RE/MAX 440
Michael Gillis

Michael Gillis
701 W. Market Street  Perkasie  PA 18944
Phone:  215-469-0213
Office:  215-453-7653
Fax:  267-354-6911

My Blog

Ladder Dos and Don'ts for Fall Maintenance

September 20, 2012 6:10 am

With homeowners clambering up ladders to paint, clean gutters and perform other fall chores, the autumn months can be an especially dangerous time

Ladders play a big role in thousands of accidents around the home. A Consumer Reports analysis of data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission found more than 160 deaths and 170,000 injuries related to ladders in 2007, the latest year for which full data is available. And over the past five years, more than 500,000 ladders have been recalled "due to fall hazards."

The following dos and don’ts will help keep you safe while you are performing chores that involve the use of a ladder this season.

Inspection and maintenance
-Keep ladders clean and dry. Wipe the ladder off after each use to prevent deterioration.
Wear and tear can cause a ladder to fail. Check all types—aluminum, fiberglass and wood—for cracks, dents and missing components.
-Tighten reinforcing rods beneath steps and hinges, and check the lanyard on an extension ladder for deterioration.

Getting ready
-Set up your ladder on a firm, level surface. Use leg-levelers if necessary. Never stack objects, such as lumber or stones, beneath a ladder leg to level it.
-Lean a straight or extension ladder against a wall or other even, fixed object—never against a narrow tree or surface that cannot support both of the side rails.
-Set up an extension ladder with the base 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet the ladder reaches up- that's 3 feet at the base for a 12-foot ladder, or roughly a 75-degree angle.
-Use your stepladder only in the open, A-shaped position, never when folded. Make sure the spreaders are fully open and locked.
-Be sure that your extension ladder extends 3 feet beyond the roofline or work surface.
-When raising any extension ladder, be mindful of overhead power lines and other hazards.
-Before climbing, inspect the area where you'll be working for insect and bird nests. Check the area from below with a pair of binoculars.

Ups and downs
-Use the right ladder for the job. Always select a height that doesn't require you to reach up or out in a way that destabilizes the ladder; keep your belt buckle centered between the rails. Don't use a stepladder to get to the roof.
-When doing electrical work or working near an electrical power line, use only a wooden or fiberglass ladder. And remember that any ladder can conduct electricity when it's wet.
-Don't allow anybody else on the ladder with you.
-Climb and descend slowly, facing the ladder and holding the side rails with both hands (keep tools in a tool belt).
-Keep both feet on the ladder and center your weight between the rails at all times.
-Don't try to move the ladder when you're standing on it or try to "walk" it into a new position.
-Don't step above the labeled maximum height. Beyond that point, the odds of an accident increase significantly.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Moving Day Tips: How to Safely Transport Your Vehicle

September 20, 2012 6:10 am

For many families, a car is the second largest investment they have ever made. Getting that investment safely to a new home is an important component of a smooth move.

What are your options for transporting your vehicle?
A vehicle can be moved with your household goods or with a separate auto transport company. To ship your car most efficiently and cost-effectively, it’s important to know about the different shipping techniques, such as open and closed trailers. The model of the car, as well as the intended destination, will help determine the type of trailer you will need.

What is an open trailer?
An open trailer is the more popular and frequently used trailer. It carries anywhere from 10-12 vehicles at a time.
Advantage: Open trailers are less expensive than closed trailers. The cost is determined by the weight of the vehicle.
Disadvantage: Open trailers are subject to the elements (i.e. rain, snow, wind, dirt and dust).

What is a closed trailer?
A closed trailer is a vehicle that has a covered freight area. It is commonly used for shipping expensive or classic cars that need to be protected. If you wish to protect your car from wind-blown sand and heat, this is your best option.
Advantage: The car is well-protected from the elements of nature.
Disadvantage: Closed trailers cost more. Remember, the cost is determined by the weight of the vehicle.

Is my car insured? The company that transports your vehicle(s) should provide adequate insurance to protect against driver negligence. Ask for a copy of the “Certificate of Insurance” and familiarize yourself with the types of coverage provided. Consult with your current auto insurance agent to determine whether you need supplemental coverage.

Turning your vehicle over to the carrier.
Prior to handing over your car to a driver or transport company, be sure you receive an “Original Inspection Report.” This report provides: pick-up and delivery information, current mileage, and most importantly, shows the condition of your car at time of pick-up (pre-existing scratches and dents, cracked glass/mirrors, general paint condition, etc.).

