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3 Ways to Break Out of Your Echo Chamber This Election Season


At a time when the nation is more divided than ever over politics, race and whether to wear a face mask, the opinion of one side is often not just opposed to that of the other side but incomprehensible.

Living in separate digital spheres as well as different areas of the country, the two halves of America were “socially distant” even before the pandemic. Trying to understand our fellow citizens is critical as we approach the presidential election — not to mention the Thanksgiving dinner table — and yet, it feels harder now than ever before.

But while the path toward greater division sometimes seems like a one-way street, there are actually many ways to bridge the gap of understanding. “Curiosity is no longer an option, it’s required to understand the new world we are living in,” says Emmy-winning journalist and OZY Media co-founder and CEO Carlos Watson, host of The Carlos Watson Show, a new show on YouTube that aims to heal America’s wounds by presenting a series of meaningful conversations with diverse, influential guests. With more than 10 million views since its August debut, Watson’s Anderson Cooper–meets–Oprah style of conversation clearly resonates with an audience that craves insightful, impactful and surprising conversations on everything from Black Lives Matter to love, with public figures who might not normally show up in their social media news feeds — from Sean Spicer and Baker Mayfield to George Lopez, Malcolm Gladwell and Tina Knowles-Lawson.

Here are some tips, curated by Watson, for how to break out of your bubble, just as he has facilitated at his own virtual coffee table.

1Listen to others from across the aisle

This sounds like an obvious place to start, but in many ways it is the hardest step. Not just giving airtime but actively listening to opposing viewpoints is rarely practiced by TV talking heads. One good place to start is by following several people on social media with whom you disagree and seeking out interviews online — not for hot takes on the news of the day, but for in-depth profiles of their lives and careers.

While fiery debates are what often trend online, YouTube’s hidden gem is the respectful exchange of differing opinions — and they too can rack up view counts. “This is genuinely the first time I have seen two opposing sides having such a respect for each other in the political realm,” comments Taylor Whiteside on an episode of The Carlos Watson Show in which Watson and actor Terry Crews debate the latter’s controversial “Black supremacy” tweets. “This is what true discussions should look like,” continues Whiteside in his comment on the most-viewed episode of the show so far, with 1.3 million views.

2Seek out deep, meaningful conversations

In 2020, we might have forgotten what it means to have a heart-to-heart with a friend over a bottle of wine, but those long-form discussions are still very much possible through a computer screen. Don’t be afraid to talk about difficult issues like race and to openly advocate for change. But this doesn’t mean just talking politics — the broader conversations you can have, the better. Instead of searching for the “gotcha” moment, find ways to learn the backstory behind someone’s belief system.

3Make the difficult choice to diversify your life

Look around. Your church, your kids’ school, your group of friends, your barbershop and your gym are probably all full of people who look like you and think like you. Start by diversifying your media consumption — check out OZY’s 30-Day Justice Plan for some useful suggestions. To take the next step, would you send your kids to a more integrated school? Would you change employers for the opportunity to have co-workers who hold different opinions from yours? Would you bring your family to a new place of worship if it meant more fully integrating your social world? Building relationships that cross traditional social lines — whether in race, politics, age or place of origin — is the first step toward understanding, empathy and, ultimately, a sense of shared fate that will demand real change.

Start your bubble-bursting journey by tuning into episodes of The Carlos Watson Show, every day on YouTube.

How a Smart Home Can Help You Save Money

Lake Oconee Smart Home

The typical U.S. family spends at least $2,200 a year on home utility bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. On average, that’s 7% of a consumer’s annual income. Utilities that used to be considered “optional,” such as Internet and mobile phone service, are now considered essential during the coronavirus era, adding additional expense to a family’s monthly budget.

So where can a homeowner look to cut back?

When thinking of a smart home, some people might just think of cool, connected gadgets that make life easier or more convenient. However, many smart-home solutions are becoming part of sustainable living, and they can save you money along the way.

Here are four ways you can introduce smart-home solutions into your daily life, reducing the monthly strain of high utility bills.

1Don’t sacrifice efficiency for comfort — automate your thermostat

Homes are a source of comfort and the temperature of your home should help you achieve that feeling. However, heating and cooling can account for nearly half of a family’s monthly utility budget. A smart thermostat, like the Honeywell Home T9 thermostat, can reduce this cost by tailoring to your temperature preferences during the day and at night. By adding smart room sensors to your most popular rooms, you can deliver the right temperature to the right room at the right time. Look for trusted brands that are Energy Star certified. You’ll be doing your pocketbook and the environment a favor.

2Sign up for rebates

When a sudden heat wave or cold snap hits a large swath of the country, air conditioning systems and heaters in houses, apartments, hospitals and office buildings all crank on at once, and utility companies go into overdrive trying to meet their clients’ increased energy demands.

This kind of short-term increased demand puts a strain on the electric grid and can even become a public safety hazard if overloaded systems crash just when consumers most need them. To prevent this, utility companies implement a variety of voluntary energy-saving programs (known in the industry as demand response, or DR) that incentivize consumers to reduce their energy use during periods of peak demand.

Many utility companies offer consumers a rebate for joining energy savings programs that connect to smart thermostats. You can search for rebates at Resideo.com/rebates.

3Light up the room, but only when you’re in it

Parents can often tell the exact path their children have taken based on what lights have been left on throughout the house. Turning off lights is an easy thing to forget, even as adults. We’ve all accidentally left that closet light or bedroom lamp on all day. Consider installing automated and motion-activated lighting solutions. With easy DIY installation, a weekend lighting project can give you long-term energy savings. Interested to know how much energy and cost are associated with running various home appliances? You can find an energy calculator at Energy.gov.

4Get to know your water usage

Most of us don’t think twice when turning on the faucet, flushing the toilet or running a warm bath, which takes energy to heat. Water is our planet’s most precious resource, but it’s something we take for granted because it’s available at the turn of a tap. Monitoring and being aware of your water footprint can help reduce your monthly bill, while reducing strain on water supplies. For example, your money goes down the drain when dishes are washed by hand — using up to 27 gallons per load — instead of using an Energy Star certified dishwasher that can use as little as three gallons per load.

Smart washing machines can help you optimize your laundry preferences — and can find the right wash cycle and water-temperature preferences suitable for that load.

Resideo’s Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector can alert you and your smartphone if it detects a possible water leak.

Are you feeling like you want to start improving your home’s efficiency, but don’t know how to begin? HVAC contractors and security dealers are considered essential businesses during the coronavirus in many states. Most credible professionals have adjusted their protocols when interacting with homeowners as well. Contact a professional that can recommend efficient whole-home solutions to help optimize your home’s water and energy resources.

Expert Tips and Tricks You Need to Know to Make Every Brunch Your Best Brunch

Lake Oconee Brunch Locations

For many, regular brunch gatherings may have fallen by the wayside in recent months. With the changing of seasons, it’s time to bring brunch back to create warm memories as the weather cools. If your go-to brunch plans are no longer possible, start thinking about creating a new routine and hosting a fabulous brunch in the safety and comfort of your home, outdoor living space or virtually.

Whether entertaining a small group of family or friends in your bubble or gathering the whole gang online, pro tips and tricks can help make any brunch your best brunch. From creating a beautiful tablescape and ambiance to pairing Insta-worthy drinks and dishes, insights from expert entertainers will help you create the ultimate elevated brunch experience.

1Do your prep work

To avoid a last-minute time crunch, make a plan. Nail down your menu and shop for the essentials a few days in advance of your soiree; make a quick shopping trip or online grocery order the day before for items that are best purchased super fresh. Also the day before, take care of as much slicing, chopping and assembling as you can, and start laying the foundation for your gorgeous table by setting out your linens, china and glassware. Pull out any other kitchen tools, serving ware and essentials you may need. The more you can do ahead of time, the more energy you’ll have to welcome and attend to your brunch guests, whether virtually or in person from a safe distance.

2Create fun and functional centerpieces

Creating a chic table doesn’t need to be complicated or break the bank. You can create a stunning look with flavors you’ll be featuring in your menu. Fill small vases with overflowing aromatics and herbs that accent dishes or garnish cocktails — think fresh mint, thyme or lavender. Use glass pitchers to showcase other key accouterments, such as sliced or whole lemons, limes, oranges and berries. This hack adds bursts of vibrant color indoors or out, while getting your guests involved in crafting and customizing their own drinks. Plus, budget-minded entertainers can make use of these fresh ingredients later in the week.

3Keep it light

Nothing says brunch like a pretty, sparkling cocktail. Whether guests are joining in person or virtually, an elegant and effervescent drink helps elevate the occasion. For your next 21-and-older get-together*, the Lillet Spritz is a simple and ideal accompaniment to any brunch menu. With low alcohol by volume, this light and refreshing concoction is perfect for sipping during daytime festivities. Just mix three ounces of Lillet (Blanc or Rosé) with three ounces of tonic water over large ice cubes in a tall wine glass, and garnish with cucumber, mint and a strawberry.

4Pay attention to pairings

When deciding on a menu, think about how each dish will work with your accompanying beverages. Look for combinations that will complement one another, provide balance or highlight nuances you want to bring out in your culinary creations. For instance, the classic Lillet can draw attention to the hint of citrus and aromatics in baked doughnuts topped with a Lillet Rosé glaze — even better, these easy-to-make show-stoppers from Vallery Lomas, cookbook author and Great American Baking Show winner, can be prepared in advance.

When keeping these expert tips in mind, hosting a simple yet chic brunch experience in your home, on your deck or in your garden is within easy reach. Especially with one final pro tip: Fill your guest list — online or in person, when safe to do so — with fun family and friends who are hungry for connecting through special moments and making lasting memories.

*Please drink responsibly.

The Benefits of Professional Dog Grooming

The Benefits of Professional Dog Grooming

Your dog is a wildcard when it comes to getting groomed. He may hate taking baths, getting his nails clipped, or getting his ears cleaned, and might throw a fit whenever you try to handle it yourself. That is where a professional dog groomer comes in to save the day. Going to a dog groomer can save you precious time in your day, along with saving you from the anxiety of doing something wrong while grooming your pup. On top of expanding your free time, the benefits of professional dog grooming are impactful on both your dog’s health and appearance, which sums up to one happy pup!

Beautiful, Healthy Paws

Just as you’d want a foot massage after being on your feet all day, so does your dog! While you may struggle to clip your canine friend’s claws, a professional groomer specializes in it. Professional groomers will keep your dog relaxed and at ease while they clip your pup’s nails. They will also make sure to avoid cutting the quick of the claw. When your dog’s nails are too long, they risk being torn off by carpet or other snagging hazards. Some anxious dogs will try to bite their nails as a habit, just like humans do. Keeping their nails short can help prevent snagging or biting.

Healthy Fur

In addition to removing allergenic dander from your dog’s fur, a professional groomer will control matted or brittle fur. A good shampooing and brushing from a professional groomer will give your dog the soft, sleek fur that is normal in a healthy dog. A professional haircut may keep him cool in hot weather, but remember that only certain dogs can be fully shaved. Your pet will be soft to pet and cuddle, and their healthy fur can make your dog’s appearance stand out from other dogs—he will be a superstar!

Socializes and Conditions Your Dog

You may be surprised to find that the benefits of professional dog grooming are not just cosmetic—professional grooming can help your dog’s mental health too. Having a good relationship with a professional groomer can condition your dog to tolerate car rides or assist with car training if he suffers from car anxiety. Naturally, he may not appreciate other people touching him. The soothing touch of a professional groomer can let him know that other humans are safe.

A Second Pair of Eyes on Your Dog’s Health

There may be health concerns that you would not normally notice, even when you check your dog thoroughly. Someone who specializes in dogs and their health may notice important health concerns and warning signs before you will. For example, a professional groomer will clean your dog’s ears. If you are not cleaning your dog’s ears at home, the buildup of excess dirt and wax in the ear can lead to ear infections. Ear infections can lead to doggie deafness if they happen often enough. A groomer will also notice dangerous bumps on the skin that may require a vet check-up.

Best Types of Exercises for Older Adults

Best Types of Exercises for Older Adults

Exercise is something that will benefit people of any age, but it’s especially important for people who are a bit older. While exercise is necessary in a general sense to keep your body healthy, it is especially important for helping you maintain your quality of life outside the gym. With age, it becomes harder to get around and do regular daily chores. Exercise can help older adults retain strength, mobility, and balance. Certain exercises are better and safer for different ages, so it is important to know the best ones for your age group. Here, we will look at some of the best types of exercises for older adults.


Right off the bat, one of the best types of exercises for older adults is swimming. It works as a great way for a person to increase their cardiovascular fitness. A good cardio workout will help keep the heart strong, which is incredibly necessary as you get older. Swimming also helps strengthen various muscles. As we age, we gradually lose muscle mass, which not only weakens the body but can cause more pain on the joints. One of the best things about swimming is that it’s a low impact exercise. This makes it a popular option for exercise for many older adults.


Another exercise that is low impact on the joints is yoga. While it is easy on the joints, it still involves balancing and supporting your body’s weight as you move through each position. Yoga is designed to build muscle strength, core stability, and increase aerobic fitness. An important aspect of yoga is that it targets all parts of the body. This is vital for older adults, as it will help increase their full body mobility. Not only can yoga build your muscles, but it can also strengthen your bones.

Resistance Band Workouts

Equipment-free training is always a great option, as it is generally very safe, but there are some good equipment-based options that can be safe for older adults as well. Workouts that use resistance bands are good examples of this. Resistance bands can help challenge and strengthen the muscles in unique ways. Some resistance band workouts are even more effective than traditional equipment-free training. Using bands, rows, and other pulling motions are great for strengthening your back. This is a great option if you are a senior looking for exercises to improve your posture as well.


