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What Qualifies for Bulk Mailing?


How Much Does Direct Mail Marketing Cost? 

Bulk mail is a discounted mailing service offered by the USPS for those who prepare and send large quantities of mail. If you regularly send out standard-sized mailings in an amount equal to or greater than the numbers below, you may be able to save money but working directly with a printer. They can offer direct mail production and distribution rather than taking your pre-printed pieces to the post office. 

Usually, your bulk price mail is cheaper than a regularly priced single piece of mail. Single piece means you’re paying full price for a standard piece of mail.

So, how many pieces do I need to send to qualify for bulk mail?

Below is a list of exactly how many verifiable pieces you need to send in order to qualify for bulk mailing discounts. If you’re sending as much or more than this, it can be more cost effective apply to a bulk mail program or work with a direct mail printer. 

You’ll need to send at least:

  • 500 pieces for First-Class Mail
  • 200 pieces (or 50 pounds of mail) for Standard Mail
  • 50 pieces for Parcel Select (also known as Standard Post)
  • 300 pieces for Presorted or Carrier Route Bound Printed Matter
  • 300 pieces for Library Mail
  • 300 pieces for Media Mail

How do I get a bulk mail discount?

First, you’ll need a mailing permit, basically an allowance to send large amounts of postage from a single facility. You can apply for this at your USPS Business Mail Acceptance Unit, which is also where you will drop off your bulk mail. Then you will have to pay the annual mailing fee.

Next, you pay for your postage using one of three ways:

  • Precanceled Stamps: these are stamps that are set aside for presorted First Class and Standard Mail. You pay a much lower price for them upfront and then only pay the difference when/if you use them.
  • Postage Meter/PC Postage: this is best for home-printed postage. You can save time and money when you’re printing your own postage.
  • Permit Imprint: this is ideal for high bulk mailings; however, the items have to be the exact same weight to qualify. You’ll also must have an “advanced deposit account” from the specific post office you’ll be using. You prepay for your postage, then use their postage indicia for your permit imprint rather than a printed stamp and they deduct it from your account.

Do I need to presort bulk mail?

Lastly, you have to presort your work. This requires going through and ensuring all of your mail is presorted by zip code. This is the key reason you get cheaper prices -you save the post office time which means you save money.

Often businesses find this goes beyond what they’re willing to spend time doing, but if you can afford the extra time it can save a significant amount of money on high volume shipping. 

Using Bulk Mail to Market your Business

Now that you know what qualifies for bulk mailing, how much does direct mail marketing cost? Data continues to show that consumers respond favorably to direct mail. When done strategically, direct mail is a great way to increase revenue for your business.

Before reviewing costs, it’s best to figure out what type of direct mail piece is most effective for your brand. While research from the Data and Marketing Association suggests the response rate is usually highest for oversized envelopes (versus something like a letter-sized mailer), you’ll still need to determine what will work best for your campaign goals.

Which is right for you is going to vary and depends on a few different things:

  • What’s your budget? – Oversized mailers and catalogs are more expensive to design, print and ship because of their increased weight. 
  • What are you selling? – If you sell a serious product, like insurance or tax preparation, you most likely will want to send a traditional letter. If your offer is more fun and creative, you can create a colorful and eye-catching postcard.
  • Who is your campaign targeting? – If you’re nurturing past customers who are already familiar with your company, you won’t need to give them as much information and a letter or postcard can suffice.  If you’re targeting cold leads, you may need to send a bigger brochure so they can learn more about you.

If you’re interested in the more expensive direct mail pieces, it’s a good idea to do testing on a smaller group so you can measure how well it converts before going wider with it. Working directly with a direct mail printer can be a cost-effective way to A/B test, and even save on campaign costs depending on your campaign specifics. 

Direct Mail Costs

Direct mail pieces costs can range anywhere from 30 cents to more than $10 per person, depending on how much you spend on design, copy writing, mailing lists, printing, and distribution. Some companies do much of this inhouse and wind up only paying for printing and mailing or you can find printers that also offer design services in addition to fulfillment and distribution. 

Let’s break down these individual cost factors:

Design Costs ($0 – $100)

When it comes to designing your direct mail piece, there are several options:

    DIY – If you only need something basic, like a renewal letter, you should be able to create something suitable in Microsoft Word.

    Use a template – You can find a number of websites that sell templates that cost $10 on average.

    Hire a professional – If you need creative help, your best bet is to pay a professional print designer. You can someone local in your area, find a freelancer online, or see if your printer offers design services.

Marketing Copy Costs ($0 – $100)

If you have a tight budget, you may have no other choice but to write your own marketing copy. However, if budget allows you can hire a professional copywriter. Your copy has to be persuasive and there is an art to getting it just right. Copywriters are trained to write content that hooks the audience and gets them to buy.