Accepting your vehicle for delivery.
At the time of delivery, inspect your vehicle thoroughly and compare the condition and mileage against the “Original Inspection Report.” Many transport companies also provide a copy of this report at time of delivery. If there are discrepancies, note them as exceptions and be sure the driver signs it. Never accept your vehicle at night if you cannot verify the report condition and without being signed by the driver.

What’s in your trunk?
As of 1990, the Department of Transportation ruled that you may not load any items in a vehicle other than clothing. Auto transporters are not licensed to carry household goods or personal items. Damage to your vehicle due to household goods shifting or breaking is not covered by insurance.

Source: www.moveadvocate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Hard vs. Soft Water - What Do They Really Mean?

September 19, 2012 6:10 am

In a nutshell, hard water, which to one extent or another is most of the water that flows through our neighborhood pipes, is water that contains an appreciative amount of dissolved minerals. Soft water is treated water in which the only ion is sodium.

As rainwater falls, it is naturally soft. But as it makes its way through the ground and into our waterways, it picks up minerals like chalk and lime and a lot of calcium and magnesium.

Hard water is to blame for dingy looking clothes, dishes with spots and residue, and bathtubs with lots of film and soap scum. Because soap is less effective in hard water, it takes more soap and more shampoo to achieve acceptable results, and even appliances will work harder and use more energy in the process.

Most consumers prefer using soft water because chores can be performed more efficiently. Lather is rich and bubbly even when using a minimal amount of soap or shampoo. Glasses will sparkle, hair will look healthier, and the shower curtain will be scum-free.

Soft water users will also save money. In addition to saving on detergents and soaps, appliances have to work less hard, prolonging their productive lives, and energy bills are noticeably lower in households with soft water systems.

There is a downside to soft water in that it is not as healthy to drink. In the softening process, as minerals are removed, sodium content increases. Soft water not only tastes salty, but research shows the risk of cardiovascular disease is lowest where water has the most mineral content.

But the conundrum may be easily solved. Consumers may enjoy all the benefits of softened water while safeguarding their health by bringing bottled water into the home for drinking purposes – or by installing a reverse osmosis system, which may be installed under the kitchen sink for less than $500.

If you are on a municipal water system, the water supplier can tell you the hardness level of the water they deliver. If you have a private water supply, you can have the water tested for hardness. They can also help you evaluate the significance of the test results, so that you can make an informed decision about how – and where – to opt for softened water.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Consumers Defer Back to School Shopping in Favor of Purchases for the Home

September 19, 2012 6:10 am

While U.S. consumers shopped this July and August, they were not buying clothes and notebooks for their children but rather items for the home. According to findings from IBM, the biggest retail gains this back to school shopping season came from home goods purchases which increased 30 percent in July and more than 25 percent in August over their respective months in 2012.

While experts speculate that consumers were holding off on back to school purchases to eye the choices of their peers, social networks appeared to drive purchases with social sales increasing 69.7 percent. The social influence was especially apparent when it came to apparel, where shoppers referred to online stores through social networks generated a 2.2 percent of all sales in August, an increase of more than 113 percent over 2011.

Mobile commerce also continued to grow with sales increasing 15.7 percent in July and 15.4 percent in August. For home goods mobile sales reached a high of 20.1 percent.

"Back-to-school season is proving to be a trigger event that spans across categories beyond just notebooks and backpacks. Retailers that are cashing in are those who understand how this trigger drives sales for home furnishings, as well as for apparel, and can target their inventory levels and promotions accordingly," said Jill Puleri, Global Retail Leader, IBM. "This year's winners were the companies that successfully connected consumers with the right products, at the right price, and through the right medium–whether in a store, a mobile device or through popular social media channels."

The following back to school trends that were found are:

• July and August Online Sales: Overall sales for July increased more than 11 percent over July 2011 while August slowed with sales up 3.9 percent compared to last year.
• Social commerce: In July, shopper referrals to retailer sites from social networks generated 1.6 percent of all sales, an increase of 25.1 percent over last year. This trend continued in August reaching 1.8 percent, an increase of 69.7 percent over the previous year.
• Mobile commerce: Mobile commerce remains strong with sales from mobile devices reaching 15.7 percent in July and 15.4 percent over the month of August.

