Holiday Celebrations Provide Healing After Devastating Carr Fire
Dec14

Holiday Celebrations Provide Healing After Devastating Carr Fire

This past summer, the Shasta County area was ripped apart by the colossal Carr Fire. But the local community surrounding the city of Redding refuse to let the damage dampen their holiday spirits. A recent data analysis revealed that the Carr Fire, which roared through the region in late July and resulted in eight fatalities, caused an astronomical amount of damage. It’s estimated that the value of single-family homes eradicated by the fire reached $292 million. Another $113.2 million in damages were sustained by over 200 homes throughout the area. All told, the fire has caused $405.1 million in devastation. But according to a Zillow analyst, the cost of rebuilding will be far higher than that already significant tally. Following both the Carr Fire and the Camp Fire in the Paradise area, California counselors were understandably receiving a number of calls from impacted families struggling with the aftermath. Although the civilian workforce in Shasta County reached 74,500 employees in 2017, there’s still a shortage of construction workers here, making it difficult to rebuild houses. On top of that, many people impacted showed signs of PTSD; therapists said avoiding isolation would be key to recovery. And despite the disheartening financial news from the county, local residents are coming together to celebrate the season. One Redding family, known for their elaborate holiday decorations, decided to bring the Christmas cheer as soon as they possibly could for the sake of the community. The Munoz family started putting up their lights around Halloween, saying that merriment is needed more than ever this year. They even held an event on December 15 that welcomed everyone in the area to meet Santa Claus, his elves, and even the Grinch while enjoying the splendor. Earlier this month, visitors flocked to Old Shasta for their annual Old Time Holiday Celebration. The event, which dates back to 1849, typically welcomes around 800 guests every year. Musical performances, arts and crafts, and historic educational activities bring everyone together — a quality that organizers say was especially important this year. According to Matt Switzer, Officer for Park Ranger Interpretation and Public Information for Whiskeytown National Recreation Area: “It’s really kind of a healing thing. It’s that sense of normalcy that we’ve kind of lost out on for the second half of this year. So I think by having this event it’s been really good for the public in the area to have this one thing to hold onto.” And then, of course, there’s the 66-foot tall white fir tree that was decked out for this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. With approximately 10,000 LED lights and 900 handcrafted ornaments...

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Younger Millennials Are More Likely To DIY Home Renovations, Report Shows
Dec14

Younger Millennials Are More Likely To DIY Home Renovations, Report Shows

In 2019, the annual expense on residential improvements and repairs by homeowners is projected to surpass $350 billion. But young homeowners can save money through DIY home improvement projects, but those projects come with their own risks. According to a new report by NerdWallet, homeowners have completed 113 million home improvement projects by themselves between 2015 and 2017, but 43% of them say they’ve messed up a project. In their report, NerdWallet researchers examined data from the Census Bureau’s biennial American Housing Survey. The Survey polled consumers on home projects they’ve completed in the last two years in 2017. NerdWallet additionally surveyed 2,001 U.S. adults, which included 1,353 homeowners, with The Harris Poll between September and October 2018. NerdWallet found that younger homeowners between the ages of 25 and 29 were more likely to tackle home improvement projects on their own, approximately 59% of the time. Holden Lewis, a home expert with NerdWallet, says this high percentage could be due to the fact that younger millennials are bogged down with student loan debt. This debt means millennials are less likely to find homes in their price range that don’t require any additional renovations. It also means that millennials are more likely to do these renovations themselves. And approximately 34% of people buying homes are first-time homebuyers. “The younger you are, you tend to be making less money and have less savings, and so you’re doing a lot yourself,” said Lewis. When done correctly, a DIY home improvement project could save a significant amount of money. For instance, bathroom remodels can provide a 70% return on investment. NerdWallet found that the median DIY expense for a bathroom remodel was $1,500. However, the median expense with a professional is $5,500. The problem is that there’s a risk homeowners could mess up their DIY project and end up spending even more money. NerdWallet found that a little over four in 10 homeowners have botched a DIY home project and 35% said a home improvement show had inspired them to take on a project that ended badly. “People sometimes are overconfident in their ability,” said Lewis. The good news is that most homeowners are more cautious when it comes to more complicated projects. NerdWallet found that consumers were more likely to attempt a DIY improvement project on a bedroom or landscaping renovation compared to something like roofing or electrical. It’s crucial, Lewis says, to accurately gauge your own handiness before undertaking a renovation. Sherry Petersik, a DIY home improvement blogger, also says it’s important to hire a professional when there’s a risk involving personal injury. “No amount of saving money is worth a...

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5 Major Digital Marketing Trends You’ll See In 2019
Dec13

