Digital Storage vs Physical

The ways we store our media —  photos, music, books, and more — have changed drastically in the digital age. As computer hard drives continue to grow in size and affordability, there has been a push by consumers to convert tangible media vehicles into bits, bytes, and files. And while it isn’t difficult to see the benefits of digital storage, does anyone else miss the days of showing off our collections?

Space, of course, will always be the bi

ggest advantage our iPods and other MP3 devices offer for storing music. Gone are the needs to have most of our living room wall space dedicated to racks loaded with compact discs. But those CD libraries were fun, weren’t they? Carting around that Motown Compilation Box Set was never convenient, but where are the liner notes to tell you who played bass on Midnight Train to Georgia? Not on your Shuffle, that’s for sure.

And what about those dusty bookshelves loaded with classics from Moby Dick to Harry Potter? Of course, having 1,000 titles on your Kindle is much more convenient, especially on moving day, but those 6-foot bookcases were like a neon sign to visitors, warning them that we were exceptionally well-read. What’s that, you want to borrow War and Peace? Sure, I’ve read it six times already, practically have it memorized. Just make sure you remember where you got it. What are we left to do now, let the in-laws borrow our e-readers? Not likely!

If security is your main argument for digital storage, keep in mind that one false key stroke, or a single mistakenly-downloaded virus, can wipe out a computer’s memory in an instant. Leaving us to hit the neighborhood flea markets and yard sales, looking for all those albums, hardcovers, and cassette tapes we sold off when we stepped into the 21st Century. Of course, we could always head to the internet and plunk down 99 cents apiece for the opportunity to store our beloved tunes and stories on our computer. Again.

Winter Storm Preparedness for Traveling

We’ve shared in our Winter Storm Preparedness post ways in which we can have our homes ready in case of severe winter storms. But what about those times we’re caught in our cars when extreme weather strikes? Of course, the first thing to do is drive to a safe location and seek shelter. But should road conditions prevent you from finding refuge, there are precautions to be taken that can help prevent a dangerous winter stranding from turning tragic.

World's Brightest Pen LightA Winter Storm Survival Kit in your vehicle should include:

Flashlight/batteries

Plush BlanketBlankets/Sleeping Bag

Non-perishable food.

Water

First-Aid Kit

– For food, water, and warmth items, consider how many people you may typically have in your car, and try to have enough on board for everyone.

Snow Extraction KitBooster cables

Sand, cat litter, or other traction aid

Shovel

Never allow your fuel level to dip below half-tank during winter to prevent gas line freezing. The fuller you keep your tank, the more time you’ll have for staying warm should you become stuck. If stuck in a snow storm, remain in your vehicle. Run the engine for 10 minutes each hour for warmth. Keep windows slightly open, and keep snow cleared from tail pipes, to avoid carbon monoxide buildup inside the vehicle. When the snow stops falling, raise the hood of your car so passers-by and emergency rescue personnel know you’re in need of assistance.

Proper winter storm preparedness can make all the difference when the weather outside is frightful. Don’t be caught off guard.

 

Winter Storm Preparedness

As we head into the winter months, our thoughts turn from picnics and beach weekends to Christmas time and sled riding. But the change of seasons also means substantial climate change for most of us, and it is important to be adequately prepared. We’ve compiled a list of winter storm preparedness items and precautions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service that they suggest you have in case severe winter weather strikes.

When you’re home:

We don’t like to think about being stuck in our homes during and after a storm, but if bitter cold or blizzard conditions should cut us off for any extended period of time, be prepared by having these items easily accessible at home.

Extra food and water. Particularly, foods that don’t need to be refrigerated and cooked, should you experience loss of power. (Don’t forget that old hand-cranked can opener.)Zippered Vents Sleeping Bag

Additional Blankets and Sleeping Bags.

Gloves and hats. In addition, be sure to have layers of warm clothing to wear, layers that can easily be removed or added as your body warms and cools. Should you become overheated from shoveling snow or other activity, change into dry clothing immediately so as not to become chilled.

Extra medications and baby supplies. (Remember provisions for your pets too!)

Best Emergency RadioFlashlights and extra batteries.

A battery-operated NOAA radio to keep abreast of changing weather conditions.

Heating fuel. If you rely on a delivery truck for fuel, they not be able to reach you after heavy storms. Don’t run low!

If you have a fire place or wood-burning stove, you are ahead of the game. Make sure you have ample (dry) firewood for those days when it could be your only source of heat.

Do not try to venture outside unless absolutely necessary. If you are warm and dry, stay put. If you need assistance call for help.

