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Archives for June 29, 2013

How to manage your search for interim work

There was a time when people who lost jobs, at least in the white-collar world, were told not to work at anything “lower status” while waiting for the next professional opportunity, lest it hurt their career. The idea seemed to be that if you settled for something too “low” you’d never be taken seriously again.

Or something like that. I’ve heard so many versions of this idea over the years, my head kind of hurts. I think that most people who held this view have had to let it go during this last recession, which would be one good thing to come out of that economic freefall.

Now the issue isn’t so much whether one should take interim work, but how to manage it without wreaking havoc on the broader job search. Lining up the interim job is another puzzle for most people: The first job search is hard enough; now there should be a second search?

You’ll find it easier going if you follow some basic steps.

•Think about logistics. An interim job usually pays less than your regular work. Hence, it shouldn’t involve a long or difficult commute. Unless you live in a rural setting, consider five miles from your home to be your optimum hunting grounds.

•Consider your schedule. It doesn’t make sense to pay more money to day care than you’ll make at this job. Look for time that you can give to the job without having it cost you money elsewhere. You’ll need to allocate 15 to 20 hours a week to finding your main job. For these reasons, optimum interim job schedules often include early mornings or evenings.

•Assess your marketable skills. Are you physically fit? Good on the telephone? Knowledgeable about tools or certain processes? Familiar with your area roads and neighborhoods? Write it all down. You’re not going to do this work forever. If you can tolerate it and do it well enough to fill the bill for an employer, it goes on the list.

•Choose your interim job goal. A broad category such as customer service will work. Less helpful is a handful of ideas, such as “landscaping or call center work or night security.” Such disparate ideas make it difficult to build a credible resume and can sound unfocused in conversations.

•Make an interim job resume. This short, to-the-point document highlights what you can do for a particular group of employers and downplays everything else. So a marketing executive seeking retail work will use the top of the resume to showcase strengths in serving the public and making sales, with only a line or two toward the bottom of the page devoted to the last marketing job.

•Talk with employers. This kind of search is best done person-to-person, so start a list of potential employers and the managers to talk with. As a rule, this is more easily done with small companies or those that are locally managed than with the big-box groups that rely on electronic processes.

•Stay cheerful!

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Consultants envision an improved Lexington

Downtown Lex

Downtown Lex

Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013 2:55 pm

Consultants envision an improved Lexington

by Danny Gruber
C-H staff writer


LEXINGTON – The Lexington Planning Commission met Wednesday to conduct a public hearing on the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

The city revises its comprehensive plan every five to 10 years. The last revision was completed in 2005. With revisions to area flood maps, as well as the recently released census results, city officials thought it prudent to revise the city’s master plan, which is designed to look at community projects planned out for the next 25 to 30 years.

Members of the commission heard from Jeff Ray, of JEO Consulting of Wahoo, the firm hired to conduct a profile of Lexington and determine how its citizens wanted their city to grow.

The plan for Lexington’s future was broken down into four major phases: Profile, envision, achieve and implement. To date, JEO built a profile of Lexington and, last fall, held a series of community hall meetings in Lexington to gather citizen input on what they thought Lexington should become.

Those who could not attend one of the town meetings were invited to participate through a website, called “Think Big Lexington.”

Ray was on hand to provide planning commission members with the results of those citizen ideas.

“Housing was a component that came through loud and clear,” he said.

Ray said the infrastructure was already in place for Lexington to grow. Recent upgrades to the city’s electrical feed and area transformers as well as current plans to upgrade the city’s sewage treatment plant will serve the community for several decades to come. The next step, he said, would be adding housing and replacing existing housing.

Other items to be accomplished were all cosmetic projects that would improve Lexington’s image. One idea was to create landscaping at the I-80 exit into Lexington that would give travelers a sense of place when driving through. Ray commented the scenery along I-80 was stark.

“It’s shocking to people from the east and west coast,” he stated, citing that York was a good example of a city that is easily identified—they have a water tower painted like a hot air balloon.

Enhancements along the Plum Creek Parkway corridor, such as a landscaped median, and enhancing the look of the grain elevators at the Jackson Street overpass with color-changing LED projection lights was another concept Ray offered.

One of the more grandiose visions presented by Ray was a “market plaza” on Adams Street by Vazquez Market, with space for several food trucks and an area for people to eat and congregate.

“Make it a destination area,” he said, adding the park was conveniently located nearby.

