Totem and Tattoo? Georgia County Considers More Regulations on Tattoos and Piercings

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Health officials in Bibb County, Georgia are proposing new regulations on tattoo and body piercing services in the county. 13WMAZ reports that the Bibb County Board of Health is considering new rules for tattoo studios in the area. The board held a public hearing on the matter on February 18th.

“It’s not big changes, just slight modifications,” said “Dred,” a piercing artist at Beyond Taboo Tattoo in Mason, Georgia. The changes aren’t exactly controversial. The proposed regulations on the tattoo and piercing industry in the county mostly have to do with sterilization standards, such as having a sink near every tattooing station and keeping certain equipment in a separate room. Other rules would require tattoo and piercing apprentices to demonstrate a certain set of skills and would ban certain jewelry for piercing.

Carla Coley, District Environmental Health Director of Bibb County, holds these regulations to be necessary for an expanding industry.

“People want to do more and more things,” she said. “There was a need for the existing rules meet the demands of the industry.”

Not everyone, however, shares her convictions. Ray Carlisle, a local tattoo artist of some 16 years, is concerned that these regulations will inadvertently create a black market for tattoo and body art.

“When the prices go up, people go underground,” Carlisle said. “People tattooing kids sitting at a kitchen table or in a hotel room.”

“Anybody down the street with a cell phone and WiFi can become a tattoo artist now,” observed Dred.

“Some of the dangers of amateur piercing and tattooing include health risks for spreading diseases like Hepatitis B, physically harming the receiver, scarring, mutilation or nerve damage,” says Bill Aquino, Body Piercer and Tattoo Artist, Graduate of the Academy of Responsible Tattooing, Shop Manager at Body Art & Soul Tattoos in Brooklyn, NY. “Regulations are necessary to ensure only properly trained people are performing these procedures. You are breaking skin and exposing bodily fluids, an untrained person can easily cause infection or worse. Would you let a dentist give you a root canal in their kitchen? No, for obvious reasons.”

Though Dred and Carlisle aren’t worried that their businesses will suffer from these rules per se, they are concerned that the proposals will affect several businesses in the area — which may have to redo their entire sewage and drainage systems and even expand their buildings to provide the necessary accommodation. Dred, for one, states that providing more education about proper tattoo and piercing procedures would be a better alternative than some of these regulations.

Still, Coley and the other health officials are confident in the effectiveness of their proposals. Though they acknowledge the possibility of a black market forming, they ultimately feel that these new rules are necessary.

Students from Two Southern Colleges Report Mold Problems

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College dorms across the U.S. are beginning to show their age, and like many older buildings, they’re facing a big problem: mold.

Students at Georgia State University recently complained to WSB-TV 2 that mold is a serious problem in their dorm room. Student Amber Crosson told the station that a plumbing issue drew her attention to mold under the sink in her University Commons dorm.

The problem got so bad for student Brandy Harris that she actually had to move out of the dorms. “The paint was bubbling up, you know you can pop it, and there is little black stuff in there,” she told WSB-TV 2. “What would happen to me is my lymph nodes swell… whenever I came into the room, I’d be fine outside.”

Harris also reported problems with the water quality, and added that “People are paying $4,000 and up to stay in a room that is not safe, not healthy.” Crosson confirmed that problems take too long to fix for such an expensive dorm.

Georgia State claimed to be unaware of the issue and told WSB-TV 2 that it would be addressed.

Meanwhile, students at Arkansas State, who thought they were out of the woods after a local restoration company cleaned out the campus buildings, are facing mold problems again.

After reports of mold were filed in Sept. 2014, the college conducted an investigation and hired ServPro to clean out 16 rooms which were found to have cases of mold. The cleanup was costly, but it didn’t fix the problem. Residents are now reporting that there still seems to be mold in the air vents.

Assistant vice chancellor for student affairs Craig Johnson blamed the return of the problem on students leaving their windows open while they have the air conditioning on. This creates a moist environment that’s ripe for mold.