We’ll be back soon with some winter storm preparedness advice for your vehicle.

Travel Trouble Turned Triumphant

The holiday travel season is in full swing. As we were reminded by a story this morning about an airline computer glitch causing air passengers to be stranded at airports, we got to thinking of horror stories about excursions gone bad. Weather delays, sleeping on cots in terminals, rerouted or destroyed luggage, all the traveling woes of which nightmares are created.

But every now and then, you hear tales of amazing coincidences and positive outcomes when it seems all hope had been lost. And we got to wondering: have any of our readers experienced such accidental adventures? Perhaps strangers you were forced to interact with, who it turned out you knew long ago? New towns you explored because you couldn’t leave due to travel restrictions, only to find your new favorite destination?

Let us know in the comments section if you or someone you know has snatched victory from the jaws of a globe-trotting defeat.

The Quest for Perfect Holiday Timing

Ask 10 people the same question, and you will likely receive 10 different responses: When is the appropriate time to decorate your home for the holidays?

Of course, there can be two separate designations here, one being indoors, the second being outdoors. As no one but you is likely to have much to say in regards to what you 423289_10150628172168893_722201739_nhave inside your home, this query deals with outdoor decorations, visible to neighbors and passersby.

One rule of thumb we’ve often seen is the “Month of the Event” scenario. If you want to dress up your yard for Halloween, the first of October seems a good time to begin. Thanksgiving fare would be best suited for November 1. Want to put up streamers for the Fourth of July? You may need to fly in the face of this particular rule, as 4 days doesn’t seem to be enough time for your efforts to be noticed. If you’re decking your halls for Christmas, the first day of December is the sensible start of the season.

Of course, this becomes controversial for those who want to take advantage of the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving. Many have a 4-day weekend’s worth of time to occupy, and breaking out the Christmas decorations seems a logical activity. Especially for those opposed to Black Friday mall crowds.

What say you? Does it matter? Should it matter? How does what one person feels is proper affect those around them? Have you ever had a disagreement with a neighbor or relative about their, or your, holiday decorations?

And what about the appropriate timing for removing said ornamentation? Ah, we fear that may be something to tackle another time.

The ways we shop

423289_10150628172168893_722201739_nThe internet has changed the way consumers buy goods. No longer needing to jump in the car or catch a bus each time we’re in need of a product, a few clicks on the web is all it takes to have the things we desire sent right to our door. As long as we have the time to wait for delivery, most of our shopping can be done from the couch. There are even services that allow you to purchase your groceries online. And while some will always prefer picking out their own fresh breads, meats and produce, this can be a tremendous convenience for folks with transportation limitations.

But is online shopping always the answer? What about sitting in the sectional sofa in the showroom and making sure it’s comfortable? Wouldn’t you prefer to try on the new fall fashions before you buy? Yes, you know what sizes you wear on paper, but how can one be sure each clothing manufacturer’s dimensions are the same across the board?

Many consumers have learned, and adapted, to these dilemmas. Brick and mortar shops have become virtual showrooms for online shoppers, who head to department stores and specialty shops to try items on for size or kick the tires, then return home and make their purchases online. Does this defeat the purpose of home shopping? Does traveling to and from these exploratory excursions, let alone the the time spent inside the stores, lessen the value of making your buys from your computer or smartphone? And what about the widely-changing issue of sales tax? If and when more online retailers are forced to charge all internet shoppers the same taxes walk-in customers have always been responsible for, will that change your mind about how much of your purchases are done in the virtual world?

We’d like to hear where you do your shopping? Are there certain products you will always choose online? Are there others you would never buy sight unseen? Please, let us know in the comments section.

 

The Best Winter Items

Colder weather is upon us, friends. The time has come to let go of the picnic baskets and beach towels and begin preparing for cooler temperatures. We would like to take a moment to highlight a few of the items that The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute has deemed to be The Best for keeping warm this winter.

Best Heated VestThe Best Heated Vest – The Institute preferred this heated vest because it was nearly 4 times warmer than lesser garments tested. Also, they found the distribution of the heating elements in the chest and back provided more even heating. When set on “low”, the vest generated 8 and a half hours of warmth on a single 2.5-hour charge of its 4 oz lithium battery pack.

Best Warm Mist HumidifierThe Best Warm Mist Humidifier – Raising humidity levels in your home during the cold winter months helps treat the common cold, flu, and allergies, soothes dry skin and chapped lips, and can even ease asthma symptoms. The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute designated this unit The Best because it was more than twice as effective as other models at emitting air moisture and running time. The Best Warm Mist Humidifier also increased humidity 15% faster than other models, while distributing moist air up to 900 square feet.

Best Heated Mattress PadThe Best Heated Mattress Pad – The Institute chose this heated mattress pad because it generated the most consistent heat, and was the most comfortable. In fact, the panel praised the heating elements for being barely noticeable. The queen and king models come with dual controls so two sleepers can adjust the heat settings to their individual specifications. When tested for durability, The Best model earned a perfect rating for standing up to multiple washings without any sign of shrinking or fraying.

These are just a few of the wonderful items Hammacher Schlemmer offers for cold-weather comfort. For more winter apparel, home goods, and more, we hope you’ll visit our website and browse today.

Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane Sandy has been a reminder of how inclement weather can strike any part of the world, at any time. Are you ready? Emergency management organizations offer hurricane preparedness tips and ideas so you can be ready when a storm hits.It is recommended that you be prepared at all times, rather than rushing to gather supplies when storms are imminent. When a storm is called for, you won’t be the only one seeking hurricane preparedness supplies, and they run out quickly.

This is by no means a complete list, but merely a start if you’ve yet to begin readying your home for a hurricane and/or flood.

Have an emergency evacuation plan in place, so as not to be caught off guard in an actual storm. If emergency evacuation is called for, gather the items you will need while away from home and go. The sooner you leave, the easier it will be, with less traffic, more necessities on store shelves, etc. Even if emergency personnel don’t require it, if you feel you’re in danger, and you can safely move to a more secure location, do so. Your property is not worth more than your life. If you are in a safe location, and have the means, share your shelter with others. Your extra bedroom can be a safe haven for a family member or friend, but only if they know it is available.

30 Day LanternIf you are safely able to remain in your home, you will want it to be well stocked. The CDC recommends you have supplies to last 3 to 5 days without power and running water. You should have:

Clean drinking water (aprox one gallon per person per day)

A first aid kit

Baby care items/ formula for homes with infants

Batteries

A battery-operated emergency radioBest Emergency Radio

Flashlights and other non-electric lighting

Non-perishable Food (Be sure you have a good, old-fashioned manual can opener. Electric can openers are useless without power)

Medications you or anyone in your household take

Disposable cleaning cloths. Without running water, or without hot water, these may be your only bathing option

A generator and fuel

Solar Power Generator

If your home or business require boarding up, and you have storage space, keep necessary plywood on hand. Remember, you might have issues transporting building materials if buying them at a moment’s notice.

Thorough hurricane preparedness includes being sure your car has provisions as well. Food, flares, booster cables, a first aid kit, a sleeping bag or blankets, are just a few of the items you’ll need in the event you must make a quick exit from your home, and should you be stranded in your vehicle.

Remember if you remain in your home, your neighbors might be home as well. Stay in touch with them, and offer to share extra supplies with them should they be in need, just as you would hope they would share with you in your time of need. Hurricane preparedness is a team effort, and you’ll want all the help and support available. Everyone needs to pull together during a state of emergency and help each other through.

Hurricane Cleanup

The aftermath of a disaster is devastating to anyone affected. The sight of returning to damaged property can be overwhelming. Sometimes, the only way to begin healing the pain is to immediately start the clean-up process. Here are some helpful hurricane cleanup tips from the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Emergency Management Agency when returning to damaged property.

Most importantly, make sure your home or business is safe before entering to begin hurricane cleanup work. That may require examination by a building inspector or other government authority. Standing water from flooding, live electrical wires, or leaking gas lines are just a few of the hazards which may be present in a damaged structure, as well as when driving or walking into an affected area. You must know it is safe before going back. Once you’ve received permission to enter, open doors and windows to allow maximum ventilation. Take photos of damage.

Use a radio or other device to keep abreast of breaking news and weather. Have a mobile phone charged and ready to use in case additional emergencies occur.4 iPhone iPad Charging Hub

 

Wear proper safety equipment. Eye protection is a must! Hard hats, work boots and gloves, ear plugs or headphones, should be worn at all times. Wearing a respirator will make breathing easier, especially for those with allergy issues, but disaster locations always have additional airborne impurities, so these are highly recommended. Keep a first aid kit handy for minor injuries, cuts, and scrapes. When flood waters are involved, wear watertight boots and gloves. Remember, flood water is filthy. It is not comprised simply of sea or river water, but also sewage, fuels, and every other substance the storm surge has picked up along the way. Assume that everything it has contacted is contaminated, and must be dealt with accordingly.

