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Archive for September, 2012

Indoor Air Pollution

September 19, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education


Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis
Executive Director
Women for a Healthy Environment
1405 Shady Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217-1350

Phone: 412.420.2290
Fax: 412.420.4450
Email: michelle@womenforahealthyenvironment.org

How healthy is the air around you? Much of your overall health can be improved by simply breathing better air and there are many small things that you can do to help increase your air quality. Studies have shown that indoor air has higher levels of toxins and pollutants than outdoor air. Factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality include:

Poor ventilation – a major problem and said to cause half of all indoor air problems

Toxic fumes – emitted from products found around the home

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that “volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.” EPA further indicates that concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. Products that contain VOCs include: paints, paint strippers, and other solvents; wood preservatives; aerosol sprays; cleansers and disinfectants; moth repellents and air fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies; dry-cleaned clothing.

What You Can Do to promote a healthy home:
Open a window to help to reduce indoor toxins in the air and run exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen

Choose non-volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, stains and adhesives

Eliminate smoking in the home
Change your furnace/air conditioner filters every three months and vacuum carpets regularly (use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum for a cleaner environment

Purchase natural flooring and non-toxic wool carpets, allow newly purchased carpets to air before installation

Select natural wood furniture – particle board or pressed wood products are known to contain formaldehyde

Use natural cleaning products

Check that combustion appliances such as stoves, fireplaces, furnaces are vented to the outside

Avoid air fresheners and candles, instead opt for safer alternatives including fresh/dried flowers; spices such as cinnamon, clove, or orange; and essential oils such as lemon, eucalyptus, clary sage and rose

Test for radon, asbestos and lead and install a carbon monoxide detector

Add houseplants to decrease the amount of pollutants in the air and absorb harmful gases

For More Information

Get the Facts:Busting the Top 10 Myths on the Affordable Care Act

September 19, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

Doctors for America is a national movement of doctors and medical students who are working
together to improve the health of the nation and to ensure that everyone has access to affordable,
high-­-quality health care.

MYTH #1: It’s too complicated to understand any of it.
FACT: The basics are simple. 32 million more American will be insured.
The worst insurance company abuses will end.
We will start improving quality and controlling cost for everyone.
FACT: HealthCare.gov explains the law and how it will be rolled out.

MYTH #2: It hasn’t helped anyone.
FACT: Insurance now covers: 1) Children with pre-existing conditions,
2) 2.5 million young adults through age 26 who can
now stay on their parents’ plans, 3) Adults with pre-existing conditions who can now sign up for high-risk plans
FACT: No more insurance company caps on how much they will spend on your heath care.

MYTH #3: We can’t afford to have it.
FACT: We can’t afford not to have it. By promoting access to the right care, at the right place, at the right time, the Affordable Care Act was designed to save money while keeping people healthier.

MYTH #4: It hurts Medicare and seniors.
FACT: Seniors get help affording prescription drugs.
FACT: Seniors get annual checkups with no copays.
FACT: It invests in making Medicare work better for the long run for seniors and doctors.

MYTH #5: It’s increasing premiums and costs for families.
FACT: Private employer-based health premiums were skyrocketing before the law, and it will help change that.
FACT: Insurance companies now have to explain why they are raising rates on a public website.
FACT: If insurance companies don’t spend enough of your premium dollars on health care, they are now required to send
you a rebate at the end of the year.

MYTH #6: It’s hurting small businesses.
FACT: Many small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are now getting tax credits of up to 35% of health insurance
premiums. Beginning in 2014, many small businesses will be eligible for tax credits up to 50% of insurance premiums.

MYTH #7: It’s unconstitutional.
FACT: Most law experts have said health reform is constitutional, and most judges - even the most conservative - agree.

