Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
February 8, 2012 6:00 pm
Q: What role might engineers play in my remodeling project?
A: Soil and structural engineers can be particularly instrumental to a home remodeling project. An engineer can tell whether you can tear down a kitchen safely or whether the walls can bear the load of a second or third story. You can use an engineer to size interior supports, stamp a drawing for building department approval, design an appropriate structural repair, test structures to withstand such natural forces as earthquakes, create concrete foundation specifications, size deck supports, and inspect repairs during and after your remodeling job. Engineers can also perform site preparation work such as an excavation and grading, fix foundation cracks or leaks, raise a settling foundation and test soil for structure support. You can get a guesstimate of what the job you plan is likely to cost so you can show it to contractors once you start to take bids.
February 7, 2012 5:58 pm
There’s a bright spot in the U.S. employment picture: the health-care industry.
Health-care employers added 17,000 jobs in November, and they’ve been adding an average 27,000 jobs a month since December 2010, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
That’s the good news. The bad news is nearly 10,000 health-care workers have lost jobs since August; there were 136 mass layoffs in that time period.
“Finding work in health-care is definitely getting easier, but the stiff competition means you’ll need more than credentials to land those jobs,” says Stephanie Roberson Barnard, a communications consultant who specializes in training medical professionals to speak and write clearly and effectively.
“Check any online job-hunting Web site for science, technical, pharmaceutical, biotech and medical jobs and you’ll find one common requirement: ‘excellent communication skills,’” she and co-author Deborah St. James write in their new book, Listen. Write. Present: The Elements for Communicating Science and Technology (Yale University Press; 2012), www.ListenWritePresent.com.
Unfortunately, the science-rich education required for health-care professionals leaves little room for learning how to craft a message for a particular audience, be it an email or a PowerPoint presentation. And that’s essential not only for getting jobs, but for keeping them and winning promotions, Barnard says.
She and St. James, deputy director of publications and communications for a North Carolina biotech company, offer these tips for getting your message across:
• Plan: Take time to get to know your clients, colleagues and co-workers. Establish rapport and cultivate a collaborative relationship by finding out about others’ interests (check out the pictures in their offices for clues) and inquiring about them. If you have never been to their offices, look them up on Google or their company’s Web site. Always keep your personal conversations light and professional.
• Listen: Smile, nod, and acknowledge the speaker – and mean it. Really focus on what the person is saying and not just on the words. Truly effective communication requires your full attention. It’s better to spend a few minutes concentrating on the other person’s message during a conversation than wasting time trying to remember what he or she said because you were trying to do something else. It’s okay to write or type notes as long as you ask permission first.
• Present: Practice. Practice. Practice. Need we say more? Of all the tips we offer, practicing is perhaps the most important one. People in our audiences often suggest that it’s possible to over practice. They claim that too much practicing makes a talk appear staged. We have found that the “stiff” presenters are the ones who haven’t practiced. They’re so busy trying to remember what they’re going to say, they can’t tune into the audience or deviate from their slides. In contrast, the speakers who have mastered their content seem to glide about the room, exuding just the right amount of enthusiasm.
• Meet: Respect people’s time by presenting materials simply. The biggest complaint people have about meetings is that they last too long. For this reason, presenting your ideas in a simple, concise fashion will give you the advantage of appearing focused and prepared. Remember, never compromise content for simplicity.
• Serve: Be kind to others. It costs nothing and requires no skill. Your kind words, good deed, or thoughtful gift may even launch a cascade of positive gestures among others. A recent study by researchers from the University of California San Diego and Harvard University suggests that cooperative behavior spreads among people. This ripple effect can have a wonderful positive impact on the corporate culture of your organization.
“Good leaders must learn to communicate not only within their field of expertise but also to reach people outside their field of authority, influence and passion,” Barnard says. “With proper training and practice anyone can become a better communicator.”
