Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Photo Tip: Turn Off Digital Zoom!

by Ryan Douglas

Did you get a new digital camera for Christmas? If so, please do yourself a favor and immediately turn off the digital zoom option in the menu.

Zoom is useful in framing and composing photos and allowing photographers to capture images that would be impossible to obtain if they had to get closer. That said, many consumers are completely unaware of the difference between optical zoom and digital zoom. It is not complicated, and with a little knowledge you can save yourself from the future frustration of low quality images.

Digital zoom is a fairly recent invention added to many consumer digital cameras. This technology creates an artificial zoom by adding pixels to the image. This made up visual information usually creates pixelated or blurry results. If left on, digital zoom information will be permanently added to your image, leaving the quality permanently compromised.

Optical zoom uses only the glass lenses of the camera to bring the subject of the photograph closer. This means that with optical zoom the image quality should be as the same as if there was no zoom being used at all. This is not a new technology and glass optic magnification goes back to Galileo’s telescope.

If using optical zoom, and further “zooming” is desired, you always have the option to crop and resize in your image editing software on the computer.

Wishing you the best photo quality in this new year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Lifelong Learning Activities Can Affect Your Health...POSITIVELY!

by Ken Colen

In academic circles, the seventh year is often referred to as the "sabbatical year." This is a time when faculty and staff are given an opportunity to reflect, refresh, do research and come back recharged to continue the endeavor. This past year was Master the Possibilities Education Center's "sabbatical year"...the seventh year of this experiment in lifelong learning. Due to demand, we didn't have a chance to "retreat and reflect."  Instead, our "reset" was accomplished while "on the job."

 Here's what happened in 2012:

  • We moved to a new trimester framework and associated catalog distribution. Quarterly catalogs were replaced with Winter/Spring (Jan-May), Summer (Jun-Aug) and Fall (Sep-Dec) issues.
  • We published our catalogs two weeks earlier each term than in past years. This allowed an early registration period with more time for you to consider the offerings.
  • We increased class offerings to about 1,200 annually...half of which were NEW.
  • Our roster of students/users topped 7,000.
  • More programs ran than ever before.
  • All but one month recorded the "best ever" enrollment totals.
  • Overall enrollments were 22,000+.
Our "sabbatical year" was a milestone success. With your support, enrollments, suggestions and friendship we did indeed recharge within the learning community we have formed together. 

Our new look and curriculum was inspired by you. We listen to what you want, and if we can lock in qualified instructors, we transmit the idea to reality. Our underlying objective continues to be to gain your confidence as a premier center for lifelong learning and to maintain your support. In a recent nationwide publication, Where to Retire magazine (May/Jun 2012), Master the Possibilities was described as a "stunning success." We are proud of this and challenged to continue with the best in adult education. It is a privilege.

Every time we publish a catalog (this being our 28th) it represents what we have seen as trending and what you voiced to us. We anticipate as well as respond. In this edition you'll find our largest array of presentations and 50% will be NEW. It is a combination of academic, special interest series, art and computer offerings. Our faculty is credentialed and experienced. Our fees are low...many classes are free. If you reside at On Top of the World Communities or Stone Creek, you can attend a free class every day that we are in session.

It's a great time to be a learner. This journey is, indeed, lifelong. It stimulates your mind, opens your eyes to new possibilities, and engages you with others who share your love and learning...and living; "mastering the possibilities" can enhance your life. This is a great experience...welcome to all we do.


Ken Colen is the President of On Top of the World Communities.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Shop for Your Grandkids

by: Adria Byers

You may think you know your grandkids' wants and needs but come Christmas time, their wants supersede their needs 10-fold, and they seem to change daily. Kids these days are tech-savvy, TV-watching zombies who only really listen to their friends' advice and their favorite artist's music over and over and over... So how do you get this uber intelligent and picky child a Christmas gift they will cherish rather than hide in a drawer or closet? These shopping tips will help you become the coolest gift-giving grandparent ever!

First, the age of your grandchild is very important to determining what to get them this year. If the child is a baby or toddler, just about anything you give them will be okay. They won't and can't judge you since they can't really form full sentences yet. But once your grandkid turns five, you better be on your game. Luckily, elementary-aged kids still believe in Santa...well most of them do anyway. So getting them to write a wish list to the big guy will help YOU at the stores! You may need to enlist their mom and dad's help to give you a copy of the list but that should be easy...just be persistent. Most o f the items on this list will be fairly easy to find in stores since most all of them will be from the commercials they see on TV. If you've never heard of some of the items, Google them. Google is your friend!

Now the hard for grandkids between the ages of 11-18. Expect to spend a lot of money on just one item for this demographic! These kids are all about expensive electronics and clothing. However, finding out what they want is easier because Santa is not involved in the just ask them directly. Again, if you don't know what Hollister, Aeropostale, One Direction, and Sperry shoes are, Google it. Google is your BEST friend! 

Where can you find such items without having to take out a second mortgage? eBay and Amazon, that's where. If you haven't had the chance to explore and use these websites, the holidays are the perfect time to get acquainted. Also, if you don't want to navigate crowded stores, traffic or the internet, giving money is the answer. Hard cold cash, iTunes music cards, prepaid credit cards and department store gift cards will definitely put a smile on a teenager's face. You can find most of those gift cards at Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy. It's convenient since you're already going there to pick up your medicine!

Whatever you do, don't give them that sweater you knitted for hours and hours as a Christmas gift. According to kids, that's not a Christmas kind of gift. It's something you give the child on a Tuesday in January when it's really cold outside. That's when they'll appreciate your knitting, trust me!

