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8 Things To Do Now To Prepare For Your Spring Garden

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Feb 5, 2020

prepare-for-your-spring-garden

It's February, and I know you really want to get out there to start digging and planting in your garden. Well, it's a bit early for all of that. However, there are plenty of things you can do now to lay the groundwork for a flourishing garden this spring.

  1. Create a Plan for Your Garden. Draw a map of your garden and figure out where you want to locate your plants. I suggest incorporating the idea of companion gardening into your plan. When you have a companion garden, you're placing plants together that can benefit one another. For instance, tomatoes and basil are companion plants. Basil serves as a deterrent to pests such as spider mites and aphids, so they won't attack your tomatoes.
  2. Put In an Order for Seeds. Once you decide where to put your plants in your garden, it's time to order the seeds! It'll be nice to have all of your seeds ready to go when the time comes.
  3. Start Growing Seedlings Indoors. Why not give some of your plants a head start? Get a seed tray and grow some seedlings indoors so they'll be extra strong when they go into your springtime garden.
  4. Clean and Organize Your Gardening Supplies. A spade, shovel, rake, pruning shears, and wheelbarrow are all likely to be in your collection of gardening supplies. This is an excellent time to go out to the garage or shed to clean your gardening tools and get them ready for use in a few weeks.
  5. Plant Bulbs. It's not too late to plant bulbs: If you forgot to plant them in fall, you can do so now. Get some tulip and daffodil bulbs and start planting.
  6. Start a Compost Pile. A compost pile is beneficial for a lot of reasons. For one, you can use the compost as fertilizer in your garden. This allows you to save some money on your gardening budget. Plus, you'll be putting banana peels, lettuce, potato peels, newspaper, and coffee grounds on your compost pile instead of in your local landfill.
  7. Clear Away the Weeds. Take a look out your window and you'll see that weeds have a way of sneaking into your garden at any time of the year. Clear them away and rake the ground so it will be ready and waiting for your seedlings and seeds.
  8. Create Labels for Your Plants. This is a fun thing you can do to make your spring garden all the more special. Putting labels next to your veggies is an easy way to locate them at a glance. You can use bright white paint to put the names of each of your vegetables on pieces of wood. Or gather a bunch of old clay flower pots and write the name of a vegetable on each one using a black permanent marker. It's completely up to you how creative you get with your garden labels.

See? There are lots of things you can do right now to prep for a beautiful spring garden. The more planning you do, the better your garden will look. Thanks for reading! - Alan

The Best Bird Seed To Attract Certain Birds To Your Yard

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Feb 4, 2020

Best Bird Seed To Attract Certain Birds To Your Yard

Do you love watching wild birds visit your bird feeder during the winter months? If so, you probably have some favorites. Perhaps you enjoy seeing a bunch of bright red cardinals, playful sparrows, or bossy blue jays. Why not put out the type of seed that makes your feeder a hit with your favorite birds? Today, I have some suggestions on various types of bird seed to keep in your storage shed so you can keep your feeder filled for your feathered friends this winter.

Safflower

Wanna see a chickadee? If the answer is "yes," put safflower seed into your bird feeder this winter. Cardinals, sparrows, titmice, house finches, and mourning doves are also big fans of safflower. One advantage of using this seed is that it's attractive to a variety of birds. Plus, it's said to be a deterrent to squirrels, who tend to hang around bird feeders for a quick meal.

Thistle Seed, aka Nyjer Seed

If you're a fan of American goldfinches, juncos, or mourning doves, thistle seed is a good choice for your bird feeder. It also appeals to indigo buntings. This seed contains a lot of nutrients that can help birds survive the cold weather. One thing to take into account is that while this seed is popular with small birds, it can be expensive. Putting your thistle seed in a sock bird feeder can reduce the amount of seed that ends up on the ground.

Striped Sunflower Seed

If you want to attract cardinals, evening grosbeaks, blue jays, and other large-billed birds, then striped sunflower seed is a good bet for your feeder. Striped sunflower seed is easy to find but can be more expensive than other types, like black-oil sunflower seed.

Red Millet Seed

Red millet seed is inexpensive and found in many mixes of bird seed. Ground feeders like doves, grackles, and robins may eat it, but it's not one of the most appealing types of seeds, so you may have a mess left over on the ground if you put a mix with red millet seed into your feeder.

