Area Tidbits

Recovering from a medical emergency

Maintaining one’s health and well-being is a top priority for people from all walks of life. Equally important is knowing what to do in the case of medical emergencies.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 42 percent of the public visit the emergency room annually. While some visits are for conditions that can be treated in less urgent settings, many visits take place during legitimate medical emergencies.

Medical illnesses and emergencies can be high-stress, traumatic events. The challenges of recovering from a serious injury may leave some people feeling overwhelmed and helpless. The more informed patients are about their recoveries, the more prepared they are to confront them head on.

• Ask for a timeline. Speak with the doctors and nurses about what recovery will entail and how long you may need to be on rest or light duty. Knowing the timeline can provide insight into how long your recovery will take and how long you might need some help from your support network.

• Put together a support team. Don’t hesitate to rely on family members or friends during the recovery process. Loved ones will want to help, and accepting such help should not make anyone feel ashamed.

• Plan for rest. Rest is a large part of recovery. You may need to take time off from work or other responsibilities. If necessary, ask someone to advocate on your behalf, finding out if your position is secure and if you are eligible for temporary financial assistance.

• Seek professional help. If you are feeling mentally overwhelmed from the emergency event, so much so that it interferes with regular life, consult with a mental health expert, advises WebMD.

• Retrofit your home accordingly. Some medical emergencies may require additional equipment be brought in to a home, especially when mobility has been adversely affected. Don’t hesitate to make these changes, as they may facilitate a speedy recovery.

• Exercise regularly. When it’s safe to do so, getting out and moving can be helpful. Deep breathing, gentle stretching and walking can help your body gradually reacclimate to being physically active. If you are working with a physical therapist, follow his or her guidelines for regaining strength.

A medical emergency can sideline a person for some time. Working through recovery step by step can make the entire process more manageable.



The many ways walking benefits your body

Life changed dramatically in 2020. When the World Health Organization declared a COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, hundreds of millions of people across the globe were forced to change how they go about their daily lives, including how they exercise.

Health-conscious adults accustomed to exercising at local gyms had to find new ways to exercise in the wake of the pandemic. Many gyms were forced to close in areas hit hard by COVID-19, and that left many people without access to fitness equipment like weights and cardiovascular machines. Resilient men and women soon found ways to exercise, and many of them embraced walking.

Though walking might not provide the same level of intensity that fitness enthusiasts are accustomed to, the Arthritis Foundation® notes the various ways walking benefits the body.

• Walking protects against heart disease and stroke. Walking strengthens the heart and protects it against heart disease. The AF also notes that walking lowers blood pressure. In fact, post-menopausal women who walk just one to two miles per day can lower their blood pressure by nearly 11 points in 24 weeks, while women who walk for 30 minutes a day can reduce their risk of stroke by 20 percent.

• Walking strengthens the bones. New York-based Plancher Orthopedics and Sports Medicine notes that walking can stop the loss of bone mass for people with osteoporosis. In addition, post-menopausal women who incorporate 30 minutes of walking into their daily fitness regimens can reduce their risk of hip fractures by 40 percent.

• Walking can extend your life. The AF notes that one study linked walking to longer life expectancy, finding that people who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties were 35 percent less likely to die over the next eight years than people who never walked.

• Walking can improve mood. One study from researchers at California State University, Long Beach, found that the more steps people taking during the day, the better their moods were.

• Walking can lower risk for cognitive decline. Walking also has been linked to a lower risk for age-related cognitive decline. A study from the University of Virginia Health System found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease compared to men who walked less. In addition, a study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower among women ages 65 and older who walked 2.5 miles per day than it was among women who walked less than half a mile per week.

Foot traffic increased as people were forced to find new ways to exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Walking is a great way to stay in shape and even provides some lesser known benefits for people who walk each day.



Tips to improve WiFi around the house

Speedy, reliable internet is something people have quickly grown accustomed to. That’s no doubt why dropped WiFi signals can be so frustrating.

Various things can contribute to slow or interrupted Wi-Fi. As a result, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to address underperforming Wi-Fi. But that’s good news, as it means there’s an assortment of strategies that consumers can try to improve the Wi-Fi in their homes.

• Upgrade your router. Many people rent their routers from their internet service providers, but it may surprise some to learn that they can buy their own. Buying your own router can be beneficial in various ways, not the least of which is it can save money. Router rental fees vary, but they typically cost between $10 and $15 per month. Consumers will save money in the long run by buying their own router rather than renting one from their ISP. When buying their own routers, consumers also can pick from a host of options, including routers with strong performance ratings that may contribute to better WiFi performance.

• Set up automatic firmware updates. It’s easy to forget a router after it’s been plugged in and internet service starts working. However, manufacturers routinely issue firmware updates to improve router performance. Turning on automatic updates may improve WiFi performance, and such updates also can provide a host of additional benefits, including added security measures.

• Relocate the router. notes that the location of the router can affect WiFi performance. If possible, locate the router in the center of the home so it can easily reach all parts of the house. Locating wireless routers away from walls and other obstructions also may improve performance.

• Switch frequencies. Switching frequencies can help wireless consumers whose service might be adversely affected by congestion. Consumer Reports notes that wireless congestion can affect WiFi performance in apartment buildings and densely populated neighborhoods. In such instances, consumers can check their routers to see if they’re running on the 2.4 GHz frequency band. If so, switching them to the 5 GHz band, which has more channels and is likely to be less congested, may improve WiFi performance.

Slow and/or interrupted WiFi signals can be very frustrating. Thankfully, various strategies can help consumers quickly remedy such issues.



Safe ways to celebrate the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the culmination of the National Football League season, which traditionally begins in early September and ends in late December or early January. The Super Bowl is one of the most anticipated professional sporting events each year.

In most years, around 75,000 fans pack the stadium hosting the game to watch the Super Bowl in person, and millions of people around the globe tune in to view the live simulcast, typically at private parties with friends or alongside fellow fans in sports bars. However, this year Super Bowl watch parties are expected to look quite a bit different.

The 2021 Super Bowl may set the record for the smallest crowd in attendance due to the COVID-19 virus. The game is slated to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., and ESPN reports that the NFL is planning for 20 percent seating capacity at the game. Fans are expected to wear masks and will sit in pods separated by six feet. That capacity restriction would place around 13,000 fans in the stadium. Super Bowl I, which took place in 1967, was the only Super Bowl in history not to sell out, and that drew a crowd of 61,946 fans.

While scoring a ticket to the hottest game in town is often an expensive endeavor, with capacity restrictions for this year’s game it likely will be even more difficult for diehard fans to attend the game in person. Instead, individuals can view the game on CBS or stream it through CBS All Access.

Here are some ways to safely celebrate while enjoying the game.

• Go cashless. For those who will be at Raymond James Stadium for the big game, cash is not king. The NFL has partnered with Visa to employ cashless payment systems for everything at the venue. In addition, there will be reverse ATMs to turn cash into pre-paid cards to use for purchases.

• Order in. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest nights for pizza sales and other takeout. Fans can make it even more so by ordering from their favorite restaurants — many of which have been hit hard during the pandemic.

• Keep gatherings small. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other public health advisory groups continue to maintain that social distancing is the best way to help curb the spread of COVID-19. That means keeping crowds small and separate. If possible, host the party outside, as the virus does not spread as easily outdoors as it does indoors. Encourage guests to dress warmly and provide heat sources, like fire pits or propane heaters.

• Host a digital watch party. Video conferencing apps have been used for everything from work to school. Fans can gather online and watch the game simultaneously, but in their own homes. Share the cheers, jeers and some beers over an internet connection.

The Super Bowl may be a bit different this year, but fans can still root for their favorite teams and enjoy this often thrilling game.



When in need of a beverage to warm them up, billions of people across the globe routinely look to tea. That choice has been made since ancient times, as various historians trace the habitual consumption of tea to ancient China.

Anything that has survived since ancient times no doubt has some good qualities, and tea is no exception. According to Penn Medicine, various types of tea each provide their own unique health benefits, some of which may surprise even the most devoted tea drinkers.

1. White tea: A 2010 study published in the Journal of Food Science found that antioxidant-rich white tea boasts anti-carcinogenic properties. Penn Medicine also notes that white tea is a significant source of fluoride, catechins and tannins, ingredients that can strengthen teeth, improve their resistance to acid and sugar and fight plaque.

2. Chamomile tea: Many people like drinking this herbal tea before bedtime because they feel it helps them fall asleep, and one study published in Molecular Medicine Reports in 2010 notes that chamomile tea is widely regarded as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. Chamomile tea also has been shown to improve heart health. A 2015 study of 64 patients with diabetes published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation found that those who consumed chamomile tea with meals had improved triglyceride and “bad” cholesterol levels compared to patients who drank water.

3. Peppermint tea: The Mount Sinai Health System notes that peppermint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile. Made from dried leaves of the peppermint plant, peppermint tea can help to soothe an upset stomach and help people overcome conditions like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and motion sickness.

4. Green tea: Green tea is loaded with flavonoids, which Penn Medicine notes improve heart health by lowering bad cholesterol and reducing blood clotting. In addition, the National Cancer Institute notes that the polyphenols in green tea may protect people against the damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet B radiation. One study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association also associated green tea consumption with a reduced risk of stroke.

Tea has been consumed for millenia. Though many people drink tea simply for its taste, those same people may drink even more after learning about the effects this beloved beverage can have on their overall health.



Tasty tidbits about pizza

The calendar is dotted with various holidays that celebrate pizza. From National Pizza Pie Day in February to National Deep Dish Pizza Day in April to National Cheese Pizza Day in September, not to mention National Pizza Month in October, any time of year is the perfect opportunity to bite into a slice.

For most people, the best part of pizza is eating it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still learn something about this all-time favorite food as well. The following are some tasty tidbits about pizza, courtesy of Fact City, Pizza Need and Facts Legend.

• Pizza is tied to Greece. Greeks are credited with creating the first pizza-like food. The Greeks used to bake flat, round large breads that were then topped with vegetables, potatoes, spices, and olive oil. However, the first commercial pizza and pizzeria has been traced to the 19th century and the Italian city of Naples.

• Not all pizza is flat. While crispy, low-profile pies may be classic, other varieties of pizza have their fans. “Deep dish” pizza originated in 1943 in the Chicago eatery Pizzeria Uno. Sfincione, or focaccia pizza, a type of pizza made in a sheet pan with thicker slices, was created in the mid-19th century in Sicily. It is popularly called Sicilian pizza.

• Pizza is even more popular on certain days of the year. Pizza can be enjoyed any day of the year, but Super Bowl Sunday, New Year’s Eve, Halloween, Thanksgiving Eve, and New Year’s Day are the top five days for pizza sales. In addition, pizza accounts for more than 10 percent of all food service sales.

• Pizza is booming. In the United States, the pizza industry makes up 17 percent of all restaurants and grosses more than $30 billion every year. The highest-grossing single-unit independent pizzeria in the United States is Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria in Anchorage, Alaska. Its annual sales are approximately $6 million.

• Pizza is popular everywhere. Around the world, about three billion pizzas are sold each year.

• Pizza is a weekend favorite. While Friday may be pizza night for many people, sales figures indicate that Saturday night is the most popular night to eat pizza.

• Pizza has a symbiotic relationship with certain foods. The pizza industry has helped propel both the cheese and pepperoni industry. Around 251 million pounds of pepperoni are consumed each year in the United States.

• Hawaiian pizza is popular, though not accurately named. Ham and pineapple are popular pizza toppings on the West coast of the United States, and this pizza is dubbed the Hawaiian pizza. However, it doesn’t have any connection to Hawaii. This pizza actually was invented in Canada.

Pizza is a perennial favorite and one of the most popular foods of all time.




Stonehill Communities – Assisi Village is excited to announce that in preparation for the opening of the new assisted living apartments, many areas of the expansion have been blessed. The new Assisi Chapel was blessed with a special Mass on Tuesday, January 12. The Assisted Living Memory Care household – including all resident rooms – and traditional assisted living apartments and gathering areas were blessed with a prayer service on Tuesday, January 19. Residents and staff are happy to see the expansion prepared for opening this month.

Reverend Bahl celebrated the opening Mass and blessed many areas of the Chapel with co-presider Fr. Paul Attah-Nsiah, Stonehill Chaplain. It is now being used for Mass and spiritual activities for residents of Stonehill Communities – Assisi Village (independent living, assisted living, and assisted living with memory care services).

The new Chapel is much larger than the previous Chapel and can seat over 100 people. It is located on the 2nd floor of the expansion. It is filled with light from large windows and has high ceilings and warm wood tones. The engraved tabernacle was gifted from St. Mary Strawberry Point parish. Stonehill Communities is grateful for the donation of the tabernacle. Stained glass and additional statuary are planned to complete this spiritual space.

The prayer service and blessing of the new apartments was given by Fr. Paul Attah-Nsiah and attended by current Assisi Village residents and Stonehill staff.

The expansion began in the fall of 2019 to expand assisted living services and add assisted living memory care. The expansion includes a 14-apartment assisted living memory care household, 10 traditional assisted living apartments, and expanded kitchen, dining, and gathering spaces. The new assisted living and assisted living with memory care apartments are expected to open this month, meeting a tremendous need in the community.

The new construction was made possible in part by the generosity of donors.
“We are grateful for the many blessings God has provided on our journey to complete this wonderful addition. It seemed only fitting that we would ask for His blessing on this place that will serve as home for so many now and in the future,” said Gretchen Brown, Stonehill Communities President/CEO.

Stonehill Communities provides a full continuum of health and wellness services which include post-acute rehabilitation, inpatient and outpatient therapy, memory care, long-term care, assisted living and assisted living with memory care services, independent living, and a state-of-the art wellness center which is open to the public. For more information visit



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.



Various medications can be dangerous for drivers

Impaired driving claims thousands of lives every year. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 30 people die in drunk driving crashes every day in the United States.

Drivers no doubt recognize the dangers of driving after consuming alcohol, but consuming other, seemingly less threatening substances also can put drivers in danger, even during times of day when drivers would otherwise think the roads are as safe as possible. In its 2013-14 National Roadside Study of Alcohol and Drug Use, the NHTSA found that 10 percent of weekday, daytime drivers surveyed tested positive for prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs.

Many people recognize that prescription drugs tend to be stronger than OTC drugs, and that recognition may naturally compel them to be extra cautious before driving after taking prescription meds. But the potential side effects of OTC drugs also merits caution on the part of drivers. It’s vital that drivers recognize certain facts about OTC and prescription drugs and keep them in mind before getting behind the wheel.

• The side effects of OTC drugs can be serious. It’s easy to write off the side effects of medications that can be purchased as easily as a candy bar. However, the NHTSA notes that OTC medications can induce drowsiness, cause nausea, cloud drivers’ judgment, and adversely affect drivers’ hand-eye coordination. Each of those effects can make it dangerous for drivers to get behind the wheel, so it’s imperative that drivers avoid driving if any of the aforementioned symptoms appear.

• Some prescription medications have been linked to higher risk of crashing. According to the NHTSA, opioids, sedatives, muscle relaxants, and some antidepressants have been associated with increased crash risk. When prescribed such medications, patients should discuss how to approach driving with their physicians.

• Mixing medications can impair driving ability. Medications that do not cause side effects on their own may still prove harmful if mixed with other drugs. Mixing drugs with alcohol also can produce side effects that impair driving ability, even for drivers who do not feel as though they consumed an amount of alcohol that would normally compromise their ability to drive safely.

Recognizing the ways prescription and OTC medications can impair driving ability is a vital component of safe driving.



Common home accidents and how to avoid them

Some of the most common and dangerous emergency situations occur at home. Precautionary measures can make homes as safe as possible, but accidents can still happen.

The National Safety Council says that 25 million in-home injuries occurred in homes in 2018. Accidental death is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, the NSC says the home injury death rate increased by 150 percent between 1999 and 2018.

The top five most fatal household injuries in the United States are poisoning, falls, choking or suffocation, drowning, and fires/burns. Recognizing the threat these accidents pose can compel people to make every effort possible to prevent them from happening.

• Poisoning: Poisoning can be attributed to exposure to household chemicals, but illicit drugs and alcohol use, as well as prescription drug overdoses, have become major contributors to accidental poisonings. Keeping medicine and liquor cabinets locked can prevent children and teens from accessing items that are off limits. Disposing of unused or expired prescription medication can help remove drugs from the home. Educating children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol also may help.

• Falls: Falls can happen at any age but they’re most common among the very young or very old. Installing grab bars in bathrooms, improving indoor lighting and removing tripping hazards like area rugs or toys from high traffic areas can reduce the likelihood of falls. Young children should be carefully supervised and deterred from climbing.

• Choking/suffocation: U.S. News & World Report says airway obstruction — which includes choking, suffocation and strangulation — claims about 1,000 lives a year. Children often put objects in their mouths and swallow them, resulting in choking. Eating too quickly and failing to chew adequately at any age can cause food to become lodged in the throat. Older adults may lose the ability to chew or swallow adequately due to cognitive disorders or other conditions. Suffocation can occur when children are put in unsafe sleeping environments. Too many blankets or toys can impede youngsters’ ability to breathe. Keeping a home clean, monitoring children and seniors while eating and learning the Heimlich maneuver can help prevent injuries.

• Drowning: A young child can drown in just inches of water, but pools, bathtubs and other standing water can be of greatest concern. Install fencing with self-latching gates and supervise children at all times when they are around water.

• Burns/fires: Install plenty of working smoke alarms and hold fire drills to reduce the risk of fire-related deaths and injuries. Turning down the temperature of a home water heater to avoid scalding and exercising caution in the kitchen, where many fires originate, also is key. Never leave food unattended on the stove.

Home accidents can happen, but awareness of common incidents may compel people to place a greater emphasis on prevention.



The various types of glaucoma and their symptoms

Eyesight is important but easily taken for granted. Few people can imagine life without their eyesight, but hundreds of millions of people across the globe experience compromised vision every year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. In fact, estimates from the World Glaucoma Association indicated that 79.6 million individuals would experience glaucoma in 2020. By 2040, that figure is expected to rise to 111.8 million people.

What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology®, glaucoma usually results from the buildup of fluid in the front part of the eye. As that fluid builds up, it increases the pressure in the eye, ultimately damaging the optic nerve.

Are all glaucomas the same?
All glaucomas are not the same, and the AAO notes that there are two major types of the disease: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.

• Primary open-angle glaucoma: The most common type of the disease, primary open-angle glaucoma develops gradually. Eyes affected by primary open-angle glaucoma do not drain fluid as well as they should, resulting in the buildup of pressure that slowly starts to damage the optic nerve.

• Angle-closure glaucoma: Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when a person’s iris is very close to the drainage angle in his or her eye. The AAO says that this proximity can block the drainage angle, causing pressure to build up very quickly. However, the AAO also notes that many people with angle-closure glaucoma develop it very slowly and have no idea they have it until they’ve suffered severe damage.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
The symptoms of glaucoma differ depending on which type a person has.

According to the AAO, there are no obvious symptoms in the early stages of open-angle glaucoma. Blind spots develop in patients’ peripheral vision as the disease progresses. Because people often do not experience symptoms until the damage from open-angle glaucoma has become severe, the AAO urges adults to schedule routine eye exams with an ophthalmologist so the disease can be found before any significant damage has occurred.

Blurred vision, halos, mild headaches, or eye pain are some early symptoms of an angle-closure glaucoma attack. However, the AAO notes that people with angle-closure glaucoma do not typically notice any symptoms until the attack has started. As a result, the AAO urges anyone experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms to contact their ophthalmologist immediately. Once an angle-closure glaucoma attack has begun, symptoms may include:
• severe pain in the eye or forehead
• redness of the eye
• decreased vision or blurred vision
• nausea
• vomiting

No one is immune to glaucoma, which can quickly rob otherwise healthy individuals of their vision. Learning to recognize the early signs of glaucoma and seeking prompt treatment can reduce the likelihood of substantial vision loss.



How much should you stockpile for an emergency?

When the novel coronavirus COVID-19 was officially proclaimed a pandemic in March 2020, people were urged to stay home and limit their exposure to those outside their households. Understandably, some measure of panic ensued after that proclamation.

Fears of lockdowns and an inability to shop for necessities created worldwide shortages of cleaning supplies, meat, canned goods, grains, and paper products like toilet tissue. Shoppers were grabbing what they could when they could, and empty store shelves were left in the wake of the pandemonium.

Although it’s wise to keep an ample stockpile of foods and other supplies in advance of a weather emergency, it’s important to draw the line between planning proactively and hoarding goods. But what is the right amount to have on hand?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, each person should have a cache of supplies that can last up to two weeks. Included in the recommendations are 1-1⁄2 gallons of water each day per person. One half-gallon is for drinking purposes and the remaining gallon is for hygiene should water supplies be interrupted by the emergency. That equates to 84 gallons of water for a family of four, which may not be feasible for many families. One workaround is to fill a bathtub in one bathroom with water to use for hygiene and reserve bottled water for drinking.

In regard to food, City Prepping, a popular social media channel for preppers, has created a list of what might be included in a two-week emergency supply. Most of the supplies are nonperishable items. Some options include:
• canned soup (20 cans)
• powdered milk
• cereal (two boxes)
• canned vegetables (20 cans)
• peanut butter (two jars)
• pasta (20 bags/boxes)
• coffee or tea
• canned fruit (20 cans)
• oatmeal (five pounds)
• rice (20 pound bag)
• olive oil

Individuals who have a chest freezer also may think about purchasing meats/poultry and frozen foods when they are on sale and creating a two-week menu. Invest in foods that are nutritionally dense and easy to prepare.

In addition, set aside an area to store other supplies. Sanitation and hygiene items, matches in a waterproof container, extra clothing and blankets, cash, and special needs items like prescription medications, contact lens solution and batteries also are good to have on hand. Some items like disinfecting wipes may still be in short supply, so buy them as they become available.

Preparing for an emergency requires having at least a two-week supply of necessary items on hand. Using resources wisely and avoiding hoarding behaviors can help prevent shortages.



Burning calories is often a focal point of weight loss efforts. People go to great lengths to burn more calories, but they might be surprised to learn how many they can burn performing relatively routine physical activities.

Men and women also may be surprised to learn that they burn calories differently from one another. According to the Mayo Clinic, men usually have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight. As a result, men typically burn more calories than women, though body size and composition also affects how many calories a person will burn while performing a given activity. For example, a man who is larger and has more muscle than another man his age will burn more calories, even if both men perform the same activity with the same level of intensity.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture cites the following calorie-burning figures for a 154-pound, 5’10” man who performs certain physical activities. Women likely won’t burn as many calories performing these activities, but each activity can still be an effective way for men and women to burn more calories.

• Walking (3.5 miles per hour): In 30 minutes, a man can expect to burn 140 calories. A man who walks 4.5 miles per hour will burn approximately 230 calories. The online health resource notes that a 125-pound person may burn roughly 150 calories walking for 30 minutes at 4.5 miles per hour.

• Hiking: A man will burn roughly 185 calories in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity hiking. Women won’t burn as many calories, but both moderate and vigorous hiking are great ways to burn calories regardless of a person’s gender.

• Light gardening/yard work: A man will burn approximately 165 calories in 30 minutes performing light gardening/yard work, while he will burn roughly 220 calories performing more physically taxing yard work like chopping wood. A 125-pound person will burn roughly 135 calories after 30 minutes of light gardening.

• Cycling: Men can burn roughly 145 calories cycling at 10 miles per hour or less for 30 minutes. That figure jumps to 295 calories when men ride at 10 miles per hour or faster. Healthline notes that a 125-pound person can burn roughly 210 calories in 30 minutes when riding between 12 and 13.9 miles per hour.

• Playing with children: Play sessions with the kids can help both moms and dads burn calories. Healthline notes that a 155-pound person may burn 149 calories in 30 minutes of playing with kids at moderate intensity, while a 125-pound person will burn roughly 120 calories in the same time.

No two individuals are the same, so it can be hard for men and women to pinpoint just how many calories they burn performing popular physical activities. But there’s no denying that many of the activities adults engage in every day afford them ample opportunities to burn calories.



Symptoms pet have allergies and what’s behind them

Allergies can vary in severity and cause various symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance by producing antibodies. These antibodies identify a particular allergen as harmful, even when it isn’t. Allergies can cause reactions in the skin, breathing passages and digestive system.

Thousands of people experience allergies to foods, pets and environmental factors. Pets also can be susceptible to allergies. Allergies can be found in cats and dogs, according to PetMD. They also may be present in other animals. People who notice their companion animals scratching, chewing or licking themselves more than normal may find their pets have allergies. Some pets may experience gastrointestinal issues as well.

The pet care information site Pet Cube says common allergens for pets can include:
• pollen from trees, grass and weeds
• food ingredients
• dust mites
• prescription medications
• fleas
• flea/tick control products
• cleaning products

While their human friends may get runny noses or coughs from allergies, symptoms of allergies in cats and dogs tend to take the form of skin irritation, otherwise known as allergic dermatitis. Pet parents should look for the presence of red and irritated skin, hair loss, hot spots, and rashes or hives, in addition to extensive itching or obsessive licking.

Flea allergies are one of the most common sources of allergies for pets. The bite of just one or two fleas per week is enough to cause a reaction. A pet gnawing just at the base of the tail may be suffering from fleas, although other areas may be affected, advises PetMD.

Seasonal and environmental allergies or allergies to foods can result in face rubbing and licking, especially the paws. Skin or ear infections also may occur.

Pets also may be allergic to one another. Veterinarian Dr. Robert Trimble, co-founder of the San Francisco-based Fuzzy Pet Health, says he’s heard of dogs being allergic to cats and vice versa.

The American Kennel Club urges pet parents to seek help if their pets seem to be itchy all the time. Allowing a pet to scratch or lick for extended periods of time may lead to skin infections with bacteria or yeast. While all allergies cannot be tested, elimination diets and other techniques may help pinpoint sources of allergies. It is essential to speak with a vet to determine how to relieve allergies to help pets feel more comfortable.



Strategies to overcome seasonal affective disorder

Winter can be an awe-inspiring time of year. Snow-covered landscapes and opportunities to enjoy sports like skiing and snowboarding make winter a favorite time of year for nature enthusiasts and athletes.

As fun as winter can be, many people struggle with the transition from warm weather and long, sunny days to cold weather and reduced hours of sunlight. Sometimes mistaken or misidentified as the “winter blues,” this phenomenon is known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

What is seasonal affective disorder?
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, SAD is a type of depression. The NIH notes that a person must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons for at least two years to be diagnosed with SAD. The American Psychiatric Association says symptoms of SAD can be distressing and overwhelming and even interfere with daily functioning.

The APA notes that SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain that’s prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter. As the seasons change, a shift in a person’s biological internal clock or circadian rhythm can lead to them being out of step with their normal routines. That can contribute to various symptoms, including:

• Feeling sad or depressed
• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
• Changes in appetite, usually eating more and craving carbohydrates
• Loss of energy or increased fatigue despite increased sleep hours
• Increase in purposeless physical activity or slowed movements or speech that may be noticed by others
• Feeling worthless or guilty
• Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
• Thoughts of death or suicide

Overcoming SAD
The weather can’t be changed, but people can speak with their physicians about the following strategies to overcome SAD.

• Light therapy: According to the APA, light therapy involves sitting in front of a light therapy box that emits a very bright light. In the winter, patients typically sit in front of the box for 20 minutes each morning, and they may see some improvements within one to two weeks of beginning treatment. Light therapy is usually continued throughout the winter.

• Medication: The APA notes that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are a type of antidepressant that are sometimes prescribed to treat SAD.

• Spending time outdoors: People with SAD who don’t typically spend much time outdoors when the temperatures dip may notice their symptoms improve if they make a concerted effort to spend time outdoors in winter.

• Rearrange rooms in the home: The APA notes that rearranging rooms and furniture in a home or office to allow more natural light in during the daytime can help improve symptoms of SAD.

SAD is a legitimate concern for millions of people across the globe. Working with a physician to overcome SAD can help people successfully transition to days with fewer hours of sunlight.



The role different vitamins play

A nutritious diet is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. When it’s part of a health regimen that includes routine exercise, a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables can help people reduce their risk for various illnesses, including chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Many adults have known about the value of fruits and vegetables since they were youngsters and their parents repeatedly told them how important it was to eat healthy foods. Despite those early lessons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that less than 10 percent of adults and adolescents eat enough fruits and vegetables. That’s unfortunate, as fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins that benefit the body in myriad ways.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that vitamin deficiency occurs when people do not get enough of certain vitamins. Recognizing the many functions vitamins serve may compel adults and adolescents to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets.

• Vitamin A: The USNLM notes that vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucous membranes, and skin. According to the World Health Organization, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections.

• Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 helps form red blood cells and maintain brain function. Though the National Institutes of Health notes that isolated vitamin B6 deficiency is uncommon, a deficiency has been associated with various conditions, including a weakened immune system and dermatitis cheilitis, a condition marked by scaling on the lips and cracks at the corners of the mouth.

• Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums, helps the body absorb iron and maintains healthy tissue. In addition, vitamin C plays an integral role in helping wounds heal. Vitamin C deficiency impairs bone function, and Merck notes that in children that impairment can cause bone lesions and contribute to poor bone growth.

• Vitamin D: The USNLM notes that 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine three times per week is enough to produce the body’s vitamin D requirement for people at most latitudes. It’s hard to rely on food to supply ample vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium that is necessary for the development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones.

• Vitamin E: Vitamin E helps the body form red blood cells and utilize vitamin K. Green, leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E. The Office of Dietary Supplements notes that a vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve and muscle damage, potentially leading to muscle weakness and vision problems.

• Vitamin K: Vitamin K helps to make certain proteins that are needed for blood clotting and the building of bones. The T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard notes that the main type of vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables like collard greens, kale and spinach. Vitamin K deficiency is rare, but it can lead to bleeding, hemorrhaging or osteoporosis.

Vitamins are crucial to human beings’ overall health. Eating ample amounts of fruits and vegetables is a great and delicious way to avoid vitamin deficiency.



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

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 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



Martin Luther King Day Celebrated on Jan. 18

Did you know?

According to AmeriCorps, Martin Luther King Day is the only federal holiday in the United States that is designated as a national day of service.

Martin Luther King Day takes place each year on the third Monday in January. In 2021, Martin Luther King Day is celebrated on January 18. The day honors Martin Luther King, Jr., an influential leader in the civil rights movement who embraced nonviolent activism. Despite his status as an advocate for nonviolence, Martin Luther King, Jr. was violently gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.

A campaign to declare his birthday a national holiday was started shortly after King’s assassination. However, the holiday was not officially observed until 1986, and that observation was not nationwide. It was not until 2000 that all 50 states observed Martin Luther King Day.

In Dubuque, be sure to listen to the live broadcast on at 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. for reflections from past Ruby Sutton Award recipients.



Physical activity guidelines for children, adolescents and adults

Father and his two daughter exercise at home during corona lockdown.

Staying healthy is a full-time job for people of all ages. While it might not always prove so easy to exercise or eat right, the benefits of healthy living are undeniable.

According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, “prevention” refers to helping people avoid getting sick or identifying diseases early so treatment can begin. Immunizations and disease screenings are two vital components of preventive care, but children, adolescents and adults can take more active roles in preventive care by embracing physical activity.

The Department of Health and Human Services notes that physical activity fosters normal growth and development and can help people feel better, function better, sleep better, and reduce their risk for a large number of chronic diseases. Reducing risk for chronic disease keeps people out of the doctor’s office, or even the hospital, and it also can help save considerable amounts of money. One report from the The Milken Institute estimated that high chronic disease and obesity rates are responsible for more than $1 trillion in lost productivity in the workplace every year. In addition, the National Commission on Prevention Priorities notes that increasing the use of five preventive services to 90 percent can save more than 100,000 lives in the United States each year. Such services include advising smokers to quit and offering medication or other assistance to help them and providing flu shots for people age 65 and older.

In recognition of the role exercise plays in preventive care, the DHHS recommends children, adolescents and adults follow these physical activity guidelines.

Children and adolescents
The DHHS recommends that children and adolescents between the ages of six and 17 should get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.

• Aerobic: Most of the 60 minutes or more per day should be either moderate- or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week.
• Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity at least three days a week.
• Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening physical activity at least three days a week.

Parents can consult with their children’s physicians to determine age-appropriate muscle- and bone-strengthening activities for their youngsters.

The DHHS advises adults to make a concerted effort to move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.

For substantial health benefits, adults should get at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. An equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity can serve as a substitute. Ideally, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.

Adults should do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups two or more days a week, as the DHHS notes these activities provide additional health benefits.

These guidelines also apply to older adults, but older adults also should incorporate balance training into their exercise routines. In addition, the DHHS urges older adults to consult with their physicians about the appropriate level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.

People of all ages should include physical activity in their preventive health care routines. More information about exercise is available at



Dubuque Noon Lions New Project for 2021: Eye Glasses & Hearing Aids Collection Center

Collection Box will be located left of the Pharmacy Entrance at the Asbury Hy-Vee store.

This coming year the Dubuque Noon Lions Club will provide a Collection Center to gather used eye glasses and hearing aids. This unit will be bright yellow and have Lions logos and labels to indicate its purpose. The glasses and hearing aids collected will be transported to the Lions Eye Glass Recycling and Hearing Aid Center to be reworked and then provided to those in need.

For more information on Lions Club projects and fundraising activities, visit



The many benefits of houseplants

The lines between the outdoors and indoors are being blurred. Homeowners build extensive outdoor living spaces so they can relax on weather-resistant furniture and even cook in lavish kitchens in their backyards. In addition, indoor three-season rooms full of bright, open windows that showcase outdoor vistas challenge the boundaries between outside and inside.

For those working with limited budgets, there are some easy, inexpensive ways to enjoy the majesty of natural landscapes indoors. Houseplants can be used to improve indoor spaces, and they also provide various health benefits.

Help with allergies
According to WebMD, rooms with houseplants tend to have less dust and mold in them than those without any foliage. Leaves and other parts of the plants serve as natural filters, catching airborne particles and allergens. Plants with textured leaves might be especially effective at trapping particles.

Put more oxygen into the air
The human respiratory system works by bringing in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. Plants do the opposite during photosynthesis. They absorb carbon dioxide and then release oxygen. Plants can put much more oxygen into the air, improving indoor conditions.

Increase indoor humidity and reduce illness
Studies from the Agricultural University of Norway found that indoor plants can increase humidity in indoor spaces, which decreases the incidences of sore throats, dry coughs, dry skin, and the common cold. Higher absolute humidity can decrease the chances of survival and transmission of the flu virus.

Filter the air
Researchers who presented their work at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society found certain houseplants can combat the potentially harmful effects of volatile organic compounds. Plants may help filter out VOCs like benzene, acetone and formaldehyde, which can enter indoor air via cleaning supplies, dry-cleaned clothes, furniture, printers, and paints.

Improve interior atmosphere
Prevention magazine says plants can be used to screen unattractive areas, moderate room temperature by shading spots from the sun and even reduce noise. Plants also can improve ambiance and create a pleasing atmosphere in a room.

Can improve mood
Growing and caring for plants can alleviate everyday stress. A nationwide study from UK Magazine Gardeners World found 80 percent of gardeners declared themselves satisfied with life compared to 67 percent among non-gardeners. Gardeners were more positive mentally. Greenery can help people feel more at home and improve mental health. A rehab center in Norway found patients reported a greater increase in well-being four weeks after having greenery added to their surroundings.

Houseplants can improve indoor areas and positively affect personal health.



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.



Safely homegate for the football playoffs

Tailgating is a time-honored and beloved tradition among football fans. The festive atmosphere on the grounds outside the stadium prior to kickoff compels millions of people to see their favorite team in person each football season.

The smell of barbecue and the thrill of pickup games in the parking lot is integral to fans’ game day experiences, but such get-togethers were largely forbidden during the 2020-21 football season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many college and professional football teams significantly reduced the number of fans they allowed inside their stadiums, and many prohibited pre- and postgame tailgating.

Though nothing can replace the atmosphere of a stadium parking lot tailgate, fans can do their best to recreate a safe experience at home for this year’s football playoffs. “Homegates” can help fill the void for seasoned tailgaters until restrictions are lifted and parking lots once again become party central on weekend afternoons.

• Stay outdoors. It can be tempting to host fellow fans indoors this playoff season, but staying outside can reduce the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus and help hosts recreate an authentic tailgating atmosphere for themselves and their fellow fans. Set up a television, seating and some exterior heat lamps outside and watch the game outdoors. Let guests know the party will take place outside. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the COVID-19 virus spreads more easily in indoor spaces than outdoor areas, so hosts who are unsure if guests can stay outdoors for the duration of the game should keep that in mind when planning the festivities. If necessary, invite only those fans who commit to staying outdoors all day.

• Load up on food. Food is a big part of tailgating, so any successful homegate should feature a lot of food. Encourage guests to bring their own portable grills or outdoor fryers, as well as their own plates and eating utensils, to reduce the likelihood that guests will contact potentially contaminated surfaces. Just make sure everyone has enough elbow room to safely cook up their signature tailgate foods.

• Provide a safe way for guests to use the restroom. Hosts and their guests will need to use the restroom at some point during the day. It’s hosts’ responsibility to provide a safe place for guests to relieve themselves. Before the first guest arrives, clean the bathroom with disinfectant top to bottom, and make sure to have hand sanitizer and wipes readily available to everyone. Ask that guests waiting to use the restroom remain outside until it’s free to use.

Homegates have replaced tailgates this football season. Thankfully, football fans can embrace various safety measures to recreate the tailgating experience for themselves and their fellow fans.



How to avoid foggy eyeglasses

Billions of people across the globe need eyeglasses to drive a car, read a book, watch television, and perform a host of other tasks of daily life.

Although glasses are highly effective, people who wear them understand they may have to make a few concessions while doing so. Unlike contact lenses, which sit directly on the eye, glasses rest on the bridge of the nose. They may slightly impede peripheral vision or even slip down if not properly fitted. Those accustomed to wearing glasses in the cold weather understand fogging of the lenses is a nuisance they may be forced to confront. That nuisance became even more profound when masks became a must-have accessory to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Glasses may fog due to the formation of condensation on the lens surface, which happens when moving from a cold outdoor environment into a warm indoor one. This is a problem that has affected eyeglass wearers for some time, including health professionals who often wear masks. The issue has become even more widely known due to the sheer number of people who have been wearing face masks as a public health safety measure.
So how does one counteract the condensation and fogging that occurs from both winter weather and increased mask usage? There are a few different methods, but eyeglass wearers should always consult with an optometrist to verify the safety and efficacy of any method before trying it.

Use soapy water
A 2011 study published in the Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England found that washing eyeglasses in soapy water and shaking off the excess can help reduce fogginess. Afterward, let the spectacles air dry before putting them back on. The soapy water leaves behind a thin surfactant film that reduces surface tension and causes the water molecules to spread out evenly into a transparent layer. This can help prevent fogging.

Use a commercial product
Antifogging products are widely used to prevent fogging of scuba masks or ski goggles.

Get a mask that fits tightly
Make sure the mask fits securely over the nose, advises The Cleveland Clinic. Also, a mask with a nose bridge will help keep warm exhaled breath from exiting up to the glasses. Use your glasses to help seal the mask on your face by pulling the mask up higher on the nose.

Block breath with a tissue
The AARP suggests placing a folded tissue between your mouth and the mask. The tissue will absorb the warm, moist air, preventing it from rising up to reach the glasses.

Adjust the fit of glasses
Choosing glasses that sit further away from the face can improve air circulation and reduce the formation of condensation.

Consider other options
If these tricks seem like a lot of work, you also can speak to an eye doctor about contact lenses or eye surgery.

Fogging of glasses has been a problem for some time, but has become more widespread thanks to the use of masks during the pandemic.



Tips to find the right dog trainer

Dogs add an entirely new component to the dynamic of a household. Whether a dog is being welcomed into the bustling home of a family or the more sedate environment of a singleton’s apartment, the four-legged friend will soon acclimate to its new surroundings and become a beloved member of the family.

The transition from a pet-free home to one with a dog is not always smooth, especially if the dog exhibits certain behaviors. Chewing is a common behavior exhibited by dogs after they enter a new home that may alarm new dog owners. The ASPCA notes that it’s normal for puppies and dogs to chew on objects as they explore the world. Some dogs may do so to alleviate pain stemming from incoming teeth, while others chew to keep their jaws strong.

Destructive chewing may be a byproduct of anxiety or frustration, and such behavior can be especially hard for new dog owners to comprehend and corral. In such instances, dog owners can benefit from working with professional dog trainers. The American Kennel Club notes that dog training is an unregulated industry, which can complicate the process of finding trustworthy trainers. In recognition of that difficulty, the AKC offers the following tips to dog owners searching for the right trainer.

• Ask about a trainer’s philosophy. Dog trainers use various methods, but the AKC emphasizes the importance of finding trainers who use positive reinforcement training. Such a philosophy rewards appropriate behavior and teaches alternative behaviors in place of inappropriate ones. The AKC notes that positive reinforcement training is science-based and fosters a love of learning in dogs while strengthening the bond between dogs and their owners.

• Find out which services the trainer offers. Trainers offer different services. Some may specialize in one-on-one training, while others train in class-like environments that can promote socialization. Each dog is different, so a training environment that works for one dog may not work for another. Speak with various trainers about their services and then choose the one that most aligns with your dog’s personality.

• Ask for a trainer’s credentials. The AKC notes that certification with certain organizations is not mandatory, though certifications may indicate how serious a trainer is about training dogs. Trainers should be forthcoming about their credentials, including any certifications they may have. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers ( can help dog owners learn about the various types of certification so they can make the most informed decisions possible when choosing a trainer for their dogs.

• Take note of your own comfort level with the trainer. The AKC reminds dog owners that dog trainers teach dog owners, who will need to be comfortable with a trainer to get the most of his or her services. Ask to observe a training class and take note of the trainer’s interactions with both the dogs and their owners.

Dog trainers can help dogs acclimate to new homes and help their owners adjust to their new roles. More information about dog trainers can be found at



Healthy resolutions that are easy to keep

The dawn of a new year is a great time to take stock of the year that just passed and set goals for the next 12 months. Resolutions focused on improving personal health are especially popular, and for good reason. Improving one’s overall health can have positive implications for years to come.

Even with the best intentions, resolutions have historically proven hard to keep. Simplifying health-based resolutions can lead to a higher success rate and a healthier you.

• Walk more. It is easy to get preoccupied with the “10,000 steps per day” mantra that many people follow and that certain fitness trackers promote. Walking 10,000 steps daily, which equates to roughly five miles per day, is a healthy goal, but it may not be realistic for everyone. Take stock of how many steps you currently take each day, and then resolve to walk 2,000 more. As your body acclimates to walking more, add another 2,000 steps, continuing to do so until you reach 10,000 steps.

• Learn something new about being healthy. Informed health decisions require gaining a greater understanding of your body. Rely on a reputable source such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about how to be healthy.

• Spend less time on social media. Staring at your phone or tablet for multiple hours browsing tweets or checking messages might not be the best thing for your physical and mental health. Browsing the internet may take up time that could be better spent engaging in physical activity. According to Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude, a staff psychiatrist at the Hospital for Sick Children and Toronto Western Hospital, various studies have shown how excessive social media usage can adversely affect relationships, sense of self, sleep, academic performance, and emotional well-being.

• Eat more whole foods. Whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fish, contain various nutrients the body needs to function at peak capacity. These foods may help reduce the risk of many diseases and help people maintain healthy body weights. Start slowly by introducing a new whole food to your diet each day. A gradual approach is more manageable than going on a drastic diet.

• Avoid sweetened beverages. You are what you eat, but also what you drink. A report published in 2006 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly carbonated soft drinks, may be a key contributor in the epidemic of overweight and obesity. Skip sweetened beverages (even fruit juices can be unhealthy if consumed in excess) and opt for more water or unsweetened teas.

• Find a physical activity you like. Rather than resolving to join the gym or signing up for a 5K because it’s what everyone is doing, find a physical activity you truly enjoy and aim to do it a few times a week. Maybe it’s a sport like tennis or recreational cycling with the family. But if the idea of a gym membership excites you, then by all means sign up.

Avoid restrictive health and wellness resolutions that can be unsustainable. By downsizing expectations and taking small steps en route to your goals, you may be more motivated to stay the course and realize your resolutions.



Signs of unsafe driving in older drivers

A license to drive has long been symbolic of independence. Teenage drivers long for the day they earn their licenses and can take to the road without mom or dad riding shotgun, while aging drivers want to keep driving as long as possible so they can come and go as they please in their golden years.

There’s no formula drivers and their families can employ to determine when it’s time to take the car keys away from senior citizens. Thankfully, fatal collisions involving older drivers have declined considerably in recent decades. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, collision-related fatalities among drivers ages 70 and older declined by 15 percent between 1997 and 2018. A host of factors have no doubt contributed to that decline, including lane-assist technology and forward collision warning systems that have become standard offerings on many modern vehicles.

As much as technology has helped make driving safer for everyone, aging drivers should still keep an eye out for certain signs that may indicate their skills behind the wheel are diminishing and potentially compromising their ability to drive safely. According to AARP, the following are warning signs of unsafe driving.

• Delayed response to unexpected situations: Frequent close calls and narrowly avoiding collisions when other drivers stop suddenly indicate reduced response time that can put aging drivers at an elevated risk of being involved in an accident.

• Becoming easily distracted while driving: Distracted driving has become a significant concern in recent decades, but it’s often associated with young drivers. However, aging drivers who are easily distracted also pose a safety risk to themselves and other motorists.

• Decrease in confidence while driving: Only drivers will know if they feel confident enough to drive safely, and it’s vital that aging drivers be honest with themselves when assessing how they feel when driving.

• Having difficulty moving into or maintaining the correct lane of traffic: Lane-assist technology can help drivers recognize how often they’re staying in the correct lane of traffic. When the warning bell goes off frequently, it might be time for older drivers to reconsider if it’s safe for them to be behind the wheel.

• Hitting curbs when making right turns or backing up: Hitting curbs when turning or backing up indicates drivers may be having difficulty controlling their vehicles and/or seeing the road, both of which indicate it’s no longer safe for drivers to get behind the wheel.

• Getting scrapes or dents on car, garage or mailbox: These signs also indicate drivers are having trouble controlling their vehicles.

• Driving too fast or too slow for road conditions: This indicates drivers are not as alert to their surroundings as they need to be to stay safe on the road.

It’s not easy for aging drivers to relinquish their drivers’ licenses. Learning to recognize potential warning signs of unsafe driving can help aging drivers make the safest decisions for themselves, their passengers and their fellow motorists.



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



The benefits of making New Year’s resolutions

The end of December is a busy time of year. Families are shopping for gifts for loved ones and friends, holiday celebrations are in full swing and thoughts begin to turn to the new year ahead.

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, it is customary to sip a glass of champagne and toast to the new year. Many people use the dawn of a new year as a time to create a list of resolutions that reflect positive changes they hope to make in the year ahead.

Between 40 and 45 percent of American adults make resolutions each year, according to the health and wellness group Proactive Mindfulness. According to John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo and Matthew D. Blagys, coauthors of the study “Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers,” within six months of starting a resolution 46 percent of people are still maintaining their resolutions.

Resolutions may seem silly to some, but there are several positive reasons to make them.

• Resolutions provide practice setting goals. Goal-setting is an important component of life. Goals are key because they provide general direction in life. A goal is a map that can give you an idea of where you are heading and what path you need to take to get there, according to the self-improvement guide Success Consciousness. Resolutions can be fun, low-pressure goals. Think of them as dress rehearsals for bigger life changes.

• Resolutions offer time for reflection. Too often people are rushing through daily life without stopping or slowing down to truly assess the impact of their actions. Resolutions help you reflect on the past, present and future, figuring out what has been working and what may need to be changed to provide a boost, according to the wellness resource Alternative Daily.

• Resolutions can serve as a catalyst for positive change. When something isn’t working with your routine, personal health or relationships, resolutions can serve as the catalyst that ultimately rights the ship.

• Resolutions can promote self-esteem and empowerment. Making resolutions and keeping them can provide a sense of accomplishment that comes with goal-setting and following through. Resolving to lose five pounds and then seeing the proof on a scale can be a powerful motivator that compels you to make other self-improvements. Accomplishing small goals also can boost self-esteem.

Resolutions are often made at the dawn of a new year. These efforts can provide the motivation and direction people need to make positive changes in their lives.



The best ways to store and serve champagne

No New Year’s Eve celebration would be complete without a champagne toast to ring in the new year. Champagne is a vital component of many special occasions, such as anniversaries, retirement parties and weddings.

Champagne is a sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France, though the term “champagne” is often mistakenly used in reference to any type of bubbly.

Champagne is a wine and, like merlot or pinot grigio, it has specific storage and serving temperatures to ensure top flavor. According to ThermoWorks, wines have specific layers of flavor that are most effectively enjoyed when they’re experienced at the proper temperature. In wine, temperature affects alcohol, acid and aromatics. ThermoWorks suggests a temperature of 45 F for champagne.

In addition to controlling temperature, there are other ways to help ensure champagne reaches the palate in optimal fashion. Grape Escapes, a wine tasting and touring company, says that champagne is already aged properly before being sold, so it does not necessarily benefit from extra aging in the bottle. When kept too long (beyond 10 years for vintage cuvées), some effervescence may be lost and the flavor will change.

Bottles of champagne should be stored horizontally in a well-chilled environment. They should be kept away from bright or artificial light. Chilling also will help reduce the “pop” and overflow of the bubbly. If you purchase champagne and need to chill it for serving, you can achieve this by either chilling it in the fridge for three hours before serving, or in a Champagne bucket in a mixture of ice and water for 30 minutes.

Etiquette experts say it is preferable to open a bottle of champagne with a hiss rather than a large pop. To achieve this, chill the champagne and also open the bottle very slowly and with a great deal of control.

When the champagne is opened, Daniel Brennan, PR and communications director at Champagne Laurent-Perrier, advises taking your time pouring a little champagne into each glass to allow the bubbles to settle. Then return to the first glass to pour more, helping to make the champagne less likely to froth. Do not tilt the glass like pouring a beer, rather pour the champagne gently down the inside of the glass.

The shape of the glass comes down to preference. Traditional coupes look the part, but tulip-shaped flutes will produce more bubbles and help capture the flavor and aromas of the champagne.

It’s ideal to drink all of the champagne in a bottle, as it will begin to lose its fizz immediately after opening, yet that isn’t always possible. A specialized champagne stopper will help keep the champagne fresh for up to two days after opening. After the bottle has been opened, refrigerate it.

Do not wash champagne glasses in the dishwasher. Hand wash and allow to drip dry. Soap or fibers from towels can impede bubble formation in the glass during subsequent pourings.

Learning how to properly store and serve champagne can enhance special occasions.



The origins of NYE traditions

Traditions are the glue that hold many celebrations together. Individuals and families embrace many customs that serve as the script for commemorating year-end holidays.

Some celebrants may adhere to traditions without really knowing how they began or why they continue. Here is a closer look at some of the most popular traditions tied to New Year’s Eve, both domestically and around the world.

Drinking champagne
The use of champagne for celebrations is rooted in the Christian ritual of consuming wine during the Eucharist. In the year 496, a wine from the Champagne region of France was offered during the baptism of the Frankish warrior Clovis, according to the Champagne Committee of France. It then became customary for champagne to be used at religious events like consecrations and at coronations or soirees. Eventually the tradition became associated with secular rituals, such as celebrating the new year.

People of Japanese heritage might eat soba noodles on New Year’s Eve. The Toshikoshi Soba, which means “year crossing buckwheat noodle,” denotes the crossing from one year to the next. Nibbling the noodles represent traveling from one year to the next as well as letting go of the previous year’s regrets.

In Spain, people gobble grapes to bring good luck in the coming year. The goal is to eat 12 green grapes during the 12 remaining seconds until the New Year. Those able to do so will have 12 months of good fortune.

Dropping the ball
Revelers have long watched the giant ball drop in New York City’s Times Square in person and on television. This tradition may be rooted in the custom of sailors using “time balls” to set their own timepieces while at sea. These chronometers were employed by using a spyglass to scan the harbor looking for balls that were dropped into the water at certain times, PBS reports. The first ball was installed in 1829 in Portsmouth, England. The Times Square ball was first used in 1907, according to the Times Square Alliance.

Making resolutions
Historians trace the making of resolutions to the Ancient Babylonians. Citizens made spoken resolutions during their new year festival known as “Akitu.” This ritual required making an oath to the sitting or new king. Romans also swore oaths of loyalty to the emperor when the New Year started.

Fireworks and noisemakers
Fireworks are a big part of celebrations and are not to be outdone on New Year’s Eve. Fireworks were invented in the seventh century in China. According to Anthony Aveni, an astronomer and anthropologist at Colgate University, the fireworks were designed to ward off evil spirits. In cultures around the world, fireworks, banging drums and other efforts were used to chase away spooky creatures, especially during the transitional period that is the passing of the new year. Today fireworks and noisemakers are employed not for scaring away spirits, but rather to add to the revelry.

New Year’s Eve traditions abound, and many of these annual customs have interesting origin stories.



Eagle Point Solar staff and members of the Acts of Sunshine committee awarded a donation in the amount of $350 to the Veteran’s Freedom Center, Dubuque, Iowa.

“This organization is doing fantastic work in supporting our community of local military veterans and their families. The funds our staff donated will go directly to help support local needs for our veterans such as transportation, clothing, food, art projects, utility bills and upgrades to various medical devices,” stated Mary Jo Pullen, Co-Chair of Eagle Point Solar Acts of Sunshine committee.

The mission of the Veteran’s Freedom Center is: To have an all-volunteer staff who helps provide a safe and non-judgmental healthy community, while meeting the unique needs of all military members and veterans who have been honorably discharged.

“Every monetary donation and volunteer hour adds up and ultimately helps to make a positive difference in our community and the lives of our veterans and their families. Eagle Point Solar is a growing company of local professionals doing wonderful work. It’s great they are giving back to the local community with their Acts of Sunshine committee,” stated Jim Wagner, Co-Founder and Director of Veteran’s Freedom Center.

The Veterans Freedom Center offers veterans an opportunity to keep active within a community of supportive members. The non-profit organization offers community rooms, coordinates Euchre tournaments, houses a complete game room with pool table, shuffleboard and darts, extensive woodworking shop, arts and crafts room, kitchen, computer access and more. Additionally, the organization works in coordination with other similar programs in the area to broaden their reach and further align their mission of helping veterans and their families.

To learn more or make a donation visit:



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.



Why are Christmas colors red and green?

Many people may not get in the holiday spirit without decorations and all the trimmings. Chances are strong that if you have containers full of items just waiting to see the light of day again this holiday season, those items are red or green or some combination thereof.

Red and green have become the traditional colors of Christmas, just as blue and white symbolizes Chanukah. But how did this color palette come to evolve?

Just like many traditions of Christmas, the red and green scheme has origins that pre-date the Christian celebration. Christmas has borrowed from many of the customs of winter solstice celebrations of ancient peoples, including the Celts. Ancient Celtic people revered holly plants, believing they brought beauty and good fortune in the middle of winter — a time when the landscape is normally bleak and holly plants thrive and stand out. Celts would regularly bring in sprigs of holly and decorate their homes with the plants, which feature shiny, serrated leaves and bright, red berries, as a way to guarantee a prosperous new year. Holly also came to be associated with the crown of thorns Jesus Christ was forced to wear during his crucifixion.

The custom of using red and green continued into the 14th century. Dr. Spike Bucklow, a research scientist at the University of Cambridge, says red and green also were used to paint medieval rood screens, which were partitions installed in churches to separate the congregation from the priest and altar. Dr. Bucklow notes that Victorians also extended the association of these colors as a physical boundary to another boundary: the marking of the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one at Christmastime.

While red and green had associations with Christmas in early times through holly and other sources, the connection was perhaps best solidified thanks to a man named Haddon Sundblom. Sundblom was an artist commissioned in 1931 by the Coca-Cola company to create an image of Santa Claus for the company’s upcoming holiday ads. Until this point, versions of Santa were rarely consistent, with his clothing vacillating between green, blue and red. He also wasn’t the plump, jolly fellow associated with Christmas as we know him today, but rather thin and elf-like. Sundblom portrayed him as a chubby man wearing red robes, likely as a nod to Coca-Cola’s own red logo, even though the company denies the connection. Santa was featured in front of a green background. The ads proved popular and Sundblom’s Santa became the preferred depiction. Santa’s red robes perfectly complemented the green background and other green components of the holiday, such as Christmas trees and holly, that already had been solidified as Christmas imagery.

Color plays a strong role in creating Christmas nostalgia. Red and green are put on vivid display throughout the season.



Simple ways to prolong the life of poinsettias

Poinsettias and their rich red, white or variegated color schemes are the ideal backdrop for Christmas celebrations. In fact, poinsettias are among the most popular decorative flowers during the holiday season.

According to the 2013 USDA Floriculture Statistics report, poinsettias accounted for about one-quarter (23 percent) of all flowering potted plant sales that year. Roughly 34 million poinsettia plants are sold in a given season. Indigenous to Central America, the plant was introduced to North America in the 1820s when Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, brought the red-and-green plant back with him from a trip abroad.

While millions of poinsettias will be purchased for the holiday season, many mistakenly think their utility ends once New Year’s Day has come and gone. But with proper care poinsettia plants can continue to thrive and bring warmth and beauty to a home long after the holiday decorations have been tucked away.

• Choose a hearty plant. Experts with the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science say that many people mistake the plant’s leaves for its flowers. The red, white or pink bracts are actually modified leaves. The flowers of the plant are the yellow clustered buds in the center called “cyathia.” Choose poinsettia plants that have buds which are, ideally, not yet open.

• Keep the temperature consistent. Poinsettias prefer a room temperature between 60 and 68 F during the day and 10 degrees cooler at night. Humidity levels between 20 and 50 percent are ideal. Group plants on water-filled trays full of pebbles to help increase humidity levels.

• Place near sunlight. The United Kingdom-based Perrywood floral company advises placing poinsettia plants near a bright windowsill but not in direct sunlight. Do not let a poinsettia touch cold window panes.

• Avoid drafts. The plants are sensitive to drafts and changes in temperature. So it’s best to keep poinsettias away from drafty doors, windows, radiators, or fireplaces.

• Don’t drown the roots. Wait until the surface of the compost dries out before watering the plant anew. Also, the decorative foil wrapper that covers pots can trap water and lead to root rot. Remove it or poke holes in the bottom to allow for drainage.

• Cut back plants. Come mid-March, cut back the plant by half to encourage new shoots, suggests the University of Illinois Extension. The plants also can be placed outside in the spring after the risk of frost has passed. Bring poinsettias back in around mid-September to early October to force them to bloom again.



Help isolated loved ones this holiday season

A phenomenon called “cabin fever” tends to set in around late autumn or in midwinter. Long hours of darkness coupled with cold, inclement weather often is a recipe for increased time spent indoors. For people who live alone, the effects of cabin fever might be more pronounced.

In addition to seasonal cabin fever, this year another factor comes into play: social distancing and voluntary quarantine as a result of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Even those who may venture outside to socialize, particularly around the holiday season, may be hesitant or unable to do so to help prevent the spread of the virus. In these instances, friends and loved ones can mitigate feelings of isolation in various ways.

• Schedule video chats. Video conferencing apps have become the communication vehicles of choice during the era of social distancing. Different applications and services continue to evolve and help people stay in touch. Plan regular chats, either once or twice per week with isolated or vulnerable people. Try to organize a large group chat on the holiday itself so no one has to spend Christmas or Chanukah alone.

• Drop off supplies. Even though supermarket shop-from-home and other delivery services have normalized somewhat since the start of the pandemic, treat individuals who may be isolated to some personalized attention. Put together care packages of supplies or holiday treats and deliver them in person so you can see the smiles that result from being able to visit with someone familiar.

• Send uplifting messages. Children or even adults can make personalized cards and mail them to loved ones at home or those who may be in long-term care facilities. Send new mailings every week or two so that residents always have something to look forward to in the mail.

• Start a virtual club. A book club or another shared interest can be the catalyst for more frequent communication. A club puts everyone on the same page and enables them to come together, via phone or video chat, for a discussion.

• Ask for help learning a new skill. Along the same vein as a virtual club, lessons on everything from woodworking to crochet to making favorite holiday recipes can be conducted online. Give an isolated individual daily purpose and distraction by engaging him or her with online lessons.

Isolation and feelings of loneliness can affect anyone who normally suffers from cabin fever. However, this year it may be more pronounced, as it could be coupled with social distancing precautions that have already been in effect for some time.



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

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.



How to find more time to read

Avid readers know that a good book can be a great escape. In addition to being a go-to hobby on rainy days and a great way to get away from the daily grind, reading can have a profound impact on mental health.

A 2013 study published in the journal Brain Connectivity used MRI scans to measure the effects of reading on the brain. The scans showed that reading not only triggered brain connectivity while reading, but also continued to do so for days afterward.

The dawn of a new year is widely seen as a great time for people to make positive changes, and many of those are rooted in personal growth. If that personal growth involves reading more, then the following are some ways people can find more time to get away with a good book.

• Take a book to the gym. Weightlifting and reading might not be a match made in heaven, but taking an e-reader along with you to the treadmill, elliptical or exercise bike can be great way to pass the time while breaking a sweat. Instead of firing up a streaming service during your cardiovascular workout, bring an e-reader and read a book. That can make your workout twice as beneficial because you’ll be working out your body and your brain at the same time.

• Hit the books before bed. Many people find time to read right before going to bed each night. Reading before bed is a great time to get some reading in, and it also can benefit readers in a unique way. A 2009 study from researchers at the University of Sussex found that six minutes of reading before bed reduces stress by 68 percent.

• Listen to books while commuting. While it takes some getting used to, listening to audiobooks is another way to indulge in a good book. Though various studies have suggested audiobooks can lead to lower levels of reading comprehension than reading traditional print books, people with hectic schedules may need to give a little to get a little. Professionals with long commute times can turn their daily drives to and from the office into opportunities to listen to audiobooks. It might not be quite the same as reading a print book, but it’s still a great way to dive into a good story.

• Turn the television off. Data collected from Nielsen in 2018 found that the average adult now spends nearly six hours per day watching television, videos on a smartphone or tablet and/or videos on devices connected to their televisions. Adults who want to find more time to read may need to just turn off their televisions and devices and spend more time reading than watching videos.

Reading more can be a great way to grow as a person and that growth can have a profound effect on readers’ overall health.



Shopping locally is now more crucial than ever

The importance of shopping locally has been emphasized with increasing urgency in recent years. Events like Small Business Saturday and Plaid Friday have brought some much-needed attention to the importance of shopping local, which is even more crucial now as so many small businesses try to survive the pandemic.

A poll from the trade group the National Federation of Independent Business reported that about half of all the businesses in the survey reported a 25 percent drop in sales since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, and roughly one in five businesses have seen sales decline by more than 50 percent. If the economic climate does not radically improve, 20 percent of small businesses won’t survive.

According to NBC News, small businesses employ 60 million people in the United States, almost half of the nation’s private-sector employees. In addition, small businesses generate tax revenues that help communities by funding schools, maintaining parks and contributing to public safety programs. However, based on research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, even before COVID-19 spread across the world, only 20 percent of healthy small businesses had sufficient cash reserves to continue to operate if they experienced a revenue loss for two months. Some have been shuttered for much longer.

Individuals looking for everything from clothing to home improvement services to office supplies can look to small businesses to fill those needs.

• Look for small businesses for any and all of your shopping needs. Chances are items sold by big box retailers also are sold by small businesses. When the options are the same or similar, purchase from a small business instead of its big box competitor.

• Readily provide recommendations of small businesses with which you have done business. Too often people are quick to complain about places that have failed them, but those same people don’t think to say kind words about companies that went above and beyond. Share great experiences on social media or through word of mouth.

• Talk to small businesses owners first if you have an issue. It’s tempting to go directly to social media to complain about something, but such complaints can have a dire impact. Always take issues to the manager or business owner first to see if a resolution can be reached. A manager may not be aware of an issue at all. Give small businesses a chance to make it right before taking things public.

• If you own a small business, rely on other small businesses to fulfill your needs. Order supplies from fellow small business owners, seek the help of local financial advisors and tax professionals and use local suppliers and delivery personnel.

Small businesses have experienced unprecedented setbacks due to COVID-19. By supporting small businesses, communities can help them regain stable footing.



How to handle the mental challenges of social distancing

The concept of “social distancing” was no doubt a mystery to millions of people prior to 2020. But in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19, a novel coronavirus that was first discovered in China in late 2019 but soon spread across the globe, social distancing became a household term.

Social distancing refers to actions deliberately designed to increase the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. The American Psychological Association notes that social distancing typically requires that people stay at least six feet apart from each other while also avoiding gathering spaces such as schools, churches, concert halls, and public transportation. In an effort to prevent community spread, many state and provincial governments mandated the closure of all businesses deemed “nonessential,” forcing many working professionals to work from home full-time and temporarily putting millions of additional workers out of work.

Social distancing measures are designed to serve the greater good, and these efforts can be effective at stopping the spread of harmful viruses like COVID-19. But social distancing also can produce unwanted side effects. The APA notes that research has shown that people who are social distancing may be vulnerable to fear and anxiety; depression and boredom; anger, frustration or irritability; and stigmatization. However, the APA also notes that research has uncovered successful ways to cope with social distancing.

• Make time for fun activities. Psychologists recommend balancing time spent on news and social media with other activities unrelated to social distancing or quarantine. Make a conscious effort each day to read a book, listen to music or even learn a new language.

• Get news from reliable sources. Inaccurate information about COVID-19 can spread fear, making it even more difficult for people to cope with social distancing. The APA recommends people get their information from news outlets that rely on trusted organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

• Maintain virtual connections with others. Face-to-face interactions may not be possible, but the APA notes the value of phone calls, text messages, video chat, and social media. These channels of communication provide an opportunity to stay connected with loved ones and express emotions.

• Maintain a healthy lifestyle. The APA advises everyone to get enough sleep, eat well and exercise while social distancing. Do not cope with the issues that result from social distancing by using alcohol or drugs, which may only exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. People also can consider their telehealth options so they can access psychotherapists to help them through.

Social distancing has proven challenging for millions of people across the globe. As difficult as social distancing can be, there are ways for people to cope and stay in touch with their loved ones. More information about social distancing is available at



Volunteer safely during the pandemic

Volunteers are vital to the survival of many charitable organizations. Without people willing to offer their time and expertise free of charge, many nonprofits would find it difficult, if not impossible, to meet their missions.

The global pandemic that begin in late 2019 and continued into 2020 changed many aspects of life as the world knew it, and that includes volunteering. Social distancing measures and stay-at-home mandates from state and local governments discouraged people from leaving their homes, while various health organizations warned aging men and women to stay home as much as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. In recognition of that threat, many retirees who were heavily involved in volunteering prior to the pandemic were forced to cease working as volunteers, which could have a negative effect on their mental health as the pandemic continues. A report from the Mayo Clinic Health System noted that adults over age 60 experienced greater life satisfaction and greater positive changes in their perceived health as a result of volunteering.

Many people have continued to volunteer during the pandemic, and those that want to do so can take these steps to make sure their efforts to give back are as safe as possible.

• Speak with your physician first. Anyone, but especially seniors, who wants to volunteer during the pandemic should discuss those aspirations with their physicians prior to offering their services to charitable organizations. Doctors can discuss the acute and chronic threats posed by the COVID-19 virus and examine each individual’s medical history to help potential volunteers decide if working with a local charity is safe. In addition, doctors can check patients for COVID-19 symptoms and even have them tested to make sure they won’t be putting anyone in danger should they decide to volunteer.

• Contact the organization prior to volunteering. Some organizations may not be allowing potentially at-risk volunteers to perform in-person tasks. Contact the organization you hope to work with prior to signing up to confirm your eligibility, but also to discuss the safety protocols they’ve put in place to protect the health of their volunteers.

• Monitor your own health. If you’ve signed up to volunteer, it’s vital that you monitor your own health. Health officials believe the COVID-19 virus has spread so rapidly for a number of reasons, including the likelihood that many people have had the virus but shown no symptoms. Charitable organizations will no doubt assess the health of each volunteer when they show up to work, but volunteers also should make such assessments on their own. Check your temperature each day and familiarize yourself with the symptoms of COVID-19. If you suspect you are unwell or are even slightly under the weather, contact the charity and tell them you won’t be showing up that day. Operating with an abundance of caution during the pandemic can save lives.

• Consider virtual volunteering. Virtual volunteering is a safe way to give back that won’t expose volunteers or others to the COVID-19 virus. Charitable organizations need behind-the-scenes help just as much as they need volunteers with their boots on the ground. Virtual volunteers can help with fundraising efforts and event planning, but also help charities overcome the logistical challenges of operating and meeting their missions during the pandemic.

Prior to volunteering during the pandemic, prospective volunteers can follow numerous steps to ensure volunteering is safe, both for them and the people they’re trying to help.



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.



Hobbies promote personal growth

Hobbies can help people escape the daily grind. Though it’s easy to view hobbies as enjoyable ways to pass the time, they also can be vehicles that enrich your life.
Hobbies are especially good at helping people learn new skills. They also may help boost professional and personal development.

Hobbies play a vital role for a variety of reasons, and some hobbyists may be surprised to learn just how much their favorite form of escapism is benefitting their lives.

• Hobbies may help to relieve stress by keeping you engaged with something you enjoy. Reducing stress may help you remain calm and be more productive at home, at work and in school. Reduced stress also translates into improved mental and physical health.

• People who engage in hobbies experience new things and may interact with different people through their interests. This can give you various topics to discuss in conversation and make you more interesting to others. Learning skills through hobbies also means you will obtain specialized knowledge that you can impart on people with similar interests.

• Hobbies can be creative outlets that take your mind off of other things. For people who have trouble with meditation and other mindful ways to shut off their brains, hobbies can be a form of escapism that leaves you alone with your thoughts. According to the self-improvement resource Personal Growth, most hobbies actually have a meditative effect on your thoughts because, no matter what you are doing, your awareness becomes completely focused on the hobby.

• Hobbies can improve your social life and foster creative bonds with others, providing great ways to meet and get closer to people who share your interests.

• Hobbies can help stave off boredom, providing productive outlets when there is nothing else available to fill the time. Hobbies can be more beneficial ways to spend your time than playing games on a phone or watching television.

• Hobbies also may be educational and enrich knowledge through skill building. People who start with one hobby may find connections to other ones, further developing their knowledge and skill sets.

If embracing new hobbies is on your list of resolutions for the upcoming year, individuals can rest assured that engaging in hobbies promotes personal growth in various ways.



Hypothermia a risk when temperatures drop

Cold winter temperatures begin to appear as early as November. While some people retreat into their homes to escape the chill, plenty of others embrace winter because of the opportunities for recreational activities such as snowboarding, skiing, snowtubing, and much more. Many do not mind the brisk temperatures, preferring the cold when walking the neighborhood or hiking nearby trails.

However, just as activities enjoyed in hot climates put individuals at risk for heat-related health emergencies, when the mercury drops, hypothermia can compromise outdoor enthusiasts’ health. The Mayo Clinic says hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat. While body temperature normally hovers around 98.6 F, hypothermia sets in when body temperature falls below 95 F.

Hypothermia occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. It also can happen after capsizing into cold water or even sweating and then getting chills when the temperature drops.

WebMD says that, during exposure to cold temperatures, around 90 percent of heat loss escapes through the skin, and the rest is exhaled from the lungs. Heat loss speeds up when the skin is exposed to moisture or wind. In response, the body will shiver to produce heat through muscle activity. Furthermore, the body also will temporarily narrow blood vessels, called vasoconstriction. Activity of the liver and heart normally produces most of the body’s heat. But as core temperature drops through hypothermia, these organs will engage in a protective shutdown to preserve heat and protect the brain.

Anyone spending time outdoors in the cold weather should be aware of the most common symptoms of hypothermia so that prompt action can be taken. Such symptoms include:

• excessive shivering
• slowed speech
• clumsiness
• slowed breathing
• stumbling
• confusion
• weak pulse
• excessive fatigue

Infants and older adults have a higher risk of developing hypothermia due to a decreased ability to regulate body temperature.

Hypothermia is an emergency situation, so it is necessary to call 911 immediately if you or a companion suspects its presence. Treatment goals include increasing body temperature to a normal range. While waiting for trained medical professionals, these steps can be taken.

• Remove wet clothing.
• Cover the person with warm blankets, including the face but not the mouth. If no blankets are available, use body heat to warm one another.
• Try to administer warm soup or beverages if the person is conscious.
• Apply warm compresses to the chest, neck or groin.
• Do not move the person around or attempt to massage their body to help restore heat, as it could put the individual at risk for cardiac arrest.

Hypothermia is a serious condition that requires prompt attention when temperatures begin to drop.



5 ways to protect hearing every day

The saying “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” is never more true than in regard to hearing. It’s easy to take hearing for granted, but even momentary hearing loss can highlight how vital it is to protect hearing.

People rely on headphones or ear buds to listen to music, stream movies or participate in work-related meetings more than ever before. Having the volume too loud can contribute to hearing loss over time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says five in 10 young people listen to their music or other audio too loudly. Overall, 48 million people in the United States have trouble hearing in one or both of their ears. Johns Hopkins Medical Center reports approximately 15 percent of adults 18 years of age or older report some trouble hearing, and the risk of hearing problems increases with age.

Once it’s gone, hearing cannot be restored in many cases. To protect hearing and guard against future hearing loss, consider these recommendations.

1. Ask for a baseline hearing test. It’s easier to measure hearing loss if there is a baseline by which it can be measured. During your annual physical, ask for a hearing test or a referral to an audiologist. This can set the course for monitoring progression of any future hearing loss.

2. Wear hearing protection. There are various types of hearing protection that can filter out certain levels of sound. Many earplugs, like the ones musicians wear or those worn when attending rock concerts, can reduce the sound by approximately 25 dB. Custom fit ear plugs provide more noise reduction, in upwards of 35 to 40 dB. They are optimal for high-noise environments, such as when mowing lawns or operating machinery, according to the hearing loss resource Hearts for Hearing.

3. Turn down the volume. Experts recommend adhering to the 60/60 rule when enjoying audio through headphones. This suggestion is to listen with the headphones at no more than 60 percent volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. Earbuds fit directly next to the eardrum and can be harmful to your hearing. If possible, choose over-the-ear headphones instead.

4. Have custom molds made. Rather than turning up the volume, people can have custom ear molds made for use with earphones, suggests Johns Hopkins. The custom ear molds will block outside noise, allowing for higher quality listening.

5. Keep your ears dry. Moisture in the ear can cause bacteria to grow and potentially lead to infections. Towel-dry ears gently after showering or swimming. Avoid the temptation to use cotton swabs to dry the ears. For the most part, ears are self-cleaning, and using a cotton swab can push wax and cause it to become compacted in the ear canal.

In addition to these tips, discussing hearing health with a doctor is a wise idea.



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.



Identify winter birds in backyards

Birds flittering around the neighborhood are a common sight during spring and summer, and these welcome guests can be enjoyable to observe as they nest, feed and interact. When the weather cools in fall and winter, many birds seek out warmer climates, but a good number of these feathered friends stick around.

Certain birds can be found all winter long across regions of North America. The Great American Bird Count is a program that is run by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Its purpose is to seek the help of volunteer birdwatchers across North America to observe and count all the birds seen in a 15-minute interval during a four-day data collection period. This program helps identify birds that are most commonly seen in cold temperatures and study the composition and distribution of the winter bird populations across North America. Birds seen during this time may change from year to year, though certain species are more likely to be around in the winter months.

• Northern cardinals: One of the more iconic winter birds, the bright red cardinals are around much of the year but perhaps most noticeable against the snowy, stark landscape of a winter’s day. Cardinals use their bright, powerful bills to crack open seeds and cut through sugary fruits to help them survive the winter.

• Tree sparrows: Tree sparrows are large-bodied and long-tailed sparrows with gray and reddish-brown streaking along the edges of their feathers. They also wear a bright chestnut colored cap. Despite their name, tree sparrows spend much of their time on the ground feeding. The bird count has unveiled a greater number of tree swallows in recent years. These birds are insectivorous, so milder winters may be contributing to their increased presence.

• Tufted titmice: Tufted titmice resemble cardinals in body and head shape, albeit on a smaller scale, but they are pale gray in coloring. These are bold birds who defend territory with scolding calls.

• Blue jays: These common, vibrant birds are well known to many people. They are large-crested songbirds with broad, round tails. They have white or light gray feathering on the underside of their bodies with various shades of blue, black and white on the top. A favorite food is acorns, and these birds are often found on forest edges. Their calls are loud and carry long distances.

• Mourning doves: Many people hear mourning doves before they actually see them, as their soft cooing often comes from roof rafters and tree branches. These birds have plump bodies and long, tapered necks, with a head that looks particularly small in comparison. They tend to be brown to buff color. When the birds take off for flight, their wings make sharp whistling or whinnying sounds.

• American goldfinches: These birds are sometimes called the “wild canary” of the Americas. They have distinctive yellow plumage that fades in winter to a palette of buff, brown and gray. They’re small seed-eating birds that often travel in flocks.

Birds may need a little help surviving in the winter. Keep fresh, unfrozen water around and supplement food scavenged with peanut butter, suet and nuts. Brush piles, roost boxes or birdhouses can provide needed shelter.



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.



Simple ways to save on heating costs this winter

Comfort takes center stage each winter. As people look to stay warm, many may be quick to turn up the thermostat so their entire home is toasty warm. But much like cranking air conditioners during the dog days of summer, turning up the thermostat each time the winter winds begin blowing can prove costly for homeowners.

According to estimates from the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, homeowners spent an average of $911 on home heating costs in the winter of 2019-20. The winter of 2020-21 could prove even more expensive, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force much of the world to practice social distancing. That means many professionals are still working from home full-time, while even those who aren’t are no doubt spending more of their free time at home. All those hours spent at home figure to increase reliance on heaters this winter, which means heating bills are likely to go up as the temperatures go down.

Finding ways to save on heating costs will no doubt prove a priority for many homeowners this winter, and the following are some ways to do just that.

• Add insulation. Extra insulation throughout the house can dramatically reduce home heating (and cooling) costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, adding insulation in attics, crawl spaces and basement rim joists can help homeowners save as much as 15 percent on heating costs.

• Lower the temperature on your water heater. Another way to trim your energy bill this winter is to lower the temperature on your water heater. The U.S. Department of Energy notes that, for every 10 F reduction in temperature on their water heaters, homeowners can save between 3 and 5 percent on their water heating costs.

• Close the flue on your fireplace. Fireplaces can keep a home’s inhabitants warm in winter, but only when they’re in use. When they’re not being used, fireplaces can allow heat to escape a home. When the fireplace is not being used, close the flue to prevent heat from escaping the house. Keeping all windows and doors closed throughout the day is another way to prevent unnecessary heat loss.

• Have your HVAC system serviced before winter begins. Inefficient HVAC systems cost homeowners considerable amounts of money each year. Annual maintenance performed by a certified HVAC professional can ensure filters are clean and operating at peak efficiency, saving homeowners the costly trouble of having to turn up the thermostat to overcome dirty systems.

Home heating costs figure to increase this winter as people spend more time at home. Various simple strategies can help homeowners stay warm without overpaying to heat their homes this winter.



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 For more information, contact Lata D’Mello at 515-537-9475 or at

For more information, please contact:

 Riverview Center
Joey Taylor, Executive Director
563-557-0310 •

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



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 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 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



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 or call 563.599.4068. Submissions due by October 16, 2020.




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, or contact the City of Dubuque Transportation Services Department at 563-589-4266 or



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.




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



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



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 Please provide your name, show name, phone number, and order number.




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



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, 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 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 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, and advise of specific needs.



Facts and figures about modern engagements

Getting engaged has and always will be a big deal. While marriage proposals are often steeped in tradition, some facts and figures about modern day engagements, courtesy of the 2018 Newlywed Report from WeddingWire, show just how much this special moment and all that surrounds it is changing.

• The pressure to make marriage proposals extraordinary appears to be on the rise, at least for Millennials. Of the nearly 18,000 respondents who shared their stories via WeddingWire’s 2017 Newlywed Survey, 72 percent of Millennials said they feel pressured to make their proposals highly unique, while only 45 percent of Gen X respondents indicated feeling such pressure.

• Proposals might be changing, but getting down on one knee appears to be an enduring tradition that Millennials plan to keep in style. Eighty-two percent of Millennials indicated they got down on one knee to propose. In addition, the tradition of asking for parents’ blessing also remains popular among Millennials, 72 percent of whom sought such blessings before proposing marriage.

• The average cost of an engagement ring was $5,000.

• The pressure to pick out the right engagement ring appears to be subsiding. That’s because 50 percent of survey respondents indicated they picked out the ring together.

• Married-couples-to-be also appear to like comparison shopping in regard to engagement rings. The majority of purchasers looked at between two and seven rings before making a purchase.

• While online shopping has changed consumer behavior in myriad ways, couples still prefer brick-and-mortar stores when buying engagement rings. Thirty-one percent of purchasers bought rings online, but 63 percent made their purchases in-person at brick-and-mortar stores.

• Christmas Day is the most popular day to pop the question, followed by Valentine’s Day. Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve round out the top five.

• How to spread the news of an engagement is perhaps the biggest change surrounding engagements. Engagement parties were once the go-to way to spread the good news, but just one in four couples now have engagement parties. Nowadays, 86 percent of couples spread the news via social media. In fact, 10 percent of parents find out about their children’s engagements via social media.

• The days of a short engagement seem to be a thing of the past. The average engagement now lasts 13 months, and 28 percent of couples are engaged for 16 months or longer.



How to help the homeless this winter

The problem posed by homelessness is considerable. The National Alliance to End Homelessness says that, on any given night in the United States, more than half a million people are experiencing homelessness. And the problem is not exclusive to the U.S., as the Homelessness Partnering Secretariat (HPS) estimates that between 150,000 and 300,000 individuals experience homelessness in Canada each year.
Many homeless people are single adults who have nowhere else to turn. Veterans make up approximately 9 percent of all homeless singletons.

While homelessness is challenging at any time of the year, winter is especially brutal for homeless individuals. Those who have no indoor places to sleep (shelters fill up quickly in the cold or are avoided for other reasons) typically must confront harsh winter weather, which can increase their risk for hypothermia. Art from the Streets, a nonprofit organization that strives to help the homeless, says winter weather can prove fatal for homeless communities, which is perhaps one reason why the average age of death for a homeless person is 47.

People who have the comfort of warm clothing and shelter may not realize the plight of the homeless this time of year. But with some generosity and volunteerism, anyone can help the homeless community this winter.

• Alert professionals. Many different charities help place homeless people in temporary shelters or get them a warm bed or meal. Do a quick search of homeless organizations in your area and give a call to find out if they can assist someone you may have spotted on the street.

• Donate coats, scarves and gloves. In 2017, residents of Bristol, England, tied scarves to the city’s lampposts for homeless to use. Similar concepts can be implemented in towns and cities across the globe. In addition, look for organizations that collect warm clothing for the homeless and the needy.

• Volunteer with a soup kitchen. Soup kitchens routinely provide hot meals for homeless visitors, and such facilities are often in need of volunteers.

• Partner up with an organization. The Blessing Bag Brigade is a New Jersey-based nonprofit that is dedicated to providing various items of comfort to homeless individuals. The organization routinely collects toiletries, snack foods, socks, razors, and breakfast bars and packages them up in bags to deliver to the homeless. Learn more at

• Provide hot meals or beverages to a homeless individual. Many times someone who is homeless may benefit significantly from a small token of compassion. If you do not want to give cash to panhandlers, then instead buy a hot sandwich and deliver it to someone who is homeless.

Helping homeless individuals and organizations that aim to help the homeless takes on urgency when the winter arrives. It may not require much to provide comfort and safety to someone in need.



VFW Installs Flag Disposal Box

The Dubuque VFW 9663 has installed a new flag disposal box at the New Dubuque VA Clinic at Plaza 20, 2600 Dodge St, Dubuque, Iowa, effective immediately.

This flag disposal box offers 24-hour access to drop older, faded, torn, or damaged American Flags for proper honorable disposal by military veterans.

A planned flag disposal box will be added to the Dubuque Freedom Center on Kerper Blvd in early 2020.

The Dubuque VFW 9663 meets monthly on the third Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. in the American Legion Post #6 Clubhouse, 1306 Delhi St, Dubuque, Iowa.

Social pages include Facebook @vfw9663dubuque

For more information, please contact VFW 9663 Commander Wayne Brown. Mail may be sent to 1306 Delhi St, Dubuque, IA 52001.



501(c)(3) NONPROFIT

Dubuque, Iowa – The Red Basket Project has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Established in 2016, the organization strives to ensure each woman’s period is met with products, despite personal or financial need.

“Because no one ever asks, we assume there is no need,” said Beth Gilbreath, co-founder of The Red Basket Project. “What we have found in our work is that the need is in fact tremendous. We were shocked to learn that we have those in our community who miss school and work when they have their period, simply because their families lack the financial means to purchase. When you are forced to choose between food and period supplies, food wins.”

Since inception, The Red Basket Project has distributed over 20,540 period packs, each consisting of period supplies for one month.

Board members include: Gilbreath, Realtor at Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors, President; Amanda Munger, of Runde Auto Group, Vice President; Gabe Less, of MediRevv, Inc., Treasurer; Lynne Hemmer, of Sedgwick, Secretary; Kelley Donovan, of LPL Financial; and Lidia Bertolini, of Mario’s Italian Restaurant.

For more information, or to donate, visit



City Expo to Celebrate All-America City Award

The City of Dubuque’s City Expo 2019 event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17, from 4-7 p.m. at the Five Flags Center, 405 Main St. This event is free and open to the public.

Every day, hundreds of city staff members proudly serve the residents of Dubuque, working hard to deliver excellent customer service and create a vibrant and sustainable city. City Expo is an opportunity for residents to visit with city staff and learn about programs, services, and community resources. Information and equipment from City departments and partner organizations will be on display.

Earlier in 2019, Dubuque was named an All-America City. This year’s theme was “Creating Healthy Communities.” In celebration of the award, there will be a special All-America City exhibit showcasing the many City departments and community partners whose work was featured in the winning application

Expo attendees can win door prizes by participating in an “Expo Passport” activity. Passport forms will be provided at the event and must be completed and submitted before leaving the event. Participants need not be present to win.

The following door prizes will be available to win at City Expo this year:
• Family summer swimming pool pass
• $50 credit for leisure services programs
• Foursome of golf, plus two carts, at Bunker Hill Golf Course
• Annual yard waste decals
• Yard waste stickers
• $50 gift cards to local grocery stores
• Youth and adult Jule bus passes

Informational materials and complimentary food will be available. For additional information on City Expo, visit or call 563-589-4151.



The safest place for kids in the car

Riding in a vehicle can be an exciting prospect for children. Such rides provide a chance to see the world outside of the house, and the speed with which scenery is flying by can be exhilarating for young minds.

Children are first introduced to riding in cars as babies, when child safety seats will keep them secure. Although laws vary depending on where people are driving, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children remain in a rear-facing car seat until age 2 or older.

As they get older and gain weight, children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their seats should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer, says the AAP.

When children are old enough to graduate from car seat to booster seat to sitting in the car with only a seat belt, parents may wonder about where their youngsters can sit when riding in a vehicle. One area of the car tends to be safer than others for children. Researchers from the University of Buffalo who studied crash-related fatalities in relation to seat location discovered that the backseat is 59 to 86 percent safer than the front seat. What’s more, the middle seat in the back of the car is 25 percent safer than the window seats.

The science behind the study is that the middle seat offers the most distance from impact during a collision, or what the industry calls “the crumple zone.” The outer seats will be more affected, while the middle seat remains more insulated. However, the middle seat is only the safest when used with a full seat belt, rather than just a lap harness; otherwise, children should sit in the back where a full three-point seat belt is available, advises the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In addition, it can be tempting to cave under pressure and allow tweens to ride in the front of the car when they ask to do so or say that it is embarrassing to ride in back – since all of their friends are riding up front. The organization Safe Ride 4 Kids says studies show the safest place in the car for tweens is the back, until they are at least 13 years of age.

Riding in the middle seat in the back of the car is the safest place for passengers, including children. Parents and caregivers should keep safety in mind when kids are in the car.



5 ways to protect against hearing loss

A certain degree of hearing loss can be a normal part of the aging process. However, people who take steps to protect their hearing long before Father Time takes his toll can prevent the extreme hearing loss suffered by millions of seniors across the globe.

John’s Hopkins Medicine states that approximately 15 percent of adults aged 18 years and older report some difficulty hearing and up to 39 percent of adults in their sixties have hearing problems. Lost hearing cannot be restored, though hearing aids and other devices can help people with hearing loss hear better.

Hearing aids are not always an accessory people look forward to needing, so it’s good to know that a few simple strategies can protect people’s hearing over the long haul.

1. Get a baseline hearing exam. Speak with an audiologist, who can test your hearing and establish a baseline level against which future tests will be measured. This way it is easier to see if hearing loss is increasing over time.

2. Turn down the volume. Audio devices can contribute to hearing loss. Earbuds are particularly dangerous because they fit directly next to the eardrum. The World Health Organization says that 1.1 billion teens and young adults worldwide are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss from unsafe use of audio devices. Set the maximum volume on audio devices below 60 percent and wear headphones for no more than an hour a day. Keeping music low on other devices is also adviseable.

3. Wear protective gear. Protective gear includes ear plugs and protective earphones. This gear should be worn whenever you expect to encounter loud noises, such as when you mow the lawn, go hunting or shooting, attend rock concerts, or visit construction sites.

4. Limit use of cotton swabs. Ear wax is beneficial to the ears and can stop dust and other particles from entering the ear. Furthermore, using a cotton swab can potentially cause damage to sensitive organs in the ear if they are inserted too far or too roughly, advises the hearing testing service Ear-Q.

5. Avoid loud noises. Steer clear of fireworks, noisy city centers, loud performances, and other situations if you do not have hearing protection.

Remember, hearing loss often doesn’t produce immediate symptoms or pain. However, over time, hearing loss can become noticeable. A proactive approach can help people avoid significant hearing loss as they age.



Gluten intolerance is a very real issue with measurable symptoms

Gluten is not for everyone. In fact, people who have celiac disease shouldn’t eat gluten at all. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects the digestive process of the small intestine by launching an immune system attack against gluten, mistakenly damaging healthy cells lining the small intestine.

Even people who do not have celiac disease may find that consumption of gluten results in similar symptoms. These individuals may want to avoid gluten as well. Also known as non-celiac gluten intolerance or sensitivity, this condition is not currently well-defined within the medical community. The Celiac Disease Foundation says some people experience symptoms found in celiac disease, like foggy mind, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headaches, bone or joint pain, or chronic fatigue when they have gluten in their diets – despite not testing positive for celiac disease.

In July 2016, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center published a study confirming that wheat exposure to those sensitive to wheat and gluten triggered a systemic immune reaction and intestinal cell damage. Researchers previously thought that a sensitivity to wheat or gluten would not result in cell damage. But research now confirms that even without a positive celiac disease diagnosis, people can experience symptoms that mimic those of celiac disease, even in terms of severity.

Doctors are not sure if gluten triggers the immune reaction in non-celiac cases, so more research is needed. That said, removing gluten and wheat products from one’s diet provides relief for many people.

According to Schär, a company that manufacturers gluten-free foods, anyone who experiences negative symptoms after eating foods that contain gluten should speak with a doctor. A doctor will order blood tests that will look for the presence of immunoglobulin E antibodies that are indicative of an autoimmune response to gluten. An endoscopy also may check for damage to the lining of the small intestines, as can a biopsy of the intestines. Other tests, such as a radioallergosorbent test, or RAST, or skin prick test can test for a wheat allergy to see if symptoms are stemming from that alone.

Treatment for gluten intolerance or celiac disease involves avoiding products that contain gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley.

A growing body of literature suggests that people who do not have celiac disease can still experience non-celiac gluten sensitivity and many of the same symptoms felt by those with the disease.



Make the most of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest dates back to 1810, when festivities commenced on October 12 to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. While the Crown Prince and his bride have long since passed away, Oktoberfest celebrations continue, and the standard-bearing party in Munich is annually among the world’s most anticipated events.

Those who can’t make it to Germany this October can rest assured that there is likely an Oktoberfest celebration in close proximity to their homes. Making the most of these celebrations can help revelers feel as if they’re in Munich after all.

• Celebrate with a group. Oktoberfest celebrations are social gatherings where the notion of “the more, the merrier” certainly applies. Many Oktoberfest celebrations are held outdoors, where celebrants sit at communal picnic tables when they aren’t hoisting steins filled with German beer or dancing up a storm as live music plays.

Celebrating with a group is not just fun, but also a lot safer than partying alone. Some traditional German beers generally contain more alcohol than other beers – making intoxication occur more quickly. Groups can resolve to look out for one another to ensure no one overdoes it with regard to alcohol.

• Resolve to try new cuisine. While beer might garner the bulk of the attention at Oktoberfest celebrations, food is just as big a part of the festivities. Celebrants who want to get a true Oktoberfest experience outside of Munich can try dishes such as Weisswurst, a type of sausage that is typically made from minced veal and pork back bacon. Schweinshaxe, a roasted ham hock sometimes referred to as “pork knuckle,” is a popular Bavarian dish that can make any Oktoberfest celebration more authentic.

• Get up and dance. Even celebrants who are unlikely to be mistaken for Fred and Ginger anytime soon recognize the important role music plays in Oktoberfest celebrations. While some may mistake it for polka, the music played at Oktoberfest celebrations is actually German oompah. Those skittish about stepping in may want to wait until they (and their friends and family also in attendance) have finished a stein before taking to the dance floor.

• Get home safe. Arrange transportation home before attending an Oktoberfest celebration. Such celebrations tend to be rowdy, and the lively spirit of the festival can make it easy for revelers to lose track of how many steins they have hoisted throughout the day. To ensure everyone arrives home safely, revelers can assign a designated driver from their group or arrange for a taxi or ridesharing service to take them to and from the festival so no one feels the need to get behind the wheel.

Oktoberfest is annually one of the world’s biggest parties, but celebrants need not go all the way to Munich to enjoy a raucous celebration.



Learn How to Establish Pollinator Habitat

Tour of Pollinator Habitat Sites

Trees Forever and partners are “creating a buzz” this fall through a series of field days and tours teaching the public about the needs of pollinators and establishing high quality pollinator habitat.

Online registration:

Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (registration at 3:30)
2015 100th St., Belmond IA 50421

Saturday, October 26, 2019, 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (registration at 2:30)
Walker Homestead Farm and Winery
3867 James Avenue Southwest, Iowa City

“It takes years to establish high quality pollinator habitat,” said Tree Forever Field Coordinator Emily Swihart. “If you plant it and forget about it, you’ll have a patch of weeds and invasive plants. We set this series up to show people what to expect every year of the process, so you can enjoy colorful and healthy pollinator habitat in a few years.”

“During each tour, we’ll show multiple plantings.” said Field Coordinator Jeff Jensen with Trees Forever. “The sites we’ve selected are a great representation of what a farmer, homeowner, or concerned citizen could expect with their own planting. We always like to have some time for native plant identification so this will be a chance to hone your skills looking at the wide variety of native plants, and a few weeds.”

For more information, contact Jeff Jensen at or via phone at 515-320-6756.



Reduce cold-weather fire risk

Plenty of things heat up when the temperature drops, including the risk for fire hazards. Fireplaces, stoves, heating systems, candles, and even electric lights are used more often during the winter than any other time of year, so it makes sense that the risk of home fires increases when the mercury drops.

The U.S. Fire Administration says 905 people die in winter home fires each year. Cooking is the leading cause of all home fires and contributes to around $2 billion in property loss each year. Understanding potential risks and exercising caution can help homeowners protect themselves, their families and their homes from fire.

Home heating fires peak between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., when many people are home preparing dinner. The following steps, courtesy of the American Red Cross, can improve safety in the kitchen and reduce the likelihood of a home fire.

• Never leave cooking food unattended, as it can take just seconds for fires to ignite.

• Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove or other appliances that generate heat.

• Clean regularly to prevent grease buildup.

• Make sure appliances are turned off before leaving the room or going to bed.

The National Fire Protection Association warns that heating is the second leading cause of home fires, deaths and injuries in the United States. The NFPA offers these safety guidelines.

• Install heating appliances according to manufacturers’ instructions or have a professional do the installation.

• Fuel-burning equipment needs to vent to the outside.

• Never use an oven to heat a home.

• Keep anything that can burn away from heating equipment, including portable space heaters.

• Clean and inspect heating appliances regularly.

• Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.

The National Safety Council estimates that between 600 and 1,000 people die each year from electrocution. Electricity also can contribute to home fires. The Energy Education Council offers these safety suggestions.

• Never force plugs into outlets.

• Check that cords are not frayed or cracked. Do not run cords under carpets or place them in high-traffic areas.

• Use extension cords only on a temporary basis.

• Make sure light bulbs are the proper wattage for fixtures.

• Install ground fault circuit interrupters in kitchens, baths, laundry rooms, and elsewhere, making sure to test them regularly.

• Check periodically for loose wall receptacles and loose wires. Listen for popping or sizzling sounds behind walls.

Home fires are no joke and can be prevented with simple safety checks.



5 ways to show grandparents and other seniors how much they’re appreciated

Grandparents and seniors can share wisdom and a lifetime of experience with the young people in their lives. Expressing gratitude for such lessons is a great way to show the seniors in your life, whether it’s a grandparent, mentor or family friend, how much they’re appreciated.

Some seniors live alone, while others may be living with their adult children and grandchildren, offering care and support to help make the household function.

Whether grandparents, aunts and uncles or older friends live close by or elsewhere, there are many ways for their loved ones to show them how much they’re appreciated.

1. Become pen pals. Seniors may have limited mobility or opportunities to get out of the house. Receiving mail is one way to connect with the outside world. Regularly send letters to a grandparent or other senior, sharing tales of daily life and key moments that will bring them joy. Chances are they’ll return the favor with a letter of their own.

2. Explore technology together. Younger generations can introduce seniors to available technology that can bring them closer. This may include digital assistants that enable them to share videos, tablets to send email or access social media, mobile phones for calling and texting, and anything else families can customize to their needs.

3. Offer companionship. Spending time with younger generations can motivate seniors to stay active and engaged. Have games and activities at the ready or simply provide a listening ear.

4. Shop and run errands. Help aging loved ones perform the tasks that they may not be able to tackle on their own. This can include picking up groceries or prescriptions or taking them to appointments. Simple work around the house, like doing laundry or light clean-up, also can be a big help.

5. Start a hobby together. Develop a hobby that seniors and young people can enjoy together. Watching classic movies, painting ceramics, going to sporting events, or gardening are just a few of the many hobbies that seniors can enjoy with their young loved ones.

There are many ways to bridge the generation gap and spend meaningful time with aging loved ones.




With Fall here it’s time to take a photo of your favorite place in Iowa and enter Keep Iowa Beautiful’s 10th Photography Contest aimed at raising awareness of Iowa’s rural and urban beauty. This photo contest offers both amateur and experienced photographers an opportunity to tell Iowa’s story in a fun, engaging way during your favorite season.

“This is a great way for Iowans to share what they admire about Iowa’s beauty,” said Kevin Techau, KIB Executive Director. “First place will receive $50, second place $40 and third $30. All three will receive a one-year subscription to Our Iowa magazine.”

The deadline is December 13, 2019 and entries must be submitted as high resolution JPEG electronically to $5 entry fee, contest rules and payment can be made at

Keep Iowa Beautiful empowers Iowans to bring cultural and economic vitality into communities through improvement and enhancement programs. By working directly with Iowa communities, corporations and private citizens, KIB is building new citizen pride in caring for Iowa. KIB wants to learn what resonates with Iowans based on the photographs they share through this photography contest. Photos and winner’s names will be posted on the KIB website, Facebook and featured in the KIB Newsletter.

About Keep Iowa Beautiful
Keep Iowa Beautiful was established in 2000 by Co-Founders Robert D. Ray and Donald F. Lamberti becoming the 23rd State Affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. It is a 501c3 charitable organization working with Iowa citizens, neighborhoods and communities in improving the vitality and cultural health of the state of Iowa. KIB is building stronger communities to develop sustainable futures. For additional information, visit



Phase One of Eagle Point Park Environmental Restoration Plan Begins

Phase one of the environmental restoration planned at Eagle Point Park will begin this month. The project involves implementation of the park’s 2017 Environmental Restoration Management Plan to address the park’s recreational and natural spaces that suffer the effects of severe erosion, invasive vegetation, and degraded natural habitats on the rolling, rugged terrain.

Phase one of the park’s environmental restoration work involves soil quality restoration and conversion of turf to native vegetation. In combination, these green infrastructure best management practices provide an effective strategy for reducing overall runoff and erosion and improving water quality downstream in the watersheds of Bee Branch Creek and the Mississippi River. They also will provide new nature-based recreation opportunities for park visitors, create habitat for wildlife, and foster sustainability.

This phase of the project will involve about 67 acres of the park and may include some vegetation clearing, invasive species removal, scrub brush removal, and tree removal. Most park facilities will remain open to public use throughout the project. Work is scheduled for completion next fall.

Phase one of the plan will be completed by Applied Ecological Services of Dubuque using state and federal funds under the guidance of the City’s consulting team led by Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc. All this environmental work must be done within the context of the park’s rich cultural history. State funding for the project is provided by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources from the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) and State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs. Federal funding is provided by the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Eagle Point Park is a 164-acre community park that opened in 1909 on Dubuque’s northeast side. The park is owned by the City of Dubuque and managed by the park division of the City’s leisure services department. The park overlooks the Mississippi River, providing a spectacular view of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin.



Interesting facts about fall

Weather is often the first indicator that the seasons are changing. For many people across the globe, the hot days of summer will soon be giving way to the more crisp days of fall.

For those who live in regions where summer only subtly gives way to fall or is seemingly gone before the end of August, the 2019 autumnal equinox occurs on September 23. That marks the official beginning of fall, also known as autumn.

In fact, that the season the follows summer seemingly goes by two different names is just one of many interesting facts about fall.

• A season by any other name … Fall is the term most often used to reference the season succeeding summer in the United States. But the season is referred to as “autumn” in other parts of the world, including Great Britain. Fall was once even known as “harvest” because of the harvest moon, which appears close to the autumnal equinox.

• The colors of fall foliage are actually present year-round. Fall is known for its colorful foliage. But the pigments responsible for those colors are actually present year-round. According to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, green, yellow and orange pigments are present year-round. However, during spring and summer, the leaves serve as factories where many foods necessary to help the tree grow are manufactured. That process takes place in the leaf in cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leaves their green color. This process ceases as hours of daylight decrease and temperatures drop. As a result, chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears and the vivid colors of fall foliage begin to appear.

• Squirrels have a (sophisticated) plan out there. Squirrels hiding food in autumn for the upcoming winter is a familiar sight. And squirrels are more organized than many people may know. Groundbreaking research released in 1991 found that, even when squirrels bury that stash of nuts closely to one another, they will each return to the precise location of their personal cache. Recent research also has shown that squirrels bury their stash based on certain traits, such as the type of nut being buried.

• Babies born in fall are more likely to see the century mark. Researchers at the University of Chicago studied more than 1,500 centenarians born in the United States between 1880 and 1895. They then compared birth and death information with those centenarians’ siblings and spouses so they could compare their early environment and genetic background and their adult environment. Their research found that most centenarians were born between September and November.



Avoid medication errors with these tips

Prescription medications are a necessity for many people. The American Academy of Family Physicians says that, each week, four out of five adults in the United States will use prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and/or various supplements. Approximately one-third of adults take five or more medications at the same time.

The potential for adverse drug events is elevated when people are taking multiple medications at one time. For example, mixing pills has the potential to cause serious injury or even death.

Doctors, patients and pharmacies must work together to ensure that medication is taken safely. One of the best ways to prevent errors with medications is for patients to take an active role in their health care management.

• Know your dose. Children are at an especially high risk for medication errors because they require different doses than adults, offers the Mayo Clinic. Adults of different weights who share medications can run into trouble as well. It is key to follow the dosing instructions, as even a minor error in regard to dosage can potentially cause a big problem.

• Follow up with your doctor. Certain medications can cause side effects that only can be noticed by lab testing, such as an impact to the liver. Doctors also may be under an obligation to follow up with patients taking psychological drugs to ensure the efficacy of treatment. Make sure you keep all follow-up appointments.

• Maintain a current list of meds. It is up to patients to share information with prescribing doctors regarding any and all products being taken to avoid harmful interactions. Using the same pharmacy for all prescriptions also is helpful.

• Be honest about height and weight. Medication labeling and package inserts typically use metric units to correlate dose to a person’s physical attributes. Individuals should know their information in metric measurements and be honest with themselves about what they weigh.

• Use medications correctly. It is important not to chew nonchewable pills or cut pills unless the pharmacist or doctor has said it is safe to do so. Accurate dosing also requires using the right spoon or syringe, not silverware. Store certain types of medications, such as eye drops and ear drops, separately so they’re not mistaken for one another.

These are just some of the ways to prevent medication errors. People can consult with their doctors and pharmacists for more assistance in staying safe.