Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Will Social Security Cover? Sleep Apnea?

Social Security Card
Social Security will evaluate sleep apnea just as they would any other medical and/or mental condition. You may be wondering how Social Security evaluates disabling impairments. Social Security disability is awarded based upon functional limitations rather than specific medical conditions, consequently sleep apnea is considered a medical condition by Social Security.

However, Social Security disability examiners must consider how your sleep apnea limits your functional ability in order to determine the severity of your condition by Social Security disability rules and regulations.

It is most likely (in most cases) that sleep apnea will not be a severe enough condition to warrant an allowance for Social Security disability, although sleep apnea in conjunction with other cardiovascular or pulmonary conditions may result in a Social Security disability allowance.

Just how does Social Security evaluate any medical and/or mental condition? Social Security uses a five step sequential evaluation. This evaluation considers the severity of your conditions, your work history, education, the length of time you have been or expect to be out of work, and your ability to be retrained for a job that is compatible with your limitations. They should also encourage you to find job specific resources on the internet, such as doctor jobs for those with physician experience, and secretary jobs with those of similar experience. Be sure your medical and metal condition is in accordance with what you are looking for.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Buy Popcorn Stuff on Amazon

English: for microwave ovens, popped state.

The original review of the Orville Redenbacher popcorn bowl and microwave popcorn samples and the coupons and the crinkly wrapping made you weak in the knees. It made you wish you had some lovely popcorn to sit and eat out of your very own Orville Redenbacher popcorn bowl. 

I felt your jealousy. I felt your popcorn craving…the one that feels like when you’re at work and someone makes popcorn in the microwave and even though you are sitting miles away from the microwave you can smell it and your mouth is watering. Thankfully, we have the internet, and places where you can buy popcorn in bulk. Just buy an Amazon gift card here, and buy all the popcorn making supplies you would need with it, and go to the store and tell them to give you all the popcorn and butter they have. 

The smell of microwave popcorn is perhaps one of the most recognizable smells in the world. Maybe someone should do a study on it, are humans the only ones susceptible to popcorn cravings? Have we explored all the possibilities of popcorn? When will someone invent cornpops, wait we have??

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weddings: A Lot of Fun For Everyone!

A wedding is more than a bride and groom making a commitment to each other. It is a special day filled with special moments for all in attendance. An important day, such as your wedding, is meant to be documented, but how much should you spend to capture all the significant moments? In 2011, the average bride spent $2,299 on a photographer and $1,486 on a videographer according to The Knot’s annual survey. The survey also noted the first increase in overall average cost (excluding honeymoon) since 2007. With larger wedding budgets, have brides spent more on photographers and videographers?

The answer is no, the average spent on photographers decreased over the past five years while their wasn't much of a change in the cost of videographers. Many weddings incorporated additional entertainment into their reception, which may be the cause of the increased wedding cost. Brides now rent a photo booth or hire a comedian to make the wedding reception fun for everyone! It will be interesting to see if the added entertainment trend continues and if the average cost rises with it.

Have you been to a wedding reception that had a photo booth or comedian? Did you like having the extra entertainment?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Turkey Hunting Tips

(Meleagris gallopavo subsp. intermedia) Wild t...
(Meleagris gallopavo subsp. intermedia) Wild turkey walking on a grassland in the bottom of the canyon. Taken at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, Texas, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Creating a good scatter on a group of fall turkeys can be tough. The birds often see or hear you coming before you can rush them. If you do sneak close, charging in for a proper scatter challenges even the most spry human legs and can be dangerous if you fall. And if the birds run off or fly away in the same direction, you now have a bunch of paranoid turkeys to deal with.
But there are other ways to hunt fall turkeys. These low-key but highly effective tactics rely on woodsmanship and calling. Yes, you can call in a fall turkey that hasn't been scattered. And if you don't get your bird today, it still be around tomorrow.

Scouting is Key
Scout during summer and early fall so you'll know where turkeys will roost, feed, dust, loaf, get Water and find grit. Walk woods and field edges looking for all manner of !turkey sign--droppings, dusting areas, feathers from a roost. Find a good vantage point and glass for birds on the move.

If you can't do any pre-season scouting, "power scout" when you arrive at your hunting grounds. Talk to landowners, school bus drivers, mail carriers, farmers and others who work the land and know it well, to learn when and where turkeys have been spotted. This cuts valuable hours off your search for birds.

If you know where turkeys like to roost or, better yet, if you actually saw them fly up, sneak in close before first light the next morning. Set up just like you would for a spring gobbler, only the intended target now will likely be a hen or young jake.

Don't fiddle with putting out decoys; you'll run the risk of spooking birds. Position yourself between the roost site and where the turkeys want to go for their morning feed. Call with soft, sleepy-sounding clucks and tree yelps. Once the birds start flying down, get aggressive with bossy yelps, urgent kee-kees and pleading kee-kee runs. Fall birds make a racket as they gather, primp, preen and confirm the day's pecking order, so you'll need to work hard to grab their attention.

If your roost setup doesn't pan out, quietly head for a feeding area--the corner of a harvested grain field (corn, soybeans and sorghum are prime), an alfalfa field with its greenery and bugs or an abandoned meadow. Or set up where you've seen turkeys traveling. Position yourself on a point of timber, along a fenceline, or in a funnel between woods, fields or hills.

Put out a couple of decoys, or even a little flock of four or five. Gregarious fall turkeys will check out any new comers to their territory, either to greet them or pick a fight. Make soft purrs and clucks, like feeding birds would. Belt out a few lonely yelps every once in a while to attract attention from any birds that might be passing by your setup at a distance. Try throwing a few kee-kees into the mix, too.

Hunt in "hanging out" cover in the afternoon--mature timber where birds are likely to loaf away the midday hours. Make setups for an hour or more at strategic spots. Call with soft purrs and clucks. Sprinkle in a few yelps and kee-kees occasionally.

If the weather is unseasonably warm, go to an area with spring seeps or other dampness. Birds will come for water and greens. If the wind is howling, head for calm areas in hollows and on the lee side of hills. If you found a dusting area while scouting, set up there and wait for turkeys to come for their afternoon bath.

Fall's answer to spring's cutt-and-run, the drift-and-yelp is essentially a still-hunt through good turkey grounds as you look for birds to set camp on. It is crucial to move slowly and quietly when setting up your spot, which is hard to do in a quiet woods setting. Stop often, keeping your back against a tree for safety. Call with pleading lost yelps and lonely kee-kees.

Sooner or later, a turkey will answer. Since you're already against a tree, drop down and set up immediately. Forget about decoys--the real turkeys are either close or on their way. Mimic what the bird says to you.

Hunt The Roost-Evening
Ease close to a known roost area a few hours before sunset. Set up quietly with a couple of decoys and wait. Sit ahead of the expected roost trees by 50 to 75 yards, so you can shoot incoming turkeys where there's still good light.

Call softly, and use only a few contented purrs and clucks. In the quiet of evening, these soft mumbles and whines say plenty.

Fake a Fight
Wild turkeys jostle and tussle for pecking order all year, but the skirmishing increases in fall. Like schoolkids, turkeys love a good fight and will come running to watch or join in on the action.

Set up where birds might be within earshot and go to town with loud, aggressive fighting purrs and cackles from both a diaphragm and a slate or push-pin call at once. You'll sound like two birds in an all-out turkey fight. Scuffle leaves with your boots to add to the effect.

After a minute or so, put down the hand-operated call, pick up your shotgun and get ready. Continue calling with your mouth for another minute before going silent for a few more. Repeat the fight sequence every five minutes or so for an hour.

Try a Flanking Maneuver
Take the hunt to the turkeys. Get to a strategic vantage point, spot some birds and determine their travel route. Using terrain and vegetation as cover, sneak ahead of the flock and set up. There's no time for decoys now.

Make some forlorn yelps and excited kee-kees, but mostly use purrs and clucks. Wait at least an hour for pokey birds who may have veered off or found something good to eat on the way.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Packing Up for Albany Oregon

The Willamette River Valley
The Willamette River Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Now that summer is finally here, I'm excited to spend more time outdoors with my friends and family. It's always been a family tradition to go camping for a weekend, and although we've always done something a little close to home, this year I would like to try and go someplace new. I've never been out to the state of Oregon, and there are quite a few national parks around the Willamette Valley regional area. The weather out there is quite nice during the summer, and for those of us that want to spend a day in civilization, the surrounding towns of Corvallis and Albany are quite nice. Not to mention, there are quite a few winery tours we could do while staying in the area.

I'm always thinking about moving, and I was looking through some Albany Oregon real estate here online to see if there was anything that would suit my interests. Of course, it's tough to make that kind of decision from pictures online, but I have to start somewhere I guess.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Capturing Photo Moments

ITAMAR, WEST BANK - UNDATED:  In this handout ...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Finding ways to relive precious moments can be difficult without some form of tangible evidence that shows you actually lived those moments. Photos in all forms are perfect for the memories, and help keep them fresh in our minds. Growing up, I loved playing outside in our backyard. We had a huge above ground pool that we would swim in and we had a soccer goal set lined up from end to end of our yard. Although it doesn't seem like much in writing, it brings back great memories of playing with friends and siblings as a kid. My dad always took pictures of us, and we have some great shots of all of us playing in the backyard. We love taking the photos out every time we sit down for a family get-together.

Photos in the form of family portraits are also great for documenting a moment in time, and as material to send to the grandparents. A party photo booth at prom is great for documenting the event while it's not going on, as opposed to the awkward pictures taken posing in front of a group of parents.

Well there's my ramble for my love of photos. What do you like about photos? Do you like them more than family videos?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Online rating systems need an overhaul

As Brad observed quite nicely in this post, ebay has a problem with its rating system. Well, actually not only does ebay, but all websites who use them do. The root lies in different behaviour of users, and different reasons for them to give ratings. And there's the question of what the parties that are subject to the ratings intent to achieve. In ebay it's mostly a question of finances - the better the score, the better the revenue. In IMDB or youtube it's all about attention, the more votes you get, the better.

