If You Want Your Guests to Use Coasters

One of the better jokes in our culture centers around guests that don’t use coasters.  It’s not too difficult to recall a sit-com that highlights a homeowner or homemaker who is angry to find a cold drink sitting directly on a wooden surface or leaving a smudge on a class tabletop.

Perhaps you don’t have meltdown when your guests forget to use a coaster, but if you’re looking to use less glass cleaner on your coffee table after a party, we suggest custom coasters.  Here are some ideas on how to get your guests to notice a coaster so that they’ll use it.

Collect unique coasters.  Businesses, restaurants, and marketing groups have all started using custom coasters and sleeves to advertise products and events.  Some of these coasters involve impressive artwork or bright colors.  Pick up some of these coasters after an event or ask the restaurant if you can permanently borrow some.

Provide holiday coasters. There are plenty of holidays to choose from and an endless supply of businesses trying to capitalize on that with sales, discounts, and promotions. If you happen to find holiday coasters specific to a time of year, collect them and scatter them about your home during the next holiday season.

Save special coasters. You might find that the next wedding or graduation party you attend has custom coasters to commemorate the occasion. When the event is over, gather up a few coasters if the host doesn’t want them. You then get to remember that gathering by looking at the coasters that were designed just for that special day.

Pro Tips: Getting Rid of Wasps, Hornets, and Bees

Getting Rid of Summer Stingers

Throughout the fall and winter months, you rarely encounter these stinging pests.  Even on the sunniest and warmest winter days, you won’t see these insects.  There are two reasons why you don’t come in contact with wasps, bees, and hornets throughout the late fall and into early spring.  The first reason is due to the nesting habits of these stinging insects.  From early October till as late as April, wasps, hornets, and bees are laying dormant and preparing to breed underground.  Second, all three of these insects pollinate plants.  They all rely on either insects that come out during the summer months or sugary nectars that are only available during the summer months.  This is also why these insects lay dormant in the winter.

Of course, like these summer stingers, we humans tend to lay dormant during the winter only to emerge in the summer months.  Unfortunately, while we sit outside in our backyards or in a park, these stinging pests are right there with us.

Wasps and hornets tend to be aggressive with some species of hornets stinging without reason.  Bees tend to sting less than wasps or hornets, however, if bees construct a hive near your house or backyard, there’s a high chance that you’ll come in contact with a few bees over the summer months.

Unlike most summer pests, you can’t prevent wasps, hornets, or bees from nesting near your home, business, or backyard.  There really aren’t any effective preventional steps that can be taken.  There are a few, none of which involve pesticides or chemicals.  In the spring, it’s important to make sure dormant wasp and hornets nests are destroyed as some species will return to their old nests.  Additionally, noting possibly problematic areas of your home or business, including hidden corners and shaded regions, will allow you to treat an infestation quicker.

Wasps and hornets are very aggressive and have been known to swarm people when threatened.  If you locate an infestation or nest, it’s best to contact an exterminator to remove the nest and treat the infestation.  However, there are some products that allow you to remove nests on your own.  These products will typically come in a spray can with a nozzle that allows the chemical spray to reach up to ten feet.  These bottles allow you to keep your distance from a nest or hive.

Note that wasps and hornets are most active in late summer.  This is the time in which wasps and hornets stop breeding.  With fewer worker wasps and hornets to get sugary nectars and insects for the rest of the hive or nest, more wasps and hornets leave the nest to search for food.  If you see an increase in wasps or hornets in your backyard, at work, or in a local park, it’s wise to keep a safe distance from these pets but also note their locations and travel patterns if possible.  Noting the direction from which wasps and hornets fly might allow an exterminator to locate the nest.

Enjoy your summer and make sure to stay clear of those nasty summer stingers!

Adulting: What’s a Mortgage Broker

What Is a Mortgage Broker and How Can They Help?

Adulting: What’s a Mortgage Broker

So you’re looking for a home?  It’s not as fun as you thought it would be, is it?  There’s a lot more to it.  Not only do you actually have to find a house that fits your needs but you also need to get a mortgage.  Unless you’re in real estate or you’re a mortgage broker, you’re probably not very confident about your ability to make the right decision when it comes to a mortgage.  But don’t worry!  The average adult is so terrible at looking for a mortgage that there’s a whole profession based around it.  Meet the Mortgage Broker.

Getting a mortgage is just as important as finding the right house.  It certainly isn’t as enjoyable as finding your first home and it’s probably more stressful, however, it’s unavoidable.  Like all major, unavoidable, and stressful decisions in life, there’s an insane amount of stuff to consider when getting a mortgage.

Working with a Mortgage Broker, Explained

At first, your instincts will probably tell you to go straight to your bank.  You trust your bank to hold your money, a mortgage should be no different.  You believe that until you sit down and read the fine print.  Maybe you’re not ready to negotiate a mortgage one-on-one with your bank.  That’s okay because there’s a group of professionals that are.

The Mortgage Broker

As I’ve said a few times, mortgages are super important.  They’re also unique to each person.  That’s why it’s essential to have someone who understands your needs and situation when looking for the right mortgage.  You’re going to want personalized service.  You want someone who understands you or your family.  That’s where a mortgage broker comes into to play.

Essentially, a Mortgage Broker is a middleman between you (the borrower) and the bank or loaner.

St. Louis-based Liberty Lending provided a great step-by-step overview of what to expect when working with your mortgage broker.

Tips from Mortgage Brokers and Consultants at Liberty Lending

Step 1: Knowing How Much You Can Afford

It all starts with a simple conversation with your broker.  You’ll need to know how much you can borrow.  Your mortgage broker will sit down with you and find out just how much you can or should borrow.  Your broker will ask a series of personalized questions to find out your financial situation.  Once they determine just how much you should borrow, they’ll work with you to parse through the various mortgage options.  Banks love to give you a hefty packet or dense brochure.  Qualified mortgage brokers like the ones at Liberty Lending work with you to get individual options.

Step 2: Getting Pre-Qualified

Getting pre-qualified may very well be the most important step in the mortgage process.  Brokers will work with you to ensure pre-qualification.  Being pre-qualified is essential as it gives you buying clout.  When a seller knows you’re pre-qualified, they’re more likely to go with your offer.  Mortgage brokers ensure pre-qualification.

Step 3: Reading the Fine Print

Though you’ve technically received your loan, the work of your broker isn’t over just yet.  Mortgage brokers like the ones at Liberty Lending will comb through every detail of your contract or application once approved.  They make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Finally, Moving In

The final thing you’re mortgage broker will do is making sure you’re successfully moved into your new home.  Mortgage brokers will work with title companies and escrow to ensure everything is in your best interest.

Good luck out there!

Liberty Lending is a fantastic mortgage broker and offers a variety of resources on how to work with mortgage brokers.

Is Your Home Fire Safe?

Have You Made Sure Your Home is Fire Safe?

Follow These Tips to Make Your Home Fire Safe

As a homeowner, you understand the importance of fire safety.  Not only is your home worth money but it’s also a place of warmth and comfort for you and your family.  Some of the possession we value most are stored within our homes.  However, natural disasters and fire pose a constant threat.  You might think that you’ve taken the necessary steps to avoid catastrophe.  Still, here are just a few tips to make your home fire safe.

#1: Seriously, Have Working Smoke Detectors

First and foremost, you need to install working smoke detectors in every room.  There’s no way around this.  Smoke detectors are essential to keeping you, your family, and your most prized positions safe.  Many homeowners neglect to install enough smoke detectors and will fail to replace the batteries in the smoke detectors they’ve already installed.  Depending on the size of your home, apartment, or condo, and the size of each room, you might need a smoke detector for each room.  Keep in mind that the type of smoke detector installed also varies.  Ionization smoke detectors are the cheapest and work well with flaming fires while photoelectric smoke detectors can sense smoldering fires.  Though photoelectric fire detectors work best, they’re more expensive.  Furthermore, make sure you change the batteries in your smoke detectors at least once every year.