Mailing Lists Costs ($0 – $0.30 / record)

Free mailing lists can be generated by gathering data you already have on your current customers, or by doing a trade of your info with another business in your industry.

If neither of these options are a possibility, you will pay between .02-.30 cents on average per record. The cost will vary based on the quality of the list, how many records you buy, and how many times you can send to the list. 

Printing Costs ($0.03 – $2.00 / person)

Printing costs will vary based on the following:

  • Paper quality
  • Black and white vs. color
  • Paper size
  • 1 sided vs. 2 sided
  • Number of pages
  • Quantity

Visit an online or local printing business to find out exact printing costs for your campaign.

Distribution Costs ($0.25 – $2.00 / piece)

Of course, the final cost to consider is mailing costs. Prices fluctuate and are dependent on the current postage rate, the quantity you send, and how much all of that mail weighs. Keep in mind, the larger the pieces, the heavier the order, and the more you’re going to pay.

Bulk mailing and direct mail, if done right, can be both an effective and cost-effective way to market your business.

More resources:

Sound Recording Technology Major


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?


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.

Financial Advisor For Retirement


Your dad tells you to spend less money and save for your future life, or your mom scolds you for buying a new car or your aunt living next door suggesting you invest in BitcoinDon’t mistake the wrong people for a financial advisor.

People are happy to tell you where and how to spend your money. Don’t let their advice be a huge mistake. They are not what we call a real financial advisor.

Do you wonder what a real financial advisor is?

A financial advisor is a well-educated, certified professional who helps people and families figure out their taxes, retirement plan, or help them to stay in control their money. A good advisor doesn’t randomly invest your money anywhere. They research and depend on a professional analyst to help find the best options based on your risk tolerance level.

You work hard to earn money, and earning lots of money can be even harder, however finding a good financial advisor should not be as hard. To find someone to trust with your money with the skill to earn better returns requires a little research.

But don’t worry! We are here to make the tough task easy for you. Below are some tips that will help you figure out what a good financial advisor is for you.

Here are the things that you should look in for a good financial advisor:

Qualifications and Education: 

In the world where skills have overpowered degrees, judging someone on the basis of their qualifications looks old school, right? Well not always, because education does matter a lot. Therefore, it is important to check the records of the person you consider for the role of a financial advisor. Look for someone who holds the proper certifications and has worked with various clients you know. Get referrals!.

Such advisors should have a lot of exposure to multiple options. Even as complex as a 1031 exchange. Therefore, they often come up with the best solutions and plans.  Also, based on their qualifications and achievements, you will get an idea of how much expect to pay for such financial advisor. Although, not all advisors change based on the same criteria.

Pay structure of Financial Advisor

As a new bee, looking for a financial advisor, it is better to go for a financial advisor who charges on an hourly or fee basis. These planners can be the best fit for you because they do not operate on a commission. These advisors are client-centric and give you genuine reviews of your options. Unlike other financial advisors who operate on a commission basis and might direct you to buy products which may be a more profitable deal for them. Besides, they are highly experienced and take their clients seriously because they know someone is counting on them for hourly basis. 

Know the background of your advisor

Do you like investigate? To find an advisor, you need to become a detective. Learn how they treaded their previous clients or how they handled their money. Details are important to uncover because you don’t want to risk your money with the wrong person. You should also get a sense of how trustworthy they are, for this, you can seek information about then from some sources like friends or family.

Try asking for referrals

References are powerful and can make an uphill task easier. As you hunt to find a good financial advisor, you can ask for help from people you know. Ask your friends for a good referral. You can seek information about various financial advisors or financial advising companies on Google. Read reviews to know what other people say about them. After a little research and brainstorming, decide on the financial advisor that feel right to you. 

Interview various financial advisors

“Hard work is the key to success.” This idea proves to be true to find a good financial advisor. In the world full of smart speaking people who can fool you easily, you need to find someone you can trust with your money.

This is a big deal, right? So, you need to interview multiple advisors. Weed out the worst to find the best among them. When you talk to advisors, you can ask them about the work they have done for their clients. Their approach to investing, how do they measure success.

These are some tips that can help you find a good financial advisor. Don’t forget to remember to include these points in your hiring checklist. A good financial advisor can make your income and savings work for you.

The person who understands the value of money and the hard work required to earn money is someone who can give you good advice. We hope by following these tips you find the best financial advisor who will make your life happy well in to your 90’s!

What Is A Culinary School?


Culinary School

What is a culinary school?

A cooking school — an institution devoted to education in the art and science of cooking and food preparation

One thing to know is Everything about a professional kitchen, including an educational kitchen, is amazingly intense. The fact is the Knives are much sharper, stoves are a lot hotter, shared space is tighter than your kitchen. Professional kitchens run at a fast-moving pace and you’ll be expected to figure everything out very quickly.