MYTH #8: It’s all about insurance and not about health.
FACT: It creates a national Prevention Fund - a long overdue investment in improving health and preventing chronic disease. Communities across the country are already
using grant money to help people live healthier lives.
FACT: It invests in training more doctors, nurses, and other health professionals

MYTH #9: It’s all about insurance and not about cost.
FACT: The Medicare and Medicaid Center for Innovation is promoting new models, innovations, and research across the
country to start improving care while decreasing costs.
FACT: The law invests in improving quality and coordination of care.

MYTH #10: It’s a government takeover of health care.
FACT: The Affordable Care Act is a partnership between the government and businesses, communities, hospitals, doctors, and patients. It strengthens the private insurance market while protecting people and their health.
FACT: The more we know, the more we can get to
better health and better health care for our families and our country!

ABC’s of Pricing

September 19, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Rieva Lesonsky

One of the hardest lessons to learn when you’re starting a new business is how to price your products or services. With today’s still recovering economy, consumers expect lower prices, and knowing what price points will bring customers in and which will turn them away is not an easy task. So since it’s September and many
of us are in “back to school” mode, here are my ABCs of pricing.

A is for Ask. Ask your friends, peers and potential customers what they would pay for your products or services. Check competitors’ prices and make note of the highs and the lows. What do you think are their price differentiators? Test different prices, and if sales are sluggish, ask your customers why they’re not buying. Or if you bid on a project and don’t get it, ask why. Don’t automatically assume you charged too much and lower your prices. There could be a myriad of other reasons the potential client didn’t choose you.

B is for Be Not a Beggar. Don’t be so desperate for business you price yourself out of a chance to make a profit. If you want to charge an introductory price, make sure the customer knows the low prices won’t last. If you’re bidding on a service job, the same strategy applies. Offering a lower introductory price enables clients to see your quality of work, but let them know the next job will cost more. Remember: Sometimes cheap prices signify poorer quality in the customers’ minds—we are all too familiar with the phrase “you get what you pay for.”

C is for Compare to Your Competition. What makes your product or service different from your competitors’ and why would a customer buy from you instead of from someone else? These are important questions to ask yourself when you’re comparing your price structure to your competitors. Are customers buying because of your reputation, your name or your position as a community leader? Or is it a situation where the lowest price wins out? When you study your competition and see how much they charge, compare your overall qualities as a challenger in the market and base your pricing on where you fall in the industry.

Finally, the best thing about pricing is it never has to be permanent. You need be as flexible with your pricing as the economy demands. Make sure you follow current pricing trends, and you’ll find your business making top grades

Feng Shui for Better Sleep & Productivity

September 19, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Yvonne Phillips

Feng Shui for your Bedroom

One of the primary principles of Feng Shui involves Chi flowing through all objects in a space, and through and around each item that is present in or around a space such as your home. The positioning effects whether Chi moves freely or bottlenecks— this principle applies to all rooms, including your bedroom.

Your bedroom is where you spend over 1/3 of your time, so having proper balance of yin and yang is of vital importance. Yang energy is necessary because it helps you remain motivated to get up and running with your daily responsibilities. Too much yang, on the other hand, can put you in the crazy house! It can make you feel frazzled or fatigued by over-stimulating your senses. This situation can make you feel overly zealous, which in turn prevents you from just kicking back and relaxing and restoring inner balance.

A command position http://fengshuipublications.com for your bedroom, as applies in Feng Shui, means that when you are facing the door from the far side of the room, yet you are not precisely in alignment with the door. If you go diagonally from the farthest part of your room away from the point of entry, you will arrive at the best command position for your bed. This position allows you to benefit from the Chi as it enters and flows through your room, while being far enough away from the doorway that you are protected from over-stimulation by Chi.

Another Feng Shui bed room tip is that you keep your bed in a position that has a solid wall behind you for support. Utilizing this position provides you with visual command of the space, and allows you to face life head on– both symbolically and literally.

