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5 Tips to Remain Injury Free While Raking Leaves

The time of year is upon us where the leaves start changing to beautiful shades of orange, red, yellow, etc…, which of course is followed by their inevitable fall to the ground.

like-us-facebook-Transparent-300x143For many of us, this annual occurrence adds an item to our Fall “to do” list. Some, with a tree or two in their yard, may find this task quite simple. However, others may feel like they live in a forest by the time the piles of leaves have been raked, bagged and dragged to the curb. Keep the following in mind when you head out to clean up the yard this fall.

Pace Yourself – The good news is that raking your yard can be a good form of exercise. However, if you’re not accustomed to regular exercise, it is important not to overdo it. Inflexible muscles & overuse of those muscles may have you laid out rather than upright this fall. Complete one quadrant of your yard at a time, make it an activity you can do with your children or partner with a neighbor to get both yards done.

Posture is Important – Do not hunch over while you rake – this will put unneeded stress on your low back. Stand up straight and use small strokes. Furthermore, use your legs when you need to turn from side to side to avoid repeated twisting at the waist. Finally, try switching from side to side as you rake – this may feel a bit awkward at first – but chances are your body will thank you as this will help balance the muscles your body is using while you work.

Have the Right Tools – Use a rake that is the proper height for your size. This will help avoid unnecessary reaching and twisting. Wear gloves to avoid blisters. Dress in layers so you can adjust to the temperature. Remember the exercise part of raking leaves? You may work up a sweat. Finally, make sure your shoes have some tread & can grip the ground. Leaves can be slippery – especially wet ones.

Lift with Your Legs – This is good advice any time of year when lifting – of course it is one we often forget – so it bears repeating. Don’t overfill your bags – especially if they are wet. If it’s an option try not to rake after a rainy day. When moving those bags to the curb, lift by bending your knees, avoid bending at your back. Hold the bag close to your body and turn/twist by moving your feet – not your waist.

Cheat – Why not hire the industrious neighborhood boy or girl that wants to make a few bucks to rake your leaves? Maybe invest in a leaf blower – just be sure to be neighborly and not blow all your leaves into the next yard. We would hate to add “black eye” to the list of leaf removing injuries.

Hopefully, these tips and reminders will help you avoid becoming one of the 38,000 people who suffered an injury in 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This should leave you free to enjoy your Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Pumpkin Spice Kabobs, Pumpkin Spice Creole, Pumpkin Spice Gumbo, Deep Fried Pumpkin Spice, Pumpkin Spice Soup, Pumpkin Spice Stew, Pumpkin Spice Salad, Pumpkin Spice and Potatoes, Pumpkin Spice Burger, Pumpkin Spice Sandwich, Pumpkin Spice Shrimp….I think that’s about it.

Have a wonderful fall everyone.

Editor’s note: This post was provided by Advantage Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, LLC, with clinics located in Manassas and Gainesville, working with those who desire to restore and improve motion and achieve a long-term quality of life.

JTC Inc. Restores Important Data on Crashed Hard Drive

technology solutions networking enterprise

Editor’s Note: “Making Tech Work for You” is a promoted post that is sponsored by JTC Inc. and written in partnership with Potomac Local.

At HiTech Title Solutions, Jewell Technical Consulting, Inc. recently assisted with a data recovery project.Whem

HiTech is a small company and works with land records, real estate titles, and more to help serve the needs of residential and commercial real estate. Since 2007, JTC has been assisting HiTech with both server and computer maintenance, as well as plenty of other routine duties.

With the data recovery project, Megan LaRoche at HiTech, explained that her husband initially had an external drive, which had been used for his business, RSL, Inc., that had suddenly crashed.

LaRoche and her husband both work in the same industry. When her husband decided to go paperless to better meet his business needs, all critical information over more than ten years was stored, and then she was unable to retrieve the data on that drive. LaRoche explained that she had spent roughly ten hours trying to retrieve the lost information but to no avail.  

The decision to bring the drive into the capable hands of JTC, Inc. was influenced by HiTech’s previous good experiences with the company. When JTC, Inc. received the drive, it was apparent that it had been “wiped” and corrupted and seemingly beyond repair. JTC, Inc. collaborated with another company to save LaRoche’s husband’s business because the files stored on that drive included vital title reports and other related work that was crucially important.

Beside the implications of LaRoche’s husband losing large amounts of information and data, it would have undermined “the elemental liability” of his business, she said

If the specific report cannot be located, it would have been a “huge problem for him [Megan’s husband] and his business.” LaRoche said that it was about a month-long but easy process for her and her husband but going to JTC, Inc. was the “natural choice” for her, her husband, and his business, RSL, Inc., she said.

JTC is always open to talk to you about your IT questions. Why not start now and post your question below for our resident expert JTC’s Mike Walker to review.

You can also email them. Mike will take your questions and provide answers each week.

JTC Keeps Airports Council International – North America in the Cloud

technology solutions networking enterprise

Editor’s Note: “Making Tech Work for You” is a promoted post that is sponsored by JTC Inc. and written in partnership with Potomac Local.

At Airports Council International – North America, Nancy Zimini is the Senior Vice President, Administration and Operations. Zimini manages everything from daily business operations and administration to human resources to information technology and everything else in between.

Zimini has been with ACI-NA for 18 years, for 15 of those years, Jewell Technical Consulting, Inc. has been the machine that has ensured Zimini and the rest of the ACI-NA staff can continue to smoothly and successfully represent local, regional, and state entities that own and manage airports in North America.

JTC, Inc. operates “the entire IT function” for both the ACI-NA offices in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, Canada. Zimini listed these services, which include “web server hosting, disaster recovery, IT maintenance…[and] the sequel server,” among plenty of others. 

JTC has an engineer on site daily to assist in any needs the ACI-NA staff may have.  Recently, JTC, Inc. implemented a new SAN (storage area network) solution at ACI-NA that allows for full recovery capability if one of the servers were to go down.  JTC replicates the ACI-NA SAN in Washington to their data center for a total disaster recovery solution.  Zimini expressed her sheer confidence and trust in working with JTC, Inc., saying ACI-NA is a “…13 and a half million dollar company…and 99.9 percent of the time we’ve been up.”

In addition, the SAN solution will permit ACI-NA to create their own Cloud system, with the intent to reduce expenses in the near future.  Soon JTC will decommission the server in the Ottawa office, utilizing the SAN infrastructure, to reduce the footprint and cost of ownership of having another server. 

As part of her job, Zimini interacts with different vendors on a daily basis and knows the importance of customer service. With JTC, Inc., Zimini praises them on what she called “exceptional customer service”, prompt response time and ample generosity, as well as seeing the network into the future, in the case of the SAN solution, which plans to reduce costs for ACI-NA in years to come when the infrastructure becomes a Terminal Server solution for the ACI-NA staff so they can truly work from anywhere. 

Lastly, Zimini commented that “…when you have good vendors, they become your partners  in business and you need to be good to them which creates a win win situation” and JTC, Inc. has been a great partner to work with.

JTC is always open to talk to you about your IT questions. Why not start now and post your question below for our resident expert JTC’s Mike Walker to review.

You can also email them. Mike will take your questions and provide answers each week.

Auto Shops, B-Thrifty Partner to Collect Unwanted Goods

steves auto, hometowne auto, b-thrifty

Steve’s Auto Repair and Tire and Homeotowne Auto Repair and Tire will work to see which shop will collect the mots unwanted goods.

 

B-Thrifty provides bins as part of donation program 

 

Employees at Steve’s Auto Repair and Tire and Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire want to see which store can collect more clothing items to be recycled.

Two bins have been placed along Neabsco Mills Road at intersection of U.S. 1 in Woodbridge, near the two automotive repair shops at Hanco Center.

The collection is part of a “recycling” program is open to businesses, schools, and just about anyone else who wants to host a collection bin, which is provided at no charge by the B-Thrifty thrift store and marketplace in Woodbridge.

Once the merchandise is brought to the thrift center, B-Thrifty pays the collectors cents on the dollar for each pound of items that have collected in their bin. Many organizations and schools, including public schools in Prince William and Fairfax counties have held fundraisers using the bins, says Alex Magdaleno, business development manager at B-Thrifty.

“It’s great exposure for the participating organization because we get to put their logo on the bin, they get the recognition for being green, and they collect money when they decide to end their recycling drive,” said Magdaleno.

The items collected by the thrift market are then put out on the sales floor and sold. What doesn’t sell is then shipped to places like Haiti, in 100-pound shipping bails, where it sells there. Magdaleno says the goods help create commerce and jobs for workers in Haiti and other locations.

“We found a balance for us to make a living and being able to give back to our community,” he added.

Both the Steve’s and Hometowne auto shops say they chose to host a bin for the recycling effort and not as a means to profit. Both shops decided to locate their bins in an easy pull off area alongside the road so drivers could conveniently stop, not block traffic, and then place their unwanted goods inside the bins.

Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire to Celebrate Grand Opening

Grand opening celebration to feature vendor booths, family games, free food

 

Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire will celebrate its grand opening on Nov. 1, 2014. The neighborhood automotive repair and tire shop is conveniently located at 15698 Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) in Woodbridge, Virginia.

The shop’s friendly staff and ASE-certified technicians specialize in providing an unparalleled car care experience with a dedicated mission of keeping their customers and their loved ones safe while traveling on the road.   Hometowne is also known for being the home of the free flat tire repair no matter where you bought your tires.

A grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting will offer many fun-filled, family activities throughout the day free to all attendees. An event listing, including event times, is provided below.

As an independently owned and operated business in Prince William County, customer service stands at the forefront of Hometowne’s business model.

“With nearly 20 years in the automotive repair business, we wanted to build a clean and convenient automotive repair shop with mechanics that our customers trust to work on their cars,” said Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire owner ST Billingsley.

All of Hometowne’s customers are treated to free hot coffee, cold drinks, and snacks inside a relaxed waiting that includes a large flat-screen TV. The children’s waiting area is complete with games and video rocking chairs.

Hometowne also provides free shuttle service to many of the nearby stores and office buildings, to include Wegmans grocery and Apple Computer stores at the nearby Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.

Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed on Sunday so their employees can spend time with family and friends. The shop specializes in brakes, wheel alignments, oil changes, and check engine lights. They are an authorized Michelin Tire dealer and an authorized Toyo Tire dealer.

To schedule a service, call 703-594-4646 or come by today.

Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire Grand Opening Activities

9:30 a.m.

·        Hytlon High School automotive education shop’s electrical on display, featuring Hylton student and Hometowne apprentice Katie Tatum

·        FREE coffee and doughnuts

10 a.m.

·        Exhibitor tents CarQuest, TCI Tire Warehouse giveaways, Valvoline oil supplier with giveaways, giveaways from Interstate Batteries and giveaways from Justice Tire.

10:30 a.m.

·        Ribbon cutting – Prince William Chamber of Commerce, Local elected officials

11 a.m.

·        Reception / FREE lunch sponsored CarQuest

·        Family games

From Dial Up to Cloud: JTC Continues to Grow 1st Customer

technology solutions networking enterprise

 

JTC moves first and longtime customer into their locally owned, operated cloud

 

In 1996, how were you using technology in your office?

Like many businesses, Interface Incorporated, a small “sales and business development” company aiding small and medium-sized businesses in securing contracts with Federal Government agencies, was accessing the internet via dial-up with very few computers in their office. In fact, many desks still had typewriters on them.

David Knapp, President of Interface Incorporated who has been with the organization for 33 years, began working with JTC, Inc. in 1996 as founder John Jewell’s very first client. As Jewell’s personal and longtime friend, Knapp said. 

Jewell originally worked with Dell before starting JTC, Inc. in 1996. Dell had been Interface Inc.’s “hardware liaison and provider” and after Jewell had stepped out to create his own business, it appeared to be a clear decision.

When JTC, Inc. was hired, the company assisted Interface Inc. with transitioning from using a dial-up network to a sophisticated Local Area Network and from typewriters to computers. From then on, JTC has provided Interface with their current JTC Cloud Server, fully hosted on JTC’s Sky platform, which will eventually evolve into a “fully hosted VoIP solution and terminal server” that will give Interface Inc. added capabilities.

JTC’s Sky platform was developed by the engineers at JTC on their own private cloud infrastructure and is hosted in a secured data center locally, giving Interface access to their data at any time should a major catastrophe ever occur.

Since 1996, Jewell has been Interface Inc.’s “first and…only IT supplier…for 18 years…” said Knapp. Knapp has witnessed JTC, Inc. grow tremendously into what he says is an “absolutely top notch” IT company. “Even if John were no longer at JTC, Inc. and the company was still around, Interface would continue to be a client because of the people that work there and the services that they have provided,” said Knapp.

“It’s no secret that we feel pretty highly about the capabilities of JTC…they’ve maintained a cutting-edge knowledge of the technology that they can bring to their clients.”

JTC is always open to talk to you about your IT questions. Why not start now and post your question below for our resident expert JTC’s Mike Walker to review.

You can also email them. Mike will take your questions and provide answers each week.

Hampton Hotel at Quantico Revamped, Expanded to Include Conference Center

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Hampton owners to celebrate with ribbon cutting party open to public

 

The owners of a Hampton Hotel at Quantico are ready to celebrate the center’s recent expansion.

A new 2,600 square foot conference center has been added to the hotel in North Stafford, as well as new guest suites, a new indoor pool, a reconfigured entrance, and a completely redesigned lobby has all been added. Located at the confluence of Interstate 95, U.S. 1, and Garrisonville Road, the hotel is now one of the most unique properties in the Hampton brand of hotels in the Hilton Hotels family.

“We knew that space is a big factor to retain guests and have them to return to the hotel, so that’s what we’ve given them here – more space to feel more comfortable,” said Amal Lambara, managing director for the hotel.

A ribbon cutting for the newly expanded hotel will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30. Taste of Elegance will be the caterer for the event that will offer food and wine. All of the hotel rooms, enlarged and now called studios, will be open for all to see.

The idea is for the community to come see the new Hampton space and not only to tour the property, but business organizations to size up the facility to see if it’s right for their corporate events. It’s also a chance for for area residents to see if the new indoor pool and hot tub is a place where might choose to spend a cold winter weekend.

As for the Hampton conference space, there’s few like it around the Quantico Marine Corps Base area.

“Locals have to go further north to rent space, even further than Woodbridge, to rent a space. We can accommodate 200 or more people in our conference facility,” said Lambara.

A growing demand for extended-stay hotels around Quantico Marine Corps Base prompted the renovations. A feasibility study was completed and land next to the existing hotel was acquired prior to the start of construction last year.

Along with the expansion, Hilton Hotels has granted the owner of the hotel, Dhiren C. Patel , the use of the Hampton flag for another 17 years. The owner’s wife, Aneeta Patel , was instrumental in choosing the look of the hotel lobby where several events are held, including a guest afternoon social hour Monday through Thursday.

 “The lobby is a perfect mix of new style and a relaxing atmosphere made to look more like a social gathering area, not a hotel lobby,” said Lambara.

Those who would like to attend the ribbon cutting party should RSVP by emailing Lambara directly, or call 540-657-0999.

JTC Helps Summit Point Reach Higher with New Server

technology solutions networking enterprise

Mike Walker, JTC Vice President

Mike Walker, JTC Vice President

In West Virginia, BSR at Summit Point specializes in security driving and firearms training to better prepare military personnel private citizens to handle threats posed by terrorism and crime. By taking two of Summit Point’s internal servers and merging them together, JTC, Inc. has made it easier for Summit Point to continue to provide great service to its clients.

Chris Otto, a retired Army policeman, is the Assistant Director of Training and a Security Driver and Firearms Instructor at BSR at Summit Point. Speaking of the services that JTC, Inc. provided, Otto said that “they helped provide a dual redundancy server system to integrate all of our operators and users to basically co-exist on the same network.”

Otto further elaborated that prior to JTC’s help, BSR at Summit Point had a small group of people working off of a small business server, along with 10-12 other users with their own desktops running on different operating systems.

Otto added that BSR encountered problems with communicating and transferring data to one another until JTC came in and “revamped our system”. By putting all users on the same, single server, Otto said that it resulted in “everything [being] all interconnected so we can communicate a lot better and faster.”

JTC’s work has brought something valuable to the mission of BSR at Summit Point by making the system more secure. Otto explained that in the past BSR had many open wifi networks and JTC “produced something that would run everything through a single server but also secured all of the access points, whether they be hard-lined or wireless.”

Summit Point has been working with JTC since 2010, and since then BSR has had a “great relationship” with JTC.

Otto said that JTC’s capabilities and professionalism were “top notch” and that no one has given him any complaint about these capabilities. If BSR encountered any issues, communication with JTC was easy and effortless and it appeared that there were several occasions when JTC would send same business day assistance and/or within 24 hours.

JTC’s team has also provided hands-on training for BSR at Summit Point employees. Otto remembered one time when employees were having some issues on how to work their new server.

JTC responded by “sending a couple of guys out the following day and they went to every single individual and their workstations…just showing them, training them how to navigate or whatever the situation was.”

JTC designed and implemented a high availability, virtual server environment, utilizing thin client technology. Built on Microsoft and Dell.
JTC is a Microsoft Certified Partner and a Dell Solutions Provider.

JTC is always open to talk to you about your IT questions. Why not start now and post your question below for our resident expert JTC’s Mike Walker to review.

You can also email them. Mike will take your questions and provide answers each week.

JTC Inc. Prepares Students at Innovation Park for Cyber Challenge

 

JTC, Inc. President and CEO John Jewell talks to students at Prince William County’s Governor’s School @ Innovation Park about technology and networking security.

JTC, Inc. President and CEO John Jewell talks to students at Prince William County’s Governor’s School @ Innovation Park about technology and networking security.

JTC Inc making tech work for you

 

Special program tech program educates students at Innovation Park 

 

At the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park, JTC, Inc. is making an impact with local students by working to prepare them for their participation in the state level Cyber Challenge and giving them real-life knowledge and experiences in the field of cyber-security and networking.

“For the last two to three years, JTC has had some of their staff mentor our students for the Virginia state Cyber Challenge,” said Dr. Karen Dalfrey, the Director of The Governor’s School @ Innovation Park. “John Jewell [JTC’s owner and founder] would have one of his staff members come over usually once a week during the fall semester and the staff member would go through all of the modules that our students would have to do…prepare lessons and then come in and actually work with students and make sure they understood the content of the modules [and] the lessons,” said Dr. Dalfrey.

Outside of the classroom, JTC Inc. went further in their commitment by inviting students to their office for added exposure.

“Usually once or twice they would bring…our students who were participating in this cyber challenge to their facility and they would really explain the networking and the security behind the networking to our students…to make them more competitive in this challenge.”

Dr. Dalfrey said that, “this year…[it’s] the first year we’re doing a real internship for our high school students and JTC is allowing one of our students to go in and actually intern…up to about 10 hours per week where our student would go in and really be given the opportunity to become part of their staff…it would be an unpaid internship but it’s giving a lot of experience to the student.”

The Governor’s School @ Innovation Park created its first cyber challenge team in 2012. Dr. Dalfrey discovered JTC, Inc. with the help of a parent who put Dr. Dalfrey in contact with John Jewell in Fall 2012. From the start, JTC, Inc. were very receptive and Dr. Dalfrey’s experience working with JTC, Inc. has been a positive one.

The Governor’s School @ Innovation Park prepares students in the STEM disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and Dr. Dalfrey stated that the “big part of our mission is getting our students ready for [the] future workforce”. “JTC, Inc. has been really an advocate of our students…going further in their studies and beyond just textbook knowledge especially in the cyber-security field, and…and it’s  giving these students hands-on exposure to things that are going to maybe help them decide what field of discipline they want to study in their undergrad phase and then what field of discipline they might want to do some work later on in their career.” 

JTC is always open to talk to you about your IT questions. Why not start now and post your question below for our resident expert JTC’s Mike Walker to review.

You can also email them. Mike will take your questions and provide answers each week.

Editor’s Note: “Making Tech Work for You” is a promoted post that is sponsored by JTC Inc. and written in partnership with Potomac Local.

Making Tech Work for You: Discover Prince William Chooses JTC for Server Needs

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Mike Walker, JTC Vice President

Mike Walker, JTC Vice President

Editor’s Note: “Making Tech Work for You” is a promoted post that is sponsored by JTC Inc. and written in partnership with PotomacLocal.com.

When looking to upgrade their server and computer system, Discover Prince William went to JTC, Inc. – a company they knew would provide them with quality services.

“We currently contract with JTC as our technology provider. Not only have we been happy with the services they provide to us but they are familiar with our computer system,” said Office Manager Susan Plattner, of the decision to use JTC for the upgrade.

Discover Prince William, an organization located in Manassas in charge of tourism and recreation, is a crucial part of drawing visitors into the county and surrounding communities, so ensuring that they have a reliable sever and connectivity was extremely important.

Having used different services in the past for their server’s installation, Discover Prince William knew they wanted a company that would make the transition as easy as possible. “JTC was able to install the server as well as employee workstations in just a few days with very little downtime-maybe 30 minutes for the server installation. The technicians assigned were very knowledgeable and helpful. It was a quick and smooth transition,” Plattner commented.

One of the major upgrades that JTC was able to make for Discover Prince William was a network for sharing files to several employees in the office. By providing this service, they were able to make it easier for the organization to accomplish their goals.

“It’s essential to have a server to share files among the departments and we were excited to upgrade to new technology,” Plattner said of the upgrade.

For the organization, choosing JTC has proven to be a major success that has helped them perform more effectively and efficiently.

JTC is always open to talk to you about your IT questions. Why not start now and post your question below for our resident expert JTC’s Mike Walker to review.

You can also email your questions and Mike will take your questions and provide answers each week.

Making Tech Work for You: Atlantic Moves to the Cloud (Promoted Post)

090914-tech-work

Mike Walker, JTC Vice President

Mike Walker, JTC Vice President

Editor’s Note: “Making Tech Work for You” is a promoted post that is sponsored by JTC Inc. and written in partnership with PotomacLocal.com.

