Why shouldn’t we let squirrels dine at a bird feeder?

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DEAR JOAN: After reading the latest solution to keeping squirrels out of the bird feeder — WD-40 — I have a better idea. Just let them eat it. Unless you tell me it’s harmful, it’s no big deal.

Nancy Draughon, Mobile, Alabama

DEAR NANCY: This is a subject that is not quite as simple as it sounds. Generally speaking, birdseed is not harmful to squirrels, but there are some folks who want to feed the birds, not the squirrels, and seeing the squirrels swinging from feeders, spilling seed and chasing away the birds is too much for them.

These folks are so protective of their bird feeders that an industry in anti-squirrel bird seed (it has capcaisin mixed in with it) and squirrel-proof feeders and devices is thriving.

As much as I love watching the squirrels scampering around and thoroughly confounding my little Chihuahua, there are valid reasons people don’t want them around. Squirrels can do some damage to your property. They can chew on irrigation lines, gnaw on decks and open holes into your attic. They also tend to bury their surplus food, which can disturb your plants when the food goes in and when it comes out, if the squirrel remembers where it hid it.

One year, we put out some dried corn for the squirrel visiting in our yard, and the next spring I had corn popping up in all of my planters and pots.

As long as you welcome the squirrels and their nuttiness, and as long as you aren’t trying to feed them by hand, then no, there’s no harm in letting the squirrels share the bird feeders.

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However, not all bird food is the best for squirrels. Their optimum diet is a mixture of nuts, fruits and vegetables. Squirrels love black oil sunflower seeds, so …read more

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle

Startled by her baby’s Down syndrome diagnosis, a mom finds support

Sam Small, 5, works on his homework with his mother Cathleen Small at their Clayton, Calif., home on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. Cathleen reached out to the Down Syndrome Connection after the birth of Sam for guidance, support and education about Down Syndrome and raising a Down Syndrome child. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

Moments after the birth of her son, Sam, in 2012, Cathleen Small was alarmed when a nurse swept him from her sight without a word. A woman in a lab coat eventually returned and flatly told Small that Sam likely had Down syndrome, describing some of the technical aspects of the diagnosis but providing little in the way of “where you go from here” information.

Small and her husband knew nothing about the genetic disorder and had no clue where to turn. They were merely handed a scrap of paper with a web address on their way out of the East Bay hospital.

“Medically, my hat goes off to the hospital for their wonderful care of Sam,” Small said. “But emotionally, it could have been much better. This is big news, and you need support.”

Left to search for that support on her own, she came across the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area. She contacted the Danville-based group and was immediately greeted with a warm “Congratulations!” on the birth of her baby, and invited to a new-parents group. With a 3-week-old Sam in tow, she attended her first meeting and felt a wave of calm wash over her.

“The other parents were talking about some of the same issues I was already experiencing with my toddler, Theo, who does not have Down syndrome, and I thought, ‘Well, it’ll be different, but not that different. Life will go on just fine,’ ” she said in a recent interview, as a smiling, rambunctious Sam – now 5 – played on the sofa of their Clayton home with the family pug, Zoe. “That was the first moment I felt everything would be OK.”

Sam Small, 5, works on his homework with his mother Cathleen Small at their Clayton, Calif., home on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. Cathleen reached out to the Down Syndrome Connection after the birth of Sam for guidance, support and education about Down Syndrome and raising a Down Syndrome child. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

Cathleen Small reads to her son, Sam Small, 5, at their Clayton, Calif., home on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. Cathleen reached out to the Down Syndrome Connection after the birth of Sam for guidance, support and education about Down Syndrome and raising a Down Syndrome child. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

Cathleen Small reads to her son, Sam Small, 5, at their Clayton, Calif., home on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. Cathleen reached …read more

Source:: East Bay – Health

Money Manners: How do we split the hotel bill fairly?

Q: What is the fair way to split the cost of a hotel room with two queen beds between a couple and a single person?

A: Will the couple be showering separately or together?

We’re only half-kidding. Because while the beds are evenly divided between the single person and the couple, the rest of the accommodation is not. In particular, the couple gets two-thirds of the benefit of the bathroom, and therefore should pay more.

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How much more? Well, suppose the three of you agree that the bathroom represents 40 percent of the value of the room. Then if the hotel bill came, for example, to $200, the bathroom would represent $80 of the bill and the beds $120. This means the couple should pay two-thirds of the $80 plus one-half of the $120, or $114.

Too complicated, you say? Only if the single person thinks so.

Q: Friends who live in the Napa Valley were supposed to meet my wife and me for a week in Hawaii, and, with their concurrence, I rented a condo for the four of us. But three days before we were to leave, the devastating fires there destroyed their home and everything in it, leaving them in no position to travel. Since we’d prepaid for the condo, my wife and I tried to find another couple to take their place. But no one was available on such short notice, so we went by ourselves. Since then, our friends in Napa have said nothing about reimbursing us for their share of the condo rental. While we’re sympathetic to their situation, we know they’re not penniless — far from it. So shouldn’t they be offering to pay for half of the cost of the condo, as they agreed to do when we rented it? And what should we do if they don’t?

A: Even were they actually penniless, your friends would have an obligation to at least acknowledge their responsibility for a portion of the rental costs. And even …read more

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle