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Updated: 19 min 2 sec ago

Taking Care of Your Child's Eyes in Today's Digitally Dependent World

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 4:01pm
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(NewsUSA) - According to the American Optometric Association's (AOA) 2015 American Eye-Q survey, 41 percent of parents say their kids spend three or more hours per day using digital devices, and 66 percent of kids have their own smartphone or tablet.

It's clear children's use of digital technology continues to be an integral part of their lives in both the classroom and at home, and it's predicted that by 2028 -- the year in which kids entering kindergarten this fall will graduate high school -- many schools will rely heavily on computer simulations for instruction and will even incorporate virtual worlds into curriculu.

While these advances in the classroom may enhance learning, many digital devices are still relatively new, and the long-term effects on young eyes are not yet fully known. Most of today's commonly-used devices give off high-energy, short-wavelength, blue and violet light, which may affect children's vision and even prematurely age their eyes. Early research even shows that overexposure to this blue light could contribute to eye strain and discomfort and may lead to serious conditions later in life, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can cause blindness.

The first step in taking care of children's eyes is for parents to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for children prior to the beginning of each school year to check eye health and vision. Children now have the benefit of annual comprehensive eye exams, thanks to the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit in the Affordable Care Act, through age 18. The AOA recommends children have an eye exam by

an optometrist soon after six months of age, again at age three and annually thereafter.

With so much time spent on digital devices, it is also more important than ever for parents to watch for signs of digital eye strain in children. Symptoms can include burning, itchy or tired eyes, headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision or head and neck pain. To protect their eyes and vision while using digital devices, parents should encourage children to take frequent visual breaks by practicing the 20-20-20 rule: when using technology or doing near work, take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.

To find an optometrist in your area, or for additional information on children's vision and the importance of back-to-school eye exams, please visit aoa.org.

Modern-Day Party Do's and Don'ts

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 3:58pm
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(NewsUSA) - It starts when you receive the invitation in the mail -- either your computer's Inbox or the one that your junk mail gets delivered to.

That complex social conundrum of being asked to a party.

Do you bring wine or beer? Is wine too pretentious? There's always craft beer, or is that elitist? And what to wear? Is it a casual gathering or a dinner party where at least a sport coat is needed? Is it acceptable to add a plus-one, since you just started dating the potential man or woman of your dreams?

While modern-day society may no longer follow the social dictates of Emily Post's rules of etiquette, there's nothing like a soiree to throw many of us into an internal tailspin.

To help navigate the often frustratingly opaque rules of attending a party, be it cocktail, dinner or a child's birthday, the following tips can help:

* Call to RSVP. The French may not have the corner on manners, but they do know that RSVP means respondez s'il vous plait, or please reply. This is essential for the host to get an accurate headcount and not responding is considered rude and inconsiderate.

* Decode the dress code. Is it a formal affair in which tuxes and dresses are appropriate, or a more casual, anything goes party? If you're unsure, it's never inappropriate to ask the hostess.

* Go dateless. Unless specifically stated, it is considered rude to bring an uninvited guest or to ask if you can bring a plus-one. If you can bring a date, remember to RSVP for them, or conversely, if you accepted for your guest and plans change, let the host know that as well.

* Hold your liquor. While you may want to imbibe all the free-flowing alcohol, avoid drinking to excess. Nothing is more disrespectful and uncomfortable than a drunk party guest, particularly at more upscale affairs.

* Take what you need to feel comfortable. For some that's a small bottle of aspirin to ward off a headache, a pair of more comfortable shoes discreetly hidden in the folds of a coat, an embroidered handkerchief rather than bulky tissue, or if you're a smokeless tobacco user, something other than a spit cup or bottle. Smokeless tobacco accessories, such as the portable spittoon created by Atlanta-based FLASR, will help you avoid the uncomfortable (not to mention sometimes messy) aspects of enjoying your snuff, dip or chew while at a party. The new 4-ounce FLASR pocket-sized spittoon is designed to al-low users to open and shut it with just one hand, making it an ideal solution for users to enjoy smokeless tobacco unobtrusively and discreetly without unwanted attention.

For more information, please visit www.flasr.com.

Will the Movie Studio be the Next Heavy Hitter?

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 9:39am
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(NewsUSA) - Gordon Scott Venters thrives on challenges. As CEO of The Movie Studio (TMS) in Hollywood -- that's Florida, not L.A. --he's been in the entertainment industry for more than 20 years and has carved out a career where others have failed.

Venters' resume reads like a who's who of Hollywood (California), where he was president, CEO and director of Destination Television, now TMS. While Venters has a soft spot for the West Coast, he is betting that, unlike California, South Florida will become the premier destination to produce motion pictures.

