World Famous FREE Museums Around The Globe! (MOMA, NYC)

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Split levels in the Museum of Modern Art - NYC. Admission is free for all visitors during UNIQLO Free Friday Nights, held every Friday evening from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.

courtesy of:  http://www.pinterest.com/ottsworld/free-museums-around-the-globe/

Consumer Reports: Cooking Do’s and Don’ts For Your Holiday Feast

How to keep everyone at your table healthy

Published: November 2013

Roasted turkey needs to reach an internal temperature of 165° F to be safe to eat.    

Ham, turkey, duck, beef, and pork roasts are all a beloved part of many holiday meals. But because a lot of us only cook these once or twice a year, we run a higher risk of preparation and cooking goof-ups that can compromise taste at best—and at worst make people sick. Don’t want your guests to join the one in six people who get food poisoning each year in the U.S.?  Use this guide to selecting, storing, cooking, and serving those holiday staples.

Choose the right meat

If you’re picking up a roast from a stand-alone re­frigerator case at the supermarket, don’t take the package on top, especially if it’s above the edges of the case, Francis Largeman-Roth, R.D., a dietitian in New York City, says. “Those cases only keep things truly cold as far as the walls of the case go up,” she said.

Look for cuts of meat that are lean, defined as less than 10 grams of total fat, no more than 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. The label can provide clues. For example, cuts that include the word “round” are the lowest in fat, with “loin” a close second, says Heather Mangieri, R.D., a dietitian in Pittsburgh and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Turkey or duck breasts are leaner than a whole bird.

And read the ingredients list on poultry items. Turkeys are sometimes in­jected with a solution of saltwater and other additives to enhance juiciness. That can add a lot of sodium, so it’s better to look for a turkey that contains nothing but, well, turkey.

Store and prep properly

How long one can keep a turkey before cooking it is one of the most common questions posed to the Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry hotline around holiday time, according to Tina Hanes, R.D., a dietitian and hotline staff member. (To reach the hotline, call 888-674-6854 or send an e-mail to mphotline.fsis@usda.gov.) For a fresh turkey in the refrigerator, plan to use it within one or two days. A frozen bird can last a lot longer—up to a year in the freezer, Hanes says. Uncooked pork and beef roasts can last three to five days fresh in the fridge and four to 12 months in the freezer.

Thawing meat in the fridge is the simplest way to defrost it, but make sure you leave ample time: A large turkey requires at least 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Defrosting in cold water in the sink is quicker but more labor-intensive, since you should change the water every 30 minutes. If you’re crunched for time, you can defrost meat in a microwave, but cook it immediately afterward because some areas may have already started to cook. Never thaw meat on a counter, which will put it in the “danger zone” of 40° F to 140° F, where bacteria can multiply more rapidly.

And however tempting it is, experts say that you should avoid rinsing poultry (and fish) before cooking because it can splatter potentially contaminated droplets of water around your sink and kitchen.

Cook it enough

In a survey of 1,011 American adults by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 39 per­cent said that they had used a meat thermometer at some point in the last year. And only 8 percent said that they always used one. Even if you’re an experienced cook and think you can tell by color or texture if something is done, the experts we consulted said the same thing: You can’t.

courtesy of:  http://www.consumerreports.org/

Giant Arrows that Guide you Across America

The Forgotten Giant Arrows that Guide you Across America

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If you’re ever really lost on a road trip across America, and I’m talking really lost (let’s say the battery on your smartphone just died along with that compass application you downloaded for situations just like this), perhaps you might be lucky enough to find yourself next to one of the giant 70 foot concrete arrows that point your way across the country, left behind by a forgotten age of US mail delivery.

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Photo by Clay Fraser

Certainly a peculiar site to come across in the middle of nowhere, 50 foot, possibly 70 foot long, with weeds crawling through its concrete cracks, abandoned long ago by whoever put it there. This arrow may point your way out of the desert but it’s also pointing to the past.

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Photo via Core77

Long before the days of radio (and those convenient little smartphone applications), the US Postal service began a cross-country air mail service using army war surplus planes from World War I, many piloted by former army flyers. To get the planes and everybody’s mail safely across the country by air, the postman was going to need a little help.