For more information: www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/smarter_commerce/overview/

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Scientists Conclude High Fructose Corn Syrup Should Not be Blamed for Obesity

September 19, 2012 6:10 am

A new article published in International Journal of Obesity found there is no evidence to suggest the current obesity epidemic in the United States can be specifically blamed on consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

The commentary concludes that after an extensive review of all available HFCS research, there is overwhelming evidence showing HFCS is nutritionally equivalent to sugar. This opinion is in-line with the American Medical Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, both of which concluded that HFCS is not a unique cause of obesity.

The authors state that while there has been a large amount of debate in the media about the impact of HFCS on obesity levels, the fact is "Sucrose (sugar) and HFCS are very similar in composition....and are absorbed identically in the human GI tract."

"The public discussion about HFCS will likely continue to rage on and more studies will be conducted," said James M. Rippe, M.D., Founder and Director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute, and Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida, one of the article's authors. "However, at this point there is simply no evidence to suggest that the use of HFCS alone is directly responsible for increased obesity rates or other health concerns."

The article goes on to discuss a number of research trials that have been conducted on the issue of HFCS and obesity, and concludes that at this time the evidence shows no short-term health differences between the use of HFCS or sugar could be detected in humans. Weight gain, glucose levels, insulin and appetite were not adversely affected by the use of HFCS over sugar.

To read the article in full, visit: http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/ijo2012157a.pdf.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Don't Get Ripped Off by In-Flight Food Prices

September 18, 2012 6:10 am

Low-cost airlines appear to be anything but budget when it comes to the on-board price of food and drink, with popular items such as Pringles costing 495 percent more than supermarket prices, according to new research from TravelSupermarket.

In fact, after comparing both supermarket and on-board snack prices, there is an average mark-up of 347 percent on food and drink in the air. This included popular items such as sweets, chocolate, baked goods, chips, soft drinks and alcohol.

With people already under pressure to remember all the important things before jetting off, such as tickets, boarding cards and passports, many can be tempted to loosen their purse strings and splurge on food and drink up in the air. However, this could be a pricey move, as travelers can pay anything up 1,471 percent more for a 500ml bottle of still water or 495 percent more for a tin of Pringles.

Here are a few top tips for saving money on airline food:

• It is always worth checking what your airline includes in your flight. Some airlines such as British Airways include free drinks and a small snack on short haul flights. On long haul flights, many airlines do include complimentary food, even if you still have to pay for some drinks. So before buying unnecessary food and drink at the airport, check to see what is included.

• Take your own food with you from home and save a fortune spending $50-75 plus for a family of four for sandwiches, drinks and a chocolate bar. You could even provide your own/buy at the airport for significantly less than buying up in the air.

• Remember you cannot take liquids over 100ml through security, so do not pack drinks from home or liquid foods such as yogurt.

• Take your own fruit with you - it's cheap and healthy and you will not find fresh fruit salad or vegetarian options on board.

• If you choose to have a meal on the plane, then save money by pre-ordering to ensure you actually get the meal you want.

• Look out for meal deals on board to save money.

• If you are going to eat/drink on the plane, but don't want to take food from home with you, then buy at the airport once you have cleared security, as it is cheaper than buying on the plane.

• Remember, passengers cannot buy alcohol in the airport for consumption on board an aircraft. You may only drink alcohol supplied (free or at a charge) by the cabin crew.

• Finally, you could always be sneaky and take your own cup and tea bags/coffee with you and ask for hot water, although there is no guarantee the airline staff will serve you.

Source: TravelSupermarket.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

2012 Holiday Hot Toys List

September 18, 2012 6:10 am

September is the month when savvy moms and dads start scouring stores and searching the internet for toys to present to their little ones on Christmas morning. Lucky for them, this year's holiday shopping just got easier. To help ensure that the toys that parents will be snatching off the shelves this season match the letters kids everywhere are scribbling to Santa, here is one of the season's first guides to all the hot toys for Christmas 2012, courtesy of the Best Toys Guide:

30 Hot Toys for Christmas 2012 are:

Barbie Photo Fashion Doll from Mattel®
Bobble Bots from Innovation First®
BuckleyBoo from BuckleyBoo®
Crayola Digital Light Designer from Crayola®
Furby from Hasbro®
HEXBUG Warriors from Innovation First®
Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle from Mattel®
LeapFrog LeapPad 2 from LeapFrog®
LEGO Lord of the Rings from LEGO®
littleBits from littleBits Electronics®
Master Moves Mickey from Mattel®
MEGA Bloks World of Warcraft from MEGA Bloks®
Melissa & Doug Suspend from Melissa & Doug®
Nanoblocks from Ohio Art®
NERF Elite Hail-Fire from Hasbro®
Nintendo Wii U from Nintendo®
Playmobil E-Rangers Headquarters from Playmobil®
Razor FlashRider 360 from Razor®
Skylander's Giants from Activision®
Tegu Mobility from TEGU®
ThinkFun Roll & Play from ThinkFun®
ThinkFun Stenzzles from ThinkFun®
Tonka Tumblin' Chuck from Hasbro®
Twister Dance from Hasbro®
UglyBuddies from Uglydoll®
Vapor Delta 500 from Razor®
Vtech Cogsley from Vtech®
Vtech Switch & Go Dinos from Vtech®
WowWee Flip Force from WowWee®
Zing Z-X Crossbow from Zing Toys®

Source: Best Toys Guide

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Haunt the Halls with Halloween Party Ideas

September 18, 2012 6:10 am

Halloween is rapidly approaching, but fear not, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween with all the chills and thrills. September is the perfect time to transform any home into a haunted house and plan a frightfully fun Halloween party. To gear up for the second largest retail holiday (according to the National Retail Federation), families can begin decorating their home with fall flair and spooky scenery. Prepping for the spookiest month of the year doesn't have to be a terrifying task with these easy Halloween party ideas.

• The Grave Outdoors: Give trick-or-treaters and party guests a gothic greeting with a scary landscape. Line the yard with tombstones, Halloween mini-fences and signs to create a wicked woodland. Place zombie arms and skeleton parts next to tombstones so they emerge from the grave, and scatter dead flowers across the lawn to enhance the cemetery-like setting. For a final touch, use a fog machine to fill the entryway with a frightful haze.

• Sophisticated Spooky: The coffee table, mantle and sofa are all essential set pieces on the Halloween stage. Play up the trend of chic simplicity by adding a few understated touches that reflect a sophisticated style. Remove everyday centerpieces, picture frames and vases, and replace them with trendy but terrifying decor, like eye-catching ravens and petrifying paper fans and lanterns. Instantly antiquate the scene by covering all surfaces with webbing, gauze and moss. Weave spiders and other creepy crawlers into the webbing for a full infestation. Exchanging family pictures with black and white photos from past centuries creates a spirited scene.

• Terrifying Tabletops: Draw attention to the dining area with creative centerpieces of weathered tombstones, skull groupings and other creepy crawlers. To achieve a more upscale look, place them in clear glass cake platters and jars. Create eerie unexpected placeholders by putting name cards inside of vampire fangs, atop a small coffin or wrapped around a mini skeleton. Dress up the table by draping webbing off the sides and along candelabras and gauntlets.

• The Monster Mash: Monsters have made a comeback this year in both blockbuster hits, like "Hotel Transylvania" and "Frankenweenie", and as a kids Halloween party themes. Frankenstein, Dracula, mummies and werewolves creep into Halloween party supplies like tableware, favors and sweet treats. Bright colors like lime green, purple, orange and yellow make this monster revival full of fun instead of fright.


• Eerie Edibles: Guests will go batty over a display of to-die-for desserts. Spiders, candy eyeballs and tombstones turn cupcakes into creepy confections. For a simple but sweet decorating solution, cupcake costumes instantly transform ready-made cupcakes into classic Halloween characters. These ghoulish gourmet cupcakes mimic the monsters of movies like "Monsters and Aliens" and "Monsters Inc.", with no decorating skills required. Place witch fingers combing through candy to create a cheerfully chilling bowl of toil and trouble.

• Pick Your Poison: Eat, drink and be scary with a shocktails bar of screamingly scrumptious thirst-chasers. For positively Pinterest-worthy cocktails, garnish drinks with olives and lychee nuts to make eyeballs. Dress up glasses with dreadful details like dripping blood curdling red syrup around the glass rims and black licorice strips over the edges of glasses for spider legs. Disguise bottles with labels of "Witch's Potion" and "Raven's Blood Brew." Serve up a punchbowl of sinful sangria and spiked cider for any bloodsuckers at the party.

