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Benefits of Community College Versus University

Dec
22

For many students, enrolling at a community college versus a university is a hard choice to make, with many details and implications to consider. 

If you are planning to pursue the path of higher education and do not know whether a community college or university experience is right for you, consider the following factors, including cost, class size, and overall academic value. 

Are Community Colleges Are More Affordable?

According to the Community College Review, the average tuition for full-time, in-state students in 2018-19 is $4,836. This is half the average cost of attending a public university as an in-state student. While this doesn’t cover the cost of fees and books needed, it is a smaller starting figure. 

If the option is available, you can also save even more money by attending a community college near home. This gives you the ability to live at home rather than spend more money on rent. For students that need to work while attending school, flexible community college schedules can make it easier to work part-time.

The variance between attending a community college versus attending a university can vary widely and is usually the biggest difference between the two entities. Across all areas, community colleges are less expensive to attend than universities. 

To put it into perspective, community college tuition can be as little as $3,500 per year, compared to upwards of $35,000 for out of-state-students attending a public university. While costs vary and depend on many factors, it is safe to say that community college is the lower-cost option for those who consider price a major determining factor. 

Community Colleges Have Smaller Class Sizes

You have probably seen they stereotypical large lecture hall freshman class in movies. It is not that from the truth for intro courses at large universities. In comparison, community college classes are generally much smaller. 

A smaller class size benefits both the students and teachers. Teachers can give more individual attention to students and customize the experience to fit the needs of a smaller group. Students will also have the opportunity to get to know their classmates, ask questions during the lesson, and have one-on-one conversations with professors in a smaller classroom environment. 

Because universities have larger student bodies, class sizes are significancy bigger compared to community college class sizes. This distinction is important to consider if you prefer and benefit from one-on-one learning or if you can handle a more hands-off learning style. Consider how essential this aspect is to your academic success and if you know you do better with personalized feedback in a smaller setting, you should consider the community college route

Less Strict Admission Requirements

Community colleges are ideally suited for students who want to earn a degree but may not have a competitive high school GPA for applications. By providing students an opportunity to improve their grades and earn credits towards a degree, community colleges are helping students become better candidates for university admission requirements. 

One important thing to remember if you are hoping to transition to a four-year school for your BA is how your credits will transfer. You want to make sure you don’t pay for a class you already took at a higher price tag.  

Improved Academic Quality at Community Colleges

In the past, community colleges were thought of unfavorably by some, and were not considered a solid academic experience. That has been changing, and while there is still variety in the student experience, community colleges are more generally accepted as a way to complete your gen ed courses before transferring to a four-year program. 

Community colleges have enhanced their academic standards to attract more students and meet the transfer requirements of large universities. This creates the opportunity for students already attending a four-year university to take summer classes at local community colleges for a lower cost. 

Easier Transition from High School to College

Typically, the transition to community college is easier on students leaving high school.  With smaller classrooms, flexible schedules, and entry-level courses, students who are worried about getting lost in a large school might find community college a better fit. 

It’s also important to remember the stress of leaving home and the newly discovered independence of living on your own that can be disruptive for students. 

Overall Academic Value

The difference between the kind of degrees and programs offered and the quality of those degrees and programs vary across community colleges and universities. In Many Cases, community colleges are known as ‘2-year’ colleges that offer associate’s degree programs that might be completed in two years or less. There are many jobs only require a two-year associate’s degree, rather than a four-year bachelor’s degree, including positions like an air traffic controller or a dental hygienist.

In many instances, community colleges are regarded as preparation for transfer to a more extensive university program, in which students can engage in more time-intensive educational options. 

A university offers lengthier programs: bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, which take longer to complete. Universities generally offer a more comprehensive range of degree and program options for more specialized areas of study. Think about your career aspirations before committing to a decision, and decide the path that makes the most sense for you and your future.

Finally, it is essential to consider what you want to get out of your college experience, whether that be a community college or university. If you want to be medical doctor, you should follow a four-year university program that sets you and your resume up for success when you apply to medical school. The choice really comes down to what you want for your life and career, and there is no wrong answer.

Hop Growing Zones

Nov
16

About Hop Growing Zones

Planting, growing, and harvesting hops is just as easy as growing tomatoes.  In addition to flavoring your home-brewed beer, your crop can also serve as a decorative landscape element. Imagine your sunny porch shaded by 15-foot vines and their bright green leaves.

Hops are deciduous, perennial vines that grow 15 to 25 feet tall and will climb a trellis, arbor or other structure. The lush foliage creates a quick visual barrier during the growing season and the green papery flowers attract butterflies to the garden in late summer. Hops are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8.

Winter Hardiness

In the hardiness range for hops, in USDA zones 3 through 8, winter temperatures regularly drop well below freezing. In winter, the foliage dies back to the ground while the roots remain alive under the soil. Dormant roots are hardy to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but new growth is susceptible to frost. Planted too early in the growing season, a late frost could kill your hop plants.

Growing Season

During the growing season, hops thrive in a temperature range between 40 and 70 F. The plants tolerate a wide range of precipitation levels, thriving in areas that get as little as 12 inches and as much as 53 inches of rain per year. Generally drought-tolerant, hops have a deep root system that will tap underground water tables 5 feet below the soil. In areas with deeper water tables and limited precipitation, you will need to monitor and regularly water the hops.

Planting and Growing Hops

Plant hops in full sun for best growth and flowering within the growing zone. You can grow hops successfully in areas warmer than the climate zone range by providing some summer shade. In areas where summer temperatures regularly rise above 70 F, plant hops in part shade, two to four hours of sun per day, to provide protection for the foliage and prevent sun scorch on the leaves and flowers.

Root System and Water

In areas where the water table is lower than 5 feet, water hops when the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil feels dry to the touch. Water slowly and deeply to allow water to seep down around the roots. Hops have both deep roots and lateral growing shallow roots. Your fresh plants are grown from rhizomes, short segments of roots harvested off older plants. You can mail-order dormant rhizomes ready for planting in the early spring. Local home-brew-supply stores stock the rhizomes or offer potted 2-year-old hop plants. 

Hops can be grown in just about any moderate climate in the U.S., but do best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9. Some varieties are more heat-resistant and others resistant to molds, diseases and pests. But once they are established, hops are hardy plants. Insect pests like aphids sometimes attack hops, but those can be controlled easily by introducing ladybugs that dine on aphids or by spraying your plants with a mild insecticidal soap solution available at garden stores.

Hops are perennial, producing vines that grow up to 25 feet each year. Provide a sturdy trellis to support the vines in a sunny part of your yard or garden. The plants need six to eight hours of full sun to produce well. Planting the vines along a tall fence or against the side of your porch or garage is also an option.

How to Plant

Once you’ve chosen your spot, till the soil thoroughly and add compost to provide good drainage. Hops plants don’t like their roots too wet. Plant your rhizomes in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. 

Mound each rhizome in dirt, spaced 3 to 5 feet apart and horizontally about 1 to 2 inches deep with the small buds pointing up. Within a week, you could see your first shoots emerge. Then step back. Hops can grow as much as a foot per day during the first few months.

Your plants will appreciate a supplemental feeding of compost, manure, or fertilizer during the first few months. Mulching your crop will help conserve moisture and cut down on weeds.

Trellis

You can let your imagination go wild when constructing your trellis. Others keep it simple by running a single strong support wire from one side of a building’s eave to the other and attaching strong twine to the top wire, extending vertically to each plant. The plants are then trained to wind around the vertical twine in a clockwise direction. Gently get the vines started when they are about a foot tall. They will climb to the top wire in short order. 

Harvesting

You may not see many cones in year one. The plant is concentrating on producing its root system. But by year two, you’ll be rewarded with your first harvest, up to a pound or more per plant. In late July and August, pinch a cone. If it feels papery, it’s ready to pick. If you break the cone open, you’ll see small, yellow particles inside. This is lupulin, the magic ingredient that gives beer its distinctive bitterness and aroma.

CAUTION: Never allow your dog to eat the cones, before or after brewing with them. The cones, both fresh and dried, are toxic to dogs, causing panting, high body temperatures, seizures, and even death.

Drying Your Harvest

After they’re picked, the cones need to be dried. In an electric food dehydrator, spread your cones evenly and set at its lowest setting (90 to 100 degrees F, and never over 140 degrees.)  Your cones are dry and ready when the stems are brittle. You can add them to your brew right after drying, or vacuum seal and store them in the freezer. Advanced home brewers use fresh cones right off the vines without drying for a particularly fresh tasting brew.

