photo courtesy of Aquatic Ponds
As someone who enjoys nature, I have felt the desire to add a koi pond with a waterfall to my landscaping. This seems like an ultimate way to escape to nature without having to venture too far away from my home. After a stressful day at work, relaxing beside a small waterfall watching fish seems like a great way to wind down without having to drive, eating up the free hours of my evening by deal with traffic.
But the nature lover in me also feels a strong need to avoid adding to energy consumption and pollution. I know that electricity is largely provided by burning fossil fuels, or natural gas that comes from fracking, or hydro-electric which is produced by damming rivers. All of these sources of electricity leave me uncomfortable. And historically, using alternative energy sources have been unreliable or expensive. Is there a way to reconcile this?
Nowadays alternative energy solutions are becoming economical and readily available. One simple source of local electricity could come from harnessing the wind. Simple wind turbines are now available to produce electricity, but that might be overkill for something as small as a backyard water feature.
Not that long ago, adding solar power to a small project like powering a water pump for an aquatic pond was simply cost prohibitive. But solar voltaics have become so cost effective and reasonable there is virtually no reason to avoid them. In 2016 the price per solar Kw reached a record low of $3.57 on average making it cheaper than fossil fuels, but when used for small projects, like a backyard water feature, the one-time cost of equipment can be paid for in the first 2 years of savings, making all use after that essentially free. Additionally, you no longer have to be an engineer or scientist to install solar devices. They are easy to install and use.
Spending a couple hundred dollars upfront for solar equipment, including a battery for night use, will add to the initial cost of such a project, but the fact that you won’t see a spike in your power bill will offset that initial investment. This makes running the electric pump to keep a waterfall flowing and the water clean an easy decision to make.
This could also inspire the adoption of additional solar projects once the convenience and economics of using solar are seen first hand, or lead to the construction of a wind turbine tree. If a waterfall can run on sunlight, why not the rest of the house? Next thing you know, installing a water feature leads to putting a solar roof and eliminating the electric bill entirely.
Furthermore, a quality water feature in your yard improves the value of your home. If you choose to sell your house, having a backyard pond can separate your home from competing houses, not only improving its value, but its saleability. The housing market has become more robust recently, after a long stagnation from the crash of 2008. But if you want to get top dollar for your home and distinguish it, even in a strong seller’s market, little things like a zen oasis in your backyard can make the difference.
But a water feature isn’t merely about adding value to your home, it’s about adding value to your life. Whether you sell your house or live out your life in your home, having a convenient retreat right outside your door can add quality to your life without adding expense. Couple this with the peace of mind that running an electric motor doesn’t increase your carbon footprint and the zen from your retreat spot multiplies.
These days technology seems to go out of fashion fast than last year’s X-Factor winner. It is a battle virtually impossible to win, and that goes for every part of the tech world. You spent six months saving up two months salary to buy the new iPhone and six weeks later they announce they are releasing the next generation in a month’s time. The same goes for laptops, coffee machines, games consoles, smart watches and just about everything else that operates on a lithium battery.
However, with every new announcement of the latest must-have technology, more and more people are learning how to incorporate these gadgets into their everyday lives. They have learned the benefits of owning technology that – in a world that seems to have fewer hours in the day than ever before – will allow them to take on tasks more efficiently and more effectively. A great example of the ever-tightening grip tech has on us can be found in the Internet Of Things, the latest buzzword to spring up and describe the way the 21st Century is headed. While it remains a very broad and generic term, what the Internet of Things alludes to is domestic appliances combining with smart-home technology. You can now control your central heating on your phone so that it will be on for when you get home. Your fridge can contact Amazon and say you’re out of a certain product. It’s amazing.
However, this rapid rise in all things tech has not hit the office world yet and, while some advancements may have been made, the change has been incredibly slow in comparison to the domestic market. Think about it. There is an incredibly noticeable gap between them. Chances are, the gadgets you use at home far surpass your office counterparts, and this can lead to annoyances arising.
But it isn’t just employee annoyances that businesses need to be concerned about, it is also the fact better tech means better productivity and better efficiency, and that means bigger growth.
This has been getting a lot of attention recently and for a good reason. They are almost a thing of the future, something imagined by the filmmakers of Minority Report and Blade Runner, and yet here they are, allowing people to type wherever they are, so long as there is a flat surface. Why is this good? Well, with the rise of 3G and 4G signals, as well as smartphones and tablets, working on the go has become the thing to do. Tablets are incredible and used by so many businesses because of their lightweight and mobile capabilities. However, typing is slow, but this is completely eradicated by having laser-projected keyboards. Typing now becomes faster and more accurate, so much so it could be that tablets replace your office desktops, allowing users to have one machine that does all. Of course, there are risks with mobile technology, so make sure that you know how to properly protect against cyber crime because tablets and smartphones still pose a risk due to their increased vulnerability. But even with all that in mind, investing in laser keyboard that operates over Bluetooth and is compatible with most devices could be one of the smartest moves you make.