"The energy is completely different here than in California, and making movies in Florida has some terrific advantages," said Venters. "The visual landscape is stunning from a cinematic standpoint, there are diversified places to shoot and great visual optics. That's the value proposition in Florida."

It also doesn't hurt that the rich and famous work and play in the Sunshine State.

As an undervalued publicly traded company, according to Venters, he knows that, although risky, there are huge opportunities for growth for TMS (OTC: MVES).

"We want to give our followers, shareholders and supporters the chance to be a part of what we see as one of the newest hot studios providing full services in distribution, creativity and complete production from South Florida," Venters said.

Currently, TMS has acquired Seven Arts Entertainment, which gives the South Florida-based company access to a movie library of 12 titles, including "Sleep When I'm Dead" with Clive Owens, "Johnny Pneumonic" with Keanu Reeves, and "A Shot At Glory" with Robert Duvall, among others. Additional libraries are under negotiation for acquisition. Venters says he plans to bundle these and more high-profile films with indie movies that the studio has produced, such as "Exposure" -- released on Netflix and on Amazon and in Walmart, Best Buy and Target.

Other movies in the pipeline for TMS are "Bad Actress," "Double Exposure" and a new mob film "Mafia Wife," the tell-all all expose that finally reveals, according to the mafia wives whose husbands claimed they were there, who killed Jimmy Hoffa, why and how they disposed of the body (www.MafiaWifeTheMovie.com). The latter was cast by Ellen Jacoby. Jacoby has recently cast such major motion pictures as "Rock Of Ages" with Tom Cruise and "Change Of Heart" with Jim Belushi.

The Movie Studio, Inc. is also involved with considering additional film projects, music videos, television shows and other intellectual properties. To learn more, visit www.TheMovieStudio.com.

Survey Shows Americans' Views on Dental Hygiene Differ by Region

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 9:44am
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(NewsUSA) - Does where you live impact your flossing and dental hygiene habits? A new national survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) shows it does.

For instance, while more than a quarter of adults surveyed said they lied to their dentists about how often they floss their teeth, those who live in Atlanta (82 percent) are more likely to be honest about how often they floss. Could that be Southern manners at play?

Conversely, one in five, or 20 percent, of Chicagoans said they would rather sit in an hour of the city's notorious gridlock traffic than floss daily. In D.C., less than one in five participants, or 18 percent, said they would let a friend know if they had something in their teeth.

Other key survey findings by geographic region:

* Three in five (60 percent) of U.S. adults, including New Yorkers, who have a partner say their partner's oral health has an effect on their intimacy.

* Twenty percent of Houstonians guessed incorrectly when asked what a periodontist treat-ed versus a majority of those in other metro areas.

* Almost half of those in Los Angeles (45 percent) and Boston (44 percent) are more likely than those who live in Chicago or Houston to say a smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone they are attracted to.

* 21 percent of Philadelphians would rather wait in a long check-out line than floss.

So, while the survey indicates oral health habits may differ from region to region, it also clearly shows that Americans do have one thing in common -- we all don't floss as frequently as we should.

While flossing should only take an extra minute or two each day, it would appear it's more than we're willing to give. There are more than 500 bacterial species that can be found in dental plaque, which brushing alone won't remove, so that should be incentive enough to get flossing.

Whatever the reason for our reluctance to floss, there are benefits to showing your teeth a little love, according to the AAP.

The most obvious is that flossing prevents plaque, and those 500 bacterial species, from building up below the gum line, causing swelling and eventually leading to periodontal disease. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to a host of oral health issues such as receding gums, tooth decay and tooth loss, and is even linked to other chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable by brushing at least twice a day, flossing once a day and receiving an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation. If you are at risk for or have gum disease, a periodontist has the specialized training and expertise for the right treatment.

For more information, visit www.perio.org.

Fire Away: How to Prepare For Hunting Season

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 8:33am
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(NewsUSA) - Although hunting season may still be months away, it's never too early to start checking things off your to-do list. After all, no matter how you slice it, there is a lot of work that goes into getting ready.

Fortunately, for today's hunter, things have changed drastically from decades past. It used to be that hunters slept in tents, heated tin cans of beans over an open fire, wore puffy down parkas to keep warm, and stayed near paved roads in case they got stuck.

Now, lodges, guides, cooks, cell phones and all-terrain vehicles make hunting a more enjoyable and safer experience.

With that in mind, the following tips will help you get prepared for this year's hunting season:

* Check your hunting license. Ensure that it's valid and covers all varieties of wildlife you intend to hunt. Even if you've hunted in the same location, check that permit requirements haven't changed. Regulations get updated yearly, so don't assume that what was valid last year still applies to your favorite watering hole.

