Monthly Archives: November 2017

Why You Should Prepare Your Windows (Not Your Wallet) For Winter Now

crassula flower in pot on windowsillWinter is coming, so what better time than now to make sure your home is ready for the season by replacing your windows?

Yes, you may have windows that you just replaced last year and those may be fine, but there are a few things to look out for right before the holiday season to make sure your windows don’t need fixing or replacement.

Drafts or Breezes Near Window Panes

The Times Square Chronicles says that if there is a draft or breeze of any kind, you need to take a look at your windows. Chances are there may be a crack, or you just forgot to shut it all the way. If there is a crack, that is definitely something that you’ll want to repair as soon as possible. If you don’t and you frequently use the heat in the winter time, there’s no doubt that you’ll be losing money. One small crack can cost you quite a bit in lost heat!

Rattling Glass

If your windows are rattling, that may be another sign that they need replacing. for example, if it’s super windy out and your windows sound like someone is physically shaking the glass, that’s a sign that the wooden sashes and frames have warped over time. Rattling windows can also be a sign of air seeping through. Getting the windows replaced for this matter will also aid in making sure you’re not overspending on your heating bill.

Difficulty Opening and Closing Windows

If you notice that you’re having trouble opening and closing your window, you may need to replace them. If you seem to be giving all of your power into opening or closing your window, that’s a huge problem. Windows should be easy to open and shut. Especially in the winter, you’re going to want windows that work properly! Getting them fixed before the snow and ice hit is key.

It’s fairly late in the season, but if you’re still looking at that in-window air conditioning unit in the middle of November, you might have a problem. The New York Times says to make sure to remove that prior to the first snowfall. So pay attention to the weather and make sure you aren’t losing more money than you’re spending on your heat!

Window replacement isn’t only helpful during the winter months. In fact, if you replace your windows and sell your home, the replacement can actually recoup 73% to 77% of your home’s original cost. Keep that in mind when debating if you want to replace your windows or not. Don’t let your wallet suffer for your negligence.

Organization Leaders Abusing Power, Taking Advantage of Logistical Errors

The United State’s economy loses an estimated $7.4 billion per day (or 50 million hours) due to improperly filled out time sheets. Individual employees are usually behind any intentional errors, as a way to earn a few more pennies each paycheck, but major corporations and leaders around the country are also being dishonest when it comes to some of the logistical aspects of business.

In Iowa, a special investigation found intentional overfilling by Parenting Way organization, a nonprofit that serves Boone and Story Counties.

“What our investigation found was that there was over $66,450 in improper disbursements … which did not agree with the employee time sheets,” said Deputy State Auditor Tami Kusian. “The amounts billed were in excess of what was being supported by time sheets, so Parenting Way would then receive additional funds from these two nonprofits, BooST and CARES, probably more than they were entitled to based on their supporting documentation.”

Additionally, the Observer reports that former Paterson Mayer Jose “Joey” Torres was recently sentenced to five years in prison by a state Superior Court judge after he was caught taking advantage of taxpayer dollars.

Torres, who served as mayor for nearly 11 years in non-consecutive terms, pleaded guilty to using on-duty city employees for private work at a warehouse that his family owns. These employees were on duty at the time Torres directed them to complete private work, which meant that taxpayers, rather than Torres himself, actually shouldered the cost of their wages.

“Torres thought he was above the law and is now on his way to prison,” Attorney General Chris Porrino said in a statement.

Torres faces the maximum sentence and will likely apply for supervised release after six months.

Florida Supreme Court Does Away With Parts Of 2013 Medical Malpractice Law

On Thursday, November 9, the Florida Supreme Court rejected sections of the state’s medical malpractice law. In a 4-3 decision, the state supreme court justices said the medical malpractice law could cause privacy issues in the disclosure of patients’ private health information.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the medical malpractice legislation was put into law in 2013. The reasons for it were to allow defense attorneys to gather information from doctors treating the plaintiff during the medical malpractice dispute.

The part of the law which came under fire from state supreme court justices was the law’s allowance of conversations between defense attorneys to doctors to occur outside of the plaintiff attorneys’ presence. The four justices who voted against the law said the communications may lead to patient privacy violations.

“Even the possibility that a person’s extremely sensitive private medical information will be exposed is the type of governmental intrusion that the Florida Constitution protects against,” said Justice R. Fred Lewis, “because it is impossible to know if an inadvertent disclosure occurred when the meetings are not only ex parte and without a judge, but also secret without a record.”

