Friday, February 3, 2017

A Basic Guide to Reshaping the Lawn

The primary goal for reshaping the lawn is to accommodate a new feature, such as a newly planted tree or an island flower bed. You could also transform an existing area by expanding the space of a shrub border. Thoughtful reshaping can make any changes blend in smoothly with the rest of the yard.

The most important step in changing the design of your lawn is working out the new layout on paper. Sketch out the existing border and experiment with new shapes until you hit on the one that will sufficiently incorporate the element you are planning to add to your yard.

Once you are pleased with the new shape, lay out the new line on the lawn. Use a garden hose, rope, turf paint, or any other temporary marker to transfer the drawn design onto the lawn. View the change from different places in the yard. If the new shape is suitable, begin cutting it out.

Reshaping not only involves cutting out sections of lawn, it may also entail adding turf to fill in a new shape. To create new areas of lawn, use sod you have cut from other areas however, transplanted sections of lawn can experience shock. Minimize the effects of changes made to your lawn by giving more water to these sections. You can also purchase strips of sod from a nursery. Sod strips should be weed free and moist. For best results add an even layer of natural organic lawn compost before laying down sod.

If the edge of the lawn is susceptible to damage after reshaping, shield it by installing a solid edging such as wood sections or brick. Fertilize with a slow release, high potassium fertilizer immediately after reshaping to help preserve healthy root systems. Be sure to fertilize right up to and along the edges. Water well so that the roots and soil underneath are completely soaked.

If you plan on reshaping a large area of your lawn, consider renting a turf cutter. A turf cutter can quickly and simply remove large sections of turf and can be rented at a local tool center.

The best time to make alterations to the lawn is when it is actively growing, so that the roots have an opportunity to become established after the change. If you live in cold areas and have cool season grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass, wait until the grass is a rich green before reshaping. Cutting damp or partially frozen turf makes the job harder and can harm the roots. In warm areas, with grasses such as Zoysiagreass, reshape them early in summer before extremely hot weather sets in.

Labels: A Basic Guide to Reshaping the Lawn

A Brief History Lesson on Why We Celebrate Halloween

Many people would admit that Halloween is their favorite holiday. They love the act of dressing up and pretending to be someone else for the day or night. They love decorating their homes in ghoulish fashion. They even love handing out trick or treat candy to all the neighborhood kids. Yet, do they or you realize the real reason why we celebrate Halloween?

To begin with, you should understand that the Halloween we celebrate today is a mixture of many different ancient religious beliefs, along with ancient traditions and folk traditions. These beliefs came from a number of different sources including: the Celtic, the Catholic Romans, and the Europeans. Their beliefs were just mixes all together to become the modern day version of the Halloween we know.

Most people will say that Halloween originates from the ancient times as a day that the dead could walk the Earth, again. The ancient Celtics, over two thousand years ago, would have bon fires and wear costumes, in hopes of warding off these ghosts. They believed that these ghosts could cause all types of damage, even damage to their crops. They also believed that during this time the Celetic Priests were able to make predictions about the future. The presence of these ghosts gave them this ability. This gave the Celictics comfort during the hard winter that was approaching. To celebrate the rising of the dead and the powers the priests had, bonfires were burnt, animals were sacrificed and costumes were worn.

The Romans celebrated the passing of the dead during the day known as “Feralia.” This day was celebrated in late October. The second day they celebrated The Goddess of Fruit and Trees, “Pommona.” The symbol they used was apples. This is where the tradition of bobbing for apples originated.

In the 800’s, Pope Boniface IV, began the holiday that is known as All Saint’s Day. This is a day in which the saints and martyrs are honored. His hope was to replace the tradition of honoring the dead with a Christian type of holiday that the church sanctioned.

When the Europeans came to America, they came with many different Halloween type beliefs. Some of these beliefs came with the use of costumes. These beliefs began to emerged, along with the beliefs of the Indians and a new Halloween began to form. These first Halloweens consisted of play parties, celebrations of the harvest, groups of people telling stories of the dead, fortune telling, singing and dancing.

