Becoming a Pest Investigator Part 2

Inspections must take place in 3-D. You must examine make your own bobblehead from a belly perspective, while crouching, standing tall and from up above. It is a basic fact of pest management that pests go where they are safe from our prying eyes. If we don’t look up into false ceilings and other overhead structures, that’s where the pests will be. It’s not always practical to carry a ladder into the account with you, though most of us have ladders in or on our trucks. At the very least, know the location of, and get permission to use, the appropriate ladders on your client’s premises. Include overhead spaces and structures in your inspections, and keep monitoring equipment in those above-the-floor locations as well.

Many insects, such as earwigs, springtails and certain species of ants, like to live under mulch, beneath dead leaves and thatch, under rocks and patio stones, and close to the foundations of buildings. Garden tools such as shovels, trowels and bow rakes can be used to disturb the top layer of mulch, turf and stone borders, and also can be employed to expose the soil near the foundation in order to find the nests of ants, the hiding places of earwigs, or the moist conditions that enable springtails, millipedes and sowbugs to thrive.

Always get your client’s permission before bringing any camera onto their premises. Some large, industrial and food/pharmaceutical concerns have policies banning cameras. If allowed, a camera can be an invaluable inspection tool. It enables you to make a graphic record of pest evidence, pest-conducive conditions, sanitation and maintenance issues. By showing these pictures to your contact person, you ensure that they know exactly what you’re talking about. Some facilities are open to the idea of receiving inspection reports illustrated with digital photos of conditions being brought to the attention of the sanitation and maintenance departments. For security reasons, offer to use your client’s own camera, or at the very least leave the memory card in your client’s possession between inspections.
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The facilities we are called upon to inspect can be quite large, and it helps to narrow the job down to a relatively few areas where pests are most likely to be present. The 80/20 rule applies here: 80 percent of the pests are likely to be found within 20 percent of the area within a building.

Since we know that most pests require moisture to survive, find out where the moisture is. “Prong”-style moisture meters are used to determine the moisture level of a wooden structural member or of a wall; ambient moisture meters can simply be set down in an area to read the moisture level of the air in that area. A moisture meter can be used to pinpoint the likeliest areas to be infested by moisture-loving pests, thereby greatly limiting the actual number of square feet your inspection will need to cover.

Similarly to the way a moisture meter saves us work by identifying areas where moisture levels are high and insect activity is likely to be concentrated, a remote-measuring infrared thermometer can show you where the warm areas are. Many insects are tropical in origin, and they will gravitate towards conditions that approximate the tropical environment of their forebears.

I’m acquainted with a PMP who was once confronted with the task of identifying the nesting locations of a population of Pharaoh ants in a massive dairy plant. A previous pest control contractor had tried to spray this population out of existence, resulting in Pharaoh ants budding far and wide, creating probably hundreds or even thousands of individual nests. He used a moisture meter and a remote-measuring infrared thermometer “gun” to find the areas within walls that were both warmer and wetter than surrounding areas, and concentrated his inspection and treatment in these spots. Armed with information provided by these electronic inspection tools, he was soon able to bring the Pharaoh ant infestation under control, and he did not have to comb through every square inch of the plant in order to do so. Infrared thermometers were once quite pricey, but nowadays you can obtain a laser-guided, pinpoint-capable infrared thermometer for a couple of hundred dollars.

Our team of surgeons who wanted to create a bionic pest management professional (see Part One) probably should have outfitted her with X-ray eyes so that she could see through walls and tell whether there was pest activity, or whether there were conditions (moisture, accumulations of food material, etc.) that might support pest activity inside of wall cavities. To pests, wall cavities are wide-open spaces that can be used for shelter and safe travel. To us, they are off-limits — unless we can invest in at least one fiber-optic camera or borescope per company or per branch office.

With a fiber-optic camera or borescope, one can drill a small hole in a suspect area of wall and look inside to see if termites or other insects are present, or to see if mouse or rat nesting is taking place there. The cost of fiber-optic cameras is drastically lower today than it was some years ago when they were first introduced; a high-quality, color camera “snake” can be purchased for several hundred dollars, and will pay for itself in no time. They take the doubt out of wondering whether a wall should be dismantled to get at pest harborage or not. When using one of these, be prepared to find yourself eye-to-eye with squirrels, rats or other denizens of hidden voids.

Everyone encounters, from time to time, a mystery small-fly problem that they are fairly sure is the result of a broken sewer line or an accumulation of decaying organic material beneath the building’s floor slab. Breaking up a concrete floor for the purpose of identifying where fly activity is coming from is prohibitively expensive, and most of our clients would rather live with a fly problem than go to the expense of removing a floor. You can, however, drill ?-inch to ?-inch holes in the floor slab of a suspect area (carefully chisel the ceramic floor tile out first, and save it for making repairs later). You may smell a putrid or “sewer-gas” odor coming from the hole. If so, you can be fairly certain this area is a good candidate for having a qualified contractor remove the floor tiles, break up the slab, find the contamination-soaked sub-slab soil or sand, and remove all of it prior to bringing in fresh fill and re-pouring the slab. Alternately, you might choose to tape plastic sandwich bags over the holes you drill, with a sticky trap inside. Any bags in which flying insects are found indicate fly activity beneath the slab in that area.