REMEMBER!!! Sleeping in line with the door exposes you to excessive Chi, which contributes to stress, touchiness, and health issues. However, keeping your bed in command position prevents you from any negative influences and puts you in firm control of not merely your room, but within the space your very existence.
Feng Shui suggests that you not keep your bed near a window– but ideally– the window should be behind and to your right. The logic behind this is to welcome and receive positive energies from the universe as you wake and approach every new day with which you are blessed to greet.

Building Bridges for Business is hosting, For Sale: Opportunity, a Franchising event,

September 05, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

October 9

Building Bridges for Business is hosting, For Sale: Opportunity, a Franchising event,
on October 9 between 4:30pm and 8:00 pm EST at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown
Pittsburgh. This event, which will be built around networking opportunities for small
business owners and entrepreneurs, is intended to connect established franchisors,
funding on the spot with a new loan program, finding space, and potential franchisees.
Rich Fitzgerald, executive, Allegheny County, will deliver a message on the current state
of locally owned small businesses.
In addition to providing franchises with an established presence in the Pittsburgh region with
growth opportunities, the event will also target new opportunities for franchises outside of the
Pittsburgh market and potential local franchisees.

Interested participants can register for the event on Building Bridges for Business’
website : www.buildingbridgesforbusiness.org

Temple Grandin at Animal Friends September 6, 2012

September 04, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

Animal Friends Hosts Temple Grandin, September 6, 2012 (NEW DATE!)

On Thursday, September 6 at 7:30 pm, Animal Friends will host an evening with Temple Grandin.

Dr. Temple Grandin goes by many titles: doctor, professor, educator, researcher, author. But perhaps her most important title is animal advocate.

On September 6, Animal Friends and Huntington Bank will bring Temple Grandin to the August Wilson Center, downtown, to speak about her work in the animal welfare field and the connection between people and their animals.

Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age, is a well-known autism and animal advocate. Grandin’s career and research into autism and animal welfare spans decades. Using her research, Grandin has pushed for and achieved better conditions for livestock and other barn yard animals. Her autism also grants her a special insight into how animals react and interact with the world around them.

Grandin has written numerous books on how we as humans can better the world our animals live in. In 2010, HBO premiered a movie detailing Grandin’s life and work in the livestock industry. The film won numerous awards.

“I saw her speak for the first time at a Humane Society of the United States conference back in 2001 and I knew then she was someone special,” Joanne Moore, Animal Friends’ Director of Outreach and Therapeutic Programming, said. “Her research—how she had dedicated her life and career to work for better conditions for animals—all of it is just amazing.”

An Evening with Temple Grandin will focus mainly on Grandin’s work in the animal welfare field and her book, Animals Make Us Human. Knowing what causes animals physical pain is usually easy, but pinpointing emotional distress is much harder. Drawing on her own experience with autism, Grandin has identified and explored the emotional needs of animals. This insight has led her to push for humane advances in livestock facilities. While her work with slaughterhouses and the livestock industry is not without some controversy, Moore thought it important to share the core of Grandin’s message.

“We need to think about the needs of our animals. We as a community need to hear and spread the message that animals are not things. They are living beings that command respect and dignity,” Moore said.

Tickets are available through www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org or by calling 412.847.7000. There are 3 different ticket packages available, one of which offers a special reception with Dr. Grandin.

The August Wilson Center is located at 980 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.


September 04, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Patricia Thibault
Social Security District Manager in Pittsburgh, PA

Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15, and whether you prefer communicating in English or Spanish, there are some important online services we’d like you to know about. You can find them at www.socialsecurity.gov and at our Spanish site, www.segurosocial.gov 

If you are ready to apply for Social Security retirement benefits now, you can do it quickly and easily on your home or office computer. The online application takes as little as 15 minutes. Once you complete the online application and “sign” it with the click of a mouse, your application is complete. In most cases, there are no documents to submit or additional paperwork to fill out. Online is the easiest way to apply, and you can do it in English or Spanish.

In addition to applying for Social Security retirement benefits, you also can apply for Medicare — in as little as 10 minutes, from start to finish.