After Ray’s presentation, there were no questions or comments from the public or the commissioners.

The plan was approved by the planning commission and forwarded to Lexington City Council members who are expected to consider the plan at their July 23 meeting.


Friday, June 28, 2013 2:55 pm.

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Olmos Park backs holiday decorative changes at the roundabout

Residents of Olmos Park can continue to look forward to a festive city for Christmas because of modifications to be made to the McCullough Avenue roundabout, according to upgrades approved at the city’s June 20 council meeting.

Electrical boxes installed at 16 light poles that power the city’s traditional Christmas angel decorations will be replaced for this holiday season, the council decided.

Councilmembers asked the city’s Economic Development Corp. for $6,320 to replace the old electrical boxes.

Each new box costs $395. If EDC decides not to give the city funding, city officials said they would proceed with purchasing new boxes. Officials say they are working with CPS Energy to replace the old boxes.

“It would work best to plan on putting the boxes on the same poles and once the (project is completed), we can possibly talk about new locations,” said Mayor Kenneth Farrimond.

In addition to the angel decorations, the roundabout will also see additional holiday cheer, thanks to the city’s roundabout committee.

Pat Meier, committee chairwoman, proposed three Christmas trees, five stars and a decorative rope be added to the traffic device’s base.

Meier added that, if the decorative rope were left on the roundabout after the holidays, it could to help to encourage motorists to be more careful driving around it.

The structure has been the scene of a number of car collisions, leading to the removal of its distinctive water fountain in May.

Councilmembers agreed to back the holiday decoration ideas, but did not act on the roundabout’s beautification. Proposed landscaping for the site was also put on hold.

Funding, however, is still available for year-round beautification and landscaping at the traffic device, said Sandra Ryan, roundabout committee member.

The committee has not yet received a final cost estimate from landscapers, she said.

In other business, council discussed whether to solicit help from outside vendors to redesign and maintain the city’s website and email system.

No action was taken because more research on each service needs to be conducted, according to city officials.

Pat Semmes, who lost a council re-election bid in May, had volunteering her skills to maintain the website and email service during her as a city official.

Some council members have previously indictated while they saw Semmes’ volunteerism as commendable, they’d feel more comfortable if a full-time technician could maintain the city’s web-based communications system.

The council also endorsed an EDC project establishing a $10,000 sign improvement fund. The money is intended to help businesses improve their signage with an eye to upgrading aesthetics along the McCullough Avenue commercial corridor.

In other action June 20, Celia DeLeon was appointed city secretary for a two-year term, and oaths of office were administered to Sharon Plant and Enzo Pellegrino, both of whom won re-election to council in May. Plant then was selected mayor pro tempore. Managing editor Edmond Ortiz contributed to this story.

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Ilderton garden tour a mix of old, new, urban, rural 0

Maybe even more than digging in their own flowerbeds, gardeners love to see what’s growing in somebody else’s yard. Based on the success of their first tour two years ago, the Ilderton Optimists are holding another Ilderton Garden Tour Saturday.

“People love to poke around in other people’s gardens,” organizer Kara Muller said.

The club decided to offer a tour this year to see if it is lucrative enough to become an annual event.

The organizers chose eight feature gardens.

“We try to find gardens that will show something new in arranging or landscaping or plants,” Muller said. “It was a challenge to choose.”

It also was a prerequisite that the gardens contain flowers as well as shrubs and trees. The final eight range from a large country property to a small urban garden, well-established to new. “It’s a real mix,” Muller said.

One is an encore from the first tour.

“The Madsens’ garden is breathtakingly beautiful,” Muller said. “There’s a natural pond and a man-made pond and waterfall with sweeping trees and flowers.”

Arne and Joanne Madsen live on one hectare they purchased 18 years ago. Arne has transformed it in stages. “I sit and look at it,” Joanne said. “It’s his hobby.”

Arne agrees. “I go 24-7 with my business so this takes me back to nature, to my farming background.”

His favourite part is the rolling landscape that provides a beautiful view down to the pond. The property had water running through it, so he created a pond with a bridge and gazebo. He added another smaller pond with fish, plants and a waterfall, perennial beds and shrubs, a sitting area with fireplace and a small house for tropical plants.

“It’s not a pristine garden. It’s a natural setting with a lot of rustic aspects,” Arne said.