Smoke detectors keep your home fire safe

#2: You NEED a Fire Extinguisher, or two

Most Americans have at least one fire extinguisher laying around the house.  More than likely, that single fire extinguisher is probably located somewhere near a stove or cooking appliance.  That’s a smart place to store it. However, the kitchen isn’t the only place that experiences fires.  All homeowners need at least one fire extinguisher, however, ideally, you should have more than one.  Fire extinguishers should be located in garages, near fuse boxes, and one on each level of the house.  The good thing is that fire extinguishers have decreased in price and homeowners can save when they buy in bulk.  The same goes for smoke detectors.

Always keep fire extinguishers on hand

#3: Prevent Electrical Fires

Addressing the factors that contribute to electrical fires doesn’t happen enough.  Faulty electrical systems and wiring not only puts residents at an elevated risk for electrocution but also fires.  To prevent electrical fires, a variety of steps can be taken.  For example, just altering the way in which you treat electronics and electrical cords can reduce the risk of an electrical fire.  When plugging something in, don’t jam the prongs into the outlet.  Similarly, when removing wires, have a firm grip on the cord and don’t yank.  It’s also essential that you have an electrician take a look at your home’s electrical systems once a year.  A few other tips include not removing the grounding prong (third prong) to fit a two-prong outlet, don’t use extension cords as a permanent solution, not overload outlets, and make sure you are using the correct lightbulbs.

Don’t let your house have wires like this.

#4: Consistently Update Appliances, Heating Systems

Old stuff including old appliances, old TVs, and old AC/heating systems can be disastrous.  Always make sure to update old appliances.  If an appliance starts acting up, runs hot, or is just old, replace it.  Not only do new appliances lower the risk for household fires but they also reduce energy costs.

#5: Have a Plan for When Disaster Strikes

Sometimes, prevention simply isn’t enough.  Maybe it’s a cooking accident or maybe something out of your control.  However, if disaster should strike and a fire threatens your home and its residents, you need to have a plan.  Know the best ways to evacuate from any room and for larger families, have a designated meeting area once the home is evacuated.  If you aren’t able to douse a fire using a fire extinguisher or by starving it of oxygen, there’s nothing you can do.  You need to get out of the house and contact the fire department.  Safety is more important than trying to be the hero.

 

The Top Missouri Neighborhoods (2017)

5 Missouri Neighborhoods That Will Make You Want to Move

Missouri is home to over six million residents.  Though the state is often labeled as a southern state or rural region, there’s much more to the Show-Me-State than meets the eye.  From The Gateway Arch in St. Louis to Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri features a great balance of both urban and suburban as well as rural.  With a growing tech and start-up scene, there’s more than enough reasons to consider one of the state’s urban areas if you’re considering relocating.  However, even if you’re not planning to move, these hip Missouri neighborhoods might make you want to move.

Additionally, Missouri boasts a fairly low cost of living.  In St. Louis and Kansas City, unlike most US cities, you can still find homes at reasonable prices.  Given the seller’s market, we advise you to consult a mortgage broker when moving to the Show-Me-State.  This will ensure that you get the best deal and ensures a flawless move to the state.

#5 Columbia, MO

Columbia, Missouri is located two hours west of St. Louis and two hours east of Kansas City.  Home to over 115,000 residents, Columbia boasts The University of Missouri campus as well as a variety of local attractions.  The University of Missouri, commonly known as Mizzou, has given the city a hip and urban vibe.  A quick visit to Downtown Columbia will prove just how much of an impact the college has had in the area.  With hip coffee shops and unique microbrews, Downtown Columbia is a hidden gem in central Missouri.  Make sure to make your move to the area soon though.  A growing population and rising home values are creating a perfect storm in Columbia.

#4 River Market, Kansas City, MO

River Market is a growing urban neighborhood near Downtown Kansas City.  The area which gets its name from a local farmer’s market has seen an influx in loft construction and new boutique establishments.  The River Market district is ideal for young couples and singles working in Downtown KC.  Kansas City’s tech and start-up scene have been steadily growing over the recent years thanks to companies like Google.  Kansas City is one of the only cities in the US to feature Google Fiber, Google’s blazing fast internet service.  Additionally, living in the River Market area gives you access to all of the amenities the region has to offer from a bustling business district to vibrant nightlife.