Is Culinary School Hard?

More people than ever are chasing a dream of running a kitchen or become a famous chef. Culinary school enrollment has increased in recent years. Yes, culinary school is and should be hard. The real world of culinary arts is hard. Long hours for low pay is common in the early years. It’s important to think about why you want to go to culinary school.

How much is culinary school?

Tuition Rates for Culinary Schools

In addition to traditionally high tuition rates, the costs of culinary schools are also rapidly rising. Currently, culinary school tuition typically costs over $30,000. That’s a steep price for most students to consider, and one that will force many students to utilize financial aid.

When looking at culinary school tuition, pay close attention to whether the dollar amount covers the whole degree program or only a portion of the program. In many cases, it isn’t the same as a yearly tuition fee that you’ll find at a four-year college. Instead, culinary school tuition typically encompasses the cost of the entire degree program. For example, the Arizona Culinary Institute has a nine-month program that costs $25,990. Meanwhile, The Culinary Institute of America charges about $12,950 per semester for a nine-semester program. The difference in total cost is significant, so it’s important to look into these kinds of details when researching culinary schools.


Is going to culinary school a good idea?


This is a question I hear often, between my educator hat and my columnist hat. Adding to the confusion is that if you look up the answer, you get a flurry of advice, much of it from culinary schools who have a horse in the race and argue that either:

  1. A degree is a waste of money—you just need to learn the cooking skills as efficiently as possible.
  2. A degree will better prepare you for long-term success and adaptability.

As usual with these questions, there is no single answer that will work for everyone.

My advice is to ask yourself a series of questions that may help you decide on the program to meet your needs.

First: What is the goal? If your goal is simply to get a job in a restaurant kitchen, consider learning on the job with a good mentor. I know that may seem like surprising advice from a culinary educator, but employers are desperate for talent, culinary school is expensive, and a popular misconception is that you need a degree to get a foot in the door. While that may be true for top kitchens, you can learn a lot from working full time in the right environment and supplementing your work with reading and classes.

Is Culinary a good career?

In the recent years, more and more people are gaining interest in culinary arts. Whether they want to be executive chef of the fanciest restaurant in town or own their own business catering to locals, lots of people are researching, learning, and consuming more fine food than ever before.

For those who want to make a career out of the culinary arts, this profession requires one to be highly educated. An individual has to know how to cook, but also how to manage a kitchen, restaurant, and about the food industry to keep up with trends and demand. Working in the culinary arts field is much more than preparing a tasty meal.

Let’s take a look at how to become a part of this exciting and fast-paced field. From your first day in culinary school to the day you are promoted to head chef, what does it take to make your mark in the field of culinary arts?

Can you go to culinary school with no experience?

How do I become a chef without culinary school?

Speaking from experience, you do not need any previous experience to get in to a culinary school. Like many schools, if you claim to have the passion, and are willing to pay the bills, you can get into a culinary school. I had no professional kitchen experience before attending Le Cordon Bleu, a few years ago. It is not easy to succeed, since many individuals will have previous experience and more knowledge. This should not not keep you from following your passion in the kitchen. Culinary school can either be a place to hone your skills in preparation for becoming a chef or it can be a place to start your journey in working in the food industry.Do I need to go to culinary school to be a chef?

You can also get a job in a restaurant kitchen or even a fast food restaurant with little or no experience so you can practice your newly acquired skills. All you need is a willingness to work hard and learn, as well as a passion for food. The first answer above is correct in the fact that it is not always glamorous. You’ll have to do a lot of things you don’t enjoy, and may not seem related to what you want to do in your career, but it is all important. If you really want to be a chef, and have a love for all things food related, it is worth it, because in the end, if you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like you’re working. I still can’t believe I get paid to play in the kitchen every day.

How many years does it take to become a chef?

It usually takes only two years to complete and is offered by a variety of institutions, such as community colleges and culinary schools. During the two years of education, students should expect to gain an extensive array of culinary skills and knowledge that will provide the foundation for a career as a chef.What’s the difference between a cook and a chef?

The following are some schools to consider:

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
The world-renowned Institute of Culinary Education (ICE)
Kendall is the Accelerated Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts,
New England Culinary Institute (NECI) The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Washington
San Diego Culinary Institute (SDCI)
Schoolcraft College Detroit Culinary Arts (Detroit)
St. Louis Community College (SLCC)
Delgado Community College (DCC)

Where Are Americans Moving? What You Need To know


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


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


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?


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.


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.  


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.


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


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


If you are interested in cashmere you have come to the right place. Here, at, 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


A historical fashion perspective

Care for Cashmere

How to fix a hole in your cashmere