Posts by Doug Buenz

5 Ways to Cool Off at Home

 

Want to Cool Off at Your Pleasanton CA Home?

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It’s summer and the season has already shown its teeth a couple of times with more on the way! Don’t panic, there are easy ways to beat the heat at your Pleasanton CA home if you know what you are doing.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat lets you preset temperatures for different times of the day, so air-conditioning is working only when you are home. The least expensive thermostat models ($30) let you set four cycles that, unless manually overridden, repeat every day. Higher-priced models ($50 and up) allow you to create settings for each weekday and for each weekend day.

These thermostats come with complete directions and are easy to install. Just remove the old thermostat, unscrewing the wire leads attached to the terminals on the back. Reattach those wires to the terminals on the new model (in a system with separate A/C and heating units there may be four leads on the back, two for each unit). AA batteries maintain the settings if the power ever goes off.

Tick UP the Thermostat

If you have central air, set your thermostat above 78 degrees (all temperatures cited here are in degrees Fahrenheit). You’ll save 5 to 8 percent on cooling costs with each degree above that mark. For a typical household, setting the thermostat at 80 degrees saves 10 to 15 percent; raising it to 85 degrees will save 35 to 55 percent.

When you leave home for more than one hour, set the thermostat to 85 or 90 degrees. Reset it upon your return, and the room will cool down in only 15 minutes. The system will use less energy during the cool-down period than if you had left it running at a lower setting while you were out.

Typical air-conditioning settings for a programmable thermostat at different times of day:

6 a.m. to 9 a.m. = 75 degrees
9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. = 85-90 degrees
5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. = 75 degrees
11 p.m. to 6 a.m. = 80 degrees

How to Use a Fan

A fan, which costs two to five cents per hour to operate, will make a room feel 4 to 6 degrees cooler. Also, a fan works well in tandem with an air conditioner because the dehumidifying action of the air conditioner provides drier air that the fan can then move around.

In frequently used rooms, install a ceiling fan (set it to spin counterclockwise in summer). You’ll save the most money by running the fan only when you’re in the room. A motion-detector switch (around $20), which turns the fan on when you enter a room and off when the room is empty, is a good addition. However, if you have pets that move in and out of the room, make sure the switch can be turned off manually. Otherwise, your pets can cause the fan to run while you’re away.

If nighttime temperatures drop into the 70s where you live, you might want to purchase a whole-house fan, which runs $300 to $600 installed. This type of unit goes in an upstairs ceiling, ideally in a central hall. When run at night with the windows open, the fan will pull cool air into the house as it vents hot air out through the attic. Most models are designed to slip in between joists for easy installation. Whole-house fans, which draw only as much power as a couple of light bulbs, are usually outfitted with a variable-speed switch and/or timer. If you install one, be sure to get an insulated box to cover the portal in winter.

Go “Texas Cool”

“Texas cool” is a morning and evening routine that takes advantage of cool outdoor temperatures at night and keeps the heat at bay as much as possible during daylight hours. It’s very simple to do: At night when the temperature drops, open windows and bring in cool air with window fans or a whole-house fan. As soon as the sun comes up or the air starts to heat up, shut the windows and shades and keep doors closed.

Its Called “Duct Tape” for a Reason

Leaky ducts can cut into air-conditioning efficiency. Ductwork must be balanced between the supply and return sides of the system in order for it to work safely and efficiently, so making a repair in one section can cause a problem in another. Leak-prone areas include the return plenum; where branch ducts meet the trunk line; and where ducts attach to outlets. Also, insulate ducts that run through a hot attic with a blanket of R-11 fiberglass insulation.

Unless the duct repairs are minor, it’s wise to leave them to a HVAC pro. While the contractor is on site checking your ducts, have him tune up the air-conditioning unit by cleaning filters, unplugging coils, unblocking drains and lubing the fan.

Spend a Little, Get a Lot!

