Gunning Daily News

Q: Who Are the Professionals that Do Home Improvements?

March 15, 2013 2:30 pm

Q: Who Are the Professionals that Do Home Improvements?

A: They vary depending on the size and scope of your job. General contractors are companies or individuals who contract with you to manage all aspects of the project, including hiring and supervising subcontractors, obtaining building permits, and supplying materials and labor equipment needed to do the project. Specialty contractors, on the other hand, are mainly concerned with installing products, such as cabinets and fixtures. Architects design homes, additions, and major renovations. And design/build contractors basically offer one-stop service, providing design and construction services and overseeing a project from start to finish.

Money Lessons for Kids Ages 5-6

March 15, 2013 2:30 pm

It's never too early to begin teaching your kids about money. Even kids as young as five and six can grasp basic financial concepts. Kids in this age group notice their parents writing checks, using an ATM or paying for purchases using cash. They may start mimicking this behavior during play and that's a great sign they are ready to begin learning about money.

BMO Harris Bank recommends introducing kids in this age group to three basic money concepts:

What is money? Start with explaining what money is and what coins and dollar bills look like. To avoid overwhelming your kids, you may want to stick with smaller denominations, such as $1, $5 and $10 bills. As they begin recognizing them, you can introduce them to the value of different money amounts.

Use common household items such as a pack of gum, birthday candles or a toothbrush to illustrate how each item is assigned a different dollar amount.

What is its purpose? After your kids understand what money is, you can begin teaching them how it's used. Explain that when people want to buy things, such as a house, car, food and clothing, they need to use money. At this stage, you may also want to briefly introduce different payment methods, such as cash, check or credit card.

Tip: Take your kids on small shopping trips so they can see how money is used to buy everyday items such as food and household supplies.

Where does it come from? Kids in this age group are ready to learn how money is earned. If your kids ask where you are going, let them know you are going to work and that while there, you are earning money to buy them the things they need and want.

Tip: To reinforce the idea that you earn money at work, consider bringing your kids to your office for a short visit or having your family attend the next company picnic.


Tips on Planting the Right Tree in the Right Place

March 15, 2013 2:30 pm

Choosing what to plant, and where, in your yard should go beyond simple landscaping preferences. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds customers to plant the "right tree, in the right place."

Even trees that are small when planted may grow to heights that can interfere with overhead distribution power lines and planting any type of tree near larger, higher-voltage transmission power lines should be avoided all together. Calling 811 before digging will also help customers plant trees in a location where roots won't interfere with underground electric and gas lines.

There are many benefits to planting trees: they keep homes cool by providing shade, enhance property values and clean the air. However, if the right tree is not planted in the right place, it can potentially damage electric and gas lines, causing power outages, gas leaks and other serious public safety concerns. In fact, more than 90 percent of tree-caused power outages come from healthy trees and branches that fall or grow into power lines.

Keep in mind the following tips for planting the right tree in the right place, especially if you are planting trees near distribution power lines:

• Only plant a tree near distribution power lines if it will grow to less than 25 feet at maturity. (This information is available at your local nursery.)

• Avoid planting any type of tree near larger and higher voltage transmission power lines; only use low-growing plants.

• Whenever homeowners or contractors are grading, installing sprinklers or planting a tree, PG&E urges them to call 811 at least two days before starting a project, to have underground gas and electric lines marked. For more information about USA visit

• Keep all trees, equipment and people at least 10 feet away from power lines.


Tips for Using the Nutrition Facts Label

March 15, 2013 2:30 pm

March is National Nutrition Month, encouraging Americans to "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day." Now in its 40th year, this annual campaign offers important advice on healthful eating. To help you make informed food choices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminds you to Read the Label.

The Nutrition Facts Label found on all packaged foods and beverages serves as your go-to guide for choosing and comparing foods. Now in its 20th year, this handy resource lets you know exactly what you're eating and helps you make choices that can improve your long-term health.

You can use the Nutrition Facts Label every time you shop for food. Follow these tips to get started, and you'll see how easy reading the label really is!

• Check the serving size. All of the nutrition information listed on the Nutrition Facts Label is based on one serving of that food. But, it's common for one package of a food to contain more than one serving.

