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Shop Talk

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Making More Efficient Moves

Tips And Pointers For A Better Move

Memorial Day

Shop Talk

The Effects of Moving on Children and Some Ways to Cope

-- by Dan the Moving Man

One seldom discussed aspect of moving is its potential negative effects on children. Recent studies have shown that moving can cause emotional distress as well as lowered academic performance in children.

Indeed, when children have to move, they are uprooted: friendships are torn, they are displaced from familiar routines and surroundings, and life can seem tragic and unfair. And the stress can be multiplied if they have to leave beloved pets behind.

So what are the consequences of moving on children, and what can be done to soften those effects?

According to a study by the MacArthur Foundation, moving can degrade children’s school performance and their social skills. It also found that these effects are cumulative in children who move multiple times, putting them at greater risk. Moves that required changing schools produced more profound negative effects than moves in which the child could remain in the same school. And children who moved earlier in life (early childhood through middle school) were more deeply affected by moving than those who moved in high school.

What can be done to reduce or even ameliorate these negative effects?

The Department of Defense school system has a program that has some good features. Students who are leaving a school are provided with a farewell package consisting of a memory book made by students and teachers to let departing students know that they will be missed.

At the student’s new school, teachers prepare their students to welcome the new student, and a counselor will meet with the new student on the student’s first day at school.

Five San Diego school districts teamed with the Engineering and Social Work Departments at the University of Southern California to develop a mobile app that connects incoming students of military families with groups and individuals who can assist them with their transition to their new home.

This brings up a very important point. In an article in Psychology Today, a professor of Psychology (who had moved 10 times during the first 25 years of her marriage) recommended using technology to help soften the blow of moving.

She pointed out how using social media to stay connected and using webcam technology to show one’s new digs on a real-time basis could keep old relationships vital in a way that was never possible in the past. They could even play on-line games, and games like chess and checkers.

Such technologies could be used in a pro-active way, too. Google Earth could show new homes and neighborhoods, and internet searches could also show local hobbyists’ and special interest groups’ locations, history, meeting schedules, pictures of members and of past events, etc. This might even generate some enthusiasm for moving.

As for small children, you might involve them by having them package and label some of their precious belongings, with plenty of supervision, of course. But involving them organically might help them to feel that they have more control over their lives and circumstances, which could be very important at this juncture. And they, too, could take full advantage of the webcam and certain social media features to stay in touch with old friends.

These technologies can help to take the sting out of moving and even make it a positive experience. In some ways, the applications are limited only by one’s imagination.

There are also some old fashioned ways to make parting less painful, such as having a party for your children and their friends. Be sure to take lots of pix and videos.

Hopefully, these tips will help to ease the trauma of moving for your children. But nothing beats understanding your child’s pain and letting them know that you care, and then giving them a big hug.

Shop Talk

Tips and Pointers for a for a Better Move

-- by Dan the Moving Man

Welcome to the first edition of Shop Talk, where you can learn more about the nuts and bolts of planning and completing a move.

Every week, we’ll cover such topics as packing fragile items, how to do-it-yourself (and not “damage-it-yourself), insurance matters, reducing the psychological stress of moving for children, and other such subjects.

We’ve already discussed the issue of whether to use two or three movers for your move and what the cost/benefit ratios are for each particular situation.

In this edition, we’ll look at some ways you can save money if you do part of the labor yourself.

First of all, there’s the full service move – the most expensive option – where you leave the packing, disassembly, loading, driving, unloading, unpacking, and re-assembly to the moving company.

The least expensive option (if done right, otherwise it can be a much more expensive and time-wasting nightmare) is to rent a truck yourself and do all the packing, loading, driving, etc., yourself. Just be certain to get a truck that’s large enough to hold all of your goods, and know all the laws pertaining to hazardous materials (i.e., you can’t transport hazardous materials, period), transport of live plants or of fruit and vegetables, and crossing state lines if you’re going to do that.

Probably the best option for saving time and money and still keeping your goods and yourself safe is a hybrid option, where you do most of the packing and disassembly (be certain to tape hardware such as screws in a secure plastic bag to the underside of the item disassembled, and mark it just to be safe). You then leave the packaging of fragile and heavy items to the moving company, as well as the loading.

Loading requires some expertise to ensure safe handling of the truck on the road (avoiding unbalanced loads that will cause you to tip over when you’re negotiating sharp curves, especially while going downhill, or anchoring heavy items so they don’t jiggle loose and smash into other items, etc.).

Unloading typically requires much less skill than loading, but re-assembly of certain items can be frustrating and physically demanding, such as in the case of certain furniture items, playground equipment, gazebos, etc. And it must be stressed again: be certain to tape hardware in a plastic bag securely to the underside of the item from which it was taken. And mark the bag just to be sure in case it’s accidentally pulled off.

If you have some items that are tricky to assemble or very heavy or bulky, you will be better off having the professional movers helping you throughout your move. You can still economize quite a bit by packaging all the “easy” stuff yourself and marking it clearly as to what’s inside and what room you want it to go into at your new destination.

