Back-Planning For Success

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Coming up with new dreams and passions can be fun, easy and inspiring – at least until you sit down and begin trying to sort out how to actually accomplish these wild goals. Suddenly, what seemed like such a clear and well-marked path takes on the aspect of an overgrown and thickly brambled wilderness of dangerous, unseen pitfalls and endlessly branching and unmarked trails. It’s enough to make you want to crawl back into your boring old life and forget the whole thing ever happened. But let’s try something a little different, first, and see if we can’t tame that overgrown jungle.

One of the best and most thorough ways to figure out how to do something new is called back-planning, or top-down planning. You begin by listing your finished goal at the top of the page, then working your way backward through each logical step that must come before the one above it. To do this, after every step you write down, yourself: “What had to happen immediately before this step in order to get to this step?” Be literal and very specific here – if your goal is to present at a conference, start with the standing ovation … Read More

Tips on Chimney Maintenance and Installation

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Although many of the tasks involved with chimney maintenance and installation should be handled only by a certified chimney professional, there are some things that homeowners can do to ensure that they are happy with their installations.

Tips for Chimney Installation

There are two main things to consider when it comes to installing a chimney. The first is the location of your fireplace, and the second is the type of material used to build your chimney. It is up to you, as the homeowner, to decide where you want your fireplace located. However, you’ll need to remember that your chimney will be located directly above your fireplace, and it cannot compromise the structure of your home. As far as materials, it is best to opt for masonry rather than concrete slabs covered by a brick veneer. Solid masonry is less prone to cracks and leaks than other materials.

When to Schedule an Inspection

Once your chimney has been installed, maintenance is very important for your health and your home. Chimney professionals recommend having your chimney inspected at least once per year, but if you live in an area prone to weather extremes, or if you use your fireplace for most … Read More


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Some of the 240 solar panels at Seldom Rest Farms located, north of Myerstown, PA, on Wednesday, April 20, 2011. The farm maintains a crop, herd of sheep and 17,000 hens. The Hens are kept in a two story chicken house and produce approximately 2.5 million chicks each year. To supplement their electrical needs, they chose a contractor who knew about U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America program (REAP) grants and helped them through the application process. The farm was awarded a $152,000 grant (25% of the cost) to install the 1001kW solar array to power their farm, a neighboring farm and homes on the local electrical grid. The 240 solar panels were ground mounted with 5-foot clearance underneath to allow sheep to graze and rest underneath protected from the rain, sun or snowfall. 10 converters change the DC electrical energy from the panels into AC energy that goes into the local power grid. Spring statistics show it is producing more than expected. REAP offers grants and/or loan guarantees for the purchase and installation of renewable energy generating systems and for energy efficiency improvements. For additional important details about REAP, see USDA Multimedia by Lance … Read More

Moving Family to a Nursing Home – What to Bring

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Moving is always a challenge. As long as you’re organized and make a list of things to remember, it can be manageable. If you’re moving a parent or loved one to a nursing home, chances are it will be more daunting because you’ve never done it before. Below is a list of things that nursing home staff say are often overlooked by families. Keep them in mind and you can make a loved one’s stay more comfortable.

1. Clothing for at least 7 days. Generally, residents moving into a nursing home are encouraged to bring in at least a week’s worth of clothing changes. If a resident will be participating in a rehab or walking program, they are also encouraged to bring extra sweatshirts, sweatpants or jogging suits. Also, the shoe of choice for these programs has been the gym shoe with Velcro closures. Two or three pairs of non-skid socks may also be indicated. Various sweaters or jackets are also a good idea, so your loved one is comfortable in varying weather and room temperatures.

2. Leave the jewelry and valuables at home, with relatives or in a safe deposit box.

3. Shampoo and soap if the resident … Read More