. No smoke was found but the machine was putting out some heat.

I opened up the vac and emptied the bag. There was some dirt and dust covering the filter so maybe that was the problem.

I started the vacuum again and watched it but I could smell the burning rubber smell again so I stopped it. I checked the power outlet in the wall and everything was fine there so it was definitely the vacuum that was smoking.

The next check I did was to open it up look at the drive belt. Ah-ha there was a piece of cardboard jamming the belt and pushing it slightly off track. I didn’t monitor the belt while the vacuum was running but the belt was very hot and I was certain this was the cause.

At this point I was too far gone to just put it back together, I had to keep taking out screws and dig deeper into the machine to see if I could find anything else. I was very careful to make sure kept everything in order so it would go back together properly.

After messing around for a further 20 minutes or so I put it all back together and held my breath as I fired it back up. The machine was also cool now if it was the motor or something else I guessed it would take some time to heat up again and start smelling.

Lucky for me the operation was a success and I had proven myself to be a real man by pulling apart a machine and fixing it. I was sure I would smell that dreaded burning oil again but I ran the machine for a further half hour or so with no problems so I consider this issue now case closed!

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The Benefits of Using a Steam Mop

The Benefits of Using a Steam Mop

Steam mops are all the hype and if you are like most people, you are probably wondering whether they are worth your while especially if you have nothing against your regular mop. According the various steam mop reviews in this website, the benefits of a steam mop easily prevail over those of a regular one. For example, a steam mop will obviously get your cleaning done and over with much faster than a regular mop because there is no wringing and rinsing involved.

Other benefits of using a steam mop over a regular one are the following:

  • Less effort – other than cleaning faster, a steam mop will consume less energy than the regular mop. Since it simply involves pushing a light vacuum around the surface, it is ideal for the elderly or people with handicaps.
  • Sanitizes – the only way to sanitize the floor with a regular mop is to use toxic chemicals or otherwise heat your cleaning water to around 200 degrees and maintain this same degree throughout your cleaning process. On the other hand, a steam mop is capable of sanitizing without any need for harmful chemicals which is especially beneficial to pets, kids and others who are allergic to chemicals.

steamWhile it is true that steam mops are really handy, there are some things you should avoid doing with them and they include the following:

  • Don’t plug in your steam mop before attaching its mop head – plugging in the steam mop first will make it difficult and dangerous for you to attach the mop. This is because the mop foot will be too hot for you to handle. Also, handling a wet mop head while it is active will very likely lead to an electric shock.
  • Don’t leave your steam mop on- unplug the mop when not using it otherwise, it might let out too much heat and destroy your surface.
  • Never skip vacuuming – steam moping without first vacuuming will only generate disappointing results.
  • Don’t put any other substance in the water tank – the water tank is designed for water and water alone. Putting anything else might shorten its life.
  • Always change a dirty mop head- always keep two to three mop heads at hand to avoid moping with a dirty one. Doing so will only spread the dirt elsewhere. Remember to unplug your steam mop first before changing the mop head.
  • Avoid use on unsealed floors – to put it simply enough, do not use your steam mop on laminates, unsealed woods and most especially not on adhesive tiles. If however the surfaces are sealed, then by all means go ahead and steam mop them.
  • Avoid steam moping walls and other painted surfaces – this will definitely destroy the paint. Steam mops are meant for floors not walls or cars.
  • Unattach a dirty mop head before storing your steam mop – storing your unit with a dirty cloth still attached will ruin the cloth with mildew. Wash the dirty cloth first and attach a clean cloth if you must.
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Finding a Food List For The HCG Diet Plan

food-list-for-hcg-diet-planChances are that you found out about the amazing properties of HCG by the infamous Dr. Oz. He was popularized by Oprah Winfrey and is currently riding the success train. It seems that anything he recommends now turns to gold. Since the initial introduction of HCG by Dr. Oz, there have been a slew of products that have been springing up for the amazing fat remedy.  People that are wanting to lose weight have turned to the remedy and are now taking it religiously. But what happens when the drops get too boring? That aftertaste can linger. You know it’s going to help you drop a few pounds, but the lingering taste leaves something to be desired.  Fortunately for us, we have a resource to help mask the taste: food!

Recipes have been concocted in books, articles, blogs, and magazines. Finding a great resource for recipes can be a giant pain in the butt but fortunately for you, we have taken the time to point you in the right direction.  When searching for a food list for your HCG diet plan, you would first turn to the all mighty Google!

