Posted in Uncategorized

Netflix Offers Unlimited Maternity Leave to New Parents

Netflix, located in Los Gatos Calif., has caught on to the rest of the world’s standards when it comes to maternity leave. The corporation announced early August that it would offer unlimited leave after a baby is born or adopted.

Currently, new parents receive 6 weeks off and are paid through state disability. According to Pregnancy.org, those who receive FMLA through their employer are allowed to take up to twelve weeks off and will be paid through state disability. Unless the child has special needs, anytime needed off beyond this point does not offer job protection and may not qualify for compensation through the state.

working mom

Applying and receiving benefits through the state is a tedious process, but it is the first step to begin any kind of approved leave. However, Netflix is doing things a little differently. According to CNN, the corporation will be doing the payout, rather than the state.

The employees who qualify for the leave will receive the same pay without any changes. Netflix is notorious for such employee-friendly policies, as they currently offer unlimited sick pay and vacation leave.

It has been argued that Netflix can afford to offer the maternity leave as the above due to having a substantially small number of women employed, however, the policy is for both men and women. While it may seem that this may cost the company funding and employees, it is actually the opposite. Netflix’s Chief of Talent Offer, Tawni Cranz, wrote a blog post on the subject,

“Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field. Experience shows people perform better at work when they’re not worrying about home. This new policy, combined with our unlimited time off, allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated.”
–Tawni Cranz
Longer maternity leave seems to be a growing trend among American tech companies. Google offers 18 weeks of leave, Facebook offers four months, and Apple offers 14 weeks. Shortly after Netflix’s new policy announcement, Microsoft announced that they would be increasing their maternity leave to 20 weeks.
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Posted in Uncategorized

Clinton proposes debt free reform for students

A solid education is fundamental in a job market that seems to become more and more competitive as the years progress. This can be challenging as students struggle to pay tuition costs, or can no longer afford to stay in school and ultimately accumulate college debt.

According MSNBC,  Americans hold more student loan debt than credit card debt. Today the U.S. is at a whopping $1.2 trillion deficit in student loans and the numbers are continuously rising.  One of Hillary Clinton’s proposals during her 2016 presidential election campaign is to eliminate this by offering student loan forgiveness, also known as the “New College Compact.”debt

“Students will be able to attend an in-state public university to get a 4-year degree without ever having to take out a loan for tuition,” according to Clinton’s fact sheet that was shared with reporters. While the proposal is quite enticing to the youth of America, it is gaining the publicity from the viewers Clinton needs in order to gain a victory such as Obama’s– America’s young adults. Some may describe this as strategic, but could this actually work?

Clinton’s proposal sounds appealing, however, is it realistic? She addresses, “undisclosed tax loopholes on the wealthy” and claims to use these dollars toward tuition, instead of unpayable student loans. This is not going to happen anytime soon, as her tuition piggybank will take approximately 10 years to build. Her goal is to raise $350 billion dollars for universities, non-profit colleges and grants.

Lastly, she plans on using the remaining dollars toward debt relief for students. Ultimately, the student is not obligated to repay more than 10 percent of his or her income and the remainder shall be forgiven and repaid by Clinton’s debt relief reform. One of the stipulations for qualifying students is to contribute by working at least 10 hours per week. Clinton has added an extra tax credit of $1,000 to $2,500 to individuals paying for college.

This is not the first proposal of its kind and while other politicians have failed to plan properly, its been said that Clinton’s proposal is the most detailed, prepared and expensive.

Posted in Photography, Uncategorized

Photo Editing vs Manipulation

Photos are an important part of a story. They are what attracts readers to your story, whether it is a news story or a blog post. With that said, you will want to use photos that show what is interesting about your story and why people should read it.

Many readers will not bother to continue reading past the images if your images do not sell the story well enough. This pressure can be tough on a journalist. It is important to deliver, but never feel the need to manipulate a news story in order to gain a high click rate.

This should NEVER be done, just as a journalist should never alter or fabricate the truth of a story. This compromises your integrity, judgement and work ethic.

However, editing photos is OK. Editing a photo is simply changing the photo’s aesthetics. Manipulating changes the truth. For example, an edit to a photo would be the use of the cropping tool and turning the photo black and white. Manipulating a photo would be adding to, or completely erasing parts, of the photo. This is usually done with Photoshop.

Below you will see a photo that has not been edited and another that has.

swimmingswimmingedit Do you notice anything different between the two photos? Well, the first one is the original photo, unedited on a hot Fourth of July day. The second has been altered. I used Picmonkey and started with a small crop. Next, I used the color boost tool and finally the manipulation began with erasing my son completely out of the photo. This is the difference between editing and manipulation.

I used the clone function to duplicate a spot of water and covered him up. By looking at the edited photo, you cannot tell that I was swimming with my kids, as it appears that I was only in the pool with the baby. This is actually the first time I have used this tool and think that it went perfect for the point that I am trying to convey. I’m sure that with practice, I can make some believable edits, not that I will be needing much of this type.

So, be mindful of the edits that you use and choose wisely! Your audience will appreciate an honest photo.

Posted in Uncategorized

How pollutants are harming you

The two main things every living creature needs in order to survive, are the most contaminated.

Take a guess…

That would be air and water.

In a recent blog post, I wrote about how the warm winter caused our plants to go into a “heat stress” and over pollinate, ultimately causing Asthma attacks and allergies from hell. At the beginning of spring, my 6-month-old, (at the time) was in and out of the ER due to difficulty breathing. It was at our second visit when the doctor informed us that she had many patients with the same problem and that this was simply the worst allergy and Asthma season yet.

