There was a man taking a morning walk at or the beach. He saw that along with the morning tide came hundreds of starfish and when the tide receded, they were left behind and with the morning sun rays, they would die. The tide was fresh and the starfish were alive. The man took a few steps, picked one and threw it into the water. He did that repeatedly. Right behind him there was another person who couldn’t understand what this man was doing. He caught up with him and asked, “What are you doing? There are hundreds of starfish. How many can you help? What difference does it make?” This man did not reply, took two more steps, picked up another one, threw it into the water, and said, “It makes a difference to this one.”

What difference are we making? Big or small, it does not matter. If everyone made a small difference, we’d end up with a big difference, wouldn’t we?


8 easy ways to boost your car’s value

Image result for how to keep old your value on your car

If you’re getting ready to sell your car, you may not think minor fix-ups are worth doing now — the new owner could spend the time and money instead of you — but that layer of dirt on your car, the stains on the seat and that burned out taillight send potential buyers the message that you didn’t properly care for your car.

That could cost you money.

“You could probably negotiate an extra $300 to $500 if it’s properly cleaned,” said Alec Gutierrez, manager of vehicle valuation for Kelly Blue Book.

According to Lauren Fix, an auto care expert and spokeswoman for the Car Care Council, the value of a “mid-range car” can be increased by $2,000 or more when selling it privately by just sprucing it up and making minor, easy repairs.

Here are eight easy fixes to spruce up your car so it will sell for hundreds — or thousands — more.

1. Wax on, wax off

Got a faded paint job? Don’t spend a fortune getting a new one. Break out the wax and polish your way to adding value to your car.

If your car’s paint has become so faded you no longer remember what it used to look like, try opening the door and looking inside the door frame, suggested Tim Miller, founder of Surf City Garage car care products.

The area inside the door frame rarely gets exposed to sunlight and harsh chemicals so it will be close to the car’s original color.

Keep in mind that all the waxing and polishing in the world may never get it completely back to that color and shine, but at least it gives you something to work towards.

Keeping it shiny: When washing your car, experts advise against using household detergents, like dish soap. To preserve your car’s finish, use products that were created for the purpose.

2. Bright lights

Nothing says “worn out beater” like dingy headlights. There are a number of headlight cleaning products on the market that can make those plastic headlight covers bright and clear in a matter of minutes. And many of these products really do work, said Lauren Fix of the Car Care Council.

If you’ve tried window cleaners before to no avail, they failed because they weren’t made for this job.

3. Shiny wheels

Shiny wheels look new and can add to your vehicle’s luster and potential value.

So, take the time to get in there and clean out dirt, dust and grime from the wheels. Also, swab a tire shine product on the tire sidewalls to make them look new, too.

4. Inside jobs

Pull out those removable floor mats. If they’re cleanable, clean them. If they’ve got big holes in them or stains that only a flame thrower will obliterate, you’re just going to have to buy new ones.

Fortunately, a new set of floor mats shouldn’t cost you that much. A set of attractive rubber mats at your local auto parts store should cost you only about $20 to $30, said Kelley Blue Book’s Alec Gutierrez.

Once that’s done, clean the rest of the interior. Clean and treat the leather, if there is any, and vacuum and clean the carpeting.

Except for glass cleaner on the windows, don’t use household cleaners in your car, warns Lauren Fix, an automotive expert who represents the Car Care Council. The materials inside your car are different from the stuff used to make the furniture and and carpets in your home. Buy cleaners that are made for the job.

5. Get your papers in order

Sure, you say you’ve had your car maintained regularly and the battery is practically brand new, but can you prove it? This is why you should keep a folder of maintenance and repair records on your car.

Besides providing evidence, an orderly folder packed with repair and maintenance records shows you really cared about your car and that’s what a potential owner wants to know.

Also, get a vehicle history report from CarFax or Experian and present it with the car. Among other things, these records will show the vehicle’s ownership history.

6. Make easy fixes

If your car has a burned out headlight or taillight, replace it. If, at some point in your car’s life, some miscreant popped the chrome badge off the grill, you should replace that, too, just so long as the replacement doesn’t cost a lot.

Also, make sure there are no warning lights — a.k.a. “idiot lights” — glowing on the dashboard. If the “windshield washer fluid low” warning is on, top it off. If the check engine light is on, have it checked. It could be something simple and inexpensive to fix. (If it’s not, you can either have it fixed or divulge the ugly truth to potential buyers.)

You may be tempted to just let the next guy worry about these things, but leaving anything unrepaired brings your care as an owner into question.

Remember, the damage to the car’s value is beyond just the cost of the light bulb.

