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Stay honest, positive in job interviews



A previous employer can and will discuss your performance on the job, so be honest in interviews and stay positive when you are applying for a new job.

No one wants to hire someone who trashes their former employer or gossips about the employer to the hiring manager. The first thing the hiring manager thinks is that their company will get the same treatment when you leave them, according to The Balance Careers.

On the other hand, it is important to be honest, both about your own performance in a previous job and why you left the company. Potential employees should stick to the facts, admit their part in a bad situation, and attempt to be positive.

A hiring manager will probably contact a previous employer. Previous employers can generally share information about documented conduct, job responsibilities and performance, and sometimes salary information.

Just because a company is allowed to share details about previous employees doesn’t mean they will. Most larger companies might share documented negative performance information, but will not share gossip. Most large firms with dedicated human resources and legal departments will stick to basic facts only. Smaller operations might have fewer internal restrictions.

Regardless of what a former supervisor might say, job seekers should be frank when discussing previous jobs. A sudden red flag from a reference can make it appear as if an applicant is hiding information.

Owning up to termination, for example, doesn’t necessarily have to be a deal breaker if the incident makes sense within context. Avoid bad-mouthing a former boss or becoming defensive about the issue. Even with jobs that ended badly, be sure to add positive references whenever possible, as well as some from earlier positions, to make sure the problem isn’t the only thing recruiters see.

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Wheat production: using fungi to reduce reliance on fertilizers



Farms that produce wheat rely heavily on chemical fertilizers. Unfortunately, chemical-dependent farming depletes the soil of nutrients and forces growers to use increasing amounts of fertilizer each year. Here’s what wheat producers should know.

Fertilizers are problematic
Fertilizer use releases high amounts of nitrogen into the environment. This causes the soil to emit carbon dioxide, thereby contributing to the greenhouse gas effect. Furthermore, the excess nitrogen ultimately seeps into the water system and leads to the flourishing of algae blooms. This depletes affected waterways of nutrients and results in “dead zones” or areas where marine life can’t thrive.

In addition, fertilizer production is responsible for a considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the agriculture industry.

Fungal partnerships might help
In nature, plant-fungi partnerships are common. The plant gives a portion of the carbon it draws from the air to the fungi, which then provides the plant with important nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

In a recent study, researchers allowed fungi to colonize the roots of common wheat varieties and then observed how much phosphorus the plants got from the fungi. All varieties were able to get a significant proportion of their required phosphorus intake from the fungi.

Although more research is required, this suggests that developing varieties of wheat that thrive on fungal partnerships could play a role in reducing farmers’ reliance on fertilizers. This would be a big step toward food security and a sustainable future.

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5 ways farmers can manage carbon



Agriculture contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions. However, the development of sustainable farming techniques may allow farmers to reduce emissions and even capture carbon dioxide in plants and soil. Here are five ways to improve carbon retention.

1. No-till farming
While tilling aerates the soil, it also releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. No-till farming can dramatically reduce these emissions. Studies indicate that no-till reduces emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, by as much as 70 percent.

2. Apply mulch

Covering the soil of small planting areas with straw or wood-chip mulch helps increase carbon sequestration. For large fields, leaving crop residue in place as mulch is ideal. As it decomposes, the residue replenishes the soil and helps it hold on to more carbon.

3. Plant cover crops
Fast-growing cover crops such as clover and alfalfa are a carbon trap. If combined with no-till farming, mulching, and composting, planting cover crops dramatically increases carbon concentration in the soil. When planted alongside cash crops, they prevent the soil from losing all of its carbon at harvest time.

4. Use compost
The carbon contained in compost is in a form that isn’t easily oxidized. This means it doesn’t need to be tilled into the soil and can simply be sprinkled on the surface. Compost helps replenish nutrients in the soil and, when used with cover crops, increases carbon content instead of depleting it.

5. Rotate grazing areas
Instead of grazing cattle in the same location, rotating pastures allows the soil to retain more carbon. This is because overgrazing slows down new growth and strips the soil of the plants that would otherwise help it hold on to carbon.

Carbon farming is likely to become more popular, and implementing the practices above is a good step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions produced by the agriculture industry.

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There are no great solutions without big problems: Just ask Almon



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“The day is coming when (telephone) wires will be laid onto houses just like water or gas. Friends will converse with each other without leaving their homes.”

In a letter to his father, Alexander Graham Bell made this prediction in 1876, before the first telephone was ever sold.

He would have been laughed at in 1876 for thinking his talking machine would be commonplace, but by the late 1880s, it was common enough to make one businessman take action.

Almon Strowger

Almon Strowger was angry. He was an undertaker in Kansas City, Kansas, and his business was beginning to flounder. He thought it might have something to do with his rival’s wife, who was an operator at the local telephone exchange.

When people called for an undertaker or even asked for him directly, Strowger believed his calls were sent to the competition.