But you can do more than apply for benefits. You can find a lot of information and a number of online services that allow you to complete your Social Security business online, in English or Spanish. One of the most popular is our Retirement Estimator, which provides an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefits. Using the actual wages posted in your Social Security record, the Estimator will give you a good picture of what to expect in benefits. It protects your personal information by providing only retirement benefit estimates — it does not show the earnings information used to calculate the benefit estimate, nor does it reveal other identifying information. You can plug in different retirement scenarios and future wage amounts to get estimates for different situations.

If you already are entitled to Medicare and are having trouble with the cost of prescription drugs, you might qualify for Extra Help from Social Security. The Extra Help can save you as much as $4,000 each year. You can learn all about it and apply online.

Whether you prefer to do business online in Spanish or English, our website is the place for you. Visit www.segurosocial.gov   or www.socialsecurity.gov   during Hispanic Heritage Month, or anytime.
It’s so easy!

What Marketing Essentials Do I Need?

September 04, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

A Manageable Social Media Presence
Dawn Mentzer - Freelance Writer, The Insatiable Solopreneur Blog

Social media can rock for small businesses. A presence on one or more social networks lets you talk about and visually share your products and services with your fans and followers – and with whomever within their networks they decide to share with. It opens the door for two-way conversations between you and your audience so you can build rapport – and establish your brand as the business to do business with.

Social media platforms truly present tremendous opportunities – so long as you also accept and act on the responsibility that comes with them. To do that, you need to make sure you can manage your social media involvement.

*Time and Attention

You would never buy a smartphone only to completely ignore all incoming calls, texts, and voicemail messages. Unfortunately, that’s how some businesses handle their social media presence. There are Facebook pages that haven’t posted an update in months. There are Twitter accounts that haven’t tweeted since 2009. There are LinkedIn profiles that still display the default shadowy silhouette as their profile pic.

Social media takes time and attention, and if you’re not giving yours both of those things, people will notice.

*Avoid “Shiny Object” Syndrome

Devoting time and attention to social media is a heck of a lot easier if you haven’t overextended yourself in that arena. Don’t jump in and try every single new online network that comes down the pike. Carefully consider which social media will serve you best before you sign up. In short, find out which ones your customers and prospective customers are actively using. How? Ask them. Or check out which social media networks your competitors are using and observe how much activity is going on there.

And if you’ve already got accounts on social media, evaluate how well you’re keeping up with them before you commit to the latest and greatest thing. It might very well serve your business well, but if you’re not able to consistently engage with followers on your other social networks, there’s a good chance you’ll falter on the new one, too.

*It’s Not Enough to Just Be There

Social media is meant to be social. That means you need to be an active participant to derive any benefit for your business. You need to:
Post regularly.
Acknowledge and reply to questions and comments.
Proactively interact with others beyond just your own page or profile (i.e. comment on other businesses’ status updates, retweet others’ tweets, “like” posts by others).

Again, it takes time. It takes energy. And all of the networks require varying amounts of those things. Know the frequency of posting that’s effective and acceptable for the networks you’re considering. That can run the gamut from 1 to 2 times per week to 15 times per day. The time you have available for social media – or the feasibility of hiring someone to do it for you – should be among the deciding factors as you zone in on which platforms are right for you.

*Tools for the Taking

All that said, before giving the thumbs down to a platform because you don’t believe you’ll have the time to devote to it, consider what tools are available to help you manage your presence there. There are time-saving free web-based and downloadable products that give you “dashboard” views of multiple social media network news feeds at once. Some tools allow you to, with just a click on your web browser, send links directly into a status update that you can either post immediately or schedule for later.

For starters, check out…





Visit their websites to learn about their features and benefits. And you probably won’t have to look very hard to find someone who is using – or has used – at least one of them. Ask them questions about their experiences with these tools.

