Health:

4 Signs Your Lifestyle is Hurting You

Today’s average American lifestyle isn’t always the healthiest, but because it’s so normal it can be tough to spot red flags. Luckily, a little information and intention can go a long way. Once you’re aware of lifestyle risks and commonly missed symptoms, you can consciously re-adjust your views. However, this can’t be done passively, and it all starts with paying attention to yourself and your surroundings.

For example, it’s easier than ever to be made aware of product recalls, some of which can be life threatening. The recall of caramel apples at the end of the year, for example, spread like wildfire on social media and news outlets. Is your lifestyle doing more harm than good? Here are a few signs to watch out for:

1. You have chronic or recurring pain

Sometimes this is unavoidable (blame genetics), but many times it’s due to a subpar lifestyle. Constantly being hunched over a computer or poor posture in general can cause chronic back pain. Chronic knee pain can be from excess weight or improper form at the gym. Check out ValpoLife’s chiropractic tips on good posture, but also seek out your own medical help if there’s a pang constantly bothering you.

2. You have recurring headaches or dry eyes

Headaches are the number one complaint for a plethora of things, but today’s culture of too much screen time might be to blame. This is the biggest suspect if you also have dry or red eyes. Your eyes need a break from that screen, so schedule a pop up or alarm every 20 minutes as a reminder to close your eyes and let them rest. Resist “extra” time, like television or perusing Facebook on your phone, since you’re likely required to stare down a screen for work anyway.

3. You’re overweight or undertoned

Just because the average American woman is now a size 14 (and considering vanity sizing), that doesn’t make it healthy. “Average” does not equate to ideally healthy. However, it’s going to seem more and more normal, especially with the New York Daily News reporting NYC is welcoming size 14 mannequins to non-plus-sized stores. Know your body fat percentage (it’s a better gauge than BMI), and prioritize your health.

4. You can’t get by without coffee

Caffeine addiction is real, yet accepted by society. It can make your sleep hygiene out of what, cause you to be dependent, and can ultimately be a really expensive habit. No vices are “safe” ones.

Life:

3 Hidden Dangers of Fire Damage

firedamage

The dangers don’t end when the flames are put out. Fire damage can linger for years, and if you try to DIY with a clean-up, you probably won’t get all of the soot and flourishing mold from the water that tamed the fire. “Soot” is the residue left over from the smoke, and what exactly makes up the smoke can depend on a lot of things—like what burned and whether or not it was toxic.

Both soot and mold are dangerous leftovers from a house fire and why homeowners deserve professional fire damage clean-up. Not all soot is necessarily dangerous, but do you want to take that risk? Likewise, not all water damage will lead to mold, black mold or mildew. But again, are you ready to take that gamble?

Not only are homeowners lacking the appropriate tools, knowledge and experience to (safely!) clean up after a fire, they might unintentionally expose themselves to dangerous particles in the process. Plus, remember that if guests are staying in the home and you don’t properly clean post-fire, you could be held liable in a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Here are just a few of the things that can go wrong if you try to save a little cash by cleaning up yourself:

1. Soot gets into your bloodstream

The particulate matter in soot is so tiny that it can get into your bloodstream and lungs without you noticing. According to the American Lung Association, breathing soot pollution can cause “cancer and developmental and reproductive harm.” The Environmental Protection Agency has described soot as “Microscopic particles (which) can penetrate deep into the lungs and have been linked to a wide range of serious health effects including premature death, heart attacks and strokes, as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children.”

2. Black mold can kill

From in-home sprinkler systems to firefighter’s hoses, there was likely a lot of water involved to save your humble abode. Water damage can destroy your home’s structure, and it can also lead to mildew, mold and deadly black mold. Mold has a penchant for thriving in dark areas, so it’s possible only a professional will spot it. Even when mold isn’t deadly, it can cause respiratory issues and exacerbate allergies.

3. It may have stirred up asbestos

Asbestos fibers are the primary cause of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lungs and abdomen linings which is almost always deadly. However, rarely ingesting or breathing in asbestos in small quantities is usually fine. It was widely used in home construction from the 1950s through the 1980s and is still legally used today. However, a fire might “stir up” those fibers, so cleaning up yourself without the proper safety gear is a huge risk.