It’s simpler than it seems and most newbies know this trick.  However they do not know the ultimate way to find hot recipes. What is this trick I speak of? Why, it’s blog search for Google. You can simple type into that fantastic search engine “Google Blog Search” and it will spit out a link that will take you to its blog search engine. You will then be able to type in HCG recipes and voila! You will have thousands of food blogs to choose from that incorporate HCG into their recipes. I would make sure you find a reputable blog before trying any of their recipes however. Take a look at their comments, and if there are many comments that are good, then you should be good to hook. I hope this little loophole to finding sweet HCG recipes will help you out as much as it has me. Don’t forget to leave a comment below!

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How You can Stop Sweating

There are a heap of info products out there on the web that claim to help you eliminate sweating but Sweat Miracle by Miles Dawson should seriously be the first and only product you buy. Miles is certified nutritional specialist and he’s come up with a killer solution to help you control and eliminate excessive sweating just buy controlling your diet.

sweat miracle

It’s super embarrassing when you suffer from excess sweating and its one of those things that is almost impossible to cover up. People can see the sweat marks under your arm pits, or even worse, you have sweat running down your face at times when you really don’t need that happening.

If you are one of the many people out there that are currently suffering from excess sweating then get yourself together and go check Sweat Miracle by Miles Dawson and take some steps towards solving the problem and moving forward with your life, absent the issue of excessive sweating.

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Long Weekend In Chicago

chicagoNothing to exciting to report today but I thought I’d write a post anyway of what I’ve been up to. I went on a recent trip to Chicago to visit an old travel buddy of mine that built himself a fairly successful carpet cleaning business that you can see if you click here (I told him I’d give him a plug on my world famous website). I don’t get down to Chicago as often as I’d like but I always have a ball when I do.

I do like to get away for weekends at least once per month but its’ hard with work. I try to take a Friday off and jump on a Thursday afternoon or evening flight or bus and come back Sunday evening ready for work on Monday. I find it pretty easy to work some extra hours throughout the month or even just work a full Saturday to build up the time I take off, and my boss is very flexible with that kind of stuff.

On this occasion I met my buddy in Chicago but sometimes I use contacts I find thought a site called couch surfing which is great way to meet people in different cities. You can often stay at their house for free as long as you’re a good guest but I use it a lot to make new connections in a new city.

You can often contact people there and just meet up for a coffee or a beer so it’s really good. If I’m not staying at a couch surfers place, I always find a hostel or a cheap hotel if all the hostels are booked out.

When I combine a cheap flight or greyhound bus with free or cheap accommodation, I can easily take a 3 day long weekend for a few hundred bucks which allows me to get out and see a heap of new places all the time, and also visit a heap of friends from all over North America.

On this occasion I had the pleasure of spending Friday morning as an assistant carpet cleaner as my buddy had a few jobs to get done before he could start his weekend. It was very tempting just lay in bed but in the end I’m glad I tagged along for the experience. I spend a lot of my working days in an office so it’s cool to see how other people make a living.

We did three jobs and by the last one I was talking to the customer about carpet cleaning and they had no idea I was only three jobs in, and my buddy had to try very hard to hold in his laughter. I was telling the customer all sorts of carpet cleaning facts that I’d learnt only that morning. I wasn’t lying or misleading anyone but I did try to come across as a season carpet cleaning professional.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend consisted of drinking beers, watching hockey and just hanging out in general which is always fun when it’s with old friends. I normally plan try to have my next trip pre-planned so I’m always one trip ahead but with Christmas coming up I think that was my last long weekend escapade for the year.

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Working from Home Test

Working from Home Test

I live about 40 minutes away from my office by car and on the odd occasion I’ve brought work home on a weekend to do. Sometimes I find that I get a heap done and sometimes I find that I get nothing done so I thought I do some distraction tests and monitor exactly what it is around the house that stops me from working and distracts me.

The first thing I noticed was that even seeing anything around the room that distracted me was all that was needed. If I even just saw my guitar sitting in the corner of the room, although I didn’t pick it up right away, I was thinking about it….. And eventually I actually found myself having a little strum.

Another distraction I found was the kitchen. I would go to make a coffee and notice some dishes that were not washed up yet so all the sudden I found myself washing the dishes when I was supposed to be working. I also found the same thing happened with doing the laundry. Although I was at home to work some part of my brain would somehow make the conclusion that since I was at home I could also do some of the other household tasks like the dishes and the laundry.