In the 1800’s, Halloween began to change, again. There were more neighborhood parties. The holiday seems to be centered on community.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, communities began having Halloween parades. Yet, there was also a lot of vandalism going along with this holiday.

Finally, in the 1950’s, community leaders designated that this holiday should be more about the children. Trick or treating was established in many cities.

Today, Halloween is a big holiday. An estimated 6.9 billion dollars is spent on this holiday. Reports say that it is the second highest commercial holiday.


Labels: A Brief History Lesson on Why We Celebrate Halloween

A Look at the 10 Best Programs for a Master of Education

Full disclosure-I am an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland University College and an Alumnus of Johns Hopkins University.

So, you’re interested in earning a Master of Education degree? For some, the M.Ed. is simply an extension of their undergraduate work as they continue to move forward in their teaching career, while for others, enrolling in an M.Ed. is to change directions. Perhaps you already have an undergraduate (or even graduate) degree in, say, history or math, but you do not have a background in education or education courses. Then the M.Ed. might be the path you should take.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the top 10 Master of Education universities in the United States are as follows:

1. Vanderbilt University (Peabody)
2. Teacher’s College, Columbia University
3. Harvard University
4. Stanford University
5. University of Oregon
6. Johns Hopkins University
7. University of California-Los Angeles
8. Northwestern University
9. University of Wisconsin-Madison
10. University of California-Berkley

Few surprises in the top 10 list with such names as Vanderbilt, Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins. Perhaps U of Oregon and U of Wisconsin are a bit surprising, but not when we look at the statistics behind their ranks.

First, though, how did U.S. News come up with these rankings? There are numerous factors that go into their system, and each factor has a weight assigned to it (in other words, some of the factors are more important than others).

Here is the list of factors:

1. Peer Assessment Score (.25) (education school deans rate each other).
2. Superintendent Assessment Score:(.15) (superintendents of schools rate the universities)
3. Student Mean GRE Verbal Scores (.06) (the graduate students’ GRE verbal score is considered)
4. Student Mean GRE Quantitative Scores (.06) (the graduate students’ GRE math score is considered)
5. Acceptance Rate (.06) (how many students that applied were accepted)
6. Student-Faculty Ratio (.045) (how many professors are there per student-the lower the better)
7. Percent of Faculty with Awards (.025) (academic awards and editorial positions are counted)
8. Doctoral Degrees Granted (.05) (this is a ratio of how many degrees were awarded in relation to how many professors taught in the program)
9. Total Research Expenditures (.15) (how much money did the university spend on research)
10. Average Expenditures per Faculty Member (.15) (the average research expenditures in relation to the number of professors)

Once all of that was assessed, scores were weighted so that the top school received a 100.

Vanderbilt (#1) located in Nashville, TN, had 779 total graduate students in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $1,568 per credit hour. They have a rolling deadline. Their professor to student ratio is amazingly low-only 2.7 students per professor (there are 91 professors in the program).

Teacher’s College, Columbia University (#2), located in New York, NY, had 5,102 total graduate students in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $1,127 per credit hour. They have a rolling deadline and an application fee of $65. Their student to professor ratio is 6.1 with 136 professors.

Harvard University (#3), located in Cambridge, MA, had 993 total graduate students in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $34,208 per year (no per credit permitted). Their deadline is December 15. Their student to professor ratio is 5.8 with 52 professors.

Stanford University (#4), located in Stanford, CA, had 381 total graduate student in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $37,380 per year (no per credit permitted). Their deadline is December 15. Their student to professor ratio is 3.8 with 49 professors.

University of Oregon (#5), located in Eugene, OR, had 797 total graduate students in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $12,697 (in state) and $17,989 (out of state). They have a rolling deadline. Their student to professor ratio is 4.1 with 37 professors.