— — —


What: Ilderton Garden Tour

Where: Ilderton Optimist Club

When: Sunday

Time: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Tickets: $10; available at Van Horik’s, Floral Temptations and Parkway Gardens, or at any of the gardens during the tour.

See the club’s Facebook page for details.

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Rothschild villa and gardens a must-see for visitors to the French Riviera

Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild‘s turn-of-the-century folly is today a glorious gift to visitors to the Cote d’Azur where her villa and 10 acres of formal gardens stand as one of the loveliest diversions in the area. The ornate palace and holdings encompass 17 acres atop a promontory overlooking Cap Ferrat.

From 1907 to 1912, the divorced heiress devoted her time to overseeing construction of her magnificent winter home — an architectural wedding cake that reveals inspiration from the Italian renaissance with elements of Gothic and strong emphasis on Venetian palace design, all as dictated by the somewhat eccentric heiress. The pink and white villa is laden with swaths of red Verona marble, white Carrara marble, light grey marble and bass reliefs from Catalan cloisters, just to name a few of the whimsical motifs employed.

The landscaping, which required seven years to complete, features nine different garden styles. 

The landscaping, which required seven years to complete, features nine different garden styles ranging from Spanish to Florentine to Japanese and includes a formal French garden. Reflection pools, dancing fountains, lily ponds and waterfalls punctuate the vast landscape that can command a half-day for proper exploration.

On our recent visit we began in the small screening room where a presentation on Madame de Rothschild’s life, including her unfortunate marriage to and ultimate divorce from a wealthy Parisian banker, Maurice Ephrussi, provided an entertaining and informative introduction to the villa and gardens.

Then off we went to explore the various salons and private living quarters that remain elaborately furnished and decorated, just as Madame de Rothschild had left them when she bequeathed the property and its contents to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1933.

Among the riches that visitors will find while exploring the vast mansion are Aubusson carpets, Goeblin tapestries, Meissen chandeliers, Sevres porcelain dinner services and porcelain vases dating from the late 1700s. Her eclectic collections include medieval and renaissance works of art and objects from the Far East and furnishings from around the world. On her death, she left more than 5,000 works of art to the Académie.

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I gave some helpful gardening tips – now I’m suddenly the ‘expert’

MT agony uncle Jeremy Bullmore

MT agony uncle Jeremy Bullmore

By Jeremy Bullmore
Friday, 28 June 2013

I had a chat with a colleague in the office kitchen about gardening. Now I’m being accosted on all fronts and I’m feeling the pressure.

Q: I had a chat with a colleague in the office kitchen about two months ago and she started asking me questions about gardening. I consider myself knowledgeable and so gave her some advice. This has evolved into an almost daily session with her. I didn’t mind at first but the word has got out that I’m green fingered and I’m being accosted left, right and centre by people with questions about growing vegetables and how to keep blackfly off their roses. I’m flattered but am also starting to feel taken advantage of.

JEREMY SAYS: This is why doctors and lawyers often conceal what they do for a living when meeting new people at parties; otherwise they get pinned into corners and expected to give free professional advice to total strangers.

What you need to do is construct some sort of notional division between your day-to-day work and your ‘gardening consultancy’. So I suggest you design a mock poster and put it up on your office notice board. It should say something like: ‘Maggie’s Gardeners’ Question Time. Every Thursday 5.30-6.30 in the main meeting room (or Coach Horses).’

So next time you’re ambushed in the office kitchen, you can just grin and say you’ll be only too pleased to see them on Thursday evening. Nobody could take offence at that. And if your ‘consultancy’ begins to become too burdensome and you still feel you’re being taken advantage of, you could always suggest a seedling or two (or maybe even a drink) as payment in kind. Don’t give it up altogether: you enjoy it too much.

– Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.



– My colleague constantly sniffs and grunts 

– I overheard a conversation about redundancies and I’m in shock

– I shaved my manager’s head. Did I overstep the mark?

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Gardening Tips: Pollinators important to food we eat

Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013 11:00 am

Gardening Tips: Pollinators important to food we eat

By Matthew Stevens

RR Daily Herald


As much as I try to write articles that are timely, sometimes topics fall through the cracks or there are too many ideas for a single week.

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Friday, June 28, 2013 11:00 am.

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Six tips for a great gardening program

Dave Singleton

“To dream a garden and then to plant it is an act of independence and even defiance to the greater world.” — Author Stanley Crawford

Often, seniors are worried about losing a sense of “beautiful home” when they enter into any kind of assisted living or retirement community. One creative way to address that worry: planting vegetables, herbs, flowers, and more.