* Pack your bag. This tip is two-fold: if you're planning to head out of town, you'll need a hunting permit for that state. If you're staying local, you should pack a bag filled with essential items that will help you survive any unexpected situation, be it weather or something more dire. These include a cell phone, GPS, first aid kit, lighter, maps, binoculars, small rope, pocket knife, bottled water and a few high-energy snacks.

* Bring the right clothing. Depending on where you're headed, you'll need a light or heavy jacket, gloves, hat and layers for nights when the temperatures dip. And don't forget the rain gear. If in a warmer climate, you can dress down with lighter clothes, but whatever the case, don't forget your orange hunting vest. One caveat: wash any clothes you intend to wear with unscented laundry detergent. Animals will (literally) be able to smell you a mile away and not come near you.

* Take any necessary accessories. This could include extra ammunition, maps, flashlight, whistle, and if you're a smokeless tobacco user consider bringing a portable spittoon such as those created by Atlanta-based FLASR (OTCQB: FLSR). The new 4-ounce FLASR pocket-sized spittoon is designed to allow users to open and shut it with just one hand, making it an ideal solution for taking the pleasure of snuff, dip or chew, hunting, fishing or any other outdoor activity. FLASR's spittoons also help eliminate the scent of chewing tobacco spit, which could ward off animals.

For more information, visit www.flasr.com.

Novel Program Brings Hope to African Nation

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 8:30am
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(NewsUSA) - For decades, Angola's government has focused on its natural resources as its number one commodity. Now, however, there is a paradigm shift that may have an even greater potential -- the country's young people.

In cooperation with Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), a leading Swiss business school that has recently earned the AACSB International business accreditation, Angola wants to train select students in international business and start a new phase of economic development.

But can the formation of a new financial elite be enough for lasting change in a country that is still inherently poor?

Of course not, says Jose Filament Dos Santos, a representative from the Angolan sovereign wealth fund Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA), which is funding the project. "But we firmly believe that you have to start somewhere, and it's best to get going in an area where it will have a big impact."

Other countries have already seen the benefit of investing in education and a younger generation, but it is no small step for a country whose majority still live in abject poverty.

The focus-shift of the FSDEA, from the investment in real estate to the social sector, justifies Dos Santos with the growing investment interest for years from foreign companies:

"In order to understand and draw up major contracts in international business that will bring in long-term revenues not only for investors, but also for the country and its people, Angola needs experts."

Enter the 'Future Leaders of Angola,' a six-month executive program that offers Angolan students advanced training in management at an international level.

A statement released by the 'Future Leaders of Angola' reads, "We believe [the graduates] will produce a noticeable effect, not least because they will pass on what they have learnt in their future jobs in Angola."

For its part, the university said it sees the course as a chance for students to contribute to an improvement in its citizens' lives.

"In the curriculum, we put a lot of emphasis on topics such as corporate responsibility, compliance and corruption, and give the participants greater awareness of these issues," stresses Daniel Seelhofer, head of the Department of International Business at ZHAW.

While proponents understand the program and the selection of students according to "purely objective criteria" will have its challenges, ultimately it could move the country forward in ways it never thought possible -- until now.

What Health Care Really Costs

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 10:32am
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(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - Unexpected medical costs and a lack of health care coverage can have an adverse impact on an employee's personal finances and quality of life. In fact, unpaid medical bills are the number one cause of personal bankruptcy. Voluntary policies work with major medical insurance to help provide financial protection by paying cash benefits to help cover medical fees or other everyday costs such as a mortgage or monthly utility bills. For more information, visit www.aflac.com.

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Today's Convenience Stores are Healthier and Hipper Than Ever

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 1:21pm
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(NewsUSA) - You're kidding, right? That surely must've been the initial reaction four years ago when Anthony Bourdain -- the chef-turned-TV host who's a god among foodies -- named Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que one of the "13 Places to Eat Before You Die."

Joe's, you see, is housed inside a convenience store that also sells gas.

And, no, far from being a joke, its inclusion on that list, along with the hyper-priced likes of New York's Per Se restaurant, symbolized the huge changes that have swept the nation's more than 152,000 convenience stores over the past several years.

"Convenience stores are increasingly becoming food markets for time-pressed consumers seeking fast and healthy choices," says Jeff Lenard of the National Association of Convenience Stores (nacsonline.com).

In fact, these days while you can still be in and out with your purchases in a flash -- and gas up your car while you're at it at most stores -- the shelves are also likely to be stocked with the kinds of fresh food normally associated with supermarkets and even traditional restaurants. Sushi. Gourmet sandwiches. And lots and lots of fruit and yogurt "better-for-you" items.

Some stores have gone way beyond that -- winning new fans with convenient ways to get fresh food fast. And if that corner store isn't convenient enough, there are ways to make it even more convenient.