Source: Party City

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Mistakes Homeowners Make When Moving and How to Avoid Them

September 17, 2012 6:10 am

Now that you’ve found your dream home, be sure the actual moving process goes just as smoothly. Here are five common mistakes movers make and a few suggestions on how to avoid blunders when moving to your new home:

Getting a quote over the phone or Internet.
A big mistake that consumers make when planning their moves is obtaining a quote over the phone or the Internet. Any quote obtained in this manner is a non-binding quote. The only way to obtain a guaranteed or binding quote is to have a visual survey of your household goods by a reputable mover. If you choose to accept a quote over the phone or Internet you are setting yourself up for a nasty scenario when the mover shows up at your new home and demands more money.

Waiting too long to line up a mover
Allowing time for a visual survey, receiving a written and binding quote, and reserving a truck for your move takes a lead time of four to six weeks. Although moves can be arranged in a shorter period of time, many consumers find that their choices are limited by availability, especially in the busy summer months. In our current real estate market, many homes are taking longer to sell, but once sold are closing very quickly. The time to obtain estimates for your move is before your home sells so that you are prepared when it does.

Misrepresenting what you are moving
It is very important to show the surveyor or estimator everything you are planning to move. If you forget to show items in a basement, garage, attic, or off-site storage unit and then add those items at time of pick-up, your estimate will no longer be binding. In the same vein, if you commit to packing your own items but don’t have time to finish, the van line will pack your items and charge you for the service. If you are uncertain of whether you will be taking something, or are not sure if you will have time to pack everything, ask the surveyor to put the items or service in the estimate. If you decide not to take something, or do not require the packing, the cost will be adjusted downward.

Paying a deposit upfront
Reputable movers do not ask for payment upfront to reserve trucks or dates. This is a classic red flag in moving. A reputable mover will expect payment upon delivery.

Finding a mover based upon price rather than reputation and service
If a mover gives you a price that is significantly lower than other movers, it is likely that you are being low-balled. If a surveyor has underestimated your weight in order to give you a lower price you may find, on moving day, that the moving truck does not have enough room for your shipment. This is called an overflow. An overflow means that your items will not all travel together, will not all arrive at the same time, and will generally cause you a big hassle. Another way to lower costs is to compromise service. Look for a competitive bid from a professional mover who is certified and reputable. Although price is an important factor, don't base your decision on price alone.

If you are planning a move in the near future, be sure to avoid these five mistakes. By planning ahead of time and being honest with the movers about your plans and expectations, you can be well on your way to a smoother move to your new home.

Source: The Move Advocate

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags:

Credit Utilization Ratio: What Does It All Mean?

September 17, 2012 6:10 am

Some spenders may view their credit as a maximum spending limit they can achieve before being penalized or declined. But what most don’t know is that credit scores place a large emphasis on your credit utilization ratio, that is, how much of your credit is used every month. Your credit score takes a plunge whenever that number climbs high.

Credit scores do not distinguish between balances you are paying off, it only looks at the new charges you are racking up. If you want to keep your credit score high, it is of dire importance that you keep those balances low.

To calculate your utilization ratio, add up last month’s balances and divide that by the total of all your credit limits on open accounts. The two-digit number after the decimal point is your utilization rate. Do the same for each individual card as well—FICO scoring looks at how much of your total limit you’re using, along with each card individually. Utilization is a significant portion of your scoring—30 percent. It is recommended that you try to achieve the lowest score possible. Those with the highest credit scores, 760 or above, usually have a utilization of approximately 7 percent.

Know the Difference between Charge Cards and Credit Cards

The main difference between charge cards is that they require you to pay the balance in full every month. They also aren’t included in your utilization rate, according to the most recent versions of the FICO scoring system. If you have a card and are unsure if it’s a charge card or credit card, call the issuer or check your latest credit report. Notations indicating “revolving” mean it’s a credit card; notations stating “open” means it’s a charge card.

Experts say that worrying about utilization rates or credit scores is unnecessary, but it can pay off to look more closely if you are a year or less away from purchasing a home or car, have unexplained card problems such as declining credit scores, or if you have a new card and want to see its impact on your credit score.

Understanding your credit can be extremely important, especially in situations when you need to rely on a good, solid credit score. By keeping your balances low and properly managing your credit card usage, you will hopefully never be financially limited by a poor credit score.

Source: Bankrate

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tags: