04 Jun


Bizarre Taxes Around the World


Nobody likes taxes. We have to have them to build roads, enjoy public services, keep the government up and running, but none of those reasons make it any easier to pay up.

Plus, it seems like there’s a tax for everything – your car, your home, your purchases. Where does it stop?

Well actually, it could be a lot worse. Over the years, legislators have found ways to tax some pretty ridiculous things, including sliced bagels, pets, and fireplaces. Thankfully, many of the world’s craziest taxes were retired long ago. However, some still exist.

Check out the graphic below to learn about the world’s most absurd taxes.

Crazy and Unusual Taxes Around the World

Filed Under: Infographics

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20 Feb


Energy Efficiency Tips for Home Windows


According to the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council), an environmental action group, about 1/3 of a home’s energy is lost through its windows. While simply covering up your windows may seem like a good idea, the infographic below illustrates the effectiveness of various window treatments and helps to show how your choice of window coverings really goes beyond aesthetics. Maximizing energy savings involves so much more than simply covering up. Modern technology, even in window treatments, also allows us to maximize the use of nature’s resources in an efficient, earth-friendly way. Now that’s energy efficiency.

energy efficiency tips for home windows

via Purely Shutters: How To Stop Energy Costs From Sneaking Out Your Windows

07 Feb


Vroom, Vroom! The Auto Recycling Industry Analyzed


Once an industry dominated by pick-a-part scrap yards, junk automobiles are now primarily recycled and the auto recycling business is thriving as environmentalists and scientists find new ways to reuse their recyclable materials. The following graphic highlights important figures pertaining to this blossoming and much needed industry.

recycling automobiles

via landlautomotive.co.uk

28 Jan


Craziest Videos of People Trying to Drive in the Snow


Not Sure If Pinball, Or Attempt At Driving

Jiminy crickets. In this video, a driver ignores the warnings of a crowd of onlookers at the top of a hill, and attempts to go down it anyways. The results are…not really what you would call driving, any more. You almost expect a sign to pop up with the words “Extra Ball Earned!”

That’s No Parking Spot!

If the building you work at has a pond near the entrance to its parking lot, try to remember that when you come in to work on a snowy day. On the other hand, hopefully after this the owners installed some sort of fencing to avoid any future incidents.

What NOT to Do When You Lose Traction

Most drivers know that when your tires lose traction on the ice, that you need to remain calm and carefully try to steer and guide your car to a safe location. Not this driver, unfortunately. In less than half a minute, he trashes his car, a streetlight, and another vehicle, due to his panicked reaction.

Give This Bus Driver an Award

On a hill packed with cars and trucks that are stuck or sliding downhill, this bus driver shows what a pro he is. Seriously, this guy should be a stunt driver, or one of those “closed course” demonstration drivers.

New Winter Sport Announced – Car Curling

These spectators literally make a sport out of watching these drivers fail to realize that driving down a hill of ice is…not the best idea. You’ll end up cheering along with them.

I Defy Your Laws of Physics

Cars have gotten occasionally gotten stuck this way before in mud, or even sand…but snow? This is definitely a new one. Just look at the amazed faces of everyone looking at it! You just almost want to push it and see what would happen.

Oh Excuse Me…Tank You.

Just try to imagine what’s going through this guy’s head. Trying to drive carefully on a particularly icy day then suddenly…tank. The worst part? That tank didn’t even use a blinker before changing lanes. How rude.

I Wanna Be A Snowplow When I Grow Up

Scenes like this one aren’t uncommon in icier areas. Typically, when a road is blocked by a jackknifed trailer, you settle in and wait until emergency services can respond. Apparently the driver of the Audi Quattro had other plans in mind, or an extremely urgent appointment.

Thumbnail source: Flickr user NikosT

Chris Turberville-Tully writes for HR Owen Audi. When not writing, Chris enjoys days out with his family or traveling abroad, which does not include icy driving adventures in the snow.

23 Jan


4 Real Estate Listing Features You Need Online


While you can’t control the economy or the housing market and its state of recovery – or lack thereof – in your area, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re giving your real estate agency the best chance to be competitive.

Because most of the housing market has moved online, start by making sure your Internet listings are as the best they can be. Here are four ways to polish your presentation.

1. Use photos

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when photos weren’t mandatory in real estate listings, but they are now. Occasionally an agent might tell you that photos aren’t important. That’s bad advice, and many shoppers won’t consider a listing without several quality photos. Time is too precious to physically visit properties that might turn out to be duds.

2. Include maps

Don’t count on your buyer to look up the address themselves. Any additional work is another reason to skip past your listing.

3. Write a great description

Make sure your property has the description it deserves. This isn’t just a piece of real estate to your buyer. This is a place where their family will live and some of their dreams will come true. Write about those elements, and add some emotion to the text. It’ll stand out from the other listings, which tend to be focused on the various attributes of square footage and numerical values that are easy to find elsewhere in the listing.

4. Add neighborhood data

Realtors in the past have been hesitant to deal with demographic data, as there are strict laws in place that prohibit any type of discrimination in the process of buying or selling homes. However, thanks to the Internet and the availability of Census numbers, it’s now possible to add this data to your listing for potential buyers to see.

The bottom line is, they’re going to find this data whether it’s on your page or not. So the best bet for everyone involved is to have a fully comprehensive real estate listing that includes information about the community, as well as the demographic data, so that the fitting buyers will find you and the disinterested ones won’t take up your time.

Filed Under: Offbeat

14 Jan


Technology That Makes Living at Home Easier, Less Expensive and More Convenient


Technology and energy conservation go hand in hand, especially when it comes to your home. While many people think of technology as the use of computers and items of that nature, it’s more than that. Technology is what makes your home function, and it can be used to help you save money and the environment.

Programmable thermostats

One of the simplest ways in which technology has evolved to help make your home more energy efficient is with the introduction of programmable thermostats. Many offer an array of options.

For example, if you’re on vacation and forget to adjust the heat or air before you leave, many of these thermostats allow you to use your laptop, tablet or smart phone to reprogram from a remote location. This means you can turn your heating or cooling system off while you’re away to save energy and turn it back on a few hours before you arrive so that your house is perfectly comfortable.

Automatic lighting

This kind of lighting is not only beneficial when you’re not home as you can program specific lights to dim, brighten and even turn on and off throughout the day, it’s beneficial for energy savings.

Many people forget to turn off the lights when they leave. Or perhaps you know you won’t be home until late and you want to leave the porch light on so you don’t return to a dark house but you hate the idea of leaving the lights on for 12 to 15 hours while you’re away.

Using your iPad or smart phone, you can turn your lights on and off no matter where you are. This allows you to save energy during the day.

Ductless heat pumps

Perhaps the hottest – no pun intended – technology on the market today is the ductless heat pump. It allows you to control the temperature in each room of your house, making it possible to keep energy costs down.

That guest room you use once a year? Simply turn off the pump in that room . It’s a concept many homeowners are taking advantage of when remodeling or building.


Technology isn’t really something people consider as part of their home. It’s always something that seems more computer related, but it’s actually what makes your house function. These technologies can help improve your lifestyle and make sure your home is as energy-efficient as possible.

Filed Under: Tech

14 Jan


The Masahiro Tanaka Sweepstakes Begin in Earnest


After weeks of speculation, star Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has finally been posted by his Japanese club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The process was slightly delayed while Major League Baseball and the Nippon Professional Baseball League created a new system between the leagues.

One of the major changes to that agreement was a capping of the posting fee that could be submitted by an MLB team to a NPB one for the right to negotiate with a player. The $20 million cap led to some reluctance by Tanaka’s Japanese team to post him, as they had expected to receive a windfall in the $50 million range. That would have been on par with the fees paid by the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish respectively.

New system means more teams in on Tanaka

The other major change is that all teams who submit the highest bid can negotiate with the player, which could give numerous teams negotiating rights given the rather small cap. Previously, only the highest bidding team could negotiate with the player.

As a result, several teams are expected to submit the maximum bid for Tanaka and try to sign the star pitcher, who’s coming off an incredible season in which he went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA. Tanaka picked up several trophies and awards in the process, including his second Sawamura Award as the NPB’s best starting pitcher, and helped Rakuten win the Japan Series, their first ever championship title. [Tanaka pitched the 9th inning of Game 7] to seal the championship(http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2013/11/03/baseball/eagles-blank-giants-in-game-7-capture-first-japan-series-title/#.Ur0MbLRN8h0 “”).

Tanaka pitched to a flawless 6-0 record in the playoffs, running his overall season record to 30-0 at one poin. He lost game 6 of the Japan Series to the Yomiuri Giants to finish the season 30-1. In another fun baseball fact, not only did Tanaka set a new Japanese record for consecutive wins, he obliterated the old one. Tanaka won 34 straight decisions from 2012 through the 2013 playoffs, smashing the old record of 20.

Teams expected to try and sign Tanaka include the usual suspects like the Rangers, Red Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers. Other potential suitors include the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks.

And the winner is…MLB.

Filed Under: Offbeat

06 Jan


4 Factors to Consider Before Looking for a Home


When it comes to buying an apartment, you’ll consider price, location and features. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re buying an apartment uptown or a home in a hip and trendy neighborhood if you don’t handle your finances and secure your mortgage first.

Check your credit

One of the biggest mistakes buyers make in the real estate market is not checking their credit score prior to buying a home. Even if you have no reason to believe your credit is anything less than perfect, you have to check.

The most insignificant error on your credit report can affect your ability to purchase a home, or at least to secure a mortgage with the best possible interest rate. Make sure you get mistakes fixed before you apply for a mortgage.

Save for a down payment

You have to have a down payment to purchase a home. Most traditional mortgage require that you have 20 to 30 percent of the total price of the home available to use as a down payment. Start saving or consider what you have in savings and work your budget around that.

