News & Trends: 4/29/15

By: Susan Berman Hammer

Neither a Bird nor a Drone, Amazon Launches Trustworthy New Home Services of All Kinds!

The new Amazon Home Services (AHS) doesn’t list a fee for a professional to fly your personal drone. But they do rent a goat grazer that can eat your weeds and mow your lawn this spring! Goat grazing has become all the rage among giant Internet companies such as Amazon Japan and Google.

And for more conventional services around your home, Amazon has you covered as well. They can set you up with a maid (not Jennifer Aniston!), a plumber, furniture assembly pros, an automotive repair specialist, movers, an interior designer, landscapers, electronics installers, an iPhone repair person and other hand-picked professionals.

Admit it, weren’t you thinking about hiring such a pro to complete your husband’s DIY projects? Think fire pits, grills, swing sets, trampolines, decks, gazebos, basketball hoops, siding, downspouts and outdoor electrical wiring, to name a few. 

Or, if your little darlings want to learn how to play a new musical instrument, brush up on their math or language skills or register for aerial yoga classes, AHS can come to your rescue. AHS locates and schedules tutors and instructors for a variety of lessons.

AHS is similar in many ways to Angie’s List and Yelp. But, it offers a one-click option to schedule the service in addition to estimates, competitive prices, online credit card payments and a “happiness guarantee!” All service providers are thoroughly vetted, insured and licensed, too. AHS is rapidly expanding to many U.S. cities. Check the Amazon website for services offered in your zip code.

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Couple Marries Nature with Tech to Grow Museum-Quality Art, One Dandelion at a Time 

You may have heard about or even tasted dandelion wine fermented at home. But, did you know that cutting-edge sculptures featuring dandelions set aglow by LED lights are a new trend in the art world?  

Two 30-something artists -- Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn -- partners in a company called Studio Drift are busy exploring the relationship between nature and technology. And, the white seed heads of dandelions form the heart of their artwork. Their studio is located north of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, but their work is exhibited and sold worldwide.

At London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, for example, their one-dandelion sculpture is exhibited and it’s also sold in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) store. Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum displays another work -- a series of hanging, lit silk parachutes that open and close like flowers. And Studio Drift with three other Dutch design studios recently won a competition to design a permanent interactive light installation on a historic bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Prices for their pieces range from $140 for a single-dandelion sculpture sold at the MOMA store up to $550,000 for one of their largest works.

Looking ahead, Nauta said in The Wall Street Journal, “I want to make massive sculptures that work on a more micro level,” perhaps in the huge Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern or in the MOMA atrium.

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Four Great New Books Appealing to Different Types of Empty Nesters

Are you a newbie to the world of empty nesters? If so, you’re probably pondering the question of how to transition into this new stage of your life. Your home is not nearly as chaotic as it once was and you have the time and the space to curl up with a good book.  

Here are four great new book choices recommended by NextAvenue.org. The books offer advice, comfort and humor during this major life transition. 

Each of the four books will appeal to a different type of empty nester, according to Next Avenue. One is for those whose dog has taken center stage. Another is for the parent who fears her daughter doesn’t have the skills to do her own wash, let alone run a household. A third helps a parent laughing through her tears and the fourth offers advice to the parent who can’t wait to leave carpooling behind!

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