18May
0

When we shop for new home fixtures, very few of us think about the total maintenance and upkeep required to maximize the lifespan of our décor. Sad to say, environmental details such as moisture, dirt, and rust can take a toll on our home furnishings.

Their effects can greatly diminish the way our carefully chosen furnishings look and function. But you can get the biggest return on your investment by learning how to take care of new furniture. Here are three simple and basic ways to do that.

dusting

1. Dusting

A feather duster is the main tool for this job, backed by a vacuum cleaner to pick up the debris. Dust doesn’t just increase the amount of allergens in your home; it can even create minute scratches on the surfaces of your furniture.

Avoid gross streaking by using a soft, dry feather duster to clean off your furniture. Some locations collect more dust than others, such as dwellings near freeways and other high-traffic areas.

When you’re done with the feather duster, use a vacuum cleaner to pick up the dust from the floor. A vacuum with a HEPA filter can keep those dust particles from going back into the air.

2. Applying wood polish

Moisture and soap are very bad for wood. You should never take regular soap and water to your wood furnishings. Instead, use an oil-based polish made especially for wood care to clean and shine this type of furniture.

This will prevent the wood from expanding, cracking, or losing its structural integrity. When you try a new cleaner, do a small patch test on the underside of the furniture to make sure it doesn’t cause staining.

Apply the polish using a circular motion, so you don’t mark the furniture with streaks.

3. Steam cleaning

Upholstery and carpeting can benefit greatly from being steam cleaned. This will remove stains from fabric and grime from deep within the fibers.

It’s generally recommended that you hire a steam-cleaning professional to work on upholstered furniture, since the pros use different techniques based on the material of the furniture. However, you can also rent a steam cleaner to use on carpeting and other furnishings yourself.

Your furniture should be maintained to last for years. Neglect can increase your household expenditures, especially if you have to pay for repairs and replacements when your furnishings become dirty or non-functional.

Dusting, polishing, and cleaning your upholstery can dramatically increase the lifespan of your new home furnishings. Be sure to follow the manufacturer directions, since special care might be necessary for certain furniture materials.

17May
0

CreativeWriting

It’s entirely possible to make a six-figure income as a freelance writer, as long as you have skill, speed, and ambition to spare. You may not get famous writing SEO-rich content for corporations, but it will pay the bills and may even allow you the time to pursue your own creative projects.

If you want to turn your writing skills into an actual career, however, better steer clear of trying to make it happen in New York. It’s a one-hundred-percent employer’s market there.

Study the available writing positions around the country, whether they involve telecommuting or not, and you’ll notice that New York has both the most ads and the worst payment rates per word, hour, project, or as a salary. It’s simply a function of supply and demand: New York has been a haven for writers for so long that there are hundreds of applicants for even minimum-wage writing positions.

Reserve New York for a vacation of hop on/hop off tours, fine dining, and club hopping. This is not where you will make it as a writer.

Where the money is

The ultimate dream for a writer is to work on projects you like (the odds are against your loving them), on your own time and on your own terms. “Your own terms” is most likely on your couch in yoga pants at whatever time of day suits you.

It’s a career that lets you tap into your natural skill set and visit the gym class at odd hours. It’s completely feasible, but not if you let a “prestigious (non-paid) internship at a NY magazine” distract you.

The highest demand for writers is for the least glamorous work. This might be preparing government RFP proposals or writing landing-page jargon for a tech company that has oodles of money to spare.

Now, there’s zero shame in employing your talents to pad your bank account. In fact, it’s what a smart writer will do, and the appeal of “exposure” is highly overrated.

If you want to marry New York and writing, pursue travel writing and write off those East Coast plane tickets on your tax returns.

Know your worth

Any professional needs to know what he or she is worth per hour, whether you get paid a salary or by the word. Figure out what your worth is, which is best calculated as the average between what you need to survive and what you think is a fair rate for your skill set and experience.

Sometimes you’ll have to accept jobs that are at or below your survival rate, and sometimes the cash will flow in. Either way, you need to practice saving and frugal living.

New York can teach you how to do that when you visit — there are bargains, such as the incredible street fare — but the city will never make you a wealthy writer.

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14May
0

msoffice

A Microsoft certification (or several) is one of the most prestigious professional credentials a person in the tech industry can obtain. It can make the difference between getting a promotion or landing a job over another candidate; basically, it makes you a lot more marketable.

However, it’s a lot of work. Some compare it to preparing for a state bar exam. If you’re in the industry and on the fence, it’s worth checking out what some experts with certifications have to say about the perks.

“A six-figure salary since I was 35,” is one of the big reasons Jason Zandri says it’s worth it. As a systems engineer, he’s had about ten years on a lucrative salary, but boasts only a GED: in other words, no high school diploma or college degree.

Plus, with the online training courses, it’s easier than ever to prep for exams while holding down a full-time job. Peter De Tender, infrastructure architect, cites these trainings as the reason he moved into partner from “just” an engineer.

Move up the ranks

It’s no secret that it’s still an employer’s job market, so you need to bring something more to the table when you’re hunting for a job. Jim Finder, a senior systems engineer, says “Certification changed my life…. [I]t seems to have taken my career to a whole new level.”

With an insane tech job market, especially in Silicon Valley, you need to stand out. This can get tougher with each passing year, since the tech industry notoriously leans toward hiring young.

Curt McNamee, active directory engineer, says, “My life has many more possibilities with my certifications attached to my resume.” He says it helps him “stand out from the crowd,” and provides a little job security along with higher salary offers.

But there’s more to certification than better pay and better jobs. It just might feed your passion, too.

Need vs. want

If you’re struggling to find a job, worry about job security, or haven’t been able to go beyond a certain salary level, you may need certification. Others simply want it. IT consultant Michael Blumenthal says, “I hunger for knowledge, and that level of access to the product team and the product internals is appealing.”

You don’t have to stop learning after graduation. The importance of continuing education, especially in IT where everything’s constantly changing, helps keep you sharp and engaged.

If you’ve been thinking about a certification course, why not take the leap? Your employer might even help pay for it, which is like scoring that free-ride elusive scholarship from your college days.

13May
0

Does it seem as if your kids are addicted to their smartphones? They just might be: Doctors have suggested that mobile phone addiction among children and teens can be a serious matter, not unlike a sugar or caffeine addiction.

phoneaddiction

It’s no secret that many teens in particular are obsessed with their phones, but children as young as toddlers have exhibited signs of an apparent addiction. In a recent study headed by Dr. Hisao Ishii, it was found that 25 percent of kids aged five through 16 possess a smartphone and they’re getting obsessively attached to it.

Ishii says that if this trend continues, future generations may find it difficult to form and maintain relationships without the aid of an electronic device. A team of sociologists undertook the Japanese study and discovered that kids in Japan alone send “millions of text messages” every single day.

“Teenagers can be seen taking advantage of every spare minute to touch base with their friends,” Ishii said. One solution to this growing problem might be to revive the love of a traditional landline, perhaps with a bundling package, to wean kids from their mobiles.

Symptoms of withdrawal

According to Ishii, “Genuine conversation will be driven out by superficial communication, in which the act of contacting one another is all that matters, leading to a deterioration in the quality of relationships. Indeed, the very fabric of society may be threatened.”

With a landline and rules about smartphone usage at home, you can persuade compulsive mobile phone dialers and recipients of such calls to slow down and focus on the conversation at hand. Taking emoticons and multi-tasking out of the equation (at least to some degree) changes the situation.

Dr. Davis Lewis, a child psychologist, says there’s reason for concern about Ishii’s warnings. “The mobile phone, like the Furby or the Rubik’s Cube before it, has developed into a playground craze in this country. Children hate to feel as if they are not in the ‘in group’ and think that without a phone they will be left out.”

Though there are phone models designed for kids that have no texting and limited call features, the compulsion to have the latest gadget might lead to a real addiction.

Why it needs to stop

Lewis says phones are “like an electronic tribal drum. Children use it to keep up to date with a wide group of acquaintances, so that when they meet up they know the latest news or gossip.”

That doesn’t bode well for mastering conversation skills. “The mobile now often substitutes for physical play…. [T]o develop proper friendships you have to invest time with people doing things together,” he says.

“Doing things together” doesn’t include sitting side by side, scrolling through Facebook feeds or texting other folks. The phone stack rule might be increasing in popularity, but a landline may be the more permanent answer.

13May
0

landline1

There are some very good reasons to have a landline in 2014 … in addition to your smartphone, of course. You’ve got much greater security on a landline.

If an emergency happens and you have to call 911, that call can be traced — which is not the case with a smartphone. Your address instantly pops up on the dispatcher’s screen.

That can save lives, especially if children need to place the call and are already dealing with a traumatic situation. Of course, if the person calling can’t speak for any reason, the traceability is also vital; simply put, landlines have a solid 911 connection.

The good news about the decline in landline usage is that bundling landlines with other features such as cable or Internet service has become highly affordable. With the right package, it’s basically free, so you might as well get that added security.

If you’re desperate for an Internet connection, you can depend on DSL in a pinch. It’s not going to be the Internet you’re used to, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Throwback Thursday every day

Depending on your age, you might remember the days of telephone conversations. Unfortunately, texting has pretty much put a stop to those.

But with a landline, you can enjoy a clearer connection, no dropped calls, no buzzing, and being “forced” not to multi-task (as much) as you often are on a smartphone. It’s actually an added convenience, and you’ll have no worries about whether you’ll get a good connection with a landline.

If the power goes out and your smartphone battery is low, you’re pretty much out of luck. But if you have a landline, that should still work, as some people discovered after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy had hit them.

If you need to reach someone on a landline, a power outage won’t stop you. This is extra security in a tight situation, especially if there are elders involved or you’re not with family when disaster strikes.

Tackling privacy issues

Landlines are more secure and private than mobile phones because there’s no risk of radio frequency interception. You may not know it, but mobile phones are highly vulnerable to eavesdropping.

Thieves can use simple devices such as other cell phones to listen in to your calls, find out when you’ll be out of town on vacation, and even steal credit card information if you share it during a business over the phone. Even the FBI is getting in on eavesdropping via cell phones, so you might want to be more careful with your private calls.

11May
0

protecturdog

Odds are you love your dog and treat it just like a member of the family. As a good owner, you never leave your dog chained in the yard or home alone without access to fresh food and water.

Most likely you do all you can to ensure your dog is not simply cared for but happy and enjoying life. But there may be a few things you don’t realize are necessary to help ensure your dog’s good health. Consider the four tips below.

1. Just one mosquito

When spring arrives, any dog that ventures outside for even a short period of time is at risk for contracting heartworm. A single bite from a mosquito that’s carrying heartworm larvae will infect your dog.

The worms take up residence in your dog’s heart and other organs, and can ultimately cause organ failure and death. Often there are no immediate symptoms, so it’s essential that you have your dog tested for heartworm and placed on a monthly preventive medication

Prevention costs are far less than treatments necessary to try to save your dog after he or she gets infected. Visit the Humane Society‎ to learn more.

2. Diet requires healthy fats

Most dog owners are cautioned against feeding their dog any foods designed for cats, due to the high fat content in those products. But this doesn’t mean your dog shouldn’t have healthy fats in his or her diet.

According to Homes Alive Pet Centre, healthy sources of fat are important in your dog’s diet to help promote good heart health and contribute to healthy skin and coat. Food items such as raw broccoli and cauliflower are just two of the many great sources of healthy fats for your dog.

3. Non-core vaccinations

Your dog will receive certain vaccinations as a puppy, and others will be scheduled annually. However, there are some non-core vaccinations that aren’t automatically given to most dogs.

One you should specifically talk to your vet about is the leptospirosis vaccine. Your dog can become infected simply by sniffing the urine of a carrier animal, such as a raccoon or skunk. If infected, your dog may suffer liver or kidney failure and potential death. Click this page about leptospirosis for more information.

4. Leave your dog at home

Many dog owners are so attached to their pets that they want to take them everywhere. This practice has been responsible for the death of many dogs every year.

What might seem like a quick trip to the store on a nice 78-degree day with your dog can be a death sentence for the animal.

Never leave your dog locked in your car. On a 78-degree day, temperatures inside a car can reach up to 120 degrees in a matter of a handful of minutes. Read more at the PETA website.

These are solid tips for helping your dog to live a happy and healthy life. You should always feel free to call your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.

Be assured you are doing all you can for your dog, and you and your pet should have many happy years together.

10May
0

Home improvements are important, and not just for those who wish to fix issues with their homes. Improvements must sometimes be done in order to sell your home as well.

There are many ways to improve the quality of your home. There are also ways to waste money with home improvements that add no value to your property.

Below are four choices that can turn your home into a money pit, and make it more difficult to move on the market.