If you are thinking about listing your home there are items that you should address in order to maximize the potential for offers as well as the dollar figure of those offers.

While you certainly can go out and spend 100K on renovations and hope for a massive return, the best plan of action is to spend a moderate amount of money for the biggest return.

Here are the best ways to spend a little to get a lot and the most important areas to concentrate on:

Kitchen

Ask any real estate expert what the No. 1 upgrade with the greatest return is, and the answer will be the kitchen.

Here are some great mini-ways to boost sales

  • Add a splash of color with a new backsplash. New tile is attractive.
  • Paint! Find out what colors are trending right now and add a coat.
  • Go stainless steel. The cold feel of steel is a hot ticket item for buyers. Transition your appliances as they wear out and go with a similar metallic look in your light switches.
  • If you don’t have an island, get a rolling one. It shows that you know how to function in the kitchen and the buyer get’s the warm fuzzies.
  • Hang a pot rack with fresh new pots, pans and a hanging wine bottle holder. With the rolling island, your kitchen will catch every buyer’s eye.

Bathroom

The bathroom not only has to show functionality but probably shows the most wear of function from over the years.

  • Focus on your faucet. Bathrooms are not utilitarian anymore. People like to feel relaxed, like they are in a spa.
  • Go granite or marble with your countertops. If you are toying with the granite idea, your bathroom counter is most likely smaller than your kitchen counter and less expensive. This is a great place to start your first granite project.
  • Nix the overhead lighting in favor of wall mounts to add warmth and value to your bathroom. Make sure that around your mirror you have even lighting with no side shadows.
  • Heated floors attract buyers like crazy!
  • Upgrade your bath area. With an 85 percent return, install a shower with body sprays and stone surround tile. If you are not selling right away, you will feel like you are in a Zen garden every time you step into your bathroom.
  • Keep it clean. Dirt and grime can become embedded in bathroom surfaces very quickly. Freshen it up with new grout.

 

Landscaping

This might be where you get the most bang for your buck in the sense of dollars invested versus the boost to final listing prices. Some experts have assessed that the average ROI on landscaping is 150%!

“In terms of dollar amount, the standard suggested is to invest 10 percent of the value of your home in landscaping.  That is a general guideline,” said Erik Shorb, co-owner of American Plant.

On a low and quick budget here are some things to do right now:

  • Consult with a professional to choose color patterns for plants and placements
  • Hire a Gardner for regular upkeep until the house is sold.
  • If water costs are a concern, explore draught resistant landscaping ideas.
  • Line your walkway with visually appealing plants.
  • Get outdoor lighting. Your potential buyers will drive by at night to see what they home looks like.
  • Keep the yard weed free – preferably without the use of chemicals. That means getting your hands dirty.
  • Mulch and edge the lawn for a clean and tidy appearance.

Roof

Depending on the type and quality of its materials, a roof can be expected to last anywhere from 10 to more than 50 years. According to the National Organization of Realtors, the return on investment in a new roof when you sell your home is one of the best home upgrades you can make, returning 71.6% of your investment. A roof that has been recently replaced will also enhance your home’s curb appeal and make a great first impression on potential homebuyers, which can help you sell your home quickly in a tight market and get the best offer or can give you an advantage over comparable properties in a sluggish market.

 

More Space

Every 1,000 square feet added to a home boosts the sale price by more than 30 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Bathroom additions return the most, according to Remodeling Magazine’s report at an average of 86.4 percent. The addition of attic bedrooms, family rooms and sunrooms return anywhere from 70 to more than 80 percent and more and more people want dedicated rooms for hobbies and crafts, whether it’s an exercise room, knitting room or home office. Just don’t overshoot your work and add too much. Nobody wants a 6 bedroom 1200 square foot home.

You don’t have to take a second out just to sell the home but you should make an effort to make sure you get the most you can. A little now can go a long way later.

