Styrofoam: History, Properties and Building Applications

Styrofoam is a brand name for Polystyrene Thermal Insulation material (sometimes referred to as “extruded polystyrene foam”). It is a trademark of Dow Chemical and among the most popular plastics in use today. Styrofoam is manufactured in blue sheet foam. It is mostly used in building materials and pipe insulation. It was invented in during World War II by Ray McIntire as he sought to create a flexible electrical insulator. It is usually supplied to manufacturers in form of small foam beads. It can be molded and processed to fit different purposes. The word Styrofoam is inappropriately used in Canada and the United States to refer to expanded polystyrene foam such as cushioning material in packaging, coolers, and disposable coffee cups. These are made of expanded polystyrene beads, and not from the extruded polystyrene normally used in Styrofoam insulation. There is also a different form of Styrofoam used in craft applications which is green and white in color.

The Properties of Styrofoam

Chemical Representation
Styrofoam’s chemical representation comprises of a hydrocarbon chain linked with a phenol group to every single carbon group. Styrofoam’s chemical equation has a (Ph) with a C6H5 ring.

Polystyrene’s density is 1050kg/m3 as compared to water which has a density of 1000kg/m3. Although it is denser than water, polystyrene floats and doesn’t sink. It can break down when combined with a strong acid.

Polymer and Thermoplastic
A polymer is a Styrofoam molecule. It is an extensive chain of recurring atoms through the connection of many molecules (monomers) derived from petroleum. Styrofoam is also a thermoplastic as it hardens when cooled and softens when heated. As a liquid, it can be easily molded which makes it suitable for various applications in different industries.

Shock Absorber and Lightweight
Styrofoam is an excellent shock absorber and extremely lightweight. It is composed of approximately 90 percent air. This is why expanded polystyrene is very popular as a cushioning material. Styrofoam is easy to transport as its shock-absorbing features keep it well protected from harm.

It is a superb insulator that limits thermal transfer. This major aspect makes it a top insulating material as it effectively maintains a comfortable temperature indoors, regardless of the weather conditions outdoors.

The Uses of Styrofoam in Buildings

Styrofoam is used by many builders as an insulating material. It has a closed cell structure which ensures its insulation has a high R-value (a material’s ability to conduct heat). The more value a material has, the more resistance it has to conducting heat. When a building is properly insulated, heat is not transferred out of a building or into it which reduces drafts and decreases cooling and heating costs. Styrofoam is used to insulate basement walls, underground walls, and above ground walls as it significantly reduces energy loss. It is cut into sheets that are attached to a building’s frame or installed in its outer foundation walls. The foam is afterwards covered with certain material to create a specific look, such as marble, stone, or stucco. Styrofoam is also used in insulating floors and roofs. On roofs, it is cut and positioned to provide the proper drainage. Plywood or other materials are placed over Styrofoam after it has been laid on ceiling material. Afterwards, shingles can be installed on top. Styrofoam is used on floors as it is an excellent load-bearing material for different types of floors. Its closed cell structure makes it very rigid and highly resistant to compression in load-bearing applications. Styrofoam is also used in commercial and industrial piping applications. It is used in low-temperature systems to prevent surface condensation and to minimize heat gain. It retains its main insulating properties in environments with high-moisture conditions, high humidity and in low-temperature applications.

Styrofoam’s insulation structure leaves virtually no vacant space between the cells which makes it waterproof and strong. It has a natural resistance to water vapor, snow, and rain and retains its primary physical integrity and insulation performance in exposed conditions for a long time. Since the material is resistant to water, mold and mildew cannot grow on its surface.

Styrofoam has a low susceptibility to rot hence fungal and mold growth and reduced. The boards are odorless, clean and unaffected by dust. This ensures that a structure’s integrity is maintained and the occupants stay in a hygienic environment.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Options

Plantar fasciitis is extremely common affecting around 10% of the adult population at some time in life. Commonly plantar fasciitis is associated with heel spurs however on x-ray only 50% of patients with plantar fasciitis have evidence of calcification through the heel (DiMarcangelo, 1997).

Commonly plantar fasciitis symptoms start as an awareness or ache in the morning. Relief treatment can be quite simple at this time however if it is left, these symptoms will often slowly progress to pain that significantly impacts quality of life.

When targeting plantar fasciitis symptoms your practitioner will guide you through the best strategy or combination of strategies to help relieve and control your individual pain. At Body Leadership Australia we recommend a multimodal approach utilising a number of different treatment options.

Soft Tissue Release
Tightness of the muscles surrounding the foot have been found to pull hard enough on the bones that they alter the natural shape of the foot and ankle often leading to plantar fasciitis pain. Accordingly, release techniques and stretching of the lower limb muscles can have an effect on decreasing symptoms associated with plantar fasciitis.

Strategic stretching of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon or on the plantar fascia itself can decrease pain associated with plantar fasciitis. You should get a program tailored to your individual needs.

Orthotics can help to relieve the effects of plantar fasciitis. Changing the weight load through the foot can allow the inflammatory response to settle by supporting the foot appropriately.