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In 1924, the federal government funded enormous concrete arrows to be built every 10 miles or so along established airmail routes to help the pilots trace their way across America in bad weather conditions and particularly at night, which was a more efficient time to fly.

Painted in bright yellow, they were each built alongside a 50 foot tall tower with a rotating gas-powered light and a little rest house for the folks that maintained the generators and lights. These airway beacons are said to have visible from a distance of 10 miles high.

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The Air Mail route from New York to San Francisco with beacon locations.

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A model of one of the arrows and beacons at the IPMS (International Plastic Modelers Socity) Nationals contest in Loveland, CO, which you a pretty good idea of the layout. Photo via here.

By World War II, radio was king and the airway beacons were obsolete. Taking anything they could get, the government took down the towers and recycled them as scrap metal for the war effort.

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It’s unknown exactly how many airway lighthouses remain (project anyone?) but one preservation program called Passport in Time has protected three beacon sites from falling into complete disrepair, saving the generator huts and a neighbouring 1930s cabin that served as a residence for the a fire lookout.

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There is also this fully restored restored tower and its generator shack in New Mexico.

While no one bothered to remove the concrete arrows, many have probably been caught up by development but could still be visible in outline from the air if they were just covered over by a grass lawn. Or maybe you might just come across some concrete remains that seem very out of place in the middle of a field…

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Image by Henry Brean for Las Vegas Review

Courtesy of:  http://www.messynessychic.com

 

Should Home Sellers Overprice or Underprice Their Home?

“The Price Is Right” isn’t just a game show. It is a mental strategy real-estate agents use to get the most money when listing a home.

When setting an asking price, there are two schools of thought: In one, agents overprice properties in the belief that a higher asking price will draw higher initial offers from potential buyers.

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Michael Weinstein

PRICED HIGH: An Upper East Side Manhattan apartment was listed for $1.35 million, about 4.5% above comparable properties nearby. It sold for $1.32 million this week.

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Jamie Lee RobertsPRICED LOW: A contemporary-style home in Vail, Colo. is currently listed for $2.495 million, about 10% below comparable properties nearby, in hopes of sparking a bidding war.

Wendy Jodel, associate broker with Town Residential in New York City, says overpricing works when inventory is low. Ms. Jodel recently listed a two-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for $1.35 million—4.5% above the price of similar apartments nearby. “I had no competition,” she says, adding that few comparable apartments are available in the area. The apartment closed this week with multiple offers for $1.32 million.

Name Your Price

Sellers who listed their homes…

  • …10% to 20% higher than other homes in the neighborhood saw a slight increase of 0.05% to 0.07%, on average, in the sale price.
  • …10% to 20% lower than other homes in the neighborhood saw a slight decrease of 0.5% to 0.8% in the sale price.
  • In 10 sample listings, real-estate agents recommended underpricing homes at a frequency of 70.4%.

Source: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, May

Other real-estate agents take the opposite approach, pricing homes below nearby properties in hopes of starting a bidding war. Chris McDonnell, senior associate broker with Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties in Vail, Colo., says he prefers to underprice homes by 5% to 10%. Now, even in a heated market, buyers are looking for a bargain, he says. If sellers start low, they could potentially add 10% to 15% to the sale price. “There’s so much pent-up demand out there right now. Money is just waiting on the sidelines,” he says.

This strategy, however, poses a challenge: “It’s really hard to get your seller to agree to that,” Mr. McDonnell says.

New research tackles this dilemma. A study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization in May found that homeowners who set the initial asking price 10% to 20% higher than similar houses in the neighborhood see a slight increase of $117 to $163, on average, in their sale price. Pricing a home 20% or more than similar houses leads to an impact three to four times as big.

Pricing a home 10% to 20% lower than homes in the neighborhood leads to a decrease of $117 to $187, on average, in the home’s sale price.

The research explores a behavioral trait called “anchoring.” That is a common tendency to rely on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions. Once buyers have an anchor, they typically interpret other information involved in the sale around it.