Solar Power GeneratorKeep in mind hurricane cleanup will be extremely difficult, intense labor. Pace yourself. Do not overwork. Start with one task, and get it done before moving on to the next. Eat properly, and avoid alcohol. If you become tired, rest, or call it a day. If you become faint or injured, seek medical attention immediately. If using  fuel-powered generators, keep them outside, away from windows, to avoid carbon monoxide buildup inside. The Solar Power Generator uses renewal energy from the sun, is quiet, and gives off no emissions.

When flooding has occurred, as is most often the case with hurricane cleanup, take extra precautions to assure safety. Storm surge and heavy rains are major calamities associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. Standing flood water may contain hidden hazards. Do not assume it is safe to walk through. Water and electricity do not mix. Turn off electrical circuits and electrical equipment only if you can do so without standing in water. Call an electrician for assistance if this is the case. Never attempt to turn power on or off, nor use electrical tools, when you must stand in flood waters.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises disposing of all items that have been in standing water for more than 48 hours. Any items capable of soaking up flood waters that became wet should be discarded. Carpeting and rugs, including their padding, mattresses, upholstered sofas and chairs cannot be cleaned and should be thrown away. In addition, stuffed animals and baby toys, books, and paper products must be thrown out. Tear down and discard drywall, wall coverings, and insulation that have been contaminated by flood waters. Wet clothing should be laundered in hot water and detergent before being worn again.

Get help with larger and heavy items. Water-logged items will have added weight than when dry. Be sure you are on solid footing when working and when removing damaged items. Along with hiding obstacles, flood waters can make surfaces slippery.

Best Low Profile Window FanIn order to combat the infestation of mold, all hard surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with hot water and laundry or dish detergent, then disinfected with a 1-to-5 ratio of bleach to water.  This includes flooring, concrete, appliances and counter tops, metal furniture, and moldings.  Keep doors and windows open, and use fans when available to keep air moving. It is recommended that a dehumidifier be used if you have a generator, or once power is restored. The key to eliminating mold and mildew is to eliminate moisture.

Be sure to maintain proper hygiene to the fullest extent possible. Flood waters contain many kinds of pollutants and contaminants. Wash thoroughly with soap and water when you’ve finished working. Any cuts or sores should be washed, then covered with an antibiotic ointment to stave off infection. Launder clothing that has come in contact with flood waters separate from other laundry. This includes not only the clothes you’ve just worked in, but the clothing in your home that became wet in the flooding.

Hurricane cleanup outside your home or business can be just as labor-intensive.  Be sure downed electric lines are no longer live before attempting to work near them to remove fallen trees or other debris. Wear proper safety equipment if a chainsaw will be needed. Any trees leaning precariously after the storm should be dealt with by a professional tree feller.

If the task of cleaning up in and around your home or business becomes too much to handle, and you must hire someone to do it for you, be sure to employ qualified professionals. There are those who would prey on folks in unfortunate predicaments. If you suspect someone has attempted to scam you, contact authorities immediately. Once they’ve moved on from your home, they’ll try to lure someone else into their scheme.

For further information on hurricane cleanup and being safe during the aftermath of a disaster, you are encouraged to go to the CDC’s site or contact FEMA for assistance.

Dressing for the Season

Now that summer has faded to fall, many have been tasked with transforming their wardrobes from tanks and shorts to sleeves and pants. Gone is the single light jacket we kept handy for rainy days, replaced by thicker, insulated coats and wind breakers. Yet for every northerner swapping out tees for sweaters, there’s a southern belle merely trading fall colors over summer fare. No more white pants (it is past Labor Day, after all), but not needing to switch entirely to cold-weather attire. So how much does your geographic location affect your wardrobe in each season?

Of course, someone living in South Florida or Arizona will be much less challenged by winter’s approach as someone in, say, the Dakotas. That doesn’t mean there will be no need for cold-weather apparel in the south, but it certainly won’t be necessary on a daily basis, as would be the case up north. And how many times have those of us in colder climates seen folks waiting for a cab at the airport, shivering in frigid air after packing too light for the colder regions they’d be visiting? Even returning home from a trip, especially if for an extended period of time, can leave one ill prepared for their arrival back into temperatures that have changed dramatically since departing home.

These leaves us to wonder how you personally deal with the change of seasons and their apparel ramifications. Do you look forward to hitting the stores for the latest fashion updates? What about moving: Have any of you had to completely redo your wardrobe because you’ve moved from one distinctive climate to another? We’d love to hear from you!