03Apr
0

A La Jolla, California property owner is continuing a longer-than-a-decade battle to keep a portion of his property off-limits to the general public, citing safety concerns. The property in question sits at the base of Princess Street in La Jolla, and a gate that once allowed public access to the adjacent beach is a part of that property.

Beach access advocates claim that it’s not right to bar access to the beach. The fight extends far beyond the current resident, however; it began in 1978.

The original construction

The property first belonged to Jane Baker, who built her home above the beach path. At the time, the construction of the gate and pathway to the beach was challenged in court, and no decision was reached about whether she was free to build her property on the land.

Before she moved away, Baker never signed a revised permit to allow public access, even though the California Coastal Committee (CCC) had reached a decision requiring public access once the pathway and gate’s building permit was granted. When Baker left the property, she notified the next resident, Chris McKeller, that he should observe the CCC’s requirement and allow access.

The lineage of legal issues

McKeller took ownership of the property in 1989, but he didn’t allow public access to the beach through the gate. While he didn’t fight the access requirement directly, he didn’t do as Baker had advised and honor the CCC’s mandate to keep the pathway open to the public.

In 1993 the current owner, Ure Kretowicz, acquired the property through a foreclosure. He has taken a dramatically different approach to the issue for the last decade, and choosing fought it head on.

However, Kretowicz claims that his concern is not primarily the property owner’s rights, but the safety of people who would use the path. Others in the community seem to agree that the path is not safe.

Who has a right to what?

Beach access advocates are currently fighting to have the gate open to public access, and the current owner has fought this for more than a decade. It does raise an interesting question, not only for residents but for real estate professionals in the La Jolla area, as well as homeowners everywhere.

It even raises legal questions of national import of who has a right to what. The local judge has already cleared the way for the path to be opened, but if the property owner’s safety concerns prove to be valid, will he be liable for injuries?

Does the public’s right to gain access to beaches and other public land take priority over a homeowner’s control of his property? Does a homeowner have the right to build on land that is under consideration as a potential site of government construction?

If the homeowner wins the legal battle, what will that mean for the future of public access cases? And if public-access advocates win, will that change other aspects of the rights of homeowners? Will it change how real estate is practiced and how properties are bought and sold?

These questions have all been stirred by the La Jolla beach access case. While the real estate in question is only one home in southern California, the precedent created when the case is finally settled could change home ownership (and the rights of homeowners) in California, and perhaps across the country.

03Apr
0

The art of creating quality writing that will appeal to readers can be a long process that involves endless revisions and then marketing to promote the results. The traditional method of publishing involved going through either an agent or some other small agency that provided the means to contact a potential publisher.

Conditions for the writer have changed, especially because of the Internet, and a great number of not only beginning but experienced authors are tapping into the process of self publishing and technology. According to several seasoned, self-published authors, you have to consider two things: the channel of distribution and the format to which it is linked.

Bundling a print book with eBook formats that can be made available on most e-readers is regarded as the most promising basis for a strong reader market.

Art merges with technology

If you’ve been around a while, you might recall the early days of the eBook. Scouring through online text or reading variants of ASCII formats on dedicated black-and-white spaces was a common reader experience for years.

The current eBook has evolved into what can be a multimedia reading experience. Several recent advances have made digital publishing the method of choice for self-publishing authors from a variety of contexts.

Online referencing

Nonfiction pieces are beginning to use the power of strong HTML5 embedding technology to link the text to more thorough explorations of content. For example, a self-published gardening eBook may contain an interactive link in the text to customized charts and advanced gardening tool apps.

Enhanced eBook technology is quickly becoming a widely used format for creating a rich learning experience. According to UX Magazine, newer textbooks may be able to embed self-tests in chapters that include more authentic scoring methods for students.

Fast simplicity

One of the greatest appeals of a self-published eBook is the sheer simplicity of the uploading process. Many cost-effective measures are available through self-publishing platforms that allow any writer to enter the market quickly.

The cost-effectiveness of being able to upload material in the native manuscript format has become a boon for novice writers. The flexibility of fast uploads allow users to experience what the book will look like before publication.

In the past, authors were constrained by the time lags associated with an agency or direct book publisher. Many authors also want to learn new publishing skills for themselves, especially from a marketing standpoint.

Self-publishing authors now find themselves wearing multiple hats to juggle the challenging yet liberating experience of marketing words and ideas to the general public. Authors are quickly having to become experts at social media and optimizing content for both bibliophiles and tech gurus alike.

Responding to global demand

The global demand for non-print material has grown exponentially over the past few years. Several reader platforms are gaining an international audience with the merging of multiple languages on eBook-capable reader devices.

In fact, self-published eBooks are quickly coming to dominate the market on bestseller lists. Independent authors and stores within niche sub-markets are particularly popular with eBooks.

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03Apr
0

In the past year, have you made any changes to your home? Those upgrades might qualify for tax credits so you should learn how to cash in on these benefits.

Here are several home improvements that could make a difference on your tax bill this year.

Tax breaks for energy efficiency

Certain energy-efficient upgrades can get you tax breaks. The Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit is worth up to $500 and should be claimed on your 2013 tax return.

You file the Form 5695 to take advantage of this opportunity. There’s a credit valued at $150 for a high-efficiency furnace or boiler. You can claim $300 for an air conditioner, HVAC system, or heat pump upgrade.

Replacing the windows is valued at $200. These credits are only available for your primary residence.

Modification for a loved one

If you have modified your home to make the space more comfortable for a loved one, that might be deductible from your taxes. This deduction might qualify as a medical expense.

The qualified medical expense must be justifiable as necessary and appropriate for the condition or illness. The improvements should be reasonable.

Upgrade your home with solar panels

This benefit is for new construction and existing homes where solar panels are installed. You can take advantage of this credit valued at 30 percent.

There is no maximum limit for this particular credit. The credit can be counted toward labor and installation. The caveat is that the credit must be deducted during the year the project took place. The option is available through December 31, 2016.

Build a home office

If you build a home office, it can qualify as a deduction. The office has to be used primarily for business purposes. There must be a legitimate business in operationvin order to claim the available deduction.

You can collect up to 100 percent for this project. You can also assign a percentage of your home as business and capitalize off this deduction. If 45 percent of your primary place of residence is used for business, you can deduct that from your return.

How do I know if it’s a home improvement or a repair?

The general rule of thumb is that a repair is done to make the home suitable to continue living in as a primary residence. If the repair extends the life of the property, this is viewed as an improvement that is not eligible for a credit or a deduction.

Property improvements that change the purpose of the room altogether are no longer considered improvements that are deductible. If it adds significant value to the home, then it’s regarded as a simple home improvement project.

Adding bathrooms and finishing spaces may add living space to the home, but the investment can only be recouped in the form of sale. If no sale is made, then it’s generally hard to capitalize on any home improvement if it’s not related to operating a business or energy efficiency.

You might consult with a tax professional to discuss the ins and outs of real estate as it pertains to deductions and tax breaks.

03Apr
0

Our world runs on electronic devices today. People can no longer leave their homes without their cell phone, or go longer than an hour without checking their email accounts.

Cell phones and iPads aren’t the only electronic devices people are hooked on, either. There are many different types of electronic tools, yet the world still demands more.

Supply and demand

Not only does the world demand more electronics, but it also expects better ones. The instant one version comes out, developers are busy putting the finishing touches on the next.

Everyone wants the best of everything, and the industry answers consumers’ demands by always looking for ways in which to develop and improve newer electronic devices.

Perhaps that’s why graphene, a material that was intended for use in many electronic devices, may be on its way out in favor of other materials.

Are scientists saying farewell to graphene?

The fact that graphene could be abandoned in favor of other, supposedly “better” materials is surprising, especially since the substance was only discovered in 2010. At the time, its development was so miraculous that the two scientists who discovered it won a Nobel Prize!

Since its discovery, graphene, an excellent heat and electricity conductor, has been marked for use in a wide variety of electronic devices. Plus, research has continued to this day to find more uses for it.

Despite the popularity of graphene, it appears that many scientists are giving up on it as their new “miracle material” and are shifting their sights to other substances, such as thin sheets of molybdenum disulfide.

Some researchers think that other material, which has a similar structure to graphene, may be better for use in electronics because it can work as both a conductor and an insulator. Graphene, on the other hand, is only useful for conducting.

Researchers are theorizing that molybdenum disulfide would not only be easier to use than graphene, but would also allow for design of more energy-efficient electronics.

Other options

As if graphene didn’t have enough competition from molybdenum disulfide, other researchers are looking for still other materials that might be suitable for use in the manufacture of electronic devices. To make matters worse, some researchers are even attempting to develop their own graphite substitutes.

The closest that scientists have come to creating a new substitute for graphene is a material called “phosphorene,” made from phosphorus. Like molybdenum disulfide, phosphorene can do double duty as both a conductor and insulator.

Plus, it can be isolated in a lab, unlike molybdenum disulfide, which is only amassed through mining.

What does the future hold?

Just a few short years ago, nearly every scientific researcher or electronics manufacturer was singing the praises of graphene and calling it “the next big thing.” Now, however, it stands a good chance of being outclassed by molybdenum disulfide and/or phosphorene in electronics manufacturing … and that’s only if some newer material isn’t discovered.

The only way to know for certain what will become of graphene — whether or not it will have a major, lasting impact — is to wait and see.

01Apr
0

What happens when ordinary people are thrust into extraordinary situations? Heineken wants to find out. In their newest social experiment, Guest of Honor, regular people are thrust into the spotlight for a night of crazy and wild adventures. Could you be that brave? Join the conversation at #guestofhonor and #openyourworld.

01Apr
0

When cellular manufacturers embraced Bluetooth technology and created wireless headsets, businesses and professionals responded with enthusiasm.

Recently, manufacturers such as Samsung have taken that technology as the basis for smartwatches that integrate with the user’s mobile phone. This has been lauded as a similarly significant breakthrough.

Now it appears that Samsung is poised to take the next step: moving from its Galaxy handset-integrated Gear to a standalone version of the device. This new iteration of the Gear will have its own independent cellular connection to allow its operation in the absence of a mobile phone.

Work is underway in South Korea

According to reports from the Korea Herald, Samsung and SK Telecom — both companies based in South Korea — are working together to produce and release to SK Telecom subscribers an early version of the device that would have wireless connection capabilities.

Success of such a device in South Korea would likely lead to its release elsewhere, particularly given Samsung’s broad global presence.

Benefits of a stand-alone smartwatch

Like Google Glass, a stand-alone Gear product should open up novel possibilities for consumers. Considering the popular current use of smartwatches as an accessory for fitness tracking, the new Gear product would allow even more flexibility in fitness pursuits: it would allow runners, bikers, and others to leave their phone at home while continuing to receive progress reports and stay in touch during training.

This kind of use would seem suitable for even early releases of a Samsung smartwatch or similar technology from any other company, because the limited use would not be overly taxing for a small device, and would not require any of the advanced features that are at least currently possible only on a smartphone.

Where would smartwatches fit into our digital arsenals?

Given the early state of smartwatch technology, it would be unreasonable to expect that such devices, even with stand-alone cellular and wireless connectivity capability, would be suitable replacements for mobile devices.

One major obstacle cannot be remedied in any practical way. Most people enjoy the large amount of screen real estate provided by the latest smartphones, and any smartwatch that attempted to replicate the screen size of a phone would be comically large and unwieldy.

However, if the capabilities of wearable technology expand and can replicate at least some of the smartphone experience, people may feel more comfortable keeping their smartphones at home or out of sight. Additionally, sleek smartphones might become secondary to tablets (or at least tablet-sized smartphones).

Manufacturers and users would be more likely to embrace larger screens and less portability on such devices. Users would more likely lean on their smartwatch for daily use and reserve phones and tablets for more intense activities such as business projects, marketing and management, website creation, or reading long articles, as opposed to scrolling through Twitter, texting and messaging, and speaking to friends and family.

One thing is certain: The price of such devices will have to decrease before they can become more widely embraced, particularly while their capabilities remain comparatively limited.

28Mar
0

If world leaders smelled better, the world might be a better place. LYNX suggests we make love, not war, and encourages starting with improving our olfactory affect on those around us. With a myriad of products designed to help take away the stench of daily life, you are almost guaranteed success. Visit the Facebook page at Facebook.com/lynx.

26Mar
0

Gymnastics is an ancient form of sporting activity that has been around possibly since prehistoric times. While in today’s world we think of gymnastics as tumbling and flipping, in reality it began as something quite different.

The ancient Greeks considered wrestling, swimming, racing, boxing, and weightlifting all forms of gymnastics. Collectively, these activities were used for strict military training.

In recent times, gymnastics training for students of all ages has risen in popularity. With the addition of gymnastics to the events of the Summer Olympics, as a requirement for contemporary dance, and a must for cheerleaders, gymnastics is now regarded as one of the fundamentals that underlies preparation for many other sports.

According to usagym.org, gymnastics has expanded to include several disciplines, including:

Artistic

The term “artistic gymnastics” was devised to differentiate the free-form style from the strict, military style. Artistic gymnastics is an area in which short, 30-to-90-second routines are performed by men and/or women on several types of apparatus, including:

• Balance beam

• Floor exercise

• High bar

• Parallel bars

• Pommel horse

• Still rings

• Uneven bars

• Vault

Acrobatic

Acrobatic gymnastics is a partner sport that combines specifically choreographed dance and acrobatic routines that entail agility, balance, gracefulness, and strength. Routines are performed to music to enhance the excitement and beauty of the exercises.

Synchronization of the choreography with a partner is an essential aspect of acrobatic gymnastics. Due to the body control necessary to perform the exercise, these activities have been used as a part of the physical training even for astronauts and pilots.

Students of acrobatic gymnastics may progress from the recreational level to the compulsory and elite levels of competition.

Cheer

Cheerleading has come a long way from bouncing, waving pom-poms, and shouting a rhyming cheer that ended with a spread-eagle jump and a shout at the climax. Now cheerleaders require outstanding athletic ability, which may benefit from and indeed require formal gymnastic training.

In addition to revving up the crowd in support for their team, cheerleaders use basic components of gymnastics tumbling, such as round-offs, handsprings, back tucks, and layouts. More advanced skills may include front tucks, single/double twisting layouts, or Arabians.

Dance

Tap, ballet, and jazz dancers of yesteryear would probably be in awe of the skills of competitive dancers today. In addition to tour jetés and splits, dancers may now be considered athletes in their own right.

When the basics of dance training are combined with the art of gymnastics, gymnastics management, balance, agility, and speed on the floor, beams, and board are increased.

Rhythmic

Rhythmic gymnastics utilizes the elements of gymnastics, dance, and ballet while manipulating an apparatus such as a ball, hoop, rope, ribbon, or club. It can also be performed freestyle.

This form may be performed individually or in teams of five. Choreographed routines require the necessary flexibility, strength, and dexterity expected of seasoned athletes.

In addition to these styles of gymnastics, other disciplines include T & T (Trampoline and Tumbling), GFA (Gymnastics for All — Special Olympics), and Olympics training.

26Mar
0

We all see those home redecorating shows on television, and see how easy it is to get carried away with home décor and improvements. Whether you’re moving forward with plans for repairs, sprucing up a tired look, or just testing out new environments, you’ll want to invest a great deal of planning and cost comparisons before you shell out the cash. Chances are, you’ll be able to spruce up your home within the budget you set. Here are some tips and techniques to consider in advance.

Make a Budget

The first thing you need to do before undertaking a home improvement or redecorating project is to set a budget. It can be too easy to commit to an idea, and then discover later that there are significant hidden costs associated with this decision. Do your research, and talk to others who have completed similar projects. Home improvement forums online can be a great way to connect with others who have gone through the process, and you can find out what their budget constraints were, along with the surprise considerations that popped up in the duration of the project.

Price Compare

Check your online Yellow Pages and call up local home improvement professionals to get their quotes. Contractor directories like Porch and Zillow can link you with popular remodelers and repair experts. You’ll quickly be able to get a sense of the high and low ends of the pricing spectrum for your project. In addition to service pricing, you’ll also need to factor in material costs. Price compare both online and at home improvement retailers. See if you can secure special pricing, especially if you’re buying necessary materials in bulk.

Consider DIY

If you feel comfortable enough with your knowledge and experience level to undertake a home improvement project yourself, then see if you can cut costs by using the DIY route. Check out websites like Instructables and Pinterest for general inspiration. This can significantly reduce the cost of service fees, and provide your household with an educational experience

Know Your Limits

If a project requires specialty knowledge about structural integrity, electricity, or plumbing, then you should absolutely hire a professional for the job. You never want to take on a DIY project if it will put people or property at risk. Knowing your own boundaries is a crucial aspect to successful home improvement.

You can dramatically refresh the look of your home by purchasing small décor additions and repairs. These enhancements don’t need to cost thousands of dollars. Work with local and online resources to find ways to better your home on a budget.

26Mar
0

Seniors who live on their own can easily find themselves in a dangerous situation if the proper elderly conveniences are not installed for them in their home. That’s one of the reasons many families choose to move an elder member into a senior living community, so the person can be properly cared for.

While senior living facilities can be ideal for individuals who truly need regular medical care and attention, many older individuals are still able to live on their own and prefer to do so. While allowing a person to live on his or her own will likely be better for the person’s happiness and health, certain adjustments should be made to the premises to make the senior’s living space a little more secure.

Changes that can make a home safer for seniors

When an elder citizen is living at home, many things can be done to make the house a lot safer. One example would be mobility devices the senior can use when no one else is around. These types of devices, from a simple cane to a motorized scooter, will enable seniors to get around a lot more easily when they live by themselves.

Some insurance companies actually reimburse the cost of these kinds of devices, which makes it less of a burden for an elderly person to afford them.

Aside from mobility devices, other upgrades and installations can be accomplished within the home to make it safer for the senior who lives there. A bathroom that has handlebars near the toilet seat and in the bath tub will make it easier for the resident to get around safely in the bathroom.

Many people also find that a portable shower seat is ideal for individuals who need to sit down when they are bathing themselves. A lot of senior care items and safety features can be added to a home without paying a lot of money.

Upgrades to the house and in-home care

Upgrades to the home can also be done for seniors who are wheelchair bound. For example, a motorized seat that climbs the staircase enables the senior to get out of the wheelchair and go upstairs if he or she lives in a two-story home.

There are also remodels one can do to the exterior of the home, such as installing a wheelchair ramp for getting from the street through the doorway. These types of upgrades can sometimes be a bit pricey, so it’s wise to do some research before getting anything done.

When a senior citizen wants to live alone but still requires medical care, an in-home nurse can be retained to help out. These professionals are available around the clock for those who need care inside the home and do not plan to move into a living facility for the elderly.

In-home nursing care is a great option for older citizens who wish to retain their independence and live in their own house while continuing to receive necessary care.

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