This 'n That And the Long, Short 'n Tall of it Wed, 18 Jan 2017 19:03:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Turn a Slow-moving Property Into a Hot Listing With These Tips Wed, 03 Aug 2016 16:26:10 +0000 Continue reading Turn a Slow-moving Property Into a Hot Listing With These Tips ]]> turn your slow-moving property into the hottest deal on the market
How to turn your slow-moving property into a hot listing

Putting a home on the market and selling it at a fair price can be tough. Why? Because people make mistakes they’re not even aware of. Cluttered homes that are overpriced, properties that look good only on the outside, dealing with inexperienced brokers and realtors; these are just some of the mistakes people make when trying to sell.

Has your property been sitting comfortably on or Trulia for months now? Do you want to sell but not give it away for 50% of its true value? Well then you might want to check out the following tips and guidelines to help you turn your slow-moving property into the hottest deal on the market.

Make your property look pretty (on the outside and on the inside)
When it comes to buying a home, people are not that easy to fool. Many know that what looks good on the outside doesn’t necessarily look just as good on the inside. In fact, some might actually believe that if a property looks too good there’s probably something wrong with it. Prove them wrong by making your house look pretty inside and out. Make buyers want to come in and check the interior by repainting it. Revamp the patio as well; plant some flowers, install a swing on the veranda and change the front door. This will drawn potential buyers.

Redo essentials on the inside too. Check for mold, cracked walls, unappealing flooring and make sure all appliances are in good condition. Open blinds and curtains for buyers to have a good look at the windows too. Don’t forget to clean them beforehand. Properties that are on sale should be empty but clean because the goal is to allow potential buyers to see themselves live there. They might not like your sense of style, so paintings and other decorations are useless.

Be available!

Be available to show people your property
Be available to show people your property
Selling a home can be nerve-racking because you have to be available to show people your property whether it’s 6 am in the morning or 10 pm at night.

You never know when someone can give you a call asking you to show your home. Make it “show-ready” and check on your property daily. Water the plants, dust and clean floors and windows periodically. It can be daunting process, but you have to do it if you want to sell at a good market price. Keep everything nice and clean, including the kitchen and the bathrooms.

The kitchen – the most important room in the house
Believe it or not, most people looking to buy a house first want to see the kitchen. If they like the kitchen, they might actually like your property as a whole. So if you have some money to spare and you’d like to do some remodeling, head to the kitchen. Your investment will pay off! Replace countertops, knobs and handles, buy a new sink and make it look modern and ready to be used. Apply neutral paint on the walls and make the window area appealing with new blinds and some seasonal plants. High-end appliances are recommended because it means that the kitchen is sturdy and ready to be used.

Get rid of bad smells
Your house may be super clean but if it smells bad, people may not want to buy. Bleach and other harsh odors should be eliminated. However, the key is not to cover them up but to get rid of them. Open the windows, clear the drains, get rid of cooking smells and wash the bins. Throw away old furniture and rugs and make sure to clean blinds and curtains embedded with cigarette smoke.

After you’ve done all that, you can place scented candles in the bathroom, kitchen, hallway and living area. If you’re still living in one of the rooms, welcome potential buyers with freshly brewed coffee and brownies. These small details can make a huge difference. Everyone wants to walk into a house that feels comfortable, so if you can’t afford major decorations, these small tips can turn your property into a hot listing.

Whether you’re an individual homeowner looking to sell or someone with tens of Istanbul apartments for sale, the same rules apply. Just pay more attention to detail and transform your property into a ready-to live space.

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Global Warming – Major Scam or Impending Reality? Mon, 30 May 2016 16:47:23 +0000 ; everyone has a strong opinion about it one way or the other - - major scam or impending reality?]]> Global Warming Scam or Reality
Global warming is the gradual increase in average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere

Global warming seems to be one of the most debated issues of modern civilization; everyone has a strong opinion about it one way or the other.

