William Neilson
Phone:  267-872-1326Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  wneilson@remax440.comCell:  267-872-1326Fax:  267-354-6937
William Neilson
William Neilson

Bill's Blog

Important Tips for New Job Hunters

October 24, 2017 8:33 am

Maybe you’re a recent college grad or maybe you’ve been at the same company for more than a decade and are a bit rusty on the job-search process. Whatever the case may be, when it comes to landing that job, the devil is in the details. While you may have every qualification listed in the job description, a misstep can quickly remove you from consideration. Keep the following in mind when applying for your next gig.

Provide the information that’s requested. If the job listing asks for a cover letter, examples of your work or salary requirements, be sure to provide them. Not doing so sends a signal to a prospective employer that you’re not paying attention or that you’re not that interested.

Be ultra responsive. In today’s age of instant gratification, if a job prospect reaches out to you for more information or to request an interview, respond as soon as possible. So be sure to check your email and job posting sites regularly and arrange for instant notifications.

Dress appropriately for the interview. Even though a business may have a casual dress code, show up for the interview looking your best. It shows respect and that you care about landing the job. Overdressed is always better than underdressed, and - unless you’re applying in the fashion industry - err on the side of conservative.

Don’t show up empty handed. Nothing says disinterest like showing up to the interview with nothing in hand. Even though you know the prospective employer has already seen your resume, show up with several hard copies and hand them out. Bring examples of your work or an ipad to show what you’ve done online. Use your ipad or a pad and paper to take notes - it shows interest in the job and what the employer has to say.

Do your research and ask questions. Never show up to an interview without finding out about the company in advance, and be ready to go with several questions. And make sure it’s not “how many vacation days would I get?” Save all questions related to benefits until you’re closer to landing the position.Follow up right away.

Whether you’re interested in the job or not, send a thank you note by email right away. If you are interested in the job, use this as a chance to outline why you believe you’re the right choice and what excites you about the position. Throw out a couple of ideas about what you might do if you had the job. Employers want team members who are enthusiastic, hard-working and creative thinkers. This is your chance to show that you are all of the above.

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3 Passport Hacks to Try Before 2018

October 24, 2017 8:33 am

If you plan to mosey out of the country before the year's end, then you know you need a passport.  But did you know there are a couple of money-saving life hacks that could make travel easier, depending on your itinerary?

SAGov and the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs are dishing out the following three things you should know to get the most out of your passport and your international travel experience.

Save Money on Certain Travel With a U.S. Passport Card
The passport card is a wallet-size travel document that can only be used to re-enter the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The card is a smaller, more convenient, and less expensive alternative to the passport book for those who travel frequently to these destinations. You can't use a U.S. passport card to return from these international destinations by air; however, you can use it to board domestic flights.

The cost for first-time applicants is $55 for adults and $40 for children under the age of 16. The renewal cost is $30. The passport card is wallet-sized, so you can use it as your go-to government-issued ID.

Make Your Passport Card Your Real ID
A U.S. passport card could also save you hassle early next year when some state driver's licenses will not be accepted as a valid form of ID at the airport. Starting January 22, 2018, passengers who have driver's licenses issued by a state that is not compliant with REAL ID and has not been granted an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. Luckily, both the passport card and passport book are REAL ID compliant, so you'll avoid any issues at the gate in 2018.

Renew Early So You Can Travel With Ease
More than two dozen countries will not allow you to enter if your passport expires within the next six months. That means you could show up at the airport with your plane ticket in hand to find out you can't board your plane. If you land at the your destination, you may not be allowed into the country.

Just to be safe, we encourage you to renew your passport nine months before it expires. Since adult passports (16 and older) are valid for ten years and children passports (15 and younger) are valid for five, there is no reason to wait to renew your passport!

Source: SAGov is partnering with the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs
 

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Tricked Out Bathroom Tech

October 24, 2017 8:33 am

(Family Features)--No luxurious home upgrade is complete without the enhancements of modern technology. High-tech and intelligent devices lend ease to everyday activities and enrich your ability to enjoy the comforts of home. With new products joining this category at an exponential pace, there's a way to boost the smart function of every room, even the bathroom.

Climate controls
Environmental elements like lighting and temperature are among the first signals your brain processes when you enter a new space. Aligning those nuances with your comfort and preferences is the ultimate expression of personalization. Motion or voice control sensors make it possible to bring lights to life with next to no effort, while a smart thermostat with differentiated climate zones can adjust to meet your needs throughout the day, perhaps kicking up a few degrees to prevent a chill when you emerge from a steamy shower.