Casey's General Stores, for example, with 1,880 locations throughout 14 states in the Midwest, not only makes its own pizza onsite, but in 2011 started delivering them to customers' homes -- ultimately becoming the fifth largest pizza operation in America behind Pizza Hut, Domino's, Papa John's and Little Caesars. "Folks in a lot of these small towns don't have pizza parlors, so it became a natural for us," says Terry Handley, the firm's president and chief operating officer.

Still others have totally smashed all preconceptions. Chef Point Cafe in Watauga, Texas, routinely draws lines that wrap past the gas pumps for its gourmet lobster bisque and roast duck specialties. The Tioga Gas Mart in Lee Vining, California, makes a mean mango margarita that's especially popular at the outdoor concerts it stages. And if you're really in a rush for good seafood, Han-Dee Hugo's in Duck, North Carolina, will sell it to you without even leaving your car, at its drive-thru window.

"The world is changing, and people want new experiences," says John Litton Clark, Han-Dee Hugo's vice president of operations.

So, has all the industry's updating paid off? Well, with touches like expanded coffee bars and a better overall ambience, last year saw a record $213.5 billion in food and merchandise sales with the highest growth (9.8 percent) coming from edibles like salads and sandwiches.

Millennials Cited for Rise in ETF Popularity

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 12:50pm
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(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - Credit investors for being shrewd. Weary of forking over what can be large fees for traditional mutual funds, they've poured $3 trillion into exchange-traded funds (ETFs) -; with $2.09 trillion of that held right here in the U.S. And according to TD Ameritrade, it's millennials, especially, who've been allocating more and more of their portfolios to these baskets of securities that trade intraday like individual stocks.

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Gadgets to Make Your Commute More Comfortable

Thu, 07/16/2015 - 11:34am
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(NewsUSA) - Americans spend a lot of time on the road and getting to work, be it in a car, on a train or on a bus.

In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute for Americans is 25 minutes. However, other studies peg higher-profile cities such as Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Atlanta and San Francisco at almost 60 hours per year.

If you're not one of the lucky few who work from home, but instead log considerable hours getting from point A to point B for your job, the following accessories may help make your commute more productive, if not downright enjoyable.

Portable Brewing Mug

The coffee industry is being turned on its ear by companies coming out with battery-powered portable brewing systems. One current system holds 14 ounces of java and is temperature controlled by pushing a button on the cup. Coffee is brewed in three minutes and the mug can also be charged in your car by USB.

Handbag and Charger

In order to sustain an all-day charge without taking along a chunky block, portable battery packs are all the rage. For women, there are now purses and handbags that come equipped with a place to store a small charger that will keep your phone, tablet or e-reader charged all the day long.

Screen Glasses

According to a recent report by Kleiner Perkins analyst Mary Meeker, Americans spend 444 minutes each day staring at screens. This means that 95 percent of Americans are at risk for digital eye strain that causes dryness, itchiness and fuzzy vision, according to a recent report released by The Vision Council. To prevent further eye strain, commuters who use their laptop, smartphone or tablet in transit (or e-reader for that matter), might want to consider purchasing protective glasses that are engineered to block out the damaging high-energy, UV and artificial blue light that screens omit. These high-tech glasses can also be outfitted with your current prescription lens.

Smokeless Tobacco Accessories

For smokeless tobacco users, one of the more inconvenient aspects to enjoying your product of choice is the unsightly spit cup or bottle that you must carry around. To that end, FLASR (OTCQB: FLASR) has created a pocket-sized spittoon designed to allow users to open and shut it with just one hand, making it easy to use even while driving. The small size of the FLASR portable tobacco flask allows users to dip unobtrusively in public. It also fits in a cup holder.

For more information, please visit www.flasr.com.

How to Make Dating Less Difficult Than It Has to Be

Mon, 07/13/2015 - 11:26am
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(NewsUSA) - Dating has never been easy, but it only gets more difficult with age. Never mind the whole getting-to-know-you thing, the Internet has created a world where every foible, every flaw, every thing (literally and figuratively) is on display for the world to nitpick, including potential dating partners, to see.

"Surviving any worst-case scenario comes down to not panicking, having a plan and ultimately being prepared," David Borgenicht, author of The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Sur-vival Handbook: Dating & Sex, told the Chicago Tribune in an interview. "And this applies to the realm of dating."

That is why you need to be prepared for any dating scene so you don't find yourself wondering whether leaving by the bathroom window is actually an option.

The following tips will help you avoid the potential pitfalls of dating.

* You're running late. It happens -- traffic, work runs over, mistiming on how long it takes to get ready -- and all of a sudden you've kept your date waiting. In this case, take a few minutes to send a text message or a quick call and let them know you've run into a snag, but will be there as soon as possible. Better yet, giving them a timeframe. One caveat: try to keep it light. If you sound stressed about being late, they'll be stressed about waiting.