This is a great option for older adults who want to strengthen their legs. Keeping your legs healthy and strong in old age is a key to retaining your mobility. Again, cycling is a low impact exercise, which makes it a great option for any age. It’s also a great option if you are looking for a fun workout. Taking a bicycle out on a beautiful nature trail is a great way to enjoy some needed exercise. For those who are considerably older, an indoor stationary bike may be safer. Either way, this is a great option for cardio exercise.

Items Every Senior Citizen Should Have

Items Every Senior Citizen Should Have

There are plenty of things to look forward to after retirement: the freedom to relax, the extra time to read and travel, and the general feeling of accomplishment when reflecting on one’s past. While the Golden Years have many perks, life can still get harder as the body ages. Luckily, there are many items senior citizens can purchase to make their lives easier. These are some of the items every senior citizen should have.


Even those who don’t suffer from joint pain or balance problems when walking should consider using a cane. It provides extra support and can help prevent bad falls. There are plenty of walking canes for sale, so make sure you choose one that’s lightweight and of high quality.

Specialized Tools

Other items every senior citizen should have are specialized tools. There are many easy-to-use tools that cater specifically to the comfort of senior citizens. You can purchase specialty nail clippers, scissors, house keys, remote controls, shower loofahs and sponges, and silverware with features that make them easier for seniors to use than their traditional counterparts. There’s even an electronic spoon that levels itself for seniors with unsteady hands.

TV Headphones

TV headphones are especially useful for couples with differing hearing abilities. With these special headphones, you can watch television without anyone else hearing it. It will never be on too loudly, and sound through the headphones is often much clearer.

Magnifying glass

Whether you have glasses or not, eyesight weakens with age. Many senior citizens purchase a magnifying glass to read the small print on books and product packaging, as it helps prevent strain on the eyes. It’s also useful in between trips to the eye doctor or when you’re waiting on new lenses.

Organizer Notebook

From medical records to calendars, it’s important for a senior citizen to stay organized. You can keep track of appointments and social gatherings on the calendar. Some notebooks also include folders for medical records so that you can write notes that the doctor said verbally and keep your records in the same place.

How To Extend the Life of Food Manufacturing Equipment

How To Extend the Life of Food Manufacturing Equipment

Every food manufacturing facility depends on the equipment they use daily. The equipment must be reliable, sanitary, and efficient. Unsurprisingly, it’s necessary to take care of the equipment if you want it to perform optimally and last over multiple years. You can learn how to extend the life of food manufacturing equipment in our guide below.

Develop a Cleaning and Maintenance Routine and Stick To It

The best way to keep your equipment operating at its best is through frequent cleaning and maintenance. Besides, the FDA and USDA require you to have a spotless facility; why wouldn’t you want clean equipment, too? Moreover, the moment you notice your equipment isn’t performing the way it normally does, you should find out why; call a repair service if necessary. The reason it’s vital to call repair service sooner than later is that, if something is wrong with your machine, its continued operation could cause further damage.

Use Quality Lubricants When Necessary

Most (if not all) food processing equipment includes moving parts that require lubrication. Make sure the lubricant you’re using is high-quality because it’ll perform better and cost you less in the long run. While the cheaper lubricant has a more attractive price, it won’t last as long, and you’ll only waste time and money with the more frequent lubricant changes.

Always Match Materials When Replacing Piping

The majority of food manufacturing facilities have process piping and plumbing that connect to their equipment. Over time, the piping may break down and corrode, requiring you to replace it. While it’s not surprising that you’ll need to replace the piping if you begin noticing corrosion, many people don’t replace the pipes properly. Specifically, most people don’t match the adjacent pipe materials, and dissimilar pipe materials can cause corrosion. In other words, if you replace a pipe or fitting with a different material, you’re actually speeding the corrosion process up.

Any time you perform regular maintenance, cleaning, or repairs, take the time to make a note of it. By keeping a record of all your efforts, you’ll be able to make better decisions regarding extending the life of food manufacturing equipment. For instance, you could compare how often you need to replace the lubricant when you use a low-quality lubricant versus a high-quality lubricant.

Get Growing This Fall Gardening Season

Lake Oconee Landscaping

The changing season offers a new opportunity to grow fall-friendly plants. Gardening is a great way to decorate your space with beautiful blooms, grow fresh vegetables that produce delicious cool season harvests, and is a safe, healthy activity to engage in while practicing social distancing and enjoying the outdoors. Whether you have a small patio, high-rise rooftop, quaint sunny corner of your yard or even a balcony, the experts at Ball Horticultural Company share their fall gardening insights for growing a successful and stunning garden this season.

1Prepare for planting

If you have plants that have matured from the summer gardening season, it’s time to clean up to prepare for new growth. Remove surface plants and use a tiller or hand tools to remove root matter under the soil. Add compost or gardening soil to pots, window boxes and other garden spaces, so they are ready with rich nutrients to support fall plant growth. If you’ve grown hardy perennials, just a brief tidy-up is needed. Clip away any brown foliage or spent flowers and provide a light covering of mulch at the base of the plant to ready them for frosty temperatures.

2Embrace fall hues

Rich reds, vivid oranges and happy yellows are traditional autumnal hues that add energy to your gardens as temperatures turn. A classic coneflower and pollinator favorite, like the Sombrero Echinacea from Darwin Perennials, will brighten your space even as temperatures fall. Available in a variety of colors, Sombrero Baja Burgundy and Fiesta Orange are ideal for bringing vibrant fall color to sunny spaces and for attracting bees, songbirds and butterflies to your yard.

Tip: Leave the older blooms of Echinacea on their stems to feed wildlife into the winter. Then cut them back after their feast to put new energy into the plant for spring.

3Flowers that thrive

Another colorful and easy care option are Cool Wave Pansies, a fast-growing, long-lasting trailing pansy available in a variety of bold colors perfect for revamping your outdoor space for fall. A cool-season gardener’s dream, you can feel confident that these blooms will thrive even as fall temperatures ebb and flow. Check out Cool Wave Raspberry Swirl with cheerful magenta and white petals and a delightful yellow center.

Tip: Place your Cool Wave Pansies where you’ve also planted bulbs. Their hardiness will make them the first pansy to reappear next spring for two seasons of enjoyment.

4Enjoy homegrown vegetables

In addition to adding style to your space with fall flowers, incorporate seasonal vegetables to enjoy fresh, healthy produce straight from your backyard or patio. Burpee Sweet Thang Cabbage adds beauty to any garden with its attractive dark green leaves. A touch sweeter than collards or kale, this non-heading cabbage delivers a delicious bite to round out autumn dishes.

A wonderful option for full-sun gardens is Bright Lights Swiss Chard, a stunning All-America Selections-winning mix that produces delicious, mildly flavored stems in a rainbow of colors — including yellow, gold, orange, pink, violet, green, white, red and even striped!

Tip: Harvest the tender bronze to dark green leaves young to enjoy in salads or eat like spinach or beet greens.

There are many plants that thrive in the fall weather, adding style and life to your outdoor space to enjoy for many months. For more tips and gardening ideas, visit burpeehomegardens.com and wavegardening.com.

How Companies Can Reduce Equipment Repair Costs

How Companies Can Reduce Equipment Repair Costs

For your company to become successful, you must increase profits or decrease costs. For industrial facilities specifically, a large portion of costs goes toward equipment acquisition and repairs. Unfortunately, equipment is a double-edged sword because industrial facilities depend on equipment for their daily operations. Luckily, there are some ways companies can reduce equipment repair costs; check them out in our guide below.

Stay on Top of Maintenance

Maintaining your equipment is the best way to reduce repairs costs and downtime. However, a lot of companies neglect regular equipment maintenance. Because every machine is different and experiences different amounts of use, we can’t tell you definitively what your maintenance schedule should look like. You can, however, communicate with the machine’s manufacturer for their recommendation.

Use Quality Products

Every machine requires some sort of consumable, whether it’s fuel or lubricant, and you must ensure the product you’re using is high-quality. When repairs are necessary, you’ll also want to make sure the replacement component is high-quality as well. The reason quality is so important is because low-quality or cheap products are more likely to fail sooner or potentially damage your equipment.

Know a Good Mechanical Contractor

Although the equipment that allows a business to operate is imperative to the company’s success, far too many companies forget about their facilities’ equipment. For example, a climate-controlled work environment is known to produce more productive workers, so you should regularly maintain your HVAC system. If you simply don’t know how to maintain it, you’re not alone, but that’s what mechanical contractors are for. Just make sure you know what makes a mechanical contractor good or not.

Learning how companies can reduce equipment repair costs will significantly improve your company’s financial state. With our suggestions, you can have a better sense of where your money is going and where you can make improvements.

A Guide To CBD: How To Use CBD For Increased Efficiency


CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the main active compounds found in the cannabis plant. Studies on CBD continue, but we already know that this cannabis ingredient is capable of many great wonders as it offers effective treatments for a variety of health conditions. 

CBD is being used to treat epilepsy in the form of a medication known as Epidiolex, which is FDA-approved. Research has revealed that cannabidiol can be effective in helping with pain, anxiety, and many other conditions. 

Studies show that CBD carries potent anti-inflammatory properties, and it has the ability to protect nerves from damage. Ongoing research is analyzing CBD as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other chronic conditions. 