Uncommon commodes
There truly is no limit to the home features that can work harder, faster and smarter - even when it comes to the toilet. If the notion of an intelligent toilet seems extreme to your senses, you may not be alone.

"When Americans hear the word bidet, most have an outdated picture in their minds of a standalone fixture, but in fact, the functionality is now built into a toilet or attachable seats, and they are simple to use. Once you try one, you won't be able to live without it," said Shane Allis, marketing director of Kohler Sanitary Products. "From intelligent toilets to cleansing seats that attach to existing toilets, modern day bidets are for consumers who are looking for an upgrade to their toilet routine."

In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Kohler, about two-thirds of Americans would choose a toilet that would give them a cleaner, fresher feeling, and 3 in 5 think washing with water would give them a cleaner feel than toilet paper alone.

An overall fresher feeling and features like a deodorizer, night light and heated seat have strong appeal, according to the same survey, and those features are all offered in options like the Kohler Veil, an ultimate, one-piece intelligent toilet with integrated cleansing functionality that provides optimum hygiene and individual comfort. From personal cleansing to an LED nightlight to hands-free opening, closing and flushing - all of which are easy to control on a touchscreen LCD remote control - the toilet brings unexpected options to your bathroom. Explore the available models and learn more about intelligent toilets at Kohler.com/IntelligentToilets.

Shower with power
Whether it's a playlist that energizes you for the day or soothing sounds to center you before an important meeting, you can give new meaning to singing in the rain with a showerhead that includes a built-in wireless, removable speaker that you can sync to your smartphone music library.

When you take your shower digital, you can actually bring water, steam, music and light together into one sensory experience. Beyond that, it's even possible to configure your shower to cycle through spa programs that target different areas of your body with varied water sprays and temperatures.

Hydrotherapy haven
A jetted tub is just the beginning when it comes to creating a spa-like atmosphere. Today's options let you trick out your tub with everything from bubbles and heat to sound and color. Advanced hydrotherapy options use air or sound to massage, soothe, invigorate or relax your body and your mind - all controlled at the touch of a button. Don't forget the heated back to keep you warm even longer.

Perfect privacy
If you're blessed with a stunning view out the bathroom window or if you simply prefer the aura of natural light, you may be reluctant to hide behind heavy window treatments. Yet again, technology offers the solution. Shades you can power with a remote control and even film coverings that convert from transparent to opaque with the touch of a button can give you the freedom to embrace your privacy or celebrate the sun's rays.

Tech-sessories
The big features may deliver the wow factor, but little touches can add up for a big impact as well. Mirrors that recognize your face and voice to deliver customized media, such as news and music, can also be programmed to alter the temperature and lighting while you conduct your toiletry business. Other accessories to round out your high-tech renovation include devices such as smart scales that integrate with other devices to maximize your health and wellness routine.

With these tech upgrades and more, you can turn an ordinary bathroom into an entirely new, refreshing experience.

Source: Kohler

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Non-Candy Halloween Treats Kids Actually Love

October 20, 2017 8:33 am

Armies of Moms have puzzled over the years about non-candy Halloween giveaways that will bring a smile to the most discerning little ghosts and goblins.

The fact is, for most young children, the fun of trick-or-treating door-to-door in costume is more exciting than the treats they happen to collect – and many parents confiscate most of the sweet stuff anyway once it reaches home.  

A panel of parents brainstorming at a PTA meeting in California came up with a formidable list of stuff that makes a great alternative to candy treats.

More good ideas can likely be found at your nearby dollar store.

Food treats:

Juice boxes – Little trick or treaters can work up a thirst. Be sure to choose no-sugar added juices.

Fruit cups – Tie a black or orange ribbon around individual cups of applesauce or other cut-up fruit.  

Granola bars – Kids never get tired of these chewy little treats. Seasonal pumpkin-flavored varieties are available.

Raisins – Those tiny little boxes of raisins seem to appeal to kids of all ages.

Baked chips – They may be fairly empty calories, but they‘re a sugarless, kid-friendly treat.

Non-food treats:

Slime – little plastic containers of slime are a natural pick for the icky Halloween season.

Plastic body parts – Little kids are sure to get a kick out of plastic lips, noses, or fingernails.

Action figures – These or other small toys, such as Hot Wheels cars, are favored by  kids and great for trading.

Instant tattoos – Wash-off Halloween tattoos are widely available at this time of the year.