Cracked Corn

Cracked corn attracts blue jays, crows, sparrows, cowbirds, and doves. Cracked corn is too large for some smaller birds to eat, but you can mix it with other types of seed, so you have something for every visitor. Cracked corn is affordable but can be dusty, so you may have to clean out your bird feeder more often.

Shelled Peanuts

Cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, magpies, grackles, and starlings are all attracted to a feeder with shelled peanuts. It's best to use a metal feeder with a mesh design for your shelled peanuts so they are less likely to fall on the ground. One downside to putting out shelled peanuts is that if they become wet from the rain or snow, they quickly start to rot.

So whether you want to attract a certain type of bird to your feeder or you want to feed a crowd, making seed available can help a variety of birds through the winter months. Also, consider putting out a dish of water in a sunny area for the birds. Pecking at frozen snow or ice to get water can really drain their energy. The birds living around your house will thank you! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Are These 20 Valuable Items Collecting Dust In Your Attic?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Jan 28, 2020

20 Valuable Items Collecting Dust In Your Attic

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to clean out your attic or garage, you may be rewarded with more than just newfound space. Some of the items stored away in the corners of your attic may be valuable to collectors. Check out this list of valuable items that may be hiding out in your attic or garage.

  1. Old Typewriters. Do you have a mid-century Royal, Hermes, Remington, or Smith-Corona typewriter stored in your attic or garage? Collectors are looking for these to display and use. Some collectors may pay a few hundred for one depending on its condition.
  2. Pyrex Dishes. Older Pyrex dishes, including bowls, teapots, and casserole dishes, are valued for their colorful, intricate designs. Plus, they're still useful in the kitchen. A single Pyrex "Lucky in Love" dish with a design featuring hearts and four-leaf clovers sold for $4,000 in 2015 on eBay.
  3. Wristwatches. Old wristwatches that have run down have a way of ending up in jewelry boxes. Focus on finding men's watches made of gold that need to be hand-wound. Extra features on a watch, like a chronograph, jewels, days of the week, and date, can increase its value.
  4. Old Postcards. Check your boxes for old black-and-white postcards featuring ocean liners, biplanes, famous bridges, old hotels, and exotic locales. You may have one that's been passed down through your family and is now valuable to collectors.
  5. First-Edition Books. Do you have any first-edition books by famous authors hiding in your attic? A first edition of Ulysses by James Joyce is worth about $355,000 today.
  6. Vintage Christmas Ornaments. Check your box of Christmas tree ornaments. Ornaments in the shapes of animals, people, or fruit are especially valuable to collectors. One particular vintage glass Puss in Boots ornament can be worth from $800 to $1,000, for instance.
  7. Baseball Cards. The player and year on a baseball card are two things that determine its value. A Mickey Mantle card from 1952 is valued at $3.5 million. Grand slam!
  8. Antique Tools. Antique tools with handles made of ivory or with engraved casting are valuable to collectors. As an example, a cornice molding plane made in the 1730s by Cesar Chelor was sold for close to $28,000 at one auction. Some of these tools are valuable pieces of history.
  9. Old Perfume Bottles. Do you have some old perfume bottles that could be works of art? Perfume bottles made by Tiffany and Thomas Webb & Sons are particularly in demand.
  10. Vinyl Records. With everyone streaming music these days, vinyl records are becoming more valuable to collectors of all kinds. An album by the Beatles or Bob Dylan may be worth as much as $15,000 depending on the particular record and its condition.
  11. War Memorabilia. If you have memorabilia from World War I or World War II, it could be valuable. Medals, coins, photos, and military clothing items can all have special value to a collector depending on their condition.
  12. An American Girl Doll. One of the first American Girl dolls, Samantha, is a valuable find in any attic or garage. If your doll has her original clothing and is in good condition, it could be worth between $600 and $3,300.
  13. Old Coins. If you find a bag of old coins, pay close attention to the dates on them. A 1943 Lincoln copper penny is worth $10,000 or more. That's a big return on a penny! Coins with design errors can also be very valuable.
  14. Cookbooks. Do you have an old cookbook that belonged to your grandma or great-grandma? If you can part with it, it may be valuable. Cookbooks that are out of print are especially attractive to collectors for their language and unique images. A first edition of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking volumes one and two can go for $9,500.
  15. Video Games. Check your boxes for old video games made by Atari or Nintendo. One particularly rare, unopened Nintendo video cartridge sold for $40,000 in 2017.
  16. Vintage Sneakers. A pair of Air Jordan sneakers made in the 1980s can have a value of hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars to a collector. Check for unworn sneakers from the 1980s to see if you can cash in on your old footwear.
  17. Old Cookie Jars. Check your boxes for old, painted cookie jars made to look like famous cartoon/fairy tale characters, teddy bears, dolls, or houses. Jars from the Abingdon collection are especially valued among collectors.
  18. A Vintage Lamp. A vintage lamp made by Handel, Pairpoint, or Fulper can be a valuable find. This is true even if you only have the base and not a shade for it. Lamps made by these manufacturers can be worth up to $45,000.
  19. Comic Books. Look out for comics that introduce famous characters. Did you know that a comic book with Superman on the cover for just the second time in history has sold for as much as $188,000? Comic books from the 1930s and 1940s are in demand as well.
  20. Trunks. Check your attic for an old-fashioned wooden trunk. Trunks with a domed-top design are especially valuable. If you have the keys to the trunk's lock, it's even better! Trunks made by Louis Vuitton, Maier, and Goyard can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