When Atlantic Contracting and Material, Co. Inc, a fourth-generation family owned commercial construction company, decided to update their IT services and move to the cloud, they relied on the expertise and services provided by JTC Inc.

“We do concrete painting, that’s our niche. We primarily paint airfields – so military bases, and airfields throughout the mid Atlantic,” said Jarod Stevulak, the Safety & HR Director that has been with the company for more than 6 years.

Atlantic originally made the decision to switch to the cloud last year, after changes to their in-house IT department. “Ultimately, at the end of last year, we made a decision to outsource our IT department at that time. We had someone in-house to handle things, but that person moved on so at that point we really didn’t have anyone in-house,” Stevulak said.

The company went into the community to find a company that could effectively and professionally handle the task, and JTC Inc. was up for the challenge.

“Through the vetting process, [we] found [JTC] to be very knowledgeable and responsive, and they had a great repoire with their customers, so we ended up meeting with them several times and we were happy with what they had to offer. From a customer service standpoint, I think, as well as what they could bring to the table from a service standpoint, that’s ultimately why we went with JTC,” Stevulak commented.

For Atlantic, the choice was simple. The cloud offered them the unique opportunity to simplify the work for their budget managers, while ensuring information was accessible and efforts weren’t being duplicated.

“The cloud base offered an opportunity for us – because we do work throughout the mid Atlantic, in a two to four-hour radius from Northern Virginia – in the past we had the old ‘server in the closet’ so essentially all of the information we used from a company standpoint was locked at [the main] office and wasn’t really accessible to our budget managers throughout our region. So, a lot of double, triple and quadruple work was being done, updating spreadsheets and reports.”

JTC Inc. fully integrated Atlantic’s documents to a cloud based system, and now the company has the information and communication that they need to stay competitive in their industry. 

“The cloud just seemed to fit well with what we’re looking to do. So, having that information anywhere, at any time, in real time, as it’s being updated – we now have that availability. Everybody’s on the same page. There’s no delay getting information from one job to the other. Things change in the field in the construction industry on a daily basis,” Stevulak said. 

JTC is always open to talk to you about your IT questions. Why not start now and post your question below for our resident expert JTC’s Mike Walker to review.

You can also email them. Mike will take your questions and provide answers each week.

Popular Face Painter Transforms Children into Their Favorite Characters (Promoted Post)

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Face Odyssey, located in Woodbridge and owned by Gerri Mellen, has brought face painting to children and families around the local Washington, D.C. metro area for nearly 10 years. “Facepainting is more geared to children because they find it fun, and adults enjoy it as well,” said Mellen.

Mellen travels to birthday parties, corporate events, and countless other places to provide children’s entertainment. Mellen can arrange face painting sessions to have balloons, clowns, magicians, and much more to create a fun environment for children at parties.  

Outside of Face Odyssey, Mellen continues to be active in the local community.  She has provided free face painting on Tuesdays for Kids NIght at the Silver Diner at Potomac Mills mall and free face painting for Kids Night at The All American Steakhouse & Sports Theater in Woodbridge on Wednesday nights from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for the past eight years. She was also the birthday party sponsor for the Potomac Nationals in 2011 and 2012.

“When I’m finished face painting a child, I show them  my ‘magic mirror’ and children see themselves transformed into whatever they want to be – everything from princesses, butterflies, to super heroes,” said Mellen.

Mellen originally grew up in Massachusetts and started her first company called Silver Bridge Reproductions, where she first dabbled in art and manufactured stencil kits from designs inspired from things she saw in museums across New England. She was later asked to stencil designs inside new model homes built by Horizon Homes, Inc. (her family business at the time).

For the next several years, Mellen sold and manufactured unique wall stencils which she sold to museums which included the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

Now the owner of Face Odyssey, Mellen considers herself an artist and sees face painting as her art. Her success could be attributed to the attention to detail gained from her wall stenciling business and a constant need to stay competitive in a popular industry. Mellen said that competition has dramatically increased over the years and it motivates local artists to innovate their face painting techniques.

Face Odyssey prides itself on knowing children will love the characters they’ve been transformed into. Face Odyssey is insured and uses FDA-approved and child complaint face paint and materials that are specifically designed for faces, and it is very professional. Mellen only sees continued growth for her company in the coming years.

For more information contact Gerri Mellen at 571-276-0928 or visit her website at face-odyssey.com. Face Odyssey is also on Facebook.

Maintain Your Car and Buy More Shoes (Promoted Post)

Super HeroineThere are many things in life that can never be too hot. Maybe it’s that new dress you bought or the sauce you put on your expertly cooked enchiladas. However, some things CAN be too hot, like your engine or your transmission and that can cause serious (and expensive problems).

OK, pull out your pencils- it’s math time. The average transmission should be flushed every 30,000 miles. (check your owner’s manual for your particular vehicle) (If you cannot find your manual many are online).

Let’s say that your car lasts to 120,000 miles. If you have maintained your vehicle you should have performed four transmission flushes at a cost of approximately $260 each for a total of $1,040. Still with me? The total cost of a new transmission is at least $2,900 installed. Now take the difference between the cost of your maintenance and the cost of buying a new transmission and you get $1,860.

That’s a heck of a lot of shoes, or nachos, or whatever else you care to spend your hard-earned money on. The bottom line is, waiting in order to save money in the short run isn’t really a savings.

The same holds true for regular oil changes. Regular oil changes help keep your engine lubricated and clean and unlike fine wine, engine oil does not get better with age. Regular oil changes will protect your engine. If these are avoided, dirty oil will stop lubricating the engine and eventually the engine will wear and fail.