Follow these steps, and you will be the rock-star grandparent those kids will brag about in school. Happy Holidays! :)

Adria Byers is the Social Media Coordinator for On Top of the World Communities and its entities.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


by Andrew Jorgensen

Solar panels installed atop the roof of the turf care facility at
Candler Hills Golf Club in Ocala, Fla., meet all electrical needs
for maintenance activities.
For obvious reasons, renewable energy continues to warrant significant attention and demand in nearly every industry today. Fortunately, as technology continues to improve and greater efficiency in real-world scenarios are achieved, solar systems are becoming more practical than ever before. In this case study, the method of capturing solar energy for conversion into usable electricity is being utilized with great success at Candler Hills Golf Club in Ocala, Fla.
In 2011, a solar system comprised of 297 photovoltaic panels was constructed atop the maintenance facility at Candler Hills Golf Club. Photovoltaics are a method of generating electrical power by capturing solar radiation and converting it into usable energy. For our system, inverters are used to convert direct current (DC) solar energy captured from panels on the roof into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used to power building utilities and equipment and charge batteries.
The 297 solar panels combine to produce roughly 56,000 DC watts of energy and, for our location in central Florida, approximately 90,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. This is more than enough to meet all of the electrical needs at our facility. Any unused power can be sold back to the energy company because our system is tied back to the power grid through a two-way meter. The system is not connected to a bank of batteries because a storage system is very expensive and not practical for our needs. So if the power goes out, we lose power as well.
Energy production varies with location and time of year. For our locale in central Florida, the peak season for solar energy production is September through April because the sun is nearly perfectly perpendicular to the rooftop panels, resulting in maximum absorption.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that energy production would be highest during the warmer months of May through August, when sun intensity and duration are greatest. The contrary is actually true for two reasons.
First, the angle of the sun is directly overhead, resulting in much of the solar radiation glancing off the panels. Second, extreme heat causes solar panels to be less efficient, which must be accounted for during the summer in southern climates like Florida.
The panels we chose have an 80% energy efficiency rating at 30 years, meaning that in 30 years they will still be producing nearly 45,000 DC watts, or 80% of their original 56,000 DC-watt capacity. The system was designed to produce 115% of our maintenance facility’s current needs, knowing that we will eventually be consuming 100% of what the panels produce as the output efficiency of the panels reduces over time and our energy use increases.
We had considered the solar panel system for some time, but the initial cost was significant, which originally caused us to opt against the project. In early 2011, however, our energy provider announced a photovoltaic rebate program that offered a refund for a portion of the cost of the system. Since it is a rebate, funding had to be provided up front to the system installer, with the rebate check from the energy supplier coming later.
The rebate was dependent on passing a review of the proposed system and building in which the system was going to be installed. Helping us capture the most solar energy is that our building faces due south and has the perfect roof pitch for solar panels. Also, the building is still quite new and the shingles should last another 15 years or more, which reduces ongoing maintenance costs associated with removing the panels for reshingling after system installation. In our case, once our energy provider inspected the system and building, we passed with flying colors and were approved for a rebate of nearly $90,000 toward the cost of the system.
This reduced the cost per watt of the system down to approximately four dollars. Today, we are also able to use the system for a 30% tax credit on our company taxes at the end of the year, further offsetting the cost of the system. So, when considering the rebate combined with the tax credit, the total cost of the system ended up being just 40% of the original estimate.
Furthermore, we recently had an energy audit performed by the energy supplier. The audit resulted in installing several additional energy-saving mechanisms, including photocells on outdoor lights, timers on motors and pumps, energy-efficient fluorescent lighting, and energy-efficient air conditioning in the offices.
Looking forward, our system has a payback of roughly 12 years. This means that in 12 years, when everyone else is still being billed for power, we will no longer have to pass on these charges to our golf customers.
Clearly, it is a way for us to reduce expenses without any adverse effects to course quality. Over the 30-year life of the system, and excluding installation costs, we are looking at a total savings of roughly $200,000 in electrical costs.

Andrew Jorgensen is the Golf Course Superintendent for On Top of the World Communities and Candler Hills Golf Club.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Keep Your Shower Water Tight

by Robert Colen

A few weeks ago, an On Top of the World homeowner came to the customer service department with the concern that mold was growing in her master bedroom closet. Since On Top of the World has state licensed mold inspectors on staff, we arranged to go out and take a look. Our findings are a lesson on required routine maintenance that most homeowners seldom do.

When our inspectors visited the home, the mold-damaged drywall in the master bedroom closet had already been cut out by the homeowner. However, the mold growing on the inside wall was still visible and the floor inside the wall was still wet. How did the water get in the closet to begin with? Suddenly, it became clear...the master bathroom shower is on the other side of the closet. When we inspected the shower, the first thing we noticed were the cracks in the grout along the bottom of the wall and the corners. That's where the water was coming from! 

The shower water was leaking through the cracks in the grout, saturating the closet wall and floor behind the tile and ultimately fostering mold growth. It's known that mold needs moisture to grow so even though the closet wall can be repaired, if the cause of the leak in the shower is not fixed, mold will continue to appear.

This problem can happen in any home where tile, grout and caulk protect a sub wall. The solution to keeping your shower water tight? We recommend a bath and tile caulk be applied to the corners and base of the tile all around the shower or tub at least once per year. To properly apply new caulking, the old caulking should first be removed. Bath and tile caulking is available at Lowe's or Home Depot

So when you're done reading this blog, get up and check the grouting in your shower to see if it needs caulking. It will prevent mold from growing inside your home and it will also save you money!