Global warming causes fights at family gatherings, and discords between friends. But how many people really understand the arguments on either side of the debate? It seems like people form their opinions based on how they feel, or what they want the answer to be, rather than based on information or evidence.

We’ll break down the arguments on both sides, and then let you decide for yourself whether global warming is all smoke and mirrors, or if you might want to go out and buy a hybrid vehicle.

Major Scam

Eleven years in the Sun's solar cycle
Eleven years in the life of the Sun solar cycle 23, from solar minimum to maximum and back again, as seen at upper right – click to enlarge

Climate Change is a Normal Part of the Earth’s Cycles
Global warming skeptics point out that the Earth has gone through several periods of warming and cooling, and has even experienced a few ice ages and warm periods throughout history.

There is also an argument to be made that we may be headed for a cycle of cooling due to lower solar activity than was initially expected over the last few years, and continuing in the near future. A previous period of similar low solar activity led to a major cooling of the earth in the 1700’s, which even led to the Baltic Sea freezing over.

Just a Couple of Degrees is Not a Problem (it’s not that bad)
Many people point out that a couple of degrees isn’t really a big deal. Can you actually tell the difference between a 23-degree day and a 25-degree day? How about 6 vs. 8?

These types of slight temperature variations don’t make that much of a difference, and many global warming skeptics point out that science and environmental organizations seem to be exaggerating the effects and are making things sound so much worse than they are.

There is no Consensus.
There are numerous scientists and researchers out there that have done studies that show trends that differ from those being reported by mainstream organizations.

There is also a lot of doubt shed on the interpretations of many studies, where different researchers can come to completely different conclusions while interpreting the same sets of data. This just goes to show that the issue of global warming is one that is more influenced by opinions than it is by hard data.

Image credits: Solar Cycle – NASA; Polar Bear – AP

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7 Tips To Help You Rent Out Your Home And Survive Mon, 20 Jul 2015 05:35:12 +0000 rent out your home
How to rent out your home and survive

Moving into a new home, many property owners consider renting out their houses as fully furnished properties. If you’re thinking about it yourself, you should be aware that renting out your home will generate quite a lot of work and involve risks you simply must understand and manage.

Before making the first move, you should acquire knowledge about the legal aspects of renting property and your main responsibilities as the landlord. If you’re prepared to do it, here are 7 tips to help you proceed smoothly through the renting process and gain a considerable secondary income.

1. Have a lease to protect you
Always have a written lease so that each party of the agreement understands their rights and obligations. Make sure that the contract complies with rental, tenant and insurance laws of your region.

Always include elements, such as lease term, security deposit, rental due date and possible penalties, a survey of repairs responsibility, rules of behavior, policies, specification about who pays homeowner association dues, association rules to be followed by the tenant, arrangements for showings and eviction terms.

2. Find a good tenant
Obviously, it’s risky to accept anyone who is looking for furnished housing as a tenant. Try to find out as much as you can about them – credit and background checks are not pricey and they can save you from making a very huge mistake later on. It’s best to find someone you could trust to take good care of your property – someone serious and responsible.

3. Know how much to charge
It’s important to do some market research before you start renting. Have a look at temporary apartments that are of similar standard to yours and are located in the neighborhood. Note how much landlords generally charge and determine what are the elements that make a difference.

If you’re lucky to live in a good rental market, your property might be rented for a very advantageous price. It might also happen that you find out some negative things about the market – if the rent amount wouldn’t cover mortgage payments and taxes, you should consider selling the house rather than renting it.

4. Get insurance
Remember to protect your property with the correct insurance policy. There exists a special kind of insurance policy for properties rented to a tenant – instead of the homeowner insurance, you’ll need a rental home insurance (sometimes called fire insurance). This insurance will cover the structure of your property, associated legal costs, medical expenses, security against the loss of rental income, and covering expenses if there are some repairs required.

5. Get a reliable property manager
One way to manage the renting of your property is to hire a property manager. Consider this: if you no longer live in the area or you’re working full-time and won’t be able to play the landlord part properly, have someone else do it for you.

Being a landlord is a serious matter – someone needs to be checking the property once in a while to make sure tenants are taking good care of it. If something breaks, there should be someone able to react immediately and manage the problem. Many people expect property management to be a costly affair, but it isn’t. Just think about the peace of mind you’ll get in return.

6. Consult with an accountant
If you haven’t rented out a furnished property before, you probably have no idea about how to properly declare everything on your taxes. Hiring an experienced accountant is a smart move – instead of getting lost in the tax meanders, you’ll have someone to ensure that your taxes are done correctly and legally. If you think this is an additional expense, think twice – accountants can save you lots of money when helping to report your expenses, so it only makes sense to benefit from their expertise.

7. Weigh your expenses and savings carefully
Finally, understand that there are certain costs involved in renting out your property (from maintenance and repairs to property management and accounting), and if you don’t have any savings for emergencies, it might be simply too risky.

Evaluate your savings, but also predict rental income in a realistic, not optimistic way. Unless you have an amazing property in a really great area, you may not find a tenant for every month. Transitioning between tenants should also be taken into account – its best to assume that you’ll only be renting out for nine months of the year. Always underestimate you profit and you’ll be safe.

Renting out a house can be very profitable, but most of the time it also requires some investment. If you do your homework and still want to jump in, remember to always have a legal and accounting specialist at hand to help you with potential issues.

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Solar Eclipse Supermoon and March Equinox Fri, 20 Mar 2015 12:20:57 +0000 solar eclipse supermoon and equinox
Today there’s a solar eclipse, a supermoon and it’s the equinox!

Today we see some truly momentous events in the heavens.

Not only is there a total solar eclipse, which is comes in the middle of four Blood Moons, but there’s a supermoon which will coincide with the autumn equinox.

Of course, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, it’s the spring equinox.

On top of all that, today’s new moon coincides with the occurrence of a phenomena known as the supermoon.

solar eclipse
The path of today’s solar eclipse — Image: NASA

A supermoon happens once a month when the moon comes closest to Earth at the point called it’s perigee. That’s when the moon is at it’s biggest when viewed from the earth. According to Wikipedia:

“A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth”

There’s more. Today’s total solar eclipse happens right in the center of a series of four uninterrupted Blood Moons, known as a tetrad.

Tetrad of Blood Moons
Tetrad of Blood Moons each of which fall on a Jewish feast day

The tetrad of four Blood Moons fall on Jewish festival days and the solar eclipse occurs on Nisan 1, the Jewish New Year

Previously this occurred in 1967, 1949 and 1493, all years of major significance in Jewish history.

  • 1493 — Spainish Edict of Expulsion of the Jews and Columbus sets sail for America.
  • 1949 — The prophesied establishment of the state of Israel, the first Jewish state in 2,000 years.
  • 1967 — The “Six Day War” when Israel miraculously defeated the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan in six days.

Of the 62 tetrads which have occurred since the first century AD, only eight of these have coincided with both the feasts of Passover and Sukkot.

Many believe that that the current tetrad signals the advent of the Blood Moon Prophecy, a series of end-time events, beginning with the April 2014 lunar eclipse, as described in the Bible in Acts 2:20 and Revelation 6:12.

Sources: NASA; Breaking Israel News; The Wall Street Journal; American Thinker; Wikipedia; EarthSky.

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How NOT to Get Rid of Your Problem Tenant Mon, 23 Feb 2015 19:04:35 +0000 How not to get rid of your problem tenant
There’s only one way to get rid of a problem tenant

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard some advice that features unconventional methods of getting rid of bad tenants that refuse to move — like changing the door locks.

A few years ago, I came across a horror story about what can go wrong if you try to evict a tenant without following the legal process.

In this true story, the landlord is the owner of about two dozen freehold properties in a cluster housing complex near Century City in Cape Town, all of them leased out to middle class tenants.

The lessor has a one-page lease agreement with three clauses. First clause describes the property and the second states the rent, deposit and when it’s due. Clause three was something like “If you don’t pay you’re out”. I kid you not.