“Every property owner/manager/home owner should be constantly vigilant to ensure that moisture is not penetrating into the property,” says Joe Mulieri of Mold Gone. “Water stains, cracking caulk and cracks in walls are all signs of potential mold growth. Mold is always a result of moisture penetration, because it is essential to mold growth.”

Johnson also blamed the more recent mold problems on previously undiscovered leaks. All mold cases have now been dealt with, according to Johnson, and students with issues can complete online work orders to report mold.

More Cloud Service Providers Have Put Better Security Practices in Place, But Adoption Rates Still Low

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Cloud service providers might talk the talk — but few, it seems, walk the walk. A new report shows that while an increasing number of cloud services are improving their security practices, the rates at which cloud providers are adopting appropriate security practices are abysmal.

According to the latest quarterly study by Skyhigh Networks, a cloud security solutions provider, although the number of cloud services that support multifactor authentication might have doubled in 2014, only 17% of the 10,000 cloud services tracked in 2014’s fourth quarter supported multifactor authentication.

At the same period in 2013, only 470 services encrypted data at rest. Now, some 1,802 cloud providers encrypt data, but that’s only 11% of companies. Similarly, just 5% of cloud providers held ISO 27001 information security management certifications, but that’s still a big improvement from the numbers shown at the same time in 2013.

Most importantly, though, not even 11% of cloud services studied had the basic security capabilities required by enterprise businesses, meaning a whopping 89% of cloud providers were not up to snuff.

“Any modern company provides mechanisms to encrypt data in transit. Encrypting data at rest does provide an extra layer of security, but at a higher cost and performance overhead,” says Jason Eisert of Sectorlink. “The main advantage of this kind of encryption is to provide defense against unauthorized physical access to server hardware, which, at this time, is not a very common cause of data compromise in the IT industry.”

According to InformationWeek, 100% security can never be guaranteed, but there are five practices that can greatly improve cloud solution providers’ security. When choosing a new cloud provider, companies’ decision makers should look for continuous visibility, exposure management, strong access control, encryption practices, and compromise management.

As to why so many companies were slow to adopt the surveyed security practices, Skyhigh’s vice-president of products and marketing, Kamal Shah, said that “a lot of people don’t think it’s a priority,” adding that the biggest challenge with encryption is that the application has to be smart enough to also decrypt the data. This technology, he said, is only now “coming to the forefront.”

Nissan Presents First Glow-in-the-Dark Car Made With Organic Paint in Order To Drive Up Interest in New Leaf Model

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Glow-in-the-dark cars: They sound like something dreamed up by a child who can’t decide if being an astronaut or a race car driver would be more fun. But Nissan recently proved that this aesthetic feature might actually become a reality for the average (adult) car owner.

Although consumers shouldn’t expect to see glow-in-the-dark vehicles hitting the markets right away, Nissan recently released news (and pictures) of its newest Leaf model, all decked out in special paint that glows at night.

According to PC Magazine, glow-in-the-dark car wraps are already available for many newer vehicles, but Nissan is the first car manufacturer to develop a paint made completely from organic materials. Even the prime “glowing” ingredient, Strontium Aluminate, is a natural (and very rare) substance found naturally in the earth.

CNN Money notes that this special release is merely for publicity purposes; as it is, the special paint would be incredibly expensive, and Nissan has clearly stated that it has no intention of making the paint commercially available on its cars in the near future.

Instead, the company is hoping that the glowing car, which emits a soft blue light for eight to 10 hours when fully “charged” with sunlight, will “promote the potential for charging the Nissan Leaf at home using solar panels.”

According to Nissan officials, if government incentives are offered on these at-home charging solar panels, driving a rechargeable car (like the Leaf) would be “virtually free of cost.”

But even though consumers can’t get their hands on a glow-in-the-dark Leaf just yet, automotive experts are already getting excited about Nissan’s second-generation 2017 Leaf. It’s expected that Nissan will debut the new model at the Washington, D.C. Auto Show in January 2016 or the New York International Auto Show in April 2016, and the car will likely be available in commercial markets around October 2016.

