Thursday, July 30, 2009

Protect Your Investments with a Household Inventory

We learned the hard way the benefits of having a household inventory. Years ago my husband and I returned home from work and found our home had been broken into. Anger, feelings of violation, disappointment in our fellow man and anxiety followed–the usual gamut of emotions. Our bedroom was such a mess with clothing and personal possessions strewn about that it took us quite a while to determine what was missing: an antique handgun that had been in my husband’s family, and two pieces of jewelry.

A household inventory can save you big money--and headaches--should tragedy strike, such as theft, fire, or other disasters. An inventory will help you keep track of everything you own, documenting your losses, and assist you in determining the cash value of your possessions. Also, a household inventory is valuable when establishing the value of your personal property for insurance purposes.

The aftermath of a disaster is confusing and frustrating enough without trying to recall the particulars of your possessions. For items destroyed in fire or flood, a household inventory will help you remember what you had. Insurance adjustments are expedited more efficiently when information can be gathered from current documentation.

Creating a complete and accurate inventory is easier than ever with tools most of us already have. Here are some pointers:
– Create a spreadsheet or table that lists every room in the house. Don’t forget the garage and items in your cars.
– Calculate the value of each item, date acquired and the cost. When appropriate, list serial numbers, particularly for electronic equipment, household appliances, etc.
– Calculate the total for each room and the grand total of your home’s contents. This is valuable information for establishing an insurance claim.
– Take video with commentary or digital images of items of worth–jewelry, appliances, electronics, etc. Pictures help to determine the full magnitude of your loss. Take pictures of entire rooms in addition to individual items. When possible, take close-ups of the model number/serial number label.
– Print out a copy and keep it, together with the pictures, in a safe place, but keep the original file on your computer so that it can easily be updated. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of the inventory someplace other than your home–perhaps at work or at a family member’s home.

When possible, engrave your driver’s license number and your state’s abbreviation on as many items as you can–especially electronics and appliances--to ensure a greater chance of recovery of stolen items. This is especially true with today’s law enforcement computer networks. Engraved items are more difficult to sell; therefore, marked items lose their appeal to thieves.

Your inventory will also help you establish how much insurance coverage is right for you, and identify any items not covered by basic insurance that may need a special endorsement or rider to your policy.

Over the years, you have invested in your home and possessions. When you add up all the personal items, furniture, and appliances you own, you will probably be amazed to find how much money is involved. Should you suffer a loss, time spent today in making a household inventory can be crucial in safeguarding a speedy recovery.

For more information, visit

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Review: Walking Nature Home By Susan J. Tweit

In Walking Nature Home, A Life’s Journey (University of Texas Press), Susan J. Tweit takes us on the remarkable sojourn of her life. Through her eyes we see the night sky’s constellations and learn how they link life to the universe. We learn the value of not only human love, but the love of nature and the connection to all living things.

Tweit takes us back to her childhood, privileged with loving parents who took the time to teach the author and her brother the lessons of nature, lessons that she drew on and enhanced as she matured.

Diagnosed with a life-threatening autoimmune disease, Tweit learns to harmonize her life with the universe, to draw on strengths found in nature’s cycles. She dares to leave the conventional–of both medical treatment and lifestyle–to pursue a life filled with spirituality, knowledge and love. As a naturalist, she shares her inspiring perception of the constellations, of birds, of affinity with her beloved Colorado with its wild and raw landscape, and of working with the land to coax sustenance from it, one small patch at a time.

Walking Nature Home is a moving story of courage and determination. At times fighting even to breathe, Tweit slogs on, working toward a life of harmony. She finds enduring love and learns the give and take of unconditional commitment between man and wife and of family. The book is a remarkable memoir of intuitive wisdom and personal triumph of this woman’s journey toward healing power.

For more information about this inspiring writer, please visit her blog:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Honor Our American Flag: Fly It Properly

The sight of the American flag billowing in the breeze stirs feelings of freedom and of pride. Our flag represents continuity, something that we, as American citizens, can depend on. It represents what we stand for and who we are. To give the American flag the honor and respect it deserves, it should be displayed according to the current Federal flag code.

When flying the flag, it should never touch the ground or the floor. The flag should never be drawn back, but always allowed to fall free.

The flag can be flown every day from sunrise to sunset and at night if illuminated properly. The flag should never be flown in inclement weather except when it is made of all-weather material.
When the flag is displayed in a public place from a pole, it is always hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point when a number of flags are grouped and displayed from staffs.

If the Stars and Stripes is displayed with another flag against a wall with crossed staffs, the American flag should be on the flag’s right (the viewers’ left).

When the flag is hung over a sidewalk on a rope extending from a building to a pole, the union stars are always away from the building. When vertically hung over the center of the street, the flag always has the union stars to the north in an east/west street, and to the east in a north/south street.

When the flag is used to cover a casket for display, the union stars are placed over the head and left shoulder. It is never lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

The flag should not be flown upside down except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

On Memorial Day, the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon then raised to the top of the staff. When a person or group of distinction dies, it is also common practice to fly the flag at half-staff. The flag is first hoisted to the peak for an instant, then lowered.

When a flag becomes tattered and is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be disposed of in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.

Let’s show pride in our country and respect by displaying the American flag properly.