Stephanie Roberson Barnard has trained thousands of pharmaceutical industry professionals on how to be more effective speakers, writers and communicators. She has also coached hundreds of health-care professionals on presentation skills for FDA hearings, CFO reports and scientific speaker programs, as well as national and international congresses.
Deborah St. James is Deputy Director of Publications and Scientific Communications at Grifols. She has worked in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry for more than 20 years.
February 7, 2012 5:58 pm
Experts from The Maids offer these five strategies to help your business move forward in 2012.
Technology – You don't have to understand everything about evolving technology; you just need to know how to use it to your advantage. Countless software applications help companies increase productivity and save money, especially in operations management. Other types of innovations make it easier to collect and manage data, for instance. Managing customer information can help you provide consistent, enhanced customer service, not only in billing practices, but by tracking customer preferences. If you are unsure whether a new application or device will help you, consult with colleagues to find what works for them.
Online Media – Is your website vibrant and robust or is it just an Internet bookmark with your company's name on it? Potential customers visit the site to find out more about your business, but are you taking advantage of the time they spend there? A website can act as a private newspaper, advertising billboard and marketing tool. Archive press releases or news items about your company. Write blogs or articles and create videos to share information and establish yourself as an expert in the field. Use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter or coupon sites to engage customers and offer deals. Increased company visibility adds up to more clients.
Evolving Industry – Are you on the leading edge or behind the curve? Make time each day to research trends in your industry. Use what you learn to innovate, increase productivity or plan new product rollouts. Regularly visit trade shows or subscribe to trade magazines to find out how others are reducing costs or implementing new procedures. It's also important to study your competitors. Do they have an advantage over you in the types of services or products they advertise? Can you meet or beat what they offer? Continue to think ahead and make sure your company is flexible enough to respond to changes in the industry.
Know your customers – Client desires can change dramatically over a short period of time. Keep abreast of consumer spending habits or lifestyle modifications so that you can adapt to customer wants and needs. Use surveys or other techniques to solicit ideas from customers, and don't forget to consult employees who often have their finger on the pulse of client wishes.
Experiment – Continually try new approaches, staying mindful that some may not work. You might try a different marketing campaign, for instance, or test a new product or service. Hold regular brainstorming sessions to strategize future ideas and monitor past tactics for effectiveness.
February 7, 2012 5:58 pm
With Valentine’s day less than a week away, many are booking last minute getaways for two. TripAdvisor® (NASDAQ: TRIP), one of the world’s largest travel sites, recently announced the winners of its 2012 Travelers’ Choice Romance awards, honoring the most romantic hotels in the U.S. and the world. TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from travelers around the world.
Worldwide, French Polynesia was the top location for lovers, with three hotels in the top five, including the number one property, the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. Among U.S. hotels, Kauai, Hawaii properties were popular among travelers seeking an amorous escape with two winners in the top five—the Koa Kea Hotel & Resort in Poipu topping the list and Princeville’s St. Regis Princeville Resort coming in at number five. California hotels were also highly recommended for romance, with three properties claiming spots on the list.
“For travelers seeking a romantic getaway with their significant other, whether it be for Valentine’s Day or any other romantic occasion, TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Romance hotels offer inspiration for enchanting escapes across the globe,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor.
2012 Travelers’ Choice Romance Hotels – World:
1. Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, Motu Tehotu, French Polynesia
2. Capella Ixtapa, Paseo Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico
3. Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, Moorea, Papetoai, French Polynesia
4. The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, Motu Ome’e, French Polynesia
5. Tokoriki Island Resort, Tokoriki Island, Fiji
6. Jade Mountain Resort, Soufriere, St. Lucia
7. Andronis Luxury Suites, Thiras Oias, Oia, Greece
8. Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
9. Mariaggi’s Theme Suites Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
10. Royal Davui Island Resort, Royal Davui Island, Fiji
2012 Travelers’ Choice Romance Hotels – U.S.:
1. Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
2. Starfish Manor Oceanfront Hotel, Lincoln City, Ore.
3. Inn of the Dove – Bensalem, Bensalem, Pa.
4. Spindrift Inn, Monterey, Calif.
5. St. Regis Princeville Resort, Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii
6. Ocean Lodge, Saint Simons Island, Ga.
7. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key, Fla.
