10 Ways to Save Money This Week

Want to save money without spending all your time to do it? You’re in the right place. Save time and money with these shortcuts. Here are ten things you can do to save money right now.

1. Join online savings groups. There are hundreds of forums online that connect you with other people wanting to save money. They have links to free printable coupons, sales circulars, and consumer insight that save you time.

2. Start clipping coupons. Yes, coupons are back. Manufacturers are issuing more coupons as the economy declines. They want to keep consumers using their products and keep their brands top of mind.

3. Use store coupons. Many clothing store chains have special coupons that are good for slow store hours. Many are for early morning or late evenings during weekend hours so that working consumers can take advantage of the discounts as well.

4. Don’t buy it! If you think you want something, give yourself time to decide if you have to have it or not. If you wait 24 hours and still want an item, then buy it. Chances are you will forget all about that cute pink blouse as the day passes.

5. Don’t eat out. You can save from $50-$100 per week by packing your lunch or fixing dinner at home. There are some excellent websites listing free budget meals.

6. Use online bill paying to save money on postage. Almost all banks and utilities have free online payment options.

7. Start canceling any of the subscriptions you no longer use.

8. Review your cellular telephone plan. Most companies have an offer to switch providers that saves you money. IF you haven’t switched in awhile, you could be saving up to $30 per month by reviewing your existing cell phone plan.

9. Park the car. If you really don’t have to make an extra trip-DON’T. We are conditioned to jumping in the car and running errands. Group your shopping trips and errands together all on one day. It will save both time and money.

10. Keep a list of all the items or services over $10 you need to buy this week. Check the list twice, if you really need it, check online to see if the manufacturer is offering any type of discount or coupon before purchasing.

To find out more about ways to save money on your groceries visit AmericaLovesCoupons.com for ways to save every week.

Pull Email – The Emerging Trend

Electronic mail communication is the most admired form of communication, in today’s tremendously advanced, busy and fast life. Being the most cost effective and efficient method to transmit all kinds of electronic data, it has become indispensable not only for corporate or professionals but for all those who have an inherent need to access their mailbox outside traditional workplaces. With the rapid advancement in wireless communication emails are now accessible not only on the P.C but on the mobile phone as well, leading us into an era of MOBILE-EMAIL.

These days various wireless e-mail solutions and client models are available in the market that provide for mobile email. There are mainly 2 techniques of retrieving mobile emails: The PUSH and the PULL .

Push e-mail is used to describe email systems that provide an “always-on” capability, in which new e-mail is instantly and actively transferred (pushed) as it arrives by the mail delivery agent (MDA) (commonly called mail server) to the mail user agent (MUA), also called the e-mail client. Most of its clients are smart phones, PDA’s, etc.

The pull model relies on the user to manually initiate the request for messages to be transferred from the server by manually logging in to his account. The push model works differently and is based on the server proactively relaying incoming messages to the mobile device without any prompting i.e. it pushes the emails to the user’s device as soon as it arrives.

One of the main drawbacks of Push technology is that it works on high end mobile phones. Today, there are many solutions having very high profile brand names providing the Push facility; some can integrate with a number of back-end servers through a plug-in architecture, such as Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino and IMAP/POP3 and some can integrate directly with existing servers without the need for extra back-end integration. But in the end it is likely to come down to a combination of cost, reliability, available feature and ease of set-up and maintenance that sways IT decision makers from its deployment.

But the question that tosses our mind is

“Is it really a desirable feature to start with?”

“What could be its consequences?” and

“Does it really make sense from technical point of view?”

As many of you would agree with me that every technical change does not mean improvement. Push e-mail could very well be one of these cases. Push e-mail promises delivery of e-mail to the mobile device as soon as it is delivered to the mail I personally feel that push e-mail is like adding a jet engine to the wheel chair of the elderly. It initially sounds good, adding speed to something that is relatively slow but in reality it does not work out as good as it seems to be.

Where Push facilitates direct delivery of your email in your mobile device, you should remember that it comes with a hoard of other uncomfortable features like accumulation of bulk email on the hand set for which you have to unnecessarily pay download charges. Sometimes it really becomes difficult to find the “ONE IMPORTANT” email from the stock of emails downloaded on the handheld.

Secondly, when the email is pushed on the handset, it seizes to exist at the mail server and if you want to access your emails on your P.C , you have to manually synchronize your emails from your mobile device to your P.C. which is another botheration for the user.

However, these push based solutions require more extensive upfront investments beyond high end mobile devices and data plans, including enterprise server software and potentially desktop and client software. They also have inherent corporate IT deployment and support costs. These server-based solutions are often perceived as providing IT with more direct control over the total solution. However, control also presents IT with additional challenges, such as increased implementation and setup time, server maintenance and management, and- in many cases-desktop software maintenance, etc.

Email solutions that are based on PULL ARCHITECTURE are relatively free from the complexity of Push based email solutions. For those who use email as a cornerstone of daily interaction with the world, the difference between the two seems to be a relatively moot point.

Frankly it’s impractical to notify me immediately when a new mail arrives, because that’s too often. Even if you can tell me immediately when I have new email, so what? I care about using email when I have time. And I often have time to do email on my phone when I’m waiting at signal, in a lobby, or otherwise outside workplace. Waiting is in fact the perfect void for mobile email to fill, which I predict will make it the New Millennium’s answer to smoking cigarettes.

If you’re your own boss and want to access your emails your way without any compulsion, then it is always better to opt for email solutions based on Pull Architecture. As with Pull you can retrieve your mails from your mail server when you have the best time at your disposal for doing so.

For those of us who really need to be in touch with information and resources using mobile email communications, we have a technology that does this. Today many companies are providing PULL based mobile email solutions, that are working to produce perfectly capable email clients for mobile devices .These simple IMAP-centric applications do so without the hoopla and cost of “Push” email. It works because based on the way we use email, or at least the way we all should be using email, the “Push” advantage which the industry touts as immediacy is actually bothersome, and “Pull” is just plain good enough.

Fire! How To Prevent It (Or Survive It, If The Worst Does Happen)

Fire kills… yet many fires could be easily prevented.

To protect your home and family…

1. Fit at least one smoke alarm on every floor level. They’re inexpensive, and easy to fit.

2. Check weekly to make sure they’re working. Replace the batteries once yearly.

3. Make sure all exits are always unobstructed.

4. Make an escape plan, and keep it up-to-date.

5. If you have a safety ladder to rescue people from upstairs, make sure that they can use it easily.

6. Check if any disabled family members would have difficulty in escaping.

7. Plan how to evacuate young children, the elderly, or family pets.

8. If you have window-locks or deadlocks, make sure that everyone can find the keys, and reach them easily.

9. Arrange some lighting for emergencies. Battery-operated units for the halls and stairways are easy and inexpensive to install and run. Check regularly, and replace the batteries when necessary.

