Blog Directory Martinspiration

Exotic furballs

December 10, 2017

There’s a reason why hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils are popular first pets for many kids: they’re harmless, gentle, spatially efficient, inexpensive and low maintenance companions who don’t need to be walked or groomed like a dog does. But these critters typically don’t live long (a hamster’s lifespan is as short as two years), and children often lose interest after a while with these ubiquitous pocket pals. As they age, kids often crave more unique animal mates that fascinate and entertain as well as impress friends. While you’ll probably be quick to quash requests for a snake, tarantula or piranha, here’s an idea that could work: consider an exotic small mammal species, including rarer breeds like a chinchilla, hedgehog, degu or sugar glider.

Discover more about these lesser-known compact companions by reading my latest article for Chicago Parent magazine, available here.

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Want better Wi-Fi? Make it mesh

December 3, 2017

Whether you’re trying to stream a Netflix movie to your smart TV, upload new photos to Facebook while making dinner, or listen to a podcast as you shovel the front walk, buffering delays can quickly sour your wireless experience. Problem is you’ve got too many devices divvying up the Wi-Fi signal pie at the same time, all reliant on a router that may be too far away to be effective. Now, there’s a solution that can prevent Wi-Fi dead spots in your home and amp up the signal, allowing you and your family to be on multiple devices simultaneously without internet interruptions. It’s called mesh networking, and it comes in the form of plug-and-play “node” devices that different brands bundle into starter kits.

Learn more by reading my newest article for The Costco Connection magazine on this topic, available here.

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A silver lining for first-time home buyers

November 26, 2017

The thought of buying your first home can be exciting. But the reality is that times can be tough for first-time purchasers. Socking away enough for a down payment is tricky. And finding a home that fits your finances isn’t easy, either. Yes, it’s still a strong seller’s market. But that doesn’t mean buyers can’t find signs of hope. In fact, fresh data suggests a more positive outlook than many would have you believe.

Learn all the details by reading my latest article for The Mortgage Reports, available here.

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Micro-saving magic tricks

November 5, 2017

Little by little, the bird makes its nest, it’s been said. And the same is true of your nest egg. Because even small savings today can make a big difference later, helping you fund major goals like buying a home, paying for college, or retirement.

But wait, you say: I’m no good at setting aside money, and I have little left over after I pay my bills. The good news? Even if you’re not an experienced saver, it’s never too late to start. And opportunities for conserving cash present themselves regularly in the form of micro-saving.

Learn helpful tips on how to micro-save by reading my article on this topic for USAA by clicking here.

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Work chic

October 22, 2017

One of the perks of working from home is the ability to roll out of bed on your own clock and get down to business in a bathrobe, if you so desire. But another major perk is the opportunity to create a workspace that’s as conducive to comfort as it is productivity—an efficient yet expressive area that’s the antithesis of that cold, cramped cubicle some poor soul is occupying right now in a company building somewhere.

Eager to transform one of your rooms into a stylish and functional home office? Read my latest article on this topic, as published in the Daily Herald, by clicking here.

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A silver code, but no silver bullet

October 9, 2017

The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas that occurred in early October reminds us that any location can be vulnerable to active shooter incidents. And hospitals are no exception.

From preparing for superstorms and guarding against a terrorist attack to thwarting cyber-thieves trying to hack into patient records, hospitals have a lot of security-related concerns today. But perhaps the most worrisome threat of them all comes in the form of an armed and unpredictable assailant who can unleash sudden, unspeakable violence in your facility: an active shooter, defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, typically through the use of firearms.

Make no mistake—active shooter incidents are on the rise across America. Between 2000 and 2006, these incidents occurred around six times annually but increased to 16.4 times a year between 2007 and 2013. Within hospitals, these horrific events (called a "code silver") now happen at a frequency of more than one a month; in fact, one study found that there were 154 shootings in hospital settings and 235 victims (20 percent of whom were hospital employees) either killed or injured from 2000 through 2011. Within that span, 29 percent occurred in the ED, 19 percent in patient rooms, 41 percent on hospital grounds, and 23 percent in the parking lot.

I covered this topic in a recent story for The Joint Commission's EC News newsletter, read by hospital administrators. Click here to access the article.

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