Organization Time

first_imgWho doesn’t love to be organized? In a perfect world, we would all have immaculate, Pinterest-inspired homes where everything has a place and a label, and fits seamlessly into a seamless design. Reality is a little different. My home is inundated with enormous piles of “stuff” – you know, toys, clothes, home décor and cards. I could go on and on! January signals the beginning of a new year and provides a natural opportunity to accomplish several crucial organizational tasks.  It’s a good idea to sort through your kitchen cabinets once or twice a year, and what better time than around New Year’s Day? Purge food storage containers that are no longer used. Do you really need 15 coffee mugs? Are you ever going to eat that can of beets? Clean out and discard a few plastic kid’s cups. Designate one cup for each child. Limit yourself to one set of eight or 12 dishes. Go through the pantry and discard any expired seasonings and canned goods.    Change that piling system to a filing system. It’s time to tackle those stacks of paper! Sort through those stacks of bills, notices and bank statements, and make two piles: to keep and to shred. Take advantage of the free paper-shredding services offered by office supply stores. For the “to keep” pile, go through your filing cabinet and make sure your folders make sense. Consolidate and eliminate folders where you can, then file away the papers you should keep. You can also opt for a paperless filing system. In this kind of a system, you can scan the documents you want to keep and organize them on your computer in folders. Be sure to back those digital files up on a USB flash drive or external hard drive. Tax time is no fun if you’ve lost all of the year’s paperwork. Tackle your closets, too. If it’s a struggle to find anything in your closet or to close the door, it might be time to take inventory. Pull every item of clothing, shoe and accessory out of your closet and – you guessed it – make a few piles. I create three piles: keep, donate and return. Yes, I admit that I have items with tags that should be returned. A good rule of thumb for sorting through clothes: If you haven’t worn something in over a year, it’s most likely safe to donate it.For those with limited space, make a “store” pile for out-of-season clothes. Box up these items and store them in the attic or other extra space to free up room for the clothes you wear now.Like your kitchen cabinet, it’s a good idea to sort through the medicine cabinet once a year. Go through and check the expiration dates. Set aside anything that’s expired. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper disposal. Keep in mind that local sheriff’s offices typically accept prescriptions for disposal.  Now that you have your medicines narrowed down to just what you want to keep, put things back thoughtfully. Put prescriptions together according to whom they belong to, and organize things like cold and headache medicines so they’re easy to find when you need them.For more tips on managing your household, see the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension publications at extension.uga.edu/family/housing-environment.last_img read more

​Norway’s sovereign fund records €50bn investment loss for 2018

first_imgNorway’s giant sovereign wealth fund reported a 6.1% loss on its investment portfolio overall for 2018 – equivalent to €50bn.Falling equity markets in the first and fourth quarters of last year dragged the fund’s value down, according to its annual report for 2018.The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) booked a loss of NOK485bn (€50bn) in absolute terms, shrinking to fund to NOK8.3trn at the end of 2018, down from NOK8.5trn a year before.However, the real-time figure on the homepage of the fund’s manager – Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) – shows that the fund has since recovered to NOK8.8bn. Øystein Olsen, chair of Norges Bank, said: “Although performance was weak in 2018, the long-term return has been good and higher than the return on the benchmark index.”However, last year’s investment loss was 0.3 percentage points lower than the return on the GPFG’s benchmark index, NBIM said.During 2018, the fund’s market value fluctuated widely in a year dominated by volatile markets.“There was a positive return in the second and third quarters, but a weak equity market in the first and fourth quarters reduced the fund’s overall results,” NBIM said.Of the fund’s three main investment classes, equities fared the worst, losing 9.5%. Its unlisted property allocation produced a gain of 7.5%, while fixed income investments made 0.6%.GPFG responds to equity fallsThe fund revealed it bought huge amounts of equities in the last three months of the year as global stock markets were tumbling. Yngve Slyngstad, CEO, NBIMYngve Slyngstad, NBIM’s chief executive, said: “The fund net bought equities for NOK185bn in fourth quarter 2018. Most of this was bought in November and December.”The share purchases corresponded to 2.2% of the fund’s market value at the end of the year, NBIM said.The buying spree seems to have prevented the oil fund drifting further away from its strategic allocation to equities in benchmark index by the end of the year, which was increased to 70% in 2017.At the end of December, the GPFG’s equities allocation was 66.3%, down from 66.6% 12 months before.Meanwhile, the fund had 3% in unlisted real estate and 30.7% in fixed income at the end of the year.NBIM said the Norwegian krone had weakened against several major currencies during the year, increasing the fund’s value by NOK224bn.For the first time since 2015, in June the fund had an inflow of capital from the Ministry of Finance, NBIM said, with the total inflow for the year amounting to NOK33.8bn.Further readingNorway’s oil fund to axe real estate arm and reduce target allocation Unlisted real estate is set to play a smaller role for GPFG after its manager decided to axe its separate property arm launched four and a half years agoNorway’s sovereign fund pulls plug on ESG managers to cut costs The GPFG’s dedicated ESG investments made an annualised return of 4.5% since inception just over eight years ago, compared to an annual return of 7.3% on the MSCI Global Environment indexlast_img read more

Nike Vaporfly shoes are not banned but Eliud Kipchoge’s are

first_imgNike’s controversial Vaporfly range will not be banned but there will be tighter regulations around high-tech running shoes, World Athletics says.Any new shoe technology developed after 30 April will have to be available on the open market for four months before an athlete can use it in competition.World Athletics has also introduced an immediate indefinite ban on any shoes that have a sole thicker than 40mm.The body will also investigate any shoes that “may not be compliant”.An immediate indefinite ban has also been introduced on any shoe that contains more than one “rigid embedded plate or blade”.For shoes with spikes, an additional plate or blade is allowed for the purpose of attaching the spikes, but the sole must be no thicker than 30mm. The ‘Alphafly’ prototype shoes worn by Eliud Kipchoge when he became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours in October 2019 will be banned. The shoe worn by Eliud Kipchoge when he became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours will be banned indefinitelyA group of experts were asked to consider whether Nike’s Vaporfly shoes give their wearers an unfair advantage.Athletes wearing the new footwear including Nike’s latest Vaporfly have taken 31 of 36 top-three finishes in major marathons last year.Kipchoge’s Kenyan compatriot Brigid Kosgei wore a Vaporfly prototype when she broke Paula Radcliffe’s long-standing women’s marathon world record in October 2019. World Athletics president Lord Coe said: “It is not our job to regulate the entire sports shoe market but it is our duty to preserve the integrity of elite competition by ensuring the shoes worn by elite athletes in competition do not offer any unfair assistance or advantage.“As we enter the Olympic year, we don’t believe we can rule out shoes that have been generally available for a considerable period of time, but we can draw a line by prohibiting the use of shoes that go further than what is currently on the market while we investigate further.“I believe these new rules strike the right balance by offering certainty to athletes and manufacturers as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games while addressing the concerns that have been raised about shoe technology.“If further evidence becomes available that indicates we need to tighten up these rules, we reserve the right to do that to protect our sport.”World Athletics will now establish an “expert working group” to “guide future research” into shoe technology as well as assessing any new shoes that enter the market. Why are the shoes controversial?The shoes have been criticised for “distorting the record books”, with some arguing they prevent fair competition with athletes not sponsored by Nike.Vaporflys claim to improve an athlete’s performance by 4%, and the five fastest marathons of all time have been run in the past 16 months by athletes wearing varying forms of the technology.Former British Olympic marathon runner Mara Yamauchi previously told BBC Sport that “we no longer truly have fair competition”. “It’s up to World Athletics to provide a level playing field for all… to be brutally honest, it’s hard to see how anybody not wearing Vaporflys at Tokyo is going to win medals,” she said.“Athletics has had several years of doping stories coming out in the press and the single most important thing is to restore trust and bring in more fans and sponsors.“But if we see every medal winner wearing the Vaporflys and other athletes not getting a look in, I’m not sure that people watching can really say I believe that performance 100%.”Nike said in a previous statement they “respect the spirit of the rules and we do not create any running shoes that return more energy than the runner expends”. AnalysisBBC sports editor Dan Roan Amid mounting confusion that running was becoming distorted, World Athletics has tried to provide some clarity before the Tokyo Olympics and halt what some see as an ‘arms race’ in shoe technology.Although more research will now be conducted and the rules could still develop, it seems significant the governing body admits “concerns that the integrity of the sport might be threatened”.The news will come as a relief for Nike and the athletes it sponsors.The prototype ‘AlphaFly’ that Eliud Kipchoge used to go sub-two hours last year exceeds the new restrictions and is now banned for elite runners.But as expected, the Vaporfly range that has revolutionised distance running is cleared, including the ‘Vaporfly Next%’ that Brigid Kosgei wore when smashing the women’s world record last year.That will lead to fears that the new restrictions have been conceived with that shoe’s specific dimensions in mind, are too little too late, and mean athletes sponsored by other manufacturers are at a disadvantage.The changes also put pressure on rival companies to quickly develop any new prototype shoes.They have three months to do so. After that they will need to have been widely available to buy for four months before being allowed in elite competition, ruling out their use at the Olympics.last_img read more

YOUNG TOUCHIES INSPIRED BY SPEECH

first_imgHe spoke of the emotion involved with pulling on the green and gold, the work ethic involved to get there, and the passion that Australians- both competitors and spectators have for sports such as Touch.Dean Russell inspired all with his speech during the Opening Ceremony of the National 18 Years and under Championships yesterday.Russell is the current General Manager of NSW Touch Association, but over the years he has played a much different role to this.With a total of 52 caps for Australia, he was a member of the Australian Mixed Open team between 1986 and 1993.And although he was taking the field in the green and gold when most participants at this tournament were youngsters, his words could not have been more relevant.He described the pride involved when watching a fellow Australian excel in the sporting arena.“No doubt we all gazed in adoration of Cathy Freeman as she sat motionless on the track after winning at the Sydney Olympics, or like me, were swearing at the TV as those Italians dived to rob the Socceroos of a World Cup dream or been screaming with the masses as Thorpie mowed down Gary Hall Jnr to snatch a thrilling victory in the 4 x 100 metres freestyle relay at Sydney,” he said. “All famous sporting moments that makes us proud.”But Russell believes that this feeling is nothing compared to actually taking to the field as a representative of your country, personally.“The first time you pull on the green and gold to represent your country in your chosen sport is a feeling that is unsurpassable and one that doesn’t change from the first time or your 52nd time,” he said.“That first moment is hard to describe but one you will never forget…it’s honour, it’s pride, it’s passion and it’s fear. “But most importantly it’s humility, realising that you are one of a very very few who have been given the privilege to represent Australia with only the one ask, that being to give it your all and to continue the legacy built up by those who have traveled this road before.”Russell is an experienced coach, having coached the Australian Senior Mixed Open team and being the Assistant Coach of both the Australian Mixed Open and Australian Women’s Open teams. He is the current coach of the Australian Women’s 20’s and it was this coaching knowledge that he drew upon when urging the players to strive for the top.He referred to English writer DH Lawrence who said ‘Australians play sport as though their lived depended on it.’“It is these ‘characteristics’ that we as coaches will be looking for in our future athletes,” he said.“So therein lies your challenge for this week, to show this character, not based on the fact to make the National squad but rather to help your own team.”He challenged the players to try that extra bit harder, and to lift when they’re down.“Over this week there are going to be times when things look bleak or times when someone is down, this will be your signal to try that little bit harder. “Don’t yield to the pressure or give up. Stick together on and off the field and keep you and your team going at the opposition at all times.  Dig deep and you’ll find strength, believe in yourself and find inspiration in each others efforts. Above all never ever give up.“Be there and get there to make the touch that has to be made, take that ruck that no one wants to take, go to half when you’re so tired your legs are screaming at you to stop and get off the field- make the effort, whatever it is. Slap your sub on the back ‘great work, keep going, we’ve got them’,” he said.These are the inspirational words that will be running through the heads of the players as they take the field this week. It might just help them score that touchdown, or make that touch.last_img read more

SHAWN MENDES OPENS UP ABOUT BEING BULLIED IN CANDID POST ENCOURAGES FANS

first_imgMendes posted this message alongside numerous pics showing his success:  “I’m thinking about being in 9th grade right now. The day after I posted one of my first covers onto YouTube back in 2014.”Mendes added of a group of older bullies, “[They were] yelling out ‘sing for me Shawn, sing for me!’ in a way that made me feel absolutely horrible… made me feel like a joke, like what I was doing was just stupid and wrong.” Login/Register With: Shawn Mendes – Timothy Kuratek /CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitter Advertisementcenter_img Shawn Mendes is opening up about how he was bullied as a kid, for wanting to sing.The musician posted a candid Instagram post on Sunday, telling his fans about his experience with bullies while he was growing up.Mendes encouraged his fans to follow their dreams no matter what in the inspirational post. Advertisement Facebook Advertisementlast_img read more

iPhone 8 appetite anemic says Rogers CEO as company prepares to sell

first_imgTORONTO – The head of Canada’s largest wireless carrier said Thursday the appetite for the Apple iPhone 8 smartphone is “anemic” as the company gets set to take orders of the iPhone X next week.Rogers Communications Inc. CEO Joe Natale said on a conference call that the company will begin taking orders of the “very expensive” iPhone X on Oct. 27 and will begin sales the following week, on Nov.3. The iPhone X will be Apple’s most expensive smartphone to date, which will retail in Canada for almost $1,300.However, he added, device availability is “a question mark” and the full impact of the new devices might not be felt until the first quarter of 2018, adding to concerns about soft sales for Apple devices.Analysts attribute iPhone 8 sluggishness to the pending release of the iPhone X.The current iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus had a two per cent share of the U.S. iOS device market nearly a month after their launch, significantly lagging the five per cent share grabbed by the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus at a similar point last year, according to Localytics, a mobile engagement platform that analyzes iPhone adoption rates.The iPhone 8 went on sale on Sept. 22 in Canada.During the call, Natale said it was the wireless services — rather than sales of devices like smartphones — that was the main area of growth for Rogers Wireless.Natale added that he’s not concerned about a new pricing initiative being promoted by Shaw’s Freedom Mobile.Freedom announced this week that it’s now offering 10 gigabytes of data for $50 “with no penalties for data overages.”While the rival service’s announcement says its new Big Gig plan is “unlike anything currently being offered to Canadians,” Rogers CEO Joe Natale said he viewed it as “business as usual.”“First of all, we have always competed with Freedom on price. This appears to be an extension of this strategy, with a lot of marketing bravado behind it,” Natale told analysts in a conference call Thursday.“It wasn’t long ago that they had an 80-gig package for about sixty bucks, and it was kind of benign in terms of its impact. So I would look at it as a business-as-usual situation.”“The goal would be to leverage our ability to get customers in the right data plan,” Natale said.“The key is: customers’ appetites for data are growing 40, 50 per cent per year. We’d rather have them in the place where they’re in the right data plan or they can occasionally have a top-up if they see fit.In the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Roger’s profit grew to $467 million, driven mostly by the strength of its wireless business and incremental progress at its cable and internet division.Rogers Media was the only major division to report a decline in revenue, which was down three per cent from the third quarter of 2016, when Rogers benefited from the World Cup of Hockey.Rogers also announced the media division’s adjusted operating profit fell 18 per cent, primarily due to a higher Toronto Blue Jays player payroll and lower publishing-related revenue.During the call, one analyst asked whether Rogers was considering a sale of any non-core assets.Natale replied that Rogers is committed to look at “ways of surfacing value from our portfolio assets, whether it be the Jays or some of our other investments.”“We don’t have any plans at this moment that we are announcing or even giving a nod to. Our focus, very much, is on our core business.”Rogers reported its net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 amounted to 91 cents per diluted share, up from $220 million or 43 cents per share last year.On an adjusted basis, Rogers earned $523 million or $1.02 per share for the quarter, up from $427 million or 83 cents per share a year ago.Revenue totalled $3.58 billion, up from $3.49 billion in the same quarter last year.Rogers also raised its guidance for the growth of its adjusted operating profit for 2017 to between five and six per cent compared with its original expectations for growth of two to four per cent.last_img read more

BC governments poverty reduction plan could include a basic income

first_imgVICTORIA – British Columbia is planning to introduce a pilot program that would give some residents a basic income in what will be part of a series of legislative strategies to fight poverty, the minister in charge said Monday.Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson said his government wants to test the effectiveness of providing people with a basic income to reduce poverty, improve health, employment and housing prospects.The NDP government is consulting with other jurisdictions that have similar programs.“We’ve been talking with the province of Ontario about their work,” he said at a news conference announcing the B.C. strategy. “We’re also talking to people in diverse places such as Glasgow, Scotland and Oakland, Calif., where they are doing this work, too. I expect to have more to say about how we proceed with that in the new year.”B.C. currently has the highest poverty rate in Canada based on the federal government’s Market Basket Measure indicator which includes the costs of food, clothing, footwear, transportation, housing and other expenses for a family with two children.Simpson said it’s estimated 678,000 people live in poverty in B.C., including 118,000 children.The NDP made poverty reduction one of its key election promises last spring after years of labelling the former Liberal government as cold-hearted for rejecting plans to reduce one of the highest child-poverty rates in Canada.Simpson appointed 27 people, including poverty advocates, academics and First Nations members, to an advisory group that will provide insights and guidance as the government prepares to introduce its reduction strategy and legislation next spring.He said the dates and locations for a series of public consultations will be announced shortly.“The end result of this, we hope, will be a complete poverty reduction strategy next year,” Simpson said. “I look forward to hearing from British Columbians who believe this is an issue that we need to challenge and who believe we need to reduce inequality, and reducing poverty is a fundamental step in that.”He said the poverty issue cuts across all communities and statistics indicate that 40 per cent of those in poverty have low-paying jobs.Dawn Hemingway, chairwoman of the School of Social Work at the University of Northern B.C., said she expects the government’s strategy will make a real difference in people’s lives.“I want to underline that as a human being and as a social worker, I firmly believe that it is a basic human right for everyone to have a good quality of life,” she said.Hemingway was appointed as one of the leaders for the advisory group.Simpson said the government has yet to decide how many people would be involved in the basic income project or the amount of money that would be provided to those participants, but it has already undertaken consultations with academics and other experts.He said a federal-provincial initiative in the 1970s conducted a basic income experiment in the community of Dauphin, Man. Researchers looking at the program, called Mincome, said it was stopped after four years when Canada fell into an economic recession.The Ontario government’s project is measuring how a basic wage helps people living on low incomes meet their needs for food, shelter, health and employment training.last_img read more

Fish farm companies in BC should get First Nations approval report

first_imgVANCOUVER – A provincial advisory council is recommending fish farm companies be required to have agreements in place with area First Nations before the British Columbia government approves any new or replacement tenures.The proposal is part of a series of recommendations issued in a 230-page report from the advisory council.Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said the province will consider the recommendations as it reviews 20 fish-farm tenures that are up for renewal this June in the Broughton Archipelago off northeastern Vancouver Island.Protesters have occupied multiple fish farms in the archipelago over the past year, claiming they are operating in First Nations’ traditional territories without their consent.The council also recommended establishing an independent science council to review “conflicting science” and fill information gaps about the farms.It said the government should consider putting farms in areas where there is lower salinity to reduce sea lice infestations and putting a cap on how many farmed fish are allowed in a certain area.The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association is largely supportive of the recommendations, member Ian Roberts said. But he takes issue with a requirement for First Nations’ consent at each point of tenure renewal.“We can agree in principle to a recommendation that allows for collaboration and consultation with First Nations, but we think — as it’s written — it’s unworkable in practice,” Roberts said.An “extremely tenuous” environment would be created for businesses investing in multimillion-dollar projects if they became vulnerable each time a new band council is elected and could withdraw support, he said.Chief Bob Chamberlin of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance said a coalition of seven First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago are already in talks with the province about what consent might look like for fish-farm tenure renewals in relation to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.The report’s recommendations fit into a broader movement toward greater recognition of First Nations sovereignty and also represent an acknowledgment that science hasn’t been adequately considered in past salmon-farming policy, he said.“The mounting science and evidence that has come forward, as well as the absence of science to inform decision making, and the government’s embracing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples sets a very different table than what we’ve had in the past. And it’s one that’s going to be a full recognition of our rights and title and the authorities we have that are inherent to our people and our self governance,” Chamberlin said.last_img read more