I hope you find a treasure or two in your attic. Thanks for reading.-Alan

5 Tips For Winter Driving

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Jan 18, 2020

5 Tips For Winter Driving

You wake up one morning to see that it snowed a few inches overnight. You don't particularly like driving in the snow, but you have some important errands to do. So you decide to back the car out of your carport and get those errands checked off the list. How will you handle the added challenges of winter driving?

Getting practice driving in the snow can help you to feel more confident about your abilities to navigate snowy and icy roads. Today, I have five tips for you to follow as you pull out onto the roads this winter.

  1. Increase Your Following Distance. On snowy roads, you need as much time as you can get to react to slides, skids, and other hazards. So it's best to leave about a car's length between your car and the car ahead of you. Sometimes, just a few extra seconds is all it takes to avoid a sliding car.
  2. Avoid Stopping on a Snowy Hill. It's best to keep moving up a snowy hill once you get started. If you stop, your car is likely to begin to slide back down the hill. Even if you don't slide, it's still likely to be difficult to get your car moving forward again due to the lack of traction on the hill.
  3. Don't Use Your Brakes if You Feel the Car Sliding. It seems perfectly reasonable to say that if your car starts to slide on the ice or snow, you should hit the brakes. But hitting the brakes takes away any traction your car's tires may still have, and it can worsen the slide. Try to focus on allowing your wheels to move freely; stop pressing on the gas and gently steer the car in the direction you want it to travel.
  4. Take it Slow When Applying the Gas and the Brake. As you drive on a snowy road, remember to apply slow, even pressure when pressing the brake or the gas. Slamming your foot down on either pedal could cause a skid.
  5. Avoid Using Cruise Control. Most cars have cruise control, and it's easy to set it and forget it so you don't have to keep an eye on your speed. But cruise control can spell trouble on a snowy, icy road. It's best to have the ability to manually speed up and slow down at a moment's notice as the road conditions change.

What to Do if You Get Stuck in the Snow

Despite taking all of the precautions above, you may end up getting your car stuck in the snow. To prepare for this situation, have an emergency kit on hand in your car. Be sure your cell phone is charged before going out on the snowy roads so you can connect with someone if you need help. If you get stuck, put on your hazard lights or put out flares on the road to let other drivers know that your car is there.

I think one of the best pieces of advice is that if you don't need to go out after a big snow, you should stay at home for a while. Give the snow plows a chance to get the roads cleared and salted. Safe travels, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Businesses That Started In A Garage: Disney

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Jan 16, 2020

company-started-in-garage-mickey-mouse-disney

Today, I have another addition to our list of famous companies that got their start in a garage. I have two words for you: Mickey Mouse. You guessed it! The company I'm talking about is Disney. Discover some facts about the humble beginnings of this dynamic company that's known throughout the world.

Walt Disney's Early Years

From an early age, Walt Disney loved to draw and create interesting characters. His dream was to become a cartoonist for a newspaper. As a teenager, he contributed drawings to the McKinley High School newspaper in Chicago. In 1919, after serving in France with the Red Cross Ambulance Corps, he took a job as an advertising cartoonist in Kansas City, Missouri. A few years later, Disney made the decision to move to California and start his own studio with the help of his brother Roy.

The Disney Brothers

In 1923, Walt Disney and his brother set up shop in their uncle Robert's garage in California. The garage offered enough space for Walt's drawing materials, a makeshift animation table, and an animation camera. Walt's uncle charged them a few dollars a week in rent, and they worked there for a couple of months before moving into their own office space. The following year, friend and fellow animator Ub Iwerks joined the team, and in 1927, Iwerks and Walt Disney created a character named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, their first breakout success. Universal Studios made several black-and-white cartoons featuring the character. But after a contract dispute, Walt Disney left Universal, which kept the rights to Oswald. This prompted Disney and Iwerks to create another unique character.

Introducing Mickey Mouse

Disney started working on a cartoon called Plane Crazy featuring a character named Mickey Mouse. The 1928 work was a silent, black-and-white cartoon. However, while making Plane Crazy, Walt and Roy took note of the growing popularity of movies with sound, also known as talkies. That year, they would release two more Mickey shorts, the second of which was Steamboat Willie . Steamboat Willie stars Mickey Mouse and is known as the first animated movie with synchronized sound. The character of Mickey Mouse was a big hit with the public. Walt and Roy licensed Mickey's image, and it was placed on a tablet of notebook paper for kids, which was soon followed by many other products. Soon, Mickey's image would be recognized throughout the world.

Exploring the Latest Technology

Walt Disney continued experimenting with new technology in his work. For example, he used Technicolor in his films and even won an Academy Award in 1932 for a short animated film called Flowers and Trees. Flowers and Trees was the first film in full three-strip Technicolor. Walt Disney was then inspired to move into creating full-length, color films, the first one being Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in December of 1937. Other favorites quickly followed, including Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi. The list of beloved films created by Walt Disney grew over the next three decades, until his death in 1966.

Disney Studios Today

Today, the flourishing Walt Disney Studios is located on 50 acres of land in Burbank, California. That seems an awfully long way from the company's start in Uncle Robert's garage, doesn't it? But that garage was a necessary step on the path to the company's success.

Walt Disney once said, "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." He was certainly living proof of that. Thanks for reading. - Alan

The 10 Most Germ-Ridden Areas of Your Home

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Jan 14, 2020

steps-to-reduce-cold-flu

With the cold and flu season well under way, you'll want to do whatever you can to keep the germs that lead to illness away from your family. There are a few areas in a home where family members are especially likely to pick up germs and bacteria, but there are some steps you can take to minimize these threats.

  1. The Kitchen Sink. A kitchen sink can contain mold, E. coli, and other nasty bacteria. A wet sink filled with dirty dishes and vegetable peelings is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. It's best to sanitize your kitchen sink at least twice a week to reduce bacteria growth.
  2. Dish Sponges. A dish sponge is paradise for salmonella because it stays moist most of the time. Each day, put your dish sponge into the microwave on high for about 30 seconds to kill bacteria.
  3. Cutting Boards. The cutting board in your kitchen can contain salmonella and campylobacter among other types of bacteria. Consider using one cutting board for meat and another for chopping veggies to reduce cross-contamination. Wash them with dish soap and warm water after each use.
  4. Toothbrush Holders. Toothbrush holders are known to have yeast, mold, and even staph. These germs can spray out of a toilet when it's flushed, landing on whatever is nearby. Sanitize your toothbrush holder by running it through the dishwasher once per week. Also, do yourself a favor and close the lid of the toilet before flushing it.
  5. Kitchen Counters. Kitchen counters can take on E. coli when family members wipe them with sponges containing bacteria. Wiping your countertops with disinfectant spray once a day and drying them completely with paper towels is an effective way to kill bacteria.
  6. Pet Food Bowls. Mold and yeast are often found in or around a pet's food bowl. This bacteria grows quickly when a pet leaves its food sitting for hours. Washing your pet's bowls each day with hot water and dish soap can cut down on bacteria. If you have an outdoor pet, consider putting the bowls out by your shed when it's warmer out to keep those germs out of your home.
  7. Bathroom Faucets. Staph and coliform bacteria are commonly found on bathroom faucets. Germs are left behind when family members touch the faucets after using the facilities. Most faucets are never completely dry, making it easy for bacteria to grow. Using disinfectant wipes on your bathroom faucets once per day can help reduce germs.
  8. The Washing Machine. E. coli, salmonella, and Klebsiella oxytoca are some types of bacteria that can live in your washing machine. Leaving wet clothing in a washing machine can lead to this type of bacteria growth, so it's best to move wet clothes to the dryer right away. Also, sanitize your washer by wiping its drum with disinfectant wipes. And keep the lid open to allow it to dry completely.
  9. Stove Knobs. Stove knobs are touched each day by family members after they prepare food, handle sponges, etc. They can take on coliform bacteria, mold, and yeast. To cut down on the bacteria, remove your stove knobs weekly and soak them in hot water mixed with dish soap.
  10. The Coffee Maker. Are you a dedicated coffee-drinker? Well, finding out that the moist reservoir inside your coffee maker may contain mold and yeast may make you think twice about that morning cup of coffee. Luckily, you can kill bacteria by pouring four cups of white vinegar into the reservoir. Let it remain there for about 30 minutes, then run water through it until the vinegar fragrance has dissipated. Do this about once a week.