#3: Central West End, St. Louis, MO

The Central West End is one of St. Louis’ most appealing neighborhoods.  Featuring both single-family homes and a wide variety of apartment, condo, and loft living, the Central West End is a vibrant and growing community.  The Central West End is located just across from Forest Park, the largest urban park in the US.  The Central West End is also home to St. Louis’ start-up and tech district, Cortex District, Ikea, and Washington University’s medical school.  With new apartments, lofts, condos and other developments, there’s no shortage of opportunities in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood.

#2: Maplewood, St. Louis, MO

Maplewood is probably the best mix of urban and suburban on this list.  Located just miles from the St. Louis city limit, Maplewood has undergone recent development making it one of the most prominent neighborhoods in the area.  With microbreweries, unique donut shops, and exotic dining options, there’s no shortage of hip venues in Maplewood.  Maplewood also boasts a great selection of recently renovated housing as well as apartments.  Easily accessible by both highway 44 and highway 40, Maplewood is a popular destination for those working throughout the region.

#1: Delmar Loop, St. Louis, MO

Home to Blueberry Hill where Chuck Berry once rocked out on stage, this up and coming street has been one of St. Louis’ most vibrant neighborhoods in recent decades.  Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into this single stretch of road in recent years.  New lofts, commercial development, and a streetcar trolley system are just some of the improvements that have been made in the neighborhood.  When the new Loop Trolley system opens late this summer, you’ll be able to travel from the west end of the Loop right to the Missouri History Museum located in Forest Park.  The Delmar Loop features impressive nightlife as well as fantastic restaurants and music venues.  There’s more development set to take place over the next few years that will only make this hip neighborhood more desirable.

 

The cities and neighborhoods listed above are only expected to become more desirable in the coming years.  Desirability and demand can only mean one thing and that’s rising home values.  It’s important in this seller’s market to know you’re getting the best possible deal.  That’s why we recommend a mortgage broker.  Don’t even attempt to buy a home or apartment in one of these popular Missouri neighborhoods without the assistance of a professional!

Physician Immigration in the Age of Trump

Twenty-five percent of all physicians in the United States are foreign-born.  That’s right, more than a quarter.  Additionally, 16% of all healthcare professionals are born abroad.

Foreign healthcare professionals are actually a good thing.  Why is it good that over a quarter of doctors employed in the United States aren’t born in the US?  The answer to that question is very straightforward.  A simple statistic can answer it.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges and a report prepared by IHS, due to a rising demand for physicians, there is “a projected shortfall between 46,100 and 90,400 physicians by 2025.”

As baby-boomers get older, more and more healthcare professionals are required to keep up with the increasing demand for healthcare services.  Similarly, doctors who are part of the baby-boomer generation are getting ready to retire.  More people needing healthcare combined with a large number of healthcare professionals retiring might be one of the worst situations imaginable.

Unfortunately, you can’t just turn to med school students in the US and expect them to fill that gap.  There’s simply not enough American-born healthcare professionals to alleviate the growing shortage.  Additionally, American healthcare professionals tend to avoid underserved regions.  That’s where foreign-born healthcare professionals come into play.

Foreign doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are one of the main ways to alleviate the shortage of healthcare workers in the United States.  Moreso, these highly-educated immigrant healthcare workers are often sent to the most underserved regions of the United States.  These underserved areas lack adequate healthcare.

Foreign physicians, to come to the United States to practice, usually obtain a J-1 visa.  The J-1 visa is just one of many visas available to healthcare professionals.  Another visa available to skilled workers abroad hoping to come to the US to work in healthcare is the H-1B visa.  However, most highly-skilled immigrant healthcare workers opt to first apply for the J-1 visa.  Why?  It all has to do with the way in which the United States structures its visas.

The J-1 visa is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa status which is specifically utilized to empower foreign physicians to engage in residency and clinical fellowships in the United States.  The length of time that a J-1 visa remains valid depends on the duration of the program that an immigrant is accepted.  Once that program concludes, physicians and other healthcare workers are required to return to their home country for two years.  However, healthcare professionals can get out of this requirement via one of two ways.