“Every house is different, and so those qualitative things really matter. Buyers will turn to the good attributes that justify the high price,” says Grace Bucchianeri, former assistant professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Prof. Bucchianeri and co-author Julia Minson, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania at the time, analyzed 14,616 real-estate transactions in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania between January 2005 and April 2009 with an average sale price of $234,000.

The study, “A homeowner’s dilemma: Anchoring in residential real estate transactions” found that “overwhelmingly anchoring is a good strategy,” Prof. Bucchianeri says.

In the same study, researchers found that while agents privately believe that overpricing leads to a higher final sale, they publicly advocate underpricing. In this study, 35 agents were shown 10 sample properties between March 28, 2011, and May 2, 2011, and asked to recommend a listing price. In 70.4% of the properties viewed, agents recommended underpricing.

Pricing low may speed up the sale, which can save the real-estate agent both time and money spent marketing the property. In the end, agents may get a lower commission, but the difference is usually negligible. “It’s intuitive if you think about it,” she says. “It looks like the realtors are doing what’s best for them, and as homeowners, we need to understand that relationship.”

courtesy of:  http://online.wsj.com/

Mortgage Rates Highest Since April 2012

Mortgage rates increased for a fifth consecutive week, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate climbing to 4.1 percent, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.3 discount and origination points.

To see mortgage rates in your area, go to http://www.bankrate.com/funnel/mortgages/ 

The average 15-year fixed mortgage increased to 3.28 percent, while the larger jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage rate is now at 4.27 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages bounded higher also, with rates hitting the highest levels since last summer. The average 5-year adjustable rate is now 2.93 percent, a level last seen in August of last year, and the 10-year ARM is at 3.48 percent, the highest since June of last year.

Mortgage rates crossed the 4 percent mark for the first time in 13 months, reaching the highest level since April 2012. Mortgage rates have increased sharply and suddenly on concerns that the Federal Reserve will begin withdrawing the $85 billion of monthly bond-buying stimulus. But we’re still in a slow growth economy, with high unemployment, and an active Fed, and any disappointing economic news will almost certainly bring mortgage rates lower.

The last time mortgage rates were above 5 percent was Apr. 2011. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 5.07 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,082.22. With the average rate currently at 4.1 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $966.40, a difference of $116 per month for anyone refinancing now.

SURVEY RESULTS

30-year fixed: 4.10% — up from 3.99% last week (avg. points: 0.3)

15-year fixed: 3.28% — up from 3.21% last week (avg. points: 0.26)

5/1 ARM: 2.93% — up from 2.81% last week (avg. points: 0.25)

Bankrate’s national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

For a full analysis of this week’s move in mortgage rates, go to http://www.bankrate.com/.

The survey is complemented by Bankrate’s weekly Rate Trend Index, in which a panel of mortgage experts predicts which way the rates are headed over the next seven days. Nearly half of respondents — 46 percent — expect mortgage rates to pull back, while 36 percent predict mortgage rates will remain more or less unchanged over the next seven days. Just 18 percent forecast further increases in mortgage rates in the coming week.

For the full mortgage Rate Trend Index, go to http://www.bankrate.com/RTI

courtesy of:  http://online.wsj.com

In Almost Two-Thirds Of U.S. Metros, Buying Beats Renting In Three Years Or Less

Looking at the breakeven horizon will give you a better idea if buying is the better choice vs. renting a home in a given area. If you plan on staying in a home longer than the breakeven horizon, buying is the more financially advantageous choice. If the breakeven horizon is longer than your anticipated tenure in a home, then renting is the way to go. We took into consideration all the costs associated with buying a home (down payment, maintenance, appreciation etc.) and renting the same home (rental payments, transaction costs, appreciation etc.) to determine this breakeven horizon. Look at our methodology piece for more information.

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In 64 percent of metro areas nationwide, buying a home is a better financial decision than renting for home buyers intending to stay in their home for at least three years, according to a first quarter analysis from online real estate marketplace Zillow®.