So, overall, it is not a question any longer when it comes to the efficiency and potency of CBD. But, certain forms (or types) of CBD are known to be more bioavailable, meaning that some forms of cannabidiol are more readily absorbed by the body than others. 


Topicals refer to cannabis products that come in forms of lotions or creams. These are created to be applied only onto the skin. Topicals are known to be quite efficient when it comes to managing localized pain, and even certain skin conditions, such as eczema or acne. 

You can find CBD-infused topicals, such as creams, balms, lotions, transdermal patches, and salves. 

There has been a study carried out on rats which has discovered that by applying a CBD-infused gel, it significantly reduced joint swelling. If this same result proves to be true for people as well, then this method will be a game-changer for anyone suffering from conditions such as arthritis. 

Research on topicals have not yet determined their bioavailability, but researchers do know that they can provide significant relief to a particular area of the body. For increased efficiency, you should choose a product with a high content of CBD and apply a generous amount onto the needed body part. 

TIP: if you go for a CBD-infused topical that contains additional analgesic ingredients, such as capsaicin or camphor, it is believed to offer an even greater therapeutic effect. 


If you are all about consuming cannabis in the most discreet way possible, then edibles are your dream choice. Plus, your options range from gummy bears, brownies, chocolate bars, butter, truffles, cookies all the way to tea, coffee, or your favorite beverage. In this category, getting bored with cannabis is not even a possibility. 

Edibles can take anywhere between half an hour to two hours until the effects will start kicking in, depending on the dosage, your tolerance level and the kind of edible you are consuming. 

With edibles, CBD goes through quite a process in order to be broken down, such as the digestive track, blood stream, and liver. After it gets metabolized in the liver, it is sent back into the bloodstream and then into the brain, and this is when the effects will start taking place. This process is referred to as the “first pass effect” through which your body absorbs about 20 to 30% of the CBD you consume. 

Sublingual Application

One thing that sublingual products are generally good at offering, is that they don’t tend to contain added ingredients, such as preservatives and sugar. Sublingual refers to the method in which the cannabis product gets placed under your tongue from where it will get absorbed into your system. 

Sublingual products come in the form of oils, lozenges, tinctures, and sprays. Through this method, more of the CBD is preserved and the effects take place faster in comparison to edibles. 

Smoking And Vaping

Smoking or vaping high CBD-marijuana flowers allow you to absorb anywhere between  34% and 56% of the CBD. This higher rate is achieved as the cannabidiol will go directly into your bloodstream, which also makes it possible for the effects to start working faster in comparison to the other methods. 

But, with the practice of vaping and smoking, you should keep in mind that your lungs, and also your overall health, is exposed to toxins through the smoke. According to a study published in 2017, compounds such as vegetable glycerin, fractionated coconut oil, or propylene can cause damage to your lung tissue. These thinning compounds are used in making CBD vape cartridges. 

If you do decide to smoke, or vape, it is highly recommended for you to do so with the cannabis flower, and not other marijuana products. 

From Deductibles to Donuts: Key Terms You Need to Know About Medicare Part D

Lake Oconee Medicare Agency Insurance

Navigating the ins and outs of Medicare can be an intimidating experience if you’re not familiar with certain terms.

Medicare Part D, which helps cover prescription drug costs, has its own terminology. Medicare Annual Enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, so now is a good time for a refresher on key words to inform your coverage decisions for 2021.

1Deductible, copay and coinsurance

A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket in a given year for eligible prescription drugs before your plan’s coverage kicks in. The deductible can vary from plan to plan.

Some plans charge a copay, a flat fee, each time you fill a prescription. For example, a plan may require you to pay $2 when you fill a prescription for generic drugs and a higher amount for brand-name drugs.

With coinsurance, you pay a set percentage of the cost of the drug instead of the flat fee associated with a copay.


Part D plans are offered by private insurance companies, and each plan has what’s known as a formulary, a list of the prescription drugs covered under the plan.

“When considering a Part D plan, review the formulary to make sure your medications are covered,” said Mike Anderson, CEO of the Medicare Part D business at UnitedHealthcare.

And keep in mind that plan formularies can change from year to year, so don’t assume that the prescription drugs covered under your current plan will carry over in 2021.

3Drug tiers

A Medicare Part D plan’s formulary is made up of tiers, depending on the cost of the medications. The lower tiers generally include preferred generic drugs, and many plans cover these medicines with low or no copay or coinsurance.

Higher tiers generally include brand-name drugs and specialty medications and tend to have higher copays or coinsurance. So, talk to your doctor to see if the brand-name prescription you take can be replaced with a generic version.

4Preferred pharmacy network

A Part D plan may designate a preferred network of pharmacies, and if you use these pharmacies, you can save money on prescriptions.