Night Splints (Strassburg Sock)
The use of a night splint can reduce recovery time compared to the same protocol utilising standing stretches through the calf.

Cortisone was always a last resort due to potential complications and pain post injection. Now with ultrasound guidance outcomes have improved and we see them used more effectively. Cortisone options can be discussed with your health care professional.

A number of studies found 75% to 95% of patients had long term improvement as measured by various criteria. Up to 27% of patients still had significant pain, up to 20% had some activity restriction, and up to 12% had moderate pain that impaired function (Brown et al., 1999; Davies et al., 1999; Fishco et al., 2000). Surgical options are always a last resort.

Once your pain is treated and controlled it is important to understand your individual factors that predispose you to plantar fasciitis which can be explained by your physiotherapist. You can then be taught a home program to release tension, particularly through the calf as well as the foot to nip problems in the bud. This can also be optimised using home exercises to improve strength for better control of your biomechanics long term.

If you, your friend or family member suffer from plantar fasciitis please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly Brisbane sports physiotherapists on 07 3847 8040. Our Brisbane sports physios can also provide treatment from our Brisbane Sports Physiotherapy practice.

Ten Common Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Your Home

Selling your home isn’t something that you do every day-unless you’re a real estate agent. Over the years I’ve honed my skills in learning what works when it comes to selling your home, as well as what doesn’t.

Fortunately, other people have made these mistakes so that you don’t have to!

1. Ignoring an estate agent’s style tips

We all develop personal connections to our homes, but sometimes those connections mean that it’s hard to see our home through the eyes of a potential buyer. An experienced agent should know how to present your home in a way that will maximise your home’s selling potential.

2. Underestimating the importance of street appeal

First impressions matter, and potential buyers driving past or inspecting your home will take notice of your property’s exterior. In my experience, people buy in the first five seconds and justify throughout the inspection. Make a good impression from the outset and keep up to date with the mowing and weeding!

3 Under-investing in marketing

A targeted, wide-ranging marketing campaign designed to reach as much as possible of your buying audience is essential. Buyers fall into different groups and demographics, and a high quality marketing campaign will reach out effectively to all of these.

4. Not being switched on about going online

In our office, it’s where about 90% of our buyer enquiry comes from. The more you invest here the better. Only a small percentage of buyers look beyond the first page of property search results!

5. Being afraid to commit to a sale price

Committing to a sale price isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that should be a much easier decision when you consider that almost half of all potential buyers will pass over properties with no listed price. Why? It seems too hard, or worse, they fear it will be out of their range. Take the plunge and name a figure.

6. Holding out for a better price

Though it can be tempting to wait for a better offer, the property market doesn’t play by the rules of Who Dares Wins, so think twice before rejecting that initial offer. In my experience, often the first offer is the highest we’ll receive, and almost every record price we achieve comes from an offer made within the first thirty days.

7. Taking offers personally

A low offer on your property is not a reflection on you, or even on your home. Instead, they’re representative of a willingness to commit to opening negotiations. I always encourage vendors to see a low offer as a starting point rather than a final figure.

8. Opting for appointment-only viewings

Although there is the odd exception, for the most part opening your home for inspection is essential to ensure it’s seen by as many potential buyers as possible. We get around 10 times the buyer traffic if it’s open for inspection as opposed to by appointment viewings.

9. Cutting costs when choosing a real estate agent

If you think the best agent is expensive, try hiring the second best & see how much that costs you!

10. Failing to keep up with property maintenance

It’s almost always cheaper to do it yourself than to let the buyer use it as leverage for a price reduction.

I recently sold a home in Aspley where the building and pest report identified multiple maintenance issues at an estimated repair cost of $15k! As expected, the buyer tired for a $15k price reduction. I intervened & re-quoted with a local trusted trade and they seller got the job done for $3k. Fortunately, I managed to salvage the deal without a price reduction. However this could have been avoided or worse the deal could have fallen through.

So call that plumper you’ve been avoiding! For real estate Aspley, contact Justin Watt of Watt Realty today.

Private Escorts – Employment Options

When it comes to working as an escort, whether you are male or female, gay or straight, you can choose to work for an escort agency, or join the ranks of the independent escorts, or indies. Which you should choose is very much a personal matter, but you need to consider the pros and cons of each thoroughly before beginning work.

If you are fresh to the business then it could be a good idea to work for an agency, even if only for a while, so that you can learn the ins and outs of the escort business. This will also give you the opportunity to speak to other escorts employed by the agency, and learn from sharing their experiences.

The Benefits of Working for an Agency

There is more to working as an escort than many people think when they first commence, and it can be nice to have someone else to look after some things for you, while you find your feet. For example, the agency will handle the advertising, will check potential clients, will manage your diary for you, and will handle booking hotel rooms and arranging transport, when appropriate.

Perhaps most essentially for many escorts, the agency provides a safety net as they know where you are and what you are doing at all times, and the client is very conscious of this. This provides you with a significant degree of protection, and with a backup team to call on if you run into trouble.