10. Test your plan out every six months.

To take precautions that could save YOUR home and family…

1. Don’t leave frying pans or chip pans unattended; a deep fat fryer with a heat control’s much safer.

2. Don’t leave cooking oil beside a source of heat.

3. Don’t leave children or pets unsupervised near any heat source, even for a moment.

4. Don’t leave burning candles unattended. Put them on a heat-resistant stand, away from curtains.

5. Keep computers and all electronics clear of dust, and don’t put more than one plug in each power socket. If you need more than that, get extra sockets.

6.Don’t leave appliances on standby. If they overheat, they can catch fire.

7. Check your furniture is flame-retardant. The upholstery of some settees and chairs can burn quite easily, or give off noxious fumes.

8. If you have polystyrene wall or ceiling tiles, don’t paint them. You’re making them a mega-fire risk.

9. At night, or any time you’re going out, close all the inside doors. That can help to stop a fire spreading.

10. Dispose of hot ash, cigarette ends, cigars, tobacco and used matches with great care. Don’t leave matches or a lighter where children or pets can get at them – and never, ever, EVER smoke in bed.

If fire does break out, your fast response can make a difference…

1. Never pour water on an oil fire, like a burning chip pan. Turn the cooker off, and put the lid back on the pan. That stops the fire from getting the oxygen it feeds on.

2. If there’s no lid, soak a tea-towel, wring it out and throw it on the burning pan.

3. Don’t carry the pan outside. Fresh air will make the fire worse.

4. If something electronic catches fire, cut the power – IF you safely can.

5. If the fire’s small and you have an extinguisher, use it – provided it’s the right kind. Using a water-based extinguisher on an electrical fire does more harm than good.

6. If there’s a fire alarm, set it off.

7. If there’s no alarm, shout “Fire!” It might sound obvious, but it’s the very thing a lot of people never think to do. There can be other people in the area who are in danger and don’t know it.

8. If it’s well alight, get out and call for the emergency services – fast. Don’t waste time trying to be a hero.

9. Make sure you know enough first aid to treat a minor burn or scald – and that you recognize what’s minor and what isn’t.

10. If someone’s clothes catch fire, wrap them in a coat or blanket to smother the flames.

If you’re ever in a fire…

1. Stay as calm as you can.

2. Look around to see if anyone is trapped; you can help the emergency services by saying where they’re needed.

3. Smoke rises, so stay low.

4. If possible, soak a cloth and hold it to your face to breathe through.

5. Carry out your action plan.

6. Touch each door before you open it. If it feels hot, leave it closed – the fire’s on the other side.

7. Don’t go downstairs till you can see the hallway’s clear.

8. Don’t go from room to room to find a phone – use your cellphone to get help.

9. If you’re trapped, get to a window so that rescuers can see you.

10. Once you’ve escaped, let someone know you’re safe.

These simple precautions are quick and easy… but take them, and they just might save your life.

A Food Hygiene Survey Report

Last week I received a phone call from the head office of a catering company that operates a number of large kitchens up and down the country. The voice at the other end of the line asked me to conduct an independent kitchen hygiene survey in one of their kitchens. I was asked to do a check which included inspecting the condition of the kitchen before and at the time of the arrival of the staff for work. The purpose of this check was to check the level of food hygiene awareness of the staff and the application of food hygiene training in practice, to see if the chef had conducted an adequate inspection of the kitchen before releasing the staff at the end of the shift and to look into the level of pest interaction with the kitchen overnight.

I have done this kind of check before. My job was to walk around the kitchen, dining room and storage areas of the kitchen and to submit a written report within two hours of finishing the inspection to the head office. If my finding were below a certain standard a Representative from head office would visit the kitchen in the early afternoon and hold an emergency meeting with the kitchen manager and the chef. The kitchen manager had been told of my scheduled visit at eleven o’clock on the evening before the visit.

I have to stress this is a kitchen which has had no serious cases of food poisoning in it’s entire history. Considering the findings of the report this may seem surprising to you. As I have stated before, most of us never really know that we are walking along a food contamination knife edge. I cannot allow you to see my written report due to client confidentiality but I can let you read my verbal notes which I recorded on my pocket recorder at the time of the inspection.

I arrived at the rear delivery ramp of the kitchen at five thirty in the morning. One half hour before the kitchen staff were due to arrive. The managers and two dining room workers were already on site.

The points will be numbered:
Kitchen Ramp:

1) Three pallets left unattended on the ramp.
2) Crows pecking sweet corn kernels on the fresh veg pallet.
3) Middle pallet containing fresh chicken legs, blood dripping onto ramp, flies starting to land on the boxes.
4) Vegetable fridge door left open.
5) Dry produce store room door left open.
6) Sparrows flying in and out of dry store room.
7) Cleaning chemicals left on ramp from day before.
8) Dirty service trolleys left on ramp from day before.
9) Water hose pipe left uncoiled from day before.
10) Empty produce boxes left on ramp from day before.

Kitchen:

11) Work surfaces dirty with water stains from day before, underside of tables dirty, table legs dirty. Dried raw chicken pieces found stuck on two table legs.
12) Shelves above work tables cluttered with disposable coffee cups. Cigarette buts inside coffee cups. Dirty plates, bowls and cutlery left on shelves. Dead flies on shelves. Shelves show no evidence of being cleaned.
13) Cobwebs in corners of ceilings.
14) Unclean linings in bread baskets.
15) Dirty cooking trays left in water overnight.
16) Dining room manager spraying degreaser onto barbecue grill vent in close proximity to food being set out for breakfast.
17) Egg trays on work surfaces in dining room and kitchen.
18) Unwashed parsley, dill and coriander put onto work table surface by kitchen worker.
19) Boxes of unwashed vegetables put onto work tables by kitchen staff.
20) Box of unwashed red peppers placed on top of chopping board.
21) Combi steamers greasy and with fallen food on oven floor.
22) Electronic thermoporters unclean. Water trays not emptied. Dirty water and thick layer of lime in water trays apparently not changed for several days.
23) Bad smell coming from inside dish washing machine. Filters not cleaned at the end of the night shift.
24) Fryer lids sticky and greasy.
25) Cockroaches coming out of fryer side panels after being turned on.
26) Small particles of food and stains evident on ceramic wall tiling behind cooking pots and fryers.
27) Stagnant water in cleaned plastic tubs. Tubs not inverted after washing.
28) Bread cutting machine left untidy with thick layer of crumbs let on the machine and floor after use.
29) Meat slicing machine not cleaned with soapAfter use. Fatty lawyer evident after previous day’s use.
30) Plastic tubs containing thawed raw meat left uncovered in fridge.
31) Condensed water dripping onto food trolleys from fridge ceiling.
32) Food trolleys in fridge not covered.
33) Fridge temperature gauge not working.
34) Evidence of mildew, liquid egg, and various sauces on fridge shelving.
35) Fridge floors wet and muddy.
36) Service trolleys not properly cleaned at the end of the day and not being cleaned between tasks.
37) Head Chef wearing very dirty trousers.
38) Staff smoking and drinking coffee in the kitchen.
39) Staff rest area not cleaned the day before, coffee cups and dirty eating plates and cutlery left on tables. Floor filthy. Cat present in staff eating and rest area.
40) Staff not wearing head covering and failing to wash hands before entering the kitchen area.
41) Disposable surgical gloves left on work surfaces after use.
42) No Liners in trash cans.
43) Boxes of frozen vegetables left on kitchen floor by store staff.
44) Rats seen in empty box collection cage.
45) Cats seen in most areas around kitchen and dining room.
46) Birds seen in Kitchen store and in dining room.
48) Blocked sink in vegetable cleaning area. No sign of technical staff for twenty minutes.
49) Meat left to thaw outside of fridge.

