Posted by LSM2013b | Austin Services | Posted on September 9th, 2013
Once you’ve set aside the extra cash and scheduled the contractors for your home renovation, the hard work isn’t done just yet. Before you start remodeling your home, you and your family need to sit down to have a meeting to decide whether you’ll stay or go once your home becomes a construction zone.
Set Realistic Expectations
Although many of us live with the “glass half full” outlook on the world, it’s important to set realistic expectations for your timeline and budget for a home remodel. Any experienced contractor will be able to tell you how long a remodeling project should take in a particular room.
Granted, you will also need to add on other contracting needs for the same room, such as woodworking, plumbing, tiling, and electrical rewiring in a kitchen renovation. This means that you may have five or more contractors working on your home at any given time.
As you can imagine, this could turn a central room in your house into a literal construction zone. In most cases, it will be virtually impossible to continue to live in your residence if a major room like a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom is being renovated.
If several rooms in your house are undergoing construction, you can kiss your sanity goodbye. When you factor in the constant noise, dust, dirt, mess, and headache of the construction process, it often makes more sense to temporarily live in a hotel or apartment or to stay with a family member while your home is being renovated.
Rent a Storage Unit
If you plan to live in your home during the construction process, you can set contractors up for success to help a project go smoothly to complete it within the shortest amount of time possible. How is this done, you ask? To provide contractors with the room that they need to finish a renovation, it’s recommended to rent a storage unit to move all furniture out of a room before the remodel begins.
For example, if contractors will be installing new windows in a dining room or living room, it’s best to rent a storage unit to move all furniture in a room out of the house completely until the project is over. Not only will contractors appreciate this additional support, but it will prevent your furniture from getting scratched, chipped, or broken during the tedious construction process.
Consider Your Finances
Many times, it all comes down to what you can afford to determine if you will move out of your home or stay in your residence during a remodel. However, keep in mind that in some cases, moving to a temporary residence can allow contractors to work more efficiently to complete a project in a shorter amount of time to help you save money on overall labor.
For the best results, consult with each individual contractor to determine how much time, space, and money that they will need to complete a project. If a contractor prefers that a home is empty or that furniture is moved from a room, respecting his wishes will help a remodeling project to go as smoothly as possible.
Posted by LSM2013b | Austin Services | Posted on September 9th, 2013
If there were such a company called “Gettingintoheavenorhell.org,” it would be the perfect company. The way the spiritual world’s website works is quite simple. They have a system that if businesses on Earth used it they’d be very successful. What’s the formula?
It starts with metrics. Before going any further, the company called Gettingintoheavenorhell.org — back at the beginning of time — developed a premise behind what they planned to do. They decided if you’re going to heaven or hell. They then experimented with the idea. Finally, as souls began piling up outside the pearly gates, the big guy signaled to his paradise IT department to act on all of the stuff they compiled.
Meanwhile, Down on the Planet
On terra firma, most companies never discovered the recipe. And the ones that did, never adopted the concept.
Instead, we simply collected data and reported what we captured so either we could pat ourselves on the back or scold those who handle particular departments that were underachievers. Pretty numbers all wrapped in a box.
Fixing the Shortcomings
A couple of fellas named Benjamin Yoskovitz and Alistair Croll wrote this book called “Lean Analytics.” A tease? It primarily reveals an idea called the Lean Analytics Cycle. It works not only for your website, but for your overall business.
Here’s what they told Avinash Kaushik who runs his own blog on web analytics. No slouch, that Avinash. He worked as Director of Research & Analytics at Intuit.
Anyway he posted some information that he got from Croll on the subject of the Lean Analytics Cycle:
“The Lean Analytics Cycle is a simple, four-step process that shows you how to improve a part of your business.”
“First, you figure out what you want to improve; then you create an experiment; then you run the experiment; then you measure the results and decide what to do.”
