Feature-Rich Dog Parks Are Coming to Towns Across America

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Lassie used to run free throughout the town, solving problems and rescuing kids in trouble.
Today, it is rare and often illegal to let a dog roam off-leash. Even large parks usually have leash laws. At the same time, dog ownership is growing.
According to the American Pet Products Association, there are over 60 million US households with at least one dog. And those dog owners are increasingly looking for places to let their dogs run and socialize off-leash.
Some communities have solved this by creating off-leash areas such as fenced-in parks where people can let Spot run free.
According to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, a good dog park has a few essential features. The basics are bags and trash cans for cleaning up after dogs, fresh drinking water, and shade for cooling down.
Ideally, dog parks would include separate entrance and exit gates, allowing everyone to comeand go with not only ease, but safety. And a dual-gate system would help eliminate dogs escaping through any open gate while another dog is entering or leaving through it.
While those are the basics, dog parks are popping up around the country with additional fun features to keep canines safe and happy.
Beau’s Dream Dog Park in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania has a tennis ball tree that launches balls for large dogs.
Pilgrim Dog Park in Provincetown, Massachusetts has pet-friendly sculptures designed by local artists that dogs can play on.
Catalyst Experiential is currently designing the Bucks County Dog Park, which will be one of the most feature-laden in the country. The entrance is designed to resemble the two halves of a large, broken dog biscuit. Once they pass through the “dog biscuit” entrance, dogs will find water features, an agility station, ample shade, and even dog-wash facilities inside their park. It’s like Disney for dogs!
The dog park is one of many projects that Catalyst Experiential is bringing to communities as a part of their vision to integrate community and communication.
The “broken dog biscuit” entrance to the park features two displays that will enable local government, schools, organizations and businesses to speak directly to the communities they serve, including announcing local events, issuing safety messages, and other timely communications.
A dog lover and owner himself, Catalyst Experiential CEO Thaddeus Bartkowski explains that “while dog ownership has increased, rules and regulations restricting the ability of dogs to run free has unfortunately been on the rise as well.”
“What we hope to create is a place where dogs can get the off-leash exercise they deserve to enhance quality of life for both the dogs and their owners,” he says.
For more information about Catalyst Experiential, reach out here.

Which Home Upgrades Are Worth It and Which Aren’t

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored by GAF – Mark your calendars.Come April, we’re looking at the start of peak home buying season – the four months that generally account for more than 40 percent of annual housing transactions. The reasons are pretty obvious: The weather is (cross your fingers) nicer, the holidays are a distant memory, and families with kids prefer to relocate before the start of a new school year.So if you’re eager to sell – or just want to make some changes to test reactions – now’s the time to save yourself some grief by learning which upgrades increase your house’s value in potential buyers’ eyes and which leave them stone cold.And while you’re at it, never forget the first rule of upgrades, according to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report for 2019: "Think like a real-estate broker." Read on to see why that includes focusing heavily on "curb appeal" and "first impressions."* Worth it: a new garage door. It ranked first on the magazine’s list of projects, with a 97.5 percent return on investment thanks in part to its relatively low cost. And for anyone who ever doubted that everything is pricier in New York City, that same high-tensile-strength steel door with windows costs $426 more there than the national average of $3,611.* Not worth it: upscale bathroom remodeling. Want an easy way to save $60,000 or so? Don’t – repeat, don’t – spend it on installing the whirlpool tub, heated towel bars, and stone countertops of your dreams.Why? Because they’re your dreams. And as Remodeling magazine notes, "Because of the vast differences in aesthetic tastes, one person’s elegant new bath will be viewed by a range of other prospective buyers as "tacky and outdated and in desperate need of a reset."* Worth it: a bigger rug. Going bigger is actually a trick some real estate moguls have been known to use. Since the living room is likely the first interior part of the house buyers will see – and, remember, first impressions matter – bet on them extrapolating from it to guesstimate the entire size of the house.Ergo, since the goal is to make the room seem more spacious …At least some buyers will judge the size of a room based on the size of the rug.A nice Oriental one perhaps? * Not worth it: a midrange backyard patio. It’s in the backyard, right? – emphasis on "back." Which explains why it only garnered a 55.2 percent return on investment.* Worth it: a new roof. "Buyers pay a premium for one already in place," Credit.com has observed.No kidding. In fact, given that it’s such a prominent part of the house, you might call the roof the ultimate curb enhancer: If buyers like what they see, you’re halfway home; if they don’t, they may look for even more things to hate and certainly won’t be quick to open their wallets.Or, as Remodeling magazine says about curb appeal: "The impact these impressions make is critical in setting the stage for what a buyer is willing to pay for a home."If your roof needs replacing, check out the best-selling Timberline roofing shingle line from GAF (gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. The shingles have the look of luxury at a very affordable price.And remember: Don’t be afraid to use a new roof as the "negotiating tool" with buyers that Credit.com says it is.* Not worth it: a major upscale kitchen remodel. Another of those "differences in aesthetic tastes" issues. Better off to stick to repainting the walls or resurfacing cabinets, if need be. 