One of these properties was occupied by some tenants who paid the first month’s rent, and then never bothered again. The landlord first tried to collect the arrears before trying to get them to move. Everything he tried met with no success and several months went by.

Then two tenants in a nearby property learned of the landlord’s predicament and offered a “fix” in exchange for a fee. Only too glad to try anything, the desperate landlord jumped at the offer.

Next day, the helpers arrived at the delinquent tenant’s property with a sledge hammer, broke down the front door and then demolished the toilet and cistern. The thinking here was, with no front door and no toilet, the tenants would be glad to move.

Big mistake. The tenants got legal aid and within days managed to obtain an urgent High Court interdict against the landlord. The landlord was ordered to repair the damage forthwith and not to come within 50 meters of the tenants premises.

Six months later the tenants were still there, staying rent free courtesy of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act of 1998 (PIE Act), and with no solution in sight. I’ve not yet been able to find out how the story ended.

If you’re ever faced with problem tenants that won’t move, see an attorney. The correct process must be followed for an eviction to be lawful and procedure is king. If it’s not done right the PIE Act may kick in and, at the very least, cause some costly delays. At worst, landlords that flout the law can be fined and even imprisoned.

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Weyers Du Toit Local Artist Sun, 10 Aug 2014 15:50:17 +0000 Continue reading Weyers Du Toit Local Artist ]]> Die Oes (The Harvest)
Die Oes (The Harvest), 95 x 75cm, oil on canvas (click to enlarge)

Weyers du Toit grew up in the Western Cape town of Bredasdorp. In the early 1990s he was a student of Fine Arts at the Cape College, working in Oils under the guidance of Liesbeth Gunther.

The artist paints from life in the spirit and style known as en plein air, after the French phrase for ‘in open air.’ This method of working in natural light serves to put the artist in direct contact with the beauty of nature and its elements. (See 13 more images, or click here for Flickr slideshow).

French Impressionist painters such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir advocated en plein air painting, and much of their work was done outdoors, in the diffuse light provided by a large white umbrella.

Weyers describes his work as “classic with an impressionist influence”. He works Alla Prima, for ‘only one layer’ and he is clearly inspired by the beauty of the Western Cape, particularly the Western Cape coastline.

Heart Attack Rock
Heart Attack Rock, 61 x 22cm, oil on board

Blou Bakkie Boot
Blou Bakkie Boot, 25 x 25cm, oil on canvas

Vangsbelofte, 50 x 50cm, oil on canvas

Vangs van die Dag
Vangs van die Dag (Catch of the Day), 40 x 30cm, acrylic on canvas

Die Haarborsel
Die Haarborsel (The Hairbrush), 61 x 61cm, acrylic on canvas

Vrou van Kassiebaai
Vrou van Kassiebaai, 45 x 45cm, acrylic on canvas

My Eie
My Eie (My Own), 95 x 70cm, acrylic on canvas (click any image to enlarge)

Die Hoed Pas
Die Hoed Pas (The Hat Fitting), 30 x 41cm, acrylic on canvas

Soekend (Searching), 45 x 61cm, oil on canvass

Jakob se Baai
Jakob se Baai, 31 x 24cm, oil on board

Sonneblomme in die Reen
Sonneblomme in die Reen, 45 x 61cm, oil on canvas

Meisho Maru Magic, Southernmost Tip
Meisho Maru Magic, Southernmost Tip, 24 x 31cm, oil on board

House for Snakes and Birds
House for Snakes and Birds, 42 x 29cm, oil on canvas (click any image to enlarge)

Sources: Weyers Du Toit — Jakob se Baai, Sonneblomme in die Reen, House for Snakes and Birds, Blou Bakkie Boot, Vangsbelofte, Meisho Maru Magic, Heart Attack Rock; Stellenbosch Art Gallery — Die Oes, Soekend; Walker Bay Art Gallery — Vangs van die Dag, Die Haarborsel, Die Hoed Pas, My Eie, Vrou van Kassiebaai

]]> 1 Why I Deleted My Facebook And Why You Should Too Wed, 02 Jul 2014 18:52:47 +0000 Continue reading Why I Deleted My Facebook And Why You Should Too ]]>

Facebook conducted a secret social experiment on 689,003 of its user accounts. See here for a copy of the study (pdf).