Play-doh – Individual containers of colorful Play-doh are a hit no matter the time of year.

Bubbles – Another perennial favorite, plastic bottles of magic bubbles are  a treat for most younger kids.

Stickers – You’ll find vast arrays of popular Halloween-themed stickers at almost any toy, drug or big-box store.

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Tips for Stocking and Maintaining Your Medicine Cabinet

October 20, 2017 8:33 am

Many of us have old bottles and boxes that hang around in our medicine cabinet for years. However, keeping on top of the products in your medicine cabinet can make or break an oncoming bout of flu or fever. Below are a handful of tips from MultiVu for stocking and maintaining your arsenal.

When in doubt, throw it out. Once you've opened a medication the clock starts ticking on its shelf life. Items like that are usually good for about a year from when they're opened. Regularly check the expiration date on your product.

Everyday basics. A variety of illnesses are common during the winter months. Basics include good oral hygiene and it's very important and it starts with clean teeth.   

Must-haves for flu season. No one wants a cold to persist, so don't let it slow you down. Medical studies have shown that zinc gluconate, which is found in lozenges such as Cold-EEZE, shortens the duration of a cold so you can feel better faster.

Other essentials. While antibiotics are often used to treat cold and flu, they can disrupt your balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria, creating digestive discomfort. Probiotics are a great medicine cabinet staple because they help balance healthy bacteria levels in your gut and, since 70 percent of your immune system lives in your digestive tract, they support a healthy immune system as well. When choosing a probiotic, look for the dosing information, otherwise known as the CFU count. CFUs refer to the number of good bacteria in the supplement. For example, on the lower end, probiotics with 2 billion CFU can help support everyday digestive health, while additional CFUs on the higher end can help bolster immune support.

Storing and discarding. Rethink where you keep your medicines. Humidity from steamy showers can expedite the expiry of medication. It's best to keep them in a child-safe, dry, and cool place. And landfill sites and water supplies have become contaminated with discarded medicines. Participating in a community drug take back program or a trip to the pharmacy are the best ways to discard old or unneeded medications.

Source: MultiVu

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Amazing New Uses for Your Kitchen Gadgets

October 20, 2017 8:33 am

Love her or hate her, you can’t deny the household magic of Martha Stewart. Before you get sucked into spending your hard-earned disposable dollars on some alluring kitchen gadget, check out Martha’s creative uses for the utensils you already have in your drawers. Life changing!

A slotted spoon to separate eggs. Tired of eggshells in your cake batter? If your egg-separating skills are less than stellar, try balancing a slotted spoon over a bowl, crack the egg into the spoon and the egg white will simply collect in the bowl below!

A rolling pin to crush stuff. Use it to quickly pulverize nuts, candy, ice and any other hard substance that needs to be miniaturized fast!

A box grater for soap. You know those tiny bits of soap that make a mess in your shower when the bar gets too small? Use a cheese grater to make them into a fine powder that can then be formed into a new ball of soap.

Sieve as splatter guard. Hate how grease splatters everywhere when you’re frying something? Place a sieve over the frying pan and voila - no more mess.

Tongs as juicer. Want to get more juice out of your lemons and limes? Cut one in half then place it between the arms of a pair of tongs. Press down firmly on the clamps of the tongs and watch the juice flow.

Cookie cutters as napkin rings. Those cute cookie cutters that only make an appearance once or twice a year can now get some time center stage as napkin rings. Stars, pumpkins, hearts and a variety of other shapes will work well in many dinner settings.

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Homeowner Prevention in the Age of Devastating Wildfires

October 19, 2017 8:33 am

Fire safety does not always begin in the home; that stove left on accidentally or faulty electric wiring aren't the only fire dangers when it comes to home protection. Wildfires can be equally as devastating and, depending on where you live, a higher threat.

Experts at the Tree Care Industry Association, Inc. (Treecaretips.org) revealed homeowners can protect their properties in two ways: by designing and maintaining a landscape that discourages fires; and by building with flame-resistant materials.

Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist at TCIA, offers these tips for landscaping to combat wildfires:
- If you are in a wildfire-prone area, reduce the amount of potential fuel around your home. Provide enough tree- and shrub-free space between your home and the undeveloped land.

- All dead branches that hang over your roof should be removed. Leaves, needles and other dead vegetation should not be allowed to build up on the roof or in gutters.

- In parts of the country where wildfires are rare but still possible, an area of well-irrigated vegetation should extend at least 30 feet from your home on all sides. In high-hazard areas, a clearance of between 50 and 100 feet or more may be necessary – especially on downhill sides of the lot.

