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Newton County Times Outhouse Companion

A compilation of facts, questions and answers

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Eye-popping tricks
Here’s a question for you: what can you do with your eyes? As one dictionary puts it, they can “work with our brains to tell us the size, shape, color, and texture of an object.” But strongman Andrew Stanton uses his “headlights” for a couple of eye-popping tricks. He won two Guinness World Records recently: one for hooking large metal hooks to his eye sockets to pull a car weighing more than 5,000 pounds and another for using the same eye socket hooks to lift his 129.63-pound assistant while at the same time swallowing a sword.

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‘See how you like it’
Keep America Beautiful reports that “90% of Americans agree litter is a problem in their community. One town, Babylon, Long Island, New York, has launched an "Operation Clean" campaign, what you might call a “see how you like it” crusade. It got started with a TV ad featuring a garbage truck dumping its load on the lawn of an alleged particularly barefaced serial litterer.

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This UFO got a pass
Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Ryan Vanvleck had no choice recently but to pull over a UFO on the highway because it had an “obstructed tag.” The vehicle’s two occupants got a pass when they told Trooper Vanvleck that they were on their way to the annual UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico. The Sherriff’s Office explained that the driver was warned “about our strict enforcement of warp speed on the interstate and to keep his phasers on stun-only while traveling.”

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Sustaining social circles supports weight loss

From Take Off Pounds Sensibly

It’s common knowledge that regular exercise, a good diet, and proper sleep are key components to losing weight. How we treat ourselves is of utmost importance.
But how we interact with others matters too. TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds SensiblySM), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy, recognizes that social connections play a major role in every individual’s weight loss journey. Research shows that the more ties one has with those around him or her, the more successful he or she is in making better, healthier choices.
In 2023, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Hallegere Murthy issued a national advisory calling the “epidemic” of loneliness and social isolation a public health concern. “Our relationships are an untapped resource—a source of healing hiding in plain sight,” he said in the introduction of his advisory. “They can help us live healthier, more productive, and more fulfilled lives.”
Our social interactions and connections are part of who we are as individuals. We are born into relationships with others. Having healthy social connections means possessing a variety of meaningful relationships with a sense of belonging. You have others with whom you share a close bond, feel loved, and can turn to for both physical and mental help.
Having these types of relationships, along with healthy habits…
Gives you a 50 percent chance of living longer.
Prevents illnesses like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, elevated blood pressure, dementia, and obesity.
Leads to a quicker recovery from disease due to the release of the chemical painkiller dopamine during social interactions.
Helps regulate emotions, including anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, due to the release of neurotransmitters during person-to-person contact.
If you feel disconnected or isolated…
Reach out to those already in your circle. Call up friends and family and invite them for coffee or a meal. Remind yourself of the people in your corner.
Volunteer. Helping those around you creates connections and gives you a sense of purpose.
Meditate, listen to music, or enjoy the outdoors to reduce stress. Stress has a way of turning the focus on us. When you feel happier, you’re more likely to seek interactions with others.
Join others in their weight loss journeys. You’ll see better results in your effort to exercise regularly and eat right when you have people to hold you accountable and join you. Stop by a TOPS chapter in your community and see how the encouragement and support of others can positively affect you.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Pfc. Harold Agerholm

By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

When a comrade falls in war, you do what you can to help them. That's a mantra Marine Corps Pfc. Harold Christ Agerholm took seriously during the World War II Battle of Saipan when he helped evacuate nearly two-dozen wounded men during a large enemy counterattack. Agerholm didn't survive the mission, but his selfless actions led leaders to posthumously bestow him with the Medal of Honor.
Agerholm was born on Jan. 29, 1925, in Racine, Wisconsin, one of six children born to Christ and Rose Agerholm. His father died when he was about 8, so his mother went on to raise two boys and four girls by herself.
According to one of Agerholm's sisters, he loved nature and animals and was inseparable from his Dachshund as a child. Agerholm attended public schools, then worked for about five months at a manufacturing company as a multigraph operator before joining the Marine Corps Reserve in July 1942. His mother told newspapers at the time that since he was only 17, he begged her to join, so she let him.
After attending basic training in San Diego, Agerholm was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. In November 1942, the unit deployed for overseas duty in New Zealand. While there, Agerholm was promoted to private first class and spent most of the next year training.
In November 1943, Agerholm took part in fierce fighting on Betio Island during the Battle of Tarawa. Afterward, he went with his division to Hawaii to begin preparations for the invasion of Saipan, which Allies launched on June 15, 1944. Agerholm's unit landed on the island on the fourth day of fighting.
The battle lasted about three weeks, largely because of the terrain, which made holding and taking land a slow process, according to Navy historians. Agerholm's valiant actions toward the end of the campaign led to his Medal of Honor.
On July 7, 1944, the enemy launched a massive counterattack known as a banzai charge against U.S. positions. When the horde overran a neighboring artillery battalion, Agerholm immediately volunteered to help repulse the attackers and evacuate the wounded.
Agerholm found an abandoned Jeep that had been used as an ambulance and, over the course of the next three hours, repeatedly drove through heavy mortar and rifle fire, singlehandedly loading and evacuating about 45 men into his vehicle and taking them to safety.
Despite the persistent and intense enemy fire, Agerholm ran out to aide two men who he thought were wounded Marines; however, on his way to them, he was shot by a Japanese sniper and killed.
Two days later, the Battle of Saipan ended as the Allies took over the island, which put them in a strategic position to be able to fly bombers within range of Tokyo.
However, the fight was costly. According to naval historians, there were 26,000 American casualties, including 5,000 deaths. At least 23,000 Japanese fighters were killed with thousands more civilians either killed or wounded.
Agerholm's tireless valor led to him posthumously receiving the Medal of Honor. It was bestowed upon his mother on June 25, 1945, in the living room of her home. According to the Marine Corps University, his mother didn't want a public ceremony.
Two other fallen Marines posthumously received the Medal of Honor for their actions in Saipan: Sgt. Grant F. Timmerman and Pfc. Harold G. Epperson.
Agerholm was initially buried in a cemetery in Saipan, but he was repatriated in 1947 and interred in Mound Cemetery in Racine. Several members of the community held a rededication ceremony at his grave in 2004.
Neither the Navy nor Racine have forgotten Agerholm. In December 1945, soon after the war ended, a former enemy base on the Japanese mainland was taken over by the U.S. and named Camp Agerholm. The following year, a newly commissioned Navy destroyer, the USS Agerholm, was named in his honor, too.
In Racine, an elementary school was named Jerstad-Agerholm Elementary School in honor of Agerholm and Army Maj. John Jerstad, another hometown recipient of the Medal of Honor.
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, a duplicate of Agerholm's Medal of Honor is on display at the Racine Veterans Legacy Museum.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation
Will IRA Withdrawals Affect My Medicare Premiums?
Dear Rusty: I am a member of AMAC and learn so much from the Ask Rusty column. I hope you can give me some information about a question that has come up in my family. My husband is retired and has reached full retirement age. He is considering withdrawing money from an IRA to pay off our mortgage. We are wondering what, if any, penalties may be incurred on Social Security, Medicare, and income tax. Thank you for your help in this matter. Signed: Concerned Taxpayer
Dear Concerned: Thank you for contacting the AMAC Foundation Social Security Advisory Service. Regarding your question on the impact of withdrawing IRA funds, there is no impact to your husband’s gross Social Security benefit. The amount withdrawn, of course, is considered ordinary income for federal income tax purposes, and will need to be included as such on your federal income tax return and will therefore affect your federal income tax liability when you file the return.
Depending on the amount withdrawn, there could be an impact to the Medicare premium due to the Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) provision. Assuming you file jointly, you will pay a higher Medicare Part B premium if your modified adjusted gross income is above certain thresholds (i.e., more than $103,000 for an individual and $206,000 for a married couple). Please note that Medicare’s procedures will not note this income change for two years, so if you make the withdrawal in 2024 it will not trigger the increases until your 2026 Medicare premiums. A change to your Medicare premium might also result in a change to your net Social Security payment at that time (since Medicare is automatically deducted from your Social Security payment).
Also depending on the amount withdrawn, you may have to pay an additional amount on top of your Medicare Part D premium. The Part D adjustment amount is calculated based on a percentage of the Part D national base beneficiary premium, not on a percentage of the plan premium.
The Social Security Administration mails letters to beneficiaries who currently pay a Part B Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) and, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), are in a Part D plan. The letter explains the additional Part D amount, and how exactly Social Security will collect it. You can contact SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or your local SSA agency if you have any further questions about your Part D IRMAA premium.

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Double the benefit of every gardening task

By MELINDA MYERS

You can double the benefit of every gardening task while keeping your garden looking its best. You’ll reduce your workload, help your landscape flourish, and have more time to enjoy its beauty.
Don’t spend time and energy bagging and hauling landscape trimmings to the recycling center. Put it to work in your garden. Use shredded leaves, evergreen needles, herbicide-free grass clippings, or other pest- and weed-free organic material as mulch. Spread a one-to-two-inch layer of these materials over the soil around annual and perennial flowers and vegetables.
Spreading organic mulch over the soil surface helps conserve moisture, suppress weeds, moderate soil temperatures, protect the soil during heavy rains, and improve the soil as it breaks down. Besides all these benefits you’ll be burning calories and strengthening your muscles.
Convert larger tree and shrub trimmings into wattle fences, arbors, or plant supports. Or chip them into mulch to spread around trees and shrubs or as pathways throughout the landscape. You don’t need to buy a chipper but may want to team up with your neighbors to rent one. Maintain a two-to-three-inch layer of mulch around these plants. Keep the mulch away from the tree trunks and crowns of the plants.
Still more landscape trimmings? Start a compost pile if your municipality allows it. Transform plant-based kitchen scraps and landscape trimmings into a valuable soil amendment. Do not add meat, fat, or bones that can attract rodents. Avoid adding weeds gone to seed, perennial weeds like quackgrass and bindweed, and plants infected with disease or insects. Most gardeners do not compost at high enough temperatures to kill these organisms, so they get added back to the garden with the compost.
Compost is good for the environment and helps build healthy soil more equipped to retain moisture, provide nutrients, and help suppress some plant diseases and insect pests.
Continue growing lawn grass tall and mowing high as long as your grass is actively growing. Taller grass is more likely to outcompete the weeds and forms deeper roots making it more drought tolerant. Minimize the stress by removing no more than a third of the total grass height each time you mow.
Improve your lawn’s appearance, save time, and use fewer resources with sharp mower blades. You can mow faster with sharpened blades and your mower will consume up to 22% less fuel. Lawns will also use up to 30% less water. Sharp mower blades make a clean cut that is less noticeable plus the wound closes quickly, helping you grow a healthy better-looking lawn.
Leave the clippings on the lawn. They add nutrients, moisture, and organic matter to the soil. A season’s worth of clippings equals one fertilizer application so every time you mow you are fertilizing the lawn and improving the soil.
Finish every garden chore with a bit of cleanup. Sweep clippings, plant debris, and fertilizer off walks, drives, and patios, so it won’t wash into the storm sewer. Keeping plant debris out of our waterways is good for us and the environment.

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A ‘glugly’ pooch
As retired Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports columnist Ron Cook put it, “there's no such thing as an ugly dog. Ugly people, for sure. But no ugly dogs.” The proof is an eight-year-old Pekingese dog from North Bend, Oregon, that goes by the name of Wild Thang. The pooch came in first in this year’s World's Ugliest Dog Contest at the 50-year-old Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. Wild Thang is a three-time runner up at the contest. According to his biography, he suffered from distemper and “he survived, but not without permanent damage. His teeth did not grow in, causing his tongue to stay out and his right front leg paddles 24/7." His illness got him the moniker "glugly," a so-called glamorous/ugly pup.

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A calcitrant cat
A cute kitten got itself stuck between the double-tires of a semi-truck on the Ohio Turnpike. It was discovered during a routine inspection. They tried to rescue the kitten but one of its claws was stuck in a tire, according to the Ohio State Patrol. But, as the saying goes,“All's Well That Ends Well.” One of the tires was removed, giving the rescuers easy access and they wasted no time turning over to the Portage Animal Protection League.

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World’s biggest bike
Netherlander Ivan Schalk built a bicycle for more than just two. It’s 180 feet and 11 inches long — big enough to handle a bunch of bikers and to win a page in the Guinness Book of World Records. It actually started out as a bicycle built for two with one biker steering up front and another peddling back in the rear. However, in order to win the Guinness prize, they added more pedals and more team members.

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UAMS House Call

Dr. Bala Simon is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Q: What are the health risks from long-term exposure to sunlight? A: Summer, particularly in Arkansas, provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Sunlight is essential for the body to make Vitamin D, which is vital for bone function and overall health. However, it is important to be wary of how ultraviolet radiation, a form of energy produced by the sun, can affect you. The most common effect that long-term exposure to sunlight has on the body is with the skin. Too much exposure damages skin cells and causes them to malfunction. This can result in cells dividing and replicating too quickly and forming tumors, which may be cancerous. Sunburn is another common condition in which the skin blisters and swells. The eyes are also susceptible to too much sunlight, as ultraviolet radiation easily penetrates eye tissue. Proteins in the lens can be modified by sunlight and can lead to cataracts, which causes blurred or less colorful vision. Age-related macular degeneration, which affects sharp, straight-ahead vision, is another possible result of overexposure. Avoiding direct exposure during peak times (normally between 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) and using sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or more can reduce risk. Sunglasses can provide protection for the eyes. Contact your health care provider if you have questions.

Q: How common is juvenile arthritis? A: Juvenile arthritis (now known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis) is the most common type of arthritis in children younger than age 16. Juvenile arthritis can cause complications such as eye inflammation, growth problems and damage to joints. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 220,000 people in the U.S. are affected by juvenile arthritis. As with other forms of arthritis, juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which abnormal amounts of fluid are formed in the joints, leading to pain and swelling. The specific cause of juvenile arthritis is unknown, although genetics and environmental factors could play a role. Some types of the condition are more common in girls. Juvenile arthritis symptoms include fatigue, fever, rash, stiffness in joints or swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms may come and go, and they may also be confused with other illnesses or injuries. An affected child may have difficulty performing daily activities such as dressing, playing or walking. Treatment normally focuses on increasing joint mobility and strength, reducing swelling, relieving pain and preventing further joint damage. Corticosteroids, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are medications used to treat the condition. Work with a health care provider for a specific treatment plan.

Q: How often should I have my hearing checked? A: Hearing tests are a way for health care providers to determine the status of your hearing. These tests can evaluate how well you can hear or if there is any hearing loss. If there are any issues, a full audiological evaluation may be needed. A National Health Interview Survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that about 40 million American adults experience some sort of hearing loss. Frequency of hearing tests is dependent upon each individual situation. Infants should have a hearing test within six months after birth. People who work in noisy environments may need their hearing checked once a year. Certain occupations may require periodic hearing tests as a condition of employment. Many adults may not require a hearing test until after age 50, which is when age-related hearing loss often begins. Symptoms of hearing problems include issues with balance, dizziness, hissing or ringing in the ears, having to turn up the volume on a radio or television, or being bothered by background noise. Treatments may include hearing aids, cochlear implants or removing earwax. See your health care provider if you experience sudden hearing loss. A referral to an audiologist may be required.

Q: What is involved in allergy testing? A: An allergy is overreaction of the immune system to a foreign substance referred to as an allergen. The allergen could be something eaten, inhaled, injected or touched. Allergies are incredibly common, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that nearly 40% of adults in America have eczema, a food allergy or a seasonal allergy. A health care provider may perform one of several allergy tests to determine the cause of allergy symptoms. A skin prick or scratch test involves pricking the skin with a potential allergy to observe the reaction. A blood test is when an allergen is added to a blood sample to measure the amount of antibodies produced. Someone with a suspected drug or food allergy may be ask to eat or swallow a small amount of a suspected allergen under medical supervision in order to monitor symptoms. Allergy symptoms are specific to each individual. Reactions to allergens in the air may include headaches or watery eyes. Food allergies could result in swelling of the face, lips or tongue. Contact your health care provider if you experience allergic symptoms, particularly if they are persistent, for a diagnosis and development of a treatment plan.

Email your health questions to housecall@uams.edu.

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Medal of Honor: Army Lt. Col. Charles E. Capehart
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Army Lt. Col. Charles E. Capehart took command of his regiment during a crucial moment of the Civil War. Shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, he chased down fleeing Confederate troops, leading to the capture of hundreds of prisoners and supplies. For his effort, he received the Medal of Honor.
Capehart was born in 1833 just outside of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to John and Sophia Capehart. He had an older brother named Henry. When both boys were still young, their mother died, so their father moved the family to Pittsburgh.
By the time the Civil War broke out, Capehart was living in Du Quoin, Illinois, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. He enlisted in the Army's 12th Illinois Volunteer Infantry on April 18, 1861, but he mustered out within a few months due to illness.
Six weeks later, however, he reenlisted, serving as an adjutant for the 31st Illinois Infantry. He remained in that role until May 16, 1862, when he was commissioned as a captain and assigned to the 1st Virginia Cavalry — a regiment that eventually changed its name to the 1st West Virginia Cavalry when West Virginia became a state in June of 1863. Capehart's brother, Henry, also served in the unit as a regimental surgeon.
Less than a month before the Battle of Gettysburg began, Capehart was promoted to major. On the third and final day of that campaign, he helped lead a charge against firmly entrenched Confederate troops. His regiment suffered severe casualties, including the death of their brigade commander, Army Gen. Elon Farnsworth. A colonel in command of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry took Farnsworth's place, so Capehart moved in to command the regiment.
By July 4, 1863, the Confederates had lost the Battle of Gettysburg and had begun to retreat via two paths toward the southwest, heading for Virginia.
According to historians, a civilian who saw the Southerners moving through one of those routes, an area known as Monterey Pass, tipped Union troops off to their movements. The Union Army sent about 5,000 cavalry soldiers to intercept the long train of wagons and troops retreating through the mountain pass. Capehart's regiment was one of those units.
When some of the cavalry troops reached the mountain at night and began climbing it, a Confederate cannon fired at them, causing confusion and chaos among the soldiers. A fierce battle ensued and was worsened by a raging thunderstorm with driving rain and lightning.
Capehart and his regiment arrived at the peak of the chaos, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Both sides were trying to gain control of the high ground through the darkness, only catching glimpses of light when lightning struck or when flashes from the muzzles of their guns or cannon fire went off.
"The rainstorm had blotted out any light from the moon, and smoke from the battle made it nearly impossible to see," a Congressional Medal of Honor Society historian wrote in a 2022 blog. "Fearing his men could be shot by either side in the darkness, or even by their own comrades, Capehart ordered his troopers to draw their sabers so they would be able to identify each other."
He then ordered his troops to charge, running down the mountainside at midnight during heavy rain toward the enemy's fleeing wagon train. Historians said the charge took the Confederates by surprise. Many of them began to retreat, allowing Capehart's men to gain ground.
"By the time the fighting ended, Capehart and his men had captured or destroyed 300 wagons, 15 ambulances and captured 1300 prisoners, 200 of them commissioned officers, as well as a large number of horses and mules," the Congressional Medal of Honor Society blog said.
According to Army Corps of Engineers research, the Confederates suffered 1,300 casualties during the skirmish and lost nine miles of wagons from its 50-mile-long wagon train. The Union suffered fewer than 100 casualties.
Capehart was promoted to lieutenant colonel on Aug 1, 1864. By the time the war ended, and he mustered out of the Army, Capehart had taken part in more than 100 battles, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society said.
Capehart received the Medal of Honor more than two decades later. He was bestowed the nation's highest award for valor on April 7, 1898 — three years after his brother received the same medal for saving the life of a drowning soldier in 1864.
Throughout the Medal of Honor's existence, the Capeharts are one of only seven sets of brothers to have received it.
Charles Capehart married a woman named Louise in 1901, according to various newspapers of the time. They had two sons and two daughters, according to his obituary in The Washington Herald.
Capehart died on July 11, 1911, in Washington, D.C.; he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
On the land where Capehart's Medal of Honor actions took place, Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum now preserves the history of the battle through maps and artifacts.