7. Consider paying the pros

If your car’s worth more than $40,000 or so, it may be worth paying professional auto detailers to clean and polish it thoroughly. (“Detailing” just means “cleaning obsessively.”)

With a car like this, the difference between super-clean and dirty could be thousands of dollars, so it will be worth paying to have the work done right, said Lauren Fix of the Car Care Council.

8. Don’t have a scratch-and-dent sale

Don’t think a dent isn’t worth fixing, it is.

While it probably isn’t worth investing in serious body work, some simple scratches and parking lot dings can be repaired without incurring huge bills.

Many minor paint scratches and scuffs can be polished out. For dents, there are reputable firms that specialize in dent removal, said Kelley Blue Book’s Alec Gutierrez.

Be careful, though, not to resort to shoddy bodywork that could actually reduce the car’s value.

“If you’re going to get a poor job done, you’re better off disclosing the car needs some body work,” Gutierrez said.

Top 10 Ways to Become a Better Driver

Every time you get behind the wheel, you’re operating a very dangerous piece of machinery. Whether you’re an experienced driver or you’ve just finished driver’s ed class, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to driving. Here are ten things you can do to hone your safe, smart driving skills.

10. Take a Defensive Driving Course


Not only can online driving courses save you money on your car insurance or take points off your driving record, they’re actually pretty good refresher courses for anyone who’s been driving for a while and the answers to those driver’s license tests are just a hazy memory. Do you know how to eyeball how far ahead the vehicle in front of you should be based on your speed? Know the difference between a DUI and a DWI and how many drinks can impair you for each? Stuff like that is covered in these courses, usually around $35.

9. Park with Precision

Parking is (usually) easy once you get the hang of it, but in tight spots or when you’re new to driving backwards, it helps to know a few tricks. Here’s an infographic on parallel, reverse, and forward parking; and step-by-step directions for parallel parking. If you’d like even more help when parking, consider these DIY sonic sensors for your car.

8. Keep Your Hands on the Wheel at the Proper Positions

For decades, driving instructors taught students to keep their hands on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 positions on the clock. In the last few years, those guidelines have changed, so you’re now supposed to keep your hands lower, at either 9 and 3 or 8 and 4. This gives you more control and stability when driving, and is also the most ergonomic position to hold your hands for long periods of time. Muscles more relaxed and having more control over your vehicle? Instantly, you’re a better driver.

7. Adjust Your Mirrors to Cover Your Blind Spots

Similar to the above, there’s a better way to position your mirrors than you might have been taught: Adjust the side mirrors so far outward so they’re just overlapping your rearview mirror. Here’s an illustration.

6. Don’t Drive When You’re Sleepy (or Otherwise Not Alert)

We all know the dangers of driving after drinking, but a serious lack of sleep could also impair you just as much (some people even sleep drive!)—and one out of every six fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver, according to a study in 2010. Any time your mental facilities could be compromised—whether from alcohol, poor sleep, new medication, or even having a horrible cold—is a time to stay off the road or find an alternative to driving.

5. Don’t Bother Speeding

We all want to get to our destinations sooner, but all speeding really does is increase your risk of getting into an accident or getting a speeding ticket, it turns out. Here’s the math behind it, and why you’re better off just driving at or below the recommended speeds.

4. Know the Best Way to Merge in Traffic

Inefficent lane merging causes traffic, road rage, and accidents. Some people are aggressive lane cutters, while others politely take their place in a lane long before an exit. The best, most efficient solution for all of us is to stay calm and zipper merge, each one taking our turn. (It was worth a try. At the very least, when merging or when others are trying to merge, be patient but also don’t be that guy holding up a whole lane. We can work together to improve traffic for all.)

3. Handle Tough Driving Conditions Like a Boss

Even the most experienced drivers can get thrown off by hazardous conditions. Here’s how to drive in extreme winter weather (including steering through slipperly snow), how to see better while driving at night, how to safely pass a car on a two-lane road, and why you should wear sunglasses but not use cruise control while it’s raining.

2. Ditch the Distractions and Know Where You’re Going

By now, we all know texting while driving is both dangerous and against the law. It’s possible to drive safely while using your cell phone, but you’re better off just turning it off and sticking it in your bag if you don’t need it for navigating. Your cell phone isn’t the only problem, though. If you eat while you drive, fiddle with the radio, or have a too-talkative passenger, you won’t be able to drive as well. The danger of texting while driving is rightfully getting alot of attention, but distracted driving in general is the main issue.