Unless you’re a very small operation, you ought to have a good-quality, high-power stereo microscope at your main office or branch offices. These will help to make sense of the mystery pests that are found during inspections. Alternately, get on a first-name basis with the nearest university extension entomologist. Those folks have killer equipment and the knowledge to determine the identity of even the most obscure pest specimen.

Make sure you get a stereo microscope with top illumination, not the compound microscopes that are illuminated from beneath. Compound microscopes, often found in high-school biology classrooms and medical laboratories, are best suited for looking at extremely small specimens on slides — they are of no use in examining solid objects personalized bobbleheads.

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  1. 2013/03/27(水) 16:43:12|
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Restaurant Report Card

That personalized bobbleheads is down 11 points from when it was featured last summer. The two most serious problems were common ones: some food wasn't within the safe temperature range, and the bleach solution being used to sanitize surfaces wasn't the correct concentration. In this case, it was too strong. The wiping cloths weren't being soaked in sanitizer between uses, either.

The Waffle Company was also docked because one of the grill cooks didn't have a hat and beard guard on, someone's lip gloss was left out, and water-damaged ceiling tiles and a hole in the wall needed to be repaired. The critical violations were fixed on the spot, snd the Waffle Company was given until its next inspection to take care of the others.

Some spray bottles that weren't labeled with their contents cost the restaurant five point and another six were lost because Blend was using a wooden batter spreader. The report notes wood is not an approved food contact surface; the spreader was being stored in a tub of water with a spatula used on raw egg which is cross contamination.

Vienna's Jumbo Char-n-Grill received an 88 from the health department. The inspector asked that the restaurant stop using silk and plastic decorations near the salad bar, because they're difficult to clean. Jumbo Char-n-Grill was also instructed to stop draining clean dishes on cloth towels, because they can harbor contamination.

This was the starting attacking option in a 4-4-2 formation. Apart from the flighted ball Katongo sent in the 75th minute to allow Mbesuma to score, there was not a single threat that was conjured up by this partnership. The two were unequally yoked together. Like during AFCON 2013, they did not click. Katongo’s naked individualism does not lend him to team work that creates goal-scoring chances. When others are in more threatening positions, he opts to shoot than pass. Mbesuma, on the other hand, is selfless and drops to fetch the ball and looks to pass or hold on until others arrive. As a team, Chipolopolo are not playing to the strengths of Mbesuma. He is the one who needs to be fed with the ball but against Lesotho; he had to consistently drop into the midfield position to collect the ball. He needed to be more in the box than outside it. Mayuka should have been given a chance to partner Mbesuma. Renard’s unfruitful loyalty to his captain may be his undoing, in the long run.

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He position of a creative midfielder to feed the strikers does not exist in the current squad. The team appears to be set up to allow Isaac Chansa, to play the role but he tends to be too defensive-minded and drops quite deep. Against Lesotho, Mbesuma could be seen dropping into midfield to look for the ball in the “hole” behind him. The role in question best suits Rainford Kalaba who is physically not up to the challenge of running up and down the wings where Renard prefers playing him. Kalaba’s involvement in defensive physical duels is negligible and this puts a lot of strain and pressure on the wing backs. He is wasted on the wings and needs to be brought more into the centre. Power Dynamos’ Mukuka Mulenga also naturally fits into this role, as was seen during the Africa Cup of Nations.

Against Lesotho, Herve Renard deployed Rainford Kalaba and Fwayo Tembo to wing roles. Fwayo was a threat in the first half and combined very well with Collins Mbesuma. The Romanian-based Tembo showed that he had a good touch and a sensible football brain. However, in the second half, his physical levels dropped maybe due to the high altitude or African heat or something else. He was rightfully sacrificed when Mweene was shown a red-card and the team needed to defend. Kalaba, on the other hand, tried to push forward but lost the ball on several occasions. He also did not track back to lend a hand in defence. Davies Nkausu was quite exposed as a result of Kalaba’s consistent failure to help defensively by tracking back. However, it appears Kalaba is not suited to the physical demands of a winger in modern football. Such a role demands pace and high energy levels of tracking back to help with defending.

It is indisputable that Mweene sacrificed himself for the good of the team when in the 54th minute he was shown a red-card for up-ending Lesotho’s Tsepo Lekhoana when the Likuena striker was free on goal. The team reacted well after the sending-off by pressing forward and attacking incessantly until they scored in the 75th minute, despite being a man down.

After Mbesuma’s goal in the 75th minute, Chipolopolo went on to put up a display that is best forgotten. Renard removed Mbesuma. Was this correct? Yes it was. Mbesuma was tired as he had worked his socks out the whole afternoon. The coach moved the fresh legs of Jonas Sakuwaha, who had come for Kalaba, to a central striking role to hold the ball and delay play in order to defend the sole goal! It is for this reason that William Njobvu was drafted into the midfield battle to contain Lesotho who had central numerical strength as their 4-1-4-1 flexibly allowed more bodies in midfield and defence. Njobvu’s coming on was a logical change of personnel given that Zambia was a man down. Though he replaced Mbesuma, his script, judging by his positioning, was not to play as a centre-forward but to help Chansa and Sinkala in the middle.