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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Grieving Husband Asks About His Survivor Benefits
Dear Rusty: My wife died May 4, 2024. I notified Social Security, and they have removed the direct deposit made to my joint checking account on May 8, 2024. What are my options now for obtaining any benefits from my wife's Social Security account? Signed: Grieving Husband
Dear Grieving Husband: Please accept our sincere condolences for the loss of your wife. Rest assured that we’re here to assist with any Social Security questions you may have at this difficult time.
FYI, a person must live the entire month to be eligible for SS benefits for that month (Social Security benefits aren’t paid for the month a person dies). For this reason, and as a matter of standard protocol, Social Security instructed the bank to return any payments received for your wife after her death. This is often referred to as the “claw back” rule.
In some circumstances, however, Social Security “claws back” money which rightfully belongs to the deceased, as they did in this case. Your wife’s Social Security payment received on May 8th was her payment for the month of April, and she was fully entitled to that payment because she lived for the entire month of April. I suggest that you download, fill out, and submit Form SSA-1724 to your local Social Security office to recover that May 8th payment, which rightfully belongs to your wife’s estate. Note that the bank will automatically return any future SS payments received for your wife.
As your wife’s surviving spouse, you are also entitled to a one-time lump sum “death benefit” of $255, which you can request by calling your local SS field office (get the number at www.ssa.gov/locator), or by calling 1.800.772.1213. During that call you can also explore whether you are entitled to any additional SS benefit as a surviving spouse.
If your wife’s monthly SS retirement benefit was more than your current monthly SS benefit, you will be entitled to receive her higher monthly amount instead of your own smaller amount (FYI, if you haven’t yet reached your own full retirement age your survivor benefit will be reduced). And if you are not yet collecting your own SS benefit, you have the option to claim your survivor benefit from your wife first while allowing your personal SS retirement benefit to continue to grow, up to maximum at age 70 if you like.
Just be aware that if you haven’t yet reached your full retirement age (FRA) and you are still working, any SS benefit you take before your FRA will be subject to Social Security’s “earnings test” which limits how much can be earned before they take away some of your SS benefits. The 2024 annual earnings limit is $22,320 (changes annually) for those who claim prior to the year they attain full retirement age, and SS will take away $1 of benefits for every $2 over the annual limit. The “earnings test” no longer applies after you reach your full retirement age.

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Managing weeds in the garden
By MELINDA MYERS

No matter the weather, weeds seem to thrive and reproduce, and if left unchecked, they can overwhelm the garden and gardener. These unwanted plants find their way into your garden as seeds, roots, rhizomes, or whole plants. Seeds can be carried in by the wind, birds, and other animals, or on the soles of shoes. Roots, rhizomes, and even plants hitch a ride in the soil or with plants that we move into the garden.
Start early managing weeds in your garden. Smaller weeds are easier to pull and removing them before they flower and form seeds can prevent hundreds of weeds in next year’s landscape.
This is not always possible. Weather and busy schedules often limit gardening time, allowing these vigorous plants to overtake the garden.
It is never too late and worth investing time in managing weeds in the garden. Weeds are adaptable and vigorous, outcompeting your desirable plants for water and nutrients. Many serve as host plants for insect pests and diseases that may also attack your garden plants.
Carefully dig or pull weeds, removing the top and roots. Established weeds may have a deep tap root or extensive root system that may be difficult to remove. Depending on the weed, any part left behind has the potential to start a new plant.
Find the tool that best works for you. A Dutch or action hoe works well on small weeds where there is space between plants. Glide the cutting edge just below the soil surface to cut the roots. Many gardeners find a weed knife to be a useful tool. It allows you to dig right next to the weed and pop it out of the ground with minimal impact on surrounding plants.
If bending is an issue, you may opt for one of the standup weeders. There are several types available. Most have tines you insert into the soil surrounding the weed. A hand or foot-operated action causes the tines to tighten around the weed roots before you lever it out of the ground.
Perennial weeds are a bit more challenging. Many have extensive roots that are nearly impossible to remove entirely. Repeatedly digging up the plants can eventually manage these weeds, but it can take years. Cutting the plants back to the ground as soon as they appear can help “starve” them, prevent reseeding, and help contain and even eliminate some perennial weeds.
If the weeds begin to take over the garden, tackle those flowering or setting seeds first. Do not compost these or perennial weeds. Most compost piles don’t get hot enough to kill the seeds or perennial weeds. Contact your local municipality to find out your options for disposing of these as well as perennial and invasive weeds.
Once the weeds are out of the garden, spread a layer of organic mulch over the soil surface. The finer the mulch, the thinner the layer needed. Pull the mulch away from tree trunks, shrub stems, and the crowns of your other plants.
Mulching helps suppress weeds by reducing seed sprouting and making it easier to pull the seedlings that get through the mulch. Increase your success by placing a couple of sheets of newspaper or a piece of cardboard beneath the mulch. Mulching won’t stop existing perennial weeds like quackgrass and bindweed. Keep managing these until all the roots have been removed.
Shredded leaves, evergreen needles, and other organic mulch also conserve moisture, moderate soil temperatures, and add organic matter to the soil as it breaks down. Mulch also helps protect the soil from compaction and erosion during heavy rains. As many places experience more intense rainfall and higher-than-normal summer heat, mulching the soil becomes even more beneficial.
Consider the benefits when you head out to tackle the weeds in your garden. You will improve the health and beauty of your garden while burning between 200 and 400 calories every hour you weed.


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Here we go again
Talk about your unexplained mysteries, this one is happening in real life – yet again – and it’s eerier than the movie with the title “Monolith.” The film is about a conspiracy theory; it has a beginning, a middle and an end. No one seems to have an “ending” or an explanation for the re-appearance recently of a mysterious monolith that suddenly showed up a few miles north of Las Vegas. Back in 2020 a similarly baffling structure suddenly appeared, first in Utah and then in Romania, California, New Mexico and in downtown Las Vegas.

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Better late than never
Virginia "Ginger" Hislop got her bachelor's degree at the Stanford University School of Education but put off her graduate degree in order to get married. That was 83 years ago, in 1940 when her newly-wed husband, George Hislop, went off to World War II. As she put it, "I thought it was one of the things I could pick up along the way if I needed it and I always enjoyed studying, so that wasn't really a great concern to me -- and getting married was." Alas, the 105 year old Ginger recently received her master's degree at the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

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A good buy
Anna Lee Dozier liked the vase she saw at a Maryland thrift store and couldn’t resist buying it. It was a no-brainer as the vase was on sale for just $3.99. In an interview on WUSA-TV she said, "it looked old-ish, but I thought maybe 20, 30 years old and some kind of tourist reproduction thing so I brought it home." As it turned out, the Mexican vase dates back some 2,000 years and is likely to be worth for more than $100,000.

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Medal of Honor: Army Pfc. Emory L. Bennett
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

When Army Pfc. Emory Lawrence Bennett's company was ordered to retreat from a lopsided battle in Korea, he volunteered to slow the enemy's charge so his fellow soldiers could escape. Bennett lost his life doing so, but he saved countless others. For his sacrifice, he was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor.
Bennett was born Dec. 20, 1929, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, to Sterling and Stella Bennett. He had three older brothers, all of whom served in and survived World War II.
When Bennett was 6, his family moved to Merritt Island before settling a year later in Cocoa, Florida, where Bennett spent the rest of his childhood. His parents ran Bennett Fish Market, and he and his brothers often helped catch fish to sell from the Indian River. The family also enjoyed duck hunting, and Bennett was known to be a good shot.
Bennett graduated from Cocoa High School in 1948. According to a 2001 Florida Today article, he attended business college in Jacksonville before enlisting in the Army on July 25, 1950, about a month after Korean War hostilities broke out.
Bennett went to basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, before receiving additional training as an engineer. However, he was transferred to the infantry as the conflict in Korea grew and more U.S. troops were needed. In February 1951, Bennett was sent to Korea and placed with Company B of the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.
On June 23, 1951, Bennett's company attacked a hill near Sobangsan and captured it from Chinese troops. They managed to hold it overnight and part of the next day. Bennett was wounded in the skirmish but refused to be evacuated, his family told the St. Lucie News Tribune in 1990.
The next day, at about 2 a.m., two enemy battalions — about 1,500 men — swarmed up the ridgeline in a ferocious human wave, known as a banzai charge, to take back the hill, Bennett's Medal of Honor citation said. The enemy also attacked with heavy artillery, mortar and weapons fire.
Bennett's company, made up of about 200 soldiers, was completely overwhelmed, but they retaliated with bravery, causing as much destruction as possible. The enemy pressed forward, however, threatening an imminent collapse of the U.S. defensive perimeter.
Fully aware of the odds against him, Bennett unhesitatingly left his foxhole and moved through the withering fire to stand within full view of the enemy. According to his Medal of Honor citation, he used his automatic rifle to pour crippling fire into the ranks of the onrushing enemy combatants, killing many and wounding several others. Although injured himself, Bennett kept up his one-man defense until the attack was briefly halted.
In that lull, Bennett's company tried to regroup for a counterattack, but there were too many enemy soldiers who soon infiltrated the position. Company B was ordered to fall back.
When the call came for volunteers to provide cover fire for the men as they retreated, Bennett stepped up. As his comrades fled, he continued to rain fire down on the enemy until he was mortally wounded. Soldiers who survived the ordeal later reported about 50 enemy soldiers piled up around Bennett when they last saw him.
Bennett's self-sacrifice saved many lives. His courage and devotion were recognized on Jan. 16, 1952, when his father received the Medal of Honor on his behalf during a Pentagon ceremony. Nine other fallen soldiers were also awarded the nation's highest honor for valor that day.
Bennett's remains were returned to the U.S. in November 1951; he was buried in Pine Crest Cemetery in Cocoa.
Bennett's home state has not forgotten him. In 1993, a veterans' nursing home in Daytona Beach, Florida, was built and named in his honor. A monument to the young soldier was erected in Riverside Park in Cocoa, and the Bennett Causeway in Brevard County was also named for him. On Merritt Island, a wing at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center is dedicated in his honor.


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By the numbers: 5 crucial tips every dentist needs to know to grow their practice and stand out

Dr. Tyler Hales, a cosmetic dentistry specialist, has grown a successful practice that celebrities turn to

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. – Those who will soon be graduating from dental school or recently graduated often have one thing in mind. They want to have their own dental practice someday. Some businesses come and go, and those who wish to have a successful practice need to know a few crucial tips to help them grow their practice and stand out in a crowd.
"There are dentist offices everywhere, so you have to do something to set yourself apart," explains Dr. Tyler Hales, a celebrity cosmetic dentist who founded Hales Aesthetic in Orange County, Calif. "It's not enough to just want your practice. You must dive deeply into what it takes to have a successful practice.”
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the two-year survival rate for a new business is around 68%, and the five-year survival rate is around 50%. The things people do before opening their doors and throughout the journey will help determine whether or not they will be one of the businesses that thrive or simply take a dive.
First, people need to go into opening a business knowing that they need patience. Most business experts estimate that a company takes around three years to start seeing a profit. Many people who go into opening a business without considering this may need help to make ends meet and feel they can't hold on to make it to the three-year mark. Being prepared with this in mind will help set the stage for success.
The American Dental Association reports that the average dentist in the U.S. has a career span of around 42 years. Today, dentists work an average of four more years than they did in 2001. With decades ahead of newly graduated dentists, it is a good idea to ensure that they enjoy their years in the field and that those who have their own practice are successful.
Here are 5 additional crucial tips from celebrity cosmetic dentist Dr. Tyler Hales that will grow your brand and dental practice, as well as make it stand out:
Pick a niche. There are nearly 182,000 dentists in the country, so people have many choices of where they want to go. It is essential to give them a reason to choose your office. Pick a niche and commit to being the best in the industry. For example, Dr. Hales specializes in veneers, and his commitment to being the best at them has given him great success. People seek him out nationwide to have him do their veneers.
Choose a style. Pick a style that speaks to you and brings out your personality. Forget cookie-cutter business model prototypes. Make a deliberate decision about the style your practice will offer. For example, there are dentists known as the singing dentist, the bow-tie dentist, the superhero dentist, etc. This will help you stand out in a crowd.
Make a three-year plan. Having a three-year plan when you open your practice will help give you a map of where to go and what to do. You won't have to figure out everything as you go along. According to the SBA, a good business plan should include things like your company's name, mission statement, products and services offered, team members, market analysis, marketing and sales goals, funding requests, and financial projections.
Ask for help. Getting help if there are issues you are a good idea need clarification on. You can seek a mentor, such as Dr. Hales who has been in the business for years, or join a local business group to network. For some people, this may be the one difference in the business. Forget the idea that you must figure it out all on your own.
Be willing to adapt. Things change, and this goes for your ideas in your three-year plan. That's okay, but you have to be willing to adapt to changes in the market, economy, and even your vision. Having a destination in mind doesn't have to be set in stone. Being flexible and willing to see where things take you, being willing to go with the flow, is going to help increase the business's longevity.
"Many dentists have had successful practices for decades," adds Hales. "You can have one of those businesses, too. It comes down to knowing how to build your brand, and being armed with the insider tips to help you navigate the waters. Please reach out to me if you’re looking for a mentor. "
Signs of summer are already here, and temperatures are starting to climb. After experiencing record breaking heat indexes in 2023, Entergy Arkansas is providing tips on how to prepare your home for the high-heat and manage your bill this summer with our newly launched Bill Toolkit site.
Heating and cooling costs make up more than 55% of an average customer’s electric bill. This means that it is important to take steps to conserve energy to lower your electric bills when temperatures start to rise.
Entergy’s Bill Toolkit site helps customers find ways to manage energy usage and save money through energy efficiency programs including Entergy Arkansas’ Entergy Solutions. Examples of products and services, available at little to no cost, include AC tune-ups, LED bulbs, smart thermostats, duct sealing and insulation. An A/C tune-up is a great way to evaluate your equipment's energy performance and make necessary adjustments to ensure that your system is running as efficiently as possible. A/C tune-ups provide a comprehensive diagnostic check of your system to ensure that it's running smoothly and identify any potential issues. An energy-efficient A/C unit can keep you and your family cool and comfortable even during the hottest summer days.
Customers can schedule an A/C tune-up today by contacting one of our trade allies, visit entergytradeally.com to learn more. Tune-ups are available to qualifying Entergy Arkansas customers at no additional cost. To learn more about our other energy-saving programs, visit the Entergy Solutions website at entergysolutionsar.com.
Additionally, this program offers home assessments that yield energy efficiency recommendations. A Home Performance Assessment with ENERGY STAR reduces the up-front cost of installing energy efficiency upgrades.
Low to no-cost energy efficiency tips
Customers also can save money with these quick and easy energy efficiency tips:
Change air filters. Air filters on some air conditioning units require monthly cleaning or replacing.
Set your thermostat to the highest comfortable temperature. The smaller the difference between the inside and outside temperatures, the lower your energy usage and bill will be.
Buy a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can help manage costs, is controllable, and can help monitor usage.
Use fans to cool off. Ceiling fans, box fans and oscillating fans use very little electricity to circulate the air. Make sure ceiling fans are rotating in the right direction – counter-clockwise during summer – to push cooler air down into the room. Be sure to turn all fans off in unused rooms.
Close blinds, shades and curtains to keep the sun out and the cool air in. Also, close air conditioning vents in rooms that are not in use.
Seal cracks and holes around doors, windows and ductwork. Weather stripping and caulk will help keep the cold air in and the hot air out.
Use the myAdvisor tool on myentergy.com. The usage and cost tool can compare usage history by month, day and hour.

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$3.7 million to UAMS to continue groundbreaking research into high blood pressure

LITTLE ROCK — In a major boost to cardiovascular research, the National Institutes of Health has awarded an additional $3.7 million to Shengyu Mu, Ph.D., and his team of researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to continue their groundbreaking study on the role of immune cells in hypertension.
Mu, an associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, was awarded an initial $1.89 million grant in 2019 to fund his laboratory’s exploration of the link between immune cells and hypertension, a widespread and serious health condition.
During that time, the team made substantial discoveries indicating that immune disorders contribute to high blood pressure, paving the way for the next phase of research.
The five-year grant renewal began with a $685,749 payment in April and is expected to fund a comprehensive series of experiments and advanced analyses over the next five years.
“We are thrilled to receive this continued support from the NIH,” said Mu, a leading expert in hypertension. “Our initial research has provided strong evidence that immune cells play a key role in the development and progression of hypertension. This new funding will allow us to delve even deeper, aiming to identify new therapeutic targets and develop novel strategies to manage hypertension.”
His team includes researchers Yunmeng Liu, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology; Lin-Xi-Li, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Lu Huang, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; John Imig, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy; and key lab members Katherine Deck, Tonya Rafferty and Christoph Mora.
“Together, they will leverage their diverse expertise and state-of-the-art technology and methods to further investigate this important area of research,” Mu said.
He said the ongoing research has the potential to advance scientific knowledge and translate insights into clinical practice.
“By unraveling the influence of immune cells on hypertension, it could pave the way for new interventions designed to modulate the immune response, potentially offering more effective and personalized treatments for patients,” Mu said.
The NIH’s support underscores the importance of the research in addressing a critical public health crisis, Mu said.
“Hypertension remains a leading cause of illness and death worldwide,” Mu said. “Innovative research like that being done at UAMS is crucial for developing new ways to prevent and treat it.”
He hopes that the research findings will help reduce the burden of hypertension and improve cardiovascular health globally.
This research is supported by the National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01HL146713. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Epidemic of declining mental health begins in infancy

By SHANNAH HENDERSON

With the deluge of new information about trauma, the nervous system, and secure attachment, many of us are deeply engaged in mental health awareness. We are reevaluating ourselves and our histories and exploring how our experiences have contributed to our issues with anxiety, depression, and addiction. We are discovering new talk therapies, psychedelic assisted therapies, somatic therapies, and emotionally focused tools for healing. We are becoming aware of intergenerational trauma, how we carry our ancestors’ emotional wounds and pass them on to future generations. We’re reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, The Myth of Normal Gabor Mate, What Happened to You by Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey, and we’re doing the work.
In this process, many of us discover that our trauma is developmental trauma, or little t trauma – wounds that comes from the way we were cared for as babies, from conception to age three. It comes from our earliest relationships, the interactions we had with our parents and caregivers before we could speak or even remember. If this early experience was predominately not nurturing, our brains are at significant risk to develop to be reactive to stress and vulnerable to lifelong mental health struggles(1) -- and in this part of the world, it is likely that you were not well nurtured as an infant, even if your parents loved you and did everything “right.” That’s because our culture has praised and encouraged what I call “low nurture” parenting for generations, at least since the Industrial Revolution. These include “teaching” independence, sleep training, lack of shared sleep, dismissing stress, dismissing emotions, lack of physical closeness, lack of close feeding, lack of presence, lack of respect, and overuse of baby containers like swaddles, swings, walkers, saucers, jumpers, and floor seats.
In my own therapy, I thought my mental health issues came from later childhood, but the work I did showed me that many of my issues had already formed by age 4. This is consistent with what we know about mental health, it begins at the beginning of life. Infant mental health is lifelong mental health.
Neuroscience research mirrors these realizations. Over the past 30 years or so, leading neuroscience groups led by principal investigators including Michael Meaney, Frances Champagne, Nim Tottenham, Megan Gunnar, Regina Sullivan, Tallie Baram, Ed Tronick, Beatrice Beebe and Ruth Feldman have uncovered the importance of infant experience for lifelong mental health. Conception to age three is a sensitive period of brain development where the emotional brain is formed – including our stress systems, our neurotransmitter systems, and our gut health. These all play a fundamental role in shaping our mental health for life. (1)
Neuroscience knows this. Experts on the nervous system know this. Therapists know this. Doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, occupational therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, and physical therapists know this. Leading neuroscience research show us exactly what the infant brain needs form 0-3 years to thrive. There is a community of us talking about this; professionals that work with families to grow a foundation of mental wellness in infancy. Countless parents coming up with creative ways to build mental health for their babies. They understand that they don’t have to pass on intergenerational trauma and actually they can create new intergenerational wellness to give to their babies and future generations. They can also heal their own infancies by nurturing their babies. In my part of the world, I call it The Nurture Revolution.
Yet this knowledge remains hidden from most parents. Preventing the wounds from infancy has not yet become part of our public discourse on parenting. In fact, the opposite is true: anyone speaking out against low nurturing practices like sleep training, excessive swaddling, or understanding a baby’s emotions and communication, are routinely lambasted as not supporting sleep-deprived, overwhelmed parents. I talk to mental health professionals who know what the research says, but they tell me they shy away from taking a stand on infant mental health because it’s too controversial – it might make working moms feel guilty, parents who sleep train their babies feel criticized, or parents who did not have nurturing infancies themselves feel triggered and overwhelmed. I get it. The relationship between babies and their parents is very tender, and the stakes are big. And there is a near total lack of social support for parents and babies. At the same time, science shows us that any amount of nurture is beneficial for the developing brain and the approach can be highly individualized.
Well, we are at a very interesting place in history right now. Many of us are reimaging our lives. We’re looking at the way things have been and we’re dreaming of better ways. We’re hoping to do better for our children’s health and the future health of the planet. So many of us are returning to nurture to create a new world for our babies. Nurture for babies and parents is a return home to self. We’ve been raised to be humans doing, not humans being. We’ve been led away from ourselves and our internal worlds and meaningful relationships. And so many of us are noticing this is not the life we want.
What if in creating a new future, we start to see infancy as a special season of life, where we can give babies and parents support to grow mental health for one another? What if we invest in infant brain development, despite how much our society wants us to see their needs for closeness and care as inconvenient and unimportant, so that these babies grow up able to think and create freely, without anxiety, fear, and aggression? What if doing so is one of the best ways we can help build a society in which nurture is supported, easy, and the norm?
Infancy is the most important place to make a difference in the future of mental health. Currently the way we treat babies influences the development of anxiety, depression, addiction, impulsivity, selfishness, self-centeredness and greed. Nurture grows regulated brains that are healthy, curious, flexible, empathetic and compassionate. I’d say it’s exactly what the world needs.