Home Security Systems-Wired or Wireless

By now we have all heard or seen the commercials of people thwarting would be robbers from breaking in from a remote location like the gym by just speaking over their system and be honest, we all want that vigilante rush without any of the dangers of confrontation. But it is all so new and wired home security systems have been around forever. Which is the best system for you and your needs?

Wired Home Security Systems

Wired home security systems need to have a ‘closed’ electrical circuit, meaning that when the alarm is turned on the circuit is completed. If there is any interference (such as the wires being cut) the alarm will go off. These systems require wires to be run from the control panel to each sensor.

While wired home security systems offer maximum reliability and are generally less expensive, they are probably not a great DIY option. Determining how to run the wires in an attractive way that’s difficult for burglars to defeat is tricky and time consuming.

Advantages of wired

  1. Wired systems can often accommodate several ‘zones’ of protection.
    2. They are reliable.
    3. The system tends to be less susceptible to radio or electrical interference.
    4. They use a backup battery system during electrical interruptions.Disadvantages of wired systems:
    1. Wired systems can be difficult to install.
    2. It can be a real challenge to hide all the wiring when installed in an existing home.
    3. Once installed, it can be difficult to remove and take with you if you should move.
    4. Wireless home security systems use radio waves rather than wires or cables, to communicate between the control panel, sensors and cameras.

    Wireless Home Security Systems

    Wireless home security systems can be a great DIY option. They’re battery powered, which means no complicated wiring is involved, and transmit a radio signal to the control unit in order to trigger the alarm. Many wireless home security systemcan be armed using a remote key fob witch that doubles as a mobile panic alarm, and some systems offer a repeater unit, increasing transmission range so that outbuildings can be protected on the system.

    Wireless home security cameras, on the other hand, are not always the best use of your money. Wireless cameras run on batteries and guzzle power; most batteries will only provide 24 hours of power to the camera. Another potential drawback to wireless home security systems is that most don’t have the ability to be connected to a telephone landline.

    Advantages of wireless house alarm system:
    1. It’s a great alternative for people living in older homes, condominiums or apartments.
    2. Since wireless systems have their own batteries, they can be installed in locations in a home where there is no electrical access.
    3. The system can be expanded as needed.
    4. Wireless security systems can be connected to a phone and/or computer systems for remote monitoring.
    5. Can be integrated with home automation systems, like ADT’s Pulse.

    Disadvantages of wireless systems:
    1. Sensors will need batteries to operate, so there is a possibility that the batteries will die if they are not checked often.
    2. Components need to be close to the central control panel. This can limit where some sensors are placed.

    Installation

    When it comes to installation a wireless alarm system can be easier when compared to conventional hard-wired systems. In the traditional setup, wires must be run through the home to every entry point and motion sensor, which includes all doors and windows. Wireless home security systems tend to be easier to install, and they’re portable, so in the event of a move you can easily take the system with you.

 

Top 5 County Fairs in California!

It’s FAIR SEASON and we love a good fair! We should considering our backyard is host to one of the top county fairs in the country. But you don’t have to settle for local just to get some good things “on-a-stick”.

Here is the top 5 Fairs to think about visiting if you are loading the family up in the family truckster for a roadie this summer!

 Alameda County Fair

Pleasanton may be a burgeoning suburban city these days, but the area’s ranching roots surface during fair time. For the third year, a cattle drive – yes, steers on Main Street! – will kick off the festivities. Throughout the event’s June 15-July 8 run (18 days over four weekends), nighttime concerts will supplement the traditional fair fun. And the racetrack will host three libation-filled events: one with microbrews, one with wines, one with cocktails. Details: http://annual.alamedacountyfair.com.

Humboldt County Fair

Who says a trip to the fair has to be a sweltering affair? Consider this one in Ferndale, where the average temperature in August ranges from 58 to 71 degrees. Ahhhhh. The event bills itself as the “oldest uninterrupted county fair” in California, with plenty of old-fashioned exhibits. At the 122nd annual event, Aug. 15-26, live horse-racing is expected to be the big draw, with seven days of “Racing in the Redwoods” scheduled. Details: humboldtcountyfair.org.