Was it tactically astute to defend Mbesuma’s headed goal? The answer is a resounding yes. This is because Zambia was a man down and it made sense not to open up and allow Lesotho to equalise. Therefore, shoring up the midfield with numbers and leaving a fresh Sakuwaha upfront to hold the ball and allow Katongo to join him made a lot of sense. Of course Sakuwaha proved inept at holding the ball. His loss of the ball of the ball is what ultimately allowed Lesotho’s equaliser.

While Zambia’s draw with Lesotho cannot be solely attributed to the plastic pitch, the turf of the Setsotho stadium slowed down the Zambians. The ball also had a higher than usual bounce. The Likuena had better personal control of the ball because they obviously are used to the condition of the unnatural turf.

It was clear that Sunzu was not in the best of physical conditions. His right leg was heavily strapped. In the closing stages of the match he was running with a limp. The fact is he should not have played given his condition. Owing to Sunzu’s lack of fitness and game time under his belt, his aerial lapse led to the sending off of Mweene. Sunzu actually touched the ball with his hand but because it was a powerfully delivered-ball, it could not stop and drop. Had it stopped, Sunzu would have been red-carded. Sunzu’ mistake aside, the failure of Hichani Himoonde and Nkausu to track the run of Tsepo into Zambia’s box after Sunzu had aerially committed itself was symptomatic of the defensive lethargy that ailed Chipolopolo’s game on the day. Nkausu and Joseph Musonda were in the first half repeatedly caught out of position because of senseless overlapping and a lack of cover from Fwayo Tembo and Rainford Kalaba.It was Sunzu and Himoonde who had the serious task of covering the usually vacant flanks.

Topic:industrial network - Genre:Blog

  1. 2013/03/27(水) 16:38:51|
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We're proof you don't need a degree to be a success

The Leaving Cert is fast approaching, and the race for points and college places grows more intense with every passing year. While this year's crop of students are probably already up to their ears in authors, they should take a moment to dwell on one of Oscar Wilde's wisest quotes. "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be personalized bobbleheads."

So what happens if you don't get the college course you've set your heart on, or when you get it, you realise that it isn't what you wanted? Or what if you never get to go to college at all? We spoke to three Irish women who are very successful in business, and who have risen to where they are today without having completed a degree.

I left school when I was 15, much to the disappointment of my parents. I was very unhappy in school for a couple of years before I left, and was a very determined young lady. I went to work full-time as a receptionist for my father Gerry in his printing company, Aungier Print, for a year. I was paid 70 Irish pounds a week, 30 of which was given to my parents as rent, which taught me at a very early age to appreciate what I had and how to budget my money.

Then I started working in the Olympia Theatre production office, and did every possible job until I climbed to the top and became the theatre manager. I left the Olympia after 10 years, and moved to the UK to spread my wings into new areas of entertainment, setting up bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Upon returning to Ireland, I used my PR and marketing skills to turn failing venues into hotspots and 'must-do' items on social calendars.
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With all of that experience, I made a lot of contacts and even some very close celebrity friends. I set up an entertainment agency, Red Carpet, in 2008, which was Ireland's first agency to look specifically after UK and internationally based artists. It was hugely successful, but my heart was in LA, so the Red Carpet Agency in Ireland was sold and Red Carpet Agency LLC in LA was born.

The picture and sound settings menus are now also integrated into this new system, but they retain a similar layout to Panasonic's previous effort. On the whole these menus are easy to use and offer a good level of control over this model's various modes and features. It's also good to see that you can now tweak the backlight and contrast settings independently of each other -- something you couldn't do on last year's LED models.

Handily, there are short explanations of what the various settings in the picture and sound menus actually do. They're displayed in a box at the bottom of the screen, helping to provide more insight into the effects of any changes you make.

Another plus is that Panasonic's picture presets are, on the whole, very good. They're much better than those offered by Samsung on its sets, for example. The Cinema and True Cinema modes, in particular, deliver very watchable results for films, so you won't have to spend ages tweaking picture modes to get good results for your Blu-ray movies.

The EPG has been massively improved too. Panasonic has finally added a video thumbnail window to the guide, so using it is no longer as intrusive as it once was. You can now continue keeping tabs on Downton Abbey while checking out what's coming up on various channels later on. What's more, there's now also a channel explorer built in to one of the homescreens, so you can quickly run up and down through the channel list to see what's currently on across multiple stations.

Panasonic started to take the design of its TVs more seriously last year, but it still struggled to produce models that were real head turners. All that seems to have changed this year, as the ET60 really is a very handsome-looking set. It has a super-slim bezel framing the screen, which measures a mere 14mm deep. This bezel is finished in chrome, so it looks the business, and I also like the attractive transparent strip running across the bottom of the telly that houses what look like floating LED indicators for stuff like the power status light. All in all, it's a really classy-looking telly.

It's even more annoying then that Panasonic seems to have followed the lead that Samsung set last year in reducing the number of HMDI ports on offer. Whereas last year's ET50 model had four HDMI ports, this one makes do with three.

These are all mounted on the left-hand edge along with two USB ports, an SD-card reader and optical digital audio output. There's also a downward facing panel on the rear that houses a set of component inputs and the green plug on this doubles up as the composite input -- something I'm starting to see often on newer TVs. If you want to hook up a Scart device to this model you need to use an adaptor cable that connects to the set's RGB mini jack. Wi-Fi is built in, but Panasonic has also naturally kitted it out with an Ethernet socket.

