Cloned In China If they make it, they've cloned it! Sat, 18 Nov 2017 18:59:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Some Handy Tips For Removing Skin Tags Tue, 30 Jun 2015 23:27:07 +0000 Skin tags (known medically as acrochordons) are small and harmless tumors or growths that appear most commonly in area of the body where skin tends to crease or fold. They are often found around the armpits, neck, groin or eyelids, or anywhere the skin regularly creases and folds. They are incredible common and virtually everyone will deal with a skin tag at least once in their life. While they are found on nearly all people, they occur more often in those with obesity who have more folds of skin and therefore more opportunity for skin tags to develop. They are also more common in pregnant women because of increased hormones and also in those with diabetes. Although they are completely benign, many people find them embarrassing or unattractive and choose to remove them. You may also want to check out this page for more tips on removing skin tags at home.

There are three main methods of removal and many of them can be done at home:

  1. Oils and Natural Acids:
  • Oregano Oil is antibacterial and contain anti-inflammatory properties that can lessen the appearance of skin tags with repeated use. It should be diluted with coconut oil and applied three times daily in order to dry out the growth, eventually leading to it falling off.
  • Tea Tree Oil works in the same way. Repeated and daily applications will also allow the growth to dry and fall off.
  • Lemon juice has been known to create a similar effect as the oils listed above. Dilute the lemon juice with an equal amount of water and apply with a cotton ball.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar works the same as lemon juice as they are both acidic. The vinegar does not need to be diluted but if any irritation occurs, dilution should reduce any discomfort.
  • Alcohol can also be used to dry skin tags and can be applied in the same manner as the vinegar, diluted if irritation occurs.
  1. Tying or Cutting
  • Skin tags can be removed at home by simply tying a thread or dental floss around the growth and pulling in order to cut off the growth at its base. This method can be painful for some but generally, because there is little sensation in the skin tag, it is a painless process.
  • Skin tags can also be cut off. This can be done at home with scissors or nail clippers or can be done safely by a doctor who will use a sanitary scalpel. It is best to go to a doctor for this method so that the skin tag is removed properly. If it is not properly removed, it can simply grow back.
  1. Freezing
  • Freezing skin tags is often done by a doctor in a medical clinic in the same way that warts are removed. Liquid nitrogen is applied to the growth and it falls off naturally after a few days. There are over the counter products available so that this procedure can be done at home.
  • Scholl’s has a skin tag removal kit that uses liquid nitrogen in the same way a doctor would to treat skin tags. The kit averages $35.00 for eight treatments, is available in most drugstores and is very easy to use.
  • Compound W is another brand that offers an at-home skin tag removal kit and is similar to Scholl’s in concept as well as price.

No matter how you remove your skin tags, checking with a doctor beforehand to ensure the growth is benign is always a good idea. Although all skin tags are completely harmless, another type of growth could appear on your body much like a skin tag and actually be malignant, or harmful. Regardless, removing skin tags is only done for aesthetic purposes and it is always an option to simply leave the skin tag alone.

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Setting Up An Event? Outsource! Tue, 23 Jun 2015 05:47:04 +0000 wlThey might be setting up gala product introductions or orchestrating theme-oriented extravaganzas in wildlife parks. Whatever their surroundings, professional event planners are busy helping a wide array of clients cut through the clutter of traditional advertising.

“It’s another opportunity for my clients to sell in a nonthreatening way,” says Layne Kaplan, a San Francisco-based event planner for high-tech companies like Rioworks. “You can target a group of people, bring them together, and give them the full message. Instead of selling, it’s more like bringing them into your fold.”

Planning and pulling off an event, however, can be an overwhelming ordeal for the inexperienced, says Jack Jensen, who organized SOSE2015. That fact, combined with the increasing recognition of the effectiveness of events-oriented marketing, means a potentially lucrative opportunity for creative entrepreneurs with a good mind for detail. Successful, full-time planners make more than $100,000 a year.

The field of event-oriented marketing has grown tremendously in the last decade, according to Lisa Vested, publisher of Special Events magazine. Though the recent downturn in the economy has hurt some smaller event planners, the magazine estimates that roughly $35 billion is spent on corporate marketing events in the United States each year.

The event planner’s job is to create something that will capture the imagination, then coordinate the endless array of details involved in making it happen. For pulling off an event, planners earn anywhere from $1,800 to $30,000 in fees, according to Kaplan. The client pays expenses on top of that. For simple projects, many event planners charge an hourly rate (usually from $75 to $100), whereas they bill a flat fee or a percentage of the overall cost (from 10 to 20 percent) for larger, more complicated events, much as a housing contractor.

In fact, most event planners act as general contractors, riding herd on a dozen or more subcontractors. Services include the creation of a theme, selection of a site, decorations, giveaways or other premiums, and coordination of transportation, guest registration, food, and entertainment or speakers. Outside specialists are often brought in to help with a variety of services, including graphic design, media placement, audiovisual equipment, and presentation materials.


Some event planners specialize in a particular field, but all share a few key personal characteristics. The two most important are creativity and organization. That means people thinking about entering the field need to cultivate a somewhat uncommon right brain-left brain balance.

“All the creativity in the world means absolutely nothing if you can’t pull off the event,” says Joan Boughton, who started her San Diego-based event-management business seven years ago, after doing special events as a staff member of a large retailer and a nonprofit organization. “In our business, there’s no margin for error. You may have to bring together 20 vendors, and they all have to work together the first time–there are no replays.”

Boughton’s abilities were put to the test when she was hired to put on a 12-week-long, 15th-anniversary celebration for the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The event’s theme, Around the World in 80 Days, required her to coordinate the activities of more than 1,000 individuals with a dizzying array of specialties that ran the gamut from exotic animals and 19th-century cavalry units to caterers and laser show technicians.

“We created a series of international festivals that took park visitors to a different part of the world every weekend,” says Boughton. “We had to do everything, from building and wiring new structures to bringing in musicians and craftspeople from all over the world. It’s a very detail-oriented business; Murphy’s Law just loves special events.”


Since many events aim to achieve clearly defined marketing goals, some marketing background is important. “If a client really knows what he wants to accomplish, anyone can execute the plan. But taking a marketing approach to events and being able to add to the decision-making process, I believe is what gives me a competitive edge,” says Kaplan, whose background is in high-technology marketing.

An event planner’s role varies from client to client. Some require a comprehensive approach, whereas others need little more than simple execution of an existing plan. “Some clients haven’t got a clue, so we’ll go in and evaluate what their needs are, what they want to accomplish, and then develop a concept that is realistic within their budget,” says Boughton. “Others may have done several events themselves, know what they want, and just need an outside person to make it happen.”