The 2012 study’s findings were published on 17 June 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This is the one that finally got me. That’s it, I’m out of there!

In January 2012, in a week-long experiment, a Facebook data scientist and university researchers manipulated the news feeds of 689,003 random Facebook users, without their knowledge.

Certain user’s news feeds were deliberately supplied with a disproportionate amount of positive or negative content. Positive content caused users to respond less negatively. Conversely, the viewing of more negative content caused less positive reactions from users.

This is just the latest installment in a long string of mostly privacy related violations and it has resulted in widespread outrage amongst Facebook users. Nearly every year since the launch of Facebook in 2004, there has been some new revelation about the greedy and rapacious methods employed to glean and utilize the “private” data of it’s users for profit.

It is abundantly clear that Facebook has a rather fast and loose concept of “user privacy.” Each successive violation of users’ privacy has reinforced this idea, and revealed new ways that Facebook is trampling on user trust and goodwill, again.

Many straws were added to this camels back, each incrementally pushing the boundaries of users’ privacy concerns. Some of these stand out:

2008 — New user interface and changes in Facebook’s Terms of Use removing the clause detailing automatic expiry of deleted content. Facebook owns your stuff.

2009 — A new privacy policy declares certain information, including “lists of friends,” to be “publicly available,” without any privacy settings. Due to this change it’s no longer possible to keep this data private. Facebook simply changed users’ friend lists from “private” to “public” without even informing them. The change also removed the option to make it private again.

2010 — Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) identified two personal information aggregation techniques called “connections” and “instant personalization,” a pilot program which shared Facebook information with affiliated sites. The program enabled access by anyone to information saved to a Facebook profile, even if the information was intended to be kept private.

2014 — Facebook is the defendant in a class action lawsuit in the the Northern District Court of California for allegedly violating its members’ right to privacy. Facebook is being sued by members who claim the company intercepts users’ private messages, without their consent, and that Facebook mines this data for profit.

 Mark Zukerberg
Facebook’s Mark Zukerberg can make you sad or happy

2014 — A study is published of a secret social experiment conducted by Facebook in 2012 on 689003 of its user accounts, without their knowledge. Facebook has demonstrated that it has the capacity to secretly alter the emotional temperature of it’s users. This Orwellian turn of events was the final straw, for me anyway.

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5 Tips For Using Google Glass In The Classroom Sun, 25 May 2014 17:51:54 +0000 Continue reading 5 Tips For Using Google Glass In The Classroom ]]> Google Glass in the classroom
Google Glass has the potential to be a brilliant teaching aid in the classroom

Google Glass has already been recognized for its potential in radically changing the way we’ll teach in the future.

With Google Glass, teachers can make their own mini-documentaries in order to enhance the storytelling in the classroom

Here are some possible methods of using Google Glass in the classroom, helping both students and teachers to make the learning process smoother, more diversified and captivating.

Before delving further into the potential of Google Glass in assisting classroom activities, it’s necessary to get a grasp of its technical functions and how they relate to our physicality, such as eyeball movements.

This insightful infographic from Edudemic should do the trick.

Google Glass prism
The clever prism in Google Glass displays and focuses the projected image directly onto the retina — click to enlarge

1. Teaching in Augmented Reality
Using augmented reality in the classroom can considerably enrich the learning process – Google Glass can be a part of a school trip to a museum or a historical monument, where facts and figures about relevant buildings or landmarks can be instantly displayed on the screen.

Additionally, scientific phenomena can be captured by the teacher in photos, videos, audio files or images, and subsequently shared with the class. With Google Glass, teachers can make their own mini-documentaries in order to enhance the storytelling in the classroom, facilitating student comprehension of the transmitted knowledge.

