Gunning Daily News

Protect Young Eyes in the Technology Age

March 15, 2013 3:34 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.

Source: www.ameritasinsight.com.

Five Home Improvements for the Love of Spring

March 15, 2013 3:34 pm

(BPT) - Improved value, curb appeal and livability are the benchmarks for any smart home improvement. But some upgrades you do for the sheer joy of it. The best home improvements deliver all those smart qualities and speak to your heart at the same time.

With spring home improvement season approaching, here are five home improvements that you can do for the love of spring - and the love of your biggest investment:

Add/replace a skylight
Abundant natural light and fresh air are among the joys of spring, and replacing an old, energy-inefficient skylight, or adding one where none existed before, is a great way to welcome sunlight and spring breezes into your home. Sunlight's positive effect on mood is well-documented, and adding a fresh-air skylight, which comes with a screen, offers other health benefits as well. Opt for an energy saving solar powered fresh-air skylight and you can enjoy the benefits of passive ventilation to reduce humidity and stale air in your home along with more natural light.

From a practical standpoint, installing an Energy Star-qualified skylight like those made by VELUX America can help you control heating, cooling and lighting costs in your home. Replacing an older, less efficient skylight with a new solar-powered, fresh-air skylight with a rain sensor, can also ensure your home stays protected from spring showers. You can also choose solar powered blinds for even more energy efficiency, and both are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. To learn more about energy-efficient skylights, visit www.veluxusa.com or energystar.gov.

Add/improve a deck
The trend toward outdoor living spaces continues, with decks being one of the most sought-after amenities among home buyers. In fact, adding a wooden deck can recoup more than 77 percent of the deck's cost when you sell your home, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report.

If you don't already have a deck, adding one - whether wood or composite - not only enhances your home value, it will be a great place to celebrate the arrival of spring. If you already have a deck, consider value-enhancing upgrades like new balusters, lighted post caps, built-in seating and even planters.

Install a kitchen backsplash
Spring brings a bright, colorful feel to the world and you can easily incorporate that sentiment into your kitchen by adding a backsplash. A project easily within the capabilities of most do-it-yourselfers, backsplashes are both functional and decorative. Granite, ceramic or glass tile protects the wall behind the range or cook top from splatters of food or grease while brightening valuable workspace and serving as a visual focal point for the room.

Great kitchens sell homes, and the room is one of the most-used in any home. Upgrading your kitchen is almost always a good investment, one that improves resale value and your enjoyment of your home.

Upgrade bathroom floors
Bathroom renovations are also popular and a minor bathroom remodel can return more than 65 percent of the cost at the time of resale, according to the Cost vs. Value Report. While replacing countertops and fixtures are common remodeling tasks in a bathroom, don't overlook the biggest surface in the room - the floor.

Many modern builders install vinyl floors in bathrooms because they are durable and cheap. Switching out this common material for stone or ceramic tile is a great way to brighten the room and give your bath a whole new look.

Improve your entryway
Your front door and entryway are the first impression visitors have of your home's decor. A welcoming entry invites guests in and gives you a mood boost every time you walk through it.

This year, celebrate spring by replacing an old worn wooden door with a sturdy, decorative steel door - an improvement that recoups nearly 85 percent of its cost when you sell, according to Remodeling Magazine. To really celebrate spring, add a screen door. You'll be able to let in fresh air and spring breezes while keeping insects out. Plus, a screen door is essential Americana, creating a welcoming openness that epitomizes the joy of spring.

Word of the Day

March 15, 2013 2:30 pm

License. A privilege or right granted to a person by a state to operate as a real estate broker or salesperson.

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.

Tip:
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.

Source: www.bmoharris.com

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 www.call811.com.

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

Source: www.pgecurrents.com

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!

Source: http://www.fda.gov/nutritioneducation

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.