These were my findings within the period of forty five minutes of arriving in the catering kitchen. As you can well imagine my grading was not very favorable on that particular day. I know that the head chef and kitchen manager were place on probation in view of these findings. A repeat survey is to take place within a period of one month.

Inseparable Car and Vacuum

In 2001, the vacuum cleaner celebrated its 100th birthday. It was in the year 1901 when British engineer H. Cecil Booth patented a cleaning machine that incorporated a vacuum to remove dirt. His machine was a huge one. Named “Puffing Billy”, this vacuum machine was horse-drawn and used a gasoline engine to provide the power needed generate suction. Booth’s idea was great, but because of the sheer size and inconvenience his machine brings, he never gained a great amount of success with it.

But, since Booth’s time, the face, shape, size, design and engineering of the vacuum cleaning machine have changed tremendously. The basic idea is still there but due to the changing fashions, the development of science and advances in technology, vacuum cleaners have evolved to be a revolutionary invention that altered forever the way people clean. Today “Puffing Billy” would be put to shame by vacuum cleaners that are ten times smaller yet many times more powerful. From houses to cars, vacuum cleaners have become very practical pieces of tools in the battle against dirt.

Just like your house, your car needs and deserves the same level of attention and care. Leaving your car dirty would totally ruin your vehicle. Dust and other particles can cause scratches on the paint and can damage your car’s upholstery. Also, especially with newer car models, heavy dust can cause damage to the computer and electronic devices usually found behind the dashboard. Garbage also piles up fast. Before you even realize, your back seat’s floor resembles a dumpster.

In cleaning your car, your first step would be to vacuum the interior. From the start you will need a strong, reliable vacuum cleaner to do the job right. “Puffing Billy” would hardly be adequate for even this type of job. You’ll need the power of modern day vacuum cleaners.

Present day car vacuum cleaners are equipped with powerful machines that can easily remove dust from your car interior. With various attachments, you will also be able to reach those tight cracks and corners like the areas around the car seats, behind the dashboard, and near the sides of the trunk.

For cars, both the portable vacuum cleaners and the upright units are at your disposal. The portable ones can be very convenient. These are good for both dry and wet operations. The rechargeable battery is also a plus especially with some portable models that can be charged using the cigarette lighter of your car. Upright cleaners, on the other hand, have at their disposal hoses and on-board tools that will allow a thorough clean up in a matter of minutes. These add-ons would extend and flex into gaps that ordinary nozzles or tools can’t go.

The Real Modern Day Causes Of Chronic Disease In America

The first step we must take in order to prevent and cure chronic disease is to know their modern day causes and understand why these diseases are now so prevalent in America today. In the U.S., 70 percent of Americans that die each year die from chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke. For many years now, tobacco use has been considered the single most dangerous modifiable risk factor for chronic disease and longevity. But modern day industry and technology has brought about dramatic changes in our diet, our food, our environment, and our lifestyles. These changes have introduced other risk factors that we are now faced with and it’s the totality of these other risk factors that today pose a greater threat to the health of Americans than even smoking.

DIET AND LIFESTYLE
A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (March, 2004) states, “poor diet and lack of physical exercise may soon surpass tobacco as the leading cause of death”. In America today, modern technological advances both at home and on the job has created two things, jobs and lifestyles that are less physically active or even sedentary and a heavy reliance on the convenience of fast and processed food. The report goes further and states that only 1.5 percent more people in the U.S. die each year from tobacco (18.1percent) than those that die from poor diet and lack of physical activity (16.6 percent).

Poor diet and lack of exercise contributes to chronic disease in two ways. First, by promoting cell malfunction in our bodies by depriving the cells of sufficient nutrients and enough oxygen to keep them functioning properly and second, by contributing to weight gain and obesity.

WEIGHT GAIN AND OBESITY
It’s no secret that the U.S. is the fattest country in the world and that this is due primarily to the convenient availability of today’s fast and processed foods and inactive lifestyles. We all know that these kinds of foods are jam-packed with fats and sugars and that by consuming these foods along with physical inactivity sets us up for weight gain from fat.

But why is fat dangerous and how does it contribute to chronic disease? Body fat is dangerous for two reasons. The first reason is because fat cells are actually active, especially abdominal fat cells, and produce toxic hormones and other toxic substances during the process of lipolysis which is the breakdown of the fats that are stored in the fat cells. Our bodies are designed to handle normal amounts of these substances but the more fat you have the more fat cells you have that are releasing these toxic substances up to the point that the body becomes overwhelmed and can no longer safely dispose of them.

The second reason is that some outside environmental toxic chemicals accumulates in human fat. One such example is Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. Better known as flame retardants, PBDEs are used in a wide variety of common household products from carpet to electronics and studies show that they can cause both liver and kidney damage. The more body fat you have, the greater the possibility of you accumulating more toxic chemicals, such as PBDEs, than your body can handle. In either case, excessive body fat results in a toxic overload within the cells and just like depriving them of nutrients and oxygen, causes the cells to malfunction thus weakening the immune system.

HOW THE AMERICAN FOOD INDUSTRY HAS MADE US SICK
Seeing now how poor diet and daily inactivity can cause chronic disease, you would think that all you need to do is to start exercising and and go to the grocery store and stock up on healthier foods, right. Wrong! There are three reasons why the highly processed foods and the conventionally grown crops and meats found in most grocery stores today have played a part in the prevalence of chronic disease in America.

TOXIC CHEMICALS IN OUR FOOD
The first reason is toxicity. For many years now, the U.S.’s major food producers have used chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and growth hormones to grow bigger crops and livestock as quickly as possible for increased profits. Unknown by most American consumers, many of the meats, fruits, and vegetables found on typical grocery store shelves are laced with traces of these chemicals and hormones. These foods, as well as our processed and packaged food, also contain other chemicals in the form of ripening agents, artificial flavor and aromatic enhancers, preservatives, and other man-made chemicals to make them as appealing and as convenient as possible. These toxic chemicals ultimately end up in our bodies and after years of exposure, build up to a toxic level that our bodies are not designed to deal with.