This model only has a Freeview HD tuner on board -- rather than both the Freeview and Freesat tuners on the company's more expensive TVs -- so there's only a single RF input on the rear.

Topic:This 4-star modern hotel is a member - Genre:Diary

  1. 2013/03/21(木) 12:28:00|
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The Navigation of Birds and the Balance of Cats

There are a number of issues addressed in This Close, Jessica Francis Kane’s smart, subtly heartbreaking second collection of stories. In her debut novel, The Report, precise and epic at once, Kane showed a remarkable talent for recreating moments and eras and shifts in collective consciousness long passed. Here she proves equally skilled in plumbing 21st-century considerations. There are the conflicts of interest and misunderstandings that inevitably arise when very different people are put in close proximity, an increasingly frequent happening in today’s America. When an upwardly mobile man befriends a young Korean boy — the son of his dry-cleaners — he wrestles with what, exactly, is expected of him by the boy’s family. Resentments permeate a neighborhood as the old guard grudgingly watches the new’s ascent — as those who had to “make do” watch their make your own bobblehead, younger replacements make good on their unthinkably lofty dreams. Luck, too, and the lack of it, often factors. Who has it, and the way that those who don’t perceive those who do, drives these characters. Who gets what in life, Kane asks, and why?

Ultimately, though, This Close is about the way the people evolve over time; the numerous faces any individual wears over the course of his or her life, and the near-impossibility of truly knowing anyone on account of it. There are two sets of linked stories within the collection. In both, we follow a group of characters across decades, alternating between their perspectives. When we meet Mike, the protagonist of the first set, it’s through his mother Maryanne. He is 15 and, according to her, “indifferent.” She takes pride in having kept him safe for 15 years, a fact he doesn’t seem to appreciate. In the next story, Mike is five years old, and we find that Maryanne didn’t always keep him safe, at least not emotionally. He goes to great lengths to make her happy during the dissolution of her marriage to his father. Willing to sell his most beloved possessions in the stoop sale she desperately puts together, he is as much the keeper of her happiness as she is his. In the next story, Mike the loving, thoughtful boy and Mike the apathetic teenager are both gone — now we see an almost manically ambitious, nouveau riche lawyer who is determined to enjoy his new fortune as flamboyantly as he pleases.

coverConsistency and evenness of character are often extolled as a virtue in fiction, but not when they come at the expense of a more complicated truth. It is nearly impossible to reconcile the different versions of Mike that we’re given, and yet there’s no indication that any of them are the less true. Each is delivered with authority by the people who know him best. This stunning capacity for change leads to misunderstandings and debilitating failures of communication that constantly trip these characters up and isolate them from each other. People are moving targets to the degree that it is difficult to pinpoint what they need at any given time.
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Kane uses rotating perspectives to illuminate the profound differences in the way her characters experience the moments we watch, as many writers have, but the effect of these failures to connect is blissfully less sentimental here than it often is. It often does not happen that what these characters are unable to express is their love for one another, a common brand of miscommunication in fiction. Rather it’s the details and the meaning that we ascribe to them that shift depending on the teller. Mike’s college friends take Maryanne to dinner after a tragedy binds them all together, a gesture that touches her. Later, in a section told from the perspective of Mike’s college roommate, Ben, we learn that Mike’s boyfriend, Alex, asked them to take her out — it hadn’t occurred to them — because he needed a break from Maryanne. Beth, the high-strung friend, was distraught for weeks afterward that they hadn’t been able to find a nicer place — they couldn’t get a reservation anywhere. Maryanne hadn’t minded. She had requested that they go somewhere casual, and she is grateful at what she sees as their compliance. Ben visits Maryanne a few years later, feeling guilty at not having been in better touch. Though she doesn’t tell him, Maryanne is anything but grateful. “She did not need this visit. A year ago, yes, but not now. She suspected it had helped Ben in some way — he didn’t look well.” Beth, who when the unlikely group was first thrown awkwardly together by circumstance, seemed remiss in focusing on petty considerations like how nice the restaurant was, is the only one who kept in touch; she sent a letter that Maryanne clings to. The problem with these diverging experiences comes to a head when, after Ben leaves, Maryanne angrily declares aloud, “you can’t make this your story.”

Despite how sharply we feel these hurts, and as frustrating as it is to watch every character cling to their version of events, life, as Kane reminds us again and again, goes on. The thing that makes the treatment of these wounds and confusions feel even less sentimental is that we don’t have time to linger on them. We can’t worry long about five-year-old Mike, because soon he’s grown, and then gone. We can’t harp on Maryanne’s frustration with Ben because in the next story, she’s building a life in which Mike — never mind Ben — is not a factor. Mike’s name does not appear in the final story of the series. What’s remarkable is that Kane manages to capture the fleetingness of even the most defining interactions and events without undermining them. That card Beth sent will ultimately get buried beneath the trinkets of the new life Maryanne has created when we finally leave her, but of course it mattered; at the time, nothing mattered more.

Kane sets out to do more than point out this problem of unknowability and its devastating effects. To some degree she seeks to solve it. We know what Maryanne knew that Ben didn’t, and vice versa. We get the million different conflicting truths that encompass every story and we can reconcile them into one whole the way the people who lived it can’t. Two of the stories in the final third of the collection are told in the first person, and it is here that the potential these stories have to fix the very problems they contain is most evident. The narrator of “The Essentials of Acceleration” is estranged from her neighbors not because she doesn’t like them, or wants to keep a distance, but because she does not know how to reach out to them. Constantly worrying that they’re misinterpreting her words and actions, she takes no chances with us. Any time she tells us something, she is careful to tell us exactly what she means by it. The clarifying phrase “by which I mean” appears throughout. In speaking directly and openly and honestly with readers she achieves an intimacy she is unable to find in her interactions with the larger world.

In the final story of the collection, Kane addresses time and the changes and complications it brings more directly than she has elsewhere. We’re at a restaurant for a surprise birthday dinner for John, an aging professor. He marvels at how the parenting theories that dictated the way he raised his daughter, Hannah, have evolved — a fact evident at the tables around his, and by the very fact that his daughter invited his coworkers to the party. Back in his day, work and family were kept separate. There is also, finally, an acknowledgment of the damage that not knowing the way our actions affects those we are the closest to can wreak. He thinks of the fact that when “he spoke of ‘running’ in the evenings when [Hannah] was little, she didn’t know he meant conducting an experiment. She thought he was actually running somewhere, and hoped he would come back.”  This makes him “unspeakably sad” and he wonders “how could he not have known?” He delivers to the table a line he has been turning over for some time: “I no longer trust the navigation of birds or the balance of cats” — two of the surest bets in life. One of his coworkers asks him what this discovery means; what we can take from it, the fact that eventually time will have us question even what we are the most sure of.

Topic:This 4-star modern hotel is a member - Genre:Diary

  1. 2013/03/21(木) 12:24:29|
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Petition challenges RTO smart cards in High Court

A city resident has challenged in the High Court the state government's provision of issuing certificate of registration book (RC book) in the form of a smart card at an additional cost of Rs 200, arguing it is more expensive for vehicle owners besides causing hardships for them.

A division bench of HC has issued notices to the state government and the transport commissioner while posting the next hearing for April 4.

The petitioner, Imtiaz Sujela, has demanded that vehicle owners be allowed to choose between a smart card and the old-styled RC book. They should also be allowed to choose between collecting the two documents in person and getting the same delivered at home through speed post, he argued.

Sujela's lawyer Ramkrishna Dave said the RTO was issuing giving RC book in the form of a smart card at an additional cost of Rs 200 apart from the regular registration cost. "Earlier, the RC book was being provided in the form of a booklet and it used to contain the latest details of a vehicle like taxation, fitness certificate etc. However, the smart card does not contain many of these things and to get those things included in it, you have to get a new smart card every time at a cost of Rs 200. Now, without these information in the RC Book, the vehicle owners and drivers are facing a lot of problems outside Gujarat."

"Moreover, the smart cards are being delivered to people through speed post which costs around Rs 50 per card. In several cases, these cards are not delivered and the persons concerned have to collect it from RTO in person. This increases their expenditure manifold," Dave added.

The ESIC, which provide medical services through state-run Employees' State Insurance Scheme (ESIS), has started issuing smart cards to workers registered under ESIC. There are around 1.08 lakh insured workers in the district and smart cards have been issued to around 54,000 workers so far.

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Speaking to TOI, joint director, ESIC, R K Choudhary said, "We have already started issuing smart cards to the insured workers in Nashik district and around 50% of the workers have been issued the card in the past few months. The two centres at Satpur and Ambad will be fully operational from Friday."

"The smart card comes with lifetime validity and another smart card is not needed in case he leaves the existing company and join other company anywhere in the country," he added.

As per the ESI Act, the factories which have more than 10 workers and have salaries less than Rs. 15,000 a month are entitled to get registered with the ESIC. Around 4,000 factory employers with total 1.08 lakh workers have been registered or insured in Nashik district with the ESIC till date.

ESIC provides medical services to the insured workers and their dependents through ESIS hospitals and dispensaries. There is one ESIS hospital in Satpur and five dispensaries in the city.

Apart from full medical care, the insured persons are also entitled to a variety of cash benefits, in times of physical distress caused due to sickness, temporary or permanent disablement, resulting in loss of earning capacity, confinement with regards to women, dependants of insured persons who die in industrial accidents or because of employment injury or occupational hazard are entitled to a monthly pension called the dependants benefit. Around 1,267 people receive dependants' benefits in Nashik district.

The transit agency that serves Philadelphia and its suburbs announced its proposal Thursday for across-the-board fare hikes and details of a $200 million smart-card payment system slated to begin rolling out this summer.

No matter the mode of public transit, SEPTA commuters will soon be paying more to reach their destinations, but they'll be paying in a way SEPTA promises will be more convenient than the technologically outdated mode involving tokens, tickets and paper transfers.

"The ease of using smart-card technology ... is going to have huge positive benefits for our customers," Richard Burnfield, SEPTA chief financial officer, said at a news conference announcing the changes.

Among those benefits: no more waiting in line to buy passes and tokens, and easier replacement of lost or stolen passes that are registered with SEPTA, he said.

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The fare increases are expected to bring in $25 million in additional revenue for the cash-strapped agency, but that would still mean a $38 million shortfall in the fiscal budget effective July 1. State funds are being sought to make up the difference.