Move Over Meat – Vegetables are taking center stage on your plate

(NewsUSA) – Historically, American dinner plates have featured meat as its mainstay/star, with vegetables as tepid, secondary supporting players. Now, the balance of power on the plate is shifting as fresh, homegrown vegetables take center stage.Recent "food trend" studies show that more people are making vegetables the main course of their meals. Although the interest in healthy eating extends to all age groups, millennials seem to be driving this healthful food trend. Data from the NPD Group suggests that people younger than 40 are eating 52 percent more fresh vegetables compared with young adults 10 years ago, and that preference is likely to continue as they age.In support of this trend, professional chefs, bloggers, restaurants and home cooks are embracing the flavors of a vast variety of vegetables, from common to exotic. Episodes of the popular "Iron Chef" television show feature vegetable-centric meals and a recent article in New York magazine noted, "Simply put, the once-meat-obsessed populace is realizing that vegetables actually taste good. Especially when fresh, in season, and carefully prepared."You’ll see that many restaurants now offer vegetable-based entrees that have inspired home cooks to explore the healthy and delicious potential of making fresh vegetables a main course.Some reasons driving the shift in popularity of vegetables over meat include:- Vine-Ripened, great taste. Homegrown vegetables have a home field advantage when it comes to flavor because they stay on the vine to fully ripen and are harvested just before eating. Store bought veggies are often harvested before they’re fully ripe, so they don’t spoil on the journey to the store. Once picked from the vine, sugars begin to turn to starch-and that homegrown sweetness dissipates.- Good health. Everyone knows that vegetables are good for you, but research backs it up. In a study of over 130,000, in the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine, consumption of plant protein is associated with longer life compared with animal protein consumption.- Good stewardship. Eating more vegetables and less meat can have a positive effect on the environment. Data from the University of Oxford, England, suggests that eating more vegetables could have a greater impact on reducing one’s carbon footprint than giving up a car!As vegetables grow in popularity and push meat from the center of the plate, more people are interested not only in eating more vegetables, but eating locally grown vegetables – hey, what’s more local than growing your own veggies at home? Growing vegetables at home is convenient, satisfying, a money-saver in the produce aisle, and they’ll taste better, too!Fortunately for the home gardener, professional growers make it easy to grow nutritious and delicious vegetables at home. Bonnie Plants, for example, is a greenhouse grower offering more than 250 varieties of vegetable, herb, and fruit plants, ranging from traditional favorites to new and different choices. Some easy-to-grow options for your veggie main course include hearty tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and zucchini.Bonnie Plants operates more than 70 greenhouse facilities in 48 states and trucks fresh plants from greenhouses to retailers near you, so they’re ready for planting upon purchase, and you’ll harvest six weeks sooner than if you grow from seed. Plus, the plants are grown a truck-ride away from the retailers that sell them. Don’t worry if you have little outdoor space, patio-ready caged varieties and combo pots are available as great options for small spaces.Curious home gardeners interested in healthy eating can enjoy experimenting with vegetables to replace meat. For a new take on burgers, try substituting squash. Veggie burgers, like their meat-based counterparts, can be made in advance, frozen in patties, and pulled out for easy reheating as a healthy burger choice on a busy night. Try putting a new spin on salad, substituting Swiss chard for a fresh, peppy taste in lieu of such standbys as lettuce, spinach, and arugula.Time to season your homegrown veggies? Bonnie Plants also offers herb plants, so fresh seasoning is only a snip away with a quick trip to your garden plot or pot.Visit bonnieplants.com for more information on varieties along with planting tips, tending, troubleshooting, harvesting, and a plethora of delicious recipes to try!