Since event planners ultimately are paid to take on the stress and headaches involved with putting on an event, physical strength, mental stamina, and the ability to remain calm under pressure are additional personal qualities vital to any long-term success in the field.


Both Kaplan and Boughton rely on direct mail, referrals, and personal contacts for the majority of their new business. Most of Kaplan’s clients are hightech companies; Boughton’s list is more diverse, including advertising and public relations agencies, banks, theme parks, retailers, and real estate companies.

Since the field of event-oriented marketing is still relatively new, helping prospective clients understand the value of special events is often a big part of drumming up business. “There are a lot of businesses that can definitely benefit from special events, but they need to be educated,” says Boughton. “Pan of the challenge is showing businesspeople what special events can do for them and all the different ways that they can be used.”

Both Boughton and Kaplan advise anyone considering event planning as a profession to start part-time while holding down a job that pays the bills. “It starts slow, and it takes a while to build a client base,” says Kaplan. “I recommend being conservative.” Planning events for nonprofit organizations, where both of these women cut their teeth in event planning, is a good way to learn the ropes and build a track record before taking on your own clients.

“I think the 1990s are going to be good for special events because people are seeing their value as a sales and marketing tool,” says Boughton. “We’ve seen the value of TV and radio, we’ve seen the value of print, but it’s only in the last decade that the power of events has been recognized– because they produce results.”

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Little Loans And Big Action! Wed, 17 Jun 2015 07:40:04 +0000 llabaUntil recently, there were very few options for borrowing small amounts of money (under $10,000) to start or expand a home business. Banks usually don’t make loans to home businesses. And venture capitalists won’t even talk about such small amounts. The best hope has been to take out a home-equity loan, run credit-card balances to the max, or borrow from a friend. But there is good news. More and more private, nonprofit, community-based institutions are being formed, and they are giving more and more microloans–from $250 to $25,000. Over 200 microloan organizations use private or public sources from a revolving loan fund to make short-term loans to low-and moderate-income individuals who want to start or expand a business. A high percentage of the loans are made to people who run home-based businesses. The purpose of the loans is clear: to promote self-employment and business development for people and areas that were hard hit by the recent recession.


Interestingly, for some time the U.S. government has been giving $75 million a year to fund such microloan programs in other parts of the world through its AID program. Over the past five years, however, microloan programs have popped up in the United States and many more are on the drawing board. A 1991 study by the Association of Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), an organization of microenterprise agencies, found 22 microloan programs in California alone, with another 17 in the process of starting up. According to Robert Friedman, one of the founders of AEO, microloan programs in the United States have at least three different origins. Some, like the 10-year-old Women Venture program in St.

Paul, are indigenous home-grown programs. Others have been inspired by programs in Great Britain and France, where more than a million unemployed and welfare recipients were bootstrapped into self-employment during the 1980s. The Third World, specifically Asia and Latin America, where such programs are widespread and commonplace, served as an additional model for some of the early programs, such as Working Capital/ICCD (see listing) in New England and MICRO in Arizona.


While conventional loans are awarded primarily on collateral, credit history, equity, or previous business success, microloans are based primarily on a belief in the borrowers’ integrity and the soundness of theft business ideas. Each lending program has a different focus within its given region. Some provide loans only to existing businesses. Others serve only one population– such as women, low-income groups, or welfare recipients.

Some programs give loans directly to individuals while others make peer-group loans. In peer-group lending, several people band together to obtain financing. Some programs grant a loan to all of its members simultaneously. Others require that groups decide who among them will get the first loan, then after a certain number of payments are made on that transaction, the next person can obtain a loan, and so on down the line.

Working Capital, for example, which serves rural areas in New England and is considered by many to be the “mother” of U.S. microenterprise, lends only to existing businesses. Its philosophy is to make the program open to anyone who can talk her way into a borrowing group. Many of their borrowers operate part-time businesses.

The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center is another model program. It sets no income restrictions on its borrowers, and while most borrowers want to start businesses, some have been in business three or four years and need money to grow.

The Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) makes loans to stimulate economic development in tiny Nebraska towns that have been written off as too small to matter. A given town forms a small-business association that raises from $1,500 to $2,500 in local funds. These local funds are matched three-to-one by REAP. The association then loans the funds to local citizens to start businesses.

For MICRO of Tucson, Arizona, the largest of all microloan programs with 900 to date (averaging $1,700), job creation is paramount. This program recently topped the $1 million mark. States are also getting involved in developing microloan programs. Montana, along with other predominantly rural states, has launched the statewide Microbusiness Finance Program, allocating $3.25 million for microloans, training, and technical assistance to new and existing businesses.


In June 1992 the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched a five-year demonstration project providing $75 mil- lion in funds to 47 existing nonprofit microloan programs that have been in business for at least a year. The goal of the SBA program is to encourage economic self-determination by pro- viding loans to budding entrepreneurs who otherwise would not have access to them.

“Home-based businesses are the most likely to benefit from this type of loan,” says Mike Stamler of the SBA public affairs office. These initial demonstration programs may pave the way for a time when virtually any dependable individual with a solid business plan will be able to obtain seed money to launch a home business.

Loans range from $250 to $50,000, with the average being around $7,000. In many cases, the lending institution will give a series of small loans, starting at $500 and increasing with each successful payback. The amount of time allowed for payback ranges from three months to six years; interest rates range from 5 to 16 percent.

Most programs offer technical assistance in the form of individual counseling, courses, and seminars. Others provide referrals for such services to other community agencies. Seven programs require or recommend completion of a training program before a loan is given. One agency provides educational grants for applicants.

The kinds of businesses funded range from the unusual– raising exotic birds, crafting dogsleds, and making incense–to the more familiar-computer training, tax services, and desktop publishing. In our survey, desktop publishing was the most popular type of home business that received a loan, followed by day care, catering, and clothing design.

The loans have been used for inventory, supplies, equipment, renovation, and working capital. Of the 70 different kinds of home businesses that have received loans, more than a third borrowed money to purchase a computer or other office equipment, according to our telephone polling.


The SBA plans to expand its microloan program to 110 lenders this year. SBA’s Stamler sees a bright future for the program because “it fits in well with President Clinton’s plans for economic development.” AEO’s Friedman agrees, pointing out that both Congress and the Clinton administration have demonstrated a high level of commitment to the concept of microloan programs, and President Clinton’s campaign platform called for launching 1,000 such programs. “The SBA program is a tremendous affirmation of this field,” says Friedman. “It’s grown much faster than even the most ardent proponents would have predicted. Ultimately, there will be many other programs, serving millions of borrowers, and that will still serve only a small percentage of the need.”

