Ant Keeping: Basic Things You Should Know

Ant-keeping is slowly getting picked up as a hobby by more and more people in Singapore. And if you want to try it for yourself, here are some very basic things to know.

Educate yourself first

Ant-keeping, more than a hobby, can be considered a science. In Singapore, there are about 139 species/subspecies of ants. Having some knowledge on the common and rare ones will definitely help you in your ant-keeping journey. Different species also have distinct features, habits, individual needs, and living conditions, and knowing these will help you make the appropriate actions for your ant farm.

Things you need

  • Test tube setup: the first habitat for the queen, where she lays eggs and grows the first workers.
  • Formicarium: basically the whole ant farm.
  • Outworld: a separate area where ants forage for food and dispose their waste.

The queen

The queen is probably the most important element in starting a colony. You can buy one or catch one yourself. Queens are also noticeably bigger than worker ants. You’ll know if it’s a fertile queen if it’s a big one that doesn’t have wings.

Mistakes to avoid:

Catching only one or too many queens.

For some, hunting and catching queens is one of the best parts about starting a colony. But, you should not let your excitement get the best of you and go on a hunting spree. Having 2-3 queen ants should be enough.  Why not just catch one and get it over with, you ask? This is because there are chances that the one you catch might be unfertilized, so having one or two extra will not hurt.

Stress

To be able to lay eggs peacefully, it’s an absolute must to leave her alone in a dark and quiet environment. Many beginners make the mistake of checking on the queen again and again, looking and shaking the test tube. Doing this puts the queen under stress and cause her to stop laying eggs altogether.

Putting two species together

 Ant species will always fight for their territory and their queen. So if you introduce a different species to a formicarium, the two will fight for the territory and kill each other. Although, there are times that some species may live harmoniously with each other, it’s still better not to risk it.

Little moisture

For larvae to develop properly, a good amount of moisture is required. This is why there’s water in the test tube setup. Also, your colony still needs water no matter how many much they’ve grown in population. Therefore, you have to have small “wet” areas in your formicarium to provide moisture.

The case of non-native ants

This is another very important thing to know. Ants that are foreign to your area can be very dangerous to the ecosystem if you release them or if they escape. They can push out native species and even introduce mites and pathogens that the ecosystem will not be able to handle.

The Importance of Trees

It is said that there are three ways to be remembered in this world: bear a child, write a book, and plant a tree. Trees are all around us in Singapore, from parks, protected natural areas, even on the roadsides. Simply speaking, trees are very important not only for humans, but literally for everything around us. Besides saving the Earth like our favorite Marvel treeman, Groot, here are some reasons why trees are important for our lives.

They provide oxygen

Well, the most obvious importance of trees is that it provides oxygen, the all-important element that we need to live and breathe. Simple enough, but we often overlook it. Even just an acre of mature trees will be enough to supply oxygen for hundreds of people in a year.

Fight against flood and pollution

Trees absorb pollutant fuels or gases through their leaves and bark. They then convert theses pollutants back to clean air. Trees are also significant deterrents to flood because they absorb water naturally, never allowing places to clog with too much water.

Creates shade

Trees provide shade for people, animals, houses, cars, basically everything. Just imagine not finding a single shade under the scorching heat of the sun. Sitting beside a tree can also be a very nice way to relax, you get to feel the breeze without worrying about getting soaked in sunlight.

Reduce urban heat

In addition to creating shade, trees also make the air cooler around urban areas. Part of what makes a place hot and humid is when there’s only concrete and a noticeable absence of trees. Trees are able to “cool air” because they can increase the atmosphere’s moisture

Keep soil healthy

The mere presence of trees can help against soil erosion. Tree roots help the soil in the ground stay firmly together. This way, the soil is held in place when runoff (when excess rainwater runs on Earth’s surface) happens.

Offers protection from storms

Some trees are strong enough to withstand heavy rains and strong winds. Trees can act as walls that can protect our houses when there are storms. There are instances when strong winds can carry objects which can (by chance) land and break our windows. Probably a least likely example, but you never know!

Shelter for wildlife

Trees provide excellent homes for birds, bees, lizards, and other insects alike. Similar to us humans, trees can provide shade for these animals, protection from natural weather, and a place for them to stay.

Can provide food

One of the greatest benefits trees give us is that they bear fruits that we can enjoy eating. Even the animals that inhabit certain trees get to enjoy the fruit they bear. Nangka, chiku, papaya, guava, and durian are only some of the many fruits we get from trees.

The Different Types of Razors You Can Use to Keep Your Face Smooth and Stubble-Free

While a long set of whiskers and a full, bushy beard is often seen as a sign of masculinity, a clean shave is often a sign of good grooming habits, professionalism, and a specific eye for detail in the workplace.

In a busy office or corporate setting, the former is often more desired, which gives shaving a priority in a man’s life. There are many different kinds of razors to achieve this close shave, each of which have their own pros and cons.