Shen Yun Dancers Make Magic This Spring

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Shen Yun, or the “beauty of divine beings dancing,” has been enchanting audiences worldwide since 2006.
Ancient artistic techniques merge with present-day skill, talent, and energy as the Shen Yun Performing Arts company continues its tradition of unique, renowned performances this spring with a whole new selection of songs, dances, and musical scores celebrating 5,000 years of ancient Chinese culture.
Extolled by audiences as “the experience of a lifetime,” a Shen Yun performance showcases the values, virtues, spirituality, and creativity that once flourished in the Middle Kingdom (aka China), which the ancients preferred to call Shen Zhou, “the Land of the Divine.”
The performers combine long-ago legends and traditional music and dance with modern-day heroic tales, high-tech backdrops, elaborate costumes, and a live orchestra for a stirring, cross-cultural experience designed to inspire hope and joy. In each piece, elements of Eastern philosophy combine with universal themes of harmony and peace.
Shen Yun performers embrace the traditional Chinese idea that artists must cultivate inner goodness in order to create true art, and this positive attitude shines through each performance. Sadly, the traditional Chinese culture displayed by Shen Yun cannot be presented in today’s China, where it is viewed as a threat by the current Communist regime.
Shen Yun began its 2019 tour at Lincoln Center in New York last month, and will proceed with performances in Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and more than 50 other U.S. cities with another stint at the Lincoln Center in March.
Shen Yun Performing Arts is a nonprofit organization, based in New York and dedicated to reviving ancient Chinese culture. The organization has grown to include six companies, and the 2019 schedule includes shows at 120 of the world’s top venues, with an estimated audience of 1.3 million individuals.
The San Francisco Chronicle described a Shen Yun performance as “a visually dazzling tour of … Chinese history and culture.”
Others have been similarly complimentary, as they witness this unique portrayal of the impact of the divine on Chinese civilization and a culture that embraces living in harmony with nature and with the universe.
Visit shenyun.com or the company’s YouTube page www.youtube.com/shenyun for more information and a taste of the Shen Yun magic.
For Shen Yun 2019 tour schedule and tickets, visit: www.shenyun.com/tickets.

Sensory Loss Can Bring Increased Risk of Isolation, Depression

(NewsUSA) – According to a study by The University of Chicago, nearly 94 percent of older adults in the United States are living with at least one diminished sense. While many seniors experience hearing or vision loss, senses such as taste, touch and smell can also be affected.Diminished senses are commonly regarded as minor annoyances, but they have also been linked to serious and long-lasting problems for older adults, including loneliness and feelings of social isolation. Researchers at the University of British Columbia examined the impact of undiagnosed or untreated hearing issues in seniors ages 60 to 69 and found that for every 10 decibel drop in hearing sensitivity, the odds of social isolation increase by 52 percent.Left undetected, the loss of senses can result in feelings of depression and diminished quality of life for older adults. That’s why Home Instead Senior Care encourages families to be mindful of signs that an older adult is experiencing diminished senses, including:* Hearing: Signs of hearing loss can include difficulty following conversations, increased exhaustion following social interactions, trouble maintaining balance, feeling as if there is a buildup of wax or fluid in the ears, or continually increasing volume on television and radio programs.* Sight: Visual impairment affects almost 3 million older adults in the United States. Warning signs may include hesitance with stairs, blurry or discolored vision, difficulty identifying familiar faces or objects, and loss of interest in reading mail, newspapers or books.* Touch: Weakened sensitivity to touch can also pose a hazard to seniors. A decreased reaction time to very hot or very cold surfaces can be a sign that the sense of touch is beginning to decline, and can lead to accidental injuries.* Taste/Smell: Additionally, a diminished sense of taste and smell can also occur as we age. According to The University of Chicago, 74 percent of aging adults will suffer from impairment to the sense of taste, which works simultaneously with the sense of smell. Individuals may experience lack of appetite, loss of interest in food altogether, or complete loss of taste or smell.Home Instead Senior Care provides specialized training for its CAREGiversSM to help them better understand the aging process, identify the signs of sensory loss and deliver the best care for seniors experiencing the impacts of sensory loss, such as loneliness and isolation. If you are interested in receiving more information about sensory loss or looking for support for an aging loved one, you can find additional resources at caregiverstress.com or find a Home Instead office near you at www.homeinstead.com/state