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Planning can ease concerns about what happens to wind turbines at the end of their lifespan

LYONS, NEBRASKA – Advances in technology and lower installation costs continue to contribute to the growth of wind electricity generation in the U.S., especially in rural areas.
According to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the cost of installing wind turbines has fallen more than 40% since its peak in 2010. In 2022, wind energy provided 10% of total electricity nationwide. In Iowa, more than 60% of power comes from wind energy systems. Wind energy generates more than 40% of the power in South Dakota, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
“Wind energy development continues to bring numerous benefits to nearby communities, such as increased tax revenue, new job opportunities, and lease payments to landowners,” said Cora Hoffer, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “Wind energy also provides a low-cost, reliable energy source for residents and businesses and makes a positive economic contribution by offsetting energy costs.”
However, Hoffer said the increase in development raises questions about what happens to wind turbines when they reach the end of their operational lifespan.
The Center's new “Decommissioning Wind Energy Systems Resource Guide,” written by Hoffer, outlines several management options to assist county officials, wind developers, and project owners working with the public and local government on a wind project.
Hoffer said there are several ways to address wind energy systems that have reached their operational lifespan, which is estimated between 25 and 40 years, and those no longer in active operation.
“Owners and developers may choose to fully decommission the project—which includes repurposing material, recycling, and disposing of wind turbines—or repowering the system to extend its life,” Hoffer said. “While relatively few systems are decommissioned each year, state and county governing bodies should set decommissioning standards during the planning process. Landowners and developers may consider establishing additional requirements.”

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By the numbers:
Top 3 benefits of homebuyer education courses

National nonprofit credit and housing counseling agency Take Charge America shows how on-demand courses educate, reduce mortgage costs and more for first-time homebuyers

PHOENIX – Homebuyer education courses can set first-time homebuyers up for success by teaching them how to save for a down payment, shop for lenders, maintain a home and provide all-around valuable information about the homebuying process. Yet the benefits don’t stop at education alone – such courses play a key role in reducing mortgage costs.
“For first-time homebuyers, the sheer amount of information in front of them can be overwhelming and confusing,” said Amy Robbins, associate director of operations with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit and housing counseling agency. “Homebuyer education courses not only provide clarity on what to expect, but they provide financial benefits and set participants up for success long into the future.”
Robbins outlines three major benefits of homebuyer education courses:
Education about the homebuying process: Many people may not realize how comprehensive homebuyer education programs can be. Attendees learn how to save money for a down payment, choose a lender, budget appropriately, understand loan types, prepare for different inspections and much more. It’s a complete, end-to-end training of the homebuying process.
Down-payment assistance: There are four types of down-payment assistance programs: grants, loans, deferred loans and forgivable loans. Such programs help make the cost of homeownership more affordable by offering first-time homebuyers financial assistance with their down payments, reduced interest rates or assistance with closing costs. In order to qualify for these programs, select lenders require a certification of completion from a homebuyer education course. The Mortgage Reports website provides a directory of programs, most of which are specific to the state of residence.
Homebuyer schedule-friendly: There are two ways to take a homebuyer education course: on-demand through an online portal, or locally with a realtor or lender that offers the certification. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides an online search feature to find a region-specific list of nationally approved homeowner programs.

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Reeling in the bucks
A pair of New York anglers, James Kane and Barbi Agostini, don’t use hooks when they go trolling; they use magnets in hopes of reeling-in valuable items made of iron. For example, they recently landed an old safe containing an estimated $100,000 in cash. The Treasury Department told them that quite a bit of the hundred dollar bills they landed were damaged beyond recognition but they can probably replace the rest with between $50,000-$70,000 worth of the “recoverable” bills with brand-new cool cash.

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The winning dog
Kevin is one big dog, so big that he’s been recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest dog. The Great Dane lives in Des Moines, Iowa and is 3 feet and 2 inches tall. As his owner, Tracy Wolfe, described him, "Kevin is the epitome of a gentle giant. In fact, he is scared of most things. He is terrified of the vacuum. He won't let it come within 6 feet of him! He will jump and run to get away from it."

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The ‘sky high’ bike
Nicolas Barrioz and David Peyrou were having a drink in a pub in France when they got the idea of building the world’s tallest bicycle. And so, they got busy building the bike – a bike that measures 25 feet, 5 inches high, big enough to get the attention of the Guinness World Record judges who, indeed, declared it to be the world's tallest rideable bicycle. Barrioz was move. As he told the folks at Guinness, “this experience has completely transformed my worldview. Before this, I really needed self-confidence; I was shy and had a negative self-opinion. Now I feel unstoppable; I think I can repair, build or design anything."

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Jimmie Howard

By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Not a lot of people have the skill and demeanor to keep their counterparts focused during an overwhelming battle. However, Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Jimmie Earl Howard was a natural leader and managed to keep the majority of his platoon alive during a lopsided hours-long firefight in Vietnam. His courage and leadership earned him the Medal of Honor.
Howard was born on July 27, 1929, in Burlington, Iowa, to Raymond and Edythe Howard. He had two brothers and a sister and enjoyed playing football while growing up, doing well enough at the sport to earn a spot on The Des Moines Register newspaper's All-State team in 1948.
After graduating from Burlington High School in 1949, Howard studied for a year at the University of Iowa before deciding to take his life in a different direction. In July 1950, he joined the Marine Corps, graduating from recruit training the following January.
Howard spent a year in San Diego as a drill instructor before completing advanced infantry training in February 1952. He was then ordered to Korea, where he served as a forward observer with the 1st Marine Division. During his deployment, he was wounded three times and earned the Silver Star.
He returned to U.S. soil in April 1953, then spent the next decade of his life serving in various capacities in the San Diego area. At some point, Howard married a woman named Theresa. They went on to have five daughters and a son.
By January 1965, Howard was a staff sergeant working as an instructor for a counterguerrilla warfare course, just as U.S. involvement in Vietnam was escalating. In April 1966, the 37-year-old was sent to the southeast Asian nation to be a platoon leader with Company C of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.
On June 13, 1966, Howard's 18-man platoon was deep into enemy-controlled territory near Chu Lai, Vietnam, searching for enemy troops to call air and artillery strikes on from the top of Hill 488, which later became known as Howard's Hill. It was about 1,500 feet and dominated the terrain for miles, historians said.
There was no place to hide on Hill 488, and the enemy knew it. However, Howard's platoon still spent two days on the hill carrying out their mission without being bothered.
Shortly before midnight on June 16, that changed. A battalion-sized Vietcong force launched a vicious attack on Howard's platoon using small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire.
Their chances of survival didn't look good, but Howard jumped into action anyway, determined to defend his men, most of whom were only about 18 years old. He quickly organized the platoon into a tight perimeter defense and calmly moved from position to position to direct the fire of his young Marines. They continued to hold their ground for hours overnight during wave after wave of assaults.
According to Howard's Medal of Honor citation, his courage and firm leadership inspired and motivated the men around him to continuously repel the furious fire, despite how seemingly hopeless the situation was. At one point, when they ran out of grenades, Howard encouraged the Marines to throw rocks at the enemy, exhibiting imagination and resourcefulness in their defense.
At another point, the fragments of an exploding enemy grenade lodge into Howard's back, wounding him severely and keeping him from moving his legs. However, he refused to be given morphine, historians said, because he knew its effects would make him drowsy and therefore ineffective.
Instead, Howard dragged himself along the defensive perimeter to distribute his ammunition to the rest of his men, all while maintaining radio contact to direct air strikes on the enemy with uncanny accuracy.
By the time dawn came around, five Marines had died and everyone else was wounded — but Howard's platoon still held Hill 488.
When evacuation helicopters made it to the area, Howard initially warned them away. He wanted to make the landing zone as secure as possible, so he first called for more air strikes, which he directed along with his platoon's own fire onto enemy positions. Only afterward did they finally evacuate.
Howard's leadership and bravery were key to preventing his entire platoon from being killed. Despite the casualties they did suffer, his men still managed to eliminate about 200 combatants during the 12-hour fight.
Howard was transferred back to the U.S. and assigned to a training unit in San Diego. On Aug. 21, 1967, shortly after being promoted to gunnery sergeant, he received the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson during a ceremony at the White House. His wife and six children were able to attend, as were his mother and stepfather.
Howard remained in the Marine Corps for another decade before retiring in 1977. He and his family decided to remain in San Diego, where he went to work as a civilian for the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also volunteered to coach various youth sports in the community, including as an assistant coach for the Point Loma High School football team.
Howard died in his home on Nov. 12, 1993. He is buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
In his honor, the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS Howard was commissioned in October 2001. The ship currently serves in the U.S. 7th Fleet in the Indo-Pacific region.

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Grow some pain relief in gardens and containers

By MELINDA MYERS

Ease your way through the busy summer season with the help of some pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory garden produce. Add them to your garden or containers or purchase the produce at your local farmer’s market.
Refresh and rejuvenate yourself with a cup of mint-infused tea or ice water. Mint also helps relieve headaches and general aches and pain. Contain this vigorous perennial herb by growing it in a container to prevent it from overtaking your garden beds. Take advantage of these benefits year-round by starting a few plants at the end of the growing season. Root a few cuttings to plant and grow in a sunny window.
Add sage tea to your list of favorite brews. Just harvest a few leaves, add hot water, and brew a bit of sore throat relief. Sage tea has long been used to soothe scratchy and irritated throats and showed positive results in a 2006 clinical trial. Grow this herb in the garden or a container. It thrives in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Harvest leaves as needed throughout the season. Regular harvesting encourages more growth for future harvests. Harvest as much as one-third of the plant, to preserve and enjoy the benefits year-round.
You may have used a topical pain relief cream that contained capsaicin. This is the spicy element in chili, jalapeno, habanero, and cayenne peppers and is a natural pain-fighting tool often used to help treat backaches, arthritis, and muscle pain. Hot peppers are ready to harvest when they are fully colored. Ask friends to share their harvest or purchase hot peppers at a farmer’s market if your garden lacks this plant.
Grow and use ginger to help reduce inflammation and combat migraines, muscle pain, arthritis and post-workout or post-gardening soreness. Plus, it helps fight nausea so common during a summer filled with barbeques and celebrations. Grow it in a pot outdoors or sunny window alongside your other indoor plants. Ginger is a tropical plant, but you can find plants or rhizomes, the part you eat, at many garden centers or online plant retailers. Or try rooting the rhizomes you purchase at the grocery store to start new plants.
Sour cherries are credited with managing muscle pain and inflammation. They are loaded with disease-fighting chemicals and antioxidants and help fight inflammation and relieve pain. Growing a cherry tree may not be practical or possible but purchase plenty when they are in season. Juice, dry, and preserve them to enjoy their health benefits all year. If space allows, consider planting a sour cherry tree in your backyard. Sour cherries do need a cold period with air temperatures between 34 and 45 degrees to initiate flowering for fruit development. Consult your local extension service for help selecting the best variety for your region. It takes several years for cherry plants to start producing fruit, but watching your tree grow into maturity and bear its first crop is part of the joy of gardening. Just be sure to protect the harvest from hungry birds.
When growing these you’ll soon discover it’s not just the plants that provide relief. Just the simple act of tending your garden and harvesting can elevate your mood, lower your blood pressure, and start you on the road to feeling better.

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S-s-snake
You can expect to run into a snake or two while wandering in a forest, a swamp or a desert. Perhaps the last place you might expect running into a serpent-on-the-loose is amid the hustle and bustle of the streets of New York where the city’s “finest” found themselves looking for a runaway boa constrictor on the loose recently. The NYPD round up the runaway snake in the upper West Side and turned it over to the Animal Care Centers of NYC.

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Coprolites galore
George Frandsen was cited recently by the judges of the Guinness Book of World Records for amassing the largest collection of primordial poop, better known scientifically as fossilized feces. Over the years, Frandsen has collected 8,000 pieces of historic dung, according to the Guinness judges. As he put it, “several years ago, I noticed a glaring absence of coprolite representation in mainstream sources and museum exhibits." That prompted him to create what he bills as his Poozeum -- "the world's premier dinosaur poop museum and gift shop."

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It’s not a UFO
It’s rare but "hole punch clouds" are real. It happens when an aircraft passes through a cloud and “the air around its wings and body expands and cools,” according to The National Weather Service. The NWS calls it a “fallstreak hole” and noted that it apparently occurred recently over Vermont and New York's Champlain Valley. It’s a phenomenon that can leave behind it cloud formations that used to be blamed for UFO sightings.

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Medal of Honor: Navy Capt. Richard M. McCool Jr.
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
When Japanese suicide aircraft attacked U.S. Navy ships late in World War II, Navy Capt. Richard Miles McCool Jr. calmly worked to save several sailors and keep his ship from exploding. Ironically, McCool remembered very little of the ordeal; however, first-hand accounts from others of his leadership under fire earned him the Medal of Honor.
McCool was born on Jan. 4, 1922, in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, to Betty and Richard McCool Sr. He was one of four children and the only boy in the family. His father was the president of Murray College (now Murray State College), which may explain why, in a Veterans History Project Library of Congress interview in the early 2000s, McCool said his parents were "what you'd call education freaks" who started him in school at age 4.
When McCool's father became the state's Democratic chairman in 1930, the family moved to Norman, Oklahoma. McCool did well at academics and even skipped a grade, allowing him to graduate high school at the age of 15. By the time he turned 19, he'd earned a political science degree from the University of Oklahoma.
McCool said he considered joining the foreign service after college, but he wasn't old enough to do so. Within a few months, however, the Pearl Harbor bombings happened, launching the U.S. into World War II. McCool instead was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy to continue his education and prepare for war.
McCool said he wanted to become an aviator, but his eyesight wasn't up to par, so instead he volunteered for the amphibious force, which offered him the chance to take command of a ship right out of the academy. He graduated in June 1944; his class only had to attend three years of classes instead of four due to the war.
In December 1944, after receiving further amphibious training, McCool assumed command of USS LCS 122, a landing craft support ship that employed about 65 crew members. Shortly after the crew settled in, LCS 122 set sail for the Pacific Theater of war.
By the spring of 1945, the Battle of Okinawa had gotten underway and Allied troops were busy trying to get a foothold on the island. U.S. supply and support ships were in abundance at the island's harbor, but that made them sitting ducks for Japanese suicide bombers, known as kamikazes.
To thwart kamikaze attempts, the U.S. set up 15 radar picket stations around the island. McCool said each station included at least three destroyers that used their radar to detect upcoming attacks and four LCS ships that would guard the destroyers by shooting down enemy planes.
"Each ship had 10 rocket launchers in the bow that had 12 4.5-inch rockets in each one," McCool explained in his Library of Congress interview. He earned his Medal of Honor during one of these attacks.
On June 10, 1945, LCS 122 was on picket duty north of Okinawa when a hostile air raid began. The USS William D. Porter, a destroyer at the station, was severely damaged by a kamikaze attack. Then-Lt. McCool ordered his men to evacuate the survivors from the sinking ship.
The next evening, LCS 122 was attacked by two kamikazes. McCool immediately launched the full power of his gun batteries, which quickly shot one aircraft down.
"The first one dove at us and passed over my bow," McCool remembered. "I was afraid that the people in the No. 1 40-mm gun mount might have been hit by the wheels or something, it was so low. But it crashed into the water just on our port bow."
The second aircraft came flying in right behind the first. The LCS's gun batteries did some damage, but the aircraft still crashed into McCool's battle station in the ship's conning tower.
"It came in and hit about 8-10 feet below where I was standing," McCool remembered, saying they were lucky that the aircraft's bomb didn't explode on impact. "Instead, it or something from the plane went through the radio shack and out the side of the ship on the other side and exploded, apparently just as it was entering the water."
The crash immediately engulfed the area in flames and knocked McCool unconscious. He said when he came to, he was the only person in the conning tower.
"I shimmied over the port side of the conning tower and dropped onto the deck from there," he said.
McCool was seriously wounded by shrapnel and suffered painful burns on his right side. According to his Medal of Honor citation, he rallied his concussion-shocked crew and began vigorous measures to fight the fire raging on the deck below him. McCool said the flames were 15 to 20 feet from a room that stored the ship's rockets, so he was very concerned about the ship exploding.
"I can remember telling the chief engineer to take a crew of people and go around to the starboard side and forward, and I would have somebody else go around the other way and try to at least keep the fire from spreading," he said in his Library of Congress interview. "And the truth of the matter is I don't really remember much of what went on after that."
His Medal of Honor citation said he rescued several men trapped in a blazing compartment and even carried one of them to safety, despite the excruciating pain of his own wounds — including his right lung collapsing. But McCool said he has no memory of that.
"As far as the heroics I was credited with doing … I wondered for a long time if maybe this thing had gotten exaggerated somehow or another," McCool said in the early 2000s. "But I'm happy to say that when we started having these reunions of people who served in that type of ship, they confirmed that it was in fact people from the ship who had originated these accounts."
McCool was finally able to get his own help after aid arrived to LCS 122. Eleven men were killed and 29 were wounded in the incident, newspapers at the time reported. But thanks to McCool's leadership, many others were rescued, and his ship survived to see further service.
McCool was evacuated from the area and was sent to medical facilities in Guam, Pearl Harbor and California for treatment.
" several operations where they'd go in and remove another piece of bone fragment from me," he told the Veterans History Project. "I still have a bone fragment in my liver, which one doctor said not to ever let anybody try to take out."
McCool spent nearly a year in hospitals, including several months at one in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. He was there when he learned he'd be getting the Medal of Honor. Shortly thereafter, in September 1945, he married his girlfriend, Carole Elaine Larecy, who he'd met on leave prior to his deployment. They went on to have three children, two boys and a girl.
By the fall of 1945, the hospital finally allowed McCool to travel, so he and his wife went on their honeymoon, which was spent visiting friends on the East Coast. The trip included a pitstop in Washington, D.C., where McCool received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman during a White House ceremony on Dec. 18, 1945. McCool said Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Navy Adm. Chester Nimitz were present, and his family was able to attend, which he said was a special moment for him.
Years later, McCool described the award as both humbling and daunting.
"I didn't remember having done anything that I thought would justify this," he said. "But even afterward, it's hard to try to live up to the kind of respect that people have for the medal."
After the war, McCool served on several more ships, then worked as an aide to an admiral in Louisiana and also as an ROTC instructor at his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma. During the Korean War, he served on the aircraft carrier USS Leyte as a deck officer.
During the 1950s, McCool earned a master's degree in public relations from Boston University before serving in the nation's capital. He also served in Thailand as a commander's staff member and then in Japan for a time. By July 1965, he'd worked his way up in the ranks to captain.
About a year later, McCool took over as deputy commander of the Defense Information School when it was located at Fort Benjamin in Harrison, Indiana. He then worked in various public affairs posts before retiring from active duty in 1974.
As a civilian, McCool became active in local politics in the Seattle area, serving two terms as chairman of the Kitsap County Democratic Party, according to his obituary in the newspaper The Daily Oklahoman. He lived on Bainbridge Island and did a lot of volunteer work in the area, the newspaper said.
McCool died on March 5, 2008, at a hospital in Bremerton, Washington. His wife and children were at his bedside, newspapers reported.
McCool is buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland. In his honor, the Navy transport dock ship USS Richard M. McCool Jr. was christened by his granddaughters in June 2022. The ship was delivered to the Navy in April of this year.