- Further from the house, install low-growing shrubs. When planting trees, space them no closer than 10 feet apart. Beyond 100 feet from the house, dead wood and older trees should be removed or thinned by qualified professionals.

- The lower limbs of tall shade trees should be pruned 6 feet above the ground. Careful pruning preserves a tree’s appearance, enhances structural integrity and assists in the plant’s ability to resist fire.

In addition to pruning, Andersen says a professional arborist can recommend fertilization, soil management, disease treatment or pest control measures to promote healthy trees. He suggests that if your area is in a drought or prone to wildfires, hire a tree care professional to assess your landscape and reduce the fuel wildfires need to burn.

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4 Tire Safety Tips for Winter

October 19, 2017 8:33 am

(Family Features)--The same temperature you can begin to see your breath - 45 degrees F - is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.

As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you're planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle's tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.

Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 degrees F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.

To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts at Discount Tire recommend following these four tire safety tips:

1. Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle's all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 degrees F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.

2. Don't forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow and salt during the winter months.

3. Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure - for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes one pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also don't forget to check your spare tire.

4. Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.

Source: Discount Tire

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Digitally Transforming Your Business

October 17, 2017 8:33 am

(Family Features)—One of the challenges facing small businesses today is trying to deliver the same customer experience as larger competitors. As technology advances and takes on an ever-growing role, small businesses can tap new innovations to better communicate with customers, save money and simplify operations.

As small business owners look to transform digitally, they face a number of options, from upgrading their technology to optimize shipping operations and decrease costs to adopting digital marketing tactics to better understand and target their customers. While it can be difficult for a small business that is well-established using analog processes to switch to digital, the key is to start with the final objective in mind; in other words, begin by defining your end goal. Once you've determined the desired outcome of digitizing your business, these tips can help you establish a strategy that can benefit both your business performance and customer experience.

Reach customers through digital marketing.
An important step in digital transformation is revisiting how you attract and interact with current and prospective customers, who are increasingly turning to a combination of physical and digital channels to engage with brands and businesses. If you think of digital marketing and email or online ads, you're on the right track, but effective marketing requires more than simply hitting send on an email or counting clicks on an ad. Email marketing should be focused on providing helpful, relevant content to your target audience based on its preferences. Recipients can come to appreciate your insights on industry news and helpful information, so your sales pitches are likely to be more warmly received.

Beyond the content, an effective strategy establishes connective links between all your marketing touchpoints, from email to blog and even to your traditional tactics, such as direct mail and more, all with the goal of boosting credibility and visibility via search engine optimization and foot traffic.

Optimize operations through the cloud.
As technology evolves, more tasks can be handled online and more traditional analog devices are connected to the internet and the cloud. Adopting the use of these digitally connected devices can not only make fulfilling tasks easier and more efficient, but also track patterns and collect data that brings new value to small business owners. For example, with a surge in parcel volumes year over year (thanks, in part, to a sustained e-commerce growth, according to the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index), consider a cloud-enabled shipping solution, such as the SendPro C-Series, to simplify sending operations. This digital multi-carrier platform leverages the latest cloud technology to enable offices of all sizes to easily select the ideal sending option for every parcel or letter, while also providing full tracking information and delivering savings.

Make decisions based on analytics.
Beyond providing efficiency and simplicity, connected and cloud-enabled devices can generate and track valuable data, which can, in turn, be analyzed and used to make important business decisions. In a business environment dominated by ever-changing consumer preferences, data-driven insights are key to serving the needs and securing the business of today's hyper-connected consumers. By utilizing data and analytics, your business can be better equipped to deliver superior customer experiences, support product and service innovation, and optimize business processes.

Use mobile to communicate with customers.
Even the smallest of businesses can take steps toward better mobile communication, such as ensuring their websites are mobile-friendly and responsive to different device types. This is especially important as mobile usage continues to climb in the U.S., and consumers increasingly rely on mobile devices for information to guide purchase decisions. Your business can also capitalize on location intelligence capabilities to deliver timely coupons and promotions to customers in the immediate vicinity.

Source: pitneybowes.com/us/digital

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5 Tips to Care for Your Floors

October 17, 2017 8:33 am

You may spend a lot of time thinking about how to keep your home tidy and up-to-date, but how often do you look down at your floors? David Gowling, an industry veteran from DMS Flooring Supplies, says flooring is one of the biggest factors on overall feel of a space.

