Gunning Daily News

Eco-Friendly Reclaimed Oak Featured in Major League Baseball Fan Cave

May 14, 2011 9:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 14, 2011- Major League Baseball (MLB) has created a Fan Cave where two contest winners are viewing every MLB game including post season games. The unique 15,000 square foot space in lower Manhattan will play out against a back drop of salvaged wood, specifically Reclaimed Oak from Pioneer Millworks, a leader in the reclaimed and sustainable wood industry. To see the character of this old wood, tune in and pay attention to the paneling and flooring in the main viewing/broadcasting area of the MLB Fan Cave.

The designers of the MLB Fan Cave turned to Pioneer Millworks in their search for reclaimed wood with character. "When you stop and think about the history of reclaimed wood, you begin to see why it's so prized: the timbers and boards we mill into flooring were often cut in the mid 1800s from trees that probably started to grow in the 1600s. Now, they have a new life as eco-friendly flooring and paneling in the MLB Fan Cave," says Roblyn Powley, design and wood expert at Pioneer Millworks. "Custom made to order in our shop, our FSC-Certified reclaimed wood is hand crafted and precisely milled making installation quick and easy for various applications, including flooring and paneling."

A large wall of windows facing the street will allow fans to look in, catch a glimpse of the Reclaimed Oak as well as the broadcast area of the MLB Fan Cave. "The MLB Fan Cave will give fans a creative new way to experience Major League Baseball," says Tim Brosnan, the Executive Vice President of Business for the MLB. "This is going to be a real-time experience which brings to life how people consume entertainment in 2011 with baseball at the center of it all."

Crafting all their products in USA, Pioneer Millworks offers over 40 species of reclaimed wood, all with character marks, deep patina and tight gain patterns unmatched by fresh sawn. In addition to deep patina and tight grain, Pioneer Millworks' Reclaimed Oak is storied with original nail holes, ferrous staining, natural fissures, and even saw marks. A very durable hardwood, Reclaimed Oak will withstand wear and tear in the MLB Fan Cave, gaining even more character as it is lived on.

Pioneer Millworks is popular among designers and home owners because their story and products are unique: They 'rescue' wood from agricultural and industrial buildings that have outlived their usefulness or are headed to landfills or the grinder. They then give it new life as flooring or paneling from their New York and Oregon shops.

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Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Spring and Summer Showers Bring Slippery Roads: Tips to Keep Drivers Safe duringWet Weather

May 14, 2011 9:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 14, 2011-Spring and summer weather mean more rain showers in many parts of the U.S., which can result in treacherous driving conditions. Nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes occur each year on wet pavement with more than one half million persons injured and 5,700 killed, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. AAA reminds motorists to brush up on their wet-weather driving techniques before they get caught out in the rain.

"It's very easy for drivers to lose control of their vehicles during rainy conditions," says Dr. Bill Van Tassel, AAA National Manager of Driver Training Programs. "Conditions are most dangerous during the first 10 minutes of a heavy downpour as oil and debris first rise to the road's surface, then wash away. Knowing how to handle poor traction reduces the potential for hydroplaning, skidding or sliding off the road completely."

Safety Starts before You Drive

Before wet weather hits, it's important to prepare your car in advance. Replace windshield wipers that leave streaks or don't clear the glass in a single swipe. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to twelve months, depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain and ozone. Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and replacement is needed.

Also, make sure all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning to be sure other drivers will see you during downpours.

Tire tread depth and inflation also is imperative to maintaining good traction with the roadway during wet weather. To check tread depth, insert a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If you can see above Washington's head at any point, start shopping for new tires. Check the tire pressures (including the spare) at least once a month when the tires are cold. Always follow the inflation pressure recommendations in your owner's manual, or those on the tire information label that is located in the glove box or on the driver's door jamb. Do not use the inflation pressure molded into the tire sidewall; this is the pressure needed to achieve the tire's maximum rated load capacity, and it may or may not be the correct pressure for your particular car. Uneven or excessive wear of the tire tread may indicate the need for suspension repair or wheel alignment, both of which will extend the life of your tires.

Avoid Cruise Control

Most modern cars feature cruise control. This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car's speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.

When driving in wet-weather conditions, it is important to concentrate fully on every aspect of driving. Avoiding cruise control will allow the driver more options to choose from when responding to a potential loss-of-traction situation, thus maximizing your safety.

Slow Down and Leave Room

Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car's chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. With as little as 1/12 inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway.

To reduce chances of hydroplaning, drivers should slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. Also, it's important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them and beginning to slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic early.

Responding to a Skid

Even careful drivers can experience skids. If a driver feels their car begin to skid, it's important to not panic and follow these basic steps:

Continue to look and steer in the direction in which the driver wants the car to go.

Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle's balance and make it harder to control.

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Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Consumer Demand Driving Improved Retail Performance

May 14, 2011 9:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 14, 2011-Senior financial executives of global retail companies expect improved financial performance in 2011, as a result of increasing consumer demand, but many indicate that their companies will have difficulty raising prices and sustaining profit margins, according to a survey by KPMG International.

In the KPMG global survey of 152 retail executives, 24 percent expect "significant increases" in financial performance over last year and 51 percent are expecting "some increase." Only nine percent expect a decline in performance. This optimistic view is a result of seeing an increase in consumer demand. In fact, 18 percent say they've already seen a sustained increase in demand for their company's products and services since the economic slowdown, while 54 percent expect sustained demand in 2011, and 24 percent in 2012 or later.

Despite the growth in demand, 58 percent of the KPMG survey respondents say that their companies will have difficulty raising prices in 2011 and 41 percent say that their firms will have difficulty sustaining profit margins. In identifying the greatest threats to margins, 56 percent point to costs of inputs or merchandise and 47 percent to discounting and other sales incentives.

"Retail executives are seeing strong top line growth, but in order to generate growth and success in the years ahead, their companies will need to reconsider and often recast their understanding of customers, markets, and their means of serving them, as well as the level of investment that it will take to succeed going forward," says Mark Larson, KPMG's Global Head of Retail.

"With consumer behavior, spending, and demographic profiles changing rapidly," Larson says, "a key to success will be investing in technology to harness the vast amounts of data that reside in a company. That data can derive the insights that lead to the new markets, new strategies and new operating models that will ultimately generate growth and profitability," Larson says.

As to how they believe their firms can increase market share, 46 percent say primarily through organic growth initiatives, 22 percent say through a mix of organic growth and M&A, and 22 percent primarily through M&A.

Forty-four percent of the retail executives in the KPMG survey believe that it is "very likely" that their companies will enter new geographic markets in 2011 and 30 percent say "somewhat likely". In expressing how they will expand, 53 percent say by opening new stores, 39 percent say through additional distribution channels (including online), and 21 percent say through mergers and acquisitions.

Asia (49 percent) and the United States (48 percent) were identified as the global regions where the retail executives expect the greatest growth in company sales. The next two regions were Latin America (44 percent) and India (40 percent).

KPMG's Larson believes that, "We're witnessing the beginnings of a cost-to-growth agenda in retail characterized by a renewed focus on growth, while preserving margins, and investing in IT. The sector has learned the hard way that it can't take its eye off the ball of cost management."

In fact, according to executives surveyed by KPMG, retailers will pursue major investment in customer relationship management systems, business intelligence systems, and enterprise resource systems for transaction processing.

In improving supply chain efficiency and costs over the next two years, the retail execs-in order of priority-see enhancing distribution structure, investing in production or distribution technology, decreasing inventory levels, and consolidating suppliers as the greatest priorities.

KPMG conducted its survey in the first quarter of this year and conducted another phase in April to gauge how crisis in the Middle East and Japan in April may have impacted operations. Sixty-four percent report little or no impact on their business operations, while 31 percent report moderate impact, with five percent seeing a dramatic impact. When presented with an array of issues, 61 percent say they expect "energy, input, and merchandise prices" will be most affected, followed by 35 percent who say "availability of goods and services from my company's suppliers."

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Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

An Introduction to Mortgage REITs

May 14, 2011 9:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 14, 2011-Considering the low yields currently offered by many traditional fixed income investments, income-seeking investors have been scouring the investment universe for increased income generating power.

One largely uncovered corner of the market that may fit the bill for such investors is Mortgage Real Estate Investment Trusts (mREITs). Much like other forms of REITs, these companies are required to distribute 90 percent of their net income to shareholders to maintain their tax advantages or exemptions, as outlined in the Internal Revenue Code.

However, whereas equity REITs invest primarily in physical properties, mREITs achieve their income through investments in mortgage-backed securities. Given the hefty dividends offered by many of these vehicles, with some yielding in excess of 15 percent, they are an attractive option for investors seeking a high level of current income. However, before diving in head-first, it is important to discuss how these companies operate and understand their potential risks.