“Make sure the plan offers access to pharmacies that are convenient for you,” Anderson said. “Some plans also have mail-order pharmacy benefits, and you may be able to get prescriptions delivered to your home for a lower cost than purchasing from a retail location.”

5The donut hole

The majority of Part D plans have a coverage gap known as a “donut hole.” For example, in 2020, you enter this donut hole once your out-of-pocket costs (including deductibles, copays and coinsurance) for prescription drugs reach $4,020. Once you’re in the donut hole, you will pay 25% of the cost of your drugs. In past years, this percentage was higher.

In 2020, once your out-of-pocket costs reach $6,350, you exit the donut hole and pay a smaller coinsurance. Your Part D plan tracks your out-of-pocket spend progression and should be accessible on your plan website and monthly statements.

If you meet certain income and resource requirements, you may be eligible for Extra Help, which helps qualified beneficiaries pay some or all Medicare Part D premiums, deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance.

Learn more

Now is a great time to start thinking about your health and budget needs for the upcoming year. Whether you’ll be enrolling in Medicare for the first time, looking to change your coverage during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period, or helping a loved one make decisions, visit GetToKnowMedicare.com to access resources to help you prepare and make confident choices.

Falling Into Home Safety

Lake Oconee Fire Safety

While the crisp autumn air signals the change of seasons, it also brings fire safety risks associated with fall activities, such as getting cozy around a campfire and burning candles. While spending more time at home and cooking more indoors as cooler weather approaches, it is important to be prepared. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

  • Unattended cooking is the number one cause of home fires in the U.S.;
  • Campfire accidents send thousands of people to emergency rooms with burn injuries every year;
  • More than half of candle fires (59%) start because a flammable object is too close to the candle.

As temperatures begin to drop, make sure to check out these fire safety tips from First Alert:

1Be alert while cooking.

Cooking fires are expected to continue to increase with more cooking occurring at homes across the country right now, so it is important for you to stay alert and be mindful in the kitchen. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food. If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking. Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging or dish towels — away from your stovetop.

2Play it safe around a campfire.

Whether in your backyard or on a campsite, it is important to know how to enjoy a campfire safely. Campfires need to be placed at least 25 feet away from any structure and anything that can burn, such as dry leaves and shrubs. Avoid burning on windy, dry days and never use gasoline or other flammable liquids. Always attend to the campfire and keep a close eye on children while the fire is burning, especially when roasting marshmallows.

3Practice candle safety.

Candles can add lots of ambiance to your indoor and outdoor areas, but they can easily ignite anything that can burn. When burning candles, keep them at least a foot away from anything flammable, never leave them unattended and place them out of reach from children. Make it a routine to check that all flames are extinguished before you leave the area.

4Be prepared to put out a fire.

Fires can spread very quickly and have the potential to cause significant damage. You should always be prepared with a fire extinguishing device nearby, like First Alert EZ Fire Spray. It’s easy to use — just point and spray — and features a familiar lightweight spray-can design to help stop fires fast. Plus, it discharges four times longer than regular extinguishers (based upon the approximate size of fire extinguishing vs. 1-A:10-B:C) and is easy to clean up after use. Its small size makes it easy to store, like in your kitchen cabinet, or perfect to have near you around the campfire.

5Teach kids about fire safety.

While many children and grandchildren will be at home this school year, it is important to remind them about staying safe when near an open flame. Teach kids to stop, drop and roll. Talk about the dangers of open flames and run through safety drills so everyone will feel confident to handle a scary situation.

“While spending more time at home, it is important to be prepared, such as having a fire extinguishing device nearby and discussing safety with your entire family to help ensure everyone is ready in the event a fire incident occurs,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert.

To learn more about fire safety, visit FirstAlert.com.

How To Make a Safer Warehouse Environment

How To Make a Safer Warehouse Environment

In any warehouse setting, employers are always responsible for the safety of their workplace, as well as their employees. Special laws underneath the Workplace Regulations 1992 ensure any workplace adheres to specific standards of safety. A major concern about extremely busy warehouse environments is that they can easily cause some employers to slip up when it comes to these standards and lose sight of their employees’ safety. Therefore, it’s important for employers to check regularly that their workplace is staying up to standards. Here, we will look further at how to make a safer warehouse environment.

Proper Vehicle and Equipment Use

The vehicles and equipment that warehouse employees use are very helpful, but they can also be very dangerous is they are not operated properly. One of the most common vehicles in a warehouse is the forklift. To keep severe accidents with forklifts to a minimum, make sure to only allow certified workers to use them. You should also outfit racking, columns, and dock areas with bumpers to protect forklifts from damage.