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Celebrate pollinator month by inviting a variety of pollinators to your garden
By MELINDA MYERS

June is National Pollinator Month and it’s a great time to celebrate all the pollinators that play an important role in producing food, fiber, medicine, and more that we rely on. When you think of pollinators, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are likely the first that come to mind. But moths, wasps, beetles, flies, bats, and some other birds also help pollinate our gardens. More than 80% of all flowering plant species, including 180,000 different species and more than 1,200 crops, rely on them for pollination.
Like honeybees and Monarch butterflies, many of these pollinators are struggling and their populations dwindling due to pesticides and loss of habitat. Gardeners can make a difference by creating pollinator gardens filled with their favorite plants.
When designing a garden select plants with different shapes, colors, and bloom times. You’ll attract a wide array of pollinators and provide them with a constant supply of nectar and pollen. Include bright white, yellow, blue, and ultraviolet-colored flowers to attract the bees. Add some tubular flowers with a spur or landing pad for the butterflies. They are especially fond of purple and red blossoms.
Don’t be in a hurry to squash those beetles you find meandering over your plants. Many do not harm the plant but rather move pollen as they travel throughout your garden. These generalists visit a variety of plants, but most often can be found pollinating large strongly scented flowers like Canadian ginger, magnolia, paw paws, and yellow pond lilies.
They can be annoying, but flies are also busy pollinating your flowers. They are generalists, like beetles, and tend to pollinate small flowers with shallow, funnel-like, or complex trap-like flowers. You’re likely to see them on annuals, bulbs, goldenrod, skunk cabbage, paw paws, and members of the carrot family.
It may be difficult to welcome the often dreaded and feared wasps and hornets to your garden. However, most are solitary, not all sting and some are predators or parasitoids that help manage garden pests.
Besides helping with mosquito control, bats pollinate over 500 species of night-blooming flowers around the world. They prefer those with a musty or rotten odor of mostly tropical and some varieties of desert plants.
Most of us enjoy watching hummingbirds visit our gardens and feeders. Hummingbirds are the primary bird pollinators in North America, carrying pollen on their beaks and feathers. They prefer brightly colored scarlet, orange, red, and white tubular flowers. Baltimore orioles are accidental pollinators spreading pollen as they feed on flower nectar while white-winged doves pollinate and spread saguaro cactus seeds.
Be sure to include milkweed, herbs, trees, shrubs, and grasses with foliage that caterpillars and others feed upon. Use native plants including trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses whenever possible. These plants have evolved with pollinators and provide the greatest benefit. Make sure the native plants you select are suited to the growing conditions and available space.
Don’t overlook cultivated plants that also attract and support pollinators. Many have flowers or foliage that benefit a variety of pollinators. Watch for bees visiting thyme, borage, and calamint flowers; hummingbirds sipping on salvia, cuphea, and verbena blossoms; and swallowtail caterpillars munching on dill, fennel, and parsley leaves.
Once you create a pollinator-friendly environment, give them time to discover your pollinator paradise. It may take time but once the word gets out you will be enjoying lots of pollinators and the many benefits they provide.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty - About Social Security’s “guaranteed” annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)
Dear Rusty: I’ve been reading a lot lately about speculation on what next year’s benefit increase will be, and it seems like most of the experts are suggesting a range of 2.5% to 3%. My neighbor says don’t worry about it, because there will always be some level of increase come January. It’s guaranteed, right? Signed: Retired But Questioning
Dear Retired: You’ve brought up a common belief about the annual Social Security COLA, one that we hear often. Let’s start with some background. Each year’s COLA results from comparing the third quarter average Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) each year to the same average from the preceding year. The result of dividing the current year’s average by the previous year’s average produces the COLA for the following year. For 2024’s adjustment, the 2023 third-quarter average was 301.2 and the comparable figure for 2022 was 291.9, producing the 3.2% benefit addition.
It's not always the case that the year-to-year CPI calculation produces a positive result, as was the case three times so far this century. As recently as 2016, for example, the 2015 third-quarter average was 233.3 and the comparable figure for 2014 was 234.2, producing a negative change. Fortunately for beneficiaries, Social Security law prohibits a negative COLA, so the negative result was ruled out and the COLA for 2016 was zero.
So, the rumor that there will always be a benefit increase in January is untrue, although having only three zero COLA years since the start of automated adjustments in 1974 leads folks to assume there will always be a boost in the new year. The size of the adjustment fluctuates with economic cycles and has ranged from a high of 14.3 percent in 1980 to 0.3% in 2017 (excluding, of course, the zero years). Incidentally, the historical average since automatic COLAs began is 3.8%, so the 2024 adjustment of 3.2% isn’t that far from the average.
Social Security’s rules are myriad and often confusing, but no question is too simple to be asked. The AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory Service is available, at no charge, to answer all your Social Security questions, via email at SSAdvisor@amacfoundation.org or call 1.888.750.2622.


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The Manhattanhenge Effect
Dutch settlers began populating the city of New Netherland in the first two decades of 1600 creating what is known today as the island of Manhattan in the heart of the city of New York. The Big Apple planners who laid out the island, wittingly or not, plotted the streets to run east to west and the avenues to run north to south, creating what is known today as the Manhattanhenge Effect, when the sun sets and rises in alignment with the east-west street grids of the island. The summer solstice effect is happening now.

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Achoo
Most of us use our noses to breath and smell. But Guinness World Record holder, David Rush, uses his proboscis to blow up balloons. To date, Rush has earned 173 records, most recently for using his nose to inflate 28 balloons in three minutes tying fellow serial record-breaker Ashrita Furman. But Rush is determined to keep at it until he achieves his goal of earning the most Guinness record titles ever.

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Another use for your nose
You breathe through your nose, you smell with it and your nose helps to filter the air you inhale. But Vinod Kumar Chaudhary has revealed that you can also use it to type with it. In fact, Mr. Chaudhary has earned the Guinness World Record for using his nose to type the alphabet – not once, not twice but for a third time. Last year it took him 27.8 seconds to type the alphabet, but later in the year he did it in 26.73 seconds. Recently he broke the record yet again, in 25.66 seconds, using only a keyboard and his nose.

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Winning perennial plant adds color and fragrance

By MELINDA MYERS

Add long-lasting beauty and pollinator appeal to your garden with this year’s Perennial Plant of the Year, Jeana garden phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana’). Selected for its tall sturdy habit and fragrant dense flower heads it is a welcome addition to perennial, meadow, and pollinator gardens as well as mixed borders.
Grow this perennial phlox in full sun with a bit of afternoon shade in hotter climates. It is hardy in USDA zones three to eight, growing and flowering best in moist, fertile, and well-drained soil.
The Perennial Plant of the Year (PPOY) is selected by members of the Perennial Plant Association for its suitability to a wide range of climatic conditions, low maintenance, relative pest and disease resistance, availability, and multiple seasons of beauty. This program began in 1990 and you can find out more about past winners on the Perennial Plant Association website.
This cultivar of the North American native Phlox paniculata was discovered growing along the Harpeth River near Nashville, Tennessee. It was named for the woman, Jeana Prewitt, who discovered this plant. It was a standout with its mildew-resistant foliage. Jeana is the head gardener at Bedside Manor in Brentwood, Tennessee. She took cuttings of the plant and began propagating it. In time, it was declared to be a new cultivar and has been available for several years.
Mt. Cuba Center, a botanical garden in Delaware, found it to be the best-performing phlox in their trials and it attracted more butterflies than the other garden phlox in the two-year study. Fifteen volunteers from the Pollinator Watch Team conducted weekly observations of 94 different phlox over two years. Jeana had 539 butterfly visits – way more than any other phlox in the study – and is especially attractive to eastern tiger swallowtails.
Enjoy the lavender-pink flowers with wine-colored eyes that cover the plant from mid-summer to fall. Although each flower is smaller than other garden phlox, the dense cone-shaped flower head is made up of hundreds of individual petals providing a beautiful show. Removing faded flowers, also known as deadheading, promotes continued bloom and prevents the self-seeding of inferior seedlings.
Combine this three-to-five-inch-tall plant with other perennials like Amsonia, Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum), Iron Butterfly ironweed (Vernonia lettermanii ‘Iron Butterfly’), coneflowers (Echinacea), and switch grass (Panicum virgatum). Or use it as a backdrop for shorter plants like alliums and woodland sage (Salvia nemorosa).
Look for places to add this late-season bloomer to your gardens and landscapes. You’ll enjoy the flowers and butterflies that stop by for a visit.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Capt. James A. Graham
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Marine Corps Capt. James Albert Graham could have fled to safety with the rest of his company during a firefight in Vietnam. Instead, he chose to stay behind with a comrade too injured to move. Knowing he wouldn't survive, Graham gave his life so a fellow Marine wouldn't have to die alone. His leadership and bravery earned him the Medal of Honor.
Graham was born on Aug. 25, 1940, in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. After his parents divorced when he was still small, he moved with his father to Accokeek in southern Maryland.
As he grew up, he helped his father run their own grocery store and gas station, but he wasn't happy there and constantly fled back to his mother's family in western Pennsylvania, only to be brought back to Maryland by his father, according to a detailed profile on Graham's life from the Frostburg State University Foundation.
According to the profile, when Graham was 15, he took his father's car and drove to El Paso, Texas, where he lied about his age to enlist in the Army. His father eventually figured out where he was and went to get him, but by that point, Graham had already served nearly two years on active duty as an officer's secretary.
When Graham returned home with his father, he got his GED certificate before attending FSU in western Maryland. Graham was a member of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity who earned good grades, even while working a full-time job at a local supermarket. During his college career, Graham also spent two years with the District of Columbia National Guard, a year with the Army Reserve and two years with the Marine Corps Reserve, respectively.
It was during this time that Graham also met his future wife, Janice Pritchett. She introduced him to the Baptist church, which led Graham to become a born-again Christian, the FSU Foundation said. The couple married in February 1962.
About a year and a half later, Graham graduated with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. According to the FSU Foundation, he received honors as the top student in that field.
On Sept. 30, 1963, Graham accepted a regular appointment to the active-duty Marine Corps. By Nov. 1, 1963, he had earned his commission. Graham then enrolled in flight school, but his wife said he couldn't get past the airsickness, so he had to find another path forward.
By this point, the couple had two children, a boy named John and a girl named Jennifer.
In January 1965, Graham was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. That April, he was part of a team that was sent to the Dominican Republic after an uprising in the Caribbean country's capital, Santo Domingo, threatened the lives of Americans living and working there.
In December 1966, a then-Capt. Graham was sent to Vietnam with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. Initially he commanded Company H before switching to command Company F in January 1967.
According to the FSU Foundation, Graham was known to be a strict disciplinarian, but one whom troops respected. He often led his company in prayer and sometimes held eulogies for those killed in battle.
"He was born to lead others in war," a fellow Marine once wrote, according to the FSU Foundation.
In late May 1967, the 5th Marine Regiment launched Operation Union II, a search and destroy mission that led Graham's unit to the Quang Tin Province. On June 2, several of the regiment's units launched an attack against an enemy-occupied position.
Company F helped lead the charge. As it proceeded across an open rice paddy about 1,000 meters wide, it came under heavy mortar and small-arms fire, which killed and injured several Marines. The second platoon in Graham's company was the hardest hit, having been pinned down out in the open by two concealed machine gun nests.
Graham did what he could to help. He gathered 10 men and led a fierce assault through the pinned-down unit's position, forcing the enemy to abandon one of the machine guns. The victory relieved some of the pressure on the platoon and allowed those who were injured to be evacuated.
Graham's men were hoping to take out the second machine gun, too, so they stood their ground in the hard-won enclave they had taken over and continued to fight. According to Graham's Medal of Honor citation, he was injured twice during this time, but he also managed to kill about 15 enemy combatants.
Eventually, however, the constant and heavy fire raining down on them took its toll, and Graham had to call for his team to fall back to safety. He, however, chose to remain at their location with a critically injured lieutenant who couldn't be moved.
In his last radio transmission, Graham reported being assaulted by a force of at least two dozen enemy soldiers. He died while protecting himself and the wounded man he refused to leave behind.
Graham's efforts that day kept the company's second platoon from being annihilated. For his leadership and sacrifice, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Oct. 29, 1968. His wife received it from Navy Secretary Paul R. Ignatius during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Graham was subsequently buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Graham's children were very young when he died, but they said their mother kept his legacy alive for them.
"We were very fortunate that our mother made him an active part of our lives," Jennifer Graham said in 2003, recalling the stories and photos that her mother shared. "So many families handled it differently, and many children grew up in homes where they didn't talk about it."
They decided to follow in their father's footsteps. John Graham joined the Marines and became a helicopter pilot. Jennifer Graham attended the Air Force Academy and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1999, the pair went to Vietnam to find where their father had died. While there, they buried a time capsule in his memory, according to the FSU Foundation.
In the 1980s, Graham Hall at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, was named in the fallen captain's honor. A highway interchange in western Pennsylvania was also named for him in 2002.
Graham's Medal of Honor is located at the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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UAMS House Call

Dr. Daniel Knight is a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Q: What is scleroderma? Email your health questions to housecall@uams.edu. A: Scleroderma is the name for a group of diseases in which excess collagen is produced, causing hardening and thickening of the skin. An autoimmune disease, scleroderma may also affect other parts of the body. The National Scleroderma Foundation estimates that more than 300,000 Americans have the condition. Scleroderma is chronic condition classified into two types. Localized scleroderma (also referred to as morphea) normally affects the skin in one part of the body. Systemic sclerosis spreads through the body and can affect the digestive and respiratory systems. Scleroderma occurs more often in women than in men. The cause of scleroderma is unknown. Having a close relative with an autoimmune disease increases the risk factor, but the disease isn’t necessarily classified as a genetic disorder. Symptoms may not present themselves in the early stages of the disease. In addition to patches of thickened skin, other symptoms may include bloating, fatigue, stiffness, difficulty swallowing and unexplained weight loss. A referral to a rheumatologist may be required in order to accurately diagnose the disease, as the symptoms can be result of other conditions. Treatments include medications to suppress the immune system or creams or moisturizers to prevent skin from drying.

Q: What does a radiation therapist do? A: A radiation therapist is a health care professional whose primary task is to administer radiation to patients, normally for health conditions such as cancer or thyroid disease. Radiation oncologists and oncology nurses specialize in radiation therapy, and the radiation therapist is a key component of the patient’s treatment plan. Radiation therapists operate the equipment that delivers radiation therapy to patients. They ensure the correct amount of radiation is applied to the proper location as determined by the radiation oncologist or oncology nurse. Radiation therapists monitor the patient for abnormal reactions during treatment and inform the physician or nurse if necessary. Radiation therapists normally work in such health care settings as doctor’s offices, hospitals and outpatient centers. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy or similar field is often required. Certification by the American Registry of Radiation Technologists as well as obtaining a state license as a registered technologist are also requirements. Work as a radiation therapist can be rewarding. It requires attention to detail to ensure the treatment is being properly applied. Patients may be apprehensive about their condition, so radiation therapists also must empathize with patients. Overall, a radiation therapist plays an important role in health care.

Q: How do you treat conjunctivitis? Email your health questions to housecall@uams.edu. A: Conjunctivitis (commonly referred to as “pink eye”) is an inflammation of the clear tissue inside of the eyelid and the outer surface of the eye. The term “pink eye” references the whites of the eyes appearing reddish or pink. Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection, with approximately 6 million cases in the U.S. each year. Conjunctivitis is normally caused by allergens, bacteria or viruses. A foreign object in the eye, irritating substances or blocked tear ducts can also cause conjunctivitis. Risk factors for the condition include being exposed to an infected person, exposure to an allergen or using contact lenses that are not properly cleaned. Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis is extremely contagious. In many instances, the condition is spread before the person is aware of the infection. Conjunctivitis symptoms include blurred vision, burning eyes, swollen eyelids, a gritty feeling in one or both eyes or increasing tearing. Mild cases of bacterial or viral conjunctivitis normally go away without antibiotics. However, your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics if eye discharge is present or for persons with compromised immune systems. Prevention includes frequent hand washing, avoiding touching of the eyes and ensuring contact lenses are cleaned and replaced as necessary.

Q: I want to begin exercising. What questions should I ask my doctor? A: Exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve physical and mental health. Regular exercise can reduce anxiety, improve balance and coordination, lower the risk of disease, help with weight loss and weight management, and contribute to better sleep. However, beginning an exercise program can be intimidating and stressful. If you are not used to exercising or you are looking to get back into it following an injury or other medical issue, it is advised to contact your health care provider. Your health care provider can give an assessment of your condition and advise on how you should proceed depending upon your exercise goals. Ask your health care provider what type of exercise would work for you. Your condition may not support strength training or extensive cardio. Inquire if any current medications would affect training. You may need to verify you are current on all preventive care. Ask how much exercise would be safe when beginning a program. Keep your health care provider informed of your progress, especially in the initial stages. Consider a personal trainer or class if you’re looking at strength training exercises to make sure your form is correct and not conducive to injury.

Email your health questions to housecall@uams.edu.

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Social Security Matters

By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty - About Social Security’s Earnings Test and Cost of Living Adjustments
Dear Rusty: Is there a limit on earnings when you're fully retired? Also, should all retirees receive COLA or is there an exception? Signed: Retired But Wondering
Dear Retired: Your questions are fairly simple but, nevertheless, often perplexing to those wishing to apply for Social Security, because the SS rules are many (over 2,700 of them) and those about to apply for their benefits may be simply unsure and want to avoid a costly mistake. I’m happy to answer your questions and, hopefully, clarify any uncertainties you have on these topics.
Social Security imposes an earnings limit on anyone who collects Social Security before reaching their full retirement age (FRA). If you haven’t yet reached your FRA (somewhere between 66 and 67, depending on the year you were born), and you continue to work, there is a limit to how much you can earn before they take away some of your benefits. So, the answer to your first question is, yes, there is an earnings limit ($22,320 for 2024) if you haven’t yet reached your full retirement age. If the annual earnings limit is exceeded, Social Security will take away some of your benefits ($1 for every $2 you are over the limit, up to the year you attain FRA when the assessment is less). However, if you have already reached your full retirement age the earnings limit no longer applies, and you can earn as much as you like without consequence. And here’s a nuance to be aware of: if you work and exceed the earnings limit, and have some benefits withheld as a result, when you reach your FRA, you will get time credit for any months you didn’t get benefits, which will result in your monthly amount being a bit higher after your FRA.
Regarding COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment), everyone, without exception, who has earned a Social Security benefit and reached eligibility age (62) receives the annual COLA increase whether they are already collecting their benefits or not. If you’re not yet collecting, the COLA is added to your “primary insurance amount” or “PIA,” on which your benefit will be based when you claim. If you are already collecting SS, COLA will be added to your gross monthly SS benefit amount. However, since there was a $9.80 increase in the 2024 Medicare Part B premium, and since the Part B premium is taken from everyone’s SS benefit payment, Social Security recipients enrolled in Medicare Part B will not see the full 3.2% COLA in their net monthly Social Security payment. Everyone will receive the COLA increase, but no one enrolled in Medicare Part B will get the full COLA increase in their net SS payment because some of the COLA increase is used to pay their increased Medicare premium.
Social Security’s rules are myriad and often confusing, but no question is too simple to be asked. The AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory Service is available, at no charge, to answer all your Social Security questions - SSAdvisor@amacfoundation.org via email, or call 1.888.750.2622.