So if you need but have not been able to get a small loan from traditional lending sources to start or expand your business and believe you can demonstrate the ability to pay it back, review HOME OFFICE COMPUTING’s Microloan Directory and find out if there is a program in your locale. Since microloan lenders receive funds from local private sources to spur economic development in the community, only approach lenders near you.

If one isn’t available in your area, contact a small-business development center in your community, an excellent source of information about the growing pool of microloan funds available in an otherwise harsh lending climate.

The following list of microloan institutions includes all 47 that have received loan funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), plus MICRO, Working Capital, and The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, the first two being the most established microloan institutions in the country. All 50 programs loan to home-based businesses. Thirty-one provide loans to individuals; three provide loans only to groups of individuals; 14 provide both individual and group loans. Two provide no direct loans but, rather, work through local banks.

The SBA mandates that loans be made available to anyone within the specified lending area without a means test. Nonetheless, because almost all of the lenders have other sources of funds besides the SBA, many do target particular populations, such as women or minorities. In some cases, the lending institution involved offers both microloans and larger, more traditional commercial loans.

The interest rates can range anywhere from 5 to 16 percent, and many vary according to the market rate at the time. The maximum payback period allowed by the SBA is six years.

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Advantages of The Good Morning Snore Solution Mon, 25 May 2015 08:25:06 +0000 aotgmsSnoring is a nightmare. It is not just an unwanted nuisance, it can be a sign of a much more dangerous condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when the snorer’s airway is completely closed during sleep, causing a lack of oxygen. As a result, the person will wake up to correct it. This creates a disturbing sleep/awake trend that can make ordinary life impossible, if not dangerous to yourself and those around you. People with sleep apnea have an increased incidence of accidents, some of can occur while on the job.

What most people are also not aware of are the alarming health conditions that are directly related to snoring. People who snore are at a higher risk of developing strokes, heart disease, heart attack, heart arrhythmias and high blood pressure.

There are many products on the market today that can help lower or eliminate snoring altogether. Considering how important your health is, and those around you, don’t you think it is time to take action? Personally, I would prefer to find something to help me that doesn’t resemble a mask worn by aliens. Not to mention how incredibly sexy my spouse might find it to be.

The Good Morning Snore Solution is a revolutionary device in the category of TRD anti-snoring solutions. TRD stands for Tongue Retaining Device. And it does just that, it holds your tongue in place while you sleep. During sleep, gravity works by pulling the tongue backwards into the throat, and as air passes by it causes it to vibrate resulting in the snoring sound. The really great advantages to this device are, unlike the MAD devices (Mandibular Advancement Device), which works to hold your jaw in place, in some cases causing jaw pain and long term bite misalignment, the Good Morning Snore Solution simply has a gentle suction that holds your tongue in place.

This site shows that it is clinically proven that snoring mouthpieces work incredibly well to stop snoring. The site’s top recommendation is the Good Morning Snore Solution mouthpiece, particularly because almost everyone can use it. to provide fairly fast results. Some people report when using this device that they experience some temporary tongue tenderness and excess saliva. However, I think this is a small price to pay that far outweighs the benefits of lowering or eliminating your snoring.

A study was done using 32 patients who were asked to wear the device for one week and were then evaluated for sleep disturbances (the amount of time they woke up per hour), the average number of snores per hour and a daytime sleepiness scale. All of the participants found significant improvement in all of these areas, enough that they wanted to continue using the device for its efficacy.

I believe that this is a more comfortable solution to snoring. However, everyone is individual and you must find the solution that works for you. Good Morning Snore Solution is not only affordable, but they offer a 30 day money back guarantee, so why would you not give it a shot? If it doesn’t work for you, you can return it and get a full refund.

With the Good Morning Snore Solution you can look forward to less snoring, more enjoyable sleep and Good Mornings (pun intended), instead of rotten ones where you feel like you have been awake all night, when in fact, if you have sleep apnea, the truth is, you have been awake all night. You will see a significant improvement in all the areas of your life. And if you sleep with someone else, you may discover that all aspects of your relationship can, and will improve. Don’t wait another day, or sleepless night. Try the Good Morning Snore Solution and start living your life the way you were meant to.

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Classic Server Battle: Compaq ProLiant Vs. Gateway ALR 7200NTS Sun, 07 Dec 2014 12:41:29 +0000 Compaq ProLiant 1600

PRO: Modular design, good file service speed, second least expensive system in roundup

CON: No RAID subsystem, limited features at this price

hpp1600In our previous server roundup, the ProLiant 1600 rang up the top overall performance score and the lowest configured price of all the units we tested. Not so this time: Pitted against beefier Xeon systems, the plain-vanilla PIII-500 ProLiant finished last in the SQL and network tests (not counting our single-CPU reference unit). The Compaq’s file score was good enough for second place, but the server excludes a RAID subsystem, which provides highly desirable redundancy protection at the expense of performance. Compaq configured the ProLiant with a software RAID, which often is faster than hardware RAIDs, especially those configured for maximum reliability (RAID level 5).

One gripe with previous versions of the ProLiant was their lack of redundancy features. Although the newest ProLiant still lacks redundant cooling fans, Compaq now offers a hot-swappable power supply option. Our test unit had the maximum three power supplies installed.

The floppy drive, CD-ROM drive, and two empty 5.25-inch bays are readily accessible with the front door closed. The front panel is easy to remove, revealing the six hot-swap drive bays. Even with a 100Base-T network card occupying a PCI slot, the system left five slots free, because the SCSI controller is integrated. But the Compaq can handle only up to 1GB of RAM–a smallish maximum for a server these days.

The ProLiant 1600 is diminutive for a server, with a minimum of wasted space inside, but its highly modular design makes servicing and upgrading quick and easy. Disassembly requires just twisting a thumbscrew and then pressing a tab or swinging out a lever. The server breaks down quickly into function-specific subassemblies, such as the processor cage and the expansion card cage. Expansion cards are held in place by tool-free tabs and can be accessed by removing the unit’s top cover or by sliding the entire card cage out the rear of the system.

Compaq includes a setup utility, as well as server- or client-accessible monitoring tools designed to alert you to potential problems. But Remote Insight, which enables you to access the server via modem and supplies 30 minutes of battery backup, costs an additional $886. There is also additional server support by Hard Drive Recovery Group in Irvine, CA. Their guide to recovering data from the ProLiant 1600 and others is here.