He was forced into a period of creative thinking.

Strowger wanted to rid Kansas City, and the world, of telephone operators. By 1891 he had patented a crude but effective automatic exchange system.

His system was never installed in Kansas City, but his vision ultimately did eliminate the need for operator connections, assuring callers of more privacy and faster service.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but pesky problems are apt to bring great solutions too.

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Business experts weigh in on the question: How do we move on from coronavirus and get back to work?



Today we know every member of the workforce is extremely valuable because when we went home in March, everything fell apart.

The stock market (and our retirement savings), our incomes, companies, and a good slice of our dreams, at least in the short term. Not to mention our friends and family who suffered from the virus that has been the top of our minds.

But now that we see the end of the virus insight, what do we do?

People have different ideas.

Harvard Business Review recommends:

1 – Test every worker — Open the parking lots and make sure every person is well.

2 – Certify patients as ready to work (and not shedding virus.)

3 – Employers, retailers, restaurants, even friends, and neighbors insist on verification that each person is virus-free. Everyone maintains social distancing.

4 – States would optimize the plan.

Meanwhile, the Imperial College of London says stringent controls will be required to keep people safe.

They suggest: Impose social distancing every time admissions to intensive care units spike. Relax when they fall.

Their advice is to do this until a vaccine is discovered, possibly 18 months. So schools would close and social distancing practiced in two-month blocks, with one month off.

Meanwhile, until a vaccine is available, everyone mostly stays in quarantine, minimizing social contact.

Under this model, we just accept that restaurants, cafés, sports, gyms, theaters, malls cruises, and airlines basically shut down.

A dour existence in which we live the pandemic daily?

Not everyone is so downbeat.

Most observers think that mass testing is really the main requirement for getting back to work and social life.

In China, traffic jams and smog are back and sales of housing and cars are ticking upward, according to Foreign Policy.

One problem in China that is slowing a return to growth: People are not spending money, especially on big-ticket items. Maybe everyone everywhere is saving an emergency fund.

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Administrative Professionals Week: Three gifts to show your gratitude



Every year, Administrative Professionals Week serves as a reminder to stop and appreciate the hard work and dedication of administrative professionals across the country. From April 19 to 25, show these employees that they’re valued with one or more of these gifts.

1. Flowers
A colorful bouquet is a classic way to show your appreciation and brighten up your colleagues’ desks. Personalize the gesture by taking the time to figure out their favorite flowers or if they’d prefer potted plants.

2. Restaurant gift card
Do you often find the administrative professionals in your office eating lunch at their desks? Get them out of the office for the break they deserve with a gift card to a local restaurant. Sweeten the deal by letting them take the rest of the afternoon off.

3. Noise-canceling headphones
An administrative professional’s work environment can be hectic or noisy. However, a pair of high-quality headphones will enhance their ability to concentrate and demonstrates that you understand the importance of their work.

There are plenty of ways to say thank you to the professionals who keep your office running smoothly. The key is to make it personal. Show your gratitude by taking the time to learn more about your colleague’s interests and select a gift they’ll truly love. And a handwritten card with a thoughtful message is also a nice touch.

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The Twinkie: A treat shaped by current events



Evan-Amos / CC0

The legendary Twinkie, once America’s most irresistible shortcake, started out as a toss-off product created to mark time until the strawberry season.

The maker, now known as Hostess Brands, introduced the cake in 1933 literally because they had a bunch of shortcake pans not being used. The company’s main product was a shortcake filled with strawberry cream. After the strawberry season ended, there were plenty of pans but no product — or sales.

Company vice president, James A. Dewar, decided to make a simple sponge cake and fill it with banana cream. (Legend has it that he named the confection Twinkies because he noticed a sign for Twinkie Toe Shoes.)

But current events and customer preferences intervened to change the new treat.

Bananas were rationed in World War II and banana Twinkies became hard to source. So the company whipped up a sugary vanilla flavor so beloved that banana never returned.

Twinkie sales soared throughout the 1950s, due in part to Hostess’ sponsorship of the children’s TV show, “Howdy Doody.” Twinkies made the movies, too, most notably 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” in which Egon Spengler uses a Twinkie to explain psychokinetic energy.

In 1979, Twinkies made unanticipated headlines during the trial of Dan White, who killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. White’s lawyer argued that White had grown increasingly withdrawn and depressed from gorging on sugary foods, including Twinkies. The argument that White suffered from his changed eating habits helped bargain his sentence down to manslaughter. This decision soon became known as the “Twinkie Defense.”

Throughout subsequent decades, however, the product maintained its acclaim. In 1999 President Bill Clinton even included a Twinkie in the Millennium Time Capsule.

When Hostess filed for bankruptcy in 2012, devoted Twinkie fans snapped up every package they could find. Mere months later, store shelves throughout the nation brimmed with Twinkies again.

Today, the Twinkie is an authentic icon in American business history.

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