Los Angeles County Fair

There’s big and then there’s really big — bigger-than-state-fair big.  While the state fest brings 511,000 fairgoers to the 350-acre Cal Expo grounds, L.A. draws about 1.3 million to its 487 acres of festival hoopla, which includes bacon-wrapped everything, of course, as well as hot bands, racy rides, a steampunk circus, fire-eaters, exotic animals and special exhibits, such as this summer’s 20 immersive exhibits celebrating the iconic Route 66. Last year, it was the GRAMMY Museum’s Taylor Swift Experience. The fair runs Aug. 31-Sept. 23. Details: www.lacountyfair.com

Orange County Fair

At a rip-roaring 23 days, this enormous fair packs a punch, from its Budweiser Clydesdales and Alaskan pig races to its unicorn nitro pop — a liquid nitrogen-frozen combo of kettle corn and whipped cream — and extreme pogo-stick events. Plus: A gigantic Ferris wheel, with 500,000 LED lights and 36 air-conditioned cabins, which will move on to the L.A. fair after the OC’s fair, which runs July 13 to Aug. 12. Details: https://ocfair.com/

Santa Cruz County Fair

To get to the fairgrounds in Watsonville, you have to drive along roads that go through many, many acres of crops – a good reminder of the county fair’s agricultural roots. It’s a relatively small fair, which is perfect if you have small fry. Besides the obligatory animal and produce barns, carnival rides and pig races, there’s a shaded Kiddie Korral where your kids can run off some of their energy. The event runs Sept. 12-18 this year. Details: www.santacruzcountyfair.com.

 

To Pool, or Not To Pool

Swimming pools are a thing of luxury, a thing to show off to the neighbors and make you a more valid solution to host the summer party but are they a sound investment for your home?

So the questions becomes, to pool or not to pool?

To Pool!

Judge Thy Neighbor – Even if you have the finances to have a pool installed you should still consider what is around your home. If you live in a more expensive or upscale neighborhood where pools are common then it’s probably a great decision. In fact, if you live in a neighborhood where pools are more common than not then you probably should seriously considering adding a pool as not having one will be unattractive to prospective buyers.

Will it Fit? – Can your yard actually handle a decent-sized in ground pool or will it eat up all your space? Installing a tiny pool for the sake of just having a pool is rarely a good move, especially in a residential setting where the pool will likely be a source of entertainment. If you have a large yard and installing a nicely-sized pool will still leave you with a beautiful lawn and room for landscaping then it will add value.

Resell Value – If you plan on selling the home soon or before 10 years or so then you’ll probably be able to recoup more costs from having it installed. Chances are a pool is a better bet for homeowners that know they will want to sell in 5 or 10 years, but will have a few years of personal enjoyment prior.

This is only the surface of answering the illustrious question, but important ones to factor.

Not To Pool!

Here are the factors to consider when you are leaning to a garden instead of a pool.

More Dry Time than Wet – If your pool is going to have more downtime than usable time it’s probably going to feel like waste of money. Unless you have the funds to have an indoor pool you should probably avoid a pool if you’ll only be able to use it a few months out of the year.

When Are You Moving? – Homeowners planning on selling in under 5 years probably will end up feeling like they barely got any money back from the pool as they didn’t even get to enjoy it for themselves. On the other hand, if you are a homeowner that loves your home and knows you probably won’t sell for 15 or 20 years then the future costs of resurfacing means you won’t be getting much of an investment from a pool.

Your Home is a Family Home – If your home is going to be an attractive choice for families with young children then a pool can actually be a hindrance due to safety risks. If your neighborhood is one with a lot of new families or your yard has a playground that is aimed at kids under 10 or 12, think about how pools could be more of a headache than a bonus for prospective buyers.