* You spill wine all over the table, on yourself, or on your date. At best, you and your date can laugh it off. And if you like one another, it's an easy way to ask them out for a second one --to a dry cleaners, where you'll foot the bill. At worst, if the sparks aren't there, you have an easy out.

* You're a smokeless tobacco user. For smokeless tobacco users, the thought of taking a spit cup or bottle on a date is horrific, and of course, an absolute no-no. So, what to do? You might want to consider a portable spittoon made by FLASR, an Atlanta-based company that specializes in creating smokeless tobacco accessories.

To avoid the messiness that can go along with using smokeless tobacco, the FLASR flask has an advanced closing mechanism, ensuring that it stays securely closed when not in use, thus eliminating the risk of spills and leaks often found with cups and bottles. In addition, the small size of the FLASR flask allows users to enjoy smokeless tobacco unobtrusively while in public.

For more information, visit www.flasr.com.

Don't Let Father Time Take Your Independence

Mon, 07/13/2015 - 11:13am
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(NewsUSA) - When most people are envisioning their retirement, they picture themselves doing things they love, like dancing, playing tennis, or running around the playground with their grandchildren. Unfortunately, retirement isn't always as great as hoped. These days, too many seniors find themselves losing their independence due to the natural aging process.

According to Marketing Charts, 26 percent of seniors surveyed said that losing their independence was their biggest fear. That's higher than the 13 percent of seniors who feared moving into a nursing home or 3 percent fearing death. Instead of seniors fearing a loss of independence, let's look at some ways they can regain it and start making all of their retirement dreams come true.

Invest in a Power Wheelchair

Power wheelchairs provide seniors with independence and comfort beyond a traditional manual wheelchair. Seniors can stay independent thanks to joystick movement, letting them choose speed and direction they are comfortable with. Power wheelchairs also allow seniors to recline and tilt, helping them raise their legs if they need to.

Attach Bathroom Aids

Installing grab bars or safety handles on tubs and walls, along with bath and shower chairs, can help seniors regain their independence by giving them the confidence they need to safely bath themselves, even if they have a home health aide helping them.

Install a Stairlift

Seniors looking to recapture their independence, especially when they can't make it up the stairs anymore, can install an Acorn Stairlift. Seniors with arthritis don't have to worry, because it's the only approved starlift, with the Ease-of-Use commendation by the Arthritis Foundation.

Available for straight or curved stairs, Acorn Stairlifts provides seniors with a safe and secure movement from sitting down to stepping off through its swivel seat and safety belt. With this stairlift, seniors also don't have to worry about malfunctions with its built-in safety sensors that prevent it from running into something it shouldn't. It also features an easy-to-read numerical display notifying seniors if it needs servicing -- preventing it from malfunctioning with someone on it.

Learn more about how seniors can regain their independence by visiting www.acornstairlifts.com.

How to Select the Perfect Ceiling Fan

Mon, 07/13/2015 - 9:07am

(NewsUSA) - More than a simple cooling device, many ceiling fans of today are high-tech works of art for your home. Ceiling fans can be a design element with sophisticated automated features. When selecting the perfect ceiling fan for your space and lifestyle, the American Lighting Association (ALA) suggests you consider several additional factors.

Think about how high or low tech you want to be. A very sophisticated system might seem intimidating to some, while others want much more than a simple on-off switch. Also ask yourself whether you want your fan to be an integral part of your interior design or simply an inconspicuous addition to your room.

Home Automation for All-in-One Control

Efficient airflow and alluring designs continue to drive the industry, but more people are looking to home automation systems to easily control their devices from a smartphone. One example is Fanimation's fan Sync, a Bluetooth-operated ceiling fan control.

According to Nathan Frampton, president of Fanimation, controls like fanSync will become more commonplace in the coming years. Technology of this magnitude is only expected to grow as more homeowners sync their home's lights, central air thermostats and security systems to an all-in-one platform.

Designs to Suit Today's Lifestyles

Just like the trends in home lighting design, ceiling fans have their front runners. Interior design styles are moving toward more organic aesthetics. This means designers are crafting rooms around exposed plumbing pipes, door and cabinet trimming and existing hardware, which helps mesh the entire room together organically.

To complete your design scheme, choose compatible trim and accent options for your ceiling fan. And be sure to consider the architecture of your home. Many newer homes have high ceilings with large great rooms, which give homeowners the chance to decorate their homes with larger or more ornate ceiling fans.

Trends with Regional Appeal

Geographic location often affects ceiling fan trends and finish selection. Frampton says, "We see certain trends in different regions of the country, as well as around the world. For example, in the Southwest, bronze is a prominent choice, and internationally, nickel and white are more common."