Robert Colen is the Warranty Supervisor for On Top of the World Communities.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Biological Age vs Chronological Age

by Cammy Dennis

Perceptions of aging are influenced by many things. Our thoughts and feelings about the aging process are impacted by our culture, societal views and the media. As we age and contemplate wellness, it is very important to remember that the concept of chronological age is not nearly as important as your biological age.

Your biological age, which reflects the state of your well being, is a comparison to other people of the same chronological or actual age. Biological age is a reflection of many health considerations. For example: disease risk factors, changes in the physical structure of the body as well as changes in the performance of motor skills and sensory awareness.

One of the most positive influences on our health, or our biological age, is our lifestyle. People who exercise regularly and make an effort to eat nutrient-rich foods are very likely to have a biological age that is lower than their chronological age. On the other hand, those who are less active or sedentary and do not eat a healthy diet might have a biological age that is higher than their chronological age.

Everyone ages, but our lifestyle can make a remarkable difference between our chronological and biological age. A 70 year-old person who is healthy, active and engaged might very well have a body and mind that is closer to a 60 year-old person. There are numerous studies supporting the relationship between a healthy physical and emotional state and longevity. Our age, or rather a number, should not define who we are or what we are capable of.

I continue to be amazed and inspired by the On Top of the World residents who are world travelers, tireless volunteers and competitive athletes. Our birthday will greet us every year, but it's never too late to lower your biological age.

Cammy Dennis is the Fitness Director for On Top of the World Communities and The Ranch Fitness Center & Spa.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Popular Resident Club Has Successful Yearly Event!

12th Annual RC Flyers Fun Fly-In • October 6, 2012
by M. Keith Nadel

The On Top of the World Communities (OTOW) resident run RC Flyers Club opened their 12th Annual Fun Fly-In not with planes but with sophisticated helicopters whose dazzling acrobatics made the spectators of this coveted event gasp with amazement. 

Thirty-three flyers and their planes arrived from all over Florida including Orlando, Crystal River, Dunnellon, Eustis, Chiefland, Newberry, Archer, Mt. Plymouth, Deland, Mateo, Morriston, The Villages, Maitland, Clermont, Trenton, as well as the Ocala Model Flying Club. Approximately 30 of the 33 actually flew their crafts, 12 were OTOW RC Flyers Club members and 21 were from other areas.

The windsock located at the OTOW RC Airplane Field was a model of wind whatsoever. Superior flying conditions; the same for spectators. As atmospheric conditions improved, spectators arrived, the parking crew assigned spaces, planes were exposed and placed on the starting tables. 

Following their flights, 23 planes were observed by the crowd and judged for the quality of their craftsmanship. Three were chosen for prizes by pilots. The $100 first place prize went to Gary West of the Ocala Model Flying Club who presented a FW-190 (Stuka) with a 102-inch wingspan. The $50 second place award was presented to Jerry Luyck from the OTOW RC Flyers Club who flew a JU 87-DZ with a wingspan of 102 inches. Al Ward of the RC Association of Central Florida was awarded the third place prize of $25 for his Bronco (OB-10) whose wingspan was 90 inches.

The entire affair was beautifully synchronized and credited to the acumen of the event chairman, contest director and astute announcer.

M. Keith Nadel is a resident of OTOW and contributor to the OTOW World News. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Live, Laugh and Play at On Top of the World Communities

Enjoy spacious, beautifully furnished
accommodations during your stay.

The Visitation Program is the perfect way for prospective new residents to experience life at On Top of the World Communities in Ocala, Florida.  Why settle for just a brief tour when you can LIVE the lifestyle of a resident for 3 days and 2 nights?

During your visit, you’ll stay in a comfortable and beautifully furnished two-bedroom villa, with all the comforts of home…no cramped quarters here.  Enjoy spacious accommodations; our villas range from 1,400 to almost 1,800 square feet and each has a screened lanai. 

Take your very own golf cart around the
For your convenience, every guest villa has its own golf cart, the most popular form of transportation here at On Top of the World, so you may enjoy exploring the community. Take the golf cart anywhere you choose, to golf, fitness facilities, entertainment, grocery stores, restaurants, retail and more. And when you’re ready to go back to the villa, just park it in the garage and charge it up for the next day.

On Top of the World residents fill their schedules with a variety of activities and interests.  During your stay, you can do as much or as little as you like.  Play golf at Candler Hills Golf Club, tennis at the Arbor Club or card games at the Health & Recreation Center. Visit the weekly Farmer’s Market on Thursdays. Attend a life-long learning class at Master the Possibilities Education Center. Use state of the art fitness facilities. Relax with a salon or spa treatment at The Ranch Fitness Center & Spa. Dance the night away on Friday or Saturday night at The Town Square. Take in a live concert by top name entertainment at the Circle Square Cultural Center.

Our professional sales counselors will guide you through a tour of On Top of the World and our model homes, helping you determine which neighborhood and home design best suits your lifestyle.  Keeping your best interests in mind, they will assist you in finding the perfect home at a great price. 

So begin the process today of calling this award-winning, amenity-rich community your next home and make plans now to enjoy a 3-day/2-night stay for only $129* per couple. See the VISIT US page at for more details.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Importance of Custom Club Fitting

On Top of the World Communities sports a professional golf team that can assist the golfer with any of his or her needs from apparel to custom fit equipment to personalized group or individual instruction.