To achieve its $7146 price tag, the Compaq left out even middle-of-the-pack hardware components. With only 256MB of RAM, PIII-500 CPUs, just 12.9GB of hard drive space, and no RAID controller, this configuration is ill-suited for heavy networking applications. Nevertheless, its rugged design and redundant power supplies do make it worth a look as a file server for small to midsize workgroups.

Gateway ALR 7200NTS

PRO: Lowest price here, helpful documentation

CON: No power supply redundancy, service requires extensive disassembly

At first glance, you might notice that the Gateway ALR 7200NTS has a rock-bottom price of $6570. However, the PIII-500-based system’s performance scores trailed those of the leaders by about 10 percent in the SQL and network tests and by nearly 40 percent in the file service test, placing the Gateway next to last in overall performance.

More troubling is the 7200NTS’s design, which threatens to make the task of servicing components a nightmare. To access the front of the internal drive cage, for example, you must take off the two side panels, remove two small screws, squeeze a number of plastic tabs, and then pop off the front panel. By loosening just five more screws, you can slide out the cage to install or remove 3.5-inch devices. A second drive cage accommodates two more 3.5-inch devices inside the unit, but you must take out the entire cage to reach its contents.

We also discovered that each power connector in the system runs from the power supply directly to each component in the system, rather than making a single connection from the power supply to the motherboard and then powering components via cables from the motherboard. As a result, swapping out the power supply means digging around inside the machine to unplug and reconnect every power plug on every device individually.

Though the inside of the unit has a decidedly cramped feel, access to the processors, DIMM slots, and expansion slots is good. Likewise, installing hot-swappable drives is easy. The RAID subsystem cage is accessible without any disassembly, and it has its own cooling fan.

Gateway provides extensive documentation with the unit, including a few loose pages that contain information on dealing with problems that might crop up during configuration or system upgrades. This proactive approach can save a frantic midnight call to tech support, but only if you are organized enough to keep track of all the separate sheets of paper.

The management software selection includes a setup utility and Gateway’s own InforManager Server Management, which monitors a broad set of functions but can be accessed only via LAN or WAN.

Though inexpensive, the Gateway becomes less attractive if serviceability is important to you. Its best use is as a general-purpose server for small to medium-size networking environments.

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Peer To Peer Networks Make A Comeback Sun, 26 Oct 2014 23:51:18 +0000 Buyers value the security features, non-dedicated server capabilities, low maintenance and low cost of peer-to-peer networks. Some buyers, however, find that the performance and reliability of these networks are not adequate for more demanding applications or for larger LAN configurations.

At Hardee’s Food System Inc.’s headquarters in Rocky Mount, N.C., the fast-food company uses Performance Technology’s PowerLAN 2.10.

“We looked at NetWare, but we strayed away from it because it doesn’t work without a dedicated server,” said Clay Morrisette, senior programming analyst for the firm.

Michael Martell of the Brooklyn College Community Partnership, also favored a peer-to-peer LAN over NetWare. He uses WebCorp’s Web version 2.55. “We have a specific need for confidentiality and security,” Martell said. “Web provided tighter security by having a password-protection feature that works on individual files. Novell will lock out a given area — it can’t protect just one particular file.

“I’ve found a steady incremental growth with each new version [of Web] in terms of compatibility,” he continued. “The early versions would give us some trouble with some non-network software. [For example,] the hardware “drive ready” check would fail because [the software] couldn’t find the drive. The newest version will pass over this process.”

Richard Tayman, a systems analyst in the environmental division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, chose a peer-to-peer LAN because he must be prepared to set up a network at a moment’s notice anywhere in the United States.

Tayman currently is working with one field site in Anchorage, Alaska, where the department has stationed eight people to handle issues pertaining to the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

“We need to go on-site, spend two days to configure the network and then not worry about supporting it when we leave,” Tayman said.

“We wanted to go with an [industry] standard like Novell, but then you’re talking higher cost as well as having to deal with more support issues, because the Novell network would require an on-site LAN technician for troubleshooting purposes.”

The environmental division has selected Artisoft Inc.’s LANtastic and currently is using a version in several locations, including a 12-node configuration at the division’s personnel group in Washington. LANtastic runs over Ethernet at 10M bytes per second, a satisfactory rate for the group’s database, word-processing and E-mail applications, said Tayman.

Tayman said that LANtastic is less expensive than NetWare on a node-by-node basis. “The cost breakdown is $250 per node for Artisoft’s LAN and $1,000 per node for Novell,” he said.

Some buyers, however, find that they need to move from a peer-to-peer LAN to a more sophisticated system.

According to Joe Carton, president of Service Forms and Computers Inc. of Decatur, Ala., a consulting firm and reseller of hardware and software products, LANtastic does not provide enough speed for his applications. He plans to switch to NetWare 3.11 for running a Fox Software Inc. FoxPro accounting database.

“We are using LANtastic [4.0] in-house with five nodes installed,” Carton said. “Although it can be a fast network for doing low-end [tasks] like file sharing, [LANtastic] is too slow to work with the high-end database applications we are using.”

Mike Henderson, database administrator at the Midland Co., an insurance agency based in Cincinnati, also decided to migrate from a peer-to-peer system to NetWare.

Henderson had been using an early version of 10-Net Plus from Digital Communications Associates Inc. (The product is now marketed by Tiara Computer Systems Inc.) Midland had installed the operating system for peripheral sharing.

Downtime a Problem

“10-Net was always going down — it was too much aggravation,” Henderson said. “Sometimes the printer would work, sometimes it wouldn’t, and we knew it was the LAN causing the problem. We had a growing network, and it looked like 10-Net was going to be a hassle when we added more workstations, so we turned to Novell because we knew they had a good reputation.”

Henderson said that sharing printers is much easier with NetWare.

Revco Drug Stores Inc. is pleased with Net-Source Inc.’s SilverNet-OS version 1.57. The peer-to-peer software is installed at Revco’s pharmacy mail-order department at the firm’s headquarters in Twinsburg, Ohio, said Dan Kable, the senior systems designer at the headquarters.

Revco may also implement the LAN at some drugstore sites. SilverNet-OS is ideal, Kable said, because it functions as a server message block network, making it compatible with the office’s existing IBM systems that have network drivers installed.

The drugstore chain has 10 PC compatibles in its mail-order department. Kable said the firm has developed its own applications for order processing, account information and for accessing its customer database.

“We have written code for Windows using [SilverNet-OS] to add information that has to do with prescription orders on top of the mainframe data,” said Kable. “We’ve gotten about five revisions [of the software] up until now, and with each I noticed the transfer rate [of the applications] gets a little faster.