Grab those yellow rubber gloves and go after that bacteria with vigor! Or, in some cases, vinegar. Thanks for reading. - Alan

What To Grow In A Winter Garden

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Jan 8, 2020

What To Grow In A Winter Garden

Do you love growing vegetables in the spring and summer? If so, you'll be pleased to know that you can continue to enjoy growing vegetables through the winter. There are some vegetables that actually love the cold weather, making them flavorful, hardy candidates for a winter garden. Today, I have some suggestions for creating your own winter garden.

  1. Kale: Plant kale seeds in your garden in mid-summer and you'll be able to enjoy it in the cold months. Kale is an excellent vegetable for your winter garden because cold temperatures improve its taste. Olympic Red kale is well-known for its tolerance to frost. Put low tunnels over your kale to protect it from the extremely cold and snowy conditions of winter.
  2. Lettuce: Lettuce should be planted in your garden in late fall. Lettuce is a cold-hardy vegetable that can be grown year-round. It's especially flavorful in the wintertime, too. Drape a frost cloth over your lettuce to protect it from cold winds and frost.
  3. Carrots: It's best to plant your carrot seeds in mid-summer. Carrots are great for a winter garden because enduring several autumn frosts gives them a sweet flavor. In November, put a layer of shredded leaves over your carrots to give them protection from harsh weather.
  4. Spinach: Spinach should be planted in mid-autumn. Wintertime spinach is particularly flavorful and has deep green leaves. A cold frame can serve as solid protection from freezing and other extreme weather conditions. If you don't want to build a cold frame, you can buy them at home and garden stores, too. Many of them are made of lightweight materials, which makes it easy to move your cold frames into your shed with the arrival of spring.
  5. Arugula: The seeds for arugula should be planted in the autumn. This vegetable can withstand frost, making it a good candidate for your winter garden. It's best to grow arugula in a cold frame to protect these plants from extremely harsh winter weather. On dry days when the temperature goes above 32 degrees, prop the lid of your cold frame to allow the air to circulate a bit. After a few hours, close the lid.
  6. Brussels Sprouts: Plant your Brussels sprouts in early fall. For the best results, use a cold frame to protect your veggies from the harsh elements. These cold-hardy vegetables can endure low temperatures and mild freezes but won't survive a pileup of snow.

Vegetables to Start in Winter and Transplant in Spring

Maybe you like the idea of growing vegetables indoors instead, so you'll have seedlings to put into your spring garden. If so, you can start a container garden full of tomatoes, okra, eggplant, and corn. Each of these are great to start inside and can be transplanted outdoors after the last frost of spring.

With these tips, you should be able to continue your gardening pursuits straight through the winter. You can even plan ahead for next year's cold season! Just think of how wonderful it will be to grow your own supply of delicious veggies while it's cold outside. Thanks for reading. - Alan

The Simplest Ways To Save On Your Heating Bill This Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Jan 7, 2020

The Simplest Ways To Save On Your Heating Bill This Winter

Beautiful snowfalls, holidays spent with family, snowmen, and sparkling icicles are just some of the wonderful signs of winter. Unfortunately, increased heating bills can be a side effect of the season, too. But there's good news: I have some easy things you can do to keep those heating bills under control.