Apply for a mortgage

Living in some areas, such as New York, is expensive and this means most sellers aren’t going to consider working with a buyer who has yet to secure financing. In fact, most Realtors will suggest you become preapproved for a mortgage prior to working with you. Many sellers won’t even show their homes to those without preapproval.

Consider what you can afford

Just because you applied for a mortgage preapproval and have a number in hand doesn’t mean this is what you can afford. You have to factor in other aspects of homeownership as well as other financial aspects of your own life.

For example, you may not be able to afford a million-dollar mortgage just because the bank said you could. You have to account for your other debts as well as household expenses such as insurance, parking fees, commuting fees, maintenance and homeowners association fees. Once you factor these items into your budget, you might realize you’re more comfortable in the $750,000 range.


Shopping for an apartment or home is exciting for anyone, but it’s not something you can do until your finances are in order. Focus on this aspect of the house hunt before your contact a Realtor, since your dream home isn’t likely going to want all your financials up front.

Filed Under: Offbeat

06 Jan


2 Business Technology Trends That Will Help Your Company


It’s impossible to log on to the Internet without seeing some kind of story about a trend that’s rumored to be the next big thing. We’ve become so accustomed to these types of stories, that we ignore most of them, which is an example of the process known as desensitization.

Most of the time, that’s not a bad habit to get into with regard to noisy and sensational news reports. Attempting to absorb everything might overload you and result in a complete standstill of inactivity.

But sometimes, among the noisy, trend-based news items, there are a trends you might miss — ones that might have helped your business.

We’ve sorted through piles and piles of recent technological news, in a search for trends that we think can help nearly every type of business on the planet. Here are two business technology trends that will help your company.

1. Human leverage

Thanks to the heavy influence of corporations on our government, the economic climate has become extremely favorable for business owners, especially when it comes to leveraging the power of human help. Much of the focus in the past has been on automation, when labor was expensive and benefits were costly.

But we’re swiftly moving into an era where half of all Americans will be freelancers, and global labor is available at a fraction of the cost of typical domestic labor (but with the same quality).

The Internet, combined with the economic recession and big corporations’ lobbying of the government, is creating a world where the ability to get human help is easier than ever.

2. Whatever you do, someone has built custom tools or software for it

The software industry has become so robust, and quick to iterate and develop new products, that nearly every niche of the business world has a custom product for it.

And government operations aren’t immune to this phenomenon either. For government document processing, there’s ePlan review software; for even more complex government operations, there are custom solutions developed by companies that have products to provide an effective solution for every portion of the overall puzzle.

Of course, if you find nothing out there that suits your needs, you can post to a freelance developer site and have a product developed for you. This should be a last resort, however, since the process of creating new software is expensive and timely, which carries an opportunity cost to your business or governmental entity.

Filed Under: Tech

06 Jan


4 Ways to Make Divorce Easier on Your Children


Walking down the aisle you never imagined your “happily ever after” would end with joint custody, alimony and every other holiday. Unfortunately, divorce happens even to those who don’t seem like the type of couple who would ever separate.

While divorce isn’t exactly pleasant, it doesn’t have to be as bad as you think for the children. There are a few things you can do to ease the pain and help you and your kids get through this difficult time as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Put the kids first

One of the biggest mistakes parents make when divorcing is forgetting that little eyes and ears see and hear everything. Put your children’s needs first during divorce; remember that while you might not love each other anymore, you both love your kids.

Do not speak ill of your ex in front of them and be kind to one another when you’re together for the kids. Don’t skip activities and sporting events and major life moments just because you don’t want to see your ex.

Expect to see him or her on occasion

When you expect to run into one another, it makes it much easier for you both. Expect that at any given moment you might see your ex at a ball game, school function or birthday party. Expecting this prepares you to behave kindly and with respect.

It also helps you to experience less heartache and shock in the aftermath of your encounter. Whether you like it or not, you’ll always be part of one another’s life. This kind of preparation also helps your kids. Children often become worried and nervous that one parent might become upset at their excitement to see the other.

Communicate with the kids

Keep the lines of communication open with your children. The more you do this, the easier your divorce will be for them. For example, you want them to feel comfortable telling you that they had a great time at dad’s house this weekend or that they’d like to see him more often.

This type of openness allows them to feel free to come to you when they want to discuss something, like a tradition. Perhaps you have a certain birthday tradition for your kids that they’d like to continue with the both of you. Letting them communicate this to you makes things easier for everyone.

Find a good divorce lawyer

Divorce is hard, but a good family attorney can make it easier. While you focus on ensuring your kids are happy and feel just as loved during your divorce as before, your attorney can handle the fine print and all the details. Eliminating this stress helps to ease the pain for all involved.


Divorce isn’t pretty, but it’s doesn’t have to be ugly either. When you can agree to disagree and focus on the kids, you can actually create a pretty comfortable lifestyle for all involved.

Filed Under: Offbeat