Monthly Archives:November 2016

  • How do you get hurricane tax relief?

    If your home has been damaged or your family has been displaced by a hurricane, taxes are probably the last thing on your mind ¨C at least, until you see your filing deadline on the horizon. As you’re figuring out how to declare your losses, you’ll probably wonder: Can I get some kind of relief from this?
    First, we should point out that, from the IRS’ perspective, hurricane tax relief falls under the broader subject of natural disaster tax relief. When a natural disaster strikes, the IRS doesn’t generally extend a blanket tax credit to victims. Instead, it may implement relief procedures to lower the tax burden on people who were affected by a storm, flood, hurricane or related event. While there’s no one-size-fits-all tax relief plan for every natural disaster, there are a few things that the IRS generally offers to disaster victims to provide some assistance during a tough year.
    One common form of tax relief won’t affect your refund or how much you owe, but can give you more time to recover and sort through the damage before filing. The IRS often gives extensions to those impacted by a natural disaster, meaning that you can file your taxes later without a penalty. If you live or operate a business in a presidentially declared disaster area (or if you don’t but were still genuinely affected by the disaster), you’ll need to mark your Disaster Designation on the top of your return in red ink [source: IRS]. If you run a business that has employees, you’ll also need to note the extension on form 5500, “Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan.” The IRS has more detailed instructions on its page on presidentially declared disaster areas.
    An extension can give you a bigger buffer between the disaster and the filing deadline, but you may also want to address the financial impact of your losses. If you’re in a presidentially declared disaster area, you can generally take a casualty loss deduction. This only applies if your losses were not covered by insurance.
    Bottom line? Hurricane tax relief is usually tailored to specific events, and both federal and state governments are going to decide appropriate tax aid on a case-by-case basis.

  • The Best Type of Softball Cleats

    If you’ve ever tried to run around the bases wearing athletic shoes, you know that wearing softball cleats is essential to getting proper traction. Defensive players, too, benefit from the traction that softball cleats provide. Softball cleats come in various styles and spike options. The type most appropriate for you depends on your style preferences, league regulations and particular needs.
    Softball cleats are available in in low-top and high-top styles. Low-top cleats are less restrictive and may allow you to run faster. However, high-top cleats provide more ankle support. If you have a history of ankle injuries, high-top cleats might be your best choice. Choose cleats with sufficient interior padding to ensure comfort. Look for cleats that are made of water-resistant material to help keep your feet dry. Cleats come in a variety of colors, giving you the option of matching your uniform. If you prefer function over fashion, consider getting dark colored cleats, as they are less likely to show the mud and dirt that will inevitably accumulate on them.
    Softball cleats can have plastic, rubber or metal spikes. Check your league regulations before buying cleats. Although they usually have the best traction, some leagues prohibit metal spikes due to their inherent risk of causing injury. In the past, the use of metal cleats was limited to collegiate and professional leagues. However, in 2008, the National Federation of State High School Associations permitted the use of metal cleats in high school softball, prompted in part by the fact that they are permitted in high school baseball and college softball.
    Softball cleats are available in numerous brands. While it might be a good idea to buy cleats made by a reputable company, it is not necessary. More important than the brand name are the feel and fit. If you are looking to save money, consider buying cleats on sale at the end of the season. Or, look at a second-hand sporting goods store. Be sure, however, that the cleats are in good condition and the spikes are not too worn.
    If you cannot decide what type of spikes you want or need, you might buy cleats with interchangeable spikes. This feature allows you to change spikes to adapt to a particular field or turf and to comply with league rules. Cleats with interchangeable spikes are more convenient and cost-effective than having several pairs of cleats. If the spikes wear out, you can buy replacement spikes as opposed to buying brand new cleats.