Making social media a manageable marketing endeavor takes some education and energy. The key is to be realistic about your ability to keep up with your points of online presence so you don’t spread yourself too thin. Consider the time and effort you’ll need to put into it; abstain from jumping on every shiny, brand new platform; know the nuances of individual platforms; and don’t be afraid to use tools. With some careful thought about and dedication to managing your social media, you’ll succeed in keeping your fans and followers engaged while not missing a beat in fulfilling your other responsibilities to your business.

Dawn Mentzer - Freelance Writer, The Insatiable Solopreneur Blog
Dawn is a marketing and public relations freelance writer, editor and proofreader. Her passion and finely balanced left /right brain ratio helps businesses convey the unique value they deliver. She serves as VP of Marketing for the Lancaster, PA chapter of SCORE.
www.dawnmentzer.com | Facebook | @DawnMentzer | More from Dawn

The Grammar Nerd at the Library

September 04, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

Sydnee Bagovich
The Grammar Nerd
Helping you to get it right.


I will be presenting Quick Fixes for Everyday Grammar Blunders at several libraries this fall. Programs run from 7:00 - 8:00, and there is no fee. Here are the dates and contact information:
9/20/12 – Upper St. Clair Library, contact: Lee Boyd boydlee10@comcast.net  , 412-835-5540
10/10/12 – Mt. Lebanon Library, contact: Mimi Ingalls, ingallsm@einetwork.net  ; 412-531-1912, http://www.eventkeeper.com/code/events.cfm?curOrg=MTLEB&curskw=grammar 
10/25/12 – Cooper-Siegel Library, Fox Chapel, contact: Ann Andrews, andrewsa@einetwork.net  ,412-828-9520 x215
10/29/12 – South Park Library, contact: Donna Neiport, neiportd@einetwork.net  , 412-833-5585
11/10/12 – Carnegie Main Library, Oakland, contact: Wes Roberts, robertsq@carnegielibrary.org 

Business Calendar, September 2012

September 04, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

Business Program Calendar
September 2012
Programs are held on Thursdays at 12:15 pm at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Downtown & Business, 612 Smithfield St., Downtown. They are free and open to the public.
September 6 Are You “Wired” for Success?
Dr. Barbara Schwarck, Executive Coach & CEO
Clear Intentions International

This session is all about you being successful at home and at work. Dr. Schwarck will demonstrate her unique Neuro Emotional Coaching Technique, revealing that success is not only a function of the conscious mind, but many biochemical processes deeply imbedded in our body and consciousness. Discover what you can do to have a breakthrough in areas that have been difficult for you in this very informative, fun and interactive session.


September 13 Electronic Etiquette: Ground Rules for the Wireless & Paperless Age
Karen Litzinger – Litzinger Career Consulting

Should you e-mail the person in the next office or cubicle? When, if ever, is it OK to text during a meeting? What does your ringtone say about you? With ever-increasing dependence on technology, we sometimes lose sight of common courtesy. Ms. Litzinger will help you examine your use of electronic devices to enhance your professional image and advance your career.

September 20 Recognizing Who is At Risk for Financial Exploitation and Knowing
Where to Find Help If It Happens
Anna Hays, Esquire – Julian Gray Associates

Even if your parents live nearby, you may not recognize the initial signs of diminished capacity, and if they have always managed their own finances, you may not know the nature and scope of their investments. . Pennsylvania offers several resources to help seniors and their families understand possible financial risks and how to avoid financial exploitation. Ms.Hays will provide important information that will help you safeguard assets to provide for both longevity and rising health care costs.

September 27 Fresh: New Thinking About What We’re Eating
(DVD – 70 minutes)

It’s obvious that there must be a better way to eat than to use genetically engineered food, produce sprayed with pesticides, and meat from cows that are fed surplus corn instead of grazing happily in open fields. This lively documentary features interviews with an urban farmer, a sustainable farmer and a supermarket owner. After you see this film, you may be inspired to buy local products, shop at farmers markets and even grow your own garden!