“The cycle combines concepts from the world of Lean Startup — which is all about continuous, iterative improvement — with analytics fundamentals. It helps you to amplify what’s proven to work, throw away what isn’t, and tweak the goal-posts when data indicates that they may be in the wrong place.”
How It Works in the World on Web Analytics
Without getting too geeky, there are just about a half dozen things you’re scrutinizing:
- Take a serious look at your website’s content. Once again Wikipedia simplifies the definition: “Web analytics is the study of online behavior in order to improve it.”
- What types of trends are you seeing on your website? In other words, you’re more interested in trends. What pages are the users visiting the most. Are you selling more of one product than another. Let’s say last year you saw 2,000 page views. This year, you see 4,000 page views. BLAMMO, you’re onto something.
- Question the assumptions. Before getting started or continuing your current website’s update, use the web analytics to assure you that your assumptions are correct or if you’re just pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
- Is your website symbiotically meeting the goals of your business and your online community’s needs. It’s nice to know that one person got bored and stopped filling out an online form or an application. But its infinitely more useful to know that 90% of those who start on the task say, “Forget it” and never get beyond a few questions.
- People in a small-to-medium sized business may have some individuals to have been assigned ownership of your website. Simply taking their word on what they think is wrong, with web analytics they can prove their case much better. You should never accept the excuse, “Well, I just feel that something needs to be changed.” By giving the folks who directly work on the website some good numbers, they can better convince you of the “why” as it relates to something being modified. Information sharing is good in a business. It’s not olden times anymore when the King or Queen of the hill held internal knowledge locked in a safe. You’ll get more “buy-in” from employees when they know what’s up in their particular portion of heaven.
Posted by LSM2013b | Elementary School | Posted on July 17th, 2013
Even a seemingly clean elementary school can easily become infested with cockroaches. Depending upon the type of pest control program that a school has in place, it may be difficult to detect the extent of a problem before it’s too late.
Roach Infestations Run Rampant in Elementary Schools
Just take the case of a 2011 cockroach infestation that affected more than two dozen schools in Florida. The pest infestation became so severe that students in one school were forced to eat lunch outside in a tent instead of using the school cafeteria.
In this case, many parents were skeptical of the type of pest control program that was implemented at the school. Although school officials said that a German cockroach infestation spread quickly and without warning, many parents felt that more could have been done to prevent such a serious pest problem.
After extermination, the maintenance staff chose to watch carefully for signs of roaches and used baits versus sprays to protect kids from pesticide exposure. Staff members were also trained more thoroughly in pest control practices to help with pest management, especially in cafeterias.
How to Deal with a School Wide Pest Infestation
To prevent an outbreak of this kind, the best form of pest control starts with sanitation. School facilities are normally considered to be clean environments to protect the health and wellbeing of young children.
Still, many schools can benefit from stricter sanitation protocols to keep pesky pests under control, like:
- Deep cleaning of food prep areas, especially hard-to-reach locations.
- More thorough trash management.
- Food storage in airtight containers.
- Regular clutter removal.
- Routine floor drain and vent maintenance.
- Quick repair of water leaks.
- Sealant for holes, gaps, and cracks in the building.
Training staff members to better recognize areas where pests could enter a building is one step in the right direction. In both daycare centers and elementary schools, high-risk areas for an infestation include dumpsters, teachers’ lounges, kitchens and food prep areas, maintenance closets, classroom snack areas, and locker rooms.
School cafeterias should stick to strict sanitation guidelines to meet local health requirements. Yet in a school that has already experienced a pest outbreak, further precautions may need to be taken to empty out trash cans regularly, wipe up areas of standing water, and store food in pest-proof containers.
Staff members can pitch in and do their part to keep pests out by cleaning up and properly storing food in breakrooms, classrooms, and other snack areas.
Posted by LSM2013b | Elementary School | Posted on July 17th, 2013
Choosing the best elementary school in your area can seem like a daunting task, and for good reason. You want to select a well-rounded school that your child will actually enjoy attending for the majority of the year. On top of that, you want your child to have the best opportunities available in the public school system to support their academic progress. Where should you begin?