  • The Proper Way to Wear Soccer Shin Guards with Socks

    Shin guards and socks are required for legal play in nearly all soccer leagues. There are two basic types of shin guards: those with ankle guards and those without. For each type of guard, you should know the best way to wear your socks for the benefit of legal play and your safety on the field.
    Shin guards with ankle guards have two parts. A hard plastic part covers the shin and a half-sock that slides over your ankle, positioning two protective plastic cups on either side of your ankle bone. Shin guards with ankle guards are typically worn by youth players who need extra protection. To wear socks with this type of shin guard, put the shin guard on first, connecting the shin guard’s Velcro strap around your calf and straightening the ankle guard into position. After the shin guard is in place, pull your sock over the shin guard so that the entire unit is covered by your sock.
    Adult soccer players typically use shin guards that do not contain ankle guards. This type of shin guard generally has simple plastic inserts that slide beneath socks or into fabric sleeves, or secure around your calf with a Velcro strap. For this type of shin guard, put your socks and cleats on before positioning your shin guard. Once the guard is in position, pull the sock up over the top of the shin guard. Wrapping athletic tape around your leg just below and just above the shin guard will help keep it in place.
    The type of sock you choose may alter your ability to use it with certain shin guards. Socks that are too tight or small may not expand to cover your shin guards, coming up short or not offering enough elasticity. A player’s sock must cover the entire shinguard at all times during the game, according to Federation Internationale de Football Association rules. To avoid problems with the right fit, take your shin guards with you and wear them when trying on new socks.
    You may find that wearing a shin guard directly against your skin is irritating, especially if it is held in place by athletic tape on the outside of your sock. To solve this problem, take a pair of soccer socks and cut off the foot portion, leaving the portion that covers your calf. You can slide this sock “tube” over your leg and place your shinguard on top of it to help prevent skin irritation. This is also a good way to recycle old soccer socks that may have holes in the heel or toe.

  • How to Calculate Accurate BMI for a Large Frame

    Body mass index — BMI — is a measurement used by doctors to classify a patient as underweight, overweight or right on target. Body frame size is not used when calculating BMI; instead, you can figure out your BMI using your height and weight. The BMI measurement does not take into account body composition or sex differences, so its accuracy is debatable.
    BMI is based on the concept that your body weight should be proportional to your height. Using the metric system to calculate BMI, you would use your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters, squared, using this equation: BMI = [weight in kilograms / (height in meters)2]. To use pounds and inches, multiply 703 times your weight in pounds divided by your height in inches, squared. The equation is: BMI = weight in pounds / (height in inches X height in inches) X 703. For men and women 20 years and older, BMI is interpreted using these categories: Below 18.5 = Underweight 18.5 to 24.9 = Normal or Healthy Weight 25.0 to 29.9 = Overweight 30.0 and Above = Obese. For example, the equation for a 5-foot 10-inch man at 185 pounds would be: BMI = 185 / (70 X 70) X 703 = 26.5. With a BMI of 26.5, this man is considered overweight. However, the BMI measurement does not account for the weight of water, bone or muscle. Keep in mind that muscle is denser and thus weighs more than fat, so a person who strength trains frequently may be classified as overweight according to BMI, yet actually have a healthy body weight.
    Factors that influence a person’s ideal body weight — IBW — include height, sex, age, body frame, body type and activity level. Since body weight fluctuates depending on these variables, your IBW actually lies within a range. You can figure out your IBW range using your height and a sex-specific equation. Men use 106 pounds as a baseline for the first 60 inches — 5 feet — of height, and then add 6 pounds for every inch over 5 feet. Likewise, women use 100 pounds as a baseline, and then add 5 pounds for every inch over 5 feet. A person under 5 feet tall would use 100 pounds as a baseline, and then subtract 2 pounds for each inch under 5 feet. As an example, for a man that stands 5 feet 10 inches: IBW = 106 + (10 X 6) = 166 pounds And for a woman that stands 5 feet 8 inches: IBW = 100 + (8 X 5) = 140 pounds According to registered dietitian and author Timi Gustafson, body frame size influences your ideal weight range. A simple and straightforward method to determine your frame size is wrist measurement. Wrap your thumb and middle finger around your wrist, just above the wrist joint. If the fingers overlap, then you have a small frame. If they just meet, then you have a medium frame. If your thumb and finger don¡¯t meet, then you have a large body frame. The equation gives the IBW for a medium-framed adult. A large-framed adult will add 10 percent to the IBW for a target weight range; in contrast, a small-framed adult will subtract 10 percent. As an example, for a large-framed woman standing 6 feet tall: IBW = 100 + (12 X 5) = 160 pounds. Her IBW range is 160 to176 pounds.
    BMI measurements aren’t perfect. For both men and women, research has demonstrated errors when BMI is used to classify body weight. According to a 2012 publication in PLoS One, BMI generally underestimates obesity in women. In the study, BMI measurements were compared to dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scan results. DEXA scans distinguish between bone and muscle mass, and give a precise measure of percent body fat. Nearly half of the women included in the study were actually overweight according to their body fat percentage, yet classified as normal weight by BMI. For different groups of men in the study, BMI measurements over- and underestimated obesity compared to actual percent body fat measures by DEXA. A healthy body fat percentage is different for men and women. Women’s bodies actually require more body fat to maintain menstruation and the ability to have children. Considering this physiological difference, using the same equation and BMI ranges for both sexes may not be appropriate.
    To determine weight-related health risks, you can use waist circumference as an alternative to BMI. According to “Medical News Today,” waist size and waist-to-height ratio are better indicators for health risks related to your weight than BMI. Men with waists larger than 40 inches and women whose waists are larger than 35 inches are at increased health risk, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Other options for measuring percent of body fat include using calipers, or the skin-fold method. This typically involves measuring the thickness of skin folds at different places on the body. More expensive, yet precise, options include DEXA and underwater weighing, but these aren’t practical for most people.