“The only problem I have with printing is if I need to print a large file,” Kable said. “A 300K-byte file is going to take a long time, especially if I’m downloading fonts.”

Buyers agreed that the best feature of peer-to-peer LANs is their ease of installation and use.

“The PowerLAN system can be installed in 10 minutes or less,” said Hardee’s Food System’s Morrisette.

“After doing the batch files and configuring LANtastic, I never need to work on it again until I have to add another node,” Tayman of the Justice Department said.

Ease in using and maintaining the LAN is also important to Allen Downard, manager of technical support at Mathematica Inc., a graphics-software developer. Downard has installed a 10-node WebCorp Web peer-to-peer LAN at the company’s headquarters in Lakeland, Fla.

Web is fully compatible with the different types of 286-based PCs in his work environment, Downard said, making it extremely easy to use. Mathematica uses Web primarily for sending E-mail and for sharing files and printers.

“I’m not in the business of running a network, I’m in the business of doing business,” Downard said. “Web allows us to make productive use of our day by not taking our attention away from work in order to fix a Web problem.”

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Try A Simple Fix For Your Hard Drive Recovery Process Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:13:37 +0000 drrpI don’t consider myself a computer nerd or anything, but I am familiar with a few, let me tell you. I realized early on that knowing everything from hard drive recovery to sending simple emails would need to be on my agenda, because let’s face it: we’re all slaves to our computers. Some great recent information I learned is that there are several signs that your hard drive is failing, but to backup and save files before it is too late is a crucial part of being a responsible computer user. Essentially, the only thing that can truly damage a computer or its hard drive is the user. That’s right – I’m talking about you and I. That caught me off guard. Particularly as I’d already found this place, which offered data recovery in Irvine.

This pretty awesome chunk of information caused me to investigate. There is one major system recovery feature that I did learn about. If I press and hold F8 right before Windows 8 begins to load, it will display the bar that will explain step by step exactly how to go through the hard drive recovery process from start to finish. Believe it or not, this is much easier than you may think. And to say that it can save you a lot of time and problems is a bit of an understatement.

Here Are A Few Signs Of Hard Drive Failure For You To Keep In Mind

Hard drives are not designed to last forever, just like any other part of a computer it can suffer wear and tear, and can and will eventually fail. It is important that you are aware of the signs of hard drive failure so you can handle it appropriately and swiftly. Just remember that backing up your files is one of the most important tips you can put into action. Because when and if the hard drive fails, you do not want to lose any crucial files that are often times irreplaceable.

Listen for strange noises, even thrashing or grinding sounds. Keep in mind that if you are hearing these sounds, backup all your critical files immediately as you probably do not have much time, if any. Another tell-tale sign of hard drive failure is the infamous disappearing files. Basically, it’s when you know you saved a document in a specific spot, and now it is gone. Or another sign is when your computer will not let you save documents at all. This is a great time to make a backup file, remove your hard drive and get it inspected and fixed.

Those are only just a few signs of hard drive failure, but there are many more. For instance, when your computer altogether stops recognizing your drive, this is a huge issue. Do not wait until your system completely crashes or the response times are practically null to get a professional to take a look.

DIY – Hard Drive Clicking

Everyone has heard of DIY projects on their homes before, but what about DIY projects on your hard drive? There is a suggestion floating around on the Internet that you can actually put your hard drive into the freezer in order to alleviate hard drive clicking and also be able to recover data lost from the disk when it fails. This article says no to that. I have never spoken to anyone who has actually tried this, but I can see why it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

If you are actually able to save your hard drive from a potentially catastrophic occurrence, I would think it might be enough of a reason to try it out. It is suggested that you take the hard drive out of your system entirely and place it in a plastic freezer bag. This apparently helps to  avoid any condensation build up. Leave it in the freezer for multiple hours and in some cases even leave it overnight. When you pull it out, quickly put the hard drive back in and begin pulling your files off. This is a process that needs to be done expeditiously due to the fact you do not know when or if that annoying and fatal hard drive clicking sound will revisit. Does it work? I’m doubtful, but you never know.

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Choose A Topic Before Starting A Blog Sat, 27 Sep 2014 16:17:08 +0000 catbsabYou will find that some great blog ideas have been born out of a passion for cooking. In fact, you will find that these ideas include a variety of recipes to suit every kind of kitchen in and around the world. One of the things these blog writers must keep in mind is adding lovely and appealing images to their blogs. A well-presented blog is the one that engages the reader from the first word. Therefore, it is important to develop some great blog ideas into actual blogs and add a few interesting and relevant images so that the casual browser will get attracted enough to stay on to read in detail.

Once, you have caught his or her attention, you will find that this reader will keep coming back to your pages to see if there are any new blogs. If you think it helps to write on some great blog ideas again and again even if the style is different, you could work with that too. The only objective is to gain a targeted audience and retain them over time. This is why it helps to play around with different ideas and be creative with the images that you can find online. The effective use of the written and visual media will make your site more popular than most.

Show Your Expertise With Some Great Blog Ideas

You will find that some great blog ideas have been born out of a passion for cooking. In fact, you will find that these ideas include a variety of recipes to suit every kind of kitchen in and around the world. One of the things these blog writers must keep in mind is adding lovely and appealing images to their blogs. A well-presented blog is the one that engages the reader from the first word. Therefore, it is important to develop some great blog ideas into actual blogs and add a few interesting and relevant images so that the casual browser will get attracted enough to stay on to read in detail. Once, you have caught his or her attention, you will find that this reader will keep coming back to your pages to see if there are any new blogs.

If you think it helps to write on some great blog ideas again and again even if the style is different, you could work with that too. The only objective is to gain a targeted audience and retain them over time. This is why it helps to play around with different ideas and be creative with the images that you can find online. The effective use of the written and visual media will make your site more popular than most.

Can I find The Best Blog Ideas On The Net?

Internet life thrives on constant traffic. You want people to come to your site and stay on for as long as possible. This is why you need to have an interesting website that will bring people to your page. Once they are there, you would be better off if you have some of the best blog ideas already in place. It is good to have a constantly evolving website and one that is changing with new types of users. Blog writers would fall into a very important category as they do draw people in. if you come upon a site that claims to feature certain writers, and you happen to find the best blog ideas, you might want to keep going there to find newer articles or posts.