With the new system, hundreds of vending machines at bus and subway stations will sell refillable cards to replace weekly and monthly transit passes, tokens and paper transfers. Riders also will have the option to pay their fare by tapping a smartphone or smart-chip embedded credit or debit card on a turnstile equipped with an electronic reader, which will withdraw the fare from a SEPTA-linked bank or other account.

The so-called New Payment Technology program will make SEPTA among the country's first transit agencies to adopt a system that allows riders to pay fares using their own phone or bank card, rather than requiring riders to use an agency-branded fare card. The transition will begin this summer, with trial runs on new turnstiles first in the city and then the suburbs. The switchover will be completed by the end of 2014.

Under the proposal, the bus, trolley and subway base fare would rise from $2 to $2.25 on July 1, then to $2.50 when the smart-card system is completed by the end of next year. As is currently the case, full fares would apply to those riders, about 10 percent, who pay with cash. Riders who pay with cards and smartphones will get discounted fares, as token and transit pass users do now.

Topic:This 4-star modern hotel is a member - Genre:Diary

  1. 2013/03/15(金) 17:30:32|
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Toronto mom shares her tips for clipping and saving

Cutting back isn’t easy, but what if you could buy everything you needed and still save? Aimee Geroux, operator of extremecouponingmom.ca, says she never spends more than $50 a month on food and household items. The Toronto mom of two provided us with tips on how to save big at the grocery store and which items you should never pay full price for.

From tear pads at the store entrance and on-box stickers and cut-outs to the web, coupons are just about everywhere. Joining a company’s Facebook page or following them on Twitter can be a gateway to special offers while websites such as websaver.ca, save.ca, gocoupons.ca, smartsource.ca and healthyessentials.ca offer hundreds of printable or mail-out coupons for consumer items.

While coupons aren’t difficult to collect, Geroux says many shoppers don’t know how to use them efficiently. Rather than using coupons for a discount on regular priced items, Geroux recommends holding onto them until the product goes on sale to maximize the coupon’s value.

Make money while shopping? Geroux says absolutely. One of her best money saving tricks is overage. If you have a coupon for $2 off Kleenex and the item is on sale for $1, overage means not only will you get the item for free; the store will give you the extra dollar in cash or towards the purchase of another item in your cart. Walmart is the only store Geroux is aware of that provides overage.

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“The one thing I hear from new couponers is that it’s overwhelming,” says Geroux. Being organized is essential to becoming a good couponer. Geroux keeps a binder with plastic baseball card organizer sheets. She divides the binder into food, health and beauty, household and pets and then organizes the coupons by expiry date. She then peruses flyers and makes her shopping list, organizing coupons into separate envelopes labelled with each store name.

“Being organized before you get to the store, while you’re in the store and at the checkout makes things go a lot smoother,” says Geroux. Plus, your organization skills can save you money. “(When) you’re not scatterbrained looking for coupons, you can pay attention to the prices that are ringing through,” says Geroux. Many stores adhere to the Retail Council of Canada’s Voluntary Price Accuracy Code which states that if the store scanner rings in an item (under $10) at an incorrect price, and you catch it at the moment of purchase, they will give you that product for free.

Some items are easier to find coupons for than others. While personal hygiene products, household cleaners, children’s snacks and cereal are common coupon items, fresh meats and produce are often lacking in coupons. Not to worry, Geroux says price matching can still allow you to get these items for less. While she makes it a habit to check the flyers for all of her local stores, but that doesn’t mean she shops at all of them. “If No Frills has strawberries on sale for $1.88, you don’t necessarily have to waste your gas to go to No Frills to get those strawberries,” says Geroux. Take the flyer to a price-matching store and you’ll get the strawberries for the lesser price.

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The S4 is a little narrower and slimmer than its predecessor, but comes with a significantly clearer and brighter 5in touchscreen capable of full HD video playback and a higher-capacity battery pack that should boost battery life by about 20 per cent. Like earlier models, the Galaxy S4 has removable battery packs – so they can be easily switched when they run out of charge or wear down – unlike the iPhone, which does not allow users to remove batteries.

None of the S4’s hardware updates is what I would call revolutionary, but some software features are pretty cool, such as the handswipe gesture recognition, which enables users to move through web pages, change music tracks or answer an incoming call just by waving a hand a few centimetres in front of the screen.

Two other interesting software advances in the S4 are that it uses facial recognition to spot if a user turns away from the screen, and pauses a running video in a feature known as SmartPause. The SmartScroll feature, meanwhile, allows users to scroll through text or web pages simply by tilting the handset.

Samsung has also paid a lot of attention to the S4’s digital camera capabilities. New camera tricks include the ability to record a series of images in one burst and combine them into a single image. Users canrecord images from the 2-megapixel front and the 13mp (compared with 8mp on the iPhone) rear-facing cameras simultaneously.

My favourite, however, is the ability to selectively remove moving sections of a video clip – for example, if someone walks into the frame. Despite being early software, this feature worked flawlessly.

Other features designed to capture consumer attention include Group Play, which allows multiple S4 phones to play the same synchronised music, and a gaming feature that enables two friends with S4s to compete or collaborate on a video game using the handset’s built-in WiFi direct mode. No separate, external WiFi network is required for this.
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Rossendale firm looks to chip in to Winter Olympics

Universal Smart Cards (USC) has been chosen as one of only 13 British companies to attend a trade mission in Moscow, organised by the British Chamber of Commerce, later this month.

As the only Lancashire representative out of 90 applicants, business deve-lopment manager Paul May hopes he’ll be returning from Russia with a lot of love for the company’s prod- ucts and services.

They include a vast range of contact and contactless smart cards – all featuring a PVC microchip – card readers, card printers, fobs, wristbands and labels.

Dear Muy, Ignoring any payment of principal over the year, your annual interest expense on a $22,000 loan balance at 6.6% is $1,452. Unless you're making interest-only payments, your interest expense for the coming year should be even less than that because you're paying down principal over time.

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Managing a collection of credit cards to reduce your interest expense has its own set of additional risks. You're not transferring credit card balances from another credit card, so you have to find a card that has a teaser rate on a cash advance. Multiple credit card applications over a short period of time will negatively impact your credit score, making it even harder to qualify for that great credit card offer. You also give up any of the loan payment options available with your student loans, including any tax deductibility of the interest payments.

I understand students and graduates complaining about the high interest rates associated with student loans. Comparing student loan rates to mortgage rates isn't a fair comparison, however, because a mortgage is secured by the house as collateral. You've borrowing money unsecured at a fixed 6.6%. That's not a bad deal. Bankrate's latest national average for a fixed-rate credit card is 13.02%. It's 15.15% for variable-rate credit cards. The cards are unsecured debt, too.

In an ideal world, you could use your emergency fund to pay down your student loan, and then replenish the fund over time and come out ahead. But to do that means you've lost the potential protection the fund offers.

The value of a tax deduction depends on your income RFID tag federal income tax bracket. Don't let taxes be the guiding force or the tail wagging the dog here. I'd argue that you should be making additional principal payments each month to chip away at the outstanding loan balance, and set a target date for paying off the debt. Do that, and I'll give you an A for the day!

The lineup for the festival, which takes place from Aug. 2 to 4 at Parc Jean-Drapeau, is a thoughtfully balanced blend of post-punk heritage acts, contemporary roots-rockers, psychedelic buzz bands, acclaimed hip hop artists and synth-pop groove merchants, among others.

New Order join the Cure as a sure draw for those who came of age in the 1980s, while the Lumineers will help the Mumford lads reintroduce acoustic instruments to a new generation in the noisy outdoor mix.

French alt-rockers Phoenix will be there, as will Kendrick Lamar, Vampire Weekend and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the duo whose irresistible Thrift Shop might still be riding the Billboard charts by then.

The bill will also include Alt-J, Hot Chip, Tegan and Sara, Ellie Goulding, Beach House, Big Boi, Flogging Molly, Silversun Pickups, Azealia Banks, the Gaslight Anthem, Father John Misty, Jimmy Eat World, We Are Wolves, Diamond Rings, A Tribe Called Red and Wild Belle.

Even during the early years — a.k.a. the "good years," a.k.a. the "dangerous years" — some people thought it was lazy or hack. In the book on comedy writing And Here's the Kicker, SCTV alumnus Harold Ramis explained why he was happy to not work on SNL even though all his friends were: "The writing was a little weak and gratuitous in a lot of ways. I though the notion of just repeating scenes over and over, week after week, was not a good thing." However, as Buck Henry argued in the same book, "The repetition is funny in and of itself." And those who love this aspect of the show would argue that the very fact that these characters are met with exuberant applause is evidence of why it’s a good practice. Fans love the characters, and they love repeating the catchphrases on their own, so why wouldn't it be a delight to see those characters repeat the catchphrases?

Classic JT characters weren't the only ones reused last weekend. The last two live sketches of the night — "Maine Justice" and "Mo?t & Chandon" — were not only redos, but they were also from the same episode from earlier in the season, Jamie Foxx's. "Maine Justice" lost a ton of juice in its second go-round, as the sketch became less about the concept (a surreal Maine courtroom where everything is inexplicably New Orleans–y) and more about the characters (namely Jason Sudeikis's Cajun judge, who himself strikes a resemblance to Sudiekis’s character from the "Potato Chip" sketch). Conversely, Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong's unfortunate porn stars grow more ridiculous and compelling as we learn more about their insane past. But will it get even better the fourth and fifth times and beyond?

But ultimately, none of the aesthetic comedy debate on this issue matters. Michaels has been hearing complaints about recurring characters for nearly 40 years and has shrugged it off because, as heretical as this might sound to its critics, it would be foolish to change. While the rest of network TV slides deeper into the abyss, SNL holds relatively strong. Unlike most shows in prime time, its audience this season, particularly among adults under 50, is the same or higher than it was two or three years ago. What's more, as NBC's fortunes have sunk, SNL now often boasts a bigger audience than many of the network’s comedies and dramas. TV executives flail (and usually fail) to find new ways to reinvent the sitcom, drama, or reality show; when a talk-show host retires, the network tries to find some fresh way to invigorate the host/desk format. But SNL has an automatic-refresh button: As beloved cast members leave to become big movie stars, new young faces come in with the promise of being the next generation’s big star. The very appeal of this show is that young people will get new faces to “own”: The unchanging institution of SNL is a machine with which we watch our new comedy heroes get built.