Custom club fitting is one component of the superior customer service offered by the golf department at On Top of the World Golf Club and Candler Hills Golf Club. Often, a golfer assumes that directional issues of ball flight are caused by incorrect swing techniques. While this is sometimes the case, the more likely culprit is an improper lie angle of the golf club or a shaft flex that needs to be changed. Through the use of the PING and Cobra fitting charts, the golf professional will provide you with the correct equipment specifications to quickly drop strokes off your game.

Many people believe to increase distance off the tee, they need to switch to a driver with less loft. However, usually just the opposite is what is prescribed for most golfers. With the use of a speed or launch monitor, the golf professional can demonstrate the difference in distance achieved by increasing trajectory on the golf ball. By taking advantage of demo drivers, fairway metals and hybrids  the golfer can "test drive" equipment to see what produces the most desired ball flight and distance combination.

Putter fitting? This is an area most golfers never think about, but the putter is the club that is used for the majority of the strokes in a round of golf. Let the fitting putter prove what a difference a lie angle and/or length adjustment can make in creating a repetitive stroke.

See how your game can improve by using equipment that was custom fit to your swing motion by visiting a golf professional at On Top of the World Golf Club or Candler Hills Golf Club.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fitness Challenge Champions

by Cammy Dennis

I was overwhelmed with delight as 48 On Top of the World Communities (OTOW) residents wearing their "Fitness Challenge Champs" t-shirts arrived for a group photograph in celebration of a tremendous wellness accomplishment. This year's Summer Fitness Challenge had 124 participants with 94 reaching their destination goal!

The OTOW Health & Recreation Center's Summer Fitness Challenge is a simple one...pick one of three destination options and start logging the miles that are achieved from cardiovascular activity. The destination mileage choices were 150 miles, 300 miles or 500 miles. Five miles are awarded for every 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity completed in the fitness center. The participants had all of July and August to log their miles...meaning the 500-mile champions logged 50 or more hours during the 2 month span! 

Here's how the goal destinations break down on an average weekly exercise duration:

  • 500 mile goal = approximately 5.5 hours per week of cardiovascular activity.
  • 300 mile goal = approximately 3.5 hours per week of cardiovascular activity.
  • 150 mile goal = approximately 2 hours per week of cardiovascular activity.
Jack and Jean Hester are relatively new OTOW residents and they both completed the fitness challenge. Jean, who is admittedly a competitive person, chose the longest distance. "I want 500!" were her exact words. Her husband Jack participated in the challenge because she wanted to do it. Jack was slightly less ambitious than his wife and set his goal at 150 miles. Jean said, "The challenge was fun and I got to meet a lot of people." She noted that the fitness challenge helped her to focus and commit to a regular routine and coming to the fitness center for exercise. 

Carolin Packard is a seasoned participant having completed the challenge two years in a row. "I like the motivation of the challenge," she said. Carolin also appreciated the flexibility in the program noting, "because I could choose from any of the cardio equipment, the workouts didn't get boring."

Jeanette Lind was a first time participant and stated, "I exercised more because of the challenge." She too enjoyed the camaraderie and encouragement of her fellow participants saying, "The fitness center was a great meeting place."

Sandy and Don Martin were also first time challengers with Sandy saying, "We are in the gym working out anyway so why not set a goal and earn a t-shirt! The challenge was extra motivation for us."

There's no doubt after the success of this year's challenge in participants and goals, next year's competition will be bigger and better!

Cammy Dennis is the Fitness Director for On Top of the World Communities and The Ranch Fitness Center & Spa.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Do I need my air ducts cleaned?"

by Robert Colen

A frequently asked question we hear from residents of On Top of the World Communities (OTOW) is, "Does our home need its air ducts cleaned?" This question usually arises after an air conditioning technician visits a home for routine maintenance on the unit.

Over the past year, we have alerted OTOW residents about the trend of air conditioning contractors who make a living by scaring residents into purchasing unnecessary equipment and duct cleaning. In fact, just this month, we heard from a resident who was convinced by her air conditioning technician that she needed to pay $1,000 to clean "mold" from her ducts. Dennis Hisey, OTOW's State Licensed Mold Assessor and Mold Remediator, met with the homeowner and provided his opinion that she did not have mold in her ducts. Fortunately, we encouraged her to get a second opinion for that particular recommendation and all future air conditioning maintenance or purchases.

Nonetheless, the question of whether duct work needs to be cleaned is very serious. The Environmental Protection Agency has a report published on its website that states, "Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems." It further states that one of the times to consider duct cleaning is if there is a substantial amount of mold visible in the air supply lines. If there are any doubts on whether you have mold in your duct work, we recommend that a state licensed mold assessor is more qualified to determine if mold is present than the air conditioning guy trying to make a sales quota.

If you are concerned about dust or mold getting in your air conditioning supply lines, we strongly recommend using the pleated media filter. These filters are readily available at Wal Mart and other local stores. The most important thing we stress to OTOW homeowners is to get a second opinion when an air conditioning technician is trying to sell you a product or service.

This video, hosted by On Top of the World Communities Warranty Specialist Dennis Hisey, explains the basic maintenance of a heating and air conditioning system for all homeowners. Topics covered are what type of air filter to use, when to change the air filter, how to change the air filter and how to clean the condensate line

Robert Colen is the Warranty Supervisor for On Top of the World Communities.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Resident Club Showcase: Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

The On Top of the World Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a group of volunteer emergency workers who have received specific training in basic disaster response skills and first aid who complement existing emergency responders in the event of a major disaster or neighborhood emergency. CERT is made up of On Top of the World (OTOW) residents and is always looking to add new members.