For advice about which fan fixtures and styles are best suited for your home, talk with a professionally trained expert at an ALA-member showroom, or go online to americanlightingassoc.com. With the right tools and information, you can easily find the perfect ceiling fan to make your home more functional and beautiful.

Homeowners: Think Twice Before Attempting This

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 1:49pm
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(NewsUSA) - Is it time for homeowners to start celebrating Hug-A-Roofer Day?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just disclosed the most dangerous jobs in America. Not only did roofers come in at No. 6, but take a look at some of the occupations that didn't even make the top 10:

* Police officers

* Firefighters

* Taxi drivers

* Security guards

"Some of the results may surprise you," was how Bloomberg Business understatedly put it.

We'll reveal in a second who topped the list with more than three and a half times the 36.26 fatalities, per 100,000 full-time employees, that earned roofers their high ranking. But first, here's what those deaths should tell almost all amateurs thinking of tackling a job as big as installing a roof themselves: Don't do it.

For those who do insist on going the DIY route, at least be sure to follow these safety tips:

* Minimize your risk of slipping. An average of six roofers die each month in the U.S. from falls, according to Professional Roofing magazine. So, never work on a wet roof, wear soft-soled boots for the best traction, and use safety equipment like a harness when working on a steeply pitched roof. And if you do fall, pray that you remembered to don a helmet to protect your head.

* The 36-inch rule. Some of those fatal falls resulted from having to lug heavy material up a ladder. Yours should extend 36 inches above the landing or roof eave to make transitioning to and from the roof more secure. And this warning from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration: "Do not stand on the three top rungs."

* Avoid electrical hazards. Roofers also suffer fatal burns and electrocution despite having it ingrained in them that electricity can leap, or "arc," from a wire to a ladder several feet away. Ergo, for starters, make sure your ladder is made of non-conductive wood or fiberglass.

* Six words to live by when it comes to utility knives. Those would be: Always cut away from your body.

Having second thoughts?

Unless you're Warren Buffett (who still lives in the same modest, five-bedroom house in Dundee, Omaha, he bought for $31,500 in 1958), odds are your home is your biggest asset. So, GAF (gaf.com), North America's largest roofing manufacturer, has made it easy for you to find the most reputable, dependable and adequately insured professionals in your area by searching its website's GAF Master Elite Contractor database.

Oh, as for the most dangerous job in America? Fisherman, with 131.52 fatalities per 100,000 full-time employees.

Public Smoking Ban Creates Market for New Tobacco Products

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 1:14pm

(NewsUSA) - If you're a smoker these days, it's hard not feel a bit vilified. After all, rarely will you find a place that you can light up inside. Same goes for e-cigarette users, who are now also under the microscope and in many places are being banned from using as well. Even dipping tobacco and "chew" are not allowed in public places in San Francisco.

So, what's a smoker to do? If you happen to be Evan Grossman, you design a smokeless tobacco alternative that circumvents the ban in your favorite restaurant, library, movie theater or other public space, by creating the Pixotine Nicotine Toothpick (www.pixotine.com), a birch wood toothpick infused with a high-quality proprietary blend of organic pharmaceutical-grade nicotine extract that contains no other unnecessary additives or chemicals.

The way it works is this: Nicotine transmits its effects through contact with the skin and absorption through the mouth. When a Pixotine Nicotine Toothpick is placed in the mouth, the saliva aids in drawing out the nicotine, which then gets absorbed into the bloodstream through contact with cells. Chewing slightly on Pixotine enhances the speed at which the nicotine is released. With proper use, first effects can be felt within minutes, depending on the user.

According to its website, the concept is quite basic: people use Pixotine Nicotine Toothpicks just like they would use a normal toothpick to get that refreshing rush. At the office, on the subway or even at an anti-smoking rally, Pixotine is discreet, functional and virtually undetectable. It's merely an easy way to enjoy all the benefits and pleasure of a cigarette or tobacco product, without judgement or harsh carcinogens.

For some, it's also a way to switch to a safer alternative entirely.

"After smoking and chewing tobacco for 15 years, I was looking for an alternative. I found this with Pixotine, and it even has saved me money as well. It's funny because now when I am around someone that smokes it stinks," said one user.

As an added convenience, Pixotine comes in a matchbook-size package that contains 15 toothpicks, making it discreet, and yet easy to use during those times that you can't smoke or use your e-cig.

Similarly, Pixotine can satisfy nicotine cravings without leaving the desk or walking out of a child's basketball game or when traveling on an especially long flight.

For more information, visit www.pixotine.com.