Hop Growing Zones Article

Buy Bulk Hops from our friends at Michigan Hop Alliance

Sound Recording Technology Major

May
20

Audio engineers are professionals who work in the production and/or recording of sound. To grasp just how vast the duties for audio engineering are, imagine any form of media which includes recording and working with sound. From podcasts to audiobooks, to the audio tours at museums, to the video games you play, to the sound from movies, television shows, and radio shows, all of these require the expertise of an audio engineer.

What jobs can I get with a degree in audio production?

The job titles for someone interested in audio engineering can be both varied and confusing. The term can be used interchangeably with a number of other job titles including “recording engineer,” “mixing engineer,” “sound engineer,” “studio engineer” “live music engineer” and many more. Your audio production skills will qualify you for a range of jobs and career positions, and you can narrow the search based on your interests and passions. 

Here are just a few examples of jobs and careers you might look for:

  • Audio engineer/audio engineering assistant. You can either try to land a job in a recording studio or if you’re the entrepreneurial type, start a studio of your own.
  • Live audio engineer. You can look for an audio production job in one of many live music venues, or if you like to travel, try to get hired with a touring act.
  • Music producer. You may want to dive into the creative and/or administrative side of recording, and start producing recordings for musical artists you believe in.
  • Video production-audio department. Films, videos, TV commercials, and web series almost always need audio production help.
  • Post-production expert. Post-production houses handle a lot of interesting projects, including voiceover, audio FX, Foley and ADR for film/TV.
  • Mastering engineer. You might choose to specialize in mastering, which is the all-important final step in preparing recorded audio for CD and vinyl duplication, as well as making music and other audio “broadcast-ready.”

In the world of music production or “making music,” audio engineers are often described as being on the “technical side” of the work while music producers, artists, and musicians are on the “creative side.” While creatives originate ideas about what’s to be recorded, the audio engineer is a conduit for the capture and management of sounds. The musician, vocalist, or producer decides what quality the sound should be while the audio engineer uses his tools and technologies to achieve that sound. Key to an audio engineer’s success is an ability to understand what the creative talent wants and then knowing how to deliver that result.  Since music is by definition a subjective art form, the terminology used to represent particular sounds and sound qualities can oftentimes be less than precise.  Terms including “grainy,” “booming,” “textured,” “layered,” and “rich,” are just a few. Audio engineers need the right balance of technical skills and a degree of creative sense. Another component is that audio engineers need to understand the elements of music theory; so they know the difference between dissonance and consonance. Basic song structures and terms should also be included in their wheelhouse. Artists and producers will often refer to a piece of music as the “bridge” “intro” “chorus” “outro” “drop” and while working in session.

Many music producers also serve as their own audio engineers when working with artists. Many future music producers started out their careers as audio engineers in order to build their knowledge base, experience, and industry connections before marketing themselves as music producers.

When an audio engineer is at work, they will responsible for perfecting, balancing, and adjusting sound through the use of equalization, audio technologies, and studio effects. They will also often be mixing, reinforcing, or reproducing sound and altering the quality of specific sounds through the usage of either analog (hardware) technologies or digital (software) technologies such as plug-ins and effects. Understanding signal flow, microphones, acoustics, signal processors, tape machines, digital audio workstations, sequencing software, and speaker systems are all basic requirements for those who choose this career.

Those interested in being an audio engineer must first get a certain cross-section of experience and exposure to various jobs and aspects of the industry to then know which path or paths they want to pursue. It is not uncommon for one audio engineer to have numerous specializations or niches. Before he became famous from working with The Beatles, Sir George Martin’s career as an audio engineer included producing both classical music and comedy records. 

With a variety of audio engineering careers available, you may want to start thinking about what part of the process excites you: audio, sound, or music. Do your research in advance. Read articles and interviews with professionals who actively work in one of the subfields, niches, or specializations. Conduct informational interviews with those who work in your region. Most professionals are willing to pass on hard-learned wisdom to those who aspire to follow in their footsteps. 

Two signature character traits of a successful audio engineer are an openness to learn combined with a sense of discovery. Careers in audio can change quickly in response to the development of new technologies, new forms of media, and changes in market demand. It benefits professionals in the field to stay current with the latest technologies and keep aware of trends in music, broadcasting, live sound, and various other fields. This agility and responsiveness are characteristics of audio engineers who can endure and even thrive when times change.