• Consider the calories. If you want to manage your weight (lose, gain, or maintain), pay attention to the calories. The key is to balance how many calories you eat with how many calories your body uses. As a general rule, 400 or more calories per serving for a single food is high and 100 calories is moderate. And remember, if a package contains two (or more) servings and you eat the entire package, you are consuming two (or more) times the number of calories and nutrients listed on the label.

• Choose nutrients wisely. You can also monitor your intake of specific nutrients by using the Percent Daily Value (percent DV) on the Nutrition Facts Label. This is especially helpful for "nutrients to get less of" such as sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol, which can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. Follow this easy guideline when looking at nutrients on the Label: 5 percent DV or less of a nutrient means the food is low in that nutrient, and 20 percent DV or more means it's high!

Start using the Nutrition Facts Label today and you'll be making informed choices about the foods you are consuming. Identify serving size, look at calories, and be aware of nutrients – especially the ones you and your family are trying to get less of. That's how you can celebrate good nutrition every month of the year!


Q: Who Should Be Called to the Project First, the Contractor or the Architect?

March 12, 2013 5:28 pm

A: Opinions vary about which professional to call first. Some say the architect comes first because “you have to design it before you can build it.” The architect, who is trained to resolve problems creatively, can help define the project in ways that provide meaningful guidance for the design. The architect can also do site studies, help secure planning and zoning approvals, and perform a variety of other pre-design tasks. On the other hand, a contractor will be the one you interact with on a regular basis and the person who will likely be in your home every day, possibly for an extended period depending on the scope of your work. Many contractors have in-house design services, or design/build firms, and can possibly offer better price and integration between design and implementation. Others may have several architects with whom they work directly, which could also provide a smooth integration between design and implementation.

Word of the Day

March 12, 2013 5:28 pm

Lessor. Someone who rents to another party through a lease; the landlord.

Signs When You Should Fire Your Financial Advisor

March 12, 2013 5:28 pm

Having a financial advisor can be a great way to protect your assets, whether you’re having them manage your business finances, personal or family finances. However, an irresponsible financial advisor can do more damage than none at all.

Below are a few warning signs that something is wrong with your relationship with your investment professional:
• Your advisor does not return your phone calls.
• The transactions on your statements don't make sense to you.
• Your account statements include transactions you did not authorize.
• You find unidentifiable debits or credits on monthly account statements.
• You see a dramatic drop in value of stock in a short period of time.
• The market is "up," but you're losing money.
• The majority of investments recommended by the broker are declining in value.
• Your broker tells you to view market news as entertainment.
• Your broker fails to disclose important information regarding an investment purchase.
• Your broker begins trading in high risk and speculative investments.
• You are paying capital gains taxes, despite the fact that your account value is decreasing.
• Financial results are markedly different from publicly announced expectations.
These warnings signs do not necessarily mean you are a victim of fraud, but there are other rules that may also protect you, such as those pertaining to sustainability.

Do's and Don'ts for Bringing the Next Generation into the Family Business

March 12, 2013 5:28 pm

We often tell our client families that there is no "one size fits all" formula for transitioning a family business from one generation to the next. There are multiple variables in every family and business that impact how to best address the process in a given situation, making it challenging to offer tools like checklists to help with preparations. Yet, while each situation is unique, there are some experiences most businesses will face for which there is some common wisdom. One such situation is the experience of getting the next generation of family employees started professionally in the business.

Any transition is essentially a hand-off, much like runners in a relay passing the baton or a trapeze artist swinging from one bar to another. And, just like a relay team requires each successive runner to be in position and ready to run hard and well, the transition of a family business requires a new generation that is ready to take the baton-both in the right positions and adequately prepared. And, just like getting ready for the big race requires years of training and dedicated effort, preparing to transition the day-to-day management of the family enterprise from one generation to the next takes years of preparation before the successor generation is sufficiently ready to assume that tremendous responsibility.