LOW NUTRITIONAL VALUES IN TODAY’S FOOD
The second reason is that a lot of the conventional foods of today have a low nutritional value. Modern agriculture has employed methods of farming that has depleted the soil of vital minerals causing a significant decrease in the nutritional content of many of our fruits and vegetables. In fact, the Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study conducted in 2009 found that 81 percent of registered dietitians now view dietary supplements as important for maintaining health. Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist with the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently stated, “The way we farm now is destructive of the soil, the environment and us” and that “worst of all, our food is increasingly bad for us, even dangerous”. But perhaps the most serious threat to our food supply is one has gone virtually unknown to the average unsuspecting American consumer and is the third reason why our food is making us so sick.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD
Also known as GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), genetic food modification can quite possibly become the single most dangerous threat to our health. Genetic modification is the technology that makes it possible to manipulate the genes of living organisms by combining multiple genes from different living organisms in order to change the characteristics of that organism. Also referred to as recombinant DNA technology, the resulting products are said to be transgenic, genetically modified, or genetically engineered. The World Health Organization views GMO’s as “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally”.

This technology has now made it possible for scientists to inject chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides directly into the genes and the DNA of seeds used to grow the fruits and vegetables we eat in order to make them more resistant to the herbicides and pesticides already in use. This technology is also being used on livestock as well. The irony is that the world’s largest producer of GMO’s and genetically engineered foods is not one of our nation’s major food producers such as Tyson Foods or Kraft. It’s Monsanto, a chemical company. Since the early 1990’s, this technology has been used in America’s agriculture. Today approximately 70 percent of the food you buy at your typical grocery store has been genetically modified and chances are you have or will eat a GMO today.

TOXIC CHEMICALS IN OUR AIR, OUR WATER, AND OUR HOMES
The most direct source of chemical exposure we unknowingly experience comes from the foods we eat. But we can no longer ignore the fact that the environmental toxins found in our air, our water, and even our homes contribute greatly to chronic diseases here in the U.S. The number of toxic chemicals we Americans routinely encounter is astonishing. The Environmental Protection Agency has now identified at least 6,000 chemicals that Americans are regularly exposed to and this number grows each year.

And these chemical toxins are not just limited to air and water contaminants. A lot of the chemicals we come into contact with daily are right in our own homes in the form of floor cleaners, furniture polish, and even hairspray. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “Americans use an average of 10 personal care products each day, resulting in exposure to more than 126 unique chemicals-not counting the many undisclosed chemicals in fragrance.”

IS SMOKING REALLY THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF CHRONIC DISEASE IN AMERICA?
The answer is probably not but certainly it remains a major contributor. Even though the decline in the number of people who smoke has been stalled since 2005, the fact is that for 40 years now, the number of Americans who smoke has been decreasing and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to second hand smoke is now down 70 percent. Cigarette smoking peaked in the mid 1960’s with 40 percent of Americans smoking and today that figure is at about 23 percent. The percentage of Americans suffering from chronic disease now stands at 51 percent and that number continues to climb. With this in mind, it would be hard to conclusively say that cigarette smoking continues to stand alone as America’s number one cause of chronic disease.

WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF CHRONIC DISEASE IN AMERICA?
The extremely high rate of chronic disease we’re experiencing here in the U.S. today is a result of not just one, but a combination of all of these risk factors. These risk factors cause two things within our bodies that serve as the basis for all chronic disease, deficiency and toxicity. If left unchecked, these two common denominators will begin to cause cellular damage and over time, will cause the cells to malfunction thus increasing the probability of developing chronic disease.

In America today, the combination of enormous toxic overload, the declining nutritional value of our foods, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity all work against our nation’s health in ways we have never seen before by poisoning our bodies and then depriving it’s cells of what they need to function properly. In order to help avoid and reverse disease and give our bodies a chance to detoxify themselves, it’s vital that we find ways to limit our subjection to chemical toxins and find nutritious alternate food options.

Home Inspections – A Question and Answer Guide

A home inspection is an evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a home (plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical, structure, roof, etc.) and is intended to give the client (buyer, seller, or homeowner) a better understanding of the home’s general condition. Most often it is a buyer who requests an inspection of the home he or she is serious about purchasing. A home inspection delivers data so that decisions about the purchase can be confirmed or questioned, and can uncover serious and/or expensive to repair defects that the seller/owner may not be aware of. It is not an appraisal of the property’s value; nor does it address the cost of repairs. It does not guarantee that the home complies with local building codes or protect a client in the event an item inspected fails in the future. [Note: Warranties can be purchased to cover many items.] A home inspection should not be considered a “technically exhaustive” evaluation, but rather an evaluation of the property on the day it is inspected, taking into consideration normal wear and tear for the home’s age and location. A home inspection can also include, for extra fees, Radon gas testing, water testing, energy audits, pest inspections, pool inspections, and several other specific items that may be indigenous to the region of the country where the inspection takes place. Home inspections are also used (less often) by a seller before listing the property to see if there are any hidden problems that they are unaware of, and also by homeowners simply wishing to care for their homes, prevent surprises, and keep the home investment value as high as possible.

The important results to pay attention to in a home inspection are:

1. Major defects, such as large differential cracks in the foundation; structure out of level or plumb; decks not installed or supported properly, etc. These are items that are expensive to fix, which we classify as items requiring more than 2% of the purchase price to repair.

2. Things that could lead to major defects – a roof flashing leak that could get bigger, damaged downspouts that could cause backup and water intrusion, or a support beam that was not tied in to the structure properly.

3. Safety hazards, such as an exposed electrical wiring, lack of GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) in kitchens and bathrooms, lack of safety railing on decks more than 30 inches off the ground, etc.

Your inspector will advise you about what to do about these problems. He/she may recommend evaluation – and on serious issues most certainly will – by licensed or certified professionals who are specialists in the defect areas. For example, your inspector will recommend you call a licensed building engineer if they find sections of the home that are out of alignment, as this could indicate a serious structural deficiency.

Home Inspections are only done by a buyer after they sign a contract, right?

This is not true! As you will see when you read on, a home inspection can be used for interim inspections in new construction, as a maintenance tool by a current homeowner, a proactive technique by sellers to make their home more sellable, and by buyers wanting to determine the condition of the potential home.

Sellers, in particular, can benefit from getting a home inspection before listing the home. Here are just a few of the advantages for the seller:

· The seller knows the home! The home inspector will be able to get answers to his/her questions on the history of any problems they find.

· A home inspection will help the seller be more objective when it comes to setting a fair price on the home.

· The seller can take the report and make it into a marketing piece for the home.

· The seller will be alerted to any safety issues found in the home before they open it up for open house tours.

· The seller can make repairs leisurely instead being in a rush after the contract is signed.

Why should I get a home inspection?

Your new home has dozens of systems and over 10,000 parts – from heating and cooling to ventilation and appliances. When these systems and appliances work together, you experience comfort, energy savings, and durability. Weak links in the system, however, can produce assorted problems leading to a loss in value and shortened component life. Would you buy a used car without a qualified mechanic looking at it? Your home is far more complicated, and to have a thorough inspection that is documented in a report arms you with substantial information on which to make decisions.

Why can’t I do the inspection myself?

Most homebuyers lack the knowledge, skill, and objectivity needed to inspect a home themselves. By using the services of a professional home inspector, they gain a better understanding of the condition of the property; especially whether any items do not “function as intended” or “adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling” or “warrant further investigation” by a specialist. Remember that the home inspector is a generalist and is broadly trained in every home system.

