Thursday, October 21, 2010

Formaldehyde: The Next Silent Killer?

by Faith Ranoli

Formaldehyde is found in most homes in multiple applications from pressed wood products, insulation and chemicals adhering to clothing imported from other countries. The EPA studies indicate a link from formaldehyde to cancer, asthma and allergies - in people and animals.

Formaldehyde is colorless but definitely has a noticeable pungent odor causing eyes and throats to burn and eyes to water. For those who are very sensitive or have chemical sensitivities, nausea and breathing difficulties may be experienced. Chemical sensitive people experience fatigue, skin rash and other allergic reactions.

Rising temperatures, humidity and the air exchange rate can affect indoor air containing formaldehyde. As temps rise formaldehyde is released from glues, adhesives and sealants on interior plywood, particleboard, medium density fiberboard. Some paints containing preservatives, the finish on some papers, building insulation, textiles, environmental tobacco smoke and improperly vented fuel burning appliances will also cause a release of formaldehyde.

It's everywhere trapped in your home or office. For those working from home or animals that are continually in a closed office or home, the risks are greater.

So what can you do about it?

Here are some very simple tips to lower the concentration of formaldehyde in your home or office:

o Ventilate your home, open the windows and doors and air out your home daily.
o Use exterior grade pressed woods, no VOC paints and finishes.
o Inspect your fuel burring appliances for proper venting and operation.
o Use your air conditioner to lower the temps in your home during the summer.
o Install only building materials containing the American National Standards Institute stamp indicating lower or no formaldehyde levels.
o When you buy clothing, wash it before wearing it.
o Remove formaldehyde-containing products if you can and seal those that must remain with a no VOC sealant.

Tune in to Faith Ranoli's Heart And Home Radio Show Thursdays 1pm Pacific Time

Monday, October 11, 2010

Internet Radio: Listening Loud and Clear

by James Bean

How to Transform Web Radio Listening Into A Pleasurable, High Fidelity Experience – Loud and Clear – So You Don't Miss Another Word -

Most people attempt listening to web radio stations streaming online with itsy-bitsy teeny-tiny not-so-nice flat sounding computer speakers, as well as, using lower quality sound cards that come standard with your computer purchase. That can make it difficult to fully enjoy catching your favorite radio programs or any audio over the Net.

Mark Twain said: "Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can read." Time to be merciful and compassionate on your ears, discover what you've been missing, making computer audio into the pleasurable experience it was meant to be! It's time to take internet radio listening to the next level, and it's easier to accomplish than you might think.

If you already have a stereo receiver-amplifier and a computer, you may only need to make a trip to your favorite electronics store to get the correct connecting cables and maybe a simple adapter.

Take a close look at the front and back of your computer to see what it has for audio jacks, also the back of your stereo amp. Most computers at least have a 1/8" stereo jack so you can plug in headphones. A sound card in the back will have a 1/8" jack as well. With an adapter that's easy to find, one can connect a stereo system, CD player, etc. to the computer's audio.

On the back of your computer, plug in the RCA audio connecting cables to the audio "OUT". Connect the other end of those to the audio "IN" on the back of your stereo receiver (or whatever you're using for an audio amplifier powering your speakers).

For only the cost of a few feet of cable and perhaps an adapter, the much larger speakers of your stereo are now pressed into service, being fed audio from your computer.

If you're shopping for a new computer and want to make the best use of it for web audio - and I certainly hope you do - there are some exciting options these days for connoisseurs of sound. Choose, or have custom-built, a computer that gives you more ways to plug in an external amp. What I described above lets you crank up the volume, making it possible for you to enjoy analog audio from the web, but there are also more advanced digital possibilities for the true audiophile.

Sound cards have come a long way in recent years. There are some that provide HD audio, and even 3D. In addition to analog, those sound cards will have a SPDIF coax cable "OUT" jack, and an optical "OUT". That's optical as in fiber optic cable. One can purchase a fairly high end amplifier that has inputs for all three, letting you connect to computers, DVD players or other devices with a standard analog connection, digital coax, or optical. E-mazing! "....Sounds caress my ear". "Let the music be your master.” “Will you heed the master's call..." (Led Zeppelin, lyrics from "Kashmir" and "Houses of the Holy")

Tune in Tuesdays noon PT on for James Bean show "Spiritual Awakening"!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Playoffs and Stories

by Jay Cruz
Moving into October and a new month, we say goodbye to the long baseball season and hello to the very short and exciting playoff season. Well, it is if you like baseball anyway. The regular season did go down to the last day with 2 playoff births to be decided and The San Francisco Giants beat the underdog San Diego Padres while the Atlanta Braves won their game against the Phillies to clinch the final National League spot over the Padres. One of the things about the very long baseball season is the fact that the playoffs happen so quickly. Check your local listings for times of this weeks match-ups because they always seem to be scheduled at the strangest times.