One of the interests of the OTOW CERT is to become acquainted with fellow residents in their neighborhoods and have their neighbors become acquainted with the team members. Recently in the Candler Hills and Avalon neighborhoods of OTOW, some of the CERT members took the initiative to go door to door to say hello.  The CERT members visited about 30 neighbors in their community and found many of the folks they spoke to were pleased to receive information about CERT and meet the members of the team. 

The CERT members not only shared information about CERT, but they also talked about hurricane preparedness and offered a 'file of life' card in which the homeowner can record medical information and place it on the refrigerator for responders to locate in case of an emergency.  They also determined if in each household there were any special needs such as oxygen dependency, measures to take for a diabetic or any other medical condition. 

The team also shared that if there is ever the need for evacuation due to a disaster, long term loss of power or property damage, the Marion County Sheriff's Office maintains lists of people who may need to be taken to a special needs shelter for care during the event. This is a very important step to ensure residents will be taken care of when they are not able to do so on their own. 

All CERT members go through an array of training such as fire safety, search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Residents of OTOW are fortunate to have this special team available to them for help and care when they need it most. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

See What’s Growing Each Week at the Circle Square Commons Farmer’s Market on The Town Square

The Circle Square Commons Town Square, located at On Top of the World Communities, is the weekly home of a Farmer’s Market offering a wide and appealing array of fresh produce, seasonal as well as year-round, from local and regional growers.  But fresh produce is just one of the many items you can find! The Farmer’s Market has new items every week including flowers, plants, fresh baked goods, hand-made soaps, delicious pies and much more.  Plus, the Market features local crafters and artists displaying creative and unique pieces from charming denim purses and beautiful oil paintings to wood working creations and framed photography. 

The Farmer’s Market also holds the "Flavors of the Season" cooking demonstrations by On Top of the World chefs every month. The chefs use farm-fresh produce available at the Market, along with other ingredients, to create mouth-watering meals. These demonstrations are held from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. the first Thursday of every month. After the demonstration, patrons are invited to sample the finished dishes and pick up a recipe card to try at home.

The Farmer’s Market on The Town Square has become Ocala’s premier Thursday market and it happens right here at Circle Square Commons!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Keeping it Green by Phillip B. Hisey

If you are following the calendar on the home maintenance tab at, you know September is a good month to fertilize. I like to use John Deer-Lesco 9-0-24 this time of year. This product has a higher percentage of iron to get a green surge but also a higher percentage of potassium to help with root stimulation and growth just before it goes dormant for the winter. This fertilizer will cover roughly 11,000 square feet of turf. Maybe you can split a bag with the neighbor?

Chinch bugs haven't been too bad this year. If you are treating for them, make sure you are alternating pesticide classes to avoid resistance developing in the pest.

This is also a good month to apply pesticides for masked chafer grubs, if present. The insects feed on St. Augustine grass roots and many other turf varieties. Inspect your lawn to see if grubs are present. The grass can be kicked around and will roll up like hay if grubs are present. Treating your lawn may kill the pest but some damage may require sod replacement.

Also, keep in mind as we begin to go into the fall, you should be concerned with fungus. Fungus is most prevalent when temperatures are between 65 to 75 degrees. These past few months have been too hot for fungal activity. Fugus is preventable; your contractors should be aware of climatic conditions and treating for this pest in a preventative manner.

Keep your crape myrtles blooming; trimming the crape myrtle seed heads after they're done blooming will help regenerate new blooms. Good luck this fall!

Phillip Hisey is the Landscape Superintendent for On Top of the World Communities and its entities.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Know Your Builder - Are They Financially Secure?

Stability. Everyone looks for it in these times, especially when purchasing a home. Large national home building corporations have a certain allure with multi-state community offerings and widespread brand awareness, but are these companies financially stable in today's market?

Know your builder before you purchase and learn about their track record. The developer of On Top of the World Communities has a Florida focus and is family owned and operated. Since 1947 the Colen family has maintained a fiscally sound company which to this day is debt free. It is a company that values its community and residents and strives to maintain home values.

On Top of the World Communities stands strong and will continue to expand, enhance and support its developments well into the future. When deciding where to purchase your new home, choose the builder with fiscal and environmental responsibility whose homes are built with the highest energy efficiency and quality. Choose On Top of the World Communities in beautiful Ocala, Florida.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Resident Club Showcase: SPCA

The SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is not just an On Top of the World club, it is a service organization dedicated to helping animals in all of Marion and surrounding counties. Although most of the club's members are residents, they also welcome anyone outside of the community to join.

The SPCA's hands-on projects include providing pet food for many Meals on Wheels recipients. You will find this group filling plastic baggies with dog and cat food for this effort. The number of baggies averages to about 100 every other week. They are also a point of contact for animals that have been lost or found in On Top of the World. When an owner can't be located, they try to get them adopted. For this to work, they are in constant need of volunteer foster homes. One of their most rewarding projects is working in conjunction with local veterinary offices to offset the cost of medical care for injured pets whose owners are low on funds.

Since they do not have a shelter, they make a point of supporting the local animal organizations that do. They received a very generous donation last year so they have been able to do more. They have been using most of this money to help shelters who don't have sources of funding except donations.

In the last year, they helped several horse rescue agencies, a wildlife rescue and a bird sanctuary (OWLS), contributed to veterinary bills for local dog and cat rescues, helped support the on-going spay/neuter program for feral cats, donated to a local veterinarian whose project provides food and vet care to animals of the homeless, helped the county animal shelter improve their cat holding facility and helped several programs that provide service dogs for veterans.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why We Eat! by Larry Robinson

Have you ever looked down to see crumbs all over your lap with a telltale wrapper clutched in your hand and asked yourself, "Why did I eat that?" Or after your second helping of spaghetti followed by ice cream resulting in a horrendously full stomach you've thought, "Why did I eat so much?"