Zillow’s breakeven horizon incorporates all possible costs associated with buying and renting, including upfront payments, closing costs, anticipated monthly rent and mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, utilities and maintenance costs. It then factors in historic and anticipated home value appreciation rates, rental prices and rental appreciation rates to help calculate the point, in years, at which buying becomes less expensive than renting.i

Among the 30 largest metro areas analyzed by Zillow in the first quarter, those with the shortest breakeven horizon were Miami (2 years), Detroit (2 years) and Phoenix (2.1 years). Large metros with the longest breakeven horizon in the first quarter included New York (5.2 years), Boston (4.1 years) and San Jose (3.7 years). Within metro areas, the breakeven horizon will vary in individual counties, cities, neighborhoods and ZIP codes.

For the first time, the breakeven horizon was applied to the ZIP code and neighborhood levels within individual cities. Because neighborhood selection is such a critical part of the home shopping process, the breakeven tool can be more valuable at these smaller geographic levels.

For example, the breakeven horizon for New York City as a whole is 6.1 years. But at the neighborhood level, the breakeven horizon ranges from a low of 2.5 years in the Parkchester neighborhood in the Bronx, to a high of 11.9 years in the Carnegie Hill section of Manhattan. Nationwide, the neighborhood with the lowest breakeven horizon is the Shelby Forest-Frayser neighborhood in Memphis, Tenn., at just one year. The neighborhood with the longest breakeven horizon is the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach, Va., at 20.3 years. To determine the breakeven horizon in your city or neighborhood, use our interactive tool here.

“Locally high home value appreciation in many areas, combined with historically low mortgage rates and low home prices relative to recent peaks, has made buying a home a more advantageous financial decision than renting for many would-be buyers,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “The decision to buy or rent should always take into account a number of factors, one of which is how long a buyer or renter plans to stay in a property. Even in areas with relatively low breakeven horizons, buyers should resist the temptation to buy and sell properties based only on short-term goals. And renters in these areas should never feel compelled to stretch themselves to buy if it is currently beyond their means.”

The breakeven horizon is primarily impacted by the expected rate of home value appreciation in a given area. In areas where home values are expected to appreciate more quickly in coming years, the time it takes to recoup upfront costs will be lower and thus the breakeven period will be shorter. In areas where home values are expected to rise more slowly, or even fall, the breakeven horizon will be longer.

Top 30 Metro Areas Covered By Zillow ZIP code-level variance

w/in larger metro

(years)

Metro Name Overall Metro Breakeven

(Years)

Low High
New York, NY 5.2 2.5 11.5
Los Angeles, CA 3.5 1.9 12.9
Chicago, IL 2.8 1.1 8.3
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 2.3 1 4.9
Philadelphia, PA 3.6 1 10.6
Washington, DC 3.5 1.2 7
Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL 2 1.1 4.4
Atlanta, GA 2.5 1.1 4.5
Boston, MA 4.1 2.4 7.1
San Francisco, CA 3.4 2.1 6.2
Detroit, MI 2 1 5.7
Riverside, CA 2.2 1 4.2
Phoenix, AZ 2.1 1.4 3
Seattle, WA 3.6 2.3 4.9
Minneapolis-St Paul, MN 2.6 1.7 3.5
San Diego, CA 3.4 2 7.2
St. Louis, MO 3.3 1 8.2
Tampa, FL 2.3 1 4.3
Baltimore, MD 2.9 1.1 4.6
Denver, CO 2.8 2 4.1
Pittsburgh, PA 2.5 1.1 4.8
Portland, OR 3 2.2 4.1
Sacramento, CA 2.6 2 5.2
Orlando, FL 2.4 1.3 3.8
Cincinnati, OH 2.5 1.3 4
Cleveland, OH 2.4 1.1 3.9
Las Vegas, NV 3 1.1 9.9
San Jose, CA 3.7 2.8 5.1
Columbus, OH 2.7 1.2 8.8
Charlotte, NC 2.8 1.5 4.1

The breakeven horizon is available in 11,616 ZIP codes, 7,702 neighborhoods, 8,546 cities, 495 counties and 266 metropolitan areas nationwide. Nationally, the breakeven horizon was 3.1 years at the end of the first quarter.

courtesy of:  http://zillow.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=159&item=352