Companies pay investors record amounts to own their stocks

first_imgNEW YORK — It pays more than ever to be an investor. U.S. companies have sent a record amount of cash to their shareholders as dividends this year as their profits continue to pile higher.The increase is key for shareholders, offering a bit of stability in what’s been a stomach-churning year for the stock market. The S&P 500 index has twice plunged by 10 per cent, and it was clinging to a 1 per cent gain for the year, as of Wednesday evening. After including dividends, though, its total return was 2.3 per cent.Wall Street is forecasting the choppiness to continue in 2019, partly because of slower growth in economies and corporate profits around the world. So any cushion for investors would be a welcome one. Three years ago, for example, dividends were the sole reason investors got anything out of their S&P 500 index funds. The index dropped 0.7 per cent that year, but with dividends its total return was 1.4 per cent.With less than a month left in 2018, companies in the S&P 500 index have already topped last year’s record of $419.8 billion in total dividends paid, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Tyson Foods, Anadarko Petroleum and D.R. Horton all announced dividend hikes of at least 20 per cent last month. The biggest payer in the S&P 500 is AT&T, and Silverblatt says it may announce a boost to its payout in coming weeks to make it 34 consecutive years of increases.Companies have the wherewithal to do all this because their profits continue to surge. Across the S&P 500, earnings per share jumped nearly 26 per cent during the summer from a year earlier for the strongest growth in eight years. Besides dividends, companies have also been setting aside more of their profits for repurchases of their own stock as methods to return cash to shareholders. That’s been to the chagrin of critics pushing for higher pay for workers.The dividend increases aren’t just in the United States. Globally, payouts hit a third-quarter record this year, according to Janus Henderson. The $354.2 billion in total dividends was up 5.1 per cent from a year earlier, and growth was particularly strong in emerging markets.In China, big increases by banks, insurers and energy companies helped drive Chinese payouts up 14.6 per cent, for example. That marked a return to growth following three years of declines.Stan Choe, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Lavender looks to lead Bucks into national spotlight

Once you are recognized as the best, it becomes that much harder to stay there.Sometimes there are external factors, like the target that you wear on your back once the accolades start coming your way.But far more often, the struggle to stay on top is internal.There are many terms for this phenomenon: resting on your laurels, self-satisfaction or just plain laziness.Ohio State women’s basketball player Jantel Lavender will never fall into that trap.Lavender has been unanimously selected as the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, and the Buckeyes she leads have been picked to finish first in the Big Ten by both the media and coaches poll.Do such lofty expectations make her soft?“I think it’s motivation to continue to be at the level of a top team,” Lavender said.Saying it is motivating and actually displaying motivation are two very different things.When someone has to go to class, hit the weight room and then go to practice and impress a task-master like coach Jim Foster, words won’t cut it. Only action will.“If it means coming in and shooting 500 [3-pointers] a day or running extremely hard, whatever it takes is what I’ll do,” Lavender said.Statistics like the ones Lavender has racked up can be telling.In her freshman campaign, she averaged 17.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Those tallies increased to 20.8 and 10.7 respectively in her sophomore season.Is it an upward trend or has she reached the pinnacle?“I just come in every day with the attitude that I’m getting better every single day,” Lavender said. “There’s not a plateau for me. You can always add to your game.”Foster isn’t ready to call his star player a finished product just yet.“She needs to continue to work on her face-up game, shoot the [3-pointer] with a little more consistency and to continue to improve her left [hand],” Foster said.With goals, expectations and four new freshmen faces in the lineup, it is extremely important that team leaders set the tone.“If you have to motivate your best players to play hard every day, you’re stuck in the mud,” Foster said.“When your best players are your hardest workers, then you’re on the autobahn.”Lavender is a hard worker, and a self-avowed basketball junkie. A lot of players will say they model their game after a certain star player.Usually, it is a name that even the most casual of fans have heard of, such as LeBron James or Kobe Bryant.But Lavender looks for ways to improve her game in the most unlikely of places.“I love the game so much and constantly want to learn something new,” she said.  “I’m a sponge. It can be a kid on the playground I’m watching that does something out of the ordinary.”Last year’s run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and subsequent ouster has fueled the fire for the team to surpass the last two seasons’ accomplishments. That can only mean one thing: a national title.Will Lavender have what it takes to lead this year’s Buckeyes to another Big Ten title and beyond? She sounds ready.“There are no excuses,” she said of this season. “I know what needs to be done.” read more