That's what Justin Timberlake's Five-Timers Club monologue was about: continuing to assert the show's place as an institution. So just as Tom Hanks belonged in the same all-time-great host conversation with Steve Martin, Justin Timberlake belongs in it with Tom Hanks. Michaels famously believed the show was special when he started it, and he continues to do so today. Saturday's episode reminded you that throughout the show's 38 seasons, through exceptional and less-than hosts, there's a legacy. And whether you like it or not, part of that legacy is recurring characters.
  1. 2013/03/12(火) 15:44:53|
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More NFC applications needed to drive mobile wallet revolution

Near-Field Communication (NFC) was one of the major themes of this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with a broad range of chip card – including Nokia, Samsung, Blackberry and Huawei – announcing new products that take advantage of the technology.

But the promise of NFC has been around for some time, and anyone who has been following the progress of the technology over the past few years will be forgiven if their enthusiasm is beginning to wane. Retailers, banks, mobile operators and device manufacturers are all desperate to get NFC into the mainstream, but so far consumers just aren't biting.

Part of this could be down to the fact that so much of the focus of NFC is on mobile wallets. The idea of mobile wallets is that eventually we won't need to carry plastic cards and cash around with us, because we will have digital wallets on our phones, and we will be able to pay for items in shops simply by touching our devices to a point of sale (POS) terminal.

While this may seem like an attractive proposition, the reality is that mobile wallets are extremely difficult to get right. As Ovum analyst Eden Zoller pointed out in one of the sessions, most transaction sizes are small, revenues are often shared between several players, and margins can be further eroded through transaction processing fees.

To add to the confusion, mobile wallets can be implemented in a number of different ways, using a variety of enabling technologies. This makes them confusing for merchants, who are trying to work out which types of solution they should invest in, and also alienates consumers, who don't see why they should forego existing payment mechanisms.

Interestingly, when I visited the 'NFC Experience' at MWC, there wasn't a mobile wallet in sight. Instead, I walked around three stands, all of which were showing off completely different uses of NFC technology.

The first company, Israeli start-up Tag-a-Bag, was demonstrating an NFC-based travel service that uses luggage labels equipped with NFC tags to help travellers manage their journeys. The service allows users to track lost luggage, access travel plans, post news of their safe arrival to friends and family via social media, receive offers and create a log of their travels.

The third example showed how an NFC-enabled phone could be used as a boarding pass in an airport to access security, the lounge and the boarding gate. The boarding pass is sent to the phone as an SMS and stored on the SIM, so that even if the phone is switched off, the user can verify their identity and flight details by touching their phone to a terminal.

All of these seem like interesting and genuinely useful examples if mobile NFC that will not only appeal to consumers but also businesses users. They show how a technology that is already built in to most smartphone devices today can be used to improve the efficiency of everyday actions.

This got me thinking that maybe the whole obsession with using NFC for mobile wallets is misguided. There is still an awful lot of work to do before using phones to pay in shops becomes ubiquitous – not least because many people are quite content to continue using SMS or USSD for mobile transactions.

Ten to 20 times more powerful than older fridge or ferrite magnets, the rare-earth neodymium magnets can attract and anchor to one another across loops of intestine, creating a force so strong it can tear a hole in the bowel, a team from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children reports in this week’s edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

According to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, 328 children under 14 were seen in an emergency department between 1993 and 2007 because of an injury associated with magnets. More than half — 178 — had swallowed magnets.

In the United States, at least 480 cases of high-powered magnet ingestions have been reported over the past decade, according to the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition; 204 of those cases occurred in the past 12 months.

The majority occurred in children six and under. But teens are also inadvertently swallowing or inhaling magnets worn to mimic tongue, lip and nose piercings, the American group warned last October.

Most of the cases involve magnets sold in desktop sets of 50 or 100 balls used to create different shapes. The kits aren’t marketed to children and are labelled to keep out of the hands of children.

“But desks are right at a small toddler’s reach and if they grab one or two, you might not notice they’re missing. If they ingest more than one, that’s when issues come up,” says Dr. Daniel Rosenfield, a pediatric resident at the University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Children.

Signs of ingestion include vomiting, abdominal pain and fever — symptoms so common in children that they can lead to serious delays in diagnosis, the doctors warn.

The Toronto team describes one case where a child who had “surreptitiously” swallowed a magnet underwent an MRI of his neck for an unrelated health problem. He ended up with a perforated bowel.

Another three-year-old needed laparoscopic surgery to remove three neodymium magnets from his abdomen that had eroded through two loops of intestine. When he was first seen in emergency, his only symptom was drooling. But an X-ray showed three magnets in different parts of his stomach. Because they had not connected with each other and he wasn’t in pain, he was sent home with instructions to his parents to watch his stool for signs the magnets had passed.

Two days later, the child was back in emergency with abdominal pain. “An X-ray showed that all three magnets had come together. We knew at that point that they weren’t going to be going anywhere,” Rosenfield said.

The magnets can attract, causing pressure across the gut, “and that portion of the gut dies as the magnets are pulled together. Once the tissue dies and gets infected, that’s what causes the symptoms.”

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More NFC applications needed to drive mobile wallet revolution

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