Disposable Razors
Disposable razors should really only be used in the case of emergencies when there are no other alternatives. They’re only good for the first one or two shaves, and are meant to be disposed and not kept for longer use.

This is because their blades are made of flimsy steel and are permanently attached to the rest of the razor, which means that they can’t be replaced.

Cartridge Razors
Cartridge razors are the most popular razors to hit the market and for good reason – their razors consist of a flexible center that lets itself follow the shape of your face. These types of razors also have replaceable cartridges, which can contain up to six blades per cartridge.

However, cartridge razors also happen to be the some of the most expensive in terms of long-term costs. Even though the blades are replaceable, their costs can definitely take a mounting toll on your wallet.

Safety Razors
Safety razors used to be marketed as an alternative in shaving that prevents accidents, which is why they only have one edge. They often consist of a metal head and a permanent handle, with one razor blade with two sharp edges clamped tightly in the head.

While they are safe, they can take some time to get used to, as safety razors can give you different small nicks and cuts when if you’re not careful.

Straight Razors
Its sharp blade can give you the closest shave while at the same time being the most cost-effective option, and can even last you for the rest of your life provided that you strop and hone it regularly to keep its edge.

And because it’s so sharp, it can even cause you serious injuries if you’re not careful and/or skilled enough to use it.

Electric Razors
Every man who is a regular traveler or is constantly on-the-go can certainly use one of these because of the convenience they provide. They can last for as many uses as possible, and can be used even without shaving cream or a bathroom sink and mirror.

However, they can’t exactly give you that close shave and many men often complain of having irritated skin after using them.

Shaving Butter vs. Shaving Cream vs. Shaving Soap – What’s the Difference?

When you were growing up, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen them and wondered exactly what sets them apart from each other and what they do – and there’s a good chance that you’ve tried each one to know what works for you on a trial and error basis.

While there has been a lot of consideration on what razors you should use, the shaving products are just as important, and yet aren’t really given thought. Here they are for your consideration:

Shaving Cream
Shaving cream is perhaps the most straightforward product to use – while it used to be prepared in a container with a shaving brush, most commercial creams are now sold in spray cans, tubes, or even tubs.

This makes it best used by men who don’t have as much time to prepare before going off for work in the morning, with the only downside being that they can be more expensive than shaving soaps.

Shaving Soap
Shaving soaps have been around long before shaving cream or shaving butter, and have stood the test of time because of the thick lather that they produce. They give the skin an extra bit of lubrication while at the same time moisturizing it, which results in a smooth overall shave.

However, the downside to shaving soap is that it often needs a mug and a boar’s hair brush in addition to your trusty multi-bladed razor, and the time-consuming process can often turn off a lot of people who need to get to work early in the morning.

Shaving Butter
If you’re still a little confused, shaving butter isn’t the actual butter that you use in cooking to make things taste better – while shaving cream and shaving gel are more likely to contain synthetic and artificial ingredients, shaving butter contains more natural ones because it is the least likely to lather.

And because they contain natural ingredients, this also means that they are likely to contain natural oils that will keep your skin moisturized and smooth. They also apply quite easily, and work with pretty much any razor under the sun.

Which one is better?
At the end of the day, each product has its own distinct features. There isn’t really one “better” shaving product that you can apply to your face – it all comes down to personal preference.

In fact, as long as your skin is both cleansed, moisturized, and smooth, you can pretty much use any facial product. You should watch out for certain products that may affect your skin, as different shaving products are designed for different skin types.

If your skin is rather sensitive, you may have to consider visiting a dermatologist for a recommendation.

Improve Your Typing Speed and Accuracy with These Easy Steps

With the widespread use of computers in nearly every aspect of the modern world, typing has become a useful skill in many career paths – and it’s also a crucial skill to have, given the amount of information that needs to be processed in every industry all the time.

If you don’t think you can type fast enough, you can always improve your typing speed with regular practice and a few helpful tips, such as the following:

1. Familiarize yourself with the keyboard
If you can choose or buy your own keyboard, do consider the size of the keys – larger keys will make it easier for you to find and press them, which will make typing easier.

But keep in mind that there are times that this isn’t always possible. While you can’t always choose the keyboard you get, however, you can familiarize yourself with its layout. Do this by visualizing the keys in your head, so you know where they are even without directly looking at them.

2. Arrange your fingers properly
Perhaps the most important step to typing faster is making sure your fingers are arranged properly on the keyboard. Your left and right index fingers should be resting on the “F” and “J” keys, respectively, while your other fingers should be resting on the following keys:

• Left pinky finger – A
• Left ring finger – S
• Left middle finger – D
• Right pinky finger – ;
• Right ring finger – L
• Right middle finger – K

Both your thumbs should be resting on the space bar. When you type, make sure your fingers are curved slightly and that your keyboard is resting directly in front of you – this will minimize any strain on your part and make your typing experience as smooth as possible.