Lewis was just one of the four justices to vote against the 2013 law. Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince, and Chief Justice Jorge Labarga also voted to do away with these parts of the medical malpractice law.

Those in dissent included justices Ricky Polson, Alan Lawson, and Charles Canady. The dissenting justices called the majority opinion an unwarranted interference with the state law and disagreed that the 2013 law violated privacy rights.

“Because the 2013 amendments do not in any way authorize the discussion of irrelevant medical information,” said Canady, “medical malpractice claimants have no constitutional right to prevent the ex parte meetings.”

The 2013 amendment to the state’s medical malpractice law came at a time when doctors and plaintiffs’ attorneys were in a years-long conflict involving the state’s medical malpractice system. Those who supported the law in 2013 said the ex parte communications made available between doctors and plaintiffs’ attorneys would potentially resolve medical malpractice cases without the need for a trial.

Compared to the 917,100 employees who missed work due to occupational illnesses and injuries in 2013, up to 2,061 patients filed complaints against a physician in the state of Florida in 2014 alone. Many improvements have been made to reduce the number of medical malpractice cases and reduce patient discomfort in hospitals.

For instance, approximately 82% of hospital respondents reported offering CAM therapies. However, there are still up to 16.2 medical malpractice lawsuits for every 100,000 people in Florida as of 2017.

The ruling to rid these ex parte sections from the 2013 law came after a case from Escambia County. The case involved Emma Gayle Weaver, a plaintiff who had planned to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against Steven Myers, a physician.

According to court documents, Weaver was filing a lawsuit on behalf of her deceased husband. Weaver was concerned about the constitutionality of the ex-parte communications that may be involved with the case. The change in the state law guarantees the medical privacy of Floridians even after death.

“Death does not retroactively abolish the constitutional protections for privacy that existed at the moment of death,” said Lewis.

How To Measure Home Efficiency Levels In Used Homes

Of all the homebuyers who were on the market in 2016, only 14% decided to purchase a brand new home. That means that 86% of all buyers chose to purchase and move into a previously lived-in home.

For the most part, moving into these existing homes is a good idea because of the financial benefits. However, there are instances where there are underlying issues that end up leading to very expensive repair costs, damage control, and wasted efficiency.

Because of this, it’s essential that every homeowner does all they can to improve their home’s efficiency once they move into an existing home.

Angie Hicks of Angie’s List states that though air conditioning zoning systems are good options for homeowners who recently purchased a used property, they won’t exactly improve the efficiency.

“Installing a zoning system isn’t going to make your home more efficient,” she said. “You’re not going to see it on your utility bills, but what you will see is a much more comfortable temperature throughout your house.”

According to Builder Online, there are a few variables that determine both the overall cost of a property and exactly how efficient that home is:

  • Home Age — Obviously, if a home is brand new, it will be more efficient than any elderly counterparts. But, as previously mentioned, over 80% of all buyers found a home that was already in use. A home that’s only been in existence for a few years, however, can still be quite efficient (and expensive).
  • Home Size — The size of the home is another important factor when determining energy efficiency and overall cost. Both smaller homes and large properties can be energy efficient, but it’s much more difficult to provide energy at affordable rates throughout a larger home.
  • Local Climate — If a home is located in an area that experiences severe climate changes, the energy systems will have to work much harder to maintain quality efficient levels. Consequently, a home that doesn’t get much severe weather will enjoy very high levels of efficiency, leading to potentially much higher property costs.
  • HVAC Type — A home’s HVAC system is essential to its efficiency. Homeowners, whether they are living in a brand new home or an old one, should make sure their HVAC systems are both up-to-date and working properly. Problems like HVAC airflow can drastically impact a homeowner’s energy bills and can lead to both an uncomfortable few months and some costly issues. In fact, airflow problems can cut a home’s HVAC system’s efficiency by up to 15%.
  • Other Characteristics — The first four variables are all much easier to determine than these characteristics, which are much sporadic and on a case-by-case basis. But if a home has a certain type of insulation, a pool or spa, or a focus on renewable energy, its worth and energy efficiency will vary greatly.

Additionally, a home energy audit can also give homeowner’s a much more accurate sense of their home’s efficiency levels and provide a way to combat cost increases.

Be sure to consider every energy efficiency factor before making a decision on whether or not to purchase a home.

Scalp Tattoos: The Answer to a Man’s Balding Problem?

Fact: In the United States, about 35 million men are suffering from some sort of hair loss and/or baldness. The loss of hair can make any man feel less confident and even embarrassed. Many men feel ashamed about their hair loss, and may even wonder if it’s worth having their remaining hair at all.