  1. Hang Up Heavy Curtains. Curtains that are lined or made of wool keep the warm air inside your home, preventing your furnace from working overtime.
  2. Set the Timer on Your Water Heater. When you set the timer on your water heater, you're stopping it from constantly heating water (burning energy) that isn't needed.
  3. Use Cold Water for Washing. Whenever possible, use cold water to wash your clothes to avoid using energy to heat the water.
  4. Switch the Direction of Your Ceiling Fan. Set your fan blades to run clockwise to distribute warm air around your home instead of cranking up the furnace.
  5. Skip the Dishwasher's Dry Cycle. Save energy by opening the dishwasher to air-dry dishes instead of running them through the dry cycle.
  6. Grill Out! Give your oven a break by grilling out a few nights a week this winter. Just imagine the fragrance of charcoal burning on a cold January night. Sounds wonderful, don't you think?
  7. Unplug Electronics. Unplug your toaster, microwave, computer, television, and other electronics when they aren't in use to stop needless energy drain.
  8. Learn About the Peak Hours for Utility Use. In the winter, the peak energy use hours are from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reduce your utility use at these times to avoid paying higher energy prices.
  9. Invest in a Warm Blanket for Your Bed. When you invest in a warm blanket made of heavy material, you're less likely to turn up the thermostat before going to bed.
  10. Put Aluminum Foil Behind Your Radiator. Putting a sheet of aluminum foil on the wall behind your radiator helps to reflect the heat away from the wall and into the room.
  11. Put Down Some Rugs. Putting a rug down in your living room or in a hallway insulates your floor. If you don't want rugs on your floors year-round, you can roll them up to store in your garage over the spring and summer.
  12. Get a Programmable Thermostat. When you have a programmable thermostat, you have better control over the operation of your furnace. One big advantage is being able to set your thermostat to maintain a lower temperature when no one is at home.
  13. Secure the Glass Doors on Your Fireplace. Warm air can leave your home through your chimney, and cold air can enter your home the same way. Make sure the glass doors on your fireplace are secure to keep these two scenarios from happening.
  14. Get a Draft-Stopper. A draft-stopper prevents cold air from flowing in underneath your door and warm air from leaving.
  15. Invest in Wool Socks. Wool socks can keep your feet warm while you sleep and throughout the day. They protect your feet against cold floors and drafts. If you feel warm, you're less likely to crank up your furnace. Why not get a pair for everyone in the household?

After putting some of these tips into action, take a look at an older heating bill to see if there's a difference. You may be pleasantly surprised. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Businesses That Started In A Garage: Google

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Dec 19, 2019

Businesses That Started In A Garage- Google

It's time for the fourth addition to our series highlighting big businesses that got their start in a sturdy garage. Start with a creative vision, mix in some persistent individuals with a dream and a humble garage, and you have a recipe for success! The business in the spotlight today is Google. If you ever thought that starting a business in your garage is small potatoes, then today's story will certainly change your mind.

The Story Begins

The year: 1995. The place: Stanford University. The future founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, met at the university by chance. Page was a visitor touring the university as a potential graduate student, and Brin was the student designated to give him the tour. The story goes that when these two men met, they had a lot of disagreements and maybe even some ruffled feathers. But by the next year, they'd formed a partnership with the goal of creating a tool that organized and ranked Web pages. Page and Brin started their work in their dorm rooms but quickly found they needed another type of space for their venture.

Google's Garage

When you're creating a search engine that organizes information from all over the world and makes it accessible to the average person, you need your own space. So in 1998, when Page and Brin got their initial investment of $100,000 from Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, a fellow Stanford alum, they moved their venture to the suburban garage of a home in Menlo Park, California. The owner of the garage and their new landlord was a woman named Susan Wojcicki. Page and Brin hauled desktop computers and a ping-pong table into the garage, and Wojcicki put a blue rug down on the garage floor to make the space more inviting. The garage afforded Page and Brin the space, privacy, and thinking room they needed to continue to build their search engine.

Google Grows

Page and Brin's company gained a lot of attention from investors in a short amount of time. Google was incorporated in the autumn of 1998. From there, Google received $25 million in venture capital. This prompted Page and Brin to pack up their work and move their headquarters to an office in Palo Alto, alongside eight employees and an office dog, Yoshka. But within a year, the growing company needed even more space, so they moved to Mountain View, where Google is still headquartered today.

Fun Facts

  • The first name of the company was Backrub. It was soon changed to Google, a play on the math term googol.
  • Wojcicki became the 16th employee of Google, and she now serves as the CEO of YouTube.
  • Google celebrates its birthday on Sept. 27 every year, but nobody knows why, not even Brin and Page: The company was incorporated on Sept. 4, 1998.
  • Google hosted its 15th birthday celebration in the garage where it all started.