1. Swimming pool

Although swimming pools are nice, they are often a great waste of money when you try to sell your home. Many buyers not only look at the luxury of having a pool; they also consider the fact that pools require a large amount of money per year for upkeep.

The truth is, your home value will increase, but not enough to make up for the maintenance costs of owning a pool. Think wisely and opt out of installing a pool.

2. Home offices

Contrary to what you may believe, home offices can also decrease the value of your home. Many potential buyers will want to turn the extra room into a bedroom anyway.

While decorating and renovating a room into an office, you can expect to pay out of pocket for office furniture, re-routed Internet connections, cable cords, and many other office details. After all’s said and done, the office will cost more than its increase in value. It may actually turn out to be a waste of money.

3. Sunroom

A sunroom sounds very nice, especially if you live in an area that gets plenty of sunshine. But even though they don’t seem like much work and materials, sunrooms actually cost much more than they seem.

Even a simple small room will cost several thousand to construct. By the time buyers notice the extra option, they will have seen several others of the same caliber but at a lower price. This is usually not worth the time or money.

4. Plumbing upgrades or new roofing

Let’s face it: Buyers are already expecting a nice roof and exceptional plumbing. Redoing the plumbing and roofing the house, just to highlight the effort, will not raise the value of your home.

Pay more attention to smaller details, such as blinds and carpets, if you really want to get people’s attention. The basics are, well, just the basics, and they are necessary regardless.

The things that get noticed

Smart residents have gotten hold of some very important information when it comes to renovations. To make the best of their mortgage and really get their homes noticed on the market, they are often paying attention to small details. These can really catch a buyer’s attention and put the house in the spotlight.

When it comes time to sell your home, consider certain details that really work. Think from the buyer’s point of view to understand what’s important on the housing market. You may be surprised by what the public really desires in modern real estate.

10May
0

Have you ever wondered if your family is linked to royalty? Perhaps you’ve imagined you’re related to a Founding Father.

That might sound far-fetched if you haven’t been keeping up to date on the latest genealogical technologies; but the truth is that with a little bit of research, you’ll find out a lot more than you ever imagined. That’s because DNA testing has combined with sophisticated technological advances to create some of the most powerful and precise genealogical tools imaginable.

With a simple (and relatively inexpensive) test, distant cousins can be identified not only over the past 100 years, but for the past thousand or more. Not convinced? Elizabeth Alexander, a Yale poet whose Jamaican family settled in New York, found that she could trace her lineage back 37 generations.

Among her more notable kin are her 23rd great-grandmother Joan, princess of England and her 24th great-grandparent, King John I of England. She’s even related to Charlemagne, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

If you’re curious about your family’s history, you’ll find it could be a very interesting journey.

Where to start

Begin with what you know. Collect all your family records, including photographs. These will make your genealogy a rich story that can be archived and passed to your children.

Talk to elderly relatives and get information from them. If you have a family Bible, take it out and look for information in the frontispiece. If you haven’t already looked at how to preserve these treasures properly, now’s the time to do a bit of online research.

After you’ve collected some general information about your family, you can get serious and consider the next step: DNA.

DNA testing

The test is not difficult or expensive. You simply have to swab the inside of your mouth. After collection, the sample is mailed to a lab for testing.

You’ll want to talk to a professional about which test exactly to order. If you’re a male, you might want a Y-DNA test, because that will explore your patriarchal line. Women interested in their maternal line might choose a mtDNA test.

Once you have the results, you’re ready for next frontier in genealogical technology.

The Geographic Population Structure (GPS) tool

In the past, scientists working with DNA were previously only able to identify a family’s roots to a radius of about a four hundred miles. This could place your family in a total one or perhaps two countries.

So if your family immigrated, a researcher might be able to trace a move from one or two countries. The Geographic Population Structure tool has changed all that. It can locate your ancestral roots from more than 1,000 years ago.

How is this possible? As data has accumulated, scientists have developed more complete and accurate information about where DNA was “mixed” or altered. An “admixture” is when one population begins to settle and have children with another group.

An example of an admixture occurred when the Vikings invaded Britain and Europe in the 11th Century. Mny Vikings married and had children with local Anglo-Saxons, which changed the gene pool. With the GPS tool, genealogists can trace your DNA to specific eras in history when an admixture occurred.

Your greatest gift

One of the greatest presents you can leave to your children and relatives is the legacy of your family history. We all have a special place in the historical record. Most of us don’t yet realize how special our families are.