Johns Hopkins University (#6), located in Baltimore, MD, had 1,935 total graduate students in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $477 per credit hour. They have a rolling deadline. Their student to professor ratio is 0.3 with 39 faculty members.

University of California-Los Angeles (#7), located in Los Angeles, CA, had 836 total graduate students in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $0 for in state and $14,694 for out of state per year. The deadline is December 1. Their student to professor ratio is 8.9 with 47 professors.

Northwestern University (#8), located in Evanston, IL, had 384 total graduate students in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $38,088 per year. They have a rolling deadline. Their student to professor ratio is 2.5 with 28 professors.

University of Wisconsin-Madison (#9), located in Madison, WI, had 1,026 graduate students in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $10,518 in state and $25,072 out of state per year. They have a rolling deadline. Their student to professor ratio is 4.4 with 113 professors.

University of California-Berkley (#10), located in Berkley, CA, had 402 graduate students in 2008-2009. Their tuition rate was $0 in state and $14,694 for out of state per year. Their deadline is December 1. Their student to professor ratio is 8.0 with 33 professors.

The best of the best are spread around the country with great diversity in their student / professor ratios, tuition rates, and cultures.

One thing to keep in mind if you plan to become a classroom teacher-your income will start low and stay behind professionals of the same caliber throughout your career if you remain in the classroom. While a top 10 university might be all the rage, don’t forget you might be raging about the student loans you have to pay back as you enter the teaching profession or continue on with your teaching.

Source: Best Education Schools. U.S. News and World Report, 2010. Web. 4 Aug. 2010. .

Labels: A Look at the 10 Best Programs for a Master of Education

5 Things You Should Know About Twitter

For limiting the world to small 140-character messages at a time, Twitter has become a large force in social networking. It’s easy to use and, with the right people, greatly entertaining. But despite how simple it is, there are a few things about it that are not apparent at first.

2,000 limit mark. It is possible to follow people at your discretion only until you reach 2,000. Then, Twitter enforces an algorithm on your account that requires incoming requests and a higher follower ratio before allowing you to follow more. This is to help prevent spammers from collecting followers with a tactic called churning.

Bio searches. Words in the bio are actually scanned when a search is placed. This means you should choose your characters wisely to maximize exposure. Consider keywords versus full sentences, or shortening your information into a concise, search friendly message.

@Mention noise. Instead of a wall or comment board like other social networking sites, Twitter uses mentions. When someone begins a message with another user’s name, it will show up on the recipient user’s Twitter stream. But Twitter limits who can see that message even though it’s public. To reduce excessive “noise,” Twitter will only show the mention to common friends.

Hashtag trending. Twitter has a feature on the right side of the screen called trending. These are not just popular words and phrases, but ones that are used a lot in a short period of time. Trending can be viewed on a global or local scale.

Direct Messaging. While it might be tempting to send private messages via the direct message feature, you should reconsider. Many people simply do not use this feature, and Twitter does not notify about new messages. So if you do want to send a private note, make sure to @mention a reminder to check direct messages.

Twitter is a great tool for connecting with your niche: peers, audience and leaders. And, while it doesn’t require an instruction manual to use, knowing the details can make the experience that much more enjoyable.

Labels: 5 Things You Should Know About Twitter

After Killer Whale Attack, Trainers Not Allowed in Water During Performances

After the tragic killing of Indiana native Dawn Brancheau by a killer whale named Tilikum, Sea World has made a decision to keep trainers out of the water while they are working with killer whales, according to People magazine and other sources.

This means that visitors to Sea World will no longer see trainers riding on killer whales or riding alongside them in the water. Keeping trainers safe may result in less personal performances and increase trainer safety but the decision still leaves many questions unanswered – including whether the decision is a permanent or temporary one.

Will Sea World Killer Whale Trainers Continue to Stay out of Water During Shows?