3 Guidelines to Assess an Elementary School
While word-of-mouth referrals may point you in the direction of the right school district in Austin, you can use these criteria to narrow down your selection in an elementary school:
- Visit on a school day. If you want to see how a school functions in all areas, plan a pop-in visit on a standard school day. Any elementary school should be happy to allow you to watch teachers in a classroom to see how kids interact with one another and their teacher. Observing the classroom is key since that is the place where your child will spend the most time.
- Don’t get hung up on standardized test scores. Good test scores can indicate that an elementary school is focused on education, but it can also mean that a school is teaching how to take a standardized test. In addition to good test scores, an elementary school should have a complex, diverse curriculum for all students.
- Go with your gut. If you have your heart set on a neighborhood in Austin and like the elementary school in your district, there may be no reason to look any further. If the elementary school provides an environment for your child to thrive and make friends, then it will serve its purpose in furthering their development.
Where Are the Best Elementary Schools in Austin?
According to GreatSchools.org, there are several elementary schools in the Austin area that are highly rated:
- Barton Creek Elementary: Rated at a 10, the school serves 536 public students. Parents review both the school and teachers as “excellent.”
- Barton Hills Elementary: Rated at a 10, the school serves 390 public students. Parents rate principal leadership and teacher quality at four stars.
- Bee Cave Elementary: Rated at a 10, the school has 747 public students. Parent reviews confirm that teachers at the school foster a love of learning.
- Canyon Creek Elementary: Rated at a 10, the school has 474 public students. Parents rate teacher quality, principal leadership, and parent involvement at five stars each.
Posted by LSM2013b | Preschool | Posted on July 17th, 2013
If you want to rest easy throughout your work week, you need to know that your child is in good hands at preschool. For most parents, the task of choosing the right preschool can be intimidating…
What if your child doesn’t get along with his teachers? What if the classroom is too crowded? What if the preschool you love is too expensive?
What Makes a Great Preschool
While all of these questions should be taken into account to choose the best preschool to meet your child’s needs, here are several guidelines to consider in selecting a top-notch preschool in your area:
- Consider the reputation. If you have parent friends in your neck of the woods, they’ll be able to tell you immediately which preschools have a good or bad rep in the community. If you’re new to the area and are visiting a preschool for the first time, request references that you can check of parents of children who have attended the facility.
- Check for flexibility. To work with a number of different parents, a preschool must remain flexible at all times. You may need to pick up and drop off your child at a drastically different time than another parent with a more rigorous work schedule. A preschool that is willing to accommodate strange hours will relieve stress as you try to juggle work and family during the week.
- Research the sick policy. It’s best to send your child to a preschool with a strict sick child policy. Before enrolling your child, find out what type of illnesses your child must have to stay home and for how long. Though a strict sick policy may seem inconvenient, it will protect your child in the long run by keeping them away from other contagious children.
3 Standout Preschools in the Austin Area
While you can use the criteria above to choose the right preschool for your family, here are three highly recommended preschools in Austin to consider:
- Stepping Stone School: Stepping Stone has a number of locations throughout Austin and will accommodate kids from six weeks to five years old. The preschool also includes an afterschool program and a summer camp for children in elementary school.
- Hawthorne Montessori School: This independent preschool cares for children from infant up to six years of age. The preschool is unique in that it encourages child-centered programs, an individualized curriculum, and a full-day year-round schedule from 7 AM to 6 PM.
- Habibi’s Hutch Preschool: This preschool is popular since it offers flexible programs that include full-time, part-time from 7:30 AM to 12 PM, and part-time from 3 PM to 6 PM. The non-traditional preschool uses an integrated program that focuses heavily on art and childhood creativity.
- Moving and Living in a Construction Zone
- Help Me Understand Web Analytics
- Cockroach Infestations Call for Better Pest Management in Elementary Schools
- Where to Find the Best Elementary Schools in Austin
- Where to Find the Best Preschools in Austin