Nissan hasn’t offered many official statements about the new model, Hybrid Cars states, but the success of Nissan’s first-edition Leaf has surprised everyone from consumers to industry experts.

Global sales of the Leaf rose up to about 160,000 vehicles by the end of 2014, and U.S. sales made up about 75,000 of those vehicles. Currently, the Nissan Leaf is the best-selling electric car — beating both the Chevy Volt and Tesla Model 3 in terms of affordability and eco-friendliness.

“The absolute best feature of the Leaf is that it’s a total electric car that you never have to worry about gas or even getting an oil change,” says Steve Black, Digital Sales Director, Hudiburg Nissan. “We’re excited about the 2nd edition that will be coming out and feel that it’s really going to impact the overall electric car market.

Even if the second generation Leaf doesn’t glow-in-the-dark, the fact that industry experts are already talking about the new model is proof that Nissan will surely provide plenty of interesting features in the 2017 model.

Cities in Chicago Area Forced to Remove Thousands of Trees Due to Beetle Infestation

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In most cities, procedures are in place to plant new trees, not remove old ones. But in the Lake County area near Chicago, an infestation of tiny green beetles is making mass tree removal necessary, according to local officials.

The emerald ash borer is so aggressive a pest that the suburb of Highland Park was forced to remove about 1,000 ash trees in 2014, and expects to remove up to 1,400 more in 2015. The budget for tree removal in the city has been accordingly raised from $150,000 to $173,000 for the coming year.

The problem is even greater in the city of Lake Forest, where the local council recently voted to add an additional $160,000 in funding to the $200,000 already set aside for fighting the pest. Of the 7,000 ash trees that once lined the city’s streets, only 650 will be left untouched, the Chicago Tribune reported Feb. 6.

Experts say that once trees are infested by the borer, there’s really no option except to cut them down. Swift removal is the standard protocol, and there’s extra pressure to work quickly because winter is the best time of year to remove trees.

Highland Park foresters are injecting chemicals into a limited number of trees in an attempt to preserve them, but the problem is new enough that not much research has been done.

Officials across Lake County have said the infestation highlights the importance of planting a diverse tree base in the future so that the arrival of a single species won’t wipe out such a large portion of the area’s total tree population.

The borer, which is originally from Asia, first became a problem in the United States in 2002. It has plagued the Chicago area since 2011.

“It is a shame that we have to cut down these trees,” Ted Baker, parks director of Highland Park, told the Chicago Tribune Feb. 17. “I got into this business because I have a love of the outdoors. The park district is about maintaining [the] outdoors, and it is frustrating.”

Student Athlete Discovers Potentially Life-Threatening Heart Condition During School Project

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Young athletes are generally thought to be the pinnacle of health, even though they often face increased risk of injury. While health risks associated with concussions suffered by young athletes continues to be a concern for both parents and coaches, a less obvious — but no less dangerous — condition is garnering attention in Kansas City, MO.

New evidence revealed that a simple test may save a child’s life, especially those who participate in athletics.

A new program beginning to make its way through schools throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area is helping to detect potentially fatal heart problems. The inspiration for the program came after a local student discovered he had a heart condition during a school project.

Samsson Destahun, a runner and tennis player, was tasked with marketing an upcoming heart health and testing event at Saint Luke’s Hospital North.

“I decided to sign up for it because we had such a low number of participants,” Destahun said.

The test ultimately determined Destahun suffered from a potentially dangerous electrical problem with his heart, called Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome, which causes his heart to beat faster due to an extra circuit.

“As soon as they found out, they said I can’t have any more physical activity,” Destahun said.

Within the last 10 years, Saint Luke’s North Hospital has tested the hearts of over 5,000 athletes ranging from young high school athletes to seasoned National Football League professionals. The hospital has said these tests have been successful in detecting life-threatening abnormalities like Destahun’s in nearly 1% of participants.