Related to this: the distraction of not knowing where you are or exactly how to get where you want to go. Even with your phone’s or car’s navigation system, you could find yourself saying, “Wait, which highway am I supposed to get on?” and in a panic make a sudden, dangerous move. Try to scope out your route as much as possible before you start driving—even using Google Street view so you’re used to the landmarks and tricky intersections before you get in your car.

1. Practice

Finally, as the fine folks at Jalopnik point out in their driver skills article, the top way to become a better driver is to drive more—conscienciously, of course, keeping the above in mind. It is, after all, a skill—one we shouldn’t take too much for granted.

credits Photos by m.shattock, Yuya Tamai, bradleygee, rubenerd, faramarz.

12 unusual hotels you won’t believe actually exist

Interesting huh??


Inspired by the architecture of traditional houses of the Zaan region, the green facade of <a href="" target="_blank">Inntel Hotel Zaandam </a>is eye-catching even from afar.

Inntel Hotel Zaandam (Amsterdam)

At first glance, this hotel appears to be made up of a series of houses stacked one on top of another.
Inspired by the architecture of traditional houses of the Zaan region, the green facade of Inntel Hotel Zaandam is eye-catching even from afar.
Located next to the Zaandam train station, it takes only 12 minutes to get to the Amsterdam city center.
If staying atop a former industrial monument isn't exciting enough, guests at the <a href="" target="_blank">Faralda Crane Hotel</a> can attach themselves to a rope and free fall 164 feet from the top.

Faralda Crane Hotel (Amsterdam)

Originally part of an Amsterdam shipyard that operated between 1894 and 1979, this historic crane has been transformed into a cool hotel.
The Faralda Crane Hotel is located at the top of the 50-meter-high structure and there are only three suites available for booking.
If staying atop a former industrial monument isn’t exciting enough, you can rope-jump off the crane and free fall 164 feet.
An underwater bridge connects the <a href="" target="_blank">Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort's</a> two towers.

Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort (Huzhou, China)

Famous for its donut-like shape, the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort in China offers amenities and services that are even more attractive than its architecture.
For one, there’s an underwater bridge that connects the two towers of the hotel.
At night, there’s a spectacular light show during which the building’s distinctive structure is illuminated.
Built in the 1960s, <a href="" target="_blank">Hotel Jested</a> looks more like something from a sci-fi movie than a place to spend the night.
Hotel Jested (Czech Republic)
Built in the 1960s, this hotel looks more like something from a sci-fi movie than a place to spend the night.
Located 1,012 meters above sea level, Hotel Jested offers stunning panoramic views of the Czech Republic countryside.
According to the hotel’s website, railings in the interior of the hotel are made of discarded pieces of steel that have been welded together, giving the place an industrial feel.
Inside each <a href="" target="_blank">sleeping pod</a> is an ambient control system, said to help you sleep better.

9 Hours Capsule Hotel Kyoto (Japan)

This one’s definitely not for claustrophobics.
At 9 Hours Capsule Hotel Kyoto, you sleep alone inside a capsule.
Inside each sleeping pod is a sleep ambient control system, which claim to support sleep-wake rhythms to help you get a better rest.
Billing itself as the "first luxury cruise ship on land," the <a href="" target="_blank">Sun Cruise Resort</a> offers everything you'd experience on the open sea -- minus the sickness and ports of call.

Sun Cruise Resort (Donghae, South Korea)

Want to go on a cruise but afraid of getting seasick?
South Korea’s Sun Cruise Resort may be your answer.
Calling itself the “first luxury cruise ship on land,” the resort offers everything you’d experience on a luxury cruise ship — except maybe seasickness.
There’s even a rotating sky lounge offering great views of the ocean.
This hotel has been transformed from a gun emplacement into a <a href="" target="_blank">luxurious private island</a> fitted with a rooftop heated pool, sauna and fire pit.

Spitbank Fort (Portsmouth, England)

Spitbank Fort sits right in the middle of the sea.
With a distinctive circular concrete exterior, the English site has been transformed from a gun emplacement into a luxurious private island fitted with a rooftop pool, sauna and fire pit.
Oh, and there’s one small thing that might add to the unique experience — an alleged ghost resides at Spitbank Fort.
There are tree houses for kids, then there are <a href="" target="_blank">tree houses for adults</a>.
Free Spirit Spheres (Qualicum Beach, British Columbia)
Located in Vancouver Island’s coastal rainforest, Free Spirit Spheres are individual suspended spherical tree houses designed to allow guests to experience nature in a new way.
Three handcrafted spheres — Eve, Eryn, Melody — are available for overnight rentals.
Access to “rooms” involves strolling across elevated walkways and bridges and walking up spiral staircases.
The cars of this <a href="" target="_blank">restored train</a> sit on 700 feet of railroad track overlooking the Tanana River, Alaska Range and city of Fairbanks.