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Grow fast, fun, and easy microgreens

By MELINDA MYERS

Have fun growing some delicious and nutritious microgreens on your kitchen counter, in a sunny window, or under lights any time of the year. In as little as a week to ten days you’ll be making your first harvest to use as a garnish, snack, or add to your favorite sandwich or salad.
Simply purchase seeds of lettuce, greens, mustard, radishes, beets, peas, and even sunflowers. Buy organic seeds or those labeled for sprouting or use as microgreens to ensure they have not been treated with harmful chemicals. Or purchase a microgreen kit that contains all you need to get started.
You can grow any microgreens in soil and most hydroponically. Sunflowers, peas, buckwheat, chard, beets, and cilantro grow best in soil. Soak the seeds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours for faster and greater sprouting. Plant the seeds in a shallow container with drainage holes filled with a moist well-drained planting or seed starting mix. Gently tamp the planting mix to remove air pockets and create a flat surface for planting. Mist the soil surface and evenly sprinkle the seeds over the soil. Gently tamp the seeds or mist them to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Planting seeds this way makes harvesting a bit less messy. Or you can lightly cover the seeds with soil.
Use a fast food container you’ve cleaned and added drainage holes to or invest in a kit like True Leaf Market’s Organic Mini Microgreens Kit to get your microgreens off to a great start. Then make additional plantings every few weeks to have a constant supply of fresh microgreens to enjoy.
Set the container on a tray to protect the surface below. Once planted, cover the container with a lid to boost humidity and reduce the need to water. Some gardeners use an opaque cover to trap humidity and keep the seeds in the dark for sprouting. Check soil moisture daily and spritz with water as needed. Remove the cover in two or three days once the sprouts break through the soil. Then move it to a bright location or under artificial lights.
Or skip the planting media and go hydroponic using a growing pad instead. This makes harvesting clean and easy and works well for broccoli, kale, arugula, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, and radish seeds.
Cut the grow pad made of jute, bamboo, or similar material to fit the container as needed. Thoroughly moisten the grow pad fabric. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the pad’s surface, leaving about twice the size of a seed between each. Use a spray bottle to water and firm the seeds in place.
Use an opaque cover over the top of the tray to provide the needed darkness for the seeds to sprout. Check the seeds twice a day and mist them as needed. Remove the cover in three to five days once the seeds sprout and start growing. Move the sprouts into a bright location, a sunny window, or under artificial lights, and continue to water as needed.
Your microgreens are ready to harvest when the microgreens are two to four inches tall and the first set of true leaves – those that resemble the leaves of the mature plant – are just starting to emerge. This is usually seven to ten days but may be longer depending on the seeds you grow. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the greens about ¼” above the soil or grow pad. Gently rinse and spin dry the greens and enjoy.
Have fun as you grow a variety of microgreens to enjoy and share with friends and family.

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They don’t call him reckless for nothing
Ben Schneider calls himself Reckless Ben and he proved just how reckless he could be when he took a tightrope walk recently between a pair of abandoned 45 story high skyscrapers in Los Angeles. Not only did he risk his life if he were to fall from that height, he risked an encounter with LAPD officers who were on the sight.

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He now shares the title
Over the years, David Rush has earned 171 Guinness World Records by covering his head with shaving cream and then catching table tennis balls in the foam. Till now he had a partner. This time he bounced the table tennis balls off a wall himself. But, alas, he didn’t outscore the current title holder; he just matched him. And so he now shares the Guinness title with a co-holder.

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Now ‘hair’ this
Helen Williams was, apparently, not content with her Guinness Record for making the world’s longest wig that measures 1,152 feet and 5 inches in length. She said, "as a professional wigmaker, I look forward to breaking many more records in the wig category." It took her a month, but she now has a new Guinness award for producing a wig measuring 11 feet, 11 inches wide.

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Medal of Honor: Navy Lt. Orson L. Crandall
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Thanks to World War I and the advent of the submarine, U.S. naval divers mastered how to make and survive deep ocean dives. But by the 1930s, they were still trying to figure out how to successfully rescue survivors from sunken vessels.
They finally figured that out in 1939, when Navy Lt. Orson Leon Crandall and three other master divers used a new piece of equipment to rescue nearly three dozen sailors from a sub that sank during a training incident. Crandall's expertise and calmness under pressure earned him the Medal of Honor.
Crandall was born on Feb. 2, 1903, in St. Joseph, Missouri, to Marshall and Bertie Crandall. He had two brothers and a sister, all of whom were older.
Crandall enlisted in the Navy in 1922 when he was 19. For the next decade, he served on several ships before going into diver training in 1932. By March 1939, he held the rank of chief boatswain's mate and was designated a master diver, the highest level a diver can attain.
Only a few months later, a disaster off the coast of New Hampshire would require Crandall to utilize his expertise in the most harrowing of conditions.
On May 23, 1939, a diesel-electric submarine called the USS Squalus was practicing submerging at high speeds near the Isle of Shoals, an island chain off the coast of southern Maine, when it suffered a catastrophic valve failure. The sub — which carried 56 crew members and three civilian contractors — quickly filled with water and sank about 240 feet to the ocean floor.
Crandall was serving on the USS Falcon, which was tied up at New London, Connecticut, when the call for help came in. The Falcon was one of several salvage ships with divers that hurried to the scene to try to save anyone who was still alive inside the Squalus.
It took nearly a full day to prepare for the dangerous mission, but by the morning of the 24th, Crandall and about three dozen other divers were ready to get started.
"I remember that the water was rough and that the wind was pretty stiff, but after a while it calmed down some," Crandall recalled in a 1952 article in the Baltimore Evening Sun newspaper. "The descent was pretty fast — it took only about seven minutes to drop down to the 240-foot level where the submarine lay with her stern in about 12 feet of mud."
Shortly before noon, the Falcon lowered into the water a newly developed rescue device called the McCann-Erickson Rescue Chamber. Up until then, the chamber had only been used in training.
In theory, rescuers planned to lower the chamber via cables to the sub's deck, then seal it to one of the Squalus' hatches, according to Naval Institute archives. The crew would then blow the water out of the sub's chamber, open both hatches, and pull out the trapped submariners.
The process worked, but it took a long time.
"Because of the pressure, we could work for an average of only 18 minutes at a time. It took three hours to bring us to the surface," Crandall told the Baltimore Evening Sun, explaining that the slow ascent was necessary so they wouldn't get "the bends," a decompression sickness that happens when gas bubbles form in the blood stream from rapid changes in pressure.
Thanks to the skilled work of Crandall and three other master divers — Chief Petty Officer William Badders, Lt. Cmdr. John Mihalowski and Lt. James Harper McDonald — 33 men who survived the sinking were separated into four groups and rescued over the span of 13 hours.
At one point, Crandall narrowly escaped death. According to his Tampa Bay Times obituary, during one of his dives, carbon dioxide gas formed in his suit. As he lapsed into unconsciousness, he started to call out football signals — something he did as the quarterback of a shore-based Navy football squad. Thankfully, other crew members heard the strange chatter through his diving suit telephone and knew something was wrong, so they pulled him to the surface, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Over the next three months, divers and salvage crews worked to bring the Squalus back to the surface and retrieve the remaining 26 men stationed at the rear of the vessel who didn't survive. Crandall made more than 60 dives as part of that effort. The submarine was finally raised on Sept. 13, 1939. All but one of the sailors' bodies were found.
According to Naval Institute archives, a Navy court determined a mechanical malfunction caused the disaster. As a result, submarine hull valves were converted to quick-closing flapper valves to prevent future tragedies.
For Crandall's leadership, bravery and devotion to duty during the hazardous Squalus rescue, he was awarded the Medal of Honor on Jan. 19, 1940, during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. His fellow master divers during the mission — Badders, Mihalowski and McDonald — also received the honor.
Crandall remained in the Navy through World War II, and he became a commissioned officer and took part in several salvage and diving-related missions. He transferred into the Fleet Reserve in June 1946. He retired in December 1952 to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he decided to lay down roots.
At some point along the way, Crandall married a woman named Mary. According to the Tampa Bay Times, he operated a fishing guide boat out of Johns Pass during his retirement.
Crandall died May 10, 1960, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The heavy salvage ship USS Crandall, which served the Navy from 1967 to 1993, was named in his honor.
As for the Squalus, it was decommissioned in November 1939, renamed Sailfish, and recommissioned on May 15, 1940. It was decommissioned again after World War II. Its conning tower was cut away and can now be found in a park at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where memorial ceremonies are held every year in May.

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Anchors away
California constables ordered Etienne Constable of Seaside, CA to build a fence to hide the fishing boat he keeps in his driveway, apparently because it was an unappealing sight. So, with the help of a neighborhood artist, he built a fence featuring a life-like, detailed painting of his vessel. Neighbors and passers-by approved his solution as did the town’s City Manager, Nick Borges, who told reporters: "I thought, 'Wow, that's pretty creative.' I laughed at it. The only action I'm going to take is a high five."

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But they couldn’t prove it
It may seem unfair, but the gathering was so large that the Guinness World Record’s judges had to pass when evaluating the attempt of Drumheller, Alberta to gather the world’s biggest crowd of folks dressed as dinosaurs. Town officials said no less than 3,000 participants showed up for the event, but they couldn’t prove it, saying that “we could not obtain an exact measurement to officially break the record.” Notwithstanding the judges’ decision, the numbers attending the Alberta event were obviously so much larger than the 252 people who showed up in costume in Los Angeles in 2019 to win the event.

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You can do it if you want it
Al Blaschke won his first Guinness World Record for his skydive in 2020 when he was 103 years of age. But then a Swedish woman took the title; she was 103 and 259 days old. But when Al was approaching his 107 year old birthday recently, off he -- and his tandem partner -- went again into the wild blue yonder and took back his title. His advice for all of us as we grow older is to remember that "if you think you can't [do it, whatever it is], you're just underestimating yourself. Everyone is more capable than they think. They just need to make the decision to try."

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Serve summer safe with food safety tips from USDA

WASHINGTON – Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff for summer, and as the weather heats up, so do the number of meals that will be served outside. Whether you’re eating with friends at the pool or family in a backyard cookout, food should be served safe to avoid foodborne illness. As you start to plan your outdoor activities and meals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service is offering food safety tips to keep you safe from foodborne illness.
“The bacteria that cause foodborne illness love the summertime as much as we do because they thrive and multiply quickly in warmer temperatures. This causes illnesses to spike during the summer,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Emilio Esteban. “As we all spend more time outside, it is important to remember these food safety steps to keep your friends and family safe.”
Wash Hands
The first step to serving summer foods safely is to start with clean hands. If running water is available, wet hands, lather with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse and dry. If no running water is available, use hand sanitizer or moist towelettes that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
Pack Perishables Safely
When traveling with perishable food to places like the pool, beach, summer camp, hiking, or a cookout, always use cold sources in coolers or insulated containers to keep food at a safe cold temperature below 40 F. Cold source options include ice, frozen gel packs, and frozen beverages (that do not require refrigeration for safety) such as water bottles, iced tea, and juices like apple and grape. Additional cooler tips:
Pack beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another cooler.
The beverage cooler may be opened frequently, causing the temperature inside the cooler to fluctuate and become unsafe for perishable foods.
Keep coolers and insulated bags out of the sun. Once outside, place them in the shade.
Full coolers or insulated bags will keep your perishable foods cold and safe for much longer than half-full ones.
Place an appliance thermometer (one traditionally used for the refrigerator or freezer) in the cooler so you can check to be sure the food stays at 40 F or below.
Keep Out of the Danger Zone
The Danger Zone is the temperature range where bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 F. Perishable foods, including meat and poultry, sliced fruits and vegetables, and cooked side dishes, should avoid the Danger Zone or be kept hot or cold to maintain food safety.
Cold foods must be kept at 40 F or below by placing them in the refrigerator, coolers, insulated containers, or nestled over ice.
Hot foods must be kept over 140 F by placing them on the grill, in heated chafing dishes, slow cooker, or warming trays.
Check the temperatures of cold and hot items frequently.
Follow the Two-Hour Rule
Foods that are kept hot or cold out of the Danger Zone or do not sit out for more than two hours (one hour if over 90 F) are safe to keep. Any other items would be considered unsafe and need to be discarded. When in doubt, throw it out!
If You Have Food Safety Questions
Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), email MPHotline@usda.gov or chat live at www.ask.usda.gov 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

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Social Security Matters
by Russell Gloor, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens

Ask Rusty – I’m Working after age 65; Why Aren’t I Exempt from Medicare Part B Premium?

Dear Rusty: Why, as I continue to work after age 65 and have FICA taxes taken from my check, am I - or anyone - also compelled under the threat of penalties, rate increases, etc. to immediately take Medicare Part B? Am I not then effectively paying into the system twice? As more and more people over 65 continue to work, isn't that a consideration that should be evaluated by Congress - if one is working past 65, above a specific level of income and paying FICA taxes, the Medicare Part B premium is waived? Signed: Working Senior

Dear Working Senior: FYI, 6.2% of the FICA payroll taxes you pay while working goes to Social Security, and another 1.45% goes to fund Medicare Part A (hospitalization coverage, which is free to you). None of the FICA payroll tax you pay from your work earnings goes to fund Medicare Part B (coverage for outpatient services), which is the part of Medicare for which you must pay a premium.
Said another way, your FICA payroll taxes do fund Medicare Part A, which is free to you, but do not provide any funding for Medicare Part B. Part B is funded from two primary sources – the premiums paid by beneficiaries, and the federal government from the general Treasury. Premiums from enrollees pay for about 25% of Part B healthcare expenses and the remaining 75% of Part B operating expenses are paid from the general U.S. Treasury (not from Social Security money).
So, it’s necessary to separate Part B from your thinking about the payroll taxes you pay while working – you’re not paying anything to fund Part B through your FICA taxes. You aren’t compelled to enroll in Part B (it’s optional), but if you don’t enroll during your initial enrollment period (3 months on either side of the month you turn 65) and don’t have other equivalent “creditable” coverage from an employer, and you enroll in Part B later, a late enrollment penalty will apply (10% additional premium for each full year after age 65 you go without creditable healthcare coverage).
So, your premise in suggesting that Part B be free (the premium waived) if you’re working over a certain age or after an amount of time contributing to the program isn’t valid, because no one contributes to Medicare Part B through FICA payroll taxes – Part B beneficiary contributions are only made through premiums paid by those enrolled in it. And you don’t need to enroll in Part B if you have “creditable'' healthcare coverage from an employer. The Part B non-enrollment penalty only applies if you enroll after your initial enrollment period has expired and didn’t have “creditable” healthcare coverage after you turned 65. “Creditable” is a group plan with more than 20 participants.

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Ornamental and edible gardens and containers
By MELINDA MYERS

Boost the flavor and beauty of your landscape by adding a few ornamental edible plants to your garden beds and containers. Look for opportunities to substitute ornamental vegetables, fruit, herbs, and edible flowers for ornamental but nonedible plants.
A hanging basket of semi-determinate tomatoes like Lizzano and Torenzo or Pot-a-Peno peppers can dress up a deck or porch and keep the harvest within reach. Peppers like Quickfire and Cayenetta hot peppers, and sweet ones like Pretty N Sweet along with Patio Choice yellow cherry tomato are suitable for containers and small gardens.
Use asparagus as a backdrop in gardens. Look for disease-resistant cultivars like the recently introduced Millennium that is long-lived, cold-hardy, high-yielding, and adaptable to a variety of soils. After the harvest, the ferny greens create a nice backdrop and add a welcome texture to any flower garden.
Rhubarb makes a nice temporary shrub in sunny locations. The large leaves add bold texture and the colorful stems of Crimson Red and Canada Red varieties provide a bit of color to the garden bed. Just cut back the plants at the end of the season and watch for their return in spring.
Use strawberries as a groundcover. The white flowers, tasty red fruit, and fall color brighten the ground level of any full-to-part sun location in your landscape. Choose day-neutral or everbearing varieties to enjoy several harvests throughout the summer.
Include colorful tomato and pepper varieties in mixed borders and flower beds. Use decorative obelisks and supports when needed for added beauty in the garden.
Provide seasonal screening or add vertical interest to gardens by training the vining types of squash, melons, and cucumbers up supports. Growing vertically increases airflow and light penetration which helps reduce the risk of disease and increases productivity. Just sling heavy fruit to the support to prevent it from damaging the vines.
Purple, wax, and other colorful pole beans are another seasonal option that provides vertical interest in a garden bed or screens a bad view. You’ll find it easier to harvest and enjoy an extra picking with pole beans. Add colorful flowers and boost the hummingbird appeal by growing scarlet runner beans.
Or try Mascotte bush beans in containers. Grow this plant in a pretty container and, if needed, elevate it on a support for easy picking. You’ll enjoy a plentiful harvest of crisp slender beans held above the foliage for easy picking.
Dress up meals with edible flowers like nasturtiums, daylilies, and calendula. Just be sure they have not been treated with pesticides and remove the reproductive parts that can add bitterness to your meals.
Maximize the productivity of vegetable plants with proper care and regular harvesting, picking vegetables at their peak.

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‘Panda-monium’
Who would opt for a holiday visit to China? It’s not exactly among the world’s more glamorous holiday destinations. But if you love pandas it’s where you’ll find them-- usually. But beware: at least one zoo in China has run out of pandas and has been replacing them with Chow Chow dogs whose fur has been trimmed and dyed black-and-white to resemble the iconic Chinese bears.

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France wins ‘baguette’ award
Not to be outdone by their Italian neighbors, who held the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest baguette, French chefs baked away and produced a baguette that was 461 feet long. The Italians won the title in 2019 when they produced a 435-foot, 1-inch baguette. Soon after Guinness officials declared the French bakers were the new winners of the title they served the tasty bread to attendees at the show.

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He did it with ‘gator aid’
A trapper from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wrestled with a nine foot long alligator that showed up at an elementary school in Wesley Chapel, Florida, recently. The gator won the first round when it tossed him off its back. But in the end the trapper, with help, was able to subdue the nasty critter as kids were leaving school for the day.

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5 tips to help seniors start exercising and get fit

Fredericksburg Fitness Studio, a private personal training studio, helps people of all ages with their health and fitness goals

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia — National Senior Health and Fitness Day is held every year on the last Wednesday in May. It's a time to put seniors in the spotlight and encourage them to get started on a quest to get healthy and fitter. Even if they have never exercised regularly, they can still get started and reap tremendous benefits from their efforts. It comes down to knowing how to start one's journey toward better health and fitness.
"Exercise is for everyone, no matter what age you may be," explains Jennifer Scherer, a registered dietitian nutritionist, medical exercise specialist, certified personal trainer, and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “If you are still alive, you are a good candidate for exercising and working on fitness goals!"
It's always possible to benefit from exercising. The journal BioMed Research International published a study that looked at the importance of physical activity exercise among older people. They report that physical activity is a driver for a healthy and long life in older people. Additionally, they report that being physically active provides some protective factors, helping to reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer. It is also beneficial for improving mental health, delaying the onset of dementia, and improving quality of life and well-being.
According to the National Institute on Aging, deciding to become physically active can be one of the best things someone can do for their health. They suggest that adults aim to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or line dancing. Those doing vigorous activity, such as running, can aim for 75 minutes weekly. They also recommend lifting weights on two days per week.
The good news is that getting started is not as difficult as it may seem. Here are 5 tips to help seniors start exercising and get fit:
Check with the doctor. This type of disclaimer is common, but it is a good idea to run it by the doctor to ensure no concerns. Most people will be given the green light, but it's a good idea to let the doctor know and see if there are any concerns or suggestions.
Know what is needed. Most types of exercise programs require some sort of equipment. At the very least, a new pair of good fitness shoes may be in order. Check to see what items are needed and get them so that there are no excuses or issues that arise.
Set some goals. Each person should determine what they want to accomplish with their new fitness goals. They should be written down to be evaluated at various benchmarks and adjusted. The only way to know if goals have been accomplished is to set them in the first place.
Start slowly. A big mistake that those new to exercising make is that they bite off more than they can comfortably chew. It's always a good idea to start slowly and build up to doing more. This gives the body (and mind) a chance to transition and get used to doing the activity.
Get support. Most people benefit from having a support system. Support increases one's chances of being successful at reaching goals and sticking with a new lifestyle change.
“We are happy to help seniors get started and provide them with the support they need to stick with it,” added Scherer. “We can tailor a program to fit your goals and needs, help you track the progress, and keep you moving.”
One program that many seniors can benefit from that is offered at Fredericksburg Fitness Studio is Pilates. Research published in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation shared the research results to see if Pilates helps with bone strength in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. They concluded that Pilates increased bone mineral density and walking distance and helped to relieve pain.
Additionally, The European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology, and Education reported in March 2022 that Pilates can benefit the elderly. Their study found that those over the age of 60 who started doing Pilates improved their balance, strength, mobility, functional capacity, and mental and psychological health. They also report that it reduced the risk of falling.