Cheribundi Smoothie aids Arthritis For Celebrity Chef

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Seamus Mullen is an award-winning New York chef, restaurateur and cookbook author. In 2007, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a debilitating autoimmune disease, which forced him to rethink his relationship with food.
“Ultimately, through food, exercise and lifestyle changes, I was able to successfully turn my health around,” shares Mullen, who says that Cheribundi has been but one of the keys to improving his RA.
“Whether I’m spending the day in the kitchen or on my bike, I drink Cheribundi along with other ‘Hero Foods’ to reduce soreness, boost my immune system and amplify my overall health.”
Cheribundi tart cherry juice has the highest amount of antioxidants of any juice on the market.
Chef Mullen opened his first solo Spanish restaurant, Tertulia, in Manhattan in 2011. Two years later, he opened El Colmado. In 2017, he released his latest cookbook, “Real Food Heals,” hoping to inspire others to take control of their diet and general health.”As someone with RA, I’m constantly exploring the impact food has on our overall wellness. Cheribundi understands the importance of nutrition … and like me, they believe in helping people everywhere simply live healthier.”

One Small House in Boise, One Big Step in Homeownership

(NewsUSA) – There came a point in Meghanne’s 29-year-old life when she decided it was time to "be an adult and buy a house." And as a loan officer, she wanted to practice what she preached about investing in homeownership.Then again, living on a dairy farm near Boise, Idaho, with only cows for neighbors could have been a factor, too.Either way, after 11 years of renting, Meghanne was ready to buy a house. As a single woman with an active lifestyle, Meghanne didn’t want an older house that required a lot of work or maintenance, so she focused her search on newer homes. Trouble was, many houses were out of her price range, and those that weren’t got snapped up quickly.Due to its lower cost of living, Boise is in the midst of a boom. People from more expensive cities, such as, San Francisco and Seattle, are flocking to the area. In fact, Forbes named Boise "America’s fastest-growing city in 2018" with home prices increasing 11.58 percent. After getting priced out of the market in their cities of origin, these transplanted residents weren’t blinking at the median home price of $319,000. This and a shortage of inventory made for a super-hot real estate market – not exactly ideal when you’re looking for your first home and have a limited budget.Being a resourceful millennial, Meghanne started researching her options. She discovered a private non-profit organization, called NeighborWorks Boise, whose mission is to revitalize communities and offer affordable housing alternatives. This national organization builds pocket neighborhoods consisting of 10-15 energy-efficient homes, clustered together to form a close-knit community. Meghanne qualified for their program by meeting the income limit of $90,000.Through NeighborWorks Boise, Meghanne found a newly-constructed home affordably priced at $184,000. At only 700 square feet, the cute little house featured two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area, kitchen, front porch and attached garage."I fell in love," says Meghanne, "and the price was perfect."Because the home wasn’t complete, she was able to personalize it by making decisions on the finishes.Although NeighborWorks also offers affordable loans, Meghanne chose conventional financing through her employer, a mortgage lending company. Thanks to private mortgage insurance, she was able to put down only 3 percent ($5,520)."I considered making a 5 percent ($9,200) down payment but opted for 3 percent," explains Meghanne. "I used the extra $3,680 to buy furniture, and keep some money in savings for a rainy day."Since Meghanne moved in five months ago, her new home has already increased in value, appraising at $205,000 and boosting her equity by $21,000. And the planned close-knit community will soon be even closer when her co-worker moves into the same pocket neighborhood. Meghanne’s looking forward to having an already-made friend as her neighbor – instead of cows.Is it the right time for you to buy a house? Find out by visiting mgic.com/resources/buynow. Plus, follow the stories of other first-time homebuyers and learn from their experiences at readynest.com/homebuyer-stories