If you’re currently studying audio engineering and music production, don’t wait until after graduation. Start networking and researching now—and the sooner the better. The paradox here is that while your education and training in audio production will qualify you for a wide range of positions, the reality is that the industry is competitive and quite relationship-driven. Making cold-calls and emailed resumes rarely work, no matter how qualified you seem. Make the industry connections now that you’ll need in order to get hired later.

What Home Care Is Covered By Medicare?

Jan
23

What home care is covered by Medicare
Is there any financial help for caregivers?

Starting home care is often a challenging time for both the patient and the caregiver. Factoring in the financial component and what’s covered and by whom can make a stressful situation even harder. 

Home care services are a valuable Medicare benefit. They supply therapy, skilled medical care and other assistance to people that are who are largely or entirely confined to their homes.

In order to be covered, the services must be ordered by a doctor, and one of the 11,000 home health agencies nationwide that Medicare has certified must provide the care. If these conditions are met, Medicare pays the complete cost of home health care up to 60 days at a time. 

That period is renewable, meaning Medicare will still provide coverage if your doctor recertifies a minimum of once every 60 days that the house services remain medically necessary.

The specific conditions enrollees must meet for home care under Medicare Parts A and B are: 

  • A doctor has certified that the person is homebound.
  • The patient is under the care of a doctor who reviews his or her treatment plan regularly.
  • A doctor has certified that the patient needs skilled medical care or some sort of therapy.
  • The patient only needs physical, speech, or physical therapy for a limited amount of time
  • The home health agency to provide care is approved by Medicare.
  • Additionally, other than durable medical aid, patients usually don’t pay anything for in-home care.
  • The need for skilled nursing is merely part-time or intermittent.

There are several items Medicare won’t cover, including:

  • Meals delivered to your home
  • Homemaker services (like shopping, cleaning, and laundry), when these are the only types of services needed
  • Personal or custodial care (like bathing, dressing, or using the bathroom), when these are the only types of services needed
  • 24-hour-a-day home care

Many patients may require assistance with activities of daily living but might not have an actual medical condition. While Medicare doesn’t cover that scenario, a long-term care policy can help with the expense of home health aides who provide custodial services. It can also help pay for assisted living facilities, which offer seniors the ability to live independently but receive the help and care they need daily.

Is there any financial help for caregivers?

According to a 2016 AARP study, they estimate that family caregivers spend a mean of $6,954 on out-of-pocket costs for caregiving, which equates to approximately 20% of their annual income. In order to cover the out-of-pocket expenses, many caregivers make sacrifices in their own lives. 

Overall the study found that caregiving puts a financial strain on individuals caring for an adult family member:

  • On average, caregivers lose 33% of their income
  • Approximately 11% of caregivers quit working to provide care for a loved one full-time
  • Women who quit working to become caregivers lose approximately a total of $300,000 in wages, pensions, and Social Security benefits
  • 78% of caregivers incur out-of-pocket costs due to caregiving
  • 56% of employed caregivers experience at least one work-related strain, in the form of reduced hours, different work hours, or taking paid or unpaid time off
  • 16% of caregivers reduce contributions to their retirement savings
  • Approximately 50% of caregivers reduce leisure spending (dining out or vacations) due to caregiving expenses

Fortunately, there are several options for finical aid for caregivers. 