Studies show that Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, and this will only grow. Why is this important? Well, characteristics of the millennial worker are the complete opposite of the baby-boomer. They care about different things, from the impact they have at a company to the work-life balance they get to flexible hours and their wellbeing. The latter is particularly important to them, so why not invest in tech that allows this want and need to bloom. A great example of how to achieve this is the Stamina Elliptical Trainer, a small pedal machine that allows users to exercise discreetly without leaving their desk. It may seem bizarre to you, but it will make your place more attractive to employees and close the tech gap.
The area in which most offices have grown and excelled and almost kept up with the domestic strides made by technology is in their mobile abilities. We touched on it briefly, but the rise of smartphones, tablets and even laptops has allowed employees to work while on the go. It allows people to work on the train instead of waiting to get to work. It has allowed them to do research in the airport instead of just waiting to take-off, touchdown and then go straight to their meeting. It has allowed them to work at home when they would prefer to. All of these are huge steps that increase productivity. What’s more, this mobile capability is growing. Portable scanners are becoming the latest must-have tool for offices to buy and store, and that is because they allow people scan almost anything with incredible ease and still produce incredible quality. They can also transfer files wirelessly and in a variety of file formats. So instead of taking a dodgy and blurry photo of a document, or idea, or anything at all, this tech will allow you to produce professional documents that can be shared and saved without hassle.
Infrared Laser Tech
While it’s still relatively early days for this strand of technology, there have been some fantastic results. What it does is allow you to record date by writing on virtually any surface you so please, thus making any surface you can imagine into a notepad. It could be a tree, a tabletop, your hand, literally anything. All you have to do is write your thought or idea down, and it will work in cooperation with your chosen device, on which it will appear. This means any idea can be stored without any pause or frantic searching, and will prevent you from panicking when you kind find that napkin on which you wrote down the million-dollar idea you can’t recall now. It is little pieces of technology, like this, that will help your business climb the rungs of the tech ladder and bring you into the future.
Every office has one thing in common; they are stressful environments. They breed stress, with the exception of Google of course. There are deadlines, early starts, long nights, the occasional weekend, annual reviews, shareholders, investors and bad months. All of this breeds stress. As such, the company that cares about the mental health of their employees is going to be the company that attracts better talent, keeps their top talent and sees growth in productivity. That’s why we have given the VicTsing humidifier a place on our list. The home is a comforting environment, so why not mimic this at work. How it works is incredible. It produces different scents designed to sooth and calm, and puts moisture in the air to prevent dry skin and sore throats, and uses led lighting to encourage good moods. Seriously, it looks fantastic. Of course, this cannot be classed as an office essential, but the mentality, morale and stress levels of your workforce should be at the top of your priority list and, in that sense, investing in the tech that protects and enhances people’s wellbeing is one of the best investments you can make.
We have to add this on to the list because, well, it is a bladeless fan. It is the epitome of cool. It does a basic job but it does to the highest standard, and the fact Dyson is now a symbol of high-class tech, the inclusion of them in your office will have an affect on your workforce. They will start to believe that you are moving forward on the tech front and taking them into the 21st Century.
SpaceX just announced that they will be sending two unnamed civilians, who according to Elon Musk know each other, on a trip around the moon. Musk is the founder of SpaceX as well Tesla and indicated that the individuals paid a “significant” deposit and are apparently traveling as mere tourists to circumnavigate our closest celestial neighbor. The amount of the deposit and the identity of the individuals has not been revealed. The flight is expected to have scientific significance and mark the first time humans have left the earth’s atmosphere since the Apollo missions.
The mission is expected to be piloted by autonomous technology unless their is a malfunction. This is intended to be a precursor to a manned moon mission in the subsequent 6 months, which will send astronauts to land and explore the lunar surface.
Etiquette is one of those essential things in life that separate people. Funnily enough, even the most rugged and horribly dressed person could present themselves in a formal manner if given the correct training and a fresh set of clothing. There aren’t many occasions in which we act formal. A wedding is perhaps one such example, and perhaps we eloquently present ourselves during a job interview in order to increase our chances of landing ourselves a new career. However, are these things really necessary?
When we walk into the courtroom, it feels like there’s an overwhelming pressure pushing down on us. The courtroom itself is a very familiar place even if you haven’t been inside of one on a regular basis. There’s the large podium where the judge stands with his wooden gavel, and do the side there might be extra booths for the defendant. Towards the side, there might be a shorthand reporter tapping away their keys, recording not words, but sounds. They keep track of everything being said, every cough being echoed and every nuance in the way you speak.