Some of the Biggest Misconceptions About Life Insurance

(NewsUSA) – So much for fancy cars, houses and jewelry.Eighty-one percent of Americans believe their "most valuable asset" is their family, according to a new survey by Edward Jones and the nonprofit consumer-education organization Life Happens. And one quarter of respondents in the national sampling of adults confessed that their biggest fear was saddling their nearest and dearest with unexpected financial burdens if they’re unable to work or die prematurely.Which begs the question: If we’re so worried about protecting what we treasure most, why don’t more people have life insurance?Ask most experts, and they’ll tell you that such policies can help provide crucial resources for anyone with loved ones to support. And yet the latest figures show only 41 percent of U.S. households have individual life insurance."Most Americans have little or no safeguards for their financial goals," says Ken Cella, principal of the Client Strategies Group at the financial services firm Edward Jones. "They may understand the value of having emergency funds to cover unexpected financial expenses in the short term, but they’re less protected for the long-term financial implications."Faisa Stafford, president of Life Happens, puts it even more bluntly: "Emergency savings aren’t a long-term financial solution, especially if a family’s primary breadwinner were to die."Much of the disconnect between what we’ll call "the urge to protect" and the reality on the ground can be blamed on one or both of the following misconceptions:* It’s too expensive. Think of this as the equivalent of the alligators-in-New-York-City-sewers myth. When Life Happens and LIMRA, a global life insurance research and consulting group, asked participants in their 2017 Insurance Barometer Study how much a $250,000 term life policy for a healthy 30-year-old would cost, NerdWallet reports, the median estimate was $500 a year – more than three times the actual annual amount of $160.But let’s say that would-be policy holder wanted even more protection for his dependents. Forbes magazine recently calculated that that same incorrect median estimate – $500 – would buy a healthy, non-smoking, 30-something male a 20-year term policy with a million-dollar death benefit. Some people spend more than that in a year on caffe lattes.That said, prices do vary based on factors like age, health, amount of coverage, and whether you opt for term or permanent insurance. The former – the most affordable – covers a specific time frame (usually 20 years or less), while the latter stays in force for life (as long as you continue to pay the premiums). Online aids like Edward Jones’ complementary Life Insurance Needs calculator can help with factors to consider when determining how much life insurance may be appropriate for you. * The policy I have through work is good enough. And if you’re no longer employed there? Not only is group life insurance generally not portable, it typically only provides benefits equal to one or two times your annual salary."Growing families usually need greater protection than that," says Scott Thoma, an investment strategist at Edward Jones, "and they need coverage that’s not contingent on work status."Know that life insurance doesn’t simply assign a monetary value to someone’s life. Which brings us to another revealing finding of the Edward Jones-Life Happens "Protect What Matters" survey.Twenty-three percent of participants didn’t know it can even cover expenses like college tuition for a surviving child.Edward Jones is a licensed insurance producer in all states and Washington, D.C., through Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. and in California, New Mexico, and Massachusetts through Edward Jones Insurance Agency of California, L.L.C.; Edward Jones Insurance Agency of New Mexico, L.L.C.; and Edward Jones Insurance Agency of Massachusetts, L.L.C.