5 Major Digital Marketing Trends You’ll See In 2019

The digital marketing world is in constant flux, which makes keeping up with the latest trends a big challenge. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top digital marketing trends you actually need to know in 2019. We’ve also asked select industry experts to give their two cents on the matter as well. High-Quality, Creative Content Content has long been the backbone of good digital marketing and SEO strategies. That may change one day, but not in 2019. The biggest difference in the new year is that there will be an increasing emphasis on nuance in content, meaning that next year’s content is going to be more sophisticated and targeted towards specific markets. “Hands down the best strategy for SEO in 2019 is to always focus your content with the reader in mind. What is most valuable for them, easy to find on your site and clear and concise. Sure the technical component matters, but great content trumps everything,” said Cinnamon Wolfe, Photo Editor and Business Coach. Not only will quality content attract and engage your target audiences, but it will create valuable backlinks and SEO juice to keep those leads coming. Ronald Dod, CMO and co-founder of Visiture, pointed to the importance of content for the eCommerce industry. “We see more and more eCommerce merchants using content marketing to drive high-quality backlinks, rank for research intent keyword phrases, and help drive customer acquisition through content marketing. This may seem simple to the majority of SEO practitioners but for eCommerce merchants using content marketing is fairly difficult to execute in my professional opinion,” said Dod. Modern Video Content It’s been said before, but we’ll say it again: strong video content is a digital marketing must. About 73% of all Americans engage with YouTube, and platforms like Facebook and Instagram have become popular mediums for showcasing video content, too. Consumers love getting information through engaging videos, and video digital marketing is an effective way to rank on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) in the face of paid ads, as Eric Kronthal, President and Founder of periscopeUP, notes. “Unfortunately we’re likely to see further depletion of organic results on Google in 2019. Just getting to the bottom of page one of Google’s results simply isn’t enough. SEOs must dominate the SERP’s top positions, earn visibility in enhanced results (snippets, answer boxes), optimize for other results in images, maps and video, and look to additional platforms like Amazon,” said Kronthal. Video content, including the relatively new trend of live streaming, is also the perfect opportunity to reach your intended audiences. When you create personal and relatable content, consumers will...

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Cyber Crime Could Make Digital Real Estate Shopping Risky
Dec11

Cyber Crime Could Make Digital Real Estate Shopping Risky

As more real estate shopping moves online, home buyers could be at greater risk of identity theft, financial risks, and other dangers from cybercrime and hackers. The reliance on technology could leave the real estate market in a vulnerable spot if proper precautions are not taken. More Digital Home Buyers Advances in technology have made shopping online easier than ever, with e-commerce changing industries from general retail to even real estate. As many as 44% of home buyers look online for properties nowadays, suggesting an overall shift in market trends to customers preferring to shop online. Certain companies are even looking to expand farther than simply looking online for real estate, allowing home buyers to manage the home-buying process online, directly from those looking to sell property, skipping the involvement of real estate agents entirely. A variety of start-up companies are cropping up worldwide, putting the full buying power in the hands of the average consumer. This shift isn’t just limited to private real estate and homes for families; commercial entities are also now able to manage their entire rental process digitally, connecting directly to landlords. While brokers will still be able to use these digital platforms, it is incredibly likely we will see more business owners taking their real estate shopping entirely into their own hands. Risks For Cybercrime Increasing While there is an undeniable convenience factor to being able to manage one’s own real estate buying process with no middle-man, this puts many homebuyers at an increased risk for cybercrime. Because these sites manage the entire process online, all of a customer’s vital information needs to be processed digitally; everything from addresses to social security information to large sums of money is being processed online, where they are at risk of theft from hackers. The precedent for this has already been set by existing security failures and weak points exploited by existing cybercriminals who target the real estate market. According to a recent report from Thales, 42 percent of U.S. financial service institutions have already experienced a breach (that they know of), and 12 percent have been victims of multiple data breaches. Many of these financial institutions are responsible for handling mortgage payments, closing fees, and many other elements of the home buying process. Hackers have already shown a tendency towards targeting the real estate market; recently, scammers have been documented targeting folks buying their homes online, looking to capitalize on closing fees and payments from unsuspecting home buyers. As more digital marketplaces are created for purchasing homes without the added security of a broker or real estate agent, this trend is likely to grow. While it...

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A Year In Review: Looking Back At 2018’s Medical Advancements
Dec10

A Year In Review: Looking Back At 2018’s Medical Advancements

This past year has led to a great degree of progress and advancement in a wide variety of medical fields, despite many social issues and public disputes around issues of medicine. In 2018, the world saw an increase in available treatments and scientific knowledge, while also seeing certain barriers to accessing medical treatment increase. Increases In Understanding To Help Millions This past year showed many promising moments for medical advancement and increased understanding through new discoveries and more available education. Scientists were even able to create one of the first RNA interference therapeutics this past year, as well as making large strides in the understanding and application of CRISPR gene-editing technology. Mental health also featured prominently in public discussions this year, with issues of depression featuring heavily in public media. This allows the high percentage of people suffering from depression to, hopefully, be informed enough to access the care they need. Mental health problems are shockingly common; about 20% of women experience some form of depression during menopause, with millions more suffering in other demographic categories. Technological Advancements Further Medical Progress In addition to a growing base of knowledge for medical practitioners to draw from, treatments are being produced and simplified due to improved manufacturing methods and reduced manufacturing costs. Some industries are able to cut production costs by as much as 35% with the right contract manufacturer, and the medical industry has been no exception to this fact in 2018. In addition to improvements in manufacturing, technological advances have allowed for new treatment options to become more viable and practical, from surgery to medical equipment to pharmaceuticals. Improvements in artificial intelligence have simplified diagnostic processes for doctors worldwide, despite some complications and general skepticism within the scientific community about the ability of an AI being able to return helpful diagnostic information. Beyond diagnostic tools, the ever popular technological advancement of blockchain could have a wide variety of medical applications moving into the new year. Blockchain technology offers features that could be useful within the pharmaceutical industry for tracking returns of various medications, potentially saving the pharmaceutical industry up to $10 billion annually if implemented. However, this number is still theoretical, and the full implementation of this type of technology still leaves many questions unanswered. Despite Progress, Barriers To Treatment While progress has been made across the board in 2018, there are still several barriers that must be addressed within the new year. Much of the general population worldwide still lack access to many forms of basic treatment for disease and preventative care. Studies show that an estimated 19.5 million children under one year old did not receive DTP3...

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