  • Why is there a small hole on the top of spray-can lids?

    These little holes are a good example of “a feature built into a product so that it can handle unusual or unexpected situations.” We don’t think about or see these situations in the normal use of the product. For example, if you look at the sheet metal under the hood of your car, you will see little bends in it. Those bends are placed there so that in an accident the front of the car will fold like an accordion and absorb the impact. The bends don’t do anything unless a crash occurs, and then they are very important.
    With a can of Pam, the lid fits very tightly so that oil won’t ooze from the nozzle down the side of the can and onto your shelf. If the manufacturer puts the caps on the cans in New Jersey and then ships the cans to Denver (the “Mile-High City”), a funny thing happens — the air pressure inside the lid pops the lid right off. So the poor stock boy at the grocery store has to put the lids back on 30 cans before he can put them on the shelf. What a pain!
    When the lid was put on the can in New Jersey, the air inside the lid had a certain pressure (the same pressure as the air outside the lid). The outside air pressure in Denver is lower than the air pressure in New Jersey (pressure decreases as elevation increases), so when the can arrives in Denver, the pressure outside the lid is lower than the pressure inside the lid. With this imbalance, the air inside the lid tries to expand and ends up popping the lid off.
    By putting a small hole in the lid, the air can exit through the hole, and the lids stay on during shipping!
    Here are some interesting links:

  • How to Lose Weight After 55

    Getting and staying in shape after the age of 55 can be very difficult, but it is not impossible. Habits are ingrained at that point in life, and few people really want to do the work to change those habits. You may say you want to do it, but actually making the effort is a huge commitment. However, if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, you can make the effort to lose weight and get in better shape. You will feel better, look better and have the ability to enjoy life even more.
    Start doing cardiovascular work. If you can get your heart rate up by exercising hard for 20 to 30 minutes every day, you will set the groundwork for a healthier lifestyle. You can run, walk, bicycle, swim or do aerobics. Start off by walking at a fast pace if you don’t like running. Make sure you swing your arms as you walk and make a major effort to exert energy. You can walk on the pavement, but if you have concerns about your feet and shins, head out to the high school or college track and walk on that softer surface. If you can progress to running after three or four weeks, make that move. If not, keep on walking and do it every day.
    Start lifting weights at the gym. Lifting weights will not only make you stronger, but it will also help you burn fat and lose weight. Lifting free weights is most beneficial, but if you are going to engage in the bench press and other workouts that are similar, you are going to need a spotter to help you with the weights. If you don’t have a workout partner, do circuit training. If you use the circuit training machines, you will work out your shoulders, arms, chest, back, abs, buttocks, hamstrings and calf muscles. Go to the gym three times per week.
    Do push-ups and sit-ups to improve your conditioning and burn additional calories. Do push-ups in sets of 20 at least three times per day and sit-ups in double sets of 20 at least four times per day. This will also help you get in the right mood to do additional exercise and get in the best shape possible without overdoing it.
    Make serious changes to your diet. Cut out red meat and fried foods. No more fast foods or junk foods. Eat white-meat chicken and fish. Have at least two portions of fresh vegetables every day. Eat at least one portion of fresh fruit every day. Don’t drink carbonated beverages and stay away from sugared beverages. Limit your dessert intake to one portion per week. If you are a beer or wine drinker, you should not have more than one bottle of beer per week or one glass of wine per week.
    Drink plenty of water. You should have at least 64 oz. of water per day. In addition to helping flush out toxins from your system, water will lubricate your muscles, joints and tendons. Water is especially good for keeping your body in good working order after a workout and will help you recover much more quickly.