While it is important to remember that succession of management authority is a process that should evolve over many years, it should be lost on no one that first impressions count. Anyone who has ever begun a new job can attest that early accomplishments often play a significant role in one's long-term success. Of course, there are no guarantees for success, but a family member who starts his or her career in the business with strong objective success or as a clear contributor on a team will be more valuable to the company and likely have continued success than a family member who does not. With that in mind, here's that checklist I mentioned earlier; a list of "Do's and Don'ts" for onboarding new family employees in a family enterprise:


Plan ahead. The most important preparations happen years before the new family employee actually joins the family business, ideally when they go to work at another company. The self-confidence, credibility and learning of outside best practices that come from working elsewhere have immeasurable value for the new family employee once they join their family's enterprise. Outside experience gives the new family hire instant credibility with other employees-credibility that can otherwise take years to develop, as some non-family team members may assume successes the family employee has at the business are thanks to their family connection. Even more important, however, is the self-confidence that is developed when a family member knows without a shadow of a doubt that he or she can succeed in the outside world, too.

Start the new family employee at an appropriate level. If you start them at a level that's well above their skills and experience, then you risk overwhelming them and sending a signal to the rest of the organization that they will be given unfair advantages. If you start them at a level that's too low-because you started at the bottom and they should, too-even if they come with years of outside experience, then you risk putting them in a boring work situation or causing them a lot of frustration that could lead them to leave. Of course, many families believe it is important that their family employees experience all aspects of their business(tiresome jobs included), and that approach has great merit; the only caveat is you may not want to have a college-educated and well-experienced manager bagging groceries for more than a few weeks.

Announce the new family employee's arrival in a matter-of-fact manner. In most cases, it should not be a secret that the new hire is part of the family, and the rest of the company will figure it out quickly, so why hide it? A simple e-mail from the CEO along the following lines will typically work well: "I am happy to announce that my daughter, Jane Doe, will be joining the company as our newest marketing manager."

Have the new family employee report to a long-standing employee and well-regarded non-family member. It's not always possible, but there are great advantages to having the new family employee report to someone who is not also a family member. Most importantly, this kind of reporting relationship will increase the chances that the new family employee will receive accurate performance feedback.

At a minimum, provide the new family employee with the same performance feedback process as all other comparable employees. If all employees receive an annual formal performance review with informal "check ins" quarterly, then that's what the new family employee should receive as well. As it can be challenging for a mid-level manager to provide objective feedback to a member of the owning family, it can sometimes be helpful to develop some support from the HR department or other senior leaders in the business for this process. In addition, there may be a desire to take a more proactive role in the professional development opportunities for family employees if they have the ambition and potential to eventually move into more senior roles in the business.

Involve the board. An outside board member can be helpful to both the older and the younger generation during the time when a new family employee first joins the family enterprise. This board member can provide an important perspective of impartiality to both generations, particularly during episodes of conflict.

Communicate. Too often, the new family employee or the incumbent feels frustrated, angry, confused or even delighted about a particular situation... and they keep that feeling to themselves. It's important for all key parties to check in with each other frequently and informally, simply to keep the lines of communication open. Establish a tradition of a weekly breakfast or monthly lunch to ensure communication stays strong. Family members may have many qualities, but mind-reading isn't one of them!


Create a job for the new family employee. This is really an extension of the second bullet point above. Just as it's important to bring the new family employee into the organization at an appropriate level, it's equally important that a job is not created for them. If the position is not genuine, then others in the company will know that... and they will likely resent the new family employee as a result. In addition, it can be difficult to objectively assess the performance and development of the family employee if they are not in a role or job that has to be done, that provides some accountability.

Put all the responsibility for the career entry and development of the new family hires on just one generation. Onboarding a new family employee in a family enterprise is a complicated and sometimes difficult process that is too big for any one person. It's not the new family employee's sole responsibility to make it happen; nor is it the sole responsibility of the incumbent. Successful onboarding is a responsibility that is shared by both generations.

If you keep the above items in mind while planning for the transition of your family's business, you will take an important step toward increasing the likelihood that your family business will continue long into the future.


Are You Healthy? Would You Know If You Weren't?

March 12, 2013 5:28 pm

Not too long ago – just after World War II – few people in the United States brushed their teeth with any regularity. Now, the mere thought of going an entire day or night without brushing one’s teeth is simply out of the question for most.

Hopefully, someday in the near future, a similar attitude will prevail regarding mental well-being, says Dr. Matt Mumber, an oncologist and author of “Sustainable Wellness: An Integrative Approach to Transform Your Mind, Body, and Spirit,” coauthored by Yoga therapist Heather Reed.

“Human happiness and well-being are rudderless without awareness, which I define as the quality of paying attention to what’s going on in the present moment from an inquisitive, nonjudgmental and focused perspective,” he says.

An easy way to think of optimal wellbeing might be to envision a three-legged stool, says Reed.
“The three legs include physical activity, nutrition and that underappreciated component missing from too many Americans’ lives – stress management, or a healthy mental state,” she says.

After checking off a healthy diet and exercise from the list, how does one go about ensuring a healthy mind? Mumber and Reed say the key is mindfulness, which they define as paying attention on purpose, non-judgmentally and as though your life depended on it. Framed another way, mindfulness means focusing on something without trying to change it, like the sky holding passing clouds without clinging to them.

They describe the states necessary for attaining mindfulness:
Beginner’s mind is the ability to see things with new eyes. The Bible warns against putting new wine in old wine skins – doing so risks tainting the new stock. A beginner’s mind opens people to the world of possibilities that exist in the present moment. That does not mean throwing away good ideas from the past; rather, it means to entertain new ideas with a truly open sensibility.
Trust: Believe in your authority to know your own body, thoughts and feelings. We need to have the confidence necessary to trust that our thoughts and feelings at any given moment have value.
Non-judging is the ability to see things for what they are, to hold an open and neutral place for whatever comes up within and around you, without thinking of anything as categorically better or worse than anything else.
Patience is a willingness to continue with the process of paying attention on purpose even when it appears that no progress is being made. Learning and growing through mindful practice happens with time, and we can’t force the outcome.
Acceptance refers to allowing whatever comes up in the moment to be held in our field of awareness. This is not the same as giving up or being passive; acceptance is merely acknowledgement.
Letting go is refusing to attach to specific thoughts, feelings or behaviors. This can feel like losing something, but every time we let go, we open ourselves to something new and, potentially, deeper.
Non-striving: In our goal-oriented society, this may seem counterintuitive. However, non-striving refers only to practicing mindfulness without expectation of some future goal or dream, which helps us better live in the now.
“By having our three-legged stool firmly planted in awareness, we can drop into what we typically call a sense of spiritual wellbeing,’ says Mumber.


Protect Young Eyes in the Technology Age

March 8, 2013 4:00 pm

(Family Features)—Whether it’s a tablet with an educational purpose or a big screen displaying the latest video game, the use of electronic technology is skyrocketing among kids. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages eight to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours with electronics every day.

Unfortunately, all of that screen time can cause eye fatigue, and ultimately have an impact on your child’s overall vision and eye health.

To view things closer, our eyes automatically adjust by drawing inward; our pupils get smaller to focus, and our eye muscles adjust so we can see a clear image. As a result, extended use of electronic screens can cause tired, blurry or irritated eyes.

Intense focus on a video screen also leads to a diminished blink rate, which can result in eye injuries.

Although there is no scientific evidence that computers and handheld electronic devices directly cause vision problems, using these devices wisely can help prevent eye fatigue and strain, as well as associated headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.

To help protect your child’s vision, consider these tips from Ameritas, a leading provider of dental, vision and hearing care plans:

Know that prolonged use of electronic devices can exacerbate underlying eye conditions, so electronics should be used in moderation. Limit screen time to two hours or less a day (including watching TV, playing video games and using mobile phones).

Encourage intentional blinking while electronic devices are in use to help refresh eyes with natural moisture that helps prevent bacterial infections, dry spots and corneal breakdown.

Reduce additional eye strain by managing glare from windows and using low-watt bulbs in light fixtures.
Keep computer screens 20 to 28 inches away from the face.

Practice a rule of 20s to give eyes a rest. Every 20 minutes, ask your child to look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds before refocusing attention up close again.

Move around and change positions periodically while using a device.

Watch for signs of eyestrain while electronic devices are in use, such as squinting, frowning at the screen or rubbing eyes.

If vision problems or discomfort arise, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor for a professional evaluation.

When taking into account time at the office in front of a computer screen, many adults regularly use electronic devices for as long as, or even longer than, their children. Following the same advice not only sets a good example, but it can help protect your own eye health.