In addition to the allergies from hell, our environment has many effects on human health. This goes for both long-term and short-term — which is one of the many reasons to take care of the environment.

In order to complete this project, I submitted a FOIA  request to the Department of Health and Human Services to obtain documentation on the statistics of pollution and human health. They responded rather quickly, but stated that they had no such records, to which I immediately questioned. Anyway, I continued my research elsewhere.

According to The World Counts, the most common forms of pollution that have the biggest impact on human health are both water and air pollution. Contamination, along with oil spills, are ruining our oceans and wildlife. The polluted air we breathe in daily is harmful in more ways than one. See my infographic below.

Infographic by Larena Hernandez
Infographic by Larena Hernandez sources: The world counts, Bay Area Air Quality Management District

Just last month Lover’s Point, in Pacific Grove, was contaminated with over 220,000 gallons of raw sewage. MRWPCA workers claim to have been running maintenance on old pipes when a valve failed. The sewage leaked for 6 hours. There is no way to filter the ocean, so the only way to kill the bacteria was to let the sun do its job.

In addition to contamination, oil spills are quite common along the California coast. 

Let’s not forget about contaminated drinking water.

There is no doubt that we need to make a serious change in order save our environment, as well as our health. The Bay Area Quality Management District is a local resource with tips and information on the Bay Area air quality. You can also check out this downloadable fact sheet with 50 ways to help limit air and water pollution.

Remember, the change begins with you.

Posted in Uncategorized

Creating video with your Smart Phone

This project is all about using your Smartphone to create a video story. The project calls for the app Videolicious, however, I could not find it in my app store so I am assuming that it is not available for Androids. I went ahead and used Magisto instead. I added some video and photos of my 9-month-old daughter. The idea was to capture “Life with Lili.”

The app allowed me to select a few files, and the length is limited with the free trial. Once the images and video are in, then you may customize a theme. There are a few options to choose from and even more if you purchase the app. Next, I selected the song. I didn’t get to dig too deep into the music because there are only a few songs to choose from. I imagine that once the app is purchased, the variety is much bigger.

Finally, I selected “make my movie.” This process only took about two minutes. Once the video is created, the app gives you a preview and you have the option to make any tweaks necessary, then save and upload to whatever platform you choose. I enjoyed this project, but wish that the app itself weren’t so limited. Most of its features need to be unlocked. Anyway, enjoy! Feel free to share your own creations with me. Click on Life With Lili to view.

Posted in Uncategorized

The worst allergy season in history?

Social media has been filled with posts about allegy complaints, along with countless check-ins to the emergency room. It’s official, spring is in the air and allergy season is among us. Allergies may sound harmless if you are not an allergy sufferer. And let’s not forget about the asthmatics who are having a tough time as well. allergies

According to Consumer Affairs, “the spring of 2015 has the potential to become the worst allergy season ever.”

What has changed to cause this?

The combination of an abnormally warm fall and winter has caused stress upon the plants. Heat stress causes changes within a plant’s cellular structures, resulting in a decrease in the normal protiens needed to produce leaves. Ultimately, the plant produces more flowers and with more flowers comes more pollen. bee

IMG_3802
Jay’lehn, 3, is one of the many young children suffering early on, due to this season’s pollen increase.

Allergy symptoms are hitting us faster, and at a younger age. Oakley risident, Angelina Hernandez, 25, speaks on the experience she is currently having with her 3-year-old for the first time. “He has never had allergies and now he has watery eyes, a runny nose, cough, and has to use an inhaler for the first time.” Her son has had these syptoms for a month now and with medical help from the Oakland Children’s Hospital, they are just barely improving.

We may not be able to control the amount of pollen produced, and chances are, it will only worsen, but we can protect ourselves from it. Web MD gives a survival guide against pollen.

  • Stay in doors on warm days
  • Avoid opening the windows in your home and run the AC instead
  • Plan your outdoor activities wisely as the highest pollinated times are from 5 am to 9 am
  • Avoid windy areas, the wind stirs up the pollen!
  • If you must be outside, wear a mask– it may just be the new trend!
  • Take allergy medicine before an outing, and bring it with you
  • Over the counter meds not helping? Visit an allergist

honey  If you are more of an all-natural kind of a person, local raw honey is said to help with allergies as well. Maran Kaeintz, 40, of San Tan Valley, AZ says, “I use it in my tea all the time. Make sure it’s local, and your body builds up a tolerance to the allergies.” The idea is to fight pollen with pollen.

For more information on how to protect yourself this spring, visit Allergyactionplan.com.

Posted in Uncategorized

To Vaccinate, or Not to Vaccinate?

measelsThe measles outbreak from Disneyland has sparked a huge debate about vaccines. As the numbers of infected individuals increases, so does the debate. Should they be mandatory or remain optional? The measles vaccine, in particular, is optional. However pro-vaccinators are pushing their opinions as they believe that the outbreak would not have occurred if children were vaccinated. pro

According to The Modern Saint, we are putting our children and those of others at risk by choosing not to vaccinate.

On the flip side, those who chose not to vaccinate view the idea as “strange.”

 how can one achieve wellness by injecting themselves with germs? – VaccineAwareness.com

noBoth sides provide sufficient evidence to support their claims. Despite the cases caused by the happiest place on Earth, currently, the choice to vaccinate will remain just that.