Some items that are fragile should probably also be packed by professional movers, such as breakable plates and glasses. The most common mistake that most Do-It-Yourselfers make is stacking plates on top of each other. Even with a good amount of paper, you’re likely to end up with a lot of broken plates.

Plates should be wrapped in paper (such as blank newsprint) and then stacked on their edges as in a dish drainer rack, only without the “lean” or angle that you have in a drainer. They should be upright and resting on a bed of crumpled paper in the bottom of the box that they’re going into. Also put crumpled paper around the sides and top to fill any empty spaces. This will prevent plates from jarring loose and striking other plates

Glasses should be put into special boxes that have separate cells bordered with corrugated cardboard and with thin foam covers that slip over each glass. You can purchase boxes made just for this purpose from U-Haul or from Moving Connections.

Glass desktops and tabletops, etc., can explode spontaneously (just do a search for “exploding glass tables” on YouTube to see), and they can do this also as they’re being carried. It’s best to leave such items to professionals. While safety glass tends to break into thousands of small pieces, other kinds of glass can break under their own weight (especially when handled incorrectly) and can act as a huge guillotine, shearing a limb clean off. To prevent this catastrophe, let the professionals handle these things.

As a rule, anything with glass in it should be left to professionals, and that includes paintings.

However, there are many things that amateurs can pack well, and to help you do that, some moving companies sell moving kits with an assortment of boxes (small boxes for books and other heavy things, medium boxes for things that are not so heavy, and large boxes for light things, such as comforters and pillows. They even have wardrobe boxes, which are tall boxes that have metal bars for hanging clothing on. Some have used these to ship small chandeliers.

Be certain to mark each box clearly. You might even want to purchase large white adhesive labels to make them stand out.

If you follow these tips, you should get the most bang for your buck.

Remember, the more labor you do, the more you save. But leave the dangerous and fragile items to the professionals.

Shop Talk

How to Enhance Your Landscaping

-- by Dan the Moving Man

A law enforcement officer in a small town had nagging reservations about charging a man with attempted murder of his wife. She had been taken to the hospital in very poor condition, and was found to have lethal amounts of arsenic in her system. She didn’t know how she could have gotten such a thing in her bloodstream, so naturally, the husband became a prime suspect immediately. However, the sheriff decided to hold off before charging the man, who seemed to a good natured man who had a happy marriage. So the sheriff called an FBI expert with decades of experience in poisoning cases. The FBI lab technician laughed when he asked, “Well, have you tested her husband for arsenic yet,” and the sheriff answered, “No.” So the technician suggested they test the husband. They tested the husband and found that the levels of arsenic in his system were well above his wife’s, but he had a much higher resistance to it. A very short investigation ensued and they found that the couple had been working on a large backyard deck and that neither had used masks while sawing the pressure treated wood used for the project. The sawdust was what had given both of them lethal levels of arsenic poisoning. The couple now use approved masks when sawing pressure treated wood.

Good landscaping can not only make your house look stunning, but it can increase the market value of your home substantially. It might be a good thing to look into a touch up of your landscaping before you sell your home.

There are a lot of misunderstandings and even myths about landscaping, and unfortunately, this seems to be true even of landscape architects.

The first myth is, “Don’t make your landscaping formal.” This is wrong and demonstrates a total misunderstanding of the most fundamental concept of landscaping: your landscaping should match your architecture.If your architecture is formal, then your landscaping should be formal. Period.

In fact, one of the most common mistakes that people make in landscaping is that they use materials that are exceedingly informal (grubby), namely, railroad ties.

The creosote in them, if still wet, will destroy any item of clothing that touches them. Creosote also leaches into the soil so that you absolutely should not eat anything grown near railroad ties or “downstream” from them.

Creosote smells bad, too, especially on hot days.

Unless your house is made of railroad ties (or something like them), your landscaping should not include them. In addition, they are technically illegal to use in landscaping according to the EPA, but enforcement is non-existent, so old railroad ties are sold as landscaping materials, even at the national chain “big box” stores.

If you must use wood, there are at least two commonly used woods that are naturally rot-resistant: cedar and redwood. Although the sawdust from these (and the oils in cedar) can cause allergic and other negative reactions, they are generally regarded as being safe and are recommended for use as borders for vegetable gardens. And cedar is particularly beautiful. But don’t use any treated woods, as these are usually infused with toxic ingredients, often arsenic.

If you want a more rustic, informal look, consider rough granite slabs or some other kind of stone slabs that can section off a garden or other area without sharp geometric lines. These can be pricey (and heavy), but they’re well worth the money and effort when you consider their beauty, their durability, and the fact that you won’t poison your family if you feed them strawberries grown near them.

It might be best to do an image search for “granite slabs for landscaping” or “stone slabs for landscaping” to get some ideas of how to use them, and then add your own touch. And you can always use the internet for landscaping ideas. Just make certain that they’re good ideas.

In the next two or three weeks, we will have some more ideas for landscaping, such as “Xeroscaping Does NOT Have to Look Like an Abandoned Gravel Pit”, “How to Use Contrast for a Stunning Effect” and “Making a Beautiful and Accessible Herb Garden.”