As you sit down and watch the judge enter the courtroom, it’s hard not to feel as though you’ve stepped into a film or an ancient ritual. Despite your personality outside of the courtroom, inside the courtroom it can feel as though you’re being overwhelmed by the glaring eyes of well-dressed individuals, so you have no choice but to follow what they do and act as they act. You speak differently inside of a courtroom, you’re influenced by things you normally wouldn’t care about, and even the slightest cough from the audience could make you paranoid about what’s happening.
There’s no doubt that the inside of a courtroom is overwhelming, but what does that tell us about how humans behave?
When in Rome
First of all, it tells us that humans are heavily influenced by those around them. In an unfamiliar and serious situation, we tend to follow the herd like sheep because we don’t know how to act. This kind of behavior is seen in local communities around the world. We pick up local jargon and behavioral tics from the people we grow up with and it also affects the types of interests we have.
However, those changes take a long time to develop. Imagine a child that is brought up for one year in Austin, then moves to New York, and then finally Boston. These locations all have different accents, so the child in question is going to pick up several different ones and eventually mash them up into a single accent that sounds very different to all three. This is an example of a long-term social change. So then why, in the case of a courtroom, does every human being suddenly have an overwhelming amount of respect for the judge and completely change their behavior?
It’s simple; humans have the capacity to drastically change their behavior and way of thinking based on preconceived notions. The human mind is a powerful thing and if we are able to suddenly change the way we behave just because we entered a courtroom, think of the power we could have in changing our career choices, obtaining happiness, overcoming troublesome situations and adapting to drastic changes in our lives. Entering the courtroom is just a glimpse into the power that our minds possess in changing our lives.
By Brian McKay
If you love watching sports in your free time, you will want to make the most of the season this year. Those with some cash to spend could enjoy their favorite games and never miss a match with this advice. With that in mind, I’ll offer some tips that could improve the process without breaking the bank. You just have to put these ideas into action to ensure you have an excellent time this summer. Regardless of your favorite sport, the same rules should apply. It’s all about making sure you have free time, and ensuring you have access to all the latest tech. You might also want to turn the occasion into a social event. You are sure to have many friends who feel the same way about sports. So, you could try to get them involved too!
Download sports apps to your smartphone
Firstly, you’ll want to ensure you hear about every game with lots of time to spare. Schedules are hard to follow when there are lots of matches all happening at the same time. That is especially the case with baseball and basketball. So, the best solution is to download a relevant application to your smartphone. Find one that lists the dates and times of all the games that interest you. With a bit of luck, you can then make your arrangements in advance and ensure you get to see the match. You might have to arrange babysitters or something like that to guarantee you get some peace. That could take time, and so it’s always sensible to organize things as soon as possible. With access to the entire season’s fixtures, you can’t go wrong.
Buy a projector and big screen
You need the largest screen possible to make the most of sports. We all know how small the numbers can seem on the player’s backs. If you have a projector, you should never miss anything during the game. You will know which players have the ball because you will see their number clearly. Obviously, you’ll need to spend some cash to get a premium product. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of money to spend because there is always a way. Borrowing is not the worst idea in the world if you can afford to pay it back. That is why a cash advance loan from someone you trust shouldn’t seem like a negative thing. It could help you to get everything you need long before the season starts.
Make predictions with your friends
One of the best things about sports is working out who you think will come away as the winner. While there’s no need to gamble, you could make the games more exciting using that method. Ask each of your friends to write down their predictions on a piece of paper. You can then wait until the end of the match and see who got things right. Perhaps you could find some way of rewarding the winners? Maybe they get an extra beer while you’re watching the next game or something like that? It all helps to make the sport more exciting, and it encourages everyone in the room to pay more attention. The last thing you want is to invite people around to your home who talk over the TV and stop you from concentrating on the game.
Buy tickets and go to games
It sounds silly, but there are a lot of sports fans out there who never attend games. That just doesn’t make sense when tickets are available pretty cheap. So, now is the best time to look at fixtures and place some orders. Watching your favorite team beat their rivals with thousands of other fans is quite an experience. Also, it’s an excellent way to get your kids interested in sports. Take them out for the day, buy them a hot dog and sit watching the match together. That could encourage them to get more exercise and play team sports with their friends. Anything that gets them away from their PlayStations is worth the expense.
You should now have a good idea how to make the most of this year’s sports season. I hope you manage to catch every game and keep a close eye on the best teams. Watching sports is an excellent social activity because it helps to bring people together. So, don’t sit at home watching the games alone in your bedroom again. Turn the process into a social event and invite as many friends as possible. It gives you an excuse to catch up and connect with those most important to you.
By Jerry Mooney