December 23, 2018

'Tis the season for fire safety

Warm summer temperatures are long behind us, but that doesn’t mean the heat is off homeowners to follow fire safety rules. In fact, per the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home fires happen more in the winter than in any other season, accounting for 30 percent of all fire deaths. Yet less than one in three homeowners practice fire safety prevention activities, according to a study by fire safety equipment maker First Alert, which also found that many are misinformed about and underprepared for home fires.

There’s no better time like the present to reduce fire risks and protect your family. Learn how by reading my latest syndicated article for CTW Features, found here.

December 16, 2018

No rust on this bike

In episode six of my Cineversary podcast, I put the pedal to the metal and ramp up my affection for "Bicycle Thieves,” Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece of Italian neorealism, originally released 70 years ago in 1948. For this installment, I interview Jacqueline Reich, professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University and a renowned scholar of Italian cinema. Together, we explore why "Bicycle Thieves" is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the picture today, how it has stood the test of time, and more. To listen to this episode, click the play button below.


You can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Anchor, Breaker, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Google Play Music, Overcast, Pocket Casts, PodBean, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at www.tinyurl.com/cineversarypodcast, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cineversarypodcast, and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.

December 9, 2018

Songbird sayonara

Parrots are precious. And budgies are beautiful. But finches and canaries hold a special place in the hearts and homes of many bird lovers. That’s because that special place conveniently takes up less physical space, and the sounds these compact pets sing are soothing—unlike the harsh squawks associated with hookbills.

Learn more about why bird lovers gravitate toward songbirds like canaries and finches by reading my final column for Pet Age magazine, available here.

December 2, 2018

Sound and vision

Smart speakers are pleasing to the ears and mouth. And tablets provide plenty of eye candy and fun at your fingertips. But what if a device could combine the best elements of both and serve as the digital heart of your home—a personal assistant capable of sound and vision that’s responsive to both voice and touch?

These gadgets have finally arrived in the form of a compact smart display with voice assistant built in. They essentially add a touchscreen to a smart speaker to offer even greater functionality and control of connected devices within the home. Learn more about these devices, including the Google Home Hub, by reading my latest article for The Costco Connection, available here.

November 18, 2018

All's well that ends Welles

I've just released episode five of his Cineversary podcast; this time around, the spotlight shines on Touch of Evil, Orson Welles' 1958 film noir classic, which marks a 60th anniversary this year.

This installment features my recent interview with Jonathan Rosenbaum, former head critic of the Chicago Reader, author of several books on cinema, and consultant on the 1998 re-editing of Touch of Evil and on the 2018 completion of Welles’ movie The Other Side of the Wind. Together, we discuss why Touch of Evil is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the picture today, how it has stood the test of time, and more.

To listen to this episode, click the play button below.

You can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Anchor, Breaker, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Google Play Music, Overcast, Pocket Casts, PodBean, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at www.tinyurl.com/cineversarypodcast, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cineversarypodcast, and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.

November 11, 2018

Speak easy

Cyborg chefs, android butlers and robot maids may be figments of futuristic fantasy. But until they’re invented, today’s families can at least rely on one high-tech helper in their homes: a smart speaker like Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod, powered by an artificially intelligent virtual assistant (respectively, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri).

While these gizmos can work wonders in any room, many experts believe there’s no better spot in your home for such devices than the kitchen. Learn why by checking out my latest article for CTW Features, published here.

October 28, 2018

From free to fee

In a world where consumers are accustomed to getting many digital goods for free—from apps to podcasts to instant facts online—convincing them to fork over funds for content remains no easy sell. For proof, consider the subscriber churn rate among publishers, estimated at 30 percent last year.

Yet experts believe many publishers today are tackling this problem with a variety of successful tactics designed to convert more freeloaders into subscribers. And recent data suggest that publishers are learning from past mistakes and better attuned to what attracts and retains paying patrons.

Read more about this topic and what the experts say by checking out my debut article for Digital Content Next, available here.

October 14, 2018

Cineversary podcast carves up "Halloween" for its 40th birthday

For its fourth episode, the Cineversary podcast celebrates the 40th anniversary of John Carpenter's classic horror film "Halloween." Host Erik Martin interviews two guests: the film's production designer/editor Tommy Lee Wallace, who spills his guts about how the movie was made--including his important role in creating the look of Michael Myers; and Southern Utah University film professor Kyle Bishop, who performs a film analysis autopsy on "Halloween" with Erik. Listen or download this latest episode by clicking here or on the play button below.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at www.tinyurl.com/cineversarypodcast, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cineversarypodcast, and email show comments or suggestions to cineversegroup@gmail.com.


October 1, 2018

10 towns people hate to leave (and 10 you might want to avoid)

Getting a preferred mortgage interest rate and a good price on a home are important. But so is living in an area you will like and establishing roots. That’s why it’s crucial to research desired locations carefully. After all, you don’t want to suffer buyer’s remorse and feel compelled to move shortly after settling down.

New research shows key markets where homeowners prefer to stay put the longest. And fresh data reveal towns where folks are most likely to leave sooner. Reviewing these lists can help you make a more informed buying decision.

Learn more by reading my latest article for The Mortgage Reports, available here.

September 21, 2018

'Tis the season for fear

With autumn upon us, Halloween can't be far behind. And that's certainly top of mind for one of my local clients, Midnight Terror Haunted House, which hosts a haunted attraction site near me that scares up big business every October. My job: promote and publicize the haunt to the media. These efforts have resulted in terror-ific coverage in the Chicago Tribune, Fox News, NBC and other outlets.

This years's campaign spotlight's lots of fresh news about Midnight Terror, which can be gleaned by clicking here.

September 16, 2018

Rub-a-dub-dub, time for a new tub

It’s true that most folks prefer to get clean via a shower than a bathtub nowadays. Consider the results of an Angie’s List survey of 2,000 people published in 2016: 90 percent of respondents were more likely to take a shower over a bath.

Yet experts agree that the tub is hardly in danger of disappearing altogether from the great American bathroom. In fact, two in five homeowners plan to upgrade a tub during a master bath remodel, and the tub ranks in the top five (as chosen by 35 percent of those polled) among features that homeowners splurge on most during a renovation, according to the 2017 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study.

For more facts and tips on how to pick the right tub for your bathroom redo, read my newest home improvement article published in The Daily Herald, available here.

September 2, 2018

Ferret merit

They’re soft, long, twee-faced, friendly, frisky, inquisitive, and downright irresistible. They live a heck of a lot longer than hamsters, guinea pigs or mice (up to 10 years or more). And they bond and interact with humans more closely than many other pets.

We’re talking, of course, about Mustela putorius furo—better known as the ferret. But despite making great pets, these critters often get overlooked by pet stores who choose not to offer them or their products.

Learn more about ferrets and the latest products made for them by reading my newest monthly small animal pet column published in Pet Age magazine, available here.

August 26, 2018

Buzz off

Barbecues, picnics, pool parties and other shindigs held in your yard can attract a lot of invited guests. They can also draw in plenty of unwanted visitors in the form of pesky insects like bees, wasps, mosquitos, ants, ticks and flies. Talk about a buzz kill. But with the right planning, you can keep the bugs at bay and ensure a crowd-pleasing al fresco event.

In my most recent article for Content That Works, published in newspapers across North America, I suggest eight ways to keep the bugs at bay this summer. Get the lowdown by clicking here.

August 12, 2018

Relive "Groundhog Day" – without getting stuck in Punxsutawney

For the second episode of my new Cineversary podcast, I honor the silver anniversary of a solid gold film: Groundhog Day, originally released in 1993. Listen as I interview the movie's screenwriter, Danny Rubin, and learn what makes Groundhog Day tick. We discuss why the picture still resonates all these years later, how it inspired a cottage industry of time loop movies, what it was like collaborating with Bill Murray and director Harold Ramis, how this tale was turned into a successful Broadway musical, and more.

You can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast by clicking below or using Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Anchor, Breaker, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Google Play Music, Overcast, Pocket Casts, PodBean, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher, or TuneIn.