If you feel comfortable in your current repair shop then they have done their job and you have done your homework (gold star for you!). However, if this is not the case, look for a shop you do feel comfortable in. When looking for the right shop take these things into consideration:

What to look for/ask when you are choosing a repair shop
– Look for a neat and organized shop. Look at online reviews for the shop, including filtered reviews.
-Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area such as civic, community, or customer service awards.
– Look for evidence of qualified technicians: ASE certifications, trade-school diplomas. and certificates of advanced courses.
– Look for courteous staff. with a service consultant willing to answer all of your questions and who will break things down into safety, repairs and maintenance.
– Ask if there is a warranty and if the warranty covers parts and labor.

Be your car’s super hero. Give it the attention it needs and it will work to get you where you need to be. Speaking of which, I’ve got to go catch those Labor Day sales!

This article was written and posted by Steve’s Auto Repair and Tire. We are happy to take you on a tour of the inside or your car, show you where things are and how to check your fluids all at no charge. Please make an appointment to set this up through our website at  StevesAutoRepairVA.com

 

The Five Costly Mistakes of Car Ownership (Promoted Post)

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If a modern car is treated with care, it can last for over 100,000 miles without needing major costly repairs. However, neglecting you car’s maintenance needs can leave you with a large bill that could have been avoided. Do you really want to be spending extra money?

Here are five commonly-made mistakes to avoid. Doing so will not just save money, but keep you and your passengers safe as well.

 

 

Putting off an Oil Change

While oil technology has improved dramatically over the past couple of decades, it is still important to change your oil as recommended by your car’s manufacturer. Motor oil gradually breaks down as it is circulated through your engine. After a certain number of miles, the oil doesn’t provide adequate lubrication. In modern engines, many manufacturers use some form of variable valve timing or hydraulic pressure from the oil pump to help make the cars more powerful and efficient. Not changing the oil greatly affects these systems. Changing your oil is one of the kindest, simplest things you can do for your vehicle to insure your engine performs like it is supposed to for a very long time. Skipping this simple task can shorten the life of your car.

oil change

Regular oil changes are one of the easiest ways to maintain the life of your vehicle.

Changing Tires without an Alignment

An alignment ensures that the wheels of your car are positioned properly on the road. When a car is out of alignment, the tires wear out prematurely or in places where they’re not supposed to. If you are replacing two or more tires it is important to have this checked to get the most life out of the tires.

Installing Oversized Aftermarket Wheels

While some aftermarket wheels are carefully designed to be compatible with certain vehicles, getting the wrong wheels can harm your vehicle’s suspension and ride comfort. Also, if you buy wheels that are too large for your car, you can damage your fenders and wheel wells. Even though, the wheels and tires may technically fit on the vehicle it puts more force on the wheel bearing and brakes and can make them wear out prematurely although it looks cool, (and I agree) be prepared for some extra repairs.

jump start kit

A portable jump start device is great to keep with you in your vehicle.

Buying a Cheap Battery

A dead battery is a huge hassle. Often times, it means waiting for a jump start, or having to wait for a ride to get a battery to put in your car. And it’s important to find the exact battery for your car. A less expensive battery generally has fewer cells and less reactive material in it then a higher end battery so therefore the cold cranking amp ability and the longevity will generally be less. Going to a garage with ASE certified technicians with the right battery test equipment can help you avoid an inconvenient break down.

Getting Cheap Body Work

If you have a dent on your car, sometimes you can be approached by a “professional” in a shopping mall parking lot, or a friend might offer to take care of the problem. Beware, because sloppy body repair can cost more to correct than the original damage. Once an amateur has damaged the paint, a dent that could have been repaired by a professional for $100 dollars or (3 egg laying hens, and 5 pounds of bacon) * according to google July 29th, 2014, might now cost five times as much to be fixed.

At HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire we perform auto and truck repair service such as brakes, alignments, oil changes, shocks and struts, electrical work, check engine light diagnostics, tires and much more.  We are SWAM (small woman and minority certified).  We are locally owned and operated.  Learn more at www.HomeTowneTire.com

This content was written and produced by Hometowne Auto and Tire, which supports PotomacLocal.com’s mission to cover news in the communities we serve.

What’s That Noise? How to Tell What’s Happening Under Your Hood (Promoted Post)

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072114-steve's-auto-and-tirYou turn up your radio, or maybe even do a bit of car dancing but it still isn’t enough. You hear it: that noise from your car. You turn down the radio and it’s a squeaking or clicking or maybe even roaring so what is that noise? Here are a few overall ideas of what may be happening underneath the hood.

1. Squeaking or grinding coming from the front or rear of your car can indicate that your brakes are getting low. The squeaking can be the brake pad indicators to alert you that it’s time to replace them. When brakes start grinding it could be one of your brake calipers seizing up, which can also include smoke coming from your brakes!

When this occurs, do not continue driving on them. Get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible to have the brakes looked at.

2. Clicking from either the front or rear of the car could be an indication that your axles are going bad. The axles contain lubricants in them and when the “boots” become torn or worn out, the grease leaks out of your axles creating dry conditions that could affect your steering and transmission.

The axles are connected to the transmission and wheels to make your car move forward and backward. It’s important to replace them once the grease has entirely leaked out or preferably before they become dry.

3. A “roaring” sound is in indication that your wheel bearings may be failing. This bearing holds the wheel onto the car. When the bearings are wearing out, the wheel will wobble creating a roaring sound. It’s imperative that this be addressed.

On certain vehicles an alignment may need to be performed after a wheel bearing has been replaced

4. Belts can sometimes produce a “squealing” sound upon starting your vehicle. Sometimes the noise will go away after driving for a while, but don’t let that continue, this is most likely due to belts that have stretched over time. Depending on their make and model, cars and trucks can have one large serpentine belt, or up to 4 individual belts.

These belts are commonly known as the air conditioning belt, the power steering belt, the alternator belt and the air pump belt. All of these belts should be inspected annually to make sure they are not cracked or worn.

5. Did you know that sometimes your suspension can also make noises? Creaking and excessive bounce are indications that your cars struts and shocks may be worn out. If you are going over speed bumps and hear some clunking and squeaking, it could be coming from your suspension components; there are tie rods, sway bar links, control arm bushings and ball joints.

All of these can make noises, have them checked at a repair facility before it’s too late and does damage to your car or truck and keep your family safe on the road.

This post sponsored by Steve’s Auto Repair in Woodbridge.

What’s That Noise? How to Tell What’s Happening Under Your Hood (Promoted Post)

112012-abc-stores

Picture 1 of 500

072114-steve's-auto-and-tirYou turn up your radio, or maybe even do a bit of car dancing but it still isn’t enough. You hear it: that noise from your car. You turn down the radio and it’s a squeaking or clicking or maybe even roaring so what is that noise? Here are a few overall ideas of what may be happening underneath the hood.

1. Squeaking or grinding coming from the front or rear of your car can indicate that your brakes are getting low. The squeaking can be the brake pad indicators to alert you that it’s time to replace them. When brakes start grinding it could be one of your brake calipers seizing up, which can also include smoke coming from your brakes!

When this occurs, do not continue driving on them. Get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible to have the brakes looked at.

2. Clicking from either the front or rear of the car could be an indication that your axles are going bad. The axles contain lubricants in them and when the “boots” become torn or worn out, the grease leaks out of your axles creating dry conditions that could affect your steering and transmission.

The axles are connected to the transmission and wheels to make your car move forward and backward. It’s important to replace them once the grease has entirely leaked out or preferably before they become dry.

3. A “roaring” sound is in indication that your wheel bearings may be failing. This bearing holds the wheel onto the car. When the bearings are wearing out, the wheel will wobble creating a roaring sound. It’s imperative that this be addressed.

On certain vehicles an alignment may need to be performed after a wheel bearing has been replaced

4. Belts can sometimes produce a “squealing” sound upon starting your vehicle. Sometimes the noise will go away after driving for a while, but don’t let that continue, this is most likely due to belts that have stretched over time. Depending on their make and model, cars and trucks can have one large serpentine belt, or up to 4 individual belts.

These belts are commonly known as the air conditioning belt, the power steering belt, the alternator belt and the air pump belt. All of these belts should be inspected annually to make sure they are not cracked or worn.

5. Did you know that sometimes your suspension can also make noises? Creaking and excessive bounce are indications that your cars struts and shocks may be worn out. If you are going over speed bumps and hear some clunking and squeaking, it could be coming from your suspension components; there are tie rods, sway bar links, control arm bushings and ball joints.

All of these can make noises, have them checked at a repair facility before it’s too late and does damage to your car or truck and keep your family safe on the road.

This post sponsored by Steve’s Auto Repair in Woodbridge.

French Teens Want USA Friendships (Promoted Post)

Bonjour! We have French students for this summer for a three-week stay, from July 8 to July 28.  LEC (Loisirs Culturel A L’Etranger) is in need of host families for the visiting teenagers.

This is a great cultural experience for the entire family. We remind you that students bring their own spending money, have insurance and as always are very eager to meet, befriend and know their American host family.

Host families are compensated $125 per week to host. We are seeking your help!

If you are interested in being a host family for a French teen, please email or call Loisirs Culturel A L’Etranger today.

Visit their website at lec-usa.com, see their blog at lecwashington.blogspot.com, or email them them at facehill[at]comcast.net

Merci Beaucoup!

Sponsored Post: 12 Tips to Help you Save Fuel

Sponsored by Steve’s Auto Repair 

So, you’ve got more interesting things to do with your money than use it on fuel. But how do you save fuel money for the fun stuff? Here are a few tips compiled by our service writer, Teresa Anderson perfect for the upcoming spring months.

1. Use a low rolling resistance tire! These can save up to 3% in fuel annually!

2. Pre-route and combine your errands and try to drive the least miles to accomplish all errands at one time.

3. Keep your car light! Take out the things that create excess weight in your car and take things off the roof racks that create resistance while driving (luggage) Being aerodynamic improves your gas economy

4. Only fill up your gas tank half way, and never allow your tank to go below 1/4 tank. Each gallon of fuel weighs approx. 6 lbs, so a full tank will make your car heavier. When you allow your tank to get below 1/4 tank that puts additional stress on your fuel pump and can suck up residue that forms in the bottom of your gas tank clogging the injectors, which can hinder your gas mileage.

5. Slow down! Follow the posted speed limit and use your cruise control when possible. Don’t tailgate; keep a distance from the car in front of you so you can brake less often. This keeps your fuel consumption down.

6. Proper tire inflation is a must! You can lose up to a pound of tire pressure per week, so always check your tire inflation pressure. Too little air pressure can not only wear your tires out but affect your gas mileage.

7. Make sure your transmission fluid is flushed according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Clean fluid makes your transmission shift smoother causing less stress on the engine.

8. Do a fuel induction service at least once a year. This removes the carbon buildup on the injectors and can make your car run more smoothly and burn fuel more efficiently.

9. Avoid using your air conditioning when you can. Use of the a/c unit also burns more fuel. So drive with your windows down when you can!

10. Keep your air filter clean. Have your technician check it at each oil change. A clogged air filter can cause your engine to starve for air, making the mixture of air and fuel less economical.

11. Avoid idling for long periods of time. If you want fast food, rather than go through the drive thru park the car and go inside. Remember the more the car is turned on, the more fuel you are using. (and it’s good exercise!)