Speaking of trouble, the law also plays a significant part in many escort’s lives, and the degree to which it affects you will depend on where you are working, and how you are operating your business. Many escort agencies have been around for a long time, and are very familiar with what you and cannot do. This again can be enough to stop you unintentionally running into problems.

The Disadvantages of Working for an Agency

An escort agency is just like any other business, and some are ridiculously well run while others are poorly run, and may even simply exploit their escorts without a care for anything other than the money the business can make. For this reason, you need to do your homework and make sure you know exactly what kind of agency you are joining.

While an agency will take care of much of the background work for you, such as advertising, client screening and organising appointments, they will also need certain things from you in return. For example, they may need you to be free for work between certain hours each day, and determine how much time off you can have each week. They may also dictate where you must be when you are not working, perhaps allowing you to go home, as long as they can contact you on the phone, or requesting you to be available in the agency’s office.

The agency is also in the business of making profit and does this typically by taking a percentage of the fees paid by the client for providing him or her with an escort. Fees can be large, especially in major cities where it is not uncommon for clients to pay several hundred dollars an hour for an escort. You will have to look thoroughly at the financial arrangements sought after by different agencies and choose what is, and what is not, acceptable to you.

The Benefits of Working as an Independent Escort

Private escorts are esentially their own bosses, choosing for themselves when they work, who they accept as clients, and what they are prepared to do. In effect you are enjoying all of the benefits, including the monetary benefits, of being self employed and, for many people, these benefits often outweigh any disadvantages.

The Disadvantages of Working as an Independent Escort

Working for yourself means that you will have to arrange everything yourself, including such things as advertising, screening prospective clients, booking hotel rooms, organising transport, and indeed confronting anything else that comes up. This can be a lot of work initially, but much of this routine work becomes second nature as time goes on. One thing that you have to understand though, and which will never become irrevelant, are the risks that come along with escort work.

Like it or not, escort work can certainly be very dangerous, and you must not only be constantly careful, but must take positive steps to protect yourself. The list of precautions you need to take is far too extensive to detail them all here, but will include such things as certifying that any room you use with a client has an emergency exit that you can use, and making sure that someone knows where you are, and that the client is aware of this fact. Telling yourself that this is a safe enough area and that nothing is going to happen to you does not work, and safety needs to be the priority on the list of things to consider for independent escorts.

On Balance

As with any job there are both good and bad points to being an escort, and this is certainly one job that you need to go into with a wary mindset. That said, independent escorts can enjoy a very nice lifestyle if they get it right, and the job can be good fun if you have the fitting personality for it, take the time to learn what you are doing, and set your business up properly.

Have Cane Will Travel – Disabled Travel in Australia

Award-winning comedy writer, Ian Heydon (Kingswood Country, How Green Was My Cactus, The Samuel Pepys Show, The Year My Country Broke) recently took out an unexpected award – for writing about travelling with a disability.

In 2010 Ian was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That led to the question – what does a writer who has a disability and who loves to travel write about? The answer was pretty obvious. Because Ian uses a cane for mobility assistance, he built a website called Cane & Able Travel and that site won the inaugural Business disAbility Award for Business Innovation in 2012.

Back in 2003, Ian had a travel book on Australia published called The Small Guide to A Big Country (Explore) and he subsequently bought a travel agent’s licence (Small Guide Travel). Much of Ian’s research for that book is still valid. As Ian says, “They haven’t moved the Sydney Opera House or most of Australia’s main attractions, so all I really needed to do was update where necessary and add the accessibility and disability facility information. It’s a bonus that the Small Guide Travel consultants can assist with itinerary advice and bookings.”

When Ian travels these days he uses both a cane and a wheelchair for getting around. “Before my diagnosis with MS I guess I felt a bit of pity when I saw other people in wheelchairs. I didn’t realise that wheelchairs give a person with a disability so much freedom. Mine allows me to get around much better at airports, especially when the boarding gate can be a fair distance from check-in, and it makes art galleries, museums and theatre so much more accessible and enjoyable.”

Ian first took his wheelchair on a trip to Dubai, London and Paris in 2012. While there are websites with attractions and disability information for those destinations in the pipeline, Ian’s first priority is writing about Australia. In late 2012 he visited Cairns and road-tested attractions like Skyrail and Quicksilver’s Great Barrier Reef as well as disabled-friendly accommodation. From this came the destination specific website, Cairns Disabled Travel.

The next cab of the rank was Canberra. According to Ian, Canberra is arguably Australia’s most rewarding destination for travellers with a disability. “There are flights from all other major cities and centres, they have an excellent public transport and wheelchair-assisted taxi system and all the major attractions are accessible, with many of them free. There’s excellent accommodation, terrific restaurants and bars and so much to see and do. It really is a fabulous tourist destination. Sure, after a couple of weeks there might be some thumb twiddling but for a few days away it is fabulous.” Ian visited Canberra in 2011 and 2013 to research accessible accommodation and attractions and the Canberra Disabled Travel website is now live.

Ian has a multi-destination itinerary on the drawing board for all Australian capital cities and major regional centres so you could see him soon in your part of the country. But the Kingswood? No, he won’t be taking the Kingswood!