August 5, 2018

Out-of-this-world dentistry

Maintaining a healthy mouth here on terra firma is challenging enough for patients and their dentists. But for those who work or play far above or below the earth’s surface, the “tooth” of the matter is that exposure to extreme environments may have consequences on oral health. For proof, just ask pilots, astronauts, scuba divers, miners, researchers and other professionals.

I did, for my latest article published in the Academy of General Dentistry's AGD Impact newsmagazine. And I learned that there are dental side effects to these vocations and pastimes.

Read the full article here.

July 15, 2018

Classic movies deserve birthday parties, too

Many folks forget their wedding anniversary date or spouse's birthday and end up in the doghouse. But it's easy to remember a major milestone date of one of your favorite films: just listen to Cineversary, a new podcast that celebrates an important birthday of a movie classic.

Every month, the show spotlights a different film currently observing a joyous jubilee--everything from a 20th to a 100th anniversary. Host Erik Martin (who serves as moderator of CineVerse, Oak Lawn's weekly film discussion group) interviews film scholars, critics, historians and fans to discuss why each spotlighted movie is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the picture today, how it has stood the test of time, and more.

For its inaugural episode, Cineversary honors 2001: A Space Odyssey, marking its 50th anniversary in 2018. Martin interviewed Barry Vacker, professor of media studies at Temple University and author of the book Specter of the Monolith, which was inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey. In August, Martin will feature a different guest to talk about the 25th anniversary of Groundhog Day.

To hear the July episode in a browser, click here. Cineversary can also be streamed or downloaded using Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, PodBean, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

For more details on the Cineversary podcast, visit www.facebook.com/cineversarypodcast.

July 9, 2018

Living inside out

If you want to enjoy the great outdoors this summer, you don’t need to travel beyond your own backyard. Simply bring all the comforts of the indoors to your patio, deck or other outdoor area via furniture, appliances and other amenities designed for alfresco enjoyment. Then, kick back and enjoy the sunshine or moonlight in style.

Discover why having an outdoor living area can make your home feel bigger without having to do major construction and how it can significantly add to your home’s resale value if you’re looking to sell by reading my newest article published in The Daily Herald, available here.

July 2, 2018

Your fridge, stove, washer and other appliances are getting smarter. Here’s why

It wasn’t so long ago that Americans thought of their home appliances as basic, boxy, bone white workhorses that simply got the job done. But today’s homeowners want more than mere functionality in their cooking, cleaning and cooling machines. They want a wealth of Internet age bells and whistles built in. Thanks to rapid innovation and more affordable technology, their expectations are being exceeded, say the pros.

Learn about the latest technological advances and cutting-edge features built into today's home appliances by reading my newest piece for The Costco Connection, found here.

June 24, 2018

The 411 on home security systems

Don't get alarmed, but consider that a burglary happens once every 13 seconds. In fact, 2.5 million burglaries occur each year, with two-thirds of those being home break-ins. A person is home during a burglary nearly 28 percent of the time; one out of four of those at home are harmed. A home security system can monitor your home against these threats.

But there are a lot of home security providers and options to pick from. With so many choices, it’s easy to get confused. Lacking knowledge, you could end up spending more money than you need to. Worse, you may find your home under-protected.

Learn about the different home security systems and companies by reading my latest article on this topic for The Mortgage Reports, available here.

June 17, 2018

Space: the final frontier

In the average American home, closets, garages, attics and basements will only get you so far. Sooner or later, you’re bound to run out of storage space for all the accoutrement you collect. And that’s when clutter takes over, making rooms appear disorganized and design-challenged. Fortunately, there are creative ways to solve your storage troubles – if you’re prepared to think outside of the closet box, according to the experts.

Learn how to transform wasted nooks and crannies into sneaky storage spaces around your home by reading my latest article for CTW Features, published here.

June 11, 2018

HEL vs. HELOC: which is right for your borrowing needs?

Owning a home isn’t cheap. Making monthly mortgage payments is tough enough. Then, there are other costs that can add up quickly. These include maintenance and improvement expenses. Thankfully, you can pursue funding options to help pay for these bills. Two of the most popular are a home equity loan and a home equity line of credit (HELOC). But which is better: a home equity loan vs. a HELOC?

That depends on your needs and goals. Each option involves tapping into your home’s appraised value to borrow money. Each has its pros and cons. Digging into these differences can help you make a more informed decision.

Get the 411 on each option by reading my latest piece for The Mortgage Reports, accessible here.

June 3, 2018

Fragile: contents agile

In the early days of the web, most companies seeking an online presence typically needed to take a dive off Niagara Falls—in the form of old-fashioned waterfall web design. The cascading approach was often slow, sequential and tedious, requiring every step of the project to be completed separately and individually in a linear, lengthy fashion. Then, in 2001, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was created, espousing the benefits of an iterative, incremental and agile process. Developers began increasingly adopting an alternative methodology—agile web development—which involves breaking a website project up into smaller chunks that can each be finished and rolled out live one by one instead of waiting until the entire project is completed and releasing it all at once.

Since that time, agile has become the scheme of choice for building software and websites at many companies. Yet, agile hasn’t proven to be a perfect solution. While it offers several advantages over waterfall and other methodologies, it has its limitations, too.

Discover more about these limitations--as well as the myriad benefits of agile web development--by checking out my latest in-depth feature for EContent Magazine, available here.

May 27, 2018

When Mother Nature strikes 7-Eleven

Most people consider words about the weather to fall into the small talk conversation starter category. But for convenience store operators, it’s serious business, not idle chatter.

From blizzards to heat waves and floods to wildfires, severe storms and extreme events involving the elements can threaten a c-store operator's bottom line as well as their safety. Planning for and ta;king about these Mother Nature-induced adversities can soften the blow.

Read more about this topic, which I explore in further detail, in my newest article for CSP Magazine, available here.

May 6, 2018

No time like the present for pot and box gardening

Homeowners with a yen for growing plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables don’t have to break new ground – literally. They can follow time-tested advice and make matters simple by gardening above ground in boxes and containers.

Box gardening within raised beds over grass or soil offers the advantage of letting you create the ideal new soil environment within an above-ground wooden, metal or plastic frame that you can make yourself or assemble from a kit. Gardening in containers, meanwhile, offers portability and flexibility.

Read up on this trendy horticultural how-to topic, published in the Daily Herald, by clicking here.

April 22, 2018

Voice tech punches the clock

It’s infiltrated our homes in the form of smart speakers. Now, voice technology is poised to make a big splash in the workplace, as more companies adopt enterprise solutions like Alexa for Business and other speech-enabled tools and conversational interfaces designed to enhance productivity, manage common tasks and improve communication.

Which begs the question: Is your company ready for voice tech, and vice versa? In my newest article for Speech Technology, I explore this topic with the help of industry experts. Read it here.

April 16, 2018

To rent or buy? That is the question

Seeking a new lease on life? Many renters are often advised to ditch their leased dwellings and become homeowners. But is it really worth it to buy instead of rent? Which is the smarter choice financially?

Folks on the buy vs. rent fence now have fresh facts that can help answer this question. Get the 411 by reading my newest piece for The Mortgage Reports, available here.

April 9, 2018

A real estate resource you can rely on

In basketball, every position on your starting five plays a major role. Your point guard sets up the offense. Your center serves as a pivot and low post threat. And your power forward is often a key defender and rebounder. But it’s your go-to scorer whom you typically rely on to rack up the points and win the contest. In the game of real estate, this role is played by your agent, who serves as MVP of your home buying squad. Think of him or her as your personal LeBron James—a versatile expert skilled at many positions who can lead you to the promised land of your first home by putting you on the right path to the right property—right away.

Discover why an agent is so invaluable in the home buying process by reading my new article on this topic, published in the Omaha World-Herald.

April 1, 2018

Home sweet hamster

Thankfully, the days of the all-purpose aquarium serving as surrogate for a proper pet rodent residence are long gone. So, too, is the era of the ultra-flimsy plastic domicile that functioned more as a disposable chew toy that could be gnawed through faster than you can say “chinchilla.”

Indeed, the good news in 2018 is that there’s no shortage of quality-built, brand-name small animal abodes on the market for owners of mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and gerbils to choose from. Many, of course, are modular, chromatically eye-catching, and expandable thanks to a seemingly endless array of interconnecting accessories tailor-made for the Lego and Minecraft generation.