  • Medicaid – Aid may be available from the state for elderly loved ones who are low-income and eligible for Medicaid. To learn about the financial aid programs available in your state, contact your local Medicaid office.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance – this is another financial aid option for caregivers. However, it is important to note that only a few such policies allow for family caregiver payments. Older policies tend to have such a provision, so it is more likely that older seniors who have long-term care insurance have policies that will pay family caregivers. It is a good idea to contact the insurance company or agent who sold the policy to determine whether the plan allows for caregiver payments.
  • Veteran-Directed Home and Community-Based Services Program – This program provides caregiver support and authorizes a monthly flexible spending account for purchasing goods and securing services for disabled veterans to live at home. Veterans who opt for this program may hire family to act as their caregivers or to provide support to family caregivers. 
  • Tax Incentives – Caregivers also may find some financial assistance via tax incentives. Caregivers who are adult children younger than age 65 may deduct the costs of qualified medical expenses and mileage that are greater than 10% of their adjusted gross income if they itemize their deductions. However, it is in your best interests to discuss your options with an accountant or other tax professional to determine whether taking a standard deduction makes more financial sense. There also may be other deductions caregivers can take at tax time. While tax incentives are not as immediate as financial aid, they are one way to relieve the financial burden on caregivers.
  • The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Workplace benefits may be available to caregivers as a form of financial aid as well. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ensures employees working for any company with more than 50 employees and who have been employed for 12 months (working a minimum of 1,250 hours during that period) are offered 12 weeks of leave; however, the leave overwhelmingly is unpaid. 
  • Paid Leave for Caregiving Employees – If you don’t live in one of the four states that have implemented paid family leave options, don’t get discouraged yet. Fortunately, more companies are assisting caregiving employees today with paid leave, and larger companies are most likely to offer elder care programs. 
  • Family Payments – If the care recipient is ineligible for Medicaid or another state program, and the tax breaks are not as large as you need them to be to compensate you for your caregiving time and related out-of-pocket expenses, look into whether he can afford to pay you himself or if other family members are willing to pay you for your caregiving services.. However, this is a subject that should be discussed openly with all involved family members and any arrangement should be agreed upon by all parties. If your family determines that family payments are manageable, be sure to meet with an attorney and draft a contract that outlines your work and payment schedule so everyone in the family knows the situation. The contract also may become useful later if your loved one eventually needs to apply for Medicaid or enter an assisted living facility or nursing home.
  • Home and Community-Based Services Program – Care recipients who are not veterans can opt into a home and community-based services program (HCBS) if they meet the eligibility criteria (which varies by state, but is typically based on income and a qualifying medical condition, though recipients need not be age 65 or older to qualify). These programs offer guidance and financial assistance to caregivers to ensure they can provide the best possible care for their loved ones. They can also boost caregivers’ confidence and make it easier for them to provide a high level of care to their family member.

Last updated Jan 23, 2020. Information subject to change without notice. Due diligence is required.

Where Are Americans Moving? What You Need To know

Mar
26

A Prepared State of Moving

Moving long distances, like state to state or (gasp!) coast to coast can be quite the headache. However, if you stay calm and organized, what for some is often a colossal disaster for you can be a perfectly orchestrated adventure.

Your first task is finding the right moving company, particularly in the case of long-distance moves. Is the company big enough to get the job done? Small enough to understand your needs and pay attention to your individual details? These are the big questions you must ponder in order to get this done the right way.

Why, you ask, would anyone want to make such a move? Well, according to several travel bureaus here are some of the leading reasons people choose to move long distances:   

New Job: Most survey’s suggest work is the number one reason people move out of state. In many cases where a new job is involved moves often remain in-state, but often they are initiated in the hopes of landing a job that has yet to materialize. 

Education: Another popular motivation for people moving across state lines is higher education. College students off to school make up the largest demographic in this category, but it also includes students transferring from one university to another as well as families hoping to move their kids into a better school district.

Retirement: Ahh, the promised land of post work life! Warm weather for many is more than just a pleasure, as it can be vital to personal health, and many seek warmer climates for that reason alone. Many relocate to the northern climes as well, but that’s not a very sexy story. A lower cost of living and greater access to healthcare work also appears to make some states more attractive to retirees.

Amenity Access: All areas have something different to offer and moving closer to those you like can be a huge advantage. Access to healthcare (particularly research hospitals) is perhaps the biggest reason people move to another state. Better schools, more public park space and lower tax rates can all contribute to the decision to relocate to another state (although not likely at the same time!).

Needed Change of Pace: Not everyone has a solid financial or personal reason for relocating to another state. Often moving has less to do with needs and more to do with wants. When life gets a bit stale a change of pace or scenery can make all the difference. 

So just where are Americans moving to these days? Here is as short list of places recently deemed desirable in the 21st Century:

Rochester, Minnesota

Population: 110,275

Rochester’s rise to the top of many Best Places listings has been steady but not surprising. Praise for Rochester’s schools, civil engagement, available health-care and, most notably, its diverse range of affordable housing has given this northern midwest city quite an advantage. Home to the renowned Mayo Clinic, Rochester is experiencing an economic boom that is bringing in thousands of new residents and new businesses and giving those who live there an expanding assortment of entertainment options.

Bellevue, Washington

Population: 134,630

moving to minnesota

Lakes and mountains surround Bellevue, a Seattle suburb of more than 120,000, while a tapestry of lush parks provide residents with abundant outdoor recreation options. Bike paths and sidewalks make getting to and from the city’s many festivals, museums, restaurants and music venues easy. A population that is 40 percent minority provides a diverse range of lifestyles and ideas and Bellevue schools have been recognized to be among the top in the nation.