Storage and Loading Safety

How items are stored in a warehouse will have a significant impact on the safety of the environment. Any shelving or racking that is aging or broken presents big safety hazards. The last thing you want is items falling on employees. Being aware of weakening or broken pallets is also vital for employee safety. Broken pallets can lead to serious accidents when loading and unloading shipments. For this reason, one benefit of recycling your wooden pallets is that it leads to increased worker safety.

Implement Better Training and Awareness

When wondering how to make a safer warehouse environment, this is one of the most important things to consider. Putting workers through a proper amount of safety training will teach them everything they should know about how to promote safety in the warehouse. A lack of safety training is one of the most common causes of accidents and injuries on the job. This involves making sure your employees learn how to properly lift and carry loads, use ladders and flatbeds, and how to correctly use machinery. First-aid training should be part of this process as well.

Utilize Signage

Making sure to place a lot of signs to warn and communicate with employees can go a long way. This involves having signs that label where first aid equipment, eyewash stations, and fire extinguishers are located. You should post warning signs anywhere there might be a concern or safety hazard. All vehicles and equipment also need to have signage and proper labeling to keep workers safe when operating them.

New to Medicare? Choosing Coverage for Next Year? Know These Key Dates

Lake Oconee Medicare Agency

When can you sign up for Medicare? When can you switch plans if your health needs have changed? Understanding Medicare’s enrollment periods helps you get the coverage you need when you need it.

If you’re signing up for Medicare for the first time, your enrollment window is unique to you and based on your birthday month. Here’s a guideline for what timeframe applies to you.

New to Medicare?

Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) occurs around your 65th birthday, including the three months before and the three months after it. For example, if your birthday is in June, your IEP would be from March to September.

Once you’re enrolled in Medicare, there are set dates for when you are allowed to change your plan.

During the Annual Enrollment Period — Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 — all Medicare beneficiaries have the chance to choose plans for the following calendar year. This is the time for you to decide if your current plan fits your budget and your health needs.

Already on Medicare?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is Jan. 1 through March 31.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can take the following steps from Jan. 1 through March 31. Changes will be effective the first day of the following month.

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare (Parts A and B)
  • Sign up for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Supplement plan, if you return to Original Medicare

Special Enrollment Periods are times when you can sign up for Medicare or change your plan if you qualify due to a life event like moving or retiring.

Looking to learn more? You may be enrolling in Medicare for the first time; you may be looking to change coverage during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7; you may be helping a loved one with their Medicare decisions. No matter your situation, visit GetToKnowMedicare.com to access resources to help you prepare and make confident Medicare decisions.

The Basics of PPE: Hard Hat Types and Class Standards

The Basics of PPE: Hard Hat Types and Class Standards

When it comes to protecting yourself on a job site, few things are as important as your PPE, or personal protection equipment. Whether it be the risk of impact or electrocution, these items shield you from many common workplace hazards and maximize safety. Hard hats are one specific type of work wear that protects your head from concussive force as you work near potentially falling objects. However, there’s more to consider when choosing one of these items than you might initially think. These are the OSHA-approved hard hat types and class standards and what they mean for you as a worker.

Hard Hat Types

For starters, regulation hard hats have type specifications to distinguish their levels of impact protection. These categories tell you what parts of the hat provide the most support and which ones are the most resistant to impact. This knowledge allows you to choose the protective equipment that best suits the specific environment that you’ll be working in.

Type 1

Type 1 hard hats provide the most protection along the very top of a person’s head. It blocks any force, should something like a hand-held tool fall from above. Type 1 models are often the hard hat of choice in the United States, as most concussive hazards are from a plummeting object.

Type 2

Type 2 hard hats, on the other hand, are a bit more protective than type 1, as they reduce impact from various off-center angles. As such, they make a great all-around option when you aren’t sure what you’re going to be up against.

Hard Hat Classes

But the different types aren’t all there is to know. In fact, you must know about hard hat types and class standards together to make the best choice for your work. Class, in contrast to type, indicates the amount of electrical resistance the specific model has. This supplies you with the optimal amount of protection when working near power lines and live circuits.

Class G

Class G hats, otherwise classified as general models, provide electrical resistance up to 2,200 volts. They also protect against impact and work well around lower-voltage electrical conductors.

Class E

Class E, or electrical, hats are one step higher and are tested at 20,000 volts. They’re the best option for working around higher-voltage conductors and can resist penetration from blunt objects, depending on the type.

Class C

Then, finally, class C hard hats provide no electrical protection at all. These models don’t have special insulation. In fact, they’re made of aluminum, which conducts electricity. This means that workers shouldn’t wear these anywhere near an active electrical hazard. They do, however, offer superior impact and penetration protection.