Simply put, you don’t know what exactly burned, what particles may have been put into the air or what toxic materials you might be breathing in. This is no time to pinch pennies or cut corners. Rely on a professional crew to clean up after a fire so you can rest easy knowing not a nook or cranny was missed. Otherwise, the residual effects of the fire might be more heartbreaking and lethal than you ever imagined.

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last update: January 30, 2015

Life:

4 Technological Advances That Have Transformed Home Improvement

Any homeowner or Pinterest user is probably aware that there are dozens of ways, both large and small, a home or apartment can be improved or revamped. Whether you’re giving your home a makeover to add value as you prepare to sell, or you just want to create some extra comfort and luxury for yourself and your family, remodeling has never been easier.

We largely have recent technological advances to thank for this. People might not readily think about the ways technology affects various industries and their daily activities, but they’ve played an undeniable role.

Here are four pieces of technology that have helped amateur and professional home improvement wizards with their projects.

1. The iPhone

In addition to the hundreds of apps that are available to help you do your home improvement projects, the iPhone also comes standard with a built-in level. Whether you’re putting up some new shelves, trying to get a framed picture hung just right, or want to make sure the bookcase you’re building isn’t going to be crooked, iPhone users can simply use their phone. How cool is that?

2. Instant Messenger

People who are doing home improvement projects to add value to their residence can now turn to a greeter or real estate agent live on most housing websites to consult him or her about which projects will be most productivel.

You can even ask the instant messenger assistant for suggestions on where to go to finish your project on a budget.

3. Green energy power strips

Vampire energy” has been mentioned in the media a lot. This refers to power that’s drawn from your outlets by appliances and electronic devices that are plugged in, but not currently turned on.

Homeowners who want to reduce their electric bill and make their home more environmentally friendly without the hassle of installing solar panels can switch out their regular power strips for higher-tech options that will reduce the amount of power lost to vampire energy.

4. Removable adhesive

Anyone who’s ever moved into a dorm room knows about Command strips and temporary adhesive for hooks. Increasingly, removable adhesive has been incorporated into other great products that are just as useful for home improvement projects, such as picture mountings, decals, and reusable/removable dry erase message boards.

5. Motion sensor technology

Motion sensor technology is one form of technology that can be incorporated into any home to make it greener, safer, and more efficient to live in. Whether it’s seen in motion sensor faucets, or turns up in an outdoor porch light, motion sensor technology is a great way to reduce energy costs in a home or apartment complex.

Technology has been at the forefront of making home improvement projects easier and faster for decades. With today’s advances, updating the look of your home or tackling a more complex project such as making your residence more energy-efficient or increasing its market value has never been easier.

Life:

Topgrading Means Companies are Hiring More Strategically

Competition is extremely fierce in the current job market. Strains on the economy, outsourcing, and the laws of supply and demand are all factors that affect the number of jobs companies can offer these days.

So it’s no surprise that contemporary employers have become more selective in their hiring process than they might have been in the past.

Companies today want the cream of the crop

One of the most popular practices for employers today is known as topgrading. This practice has become a powerful tool for the hiring process. Topgrading provides businesses, from small entrepreneurs to large corporate offices, to weed through applicants and uncover the best of the best.

The process begins with questionnaires that are designed to target star qualities in potential applicants. The interview process is also carefully constructed to pinpoint strengths, interests, and skills that will more effectively match employers with the best candidates for the job.

Topgrading is the latest attempt to improve hiring to the level of a science. If employers are able to work directly toward precisely what they want from the start, it saves them time and money, as well as making their business more effective in the long run.

A more effective hiring process means a more effective business

As firms across the U.S. seek to thrive and surpass their competitors, they need to take advantage of every possible way to excel. Of course products and services are the key to a company’s success, but its personnel need to be stellar.

The best way to ensure an effective hiring process is to make the employer’s expectations clear from the start. Companies need to include explicit instructions about the job and any unusual requirements.

