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Alan Bernau Jr

Recent Posts

Businesses That Started In A Garage: Disney

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


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


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


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

8 Reasons Why Every Home Needs A Garage

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Dec 3, 2019


Is it time to get the old scraper out for another winter of cleaning the snow and frost off of your car windows? Perhaps you're wishing you had a garage so you could bypass the morning scraping routine. That's certainly a great benefit of having somewhere sheltered to keep your car, but besides skipping the scraping, there are plenty of other reasons to have a beautiful garage of your own. I just happen to have eight more for you today.

  1. Get Extra Storage: When you have a garage, you have a place that's perfect for your car and dozens of other things you need to store. Sports equipment, garden supplies, trash cans, and boxes of old clothes are just a sampling of what could be sheltered in your garage.
  2. Reduce the Risk of Theft: Parking your car in a garage and closing the door is a deterrent to thieves casing the area. It's a lot more trouble to try to get inside a garage to search a car for valuables than it is to get into a car parked outdoors. I like the idea of enjoying a little extra peace of mind.
  3. Do Your Car Maintenance Work Indoors: Changing the oil, refilling the windshield-washer fluid, and vacuuming the interior are just a few of the maintenance tasks that are a lot easier to complete in the well-lit, dry, and relatively warm interior of a garage.
  4. Store an Additional Refrigerator: A garage comes in handy for sheltering a little refrigerator to store meat, cheese, extra sodas, and other items that won't fit into your home's fridge.
  5. Get a Lower Auto Insurance Rate: Keeping your car in the garage saves it from wear and tear as well as lowers the risk of theft. Sometimes, you can get a reduction in your insurance rate simply by keeping your vehicle in a garage.
  6. Create a Workshop: If you've always wanted to set up a workshop for repairing household items, woodworking, or pursuing another hobby, a garage provides you the shelter and space to explore your interests. What a great reason to take on a new hobby!
  7. Protect Your Car From All Types of Weather: Keeping your vehicle under the shelter of a garage is always better than parking it outdoors. Even if you don't have any snow or extreme weather conditions in your area, you're still preventing the rain and harsh sunlight from bearing down on the exterior of your car or truck. Plus, parking your car in the garage gives rodents less opportunity to make a home in your wheel wells and chew on your vehicle's wiring. And just as importantly, birds have less chance to relieve themselves on your car's windows and paint job. (Did you know that bird droppings can even damage the paint?)
  8. Enhance the Look of Your Property: Having an attractive garage paired with your home makes your property look more complete. Not only does your garage serve a practical purpose, but you can choose one in a color and style that complements your home's design. If you ever decide to sell your home, potential buyers are sure to notice and appreciate your garage.

Just imagine all of the ways a new garage could help you in your daily life! Thanks for reading. - Alan

The Ultimate Holiday Home Prep Checklist

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Nov 21, 2019


Are you playing host to any holiday parties this year? Maybe you have some relatives or friends coming to stay in your home for a while. If so, I have some reminders for you: Make sure you've covered everything on this list of things to do to get your home ready for friends and family.

  1. Clean Out the Fridge: Remove all of those expired items and old veggies hidden at the back of the drawers. This is your chance to organize and make space in the refrigerator for food to serve to your guests.
  2. Vacuum the Air Vents: Use the crevice tool on your vacuum cleaner to get rid of the dust and cobwebs hanging from your home's air vents.
  3. Sharpen Your Kitchen Knives: Invest in an inexpensive knife sharpener so your knives are ready to use during holiday meals.
  4. Wash the Bedding in the Guest Bedroom: Washing the mattress cover, sheets, pillowcases, and blankets on your guest bed will get it ready for overnight guests.
  5. Buy Extra Toiletries: Stock up on toothpaste, soap, and shampoo. I suggest buying some extra toothbrushes, too. You never know when someone will forget to throw one in their suitcase.
  6. Get Out Your Holiday Towels: It's time to display those hand towels decorated to celebrate the holidays!
  7. Declutter the Coat Closet: With all of your guests showing up, it's best to have extra space in your coat closet for those incoming coats, scarves, and hats.
  8. Purchase More Utensils and Cups: It seems like there are never enough spoons and cups to accommodate a houseful of guests. Add to your supply before your guests land at your house for the holidays.
  9. Test the Generator: You may not need your generator, but if you do, it's best to know ahead of time if it's ready to go.
  10. Replace Burned-Out Bulbs: Take some time to replace any burned-out bulbs in your home, including the front porch, garage, and basement.
  11. Wash the Extra Blankets: You never know when someone will need an extra blanket on a chilly evening.
  12. Clean the Carpets: This is the perfect time to have the carpeting in your living room, guest room, and hallways thoroughly shampooed.
  13. Clean Out the Microwave: Don't let your guests open your microwave only to be met with melted pizza cheese and splattered popcorn butter. Make your microwave's interior sparkle!
  14. Secure Hallway Rugs to the Floor: If you have a hallway rug with a tendency to slip under people's feet, now's the time to secure it in place with duct tape or another adhesive. Keep your guests safe!
  15. Make Extra Space in the Garage: Do a bit of decluttering in your garage to give relatives staying over a place to shelter their car.
  16. Write Down Meal Ideas: Give yourself a bit of a head start on figuring out what to serve to guests over the holidays.
  17. Wash Slipcovers on Furniture: If you have slipcovers on your sofa, chairs, and ottoman, take the time now to wash them so they're fresh for guests.
  18. Buy Extra Over-the-Counter Medicines: Have some extra aspirin, cough medicine, and other OTC remedies on hand for those guests fighting the winter sniffles.
  19. Childproof Your Home: If you plan to have babies or young kids visiting your home over the holidays, be sure to childproof your place. Put in some outlet covers, store cleaning solutions out of reach, and lock the basement door.
  20. Take the Dog to the Groomer: Why not treat your dog to a shampoo and trim at the groomer as part of your preparations? Make your pup look its best for the holidays!

Oh, and don't forget number 21 … sit down and relax a while. Thanks for reading. - Alan

How To Winterize The Trees And Shrubs In Your Yard

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Nov 15, 2019


Are the trees and shrubs in your yard ready for the winter winds and cold temperatures? Trees and shrubs that are healthy are going to fare much better through the winter, while those that are struggling now may struggle through the cold weather. Fortunately, I have a few steps you can take to give all of your trees and shrubs a little extra help in dealing with winter weather.

Winter's Effects on Trees and Shrubs

The branches of trees and shrubs are particularly vulnerable in the wintertime. During a heavy snowfall, snow can pile up on branches, breaking the weaker ones. Also, a young tree's trunk can start to bend under the weight of heavy snow or icy branches. In addition, a tree's trunk can suffer sunscald when the direct sunlight bears down on its south or southwest side in the wintertime. Even animals such as mice and deer can cause damage to trees and shrubs by gnawing on them in order to get nourishment during the winter.

Methods of Winterizing Your Trees and Shrubs

Put Down Mulch

Run to your shed and get out those bags of wood chips because it's time to mulch! Mulch helps to insulate the roots of your trees and shrubs. It prevents loss of moisture and helps to regulate the temperature of the soil. Put a 2-to-4-inch layer of mulch around your tree's trunk. Make sure the layer is level with the ground and not touching the trunk. The best time to put down mulch is after the ground begins to freeze but before the first snowfall.

Create Covers

To protect weak branches from winds and heavy snow, cover each of your young trees and shrubs with a large piece of burlap. Secure the burlap carefully around the base of your plant. Burlap is an excellent choice because of its breathable material. If you happen to see some snow piling up on a tree's branches, I suggest you gently shake off as much of the snow as you can to lighten the load. Every little bit of effort helps.

Wrap the Trunk

Maybe you've noticed some tree trunks with wrapping around them in your neighborhood. This is another way to protect a tree's trunk from cracking and other damage. You can find rolls of burlap wrapping strips in most garden stores. This wrapping can also deter insects, deer, and other animals from gnawing at a tree's trunk.

Create a Windbreak

If you have small trees or shrubs that are willowy and may suffer damage from the winter winds, create a windbreak. Put two posts into the ground on the north and west sides of your tree. Next, run a large sheet of burlap between the posts to block the wind from hitting your tree with its full force.

What to Avoid at This Time of Year

  • Don't add fertilizer to your trees and shrubs; it will lead to new growth that will be particularly vulnerable to cold weather.
  • Don't prune your trees; this will prompt growth that won't survive the winter.

As you're getting out the wool socks, coats, hats, and gloves from the back of the closet, don't forget to get your beautiful trees ready for winter as well! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Businesses That Started In A Garage: Hewlett-Packard

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Nov 11, 2019


Once a month, I'm spotlighting an entrepreneur who started a thriving, well-known business in a garage. What better place to get down to some really serious work? Today, I'm looking at the two entrepreneurs who came together to make the Hewlett-Packard company.

The Beginning of the Hewlett-Packard Story

William Hewlett and David Packard met while going to school at Stanford. They shared a curiosity about electronics and a desire to carve out their own livelihood by starting a business. Hewlett wanted to name their business HP, while Packard wanted to name it PH. With the toss of a coin, HP was born.

The Birthplace of Silicon Valley

In 1938, Packard and his wife rented a home in Palo Alto partly because it had a one-car garage. This garage became the first workshop of the HP company in 1939. Hewlett moved into a shed in the back of the Packard house so work could take place at all hours. The garage had adequate space for Hewlett and Packard to work on projects, including experiments with electrical currents. Plus, the garage had tables and shelves for their tools and pieces of equipment, including a drill press. This is where the pair came up with their audio oscillator.

The audio oscillator was their ticket to success as a company. The one-car garage in Palo Alto is a historical landmark in California and is now known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley. In 2000, HP purchased this home and took on the work of restoring it to its original condition.

Walt Disney Enters the Picture

Remember the Disney movie Fantasia? In 1940, another entrepreneur, Walt Disney, was looking for a way to make the most of the sound in this incredible movie. He'd heard of HP's audio oscillator and decided to purchase one for each of the handful of theaters presenting Fantasia . The wonderful symphonic sound that came out of the audio oscillators made this HP product a hit! They had Walt Disney singing the praises of their invention.

The Growth of HP

After a little more than a year in business, Hewlett and Packard started to outgrow their garage workshop. In 1940, they moved to another space and continued to work on new products. The company incorporated in 1947 and went public ten years later, providing each of its employees with a share in the company.

Getting Into the Computer World

In the late 1960s, HP came up with products including a time-sharing computer and handheld calculator. Moving into the 1970s, HP ramped up its production of computers. In the 1980s, HP offered many types of computers, from large models used by big companies to smaller personal computers for individuals. Compaq became a part of HP in 2002.

Whether it's a laptop, printer, calculator, copy paper, or one of dozens of other products, there's an excellent chance you've held an HP product in your hands at one time or another. The company Hewlett and Packard started in that one car garage in Palo Alto back in 1939 is still flourishing today. How inspiring! Thanks for reading. - Alan

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