So if you’re interested in exploring the past, keep in mind that technology has opened many interesting doors. All you have to do is knock.

10May
0

In our daily lives, humans crave comfort: We work diligently to furnish our lives with modern amenities, from cutting-edge gadgets to new cars.

But when it comes to the deeper recesses of our imagination, many of us have an unquenchable bloodthirst. Give us assassination plots, jump scares, and death-by-hatchet any day … at least that seems to be the case in the U.K., according to a new study conducted by Public Lending Right, a program that collects borrowing data from libraries.

Published by The Guardian, the study reveals that in 2010, more than two-thirds of the hundred most checked-out novels fell into the crime and thriller genre. Such was the case with single title in the top 10.

What’s the explanation for the mounting trend of people reading these morbid tales? Are we all gore-loving serial killers in disguise?

The psychology of fear

According to “Social Learning of Fear,” an article published in Nature Neuroscience, fear is an essential tool in the emotional toolkit of mankind. Each time fear is invoked, it conditions us a little bit more to navigate the world safely.

By seeking out situations that trigger a fearful response in an environment that’s known to be safe — for example, curled up on the sofa with a cup of cocoa and a bloodcurdling book about a stalker — people enjoy a kind of productive fear.

In other words, we can feel as if we are honing our emergency response instincts without actually having to get caught up by an international drug cartel or falling into the clutches of a slasher. Exploration of fear-inducing hypothetical threats allows people to project themselves into new situations and plan for dangerous circumstances … however unlikely they may be.

For the same reason that we tend to be drawn to sensational, alarming news headlines, we also like to read titillating works of hair-curling suspense and terror.

The landscape of the genre

Crime and suspense books run the gamut. James Patterson, popular murder mystery author known best for his police-detective-cum-forensic-psychologist Alex Cross, tops Public Lending Right’s list. The genre also spans a range of subjects and tones, from gory thrillers penned by Patricia Cornwell to the fast-paced, plot-driven suspense of John J. Davis.

The genre’s range is expanding further as barriers to publication disappear. The newly born Wild West of self-publishing has lifted the velvet ropes to a new breed of writer — one that’s held back neither by the brand identities of publishing companies, nor the personal preferences of an editor.

As a result, new and intriguing styles are emerging as their own genres, ones that perhaps wouldn’t have had room to breathe in the arena of traditional book publishing: consider thriller-meets-chick-lit, crime crossed with comedy, fiction that courts controversy and steps on the toes of taboos, and even mockumentary-style horror.

With these fresh approaches expanding the options for reading, the future landscape and trends of thrillers is uncertain. Until the next Public Lending Right list is released, fans may have to remain in a familiar state: suspense.

09May
0

Even though e-degrees, much like online dating, are losing the stigma, that still doesn’t mean students are making the most of this option. While it’s certainly not any easier than a traditional education, it does allow for more flexibility. Take advantage of it. This is the time when you can travel, study from anywhere in the world, start a family or move with your partner so that he or she can advance their career.

You have a great tool at your disposal, and all you need is a good Wi-Fi connection to earn a degree (and, of course, the drive, skills and intelligence to earn a degree in the first place). Even minute you spare avoiding a commute to campus and the luxury to attend class on your own time is golden. Here’s how to optimize an online degree program so that you complete it without missing out on anything.

Timing is everything

You need to be a master of time management to even consider an online degree, but don’t let that skill get rusty. If you’re a morning person, prioritize your schooling so you can drop the kids off at school, attend that yoga retreat that starts at 8am each day (there’s no rule against going to school while in the tropics and getting your yoga training at the same time), or get in that morning run after attending class. This is your time.

Always keep the end goal in mind, and unless you have commitments to family, earn your degree in the same amount of time (or less) that it would take at a traditional campus. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of endlessly putting off classes or taking it easy. While university, digital or not, is a time to grow and network, it should have a shelf life.

Balancing student life

Multi-tasking is a revered skill for many employers, even though numerous studies have been showing that it’s not as effective as people think. Human brains just aren’t wired to juggle, and something, if not everything, is going to suffer. Adopt a triage approach to life as a student, putting 100 percent into each task at a time until it’s complete.

This is going to include classes, family time, vacations, hobbies, and work. It’s not going to be easy, especially when it’s so tempting to put class at the bottom of the list. However, if you’re a good match for an online degree, you have the right attitude to make it work.

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