The first is through a direct sponsorship from an employer.  The second is a self-sponsorship.  The first method is typically the preferred path and the one that’s most effective.  The visa holder backed by their employer will apply for a medical labor certification. If the visa-holder is not required to return to their home country, they can then apply for an H-1B visa or green card.

 

Additional Information on the H-1B Visa

The main reason healthcare professionals aren’t required to return home is because they are needed in regions of the United States that have a shortage of doctors, nurses, or other healthcare workers.  These areas include Appalachia, the Rust Belt, and the Deep-South.

Foreign-born healthcare professionals are actively reducing the shortage and aiding some of the most impoverished and underserved parts of the United States.  Unfortunately, this might not be the case for long.

The Trump Administration has shown it’s going to keep its word on immigration reform.  This immigration reform is proving to generate a lot of uncertainty and worry among foreign workers, including healthcare professionals.

Throughout his campaign, President Trump promised harsh immigration reform.  From building a wall on the US-Mexico border to banning Muslims from entering the United States, now President Trump based much of his campaign around immigration.  He promised to put “America first.”

Of course, many of those who opposed Trump, especially other politicians, never expected President Trump to follow up on those campaign promises.

That turned out not to be the case, and President Trump has already proved to be strict on immigration.  Already, President Trump has attempted to sign into law two travel bans.  Additionally, he’s halted the screening of expedited H-1B visas and has stated multiple times that he wants to do more to the H-1B visa program.

This is where foreign-born healthcare professionals seeking visas and even those already holding a visa are at risk.

Though the Trump Administration has spared the J-1 visa, the H-1B visa certainly hasn’t been spared.  Moreso, President Trump’s travel bans have shown just how much of an impact the President’s immigration reform could have on foreign healthcare professionals.

When the first travel ban was signed into order, it included visa and green card holders.  Healthcare professionals that were visiting family abroad in one of the seven countries listed in the executive order weren’t allowed to return to the United States.  Even if a doctor who is a resident of say Iran was in the country when the executive order was signed, they could potentially have their visa revoked.  Both travel bans were quickly deemed unconstitutional and suspended.  However, President Trump said that he would continue to pursue harsh immigration reform and has yet to rule out any new travel bans.

The biggest issue facing foreign healthcare workers is the H-1B visa restrictions.  President Trump has been a vocal opponent of the H-1B visa program.  There’s concern over whether not foreign companies and workers abuse the H-1B visa program.  The H-1B visa program has also been linked to increased outsourcing.  However, most H-1B holders aren’t misusing their visas and are just looking for a career in the United States.  Of course, that’s not how the President and the Administration see it.

Already, the processing of expedited H-1B visas has been suspended. Processing of an expedited H-1B visa will usually take a week or two.  Non-expedited H-1B visas will typically take months to process.  This creates a problem for doctors and nurses that are looking to apply for the H-1B visa.

Let’s say for example, that a physician’s residency in the United States is coming to an end.  He or she can apply for an H-1B visa to avoid having to spend two years in their home country.  However, because foreign nationals are no longer allowed to expedite the popular H-1B visa, that doctor would have to wait months for their application to be processed.  This could result in the doctor returning home or being unable to find a permanent job in the United States.

Of course, there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding how the Trump Administration will handle immigration.  However, one thing is for sure, and that is that President Trump isn’t afraid to carry out harsh reform.  The President’s attitude towards immigration could very well impact highly-skilled workers who are in the United States legally.  This could include doctors.  Both the President’s travel bans and new H-1B visa restrictions prove that healthcare professionals won’t be spared by the new administration.

If physicians that come from abroad are included in a future executive order regarding immigration, the shortage of doctors will only increase.  One way in which underserved areas of the United States have been able to make up for this shortage is by hiring foreign doctors.  Interestingly, most underserved areas in the United States are blue collar regions that voted for President Trump.  What had not been made clear to voters in underserved areas is that when Trump promised to put America First, their health care was at stake.