The Aurora Express (Fairbanks, Alaska)

No need to worry about missing your stop if you fall asleep on this train, because it doesn’t actually move.
Owners Mike and Susan Wilson have renovated retired Alaska Railroad cars into a unique bed and breakfast known as The Aurora Express.
Each room is decorated with themes based on historical periods in Alaska.
The cars in the train sit permanently on 700 feet of railroad track that overlooks the Tanana River, mountains of the Alaskan Range and city of Fairbanks.
Influenced by Native American culture, Frank Redford began building these <a href="" target="_blank">teepee motels </a>across America in the 1930s. Only three remain.

Wigwam Motel (Holbrook, Arizona)

It might not be luxurious, but the Wigwam Motel offers individual teepees that are cozy and comfortable.
Influenced by Native American culture, Frank Redford began building these motels across America in the 1930s.
Only three remain today.
<a href="" target="_blank">La Balade des Gnomes</a> looks like an odd farmhouse but it's actually a hotel with 10 guest rooms.

La Balade des Gnomes (Durbuy, Belgium)

La Balade des Gnomes looks like an odd farmhouse, but it’s actually an imaginative hotel with 10 guest rooms.
From the Trojan horse suite to the “sailboat” in its own pool, each room’s design is inspired by a fairy tale.
This vintage 1965 Boeing 727 airframe sits in the jungle canopy of Costa Rica. It's been transformed into a luxury suite at <a href="" target="_blank">Hotel Costa Verde</a>.

Hotel Costa Verde (Costa Rica)

This vintage 1965 Boeing 727 airframe is located in the jungle canopy of Costa Rica.
Hotel Costa Verde bought this retired aircraft and transported it from San Jose International Airport into the lush Manuel Antonio National Park.
It’s been refurbished and transformed into a luxurious hotel suite that sits on a 50-foot pedestal.
At this height, guests can enjoy top ocean and jungle views.

Fuel from sewage is the future — and it’s closer than you think

It may sound like science fiction, but wastewater treatment plants across the United States may one day turn ordinary sewage into biocrude oil, thanks to new research at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The technology, hydrothermal liquefaction, mimics the geological conditions Earth uses to create crude oil, using high pressure and temperature to achieve in minutes something that takes Mother Nature millions of years. The resulting material is similar to petroleum pumped out of the ground, with a small amount of water and oxygen mixed in. This biocrude can then be refined using conventional petroleum refining operations.

Wastewater treatment plants across the U.S. treat approximately 34 billion gallons of sewage every day. That amount could produce the equivalent of up to approximately 30 million barrels of oil per year. PNNL estimates that a single person could generate two to three gallons of biocrude per year.

Sewage, or more specifically sewage sludge, has long been viewed as a poor ingredient for producing biofuel because it’s too wet. The approach being studied by PNNL eliminates the need for drying required in a majority of current thermal technologies which historically has made wastewater to fuel conversion too energy intensive and expensive. HTL may also be used to make fuel from other types of wet organic feedstock, such as agricultural waste.

Using hydrothermal liquefaction, organic matter such as human waste can be broken down to simpler chemical compounds. The material is pressurized to 3,000 pounds per square inch — nearly one hundred times that of a car tire. Pressurized sludge then goes into a reactor system operating at about 660 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat and pressure cause the cells of the waste material to break down into different fractions — biocrude and an aqueous liquid phase.

“There is plenty of carbon in municipal waste water sludge and interestingly, there are also fats,” said Corinne Drennan, who is responsible for bioenergy technologies research at PNNL. “The fats or lipids appear to facilitate the conversion of other materials in the wastewater such as toilet paper, keep the sludge moving through the reactor, and produce a very high quality biocrude that, when refined, yields fuels such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuels.”

In addition to producing useful fuel, HTL could give local governments significant cost savings by virtually eliminating the need for sewage residuals processing, transport and disposal.

“The best thing about this process is how simple it is,” said Drennan. “The reactor is literally a hot, pressurized tube. We’ve really accelerated hydrothermal conversion technology over the last six years to create a continuous, and scalable process which allows the use of wet wastes like sewage sludge.”

An independent assessment for the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation calls HTL a highly disruptive technology that has potential for treating wastewater solids. WE&RF investigators noted the process has high carbon conversion efficiency with nearly 60 percent of available carbon in primary sludge becoming bio-crude. The report calls for further demonstration, which may soon be in the works.

PNNL has licensed its HTL technology to Utah-based Genifuel Corporation, which is now working with Metro Vancouver, a partnership of 23 local authorities in British Columbia, Canada, to build a demonstration plant.

“Metro Vancouver hopes to be the first wastewater treatment utility in North America to host hydrothermal liquefaction at one of its treatment plants,” said Darrell Mussatto, chair of Metro Vancouver’s Utilities Committee. “The pilot project will cost between $8 to $9 million (Canadian) with Metro Vancouver providing nearly one-half of the cost directly and the remaining balance subject to external funding.”

Once funding is in place, Metro Vancouver plans to move to the design phase in 2017, followed by equipment fabrication, with start-up occurring in 2018.

“If this emerging technology is a success, a future production facility could lead the way for Metro Vancouver’s wastewater operation to meet its sustainability objectives of zero net energy, zero odours and zero residuals,” Mussatto added.

In addition to the biocrude, the liquid phase can be treated with a catalyst to create other fuels and chemical products. A small amount of solid material is also generated, which contains important nutrients. For example, early efforts have demonstrated the ability to recover phosphorus, which can replace phosphorus ore used in fertilizer production.


The importance of Emission Testing for your vehicle

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Having your vehicle in for an emission test can be important and beneficial. This does not only help you, but it helps those around you as well as the environment. An emissions test checks the levels of hazardous materials that may escape from your vehicle if it has an combustion engine. Emissions tests are mandatory in several areas, especially those in an urban or suburban. Emission tests are used to decrease the amount of pollutants that your vehicle releases. These pollutants are harmful to the environment as well as yourself. This can then help to improve the air quality.

Helping to control emissions from your vehicle

By taking your vehicle in, They can help test the emissions on your vehicle. That way, your vehicle can run efficiently and produces the least amount of pollutants as possible. Vehicle manufactures also help decrease the amount of pollutants your vehicle produces. A catalytic converter will change harmful emissions into lesser of ones before having them released from the vehicle. Exhaust gas recirculation valves and positive crankcase ventilation systems will originate from different areas of the vehicle, but work the same. Both will filter the vapors into the combustion chamber to cool it down. They also prevent any excess pollutants that are cause by too much heat.

Purpose of Emission testing

The purpose of having an emission test done on your vehicle, is to see the amount of pollutants it produces. With these tests, it can help to lower the pollutants your vehicle releases and can help the air quality of the environment. The emission test has repeatable and comparable measurements of exhaust emissions for different engines and vehicles. These tests are done in cycles, which can specify a set of very specific conditions that the engine is operating at. Specified parameters in a test cycle can include a range of conditions, such as operating temperature, load, and speed. These test are performed to simulate any real world conditions that your vehicle may encounter.

By taking your vehicle in so the emissions can be tested on it

If your vehicle has not had an emission test done, it could be releasing harmful pollutants that can cause issues for humans, animals, and the environment. These pollutants can also lead to acidified soils, lakes, and streams. It can also accelerate the corrosion of buildings and monuments, as well as reducing visibility in the atmosphere. By taking your vehicle in for regular maintenances, they can test the emissions of your vehicle. If you do not have a regular schedule for taking your vehicle in, talk to them and they can set up a plan that works for you. Besides checking the emissions, they  can also  inspect your vehicle over for any wearing of parts. They can also top off any fluids that may need it. Your vehicle can then run as efficient as possible. Having your vehicle vchecked  regularly can also help to provide a safe and comfortable ride for you and your passengers.


Roomba will now tell you what part of your home is dirtiest

For the parent who’s always suspected their kid’s bedroom is the dirtiest part of the house — Roomba is now ready to weigh in.

iRobot (IRBT), maker of the popular robot vacuum cleaner, has updated its app to provide detailed cleaning maps, plus integration with Amazon’s (AMZN, Tech30) Alexa.

Owners of top-of-the-line Roombas will begin receiving maps showing exactly where in the home was cleaned and what was messiest. Areas with lots of dirt and debris will be marked with plus signs on the map. The Roombas will spend extra time on those trouble spots. iRobot is also adding push notifications for owners who want to be texted when their Roomba is done cleaning.

The updated app is available on iOS and Android Wednesday. The Amazon Alexa integration will launch this spring.

roomba 2


Roomba owners will be able to tell the vacuum to start, stop or pause a cleaning. For example, “Alexa, ask Roomba to begin cleaning.”

The new features will only be available for the 900 series Roombas, which cost $700 or $900. Other Roombas can be had for $500 or less.

roomba 3


Consumers will have to decide if the advanced features are worth spending almost twice as much on.

iRobot sees the new features as a step closer to a future when a variety of robots work together to enable smarter homes.

roomba 1

The Roomba first launched in 2002, and more than 7.5 million have been sold.


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