Today, billions of people use Google products, and their search engine is the most popular in the world by far. See? A garage can be an ideal place to bring an ambitious idea or plan to life. Just ask Larry Page and Sergey Brin! Thanks for reading. - Alan

The 15 Most Reliable Used Cars To Buy

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Dec 11, 2019

15-most-reliable-used-cars-to-buy

What's the very first feature to look for when shopping for a used car? Reliability. Of course, choosing a used car you love to pull out of the carport on a sunny afternoon comes in a close second. Today, I've put together a list of used cars known for their reliability along with other desirable features. If you're in the market, take a look!

  1. Honda Fit: The 2012 Honda Fit is a popular choice because it gets 28 mpg for city driving and 35 mpg for highway driving. This vehicle's rear seats can be rearranged to accommodate people, groceries, etc. It has power windows and locks as well as cruise control.
  2. Saturn Outlook: This vehicle gets 17 mpg on city roads and 24 mpg on the highway. The 2009 model handles well and can accommodate eight people. Its six-speaker audio system isn't too shabby, either!
  3. Lexus RX 350: If you want a Lexus but aren't willing to lay out the cash for the latest model, the 2009 is a reliable bet. It gets 14 mpg for city driving and 18 mpg on the highway. And it has a plush, elegant interior that many buyers appreciate. It's an SUV that handles like a car!
  4. Toyota Tacoma: Are you truck-shopping? If so, a 2008 Toyota Tacoma may be the choice for you. It gets 16 mpg on city roads and 20 mpg on highways. You can find either rear- or all-wheel drive and seating for up to five passengers. It's a useful truck that can serve your hauling needs.
  5. Hyundai Genesis: This reliable vehicle has achieved excellence in its safety ratings and has a luxurious interior. The 2009 model gets 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. It's compatible with Bluetooth and offers satellite radio, too.
  6. Toyota Avalon: The second Toyota on our list has rear reclining seats for comfort on trips and excellent safety ratings. The 2010 model gets 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
  7. Ford Fusion: This sporty vehicle has excellent fuel economy, getting up to 23 mpg for city driving and 34 mpg on the highway. The 2010 model has a sleek appearance and an unexpected amount of space in the trunk. I think this is a plus for anyone who needs a lot of storage space but prefers to drive a sedan.
  8. Pontiac G8: Find a Pontiac G8 2008 or 2009 model and you've found a treasure. The Pontiac G8 was only offered for those two years before Pontiac shut down. Many drivers appreciate the power of this sedan: It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. It gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
  9. Acura RL: The Acura RL from 2008 gets 16 mpg for city driving and 24 mpg on the highway. It has an excellent safety rating that takes into account its unique braking system that reduces the force of a collision.
  10. Toyota Sienna: Are you thinking of getting a minivan? The 2010 Toyota Sienna has a comfortable interior, seating for eight, and lots of room for groceries. The mileage is 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
  11. Infiniti FX: The 2007 model of this SUV gets 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The vehicle handles well and has spacious front seats.
  12. Buick LaCrosse: The 2011 model of this sedan has good fuel economy, with 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Its interior is similar to a luxury car, and the vehicle boasts excellent safety ratings.
  13. GMC Yukon: The 2007 model of this SUV with a V8 engine gets 16 mpg on city roads and 22 for highway driving. It can accommodate from five to eight passengers.
  14. Toyota Prius: The 2011 Toyota Prius hybrid is known for its fuel economy. It gets 51 mpg for city driving and 48 mpg on the highway. This vehicle has an average amount of cargo space and excellent safety ratings.
  15. Honda Civic: A reliable, sporty vehicle with remote keyless entry, power windows, cruise control, and other desirable features, the 2012 model has great fuel economy, coming in at 29 mpg for city driving and 41 mpg on the highway.

Used Cars to Avoid

  1. Ford Fiesta: Ford Fiestas from 2011 to 2014 experienced many issues reported by owners. Some of those issues related to the transmission, the body of the vehicle, and its audio system.
  2. Fiat 500: This sporty vehicle has experienced many issues, especially in models made between 2012 and 2015. Specifically, there were complaints about the 2012 model relating to poor brake performance as well as suspension and power equipment problems.
  3. Nissan Pathfinder: Models for 2013 and 2014 rank among the least reliable vehicles out there, with the 2013 models alone experiencing nine different recalls to address major safety issues.

I hope this information makes your days of tire-kicking a little bit easier. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Customer Reviews