Madison, Wisconsin

Madison Capitol Building, Madison, USA

Population: 243,122

Not only does Madison have one of the top rated health-care systems in the country, it also has a high performing school system and strong economy. The University of Wisconsin (and a handful of other schools) gives Madison a large student population, but being the state capital also means this city offers some serious culture

Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara, California

Population: 90,401

A collection of beaches, mountain views and resorts help make Santa Barbara a popular tourist destination. Great schools, a highly ranked health-care system and strong economy make living in this California city feel like a dream come true. An abundance of farm-to-table restaurants, unique shopping experiences, plenty of outdoor recreation and fantastic weather keep Santa Barbara a top choice for relocation.

Boulder, Colorado

colorado

Population: 103,919

Known as one of the best cities in middle America, Boulder spoils its residents with pristine natural surroundings, a strong farm-to-table restaurant scene and dynamic arts and cultural attractions. Each season features plenty to do in Boulder. Many of the city’s highly active residents plan their days around hikes, rock climbing, mountain biking and fishing. Public Schools, too, are very highly regarded in this mile high city. 

Palo Alto, California

Population: 66,478

Those fortunate enough to live in Palo Alto enjoy a city that surpasses most quality of life standards. A long list of amenities starts with a 31-mile dark fiber ring around the city that provides ultra high-speed Internet. There are many things to do in Palo Alto, like playing in one if its many parks or dining in one of many unique restaurants. Palo Alto’s residents are politically active, socially minded and strongly support the city’s highly rated schools.

Bismarck, North Dakota

Population: 66,980

Located on the east bank of the Missouri River, Bismarck offers residents a large park system with walking and biking trails, a growing economy and attractions like the Dakota Zoo and the Kirkwood Mall in the downtown area. Newcomers find much to like in Bismarck’s affordable housing market and access to excellent hhealthcaresuch as Sanford Health, Bismarck’s largest employer.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor

Population: 116,194

Local schools are a high point when it comes to the quality of life factors that make Ann Arbor among the top cities in the nation. The University of Michigan, with nearly 50,000 students, makes Ann Arbor a perennial candidate for top college town in the nation and plays a big role in the city’s economy and culture. More than 150 parks, the Huron River, a large assortment of restaurants and shops give those who live in Ann Arbor numerous options when it comes to available entertainment.

Iowa City, Iowa

Population: 71,832

Highly ranked schools and a strong health-care system have helped Iowa City become a highly desirable place to live. But to get the full story take a look at the University of Iowa, which helps set the cultural tone. The city’s large assortment of arts and entertainment options draw in new residents and affordable home prices keep them there.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

 South Dakota

Population: 164,341

A range of neighborhoods, great schools and entertainment offerings routinely draw newcomers to a city that ranks high in health care and amenities. The city is defined by its spectacular Falls Park, the local economy is led by hospitals, banks and telecom companies and Empire Mall, a 1.3 million-square-foot shopping center, draws millions annually from across the Midwest.

As you can see, desirable locations abound all across the United States and the only obstacle keeping you from them is your desire to relocate. But be sure you plan well; choose your moving company carefully and be ready to reap the full benefit of a wise choice.

Maintaining the Charm of an Old Home

Oct
30

If you own an older home like I do then you know that constant maintenance and improvement is a must. Love it or hate it, this is merely the price we pay for the charm, quality materials and workmanship not seen in many of today’s contemporary construction practices and materials.

Nearly every facet of your home is in a constant state of flux – this year might present the need for new windows, next year a new roof. In fact, depending on the construction year of your home you know that constant upgrades and repairs are essential to keeping ahead of the curve.

Immediately after purchasing our 1928 home we replaced the roof. A few months later we began the arduous task of replacing nearly every window. This was costly and time consuming, but we agreed it needed to be done. Next we added insulation to the attic floor which, unfortunately, is not accessible for storage purposes (but this made the project that much easier).

Over the next few years we repaired a leak in the roof, solved a major leak stemming from our biggest window AC unit that caused extensive water damage both to the window frame, the ceiling underneath and even led to some issues with the exterior brickwork.

The ensuing years saw us forced to dig out the sewer drain which was located underneath a four inch thick concrete slab … no small feat. A twelve foot hole, nearly eight feet wide was dug directly outside the back door in the middle of January. The inconvenience lasted well into the late spring and we had a perfect mud pit between the driveway and the back door with no alternative route. In desperation we built a makeshift plywood “dock”. Far from perfect, but it did its job and sufficiently eliminated most of the mud.