In my opinion, it would be better not to hand out negative votes on a quorum-basis like brad suggested, but to overhaul the whole rating system. Ebay has a scale of 1-5, some websites have 1-10, 1-3, 0-10, etc. Most systems don't even have descriptions for the meaning of the scores. And users use these scales differently. There's the question of defaults: some have highest rating as default, some have average default, some have lowest as default. Some tend to rate extreme, not using the full range, some are very careful, not using the full range either. Until now, the companies assume that with large numbers, these effects will all even out into a nice bell shaped graph.

For example, to avoid bad results, IMDB has very special vote rating system for their Top250 list that goes like this:
"weighted rating (WR) = (v ÷ (v+m)) × R + (m ÷ (v+m)) × C" I don't think this is very understandable, and they also have to exclude non-regular voters.

Another problem is, that with the old rating system, many users are influenced. For example they have a look at a movies rating on IMDB with something like 60000 votes, averaged 7,6. and they think, "hey, this movie doesn't deserve 7,6, it should be lower". So what they do is, they don't won't rate the movie at the score, which they actually think the movie deserves. But they vote 1, in order to lower the aggregated result as much as possible towards the score they think it deserves. This is a problem that all rating systems have, where the user has information on other voters choice before they vote on their own. On Websites that is most of the time the case.

So this is my new system:

I think it would be best, if every vote is contextualized with all your other votes, and thus normalized and comparable and aggregateable in a combined rating. If on a scale from 1-5, one user only gives two votes 1 and 5, and another user only the votes 2 and 4, they actually express the same opinion. By normalizing the data, you would have as a result, that the first user has an average vote of 3, with an average variation of 2, which leads to a -1.000 and +1.000 from average vote. The second user has the same vote results, because he has an average vote of 3 and an average variation of 1.

If you ever had a course on variance analysis, this comes naturally to your mind. Apparently it doesn't for the creators of the voting systems, they just calculate the average vote.

What will it change? First of all, you won't be confused with interpreting different rating scales anymore. You'll have a good guess, what -0.612 means in contrast to +0.997. Second of all, the influence of prevoting result spotting won't affect the vote so much anymore. This is because, you can't overexpress your opinion anymore by voting more extreme. Extreme votes are only heavier weighted, if you have a lot more moderate votes, and that takes time and consideration.

So, the math is easy and already used heavily in analysing surveys and stuff like that. The voting wouldn't change from the users perspective, so they wouldn't notice much of a difference. Only the results would be much more interesting, because fake-votes are stripped of their power.

Creative Commons LicenseCreative Commons License picture by Sara and Mike

This post originally appeared here

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

courageous city planning

When you look at any larger city in the western world from above, most of the time you see the same pattern over and over again. You have blocks, streets, sidewalks and train tracks. The most important features are the roads and streets, they divide a city into a lot of blocks. Sidewalks are between the roads and the blocks, sharing space with the street. The wideness of the streets correlates with the size of the blocks it separates. Most of the time they have lines of parking spaces for cars. Blocks are a bunch of buildings in a square, that face the roads, forming squares and rectangles, with some larger yards in the middle. The yards are used for gardens, supermarkets, playgrounds, etc.. Towards the yards the houses show balconies, winter gardens, terraces and a lot of windows.

But does it have to be this way? The importance of cars in our society, has made them the main design-theme for our cities. This is why we have to combine streets and sidewalks in complicated intersection systems with traffic lights and long phases. This is why everyone who wants to move around in the city without using a car, has to participate in car traffic and bad air conditions. And this is why we consider cities to be rather ugly and smelly.

In my opinion there's the option for another design. As I tried to point out, we don't have to keep the system that historically replaced our roads for all kinds of relocation to become streets for motorized verhicles only. So here is what I am proposing as an alternative system. Imagine streets without sidewalk and pedestrians. All intersections would be much easier to design, and much more efficient in guiding traffic. But where would the pedestrians walk? There would be a second grid, intersecting the city, but shifted half a block to the southeast. So as a result, these pedestrian walkways would cut every block into half. One block is connected to the next block, not on the corners of the square, but right in the middle. The blocks would need to have at least one gap on each of the four sides, so that connections to other blocks can be established. Guiding pedestrians across a road is much easier and more efficient than at intersections. The buildings would have their entrances toward the center of the block, where it is more quiet and cleaner and nicer to look at. The pedestrians would experience a much greener and quiter city, where they would encounter more neighbours on the streets. the streets would be much easier to clean, and wouldn't need gardens to seperate living space from road noise and smells. Bigger streets could also crossed on a level below or above the ground, so that traffic lights wouldn't be needed at all anymore. It would be just like turning your back on the cars, and turn toward the neighbours and community.

I think such a coexistence would be a good solution between car-free city-centers and traffic jammed surrounding areas.
Creative Commons License picture by Jonn 'Dorvak'
This article originally appeared here