There are many reasons why we over eat and eat when we are not even hungry. The reasons are easy to understand, but the reality of changing these behaviors is very complex. The desire to eat stems from many different signals and triggers. The average person eats 20% of the time from physical hunger and 80% of the time for reasons besides hunger. Why do we eat when we are not hungry? In learning to distinguish our reason for eating, we can address behavior changes that will help us to eat more nutritiously.

Here are some of the reasons why we eat besides hunger:

PHYSICAL HUNGER AND HORMONES - The hormones Ghrelin (eat now) and Leptin (stop eating) are your body's on and off switches for your appetite. The problem with that is your brain doesn't get that message from your stomach for about 20 minutes after it's had enough food.

FOOD CRAVINGS - Cravings can cause you to eat for pleasure, rather than for hunger. Often food cravings are set off by fluctuating sugar levels. Do a "pantry makeover" and eliminate foods that trigger these cravings such as snacks that are high in salt, sugar and fat.

EMOTIONAL EATING - Food can provide comfort when you are experiencing emotional challenges. Learn to substitute eating with other things you enjoy like reading, talking to friends, book groups or exercising.

STRESS - When you are under stress, your body releases the hormone Cortisol. If your stress continues, the Cortisol levels remain high and stimulate your appetite which can result in weight gain. Find ways to gain relaxation and coping strategies for your stress.

LACK OF SLEEP - When you are sleep deprived, your Ghrelin and Leptin hormone system of appetite does not work efficiently which  can increase your hunger. When you lack sleep, you feel sluggish and tired. Your body knows that sugar will provide a "pick me up" so you tend to reach for less healthy food choices in this state. It is important to get enough sleep to keep your hunger and sugar cravings under control.

MINDLESS EATING - This is like being in "auto-pilot", eating without attention or intention. Most of the time, mindless eating is connected to a "trigger" like watching television, going to the movies, or simply eating because the candy bowl was in front of you. Try to eat with attention and intention making mindful choices about what you are eating and how much.

Our bodies and brains are wired for survival, safety and comfort. If food has become a way you comfort and soothe yourself, you will have to re-learn new coping behaviors. If food has become something you turn to when you are bored, you will have to find alternative ways to stay busy and entertained. The reasons we over eat are simple, but changing those behaviors is complex. It's no wonder that weight loss is a big challenge for so many. To develop healthier coping strategies that will work for you, it's important to learn more about the connections between your brain and your food choices.

Here are some tips to help you with those connections:

FIT TIP #1 - Write it all down! Keep a food diary, along with a journal describing emotions that trigger overindulgence.

FIT TIP #2 - Be mindful! Eat with intention and attention. Don't eat in front of the television, in the car or "on the go." Pay attention to your meal. Sit down in a comfortable place, use a plate and utensils and enjoy it.

FIT TIP #3 - Understand the difference between feeling satisfied, full and stuffed. You need to stop eating when you feel satisfied. Eating until you are full or stuffed could very well mean that you have eaten 1,000-2,000 extra calories!

Larry Robinson is a Personal Trainer for On Top of the World Communities.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's Showtime at the Circle Square Cultural Center!

Where else can you live and have world class entertainment available just a hop, skip and golf cart ride away? The Circle Square Cultural Center located at On Top of the World features popular world class performers such as The Lettermen, Willie Nelson, Frankie Avalon, Jay & The Americans and more!

On August 18th, the Cultural Center is going to sizzle with The Queens of Motown. This fantastic show stars Karen Durrant. This lady not only sings songs by Tina Turner, but she looks just like her! She is guaranteed to entertain you with her tributes of famous Motown queens Donna Summer, Gladys Knight, The Supremes, The Pointer Sisters plus a host of others.

Pete Peterkin's Tribute to Legends of Rock n' Roll comes back to the Cultural Center on August 25th by popular demand. Pete Peterkin is "one of the top celebrity impersonators in the world" as he pays tribute to the legends of rock n' roll history. Close your eyes and you will think you are listening to such famous recording artists of the past and present such as Ray Charles and Chuck Berry. He has appeared on many TV shows including America's Got Talent, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Access Hollywood and many more. Pete impersonates over 50 known recording artists which will make this show mesmerizing!

These and many other shows are open to the public with On Top of the World residents receiving discounted ticket of the many benefits of living at this amenity-rich, active adult community!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Saving Water, Saving Money by Robert Colen

"How did I use so much water?" That is the one question heard over and over again when community water conservation audits are performed. On Top of the World Communities (OTOW) offers a water conservation audit for all residents. For a small fee, an analysis of where and how much water is being used in the household is determined.

The answer to "How did I use so much water?" is almost always the same...the irrigation system. Trained water conservation specialists frequently find irrigation systems for the yard set to run at intervals the homeowner never realized. "We've seen irrigation timers set to run two times per day, every day of the week. That translates to a tremendous amount of water spraying out onto the yard." explains an auditor.

So let's do a quick calculation. If an irrigation system is running two times per day, every day, that comes to a little more than 60 times per month. Using an average of 2,700 gallons per cycle or 5,400 gallons per day, that comes out to a whopping 165,000 gallons per month. That is a lot of water and a lot of money wasted!