A Pool Will Significantly Affect Your Finances – Upkeep aside, if building a pool is going to leave you penniless it really isn’t a good move and shouldn’t be put off until the future. By waiting and saving up funds or considering a loan you could not only get a pool for also have the budget to landscape, build a deck, install a grassy area and more to make the backyard appealing on multiple levels.

 

At the end of the day you need to take into consideration if a pool will generate more happiness or more headaches. This is your ultimate litmus test to whether the neighborhood kids will be spending the summer at your house

 

 

How to Throw a Block Party!

A fantastic way to get to know your neighbors, create lasting friendships for you and the kids and enjoy the summer weather is a Block Party! Here is how to throw one!

These parties are believed to be a WWI innovation, originating from the East Side of New York City. It is reported that back then, the entire block was roped off and members of the block who had been to war were honored with patriotic songs and a parade.

Block parties became quite popular in the ’70s and are still a fabulous way to get to know your neighbors and have the kids meet new friends!

Date and Time

Pick a weekend that does not conflict with a national holiday or religious holiday. Also make sure it’s not a big vacation weekend. You can hold a meeting with a few neighbors to get a consensus of which would be an ideal day or time and then use this same panel to help you plan and execute.

Permits

Since the party is held on the streets, the block is usually roped off and the traffic is redirected. To do this, a special permit is required. This is required to be filled in 90 days prior to the scheduled date of the party. Contact your local government body or council to find out the details of the same because every city has different rules for this one.

Pick a Theme

It is very important to decide the theme of the party―all further planning depends on this factor, may it be food, decorations, or entertainment. The theme is usually a potluck brunch or dinner. You will also have to decide what are the things that will be made available and what are the things that everyone needs to get on their own.

Invites!

The invites have to be fabulous―no two ways about it. Make sure that each and every person is invited; there are no exceptions to this rule. Also, the invites have to be given at least a month in advance. The invites should have all the details of the party―the date, time, theme, activities, and any special instructions that need to be given―like bring a snack or your own chairs. The RSVP should be added to the invites as well.

Decorate

A majority of the decorations will depend on what the theme of the party is. If there is no particular theme that is being followed, then you can look into putting up buntings, balloons, and streamers―this depends on the budget. Since it is a potluck theme, you will have to specify that they have to get their own chairs or any other dish that is needed. This will be cleared in the invites, of course. And whatever you do, don’t forget to put up a sign stating that the street is closed for the block party. It is also important to have barricades put up so that there is proper safety maintained and people can easily access the street.

 Invite Local Law Enforcement and Fire Fighters

One of the highlights of a block party is to have the local police and fire department drop in. Some blocks even have a commemoration for local heroes like war veterans or celebrities. It is considered quite the fun to have these heroes grace the occasion. Many times, as a gesture of goodwill and to increase the camaraderie between the communities, the firemen will invite a young kid to come up to the truck and ring the alarm.

End Time and Clean-Up

Use the panel that helped you plan to also regiment cleanup. What trash is going where, separate recyclables, and figure out how the refuse are going to get to the proper places. It is also advised that you have a scheduled end-time. While there are bound to be a few late nighters that want to hang around, don’t surprise anybody when the music goes off. Keep the end time around when neighbors might like the neighborhood to be quiet.

 

 

 

 

Get Your Home Summer Ready!

Is Your Pleasanton CA Home Ready for Summer?

The summer is upon us and we can’t wait to spend some time outside of our homes with our families. Take these small steps to maximizing your positive summer feelings!

Check AC Unit

First; change the system’s filter. Clogged and dirty filters make air conditioning systems work harder, stay on longer and cost more to run. Hopefully, you’re already changing your heating and air filters every two to four months, depending on how much dust, pet hair, and the like are in your Pleasanton CA home. Spring is the best time to get started on that cycle with your air conditioning filter, so you don’t start the season with one that’s old and dirty.