A gardening program (or horticulture therapy) gives seniors an opportunity to beautify the environment around them and engage in a beloved hobby — or take up a hobby they’ve always wanted to try. It can be a wonderful addition to the assisted living activities program you offer and a strong selling point for potential residents.

There are other benefits too: Gardening can help your residents improve mood, increase their sense of self-worth, and even enhance communication, says Claudia Collins, a specialist in healthy aging and lifelong learning who helped develop a community garden with Nevada’s Silver Sky Assisted Living. “The staff were amazed by the fairly radical change in participants,” she notes.

Just think what impact growing plants, flowers, and vegetables could have on your facility. Here are six ideas that will help you create gardens — and a gardening program — that your residents will love. 

Plant the “seeds” of interest in a fun way. “Spark a passion for gardening by creating a virtual tour and then taking field trips to real gardens to show residents how they work,” says John O’Hara, garden coach at Special Plants Special People in the San Francisco Bay Area. “This will get residents excited as they see the possibilities for themselves. Having photos and video that show the benefits that a beautiful garden will bring to your facility is a great marketing tool, too.”

Encourage participation by focusing on the health aspects. “Gardening helps seniors fight isolation and improves health and attitude,” says Angela M. O’Callaghan, PhD and social horticulture specialist at the University of Nevada. Raise support for your facility’s garden as an investment in the health of your residents. 

“There’s more than just the physical exercise and mental engagement. There’s a spiritual aspect as well. The people are giving to the plants by watering and taking care of them,” says O’Hara. “And the plants give back to the people a sense of purpose and connection.” 

Help residents see that gardens also restore a sense control over some aspects of life, which is positively correlated with better health.

Get staff involved to build community. “The garden will create community not only among the residents but also among the staff,” says O’Hara. “Facility staff can get burned out. It’s just a fact. I have seen how engaging the entire facility can really bring residents and staff together in a positive way. Stress that it’s not just for community; it’s for food, too. You’re creating something tangible — garden to kitchen to table — that everyone can help produce and share.” It might motivate residents when they see that they can make their own food taste better. 

Take advantage of your space and weather. “Consider both indoor and outdoor components for your gardening program,” says O’Callaghan. “This isn’t an either/or situation. You just need to consider the weather in your location and what suits residents best. Start with an indoor garden, such as windowsill boxes, since they’re simpler. Then move to outdoor options, but factor in capacity — wheelchair and accessibility issues.” Make sure outdoor space is handicap accessible for wheelchairs and walkers, and raise gardening beds so residents don’t have to garden on their hands and knees.  

Offer tools and support. To ensure your garden’s success, make sure you provide everything residents need to be successful — training, supplies, lights, pots, and seeds, to name a few needed items. “Make sure you take advantage of the knowledgeable gardeners in the group, too,” says O’Callaghan. “Call out the experienced gardeners in the facility as valued contributors. They can provide their know-how to the group while feeling good about their contributions. It’s nice for them to know that skills from former homes translate to their new ones.” 

Keep it simple. You don’t have to grow huge flowering plants or truckloads of tomatoes. Keep your garden successful by keeping it manageable. Of course, your parameters for that will vary depending on your residents’ abilities and interests. “Sometimes I’ll start small and plant a few seeds with a resident, and then show them the progress over a few weeks,” says O’Hara.

 “Let them know they have options, too,” says O’Callaghan. “They don’t have to grow flowers. They can keep a small pot or two of relatively simple herbs. It’s also good to have a regular class or check-in system in place to troubleshoot if seniors hit a stumbling block.” You don’t want anyone stuck or disappointed.


Dave Singleton is an award-winning writer and author. 

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John Humphries on gardening with warm-weather plants

How often have you been tempted when holidaying in a much warmer climate to nip off a piece of exotic plant material in the hope of propagating a garden ablaze with red bougainvillea on your return home?

I doubt whether you’d get it through customs today let alone a strip search by security!

Gone are the days when you could walk in with a cactus under one arm and the dried skull of a Mexican steer sticking out of a carrier bag as I did once.

The cactus has long since succumbed to our Welsh weather although the skull with two holes drilled in its forehead still adorns the wall of my garden shed.

Despite all this global warming stuff, I suggest it’s best to stick with warm-weather plants with a track record for surviving our variable weather.