Online Conference Connects Global Startups and Investors

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – The current startup business environment today is full of opportunities for investors who want to get in on the global economy.
At the upcoming Global Startup Summit, a free online event, startups from around the world can network with each other and with investors for mutual benefit.
The 7-day online event will be streaming on globalstartup.tv. Each day is dedicated to a different region of the world and includes three sessions with experts in the tech-enabled business field, a panel discussion on investment opportunities and consumer trends, and pitches from two startups.
Key themes at the Global Startup Summit include early-stage investment opportunities, global consumer trends, and trends in tech adoption across markets, according to Global Startup Media, a Virginia-based media company covering the business of global startups.
The event begins on February 18, 2019, with Africa Day, followed by Asia Pacific Day (Feb. 19), Europe Day (Feb. 20), US Opportunity Zone Day (Feb. 21), Latin America Day (Feb. 22), Middle East Day (Feb. 23), and Canada Day (Feb. 24).
Presenters at the Global Startup Summit include the World Bank, African Tech Roundup, Chinaccelerator, Middle East Venture Partners and more.
“As technology globalizes opportunity and capital, investors and founders are aggressively looking for new opportunities outside of their domestic markets, we are working closely with leading global brands in startups to present investment opportunities and consumer trends in startup ecosystems worldwide,” says Andrew Berkowitz, CEO and founder of Global Startup Media, the company organizing the conference.
“Great companies can be started anywhere in the world, and startups are growing everywhere. This event is an exciting opportunity to promote and connect the leaders driving growth and creating opportunities in the world’s startup ecosystems,” emphasizes Anne Driscoll, president and cofounder of Launch Pad, an organization with locations in cities across the U.S. that supports entrepreneurs and startups. Launch Pad is partnering with Global Startup Media to host the conference.
Technology trends related to startups on the US and global scene that may catch and hold investors’ attention include virtual reality/augmented reality, health technology, 3-D printing, and artificial intelligence, according to Fast Company magazine. These trends may materialize in startups in areas such as audible computing (Alexa, Google Home), smart cameras, consumer experiences, and micromobility in cities (shared spaces).
Visit globalstartup.tv for more information and to register in advance.
For more information about Global Startup Media, visit globalstartupmedia.com.

Women Say They’re Ready to Put Their Money to Work for Them

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – More women than ever before are realizing they need to make their money grow for them.
For decades, we’ve been hearing about an “investment gap” between males and females. And while it still exists, a whopping 72 percent of women in a new survey by Fidelity Investments said they’re ready to make bolder moves in the coming months – including investing more of their savings.
“Women tend to be the CFO of their household,” says Kathy Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity. “They tend to pay the bills, they tend to make 80 percent of the purchasing decisions. This (investing) can be part of it.”
The point about investing more of savings is crucial. While 44 percent of females polled for the firm’s “2018 Women and Investing Study” were currently putting their money to work in the market beyond just retirement accounts – that compares to 59 percent of men -more than a third of all women reported having $50,000 or more still sitting in checking and savings accounts that pay a pittance in interest. And that third or so includes those who do invest outside of, say, company 401(k) plans.
But if even $20,000 of that cash was invested in a conservative portfolio mix? Over five years, in a typical market, the money could potentially swell by $5,733 vs. $80 in a basic savings account (and potentially $2,961 in a typical five-year CD).
Millennial women would seem to be taking those numbers most seriously, which accounts for much of the optimism underlying the report.
Forty-eight percent of them are already investing their cash, as opposed to about 40 percent of both Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
“This is the first time in the almost decade we’ve been doing this study that we’ve seen Millennial women on track to really lead the way,” notes Murphy.
Don’t misunderstand: No one’s saying people – men or women – shouldn’t keep at least enough cash on hand in savings to cover three to six months of living expenses. That’s a fundamental rule of thumb among financial advisors. And Murphy contends that women who do invest actually turn out to be “great” at it for this simple reason: They come up with a long-term plan based on their own or their family’s goals, and then they allow their investments to grow without tending to make the mistake of trying to time the market.
Many online tools can help women looking to better manage their financial lives. Fidelity, for example, offers a free 10-minute “Financial Wellness” check-up that’s a first step in developing such a plan, and the firm also just launched a new “Demand More” site designed specifically for those with two X chromosomes. The latter, which is also free, includes personal stories from women like the 54-year-old with two grown children who “restarted her finances” after her divorce.
As for why women lag men in investing, Murphy has her own theory: “Sixty-five percent of them equate it with picking stocks. But it’s not about that. It’s about having a financial plan and sticking to it.”