3. Practice “touch-typing”
Touch-typing is a type of typing method where you’re using muscle memory to know which keys to press instead of consciously looking at the keyboard every time you do.

By doing this, you not only increase your typing speed a lot, but you also focus more on what’s in your head and put it on the blank page, rather than taking more time in finding the right keys to press.

This all starts with knowing which fingers should press which keys, starting with:

• Left pinky finger – 1, Q, A, Z
• Left ring finger – 2, W, S, X
• Left middle finger – 3, E, D, C
• Left index finger – 4, R, F, V, 5, T, G, B
• Right pinky finger – 0, P, ;, /
• Right ring finger – 9, O, L, >
• Right middle finger – 8, I, K, ,
• Right index finger – 7, U, J, M, 6, Y, H, N

Keep in mind that both thumbs press only the space bar, and that to be able to touch-type, you need to practice regularly. Aside from online tests, you can write emails and post on forums to improve your speed.

A Quick Guide to Finishing Wood the Right Way

This final step in carpentry might not be the most difficult, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to do correctly in order to bring out the best in your finished products. It’s a must-have on any piece whether restored or built from scratch.

Why Adding Finish is Important
After any woodworking project, it’s always important that you apply a finishing coat of protective coating to minimize scratching, warping, or staining by various kinds of liquids or abrasives.

Keep in mind that finishes are different from stains. While the latter brings out the wood’s color and beauty, the former, also called the “topcoat” is what does the protection.

It’s certainly your preference of whether you want to apply this or not, but having an extra layer will improve its durability as well as its glossy sheen, and lock in the colors brought out by the initial staining.

Choosing the Right Finish
There’s no one type of finish that will work on all types of woodworking projects. In fact, the best finish for your project will depend on several factors, such as the following:

• Type of Project – Projects that will be used frequently will need more protection compared to those projects that won’t be as subjected to wear and tear, and certain finishes will certainly provide more protection than others.
• Sunlight/Humidity – Furniture that’s exposed to a lot of sunlight will also be subjected to fading much faster. Humidity will also make them more prone to warping and wearing down.

• Gloss – Finishes also vary depending on their gloss. They can either add a rich, amber tone, or give a crystal clear gloss to the wood. While you can choose whichever gloss you want, lighter woods should be best given a clearer finish.
• Ease of Application – You can easily apply most finishes with a cloth, but the difference is in the drying time. Not all finishes can be cleaned using soap and water – in fact, there’s a good chance that the one you’re using will need to be removed using mineral spirits.

Applying the Finish
Finishing is essentially applying the last coat of protective coating, and it’s usually a clear finish to really bring out the stain and its color. Here’s how you can apply the finish for your project:

• Prepare the wood beforehand. You do this by sanding the piece down first (start with rough-grit sandpaper, then work your way towards a finer-grit) before applying the stain. Sand it down again after drying to smooth it out.
• Stir the finish well. You can do this in order to mix up the material that’s settled at the bottom of the can. However, what you shouldn’t do is shake the can of finish, as this causes bubbles to form when it dries on the piece.
• Apply thin coats. A thin coat dries faster, while thicker coats take longer, dry unevenly, and are more prone to attracting dust.

How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget in 4 Easy Steps

Making the most out of your home in Singapore doesn’t always mean having to spend a lot trying to renovate everything from the furniture to the wall paints – sometimes, all you have to do is to think outside the box to get the home and the space you’ve always wanted.

Here are four easy steps to get you started on your interior decorating:

1. Clear the clutter.
The first step in bringing out the best in any home is always clearing out the clutter that you don’t need in your home. If there are things that you need to get rid of, be sure to sort them according to whether they can be sold, given away, or thrown away.

If you’re not sure which things at home you should keep and which ones to clear out, all you need to do is ask yourself whether you use it regularly or whether you haven’t used it in a while.

2. Pay attention to scale and the floor.
When choosing to decorate your room, take a good look at how big the room is and how the furniture actually looks like in relation to the room. Is the house big? Do the windows make it appear big? Or does the furniture make it appear small?

You should also pay attention to the floor of your home. If you have tiles, you want to make sure that they are as clean as possible.

3. Make your colors consistent.
Sticking to a limited color palette is an easy way to make any room a lot less claustrophobic, especially if the room itself is already small. For instance having a minimalist white-and-black room can make it look a lot wider and more spacious than it actually is.

If you want to bring a few splashes of color to your home, be sure to stay consistent with your color scheme and the furniture you already have. But don’t be afraid to make some color contrasts that you know will really pop – in fact, adding warm colors to a neutral scheme can make a room a lot cozier.

4. Make rest and relaxation an actual priority.
Homes, and especially bedrooms, above everything else, should be a place to rest and relax after a long day at work or school. And because there’s a good chance everyone coming home will have had a long day, a home that looks inviting to relax in is a welcome sight.

And the good news is that you don’t have to go all the way on decoration, throw pillows, or even bedsheets – even a bouquet of fresh flowers on the table or nightstand can work just as fine.

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