I didn’t notice any of these distractions at the time but at the end of the day I looked back at what I had gotten done and although I had done a heap of engineering work, I also had clean clothes and dishes. This made me realize that if I had cleaned the dishes and the clothes while doing a five hour work shift that I must not have been really working for five hours right? Plus I know that had also played guitar for a while.

distractions at homeThe solution I’ve found and since implemented when I’m at home to work is that I need to remove all the distractions from my work area, such as my guitar or rubix cube, or anything else that I might start to play with. The next thing is to do the dishes or washing before I start. I’d like think that I could just make a conscious effort to leave that stuff until after but my mind doesn’t seem to work that way. I know that when I’m at home, I need to make sure everything is in order so I’m not setting myself up for failure.

I don’t work from home very often so it’s not like I am constantly refining this system but the latest thing I have implemented is to put a mini kitchen on my desk so I don’t even have to go into the kitchen at all. This seems to work well as if I stay away from distraction zones then I can’t be distracted right?

Anyway, I don’t mean to come across as some kind of productivity freak but the only time I work from home so when I have extra work to do, so the faster I do it the sooner I can get back to doing fun stuff like playing guitar, doing the dishes and washing my clothes.

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Testing and Repairing Concrete Structures

Testing and Repairing Concrete Structures

In this post I’m going to pick up where I left off in this previous post and I’ll try to elaborate a little more on the concepts mentioned before so if you haven’t read the previous concrete repair post already check it out before reading this or nothing will make sense to you.

Firstly I’d just like to elaborate on a few of the terms used before:

Drummy Concrete is when the face of the concrete is still in place but it sounds hollow when hit with a hammer so we know that the steel reinforcement inside the concrete is corroded.

Concrete Delamination is when the top layer of concrete has fallen away exposing the steel reinforcement.

Now that we have that cleared up, what do we do with this information?

There are a few things we do when we have the information from these concrete condition surveys.

  1. Make Safe
  2. Structural Repairs

The industrial plants we work in are not built to win any beauty prizes so if it’s not going to fall down it’s not going to get fixed. Make Safe however is commonly performed for the safety of the personnel working at the plant and it simply involves removing the top layer of concrete that is in the drummy stage so it doesn’t fall down and land on somebody.

We give the make safe contractors a copy of our survey drawings and they go out to the areas we specifically mark with some heavy duty jack hammers and do as much damage as they can to try to remove the top layer of concrete. If the area is out of the way and very large, we will sometimes fix steel mesh to the wall or ceiling to stop concrete falling down and landing on person instead of attempting to remove it with a jack hammer.

If there is a structural issue with the wall we will need to cut out the existing corroded reinforcement and insert new steel reinforcement bars. We can simply look at the existing drawings for this and restore the wall to its original condition.

delaminated concreteWe start by jack hammering out all the concrete around the corroded area until we find steel reinforcement that is not corroded. Then we cut the corroded bars out and simply weld new bars into place and ensure they are secured to the existing steel re-bar to ensure a continuation of the steelwork inside the concrete. Of course we need to make sure there is enough structural capacity in the walls to stop the roof from caving in but generally this is not an issue.

Next we apply a special adhesive to the exposed concrete surface which acts as a heavy duty type of glue so we can patch up the hole in the wall with new concrete so its looks brand new. Sometimes things can get complicated depending on the level of corrosion and the loads applied to the structure but most of the time it’s fairly straight forward.

Our company does this type of work for a number of different industrial plants around the Toronto area and for some people on our team this is a full time job and they do nothing else but monitor and manage the condition of the industrial plants we work with. This team is referred to as the “Concrete Remediation” team within our organization.

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Stomach Torture – No Carbs or Fats

Stomach Torture – No Carbs or Fats

I’ve realized that I seem to have super human ability when it comes to will power. I can push myself to do almost anything so for this test I decided to try and go 2 weeks without eating any carbs or fats at all. I wasn’t exactly fat but I knew I could lose a few kilos or pounds if you will. There’s a heap of conflicting information out there on diets so I didn’t want to look into it too much and get confused, I just decided to run with it and see what happened. This self test took place in the middle two weeks of July 2013 and I didn’t take great notes but I did write down a few things so I’ll use those notes for this report.

I decided that I would eat the exact same thing every single day for 14 days. This made shopping and cooking easy and would help me stay on track. Here’s what I ate:

Breakfast: 200 grams of no fat natural yogurt with flax seed and pumpkin seeds mixed in.