There are many reasons why a timer is set to run so many times per week. One may be the homeowner accidentally set it that way or their landscaper reset the timer. Regardless of the reasons, inspecting the irrigation timer should be something every homeowner should do regularly, especially if their water usage is unusually high. If the homeowner is not sure how to set the timer or wants a refresher course on how to operate it, Master the Possibilities Education Center located at OTOW routinely schedules classes to help.

Water conservation is vital for decreasing water pollution, increasing energy savings, and creating more efficient use of our water resources....and is easier on the wallet too!

Robert Colen is the Warranty Supervisor at On Top of the World Communities.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Resident Club Showcase: Lions Club

The On Top of the World Communities Lions Club is an extremely active club that supports the following charities through fundraisers and/or direct service: Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF); Florida Lions Foundation; Florida Lions Eye Bank; Florida Lions Guide Dogs; Lions Project for Canine Companions for Independence (LPCCI); Conklin Center for the Blind; Florida Lions Sight Van; Florida Center for the Blind; Interfaith Emergency Services/Food for Kids Backpack program; and KidsSight.

Other annual club activities include: white cane day; emergency light switches; trash to treasures sale; Christmas golf cart parade; Memorial Day ceremony; veterans activities; the annual Fashion Show and Luncheon; and the Italian dinner fundraiser. Additionally, the club supports the Ocala Ritz Veterans Village and has created and completely furnished two living quarters for homeless veterans. The club is pleased to announce that one of these two quarters will have its first homeless veteran occupant this month!

The OTOW Lions Club is always looking for new members who have a desire to serve those in need!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Get to Know: Linda Ford

Linda Ford is a role model for living an active, healthy lifestyle! She has been employed at the On Top of the World Communities' (OTOW) Health and Recreation Fitness Center since March of 2006. She is a wonderful fitness attendant, encouraging and supporting OTOW residents to engage in wellness activities...something she does herself every day. Linda "talks the talk and walks the walk"...literally! She walks four miles every morning and then five miles every night (on days she is not working). To keep busy and engaged during her morning walks, Linda tosses all the delivered newspapers from the street to her neighbors' front doors providing a grand neighborly gesture.

Although she logs lots of walking miles, this is still not enough to satisfy her fitness needs. Linda recently joined The Ranch Fitness Center & Spa and loves the Zumba and Power Pump classes they provide. She has a unique quality that has gained her lots of attention and the reputation of "fitness fashionista"! Where she's "working" or "working out", Linda is always dressed to impress!

Linda eagerly jumped at the opportunity to cross train and take an additional shift as a fitness attendant when she accepted an employment need at The Arbor Club, OTOW's recreational and fitness facility. She currently works at both facilities as well as assumed the role as OTOW's Safety Representative.

Linda will soon be celebration her 20th wedding anniversary with the husband Dan. She has two grown children, a son and a daughter and 4 gorgeous grandchildren. She also has an adopted "Shi-Poo" named Lily. Linda is a valuable member of our fitness team and lives a vibrant, active life demonstrating that OTOW has workers with Well-Power!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fitness Classes...Not Just for Women! by Cammy Dennis

Kick Butt Kick Boxing

I think most would agree that it is unusual to see men in group fitness classes. Women seem to flock to the group fitness room, eagerly following the exercise commands of the enthusiastic instructor. Men, however, seem much more comfortable getting their workout solo in the gym.

After observing this trend for many years, it is my opinion that this is due to two factors; men and women are different and seek out different things when it comes to exercise and men tend to underestimate the workout they can get in a fitness class.

When we examine some very general gender differences, it underscores why there are more women in classes than men. Women seek out connection, discussion, sharing and emotional expression. A group experience embraces all those characteristics.

Men, on the other hand, typically seek out results, action, physical expression and tend to keep things to themselves. This description lends itself more to an independent workout in the gym.

I have overheard objections from many men related to participation in group fitness classes; the reasons usually revolve around the perception that fitness classes are "too dancey." The image of a group of women all "grapevining" in unison is enough to intimidate any man. At the On Top of the World Communities (OTOW) Health & Recreation center and The Ranch Fitness Center & Spa, we offer several dance-based group fitness classes but that is certainly not the extent of our class offerings.

Then there is the notion that the workout in group fitness classes is not challenging enough. I would dispute that and invite anyone who has that thought to come and try the KBKB (Kick Butt Kick Boxing) class or the Strictly Strength class. Interestingly enough, men teach both of those classes.

I asked some male OTOW residents why they do or do not participate in our fitness classes; here's what they had to say:
"I wouldn't exercise at home or on my own. I am much more motivated to exercise with other people. I welcome the stretching and breathing exercises that I get in class." - Bob Housenger (Oxycise class participant)

"It's inspiring! I get inspiration from both the participants and the instructor." - Richard Enos (KBKB participant)

"It would be embarrassing; I don't have the flexibility to do the exercises in the classes. I do more muscle stuff." - Nick Nimerala (weight room participant)

"I go for the high energy and the good physical workout." - Mike Piccolo (KBKB participant)

"I love it! I take two classes a week and they help me stay flexible. If it weren't for the class instructor, I wouldn't know what to do on my own. It's great to be a part of a group and I've improved my flexibility." - Michael Krajokovich (Strength and Stretch Fusion and Chair Yoga participant)

"I haven't taken any classes yet but I want to!" - Joe Jingco (soon-to-be group fitness participant)

Cammy Dennis is the Fitness Director for On Top of the World Communities and The Ranch Fitness Center & Spa.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A World Of Learning Opportunities...A New Approach To 55+ Living

On Top of the World Communities, fosters education and learning as the future of retirement amenities and Master the Possibilities Education Center exemplifies that. With Master the Possibilities and its lifelong learning opportunities, active adult living takes on a whole new meaning.