“In another 2%, we find something important,” said Dr. Anthony Magalski, of Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute. “It may not be life-threatening, but it’s important to know.”

These tests typically cost thousands of dollars, but community support from donors such as Rick Worth allows Saint Luke’s North Hospital to perform screenings for only $60 per student.

“At a very young age, my oldest son actually collapsed on the football field,” said Worth. “We had the resources to have his heart checked, but there are a lot of kids out there that don’t.”

Following the test, Destahun underwent a procedure to repair his heart condition, and has since been cleared to participate in all physical activity.

Auto Manufacturer Responds to Car Photobombing Complaints by Designing Camouflage Net

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Nobody actually likes photobombs, especially the residents of one charming English village.

For years, the quaint English countryside village of Bibury has served as a popular tourist destination for these eager to see the old-world 14th and 17th century cottages that line Arlington Row. The picturesque scene is something the English are very proud of. In fact, it’s even highlighted on the inside of the British passport and is considered one of the most photographed streets in the entire country.

But there’s one problem.

According to the BBC, an 82-year-old resident’s bright yellow Vauxhall Corsa is photobombing nearly every picture tourists try to take of the iconic setting, so much so that this little compact car has garnered a lot of negative attention — and even hate — online.

After hearing about the issue,the automaker released a brand new product to mask colorful Corsa hatchbacks in order to make them less visually disruptive. Enter the camouflage net.

Vauxhall’s cheeky press release described the brand new product in great detail, going on to say it was an “essential accessory,” that is both “quick and easy to operate” as well as “ideal for use in the countryside by tourists who want to park close to their destination.” The Corsa Camo-net is available for both three- and five-door models of the car, which is often painted in bright colors such as Flaming Yellow, Flame Red, Chili Orange, and Line Green.

The good news? Despite their disdain for the vehicle, disgruntled residents and even some visitors of the Gloucestershire village have been quick to leap to the defense of the vehicle’s owner, Peter Maddox. The retired dentist does not have a garage and therefore must park on the street, in plain view of those aiming for the perfect shot.

Francome Robinson, 71, has lived in of the village’s famous cottages for the past 23 years and was just one of many who came to Maddox’s defense. “Tourists should get a life. They must realize that we live here. These are our homes. Mr Maddox has every right to park there and there isn’t anywhere else he can park.”

Medical Marijuana Could Get Kosher Certification from Orthodox Union

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Medical marijuana may soon get a new form of approval — this time from Orthodox rabbis. Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification agency, has held “preliminary discussions” with companies that are interested in having their medical cannabis products approved as kosher.

Medical marijuana is legal in almost half of all U.S. states today and is expected to be legal in New York next year. Recreational marijuana is currently legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

Due to the pro-legalization effort throughout the country, even Orthodox rabbis have begun to accept the medical benefits of cannabis.

As more states legalize cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes, many businesses also turn to recreational or medical marijuana business branding experts, who help businesses create products that stand out. But in a state like New York, with a high Jewish population, having kosher cannabis is also a big deal.

“Anything that the industry can do to make medicine accessible to patients and adult use in states where it’s been legalized is a good thing because we don’t ever want people driven to the black marketing to have access, which could be dangerous or harmful,” said Diane Czarkowski, owner and managing partner of Canna Advisors. “We want them to have safe access by purchasing from a licensed dispensary and by making the drug kosher just opens up another group of people who might not have been able to get access before.”

Because marijuana is a plant, it wouldn’t technically need certification. But cannabis can be used in edible products and capsules, which would require a kosher seal.

Cannabis is used medicinally to minimize pain, anxiety, nausea and other symptoms in patients with everything from HIV/AIDS and cancer to multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.

Progressive Jewish groups see the issue of marijuana legalization as one of social justice. Drug laws often disproportionately affect black and Hispanic Americans even though white people are just as likely to use cannabis.

Ean Seeb, who owns one of the oldest marijuana dispensaries in Denver, Colorado, and is a regional board member of the Anti-Defamation League, compared Jewish marijuana activity today with prohibition-era involvement in the alcohol industry.