Second, turn on your unit to see how it’s cooling. If the A/C doesn’t kick on (it might take a minute), check your circuit breakers or fuses. If it still won’t start up or cool like you think it should, call a professional.

Even if everything does seem to be in working order, it can still be a good idea to call a pro. Having your unit tuned up annually can help extend its life and keep it running efficiently. Seasonal maintenance usually includes inspecting and cleaning your unit, and servicing parts that might need it. Many HVAC companies offer a prepaid annual service plan that covers tune-ups, filter changes, and a discount on repairs if something does go wrong. Do the math to make sure it’s worth it, and if it is, you won’t need to worry about paying the technician for tune-up and maintenance visits.

Windows and Screens

Spring is the time to remove and clean storm windows that have spent the last few months keeping out the cold. To make those windowpanes sparkle, fill a spray bottle with window cleaning solution, use newspaper or a squeegee to leave them streak free, and wear gloves for protection if you have sensitive skin.

While you’re cleaning, evaluate how your windows have fared through the winter. Look for signs of dry rot and water damage from melting snow and ice. Check the seals around windows as well, and re-caulk or replace damaged weather stripping where needed. This will go a long way toward keeping the hot air out and the cool air in as the weather gets warmer.

Finally, clean your window screens, inspect them, repair any damage, and reinstall them in your windows. Use a hose and mild detergent, but don’t pressure wash them — the force of the spray can damage them. You can repair damaged screens with a kit you can purchase at most home improvement or hardware stores.

Tools

Lawn mowers and edgers are key to keeping your yard looking neat through the summer. Make sure your equipment is ready to tackle these tasks with springtime tune-ups.

For gas mowers and edgers, clean the equipment and change the gas if you forgot to empty it at the end of lawn care season. Replace the oil and spark plugs, and get all new oil, fuel and air filters. Lubricate the moving parts and sharpen the mower blade. Check the edger’s trimmer string to see if it needs replacing. If you’re not comfortable doing either of these tune-ups yourself, you can have them handled by a professional.

If your mower and edger are electric, inspect the cords for frays or cuts, and turn them on to be sure the equipment works.

Power tools may be the workhorses of your lawn, but hand tools are just as important. If you didn’t clean them off last winter, wash off any remaining dirt from your shovels, hoes, rakes, pruners and shears. Wipe them down with a lubricant, too. Lubricate hinges of pruners and shears, and carefully clean blades with rubbing alcohol. Sharpen blades if needed.

Gutters

 Cleaning gutters can be a tough job, so consider hiring a pro, especially if your house is more than one story tall. If you’re comfortable tackling it yourself, be safe and work with a partner.

If you’re doing it yourself, you’ll need a sturdy ladder, gloves, a trowel, safety glasses and a hose. Use the trowel to scoop the gunk out of the gutters. Once you’ve gotten as much out as you can, hose out the gutters and let the water run out through the downspout. Use the hose to force out clogs.

Be sure water from the downspouts flows away from your house to keep it from collecting around the foundation. As dirty as this job can be, it’s one that can save a lot of headaches and bigger problems down the road.

Hammock

Find two trees and hang up a hammock! You’re welcome!

 

American Flag Etiquette

Memorial Day is next Monday! As an important symbol of our country, everybody should understand the significance of flying the flag. On Memorial Day fly the flag at half-mast, a position reserved for when the country is in mourning, until noon, before raising it to full mast for the remainder of the Day.