One of the best rewards you can give yourself is to cultivate a strong relationship with a home maintenance company with whom you trust, both for their workmanship and integrity. Finding such is not always easy – there are far too many to choose from in most communities. But if you are careful and know what your needs are the process can be significantly simplified. Best of luck with your next project!

basement note: info

Is It Really Possible To Fully Waterproof Anything?

Aug
09

Photo by Devon Janse van Rensburg

Can You Waterproof?

Is ‘waterproof’ an attainable state? In other words, is it actually possible to either create or modify an object to become completely impermeable to moisture … or perhaps would it be more accurate to suggest that there are levels of waterproof, ranging from ‘water resistant’ all the way to full imperviousness? Some would suggest it’s merely a selling point and or simply untrue, but many industries and products exist today that would have you believe otherwise.

Boats

Most boats today are fiberglass which in its normal state is a porous substance. But where fiberglass boats are concerned relative protection from water absorption is attained by applying a barrier coat of epoxy or epoxy-based paint. Depending on the smoothness required of the finished surface these paints can be sanded before an anti-fouling paint is applied to retard vegetation growth, but all along the point is to keep the porous surface of fiberglass from developing the clear sign of water penetration, blisters. More often than not this approach is successful. In stark contrast, old fashioned wooden boats never truly achieved a watertight state. In fact, caulking or tar was used between the wooden planks to slow, but never truly stop the incoming tide of leakage.  

Clothing

A wise person once declared there was no such thing as bad boating weather, merely poor clothing choices, and he couldn’t have been more right. The old days of oil skins and rubberized foul weather gear has evolved and been slowly taken over by high tech fabrics such as Gortex and polypropylene. Both are derivatives of nylon, and Gortex, the industry standard, is a cloth purported to not only be waterproof but also breathable. This is achieved by incorporating micro-sized holes in the fabric which allows perspiration to exit while also being too small for rain or splash to penetrate. Another advancement is the quick dry nature of synthetic athletic apparel, which also incorporates the ability to “wick” surface moisture to the outside for easy and quick evaporation.

Basements

Nearly all basements are susceptible to water seepage. Whether built in a flood plain or the product of a localized heavy rainfall, water will almost surely find a way to the lower level of your home. 

Waterproofing methods vary, but they usually include concrete coatings such as silicone and waterproofing paint. Occasionally even a plastic sheet/sump pump combination will do the trick. All these methods work for interior and exterior walls and floors. Additionally, with excavation, you can greatly improve the waterproof qualities of the exterior walls through a drainage system.

Outside prevention also includes preparing the ground with sand or gravel around the structure base which serves to direct water away from the structure. In addition, drainage piping is imperative in order for water to be passed through gutters and disposed into the ground through downspouts. But the location of downspouts is also a continual battle. In many older communities these drainage systems drop water directly into city sewerage systems, but in more modern areas this practice has been outlawed. Therefore, proper drainage that directs water away from the structure is even more important.

Interior waterproofing involves the use of waterproof paints such as Drylock or Water Tite. In all cases, proper preparation of the surface has a direct bearing on success.   

Other clear signs of basement leakage include cracked or buckling walls, peeling paint and efflorescence. 

Cracked walls come in various shapes and sizes such as horizontal, vertical, diagonal or even stair-stepped. Widening cracks strongly suggest the presence of severe pressure or structural damage.

Buckling walls are usually caused by hydrostatic pressure and when walls appear to be bowed inward you’ve got a serious problem that likely requires professional attention.

Water seepage through walls also causes bubbling and/or peeling paint along basement walls, and is a sure sign of unwanted moisture.

Efflorescence is a white, powdery residue that appears to grow on basement walls (usually near the floor) that often leads to various types of molds that usually grow in damp, dark areas and are known to cause respiratory problems.

Unfortunately, basement leakage issues are an ongoing problem that appears to be impossible to completely eradicate. 

Electronic devices

Today here are many electronic devices available that boast their imperviousness to water. Waterproof watches were once designed almost exclusively for divers but now they are so common as to nearly be a standard feature. However, don’t necessarily believe that “Waterproof to 100 Feet” marker. Although this feature has become nearly standard also suggests it is often simply not true. However, moderately priced watches with this feature (for real) can be found in Timex, Casio, Armitron and Aposon brands, all which make reasonably priced watches that do actually keep out the water.   

The advent of smart phones, once led by Apple’s iPhone, ushered in a new era of needed waterproof electronics, particularly personal cellphones. But protection, although available, often proves illusive. Protective cases from makers such as Pelican and Otter provide multiple levels of protection ranging from water resistant to full waterproof. As with all specialty products, form, style and function provide options ranging from soft bags to form fitted boxes designed specifically for particular models. With this in mind, the ability of the product to keep the water out relies on you to purchase the correct product. However, I still would not recommend total submersion as a test.

In short, the pursuit of waterproof items, ranging from clothing to boats, basements and electronics is largely a matter of degrees and compromises. However, so long as your expectations are realistic and you’ve done your homework, a remedy can readily be found to meet your needs.  

How To Draw Caricatures Seminar

Feb
18

Below are six YouTube Videos about how to improve your caricature artist style and ability. Each instructor has their own style and method of teaching the art of caricature drawing.

There are a lot of artists who draw independently to make a living. Others like to work with larger caricature companies. Maybe you prefer to draw for fun. Whatever your reason, the videos below will help you develop you skills.

About Cashmere Video Seminar

Jul
28

If you are interested in cashmere you have come to the right place. Here, at nothingtopost.com, we’ve decided to share a few thoughts and videos about cashmere. This is like an online cashmere seminar.

Cashmere is wool from the Cashmere goat. Actually, it’s hair from the goat and it is highly desirable. Cashmere clothing such as Ponchos have become rather popular. Toppers, scarfs and wraps are always handy on cool days. Dress jackets are a favorite among men.

The videos below give you various perspectives on cashmere goats, processing the material, products and how to care for cashmere. By the time you are done watching these videos you should have a good undertstanding of cashmere.

About Cashmere

Fashion

A historical fashion perspective

Care for Cashmere

How to fix a hole in your cashmere

Funny

Nothing but…A little Change

Jun
18

Best Practices and Process Improvement

Why are business professionals publically in favor of terms such as Best Practices and Process Improvement, but silently dread them in private?

One would think identifying the top methods in their industry would have great appeal. Improving procedures would be near the top of all professional’s on-going education.  Yet, far too many of these individuals revel in putting major stumbling blocks for transformation between them and the success they ultimately seek.

We often encounter these business professionals fighting this change every inch of the way, with arms folded and heels dug in. Fears include increasing costs, demonstrating competency and sustaining quality.  The ego of leadership can also be a major stumbling block. Past failures with innovation can make a company shy about new efforts. Yet, none of these are valid excuses.

Many organizations lack the brutal honesty to deal with changes in policies, processes and procedures. Only when laws are passed and mandates are made will these companies react to these better practices. Trusted, tried and true methods often have with them a perceived safety net effect. If it worked in the past, many rationalize that it still has to be relevant.

A young equipment leasing sales rep once reported that he was calling on a capital equipment dealer and his contact was the company’s general manager, a man many years his senior. His company appeared perfect for leasing and finance programs. When he would ask the general manager questions about financing options for their customer, the prospect would reply, “Steve wouldn’t like it.”  Each question would inadvertently boil down to the same response, “Steve wouldn’t like it.”  About forty minutes into the sales call, the young account manager asked the sales manager, “I keep hearing you say that Steve wouldn’t like it. May I talk to him and find out what he really thinks?” The general manager responded, “Steve died in 1977.”  The tried and true methods from preserving “The Legacy of Steve” had won out over offering their customers payment plans and finance options.   The account manager reported the company was sold eighteen months later.

Leading and innovative organizations know differently. They are part of the disruption culture. They fully understand that if they don’t look to the horizon and watch what’s coming, they will be found out of style, obsolete or part of the past just like a Montgomery Ward’s catalogue. Having an empowered team of professionals who do the right thing every time, see their part in the picture and can adapt to new tools, techniques and thoughts on how their industry works is critical to maintaining long term success.

In today’s evolving business marketplace, companies need to respond with every best possible method to leverage efficiencies, protect margins, improve process and remain responsive to competitive pressures. The idea behind studying and implementing Best Practices and Process Improvement is crucial. Organizations who perceive change as a strategy to avoid are as outdated as continuing to manage one’s operations by the Gospel according to Steve, circa 1977.