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Medal of Honory: Army 1st Lt. Jimmie W. Monteith Jr.
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Of all the men who fought and died on D-Day, Army 1st Lt. Jimmie W. Monteith Jr.'s actions might have been the most crucial toward the Allies gaining a foothold in Europe. Through the chaos that ensued on Omaha Beach, Monteith led his soldiers through minefields and heavy fire, fighting their way up steep bluffs to cut past German defenses until they reached vital inland positions. Monteith didn't survive the day, but his efforts earned him the Medal of Honor.
Monteith was born July 1, 1917, in rural Low Moor, Virginia, to Caroline and James Monteith Sr. He had two older siblings, Robert and Nancy.
When Monteith was 9, his family moved to the state capital, Richmond. Growing up, he was an active student who was involved in several clubs, and his 6-foot-2-inch frame made him good at sports like basketball and football.
After graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1937, Monteith attended Virginia Tech University, where his father and brother both went. He studied mechanical engineering and was a member of the Corps of Cadets, where he was known to have a good sense of humor. However, after two years, he decided he didn't want to pursue college anymore, so he dropped out and went to work at a coal company where his father served as vice president.
A little more than two years later, in October 1941, Monteith was drafted into the Army. He earned a commission as an infantry officer by June 1942 and was sent to serve at Fort McClellan, Alabama. While there, he learned that his father had died and that his brother had received a commission into the Navy.
In April 1943, Monteith was shipped overseas to Algeria with the 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Within a few days, though, enemy troops in Africa surrendered, ending the campaign there. A short time later, Monteith's unit was sent to fight in Sicily, where Monteith received a promotion to first lieutenant.
By December 1943, the 1st Infantry Division was on its way to England to prepare for the Invasion of Normandy — an effort that would include more than 160,000 Allied forces to become the largest air, land and sea assault ever executed.
On June 6, 1944 — D-Day — Monteith landed in the initial wave of troops near Colleville-Sur-Mer, France, known as Omaha Beach. But a lot of problems hampered their arrival.
Omaha Beach was the most heavily defended of the five beaches attacked by Allies that day. Its cliffs and high bluffs were expected to be difficult for troops to traverse, but it turned out to be even worse than expected. Soldiers encountered pillboxes surrounded by barbed wire and were hammered by artillery, machine guns and flamethrowers as they tried to gain a foothold on the beach.
According to the Medal of Honor Museum, of the 36 amphibious tanks sent to support the 16th Infantry Regiment's assault, only five made it to the beach. Heavy seas and various underwater obstacles threw off the landings, and many men were killed by the barrage of gunfire before they made it to shore. A lot of the supporting equipment, including tanks, were swamped in waist-deep water.
Monteith and his fellow soldiers in L Company were on one of the boats that didn't hit their mark, instead landing 500 yards to the left of its targeted landing zone. However, according to the museum, the company was still one of only eight in that initial wave to remain operational as a unit. And under Monteith's leadership, they excelled despite the odds.
As soon as they landed, Monteith disregarded his own safety to move up and down the beach, reorganizing men before leading an assault through heavy fire over a ledge and across exposed terrain before reaching the comparative safety of a cliff. A letter from a soldier in Monteith's platoon later said that the first lieutenant led them through heavy barbed wire and two minefields to get there.
As those men regrouped, Monteith retraced his steps across the field to the beach, where he saw two operational Sherman tanks being bombarded by enemy artillery and machine gun fire. Monteith made his way to them and banged on their sides, telling the men inside to follow him. Despite intense fire, he led them on foot through a minefield and into firing positions, where they were able to destroy an enemy pillbox and two machine gun nests.
From there, Monteith rejoined his company and led them on an assault on a German strongpoint leading off the beach. After heavy fighting, his men captured an important position on a hill.
According to his Medal of Honor citation, Monteith supervised the defense of the position against repeated counterattacks, and continuing to ignore his own personal safety, he repeatedly crossed several hundred yards of embattled open terrain to strengthen links in his company's defensive chain and fight off new threats.
Eventually, enemy troops completely surrounded the unit. While leading the fight out of the situation, Monteith was struck by machine gun bullets and killed.
Monteith's intense valor and will to lead in a dire situation helped the Allies find an important pathway to push further into Normandy and seize inland objectives. His Medal of Honor citation said his gallantry and courage were "worthy of emulation."
On D-Day, American troops suffered the worst losses of all the Allied troops involved. About 2,400 casualties were reported on Omaha Beach alone — more than the other four beachheads combined.
According to a collection of records regarding Monteith's life kept at Virginia Tech's archives, Monteith was initially slated to get the Distinguished Service Cross. However, when Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower — the Allied supreme commander during World War II who led the Normandy invasion — was given Monteith's recommendation, the honor was adjusted.
"I must say that the thing looks like a Medal of Honor to me. This man was good," Eisenhower wrote his chief of staff about Monteith.
The Medal of Honor was presented to Monteith's mother during a ceremony at her home in Richmond on March 19, 1945. Afterward, his mother hung the medal across a picture of her son on her mantel. Monteith's brother, who served in the Navy, survived the war and went on to become an electrical engineer.
Monteith is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery in France, which overlooks Omaha Beach and the English Channel.
Monteith's memory lives on. When the war ended, a 15,000-seat amphitheater at Fort McClellan, where Monteith initially served, was renamed in his honor. Barracks for housing at the 16th Infantry Regiment headquarters in Furth, Germany, were also given his name.
In 1949, Virginia Tech named a new residence hall Monteith Hall. Other places that bear his name include a road at Fort Moore (formerly Fort Benning) and an Army Reserve center in Richmond. As recently as 1999, a Kosovo Security Force base taken over by U.S. Marines was named Camp Monteith in his honor.
Monteith's Medal of Honor is on display at Virginia Tech's Corps of Cadets Museum.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Future Retiree Worried About Social Security’s Future

Dear Rusty: I keep reading that the SSA will only be able to pay out 75% of benefits come 2033. If congress were to do nothing and this reduction in benefits occurred, would seniors already collecting benefits in 2033 have their benefits reduced or would it only be those who have not begun to collect have their future benefits reduced? I will be collecting my benefits no later than 2027 but my wife will not reach full retirement age until 2033 and we are looking for information on whether we need to adjust savings now to account for mine or my wife's possible reduction in benefits. Signed: Worried Senior
Dear Worried Senior: If Congress does nothing to prevent Social Security’s reserves from depletion, Social Security – by law - will only be able to pay out benefits equal to income, which is estimated to be about 23% to 25% short of what will be needed to pay full benefits starting in 2033. That would mean everyone who is already receiving monthly Social Security benefits would get a payment 23% to 25% less than they were previously receiving. And without reform, new beneficiaries would get benefits similarly reduced.
The action needed to prevent those cuts from happening resides with Congress, and any program reform they enact would likely only affect those who are not yet collecting. Whether or how that would affect you and your wife as future SS beneficiaries depends on the scope of reform Congress will enact which, of course, is not yet known. That uncertainty, itself, is reason enough to bolster your savings for your future retirement.
The probability of Congress allowing the Trust Funds to be depleted, thus necessitating an across the board cut in everyone’s benefit is, in my opinion, slim (it would be political suicide). Congress already knows how to fix Social Security’s financial woes – they just currently lack the bipartisanship and political fortitude to do so. And it’s doubtful any Social Security reform will happen this election year - rather, the opposing sides will likely just sling accusations at each other in 2024. But rest assured that both sides of Congress are acutely aware that reform of the Social Security program is needed soon, and we are already seeing signs that progress on reform may be forthcoming (but not until after the 2024 elections).
Congress is notorious for waiting until the last possible moment to act, and I don’t suggest you alter your Social Security claiming strategy based on the unknown. But building a bigger nest egg for retirement is always a prudent goal. Also, calling your Congressional Representative to endorse needed Social Security reform which ensures your future benefits will not be cut would be a good move.


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Gardening helps grow healthy, happy kids

by MELINDA MYERS

Gardeners know and research is proving that gardening, even viewing a garden, as well as spending time in nature is good for the mind, body, and spirit. It improves strength and flexibility, lowers blood pressure, and elevates our moods.
This is also true for the youngsters in our lives. Recent studies found that school-aged children who participate in outdoor activities have better vision than those who spend most of their time indoors. Children who engage in nature and gardening are more focused, score better on exams, and are less likely to develop or exhibit symptoms of ADHD. And kids who play outside and get a bit dirty also have stronger immune systems.
Help get the kids in your life involved in gardening. There are a variety of ways to get youngsters involved no matter how much space or time you have.
Consider giving each child their own garden space or a container garden to design, plant, and tend. Containers are a great option when planting space and time are limited. And just about anything can be grown in a pot. An old 5-gallon bucket or washtub with holes drilled into the bottom, recycled nursery pots, or a colorful raised planter make great gardens.
Provide them with some kid-sized tools and equipment. The tools’ smaller scale will be easier for them to handle and having their own tools that match yours makes gardening even more special. Consider investing in a set of kids’ gardening tools including hand tools, long-handled tools, and even a wheelbarrow like those at Corona Tools USA (coronatools.com).
Keep in mind the goal is for kids to have fun and develop an interest in gardening. You may need to bite your tongue when their combinations are rather unique, or plants are spaced improperly. Provide some guidance but be prepared to let them experiment and learn from their failures as well as successes.
Kids like to water even at an early age. The biggest challenge is getting the water to the plant but that will come with time, practice, and a few water-soaked outfits. Your efforts will be rewarded when your child takes over watering your container gardens.
You may notice kids often find bugs and worms more interesting than plants. Use this as a gateway into gardening. Get kids involved in worm composting or hunting for earthworms in the compost pile. They will have fun on the worm hunt while helping you turn your compost pile.
Use the “Pluck, Drop and Stomp” method to manage garden pests. Point out the bad guys and the damage they do. Be sure they know to watch for the good guys and leave them be to help the garden grow. Then have the children pluck the bad bugs off the plant, drop them to the ground, and stomp on them. This eco-friendly pest management strategy also burns some of that excess energy.
Include lots of color in the garden and containers. Michigan State University surveyed kids before creating their children’s garden. They found kids were much more excited and likely to participate when a garden is filled with color.
And as the flowers are maturing and your family is overrun with vegetables, consider sharing the harvest and a few bouquets of flowers. Giving helps children grow into caring, well-rounded adults. And food pantries in your community are always in need of fresh produce. Most of the food-insecure people in our communities are kids and seniors who greatly benefit from fresh nutritious vegetables.
Be sure to end the growing season with a harvest party. Use your homegrown produce to prepare a picnic or fancy dinner for family and friends. Then use some of those beautiful flowers you grew to decorate the table.


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‘Buzz’
Don’t dismiss it if your child is afraid of the “monster” in her bedroom; check it out. A North Carolina mom, Ashley Class, didn’t believe it when her three-year-old daughter told her that there was a “monster” hiding behind the wall in her bedroom. But when mom and dad heard odd, buzzing noises they called beekeeper Curtis Collins to check it out. Collins discovered the noises were coming from some 50,000 bees hiding inside the walls.

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The goat that got away
It was easy for Jeffrey the goat to make his getaway in Kansas City, Missouri. After all, he is a mountain goat. They found him hiding 80 feet off the ground under a roadway and rescuers managed to get a rope around him. But Jeffrey didn’t surrender. Instead, he tried to escape by jumping from ledge to ledge. He finally fell to the ground, landing on padding provided by local firefighters.

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Ophidiophobia Magnus
Half of our population suffers from Ophidiophobia, better known as the fear of snakes. But we shouldn’t, says Melissa Amarello, executive director of Advocates for Snake Preservation. After all, she says, “they swallow their food whole, and in the United States there are no snakes big enough to eat us.” However, researchers tell us that they’ve discovered the remains of a very large snake that roamed western India 47 million years ago and was big enough to swallow you whole. The remains showed it be as big as 50 feet long and could have weighed as much as 2,200 pounds. Pretty scary!


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Medal of Honor: Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert M. Patterson

By KATIE LANGE
DOD News |

For a lot of military heroes, actions taken in battle are carried out without thinking, and they're sometimes hazy afterward due to the fog of war. For Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Martin Patterson, the actions that earned him the Medal of Honor during a firefight in Vietnam had to be reiterated to him because he couldn't remember most of it.
Patterson was born in Carpenter, North Carolina, and raised in nearby Fayetteville, near Fort Bragg. He had four sisters and an older brother. The family was poor, so at an early age, Patterson helped as best he could by working on the family's tobacco farm, where he said he plowed fields using a mule because they didn't have tractors.
During his last year of high school in 1966, Patterson dropped out to join the Army. He was initially placed with the 82nd Airborne Division before being transferred to the 101st Airborne Division's 17th Cavalry Regiment in August 1967 in preparation for a tour in Vietnam. The unit deployed that December.
In a Library of Congress Veterans History Project interview, Patterson said he was welcomed to Vietnam with an immediate mortar attack. In his first few months of deployment, he carried out several convoy escorts and search-and-destroy missions.
On May 6, 1968, Patterson's unit was tasked with sweeping an area near the village of La Chu to search for enemy soldiers who'd reportedly moved in.
Then a specialist fourth class, Patterson was a fire team leader in a 34-man platoon. He said they came across no problems until about 1 p.m., when they neared the village and ran into a well-armed and much larger North Vietnamese Army battalion. Patterson's platoon sergeant was shot almost immediately, and its lead squad was quickly pinned down by heavy automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire from two enemy bunkers.
"It's strange to hear things go whistling over your head," Patterson said of the little he remembered from that day. "We had very little cover to get down behind — a little tree here, a mound of dirt over there."
After this point, Patterson said he doesn't remember anything for a few hours. But according to his Medal of Honor citation and what he was told, he and two members of his team moved forward under a hail of gunfire to destroy the enemy's bunkers.
Soon after, Patterson noticed that more of his comrades were being fired on by a third bunker that was being defended by enemy soldiers in one-man positions known as spider holes. Without hesitation, Patterson moved forward — despite the intense small-arms and grenade fire — to successfully assault and destroy those positions.
But again — Patterson doesn't remember it.
"The platoon sergeant being shot is the last thing I remember. Everything else is just a blank blur," Patterson said in his 2003 Library of Congress interview. "The next thing I knew, it was 5 o'clock that afternoon, and I was in a 500-pound-bomb crater."
He said he and several injured and fallen comrades stayed in the crater until eventually continuing their assault through the night.
In total, Patterson single-handedly destroyed five enemy bunkers, killed eight enemy soldiers and captured seven weapons. His courageous actions helped his unit advance, allowing them to eventually penetrate the enemy's defensive position.
The next day, Patterson received the Silver Star — something he was a bit confused by.
"I was thinking to myself, 'Why did I get this? I didn't do anything.' And that's when we found out that we had actually gone up against a reinforced regiment," Patterson said.
After that, Patterson continued with his deployment as usual until he returned home in December 1968, right after being promoted to sergeant. At some point, he married a woman named Linda and had two sons.
Several months after his return, in September 1969, Patterson said he was bewildered to learn that he had been nominated for the Medal of Honor. On Oct. 9, 1969, Patterson received the nation's highest honor for valor from President Richard M. Nixon during a White House ceremony. Three other soldiers also received the medal that day.
Patterson said that, over time, he's learned that wearing the medal is much harder than what it took to earn it.
"I think that a person who wears the Medal of Honor is not wearing it for themselves. They're wearing it for everyone who was there, particularly for those who didn't come back," he said. "Everything I do, before I do it, I will stop and think, 'Is it going to embarrass that medal?' … If it is, then I won't do it."
Patterson remained in the military until he retired as a command sergeant major in 1991 after serving in the Gulf War. He went on to work as a benefits counselor at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Patterson divorced at some point. While working for the VA in 2005, he met another woman named Linda, whom he married in 2007. The latter Linda Patterson said her husband was so humble that she didn't even know he had earned the Medal of Honor until six months after they'd started dating.
Patterson retired from the VA in 2010 after having triple bypass surgery, according to his wife. The couple eventually moved to Pensacola, Florida, where they currently live. Patterson enjoys NASCAR and watching golf, and he often speaks about his experiences at military and high school events.
Earlier this year, Patterson attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in recognition of Medal of Honor Day.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Widower’s Retirement Stymied by Social Security’s “WEP” and “GPO” Rules
Dear Rusty: My wife passed away 4 years ago. I want to retire so called SSA and was told I can collect my own SS at 62, reduced by WEP. My wife’s SS was greater than mine, but they said I do not qualify for hers at age 60 because of the GPO. This seems odd that I get zero for her, however I can collect mine at the two thirds reduction at 62. Is this true? This zero dollar amount places my retirement on hold for now. I was counting on her SS. Signed: Discouraged Widower
Dear Discouraged: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) are two of the most confusing (and unpopular) of Social Security’s myriad rules. From the way you describe your conversation with the Social Security Administration, it doesn’t appear to have concluded with you fully understanding how these provisions work, so allow me to elaborate.
WEP and GPO affect anyone who has a retirement pension from a federal, state, or local government agency which did not participate in Social Security, meaning neither the employee nor the employer paid into Social Security based on the employee’s earnings. Obviously, you have such a pension, which means that WEP will reduce any Social Security retirement benefit you have earned from other employment where SS payroll taxes were withheld, and the GPO will affect any survivor benefit you are entitled to.
WEP affects only the SS retirement benefit you earned elsewhere; WEP does not affect any surviving spouse benefit you might be entitled to from your wife. Rather, it is the GPO which affects your survivor benefit, again because of your state retirement (called a “non-covered pension” - one earned without contributing to Social Security). The GPO will reduce any surviving spouse benefit you might be entitled to by 2/3rds of the amount of your “non-covered” state pension. Depending on the size of your state pension, that reduction may entirely eliminate your surviving spouse benefit from your wife.
Under normal SS rules, a surviving spouse does not become eligible for survivor benefits until they reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled). Normally, a surviving spouse benefit claimed at age 60 is reduced by 28.5% and it is the GPO (not WEP) that will affect your survivor benefit whenever you claim it. However, even without GPO, your age 60 survivor benefit amount would be only 71.5% of the amount your wife was receiving (or entitled to receive) at her death. If you are already collecting your non-covered state pension when you claim your SS survivor benefit from your wife, then that reduced age 60 survivor benefit would be offset by 2/3rds of the amount of your state pension. And that (according to what Social Security told you) is what eliminated your age 60 eligibility for a surviving spouse benefit from your wife. If you don’t claim it at 60 your survivor benefit will continue to grow until you reach your full retirement age (FRA) of 67, but if 2/3rds of your state pension is more than 100% of your SS survivor benefit, you still won’t get any surviving spouse benefit from your wife’s record.
A further consequence of your non-covered state pension is that the SS retirement benefit you earned elsewhere will be reduced by WEP. WEP will reduce, but cannot eliminate, your Social Security retirement benefit. The WEP formula is complex but, generally, your WEP-based Social Security retirement benefit will likely be roughly half of what you would get if you did not have a state “non-covered pension.” You could claim your WEP-reduced SS retirement benefit as early as age 62 or, if financially feasible, delay longer to get a somewhat higher (but still reduced) amount.
Just FYI, your state employer had an obligation to fully inform you of the consequences of not contributing to Social Security while earning your state pension. It appears as though they may not have fulfilled that obligation.