2. Teaching in Remote
Google Glass can be of great assistance to all those involved in distance learning, students and teachers alike. Teachers can create first-person video guides in real time that will mimic the collective classroom experience, or document and share lessons that involve demonstration and hands-on experience. This will help to create a real-time connection that is usually impossible in the case of remote or home-schooled pupils.

Another important thing is that Google Glass can provide accessibility for students with visual, auditory and physical disabilities.

3. Class Organization
With Google Glass, teachers can create schedules and share them with their colleagues and students, ensuring that everyone is well-informed. The device features a facial recognition feature application, which can be of great help to those who teach a lot of students and have a hard time remembering all of their names.

4. Personalized Training
This is probably the most important benefit of Google Glass in the classroom – easy information sharing and processing allows for teachers to create study programs that meet the needs and requirements of their students. Thanks to the built-in Augmented Reality Feedback System, teachers can instantly see if their students are falling behind on some study material. Teachers can also get a full student profile that will allow them to tailor lessons to match the student’s strengths and weaknesses.

Students can also benefit from Google Glass – for instance, by being able to search in real-time for cross-referencing essays, reports and presentations. Pupils can use Google Now application and personalize their search and retrieval on cards that will be adapted to their learning needs. They can also profit from augmented reality problem-solving games performed in the classroom with the use of Google Glass.

5. Teacher-Pupil Collaboration
Google Glass allows to send test scores and report cards to parents, fostering the parent-teacher communication line. Within a class, classroom collaboration is smoother – Google Glass can keep various members of a study group constantly connected.

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“Ayisafani” The Video The ANC Does Not Want You To See Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:09:33 +0000

This week we saw the state run SABC trying unsuccessfully to block a Democratic Alliance (DA) TV advert from airing on national television.

Well, predictably the “Streisand Effect” has now kicked in and the video has gone viral on YouTube. Oops.

“Ayisafani” means “It’s not the same” in Zulu.

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Isabel le Roux South African Artist Sun, 23 Mar 2014 18:34:57 +0000 Continue reading Isabel le Roux South African Artist ]]> Isabel le Roux Ceres Landscape
Ceres Landscape — oil on canvas (click to enlarge)

Isabel le Roux was born in Rustenburg, a city situated at the foot of the Magaliesberg mountain range in North West Province of South Africa. She began her career as an art teacher and has been painting professionally since 1974.

Her dynamic style is both expressionistic and contemporary, employing the vibrant and bold use of colour to depict typical South African scenes, particularly the Cape and it’s people.

She paints mainly in oils but also uses acrylics, watercolours, pen on paper and mixed media. Her passion and commitment is evident in her artwork and her travels abroad have brought a new dimension to her work.

She is one of the most prolific artists in South Africa. Her first solo exhibition in 1974 was followed by thirty-six more solo and group exhibitions, both locally and overseas. She was recently honoured with a three month sabbatical in the “Cite International Des Artes’ in Paris. (See 12 more images, or click here for Flickr slideshow).

Isabel le Roux Swartland
Swartland — oil on canvas (click any image to enlarge)

Isabel le Roux Karoo
Karoo — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Elephants River
Elephants River — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Cape Street
Cape Street — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Blommeverkopers Van Ou Kaap
Blommeverkopers Van Ou Kaap — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Lily's And The Blue Bird
Lily’s And The Blue Bird — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Bed Of Roses
Bed Of Roses — oil on canvas (click any image to enlarge)

Isabel le Roux Connect
Connect — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Colour Of Love
Colour Of Love — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Sails In The Blue
Sails In The Blue — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Hout Bay Reflections
Hout Bay Reflections — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Waterfront
Waterfront — oil on canvas

Isabel le Roux Still Life With Flowers And Fruit
Still Life With Flowers And Fruit — oil on canvas (click any image to enlarge)

Source: Isabel le Roux website

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