Master the Possibilities represents a new emphasis to adult education.  Many communities operate on an “activity center model,” using the same space for classes as for recreation or other group activities.  “While several communities have multi-use activity centers, Master the Possibilities is a free standing facility whose sole purpose is education,” explains Daniel Dowd, Education Director. “We promote opportunities to grow, be creative, contribute and continue the learning process we call life. To this end, our Master the Possibilities Center is a valuable component of our vibrant community.”

On Top of the World is very likely the first adult residential community in the nation to have a dedicated education building.  “We’re at the forefront of a genuine revolution in how people perceive and experience the next phase of their lives,” explains Dowd.  “Today’s 55+ adults are the most educated to date and rather than simply retiring to a quiet, uneventful life, they are striving for new levels of personal fulfillment, having choices and opportunities. They are also comfortable with the continuing education model throughout their lives.”

According to Dowd, senior lifestyles have become more active.  Communities must anticipate and respond to this change. “Ongoing education is increasingly important to today’s 55+ adults.  Learning is still incredibly fulfilling to them." Master the Possibilities’ student numbers do indeed suggest a growing trend in lifelong learning.  Once the center opened in 2006 and curriculum developed, the enrollments soared from about 3,000 to a current estimate of almost 19,000 in this its 6th year of operation. Dowd attributes this to the “idyllic combination” of challenging classes and outstanding faculty and of course, the consummate curiosity of current retirees. For example, past and current offerings include presentations by a host of emeritus professors and noted experts. With over 60 faculty and 600 opportunities to learn and grow, this center is a focal point of activity and inquiry.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Marion County's Natural Springs

One of the unique features of Florida’s landscape is the presence of natural artesian springs. Not just a few here and there, but as many as 700 springs exist around the state. They provide beauty, a place for recreation and life-giving water to the residents and visitors of Florida.

Underneath the State of Florida is an aquifer made of limestone. As the water cycle goes, rain water is absorbed into the ground, permeates through layers of limestone by which it is cleaned, finds its way to underground rivers and then resurfaces through openings in the aquifer called springs. Sometimes this is a small, trickling flow. At other times, it is enough water to create and sustain a river. The difference is in the spring’s magnitude, the amount of water flowing per unit of time. In Florida, there are 33 first magnitude springs. Silver Springs, the largest artesian spring in the world, is a first magnitude spring. It produces 550 million gallons of water a day and serves as the headwaters of the Silver River, located just east of Ocala.

Spring water, in general, is 99.8% pure with a temperature of 72° Fahrenheit year round.


In the State of Florida there are 12 state parks named after springs. These parks were established to both protect the springs and give public access to them. Ginnie Springs State Park features eight first and second magnitude springs. Along with the springs themselves, there are extensive underwater passages which can be explored. Because spring water is crystal clear, a spring and spring fed river offer explorers the perfect environment for viewing cave structures, aquatic life and more. Located west of Gainesville, Ginnie Springs is the “most popular freshwater diving location in the world,” according to In addition to swimming, snorkeling and diving in the springs or the rivers they produce, recreationists can also enjoy the natural areas around the springs with hiking, biking, camping, and more. At Manatee Springs State Park, visitors in the winter have a chance to swim with manatees, gentle “sea cow” creatures which come to this area between November and April for the constant (and “warm”) 72 degree water of the springs.

The springs in Florida have long provided opportunities for business. Over 125 years ago, local Ocala resident Hullam Jones realized that people would enjoy a closer and clearer look at the beauty of Silver Springs, the Silver River and the wildlife living therein. He crafted a canoe with a glass panel in the bottom. Guests were delighted at what they saw as he would row out into the river. Over time this simple, yet clever, idea grew into one of central Florida’s first major tourist attractions. By the 1950s as many as 800,000 visitors were coming to Silver Springs Attraction each year. Today, locals and tourists alike still visit Silver Springs Attraction for the glass bottom boat rides.

Another business that developed more recently is bottling drinking water. The purity of the spring water is ideal for this. Additionally, recreational opportunities available both in and around the springs support eco-tourism in the state.

In the early 1900s, people started coming to Florida for spring-side health resorts. One such resort, established in the late 1940s, is Warm Mineral Springs Wellness Center in south Florida. In this case, however, the spring water is 87° Fahrenheit year round. This warm water, combined with its high mineral content (3rd highest mineral content in the world), is said to provide healing properties for those who enter. In addition, the high mineral content of the water provides a greater buoyancy factor, making it easier for aquatic exercise. This spring is not, unfortunately, as suitable for scuba diving as the clear springs because the minerals tend to quickly deteriorate the metal parts of a diver’s equipment.

The aquifer is a life source for residents of Florida who draw upon it for drinking water. Because of this, it is extremely important to take care of the aquifer. Although a person may not live directly next to a river or spring, his and her actions can still affect the aquifer. Drawing out too much water, as well as polluting allowing excessive amounts of chemicals to absorb into the ground, is harmful to the aquifer (and, in turn, to ourselves). In order to minimize the negative effect on the aquifer, initiatives such as Florida Yards & Neighborhoods (FYN) have been established. FYN purposes to educate residents on how to minimize the need for water in their yards by utilizing Florida-friendly plants (those which are adapted to the local climate and therefore require less manual watering and fewer chemicals). On Top of the World Communities is a Florida Yards & Neighborhood award winning community because of its commitment to such practices in the residential and commercial landscaped areas.