12. Keep your engine tuned up. Foul plugs can cause misfires and cause the other plugs to work twice as hard to run, which in turn costs your more money in fuel, not to mention engine damage.

This post sponsored by Steve’s Auto Repair in Woodbridge.

Women Learn Basic Vehicle Maintenance at Woodbridge Car Clinic

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This post sponsored by: HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

On a Saturday morning, 24 women were ready to start their engines at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire’s Women’s Car Care Clinic. The women came from varied locations, ages, and experience but one thing was unanimous they all wanted to learn more about their cars.

Enter Lori Johnson, founder of Ladies Start your Engines. Lori spent over seven years as a technician and editor for automotive manuals. Her goal is to give women the tools and the vocabulary they need to create informed consumers and conduct their own light vehicle maintenance.

In the two-hour course, Lori covered battery basics, shocks and struts, changing tires, changing windshield wiper blades and more. She even got in a few laughs.

The lucky ladies were treated to appetizers by Grill Gourmet of Woodbridge and a raffle prize drawing.

 “Not only did I enjoy myself but I learned a lot and feel empowered. It was an awesome day,” said one participant.

If you are interested in attending HomeTowne’s next car care clinic please send an email to Margo Schlossberg at margo@hometownetire.com

 

Sponsored Post: 5 Things You Can Check Before Taking Your Car for State Inspection

Mechanic Eran Mehler, of Lake Ridge, traded in commuting to Arlington for a less stressful commute to a job in Woodbridge. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

This post sponsored by: Steve’s Auto Repair

As a consumer you do not always have the ability to know what your car will need other than the visual items that you can see but here are some things to keep in mind prior to going to the state inspection station.

Look at your tires to check the tread depth, turn your wheels to the side and look for inside and outside tire wear, run your hands over the surface of the tire and see if they are wearing evenly. If there is more wear on either the inside or outside, chances are that your car is out of alignment, if the tires treads are the wear bars in three locations, your tires will most likely fail state inspection. Use a Penny to gauge the tread depth, if you can see Lincoln’s Head, they are too low on tread and will most likely fail.

Check all of your lights, have a family member operate all of the lights to confirm if any bulbs are not working. Look at the tag lights (these lights illuminate the license plate) this is often overlooked by the car owner, they must be in working condition and are very inexpensive replacements. Check the reverse lights, marker lights (the orange ones located on the sides of the vehicle) brakes lights, including the third brake light. Also condensation in the headlight assemblies that affect the light pattern can cause you to fail as well. Making sure all bulbs are in good working order can save you from a rejection sticker at the inspection station.

Make sure the mirrors are not cracked or missing, the horn works and works correctly (not muffled) and if you hear a loud exhaust noise from under the car that is not normally there you may want to get that looked at before you go for inspection.

Another overlooked item is the seat belts, check to see if they work properly and latch. Check that the drivers window works, the other ones do not have to but this one does.

Now for a confusing one: lights on the dash. These go back and forth depending on the State Police manual. As of February 2014, the ABS (antilock brake system) light CAN be on, The Airbag light has to come on for a bulb check then go OFF. The parking brake light has to work when the parking brake is applied and the high beam indicator has to work.

These are some of the items you can check in your driveway before taking you vehicle in for a Virginia State Inspection

Here are some state inspection items that are more easily checked at a shop:

Suspension system. At Steve’s Auto, we do a free inspection of these items every time you bring your car in for service with us. If you see any fluids in your driveway, take note of the color and get it checked out. If your rack and pinion is leaking (this is your steering component) you will fail inspection.

Ball Joints and other suspension items are also part of a state inspection. Even though as a consumer you cannot tell if they are bad, there are some tell tale signs to listen for. Clunking coming from the front end is a good indication that they may be getting worn out. Loose tie rod ends are also a wearable item and it does affect your alignment and tire wear as well.

Brakes are also one of the items the state inspector will be looking at. If you have noticed any squealing or grinding you may need brakes, have a pre-brake inspection done so there are no surprises when you go to get it inspected. It requires removing at least 2 of the wheels and getting a measurement of thickness on the pads and rotors to determine if it will pass. The state legal limit is 2/32nds, if it’s below the 2/32nds specification, it will fail.

Sponsored Post: 3 Ways to Guarantee You’ll Exercise

This post sponsored by Powerhouse Gym Woodbridge

For those of you that struggle with maintaining a regular fitness routine, things always seem to come up and knock you down just as you were getting into a rhythm. Here are three simple ways to help you get that workout in.

1. Make it a date

Write your workout down in your day calendar. This simple act shows that fitness is a priority for you and you’ll adhere to it as you would a client meeting or doctor appointment. When scheduling other engagements, treat that block with the same amount of importance and you’ll always have a window open to exercise.

2. Forget the ‘all or none’ attitude

Even gym buffs committed to five-day weekly workouts have things that come up and either cut a workout short or prevent them from going at all for a day or two. The attitude with those who regularly workout, however, is to get it in when and where they can.

If you’re stuck at home on a snow day, pop on a quick workout video. If you’re running late in the morning, spend twenty-five minutes doing high-intensity intervals at the gym instead of your usual hour-long weight and cardio combination. This simple practice will help you to be more flexible and find creative ways to stay active and keep exercising.

3. Reevaluate your exercise routine

Sticking to a plan that’s challenging, doesn’t constitute instant gratification and is boring and difficult isn’t easy for most people. Sit back and take an objective look at your program to see if you need to make some tweaks. If walking on the treadmill bores you to tears, try a group exercise class or some interval cardio instead. The key is to push yourself just out of your comfort zone, not so far past it that it’s impossible to stick with.

 

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