Livingston Reporting

Talking with Your Family about Prepping

Convincing your loved ones to start planning for emergencies might be challenging for some. Whether it’s extended family, friends, a spouse, or children, everyone has their own opinion and might not be so open to hearing your perspective. In case of an emergency, everyone must be up-to-speed and ready to execute a plan of action. To help streamline that process, we’ve come up with some tips to get the conversation started:

Talking with your spouse

  • Ask for an open communication pathway where you can freely express your concerns.
  • Share examples of disasters in recent history, making them relatable and personal to you.
  • Liken prepping to insurance; protecting yourself against a potential future disaster is smart.
  • Mention personal emergencies such as job loss, income reduction, or illness, which could affect your day-to-day life.
  • Try not to bring up worst-case scenarios in this initial conversation, as they might be too serious to begin with.

Talking with your children

  • Remember their age – try not to over complicate or cause unnecessary stress.
  • Keep it simple by focusing on experiences they can relate to.
  • Ask what they would do if a disaster hit while they were attending school; just as the school initiates “fire drills,” your family must also have “emergency plans.”
  • Involve them and ask for feedback.
  • Help develop their situational awareness when you leave the house by pointing out exits in stores, and asking them how they would respond if they were in an emergency.

Talking with friends and extended family

  • Gift them tools that could help them prepare for an emergency, such as a first aid kit.
  • Suggest a book or movie that introduces the concept of preparedness for disaster.
  • Discuss recent news without going overboard or sounding irrational.

Keep in mind this is not a concrete way to get the people you love to believe what you do; some people might never agree with your opinion. All you can do is gently suggest – don’t force – ideas and let them intellectually process themselves.

Do you need some gear for your survival stash? Check out our vast selection of quality items at Wolf Survival Gear. You won’t be disappointed!

Wolf Survival Gear is a hub for all your prepping and survival needs. We are a trusted resource for concerned families, avid hunters, or serious preppers. Make us your one-stop-shop and prepare now, before you’ll need it later. Visit our website or e-mail us today for more information.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

DOE Set to Standardize and Automate Solar Permit Process

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus (SolarAPP+) tool to solve the problem of providing contractors with a standardized permit process. The program is a free, web-based platform that allows local governments to expedite their review and approval process pertaining to residential solar installation permits.

The SolarAPP+ initiative is a collaboration with key code officials, jurisdiction authorities, and the solar industry. The goal is to develop a standardized software that can perform compliance checks and process building permit applications to approve eligible applications for solar rooftop systems.

SolarAPP+ is presented with the following advantages:

  • Integrates with existing government software
  • Automated plan review, permit approval, and project tracking
  • Standardizes up to 90 percent of system plans
  • Inspection checklist verification and sign-off after installation

Solar customers, contractors, and local governments have all incurred heavy costs stemming from delays in obtaining rooftop solar installation permits. Some customers wait weeks or months to get approval.

SolarAPP+ provides a standardized, automated permitting process for residential installations across the country. Building code compliance is reviewed, and if the correct specifications are met, the permit is approved instantly. With this faster-paced technology, local governments can more easily process and issue permits. With help from programs such as SolarAPP+, governments have seen solar installations increase by 600 percent.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said, “We are fast-tracking America’s clean energy future by cutting red tape to make it cheaper and easier for homeowners to access power from the sun. SolarAPP+ will bust through bureaucracy to speed up permitting, helping homeowners more quickly add solar panels on their roofs, adding gigawatts of clean electricity to the nations grid, while creating good paying jobs.”

Interested in learning more about solar-powered energy? Contact the experts at State Electric Company today!

State Electric Company is a leader in the electrification of the nation. Our highly educated and experienced team of professionals uses industry-leading software technology and has partnered with manufacturers to deliver affordable solutions for all your electrical needs. With our combined, extensive knowledge in renewable energy sources through solar and battery storage, the team at State Electric works together to provide customers, large and small, with efficient electrical solutions. We specialize in smart electrical panels, EV chargers, battery storage, microgrids, and emergency generators with automatic transfer switches to ensure that all your energy needs are affordable and safely met. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Why Blue Eyes are More Sensitive to Light

Brighter days in summertime bring lots of ultraviolet (UV) rays with them. All eyes should be protected from UV light, which can contribute to the formation of both short and long-term conditions like corneal sunburn and macular degeneration.