That will enable them to be extremely thorough as they gather information about their applicants, which may date back to high school. Members of the human resources team will be involved in combing through all the details, picking out promising candidates, and contacting previous employers for references. (It’s surprising how many companies still neglect to do this.)

Then the favored applicants will be brought in for the interview(s). The process can be lengthy and should be scored according to the topgrading criteria. In the end, employers can be assured they have selected the strongest applicants for the job — through a structured, deliberate process that features a strong attention to detail.

What topgrading means for potential employees

Topgrading is changing the face of hiring across America as companies seek to develop a talented staff that meets all their requirements. For those who are applying for jobs, it means taking more time to prepare for the road ahead.

It’s extremely important to polish resumes and interview skills before submitting your materials to the potential employer. You have to ensure your best qualities stand out above the rest of the crowd.

Be sure to dress for success, make yourself well versed in specifics about the company, and prepare to share every possible personal asset. (Make a list, if you have to.)

Learn how to be at ease and appear confident, and hire a coaching service if you suspect it might be necessary to succeed.

Life:

Intuit Gets You in the Game

One small business got the surprise of a lifetime when Intuit showed them how much they were appreciated. What started as a small purchase escalated quickly, much to the amazement and joy of the business owners. The gifts purchased were given to Bright Pink, an organization focused on reducing risk for breast and ovarian cancer in young women. Find out what happened in the video:

If you’re a fan of small business, help choose the one that gets the big prize. Visit http://smallbusinessbiggame.com and vote for your favorite business. The winner will get their very own 30 second ad during the biggest game February 2, 2014.

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Life:

How To Get Recruited After College

After the last final is completed and the last assignment is turned in, it’s tempting to think that the hard work is over. No more deadlines, expectations, projects or long nights. The reality is, of course, quite different. The honeymoon period of being done with college doesn’t last long, and the new graduate must turn his or her thoughts to putting their hard-earned degree to use. If only there was a simple way of knowing how to do it. Here are some ideas on how to get recruited after college.

Stand Up And Be Counted

The only problem with graduating and looking for a job is that there will be thousands of people trying to do the same thing you are, at the same time. That’s why it’s critically important to get noticed. Sign up and/or volunteer for events, activities and competitions where recruiters will be. Given how prospective employers can – and will – scour the Internet for information on the people they want to hire, seeing something positive, like a proactive interest in their field, will go a long way in separating a serious candidate from someone who doesn’t really care.

Stand Out And Be Counted

Because employers and recruiters keep one eye on the Internet to assess their potential employees, it’s vital for the aspiring graduate to maintain a smart online presence. This doesn’t just mean keeping embarrassing and personal details hidden, although that’s fundamentally important as well. It means a LinkedIn profile, an account with Monster.com or Jobs.com, a presentable Facebook profile, even a well-maintained blog – anything that will look good to a recruiter, and say that you are able and willing to stand out from a very large crowd of other people looking at the same job.

Be First In Line

With thousands of other people applying for jobs all at the same time, timing is everything. An early job offer can make a very favorable impression with an employer, especially when many more are on the way from people who assume that they’re ahead of the game themselves.

Teachers Beyond the Classrooms

After graduating, professors are more than just memories from days gone by: they are vital resources to help you get moving in the professional world. Writing letters of recommendation is the easy part (assuming you’ve done enough to earn them). The advice that professors can give, on the other hand, is invaluable. Remember: your professors were once like you, just out of school (maybe a PETAP-approved one) fresh degree in hand, and wondering how and where they were going to start their real lives. They’ll have some idea of the problems and challenges you’ll face as you make the transition from the classroom to the office, and having spent the last few years teaching you, they’ll help you leverage your strengths and weaknesses to get ahead.

Clean:

10 Ways Plumbers Use Technology to Keep Your Pipes Clean

Part of owning a home or renting is making home repairs. For the most part, home maintenance is pretty easy to keep up with without having to call in a professional for extra help, but when it comes to the pipes and drains in a home big problems can occur if a problem goes unfixed. Plumbers do more than just unclogging drains; they can solve problems with leaks, floods, frozen or broken pipes, even water heater repair. To help them, professionals use a collection of tools and technologies to fix any plumbing problem.