Of Colorado, Seeb said, “We have shown here in Colorado that you can effectuate social change without the world crashing down on you.”

Most orthodox rabbis, however, still oppose use of cannabis, medical or otherwise.

Still Elefant is hopeful that the Orthodox Union will follow Israel’s lead on the topic of medicinal cannabis. Israel is one of the world’s leaders in medical marijuana and has licensed more than 11,000 people to receive the drug, and patients can buy kosher-certified cannabis products.

Soaking Up Sun and Energy Costs: Solar Panel Systems Can Increase the Value of Your Home

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In a time when renewable energy is gaining traction, solar panels are becoming more common for homeowners and homebuyers alike.

Solar panels are already well-known for their ability to reduce a home’s electricity bill but, recently, another benefit has been discovered: A U.S. Department of Energy report states that home-owned solar panels can increase the value of a home by as much as $15,000.

In the Department of Energy report, several home sales which occurred between 1999 and 2013 were monitored. The report calculates that solar panels increase homes’ values by roughly $15,000. At a time when solar panel installations are growing in popularity, the increase in value is even more incentive for homeowners to have them installed.

There is, however, a catch. Installing solar panels in and of itself will not increase a home’s value. It is how the panels are financed that determine their value.

In general, leasing solar panels isn’t as advantageous as buying them outright. In fact, some studies suggest that leasing them can reduce the value of a home, particularly in areas of the nation where panels are rare. When one buys solar panels, they become an asset of the house. When one leases solar panels, they become a long-term liability that some homebuyers may be hesitant to take on.

Because of this, leading solar panel manufacturers are offering manageable payment options for purchasing solar panels. Some of these options include zero down payment and flexible payment plans. In addition, the providers are developing more options for the panels. Solar-plus-storage, for example, enables homeowners to store electricity made during the day in order to use it at night or during a blackout. In addition, some solar panel systems can be linked with a home control system that can manage how much energy is being used or collected.

Overall, the recent innovations in solar panel technology, their growing affordability, and their positive influence on home values are making solar panel technology more attractive, and not just because they save money on electricity bills.

Why Authors Shouldn’t Rule Out the Option of Self-Publishing

Traditionally, authors who wanted their books to be read on a wide scale would need to have their work published by a publishing house.

Those days are gone. With sales of paper books on the decline thanks to audiobooks and eBooks, publishers are agreeing to print fewer and fewer books. Authors who have been discouraged by publishers rejecting their manuscripts are seeking alternative courses of action.

Pile of books isolated on white background.

And increasingly, self-publishing is thought of as a legitimate solution for authors struggling to give their work the exposure it needs.

In 2013, the number of self-published titles jumped 16.5% — and that’s just the number of self-published books with ISBN numbers, which a growing number of authors choose not to get, Tech Cocktail reports. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing doesn’t require its titles to have an ISBN number, for example.

That’s because authors who go the traditional publishing route can usually expect to see about 15% of their books’ royalties come back to them. With self-publishing, however, the author takes home as much as 70% of the book’s royalties, according to PBS. These numbers alone have authors turning to self-publishing.

“Many of my author friends have found self-publishing to be a excellent option since it’s so hard to get a publishing deal in today’s competitive market,” says ‘Quest of the Keys’ author Scotty Sanders. “It opens a door for aspiring authors that could even lead to a deal with a traditional publisher later if marketed well.”

All the advantages that come with self-publishing come at a cost. To succeed with self-publishing, authors must become full-fledged entrepreneurs, promoting and marketing their book without the marketing expertise that a traditional publisher would have. Radio and podcast interviews, featured book reviews and endorsements from well-known critics are all a must.

Because of the fact that many authors don’t have the skills to be a successful marketer of their books, a growing number of publishers will be offering marketing solutions to self-published authors throughout 2015, Tech Cocktail reports.

But above all, success in the self-publishing world boils down to one thing — an author’s ability to write content that keeps audiences coming back for more.