This is when you are impressed with the writer’s style and his or her view point. However, if you find that some of the sites have the most awful of opinionated pieces, you may want to steer clear of them. Obviously, these sites did not make the most of the available best blog ideas online. A number of businesses have mushroomed thanks to a single site that continues to publish blogs on a topic. Naturally, blogs have become a great tool for online marketing

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Why Organ Donation Is The Best Thu, 25 Sep 2014 17:23:40 +0000 toditbThey met in the hospital waiting room, two strangers facing down their worst fears. What they didn’t know, as they prayed for each other, was that one’s greatest loss would mean new hope for the other.

It’s not that Carman Moloney expected to die. She was just desperate to save her mother’s life. That’s why the trim young woman with the glistening brown eyes and shoulder-length chestnut hair kept a boldfaced card pinned to the sun visor of her car. It was addressed to emergency medical personnel, and it read: MY MOTHER IS ON THE THIRD FLOOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MEDICAL CENTER. IF I AM IN AN ACCIDENT, PLEASE MAKE SURE MY ORGANS ARE SENT DIRECTLY TO HER.

Bobbie diSabatino, Carman’s then-56-year-old mother, had suffered a massive heart attack in October 1997. Doctors revived her, but her prognosis was grave. After receiving the last rites of the Catholic church, she had been told she would not live without a heart transplant. As the days went by, Bobbie lay in the cardiac care unit of the Baltimore hospital, watching patients on her floor die–and waiting.

Both Bobbie and her daughter, who kept a 12-hour-a-day vigil at the hospital, knew the chances of survival were slim: With more than 4,000 people across the country also waiting for a heart, finding one that matched Bobbie’s blood type and body size could take another day, or another three years.

However long it took, Carman, 32, was determined to stay by her mother’s side. Mother and daughter were exceptionally dose, and Bobbie had always been there for Carman. When Carman’s first marriage broke up seven years earlier, she and her 2-year-old son, Michael, moved in with her mother until she could get back on her feet. Bobbie’s love was unconditional and unwavering. “All daughters should be blessed to have a mother like mine,” Carman often told herself. “Why does God want to take her from me?”

The days stretched into weeks. Carman was there every morning to bathe her mother. She took Bobbie’s vital signs and joked with the nurses. And she was there when the social workers came to warn them about clinging to false hope.

But Bobbie was determined to hold on. “In the beginning, we saw people die,” she recalls. “Almost one every day. I felt that I was fifty-six years old, and I’m not dying! I just made up my mind. They were not carrying me out on a green table.”

With Christmas came real hope–a heart compatible with Bobbie’s had been found. But just before the scheduled surgery, the family was told the organ did not pump blood properly and could not be transplanted. For the next few weeks, Carman watched as her mother languished on the waiting list. By January, she could hardly walk from one end of the hallway to the other, even with help.

SHORTLY AFTER THE CRUSHING NEWS OF the defective donor heart, Carman was taking a break in the glass-enclosed atrium next to the hospital’s visitors’ lounge. Huddling in the patio area where smoking was allowed, she lit a cigarette with a trembling hand. Then she began to weep.

“Are you okay?”

It was a man’s voice. He had just walked outside for a cigarette himself, and noticed the woman crying.

“No,” she said, looking up. “My mother’s dying.”

Carman sobbed as she told the stranger her story. He took her inside, and the two sat down and talked. He was 35, neatly dressed, with light brown hair and a gentle manner. His name, he said, was Bob, and his wife had been hospitalized because of a rare brain defect. But unlike Carman’s mother, she was not in critical condition, and doctors expected her to leave the hospital within a week.

The next day Bob and Carman ran into each other again. She told him her mother had had a good night and seemed in good spirits. Bob was happy for Carman, and he began talking more about his wife. Cheryl Bradshaw was 38, blond, and attractive; she was a devoted mother to her four children, and a fixture at the youngest’s school. Cheryl had started getting headaches in December, but neither she nor her husband thought they were anything serious. Then, on the night of December 13, after a Christmas party for employees of the tunnel-construction company Bob co-owns with his three brothers, Cheryl suffered a grand mal seizure. Bob rushed her to a local county hospital, which quickly transferred her to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

There, doctors performed a battery, of tests. Bob said he would never forget the look on the radiologist’s face when he saw the CAT stun and blurted out, “How has this woman lived to be this age?”

As it turned out, Cheryl had been born with a rare defect: The veins and arteries of her brain were tangled together, depriving the brain of blood and causing a dangerous buildup of blood pressure. Although such cases are often curable with radiation, Cheryl’s condition, previously undetected, was so advanced that her only option was to undergo surgery.

Cheryl went home for Christmas, and celebrated her thirty-eighth birthday on New Year’s Eve. Almost two weeks later, she returned to the hospital for the scheduled surgery, which lasted 27 hours.

It was just after the operation when Bob first ran into Carman in the waiting room. He was hopeful, he told her, that his wife would have a complete recovery. Carman agreed that they would all celebrate together–Carman and her mother, Bob and Cheryl–with a bottle of wine, when Cheryl and Bobbie were well and out of the hospital.

But a few days later, Carman found Bob in the smoking area, leaning against the cold brick wall and crying.

“Are you okay?” she asked, in what would become a familiar refrain.

He had been so relieved, Bob said, when his wife got through the difficult operation. But now, she had begun hemorrhaging. She was in a coma and on life support.

DOCTORS REMOVED PART OF CHERYL’S brain to make room for the swelling caused by the hemorrhage. But Bob was still optimistic, he told Carman during one of their daily chats. In the two weeks they’d known each other, they had forged a special bond–a “foxhole” relationship, hospital personnel call it. No one else knows what you’re going through. No one else understands the lonely days and sleepless nights. People in waiting rooms are there for one purpose, and the helplessness and misery can be overwhelming.

Bob would listen while Carman talked about her second marriage, which was under considerable stress, or her 9-year-old son. Carman would try to find the right words to comfort Bob when he worried about his wife and their three children. Kristen, 12, Sara, 10, and Kyle, 7, were having a rough time without their mother. (Sherrie, Cheryl’s daughter by a previous marriage, divided her time between college in North Carolina and the hospital.) The kids made cards for their mother every day, and Bob would read them aloud at Cheryl’s bedside. “Dear Mom,” began one from Sara, “I miss you. When I got home I played with my science kit. Squeeze Dad’s hand if you like [the card].”

Cheryl pressed Bob’s hand–and though she couldn’t open her eyes, Bob noticed tears rolling down her cheek when he finished reading. It was a sign, he believed, that she was getting better. And the doctors confirmed it: For almost two weeks, her improvement was steady. During the first week of February, Bob’s waiting-room talks with Carman were filled with plans for his wife’s rehabilitation. Despite the fact that her mother was now in critical condition and not expected to live for more than a few weeks, Carman was happy for him.