Admittedly, we haven’t had it yet but July is usually the month when the weather most suits drought-resistant plants, not necessarily due to a lack of rain but also because it’s the period in summer when garden maintenance is most likely to be replaced by garden appreciation.

Dry weather plants on sunny, well drained sites respond wonderfully to baking sunshine while all around look limp and exhausted without regular watering.

In moderate rainfall areas, gardens most suitable for such plants are well-drained flat or gently sloping screes, or if that’s not possible raised free-draining beds above a layer of drainage material.

Whatever type of dry garden, it should be clear of over-hanging branches, south facing, and the soil neutral or alkaline which is most suited to many dry-weather plants.

If planted in summer, it should be remembered that although they are adapted to dry conditions they need regular watering until established.

Of all the dry, hot climate imports, the Yucca, a native of arid North and South American regions, if given a site with good all year round drainage and sandy or peaty soil, usually succeeds in producing a tall stem covered in creamy-white flowers.

Despite the Yucca’s desert appearance, it is hardy except in severe winters and on cool soils.

A large number of drought-tolerant plants are distinguished by grey foliage, some like lad’s love (Artemisa) with silver filigree leaves, Cotton lavender (Santolina), and Anthemis tinctoria with masses of lemon yellow daisy flowers now so familiar it’s easy to assume they are all natives.

For poor soil in a dry, sunny location, rock or sun roses are ideal.

Mention rock roses and most gardeners think of Cistus but the group also includes Helianthemum which is smaller and spreading with a wide range of colours and suitable for rockeries and border edges.

All rock roses are natives of south-western Europe and North Africa where they are seen growing freely on walls and in rocky outcrops and although some thrive well enough in any garden soil, they prefer it to be sandy and are much more likely to suffer during winter in rich soil.

Fleshy-leaved plants are also drought-resistant because they conserve moisture.

Sedum is probably the best known and while it does not flower until late summer/autumn, the clumps of thick, grey-green leaves are a valuable addition to the border from spring onwards.


* Trim conifer hedges taking care not to cut back into old wood which will not re-generate

* Plant autumn-flowering bulbs

* After harvesting, prune fruited raspberry canes down to ground level

* Onions, garlic, shallots are ready to harvest when foliage turns yellow

* Pick courgettes and beans regularly to encourage more to form

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Olive Garden , Red Lobster , Ruby Tuesday and more restaurant chains illegally …

An A-List tennis pro is suing a half dozen restaurant chains on behalf of consumers in the five boroughs for illegally adding automatic tips to smaller groups of diners.

Ted Dimond claims that Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, Marriott Marquis Hotel and Applebee’s in midtown have all added 15 percent or more gratuities to his bills at least once.

A native New Yorker, Dimond, 47, runs the courts at Randall’s Island in the winter and teaches in the Hamptons during the summer. He helps actresses like Naomi Watts and fashion bigs like Vogue entertainment editor Jillian Demling brush up on their backhands at Sportime in Amagansett.

New York City law says that restaurants “may not add surcharges to listed prices,” except for groups of eight or more.

But Dimond claims the eateries regularly flout the rule by “price fixing” that “has jointly raised the prices of dining in restaurants while simultaneously lowering the quality of products and services.”

The result is millions in improper profits, the Manhattan Supreme suit says.

Dimond’s attorney, Evan Spencer, said his client also dines at more upscale restaurants where illegal tipping happens, but the joints named in the suit were the most egregious violators.

The legal papers note that when a Long Island man was arrested in 2004 for refusing to pay an 18 percent automatic gratuity, the district attorney tossed the charge, saying “a tip or gratuity is discretionary, and that’s what the courts have found.”

Dimond wants wronged customers to be recouped $50 plus $1,000 for “willful violations,” where restaurants trick diners into adding a second tip when one is already included.

The class action suit cites a 2009 Post investigation that found dozens of businesses including trendy La Birreria on Fifth Avenue had engaged in illegal tipping practices and were fined for the violation.

Half of the chains did not immediately return requests for comment.

But Marriott spokeswoman Cathleen Duffy told the Post that the Times Square hotel’s Crossroads American Kitchen and Bar charges 18 percent gratuity on parties of six or more and that the policy is clearly stated on the menu. She said she wasn’t aware that the law only applied to groups of eight or larger.

A rep for Red Lobster and Olive Garden said he’s looking into the allegations.

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