Area Tidbits

Signs You Have a Drinking Problem

If you are worried that you may have a drinking problem, first know
that you are not alone. Whether you are exhibiting signs of binge drinking, alcohol abuse, or alcoholism, alcohol use disorder (AUD) may be more common than you think.

Nearly one-third of American adults are considered excessive drinkers, and 10 percent of them are considered alcoholics. This means that an estimated 15 million people cope with alcoholism across the country.

If you have family members with drinking problems or know anyone who struggles with substance use of any kind, you’re at a higher risk of developing a problem with alcohol. Similarly, if you or your family have a history of mental health disorders, you’re at a higher risk of developing a drinking problem.

It’s important to understand the difference between having a drinking problem, such as being a binge drinker or alcohol abuser, and suffering from alcoholism. While they are not the same, binge drinking can lead to alcohol abuse, which can ultimately lead to alcoholism. The sooner you recognize your drinking problem and take the steps to reduce your unhealthy habits or quit alcohol altogether, the easier it will be.

What is the Difference Between a Drinking Problem & Alcoholism?

Having a drinking problem could mean that you tend to binge drink. This means that you drink enough to raise your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08 g/dL.

Generally, it takes women and men about four to five drinks to reach a 0.08 g/dL BAC level. However, what you eat, how much you weigh, any medications you take, your overall health, your hydration level, and other factors can all impact the effects of alcohol. For example, if you haven’t eaten much on a day that you drink alcohol, your BAC level may rise quicker than if you had eaten more.

While binge drinking is certainly not safe, heavy drinking every once in a while does not necessarily mean you abuse alcohol. Unlike heavy drinkers, those who struggle with alcohol misuse still continue to drink despite negative consequences, like the following:

  • Recurrent health problems from alcohol
  • Social penalization
  • Occupational issues
  • Legal complications

Still, alcohol abusers have an easier time breaking their bad drinking habits than alcoholics. People with alcoholism have become dependent on alcohol, even despite the consequences. This is because alcoholism is defined as an addiction to alcohol, and people who have gotten to this point may suffer from withdrawals when they’re not drinking. Of course, alcohol withdrawal symptoms make quitting difficult and sometimes dangerous, even if they’re ready and wanting to stop drinking.

Stages of Alcoholism

Alcohol addiction doesn’t just happen overnight. There are stages of alcoholism that turn someone with unhealthy habits into a problem drinker. And, eventually into someone with full-blown alcohol dependence.

Alcoholics may start out as binge drinkers who notice unwanted effects on their well-being when they drink too much. However, since they haven’t developed a noticeable drinking pattern yet, they aren’t too concerned. Maybe they’ve had blackouts here and there, but letting loose with their friends doesn’t seem like an issue. Until their drinking becomes an issue.

Again, binge drinking can lead to alcohol abuse, which starts to have consequences beyond some nasty hangovers. But if you start experiencing withdrawal symptoms, those are warning signs that you may have crossed into alcoholism.

There are five stages of alcoholism:

  1. Pre-alcoholics consume standard drinks to feel better, dull pain, escape reality, alleviate anxiety, etc.
  2. Early alcoholics start blacking out from drinking excessively, thinking excessively about drinking, and lying about their drinking habits.
  3. Middle alcoholics are those who are facing the consequences of their actions. Socially, they may be missing work and falling short on family obligations. Physically and mentally, they may be experiencing changes in weight, sleep, energy, mood, and more.
  4. Late alcoholics are very clearly struggling. They continue to drink even at the expense of their deteriorating health and failing relationships. Any attempts to stop drinking typically result in unpleasant and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Recovering alcoholics are those who are actively on a journey of detoxing, getting treatment, and then maintaining sobriety. Recovering alcoholics have often sought professional help to quit drinking safely.

Consequences of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can take a toll on you in many ways, including physically, mentally, socially, and financially.

Excessive alcohol consumption can have physical consequences that include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Unhealthy weight gain or loss
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Liver damage
  • Heart complications
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low libido
  • Central nervous system issues
  • Weakened immune system
  • Some cancers
  • Accidents due to impaired judgement

Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to mental consequences that include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Personality changes
  • Mood swings
  • Compulsive behaviors

Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to social consequences that include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Detachment from family and friends
  • Skipping school or work (which can also lead to financial loss)
  • Dropping once-enjoyable activities

You may experience some or all of these consequences, as well as other consequences of excessive drinking.

What to Do If Someone You Know Has a Drinking Problem

If you, a loved one, or someone else you know has a drinking problem, reach out for professional help or call Addiction Group for more information on top rehabilitation and treatment resources.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Treatment for AUD is available. This includes outpatient and inpatient rehab centers, support groups, traditional talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), holistic healing programs, religious organizations, and more.

Find Help For Your Addiction

You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today. Addiction Group helps those struggling with Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD), Substance Use Disorders (SUD), and/or Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders find treatment for addiction. Phone (855) 217-2693 or visit www.addictiongroup.org.

 


 

UnityPoint Health – Dubuque Offers Easy Vaccine Self-Scheduling Options

UnityPoint Health – Dubuque has immediate appointments available for individuals 16 years and older to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Individuals may call (563) 589-2537 to schedule an appointment. You do not need to be a Dubuque County resident or UnityPoint Health patient to schedule an appointment.

Alternatively, online self-scheduling is available through the MyUnityPoint patient portal. A MyUnityPoint account is necessary and you do not have to be a UnityPoint Health patient to set up an account – here’s how:

To log in or create an account, go to myunitypoint.org/mychart
Once logged in, go to “Schedule an Appointment”
Select “COVID-19 Vaccine (first dose)”
Answer the required questions
Select a date and time
Select confirm

UnityPoint Health continues to encourage everyone to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them. For more information, visit unitypoint.org and click the “COVID-19 Vaccine” dark blue button on the homepage.

Although significant progress continues in the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, it’s important to practice COVID-19 safety measures for the foreseeable future. Even after a person is vaccinated, they should continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask and social distance.

 


 

Eagle Point Solar Supports L5 Fundraising Event

HB4116

Eagle Point Solar donated $750.00 to the L5 Fundraising Event (Live, Laugh, Love Like Luke) coordinated by the Thielen family with all proceeds benefiting the Dubuque Area Heart Walk 2021 chaired by Kathy & Lennie Thielen. The fundraising event was held Friday, April 9 at Horizon Lanes, Bellevue, Iowa and helped to raise over $33K. Pictured from left to right: Lennie Thielen, Kathy Thielen, Cory Thielen (Eagle Point Solar Installation Technician Crew Lead) and Lynn Roth (Eagle Point Solar Marketing Director).

“It is our pleasure to support the efforts of the Thielen family in the L5 Fundraising Event. Their dedication for growing this event each year is inspiring and their hard work benefits so many people associated with the American Heart Association of Northeast Iowa,” stated Jim Pullen, President & CEO of Eagle Point Solar.

“We are so grateful to the Thielen family and Eagle Point Solar for their passion and dedication to our mission: to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives, throughout the year. Thank you for being part of this one-of-a-kind experience. We look forward to celebrating all that we have accomplished together as families helping families in our community,” stated Cathy Brandt, American Heart Association Corporate Events Director.

 


 

How heartworm affects household pets

Pets are beloved members of many families. So it’s no surprise that so many pet owners place such a great emphasis on raising healthy pets, often going to great lengths to provide nutritious foods for their furry friends and protecting them from a host of dangers, including heartworm.

What is heartworm?
The American Veterinary Medical Association notes that heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by a parasite that primarily infects dogs, cats and ferrets. According to the American Heartworm Society, the heartworm is one foot in length and lives in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of affected pets.

What happens if a pet is infected with heartworms?
Heartworms can cause severe lung disease, heart failure and organ damage.

Where do heartworms pose a threat?
Geography is not a factor that affects heartworms. The AVMA says heartworms pose a threat to pets in every state in the United States and various countries across the globe.

Are all cats and dogs vulnerable to heartworms?
According to the AVMA, all dogs are susceptible to heartworm infection. Indoor and outdoor cats also are vulnerable to heartworm infection. The AVMA notes that heartworm is spread from animal to animal via mosquitoes, which can easily get into homes, potentially biting pets, including indoor house cats.

Do cats and dogs infected with heartworm react differently?
The AHS notes that heartworm manifests itself very differently in cats than it does in dogs. In fact, dogs with heartworms whose conditions have not yet been treated may have several worms in their bodies, while cats with heartworms typically have three or fewer worms and may not have any adult heartworms.

What are signs of heartworm in cats?
The AVMA notes that diagnosing heartworm in cats is more difficult than diagnosing it in dogs, perhaps due to the smaller number of worms in infected cats than in infected dogs. Various tests may be needed to determine the likelihood of heartworm infection in cats, but such tests are not always conclusive. But potential warning signs of heartworm in cats include coughing, respiratory distress and vomiting.

What are signs of heartworm in dogs?
The AVMA indicates that dogs may show no signs of illness if they were recently or mildly infected with heartworms. Signs may only develop when the worms reach adulthood. Dogs may cough, become lethargic, lose their appetites, or experience difficulty breathing. In addition, the AVMA indicates that dogs with heartworm infections may tire rapidly after only moderate exercise.

Is heartworm preventable?
The good news for pet owners and their pets is that heartworm is entirely preventable. Various preventive medicines are available, and pet owners can speak with their veterinarians to determine which product is best for their pets.

Heartworm is a serious yet preventable disease. Pet owners who suspect their pets are infected with heartworm should report those suspicions to their veterinarians immediately.

 


 

Exercise is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. Various studies have shown that people who find time to exercise regularly have a lower risk for diabetes and heart disease and also experience greater life satisfaction than people who do not exercise.

Though exercise should be a routine part of everyone’s life, it’s important that people who are physically active recognize the risk for injury that comes with such activity. Such recognition can encourage the kind of balance that can make active men and women less susceptible to injury. It’s also important for active adults to recognize that they may be susceptible to certain types of injuries based on a host of factors, including gender.

According to the Geisinger Health System, a regional health care provider servicing parts of the United States, the differences in body composition and hormone levels between men and women can make women more susceptible to certain injuries than men. For example, Harvard Medical School notes that women have higher estrogen levels and less muscle and fat than men, and these factors and others can contribute to higher incidences of certain injuries among female athletes than male athletes. Though that’s unfortunate, recognition of this gender gap has, according to Harvard Medical School, inspired some innovative efforts designed to prevent injuries in female athletes.

Female athletes and exercise enthusiasts can do their part by recognizing which injuries they may be more susceptible to. Once that recognition has been made, women can speak with their physicians about what they might be able to do to reduce their injury risk.

• Knee injuries: Harvard Medical School notes that knee injuries are especially common among women who play soccer and basketball. Geisinger notes that tears of the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, are more common for active women than active men because women have wider pelvises than men, which places increased strain on their ACLs. In addition, the muscles in women’s hips are typically weaker than men’s, which results in reduced leg control when jumping or landing. That can put extra strain on the ACL, increasing the likelihood that it will tear when turning quickly or accidentally falling. Certain muscle strengthening exercises can greatly reduce risk for ACL injuries, and active women are urged to discuss such exercises with their physicians.

• Stress fractures: Women who participate in high-impact sports and activities may be especially vulnerable to stress fractures. That’s even more so for women suffering from what’s known as the “female athlete triad,” which the Harvard Medical School characterizes as a combination of inadequate calorie and nutrition intake, irregular menstrual periods and bone loss. Consuming a nutritious diet that includes adequate calcium and vitamin D can help reduce risk for stress fractures. Rest also reduces that risk, especially for female athletes who engage in high-impact sports.

• Plantar fasciitis: Sports fans are familiar with plantar fasciitis, an inflammation in the thick band of tissue that supports the arch on the bottom of the foot. Many a professional athlete has experienced plantar fasciitis, and women who engage in certain physical activities may be susceptible to it. Geisinger notes that women are not necessarily more susceptible to plantar fasciitis than men, though they might be more likely to engage in the kinds of activities, such as ballet and aerobic dance, that increase their risk.

Physical activity is important for people of all ages and backgrounds. Women who are physically active and recognize their susceptibility to certain injuries can take steps to reduce their risk for such issues.

 


 

Great gifts for today’s grads

By the time students reach graduation day, many have taken hundreds of tests, written scores of essays, worked through thousands of pencils, and made dozens of friends along the way. Such realities only underscore the notion that graduation is worthy of celebration.

Though not everyone may be able to gather this year for a blow-out graduation party, thoughtful gifts can show graduates their accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. The following are nine graduation gift ideas.

• Keepsake blanket: A blanket featuring school colors that’s woven with photos or data about the graduate and graduating class makes a great keepsake.

• Engraved compass: Finding one’s new direction will take time, and a symbolic compass with inspirational words can help guide graduates on their future quests.

• Jewelry: Gift-givers may want to offer to pay for a school ring or can opt for different jewelry. For example, a necklace with the infinity symbol can represent infinite possibilities ahead. Those who collect charms for bracelets or necklaces can be gifted a graduation-themed charm.

• Dorm room essentials: Graduates going on to college will need a starter pack of essentials. A personalized tote bag filled with toiletries, linens and more will help graduates outfit their dorm rooms in style.

• Inspirational art: Graduates may want to revamp their bedrooms or decorate new dorm rooms. Framed inspirational verses, sayings or images can make ideal gifts.

• Blue-blocking eyeglasses: Blue-blocking lenses protect eyes from the harsh effects of blue light emitted from screens, a big benefit in an era when students and professionals spend ample time with their devices.

• Meal subscription service: In addition to gifting a cooking appliance like a slow cooker or air fryer, giving grads a subscription to a meal delivery service may help them transition to life without mom’s cooking or the dining hall.

• Streaming service: Graduates can benefit from any number of streaming television and movie services to stay entertained while commuting or relaxing around the dorm with friends.

• Luggage: Whether students intend to take a gap year before college or enjoy a summer break before looking for their first job out of school, young adults will always get use out of a set of luggage or a carry-on bag.

Gifts for grads evolve throughout the years, but many gifts have withstood the test of time.

 


 

Safety first with DIY electrical work

Home improvement projects can help homeowners transform their homes. Such projects are costly, but many homeowners save money by doing some, if not all, of the work themselves.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety, recommends that homeowners leave electrical work to the professionals. Licensed electricians are well-trained, whereas homeowners may not be skilled enough to avoid accidents or injuries, which can prove fatal when working with electricity.

Homeowners who take the do-it-yourself route with electrical work should consider these safety tips, courtesy of the ESFI, before beginning a home electrical project.

• Learn your home electrical system. Home electrical systems may include power lines, electric meters, service panels, subpanels, wiring, and more. These systems are complex, and homeowners who intend to do some DIY electrical work should familiarize themselves with their home electrical systems prior to beginning any work. The ESFI notes that knowledge of their home electrical systems can help homeowners more safely navigate them and make maintenance easier.

• Honestly assess your skills. An honest assessment of skills is absolutely necessary prior to working on an electrical system. According to the National Safety Council, injuries relating to electrical incidents typically fall into one of four categories: electrical shock, electrocution, falls, and burns. Each of these injuries is significant. For example, electric shock, which occurs when electrical current passes over or through a person’s body, involves burns, abnormal heart rhythm and unconsciousness. Given the potential for serious injury, the ESFI urges homeowners to make an honest assessment of their skills before they begin working on their home’s electrical systems. Little or no experience working with electrical systems should be considered a significant hurdle to any DIY project.

• Turn the power off. It’s essential that the power to the circuit that will be worked on be turned off prior to starting any work. This can be accomplished by switching off the circuit breaker in the main service panel. Similarly, when working on appliances or lamps, make sure the products are unplugged prior to working on them.

• Do not touch plumbing or gas pipes when doing electrical work. The experts at the Indiana Electric Cooperative note that the risk for electrocution is significant when water comes in contact with electricity. It’s imperative that homeowners do not touch plumbing and gas pipes when performing a DIY electrical project. Professionals know how to work around such pipes while minimizing their risk for electric shock or worse, and homeowners must familiarize themselves with the techniques professionals rely on to stay safe if they intend to begin DIY electrical projects.

Homeowners are best served by leaving electrical work to the professionals. However, those who insist on doing such work themselves should do their homework and get to know their systems and safety protocols prior to beginning a project.

 


 

Understanding asthma as allergy season returns

The arrival of spring and summer is typically welcomed with open arms. Warm air, green grass, colorful flowers, and, of course, vacations are just a few of the many reasons to celebrate spring and summer.

Spring and summer also marks the return of allergy season. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. A 2017 survey found that 27 percent of Canadians age 12 and older reported having allergies. For many people, allergies are a minor seasonal nuisance that are overcome by taking over-the-counter medications or staying indoors on days when allergen levels are especially high. But the World Allergy Organization notes that a history of allergies is a known risk factor for developing asthma. In fact, Statistics Canada reports that, among people diagnosed with allergies, 63 percent also reported having asthma.

What is asthma?
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines asthma as a chronic condition that affects airways in the lungs. The airways carry air in and out of the lungs, and when people have asthma, these airways can become inflamed and narrow, compromising a person’s ability to breathe.

Who gets asthma?
Many asthma patients are diagnosed during childhood. The ACAAI reports that most children with asthma exhibit symptoms prior to their fifth birthdays. Asthma symptoms also may appear in adults older than 20, and such instances may be attributed to adult-onset asthma. Certain adults may be more likely to get adult-onset asthma than others. For example, WebMD reports that women who are experiencing hormonal changes, such as those who are pregnant or in menopause, may be more likely to get adult-onset asthma.

What are the symptoms of asthma?
The ACCAI notes that it can be hard to recognize symptoms of asthma in very young children. That’s because the bronchial tubes in infants, toddlers and preschool-aged youngsters are already small and narrow. Head colds, chest colds and other illnesses may further narrow these airways. So symptoms of asthma could be mistakenly associated with colds or other illnesses. A nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks or sudden, scary breathing emergencies are two symptoms of pediatric asthma. Parents also can be on the lookout for these symptoms:

• Coughing, especially at night
• A wheezing or whistling sound when breathing, especially when exhaling
• Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly
• Frequent colds that settle in the chest

Like pediatric asthma, adult-onset asthma can be easy to miss. That’s because of natural changes in muscles and a stiffening of chest walls, both of which are associated with aging and therefore often attributed to age. The symptoms of adult-onset asthma are similar to those of pediatric asthma, and adults who suspect they might be experiencing asthma symptoms despite no history of the condition can ask doctors to conduct some specific tests designed to detect asthma. A lung function test and a methacholine challenge test are two ways doctors can detect adult-onset asthma.

Allergy season has arrived, and that could make some people more vulnerable to asthma. More information about asthma is available at www.accai.org.

 


 

Local Scouts to Launch Food Drive

“Scouting for Food” Effort Feeds Growing Number of Food Insecure Iowans

In the spirit of the Scout promise to do a good turn daily and “to help other people at all times,” the Northeast Iowa Council of the Boy Scouts of America will be holding their annual “Scouting for Food” donation drive on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The Scouting for Food drive kicks off the Scouts Summer of Service.

Scouting for Food is the Boy Scouts of America’s nationwide service project to help stop hunger. It began as one Scout’s service project in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1985, and was adopted by the Boy Scout National Organization in 1988.

“There is no better way to show our Scout spirit than by participating in the Scouting for Food drive. It is a great way to provide cheerful service to our community through the Scouting values of being helpful and kind,” says Anna Hudak, Northeast Iowa Council Scout Executive.

In Dubuque, local Scouts will be collecting food donations at any of the three Hy-Vee Food Stores between 9 AM through 2 PM. Non-perishable food or monetary donations will be taken in a drive-through area in the parking lot, or at the doors.

In East Dubuque, residents are asked to place their donated items in a bag on your doorstep by 9 AM. Scouts will blanket the town to pick up donations. If your donated items have not been picked up by noon, please call Joe Kingsley at 563.590.3278. Donations can also be dropped off at the East Dubuque Food Pantry.

In Epworth, Scouts will be distributing door hangers and picking up donations from doorsteps. Donations may also be dropped at Silker’s Grocery on Saturday, April 17. In Farley, Scouts will be distributing door hangers and picking up donations from doorsteps. Donations may also be dropped at Greenwood’s Grocery on Saturday, April 17. In Peosta, Scouts will be distributing door hangers and picking up donations from doorsteps. Donations may also be dropped at Fareway Food Store.

According to Feeding America, 1 in 8 people may experience food insecurity in 2021. There are food insecure families in every community – even in seemingly affluent neighborhoods here in Northeast Iowa.

The Boy Scouts, Northeast Iowa Council serves 2,083 youth in Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware and Dubuque counties in Iowa and parts of Jackson and Jo Daviess County in Illinois. The Council, supported by 1,048 volunteers, is headquartered in Dubuque, IA.

 


 

2021 TEAM OF DREAMS CANCELLED, BUT BEYOND THE GAME TO MOVE FORWARD

Dyersville, IA | Team of Dreams, held annually at the Field of Dreams Movie Site, will not be held in 2021 due to concerns over portions of the event that have been hampered by the COVID pandemic. Team of Dreams is anticipated to be held again in 2022 with dates to be announced next year.

“Understandably, many of the players, talent, and entertainment we bring in for Team of Dreams are holding off booking events like ours over concerns of the ongoing COVID pandemic,” stated Keith Rahe, President & CEO of Travel Dubuque. “However, there are things we can do safely and responsibly to allow people to enjoy the rich baseball traditions we have in the area. One of those is hosting Beyond the Game this August surrounding the excitement of the August 12, 2021 Major League Baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. We believe we can host a safe event that takes COVID policies and safety practices into account as we move ahead.”

Beyond the Game, an Iowa baseball experience presented by Travel Iowa & Midwest One Bank, is going forward with a line-up of events to take place August 11-12, 2021 in Dyersville, Iowa and throughout Dubuque County. A movie night, outdoor concert, and more is being planned with input from area health professionals and leaders to develop a COVID conscious environment. More details and information on these events will be announced as planning progresses at beyondthegameiowa.com.

Visitors and community members are also invited to explore the “If You Build It Exhibit” dedicated to the making of the movie that put Dyersville on a worldwide stage. The exhibit, located in Dyersville, will be opening for its second year starting May 1, 2021. More details can be found at ifyoubuilditexhibit.com.

 


 

How to celebrate grads despite unique circumstances

The end of a school year has traditionally been a time of celebration. Students may celebrate because summer vacation has arrived, and families typically gather to celebrate students who have earned their diplomas and degrees. But just as it’s compromised many other traditional celebrations, the COVID-19 pandemic is changing how families can safely celebrate graduation.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of medical researchers, a handful of COVID-19 vaccinations have been developed and approved since the end of 2020. As more and more people become vaccinated, the world is gradually emerging from the pandemic. However, members of the class of 2021 will likely have to celebrate in unique circumstances. Such celebrations may not be traditional, but they can still be fun. Families may even enjoy finding new and unique ways to celebrate graduation this spring.

• Create a school-themed “movie” where grads are the stars. Students’ academic careers are filled with milestones, and the emergence of various technologies over the past two decades has made it easier than ever for families to document those milestones. Parents can pore through the many photos and videos they’ve created through the years and create a “This Is Your Life” video montage documenting all the special school-related moments students have had on their way to earning their diplomas and degrees. Parents can share the video with relatives if they still can’t gather en masse come graduation season.

• Plan a special dinner. Graduation dinners are one tradition that need not fall by the wayside, even if meals might not resemble traditional meals. Families comfortable dining out can book a reservation at the grad’s favorite restaurant, while those who prefer to avoid dining out can order takeout from that establishment. But families also can gather and prepare a special meal together. Even if dining at home, everyone can get dressed up and go the extra mile by creating a restaurant-like atmosphere at home. Fête the guest of honor with a toast before the meal, and reserve a special surprise for the graduate that’s only revealed during the meal. For example, parents can uncork a special bottle of wine to commemorate college grads who can legally drink. Parents of newly minted high school graduates can present a special video with well wishes from all the relatives who would normally attend the dinner but cannot due to the pandemic.

• Organize a ceremony at home. A lighthearted graduation ceremony in the living room or the backyard can ensure graduates don’t miss out on their chance to stride across the stage and receive their diploma. Invite a favorite teacher over to give out the diploma or present it yourself while doing your best school principal/president impersonation. This can be a fun way to add some levity to celebrations and will be a fun memory for grads to look back on in the years to come.

Graduation celebrations will be different in 2021, but families can still make the most of their chances to honor grads in these unique circumstances.

 


 

The top distractions behind the wheel

Did you know that a vehicle driven at 55 miles per hour or faster can traverse the length of an entire football field in a matter of seconds?
Driving requires not only knowledge of the rules of the road and skill behind the wheel, but also concentration on the task at hand.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates distracted driving has been a significant factor in fatal car crashes. NHTSA says as many as one in 10 deaths are now attributed to driver distraction.

Distractions can come in many forms but fall into one of three categories: manual, visual and cognitive. Any distraction has the potential for serious consequences, including deadly accidents. Here’s a look at some of the common distractions and how to avoid them.

• Mobile phone use: Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. Texting combines cognitive, manual and visual distractions. Turn off phones while behind the wheel to help reduce the temptation to grab the phone.

• Daydreaming: Being lost in one’s thoughts can be a big distraction. Driving with something heavy on one’s mind can cause a person to lose track of the road. This may occur when experiencing intense emotions, particularly anger or stress. There’s also a condition called “highway hypnosis” that causes drivers to “zone out” while driving. It often occurs while driving on open highways for extended periods of time. Taking breaks and pulling over if you notice your mind wandering can help.

• Pets and children: Young children or unsecured pets can be very distracting in the car. As a child calls out, begins to cry or wants his or her needs met, drivers may turn to address those needs and take their eyes off the road. Pets that are moving around the vehicle also may distract a driver. All pets and children should be secure in the vehicle at all times.

• Adjusting the GPS: Recalibrating the GPS or entering an address while driving can be a distraction. It’s best not to touch the GPS unless the car is in park and at a complete stop.

• Eating or drinking: Taking hands off the wheel to enjoy that drive-thru meal can be a mistake. Looking down at food and removing hands from the wheel reduces one’s ability to steer and react immediately to sudden traffic hazards.

If drivers become knowledgeable of the significant hazards of distracted driving, they can make changes to improve overall safety. Completing certain tasks before leaving home or while the vehicle is parked can reduce the need to multitask while driving.

 


 

How some famous comedians got their starts

Pranks and jokes are on full display come April 1st, when the world celebrates April Fool’s Day, a date on the calendar that began when certain countries, particularly France, switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar.

In the Julian calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1, according to History.com. However, upon the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the new year was celebrated on January 1. People who failed to recognize the change were the butt of hoaxes and called fools.
While people today recognize the start of the new year as January 1, the tradition to tell jokes and engage in sometimes elaborate hoaxes has continued. People often become comedians for the day. In fact, the weeks around April Fool’s Day can be an ideal time to reflect on some of the popular comics who have entertained throughout the years and how they got their starts in the industry.

• Roseanne Barr: Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Barr turned her experiences as a wife and mother into a stand-up comedy routine at local clubs. Bigger gigs and increased attention came in the mid-1980s, leading to a television series that earned Barr three Emmy Award nominations.

• Lenny Bruce: Lenny Bruce, born Leonard Alfred Schneider, was a stand-up comedian and satirist. He was a target for prosecutors due to his use of obscenities and controversial subject matter during performances and ultimately became an advocate for free speech. He began doing stand-up at age 22 before joining the Navy during WWII. After his discharge, he resumed his stand-up career and gave edgier performances until his untimely death at age 41.

• George Carlin: Born and raised in New York City, Carlin became known for his dark comedy and reflections on politics, language, taboo subjects, and much more. Carlin got his start as a disc jockey while in the United States Air Force. He met Jack Burns, a fellow DJ, in 1959 and they formed a comedy team. Eventually the duo parted ways, and Carlin went on to have a successful solo career in stand-up.

• Rodney Dangerfield: Dangerfield certainly earned respect in the comedy industry even though he often lamented about not getting any during his acts. Born Jacob Rodney Cohen, he began his career working as a comic in resorts around the Catskill Mountains region and later became a mainstay on late-night TV shows. He appeared in a few films in the 1970s before a breakout film role in the comedy “Caddyshack.”

• Ellen DeGeneres: Hailing from Metairie, Louisiana, DeGeneres dreamed of becoming a veterinarian but claimed she was “not book smart.” During one public speaking event, she used humor to get over her nerves and was a hit. Her successful stand-up work transformed into a sitcom deal and later a long-running talk show.

• Jerry Seinfeld: Jerome Seinfeld was born in Brooklyn, New York, and harbored aspirations to be a comedian by the time he was eight years old. He made his stand-up debut in 1976. By the late 1980s, he was one of the highest profile comics in the United States, and developed a sitcom with fellow comic Larry David.

Comedy takes center stage in April, due to April Fool’s Day, making it a great month to watch a favorite comedian.

 


 

Brood X ready to make its presence known

Just when people thought it may be safe to take a collective breath after the roller coaster year that was 2020, something big is on the way — and they’re planning on arriving in the billions.

Brood X, also known as the Great Eastern Brood, will be emerging from the soil after many years developing underground. Brood X is a generation of cicadas (magicicada cassinii) that only appears once every 17 years. Scientists group cicadas based on the year they see the light of day after growing in subterranean bunkers. Some emerge annually, some after 13 years and others after 17 years. Scientists speculate that the unusual, prime-numbered life cycles prevent generations of cicadas from having run-ins with the life cycles of wasps that prey on them. Another theory says the timing reduces the likelihood that 17-year cicadas will mate and hybridize with cicadas of different species or generations.

Brood X is one of the most widespread and prolific cicada generations. The insects are likely to appear mostly along the eastern coast of the United States, but could extend as far west as Missouri and Illinois. Cicadas are preparing to climb trees, start their incessant mating calls, which experts at Iowa State University note have been likened to “pressing scissors against a grind wheel in rapid succession,” and shed their exoskeleton shells in a neighborhood near you. Expect to start seeing them in late April and early May.

Cicadas are unique insects. Despite their large size and bulbous eyes, cicadas aren’t harmful to humans. Nymphs live in the soil and feed on roots. Mature adults come out in the spring to breed and lay eggs after being triggered by warmer soil temperatures. The University of Florida’s Book of Insect Records says the noises cicadas “sing” are how they communicate, reproduce and even scare predators away. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services states that cicada songs can reach 90 decibels, which is the equivalent of the noise made by a lawn mower or dirt bike.

It is easy to distinguish cicadas from other insects. Cicadas are quite large, measuring at .75 to 2.25 inches in length. They have stout bodies, broad heads and clear-membraned wings, according to National Geographic. Cicadas do not eat vegetation, but drink the sap from tree roots, twigs and branches. They also don’t decimate crops like locusts can, though large swarms may overwhelm and damage young trees. Adults will die four to six weeks after emerging, so there’s limited time to get to know this insect before it’s gone for another 17 years. Apart from hearing their calls, people know cicadas have arrived when they find discarded cicada shells on their properties, which are left behind after the insects molt.

Brood X is waiting to peek out of the soil, and communities will have about a month to cohabitate with these interesting insects before they say, “Until we meet again.”

 


 

Some baseball fans can return

Sports fans have been anxiously awaiting a return to normalcy for professional athletics. In 2020, professional sporting events were played in largely empty stadiums and arenas. In instances when fans were allowed in stadiums, capacity was often limited to very small crowds.

As bleak as 2020 might have been for sports fans, good news is on the horizon. Spring heralds the return of many things, including Major League Baseball, which begins its season on April 1. But it may be May before many fans feel comfortable returning to the stands to cheer on their favorite teams.

State and local governments will continue to have major input in regard to determining how many fans will be able to attend live sporting events. In addition, the percentage of fans allowed inside stadiums is likely to change based on fluctuations in COVID-19 cases and regional vaccination rates.

As of early March 2021, a handful of the 30 MLB teams had yet to release their attendance plans. However, the number of fans who will be allowed to attend games is predicted to range from 10 percent to 30 percent capacity in various stadiums. For example, the state of New York is allowing stadiums to open at 10 percent capacity. That means the Yankees and Mets can seat 5,400 and 4,200 fans, respectively. The Kansas City Royals will start the season with 30 percent capacity and Kauffman Stadium has been reconfigured for pod-style seating. The Miami Marlins and Marlins Park are allowing 25 percent capacity to begin the season, or approximately 9,200 fans.

Baseball fans who find they are unable to get tickets to games or still want to wait a while before attending in person can indulge their love of baseball in other ways.

• Continue to watch games on television and create virtual game watches with fellow fans via Zoom.

• Support local minor league baseball. Check to see what restrictions, if any, local stadiums may have regarding attendance.

• Plan a road trip to a state that has a large stadium or high capacity volumes for fans.

• Make a pilgrimage to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Visits may be governed by certain restrictions, which can be found at www.baseballhall.org.

• Volunteer as a coach for a youth baseball team or attend a high school baseball game.

Baseball fans have reason to rejoice as the opportunity to enjoy their favorite sport in person is once again possible in many areas.

 


 

4 tips for backyard barbecue success

When the weather warms up, the opportunities to enjoy more time outdoors increase. For many people that means firing up the grill to cook dinners in the backyard and also to host friends and family for outdoor gatherings around the patio.

Barbecuing is enjoyed around the world and is especially popular in the United States, where even presidents have touted the virtues of cooking outside. Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and even Ronald Reagan hosted barbecues with tasty grilled or smoked food during their terms.

Barbecues are especially popular in spring and summer. Memorial Day often marks the unofficial kickoff to the summer barbecue season. After Memorial Day weekend, the smell of barbecue often can be detected on a nightly basis in suburban neighborhoods.

Follow these tips to make backyard barbecues even more successful this year.

1. Make food safety a priority. A successful barbecue is one in which everyone goes home sated and stuffed with delicious foods. However, ensuring people don’t fall ill also is vital. Keep in mind that the temperature outdoors impacts the rate of spoilage for raw and cooked foods. Always keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold (place items on ice or in coolers). The Food and Drug Administration advises moving leftovers indoors promptly and discarding any items that have been sitting outside for longer than two hours at room temperature. Items should be moved indoors or discarded even more quickly in especially hot conditions.

2. Learn how to smoke. Grilling is one skill, and smoking is another. As the popularity of food smokers has increased, prices have come down. Novices can visit barbecue competitions and talk to professionals about their tips for smoking foods, or learn more by watching tutorials online. Smoked foods take a lot of time to cook, allowing hosts an opportunity to mingle with guests.

3. Keep things simple. Serve only a handful of items to cut down on the amount of preparation required. Two main proteins and maybe three side dishes is adequate. Chips or other pre-made snacks can fit the bill. Condensing options also reduces how much you have to manage. Be sure to have options for those with food allergies or intolerances when planning the menu.

4. Set up clusters of seating. Grouping sets of chairs at tables around the yard encourages guests to mingle. Also, it helps space out people for social distancing and avoids a bottleneck around the food.

Make the most of barbecue season by embracing strategies to be successful hosts and hostesses.

 


 

New Rent, Utility Bill, and Mortgage Assistance Available for Iowans

The Iowa Finance Authority is now accepting applications for the Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program and the Iowa Homeowner Foreclosure Prevention Program to help Iowans facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program can help eligible renters impacted by COVID-19 receive rent assistance, utility bill assistance, or both rent and utility bill assistance. To be eligible, renters must:
•Meet income qualifications.
• Face the risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
• Have qualified for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic; or have experienced a reduction in household income, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Iowa Homeowner Foreclosure Prevention Program can assist eligible homeowners impacted by COVID-19 with mortgage assistance. To be eligible, homeowners must:
• Meet income qualifications.
• Face the risk of foreclosure due to a documented COVID-19-related loss of income.

To learn more about these programs and to apply, visit iowahousingrecovery.com. Iowans can also call 515-348-8813 or 855-300-5885 for application assistance. For a full list of support and recovery programs available to Dubuque residents, visit cityofdubuque.org/covid19support.

 


 

Cracking the tradition of hiding Easter eggs

Come Easter Sunday, eager children wake up to see if the Easter Bunny has visited their homes. For many families, Easter would not be the same without an annual egg hunt. From chocolate confections to money-filled plastic shells to colorful, hand-decorated hard-boiled eggs, the Easter Bunny (and his parental helpers) hide eggs all around.

As with many traditions, people may engage in the festivities without really understanding the origins behind the fun. It can be interesting to unearth just how such egg hunts were hatched.

As with many religious traditions, Easter egg coloring and hunts trace their origins to pre-Christian societies. These societies developed rituals surrounding nature, the seasons and more. Some traditions were adapted to link them to the Christian faith. Eggs held associations with new life and spring. However, early Christians turned the egg into a symbol of the Resurrection and the empty shell became a representation of Christ’s tomb. Eggs also were important components of the Easter holiday, as they were prohibited (like meat) during Lent. But on Easter, fasting ended and eggs were a part of Easter celebrations, particularly for the poor who couldn’t afford meat.

There are two widely known accounts of the origins of Easter egg hunts. The religious version has Protestant reformer Martin Luther organizing hunts for his congregation. The men would hide the eggs for women and children to find, which mirrors Resurrection accounts in the Bible in which women discovered Christ’s empty tomb. Another account traces the tradition to the Dutch tale of the “Oschter Haws” (“Osterhase” in German), which was a hare that laid eggs in the grass. Children would build and decorate nests for the eggs and wait to see if they would be populated, according to Discovery.com. This tradition became popular in America with the arrival of Dutch and German settlers in Pennsylvania in the 1700s.

By the 20th century, decorated Easter nests were replaced with baskets, and Osterhase was more affectionately known as the Easter Bunny, who chose to leave eggs as well as treats and candy. Easter celebrations continued to marry both the religious and secular to form many of the customs that are known widely today.

Easter egg hunts are enjoyed by the young and old on Easter. They’re a key part of celebrations. Just remember to find all those hard-boiled eggs in a timely fashion.

 


 

Easter centerpiece ideas to beautify the table

Easter is a springtime holiday that marks a prime opportunity to cast off the remnants of winter weather and dress a home in bright, colorful hues.

Come Easter, tulips and daffodils may be sprouting, lilies are on display in churches and many other spring touches are incorporated into home decor. Celebrants who will be hosting their families or more intimate Easter gatherings can extend the eye-catching improvements to the dining table. Easter centerpieces are a prime way to add color and ambiance to interior designs.

Here’s a look at various ways to decorate the table for Easter celebrations.

• Carrot-filled container: Embrace an Easter bunny theme by hanging a bundle of carrots inside a glass vase or bowl and topping with orange, yellow and other spring-themed flowers and greenery.

• Pussy willow basket: Weave pussy willow stems into a basket shape or braid them together to make a ring. Then fill with colored Easter eggs or flower petals.

• Nested flowers: Purchase a wooden or wicker basket and weave or glue small twigs onto it. This will give it the look of a natural bird’s nest, which is one of the markers of the spring season. The nest can cradle spring blooms, such as tulips, or hold Easter eggs.

• Easter bunny garden: Fill a shallow ceramic bowl with floral design moss or another green filler. Place a gold-foil chocolate bunny or a ceramic rabbit in the center and put small tealight candles and a small glass canister of pastel-colored candy eggs to complete the picture.

• Take a ‘peep’: Marshmallow Peeps® are an Easter staple and they can have a place outside of Easter baskets. Line a small vase with Peeps. Place cut flowers inside for a festive centerpiece.

• Rainy day decor: April showers bring May flowers. Put that sentiment on display by purchasing an inexpensive pair of brightly colored rubber rain boots. Place cut fresh tulips into narrow glass vases and then slip the vases inside of the boots for a festive and funny table conversation piece.

• Floating flowers: Poke the stem of a flower into a square of bubble wrap. Place into a small fishbowl filled with water and watch the flowers float on top. Tint the water a pastel hue if desired.

• Painted pinecone bouquet: If you have pine cones left over from Christmas decorations or a pile that the kids may have collected from the yard, paint them in bright colors for an Easter makeover. Place in the container of your choice and add some faux or real greenery to complete the bouquet picture.

Dining tables can be incorporated into Easter decor. There are many different creative options for crafting centerpieces guests will adore.

 


 

SPRING CLEAN-UP FOR MT. CALVARY AND MT. OLIVET CEMETERIES

The annual Spring Clean-up will begin on Monday, April 19, and run through Friday, April 23, 2021.

Please remove all items and decorations you wish to save no later than Sunday April 18, 2021. All items not removed will be discarded.

Cemetery Management requests that no decorations or plantings be placed on grave sites until Saturday, April 24th, 2021. Check Cemetery Regulations before placing decorations to avoid losing items that do not conform.

 


 

Julien Dubuque International Film Festival to hold its tenth annual event

The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival plans to hold its tenth annual event in person, following all local and county recommended COVID-19 procedures, as well as taking additional precautions.

“We are thrilled to be able to watch film together again,” said Susan Gorrell, executive director of the festival. “Of course things will be a bit different this year, but there’s something about the group experience of watching a movie that makes the festival experience special.”

Masks will be required in JDIFF events and screenings, and the festival will be following COVID-19 protocol outlined by its Covid Compliance Officer. Details regarding the festival’s COVID-19 procedures are posted at JulienFilmFest.com.

This is first time JDIFF, whose title sponsors include the Telegraph Herald and Runde Auto Group, has spanned eight days. The extension will allow plenty of time to screen both 2020 and 2021 Official Selections.

“Since we didn’t have an in-person event last year, we felt it was very important to still showcase those films with their own in-person screenings,” Gorrell said. “That is why filmmakers submit to festivals, to get eyes on their film and to gauge audience reactions.”

The official schedule, list of films, and trailers will be released the week of April 1 at JulienFilmFest.com. There will be limited screenings and seating all week as part of the festival’s COVID prevention strategy, so it is recommended that festival-goers purchase their tickets early.

General film tickets are $10 each and will be available to purchase online and to pick up at the festival box office at Hotel Julien Dubuque. There are also three-day, five-day, and eight-day all-access passes available.

Another new component for this year is seating pass holders last so ticket holders can be seated first in order to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. It is suggested that pass holders pick up tickets at the box office ahead of time (tickets are free for pass holders) in order to reserve a seat.

Panels and workshops will be announced in April.

Here’s the schedule at-a-glance:

Friday & Saturday, April 16-17: Film pre-screenings will be held in Galena in partnership with Galena County Tourism. All times and details will be posted at julienfilmfest.com.

Sunday, April 18 to Tuesday, April 25: Film screenings all day. Other events will be announced.

Wednesday, April 21: Wednesday is the Five Flags Welcome Mingle, an opportunity to meet and greet with filmmakers and festival goers and to plan your movie-watching schedule, sponsored by Five Flags Center. It is also Celebrate Canada Night, which will feature a to-be-announced Canadian film in partnership with the Canadian Consulate.

Thursday, April 22: Thursday is Runde Free Day. All regular film screenings are free, courtesy of title sponsor Runde Auto Group.

“It’s about making the festival accessible to everyone and making sure they understand that this is intended to create a community conversation and this is a way to do it and experience it without any cost,” said Tim Runde, past president of the film festival board and representative of title sponsor Runde Auto Group. “We don’t want there to be economic barriers to the festival. It’s for everyone.”

Thursday is also International Night. The festival will screen the 1-hour 44 minute feature film The Cave, which follows the story of a Thai youth football team trapped in a cave while rescue workers scramble to save them. Director Tom Waller will be in attendance.

Friday, April 23: Friday will feature the World Premiere of Saving Paradise, a family friendly drama based on a true story. If follows a ruthless corporate raider on the verge of making partner at his private equity firm, when he suddenly inherits his father’s nearly bankrupt pencil factory and is forced to return to his small-town roots. With a foreclosure deadline looming, he must decide to either let it close or join the community’s fight to save it. Director Jay Silverman will be in attendance.

The screening will be followed by the festival’s free Block Party, during which Main Street from Second to Third streets is closed down for bands, dancing, and outdoor seating at the Hotel Julien Dubuque.

The featured entertainment will be Tylor Brandon, an up-and-coming country band from New Mexico.

Saturday, April 24: The Awards Night and After-Party will be held on Saturday night. There will be limited seating and attendance.

Sunday, April 25: The festival will show a closing film in partnership with the Dubuque Community Foundation with appetizers served beforehand. While it is a free event, there will be limited seating and attendance, so a ticket will be required.

Voted one of the Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World by MovieMaker Magazine, the tenth annual Julien Dubuque International Film Festival is set for April 18-25, in downtown Dubuque.

 


 

City of Dubuque Implementing New Pavilion Fees

The City of Dubuque Leisure Services Department is adjusting the rental fees for the department’s park pavilions. The changes will become effective on Monday, April 5, 2021.

The increase in rental fees was approved by the City Council as a part of the Fiscal Year 2021 budget process. Rental fees for pavilions were last increased in 2019 due to the standardization of fees based on seating capacity groupings.

Operating expenses to maintain these facilities have increased over time, requiring an increase in funding to maintain the infrastructure of Dubuque’s park system. The new fee structure was developed after a review of park pavilion rental fees and pavilion types and amenities in other Iowa cities.

Pavilions with a rental fee of over $100 will increase by 10 percent and pavilions with a rental fee under $100 will increase by 20 percent.

Park pavilions are available to rent from the first Saturday in May through the fourth Saturday in October. To reserve a park pavilion, please visit www.cityofdubuque.org/parks or call 563.589.4263 for more information.

 


 

Sod vs. seed: Which is your best option?

A pristine lawn can be the finishing touch to a landscape and add significant value to a home. According to a joint study by the University of Alabama and the University of Texas at Arlington, homes with high curb appeal sell for an average of 7 percent more than similar houses without inviting exteriors.

When it comes to establishing a lawn, homeowners have two key options: starting from seed or installing sod. Each comes with its share of advantages and disadvantages. Which option makes the most sense for a given lawn will boil down to various factors, including homeowners’ budgets.

Seed
Seed is the first thing homeowners may think of when planning a lawn. Seed is an inexpensive, easily installed option. Plus, garden centers sell a variety of seeds specific to particular regions and climates. The home improvement resource Fixr says seed will cost an average of 24 cents per square foot installed compared to $1.29 for sod. That affordability compels many homeowners to turn to seed. However, seed can take up to two years to produce a lush lawn and it requires high maintenance in the initial months to establish the grass.

Seed also requires greater soil preparation, including tilling to loosen soil and keeping the lawn well watered until the grass is hardy. Weeds also may mix in with seed more readily, meaning weed prevention becomes an additional task.

Sod
One of the advantages to sod is that it can produce an instant lawn. When time is of the essence, sod will produce a complete lawn nearly as soon as the sod is laid. Sod can be used to mitigate soil erosion, as it works faster than seed, which needs to establish a root system to keep soil in check. Also, sod does not require as much soil preparation as seed.

The potential disadvantages to sod are its cost and the time it takes to install it, particularly on a large property. In addition, sod will require careful maintenance for at least the first two weeks until the sod takes stronger roots. It can be an expensive mistake if sod doesn’t thrive and new pieces need to be installed. The Family Handyman says sod tends to be sun-loving and may not work in shadier areas of a property.

Sod and seed are the two main options for lush lawns. Each has its perks, and homeowners can speak with a local lawn specialist to determine which option is best for their lawn.

 


 

The basics of soyfoods

A nutritious diet is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. When overhauling their diets with a goal on improving their overall health, adults may consider a host of new foods. That’s when soyfoods first find their way on to many people’s radars.

What are soyfoods?
Soyfoods are foods made from soybeans, a legume that the Cleveland Clinic notes is an excellent source of high quality protein. That distinguishes soybeans from many other legumes.

Does soy promote heart health?
The connection between soy protein and heart health has been studied at length, and organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have reevaluated their stance on soy protein and its link to heart health. In 1999, the FDA authorized a health claim for soy protein that suggested it could reduce a person’s risk for heart disease. However, the FDA ultimately concluded that the studies on which it based its 1999 authorization were inconsistent and inconclusive, leading the FDA to downplay the relationship between soy proteins and heart health until further research could be conducted.

So are soyfoods healthy?
Though the effects of soyfoods on heart health may or may not be as significant as researchers once suggested, soyfoods can still make for nutritious additions to a healthy diet. The health care experts at the University of California San Francisco Health note that the following foods that contain soy provide a variety of nutritional benefits.

• Edamame: Edamame is a dish of green soybeans that are boiled or steamed in their pods. UCSF Health notes that edamame are high in protein and fiber and do not contain any cholesterol.

• Tofu: WebMD notes that tofu is made by pressing curdling soy milk into a solid block. Tofu has been linked to lower risk for various diseases, including osteoporosis. Tofu contains plant estrogens, and women’s estrogen levels go down after menopause, leading to a loss of bone mass that makes them vulnerable to osteoporosis. According to WebMD, plant estrogens in tofu can make up for some of the estrogen drop-off related to menopause.

• Soymilk: Soymilk is produced when soybeans are soaked, ground fine and strained. The resulting fluid is soybean milk. UCSF Health notes that unfortified soymilk is an excellent source of high quality protein and B vitamins. However, unfortified soymilk lacks calcium and vitamin D, both of which are found in traditional milk. Fortified soymilk contains both calcium and vitamin D.
Some additional foods made from soybeans include tempeh, soy nuts and miso. Each provides their own nutritional benefits.

Soyfoods may be worth consideration for anyone looking to eat a more nutritious diet.

 


 

Stay safe when working in the yard this spring and summer

A day spent working in the yard is an ideal way to pass the time on spring and summer afternoons. A pristine landscape can add value to a property and instill pride in homeowners who put a lot of thought and effort into their lawns and gardens.

A sun-soaked day can make it easy to overlook potential threats when working in a lawn or garden. But safety precautions are of the utmost necessity when working in the yard, where the risk for serious injury is considerable. For example, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that, in 2016, more than 90,000 patients, including nearly 5,000 children, were treated in hospital emergency rooms for lawn mower-related injuries.

Lawn- and garden-related injuries can be prevented without going to great lengths.

• Know your terrain before mowing. Knowing the terrain in your own yard can reduce the risk for accident or injury. This can be especially important when mowing the lawn with a riding mower. Adhere to manufacturers’ recommendations regarding inclines to reduce tip-over accidents that can pin riders beneath the mower. Study hilly areas of the yard prior to mowing so you know which areas are safe to mow with a riding mower and which areas are best mowed with a walk-behind mower. For greater control when using a walk-behind mower on an incline, mow parallel to the slope.

• Apply and reapply sunscreen. Sunburns may not require trips to the emergency room, but they can still be serious. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes that sunburn is a leading cause in the majority of cases of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. The SCF recommends applying sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside to allow the sunscreen to bond to your skin. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and more often if you’re sweating excessively. The SCF recommends broad spectrum sunscreens, which protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Though a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 is acceptable when walking the dog or driving to work, the SCF advises using a product with an SPF of 30 or higher when engaging in extended outdoor activities like gardening or mowing.

• Employ the buddy system. Use the buddy system when pruning tall trees or performing any tasks that require a ladder. The Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania reports that more than 164,000 people are injured each year falling off a ladder. Ask a significant other or neighbor to hold the ladder in place while you climb up to reduce your risk of falling. If cutting large branches, cut them piecemeal to reduce the risk of being injured by heavy falling branches.

• Inspect the property for insect hives. The OIP notes that the most common insect stings in spring come from bees, wasps and hornets. Homeowners who are not careful can inadvertently come across hives when doing spring cleanup, making them vulnerable to bites and stings. That can be very dangerous for anyone, and especially so for people with a history of allergic reactions to insect bites or stings. Inspect areas where you’ll be working to make sure insects haven’t put down roots in your property. If you discover any hives and are hesitant to remove them on your own, contact a local landscaping firm.

Lawn and garden accidents and injuries can be serious. Thankfully, accidents and injuries are easily prevented when homeowners take a few simple safety precautions while tending to their lawns and gardens.

 


 

Food Giveaway scheduled for March 27

Lord of Life Lutheran Church is hosting a Drive-thru Food Giveaway on Saturday, March 27, from 9:00 am to 11 am (or until food runs out) at 2899 Hales Mill Road.

Those interested in picking up groceries should line up on Springreen Drive. Stay in your vehicle while groceries are placed in your trunk. The operation will continue until groceries are gone.

 


 

Low-maintenance lawn alternatives

A traditional lawn may not be right for every property nor desired by every homeowner. There is no denying that lawns take time and effort to establish and daily or weekly maintenance to thrive. Homeowners who find that a traditional lawn is not practical can explore some low-maintenance alternatives.

Wildflower meadow
Homeowners with wide swaths of property may discover meadows are cost- and time-efficient. Stores sell special wildflower meadow mixes of seeds or homeowners can use wildflower plug plants throughout areas where grasses are left to grow longer. This natural area can be a home to wildlife and an idyllic backdrop to a home. Most meadows only require a spring or summer and autumn cut to thrive and look good.

Ornamental grasses
Partition areas of the property for ornamental grasses to grow. The gardening resource Elemental Green says ornamental grasses tend to be drought-resistant and low-maintenance. They won’t need much fertilizer and are often resistant to pests as well. Ornamental grasses grow in tufts or sprays and will not require mowing. However, they are not ideal for areas that get foot traffic.

Moss
Moss can thrive in shady areas and ones where the soil tends to stay a bit damp. Moss is velvety soft and green, so it can mimic the look of a traditional lawn but won’t require mowing and other upkeep. Because it spreads quickly, moss can take over quite rapidly. You will need to protect areas where you do not want moss by creating barriers to stop spread.

Gravel
Stone and gravel areas can reduce maintenance in the landscape and require very little upkeep. When gravel is installed correctly, weeds may not grow readily. Gravel installation may include laying heavy-duty, semi-permeable landscape fabric, which is available in home improvement centers. Gravel is cheaper than pavers and can be just as beautiful.

Artificial turf
If the desired look is a lawn without all the upkeep, there are various artificial grass options on the market. Homeowners who opt for artificial turf can save money and space devoted to lawn mowers and other lawn tools.

Grass may be ideal for some, but there are alternatives for people who have troublesome landscapes or desire a low-maintenance product for their homes.

 


 

Latest treatments for Parkinson’s disease

Researchers still have much to learn about Parkinson’s disease. As researchers continue to work hard in the fight against this disease, the lessons they learn may lead to new, innovative treatments.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra area of the brain, advises the Parkinson’s Foundation. Even though the disease itself is not fatal, PD is a serious condition — one which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates as the 14th most common cause of death in the United States due to the disease’s related complications. PD symptoms affect autonomous functions and the ability to move limbs. The Mayo Clinic notes that most people with PD may show little or no expression, speech may become slurred, arms may not swing when one walks, and stiffness and gait issues may become apparent. PD can affect balance and posture as well.

There is no cure for PD, but there are many different treatments that can slow its progress and reduce symptoms. WebMD says new treatments for PD give individuals continued hope. Here’s a look at some of the potential options.

• Stem cell usage: Stem cells can turn into any type of cell, and there is hope that they can transform into the dopamine-producing neurons used to treat PD. But there is increased risk of involuntary movement from too much dopamine with this treatment. Stem cell therapy also may present ethical and moral issues with some patients.

• Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor treatment: Researchers at the University of Bristol have used robot-assisted neurosurgery to implant a special delivery system that releases a new drug called glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor into the brain cells of Parkinson’s patients. The researchers found that, after 18 months of treatment, all participants showed “moderate to large improvements in symptoms compared to before they started the study.”

• PTB protein therapy: Senior researcher Xiang-Dong Fu, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, studies a protein known as PTB, which influences which genes in a cell are turned on or off. It also tells the genes within a cell whether they should become neurons or not. Fu found that silencing PTB might produce new neurons in a diseased brain.

• Drug treatments: Researchers are investigating drugs that block the action of glutamate, an amino acid that destroys nerve cells, in addition to the role coenzyme Q-10 may play in slowing the progression of PD.

Parkinson’s disease affects millions of people and may gradually steal movement and expression from a person’s life. New treatment possibilities are continually being explored to improve quality of life and slow down the disease.

 


 

Apply Now for City of Dubuque Neighborhood Grants

The City of Dubuque and the Dubuque Community Development Advisory Commission have announced that funding is still available for the Neighborhood Grant Program.

The online application must be submitted by the first business day of every month. Grant applications will be reviewed by the Community Development Advisory Commission at their meeting on the third Wednesday of the month. The maximum grant award is $3,000. Information on how to apply, guidelines, and applications are available at www.cityofdubuque.org/neighborhoods under the “Funding Resources for Neighborhood Groups” tab.

The Neighborhood Grant Programs are designed to support projects undertaken by neighborhood associations and other non-profit organizations to support the empowerment of residents to address needs and opportunities to make their neighborhoods more livable. It is intended to support neighborhood development and provide a direct benefit to low/moderate income individuals or neighborhoods. Funding priorities are for projects which identify and/or build on neighborhood strengths and assets, address needs of low-and-moderate income residents, support neighborhood development and improve quality of life and projects that support efforts to make Dubuque a more equitable and inclusive community.

For additional information, contact Assistant City Manager Cori Burbach at cburbach@cityofdubuque.org, Sustainable Community Coordinator Gina Bell at gbell@cityofdubuque.org, or call 563.589.4110.

 


 

How to respond to pesticide poisoning

Tending to a lawn and garden can be a great way to spend time in the great outdoors. It’s also an enjoyable way to improve a home’s curb appeal.

Though many homeowners prefer a wholly organic approach to lawn care and gardening, sometimes pests and other problems force people to apply pesticides around their properties. The application of pesticides can make homeowners, and anyone who spends time on their properties, including children, vulnerable to pesticide poisoning.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people exposed to pesticides may exhibit a host of symptoms. External irritants that come into contact with the skin can cause redness, itching or pimples, and such substances also may contribute to allergic reactions marked by redness, swelling or blistering. Stinging and swelling in the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat also may occur after being exposed to pesticides.

Pesticides also can cause internal injuries to a person’s organs, potentially leading to significant issues. The EPA notes that the lungs, stomach and nervous system all can be affected when pesticides are swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. People experiencing lung injuries after exposure to pesticides may experience shortness of breath, heavy salivation (drooling) or rapid breathing. Injuries to the stomach may lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea. If the nervous system is affected by pesticide exposure, people may experience excessive fatigue, sleepiness, headache, muscle twitching, and numbness.

If pesticide poisoning is suspected, it’s imperative that someone, be it the person who was poisoned, the parent of a child who may have been exposed or a medical professional treating the affected person, identify the type of poisoning that has occurred. That’s because the EPA notes that the appropriate treatment will depend on the kind of poisoning that has occurred.

• Chemical burn on skin: If treating a chemical burn on the skin, the EPA advises drenching the skin with water for at least 15 minutes. All contaminated clothing should be removed and then skin and hair should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water.

• Inhaled poison: The response to an inhaled poison will depend on where the person is at the time of exposure. If outside, move the person away from any area recently treated with pesticide. If inside, move the person to fresh air immediately (doors and windows should ultimately be opened to reduce the risk of others being exposed). Contact the local fire department if you think you need a respirator prior to helping the victim. If the victim is wearing tight clothing, loosen that clothing. Give artificial respiration to a victim whose skin is blue or if the victim has stopped breathing.

• Substance in the eye: If a poison has entered the eye, wash the eye quickly and gently with cool running water for 15 minutes or more. Use only water and do not use eye drops, chemicals or drugs. It’s imperative that people act quickly if a substance has gotten into the eye, as membranes in the eyes act faster than in any other external part of the body, and eye damage can occur within minutes of exposure.

• Substance on the skin: Drench the skin with water for at least 15 minutes and then wash skin and hair thoroughly. Discard contaminated clothing or thoroughly wash it separate from other laundry.

• Swallowed pesticide: If a pesticide has been swallowed and the victim is still conscious, he or she should drink a small amount of water to dilute the pesticide. Only induce vomiting on the advice of a poison control center or physician.

Pesticide exposure can be very dangerous. It’s imperative that people who plan to apply pesticides in their lawns and gardens learn how to respond if they or someone on their property is exposed to pesticides.

 


 

Recognizing and reporting child abuse

No one wants to imagine a scenario in which a child is threatened or unsafe. Unfortunately, children find themselves confronting abusive situations every day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines child abuse as any emotional, physical mistreatment, neglect or sexual abuse perpetrated by an adult in a role of responsibility on someone who is under the age of 18. Everyone, whether they have children of their own or work with children or even those people who do not routinely interact with children, can do their part to protect children by learning to recognize the warning signs of child abuse.

For the last year-plus, people all over the world have been told to stay close to home to curb the spread of COVID-19. But home may not be the safest place for children who suffer at the hands of their guardians. Furthermore, job loss, grief and unprecedented stress resulting from the pandemic may exacerbate abusive situations or even precipitate them in homes where violence has never been an issue.

According to Josie Serrata, Ph.D., a co-owner of Prickly Pear Therapy and Training, stress and social isolation can increase the risk of domestic violence. Dr. Jamye Coffman, who serves as medical director of the Center for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, fears growing numbers of abuse cases as the nation continues to reel from the effects of the pandemic and the stresses brought on by illness, unemployment and even food insecurity.

There is an additional component in the mix as well. In many instances, school officials and teachers are some of the first people to recognize potentially abusive situations in children’s homes. But with many school districts opting for all-virtual instruction, school staff may not be in position to spot signs of abuse. Plus, children who may normally go to their teachers or principals for help no longer have that secure option away from home.

These factors make it even more important for the general public to educate themselves about possible signs of child abuse; they may be a hurting child’s only advocates. Here are some signs of potential physical and emotional abuse.

• Unexplained injuries, such as bruises.
• Depression or excessive crying.
• Sudden changes in the child’s behavior or demeanor.
• Poor hygiene and unsuitable clothing.
• Lack of energy or constant hunger.
• Increase in attention-seeking behaviors.
• Increased absences from school.
• Witnessing an adult excessively pinching, slapping or tripping a child.
• Knowledge of an adult withholding sleep, food or medication from a child.
• Seeing a child flinch when touched.
• A child wearing inappropriate clothing for the season to cover up injuries.

Individuals are urged to take action if they suspect a child is being abused. People should contact their local child protective services agency and file a report. Those unsure of how to proceed can contact law enforcement or a school guidance counselor as well.

 


 

How ergonomic tools can help gardeners

)Gardening is a rewarding activity that has been found to provide a host of benefits beyond ensuring readily available access to fresh fruits, vegetables and awe-inspiring blooms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says many gardening tasks qualify as light to moderate exercise, which means raking the leaves and cutting the grass can be just as beneficial as cardiovascular activities like brisk walking or jogging. In addition, a 2017 study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports found that gardening can help aging men and women offset age-related weight gain. And the health benefits of gardening go beyond the physical. In 2014, a systematic review of randomized controlled trials published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine concluded that horticultural therapy may be an effective treatment for people with dementia.

Gardeners have a host of tools at their disposal to help turn their lawns and gardens into awe-inspiring landscapes. Among those options are ergonomic tools. Ergonomic tools can benefit gardeners of all ages, but they may prove especially valuable for aging men and women.

How ergonomic tools differ from traditional gardening tools
Ergonomic gardening tools are designed to ensure that using them has as little effect on the body as possible. Ergonomic tools align with how a person naturally moves his or her body, which can reduce the likelihood that gardeners will suffer any strains or sprains while gardening or experience any aches and pains after a day spent tending to their landscapes.

Choosing the right tools
The West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities (WVUCED) notes that gardeners will know they have chosen the right ergonomic gardening tool for the job when they do not have to adapt the tool. Ergonomic tools should match gardeners’ heights, fit their grip and feel comfortable when in use.

Specific benefits of ergonomic tools
Ergonomic gardening tools are designed in a way that can reduce stress on the body while performing various tasks. Gardeners know that aches and pains can add up after a day spent kneeling in the garden, raking soil and carrying supplies from a shed or garage around the property. But the WVUCED notes that ergonomic tools do more than just reduce gardeners’ risk of injury.

• Ergonomic tools increase efficiency. Wasted motions are less likely when using ergonomic tools. That can improve efficiency in the garden, allowing gardeners to get more done in the same amount of time. And because ergonomic tools are designed to work with the body, gardeners likely won’t need to take breaks due to aches and pains, which also makes it easier to be more efficient when working in the garden.

• Ergonomic tools increase gardeners’ capabilities. The WVUCED notes that principles behind ergonomics keep gardeners using the tools in natural positions. That means gardeners won’t lose power to bending and twisting, enabling them to do more in the garden than they might be able to do when using non-ergonomic tools.

Gardening is a rewarding and beneficial activity. The right ergonomic tools for the job can enhance those benefits and make gardening even more enjoyable.

 


 

Eggs are eggceptional

Eggs are a topic of conversation each spring, largely because of their relationship to the Christian celebration of Easter. Brightly colored Easter eggs are on display, chocolate eggs line store shelves and egg-lined birds nests in trees and bushes dot spring landscapes.

Eggs take center stage in early spring, but they’re more than just novelties to include in Easter celebrations.

• Eggs are nutritious. Eggs are loaded with vitamins A, D and B12 and the nutrient choline. They’re also an excellent protein source in a small package. At 72 calories and packing six grams of protein, eggs can make for a great, filling meal at any time of day.

• Eggs boost brain health. The choline in eggs is a crucial nutrient for memory, mood and muscle control, according to the University of Missouri Health Care system. Choline also is essential in fetal brain development and can help prevent birth defects.

• Eggs don’t always have to be refrigerated. In countries outside of the United States and Canada, eggs may not be refrigerated and do not have to be chilled. Also, outside of North America eggs are not washed prior to commercial production. However, according to the food resource TheKichn, power-washing eggs removes a protective coating and makes the eggs porous and vulnerable to contamination. A synthetic coating is put on washed eggs.

• Shell color does not matter. The color of the eggshell doesn’t indicate taste, nutritional value or even egg quality. The color of the eggshell reflects the breed of hen that laid the egg. Red-feathered hens tend to lay brown eggs, while hens with white features lay white eggs. Similarly, the shade of yolk is representative of what the chicken is eating. A dark, yellow yolk means the hen was probably fed green vegetables. Lighter yolks coordinate to corn and grain diets.

• All eggs are “hormone-free.” The term “hormone-free” on egg cartons does not signify anything special. It’s like advertising that snow is cold. The United States Food & Drug Administration banned the use of hormones in all poultry production in the 1950s. All eggs are hormone-free.

• Size and eggshell thickness indicates the age of the hen. Eggs come in different sizes, such as medium, large and jumbo. The age of the chicken determines the size, with older hens producing larger eggs. Age also affects shell thickness, with younger hens laying thicker-shelled eggs, says Eat This, Not That!

• Eggs won’t hatch. Eggs sold for consumption are not fertilized. Hens that have laid them haven’t mated.

• Many birds lay eggs. Kiwis lay the largest egg in relation to their body size of any species of bird in the world. However, the ostrich, emu and cassowary lay the biggest eggs.

• The sink or swim test can say a lot about an egg. Eggs become more porous as they age. You can tell if an egg is old by putting it in a glass of water. If it sinks, it is fresh. If it floats, it is an older egg.

Eggs get a lot of fanfare around Easter, and there’s more than meets the eye to that carton of eggs in the refrigerator.

 


 

Many St. Patrick’s Day traditions are not from Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day is made special by various traditions. Everything from dyeing major cities’ rivers green to parades to enjoying green foods has become part of the pageantry of St. Patrick’s Day.

The next time you raise a green beer to your lips, you may wonder which traditions are authentically Irish and which ones were created by regions with an abundance of Irish emigrants. Surprisingly, many seemingly Irish traditions likely began elsewhere.

First parade
It would be accurate to assume that various elements associated with St. Patrick’s Day began where St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, once resided, including the first St. Patrick’s Day parade. However, some of the first parades held in St. Patrick’s honor took place in two North American cities, New York and Boston, that had high numbers of Irish immigrants. But historians say the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually held in St. Augustine, Florida in 1601, a year after gunfire blasts were used to honor the saint. The parade may have been at the request of an Irish priest living there at the time.

Corned beef and cabbage
What would St. Patrick’s Day be without an authentic meal of corned beef and cabbage? This dish is not so authentic after all, and actually is an American innovation. Ham and cabbage was widely eaten in Ireland, but corned beef was a cheaper alternative found in America by immigrants. Therefore, corned beef became a staple of poor Irish immigrants living in lower Manhattan. The salted meat was boiled three times to remove some of the brine and make it palatable.

Green beer
Green beer is not an Irish custom, but an American one. The most common beer consumed in Ireland is Guinness, which is dark brown to black in color, making green dye useless in Irish pubs since it would be largely invisible in the stout.

Golf tournaments
One would not associate golf with St. Patrick’s Day unless they reside in Nome, Alaska. Golf is a popular Irish pastime, and each year the Bering Sea Ice Classic Golf Tournament takes place right around St. Patrick’s Day. Bright green golf balls are used, and breaks are factored in between holes to warm up at local bars.

Wearing green
According to The Christian Science Monitor, individuals in the United States started wearing green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the early 1700s. They believed it “made one invisible to leprechauns.” The official color for the holiday used to be a sky blue known as “St. Patrick’s Day Blue,” established during the reign of King George III.

In addition to these traditions, specialty items, such as coffees and shakes, also are very popular. However, most of these do not have origins on the Emerald Isle, either. Yet, no matter where traditions began, there’s no denying St. Patrick’s Day has long inspired celebration.

 


 

Irish beers to try when visiting the Emerald Isle

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are steeped in tradition. From parades to green clothing to corned beef and cabbage dinners, St. Patrick’s Day is not short on tradition.

A pint of Guinness is another tradition many celebrants can simply not go without on St. Patrick’s Day. Many fans of the beloved stout may insist that Guinness is among Ireland’s greatest exports, but visitors to the Emerald Isle may want to expand their horizons and try a local beer or stop in for a pint at any of the many breweries and brew pubs on the tiny island in western Europe.

• Dungarvan Brewery: Located in southeastern Ireland, Dungarvan Brewery opened in 2010. All Dungarvan beers are brewed in small batches, and each beer is guaranteed to be produced on-site in the Dungarvan Brewery, County Waterford.

• Black’s Brewery: Located along the idyllic Wild Atlantic Way, Black’s Brewery in Kinsale has something for both beer lovers and whiskey drinkers. The brewery was opened by a husband-and-wife team in 2013 and the distillery, which produces gin and rum in addition to whiskey, followed two years later.

• Wicklow Wolf Brewing Company: Established in 2014, Wicklow Wolf Brewing Company has an on-site brewhouse situated just south of Dublin in Newtownmountkennedy, County Wicklow. Beer lovers interested in the brewing process may be interested to learn that Wicklow Wolf has its very own 10-acre hop farm in Roundwood, County Wicklow.

• Franciscan Well Brewery: Franciscan Well is among the oldest craft breweries in Ireland, having been established in 1998 in Cork City, County Cork. A covered and heated beer garden in the Brew Pub of Franciscan Well, which is based on the site of an ancient Franciscan monastery, makes for an ideal place to sample some beers.

• The White Hag Irish Brewing Company: Located in County Sligo along the Wild Atlantic Way, the White Hag Irish Brewing Company offers a range of beers that should appeal to beer lovers regardless of what their favorite style is. Visitors to Ireland may also be interested in the White Hag’s Hagstravaganza, an annual international brewery festival that features beer brewed all over the globe. Though the event was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists may want to take note of the event for future reference.

Ireland is home to many tourist attractions, not the least of which are its many craft breweries that are guaranteed to make any trip to the Emerald Isle that much more enjoyable.

 


 

Invisibility, leprechauns and national pride tied to wearing green

Part of what makes celebrating St. Patrick’s Day so enjoyable is the scores of traditions surrounding the holiday. The month of March ushers in parades, festive foods, lively music, and as much green attire as a person can handle.

As ubiquitous as it is each March, green attire has not always been symbolic of St. Patrick’s Day or Ireland. In fact, earlier depictions of St. Patrick had him royally clothed in a rich shade of blue. Some ancient Irish flags even sported the color blue. According to National Geographic, the color green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day in the 18th century, when the shamrock became a national symbol of Ireland. The color of the shamrock and Ireland’s natural landscape forever linked green to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the Emerald Isle.

There are reasons for donning green clothing on St. Patrick’s Day. If a person isn’t in green, he or she just may get pinched. According to Irish folklore, leprechauns wore green, and if anyone else wore the color that individual would be invisible to leprechauns. Leprechauns are ornery sorts who like to pinch anyone they can see. Therefore, by wearing green clothing, a person is sure to avoid a painful tweak. It’s not only the leprechauns who might do the pinching. Celebrants are inclined to pinch people who don’t wear green as a reminder that leprechauns might sneak up on them at any time.

Beyond shamrocks and leprechauns, other people are inclined to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day as a symbol of good luck and to honor their Irish ancestry. According to Brian Witt, the cultural exhibits coordinator for Milwaukee Irish fest, Irish Americans would wear green as a reminder that they are nationalists first and foremost. The Irish flag colors are green, white and orange. The green symbolizes Irish nationalism, the orange represents the “Orangemen” of Northern Ireland, which is an Irish Protestant political society, and the white symbolizes peace.

Green is an integral color during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and it is tied to many different traditions.

 


 

Lesser known Irish foods

Chances are many people have heard of Irish soda bread and corned beef and cabbage, both of which are especially popular on St. Patrick’s Day (although the latter isn’t entirely authentic Irish cuisine). But there are many different traditional Irish dishes that may not be as well-known and enjoyed outside of Ireland. Irish cuisine is loaded with rich meat and potatoes dishes, and there are some delicious delicacies to be discovered along the way.

Boxty
Many different cultures have boxty-like dishes in their culinary repertoires. Boxty is similar to latkes or German kartoffelpuffer. It is made from both grated raw potatoes and mashed potatoes. Historians believe it originated during the potato famine of the mid-19th century.

Coddle
Being frugal with leftovers means finding delicious ways to reimagine ingredients into new meals. Coddle is a byproduct of that line of thinking. A coddle is a one-pot meal made from leftover sausage, potatoes, onions, and even bacon. The name comes from “coddling” or simmering the stew.

Shellfish
Individuals outside of Ireland may not immediately associate shellfish with the Emerald Isle, but shellfish are plentiful in the waters around Ireland. Dublin Bay prawns, cockles, mussels, and clams all can be scooped out of the waters. Galway even has an Oyster festival each year in September.

Irish stew
Irish stew is a dish made with potatoes, onions and mutton. Mutton is meat from a sheep that is more than 1 year old and ideally 3 years old, according to The Spruce: Eats. The flavor is very strong and it contains a considerable amount of fat. Mutton is more popular in Europe and the Middle East due to its gamey flavor. It is best for slow-cooking methods, which is why it is the perfect addition in a stew that should be simmered for hours.

Champ
Fans of mashed potatoes are likely to take to champ, a very similar dish. It is made with potatoes, milk, butter, and scallions. It is customary to make a well of melted butter in the center of a serving.

Colcannon
Mashed potatoes shine once again in this dish that also includes cabbage. Colcannon is typically served with boiled ham in Ireland.

Pudding
Irish pudding is not a dessert but a savory sausage dish. The “black” variety includes pork, fat and blood and is mixed with barley, oatmeal and suet. White pudding is similar, but it doesn’t include the pork blood. A slice of both black and white pudding is traditionally served in a complete Irish breakfast

Barmbrack
Usually shortened to “brack,” this dish is an Irish fruitcake that features fruit, raisins and spices. Most people soak it in tea and whiskey overnight.

Traditional Irish cooking will include one of the delicious foods mentioned above.

 


 

Great activities to embrace this spring

Spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on March 20, bringing with it visions of more hours of sunshine, warmer temperatures and ample opportunities to embrace the great outdoors.

Come mid-March, people who live in climates marked by cold winters have no doubt been anticipating spring fun in the sun for some time. Once spring arrives, the following make for some great activities.

Sports
Come spring, various sports fill up afternoon and weekend schedules. Whether these are professional sports or youth sports leagues, the games can be a great way to spend time outdoors in the fresh, suddenly warmer air.

Visit an orchard
Spring is a season when many berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries, begin to ripen. Find your local pick-your-own establishment to spend a day having fun (and getting a little messy) grabbing sweet berries for salads, jams and pies.

Hit the links
It’s time to dust off the clubs and play the greens at any of the thousands of golf courses in North America. The National Golf Federation says the United States is home to around 15,000 courses. The warmer temperatures are ideal for practicing your short game on the putting green or for playing all 18 holes.

Get the patio ready for entertaining
Clean off patio furniture or start shopping for new items if you didn’t partake in end-of-season sales. This is just the start of the outdoor entertaining season, and it pays to refresh the deck or patio and invest in some quality furniture to keep guests comfortable.

Plan a vacation
Many schools go on a hiatus for a week or two during the spring, prompting otherwise busy families to get away for some R&R. Book early to score the best deals on hotel rooms and flights.

Prepare gardening equipment
Before long, the grass will need mowing and the shrubbery will have to be pruned. Ensure that lawn and garden tools and equipment are in top form before they are called into action. Stock up on fuel for gas mowers and sharpen those pruning shears.

Visit a local garden
Enjoy the sights at a garden when the first spring blooms start to peek out of the soil. Spring is known for tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and snowdrops.

Give your bike a tune-up
Take your bike out of storage and give it a once-over. Now is the time to put air in the tires, grease the chain and make sure that the brakes and other equipment are working properly. Most bike helmet manufacturers recommend replacing helmets every three years, even if you haven’t been in a crash. That’s because the polystyrene foam can degrade over time from environmental exposure.

Visit a farm
Many farm animals give birth in the spring. Children may be excited to see piglets, foals, kids, and all the other adorable young animals draw their first breaths.

Spring’s arrival presents the perfect opportunity to reacquaint oneself with the great outdoors.

 


 

City Life Citizen Academy Welcoming Applicants for Next Session

The City of Dubuque is welcoming applications from residents for the next session of City Life, Dubuque’s free “citizen academy” program designed to provide residents a hands-on connection with their local government.

This session will be held virtually and offers residents the opportunity to interact with City staff, learn more about City services and programs, and learn about different opportunities to be involved in city government all from the comfort of their home. There is no cost to participate. Space is limited to 35 participants. Applications are due by Friday, March 19.

The City Life program consists of six virtual sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (April 1, 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27, 29) with each session running from 6-8 p.m. The program will be offered again in the fall for those interested but unable to attend.

For more information and to apply for City Life, visit www.cityofdubuque.org/citylife or contact City of Dubuque Community Engagement Coordinator Temwa Phiri at 563-589-4180 or tphiri@cityofdubuque.org.

 


 

How exercise can help you live longer

There are many reasons to get in shape. Weight loss is a prime motivator, as is reversing a negative health effect, such as high cholesterol or increased diabetes risk. Routine exercise also can improve life expectancy.

WebMD says exercise keeps the body and brain healthy. That’s why exercise should be an important component of daily life no matter one’s age.

Research published in the journal Immune Aging found that how people age is 75 percent lifestyle and only 25 percent genetics, which underscores the importance of the lifestyle choices people make.

Cardiorespiratory fitness
Many health experts say that cardiorespiratory fitness may be just as valuable a metric to determine overall health as blood pressure and lipid levels. People with a high aerobic capacity can deliver oxygen to tissues and cells efficiently to fuel exercise, according to data published in 2014 in the journal Aging & Disease. In a study involving 11,335 women, researchers compared V02 max, also known as aerobic capacity, in women with mortality data. Women who were fit from a cardiovascular perspective had a lower death rate from all causes, irrespective of the women’s weight.

Manage stress and mood
Exercise has direct stress-busting benefits that can promote longevity. The Mayo Clinic says physical activity can increase the production of endorphins, which are the body’s feel-good neurotransmitters. In addition, exercise can imitate the effects of stress, helping the body adjust its flight or fight response accordingly, and help them cope with mildly stressful situations. While engaged in exercise, people may forget about their problems as they are focused on the activity at hand.

Improve bone health
Strength training and physical activity can stave off the effects of frailty and osteoporosis, which affects bone strength. A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine in 2017 found that hip fractures are associated with diminished quality of life and survival among the elderly. One in three adults aged 50 and over dies within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture, and older adults have a five- to eight-times greater risk of dying within three months following a hip fracture. Building muscle strength, balance and bone density through exercise can reduce falls and frailty, helping to prevent fracture-related health risks.

Addresses sarcopenia
The health and wellness resource Healthline defines sarcopenia as the loss of muscle mass specifically related to aging. Doctors once considered this muscle loss inevitable, and it can affect stamina and lead to weakness. However, new indications suggest that exercise is the main treatment regimen for sarcopenia, particularly resistance training. This is designed to improve muscle strength and help balance hormone levels by turning protein into energy for older adults.

These are just some of the ways exercise can help older adults live longer, healthier lives.

 


 

Explaining a detached retina

It’s easy to take vision for granted. Many people are born with fully functional eyes and only experience mild vision loss throughout their lives. But when vision is compromised and vision loss occurs, the reality of just how valuable eyesight is can sink in quickly.

Various factors can contribute to vision loss. Many people only experience age-related vision loss, which is typically combatted with prescription eyeglasses. But sometimes vision loss, whether it’s linked to aging or not, can be more menacing. Such is the case when a person has a detached retina.

What is the retina?
The retina is the layer of cells that lines the back wall inside the eye. The online medical resource Verywell Health says that light is projected onto the retina as it enters through the cornea, pupil and lens. The nerves of the retina then process that light and associated images before transferring their signals to the optic nerve, which then transports the signals to the brain. That’s where the perception of images occurs, which highlights just how important a role the retina plays in vision.

What is a detached retina?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology says a detached retina occurs when the retina lifts away from the back of the eye. This is a serious problem that, if left untreated, could lead to vision loss in the affected eye.

What causes a detached retina?
Various things can cause the retina to become detached. The AAO notes that, as a person ages, the vitreous in his or her eyes begins to shrink and get thinner. As the eye moves, the vitreous, a jelly-like substance that fills the middle of the eye, moves around on the retina and does not cause any problems. However, in some instances, the vitreous sticks to the retina and pulls hard enough to tear it, allowing fluid to pass through the tear and detaching the retina.

But age is not the only thing that can contribute to a detached retina. Verywell Health notes that trauma like a blow to the head can cause the retina to detach as well. Such trauma sometimes occurs when playing sports.

What are the signs of a detached retina?
The AAO urges anyone experiencing any of the following symptoms to contact an ophthalmologist immediately; otherwise, any delays can contribute to vision loss in the affected eye.

• Seeing flashing lights: Some people compare this symptom, which appears suddenly, to seeing stars after being hit in the eye.

• Noticing many floaters at once: The floaters may appear to resemble specks, lines or cobwebs in the affected person’s field of vision.

• A shadow in the affected person’s peripheral vision

• A gray curtain covering affected person’s field of vision

How is a detached retina treated?
The AAO notes that surgery is performed to repair a detached retina. There are different types of surgery to repair detached retinas, and patients can discuss their surgical options with their ophthalmologists.

A detached retina is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Learn more about detached retinas at www.aao.org.

 


 

The effects of caffeine on the body

Indulging in a morning cup of coffee is a beloved ritual for millions of people across the globe. The rich, bold flavor of coffee has created devotees in all corners of the world, all the while laying the foundation for a lucrative market.

In its recent “Global Coffee Market – By Product: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis and Forecast 2020-2026” report, Zion Market Research estimated that the global coffee market is expected to reach $155.64 billion in annual revenue by 2026. Though the flavor of coffee is what compels many people to pour that morning cup o’ Joe, others crave coffee in the mornings because of the jolt it can provide at the dawn of a new day. Caffeine is responsible for that jolt, and devoted coffee drinkers, and individuals who prefer other caffeinated beverages, may have come to rely on the boost caffeine provides to kickstart their day.

Researchers have studied the effects of caffeine on the human body to great extent. Many studies have concluded that modest consumption of caffeine is safe for healthy adults. In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is just about the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, appears to be safe. But adults may want to learn more about the effects of caffeine on their bodies as they try to determine just how much they should consume each day.

• Caffeine and the heart: According to the Heart Foundation NZ, most studies that examined the potential correlation between heart disease and coffee intake found no association between the two. In fact, the Heart Foundation NZ points out that plant sources of caffeine like coffee provide a host of other compounds and nutrients, including antioxidants, that can positively affect heart health. However, the online medical resource Verywell Mind notes that the stimulant effect of caffeine speeds up the heart rate. Healthy adults who drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages in moderation likely won’t have to worry about their heart rates after consuming caffeine, but people who are prone to anxiety may be vulnerable to panic reactions if they consume caffeine.

• Caffeine and sleep: Caffeine consumed during certain times of day may interfere with a person’s ability to get a good night’s rest. The Mayo Clinic notes that even small amounts of sleep loss can disturb daytime alertness and performance.

• Caffeine and medications: Adults currently taking certain medications or supplements should speak with their physicians about any potential interactions between those substances and caffeine. For example, the Mayo Clinic notes that mixing caffeine with the herbal supplement echinacea can increase the concentration of caffeine in the blood, potentially exacerbating the unpleasant effects of caffeine intake.

Adults who consume caffeine should always do so in moderation and only after giving due consideration to the many ways that caffeine can affect their bodies.

 


 

What to know before claiming Social Security benefits

Hardworking adults spend years striving to achieve their professional goals. Along the way, planning for retirement is a way to ensure all that hard work pays off when the time comes to call it a career.

In the United States, men and women nearing retirement age may be thinking about when they should begin collecting their Social Security retirement benefits. Social Security is a social insurance program instituted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935. The program consists of retirement, disability and survivor benefits, and workers in the United States contribute to Social Security each week.

The decision about when to claim Social Security retirement benefits is one all those who have contributed to the program must eventually make. In recognition of the difficulty of that decision, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers the following tips to people wondering when they should begin collecting their Social Security benefits.

• Confirm your full retirement age. Full retirement age refers to the age at which people can begin collecting their full benefits. Depending on the year you were born, you can begin collecting your full benefit at age 66 or 67. Claiming your benefit before you reach full retirement age will lead to a permanent decrease in your monthly benefits. Conversely, claiming after you reach full retirement age will lead to a permanent increase in your monthly benefits. Since the stakes are so considerable, it’s vital for adults to confirm their full retirement age before they claim their benefits.

• Delay claiming if you can. The CFPB notes that you can expect to get an additional 5 to 8 percent in monthly benefits for every year you wait to claim your Social Security benefits after age 62, maxing out at age 70. If you can afford to do so, wait to claim your full benefit until age 70, as doing so can translate to a benefit that’s 32 percent higher than it would have been had you claimed your benefit at age 62.

• Budget for retirement. Short- and long-term budgeting for retirement can help you assess how much money you will need to cover your expenses when you stop working. This step can help you understand how much a reduced or increased Social Security benefit will affect your bottom line in retirement.

• Continue working. Remaining in the workforce full-time or even part-time can have a considerable impact on the size of your Social Security benefit. The CFPB notes that continuing to work for one or two additional years can replace low- or no-income earnings from your earnings record, thereby increasing your benefit.

• Consider the long-term needs of your spouse. Surviving spouses receive the higher of the two spouses’ benefits. So it makes sense for the higher earning spouse to wait to collect his or her benefit until he or she reaches full retirement age.

The decision about when to collect your Social Security benefit is complex. Discussing your options with your spouse and financial advisor can help you make the most informed decision.

 


 

Variables to consider when choosing a media room

The term “home theater” once made homeowners who love movies and sports dream of the day when they could dedicate a large area in their home to watching the big game or their favorite films. Such rooms are now widely referred to as “media rooms.” Though the terminology may have changed, media rooms are not all that different from home theaters.

Before choosing an area of their home as their designated media room, homeowners must consider a host of variables to ensure they get as much out of the room as possible.

• Location and shape: Of course the location of the room is of the utmost importance. Media rooms tend to be more social settings than traditional home theaters, which were often designed to be isolated from the rest of the home so noise and natural light did not adversely affect the film-watching experience. Homeowners may not want their media rooms to be in high traffic areas of their homes, but they needn’t be completely secluded, either. The renovation experts at the DIY Network note that the shape of a room should be considered before designating it as the media room. In general, square rooms are not ideal, as such rooms can produce harmonic distortions. A rectangular room likely won’t produce such distortions, especially when homeowners place their screens and primary speakers on short walls. It’s important that homeowners do not downplay the importance of sound, as media rooms, unlike traditional home theaters, may be used for listening to music just as much as they are for watching films or sports. Viewers may not recognize distortions when watching something, but homeowners may notice these abnormalities when listening to music.

• Windows: Media rooms are multi-purpose rooms, so homeowners don’t need to remove rooms with windows from consideration. But the experts at the DIY Network note that windows are hard surfaces that can reflect sound and distort audio, and the light that gets in through windows can produce reflections on the viewing surface. Each of those factors can adversely affect your listening and viewing experience. A room with windows can still make for a good media room, but you may want to invest in some blackout curtains to mitigate some of the disadvantages of having windows in the room.

• Wall colors: The colors of the walls in the room is another variable homeowners will have to consider. Homeowners won’t want to host guests for the big game in rooms with darkened walls, as that can create a dreary atmosphere and potentially make people tired. But especially bright colors will reflect light and adversely affect the viewing experience. Neutral colors should not affect the colors on the screen, making them the ideal color choice for media room walls.

Media rooms are high on many homeowners’ renovation lists. Considering a host of variables prior to designating an area for a media room can ensure the finished product is as enjoyable as possible.

 


 

How to prepare a garden for spring planting

The final weeks of winter, and even the first few weeks of spring, are still chilly in many parts of the world. Despite those last vestiges of winter chills, late winter is a great time to begin preparing gardens for the coming planting season.

Gardens may have to withstand months of harsh weather each winter, and such conditions can take a toll. Gardeners can consider the following tips as they try to restore their gardens and get them ready for spring planting.

• Disinfect your tools. It’s common to clean tools in late fall or whenever they’re typically placed in storage for the winter. But cleaning and disinfecting are not necessarily the same thing. If tools were not disinfected at the end of the previous gardening season, disinfect them before doing any work on the garden. Doing so can ensure any lingering bacteria or fungi on tool surfaces are killed prior to the beginning of gardening season. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, plant pathogens, including bacteria and viruses, can be transferred to and infect plants through bits of soil and plant debris left on shovels and pruner blades. Thoroughly disinfecting such tools prior to using them in the spring is a great way to reduce the risk of disease in your garden.

• Clear debris from garden beds. Leaves, twigs, sticks, and other debris may have gathered in the garden over the winter. Such debris can inhibit the growth of plants and vegetables, so make sure all of it is removed prior to planting. Weeds might even begin to sprout up in late winter and early spring, so remove them before they go to seed.

• Test the soil. Testing the soil prior to planting can help gardeners determine what their gardens will need to thrive in the coming months. Garden centers and home improvement stores sell home testing kits that are effective and easy to use. Once the results are in, speak with a professional at your local garden center about the best time to amend the soil.

• Loosen compacted soil. Soil can become compacted over winter. If compacted soil is not loosened prior to planting, plants will have a hard time getting the water and nutrients they need to thrive. Loosening the soil also provides another opportunity to inspect the garden for any underlying issues, such as fungi or weed growth, that you may have missed when clearing debris or testing the soil.

Late winter is a good time to assess a garden and address any issues that developed over the winter so plants and vegetables can thrive come the spring planting season.

 


 

The connection between music and learning

Parents often go to great lengths to help youngsters do their best in school. Though there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to help kids realize their academic potential, incorporating music education into school curricula can benefit students in myriad ways.

According to the New England Board of Higher Education, music can benefit students of all ages. Young children who listen to music may have an improved ability to learn words and speak them correctly, helping them to develop larger vocabularies that can pay significant dividends when kids enter the classroom. In addition, a 2011 study published in the journal Neuropsychologia found that musicians performed better in auditory, visual and memory tests than non-musicians.

Students may even benefit in ways that surprise the most devoted music fans. For example, the NEBHE notes that playing a musical instrument, even one as simple as the triangle, has been proven to enhance dexterity and hand-eye coordination. That can help young children develop their motor skills more quickly than they otherwise might if they are not encouraged to play a musical instrument.

 


 

Preventive care and the pandemic

Procrastination is not typically considered a good thing. But as the world spent much of 2020 confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, putting certain things on hold became part of the new normal.

In an effort to reduce infection rates, public health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization urged people to limit their in-person interactions with people outside of their own households. As a result, many of the things people do on a regular basis, including seeing their physicians for wellness visits, were rescheduled.

It’s understandable that many people postponed preventive care and wellness visits during the pandemic, but it’s also potentially dangerous. For example, researchers with the Health Care Cost Institute found that childhood vaccinations declined by roughly 60 percent in mid-April 2020 compared with 2019. Other screenings and preventive exams, including mammograms, pap smears and colonoscopies, also declined by significant percentages during the pandemic compared to the previous year.

The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion notes the power of preventive care is undeniable. In fact, the NCCDPHP points out that, while chronic diseases are among the most common and costly of all health problems, they’re also among the most preventable. Annual wellness visits and early detection efforts like routine screenings for at-risk populations can uncover problems before they escalate into something more serious. In addition, annual physicals, which are provided free of charge through many health insurance policies, provide great opportunities for doctors to advise patients on their overall health and how to improve it if exams and blood work turn up any red flags.

Visiting a doctor during the pandemic
As vital as preventive care can be, it’s understandable if people are hesitant to visit their doctors during the pandemic. But patients can take certain steps to calm their nerves about booking preventive care appointments during the pandemic.

• Schedule telemedicine appointments. The number of telemedicine appointments has skyrocketed during the pandemic. While the transition from predominantly in-person appointments to telemedicine might have been a reluctant and rocky one at the start of the pandemic, many doctors’ offices have since firmly established their telemedicine protocols. The Mayo Clinic advises patients who have not yet tried telemedicine to contact their doctors’ offices to arrange an appointment.

• Inquire about office procedures. Doctors try to keep patients healthy, not get them sick. Various medical organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, have provided thorough checklists to help physicians prepare their offices to welcome patients during the pandemic. Patients can ease their concerns by contacting their doctors’ offices and asking them about their pandemic-related protocols.

• Don’t hesitate to make requests. There’s no such thing as being too safe from COVID-19, so patients can work with their doctors to calm their fears even further. Ask to pay copays over the phone and request that the front desk call you when the doctor is ready so you don’t have to sit in the waiting room.

Preventive care is an important component of health care, even during a pandemic.

 


 

How to prepare for tax season

April is synonymous with many things. Many people get their first glimpse of spring blooms in April, while families of faith look forward to gathering for Passover and Easter. Sports fans may welcome the return of professional baseball in April, while scholastic athletes may associate April with the return of spring sports. Though each of those things tends to be welcomed with open arms, one day in mid-April may not be greeted so warmly.

Each year in the United States, April 15 marks the official deadline for taxpayers to file their tax returns. Taxpayers in the United States must file their returns by this day or face penalties. Though the filing deadline may be in mid-April, it’s wise for taxpayers to begin preparing to submit their returns much earlier than that. For those who have not done so in the first two months of the year, March is a great time to begin preparations to ensure returns are accurate and filed on time.

The Internal Revenue Service offers the following advice to taxpayers who want to get a head start on their returns so they make sure they file on time in 2021.

• Gather and organize your records. Many people rely on a professional to work on their returns, and April is such professionals’ busiest time of year. As a result, it’s imperative that taxpayers have all their necessary documents ready prior to their appointments. Any delays could force appointments to be rescheduled, and there’s no guarantee tax professionals will have any open dates on their calendar as the filing deadline draws closer. The IRS notes taxpayers will need their W-2s from employers, forms 1099 from banks and other payers and other income documents and records of virtual currency transactions. In addition, people who received an Economic Impact Payment in 2020 should make sure they have Notice 1444, which includes the amount of the payment and how it was received, as they will need that to file their returns. It’s also important that people who received unemployment income recognize that such income is taxable, so they will need a record of that income, especially if they did not pay taxes on it when it was received.

• Where applicable, confirm your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number has not expired. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number from the Social Security Administration. The IRS notes that all ITINs not used on a federal tax return at least once in the last three years expired on December 31, 2020. In addition, all ITINs issued prior to 2013 with middle digits of 88 expired at the end of 2020. ITINs with middle digits 90, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99 that were assigned before 2013 and have not already been renewed also expired at the end of 2020. Visit www.irs.gov to learn more about ITINs.

• Contact your tax professional. 2020 was a complicated year, and that figures to create some unique challenges as people file their 2020 tax returns. So it pays to contact your tax preparation professional with any questions you have well in advance of April 15. That’s true for all taxpayers, but especially so for anyone who filed for unemployment, received an Economic Impact Payment or dealt with any other abnormal circumstances in 2020 that could affect their tax returns.

Taxpayers may face unique challenges as they begin to work on their 2020 tax returns. More information is available at www.irs.gov.

 


 

Clever and quirky crafts to try today

Being forced to spend more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic has led enterprising individuals to seek ways to pass the time. Is it any wonder that creative pursuits have become so popular over the last year?

Crafting can help people fill their time, reduce stress, inspire new relationships, and serve as a source of pride when an item is handmade from start to finish.

In an online study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy that surveyed 3,500 knitters, respondents felt there was a relationship between knitting frequency and feeling calm. Experts surmise that the rhythmic, repetitive movements and focused attention of certain crafts might produce a calming effect not unlike meditation. Crafting helps exercise several areas of the brain, including those responsible for problem solving, creativity and concentration, states Craft Courses, an online crafting course company.

The following are some unique crafts for those looking for something new.

• Quilling: This craft also goes by the name paper filigree. It involves twisting, rolling or looping thin strips of paper and then gluing them together to make designs. They can adorn the outside of homemade cards, or be attached to stock and then framed.

• Decoupage: Another paper craft, this one involves sticking small pieces of paper of any kind to another item and then coating the object with varnish. Just about anything can be improved and customized with decoupage.

• Marquetry: Marquetry involves applying pieces of wood veneer to a structure to form a decorative pattern or picture. Think of it as paint-by-number but with wood veneer. The technique often is applied to small objects or furniture.

• Bead crochet: Crochet artists may want to take their crafting up a notch with bead crochet, which incorporates beaded string or yarn into a crocheted item.

• Water marbling: Water marbling is a unique craft that produces a different result each time it is done. The crafter fills a tub roughly two-thirds full of water, adds a special chemical to allow oils to float on the water’s surface, then drops different colors of oil-based paint onto the water. The colors can be swirled and manipulated. A paper or piece of canvas is then placed on the surface of the water so that the design can transfer onto the material.

• Pyrography: Pyrography involves using a heating source and burning designs into a piece of wood. The term literally means “writing with fire.”

These lesser-known crafts can be good diversions and help individuals learn new skills.

 


 

Keep the focus on fun during family baking sessions

Baking is a beloved tradition in many families. Though family baking sessions tend to be especially popular during the holiday season, there’s nothing stopping families from breaking out the flour and having some fun in the kitchen at any time of year.

Fun is the focus when families bake together, and the following are some ways to make such sessions enjoyable for everyone.

• Encourage input. The designated family baker may have a host of go-to recipes up his or her sleeve, and baking such specialties might be a necessity on birthdays or during the holiday season. But all baking sessions need not be beholden to family favorites. Encourage all family members to recommend recipes prior to family baking sessions, even allowing a different person to choose the recipe each time. This can make the whole family enthusiastic about baking together and may even help families discover some new foods.

• Remember that patience is a virtue. Family baking sessions require patience, especially when young children are involved. Kids’ attention spans may wane or they may grow upset if they spill some ingredients. Remain patient at such times and let kids know making a mess is part of the fun of baking together.

• Simplify sessions as necessary. Baking with toddlers and school-aged youngsters is going to be different than doing so alongside preteens and adolescents. In addition, consider kids’ maturity levels when planning family baking sessions, as some youngsters might be more than capable of following more challenging recipes. Making sure kids are given age-appropriate tasks or jobs on par with their maturity levels is a great way to keep sessions fun and prevent frustration.

• Share the baking bounty. Let everyone indulge a little during the baking session. If you plan on making cookies, don’t hesitate to let everyone snack on a few chocolate chips while preparing the cookies. And once the bounty is done baking and it’s ready to eat, share it with family, friends and neighbors. Kids will be proud of their creations and want to share them, and that will ensure they’re excited about the next family baking session.

When baking with the family, keep the focus on fun so everyone has a great time while baking some tasty treats.

 


 

Some high tech ways to stop snoring

When climbing into bed, no one wants to endure a snore-filled night of fits and starts. Snoring may be inconvenient, but it’s more than just disruptive. Snoring may indicate a serious health issue.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes that s

Men’s Health magazine says some 90 million Americans snore, with 37 million doing so on a regular basis. Men are more likely to snore than women. Sometimes snorers can be so loud they disturb bed mates and even those in nearby bedrooms.

People who snore, and their loved ones who deal with the cacophony each and every night, are often on the lookout for ways to alleviate snoring. Despite an abundance of innovation in recent years, anti-snoring solutions have been slow in coming. But technology continues to evolve, and some new anti-snoring solutions have been developed.

• Track your overnight breathing. Snorers can use tracking devices to see just how well they are sleeping each night. When worn at night, devices like Fitbit™ can track breathing and will rate which levels of sleep a person reaches: deep, light or REM. It also records if a person awakens during the night, even when people do not realize their sleep was interrupted. This data can paint a clear picture of sleeping behaviors.

• Test snore ratings. Smartphone users can use an app called SnoreLab to rate snoring. The app is left running next to a bed. If it detects snoring, it will record an audio clip and rate the snoring on a scale that ranges from Quiet to Epic. The premise behind the app is that before snoring can be addressed, one must recognize that it is happening in the first place.

• Smart sleep masks. The Hupros Sleep Mask is an example of a smart sleep mask. It works with a smartphone to detect snoring. Then the mask gently vibrates to encourage a person to change positions to open up airways and reduce snoring. The mask also has a nose piece that will be engaged if a change of position doesn’t stop the snoring. It delivers expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) — allowing a wearer to breathe in through the nose, but making it hard to breathe out in the same way. This creates resistance meant to expand lung volume and reduce airway vibrations.

• Change positions. Another device that is supposed to help a person change positions to relieve snoring is the Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band. It straps around a user’s torso to monitor sleeping position. If snoring occurs, the device will nudge the snorer on his or her side, a position that is less likely to induce snoring.

• Go low tech. While there are many digital devices that may help alleviate snoring, one option does not require a device. A new pillow, such as a wedge pillow, can slightly elevate the head, which may promote better breathing.

Snoring is problematic for millions of people. Turning to technology may help people get the rest they need.

 


 

Addressing backyard pet waste

Pets benefit households in myriad ways. The Animal Health Foundation notes that being around pets can decrease cortisol levels — a hormone activated by stress. Pets also may inspire their owners to engage in physical activity, such as walks around the neighborhood or play sessions in the backyard, and a physically active lifestyle can reduce a person’s risk for various diseases.

To reap the rewards of a pet, owners must be willing to put in the effort to care for companion animals. This includes those tasks that can be unsavory, such as cleaning up pet waste. Not only is pet waste messy, if left out and about it can be an eyesore, a health risk and affect the quality of the soil in one’s yard.

Regular removal of pet waste benefits the environment as well as pets and their owners. There are a variety of solutions that can help people rid their lawns of pet waste.

• Put it in the trash. If allowed, placing waste in a trash receptacle is an option. However, certain areas of the country do not allow feces disposal in landfills. Bacteria found in animal excrement also can leach into the environment if not handled properly.

• Flush it. Another solution is to flush waste down the toilet. But that is not always convenient and it requires owners to bring waste indoors. Do not flush cat waste that is covered in litter

• Utilize a sewer line attachment. This disposal system is connected directly to a septic tank or sewer line. It will require washing out debris and waste that gets stuck in the plumbing.

• Use an enzymatic dog waste dissolver. Soaking waste and using an enzymatic product can dissolve it more safely than using lime or another chemical. It can be used out in the open, or applied to waste stored in a receptacle.

• Create a septic-style composter. Some people create a mini septic station in their yards in which the waste can break down and then dissolve into a predetermined corner of the property, away from where it can affect the landscape.

• Use a hose and water. Solid waste is not the only concern in the yard. Concentrated urine may contain high levels of nitrogen as well as salts and other compounds, according to The Spruce: Pets. These components alter the pH of the soil and cause patches of grass to die and turn yellow or brown. Females cause more damage because they squat and make a puddle of urine, while males tend to lift their legs and disperse the spray. Washing down areas where pets urinate can help dilute the urine and prevent damage.

Various products and strategies can help pet owners neatly and safely remove pet waste from their yards.

 


 

DIY strategies to deep-clean carpeting

What’s underfoot in a home can go a long way toward making residences comfortable and aesthetically appealing.

A study of home buyer preferences using data from the National Association of Realtors® found that 54 percent of home buyers were willing to pay more for a home with hardwood flooring. But that doesn’t mean that carpeting doesn’t still have its devotees. In 2019, the real estate firm Opendoor installed nearly one million yards of carpeting in its homes. Houzz reports that, in 2018, 17 percent of renovating homeowners purchased carpets and 50 percent purchased indoor rugs.

Carpeting and rugs can offset some of the shortcomings of hardwood, providing a softer texture that makes for a better landing spot for active young children. However, carpets will require more maintenance than hardwood floors. Learning how to deep clean carpets can help homeowners, as vacuuming is not enough to keep carpets in top form.

Spot clean stains
Stores sell a bevy of carpet cleaning solutions. When applying such solutions, do so in an inconspicuous area of the room to ensure colorfastness of the carpet and that the solution does not adversely affect the fibers. If the spot is clean and the carpet is not adversely affected, you can then apply the solution to more visible areas.

Homeowners who prefer all-natural cleaning solutions rather than chemicals can use a solution of white vinegar, baking soda and salt to make a safe cleanser, according to The Spruce. Soak the stain, use a scrub brush to work in the cleanser and then blot up the liquid with a clean cloth. According to the lifestyle resource First for Women, club soda also works as a cleanser when it is sprayed on a stain.

Deep cleaning
Carpets periodically need to be revitalized, and that can be accomplished with a specialized cleaning machine. Many are available for purchase (a good investment for homeowners with kids and/or pets), while others can be rented as needed.

Remove all of the furniture from a room and vacuum to clean dust, dander and any other debris. Address any darker stains first by pretreating with a cleaning solution. Let sit for around 20 minutes. While waiting, learn how to operate the machine, fill it and clean out the soiled water. Never allow the machine to oversaturate the carpet with water, as it can get into the padding and subfloor, causing problems like mold or wood damage. Spray the water-detergent solutions, and then pass the carpet cleaner over spots repeatedly until the carpet feels only slightly damp. DoItYourself.com advises running the machine at the pace of one foot per second.

Removing shoes when entering the home can keep carpets clean and reduce wear and tear.

With frequent deep cleaning, carpets can maintain a like-new appearance for years.

 


 

How to help aging adults adapt to technology

Children, adolescents and young adults likely cannot imagine a life without modern technology. Technology may have pervaded every part of life in the 21st century, but it wasn’t so long ago that phones were still attached to walls and people had to watch their favorite shows and films exclusively on televisions instead of having the option to watch them on devices like smartphones and tablets.

The transition to life in the age of technology went smoothly for most segments of the population, but some aging adults have had a more difficult time making the adjustment. That difficulty was apparent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, when public health agencies like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged aging adults to limit interactions with people outside their homes. Such recommendations forced many seniors to communicate with their families exclusively over the phone or via video conferencing apps like Zoom.

If seniors have had a hard time adapting to technology, their families can try these strategies to make that transition go more smoothly.

• Go over product manuals with seniors. The senior caregiving experts at Home Care Assistance note that older adults are less likely to learn through experimentation than they are by reading instructions in the manual. When helping seniors learn to use new devices, go over the owner’s manual with them as you set up the device. Mark important pages in the manual so seniors know where to go for quick answers if they experience any issues logging in or using certain apps.

• Look for senior-specific devices and guidebooks. Seniors make up an enormous segment of the population, and tech companies have long since recognized that there’s a market for products designed specifically for aging men and women. When shopping for devices for seniors, look for those that have been designed to help them overcome issues that have proven problematic for aging adults in the past. Devices that feature touchscreens with large menus, easily accessible navigation tools and simplified features can help seniors as they learn to use new technology.

• Be patient. Some seniors are excited by the prospect of learning to use new technology, while others may be hesitant. Patience is essential when working with an aging loved one who’s intimidated by technology. Take the time to explain apps and features and don’t take it for granted that seniors will know how to use a device or recognize what a device can do.

Today’s seniors may not have grown up with technology at their fingertips, but they can still learn to use devices to their advantage.

 


 

Dubuque Y Secures Grant Money to Bring “Safety Around Water” Program to Dubuque

In a world that 71% water and children are 100% curious in addition to living in a river town, it is critical that children and families know how to be safe around water. The Dubuque Y is thrilled to announce we have received a grant from the YUSA that will allow us to bring a “Safety Around Water” Program to Dubuque.
This program is not a typical swimming lesson, rather it is centered around how to be safe around ponds, rivers, pools, and other bodies of water as well as how to save yourself if something were to happen. The program will also teach participants what drowning looks like and what to do if you see it happening to someone else. Our goal is to partner with other community organizations that work with kids and families specifically targeting those who may not have access to swimming lessons.

According to the CDC between 2005 and 2014 “there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boated related) annually in the United States – about ten deaths per day. About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.” Not to mention that “for every one child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries”.

It is CRITICAL that parents and children know how to be safe around water – especially when living in a river town – know what drowning looks like, and know how to save themselves if ever in a position where they need to. As a community organization focused on building healthy spirit, mind, and body for all, the Dubuque Y is excited to be bringing this life saving program to Dubuque.

We anticipate starting to run this program in spring/summer. To get involved, please reach out to Ben Loeffelholz, Associate Executive Director, at 556-3371.

 


 

On National 211 Day, 211 Iowa recognizes record-breaking year

In 2020, 211 usage in Dubuque jumped a staggering 131%

With Feb. 11 as National 211 Day, 211 Iowa has much to be proud of. Within the
last year, 211 Iowa has connected more individuals with help and resources than ever before. During the second quarter, when COVID shutdowns began, 211 usage in Dubuque County skyrocketed, going up 307% compared to the previous year. Almost 50% of the total 3,375 contacts (both calls and texts) made in 2020 were COVID-19 related (1,178 COVID-related in total). Those figures do not include users who accessed information using the 211 Iowa app or website. The end of year total usage in Dubuque was up 131% from last year.

National 211 Day was created to recognize the free, multilingual, user-friendly phone number that serves about 95% of America’s population, including the complete state of Iowa. 211 Iowa covers all 99 counties with 24/7 coverage. The United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States funds coverage of Dubuque, Delaware, and Jackson counties. 211 can also be accessed by text, app, or website.

The specialists who answer the phone are highly trained. Once they take the call and discern the needs, they connect callers with the best local community resources from a continually updated, extensive database. They also explain how to access the services to the caller.

One of the misconceptions about 211, according to Danielle Peterson, President/CEO of United of Dubuque Area Tri-States, is that some people believe the hotline is reserved for people in dire need.

“We want people to know that 211 is for everyone,” said Peterson. “If you have a question about any kind of resources, whether the question is related to housing, disaster relief, utilities assistance or if you need information about COVID, dial 211. Sometimes people are ashamed to ask for the assistance. They feel like there’s someone out there who needs more help than they do. We want everyone to know that we are a resource and are here to help.”

Peterson notes that 211 serves a purpose beyond connecting people with needed resources.

“211 also helps us keep a pulse on the needs in our community.” she said. “We are able to closely track the calls to see the highest needs in specific areas and share that information with community leaders and policymakers. We’re able to let these partners know which needs are most pressing so they can determine if they have the resources to meet them for their constituents. It’s a valuable tool for planning.”

Research shows that without 211, callers can make an average of eight phone calls to different numbers before finding the services they need. 211 cuts through the red tape to save providers time and money, while helping Iowans connect with the resources they need.

 


 

What’s behind slow computers

Few things can derail a productive workday more quickly than a slow computer. Many a professional has encountered the dreaded slowdown or spinning color wheel, only to sit in frustration as deadlines draw closer and tasks pile up.

Computers can perform slowly due to a variety of factors, many of which can be addressed rather easily.

• Too much multitasking: Successful professionals pride themselves on their ability to multitask, but computers can only handle so much. Running many programs simultaneously or having too many browser tabs open at one time is a recipe for a slow computer. Keeping various programs open at once slows down processing speed, leading to lags when switching from one program to another. This is easily overcome by closing programs at the end of each workday and opening them only when you need to. Leaving multiple browser windows open at one time also slows down a computer, especially if the windows are open to pages that auto-refresh. Close windows when you’re done reading an article or no longer need to access information on a particular website.

• Software updates: Automatic software updates can be convenient, but they also take up space on computer hard drives. According to TechAdvisory.org, computers run smoothly when at least 15 percent of their total hard drive space is free. Turn off automatic updates and periodically check for updates on your own. If updates are available, install them during non-working hours so you don’t have to wait for the update to install during the workday.

• Inadequate hard drive space: Though it’s best to keep at least 15 percent of your hard drive space free, TechAdvisory.org notes that professionals who routinely work on multiple files at one time can very quickly use up more than 85 percent of their hard drive space, especially if they need to store those files on their computers. In such instances, purchasing additional hard drive space can improve performance. Adding more RAM, which temporarily stores data that is currently being worked on, also can help users overcome storage-related slowdowns.

• Viruses: Computer viruses are most often linked to corrupted files and frozen screens, but they also can cause computers to operate more slowly. Conduct a virus scan on the computer to see if that’s what’s behind the spinning color wheel or frozen screens.

Many things can cause a computer to slow down. Thankfully, there are just as many solutions to fix slow computers as there are problems that can adversely affect their performance.

 


 

Foods that can positively affect mood

No one is immune to the occasional bad mood. Whether it’s the weather, waking up on the wrong side of the bed or another variable, various factors can have an adverse affect on a person’s mood.

Food is one factor that can have a positive effect on mood. Certain foods have been found to positively affect mood, so incorporating them into your diet may help you stay positive even on those days when you get up on the wrong side of the bed.

• Fatty fish: A study from British researchers published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that a daily dose of an omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, helped patients with depression significantly reduce their feelings of sadness and pessimism. Hackensack Meridian Health notes that salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, trout, and anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

• Nuts and seeds: The minerals selenium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and zinc have all been linked to mental health, and nuts are rich in each of those minerals. Hackensack Meridian Health notes that almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and peanuts are particularly good sources of the immune system-boosting minerals zinc and magnesium.

• Dark, leafy greens: Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach and collards are rich in iron and magnesium, both of which can increase serotonin levels and help reduce feelings of anxiety. Dark, leafy greens also help the body fight inflammation, which can have a positive effect on mood. A 2015 study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that brain inflammation contributed to certain behaviors, including low mood, that appear during major depressive episodes.

• Dark chocolate: Chocolate lovers may be happy to learn that dark chocolate can improve mood. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Proteome Research found that dark chocolate helped to reduce levels of the hormone cortisol, which has been linked to stress. Hackensack Meridian Health notes that, when consumed in moderation, dark chocolate made of at least 70 percent cocoa can help people relax.

Various foods can have a beneficial effect on mood, potentially helping people to stay positive when doing so proves challenging.

 


 

Applications Available for Property Tax Exemptions in Urban Revitalization Areas

The City of Dubuque is currently accepting applications from property owners who may qualify for tax cuts based on improvements made to qualified properties in Dubuque’s urban revitalization areas as a part of the Dubuque Urban Revitalization Program.

The Dubuque Urban Revitalization Program, based on Chapter 404 of the Code of Iowa, focuses on the revitalization of properties in Dubuque’s older neighborhoods and offers a property tax exemption for new improvements made to qualified residential properties and limited commercial properties. Qualified residential properties include single-family homes, duplexes, and apartment buildings located within urban revitalization areas designated by the City Council. A building containing office or retail space may be eligible if the primary building use is 75 percent residential. A map of Dubuque’s urban revitalization areas can be found at www.cityofdubuque.org/urbanrevitalization.

New improvements must have been completed in 2020 and increase the assessed value of the building by at least 10 percent for residential and 15 percent for multi-residential or commercial properties. The Dubuque City Assessor makes a distinction between improvements that add to property value and home maintenance. For information on types of taxable improvements, contact the Dubuque City Assessor’s office at 563.589.4416.

Improvements to qualified properties may receive a total or partial exemption from property taxes for a specified number of years. These tax breaks are intended to encourage private investment by offsetting the property tax increases that usually accompany property improvements and increased property values. These investments and property improvements provide a long-term increase or stabilization in the area’s tax base, enhances the visibility of revitalization areas, and supports important City objectives such as historic preservation, economic development, and affordable housing development.

Applications for the Dubuque Urban Revitalization Program are available at www.cityofdubuque.org/urbanrevitalization. Completed applications must be returned to the City of Dubuque Housing and Community Development Department, 350 W. Sixth St., Suite 312, Dubuque, IA 52001 by 5 p.m. by Feb. 1, 2021.

For more information about the Dubuque Urban Revitalization Program or the tax exemption application, contact the City of Dubuque Housing and Community Development Department at 563.589.4230 or visit www.cityofdubuque.org/urbanrevitalization.

 


 

Tips when choosing your 401(k) investments

Saving for retirement is an essential component of financial planning. Adults can save for retirement in various ways, and one of the simplest, most popular ways to do so is to enroll in an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan.

Enrolling in a 401(k) plan can be a wise decision. According to a recent report from Fidelity Investments, the average 401(k) balance rose 8 percent in the first quarter of 2019. Investors seem to be taking notice of such returns, as Fidelity also noted that the average 401(k) employee contribution reached $2,370 in the first quarter of 2019, marking a 15 a percent increase from the year prior.

When enrolling in a 401(k) plan, professionals may wonder how to choose their investments. Such plans typically include an assortment of funds. There are a host of factors to consider when choosing 401(k) investments, and the following are some strategies that can help investors make decisions they’re comfortable with.

• Read the enrollment brochure. Brochures might not be the most exciting reads, but 401(k) brochures, which should be provided when employees enroll in a plan, typically include a detailed rundown of the investment options within a given plan. As valuable as these rundowns can be, a recent survey from Prudential Investments found that 42 percent of investors don’t know how their retirement assets are being allocated. Investors who know how their 401(k) contributions are being allocated are in better position to address market fluctuations, giving them more control over their money.

• Involve a financial planner in your 401(k). Financial planners can be an invaluable resource that can help investors in myriad ways. Some investors may be surprised to learn that outside planners can even help them with their employer-sponsored 401(k) plans. Provide a planner with detailed information about your 401(k), including a rundown of the plan’s investment options, and share your retirement goals. A financial planner can then help you choose the funds from your plan that best align with your goals and your comfort levels in regard to risk.

• Monitor your investments. While investors need to recognize that markets fluctuate, they still need to keep an eye on how their 401(k) investments are performing. Keep an eye out for funds that consistently lose money or provide little to no return, as they’re likely not worthy of your investment dollars. Investors should not overreact and immediately move money around when typically strong funds take a dip, but they also should not accept poorly performing funds as part of the risk of investing. It’s a balancing act, and savvy investors know to keep their eyes peeled and to make changes when necessary.

Choosing 401(k) funds is a decision to take seriously, and one that can be made simpler by enlisting the help of a financial planner.

 


 

Dubuque’s ‘Merry Mulch’ Collection Runs Jan. 4-15

The City of Dubuque is again sponsoring its “Merry Mulch” Christmas Tree Collection and Composting Program, which provides solid waste collection customers a convenient, curbside, Christmas tree collection service, while also beneficially recycling natural trees into compost.

Yard waste bags, bundles and containers, as well as GreenCarts with food scraps, will also be collected on regular collection days for two weeks beginning on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, and ending Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Residents should set out their trees (maximum of eight feet high) and other compostables next to their refuse on their normal collection day.

Crews appreciate very large trees cut in half, with no pieces over five feet in length.
The tree must have either one City Brush Tie or one yellow City Yard Waste Sticker attached and visible from the street or alley. Please remove all ornaments, lights, tinsel, wire, nails, stands or plastic bags.

Yard waste bags and containers with attached yellow City Yard Waste Stickers will also be collected. City Brush Ties cost $1.30 each and yellow City Yard Waste Stickers cost $6.50 for a sheet of five. Both are sold at most grocery, discount and hardware stores throughout Dubuque. Annual 2021 decals are also acceptable on containers.

Wreaths and garland contain too much wire to compost. Flocked trees are not compostable. Consider reusing/repurposing these items before disposing of them with your regular garbage. You must attach a green City Garbage Sticker on each of these items, along with every additional bundle, item, bag, or can in excess of your household’s first refuse container and any additional subscribed containers.

As a reminder for post-holiday trash collection, please do not place foil-lined envelopes, greeting cards, gift wrap, Styrofoam, bubble wrap, foam peanuts, plastic bags, or glass in recycling bins – those items are not recyclable. Consider reusing/repurposing these items before disposing of them with your regular garbage.

For additional information, please call the City of Dubuque Public Works Department at 563-589-4250 or visit www.cityofdubuque.org/yardwaste.http://www.cityofdubuque.org/yardwaste

 


 

Must-haves to achieve a holiday wonderland

The end of the year marks a period of heightened festivity. Come the holiday season, homes and businesses are decorated and everyone seems to have an extra spring in their step.

The sight of snowflakes, candy canes, evergreen wreaths, and Christmas trees can elicit nostalgia for happy holidays of the past, as well as excitement for what is yet to come. When it comes to decorating for the holidays, there are certain items that set the scene.

• Christmas trees: Germany is credited with starting the modern Christmas tree tradition. It dates back to the 16th century when devout Christians brought trees into their homes and decorated them. German settlers brought Christmas tree traditions to America upon their arrival in Pennsylvania in the 19th century.

• Mistletoe: Mistletoe is known as the “kissing plant” and it is customary for couples to kiss while standing beneath the plant, typically hung in doorways and arches. Mistletoe was once hung to drive off evil spirits and ensure fertility. Kissing under the mistletoe was first found associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia and later with primitive marriage rites.

• Lights: Lights are commonly seen during the holiday season. The custom of having holiday lights dates back to when Christmas trees were decorated with candles, which symbolized Christ being the light of the world. These traditions evolved from pagan rituals that would celebrate the return of light of the sun as the days grow longer after the winter solstice.

• Yule log: Many families burn a yule log in the fireplace and watch it burn while listening to Christmas carols. The familiar custom of burning the log dates back to solstice celebrations and the tradition of bonfires. The Christmas tradition called for burning a portion of the log each evening until Twelfth Night, also known as the Epiphany, which takes place on January 6.

• Poinsettias: Poinsettias are a tropical plant that originated in Mexico. Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first Ambassador from the United States to Mexico. He became enamored with the plants, and brought them back to his native South Carolina. An old Mexican legend suggests a poor girl had nothing to offer baby Jesus at Christmas Eve services, so she picked a handful of weeds and put them at the bottom of the nativity scene. These weeds burst into bright red flowers and became known as “Flores de Noche Buena,” or “Flowers of the Holy Night.”

Holiday decorations borrow traditions from all over the world to help establish a festive wonderland.

 


 

How to involve kids with holiday baking

The holiday season is steeped in tradition. Many holiday traditions are centered around food, with much of the focus on all of the decadent treats and desserts taking center stage at many family gatherings.
Many parents hope to involve their children in as many family holiday traditions as they can.

Holiday baking is one kid-friendly tradition, and parents can make it even more so by taking a few simple steps before they get started.

• Purchase kid-friendly baking equipment. Bakers rely on lots of tools to make cookies, cakes and other delicacies. That equipment is even available in kids’ sizes. Kids may be more excited about baking if they have their own equipment, and such gear also can make it easier for them to lend a hand. A spatula made for youngsters can make it easier for kids to move cookies from a baking sheet to a platter, while colorful measuring cups and their own whisk can excite youngsters about baking.

• Plan ahead. Seasoned bakers know that it’s imperative to have the right supplies, including ingredients, on hand before beginning a baking session. That’s even more necessary when baking with kids, who might not be as patient as moms and dads hope if a baking session has to be paused to run to the store for a missing ingredient or to dig out some tools from the back of the pantry. Plan ahead by setting everything out and assembling all the necessary ingredients the night before you plan to bake.

• Delegate wisely. Young kids may want to do everything mom and dad do, but baking is a delicate science that requires careful attention to detail and a strict adherence to recipes. So it’s important that parents delegate wisely when involving children in holiday baking. Whisking, stirring and topping off cookies with frosting and sprinkles are fun, kid-friendly tasks.

• Add some fun foods to the menu. If you plan to bake holiday cookies, purchase kid-friendly holiday cookie cutters before your baking session so youngsters have as much fun as possible. Kids may have more fun if they get to make Santa Claus, Frosty or Rudolph cookies.

• Make a mess. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy when baking with children. Moms and dads may love a clean kitchen, but kids tend to have more fun in the kitchen when things get a little messy. Douse each other with a little flour and make a joke of things if some ingredients find their way onto the counter or the floor instead of into your mixing bowl.

Parents can make the holiday baking that much more fun by letting their kids pitch in this year.

 


 

Temporary Closure of Plaza 20 East Frontage Road at Devon Drive Intersection

The City of Dubuque will temporarily close the Plaza 20 East Frontage Road at the Devon Drive intersection on Monday, Dec. 14. This temporary closure is related to the opening of the Sonic restaurant on the East Frontage Road and traffic congestion/safety concerns at the intersection.

During the temporary closure of the East Frontage Road, access to and from the East Frontage Road businesses will be via a detour through the Plaza 20 property to the Devon Drive intersection and US 20/Dodge Street traffic signals. The existing US 20/Dodge Street right-in/right out access point near the Harbor Freight store will remain open and no changes are planned for this intersection. Access to existing driveways will be maintained during the temporary closure. A map of the project extents is available at https://www.cityofdubuque.org/DocumentCenter/View/47388/Plaza-20-Frontage-Road-Closure-Map.

The temporary closure of the East Frontage Road will continue until permanent measures to restrict turning movements onto the East Frontage Road from the Devon Drive and US 20/Dodge Street intersection are implemented. These permanent measures are estimated to be completed by April of 2021.

If you have questions regarding the closure/detour, please contact the City of Dubuque Engineering Department at 563.589.4270. Please note: closure dates/times are estimates and are subject to change without notification based on weather and contractor schedules.

 


 

4 factors to consider to maintain winter safety

Many changes are to be expected as fall gives way to winter. Temperatures drop for much of the country, and depending on where one lives, snow, wind and ice are to be expected.

As beautiful as snow-covered landscapes can be, winter presents unique hazards, notably slippery roads and surfaces. Chilly temperatures also can put people at risk if they spend prolonged periods outdoors unprotected.
According to the insurance company Carsurance, more than 156,000 crashes occur annually due to icy roads. Roughly 17 percent of all vehicle crashes happen in winter conditions. Winter hazards are not exclusive to driving, however. That means winter safety involves a consideration of a host of factors.

1. Changing visibility
While slippery surfaces may contribute to some accidents, visibility can quickly change with winter weather. Blowing snow can contribute to whiteout conditions. In addition, fog can be hazardous to drivers, aviators and mariners and contributes to thousands of travel accidents every year, advises the National Weather Service. It’s important to slow down, leave plenty of distance, use your low-beam headlights, and recognize when it may be safest to pull over, such as when visibility is significantly compromised.

2. Snow removal
Shoveling snow or using a snowblower are common wintertime activities. Yet strenuous levels of activity in cold temperatures could put people at risk of heart attack, particularly if they are not acclimated to physical activity. Always warm up prior to shoveling snow to prepare the body for exercise. Go slowly and take frequent breaks. Avoid twisting and tossing snow over your shoulder, which can contribute to back injuries.

3. Carbon monoxide poisoning
Winter weather means turning up the heat or doing more indoor cooking. Carbon monoxide is produced through the burning of fuel in various forms, including stoves, engines, gas ranges, portable generators, and grills. The National Safety Council says carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can go undetected as it builds up in enclosed spaces. Never warm up the car inside of a contained garage. Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors, and have furnaces, water heaters and other fuel-burning appliances checked and serviced by a qualified technician annually. Be sure that carbon monoxide alarms are on every floor of the home, and take it seriously if the alarm goes off.

4. Black ice
Black ice is a common winter foe. Black ice forms when temperatures rise above freezing during the day, melting any snow on the ground and causing surfaces to become wet. If the temperature drops once more while the ground is wet, a thin, transparent sheet of ice can form. Black ice also may occur if moisture in the air condenses and forms dew or fog, and then the temperature drops below freezing, says the National Weather Service. Black ice gets its name because it looks black on asphalt roads. However, it also can form on sidewalks and overpasses, or spots shaded by trees or other objects. Slowing down and exercising extreme caution are essential.

Winter is a beautiful season. But it can be just as hazardous as it is awe-inspiring. Taking steps to stay safe in unpredictable conditions is a necessity each winter.

 


 

Pointers before preparing chicken

Chicken is a versatile food that can be found on menus at restaurants across the globe. Whether it’s stuffed chicken on the menu at an Italian restaurant or a spicy chicken dish from a local Indian eatery, chicken can be served in an assortment of ways.

As a global pandemic took hold in the winter of 2019-20, many people found themselves cooking at home more than ever before, and the versatility of chicken made it a go-to on home menus. People thrust into cooking duties despite little or no previous culinary experience should know that chicken can be cooked in a variety of ways and goes well with myriad side dishes. That makes chicken an ideal item to consider when planning meals for yourself and/or your family.

Millions of people across the globe eat chicken without incident every day. However, the threat of food poisoning is there when cooking chicken, so it’s wise for home cooks to take a few precautionary measures when making meals with chicken.

• Thaw frozen chicken correctly. It can be tempting to take chicken out of the freezer and leave it on the counter to thaw in the hours before dinnertime. But that’s potentially very dangerous. The United States Department of Agriculture notes that strains of bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli can be found on raw chicken. These bacteria thrive at room temperature, leaving you and others vulnerable to foodborne illnesses. When thawing frozen chicken, place the chicken in the refrigerator in a sealable plastic bag. Chicken also can be thawed in a microwave, but the online medical resource Healthline notes that chicken that has thawed in a microwave must be cooked immediately afterward to kill any bacteria.

• Be careful when rinsing chicken with water. The Australian Chicken Meat Federation notes that rinsing uncooked chicken with water can lead to contamination if chicken juices and any accompanying bacteria are splashed into the sink or onto surrounding surfaces, such as countertops. If you rinse chicken with water, make sure the water is running low to reduce splashing, and clean any areas that may have been contaminated, including the sink, immediately afterward.

• Clean all surfaces that have come into contact with raw chicken. Even if you don’t rinse chicken with water, all surfaces that have come into contact with raw chicken should be cleaned immediately. WebMD advises using hot, soapy water to clean surfaces that have or may have come into contact with raw chicken or chicken juices.

• Confirm chicken is thoroughly cooked before serving. WebMD notes that chicken can be checked for doneness by cutting a slit into the thickest part of the chicken piece to see if it is cooked through. Juices from cooked chicken run clear, not pink. If the juice or meat is pink, the chicken needs further cooking.

• Don’t baste with your marinade. If you’re marinating chicken prior to cooking it, discard the marinade once you remove the raw chicken from it. Raw chicken marinade may contain bacteria that can make people sick, so never baste cooking chicken with the same marinade you used when the chicken was raw.

Chicken is a versatile food that can be served in myriad ways. Safety should always be a priority when thawing, preparing, cooking, and serving chicken.

 


 

Eggnog is a classic for holiday celebrations

No beverage is more associated with holiday cocktail parties than eggnog, which is a beloved beverage come the holiday season.

While it’s perfectly acceptable to purchase store-bought eggnog in the dairy case and dress it up with a favorite spirit, most eggnog recipes only feature a handful of ingredients and are quite easy to make at home.

Rum, whiskey and brandy are customary liquors to use in eggnog recipes. However, The Spruce: Eats has taste-tested them all and believes brandy tops the others for the perfect finished product. Enjoy their version of “Quick Brandy Eggnog” below.

Quick Brandy Eggnog
1 cocktail

1 ounce brandy
1-1⁄4 ounces milk
1⁄2 ounce simple syrup
1 egg yolk
Grated nutmeg or cinnamon for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine the brandy, milk, simple syrup, and egg yolk. Dry shake without ice.

Fill shaker with ice, then shake vigorously for about 30 seconds to ensure the egg is well mixed. Strain into an old-fashioned or cocktail glass. Add a dash of grated nutmeg or cinnamon as a garnish.

Note: Only use a fresh egg. Test the egg’s freshness by placing it in a glass of water. If the egg floats, discard it, as this indicates the egg is too old. Only use eggs that rest on the bottom of the glass. This will ensure the most flavorful drink and helps to reduce the risk of salmonella.

 


 

Cranberry-infused cocktail for autumn entertaining

Besides the ubiquitous “pumpkin spice,” nothing says “autumn” more than tart cranberries. Cranberries are a major component of Thanksgiving feasts, turning up alongside and atop turkey as well as in quick breads and desserts.

Cranberries are loaded with health benefits, which include reducing the risk for ulcers and preventing gum disease. Also, just eight ounces of cranberry juice cocktail contains 137 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.

Cranberries can even be used to craft great cocktails. Move over mulled ciders, this crisp “Cranberry Margarita” from The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association makes a great autumn-inspired beverage.

Cranberry Margarita
Serves 1

1-1⁄2 shots of tequila
1 shot of cranberry juice cocktail
1⁄4 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce
1⁄2 shot of triple sec
10 ice cubes
Sweetened dried cranberries, for garnish
Lime, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a blender. Blend on high until smooth and frosty. Serve in a margarita glass. Garnish with dried cranberries and a lime wheel.

 


 

The benefits of crossword puzzles

Crossword puzzles are one of the most popular pastimes in the world. Crosswords are square grids made up of white- and black-shaded squares. The goal is to fill in all of the letters to form words and phrases that work both vertically and horizontally. The grid varies based on the country of origin. Certain grids also have 180-degree rotational symmetry so that the pattern appears the same if the paper is turned upside down.

Historians are uncertain about who created the world’s first crossword puzzle, although it is believed to be something that originated in the 19th or early 20th century. Arthur Wynne, a journalist from Liverpool, England, published a word-cross puzzle in the New York World that had many of the features of the modern game, and the crossword is frequently attributed to Wynne.

Even though crossword puzzles have been entertaining and helping people pass the time for more than 100 years, the benefits of crosswords go beyond boredom-busting. Various studies have shown the positive effects crossword puzzles can have on a person’s brain and capacity to learn.

• Improve vocabulary: Crossword puzzles introduce players to new words. And players may learn some interesting facts about various subjects simply by filling in crosswords correctly.

• Strengthens memory: The more frequently participants engage with word puzzles, the better they can perform tasks that measure attention, reasoning and memory, according to a study from the University of Exeter Medical School and Kings College London. The study found people who play crosswords have brain function equivalent to those 10 years younger than their actual age.

• Improve socialization: Crossword puzzles can help you connect socially with others who also play crossword puzzles. Solving a puzzle together as a group is a fine way to connect and meet new people.

• Help relieve stress: Crossword puzzles can engage the brain and mind, helping direct attention away from stressful situations. Crosswords also provide a way to relax and unwind.

• May help prevent brain diseases: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research indicates keeping the brain active seems to increase its vitality and may build reserves of brain cells and connections. In addition, those who keep their minds active may have lower amounts of a protein that forms beta amyloid plaques attributed to Alzheimer’s disease.

Crossword puzzles can fill empty hours with an entertaining and educational activity. However, there are many other benefits to doing crossword puzzles that may surprise even the most ardent puzzle enthusiasts.

 


 

Deer Rut Welcomes Hunters with Disabilities

The deer rut welcomed hunters with disabilities to the Lost Mound Unit of Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Savanna, Illinois on November 14-15. Mother Nature reminded the hunters that it is November in the Midwest and provided sporadic downpours, hail and 60 mile per hour winds that ripped hunting tents from their ground staking.

Paraplegics, amputees and other physically challenged hunters participated in this special deer hunt. Thirty-three hunters and their attendants harvested 16 deer that included 9 bucks and 7 does. Ninety-four-year-old William Brown celebrated his 74th year of deer hunting. He has hunted deer every year since 1957, when Illinois began deer hunting. Double-leg amputees Cam Tribolet and Scott Hansen harvested 12 point and 9 point bucks, respectively.

Each year, the Refuge partners with outdoors and sporting organizations to make this hunt a success. The non-profit organization Ultimate Experience Outdoors, Inc. sponsored Brien Canty from Cross Roads, Alabama. It is the fourth year this organization has sponsored a disabled veteran, who often are new to deer hunting or are being re-activated to hunting.

This special hunt has gained national attention with hunters representing nine states. It provides a boost to the local economy with most hunters being non-residents or residents that traveled from central and southern Illinois. Other states represented were Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Down Deer Recovery, a certified United Blood Trackers provider, assisted hunters in recovering wounded deer. Owner/handler Seth Nelson with his bloodhound Kimber and German shepherd Maverick, successfully tracked several wounded deer. The dogs track the scent of a stress pheromone that is released from the deer’s hooves and is present along the escape path of the injured deer.

This special hunt is conducted in areas that are closed to public access due to ongoing environmental clean-up at this former military installation, the Savanna Army Depot. Over 1,000 youth and adult hunters have participated in this hunt since its beginning 15 years ago.

Lost Mound Site Manager Alan Anderson was excited about the continued success of this program and stated, “It is a unique hunting experience by a special group of hunters. Their daily challenges of life were dwarfed by the enthusiasm and determination for deer hunting. They provided both inspiration and encouragement to the Refuge staff that administered the hunt.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge was established in 1924 and contains 240,000 acres that extends along 261 miles of the Upper Mississippi River.

 


 

Signs dogs are having vision problems

Dog owners take their furry friends’ health very seriously. Like their human companions, dogs can experience health problems that seemingly come out of nowhere. But unlike the men and women who take care of them, dogs cannot call the doctor when something is bothering them. That responsibility rests on the shoulders of their owners.

A dog’s eyes can be a window into the animal’s overall health. According to the pet care professionals at Memphis Veterinary Specialists & Emergency, serious conditions such as liver disease, diabetes and autoimmune diseases can all present indicators in a dog’s eyes.

The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation® says that dogs can experience physical and/or behavioral problems when they’re experiencing eye trouble.

A host of factors can contribute to vision problems in dogs. Age is one such factor, but diseases such as diabetes and hereditary conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy, also can lead to visual impairment. Before dog owners can work with veterinarians to determine the cause of their furry friends’ vision loss, they must first learn to recognize signs of impairment. The AKC notes that some of these signs may be obvious while others are more subtle.

• Bumping into walls or furniture: This is a clear indicator that a dog is experiencing vision problems. Dog owners who notice this is happening even when there’s nothing to obstruct their dogs’ path should book a vet appointment immediately.

• Trouble locating food or toys: Most dogs love to eat and drink and play with their toys. So a sudden inability to find food or water bowls or a favorite toy could indicate the dog is having vision problems.

• Reluctance to jump on or off a couch: This symptom can be less noticeable than bumping into furniture or having trouble finding food. Dogs that once loved to jump on or off a couch but now stick to the floor may be doing so due to impaired vision and the fear of not being able to see where they’re jumping.

• Clinginess: The AKC notes that some dogs cling to their owners as they experience vision loss.

• Aggressiveness: Dogs may begin to show aggression as they experience vision loss. That’s because the loss of their eyesight can make them feel vulnerable, leading some to act offensively as a defense mechanism.

• Physical indicators/behaviors: Dog owners should be on the lookout for red, puffy or swollen eyes. In addition, Memphis Veterinary Specialists & Emergency notes that some dogs may paw at their face in response to vision loss.

Vision loss in dogs can be caused by many things. The first step to helping dogs overcome diminished vision is recognizing its symptoms.

 


 

Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity joining Riverview Center

Riverview Center is Pleased to Announce Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity is joining us in our new space at 1789 Elm Street, Dubuque.

To help our agencies better meet the needs of victims/survivors of gender-based violence, Riverview Center welcomes Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity to our Dubuque Sexual Assault/Abuse Survivor Services Center at 1789 Elm Street. Through this partnership, our agencies are working together to make it easier for survivors to access the advocacy and counseling they seek in their journey to get justice and to heal.

For twenty-eight years, Riverview Center has proudly provided the healing and justice survivors of sexual violence deserve, free of charge. We are a nonprofit agency committed to providing free, compassionate, client-centered care for individuals affected by sexual violence in 14 counties in Iowa, including Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Howard, Jones, Linn and Winneshiek Counties; and for individuals affected by sexual and domestic violence in Carroll and Jo Daviess Counties in Illinois.

Regardless of means, our clients receive high-quality, professional services, including 24-hour crisis hotlines; legal, medical, and general advocacy; one-on-one counseling and support groups; professional training; and violence prevention initiatives. If you or someone you know needs survivor services, please contact Riverview Center 24-Hour Iowa Sexual Assault Hotline: 888-557-0310.

Monsoon Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity serves victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and gender-related homicide in Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Iowa. The culturally specific nonprofit organization, which serves all 99 counties in Iowa, has offices in Des Moines (main), Iowa City and now in Dubuque.

Aiyuko Maun is a Monsoon advocate and community outreach worker based in Dubuque. Aiyuko is from the Marshall Islands and you can reach her at 319-538-5207 or at aiyuko@monsooniowa.org. For more information, contact Lata D’Mello at 515-537-9475 or at lata@monsooniowa.org.

For more information, please contact:

 Riverview Center
Joey Taylor, Executive Director
563-557-0310 • joey@riverviewcenter.org

Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity
Lata D’Mello, Director of Programs, Iowa City
515-537-9475 • lata@monsooniowa.org

 


 

Warm up with a rich, chocolate beverage

Nothing beats sipping a hot, soothing beverage after a day of choosing the perfect Christmas tree or lobbing snowballs in the backyard. Teas, hot toddies, coffees, and mulled ciders certainly can fit the bill, but a mug of rich hot chocolate is a holiday season staple.

Hot chocolate can be whipped up quickly from premade packets, but many such packets are loaded with sugar. Chocolate lovers should have a reliable hot chocolate recipe to lean on when the moment is right. This recipe for “Real Hot Chocolate” from “Chocolate” (Parragon) by the editors of Love Food is sure to please.

Real Hot Chocolate
Serves 1 to 2

1-1⁄2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1-1⁄4 cups milk
Chocolate curls to decorate

Place the chocolate in a large, heatproof pitcher. Place the milk in a heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour about one-quarter of the milk onto the chocolate and leave until the chocolate has softened.

Whisk the milk and chocolate mixture until smooth. Return the remaining milk to the heat and return to a boil, then pour onto the chocolate, whisking constantly.

Pour into warmed mugs or cups and top with the chocolate curls. Serve immediately.

 


 

Host Halloween for less

Halloween marks the first stop on the holiday season highway. It is a time of great excitement and fun for young and old, with costumes, tricks and treats brightening up an autumn day. Hard core Halloween enthusiasts may spend hundreds of dollars each year on decor, costumes and other accessories. But what if there were a way to save on favorite Halloween items?

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy Halloween hijinks. With some innovative and cost-saving ideas, it’s possible to save money, which is always helpful with Thanksgiving and December festivities on the horizon.

• Use online resources. There’s a good chance you can find do-it-yourself project ideas for any number of tasks on your Halloween to-do list. Want to craft an authentic-looking witch’s broom? Need a free pumpkin-carving template? Want to create a haunted house tableau with items you already have in your shed or garage? Do a quick online search to find ways to achieve all of these ideas and more.

• Borrow what you need. Each year many parents purchase new costumes for their children that are easily outgrown by the time the next Halloween rolls around. That leads to a surplus of Halloween costumes with little wear and tear. Parents can set up a costume swap with other parents to find high-quality costumes for their children and often themselves. If a friend is doing a “Grease”-inspired 1950s party and you’re in possession of a “Pink Lady” jacket, offer to lend it out for the party.

• Rely on e-vites. Spread the word about your Halloween party or trunk-or-treat event via digital invitations. Many services offer free invitations that don’t require a subscription to their services. Another no-cost idea is to download an image from a copyright-free clip-art service and modify it using available phone applications to include party details. Then simply text out your invitation to friends.

• Buy in bulk. Pool your spending resources with other people and utilize wholesale or bulk-buying services to meet your Halloween needs. Consumers can save on the per-item cost when items are purchased in bulk. This can be applied to decorations, food, candy, and more.

• Shop candy sales. You already know when Halloween will arrive, so use the months prior to stock up on candy as it goes on sale. This way you need not pay a premium for favorite sweets to give out to trick-or-treaters.

These are just a few ways to save on Halloween supplies and still make the day a spooktacular success.

 


 

Simple ways to maintain braces

Many adults recall having braces as children. While braces have evolved dramatically over the last few decades, modern braces benefit teeth in much the same ways as those adults recall from their youth.

Braces are often recommended to help straighten crooked teeth, correct misaligned bites and/or address overcrowded teeth. Maintenance is essential to ensure braces are effective and provide long-lasting benefits, and the American Association of Orthodontists offers these tips to protect braces and prevent patients from developing tooth decay.

• Avoid certain foods. Hard, sticky, crunchy, or chewy foods should be avoided. Many candies and snacks fit that description, so parents of children with braces and adults with braces of their own should make sure these foods are not readily available around the house. The AAO specifically mentions foods such as caramel, gummies, licorice, jelly beans, and even soft drinks among the foods to avoid when wearing orthodontic braces.

• Be extra cautious around Halloween. The days surrounding Halloween can be an especially difficult time to maintain braces. Candy is everywhere come the end of October, but people with braces must be diligent in avoiding hard-shelled peanut candies and nut-filled candies.

• Brush twice per day, but be careful. The experts at Oral-B® note that careful cleaning is required when wearing braces. Plaque bacteria can be easily trapped inside and around braces, so it’s especially important that people with braces carefully brush each day. Removable parts, including elastics, should be removed prior to brushing. Clean each tooth individually in a circular motion, tilting the brush as necessary to reach small front teeth.

• Continue regular visits to your orthodontist as well as your dentist. Regular visits to the orthodontist are required when wearing braces. These visits are necessary so braces can be adjusted and orthodontists can make sure there are no signs of gum disease. But Oral-B® notes that it’s just as important to continue visiting the dentist while wearing braces. Dentists can perform routine services designed to protect tooth surfaces from decay while wearing braces, making dental visits a vital component of orthodontic maintenance.

Orthodontic braces help people have healthy, beautiful smiles. Maintenance while wearing braces is vital to avoid disease and produce a mouthful of pearly whites.

 


 

Dubuque Offers Multiple Leaf Disposal Options

The City of Dubuque is reminding residents of their options for leaf and yard debris disposal this fall. The City encourages mulching, mowing, and backyard composting as economical and beneficial leaf management options but offers several other options for yard debris management.

As part of the City’s April-November collection service, leaves and other yard waste may be placed in: paper yard waste bags that display a single-use yard waste sticker; a rigid solid waste container with either a single-use yard waste sticker looped on the handle or a City 2020 annual yard waste decal; or in City yard debris tipper carts. Brush and limbs can be bundled with a City of Dubuque brush tie or twine and an attached single-use yard waste sticker.

Bags, containers, and bundles may not exceed 35 gallons in capacity or 40 pounds in weight. Plastic bags containing yard waste will not be collected. Paper yard waste bags, single-use yard waste stickers, and brush ties are available in most grocery, hardware, and discount stores throughout the city. Single-use yard waste stickers are available at area retailers on sheets of five for $6.50. Brush ties cost $1.30 each.

Seasonal, regular-route yard waste collection ends Monday, Nov. 30. From December through March, Thursday collections of yard waste may be scheduled by calling (563) 589-4250 or submitting a request at www.cityofdubuque.org/yardwaste. Food scraps will also be collected on Thursday only for subscribed customers.

The Public Works Department also offers, by appointment only, leaf rake-out collections in which large, curbside leaf piles are vacuumed into a collection vehicle. Collection appointments must be scheduled in advance by calling 563-589-4250 or submitting a request at www.cityofdubuque.org/yardwaste. Rake-out collections are offered from Monday, Oct. 12, through Wednesday, Nov. 25, this year. Appointments must be made before raking into a gutter area. Acceptable items in the leaf rake-out include loose leaves, pine needles, and pinecones. Grass, brush, plants, and rocks are not accepted.

Rake-out collection leaf piles should be placed in the street at the curb no sooner than the day before the scheduled appointment. Crews cannot enter private property or alleys to collect a leaf rake-out. Vehicles must not be parked on the street within 10 feet of the leaf pile. Utilities such as fire hydrants, utility boxes, or storm sewer catch basins should not be covered. A $20 minimum charge is added to a customer’s utility bill for a 40-bag equivalent rake-out pickup.

Residents are reminded that burning leaves and raking or blowing your leaves into the street are prohibited and subject to fines.

For more information, please contact the City of Dubuque Public Works Department at 563-589-4250 or visit www.cityofdubuque.org/publicworks.

 


 

The secrets to cold weather entertaining

Upon the arrival of cold weather, people tend to move indoors and limit their time spent in the elements. For those who live in places where there are restrictions placed on indoor entertaining and gatherings, it may be challenging to find ways to spend time safely together as temperatures drop.

The COVID-19 virus as well as other respiratory viruses are spread from person to person through respiratory droplets released into the air while coughing, talking or sneezing, states the Mayo Clinic. A person is more likely to inhale these droplets from an infected person while indoors, especially when they’re in close contact with that person. When outdoors, there is a lower risk of contraction.

Outdoor entertaining in winter may be challenging, especially in regard to keeping everyone warm. The following are some solutions that can help people stay warm and have fun outside.

Invest in fire pits
Fire pits are an affordable way to heat a patio or another outdoor area. They can be great places for friends and family to gather around and enjoy special occasions. They’re readily available from garden centers and home improvement retailers at a variety of price points. Permanent fire pits can be built by a homeowner or professionally built by masonry experts.

Install an outdoor fireplace
A step up from a fire pit, outdoor fireplaces not only add warmth, but also improve the ambiance and value of an outdoor entertaining area. Set up outdoor furniture right next to an outdoor fireplace and you have a cozy alternative living room where everyone can gather.

Explore outdoor heating systems
Few things are more effective at warming up outdoor entertaining areas than patio heaters and infrared heaters. These devices are far more effective than average fire pits or fireplaces. One or two heaters will be enough to keep a large entertaining area warm.

Keep cozy options available
Guests should dress warmly, but having a basket of throw blankets, scarves and parkas available for extra warmth while mingling is helpful. Use outdoor rugs to insulate from the cold from the ground up.

Serve hearty foods and beverages
Stews, chilis, soups, and other hot foods can help guests warm themselves up from the inside out. Warmed cider, hot chocolate and mulled wines also can be served to help people stay warm.

Get moving
Incorporate activities that encourage guests to move around and stay warm. Beanbag tosses, dancing and even sports like flag football can keep guests’ blood flowing.

Entertaining outdoors doesn’t have to stop when the weather cools. Find ways to stay comfortable and safe when entertaining outside in the cold.

 


 

Virtual volunteering opportunities

Volunteerism is the life blood of charitable organizations. Many cannot function effectively without volunteers campaigning for their efforts, handling day-to-day activities and serving in many other essential capacities.

During the pandemic, nonprofit organizations have been affected by social distancing recommendations. It’s challenging to lend a helping hand when those hands may inadvertently be passing on a potentially dangerous illness.

Social distancing and other restrictions instituted in response to the global pandemic do not have to stifle volunteer efforts. The internet can be a gateway to volunteer opportunities — many of which can be handled virtually from the safety of home.
Organizations like Goodwill, the United Nations and even AARP offer online volunteering opportunities. Resources such as Volunteer Match also can connect interested parties with organizations that have virtual volunteer options.

The following are a few additional ways to become a virtual volunteer.

• Manage social media accounts. Charitable organizations recognize the importance of a social media presence, so prospective volunteers can offer to help nonprofits keep their social media accounts updated and viable.

• Assist those without sight. Volunteers with Be My Eyes can provide important assistance to blind or low-vision individuals. Virtual video calls enable volunteers to communicate with people directly and provide help.

• Offer tutoring or teaching. Virtual learning has become the new norm in many different school districts. Parents who may need assistance with children adapting to remote learning can benefit from quality educators willing to lend their time and skill sets.

• Design and build websites. Organizations may have trouble finding time to keep their websites updated with the latest information. Writers may be needed to keep blogs current, while coders can improve sites and make them more secure.

• Assist call centers. People may have various questions and needs in a time of crisis. Volunteers can be used in retail call centers, online therapy lifelines and even school offices. Remote technology enables calls to be parsed out and answered by volunteers working from home.

• Translate emails and phone calls. Translators are always in demand in an increasingly global society. Bilingual men and women can volunteer as translators so their favorite charitable organizations can effectively overcome any language barriers that may exist between their staffs and the people they’re trying to help.

Staying close to home has become the norm during the pandemic, paving the way for virtual volunteers to make a difference in their communities.

 


 

Memorialize a Loved One at the 2020 Reflections in the Park

Work on the 2020 Reflections in the Park is well underway with volunteers making adjustments to the lights and selling displays. After seeing over 14,000 cars and an estimated 54,000 visitors at the 2019 Reflections in the Park, Hillcrest Family Services is poised to continue setting records at its annual Louis Murphy Park lights display. In 2020, visitors will see many new displays, many holiday favorites including our one-of-a-kind “Memory Lane”.

“Memory Lane” is an opportunity for you to remember your loved one(s) in a special way during the Christmas Holidays at Reflections in the Park. It will feature an arch with “Memory Lane” in lights over the beginning and lined with star lit street lights that will represent your loved one’s presence. Those being remembered in “Memory Lane” will have their name printed in the 2020 Reflections in the Park booklet and on a banner next to the display. It’s a great way to memorialize your loved one during the holiday season and help Hillcrest help others.

Reflections in the Park, presented by Dubuque Bank and Trust, is a Hillcrest Family Services charitable event. It is planned, marketed, set up, operated, and deconstructed entirely by volunteers providing over 3,500 hours of their time. Volunteers and sponsors help make Reflections in the Park a significant form of funding for the 30+ programs and over 45,000 people served by Hillcrest Family Services.

For more information about “Memory Lane”, please contact Darlene Bolsinger at darlene.bolsinger@hillcrest-fs.org or call 563.599.4068. Submissions due by October 16, 2020.

 


 

FALL CLEAN-UP FOR MT. CALVARY AND MT. OLIVET CEMETERIES

The annual Fall Clean-up will begin on Monday, October 19, 2020, and run through Friday, October 23, 2020. Please remove all items and decorations you wish to save no later than Sunday, October 18, 2020. All items not removed will be discarded.

Cemetery Management requests that no decorations or plantings be placed on grave sites until Saturday, October 24, 2020. Please check cemetery policies before placing decorations to avoid losing items that do not conform.

 


 

Patriot Day

Each September 11, communities across the United States commemorate the lives lost during the 2001 terrorist attacks that took place on American soil. On September 11, 2001, four commercial airplanes were hijacked and sent to various targets in the United States. Two planes crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, one plane crashed into the U.S. Pentagon Building near Washington, D.C., and a fourth plane was intercepted from the hijackers and crash-landed in rural Pennsylvania.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, President George W. Bush declared Friday, September 14, 2001 as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the terrorist attacks. But many people felt there should be an annual event dedicated to preserving the memory of the victims and the heroism of the first responders. A bill to make September 11 a national day of mourning was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on October 25, 2001. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.

On September 11, 2002, the country recognized the first Patriot Day. On this day, the U.S. flag is flown at half-mast. In addition, a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. is observed to correspond with the attacks. While not a federal holiday — schools and businesses remain open — memorial ceremonies are held for the 2,977 victims, including an annual reading of names of the people who lost their lives.

 


 

City to Reinstate Parking Lot and Ramp Fees

The City of Dubuque will fully reinstate all parking fees associated with City-owned parking lots and ramps starting Sept. 1, 2020. This includes monthly parking fees for City lots and ramps, as well as hourly and daily parking ramp and lot fees. These fees had been suspended March through July, and reduced 50 percent in August.

All street parking regulations suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including residential parking permit districts, have been reinstated and are being enforced in accordance with City code. These street parking regulations include, but are not limited to, parking meter expiration violations, street storage (vehicles parked on the street longer than 24 hours without moving), disabled parking spaces, fire zone compliance, and blocking of driveways.

For more information, visit www.cityofdubuque.org/parking, or contact the City of Dubuque Transportation Services Department at 563-589-4266 or parking@cityofdubuque.org.

 


 

Get on the water with the right kayaking gear

Kayaking is a wildly popular paddlesport. Paddlesports offer people unique ways to enjoy nature while getting up close and personal with expansive waterways. Kayaking is remarkably accessible for people of all skill levels and interests.
According to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2019 Special Report on Paddlesports and Safety, kayaking has seen a consistent upward trend in participation for the last five years. Today, recreational kayaking is the most popular paddlesport, with more than 11 million participants in the United States. And the activity is almost evenly split among men and women (51 percent and 49 percent, respectively).

Many kayakers can enter the water with relatively no instruction in kayaking and take to the sport like a duck to water. Of course, the right gear can make all the difference for both experienced and novice kayakers. Anyone who plans to be a consistent kayaker should probably invest in a kayak of his or her own. The right kayak depends on where kayakers plan to use it. Sea kayaks can sail easily through choppy conditions. Tandem kayaks carry two or more people and have more storage space. Touring kayaks are designed for long distance kayakers. Sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for beginners and casual paddlers.

Some additional supplies also can help kayakers get the most out of this rewarding activity.

• Paddle: Many kayaks are sold with compatible paddles. However, it is always a good idea to have a spare. Be sure to choose one made from sturdy materials, especially if it will be used in saltwater or brackish water.

• Life jacket: A life jacket is a must when on the water. While kayaks are relatively stable, should a tip-over occur a life jacket can keep you afloat and safe until you are able to reboard the kayak.

• Kayak racks and carriers: Kayaks can be transported to the water on roof racks that strap on to SUVs and cars. Kayak carts and trailers can help you comfortably move the kayak to the water’s edge or dock, as kayaks can be heavy and cumbersome to move on your own.

• Spray skirt: A kayak spray skirt keeps water from splashing up and onto your lap/legs while in the kayak. Staying dry can make kayaking more comfortable in all seasons.

• Dry storage: Dry bags and containers keep items like a phone, camera and GPS devices dry and secure. These containers are designed to be water-tight when splashed or submerged.

Other kayaking supplies include dry shirts, special shoes, hats, and gloves. Coordinated fishing gear can even be purchased for those who want to catch some fish while kayaking.

Kayaking makes for a great day on the water. The right gear helps enthusiasts sail with ease.

 


 

How to hit the open road during a pandemic

Fall has traditionally been a great time of year to hit the open road. Fall foliage annually provides an idyllic backdrop for fall road trips. But 2020 is a year unlike any other, and veteran road trippers may wonder if it’s wise, or even legal, to take to the open road this fall.

The COVID-19 virus has forced local governments to implement various changes aimed at preventing the spread of the potentially deadly virus. While interstate travel during the outbreak is different, it’s not illegal. However, many states put specific policies in place that mandated out-of-state visitors self-quarantine for a certain period time, most often 14 days. Such measures compelled many would-be travelers to remain within the borders of their home states.

But traveling need not be a relic of the past because of a pandemic. In fact, travel enthusiasts can hit the open road this fall with their peace of mind intact, especially if they follow a few safety precautions while heading off for parts unknown.

• Determine how far you really need to go. Restrictions have been lifted in many areas, but it’s still most convenient for drivers to stay somewhat close to home, ideally within their own states. That makes it easy for them to buy food, gas, use a restroom, or visit a park or monument without violating the spirit of quarantine mandates. A trip need not cross borders to be fun.

• Plan for fewer pitstops. The fewer stops drivers make on their trips, the lower their risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. In lieu of dining out during your trip, pack your lunch at home and take it with you. In addition, fill up your car before embarking on your trip so you don’t have to visit the filling station while on the road. Bring enough water and snacks so you can stay hydrated and don’t become hungry while out and about.

• Get a tuneup before your trip. No one wants to confront car trouble during a road trip, and that’s especially so when traveling during a pandemic. A breakdown during a pandemic may force drivers to visit roadside body shops or arrange for tow trucks, potentially putting them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. Drivers should take their cars in for a tuneup before taking a road trip to lower that risk.

• Avoid densely populated areas if you intend to get out of your vehicle. If you intend to get out of your vehicle during a road trip, avoid visiting areas that tend to draw large crowds. Popular lookout points may provide some beautiful fall views, but such points also draw crowds that may exceed the limits on group gatherings recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health agencies.

It’s possible to travel during a pandemic. But drivers must take extra precautions to reduce their risk of being exposed to potentially deadly viruses like COVID-19.

 


 

INCLUSIVE AND UNIFYING FESTIVAL, KEYCHELLA, TO BE HELD IN DUBUQUE SEPTEMBER 2020

Keychella is an inclusive community event hosted by Key City Pride and various community partners September 4 – 6, 2020. 2020 was to be the inaugural Pride Celebration for Key City Pride. Unfortunately, due to the effects of Covid-19, many efforts were cut short and original Pride plans were cancelled.

Multiple events are planned throughout the community including a Lunch and Learn, Drag Brunch, and live entertainment throughout the weekend including performances from Elektra Supernova (Miss Gay Dubuque), Montell Infinit Ross (Mr. Gay Iowa USofA 2014), Lyric (hip-hop recording artist), St. Oshun (R&B and Funk recording artist formerly known as The Charles Walker Band), and more. Naysha Lopez, Season 8 ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ contestant, will also be the celebrity host for the weekend.

“We are excited to bring Dubuque and surrounding areas the unifying event we need at a time as this. This holiday weekend we invite everyone to join us for this historic event,” said Corey Young, co-founder of Key City Pride.

Precautions around the concern for Covid-19 are in place and include social distancing and temperature checks while also encouraging frequent hand washing and mask wearing when not eating or drinking.

“We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our guests. Not only will we have a mask mandate but will even provide them for our guests,” stated Young.

Tickets are on sale and can be purchased at keycitypride.org/keychellafestival.

 


 

Fun facts about lefties

Left-handed, lefty, southpaw — these are all terms used to describe people who favor their left hands for writing, throwing a ball and myriad other activities. It is estimated that between 10 and 12 percent of all people are left-handed. Although that makes southpaws an undeniable minority, the number of left-handed people is creeping up.

Left-handers are worthy of notice and recognition. As such, explore these interesting facts and figures about left-handers.

Sports proclivity
Being left-handed may confer an advantage for athletes. Wayne Gretzky, Sandy Koufax and Martina Navratilova are just a few of the many accomplished left-handed sports legends. Sports scientist Florian Loffing with the Institute of Sport Science, University of Oldenburg in Germany found that in sports where there is a short time constraint, lefties appeared to excel. That could be why he found 26 percent of the top male players in table tennis are lefties. And sports like baseball and cricket are dominated by left-handed players.

Health risks and benefits
Lefties should take notice that there may be some side effects to being left-handed. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found those who were left-handed had an increased risk for dyslexia, ADHD and certain mood disorders. It could be tied to the hemispheres of the brain and how 30 percent of left-handed people are partial to the right hemisphere or have no dominant hemisphere for language functioning.

Conversely, lefties can bounce back from stroke or other brain-related injuries more readily than righties, according to data published in 2015 in Scientific Reports. Also, a study published in Laterality found that left-handed people are less likely to suffer arthritis and ulcers.

More creative
Lefties are more likely to be artistic or innovative. Research published in the American Journal of Psychology found there is some evidence that left-handed people are better at divergent thinking, a method of idea generation that explores many possible solutions. The Left-Handers Club, a pro-lefty advocacy group, also found that left-handed individuals tend to be drawn to careers in the arts, music, sports, and information-technology fields.

Ambidextrous inclinations
The world is geared towards being right-handed, with buttons on jackets, doorknobs, desks in school, and more designed with right-handed people in mind. Therefore, many lefties become ambidextrous simply because they have to, according to data published in Reader’s Digest.

Presidential possibilities?
Many notable people have been left-handed, including U.S. Presidents. James A. Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all are or were left-handed.

Even though the world may not have been designed for left-handed people, lefties certainly thrive.

 


 

How college students can confront returning to campus

The world’s response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus left no aspect of life untouched. People from all walks of life had to make sacrifices to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly virus, and college students were no exception.

Many colleges and universities abruptly canceled in-person classes in mid-March 2020, forcing students to finish their coursework via remote learning. That response had a significant impact on the 2019-20 school year, and the virus figures to affect the upcoming school year just as much. In fact, many colleges and universities are beginning the coming school year early in the hopes that students can continue their educations on campus but be safely back home by late November, when many scientists are anticipating a second wave of COVID-19 infections will arrive.

Schools that are reopening this summer insist that it is safe to do so, and have even indicated their intentions to implement new practices to ensure their campuses are safe and healthy environments in which to learn. For example, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is reconfiguring in-person course instruction to include physical distancing provisions. Small classes will meet in larger spaces, while lectures may be delivered remotely.

Despite such measures, some students may still be hesitant to return to campus at a time when so much about the COVID-19 virus remains a mystery. The following are some ways students can confront any nervous feelings they may have about returning to campus for a new school year.

• Determine your options. While many colleges and universities are returning to campus, some may be allowing students to learn remotely. For instance, students with preexisting conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19 may be allowed to continue learning from home. Many schools’ roadmaps to returning are fluid, so students concerned about returning to campus likely have options that do not require them to sit out the semester.

• Learn about residential life. Many college students live in dorms that feature double or even triple occupancy rooms. Such an environment will compromise students’ ability to practice social distancing. Some schools, including Binghamton University in New York, are converting triple occupancy rooms into double occupancy. Both Binghamton and UNC Chapel Hill also are designating one residential hall as temporary housing for students who test positive for COVID-19. In addition, some schools may be designating certain residential facilities for at-risk students. Students who want to avoid the dorms should inquire about off-campus, single-person housing.

• Ask about testing. Students have a right to know about COVID-19 testing protocols and should not hesitate to ask what those protocols will be. Due to the fluid nature of schools’ roadmaps to return, testing policies may not yet be set in stone, and are likely to evolve as the school year progresses. Students should look into the testing policy specifics and ask if they have any recourse if they feel the testing policy is inadequate.

Students who are hesitant to return to campus this summer or fall can do their due diligence to determine if they’re comfortable going back to campus.

 


 

Unique ways to support workers who have been laid off or furloughed

Small businesses have been hit especially hard by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. According to a survey of more than 500 small businesses conducted by the Small and Medium Business Group in late March, companies with fewer than 20 employees were the most adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The survey also found that businesses within the personal service, hospitality and retail industries were most affected by the economic fallout of the outbreak.

Small businesses do not have the financial might of their larger competitors, making it especially difficult for such companies to weather economic storms. As a result, when the economy suffers, many small businesses don’t have the financial cushion necessary to safeguard their employees from layoffs or furloughs.

When social distancing guidelines were implemented, forcing non-essential businesses to close their facilities to customers, millions of small business employees were suddenly out of work. Those men and women are friends and neighbors, so it’s understandable that people want to find ways to help them make it through such difficult times. The following are some ways to do just that.

• Support local fundraising efforts. In response to the financial fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak, many small business owners urged community members to support their staff. For example, in New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the closure of all restaurant dining rooms in mid-March, local restaurant owners organized The Great Jersey Shore Take-out, an effort in which the proceeds of all food and beverage sales on a designated day were given to participating restaurants’ employees, including waitresses, managers, bartenders, chefs, and kitchen staff. Participating in such efforts is a great way to support local workers who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the outbreak.

• Offer discounted services to laid off or furloughed workers. Local professionals can help laid off or furloughed workers by offering certain services at discounted rates. For example, tax filing deadlines have now been extended in many areas. Accountants can pitch in and help laid off or furloughed workers by discounting their tax preparation services. Local financial planners can offer free or discounted consultations to such workers who may need financial advice, including how to spend or invest their financial stimulus money.

• Patronize small businesses. One of the most effective ways to help laid off or furloughed workers is to continue to support their employers. Many areas have begun to discuss reopening strategies, and businesses that can withstand the economic challenges of social distancing are more likely to bring laid off and furloughed workers back when they reopen. Continuing to support local businesses, even those that have scaled back their offerings, is vital to ensuring the jobs those businesses provide return when the economy reopens.

Laid off and furloughed workers are facing financial challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Communities can join together in unique ways to support these workers until the economy reopens.

 


 

Did you know?

Frozen desserts can be a great and delicious way to stay cool on a sultry day. When at the dessert counter, people may be met with different options of frosty treats. Two of the more common offerings at ice cream shops are custard and traditional ice cream.

Generally speaking, ice cream is a product that contains more than 10% milk fat. Custard is ice cream with the addition of pasteurized egg yolks, which tends to make its texture creamy. The amount of air pumped into the mixture also can affect taste and texture. The less air, the more dense and creamy the product can be, as is often the case with frozen custards.

 


 

Hillcrest Appoints New President/CEO

Hillcrest Family Services’ history is deeply rooted in the principles of acceptance, compassion and care. For over 124 years, we have been a leading human services provider for children, adults, and families in need, delivering innovative, collaborative, and resourceful care.

Following a nationwide search, the Hillcrest Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Michael Fidgeon has been appointed President/CEO of Hillcrest Family Services effective July 13, 2020. Mike, and his wife Stephanie, will be moving to Dubuque from Virginia. They look forward to making the Midwest their home and being active in the community. A graduate of Duke University, Mike is an experienced CEO and senior executive bringing over two decades of health and human service experience to the role. He has a strong record of strategic leadership and management as well as a genuine concern for people that will be a huge benefit to Hillcrest and the broader Dubuque community. We look forward to him joining the Hillcrest family and hope you will join us in welcoming him to the community.

Hillcrest is a non-profit, human services organization that assists children, adults, and families in need. With compassion, they support individuals in both their physical and brain health care embracing the diversity that is the human experience.

 


 

Dubuque Senior’s 50th Reunion to be held Aug. 21-23

The Dubuque Senior High School Class of 1970 set a few benchmarks. It was Dubuque Senior’s one hundredth graduating class and the largest class ever. And now it was fifty years ago.

The Class is happy to announce that there will be a golden reunion this August 21-23 in Dubuque. Planned events include a social gathering at Happy’s Place on Friday; a tour of the school and dinner with entertainment at the Dubuque Best Western Inn on Saturday; and a picnic at Murphy Park on Sunday.

Reservations are required for the events. Learn more by checking the “Dubuque Senior High School Class of 1970” Facebook Page or call Lynne Lippert @ 563 583 2136.

 


 

How to protect dogs from Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a potentially dangerous condition transmitted by the passing of bacteria from deer ticks to their unsuspecting hosts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. Lyme disease also is a cause for concern in Canada, parts of Europe and Asia.

Tens of thousands of people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. But Lyme disease also affects animals, including popular house pets like dogs. Tufts University says that the Lyme bacterium can cause serious illness in some dogs. Lyme disease can be difficult to detect and cause serious and recurring health problems. That is why it is essential for pet parents to make concerted efforts to reduce the risk that their dogs become infected.

The American Veterinary Medical Association says the best way to protect pets against Lyme disease is to emphasize prevention.

• Speak with your veterinarian about a tick preventive product that is right for your dog. These can include repellant collars, topical treatments and ingestible medications.

• Vets may recommend vaccination against Lyme disease if you live in an area that is home to high tick populations. Recommendations also may be based on your pet’s lifestyle and overall health, among other factors.

• Address conditions in the yard that are conducive to ticks. Mowing the lawn regularly is one way to make the backyard less attractive to ticks, as is removing leaf litter.

• Keep a clean home and landscape. Rodents and other wildlife can carry deer ticks. Securing trash cans, picking up food scraps, removing hiding spots and potential dens, and other strategies can keep these carriers away.

• Conduct a daily tick check if your dog spends time outside. Pay attention to bumps on the skin and part the fur so you can see where the coat meets the skin. Don’t forget to look in the ears.

• When possible, avoid areas where ticks may be found, such as tall grasses, wooded areas and marshes. Stick to trails when spending time in wooded areas.

Dogs with Lyme disease may exhibit various symptoms. These include loss of appetite, fever, joint swelling, decreased activity, and lameness. Visit the vet promptly if symptoms occur and do not abate, or are causing considerable distress for your pet.

Lyme disease is a concern for pets. Avoidance, preventive measures and outdoor maintenance can help reduce the likelihood that pets will contract Lyme disease.

 


 

How to approach diet after a diabetes diagnosis

Diabetes affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and more and more people are being diagnosed with this often preventable disease every year.
According to the World Health Organization, 108 million people across the globe were living with diabetes in 1980. In 2019, the International Diabetes Foundation estimated that 463 million adults between the ages of 20 and 79 were living with diabetes. Perhaps even more troubling is that the IDF estimates that, by 2045, 700 million people will be living with diabetes.

A diabetes diagnosis can be scary. The IDF reports that people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing an assortment of serious health problems, including diseases that affect the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and teeth.

Poor diet is a common contributor to diabetes. So it’s natural that newly diagnosed diabetes patients typically want to know how they can alter their diets so they can begin to overcome their disease. That’s a good place to start, as the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that eating well and being physically active can help people prevent or delay problems associated with diabetes.

The NIDDK notes that eating a variety of healthy foods from all food groups is essential for people with diabetes.

• Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, greens, peppers, and tomatoes are examples of nonstarchy vegetables that make great additions to everyone’s diet. These vegetables can be especially beneficial for people diagnosed with diabetes, as can starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and green peas.

• Fruits: Diabetes patients can include oranges, melon, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes in their daily diets.

• Grains: Whole grains should make up no less than 50 percent of diabetics’ daily grain intake. Opt for whole-grain breads, pastas, cereals, and tortillas.

• Protein: Lean cuts of meat, chicken or turkey without the skin, fish, and eggs are some examples of healthy protein sources that diabetes patients can include in their diets. Nuts and peanuts; dried beans and certain peas, such as chickpeas and split peas; and meat substitutes like tofu can make for healthy protein sources as well.

• Dairy: When purchasing dairy products, stick to nonfat or low-fat milks, yogurts and cheeses.

A diabetes diagnosis can be scary. If poor diet contributed to such a diagnosis, committing to eating healthier can help people effectively manage their disease and possibly avoid some of its more negative consequences.

 


 

How to reduce food waste

Perhaps nothing can spoil an appetite more than a crisper drawer full of fresh vegetables that have taken a turn for the worse. Spoiled food is not just unsafe to eat, but it is also very costly.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate that the average family of four throws out nearly $1,500 worth of food and beverages each year. That means that, within seven years, the average family has spent more than $10,000 on food they did not eat.

In recognition of the problems posed by food waste, the National Grange, the oldest farm and food advocacy organization in the United States, aims to create a cultural shift that reduces food waste. Individual consumers can do their part in supporting that shift by taking various steps to reduce food waste in their homes.

• Take inventory before going to the grocery store. An inventory of the refrigerator and pantry can help shoppers avoid buying items they already have. This is especially valuable at reducing food waste in regard to perishable items that can spoil before shoppers have a chance to eat them.

• Make a meal plan and grocery list. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that meal plans and accompanying grocery lists help consumers reduce food waste and save money by decreasing the likelihood that they will buy items they won’t need for the meals they plan to eat in the week ahead.

• Purchase frozen foods. Organic, fresh vegetables eaten when they are most ripe may be the healthiest way to eat vegetables. However, frozen vegetables still have ample nutritional value, and may even boast a higher nutritional value than off-season, fresh vegetables sold at the grocery store. That’s because frozen fruits and vegetables are picked when they’re ripe and then immersed in boiling water to kill bacteria and prevent enzyme activity that can spoil food. They’re then immediately flash frozen, a process that typically preserves nutrients. The long shelf life of frozen fruits and vegetables reduces the likelihood that shoppers will throw them out before eating them. That’s not the case with fresh vegetables, which the ANDF and the USDA note account for more than 30 percent of food waste each year.

• Wash berries only as you eat them. When eating fresh berries, wait to wash them until you eat them. The risk of mold forming increases when washing an entire container all at once, whereas only washing the berries as they’re eaten increases the likelihood that they won’t spoil before they’re all eaten.

Food waste is a global problem that can be fixed. And that solution can start in the kitchens of consumers willing to do their part.

 


 

How Earth Day and environmental conciousness have evolved

Reduce, reuse, recycle is a mantra for many people. It’s difficult to imagine that just 50 years ago awareness of the state of the environment was not part of the collective consciousness.

An emerging public consciousness about the planet began amid environmental issues like increased air pollution and massive consumption of fossil fuels in the 1960s. The bestselling book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson also raised public concern for living organisms and the links between pollution and public health.

The push for environmental reform gained even more momentum on April 22, 1970, when the first Earth Day was celebrated. Then-Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin put Earth Day on the national stage following a large oil spill that struck off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif. Before this disaster, recycling was not a word in the popular lexicon. But when the disaster struck, people began to reason that changes would have to be made to save the planet.

Since the first Earth Day 50 years ago, many strides have been made in the environmental movement. This grassroots initiative gave rise to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Environmental awareness has become much more mainstream and is a less polarizing issue than it was in the 1970s, although there are still debates about the reality of climate change and other risk factors.

Public demand for environmental safeguards grew in the second half of the twentieth century, and those demands have grown stronger in recent years. Legislation is continually evolving to protect the air, land and water. Sustainability has joined the buzzwords of the movement, and most industries now have a vested interest in changes that can minimize risk to human health and the environment.

Mitigating or avoiding environmental effects, proper waste disposal, reduction in water discharge, and emphasis on reducing, reusing and recycling have become important components of environmental wellness. And people are being educated at earlier stages on the importance of environmental mindfulness. For example, core subjects of the environmental movement are increasingly covered in elementary schools.

Twenty million people turned out for the first Earth Day in the United States. Today, more than 190 countries are engaged and more than one billion individuals are mobilized for action every Earth Day, advises the Earth Day Network. To mark the 50th anniversary, the most pressing topic for the year is climate change. Climate Action is the 2020 Earth Day theme to engage the global public. There is still work to be done, but great progress has been made since 1970.

 


 

3 risk factors for oral cancer

The ill effects of smoking are widely documented. Perhaps no such side effect is more widely known than the link between smoking and cancer, particularly lung cancer. And while the Lung Cancer Foundation of America notes that smoking is thought to be responsible for 80 percent of all lung cancer diagnoses, smoking also has been linked to oral cancer.

Oral cancer is not as prevalent as lung cancer. However, the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that, in 2020, tens of thousands of people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States. Recognizing the risk factors of oral cancer can help people reduce their chance of receiving such a diagnosis.

1. Tobacco
The OCF notes that one study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that more than eight out of 10 oral cancer patients were smokers. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, all forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco and snuff, increase a person’s risk for oral cancer. The CCS even notes that exposure to secondhand smoke may increase a person’s risk for oral cancer.

2. Alcohol
Alcohol abuse is the second largest risk factor for the development of oral cancer. The OCF notes people who smoke and also abuse alcohol are at an especially high risk of developing oral cancer. The OCF theorizes that this link may be a result of what alcohol consumption does to the mouth and how that makes it easier for tobacco carcinogens to attack. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the cell walls within the mouth, and that may make it easier for tobacco carcinogens to permeate tissues within the mouth.

Heavy alcohol consumption also has been linked with nutritional deficiencies, including lower antioxidant levels. Diets rich in antioxidants boost the immune system and make the body more capable of fighting cancer cells.

3. HPV
The human papilloma virus, or HPV, infects the epithelial cells of skin and mucosa. Moist epithelial surfaces are found in the interior of the mouth, throat, tongue, and tonsils, among other areas. The HPV virus is transmitted when these areas come into contact with a virus, which is then transferred through epithelial cells. The HPV virus can be transferred through both conventional and oral sexual contact, though it’s important to note that many HPV infections go unnoticed and are cleared without consequence. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that up to 80 percent of Americans will have an HPV infection in their lifetimes without experiencing any adverse effects. However, one strain of the virus, known as HPV16, is strongly associated with oropharyngeal cancer.

Oral cancer poses a threat. But people can greatly reduce their risk for oral cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices. More information is available at www.oralcancerfoundation.org.

 


 

Mississippi Moon Bar Postpones Entertainment Through May 13

In taking additional precautions recommended by the Iowa Department of Public Health, Diamond Jo Casino Dubuque has made the decision to postpone our upcoming entertainment at Mississippi Moon Bar through May 13. These shows include the following:

All Wednesday night Laughing Moon Comedy April 3: Wheelhouse
April 4: David Victor, Formerly of Boston
April 10: Black Stone Cherry
April 11: ABBA Revisited
April 17: Rob Schneider
April 18: Dueling Pianos
April 24: Morgan Evans
April 25: Time Machine
May 1: Bob Saget Special Engagement

New performance dates will be released at a later time, and all previously purchased tickets will be honored on the new show date.

If you are no longer able to attend the show, refunds are available by calling 563-663-6462 or email AaronRainey@BoydGaming.com. Please provide your name, show name, phone number, and order number.

 


 

PROJECT ROOTED SERVES OVER 700 LUNCHES IN DUBUQUE COUNTY IN TWO DAYS FOR ITS NO COST LUNCH PROGRAM

In partnership with Convivium Urban Farmstead, Project Rooted has served 730 no-cost lunches since the start of the Program on March 23, 2020. Lunches are available for pickup daily at the following locations: Convivium Urban Farmstead, Resources Unite, Peosta Elementary, West Dubuque High School, and Drexler Middle School. Due to high demand, Project Rooted will be increasing the number of lunches prepared in order to meet community needs.

Lunches include healthy, nutritious options and include a handmade card created by kids, for kids.

For those interested in donating toward this effort, monetary donations will be accepted through a GoFundMe page for Project Rooted at gofundme.com/f/projectrooted

 


 

How parents can approach raising gamers

Gaming is a popular activity across the globe. Studies have shown that more than one billion people across the globe play some type of video game every day, and the number of gamers is growing every day. In fact, the market and consumer data provider Statista estimates there will be 2.7 billion gamers by 2021.

Such prevalence can make it hard for parents to govern their youngsters’ gaming habits. As difficult as it can be to get kids to put their controllers down, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that time spent gaming can take away from the time kids spend on other pursuits, including healthy activities like exercising and reading. That’s part of the reason why the AAP recommends limiting the time kids spend gaming to no more than one hour per day.

In addition to limiting how much time kids spend gaming, parents can take these steps to make sure kids’ gaming experiences are as positive as possible.

• Familiarize yourself with a game’s content before allowing kids to play it. Parents should be concerned by how long their youngsters play video games, and also by the content of those games. First-person shooter games remain incredibly popular, but such games can have an adverse effect on young players. The AAP notes that studies have shown that children exposed to virtual violence, such as that depicted in first-person shooter games, and violent media have shown that they may become numb to violence and even imitate the violence. Parents should always vet a game before allowing their children to play it. Make sure its content is not too mature and/or violent for children.

• Confirm ESRB ratings. Parents of young children likely don’t allow their youngsters to watch R-rated films, but they might not know that a similar rating system exists for video games. ESRB ratings help parents make informed decisions about the video games and the apps their children play. The ratings, which are broken down at www.esrb.org, are included on game packaging labels and let parents know how appropriate or inappropriate a game may be for children. Founded by the Interactive Digital Software Association in 1994, the ESRB notes that 61 percent of its ratings for physical and console downloadable video games in 208 were rated either E (Everyone) or E10+ (Everyone 10+). That means parents of children under 10 have many age-appropriate game options when buying games for their kids.

• Keep consoles in common areas. By limiting gaming to common areas in the home, parents can more closely monitor how much time their youngsters are spending playing games. The AAP recommends parents designate handheld games as “family property” as opposed to items each child “owns.” This can help parents make sure such devices are kept in common areas at all times.

• Play with children. Another way parents can monitor what their kids are playing and how long they’re playing for is to play with them. Multiple player games are very popular, and parents can use that popularity to more effectively manage their kids’ gaming habits.

Parents may face some challenges as they try to govern their kids’ gaming habits. But various strategies can help moms and dads keep tabs on those habits.

 


 

Proposed waterfowl rules available for public comment

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is accepting comments on proposed waterfowl and coot hunting seasons and bag limits, which includes 2021-22 season dates, and the proposed restructuring of the hunting zones and seasons for 2021-2025.

A copy of the proposal is available online at https://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/Migratory-Game-Birds by clicking on the Chapter 91, Waterfowl and Coot Hunting Seasons link.

The proposal modifies waterfowl hunting zone boundaries for 2021-2025 to expand the season dates of the current Missouri River zone across southern Iowa, create a central zone with the season dates of the current south zone, and move the southern boundary of the north zone. This modification expands later season dates across southern Iowa and part of central Iowa, but maintains the season dates of the current north and south zones across much of their former area. This proposal includes waterfowl and coot season dates for 2021-22 and extends the light goose conservation order from April 15 to May 1.

The proposal includes modifying the daily bag limit for scaup, effective for the 2020 season, to one bird daily bag limit for the first 15 days of the duck season in each zone, followed by 45 days with a two-bird daily bag limit.

The DNR is accepting comments through March 3, 2020. Comments may be submitted via email to orrin.jones@dnr.iowa.gov or sent via mail to Orrin Jones, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 1203 North Shore Drive, Clear Lake, Iowa, 50428.

A public hearing is scheduled from 12-1 p.m., March 3, in the Wallace State Office Building Conference Room 5E, 502 East Ninth Street, Des Moines, IA 50319. Persons who wish to make oral comments will be asked to state their names for the record and to confine their remarks to the subject of this proposed rulemaking.

Any person attending the public hearing and has special requirements such as those related to mobility or hearing impairments should contact the DNR or ADA Coordinator at 515-725-8200, Relay Iowa TTY Service 800-735-7942, or Webmaster@dnr.iowa.gov, and advise of specific needs.