Hair loss usually affects men by the time they turn 50, but it can start much sooner. The balding tends to start while they’re in their late twenties or late thirties. Scott McGraw spoke to the Daily Mail about his experience with early balding.

“From around 19 or 20, I became very aware of the bald patches developing around my crown and the back of my head,” McGraw said. “I hated people standing behind me. They probably didn’t notice or even care, but I still felt very self-conscious. I’ve always been confident, but as the hair loss got worse, it did start having an impact on me.”

McGraw said he used to use hair fibers on his head, but he wanted something that would be a bit more permanent. To get the look he desired, as well as the longevity, he turned to scalp tattoos.

Many men across the world who suffer from hair loss have turned to scalp tattoos. That may sound intimidating, but it can actually help a man regain their self confidence. Scalp tattoos, also known as scalp micropigmentation, is the process in which the hair-colored pigment is tattooed directly into the dermal layer of the skin. And since it is a tattoo, it is permanent.

Scalp micropigmentation, or SMP, is done to mimic the appearance of stubble and recently shaven hair (if done properly). However, it is a highly complex process that is performed with much thinner needles than the ones you would find in a tattoo parlor.

Normal hair has texture, but since SMP is just a tattoo, it isn’t going to recreate the look of a full head of hair. It is done to give the illusion of extremely short-cut hair, which can help cover up bald patches and areas of hair loss. The non-surgical procedure can not only cover up missing hair patches, but it can also hide any scars one may have on their head.

The process takes between two to five hours, depending on how much needs to be done. Most people have the entire process completed over two or three sessions. And while some men may fear that the process will stop hair from ever growing, that isn’t actually the case. Hair can still grow once you’ve had the SMP procedure performed.

Of course, unfortunately for most men interested in scalp tattoos, having their hair grow back just isn’t on the table.

Hybrid-Electric Airplane Hitting the Sky In 2022

The United States currently accounts for 49.7% of the global private jet market, while Europe is in second with 20.8% market share. Private jets have been serving businesses in and out of the U.S. for years, but it looks like the entire airline industry is going to be revolutionized in the near future.

According to Tech Crunch, beginning in five years, the entire fundamental economics of regional flight is going to drastically change.

There are roughly 28 million small businesses in the U.S., but only a handful are working on being at the forefront of aviation technologies. The Seattle-based company, Zunum Aero, however, is doing just that. With backing by Boeing’s HorizonX funding and JetBlue’s Technology Ventures, Zunum Aero plans on launching its first aircraft in 2022.

The first Zunum aircraft is designed to seat 12 passengers and could only cost approximately $260 per hour for operating the aerial machine.

“In the past, very intentionally, we were quiet about operating costs, because it’s just shockingly low what you can get with an electric,” said Ashish Kumar, CEO of Zunum. “So that you can get an aircraft of a size that could never compete with an airliner that can get you below commercial fares.

Zuni expects that the cost per seat for operating expenses on this revolutionary aircraft will be approximately eight cents per mile, which is nearly one-tenth of the operating cost of a conventional business jet per hour.

Futurism reports that the hybrid-electric airliner will be able to carry up to 12 passengers a distance of 700 miles and only increase over time. Currently, battery tech is lacking so trips could only reach around 100 miles, but this technology will continue to improve over time and Zunum will not be as reliant on generators.

By the year 2030, for example, the company fully expects to have a functioning aircraft carrying 50 passengers up to 1,000 miles.

“We’re getting airline pricing down on a small plane and doing it for short distances,” added Matt Knapp, co-founder of Zunum. “That kind of aircraft doesn’t currently exist.”

Zunem claims that approximately 96% of U.S. air traffic uses just 1% of the entire country’s airports. These smaller, electric planes could take advantage of smaller airports, effectively cutting travel time and layover waiting time significantly.

“By the time this aircraft is in the air in early 2020 everyone will have ridden in an electric car or ridden in an electric bus,” Kumar added. “This is the first time in 70 years that you actually get a dramatically new propulsion system entering the business.”

Zunem, Boeing, and JetBlue will likely face plenty of obstacles over the next few years. But as long as the funding is there, and the team’s researchers are diligently working to improve the technological capabilities, the future of airlines will drastically change in the very near future.

New Google Data Supports Theory Of Seasonal Human Hair Loss

Woman with problematic hair

As if you didn’t have enough reasons to worry about losing your hair, seasonal hair loss may be normal, new data finds. According to a study recently published in the British Journal of Dermatology, hair loss experienced during the summer and fall months is an ordinary occurrence experienced by many around the globe.