Even though Tilikum had a worrisome history, with two people who’d interacted with the whale in past years dead under suspicious circumstances, this killer whale was still allowed to work with trainers and give shows for visitors, with both whales and trainers in the water at the same time. Although an investigation is ongoing, some sources indicate the possibility that trainers may eventually be able to get back in the water with killer whales. According to other sources, including CNN , trainers may not go back and work with killer whales in the water.

Will Video Showing Death of Killer Whale Trainer Dawn Brancheau Provide Useful Info?

Perhaps because of morbid curiosity, people are avidly searching for the killer whale attack video, one which shows the actual death of trainer Dawn Brancheau. Many purported videos actually take readers to malware and other viruses. A video has been given to Sea World authorities and is being examined closely. It may provide useful information.

Witnesses have noted that the whale grabbed Brancheau’s ponytail and may have been playing with her. However, this particular killer whale had already been involved in deaths of two other people, although the circumstances were different in each case.

In 1991, Tilikum was one of several whales who dragged a trainer under the water until he drowned. In another instance, a man was found floating in the water in the killer whale’s tank. That death was far murkier as the victim wasn’t a trainer and the drowning could have been an accident unrelated to any violence from Tilikum or any other killer whale. When a 12,000 pound whale plays, could it accidentally kill a trainer or would it have to be intentionally violent? When Brancheau’s ponytail was grabbed, was the whale being playful or was it irritated?

With a Worrisome History, Why was Tilikum Allowed to Perform with Trainers in the Water?

That seems to be the focus of parts of the investigation. Even the head of animal training at Sea World questioned the safety standards in light of Brancheau’s death. In spite of the killer whale name, there is evidence that killing is atypical killer whale behavior (at least, killing humans). Whales and other creatures in captivity may react differently than in the wild. Not only may some be more prone to aggressive behavior but it has been hard to breed some animals in captivity as well as help them thrive. It may be impossible to duplicate the conditions of a truly wild and free environment at a site like Sea World.

Also, Tilikum did not have an unscathed past. The deaths of two people while the whale was involved or in the water is being investigated as possible cause for concern. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are noting that this terrible accident did not have to happen.


Feds Investigating After Whale Kills SeaWorld Trainer, Feb. 26, 2010, CNN here
Killer Whales Shows to Resume Saturday, People, Feb. 26, 2010, here
SeaWorld CEO Says Shows with Killer Whales will Resume Saturday, Feb. 26, 2010 here
SeaWorld Trainer Killing not Typical Killer Whale Behavior, Says Expert, Saul Relative, Associated Content, Feb 25, here

Labels: After Killer Whale Attack, Trainers Not Allowed in Water During Performances

A March Madness Haikku

March Madness again.
Sixty four teams down to one.
Much TV to watch.

Cheerleaders do yell.
The players run up and down.
Beat the buzzer boys.

The brackets abound.
Will Cinderella be crowned?
The nets to cut down.

Just one time a year.
Over abundance of sport
It’s what they live for.

Turn on the networks.
Order pizza and hot wings.
From the chair do scream.

Labels: A March Madness Haikku

A March Breeze: A Haiku Poem

A warming March breeze
Is unusual in England
Summer is early.

Labels: A March Breeze: A Haiku Poem

A Close Encounter of the Worst Kind

Walked into a bar.

There was a sexy gal.

The patrons of the bar

Called her Lively Sal.

She was a sultry blond.

She had a wicked smile.

I offered her a drink.

She said, “Sit with me for awhile.”

We had a lovely talk.

Her beauty was appealing.

Her remarks were very special.

Her thoughts were most revealing.

Unfortunately for me,

Her boyfriend came into the bar.

He was six foot two and muscular.

He carried an electric guitar.

When he saw me with his girlfriend,

He exploded all at once.

I knew that I was about to die

Or at least lose part of my lunch.

He hit me with his fist.

I saw a lot of stars.

Then he lifted me like a toothpick,

And threw me out of the bar.

I never saw Lively Sal again,

But I’m not at all upset.

In another month or two,

My bones will heal, I bet.

Labels: A Close Encounter of the Worst Kind

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