Learn more about small animal pet habitats by reading my latest column for Pet Age, available here.

March 26, 2018

Renting out your property? Try these decorating tips first

You’ve caught the Airbnb fever and are eager to promote your property online. Your short-term rental has a desirable location and many an amenity that should make for an alluring listing. And you’re even prepared for the grunt work required—like DIY property management, maintenance and marketing.

But you may be overlooking a key ingredient that could lead to poor reviews and low leasing activity: esthetic appeal in the form of fresh furnishings and d├ęcor. Ignore these elements at your own peril, say the pros. Learn what they have to recommend in my latest home improvement article, this time published in the Dallas Morning News, found here.

March 18, 2018

Bottom dollar battles

If convenience store operators want more Washingtons in the drawer, they need to pay more attention to rivals where George rules the roost. Because chances are, dollar outlets - including Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Five Below, and 99 Cents Only Stores - are steadily garnering greenbacks from the 7-Elevens of the world in key categories where they shine, like snacks, beverage, tobacco and even fresh edibles, say the experts.

Learn more about the pressure that dollar stores are putting on convenience retailers by reading my most recent story for CSP Magazine, available here.

March 11, 2018

First-time buyers are purchasing more homes: here’s why

Ask any first-time home buyer and they’ll likely tell you their quest isn’t easy. It’s tough saving up for a home. Landing a mortgage at a desired rate can be tricky. And beating out contenders to the right home requires good timing. But fresh numbers show that first-timers aren’t giving up. In fact, they’re buying more homes than they have in 12 years. That’s a good sign for the market. And it may encourage others to pursue their dreams of owning.

If you’re eager to buy your first home, the good and bad news is that you’re not alone. But with careful planning and the right approach, you’ll stand a better chance of buying your first home sooner. That's one of the takeaways from my newest story for The Mortgage Reports, which you can read here.

March 4, 2018

Hoodwinking Alexa

If you own a smart speaker, you know that it can be fun trying to trick Alexa, Siri or Google into doing or saying something it shouldn’t—like obeying your friend who imitates your voice commands. While such ruses are fun and harmless, the truth is that bad actors are undoubtedly attempting trickery of a more nefarious nature and voice-controlled systems (VCSs) and speech recognition systems (SRSs) can be easily fooled via clever techniques.

In my first article for Speech Technology Magazine, I examine new potential threats to VCSs, including a "DolphinAttack"that uses high frequencies incomprehensible to human ears but detectable by electronic microphones. Read all the details by clicking here.

February 25, 2018

Social studies

What makes the world go round today? Some say money. Others say love. But many would point to social media. And who would argue, considering that we increasingly rely on social platforms to communicate, share content, get news and information, watch video, make purchases and more? Indeed, we’ve reached a point where it’s become the go-to tool of choice, the indispensable Swiss Army knife of tech utilities that can replace newspapers, telephones, TVs, email and even human interaction. And therein lies great opportunities for – and the need for greater responsibility from – marketers and brands who seek to wield this formidable weapon.

Consider for a moment that, today, over 70 percent of Americans engage in social media – up from only five percent tallied in 2005, according to the Pew Research Center. A handful of key players in the space continue to rule: the most popular social networking sites include Facebook (over 2 billion users), YouTube (1.5 billion users), Instagram (800 million), Twitter (328,000) and Reddit (250,000), per Dreamgrow. Social Media Examiner’s 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, meanwhile, revealed that the top platforms used by marketers are Facebook (94%), Twitter (68%), LinkedIn (56%), Instagram (54%), YouTube (45%), Pinterest (30%) and Snapchat (7%).

Click here to read more about the current state of social media, a topic I recently investigated for EContent Magazine.

February 18, 2018

News flash: We like to watch

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But a video can be worth nearly 4 million times more – just ask Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi, whose “Despacito” music video became the most watched YouTube video ever, with over 3.9 billion views tallied in late 2017.

The takeaway here is simple: people like to watch, and they’re doing it on a diverse array of devices, platforms and apps more often. Consider, for a moment, the latest staggering stats. Worldwide, people watch an average of five hours and 45 minutes of online video weekly – a 34 percent increase from 2016, based on results of Limelight Network’s State of Online Video 2017 consumer survey.

By 2021, a million minutes of video content will cross global IP networks every second, according to Cisco; at that rate, it would take you over 5 million years to watch all the video crossing the network each month. And within three years, IP video traffic will account for 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, per Cisco.

In my latest article for EContent Magazine, I assess the current state of online video. Read it by clicking here.

February 11, 2018

Mind in the gutter

Climbing up your ladder to clean out the gutters every spring and fall is not only a messy and tedious hassle, it’s also dangerous. But skimping on this chore can result in blocked gutters and downspouts, causing water, ice and snow to back up and leading to costly roof, siding, window and foundation damage. Thankfully, there’s a solution that can simplify matters and help safeguard your home from these threats: a gutter guard system.

Learn more about gutter guard products and systems available by reading my latest article for The Costco Connection on this topic, available here.

February 4, 2018

Turning your hobby into home decor

Artists, athletes and actors put their passion on display by getting “in the zone” and focusing intently on delivering a bravura performance. Collectors and hobbyists, on the other hand, can showcase their passions by turning one or more areas of their home into a zone displaying their treasured keepsakes.

Exhibiting your collectibles and turning them into a design element in a given room or space is a popular trend these days. For proof, Google filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s famous “Bleak House” man cave, Tom Hanks’ collection of manual typewriters, and Rod Stewart’s personal display of model trains.

Discover how fun it can be to transform a living space into a museum for your prized possessions by reading my latest article on this topic, found here.

January 28, 2018

Real estate resolutions worth making in 2018

February is almost here. But it’s not too late to make New Year’s resolutions. Better yet, why not make real estate resolutions that will help you buy a home quicker? Setting goals can help. By pinpointing your aims and pursuing strategies to attain them, you stand a better chance of reaching your targets.

Experts weigh in on how to set homebuying goals in my latest column for The Mortgage Reports, which you can read here.

January 21, 2018

That toddlin' town

Many know it best as “the Windy City.” It was christened “the city of big shoulders” by poet Carl Sandburg. Frank Sinatra crooned that it was “My Kind of Town.” Legendary mayor Richard J. Daley’s “the city that works” slogan has stuck around since the 1970s. And you might as well have dubbed it title town after Michael Jordan’s heroics in the 1990s.

While the nicknames may have changed, the name of the game hasn’t: Chicago remains a world-class city that stands tall when it comes to entertainment, culture, history, architecture, innovation, and civic pride.

No wonder it's often chosen as the site of many an organization's annual meeting, as was true in late 2017 when the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) opted to host its once-a-year convention in Chicago. I wrote a Chicago tourist guide in advance of the NACS Show that published in late 2017, which you don't have to be a 7-Eleven owner to use or appreciate. Click here to read my guide.

January 14, 2018

School of love

Kellie O’Brien and her daughter Heather can teach you a lot about perseverance and the power of women determined to make a difference. The school they helped build in Tanzania 10 years ago can also teach a lot of impoverished students—over 430 a year, in fact.

Back in 2007, the O’Briens travelled from their home in Hinsdale, Ill., to Tanzania, East Africa, to perform volunteer work at a Franciscan convent. After learning that the local village lacked a primary school, mother and daughter began gathering the funds and resources to open one. Within a matter of months, the O’Brien School of the Maasai opened its doors, offering year-round instruction to kindergartners through seventh graders.

Read the entirety of this feel-good story, published in this month's Costco Connection magazine, by clicking here.

January 5, 2018

Going against the grain

Oaks, ashes, hickories and maples can coexist harmoniously in the wild. But can they and other wood species play nice when gathered in the same room? For homeowners who prefer the natural beauty of wood furniture, floors, decor and trim and don't want to go against the grain of proper design, it's an important question to answer. The good news is that, while experts recommend some do's and don'ts when it comes to pairing woods in a room, the right choices come down to personal preference.

Before you suffer any "wood-a"-shoulda-coulda regrets, read my new story on this subject, published in the Omaha World-Herald.