I remember as a young kid playing “hookey” one time to watch the Oakland A’s against the Detroit Tigers in 1972. I was 7. I was in big trouble when my Mother walked into my room at lunchtime with chicken soup and discovered me with my Oakland hat on and my collection of baseball cards in my hand. Of course today we have the internet with updates and virtual coverage of the games.

With these modern updates and electronic coverage one doesn’t have to play sick to catch a game score if it’s important, but I think we miss the story telling that the play by play announcers bring to the game. It’s handy to get the bottom line, but colorful details make the games come alive. The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t make the playoffs this year, which means that their quality storyteller Vin Scully is already on vacation. The great news about Vin is that he will return for his 62nd year of broadcasting Dodger baseball next year. His broadcasts of Dodger games are a text book for how stories are told and really make games come to life.

What is your story? What stories are you hearing? What story are you currently telling? When people get together its our stories that give us insight into each other. Stories are how we share and recreate the memories and lessons we all get to learn. If you don’t pay attention to the stories in your life right now, take a little time and do so. If you don’t know what your own story is, take a moment or more to remind yourself what it is.

Some of the baseball stories for the playoffs include. Atanta’s Bobby Cox managing for the final days of his career. Will the Philadelphia Phillies go to a 3rd straight World Series? Will Yankees Captain Derek Jeter return to his clutch form? Will the Texas Rangers finally win their first playoff series? Will the folks in Tampa realize that they have an outstanding team in town that doesn’t sell out its games? Who is going to be the player that nobody expects to be, step up and be the hero for his team?

How about a story that features James Bond riding a skateboard in a kilt? For that bombshell you will need to listen to the News@7 this coming Friday to hear our Arts and Entertainment segment. Or, you could make up a story about a skateboarding super spy swinging through Scotland, and see how it compares to what we heard.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Things to know when hiring a contractor

by Faith Ranoli

Do you have home remodeling projects? What if you've watched the building TV shows and know you do not want to end up like some of those people. How do you protect yourself? How do you bring your project in on time and on budget? Most importantly, how do you hire a team to accomplish your goals of bringing your dream into reality on budget?

Here are some tips to help you hire the right people and avoid common pitfalls. The best advice is to be prepared and do your due diligence.

Before you start your project:
Hire a home inspector to assess the property for hidden needed repairs. Speak with professionals to help you lay out the project, perhaps an architect, designer, the kitchen or bath staff at the big box store, look at magazine and search the Internet for ideas and products.Depending on your time commitment and level of involvement you may choose to hire a remodeling coach to help interface with contractors or to oversea the project or to help you do some of the work.Once you have a plan of action think about your budget, hold back 10-15% for the unexpected, if you don't spend it on surprise repairs then you can upgrade fixtures or other materials towards the end of the project.

When hiring a contractor:
Ask friends or professional contacts for contractor referrals, check with your home insurance company carrier or Realtor for their vendor list. When talking to contractors ask for proof of insurance, workman's compensation insurance and state licensing. Call and verify all insurances and ask for certificates of insurance before you start the job. Call and verify the contractor is in good standing with the state licensing board. Call and verify the contractor and the company name are in good standing with the Secretary of State's office and the Better Business Bureau. Use the Internet and research the contractor and his company. Ask to see their driver's license and car insurance. Ask for past customer references from each contractor, call those customers and ask to see the finished work.

During the bid process:
Obtain bids from at least three qualified contractors. Ensure the bids are made on the same job specifications and quality of materials. Obtain a land and cell phone number, street mailing address not a post office box, an email address and website address for each contractor and make sure this information is reflected on their bid. Each bid should have a start date, end date and payment breakout dates. Ask for the bid to be broken down into labor and materials for each phase of the project.

Drawing up the contract:
After selecting your contractor(s)ask for the contract and look for:
-- A start date and end date with a clause detailing the process if the contractor cannot meet the end date. The work description encompasses the total project they bid on, all the details are written into the contract.
-- A payment schedule, based on finishing phases of the project.
-- A plan for obtaining permits where needed.
-- A lien release from all subcontractors and material suppliers, do this before paying for any work.
-- A means to track changes to the project. Unexpected repairs or changes to the original design will crop up, a way to track those changes is necessary because it will most likely change the cost of the project. A form filled out by the contractor and signed by both of you is recommended.
-- A clause for touch ups and warranties.
-- A labor and material price breakdown for each phase of the project.
-- A means of negotiating if the job is not done to your agreed upon contract.

Remember, anything you sign is a contract. When the job is completed, do not write that final check until you have the signed and completed permit from your local building inspection office. Also, have others look at the finished project and look for touch ups. You've been looking at the project daily and you might miss something, a fresh eye will help you see the touch ups needed while the contractor is motivated to make those repairs.

Tune in to Faith Ranoli’s, Heart & Home radio show, Thursday 1p.m.PT