How to Secure Income for Retirement

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 9:53am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Ten thousand Americans a day are turning 65, including a couple we'll call Stu and Helen. In excellent health, Stu and Helen could be facing a retirement of 30 years -- or even longer. One of their biggest fears about their impending retirement is their potential longevity -- and running out of money to not only pay their bills, but enjoy their free time.

Stu and Helen participated in their companies' 401(k) plans. Like many workers, neither has a traditional pension, so they are solely responsible for their own retirement security.

Fortunately, couples like Stu and Helen have options for creating a "personal pension." By using some of their savings to purchase an annuity, they can guarantee a steady stream of income for life.

With an immediate annuity, they can make a lump-sum payment to a life insurance company, and the company will send them their choice of monthly, quarterly or annual payments. They can choose to receive the income payments over a specified number of years or as a guaranteed stream of income they can never outlive.

They could also consider purchasing a deferred annuity, which allows savings to grow tax-deferred during an accumulation phase until they decide when payouts begin. People who are years away from retirement -- or who are retired but don't need income right away -- might choose this type of annuity.

With a deferred annuity they decide how their money grows during the accumulation phase. A fixed annuity earns interest at a guaranteed rate. An index annuity is tied to a market index like the S&P 500 stock price index. In a variable annuity, savings are placed in subaccounts that are invested in stocks and bonds.

Another option is a special type of deferred annuity, often called longevity insurance, which will provide them with a guaranteed stream of income once they reach a certain age, usually around 85.

Surveys show that 90 percent of annuity owners think annuities are an effective way to save for retirement. And annuities are among the most regulated financial products in the marketplace. From product development to advertising to sales, life insurers must comply with state and federal laws and rules that help prevent fraud and protect consumers. In addition, most states provide a "free look" period allowing customers to return annuities to the insurance company for a full or partial refund.

Planning for retirement can be stressful. But for retirees like Stu and Helen, the guaranteed income from annuities can provide peace-of-mind for a lifetime.

For more information on annuities, visit www.acli.com.

What Type of Bug Bite Is That?

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 9:50am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Sunny summer days are meant for outdoor fun, but few things ruin time outside more quickly than bites from pests. Insect bites can result in consequences that range from minor, yet aggravating, irritation to extreme pain and even potentially fatal illnesses. If you are on the receiving end of a bite, it is important to detect which pest inflicted it so you can determine the best course of treatment, as well as investigate whether there is a pest problem on your property that warrants a call to your local pest control company.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) offers the following information on how to identify the culprits of three common summertime bites:

Mosquitoes

A mosquito bite typically results in a red, itchy bump on the skin. Despite the temptation to scratch, doing so agitates the venom and increases the itchiness of the bite. All bites should be washed with soap and water, and the best remedies are antihistamines and anti-inflammatories. Anyone experiencing fever, head or body aches, skin rashes or swollen lymph glands following a bite could have been infected with potentially fatal West Nile virus and should seek medical attention.

Ticks

Because of their small size, blacklegged deer tick bites frequently go unnoticed. However, these tiny pests are vectors of Lyme disease, and the earlier you can identify a bite from a Lyme-infected tick, the sooner you can begin the necessary antibiotic treatments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a circular bulls-eye rash appears within 3-30 days of the bite in approximately 70-80 percent of infected persons. Anyone who develops this characteristic rash should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Red Imported Fire Ants

Red imported fire ants are an aggressive species capable of stinging and injecting venom with their bites, causing an intense burning sensation. Red bumps form at the sting, and within a day or two they become white fluid-filled pustules. While the bites and stings are often excruciating, medical attention is typically only necessary for those who are severely allergic to the venom.

If you are repeatedly experiencing issues with these pests on your property or are concerned for the health and safety of your family, contact a local pest control company to evaluate the problem and determine the best course of treatment. Find a qualified pest control professional at PestWorld.org.

What We Have Learned About High School Equivalency

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 9:48am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - The past 18 months shook up state education communities preparing students to earn a high school equivalency certificate. With some states dropping the old test for new ones, states choosing to have multiple options, and the implementation of College and Career Ready (CCR) standards, the landscape drastically changed in a short period of time.

Here's what educators and those looking to achieve this educational milestone should know about the past year and a half.

1: 2014 marked the first year in U.S. history that alternative tests were used by states.

Twenty states administered alternative tests after choosing to either drop the GED test within their state or offer multiple tests for students to choose from. The HiSET exam developed by Educational Testing Service and the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion by CTB/McGraw Hill allow those who haven't completed high school the opportunity to earn their high school equivalencies.

Introducing numerous branded tests broke conventional terms and understanding of how people actually go about earning a high school credential.

2: People are learning you don't "get a GED."

Employers, education administrations and institutions of higher education incorrectly ask whether an applicant has his or her "GED." Having proof of a high school credential is essential for many careers and postsecondary education opportunities. However, the GED is a test -- not something earned.

HiSET, GED and TASC scores are mobile, meaning they can be used for employment and college applications throughout the United States. Test takers now have a choice as to what test they choose to take based on various categories such as price or whether the test is available in paper- and/or computer-delivered formats.

3: The results are the same.

All three tests measure high school equivalent skills, and each has implemented CCR standards. Whether one takes the HiSET, GED or TASC test, the end result when passing these tests is the individual earning a state-issued credential. For example, in California, a student can take either test and earn the California High School Equivalency Certificate when passing each test's subject areas.

The trend toward alternative testing shows no signs of slowing as more states consider new test options and vendors in the near future. Options in how one earns a high school credential have changed, but the outcomes are the same -- increasing one's ability to achieve a more secure future by reaching this education milestone.

Identity Theft 101: What You Need To Know

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 11:17am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Identity theft is nothing new. It's been around longer than the Internet itself -- the process has just gotten more sophisticated.

The long and the short of it is, no matter how hard we try and protect what's ours (personal information, credit card numbers and bank account information), the more evolved criminals have become at circumventing these defenses.

To that end, it's never a bad idea to go over the newest forms of identity theft. Read on to find out how you may be (unwittingly) giving away your information and what you can do to stop it.

Internet Identity Theft

In this case, you may be unknowingly handing over information. Consider this: information can be stolen from the databases of banks, and retailers, or other third-party entities. What this means is that every time you log onto a website and provide personal information, be it credit card, debit card or a password, you are potentially giving away information.

Gone Phishing

Just like fishing, phishing uses a lure to catch its next victim. This often comes in the form of spam e-mail or a pop-up warning that looks like it came from a company you trust.

For the 57 million adults that have experienced a phishing attack, they know that one click is all it takes. The truth? Legitimate companies will never ask for personal information via e-mail.

Buying the Pharm

Pharming happens when a cyber criminal cracks a vulnerability in an Internet Service Provider or DNS server and hijacks the domain name of a well-known site. Anyone going to the site is then redirected to an identical, but bogus site. Personal information is then collected, which is used to log onto the genuine website.

Beware the Spyware

Spyware is technology that surreptitiously gathers information by logging all of your keystrokes, or by using Trojans to collect information from your computer when you click on a pop-up ad or view spam e-mail.

While it may seem impossible to protect yourself, there are companies that have made it its mission to defend consumers. VirnetX, for instance, a security and software company has created Gabriel, a set of secure communication apps derived from a U.S. Department of Defense project.

Gabriel transmits information using automatic virtual private networks with military-grade encryption -- think Cryptograms. In this way, your data and communication is invisible to hackers.

Gabriel offers its users secure mail, messaging and free voice and video calls.

Gabriel Collaboration Suite is free to try. For more information, go to www.gabrielsecure.com or the Google Play Store.

How to Keep Seniors Independent at Home

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 11:15am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - When most people envision their ideal retirement, they picture themselves dancing, playing tennis or running around the playground with their grandchildren. Unfortunately, some seniors eventually find themselves losing their independence due to the natural aging process.

According to Marketing Charts, 26 percent of seniors surveyed rated losing their independence as their biggest fear. This is higher than 13 percent of seniors who feared moving into a nursing home, or 3 percent fearing death. Instead of seniors fearing a loss of independence, how can they regain it?

Here are some easy-to-adopt suggestions to help you or your elderly parent regain independence after an accident, medical condition or an inability to get around the house:

Invest in a Power Wheelchair

Power wheelchairs provide seniors with independence and comfort beyond a traditional manual wheelchair. Seniors can easily regain their independence with joystick movement, letting them choose speed and direction they are comfortable with. Power wheelchairs also let seniors recline and tilt, helping them raise their legs if they need to.

Install a Stairlift

Seniors looking to gain independence, especially when they can't make it up the stairs anymore, can install an Acorn Stairlift. Seniors with arthritis don't have to worry, because it's the only approved starlift, with the Ease-of-Use commendation by the Arthritis Foundation.

Available for straight or curved stairs, Acorn Stairlifts provide seniors with a safe and secure movement from sitting down to stepping off through its swivel seat and safety belt. Seniors also don't have to worry about malfunctions with its built-in safety sensors that prevent it from running into something it shouldn't. It also features an easy-to-read numerical display notifying seniors if it needs servicing -- preventing it from malfunctioning with someone on it.

Attach Bathroom Aids

Helping seniors regain independence after an accident is especially important when it comes to bathing. Installing grab bars or safety handles on tubs and walls, along with bath and shower chairs, can help seniors regain their independence by giving them the confidence they need to safely bath themselves, even if they have a home health aide helping them.

Learn more about how seniors can regain their independence by visiting www.acornstairlifts.com.

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