SOURCE: EPIC KEITH ENGLISH MIC DROP CAUSES ERUPTION IN DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CAUCUS

Heres the story as I was told it by a source that I trust.

During a recent the Democratic House Caucus, someone brought up the fact that Rep. Keith English was given a third floor office by the Speaker of the House. The general consensus was that it was a reward for being the 109th vote to overturn Gov. Nixons veto of a tax cut bill, a vote Speaker John Diehl allegedly had a hand in.

Im told the caucus raked English over the coals for his vote, and then Rep. Carla May stood up.

She allegedly told the caucus that when you join an organization and know the rules, you need to follow those rules. You need to behave. And Rep. English didnt. He broke the rules and now hes being rewarded for it.

English, being a cage fighter whos not afraid to stand up and face a battle, rose and responded that if thats true in the House, its true everywhere.

He then said that Michael Brown was walking down the middle of the street, breaking the rules. Maybe if he hadnt been breaking the rules, hed be alive today.

He then turned and walked out of the room. The caucus erupted.

Mic drop of the session? Maybe.

SOURCE: EPIC KEITH ENGLISH MIC DROP CAUSES ERUPTION IN DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CAUCUS

Heres the story as I was told it by a source that I trust.

During a recent the Democratic House Caucus, someone brought up the fact that Rep. Keith English was given a third floor office by the Speaker of the House. The general consensus was that it was a reward for being the 109th vote to overturn Gov. Nixons veto of a tax cut bill, a vote Speaker John Diehl allegedly had a hand in.

Im told the caucus raked English over the coals for his vote, and then Rep. Carla May stood up.

She allegedly told the caucus that when you join an organization and know the rules, you need to follow those rules. You need to behave. And Rep. English didnt. He broke the rules and now hes being rewarded for it.

English, being a cage fighter whos not afraid to stand up and face a battle, rose and responded that if thats true in the House, its true everywhere.

He then said that Michael Brown was walking down the middle of the street, breaking the rules. Maybe if he hadnt been breaking the rules, hed be alive today.

He then turned and walked out of the room. The caucus erupted.

Mic drop of the session? Maybe.

POLL: DO YOU SUPPORT REP. JOHN DIEHL FOR THE NEXT SPEAKER OF THE MISSOURI HOUSE?

Yesterday, Ron Calzone and others held a press conference to announce an effort to keep Rep. John Diehl from becoming the next Speaker of the Missouri House. Ive heard from readers supporting this, and others supporting Diehl.

So, I thought it might be good to have a poll.

If you want, leave a comment below and tell us why you voted the way you did.

MEET TRAVIS MORALES, ANOTHER COMMUNIST REVOLUTIONARY AGITATING IN #FERGUSON (VIDEO)

As I wrote before, out of town radicals are flocking to Ferguson, Missouri to do nothing but create chaos and violence which they hope will further the downfall of capitalism worldwide.  One of the agitators is Gregory Joey Johnson.

Now meet one of his partners in crime:  Travis Morales, a communist and proud of it.

He looks like a dweeb.

Here he argues with local Ferguson protestors:

You can hear Brother Anthony Shahid say, Youre not gonna hurt our kids. Morales shouts, No, theyre hurting our kids. Theyre hurting our kids, everyday. They being the Ferguson police, or as Morales would call them, the oppressive pigs doing the bidding of their capitalist overlords or something similar. Heres an action shot of Morales, meeting with said pigs.

Morales reported to his communist readers that he was heading to Ferguson with a comrade of his, Carl Dix.

Why does that name sound familiar?

Oh, right:

These guys are professional agitators. Update: (And by these guys, I mean Morales and Dix, not the rest. In fact, Matthew Giles is a journalist, not an agitator. See comments below.)

They just left New York where they were working the Eric Garner crowd:

While Joey Johnson worked Occupy Oakland, Morales worked Occupy The Bronx:

One of many outsiders who have come to Ferguson not seeking to calm things down in pursuit of justice, but to create as much havoc as possible to foment revolution.

They do not have Fergusons best interests at heart, but their own political agenda.