BUT ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON, SOMETHING went terribly wrong. There was another rupture in Cheryl’s brain. The doctor reading the CAT scan told Bob it was “a lethal bleed.” She was again hooked up to life support, and this time the doctors did not mention rehab.

Bob had lost 15 pounds in five weeks and hadn’t slept more than four hours a night. Now, he knew it was the end. “That’s when I brought the kids in,” he explains. The next day, after nurses put a blue hat over Cheryl’s nearly bald head and did her makeup, her three young children arrived and climbed into bed with their mom, holding her hand and asking when she might wake up.

TWO DAYS LATER, ON FEBRUARY 12, DOCTORS told Bob that Cheryl would likely be pronounced brain-dead that night. Nurses asked if they could turn off the IV drip. Bob told them to leave it alone.

But as the day wore on, it became clear that Cheryl would not make it through the night. As nurses and doctors hurried in and out of the room, checking the machines that monitored Cheryl’s sky-rocketing brain pressure, Bob grappled with the realization that he was about to lose his wife forever. And then he had an idea. He asked to speak with the on-staff nurse who handled organ-donation procedures and counseling. Bob knew Cheryl had wanted to donate her organs; she had checked “yes” on her Maryland driver’s license. Now he posed a startling question: Could he request that her heart go directly to Carman’s mother? Certainly she needed it as desperately as anyone.

The nurse said that direct donations, though very rare, were permitted.

Bob took the elevator downstairs. When he ran into Carman, he told her there was no hope for Cheryl. Carman was already crying when Bob told her of his request. “If it’s a match,” he said softly, “I want her heart to go to your mom.” For a split second, Carman didn’t understand. Bob repeated himself. Carman collapsed, sobbing.

“You’ve never even met my mother,” she said. “I don’t understand. We have to think about this.”

Bob took Carman to the waiting room, where she tried to compose herself. No one has ever given me a gift like this, she remembers thinking.

Carman was nearly as exhausted as Bob, but as she started to accept the idea of the donation, she realized they’d have to act quickly. So she ran to find the medical director of cardiac transplantation, Ronald Freudenberger, M.D., who was not convinced that the scheme would work. Next, surgeon John Conte, M.D., then director of heart and lung transplantation, was called. He’d performed more than 150 transplant operations, but never one like this. “Direct donation of a heart is almost nonexistent,” he says now. “I’d never heard of it.”

Both doctors felt that this donation had nearly a million-to-one chance. Organ and body size, as well as blood type, would have to match in order for them to approve the operation.

But after reviewing the data, they informed Carman that Cheryl’s heart was, miraculously, a fit. Cheryl and Bobbie didn’t have the same blood type; however, as Type O, Cheryl was a universal donor. The doctors were willing to go ahead.

Late that night, after his wife had been declared dead and he had made the final arrangements for donating her organs, Bob returned to the third floor and knocked on Bobble diSabatino’s door. Having just spoken to her daughter, Bobble was sitting in bed, saying a rosary for the Bradshaws.

“Is this room 306?”

She looked up. “Yes. Are you Bob?”

Bobble felt a strange inner peace. She felt that she knew him. They hugged and cried.

“I can never repay you,” the woman whispered, her husky voice choked with gratitude.

BOB BRADSHAW’S ORDEAL WAS FAR FROM over. Not only did he have to plan his wife’s funeral, he also urgently needed to talk to his children. He knew that the local media had been alerted to the direct donation and that his children might learn the truth about a past their mother had taken pains to hide. Unbelievable as it seems, Cheryl Bradshaw had been in the news before–the center of an entirely different but no less tragic story of life trading places with death.

So in the cozy den of their suburban Maryland home, Bob Bradshaw gathered his family: his 20-year-old stepdaughter, Sherrie Waldrup, then a sophomore at Duke University, along with the three younger children. From the back of a closet he pulled out a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings, and a dusty wooden plaque. It was engraved to Cheryl from the FBI. The children were dumbstruck and asked what the items meant. Their mother’s previous identity, Bob told them, was Cheryl Peichowicz. Her story was both a shock and a comfort to her children.

IN 1983, CHERYL AND HER THEN HUSBAND, Scott Peichowicz, worked at the Warren House Hotel in Pikesville, MD, and were witnesses in a felony drag-trafficking case. It was Cheryl, then 23, who had identified one of the suspects, Anthony Grandison, as a lodger at the hotel, placing him in the room where drugs were found. Both Cheryl and her husband were planning to testify, against him. Before they could, Grandison, already in jail, hired a hit man to kill them for $9,000. But on the day of the planned hit, Cheryl–who had stayed up late the night before wall-papering her daughter Sherrie’s bedroom–asked her sister, Susan Kennedy, to fill in for her at the front desk of the hotel.

On April 28, a machine-gun-toting hit man walked into the lobby and, in a spray of bullets, assassinated 19-year-old Susan-mistaking her for Cheryl–and 27-year-old Scott Piechowicz.

The gangland-style murders made the front page. The FBI whisked Cheryl and then-5-year-old Sherrie to safety. They were kept in protective custody, moving from one safe house to another. Finally, Cheryl–who had changed her last name–testified against Grandison and the assassin who’d killed her sister and her husband. Both were convicted of murder. (They are still on death row in Maryland, awaiting execution.)

Government agents offered Cheryl a choice of cities to relocate to, but she refused to move. The convicted men filed numerous appeals, and each time she was called to take the stand, Cheryl did. “She was one of the most courageous people I’ve ever met,” says former state and Federal prosecutor David B. Irwin. “Under extreme pressure, she had a commitment to justice.”

Six months after the murders, Cheryl enrolled at a local college and met fellow student Bob Bradshaw. The two fell in love and were married. For 15 years, Cheryl assumed the anonymity of a suburban housewife. Only her husband and parents knew of the nightmares that kept her awake at night, the wrenching fear each time a new trial date was set.

Bob Bradshaw says his children are proud of what their mother did for others. But the youngest, Kyle, still doesn’t understand how her heart could now beat in someone else’s body. “How is it,” he asked one day, “that my mommy can be dead but this woman is alive and has mommy’s heart?”

ON VALENTINE’S DAY, BOBBIE diSabatino woke up with Cheryl Bradshaw’s heart. Two days later, the Bradshaw children performed one of their favorite songs, “My Heart Will Go On,” at their mother’s funeral.