To avoid sunlight damage, ensure you protect your eyes with high-quality 100 percent UV-blocking sunglasses. While you’re at it, a hat doesn’t hurt, either. People of all ages can benefit from sunlight protection, but children are especially susceptible as they tend to spend much more time outdoors. Research shows that up to 80 percent of an average person’s total lifetime exposure to UV rays takes place during the first 18 years of life. The same research suggests that roughly 70 percent of Americans do not protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays.

Lighter-colored eyes such as blue, hazel, and green, have less melanin than brown eyes. This pigment helps protect the retina from UV damage along with blue light, which is emitted from electrical devices. Because of the decreased melanin, those with blue eyes have a higher risk of developing UV-related eye damage.

People with blue eyes might feel uncomfortable in highly-lit areas or on a bright, sunny day. It’s imperative to grab your shades as you head outside to mitigate your chances of developing eye disease or other complications.

Rohr Eye & Laser Center offers the most advanced technology available to provide personalized and extraordinary care to our patients. Whether your goal is to maintain or improve your natural vision, we are here to help you. Call us at 877-579-0202 or visit https://www.michiganlasik.com/ to schedule an appointment today.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Inaugural PFAS Conference Held by EWG

The first annual PFAS conference was sponsored and organized by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in healthier environments. The event was free and shed light on PFAS: the toxic “Forever Chemicals” that run rampant through our world.

PFAS stands for man-made per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances used in industrial settings to create thousands of products worldwide. Dubbed “Forever Chemicals,” these chemicals do not break down over time and are extremely persistent in the environment. Found in the blood of 99.9 percent of human beings across the globe, it’s impossible to reverse exposure to PFAS.

Present in common household items, food, drinking water, living organisms, workplace facilities, and much more, PFAS are found in carpet, Teflon products (cookware, Scotchguard, etc.), leather, apparel, rubber plastics, paper, packaging, and so much more. The list is seemingly endless.

PFAS is an emerging issue because it has been found to create a host of health issues in living beings, including humans. Adverse health effects include problems with the reproductive system, developmental and fetal complications, immune system impediments, autoimmune disease spikes, thyroid hormone disruption, and cancer.

Conference attendees watched as policymakers, scientists, and other experts shared the latest PFAS developments. They also highlighted work being done to address the harmful health impacts of these chemicals on human health and our environment.

A recent study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters highlighted that the current approach for regulating and managing PFAS has failed to protect public health. In response, researchers recommended a new approach, which outlaws all PFAS non-essential use.

David Q. Andrews, Ph.D., co-author of the study and senior scientist at EWG, said, “The regulation of toxic PFAS chemicals using a one-chemical-at-a-time approach has completely failed to protect our public health. Decades after knowing about the harms caused by PFAS such as DuPont’s Teflon and 3M’s Scotchgard, our government has not set laws banning use, establishing drinking water limits or even classifying these chemicals as hazardous substances and requiring cleanup.”

During the conference, Dr. Elsie Sunderland, a professor of Environmental Science and Engineering in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, shared that we are only measuring a small subsection of PFAS compounds, which means we are probably miscalculating human exposure by a considerable amount.

Do you want to limit your exposure to PFAS? Contact Reynolds Water Conditioning to schedule a filter installation at your home or business today.

Reynolds Water Conditioning was established in 1931 and is Michigan’s oldest water conditioning treatment company. Still owned and operated by the Reynolds family, we take pride in providing the highest quality products at a cost-effective price. If your tap water lacks the quality you deserve, contact us today at www.reynoldswater.com or call 800-572-9575.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Five Potential Culprits of Stiff Hands

Our hands are used for practically everything. Stiff hands can prevent us from performing everyday tasks such as opening a jar, picking up children, cooking, painting, writing, and more. For some people, stiffness can be debilitatingly chronic, while others only experience acute pain. If your hands are stiff, explore these potential causes:

  1. Arthritis: Many different types of arthritis can affect the hands, including:
  2. Thumb: also known as basal joint arthritis, this can gradually get worse over time or get sparked by trauma. Pain or stiffness is common at the base of the thumb.
  3. MCP (Metacarpophalangeal) joint: this type of knuckle arthritis allows fingers to bend, straighten, and move fluidly. Weakness in the hands is a common sign of this arthritis.
  4. Osteoarthritis: the smooth cartilage in your joints is affected by this type of arthritis, which can also cause stiffness, pain, and swollen fingers.
  5. Psoriatic: this type of arthritis is sometimes accompanied by psoriasis, a skin condition, and is evident when joints feel stiff. Oftentimes the middle joint of the finger is inflamed and swollen.
  6. Rheumatoid: affecting the entire body, this type of arthritis is caused by joint inflammation. Typically, the wrist and finger joints are most affected as they are swollen and painful.
  7. Fractures: otherwise known as a broken hand, this results in stiffness and pain that might remain even during recovery. In some people, the stiffness might never subside.
  8. Dislocations: similar to a broken bone, this upper extremity dislocation can cause hands to feel stiff both during and after an injury. Moving or exercising the affected joints might be prescribed to alleviate stiffness.
  9. Sprains: this ligament injury can cause stiffness and prevent you from using your hand to perform daily tasks while in recovery.
  10. Tendon and muscle injuries: common in an injury or cut on the hand, this sometimes prevents you from moving the affected area at all. Stiffness is common while in recovery.

If you feel stiffness in your hands, ensure you receive a diagnosis as soon as possible. Delayed treatment can sometimes result in permanent stiffness.

Do you need some advice or want a physician opinion on your hand or wrist stiffness? Contact the experts at MI Hand & Wrist today.

Michigan Hand & Wrist was founded in 2001 with the mission to provide the highest-quality care for patients seeking surgical or non-surgical hand or upper extremity relief. Our goal is to exhaust all non-operative measures before discussing or moving on to surgical interventions. We offer on-site physical therapy from therapists committed to improving your quality of life. Our individualized treatments are modern, progressive, and exceptional. Contact us today at www.michiganhandandwrist.com or call 248-596-0412.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Weather-Related Disasters Lead to Opportunities, Lessons

Recent records were set for weather-related disasters, with repair costs in the multibillion-dollar range. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has kept a yearly count of floods, heatwaves, tropical storms, hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires since 1980. In terms of frequency and severity, these events have risen exponentially.

In 2020, we saw unprecedented wildfires in the West, six hurricanes in the South, numerous tropical storms, tornadoes, an ice storm with hail the size of softballs, and a derecho windstorm responsible for tearing up crop fields, homes, and businesses across the Midwest. These weather-related catastrophes lead to states of emergency in multiple regions across the United States. Thousands of plants, animals, and people died. Additionally, the monetary repercussions totaled $96 billion.

Conversely, a fruit crop freeze led to disaster in Florida. Combined with a few storms and tornadoes scattered throughout the country, 1981’s financial total for cleanup due to weather-related disasters was a mere $2.9 billion.

Record snowfall, below-average temperatures, ice storms, record-breaking fires, and mass floods have knocked out power across Texas, California, and Michigan so far this year.

Brett Brenner, president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), said, “We’re just not prepared for disasters of this scale. From what we’re seeing in the electrical trades, most of the time, it’s complacency and less-experienced people [DIY homeowners setting up equipment or business owners reusing damaged equipment] coming into the picture that are the cause of injuries. It’s not so much about what we aren’t already equipped to handle.”

Therefore, these unanticipated risks are caused by human intervention rather than climate. ESFI is dedicated to educating the public on what they can do to reduce dangers for themselves and emergency responders such as positioning electrical equipment above flood levels, taking precautions when using generators, evaluating water-logged power-driven gear, and more.

Protection of homes, businesses, employees, and clients is vital to success. By providing the proper equipment, training, and education, disaster zones can be more easily remediated by all. Businessowners and employees share the responsibility of working safely when it comes to disaster relief and daily performance.

Consider the following tips:

  • Maintain a cordial, in-person relationship with your insurance provider.
  • Ensure employees are well-trained and incentivized to work safely.
  • Conduct routine safety meetings.
  • Review insurance coverage and business needs on an annual basis.
  • Evaluate possible hazards and create plans to recuperate if disaster strikes.
  • Create risk management plans based on weather-related emergencies.
  • Appoint certain employees to execute specific steps if severe weather occurs.

J&P Electrical is a full-service electrical equipment company. At J&P, we supply contractors, end-users, and supply houses with new surplus, quality reconditioned, and obsolete electrical equipment. We also purchase a wide range of electrical equipment such as bus plugs, ducts, panel switches, substations, and transformers. Call us at 877-844-5514 or visit us at https://www.jpelectricalcompany.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Five Ways to Prepare for a Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom remodeling can be exciting yet simultaneously excruciating. If you are prepared and know what to expect, the process can be somewhat seamless. Planning, organizing, readjusting, and scheduling can help make things go smoothly.

  1. Check (and double-check) the Construction Schedule: First and foremost, ensure your renovation is optimally lined up with the subcontractors who will be working on your project. These include but are not limited to: plumbers, carpenters, cabinetmakers, tile and flooring personnel, electricians, and more. Specific times will be crucial, as one late arrival or pushing over a date can send the entire schedule haywire. Also, remember to have all items ordered in advance such as faucets, showerheads, toilets, light fixtures, countertops, hardware, cabinetry, tile, etc.

  2. Familiarize Yourself with the Construction Process: Ensure there will be plastic sheeting laid out, that the dust will be collected, and determine where the materials will go when they arrive. Prepare the affected areas by removing or covering household items to prevent damage or getting dirty, and make sure your pets and children are safe. Also, find out about trash and whether a dumpster will be necessary. If parking is a factor, ensure your neighborhood has room for extra vehicles, and make sure there is a portable toilet available if needed. All of these things should be included and discussed in the initial quote.

  3. Streamline Bathroom Routines: The number of people using a bathroom in your house might double or triple, which will take some planning ahead. Share toiletries to cut down on the number of bottles in the shower. Schedule bathroom time to guarantee mornings aren’t hectic, or the water heater doesn’t run out of hot water after successive showers. Designate a desk, table, or caddy for extra toiletries including hair products, toothpaste, shave gel, foot powder, etc. Consider using over-the-door hooks to hang towels or use a freestanding towel rack to dry wet towels.

  4. Shower Somewhere Else: Though it might sound extreme, if you only have one bathroom, your shower or tub might be decommissioned for a while. If you are a gym member, take advantage of the locker room shower. Ask family members whether you can use their bathroom, as well.

  5. Focus on the Result: Renovating a bathroom while living in the house can be tumultuous, given construction zones are not exactly peaceful. If you are feeling overwhelmed, re-examine your mood boards and plans. There’s a light at the end of the dusty tunnel, and the results will be more than worth it!

Are you interested in remodeling your bathroom, kitchen, or other area within your home? Contact the experts at JFC Remodeling today to bring your dreams to life.

JFC Remodeling is committed to providing top-quality home reconstruction services to clients throughout Livingston County. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, our licensed contractors create unique, individualized, and polished renovations. Whether the site requires an improvement, repair, or new construction, you can trust our experts to deliver remarkable results. Call: 810-923-1123, e-mail: jfcllc@comcast.net, or visit us at: www.jfcremodeling.com today.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Do Mortgage Payments Decrease Through Time?

Most people are aware that mortgage payments can increase over time, but did you know payments can actually decrease? In this article, we’ll explore a few ways how this can happen.

Mortgage payments decrease on Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs). While not as common as the payment increasing with ARMs, your monthly payments can decrease based on the Associated Mortgage Index’s movements. Depending on your lender, a built-in floor might prevent taking advantage of these decreases, however. If you hold on to your ARM through the initial fixed-rate period, you could end up with a lower rate if it becomes available.

Another option is to pay down your mortgage in time. If you make a large lump sum payment, your payments can decrease gradually. Ask your mortgage lender to re-cast your loan, which will re-amortize and couple it with your original loan term. If you skip this step, extra payments will not automatically lower future payments. Once your new, smaller balance is spread throughout the remaining months on your loan, your mortgage payment is adjusted lower to reflect that balance. However, your mortgage rate doesn’t change.

Refinancing your home to a lower rate is always an option to reduce your monthly mortgage payments. Rate and term refinances are one of the easiest – and most popular – ways to lower your mortgage payment with low effort. Refinancing doesn’t necessarily mean you will get the lowest rate, though, especially if you don’t plan on staying in the property long-term.

Shop around for homeowners’ insurance yearly, as it is generally included in your mortgage payment. If you can find a lower home insurance premium, your mortgage payment might decrease.

If you feel as though your home is overvalued, you can also look into getting a tax reassessment. If property values have been on the decline, your home might have a lower valuation. Ask your county recorder’s office for a reassessment if so.

It’s important to remember that mortgage payments are generally composed of Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance, or PITI.

Want to learn more about lowering your mortgage payment? Contact the mortgage professionals at EB Wholesale Mortgage today.

EB Mortgage is a locally owned mortgage company with experts in new home purchase, refinancing, and commercial loans. Our wholesale rates can’t be beaten. We offer more products, more options, and more solutions. Our “3C” Process is simple: complete our pre-approval request, consider options based on your requirements, and choose the offer that suits your needs best. Call us at 866-246-0516 or e-mail contact@ebwmtg.com today.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Japanese Engineers Surpass Internet Speed World Record

The highest internet speed ever recorded was recently doubled by engineers in Japan. The research, called “High-Speed Direct Detection Demonstrations,” was published by the National Institute of Information & Communication Technology (NICT) and submitted to the International Conference on Optical Fiber Communications.

The old internet speed world record was 178 terabits per second (Tb/s), set in 2020 by the United Kingdom and Japanese engineers. The new record set by Japanese researchers is now 319 Tb/s, doubling the previous record. The team maintained this super-fast speed over a long distance with no speed drop-off or bandwidth change over 1,865 miles.

A novel cable, a four-core optical fiber using 552 PDM-16QAM wavelength-division multiplexed channels, was used. The engineers used “erbium and thulium doped-fiber amplifiers and distributed Raman amplification” to achieve their feat.

Additionally, S, C, and L band transmissions were used for the first time. It is typical for C and L bands to be used for long-haul communications, but the researchers used S-band as well.

The four-core optical fiber works with existing equipment, making it more cost-efficient to implement.

Engineers believe there are more capabilities for even faster speed and further increases to transmission capacity. They are going to be working to “extend the transmission range to trans-oceanic distances” as well.

Unsatisfied with slow internet or need help with networking? Contact the experts at CPS today to get your internet up to speed.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; offer top-notch digital marketing services including enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid advertising; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Side Gigs Common Among Radiologists and Other Doctors During Pandemic

According to a recently published survey by Medscape, roughly 40 percent of radiologists and other physicians have side jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. These second gigs allow physicians to create an additional income stream or pursue a creative passion project. More than 2,500 United States physicians were surveyed about their jobs, how much they are currently earning, and what they hope to achieve in the future.

Partly due to the COVID-19 income-related loss, more doctors and medical professionals began looking for side gigs. Roughly one in four doctors have a side job in 2021, though the interest in a second job began rising throughout 2020. Nearly 45 percent of those surveyed who picked up a side job during the past year cited pandemic-related hardships.

David I. Beran, DO, emergency physician and writer, said, “I have seen physicians pursue side gigs more and more in recent years. Sometimes they are clinical jobs (moonlighting), sometimes they are not clinical but medical (file review or expert witnessing), and sometimes they are neither (business, investing, real estate, etc.).”

About twice as many men in the medical field have a second job (65 percent) than women (33 percent). Nisha Mehta, MD, a radiologist, founded Physician Side Gigs, a Facebook group with over 80,000 verified physicians interested in pursuing creative ventures or different revenue sources. The group regularly discusses jobs, business skills, financial topics, life in medicine, and physician burnout.

Mehta said, “The data are actually very encouraging when you consider antiquated stereotypes of male and female physicians. To me, it states that despite the challenges that female physicians traditionally face in finding the bandwidth to balance work, family and a side gig … women physicians are finding innovative ways to create fulfillment and flexibility in their careers.”

Between March and May, when the survey was conducted, approximately 75 radiologists were included. Of those, roughly 37 percent said they are working a side job compared to 63 percent who are not. Medical activities such as consulting, expert testimony, chart reviews, and moonlighting are popular alternatives.

Mehta said, “In a healthcare landscape that’s increasingly challenging, the side gig offers physicians an opportunity to do something on their own terms as well as use a different part of their brains. This leads to new skill sets, networks and mental breaks from the stress of their day jobs, all of which can be tremendously fulfilling and ultimately counter burnout.”

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.