Why can’t I ask a family member who is handy or who is a contractor to inspect my new home?

Although your nephew or aunt may be very skilled, he or she is not trained or experienced in professional home inspections and usually lacks the specialized test equipment and knowledge required for an inspection. Home inspection training and expertise represent a distinct, licensed profession that employs rigorous standards of practice. Most contractors and other trade professionals hire a professional home inspector to inspect their own homes when they themselves purchase a home!

What does a home inspection cost?

This is often the first question asked but the answer tells the least about the quality of the inspection. Fees are based according to size, age and various other aspects of the home. Inspection fees from a certified professional home inspector generally start under $300. An average price for a 2,000 square foot home nationally is about $350-$375. What you should pay attention to is not the fee, but the qualifications of your inspector. Are they nationally certified (passed the NHIE exam)? Are they state certified if required?

How long does the inspection take?

This depends upon the size and condition of the home. You can usually figure 1.2 hours for every 1,000 square feet. For example, a 2,500 square foot house would take about 3 hours. If the company also produces the report at your home, that will take an additional 30-50 minutes.

Do all homes require a home inspection?

Yes and No. Although not required by law in most states, we feel that any buyer not getting a home inspection is doing themselves a great disservice. They may find themselves with costly and unpleasant surprises after moving into the home and suffer financial headaches that could easily have been avoided.

Should I be at the inspection?

It’s a great idea for you be present during the inspection – whether you are buyer, seller, or homeowner. With you there, the inspector can show you any defects and explain their importance as well as point out maintenance features that will be helpful in the future. If you can’t be there, it is not a problem since the report you receive will be very detailed. If you are not present, then you should be sure to ask your inspector to explain anything that is not clear in the report. Also read the inspection agreement carefully so you understand what is covered and what is not covered in the inspection. If there is a problem with the inspection or the report, you should raise the issues quickly by calling the inspector, usually within 24 hours. If you want the inspector to return after the inspection to show you things, this can be arranged and is a good idea, however, you will be paying for the inspector’s time on a walkthrough since this was not included in the original service.

Should the
seller attend the home inspection that has been ordered by the buyer?

The seller will be welcome at the inspection (it is still their home) although they should understand that the inspector is working for the buyer. The conversation that the inspector has with the buyer may be upsetting to the seller if the seller was unaware of the items being pointed out, or the seller may be overly emotional about any flaws. This is a reason why the seller might want to consider getting their own inspection before listing the home.

Can a house fail a home inspection?

No. A home inspection is an examination of the current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A home inspector, therefore, cannot not pass or fail a house. The inspector will objectively describe the home’s physical condition and indicate which items are in need of repair or replacement.

What is included in the inspection?

The following list is not exhaustive. Not all of these may be in the inspection you get, but the inspector will be following a standardized checklist for the home:
· Site drainage and grading
· Driveway
· Entry Steps, handrails
· Decks
· Masonry
· Landscape (as it relates to the home)
· Retaining walls
· Roofing, flashings, chimneys, and attic
· Eaves, soffits, and fascias
· Walls, doors, windows, patios, walkways
· Foundation, basement, and crawlspaces
· Garage, garage walls, floor, and door operation
· Kitchen appliances (dishwasher, range/oven/cooktop/hoods, microwave, disposal, trash compactor)
· Laundry appliances (washer and dryer)
· Ceilings, walls, floors
· Kitchen counters, floors, and cabinets
· Windows and window gaskets
· Interior doors and hardware
· Plumbing systems and fixtures
· Electrical system, panels, entrance conductors
· Electrical grounding, GFCI, outlets
· Smoke (fire) detectors
· Ventilation systems and Insulation
· Heating equipment and controls
· Ducts and distribution systems
· Fireplaces
· Air Conditioning and controls
· Heat Pumps and controls
· Safety items such as means of egress, TPRV valves, railings, etc.

Other items that are not a part of the standard inspection can be added for an additional fee:
· Radon Gas Test
· Water Quality Test
· Termite Inspection (usually performed by a separate company)
· Gas Line Leak Test (usually performed by the gas company)
· Sprinkler System Test
· Swimming Pool and Spa Inspection
· Mold Screening (sometimes performed by a separate company)
· Septic System Inspection (usually performed by a separate company)
· Alarm System (usually performed by a separate company)

We recommend getting a Radon Test if your prospective home falls into an area of the country with known Radon seepage, since Radon gas produces cancer second only to cigarette smoking and can be easily mitigated by installing a vent system. We also recommend a water test to make sure you do not have bacteria in the water supply. Water can also be tested for Radon.

What is not included in the inspection?

Most people assume that everything is inspected in depth on inspection day. This misunderstanding has caused many a homebuyer to be upset with their inspector. The inspections we do are not exhaustive and there is a good reason for this. If you hired someone with licenses for heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, engineering, etc. to inspect your house, it would take about 14 hours and cost you about $2000! It is much more practical to hire a professional inspector who has generalist knowledge of home systems, knows what to look for, and can recommend further inspection by a specialist if needed. Your inspector is also following very specific guidelines as he/she inspects your home. These are either national guidelines (ASHI – American Society of Home Inspectors, InterNACHI – International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) or state guidelines. These guidelines are carefully written to protect both your home and the inspector. Here are some examples: We are directed to not turn systems on if they were off at the time of the inspection (safety reasons); we are not allowed to move furniture (might harm something); not allowed to turn on water if it is off (possible flooding), and not allowed to break through a sealed attic hatch (possible damage). The downside of this practice is that by not operating a control, by not seeing under the furniture, and not getting into the attic or crawlspace, we will might miss identifying a problem. However, put into perspective, the chances of missing something serious because of this is quite low, and the guideline as it relates to safety and not harming anything in the home is a good one. There are other items that 95% of inspectors consider outside a normal inspection, and these include inspecting most things that are not bolted down (installed in the home) such as electronics, low voltage lighting, space heaters, portable air conditioners, or specialized systems such as water purifiers, alarm systems, etc.

What if there are things you can’t inspect (like snow on the roof)?

It just so happens that some days the weather elements interfere with a full home inspection! There isn’t much we can do about this either. If there is snow on the roof we will tell you we were unable to inspect it. Of course we will be looking at the eves and the attic, and any other areas where we can get an idea of condition, but we will write in the report that we could not inspect the roof. It is impractical for us to return another day once the snow melts, because we have full schedules. However, you can usually pay an inspector a small fee to return and inspect the one or two items they were unable to inspect when they were there the first time. This is just the way things go. If you ask the inspector for a re-inspection, they will usually inspect the items then at no extra charge (beyond the re-inspection fee).

Will the inspector walk on the roof?

The inspector will walk on the roof if it is safe, accessible, and strong enough so that there is no damage done to it by walking on it. Some roofs – such as slate and tile, should not be walked on. Sometimes because of poor weather conditions, extremely steep roofs, or very high roofs, the inspector will not be able to walk the roof. The inspector will try to get up to the edge though, and will also use binoculars where accessibility is a problem. They will also examine the roof from the upper windows if that is possible. There is a lot the inspector can determine from a visual examination from a ladder and from the ground, and they will be able to tell a lot more from inside the attic about the condition of the roof as well.

Should I have my house tested for Radon? What exactly is Radon?

In many areas of the country, the answer is a definite yes. You can ask your real estate agent about this or go on to the internet for a radon map of the country. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that’s formed during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Radon exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water.

Health officials have determined that radon gas is a serious carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking. The only way to find out if your house contains radon gas is to perform a radon measurement test, which your home inspector can do. Make sure the person conducting your test has been trained to The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) or The National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) standards.

What about a newly constructed home? Does it need a home inspection?

Yes! In fact, we find far more problems, some quite serious, in newly constructed homes than in homes that have been lived in for years. This is not due to your builder’s negligence – he/she has done the best job they could with subcontractors and planning – it’s just that there are so many systems in a home, that it is close to impossible to inspect everything, and correct it before the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. Then, for some reason, the subcontractors no longer want to work on the home, and final jobs and details are missed. We recommend getting several professional home inspections near the completion stages of the home to discover everything that should be corrected. If the house is still new but sitting for a while before sale, it’s even more important to get a home inspection. We have seen water lines not hooked up, plumbing lines not hooked up, sewer lines not hooked up, vents not hooked up, and a variety of other serious but easily correctable problems!

I am having a home built. The builder assures me he will inspect everything. Should I have an independent inspector make periodic inspections?

Absolutely yes! No matter how good your builder is, he/she WILL miss things. They are so concerned with the house, they get so close to their work, as do the subcontractors, that important items can, and will be, overlooked. Have a professional inspector make at least 4-6 interim inspections. They will be worth their weight in gold.

What is the Pre-Inspection Agreement?

Most service professionals have a service agreement, and home inspection is no different. In fact, there is enough confusion about what a home inspection should deliver that the agreement is even more important. Some homeowners who get a home inspection expect everything in the home to be perfect after the repairs. This is not the case! Imagine getting a call from a homeowner a year later who says the toilet is not flushing – remember that the inspection is a moment in time snapshot. In the inspection agreement the inspector is clear about what the inspection delivers and the things that are not covered, as well as what you should do if you are not pleased with the services. We really think that by reviewing this before-hand you will understand much more about the inspection and be happier with the results. A home inspection does not guard against future problems, nor does it guarantee that all problems will be found.

What kind of report will I get following the inspection?

There are as many versions of a “report” as there are inspection companies. Guidelines dictate that the inspector deliver a written report to the client. This can range from a handwritten checklist that has multiple press copies without pictures and 4 pages long to a computer generated professionally produced report with digital pictures that is 35 pages long and can be converted to Adobe PDF
for storage and emailing. Be sure to check with your inspector about the report he or she uses. We recommend the computer generated report, since the checklist is more detailed and easier for the homeowner/buyer/seller to detail out the issues with photographs. In this modern age, we feel the reports must be web accessible and e-mailable to match the technologies most of us are using.

There are some great things you can use the report for in addition to the wealth of information it simply gives you on your new home:

· Use the report as a checklist and guide for the contractor to make repairs and improvements or get estimates and quotes from more than one contractor.

· Use the report as a budgeting tool using the inspector’s recommendations and the remaining expected life of components to keep the property in top shape.

· If you are a seller, use the report to make repairs and improvements, raising the value of the home and impressing the buyers. Then have a re-inspection and use this second report as a marketing tool for prospective buyers.

· Use the report as a “punch list” on a re-inspection and as a baseline for ongoing maintenance.

Will the report be emailable or available as an Adobe PDF file?

Yes. As discussed in the last question, you will probably want your inspector to be using the latest reporting technology.

What if I think the inspector missed something?

Inspectors are human, and yes, they do miss items. However, they routinely use advanced tools and techniques to reduce the possibility that they will miss something. This includes very detailed checklists, reference manuals, computer based lists, and a methodical always-done-the-same-way of physically moving around your home. That is one of the reasons that an inspector can miss an item when they get interrupted. The inspector will have a set way of resuming the inspection if this happens. If, in the end, something IS missed, call the inspector and discuss it. It may warrant the inspector returning to view something that you found. Remember, the inspector is doing the very best job they know how to do, and probably did not miss the item because they were lax in their technique or did not care.

What if the inspector tells me I should have a professional engineer or a licensed plumber or other professional contractor in to look at something they found? Isn’t this “passing the buck”?

You may be disappointed that further investigation is required, but, believe us, your inspector is doing exactly what they should be doing. The purpose of the inspection is to discover defects that affect your safety and the functioning of the home; the inspector is a generalist, not a specialist. Our code of ethics as well as national and state guidelines dictate that only contractors that are licensed in their specialty field should work on these systems and areas. When they tell you that a specialist is needed, there may be a bigger, more critical issue that you need to know about. If you move into the home without getting these areas checked by a qualified specialist, you could be in for some nasty and expensive surprises. The inspector does not want to cause you any more expense or worry either, so when they do recommend further evaluation they are being serious about protecting you and your investment.

Will the inspector provide a warranty on the inspected items?

Most inspectors do not give the homeowner a warranty on inspected items. Remember, a home inspection is a visual examination on a certain day, and the inspector cannot predict what issues could arise over time after the inspection. However, some inspectors are now including a warranty from the largest home warranty company in America – American Home Warranty Corporation, as well as others, on the inspected items for 60 or 90 days. This is a very good deal, and the agreement can be extended after the initial period for a relatively small amount of money.

Do most inspection companies offer money back guarantees?

Most inspection companies do not offer a satisfaction guarantee nor do they mention it in their advertising. It’s always a good thing if you can get extra services for no additional cost from your inspection company, and of course a satisfaction guarantee is an indication of superior customer service. You usually have to call your inspection company right after the inspection and viewing of the report to tell them you are not satisfied. If you are not happy with the services, you should talk to your inspector first and let him/her correct the issue(s) you are unhappy with first, as the inspector is trying to make an honest living just like the rest of us, and is not failing you on purpose.

What if my report comes back with nothing really defective in the home? Should I ask for my money back?

No, don’t ask for your money back – you just received great news! Now you can complete your home purchase with peace of mind about the condition of the property and all its equipment and systems. You will have valuable information about your new home from the inspector’s report, and will want to keep that information for future reference. Most importantly, you can feel assured that you are making a well-informed purchase decision.

What if the inspection reveals serious defects?

If the inspection reveals serious defects in the home (we define a serious defect as something that will cost more than 2% of the purchase price to fix) then pat yourself on the back for getting an inspection. You just saved yourself a ton of money. Of course it is disappointing, even heart wrenching, to find out that your well researched house is now a problem house, but you now know the facts and can either negotiate with the seller, or move on. You may want the home so much that it will be worth it to negotiate the price and then perform the repairs. Imagine, though, if you had not gotten the inspection – you would have had some very unpleasant surprises.

Can I ask my home inspector to perform the repairs?

You can, but if your inspector is ethical, he/she will refuse, and correctly so; it is a conflict of interest for the person who inspected your home to also repair it! Inspectors are specifically barred from this practice by licensing authorities, and it’s a good practice – an inspector must remain completely impartial when he or she inspects your home. This is one reason you should have a professional home inspector inspect your home and not a contractor – the contractor will want the repair work and you are likely to not have an objective inspection from this person even though they mean well and are technically competent.

Does the Seller have to make the repairs?

The inspection report results do not place an obligation on the seller to repair everything mentioned in the report. Once the home condition is known, the buyer and the seller should sit down and discuss what is in the report. The report will be clear about what is a repair and what is a discretionary improvement. This area should be clearly negotiated between the parties. It’s important to know that the inspector must stay out of this discussion because it is outside of their scope of work.

After the home inspection and consulting with the seller on the repairs, can I re-employ the inspector to come re-inspect the home to make sure everything got fixed?

You certainly can, and it’s a really good idea. For a small fee the inspector will return to determine if the repairs were completed, and if they were completed correctly.

What if I find problems after I move into my new home?

A home inspection is not a guarantee that problems won’t develop after you move in. However, if you believe that a problem was visible at the time of the inspection and should have been mentioned in the report, your first step should be to call the inspector. He or she will be fine with this, and does want you to call if you think there is a problem. If the issue is not resolved
with a phone call, they will come to your home to look at it. They will want you to be satisfied and will do everything they can to do this. One way to protect yourself between the inspection and the move-in is to conduct a final walkthrough on closing day and use both the inspection report AND a Walkthrough Checklist to make sure everything is as it should be.

Copyright 2010 by Lisa P. Turner

How to Change a Dead Vehicle Battery

As you walk back to your car after a night out, you realize to your horror that you left the headlights on. As expected, the battery is dead and the car won’t start. The best thing to do is to flag down a car and ask for a jump to quickly jolt the battery back to life.

You should always keep a set of jumper cables in the trunk so you can get a jump if you need it because you never know when the battery will fail; but if tinkering under the hood isn’t your style, there are several products on the market designed to make the process easier. There are jumper cables that connect one car to another through the cigarette lighters, eliminating direct contact with the car batteries. There are also car starters that plug into the cigarette lighter and jump start the battery at the push of a button; these products are convenient because they don’t require that you rely on the kindness of strangers or that you leave the comfort of your car to jump start the battery.

Aside from leaving the headlights on for prolonged periods of time, a car battery may fail because it needs to be replaced or because there is a charging problem due to a faulty alternator. It’s a good idea to invest in a multimeter, an instrument that makes various electrical measurements, so you can check the electricity circulating through the battery and its surrounding components. This will prevent you from replacing the battery prematurely or unnecessarily if the problem is not the battery.

A multimeter can be analog or digital and is usually a rectangular box with two leads coming out of it; the positive lead is red and the negative lead is black. With a mutimeter, you can test the voltage of a car battery by setting the device to the volt scale and placing the positive lead onto the positive battery terminal and the negative lead onto the negative battery terminal.

If you get a very low reading, you should think about replacing the battery. You can also test the fuses by disconnecting the battery terminal, setting the device to the ohm scale and placing both leads on the fuse legs. This is done to see if there’s electron flow within the fuse, which would indicate it’s working properly. And finally, you can make sure the alternator, which is part of the car’s battery charging system, is working properly by comparing the voltage in the battery when the car is off to when the car is on. If when the car is on, the voltage is higher, the alternator is working properly. Check the car manual for information about the car battery and the surrounding components.

If you need to change the car battery, the first step is to purchase a new one. Buy the same kind of battery you currently have in your car or check the car manual for battery specifications.

Follow these 10 steps to easily replace your car battery:

1 – Locate the battery under the hood.

2 – Disconnect the cable terminals from the battery terminals starting with the negative side. Pay close attention to the position of the battery terminals

3 – Remove the battery bracket.

4 – Clean the inside of each cable terminal with a wire brush.

5 – Place the new battery into the slot with the battery terminals in the same position as the old battery

6 – Replace the battery bracket

7 – Connect the cable terminals to the battery terminals; make sure they are tightly secured.

8 – Start the engine to test the battery.

9 – Dispose of the old battery in accordance with local laws or drop it off at a local auto parts store or recycling center.

For an illustrated step by step guide to replacing your car battery, please visit: ehow.com/video_512_replace-car-battery.html”>http://www.ehow.com/video_512_replace-car-battery.html.

Keeping Infringing Technology at Bay

One clear way to mark the advancement of technology is to follow the government’s use of that technology to further invade our lives.

In this article we are going to look at Bio-metrics and RFID to determine the limitations, precautions and methods of limiting or defeating their encroachment in our lives, or in the case of some needed benefit, how to limit their destructive and sometimes dangerous consequences.

In order for the government or a company to apply bio-metric technology; the organization must first obtain the base sample data with which to compare against any future collects. When obtaining this base sample data there are two primary broad scope methods, either passive or active. A passive collection method can be obtained without the subject necessarily knowing it is being done. An active sample is when we “volunteer” or are an active participant when the sample is taken. We’ll discuss this more as we visit each item.

The most widespread uses of bio-metric schemes for identification and tracking include:

1. Hand/Palm print identification: Hand and palm print identification can only be used after having loaded your hand and/or palm data into the database. This normally cannot be done without you personally submitting your hand for electronic measurement. The measurements taken are then stored for later comparison against future scans. The best way to overcome this identification scheme is to not submit to the scan in the first place. Once the data is on file there is no foolproof means of overcoming this scan short of surgical alterations which we do not recommend.

2. Iris pattern identification: As with the hand and palm print identification above, the iris is scanned by and infrared scanning device to map the folds of the iris. This provides a unique pattern trace that can identify an individual similar to that of a fingerprint. Unlike the fingerprint obtaining the base scan is not as easy as lifting a fingerprint. As with #1 above this identification scheme must have your involvement in being scanned to place this data into the database. There is no way currently to passively acquire this data and as long as you do not submit to being scanned you are fairly safe.

3. Facial recognition: This technique has garnered wide spread support from both government and business sectors. The technology today is such that this can be accomplished with surprising speed and accuracy. By mapping the face and taking measurements of key features the software can identify someone with remarkable regularity. The baseline data for this system can be acquired by both passive and active means. If the identity of the subject is already known; an image is scanned into the system and key features are mapped. There is no problem with scale on this technique as the basis for recognition is based on the relationship of each key feature to the others as well as the individual measurements. This is probably the hardest of all to overcome simply from the shear ease of obtaining the data. There is only marginal success with defeating a passive identification which would be to utilize dark oversized glasses, hats that cast shadow across the face and other facial obscurants. Of course this would also make us stand out from everyone else as well. Second best, stay away from public cameras, which is becoming harder and harder to do. As a side note: the FBI is building the largest database for facial recognition identification ever built and is spending one billion dollars to fill it. Coincidently the new Real ID Act requires that the issuing agency: “Subject each person applying for a driver’s license or identification card to mandatory facial image capture.” As nothing happens in politics or government by accident we would have to assume there is a connection.

4. Speech/speaker recognition/identification: Ever notice that you can identify many people just by their voice. Well science has taken this one step forward. Now we can obtain a recording of a person’s voice and derive a signature that matches that distinct individual. This can be used to also identify a person based on voice inflection, pitch, and a myriad of other characteristics. The remarkable thing about this is that even when trying to disguise your voice it may still identify you. Again the primary thing is to not get your voice print placed in the database. The downside is this data can be collected passively by parabolic microphones, wire taps, or any other means that records voice data.

5. DNA: Okay, we’ve all seen CSI and know about DNA. Even the smallest trace can be processed to provide identifiable information. The good thing is they must already have your DNA on file to compare against, or they must obtain a sample. Now if you have served in the military within the last 10 years then they already have it on file. If they ever connect the medical records to the government computers, say to establish a national medical coverage, then were all hosed. If you want to keep out of the DNA spotlight then you must be very cognizant of anything you throw away. Everything that is used on or around your body may have potential DNA evidence. Cigarette butts may contain DNA from saliva cells, women utilizing feminine hygiene products, hair brushes which may contain live follicles, the list is endless. To be absolutely sure you have a couple of choices, burn everything or take your trash to the landfill personally and dispose of any potential items separately from your normal trash and shred anything with identifiable information on it so the trash cannot be directly traced to you or your residence.

6. Vascular pattern identification: This is another one for the SCI-FI folks. They collect this data from looking at your hand under an infrared device that identifies the unique mapping of your blood vessels. Obviously this requires up close and personal contact for them to acquire this and normally cannot be passively acquired. So in this case do not volunteer to have your hand scanned and you should be safe.

7. Gait/body recognition: This scheme is a little on the fringe but is still usable. We all know someone that you can recognize from a block away simply by how they walk. This process uses that same concept by analyzing how we walk and the relationship to our body measurements; such as knee to ankle, and/or knee to hip, how our arms swing, etcetera. This can definitely be collected passively, and more often than not they want it that way so as to ensure they are getting a “natural” gait when walking. We all tend to walk a little cautiously when we think we are being observed. There are subtle things that can be done to alter our signature gait such as wearing lifts in your shoes, placing your hands in your pockets, and many other things. The biggest problem is knowing when they are collecting against you. As this can and should be done passively we probably would not know it was being done until it was too late.

8. Facial thermography: Is just what is says, measuring the heat signature of the face. Each individual looks uniquely different due to the underlying structure of bone, cartilage, fat, and muscles. Each structure changes what our face looks like when viewed under an infrared camera. Those differences create a map can help to identify a person. Again as this can be captured passively there is not much we can do as we cannot walk around with a thermal ski mask over our face each day. We can however not volunteer to provide the sample and make them work to get it.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification (see article in this edition). RFID has entrenched itself into every major area of our society. As with any technology there is often two sides; potential benefits and potential abuses.

RFID can greatly increase the ability of a company to manage and track inventories and order processing. The other side is that it also has the potential to be the means to “track” every citizen as they go about their daily lives.

So how do we balance the good
and the bad? We do so by knowing the strengths and limitations of the devices and act accordingly. As with every technology, none are perfect and neither are they foolproof, this is what we will explore.

The RFID chip is comprised of a brain or storage cell that holds data. Some have a power supply while others have to be activated by an interrogator to “power” the cell. As with any device it must have all components working correctly or the entire unit fails. With this in mind; simply disabling any part of the device will render the device inert. This can be accomplished by removing the device and smashing the chip or clipping a section of the antenna (the small wire that is coiled around the chip).

You many not always be able to detect the presence of a chip simply by looking; as some manufacturers imbed the device within the item. For any item you suspect has an RFID chip you can simply microwave the device for a short period of time; which will render the device inoperable. Use extreme caution to ensure the item does not catch fire. Some chips have been known to emit a spark when micro waved and start a fire. This may be particularly true for clothes with tags sewn into the linings of the garment.

A follow on point to remember; as RFID chips become more widely used, especially in government, the deactivation of an RFID chip may be as suspicious or problematic as having an active device. The RFID passport, for instance, will be deemed void if the passport is presented without a working chip. Also, as RFID chips further infiltrate the system; other items such as driver’s licenses or identification could be voided, or at a minimum not honored, due to not being able to be read.

One of the better options for these types of devices would be to block the device from being read until you want them to be. This can be accomplished by placing the item containing the chip in a metal or screen mesh device that will block signals from being received. This could be something as simple as tin foil wrapped around the item or a metal case similar to a metal cigarette case.

I personally destroy any RFID device that is not attached to an official item, such as a passport. For an official item I will ensure that it is enclosed by a blocking device.

Fucoidan Finds The Balance Where You Need It

There is a lot of talk about sea vegetables. Sea vegetables include seaweed, red algae, green algae, brown algae, kelp, kombu, bladderwrack, wakame, nori, and dulse. Brown seaweed contains many nutrients, and the one that interests us most is Fucoidan, a general term that refers to high-molecular sulfated polysaccharides. Fucoidan is found primarily in the cell walls of several species of the brown seaweed, such as kombu, limu moui, wakame, hijiki, and bladderwrack. Some marine animals also have fucoidan in varying degrees, and the sea cucumber is one of these.

Fucoidan is particularly useful to many body systems; improves joint flexibility and lubrication, supports healthy immune systems; gastrointestinal system to promote a healthy gut; promotes healthy cell growth and the circulatory system, an antiviral agent, as well as being a potent antioxidant and detoxicant, and as well, it is shown to have an anti-coagulant action comparable to heparin! Studies undertaken with cancer cells show that fucoidan can induce the nucleus of the cancer cells to die. This process is called apoptosis; and this self-destruction was observed to take place in cancer cells without affecting normal cells. Fucoidan has the ability to balance cellular activity by inhibiting or stimulating them, where the cells communicate to either boost as with chronic fatigue syndrome, and the common cold; or to suppress as with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. This works through the proteins and polysaccharides. Studies also show that Fucoidan has a balancing action on cholesterol, keeping both LDL and HDL cholesterol in ideal range

It is imperative to have antioxidants in our bodies to counter the free radical action of the unstable oxygen molecules that are looking for another electron to make themselves complete. They bombard tissues and damage occurs in the form of arthritis, and it has been said that age-related diseases and even aging itself occur from free radical damage. Free radicals are simply a byproduct of our immune system in the process of disposing of viruses and bacteria, but polluted environments also contribute, from exhaust pollution, radiation, herbicides even cigarette smoke; all do damage at cellular level.Therefore as antioxidants happily donate electrons to these free radical oxygen molecules, they are vital to have for a health body. Antioxidants are stable in either form, so donating an electron does not lead to damage. Our bodies make some antioxidants, but we need many more from our food, so a potent antioxidant from seaweed has many health benefits to all our body systems.