Here is the full list of the proper way to fly the American Flag:

  • The custom is to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on flagstaffs in the open, but it may be displayed at night upon special occasions to produce a patriotic effect.
  • When the flag is hung vertically on a wall, window, or door, the Union (blue section) should be to the observer’s left. When the flag is hung either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the Union should be to the observer’s left.
  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement.
  • The flag should be displayed at every public institution and in or near every polling place on election days, and at schoolhouses during school days.
  • In a procession, the American flag should be to the right of any other flag or, if in a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
  • The flag should not be displayed on a float except from a staff, nor draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle.
  • When the flag is displayed on a vehicle, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis.
  • No other flag should be placed above the American flag or, if they are to be placed on the same level, to the right of the American flag.
  • The United Nations flag may not be displayed above or in a position of superior prominence to the United States flag except at United Nations Headquarters.
  • The flag, when displayed with another against a wall—both from crossed staffs—should be on the right (the flag’s own right), and its staff should be in front of the other staff.
  • The American flag should be at the center and the highest point when displayed with a group of state flags.
  • When flags of states, cities, etc., are flown on the same halyard, the American flag should be at the peak.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height, and the American flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.
  • When displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff.
  • When the flag is displayed otherwise than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out; or so suspended that its folds fall as freely as though the flag were staffed.
  • When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
  • On a platform, the flag should be above and behind the speaker, with the union uppermost and to the observer’s left.
  • When displayed from a staff in a church or auditorium, the flag should occupy the position of honor and be placed at the speaker’s right as he faces the audience.
  • When flown at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff position. It should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. Half-staff is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag must be flown at half-staff on all buildings on the death of any officer listed below, for the period indicated:
    • For the President or a former President:30 days from the date of death.
    • For the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives:10 days from the day of death.
    • For an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former Vice President, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives:From the day of death until interment.
    • For a United States Senator, Representative, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico:the flag should be flown in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia, on the day of death and on the following day; in the state, congressional district, territory, or commonwealth of such Senator, Representative, Delegate, or Commissioner, from the day of death until interment.
    • For a Governor:Within the state, territory, or possession, from the day of death until interment.
  • When the flag is used to cover a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.

Summer Learning for the Kids

Summer vacation is coming for the kids, but our adult lives keep on going as usual. Trying to fit their schedule into ours can be challenging and more often than not our propensity to “plug them in” becomes too easy.

Just because they will be away from their daily source of higher learning does not mean that they can’t still stay engaged in summer learning and have a blast doing it.

Here are five ways to keep kids going in a positive direction this summer.

Journaling

They are bound to create many experiences this summer, some good, some rooted in life learning. Keep a daily journal recording your summer experiences – this will keep reading and writing skills sharp.

Library Cards

It’s free, it’s local, it’s quiet and usually has much more to offer than just books with puppet shows and classes. Many libraries have reading competitions that kids can take part in.

Reading Lists

Just because school’s out, doesn’t mean story time needs to come to an end. Keep reading each day to help your child develop their reading skills. Have them make a list of the books that they want to read this summer. Their selections might surprise you.

Plug In (the Right Way)

There is more to the iPad than Minecraft and YouTube. There is a wide range of fantastic and free resources for just about every type of learner. Some of the most popular games that encourage creativity for younger children include drawing game SketchUp, building online with Lego Digital Designer or creating a digital flip book with FlipSnack.

Field Trips

Visit a museum of art, history, natural history or science. Go to a zoo or aquarium. Many museums have one day or evening per week offering free or reduced admission. Take advance of museum education programs and classes like pottery, painting, fused glassmaking, bird watching, scientific experimentation or photography.

Once they return back to school they will be asked by teachers and peers what they did on their summer break. A regiment of summer learning will give them experiences worth boasting about!

Help Wanted: Mom

What is the value of a mom? The answer is unquantifiable, but what if we took a “general value” approach based on time/work rates and ratio? The answer might surprise you and make you look at the (more than) full-time position of mom a little differently.

This Job Description was found online and offered by noahsdad.com.

JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment.

Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.

Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES: The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.

Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.

Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.

Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.

Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.

Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.

Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices.

Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.

Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.

When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

Here is the financial breakdown of what the position would pay:

So next time you see that mom at the supermarket with three kids hanging off different limbs while she tries to navigate the busy parking lot in a cart with a wonky wheel, lend a hand and thank her for her service. She has the best/worst job on the planet.