  • How to Build Stamina for Soccer

    Soccer is a physically demanding game that requires a great level of physical fitness. Soccer requires you to walk, sprint and jog for a range of distance over a prolonged period of time. A high level of stamina is required to be a successful soccer player. Soccer players must have the ability to dribble, pass or get into open space when their team is in possession. Players must have the ability to quickly recover and track runs when possession is lost and their team is defending.
    Perform regular cardiovascular exercise to build stamina for soccer. The Sports Fitness Advisor website cited research performed by Umbro Conditioning in 1997. The research studied professional players and stated over a 90 minute soccer game, the average player spent 40 to 59 minutes jogging or running. Bearing this in mind, it is wise for you to simulate these distances in your stamina training. Youth soccer games run typically for 70 minutes with variations according to age. You should aim for 30 to 50 minutes of cardiovascular exercise to simulate a soccer game. If you find that challenging, you could split into two separate runs. Vary your cardiovascular routine by incorporating cycling or swimming if it becomes repetitive.
    Include sprinting in your training to build stamina for playing soccer. The research by Umbro Conditioning states that 10 percent to 15 percent of a soccer game is spent sprinting. To build stamina for soccer you must adjust your body to sprinting and recovering quickly to jog or sprint again. The Sports Fitness Advisor website recommends a series of 15 to 20 yards of sprinting with recovery time in between. An example of sprint training would be to perform 10 sets of 20-yard sprints with a 30 second break between. This would build stamina and increase your recovery rate after a sprint.
    Incorporate circuit training onto your physical fitness training. Circuit training increases stamina and also builds muscle strength with the use of resistance exercises using your own body weight. For the game of soccer, Sports Fitness Advisor recommends stations that require you to exercise for 30 to 60 seconds between rest periods. Exercises included in circuit training can be push-ups, sit-ups and squat jumps.
    Consume a healthy and balanced diet. Your stamina and physical fitness levels will be directly impacted by the fuel you put into your body. Foods low in fat and high in carbohydrates make up the core of a good diet for a soccer player. A healthy diet will significantly impact your ability to build stamina, and you should avoid soda and sugary snacks. You should also stay fully hydrated at all times with water or sports drink.
    Conduct a regular stretching and flexibility routine. It is crucial that you stretch thoroughly before and after your training to build stamina. Proper stretching will keep you healthy. Muscle stretches and pulls can result from not stretching properly. An injury will halt your training routine and hinder your ability to build stamina.

  • Things to Do to Heal Sore Hamstrings

    Muscle fatigue, injuries and certain medical conditions can cause your hamstring muscle to ache and feel sore. The hamstrings are located on the back of your thighs and, according to ShapeFit, they are responsible for flexing the leg, jumping, pedaling, walking and running. Fortunately, there are several methods for treating and healing your sore hamstrings.
    The most immediate thing you can do to start the healing process is to rest your hamstrings. If the pain occurs during an activity, stop immediately to prevent more pain. Avoid physical activities for the rest of the day and elevate your legs. You can use towels, pillows or blankets to prop up your legs. Wait at least 48 hours to reengage in any physical activity, unless directed otherwise by a doctor.
    Ice packs and heat packs can help reduce pain, swelling and redness. Use ice during the first 72 hours. Apply an ice pack or frozen vegetables to your hamstrings for 30 minutes every three to four hours. You can hold the ice pack in place with an elastic bandage. Baptist Memorial Health Care recommends performing an ice massage for five to 10 minutes, three times a day. Freeze water in a cup, hold the bottom of the cup and rubs the ice on your hamstrings in a slow and gentle manner.
    After two to three days of cold therapy, as long as there is no redness or swelling, you can use heat therapy. Place a heating pad, hot compress or hot water bottle on your muscle for 20 minutes a session, up to three times a day. The heat will help relax and loosen your hamstrings while also reducing your pain. Warms baths also have the same effect on sore hamstrings.
    Stretching can help prevent scar tissue from forming. Move very slowly into each stretch until you feel gentle and slight tension. Immediately stop if you feel any pain. Stretching is not recommended if you suspect that you have a torn or ruptured hamstring muscle. The standing hamstring stretch is a beneficial stretch. Stand upright with your legs together. Bend at the waist and reach towards the floor. Stretch until you feel a small, gentle tension and hold the stretch for up to 20 seconds.
    Your doctor can make the best diagnosis of your sore hamstrings. You should seek medical attention if you have a worsening of your symptoms, there is sharp or sudden pain with activity, bruising, loss of circulation, the pain lasts longer than a week or if you think you have ruptured your muscle. The doctor can develop a treatment plan that may include medication and physical therapy to help restore muscular function.