8. Queen of Hearts Resort, Palm Springs, Calif.
9. Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Forestville, Calif.
10. Castle Hill Inn, Newport, R.I
For more information, visit www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice.
February 7, 2012 5:58 pm
Warranty deed. A deed in which the grantor guarantees that he or she is giving the grantee good title free of encumbrances. Considered to be the best deed a grantee can receive.
February 7, 2012 5:58 pm
Q: What basic services can I expect an architect to provide?
A: Most projects require a set of basic services. They are as follows: preliminary, or schematic, design; design development; preparation of construction documents (drawings and specifications); assistance in the bidding or negotiation process, and the administration of the agreement between you and your builder or contractor, if needed. Some projects will require other services, such as pre-design work, which includes budgeting and financing packages, as well as planning and zoning applications. Projects may also include special cost or energy analyses, models and tenant-related design.
February 6, 2012 5:54 pm
In December, I declared 2012 would be the 'Year of the Rehab.' But it is also important to remember that whether you're engaging in a major construction project, changing a light bulb, or just going about your daily routine, keeping safe at home should be your ultimate goal 24/7.
It may be shocking to learn that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms. And shocks have little to do with it!
About half the injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from people tripping over extension cords. Sadly, 13 percent of the injuries involve children under-five years of age; with electrical burns to the mouth accounting for half those injuries to young children.
The CPSC also estimates that about 3,300 residential fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 others. The most frequent causes of such fires are short circuits, overloading, damage, and/or misuse of extension cords.
The National Electrical Code says that many cord-connected appliances should be equipped with polarized grounding type plugs. Polarized plugs have one blade slightly wider than the other and can only be inserted one way into the outlet.
Polarization and grounding ensure that certain parts of appliances that could have a higher risk of electric shock when they become live are instead connected to the neutral, or grounded, side of the circuit. Such electrical products should only be used with polarized or grounding type extension cords.
In our next segment, we will review a punch list of safety recommendations about extension cords.
February 6, 2012 5:54 pm
It’s tough in today’s economy, when so many of us are focused on paying the bills, to think about saving money. But, say the money experts at moneyinstructor.com, it may be time to re-think the idea that putting away small amounts will never add up to anything much.
In fact, little changes in your thinking can make a big difference in helping you reach your goals. Here are four small but sensible ways to help make saving the priority it needs to be in your life:
• The latte factor – Even if you are pinching pennies, you may be allowing yourself a morning or afternoon latte at $2.50 or more several times a week. Multiplied by as few as 10 days a month, that’s $25. Multiply that by 12 months and you’re at $300 a year—not a fortune, but significant enough if you were to start taking coffee to work and putting that $300 in the bank.
• Finding your latte factor – So you’re not hanging out at the coffee bar. Where are you indulging yourself? Begin writing down everything you spend outside of paying bills. After a few weeks, it should become evident where small amounts are slipping through the cracks: the vending machine? Convenience store snacks? Magazines you could be reading for free at the library? Once you determine where your cash is leaking, take pains to patch up the holes.
• Pay yourself first – Uncle Sam takes his bite out of your paycheck before you ever see it. On the assumption you can’t spend it if you don’t see it, become your own Uncle Sam. Put a portion—however small—of every paycheck into automatic savings. Look at the latte factor, above, to realize how it can add up.
• Compound interest - $300 a year may not sound like much in terms of funding retirement. But here’s a quick lesson in how compound interest can make a head-spinning difference. Start with a small amount—say, $50 a month into your company’s 401k plan beginning when you are out of college. Some 45 years later, when you retire at 67, you’d have a nest egg of about $138,000 (figuring a conservative average of 6 percent compounded interest). If you were to increase your contribution by just 10 percent each year (paying in $55 a month in the second year and so forth), you would have over $935,000.
February 6, 2012 5:54 pm
These days, making the decision to purchase a new home can be much more stressful than it once was. There are countless factors and steps that need to be taken into account before you settle in. A major factor is around finances and how you, as a new homeowner, will make sure your home's appliances are in check and that your home system components are maintained while avoiding needless spending.
That new kitchen or laundry room may seem like it will last forever; however, if 6 months down the line when your dishwasher breaks or your refrigerator is acting up, you may find yourself stressed—both mentally and financially. One way to relieve stress and protect against unexpected repairs is to ensure your home system components and appliances are backed by an appliance warranty. A homebuyers warranty or appliance warranty will cover replacement or repair costs and give you access to a network of service contractors.
Many homeowners do not realize that simple homeowners insurance does not cover the repair or replacement of all your major home appliances due to normal wear and tear. The manufacturer’s warranty that comes with the appliance also expires within a year or two, and if you purchase a home with aged appliances, this can be a major issue.
If you’re considering an appliance warranty, there are a few options. You can either get an extended warranty for each appliance, or choose a home warranty which covers all appliances in your house. Some home warranty companies let you choose the appliances you want to cover. This can be helpful; if you choose fewer items, you reduce your premium.
An appliance warranty can not only help save you money down the road for when repairs might be needed, but can help relieve stress and provide you with reassurance when investing in a new home. It's your home; you can make sure the appliances within it are taken care of.
Source: American Home Shield. http://homewarranties.ahs.com.
February 6, 2012 5:54 pm
Kate Raidt, the author of The Million-Dollar Parent, recently wrote about an episode she had while baking. While whipping up a batch of her famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies—something she is so familiar with she doesn’t even need to look at the recipe anymore--Raidt completely forgot to put in the eggs, resulting in a disastrous, crumbly cookie.
“In many ways, successful parenting correlates to successful cooking,” writes Raidt. “If you leave out even one simple ingredient, you’ve got a mess on your hands.”
Below are Raidt’s top 5 secret ingredients to successful parenting.
1. Time and Attention – The average child today spends 5 minutes with dad but 20 hours watching television each week. There is no regulation on how long an infant or toddler can be left at a daycare center each day. 71 percent of American households have double income parents. One of the biggest crisis’ we face in America these days are the millions of children growing up without parents and parenting giving them true one-on-one, direct interaction each day. Investing time and attention into your children is the greatest investment you will make in your entire life – and the life of your children.
2. Healthy Eating Habits – Yes, we are a junk food nation, and our children are paying the big, big price. Kids are inundated with processed foods, sodas, juices, fast food and mass-produced cafeteria food—daily! It is critical that parents lead by example and implement healthy options at home and avoid sugary and processed foods.
3. Adequate Sleep – Studies are showing that children who receive even 15 minutes less sleep than their fellow classmates not only have lower IQs but also fall into the B and C category of grades at school. Inadequate sleep also has a tremendous impact on obesity, depression and overall brain development. So enforce strict bedtimes and make sure your children receive at least 10 hours of sleep each night.
4. Positive Discipline – 80 percent of parents are either too permissive or too authoritative. Just like in cooking, if you under-cook a batch of cookies they are gooey and nasty. If you over-cook a batch of cookies, they are burnt and covered in carcinogens. The secret is to bake the cookies on the right temperature for the right amount of time. Same rule goes for parenting: Discipline when necessary by taking away privileges or enforcing time outs—but too much criticism and physical discipline creates fearful children with low self-esteem. Find that perfect balance so your kids come out nice and yummy!
5. Strong Spiritual Foundation – Parenting is the most important job on Earth…and sometimes one of the hardest. Parents who look to a “Higher Power” for guidance, leadership and peace tend to make smarter choices when raising children. And children who are raised in spiritual homes tend to have lower incidents with drinking, drugs, pregnancy and suicide.