Lunch: 1 Mountain bread wrap with low fat cheese, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, onion and red peppers. Plus 1 apple and 1 orange.

Dinner: 200 grams of grilled chicken breast and stir fried veggies including onion, red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.

So there wasn’t much food there all up and there was no snacking at all. I was also drinking around 3 liters of water each day.

no carbs or fatThe first few days were hard. I was feeling very hungry and tired. This was due to the lack of carbs that I was eating so I knew I had to push through the first few days. I had also cut out all caffeine so that may have also had an effect on my energy levels. I was constantly drinking water so I had to use the washroom almost every hour. I by the morning of day 4 I had lost 3.5 kg’s.

After 7 days I was feeling much better but I was still very tired. I was sleeping around 9 hours per night whereas I would normally only need around 7. I really missed eating nice food and I was craving almost anything like KFC, steak and fries, poutine or anything else! My weight loss was going well and so far I had lost a total of 5.5kgs in 1 week.

After 11 days I was in more of a groove now.  I was still sleeping a lot and I felt pretty shot by around 8pm. I think once I got over the weekend it was easy to stay in a routine during the work week. I was feeling very lean now and my total weight loss was up to 7kgs. This is a lot of weight to lose but I am 6’2” tall so maybe a shorter person would have smaller numbers. I was weighing myself daily and at this point I was really thinking this was something that anyone could do long term to drop a large amount of weight without any exercise at all.

On the morning of day 15 it was all over. I started on a Monday so unfortunately for me it was off to work and not off to a steak house. My total weight loss was 8.5kgs which is massive for just 14 days. My starting weight was 102kgs so at the end I was down in the mid 90’s which was a good result. I could have lost more but I’d had enough after 14 days.

While the results were amazing I do have to stress that it was incredibly hard to stick to. Even by day 2 I was regretting my decision to do this test. I defiantly feel that if you are seriously overweight and you want to do something crazy, then cutting out carbs and fats totally for a while would do the trick. I’d love to see the results from an obese person that stuck to this for a full month. I imagine if you had more body fat to lose the weight loss numbers would be much higher.

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Testing Concrete Structures at Work

Testing Concrete Structures at Work

Since I spend most of my waking life in an Engineering office, I thought I’d write something about my job and in particular one part of my job which is testing old existing concrete structures to ensure that over time they still have enough capacity to support the load being applied to them.

As part of an ongoing contract my company was asked to complete a series of surveys on some existing underground cable ducts in an industrial plant. These cable ducts ran under some roads and other structures so we had to make sure they were still able to support the loads under today’s current engineering standards. I should also note that there are definite signs of concrete decay present in this area.

Surveying the walls of the cable ducts is actually quite simple and all we use for this is a hammer and a few cans of spray paint. The main issue with these concrete walls is that the reinforcement starts to corrode and rust inside the concrete. This causes the steel reinforcement to expand and blow the face of the concrete off. While losing the cover of the concrete has no structural impact at all, it does expose the steel to the atmosphere and it’s the steel reinforcement that we need to protect.

So the way we test the concrete is to perform what we call a “drummy test”. This involves using a regular steel hammer and tapping the concrete wall and listening to the sound it makes. If the reinforcement has begun to corrode inside the concrete it will be pushing the face of the concrete out and therefore the sound will be hollow when struck with a hammer. Using the can of spray paint, we mark all the areas that sound hollow (we call these drummy areas) and once we’ve surveyed the entire wall we measure the areas and create a sketch.

Now that we have a record of how much of the wall is in the first stages of breaking down we go back to the office and create a drawing of the survey using Auto Cad so we have a permanent record of the wall survey.

Since our company has been doing these surveys every year for the past 14 years for this particular plant, we have a record of each area and we can look back over the past few years to see if the damaged areas are expanding or not. If they are expanding then we need to take action to repair the wall.

concrete delaminationFinding drummy concrete is just the first stage of the concrete breaking down and it’s actually not a serious issue at this point. The next stage is called “delamination” and this is when the outside layer of concrete has actually fallen off the wall leaving the steel reinforcement fully exposed (as seen in the picture). Bear in mind also that at this point the steel reinforcement is already very corroded and flaking so it’s strength is greatly reduced.

At this point we need to run some tests on the capacity of the concrete and also what loads are being applied to the structure. It’s actually quite common that the existing structures are well over designed so generally we don’t need to take any drastic measures at this point and all we do is continue to monitor the area for further break down.

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