  • Ed Barrow

    From then on, Barrow was gradually drawn into a career in baseball. In 1894, he operated the concession stands at Exposition Field in Pittsburgh. The following year, he managed a minor-league team in Wheeling, West Virginia. He next purchased the Paterson, New Jersey, club of the Atlantic League.
    One of his first acts as owner was to sign a rawboned youth named Honus Wagner. Midway through the 1897 season, Barrow peddled Wagner to Louisville in the National League for $2,100.

    After the 1920 season, Barrow was appointed business manager of the Yankees, a job he held for the next 27 years. It proved to be his true calling. More than any other man, Barrow was responsible for developing the Yankees into the greatest dynasty in professional sports history. He combined a keen eye for recognizing talent with consummate front office savvy.
    Among his many contributions to the Yankees regime were putting numbers on the backs of players¡¯ uniforms, hiring George Weiss to develop a farm system, and, perhaps most significantly, selecting Joe McCarthy to manage the club in 1931. Barrow was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953.
    See more information on the Baseball Hall of Fame:

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  • Football Running Back Workouts & Exercises

    Football is a demanding physical game for everyone who plays. However, running backs take more punishment and abuse than any other players on the field. They carry the ball, catch the ball and have to block. They are tackled by 290-pound defensive linemen and are the object of bone-rattling hits from linebackers and defensive backs. There are no plays off when you are a running back. To prepare for the position, you need to be in the best shape possible.
    Running backs must go on a strength program in order to be successful. The most successful running backs don’t just absorb tackles when they run with the ball, they dish out the punishment by leading with their forearm or tackle when they know they are about to get hit. Go to the weightroom and do bench presses, curls and dead lifts in order to get stronger. Besides lifting the iron, push-ups are an outstanding way to build strength. You can do four sets of 40 push-ups everyday in addition to your work in the weightroom. Don’t ignore your lower body when you are in the weightroom. Many tacklers are going to dive at your thighs, lower legs and ankles. By working on leg press exercises on the Nautilus machine, you will be able to absorb those shots and keep on playing.
    Perhaps the greatest skills a running back can bring to the game are speed and quickness. These are primarily functions of an athlete’s innate athletic ability, but both of these characteristics can be improved with workouts. To improve quickness, run the shuttle drill. Set up cones every 5 yards on the football field and place batons at the 10-, 20- and 30-yard lines. Run to the right of the first cone and to the left of the second cone. When you get to the 10-yard line, pick up the first baton and run back the same way ¡ª alternating the side of the cone your run to ¡ª and put the baton on the goal line. Run in the same manner to pick up the batons on the 20- and 30-yard lines. Do this at the start of every workout session to improve quickness. To improve speed, start off at the sideline of the football field. Sprint to the near hashmark and back to the sideline, the far hashmark and back to the sideline and then to the far sideline and back. Work on your technique, keeping your knees up and your body leaning forward.
    Playing the game for a full 60 minutes tests the body’s ability to take punishment and compete. After just a few plays, an individual can start to feel fatigued from the rigors of the game. That is not a suitable option for football. Players need to have endurance so they perform as well in the fourth quarter as they do in the first. Running 2-3 miles on your own away from the practice field will help you build the endurance needed to compete over a 10-, 12- or 16-game season.