Here are ten ways that those tools are commonly used:

1      Epoxy pipe lining is a common product that is used by plumbers. If there is a break in a pipe, rather than replace the entire length of pipe they can sandblast the inside– removing all debris that has built up– and coat the sides with epoxy. This creates a tight seal and the pipe is like-new.

2      Plumbers can use video cameras to inspect pipes for damage. Often, it’s hard to tell exactly what the problem is from the outside, whether the pipe is broken, split, or backed up. A video of a sewer line will help a plumber assess the problem and proceed from there.

3      Hydro-jets are commonly used by plumbers to break up clogs in pipes. High velocity water is shot into the blocked pipe to push away everything that is obscuring it, leaving the pipe fully functional.

4      Trenchless sewer repair and pipe bursting are the most convenient ways to repair broken sewer lines and save the landscaping of a property. Pipe bursting is a technique which removes the existing, broken pipes and leaves holes in the ground which act as a map for where to lay the new pipe.

5      Pipe cutters and tube cutters are essential tools for a plumber to make precise cuts in the pipes and tubes they will use.

6      Drain augers are long, snake-like tools that are used to break up clogs in a pipe. They range from simple plastic rods that anyone can use to fix a clogged pipe themselves, to powerful augers used by professionals which can break up huge blocks in a sewer system.

7      Industrial strength pumps are used to remove flood water resulting from a break or a leak, or just from a storm which flooded basements. Flooding can obviously result in extensive water damage, and stagnant water can become hazardous if left for long.

8      Insulation, heat tape, and heat cables are the best way to prevent exposed pipes from freezing. If pipes freeze, plumbers can help unfreeze them and repair any breaks that occur as a result.

9      In sewer systems, tree roots can often obstruct the flow through the pipes. Plumbers can offer tips for root maintenance or reroute pipes.

10   Power rodding is one of the more powerful techniques used to remove blocks in pipes. Cables are used to move blades clockwise and counterclockwise to break apart stubborn blockage or tree roots.

Finding a Plumber

Companies like Bob Oates Plumbing, Sewer and Rooter offer services in an array of areas, from preventative treatments on pipes and replacements to fixing breaks and floods. Their website is home to information about all of their services as well as an easy calculator to estimate the cost of any repair. When a plumbing problem gets to be too much, anyone’s best bet is to call in a professional who can use their specialized tools and expertise.

Life:

Tips for Buying Life Insurance

Life insurance is an important component of financial planning. Unfortunately, finding the right product and price is a daunting task, especially with so many options available. From picking the right terms to understanding the clauses, there is a lot for you to sift through when you first get started. Therefore, consider some of these tips for buying life insurance to make sure you pick the right policy for you.

 

Consider Your Needs

Only you can understand your financial situation. Therefore, only you can decide how much life insurance you need – not the broker. You can estimate your coverage by adding your debt together, funeral costs and at least six months of your income and expenses. This total is your minimum coverage required if you choose to purchase life insurance.

 

Talk to a Broker

Brokers have access to a wide variety of life insurance products and services. They can offer advice and even different options so that you can choose the right life insurance policy for you. You should use an independent broker so that you are not pushed by a broker on a life insurance policy because it is the only policy their company offers.

 

Avoid One-Meeting Recommends

After you meet with your broker, you should have a secondary meeting to come up with life insurance options. If your broker comes up with options at your meeting, they are not getting to know you on a personal enough level to recommend life insurance. Brokers who are serious about life insurance will use the initial appointment to get to know their clients so that they can research and find the best polices for them and present them at a second meeting.

 

Insurance is For Protection Only

If your broker tells you that life insurance is an investment r offers policies that have a combined investment factor, back away. Life insurance at its most basic level is for protection only – not an investment. Therefore, policies should be for protecting your loved ones and your estate and not be for investing.

 

Comparison Shop with Similar Products

When you comparison shop, it is only effective if you are comparing similar products. While some online tools compare similar life insurance policies side-by-side, others require you to read the fine print. So, make sure you read the terms, monthly or annual premium amounts, exclusions and rules to ensure that you are comparing two similar life insurance policies – even if they are provided by a broker.

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