It may be tempting to opt for cheaper flooring materials and methods in intermediary areas, but putting in a little extra time and effort can increase a property's rental and resale value—and make its occupiers proud to call it their home.

David expands on this issue with his five favorite tips to ensure your flooring looks stunning from the ground up.

1. Put in the Ground Work: Subfloor Prep Is Key
As with everything in life, a good foundation is key. Before the carpet is laid, ensure all the floorboards are screwed tightly to eliminate creaks and squeaks. Fill in all holes which might let high heels slip through and puncture the carpet. Working on rough concrete? Level the floor with a suitable levelling compound. As for smoother concrete, a good underlay will cover any minor imperfections.

With laminate or wood flooring, it's vitally important the subfloor is level—if it's a floating laminate or engineered floor across a bumpy subfloor, there will be a lot of bounciness! Once level, be sure to use a decent quality underlay with a moisture barrier to inhibit any potential dampness from seeping into the flooring. Fit the floor before you install the skirting—this will let you hide the expansion gap with the skirting board and avoid having to use beading trim. This will give a really crisp finish.

When preparing chipboard floors, always ply-line the floor with a solid 6mm-thick plywood. However high quality it may be, all chipboard can shrink. Ply lining will stabilize the floor perfectly. Once the ply is securely fixed, apply a feather finish and scratch-coat the floor with a trowel. This will fill in all the minor holes where the nail heads have fired through the ply, while also filling in any hairline joins.

Coming back to concrete floors: Depending on the type of levelling compound used, it may also be necessary to prime the floor with a primer. There are certain levelers that dry so hard their tensile strength has a grabbing effect on the subfloor. If not properly bonded with a primer, the compound can dome up and pop off the floor. This can result in lumps, which will result in the new floor being ruined. Always read the instructions on the sub-floor levelling products and don't cut corners.

2. Make an Entrance: Mats Matter
While hardly glamorous, entrance matting is not to be forgotten or skimped on if the property is to be well kept. Gowling gives his opinion on choosing a more modern mat:

"Coconut matting was popular for a while, but because it's very thick and it can lead to the need for doors to be trimmed to accommodate it, which is a lot of trouble to go to for something as boring as a doormat. It also sheds thick hairs, which end up getting trampled throughout the property.

"Dark brown or anthracite ribbed matting makes a great alternative. This stuff comes in a 2m-wide roll, so make sure enough is ordered to cover your hall from one end to the other. Fit it as far into your hallway as possible and it'll grab more dirt, and also reduce the amount of actual flooring needed."

3. Take Your Stairs to the Next Level
This is where the real fun begins! The true measure of any house is in the care taken with its least interesting spaces. Stairs and halls must look nothing less than beautiful. Prep all hallway floors, and for the primary flooring material, fit some wood-effect luxury vinyl tiles, and go one step further by framing all the areas with a border.

Fit staircases with a decent-quality carpet on a tough underlay, like Cloud 9 Contract. This will minimize noise and provide cushioning underfoot, which instantly improves the standard of the home. A spongy underlay can cause carpets to go saggy on the stairs over time.

4. Bathrooms and Kitchens: The Vinyl Solution
Kitchens and bathrooms always take a beating—particularly in shared houses—so poor flooring choices in these areas can look ragged and tired within a year. Ceramics may be a longer lasting solution, but they often take damage—accidents happen, and a chipped or cracked floor can become a problem to repair.

Laminates and wooden floors are simply not worth the risk in wet areas. As laminate is made from a high-density fiber board (HDF) core, water will find its way into any cracks, causing your boards to swell up. Gowling heartily recommends luxury vinyl flooring as an alternative.

5. Bedrooms
The obvious choice for any bedroom is a nice soft carpet for maximum warmth and comfort; however, its installation needn't be overthought. For smooth subfloors, a felt-backed carpet can provide a low-cost solution. They're inexpensive, quick to fit, don't require a gripper or underlay, and are easy to switch if a new color is required.

To maintain the tough flooring theme running into the bedrooms, go for a laminate, a wood, or—again—a luxury vinyl tile. This hard-wearing flooring option will retain its fresh look for years.

"While luxury vinyl tile might cost double what a laminate or carpet may cost, it will last five times longer and bring in loads of benefits—especially if you're doing up a rental property. You can expect to increase your capital growth, your rent, your rental security, and, most importantly, easier sleep knowing you've built yourself a beautiful property that are a cut above the rest," says Gowling.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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