Time Magazine reports that seasonal hair loss has long been predicted by scientists and researchers, but studies have never been comprehensive or widespread enough to accurately apply the results on a global scale. Surprisingly enough, researchers E.Y. Hsiang, Y.R. Semenov, C. Aguh, and S.G. Kwatra from Johns Hopkins and Washington University were able to compile data from eight different countries in four hemispheres using Google Trends data.

The researchers compiled search rates for the phrase “hair loss” between 2004 and 2016. After comparing the volume of searches by month and season, the results were that “hair loss” and related phrases were searched for more often in the summer and fall months than in those during winter and spring. However, despite these findings, the authors of the study said more research would need to be conducted to understand why this happens.

“Mildly increased hair loss in the summer and fall is normal,” said Dr. Shawn Kwatra. “This is speculative, but from an evolutionary perspective, one of the roles of hair loss is to provide warmth. This would be less necessary during the summer months.”

Many mammals shed their hair during the summer and grow thicker hair during the winter, making the concept of seasonal hair loss in humans that much more plausible. Additionally, although gender wasn’t indicated in the Google Trends data, Kwatra says seasonal hair loss is more often reported in women than men. Up to 21 million women in the U.S. are currently experiencing hair loss.

However, seasonal hair loss and hair loss caused by female or male patterned baldness are different conditions. Losing between 50 to 100 hairs every day with a slightly higher number during warmer months is normal, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists. Losing a greater number than 100 hairs a day, especially during the winter or spring, may warrant a doctor visit.

Nearly a third of all American women choose to change their hair after a breakup or divorce. However, stressful events such as these as well as changes in diet or lifestyle choices can also sometimes spur hair loss.

Those who are concerned by their hair loss or are losing significant amounts of hair may want to consider a doctor’s visit, Kwatra says, as significant hair loss may be a sign of an underlying health problem. But for those distressed by a slight increase in hair loss during the warmer seasons, there’s no reason to be concerned.

San Diego Making Use of Sustainable Gardens To Conserve Water

At the headquarters of the San Diego County Water Authority, a new model of landscape practices is tucked between the corporate offices and condos of Kearny Mesa. The garden features an oasis decorated with graffiti stars, Santa Barbara daisies, and plenty of other plant varieties arranged amongst mulch and stone.

The Water Authority recently developed the garden as an effort to promote efficient water use. The garden features four core principles of sustainable landscapes: climate-appropriate plants, healthy soils, high-efficiency irrigation, and using rainwater as a main water resource.

The Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden is a prime example of a practical, yet still beautiful garden that businesses and residents can base their own gardens on. The garden includes 40 different varieties of low-water plants, along with inline drip and rotating nozzles. Rainwater is captured in a detention basin and then absorbed by compost and mulch.

At approximately 3,000 square feet, the garden provides an example of best practices detailed in “San Diego Sustainable Landscape Guidelines.” The 71-page guidebook was published in 2016 and provides advice on how to transform a landscape.

While 64% of homeowners who are upgrading their outdoor spaces are addressing their landscaping in their own backyard, residents have the opportunity to participant in this project. The Water Authority is offering an incentive of $1.75 per square foot for landscape upgrades through the Sustainable Landscapes Program.

Many California gardens still include grasses which require a lot of water and aren’t native to the area. To avoid excessive use of water, and get the best use of natural rainfall, gravel and stone is a sustainable alternative to grass, hence its usage in the new Water Authority Garden. Not only that, but a one inch layer of gravel or rock can provide excellent weed control.

The San Diego State community is also taking steps toward environmental sustainability.

Ed Glebus, executive chef and associate director of Aztec Shops, said SDSU Dining Services began growing organic produce in 2014. Dining Services now rents 20 plots from the community garden to grow local produce.

The community garden is located off-campus and every aspect of the garden is focused on sustainability. The garden also uses tanks to capture rainwater and solar panels that produce more energy than the garden uses.

Trevor Toia, who is a sustainability junior at SDSU, had a large role in establishing the on-campus gardens. The students had to get creative with the space they had, since SDSU is pretty urban.

Toia assisted in the installation of aeroponic towers, which are nutrient-driven towers, and designed and built structures for the garden.

“Working with the (aeroponic towers) is really fun,” Toia said. “We’re pumping out an amazing amount of product. I like coming in every day and being able to see more growth, more progress.”