In general, mREITs operate by taking out short-term loans and using the proceeds to purchase mortgages, thus profiting from the spread between their short-term financing costs and the payout of the underlying mortgages. The degree to which they use debt to finance their activities is known as their leverage, or debt-to-equity ratio. While many of these investments offer comparable yields, the path they take to get there may be starkly different.

Consider two such vehicles: Cypress Sharpridge Investments (CYS) and Chimera Investment Corporation (CIM), both of which yielded between 16 percent and 18 percent in 2010. Whereas CYS invests primarily in high-quality mortgages backed by the government, CIM primarily deals in lower-quality, higher-yielding, non-agency and commercial mortgage-backed issues (CMBS).

However, by employing leverage of 8.3 to 1 as of 12/31/10, CYS attains a similar yield to CIM-which carried leverage of 1.2 to 1-despite the divergence in yield of their underlying investments. Another option, Invesco Mortgage Capital (IVR), falls somewhere between the two and uses a hybrid approach that blends a mix of agency, non-agency, and CMBS securities based on their interpretation of current market conditions. Likewise, IVR's 4.1 to 1 leverage ratio falls between that of CYS and CIM.

When evaluating these varied approaches, investors should weigh their relative tolerance to credit risk vs. interest rate risk. Since CYS invests in agency-mortgages, whose principal is backed by the federal government, its credit risk is relatively low. However, because it employs a high degree of leverage, a sharp increase in short-term interest rates could severely crimp its profits. While many mREIT investors remain concerned that the end of QE2 in June could push short-term rates higher, it is important to remember that the Fed's Treasury purchases during QE2 have been largely focused on issues maturing between 2 and 10 years. As such, movements in short-term rates should continue to be a function of investor preference for short-term T-Bills and the Fed's decisions on the Federal Funds Target Rate, which Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has expressed his commitment to keeping the target rate low for an "extended period."

Conversely, while rising short-term interest rates also pose a threat to investors in CIM, which invests in non-guaranteed MBS and CMBS issues, credit risk remains a much larger source of concern. Such investments, which carry a higher default risk, allow CIM to reach a similarly higher yield with a much lower degree of leverage due to the higher payout of its underlying investments. Investors should note that since the dividend payments made by such companies are a direct function of their operating profits, they can fluctuate over time along with the strength of its underlying business.

After all but going extinct during the recent financial crisis, when a credit market freeze cut off their access to short-term funding, mREITs are making a comeback as more investors seek out their high yielding potential. With that being said, mREITs have accounted for 7 of the 9 initial public offerings within the REIT space thus far in 2011. Individuals can invest in mREITs by buying shares directly on an open exchange or through an ETF which tracks a basket of companies in this area. However, investors need to keep in mind the aforementioned risks associated with mREITs when deciding which one, if any, is right for their portfolio.

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Word of the Day

May 13, 2011 7:51 am

Title search. A professional examination of public records to determine the chain of ownership of a particular piece of property and to note any liens, encumbrances, easements, restrictions, or other factors that might affect the title.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Question of the Day

May 13, 2011 7:51 am

Q: Are there such things as no-cost and no-fee loans?

A: You see promotions for them all the time. But banking regulators have gone after lenders who misrepresent these loans. The reality is that no-cost and no-fee loans may actually cost the borrower more over the long term because costs are often hidden by rolling them into the new loan through higher principal or interest.

The rates on no-cost loans are usually about 1/2 or 5/8 of a percentage point higher than the "full cost" rate.

A typical no-fee loan includes points and all fees in the loan principal, so the borrower does not pay or "see" these expenses at the closing. Instead, the borrower pays them over the life of the loan.

If you are looking to refinance, it may be possible to get a no-cost program that will lower your rate at no expense to you. Today, lenders are paying all closing costs, such as title fees, appraisal fees, and credit report fees. There are no loan fees or points, and nothing is added to your loan balance.

However, many lenders may charge a loan application fee and some restrictions may apply depending on the size of the loan.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

101,000 Americans become 'Sun Certified,' Raising $101,000 for The Skin Cancer Foundation

May 13, 2011 7:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 13, 2011-With the weather warming up across the country, families are spending more time outdoors enjoying the sun. But, with skin cancer as the most common form of cancer in the U.S., they need to take steps to protect themselves from sun exposure. To help increase awareness of this important issue, Banana Boat sun care is teaming up with The Skin Cancer Foundation to raise funds for skin cancer education initiatives by challenging 101,000 consumers to get "Sun Certified" this year.

Each consumer who takes a short "Sun Certification" quiz on will receive a "Sun Certified" badge to display on their own Facebook wall and trigger a $1 donation to support The Skin Cancer Foundation's sun education initiatives, for a total donation of up to $101,000.

"With skin cancer as the leading type of cancer in the U.S., it's become increasingly important that families know how to protect themselves from the sun," says Perry Robins, M.D., President, The Skin Cancer Foundation. "We are proud to partner with Banana Boat in our ongoing efforts to raise awareness for this important issue."

The Banana Boat "Sun Certification" program is part of a Sun 101 sun education campaign designed to give Americans the basic information they need to enjoy the sun without worry. This sun season, the brand will also share advice from and host live conversations on its Facebook page with sun experts, including: two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and U.S. Women's Soccer Team captain Christie Rampone, dermatologist Julie K. Karen, M.D., and family lifestyle expert and magazine editor Amy E. Goodman.

"We are on a mission to inspire more people to use more sunscreen more often," says Beth St. Raymond, Director, Energizer Personal Care Sun Care, maker of Banana Boat . "An estimated 62 percent of American households don't use sun care products, and by working with partners like The Skin Cancer Foundation, we hope to change that to ultimately reduce the incidence of skin cancer."

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Women Winning the Battle of the Sexes when it Comes to Periodontal Health

May 13, 2011 7:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 13, 2011-The differences between men and women are extensive, especially when it comes to taking care of one's health. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), compared to men, women are better about seeing their physician for routine check-ups and are more likely to schedule a doctor visit when feeling sick or injured. And now, new research published in the Journal of Periodontology reveals another area where women are more proactive than men: in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

According to the study, published in April 2011, women are almost twice as likely to have received a regular dental check-up in the past year. In addition, women were more likely to schedule the recommended treatment following the dental check-up. Women in the study also had better indicators of periodontal health, including lower incidence of dental plaque, calculus and bleeding on probing; all of which can be used as markers of periodontal disease.

The study also suggested that women have a better understanding of what oral health entails, as well as a more positive attitude towards dental visits.

The study included over 800 participants between the ages of 18 and 19. Participants were asked to complete a written questionnaire concerning lifestyle, dental knowledge, dental attitude and oral health behaviors. In addition, the participants underwent an oral examination to assess for indicators of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and other structures supporting the teeth. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. In addition, previous research has associated gum disease with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

"It is crucial that everyone-both men and women-strive to maintain periodontal health," says Donald S. Clem, DDS, a periodontist in private practice in Fullerton, California and President of the American Academy of Periodontology. "With increasing research indicating that one's periodontal health may be related to overall health, never has it been more important to ensure the health of your teeth and gums. You cannot be healthy unless you are periodontally healthy."

Dr. Clem stressed the importance of routine oral care in helping to prevent periodontal disease. "Taking good care of your periodontal health involves daily tooth brushing and flossing. You should also expect to get a comprehensive periodontal evaluation every year," he advises. A dental professional, such as a periodontist-a specialist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of gum disease-can conduct a comprehensive exam to assess your periodontal disease status.

To assess your risk for periodontal disease or to learn more, visit

Periodontal Health: Women vs. Men

Women are 26 percent more likely than men to floss on a daily basis.

74 percent of women would be embarrassed by a missing tooth-a possible consequence of periodontal disease-compared to 57 percent of men.

Women are almost twice as likely to notice missing teeth on another person than men.

44 percent of women are aware that periodontists can help contribute to overall good health, compared to 33 percent of men.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Alternatives for Seniors Predict Increased Burden for Caregivers

May 13, 2011 7:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 13, 2011-Members of the largest demographic group in American history, Baby Boomers, will begin turning 65 next year. According to Alternatives for Seniors, as these men and women join a senior citizen population that continues to live longer lives, many in the country will face the becoming a caregiver for a parent or loved one and being involved first hand with senior care challenges.

The sons and daughters of an aging population have no easy task ahead of them in determining how to care for elderly loved ones, but if caregivers take the time to consider available senior housing and care options and start planning sooner than later, the challenges faced by the demographic changes in America's population will not be too much to handle.

According to AgingStats.Gov - Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics, about 13 percent of the American population is currently 65 or older and that number is expected to grow to 20 percent (or 72 million people) by the year 2030. Also, as the life expectancy grows, the number of people age 85 or older is expected to jump from 5.7 million to 19 million by the year 2050. These statistics show sons, daughters, friends, and family all across the county they need to prepare themselves for very difficult choices about the caregiver role they may need to play and the long term care their loved one may need.

A study by the Family Caregiver Alliance estimates that 39 million people have become an informal or family caregiver to somebody age 50 or older. These informal caregivers are individuals who provide either full or part-time care free of charge. While it is excellent there are so many loving people who are willing to care for a loved one in this way, as a result caregiver stress has become an increasing problem. Caregivers run a risk of increased blood pressure and insulin levels, increased rates of depression, and for caregivers who are over 65 themselves, an increased mortality rate.

Rather than take on the role of an informal caregiver, another option is to invest in long term care. Determining what form of long term care is necessary can be a difficult decision for a caregiver given there are so many options: home care, day programs, senior housing, independent living, assisted living, nursing and rehab centers, and continuing care communities. Each type of long term care has its own distinct advantages based on the level of care that is needed.

While the financial picture is different for each caregiver, everybody can plan ahead by exploring the options for long term care with their loved one. It is important to include the senior in discussion of their care and listen to their concerns. The caregiver should also include friends, family, and other who have influence in the decision making process.

The print and nationwide senior housing and care online directory provides detailed listings on Independent Living, Senior Apartments, Assisted Living, Nursing Homes, Alzheimer's Centers, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Home Care and other services. The directories assist families by separating the options by level of care or service and geographic area making it easy to use and understand all options at a glance.

"Alternatives for Seniors' mission is to provide seniors, families and healthcare professionals with the senior care resources and tools they need to make educated, informed decisions and to understand the options available to them," says Anita Kremer, president of Alternatives for Seniors. "Whether a family's needs are immediate or planning for the future, the information and tools provided is of great value."

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May Is Family Wellness Month: How Parents Can Strengthen Family Relationships, Even during Divorce

May 13, 2011 7:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 13, 2011-The word "divorce" doesn't conjure up positive thoughts of family wellness, but emotionally neutral parents can strengthen family relationships, even during the divorce process and later as a divorced family, according to Deborah A. Carder, a Partner with Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, one of the nation's leading family law firms.

Carder, who has litigated highly complex family law cases for more than a decade, says a change in Illinois law in 2006 to require parents to attend a parenting education course, has had a very positive impact on the outcome of child custody proceedings. The family law attorney explains that in DuPage, Kane and Will counties, where she practices law, within 60 days of the first court appearance parents are required to complete a parent education program. "It is extremely important for parents to take the class early in the process," advises Carder. The program teaches parents to deal with adult problems in ways that avoid harm to their children's emotional well being.

"Typically parents are so trapped in their own emotional chaos, not to mention the arduous divorce procedure, that they involve their children in the process without even knowing it," she notes. The commonly heard statements such as, "Your mother is a liar," or, "I can't afford that because your father hasn't paid support this month," are damaging to children, but equally damaging is the inability of a parent to manage their emotions. "Being emotionally neutral is the most difficult, yet most critical skill a divorcing parent must have," advises Carder. "By learning coping techniques to help deal with the emotional impact they can be more effective and available parents," she adds.

Family Wellness Month-recognized every year in May-is supported nationally to increase awareness and empower parents with practical solutions, extensive resources and specific services for family wellness, including parenting courses offered during the divorce process.

Carder acknowledges that the divorce process can be long and painful, adding that a recent change in laws has also helped to move child custody procedure forward in a timelier manner. In the past it could have taken three years to settle a child custody case. Present law requires the case be resolved in 18 months. "The true benefit is that all parties can end conflict and move forward onto the next stage of their life," she adds.

Moving forward is an important outcome of any case to Carder, but she also says her ultimate goal from the first time she meets with a client is to give them the tools, resources and support during the process. These tools enable them to be a good parent to their children, grant them the ability to focus on their professional life and allow them to continue to enjoy their personal interests and move forward in life, while Carder handles the legal aspect of the divorce.

Since 2007, Carder has consistently received the honor of being selected by her peers as a Leading Lawyer in Illinois. She has been named as one of the Top 100 Women Consumer Lawyers in Illinois. She has also been named as a 2008-2010 Illinois Rising Star by Illinois Super Lawyers. Most notably, Ms. Carder was chosen in 2010 by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company as one of the "40 Attorneys Under 40 in Illinois to Watch."

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