For Bob, the strangeness hit a week after the transplant, when Bobble, at home and on the mend, cooked him dinner. Watching her chest rise and fall gave him an “eerie, peaceful feeling,” Bob says.

He had brought photos of Cheryl and newspaper clippings. He wanted Bobble to know, he says, “what a heroic, loving individual Cheryl was. Not just in having the foresight to agree to be an organ donor, but in every part of her life.”

Carman visits the Bradshaws often–to help Bob plant flowers by the pool as Cheryl liked to do or to take the children out to play miniature golf. She still feels a profound sense of gratitude and the weight of a gift she can never repay. “I’ll never be able to do for him what he did for me,” she explains. “He gave me back a life I had lost.”

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Volunteering Is Good For Your Life Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:22:03 +0000 These women reached out to help others–and discovered along the way that their own lives changed for the better

vigfylI was feeling pretty sorry for myself,” says Heather Delucci, 32, (at far right) about the state she was in a year ago. Newly separated from her husband of ten years, she was struggling to raise her sons–Ryan, 9, and Tyler, 5–and meet the demands of her job as a budget assistant at the local naval base.

Feeling like she needed a distraction, Delucci called Swoop 4u, a woman’s group dedicated to helping communities with volunteer assistance. She’d always been sympathetic to developmentally disabled adults but had told herself she couldn’t devote the time because her kids needed her too much. “Then I started thinking, `Would it be so terrible to get my boys involved too?'”

Delucci was hooked up with Grove House, which was looking for people to provide social activities for its disabled residents–visiting, or taking them to the mall or to the movies.

She helped out with events–supervising a barbecue and helping to sell oranges plucked from the trees behind the group home for a fund-raiser. Other times, she and her sons took residents out to dinner, or chauffeured them to appointments or to run errands. Sometimes, they just hung out, talking.

Almost immediately, Delucci’s depression lifted. “Volunteering made me look at what I have, not at what I feel like I should have,” she says. “Walking into a restaurant, eating spaghetti–these are very simple things. But spending time with people who can’t do them makes you realize all the things you have in your life,” she says.

At home, she says, little things don’t bother her as much anymore. “My kids used to drive me crazy when they acted up,” she says. “Now, I thank God that they’re healthy and are able to drive me nuts.” She says her boys (perched on carousel horses, above) have grown less self-conscious around the disabled, and more compassionate.

When friends tell Delucci they’d like to volunteer but are just “too busy,” she doesn’t let them off the hook. “You don’t know what giving an hour a week will do for you. When you realize how little it takes to make someone happy, your heart just wants to explode. I get a zillion times more out of this than I put into it!”

An attack of the guilts is what got Sandra Ereth, 46, to sign up with the Red Cross four years ago. A friend asked if she would be on the board of directors of a local Red Cross chapter. Although Ereth had little free time (she works full time and has two teenagers), “I felt like I should set a good example for my kids,” she says.

The struggling chapter was shorthanded on all fronts. Ereth helped with public relations and fund-raising. But she also attended disaster-training seminars that covered everything from CPR to cooking for the masses. (“You never know when you’ll need to make hot chocolate for a hundred,” says Ereth.)

And she learned how to console people in the wake of a disaster. “You have to ask questions without seeming too intrusive–to get them to tell you what their needs are.”

Her first mission: a trailer fire. It was a typical North Dakota winter night: 15 degrees below zero and snowy. Ereth was complaining about her cold feet, until she saw the occupants of the trailer–a young couple and their two children–huddled miserably in a nearby car. She rapped on the window and explained that she could get them to a hotel, with food and clothes. She still remembers the relief on their faces. “I was hooked,” she says.

Today, Ereth has worked dozens of disasters. But one that stands out is the 1997 Grand Forks flood. “I’d seen floods on TV, but I’d never realized how horrible they really are,” she says. “I was dumbfounded.”

She worked from 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. day after day at the command center, watching grown men cry as they described how their homes had been washed away. I don’t know how much more of this I can handle, she thought. I need to go home.

Then it hit her: I can go home–to my family, my house, my bed. They can’t. She never again considered quitting.

Ereth has gotten back plenty. “I used to be a very closed person,” she says. Her husband, Terry, admits to apologizing for her to the neighbors. “People would come over, just trying to be friendly, and Sandy was like, `Yeah, yeah,'” recalls Terry, 42, a technician at a psychiatric hospital. “I had to tell them she was from California and didn’t know how to be neighborly! She’s a lot different now. She talks a lot more.”

Ereth (above) says the real change is that she listens. “Before, I’d ask someone how they were, but I’d be busy thinking about what I was going to make for dinner, or one of my own problems. Now when I ask `How are you?’ I’m really listening. It’s made me a much better person.”

Twelve-year-old Chris (not his real name) took his seat at the piano while Carolyn Ford, then 36, nervously held her breath. But when he completed an almost flawless rendition of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” and the audience broke into applause, Ford started to cry. “I was so proud of him!”

A mother-son moment? Not exactly. Ford (at fight) is a volunteer for the Court Appointed Special Advocate program (CASA); Chris, who was neglected by ms parents and became a ward of the court, has been her charge for the last nine and a half years.

A CASA volunteer pays weekly visits to the child to whom she’s been assigned, meeting with social workers, teachers, and counselors. If a child’s needs are not being met, the volunteer negotiates with the courts to find a solution. But with Chris, Ford tended to his emotional life too: arranging for funding from a foundation to get him piano lessons, driving him to doctor’s appointments, and throwing pizza parties on his birthday.

Ford, a business systems analyst, first got involved with CASA when she was single and worried she’d never have a family of her own. She felt drawn to foster children because they rarely had much happiness in their lives. After an application and screening process, Ford received training in the family-court structure.

Advocating for Chris didn’t come naturally; Ford had always hated controversy. It took her time to work up the nerve to really fight for his fights when it became clear that one foster home was not a good fit for him.

Ford did eventually marry, and she and her husband, Pat, have two young children. But Chris, now 15, remains an important part of her life. He calls her his “special friend.”

And she’s learned enough to change her outlook. “I’m a lot more assertive now,” says Ford. When her daughter Kylie was a newborn, she was hospitalized with an infection. Although she’d been doing well, a new doctor ordered oxygen in the incubator.

“I let them do it–but it bothered me,” says Ford, who’d read that oxygen sometimes results in blindness in newborns. So she called the pediatrician who’d initially cared for Kylie and asked whether the treatment was necessary. It wasn’t.

Ford says she’s also stricter with her own children as a result of her work. “I don’t shower them with material things. And I take them to CASA meetings, because I want them to know that not everybody has two parents and a nice home like they do.”

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