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10 healthy aging tips for older Americans

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America offers lifestyle choices that promote healthy aging & help reduce dementia risk

As part of Older Americans Month this May, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is offering 10 steps for healthy aging so that older adults can be proactive about their brain health.
“As we honor and celebrate the older adults who are a vital, vibrant part of our communities during National Older Americans Month, we also want to help them to be proactive about their brain health, because the risk of developing dementia increases with age,” said Jennifer Reeder, LCSW, AFA’s Director of Educational and Social Services. “Empowering older adults with information about positive, brain-healthy lifestyle choices they can make will go a long way to helping them remain active members of our society for years to come.”
Ten steps for healthy aging:
1. Eat Well- Adopt a low-fat diet high on fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blueberries, and broccoli. Take daily vitamins. Limit intake of red meats, fried and processed foods, salt, and sugar. In general, foods that are “heart healthy” are also “brain healthy.”
2. Stay Active- Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and can also help improve mood and general well-being. Brisk walking benefits brain health; aerobic exercise boosts your heart rate; weight training builds strength and flexibility.
3. Learn New Things- Learning new things exercises and strengthens your brain. Taking a class, trying a new activity, or engaging in any new cognitive pursuit causes your brain to think outside of its normal routine and provides cognitive stimulation. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand stimulates the brain.
4. Get Enough Sleep- Getting consistent sleep every night is key; at least seven to nine hours is ideal. Having a good sleep environment is also helpful. Make sure you do low-key activities before getting into bed so you are not overstimulated. Avoid caffeinated drinks close to your bedtime. Insomnia can have serious physical effects and negatively affect memory and thinking.
5. Mind Your Meds- Medication can affect everyone differently, especially as you age. When getting a new medication or something you have not taken recently, (whether over the counter or prescription), consult with your doctor or local pharmacist.
6. Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol- Smoking can increase the risk of other serious illnesses, while too much alcohol can impair judgment and cause accidents, including falls, broken bones, and car crashes.
7. Stay Connected- Prolonged social isolation and loneliness are detrimental to your health, and can increase the risk of a number of different health conditions, including dementia-related illnesses, heart disease, and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Spending time with loved ones and friends, participating in group activities, and getting involved in local community groups are all ways of connecting with other people, keeping your brain active, and helping you feel more engaged with the world around you.
8. Know Your Blood Pressure- Blood pressure can affect your cognitive functioning. Visit your physician regularly to check your blood pressure and make sure it is within normal range.
9. See Your Doctor- Maintain checkups. Health screenings are key to managing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, all of which can impact brain health. Speak with your physician about any health-related concerns or questions you have.
10. Get a Memory Screening- Memory impairments are not a normal part of aging; they can be caused by a number of different conditions. Because of this, early detection of memory impairments is essential. Memory screenings are quick, noninvasive screenings that should be part of everyone’s health and wellness routine, even if you’re not currently experiencing memory issues. AFA offers free virtual memory screenings every weekday, with no minimum age or insurance prerequisites—visit www.alzfdn.org or call AFA at 866-232-8484 for more information about getting a free virtual memory screening.
Individuals wishing to learn more about healthy aging and promoting good brain health can contact the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Helpline at 866-232-8484 or visit AFA’s website, www.alzfdn.org. The Helpline is available seven days a week.

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Boost the beauty and comfort of your outdoor spaces
By MELINDA MYERS

Add some comfort and beauty to your outdoor spaces this year. Look for options that fit your lifestyle, budget, and schedule. Even simple changes can make a positive impact on the time you spend relaxing and entertaining on your patio, deck, or other outdoor spaces.
Freshen up the look and comfort of these areas with some new furniture. Look for comfortable pieces made of durable materials guaranteed to provide years of enjoyment. If this is not within your budget, consider refurbishing something you already have, are gifted from a friend, or find in a thrift shop. Adding a bit of paint, new cushions, or even colorful pillows can transform older pieces into something special.
Add some shade. A strategically placed umbrella can provide needed relief from the sun. Make sure it is stable and secure, especially in windy locations. Consider shade sails not only for the shade they provide but also for their aesthetic appeal. Make sure it is securely anchored and supported, properly managed during harsh weather, and made of fire-retardant fabric if this is a concern in your location. Pergolas are more permanent structures. Train deciduous vines up and over this structure for added shade in the summer. Then enjoy the warming sunlight when the vines drop their leaves during the cooler months of the year.
Create some privacy with strategically placed plantings and containers. Tall grasses, narrow upright shrubs, and vine-covered trellises can help block unwanted views while creating a private space outdoors. Consider the views you want to keep and those you want to block. Screen unsightly views and areas where neighbors can see into your space. You may only need a vine-covered trellis, several hanging baskets, a couple of pots, or a section of fencing rather than a long hedge or length of fencing.
Soften the look of fencing with some wall-mounted planters, a few potted plants or shrubs, and in-ground plantings if space allows. Use a diverse selection of plants when creating a living screen. This provides more seasonal interest and makes it easier to replace that one failed plant in a mature hedge of evergreens like arborvitaes.
Water is another way to add a bit of serenity to your space. A wall-mounted fountain, small container of water plants, or container fountain will add noise-blocking sound and a sense of serenity to any space.
To control pesky mosquitoes in water features (or in any standing water), add a mosquito control like Mosquito Dunks and Bits (SummitResponsibleSolutions.com) that contains a naturally occurring bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis to the water. This active ingredient kills mosquito larvae, preventing them from transforming into biting adults. Mosquito Bits quickly knock down the mosquito larval population, while the Mosquito Dunks provide 30 days of control. They both are safe for pets, fish, wildlife, and children.
Extend the time you can spend outdoors by adding a heat source for those chilly days and nights and a fan to keep air moving and the space cooler on hot days. Adding a fan also provides some relief from mosquitoes. These weak fliers can’t fight the breeze which will keep you out of their reach and much more comfortable.
Include lighting so you can enjoy your outdoor space in the evening. Consider a string of lights overhead, rail lights around the deck, or strategically placed illuminated plant containers. Create a more intimate experience with a few votive candles displayed in unique holders like old punch cups.
Light a few citronella candles for a bit of ambiance and mosquito control when enjoying your outdoor space in the evening. Citronella oil and the scented candles have some mosquito-repelling properties. Scatter lots of candles throughout the space when entertaining. Position the candles within a few feet of yourself and your guests for some short-term relief from these pests.
Start with a list of improvements you want to make. Then get busy researching the various options so you will be ready to boost the comfort and enjoyment of your patio, deck and other outdoor spaces this year.

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Brumation
This alligator managed to survive, thanks to brumation—the ability for reptiles to slow down their bodily functions. The critter had been trapped in a drainage pipe in Hilton Head, SC for some six months. According to wildlife expert Matt Kraycar, brumation “is basically like hibernation for reptiles. So as it gets cooler, they're going to shut their body down. So by doing that, he doesn't really need to eat as much as he typically would during the summer, and I'm sure there were still fish and turtles coming through those pipes as well, so it didn't look like he was starving by any means."

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The Key Lime pup
Golden Retrievers come in light golden, golden, and dark golden. But Shamrock, a newborn retriever belonging to Carole DeBruler, owner of Florida's Golden Treasures Kennel, came into this world wearing a rather attractive light green coat. The pup’s coloration was the result of biliverdin, a green bile sometimes found in the wombs of mother dogs, according to the experts. And, they say, Shamrock’s coat will eventually bear the standard yellow color of retrievers.

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It was fate
She lost her wedding ring on Galveston Island, TX but Deysi Maldonado was lucky enough to have the Galveston Island Treasure Hunters Club come to the rescue. But, as it turned out, it wasn’t the metal detectors that helped find her band of gold. It was a couple who accidentally came across the ring. Caleb Brignac and his girlfriend were digging in the sand, came across a fishing net that was partially buried and, as fate would have it, when they pulled it out of the sand out came the diamond ring.

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Medal of Honor: Army Tech. 5th Grade John J. Pinder Jr.

By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

June 6, 1944, was a monumental day for Army Technician 5th Grade John Joseph Pinder Jr. Aside from it being his 32nd birthday, it was also when he joined thousands of other Allied troops to storm the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day. Omaha Beach was hell on earth for soldiers that day, but Pinder carried out his mission with honor before succumbing to his many wounds. His valor earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Pinder was born June 6, 1912, in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, to Laura Belle and John Pinder Sr. He had two younger siblings, Martha and Harold, and he went by his middle name, Joe.
Pinder's father worked in the steel industry, which caused the family to relocate within the state a few times. Their first move was about a half-hour away, to Burgettstown, before relocating again about an hour north to Butler, where Pinder graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class in 1931.
Pinder excelled at baseball and played in the minor leagues for about seven years. He was a pitcher in Georgia and Florida for farm teams that fed players to the New York Yankees, Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians. During his time in the South, Pinder met and got engaged to a woman named Ruby Gillian.
Unfortunately, the two weren't able to marry before Pinder was drafted into the Army in January 1942. He was a radio operator assigned to the 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
Later that year, the unit left for England where, in 1943, Pinder was able to meet up with his younger brother, known as Hal, who had also been drafted as a bomber pilot in the Army Air Corps. At that time, the brothers hadn't seen each other in two years, a 1945 Pittsburgh Press article said.
While overseas, Joe Pinder took part in various combat campaigns, including those in Africa and Sicily, before being tapped to take part in D-Day — the biggest land, air and sea invasion in history that finally gave the Allies a foothold in Nazi Europe. By this time, Pinder had worked his way up to the rank of technician 5th grade, the equivalent of a corporal.
On June 6, 1944, Pinder's unit was in the first wave of Allied troops to assault Colleville-sur-Mer — better known as Omaha Beach. Unfortunately, the Germans were ready for them and immediately began pummeling transport ships before troops were able to land near shore.
An artillery shell landed near Pinder's boat and tore holes in it, killing some men immediately and causing chaos among those left inside. As the vessel began to fill with water, its ramp opened to let the men out about 100 yards offshore. Devasting machine gun and artillery fire rained down on them as they tried to wade their way to land in waist-deep water. Many were killed before they even got to shore.
As Pinder struggled through the waves, he carried vitally important radio equipment on his shoulder — and back then, radios used in war weighed about 80 pounds. He was only a few yards from his boat when he was hit twice by enemy fire, with one hit tearing into the left side of his face. Witnesses said Pinder continued forward holding the equipment in one arm and the flesh from his face with the other hand.
Refusing to take cover or get medical attention, Pinder delivered the radio to the shore. He then turned around and went back into the fire-swept surf to gather more parts and equipment. He knew setting up communications was crucial to directing naval and air support that could take out the German installations decimating the shoreline. It was the only way they would survive the ordeal.
Pinder ran back into the surf twice that day, despite the fierce pain he suffered. On the third trip, he was hit a few times by a machine gun, but he still refused to stop. He got back to the beach and helped troops set up the communications equipment before passing out from blood loss. He died later that day.
Meanwhile, in January 1944, Pinder's pilot brother crashed in Belgium during a raid over Germany and was taken prisoner. Pinder had worried about his brother for months and never got to find out if he survived. Hal Pinder spent 14 months in a prisoner-of-war camp, which is where he learned of his older brother's death. He was finally released and sent home when the war ended.
Of the five beaches on which the Allies landed on D-Day, Omaha Beach was the largest, and its troops suffered about 2,400 casualties — more than the other four beachfronts combined. Joe Pinder's bravery during the chaos served as huge inspiration for those who survived.
For his valor, Pinder was awarded the Medal of Honor. Pinder's father received the honor on his son's behalf on Jan. 26, 1945, during a ceremony at the 5th Regiment Armory in Baltimore. Pinder was one of 12 soldiers who took part in the D-Day landings to receive the nation's highest honor. Of the 12, nine received the award posthumously.
Pinder was initially buried at a U.S. military cemetery in Normandy, but his family chose to bring him home in 1947. He now rests in Grandview Cemetery in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, where a monument was dedicated to him in 2000. There's also a plaque dedicated to the fallen corporal at the McKees Rocks War Memorial.
Pinder Barracks, a U.S. military post near Nuremberg, Germany, stood in his honor from 1945 to 1995. After it was torn down, the park that replaced it was named Pinder Park.
Pinder's Medal of Honor was donated by his family to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh, along with letters he wrote home and the contents of his wallet that were recovered in Normandy, according to a 2019 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. The museum said Pinder's medal is part of its permanent collection, but it is currently on loan to the National Museum of the United States Army for the upcoming 80th commemoration of D-Day.

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House Call

Dr. Bala Simon, associate professor Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Q:. What is Huntington's Disease?
A: A: Huntington’s disease (HD) is a rare disorder that affects the brain. An inherited condition, HD causes the nerve cells in the brain that control memory and movement to progressively break down and die. The Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center estimates that fewer than 5,000 people in the United States have HD.
HD is caused by a mutation in the gene that produces the protein huntingtin. A child of a parent who has HD has a 50% chance of inheriting the gene mutation. It is possible for HD to develop in people without a family history.
Symptoms can occur at any time, including in those younger than 20, but signs of HD often appear in people in their 30s and 40s. These symptoms may include depression, involuntary jerking movements, muscle rigidity, problems with speech or difficulty focusing on tasks.
There is no cure for HD, nor is there any way to prevent it. Treatment generally focuses on making symptoms tolerable, including drugs to control movement and manage emotions. Contact your health care provider if you experience symptoms related to HD, particularly if you have a family history.

Q: Why might a patient be placed in intensive care?
A: A: Intensive care units (ICUs) are sections in a hospital that provide specialized care and monitoring. They may also be referred to as critical care units or intensive care wards. Most of us are generally familiar with ICUs, whether from being in one or having experienced it with a family member or friend.
Patients admitted to an ICU have issues that can include needing support to breathe, a severe head injury, a serious short-term condition such as a heart attack, an infection such as pneumonia, or an extremely high or low pulse rate. Patients may also be in an ICU to recover from surgery.
ICU patients are monitored and treated with equipment such as catheters, feeding tubes, intravenous tubes for fluid or medications, an oscilloscope for heart rate, or ventilators. Monitoring occurs more frequently in an ICU, with vital signs such as blood pressure, oxygen levels, heart rate and respiratory rate continuously displayed.
An ICU can be a stressful place for patients, family members and friends. Visitation may be limited to allow the patient to adequately rest and to prevent the spread of infection. Many facilities offer support services related to an ICU such as counseling — do not hesitate to ask the health care provider if you have questions.

Q: What is neurofibromatosis?
A: A: Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a term for three genetic disorders that cause tumors to grow on nerves in the body. These tumors can affect any part of the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. The National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics estimates that approximately 100,000 people in the U.S. are affected by neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) — the most common type.
NF can be inherited, but 30- 50% of cases are from spontaneous gene mutation. The risk of developing NF is higher if a parent has the disorder. NF affects both sexes and all races. Signs of NF may be present at birth or may develop between ages 3 and 5.
Symptoms of NF include flat brown spots on the skin, freckles in the armpits, loss of hearing or vision, learning difficulties or seizures. Cardiovascular conditions can result from NF, and those affected by the disorder are at higher risk of various cancers.
There is no cure for NF. Treatments include chemotherapy, medications to stop tumor cells from growing or the removal of tumors. Contact your health care provider if you experience symptoms and you have a family history of NF.

Q: How do you treat osteoporosis?
A: Osteoporosis is a disorder in which bones become weaker when the body makes too little or loses too much bone. When this occurs, bones are more likely to break. Osteoporosis can weaken bones so much that they may break during simple acts such as coughing or bumping into an object.
Women are affected by this condition more than men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20% percent of women age 50 and over have osteoporosis, compared to 5% percent of men in the same age bracket. White and Asian women who are past menopause have the highest risk for osteoporosis.
Many people do not realize they have the disorder until they break a bone. The early stages of bone loss often present no symptoms. As bones get weaker, symptoms may include lower back pain, a loss of height or the inability to stand up straight. Certain medications may also contribute to bone loss.
Regular exercise, including weight training, can strengthen your bones as well as the muscles supporting them. Vitamin and mineral supplements may be recommended, as well as medications specifically designed to treat osteoporosis. See your health care provider if you have questions.

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‘Crawl’ it a win
The Cambridge Dictionary defines a pub crawl as “a visit to several pubs, one after the other, having a drink or drinks at each one.” It’s not for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, 69-year-old David Clarkson of Sydney, Australia recently earned a page in the Guinness Book of World Records by “drinking his way” in and out of no less than 120 pubs in 24 hours. How did he do it? According to the Guinness judges: “Each visit had to incorporate a paid transaction for a beverage [non-alcoholic or alcoholic], as well as a minimum of 125 ml [milliliters] of liquid being consumed ... David notes that he consumed 20 litters of liquid in 24 hours, mostly consisting of soft drinks and juices.”

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En pointe
How many tutu-clad ballerinas can fit in the ballroom of New York’s Plaza Hotel? Enough to win the attention of the judges at the Guinness World Record-- 353 ballerinas, to be precise. The young dancers of the Youth America Grand Prix were “en pointe” – on their toes – and won the day and the Guinness prize. The organization’s Sergey Gordeev explained that "the big why of why we're doing it is to really let the world know that dance is a healing force. Dance is a power that brings us connection at a time when we're so disconnected."

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They’re on the loose
Lemurs are cute wet-nosed exotic animals found mainly in Madagascar. But a pair of pet Lemurs, belonging to an unidentified resident of Aransas Pass, Texas, got away recently and caused quite a stir. They are apparently still on the loose notwithstanding the fact that there have been numerous sightings. One local resident, Spencer Bell said he spotted one of the lemurs on his docked boat. The sighting took place on April 1 and, he said, “everybody thought it was an April Fools' joke.”

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Medal of Honor: Army Sgt. Joe Hayashi
By KATIE LANGE
Army Sgt. Joe Hayashi was days away from seeing the Germans surrender in Italy when he was killed. His actions in taking out enemy positions before that were integral to his unit's success in driving the enemy back. Hayashi initially earned a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery, but that was eventually upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
Hayashi was born Aug. 14, 1920, in Salinas, California. His parents, Chiukichi and Toyo Hayashi, had emigrated from Japan nearly two decades earlier. Hayashi had two sisters, Chiye and Kiyo.
When Hayashi was 4, his father was killed in a work-related accident. His mother then moved the family to Pasadena, California, remarried and had three more children.
Hayashi grew up as a typical American child. He played football and baseball, was a member of the Boy Scouts and loved to play outside. A slight man — Hayashi was recorded as being 5'3", 125 pounds — he was also adept at car mechanics, which is what he chose to do for work after high school.
In October 1940, Hayashi registered for the draft. Seven months later, he enlisted in the Army. He was initially stationed in California, but after the Pearl Harbor attacks, which led to a deep distrust of Japanese Americans, he was transferred to Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Due to that same distrust, Hayashi's mother, stepfather and half-siblings were all forced to live at an internment camp in Wyoming until the war's end.
Hayashi was already in the military, but when the war started, other Japanese Americans — known as Nisei — were barred from service. They still wanted to serve, though, and were eventually able to in a few units, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was activated in February 1943 and was composed of all Nisei men. Hayashi was reassigned as a drill sergeant in the unit as part of the 3rd Battalion's Company K.
The 442nd trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, before deploying to Italy in June 1944. Hayashi stayed behind with a cadre to continue training soldiers. Soon after, however, he volunteered to join the fight and was shipped to France in November 1944.
In March 1945, the 442nd joined in on the Po Valley Campaign. Their mission was to be a diversion for enemy troops to break them up and weaken their defensive line, known as the Gothic Line. The 442nd ended up being incredibly successful in this endeavor; not only did they force enemy troops from that area, but they pushed them far behind the Gothic Line.
By mid-April, nearly all of Germany's forces in the area were trying to retreat. The 442nd followed them and had moved to within 10 miles of a strategically located rail center, where the Germans were preparing to make a last stand.
At this stage of his career, Hayashi held the rank of staff sergeant; however, at some point while overseas, he was demoted to private after apparently defending fellow soldiers who had left their unit during heavy fighting, according to a June 2000 article in the Billings Gazette out of Billings, Montana. That's why, in his Medal of Honor citation, he's listed as a private.
On April 20, 1945, Hayashi's unit was ordered to find enemy machine gun nests along a strongly defended hill near the small village of Tendola, Italy. Hayashi led his men to within 75 yards of enemy positions before they were seen and fired upon.
Hayashi dragged some of his wounded comrades to safety before returning to danger and exposing himself to small-arms fire so he could direct deadly mortar fire onto the hostile positions. With the remaining men in his squad, Hayashi then attacked the hill and took over the enemy position. There, they discovered that the mortars Hayashi helped direct had destroyed three enemy machine guns, killed 27 enemy soldiers and wounded several more.
Meanwhile, the town of Tendola was still being held by about 50 Germans. So, two days later, Hayashi's unit attacked in a firefight that lasted into the night with house-to-house combat. Hayashi eventually maneuvered his squad up a steep, terraced hill to get within about 100 yards of another enemy machine gun nest. Under intense fire, Hayashi crawled toward it and threw a grenade, which killed one enemy soldier and forced the other members of the gun's crew to surrender.
From there, Hayashi noticed four more enemy machine gun nests taking aim at members of his platoon. He threw another grenade that destroyed one of them, then crawled to the right flank of a second and killed four enemy soldiers there.
Hayashi tried to follow the remaining members of the crew who were running away. Sadly, he was hit by gunfire and killed.
Hayashi's courage and leadership were integral to his company's success. They took control of that enemy position a day later, and within a few days, Germans had begun surrendering en masse since their retreat route was cut off. By May 2 — 10 days after Hayashi died — fighting in Italy ended as German forces formally surrendered.
The 442nd went on to become one of the most decorated military units in American history. Because of its success, the draft was reinstated in internment camps back in the U.S. Many of the men who served in the 442nd went on to have distinguished careers in science, higher education and government.
Hayashi posthumously earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his self-sacrificing actions. It wasn't until about a half-century later that a Congressional inquiry revealed that many Nisei service members like Hayashi had been passed up for the nation's highest honor for valor due to racial bias.
That wrong was finally remedied on June 21, 2000 — 55 years after Hayashi's death — when his medal was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, and he was promoted to sergeant. President Bill Clinton presented the medal to Hayashi's remaining family during a White House ceremony that also honored 21 other Asian-American military heroes whose medals were being upgraded. Sadly, only seven of the recipients were still alive. Eleven had died in combat, and the rest had passed in the years after the war.
For their heroic actions in combat and steadfast loyalty in the face of ethnic discrimination, members of the 442nd and their families — including Hayashi's — were also honored in 2011 with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award for service given out by the U.S.
Hayashi was initially buried at a U.S. military cemetery in Italy, but his family requested he be brought home in 1948. He was reinterred with full military honors in March 1949 in Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
At the Nishi Hongwanji Temple in L.A., a bronze plaque bears Hayashi's name, along with the names of 15 other L.A.-area Nisei service members who were killed in the war.

Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Minister Wants to Maximize Social Security Benefit
Dear Rusty: I want to apply for Social Security, but I want to make sure I get all the benefits I have earned. I am a veteran with a 10% disability rating (not sure if that matters). I am 68 years old. I am a minister and have been exempt from Social Security taxes for most of my income since I was about 30, but I still have the 40 quarters needed. I have also worked off and on in the secular workplace and continued paying Social Security taxes.
One hears a great deal about those who want to “help” us apply for Social Security, but which turn out to be a scam or want a fee. How do I apply and maximize my benefits with my unique situation? Signed: Seeking Answers
Dear Seeking: Don’t worry about fees here at the AMAC Foundation – there is never a fee for the services we provide (we are non-profit). And I want to thank you for your military service - you may find the “For Veterans” section at our AMAC Foundation website interesting – www.amacfoundation.org.
To your question: Your VA disability rating does not affect your Social Security benefit. At 68 years old, your Social Security benefit payment has been earning Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs) since you reached your full retirement age (FRA) of 66 years and 4 months in July 2022. That means that your benefit, if you claim now, will be about 13% more than it would have been had you claimed at your FRA. FYI, if you continue to delay, your SS benefit will continue to grow (by 8% per additional year you delay), up to the month you turn 70. At that time, your SS benefit will be 29% higher than it would have been at your FRA. Nevertheless, if you wish to claim a smaller amount now, you can do so in a couple of ways:
• You can call Social Security (at 1.800.772.1213, or your local SS office) to request an appointment to apply. They will most likely set a date/time to call you to take your application over the phone (they discourage office visits these days). Once you have applied, it typically takes a month or two to process your application, but they will pay your benefits effective with the month you say you want them to begin. Note, they will likely also offer you six months of retroactive benefits but be aware that if you accept that offer your monthly payment will be permanently reduced by 4%.
• You can apply for your SS retirement benefit online at www.ssa.gov/apply. Applying online is, by far, the most efficient method, as shown in this short video: www.ssa.gov/hlp/video/iclaim_r01.htm. However, to apply online you will need to first create your personal “my Social Security” online account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Once you have your personal online account set up, you will be able to see what your SS retirement benefit will be now, and at future ages should you plan to wait longer to claim. Your SS retirement benefit will be based on your lifetime record of earnings from which Social Security FICA taxes were withheld (or self-employment earnings on which SS payroll taxes were levied). In any case, your SS benefit will be based on your lifetime earnings record contributing to Social Security, as well as your age when you claim. You’ll get your maximum benefit based on those factors.
Although your situation is somewhat uncommon, it is not exceptionally unique. Your VA disability rating does not affect your Social Security benefit and, because you are a member of the clergy, you are not subject to Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) – a rule which reduces SS benefits for those with a pension earned while not contributing to Social Security. In other words, your SS benefit will be based entirely on your lifetime record of earnings from which Social Security payroll taxes were withheld, and your age when your benefit starts.

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Ouch!
If you purchased a batch of cookies at the Sis Sweets Cookies & Café in Leavenworth, KS recently beware, you might break a tooth. Proprietor Dawn "Sis" Monroe says she lost a $4,000 diamond that fell from her ring and it just might have wound up in her cookie dough. She posted a notice on Facebook that reads: “My heart is beyond broken. It’s been on my hand for 36 years.”

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An unwanted guest
It’s not unusual to find critters in your house if you live in the country. Mary Hollenback was at home in Venice, Fl relaxing on her couch when she heard a noise. She got up and headed for the front door. "I thought it was somebody who didn't live here trying to get into the wrong house," she said. Instead, as she put it, “Oh my gosh, I have an alligator in my house.” She called 911 for help and Sarasota County authorities came to the rescue, quickly removing the nearly eight foot long critter.

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Party place for sale
Beer Can Island, Fl is up for sale. The 9-acre man-made atoll, also known as Pine Key, has long been a place for parties. It’s located off Apollo Beach, Fl near the MacDill Air Force Base and was man made in the 1940s. The owners have cleaned up the place, bagging hundreds of bags of trash and empty beer bottles and have listed it for a stiff $14 million. One potential buyer is trying to raise the money by selling ownership shares at $1,000 per share. He calls his enterprise the "Save Beer Can Island" project.

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Sky Light
“It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman!” No, it was mysterious streaks of light that filled the sky above California recently. Some guessed that it was the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that took off from Vandenberg Space Force Base. Others guessed it was streaks of light caused by a falling space module. Whatever it was, it was, indeed, an amazing celestial event that lit up the dark night sky and provided earthlings with a lot to talk about.

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He was caught on film
Hammerin' Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run and broke Babe Ruth’s record fifty years ago on April 8, 1974 at the Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. He made baseball history and one, Charlie Russo, caught it all on film. The Associated Press reports that “the 81-year-old Russo is releasing his long-private footage of the moment,” what he calls a truly “magical” moment.

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Medal of Honor: Navy Cmdr. George L. Street III
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense
Navy Cmdr. George Levick Street III was a daring leader during crucial moments toward the end of World War II in the Pacific. His expertise and leadership allowed his submarine crew to sneak into an enemy harbor and destroy three ships without suffering any damage to their own vessel. That feat earned him the Medal of Honor.
Street was born on July 27, 1913, in Richmond, Virginia. His parents were Florence and George Street Jr., and he had two younger siblings, sister Melinda and brother Abbot, who also served in the Navy during World War II.
Street graduated from St. Christopher's School, a private school for boys, in 1931. Shortly afterward, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Two years later, he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated and commissioned as an ensign in June 1937.
Street spent his first three active-duty years serving at sea. In the fall of 1940, he requested to go to submariner school in New London, Connecticut. After, he received orders to serve on the new submarine USS Gar, which arrived at Pearl Harbor three days after the Japanese surprise attack that brought the U.S. into World War II. Street spent much of the war on the Gar, completing numerous patrols and earning two Silver Stars.
At some point during the war, Street met Mary McKimmey, of Norfolk, Virginia. They married and had two children, son George and daughter Kris.
In July 1944, Street had worked his way up the ranks and was given command of the newly commissioned submarine USS Tirante, which set sail for its first war patrol in March 1945 and would go on to sink at least six Japanese ships. It was during that first patrol that Street's leadership and bravery earned him the Medal of Honor.
Before dawn on April 14, 1945, then-Lt. Cmdr. Street and his crew were tasked with doing reconnaissance along the coastline of Quelpart Island off the southwest coast of Korea. Japanese surface forces were docked at the island's harbor, which was filled with underwater mines and shoals that caused obstructions. Above the water, several surface vessels patrolled. There were also five shore-based radar stations and enemy aircraft patrolling the skies.
Moving into that hostile area undetected was a daunting task, but Street was up for the challenge. As his sub crept into the harbor from the south to within a little more than a half-mile from the coast, the ship's crew readied itself at surface battle stations in case they were attacked. Then, Street ordered the launch of two torpedoes toward a large Japanese auxiliary transport ship called Juzan Maru. It exploded into a mountainous and blinding glare of white flames, Street's Medal of Honor citation said.
The flare made the Tirante plainly visible, causing enemy shore batteries to spot it immediately and open fire. Street quickly ordered the ship to turn and run, but as it did so, he fired its last torpedoes at two escort ships that were in aggressive pursuit. Two of the torpedoes hit the ship Nomi, which blew the ship in two. A dud torpedo hit a third ship, called Kaibokan No. 31, but it capsized and sank anyway due to a fire that the torpedo's strike caused in its after magazine.
Going full speed ahead, Street's crew managed to clear the debris-filled harbor and slip undetected along the shoreline, where they were able to dive deep and fully get away, even as another enemy ship dropped several depth charges right where they'd begun their dive.
According to Street's obituary in the Roanoke Times, the Tirante received word right before it began its mission that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died. Afterward, the sub sent a message to its Pacific command, presumably in honor of the late president. It said, "Three for Franklin … sank ammunition ship, two escorts."
Street was promoted to commander three months later. His daring and skillful leadership during the Tirante's first patrol earned him the Medal of Honor, which he received from new President Harry S. Truman during a White House ceremony on Oct. 5, 1945, alongside 13 other recipients. The Tirante's crew also earned a Presidential Unit Citation for its brave actions.
Street was one of seven World War II submarine commanders to receive the Medal of Honor. He was also the last man from the submarine service to receive it, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.
Two months after the Quelpart Island incident, Street led the Tirante into another skirmish that earned him the Navy Cross. On June 11, 1945, the sub sank several hostile vessels before moving through treacherously shallow waters into the heart of Nagasaki Harbor, where it sank another enemy ship and destroyed vital docking facilities. Once again, the Tirante managed to escape without being hit by enemy ships or shore gun batteries.
A few months after the war ended, Street left the Tirante to become the Navy's technical advisor for the submarine documentary film "The Silent Service." The Tirante's mission to Quelpart Island was also brought to life in the 1958 movie, "Run Silent, Run Deep," starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster.
Street eventually transferred to the Office of Naval Research, where he helped to organize the first Undersea Symposium. Over the next 20 years, he commanded various vessels, worked in research and development and gained more knowledge about his craft at various military schools. He even spent time as a professor of naval science at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Street retired from active duty in August 1966. He and his family settled in Andover, Massachusetts, about two hours north of Boston.
For the rest of his life, Street was an active member of several veterans' organizations. He was also a popular speaker at patriotic community events and at schools throughout New England. He even taught the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at Woburn High School in Woburn, Massachusetts, until 1990.
Street died at 86 on Feb. 26, 2000, at a nursing home in Andover. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
In his honor, a bridge in Andover was renamed for him.


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‘Cicada-geddon’
Some cicadas surface every 13 years; others show up every 17 years. This year, according to the entomologists, the two species are expected to join forces and show up this spring. According to the University of Connecticut, the 13-year Brood XIX -- the largest of all periodical cicada broods “will co-emerge with 17-year Brood XIII.” They’ll be showing up mainly in the Southeast and in Illinois. Biophysicist Saad Bhamla at Georgia Tech says “trillions of these amazing living organisms [will] come out of the Earth, climb up on trees and it’s just a unique experience, a sight to behold. It’s like an entire alien species living underneath our feet and then some prime number years they come out to say hello.” Some experts call the event a "cicada-geddon"

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

A year after Woodrow Wilson’s presidency opened in 1913, World War I ramped up in Sarajevo; four years later he requested congressional authorization to dispatch troops to Germany.
“Wilson went on to lead what was at the time the largest war-mobilization effort in the country’s history,” according to History.com. “At first, Wilson asked only for volunteer soldiers, but soon realized voluntary enlistment would not raise a sufficient number of troops and signed the Selective Service Act in May 1917. The Selective Service Act required men between 21 and 35 years of age to register for the draft, increasing the size of the army from 200,000 troops to 4 million by the end of the war. One of the infantrymen who volunteered for active duty was future President Harry S. Truman.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Nico Mendina’s What Was World War I?

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The Civil War was the bloodiest in American History—with approximately six hundred and twenty thousand casualties--from the North and the South, combined. The conflict started in 1861 and ended April 9, 1865, with Robert E. Lee’s ceding of his armed troops to General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia.
“Lee and Grant, both holding the highest rank in their respective armies, had known each other slightly during the Mexican War [1846-1848] and exchanged awkward personal inquiries. Characteristically, Grant arrived in his muddy field uniform while Lee had turned out in full dress attire, complete with sash and sword. Lee asked for the terms, and Grant hurriedly wrote them out. All officers and men were to be pardoned, and they would be sent home with their private property–most important, the horses, which could be used for a late spring planting. Officers would keep their side arms, and Lee’s starving men would be given Union rations,” History.com reports.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Ethan S. Rafuse’s Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.

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On April 14, 1865, the country’s jubilant End-of-War celebration veered into woe. President Lincoln was dead, shot “the night before by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer.”
According to History.com, Booth was determined to avenge the outcome of the war. “Learning that Lincoln was to attend Laura Keene’s acclaimed performance in Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater…Booth plotted the simultaneous assassination[s] of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William H. Seward. By murdering the president and two of his possible successors, Booth and his conspirators hoped to throw the U.S. government into a paralyzing disarray ... On the evening of April 14, conspirator Lewis T. Powell burst into Secretary of State Seward’s home, seriously wounding him and three others, while George A. Atzerodt, assigned to Vice President Johnson, lost his nerve and fled. Meanwhile, just after 10 p.m., Booth entered Lincoln’s private box unnoticed and shot the president with a single bullet in the back of his head.”
The Grateful American Book Prize suggests James L. Swanson’s Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – When Should my Wife Claim Her Social Security Benefit?

Dear Rusty: I just saw an article which said that certain spousal options were going away, but there are still good options for when a spouse can claim. I am filing for my Social Security to start in October when I turn 70. My wife's full retirement age (FRA) is in December, and she now plans to file then for half of what my FRA benefit would have been (our original plan was for both to file in August). My wife's main reason for delaying until her FRA is to lock her into my maximum benefit if she has to someday change to Survivor's Benefit. Will this be gone for us? Neither of us was born before January 1, 1954. Please advise. Signed: Planning for Both
Dear Planning: I expect that the article you refer to was speaking of the option to claim only a spousal benefit first and allow one’s personal SS retirement benefit to grow. That option was available only to those who were born before 1954 and had reached full retirement age. As you now know that option is not available to you.
Assuming your wife’s highest benefit entitlement will be as your spouse, your current strategy – you claim your maximum benefit to start in October at age 70 and your wife starts her benefit in December at her FRA - is a good one which will yield the maximum possible monthly benefit for both of you. But for clarity, your wife’s survivor benefit as your widow has nothing to do with when she claims her spouse benefits now.
The only thing which will affect your wife’s benefit as your surviving spouse is her age when she claims the survivor benefit. If she has already reached her FRA of 66 years and 8 months when you pass, she will get 100% of the amount you were receiving when you died, instead of the smaller spousal amount she was receiving while you were living. Her survivor benefit would only be less than 100% of yours if she claimed it before reaching her full retirement age (which, of course, we hope would not to be the case).
Just so you have the complete picture, your wife could, if desired, claim her Social Security to start at the same time as you in October but, since that would be earlier than her FRA, the amount she would get would be less than 50% of your FRA entitlement. Her spouse benefit would be reduced by 0.694% for each month earlier than her FRA it starts. For example, if your wife starts her spousal benefit in October when your benefit starts, she will get about 98.6% of the amount she would get if she waited until December to start her benefits. That’s a permanent reduction, so if your wife’s life expectancy is at least average (about 87), it’s likely still wisest for her to wait until her FRA to start benefits. But in any case, when your wife claims her spousal benefit now will have no effect on the survivor benefit she will get as your future widow.

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Medal of Honor: Army Sgt. Peter C. Lemon
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Army Sgt. Peter Charles Lemon was injured several times during a lopsided attack in Vietnam, but he took out several enemy soldiers and refused to quit fighting until he lost consciousness. His courage to defend his base and his fellow soldiers earned him the Medal of Honor.
Lemon was born on June 5, 1950, in Toronto, to Charles and Geraldine Lemon. He has a sister, Judy, and a brother, Richard.
The family immigrated to the U.S. when Lemon was 2 and set up their new lives in Tawas City, Michigan. About a decade later, he became a naturalized citizen.
Lemon graduated from Tawas Area High School in 1968 and started working in a factory in nearby Saginaw, according to a 1971 article in the Escanaba Daily Press of Escanaba, Michigan. By then, however, the Vietnam War was raging, so Lemon enlisted in the Army in February 1969.
After basic training, Lemon received advanced infantry training. He was sent to Vietnam in late July 1969, where he went to Recondo School, which teaches select troops about long-range reconnaissance techniques and small-unit tactics. The training earned him the coveted title of Army Ranger.
By the spring of 1970, then-Spc. 4 Lemon was serving as an assistant machine gunner at Fire Support Base Illingworth, which was 5 miles from the Cambodian border and overlooked a heavily used North Vietnamese Army route. Several units were stationed there at the time, including Lemon's — Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division.
The enemy obviously didn't want them there, so on April 1, the NVA launched a massive barrage of fire toward the base before sending in about 400 soldiers, who chose the perimeter defended by Lemon's platoon as their point of attack.
The fight that ensued was too close for U.S. forces to use artillery. Soldiers also reported that dust from the large NVA contingent's movement was so thick that it jammed their machine guns and rifles.
Lemon, 19, was one of those whose weapons were affected. When his machine gun and rifle eventually malfunctioned, he used hand grenades to fend off the intensifying attack.
After taking out a few enemy soldiers in his vicinity, Lemon chased down another and killed him in hand-to-hand combat. Lemon suffered fragment wounds from an exploding grenade but made it back to his defensive position so he could carry a more seriously wounded soldier to an aid station. Shortly afterward, Lemon was wounded a second time by enemy fire.
Ignoring his injuries, the young specialist moved back to his position through a hail of gunfire and grenades. Quickly, he realized that their defensive sector was dangerously close to being overrun by the enemy. Without hesitation, Lemon pressed his counterattack, throwing hand grenades and engaging in hand-to-hand combat with enemy soldiers. He was injured a third time during the melee but still managed to successfully drive the enemy back.
Then, after finding a machine gun that worked, Lemon stood on top of an embankment and, despite being in full view of the enemy, fired until he collapsed from his wounds and exhaustion. Lemon was taken to an aid station where he regained consciousness, but even then, he refused to leave the area until his more seriously injured comrades were evacuated.
When the nearly three-hour battle was over, 24 U.S. soldiers were dead and more than 50 were wounded. Lemon was hospitalized for more than a month after the attack. He was also promoted to sergeant.
Lemon came home from Vietnam later that year. On June 15, 1971, he received the Medal of Honor from President Richard M. Nixon during a ceremony at the White House. The young soldier dedicated it to three of his closest friends who died in the battle — Sgt. Casey Waller, Cpl. Nathan Mann and Sgt. Brent Street.
Lemon left the Army the following year and returned to academics. He got a bachelor's degree from Colorado State University in 1979, then received his master's degree in business administration from the University of Northern Colorado two years later.
He and his wife, Diane, whom he married a few months before he received the Medal of Honor, have three children.
Lemon went on to have a successful career with various corporations and as a professional speaker. He also volunteered much of his time to schools, veterans' groups and other organizations.
In 1978, Lemon received the Certificate of Outstanding Achievement from President Jimmy Carter for his community efforts. In May 2009, he was presented with the Outstanding American by Choice award by President Barack Obama.
Lemon, who settled in Colorado Springs, Colorado, continues to receive accolades for his work and valor. He was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2020, a portion of a highway in Michigan going through his hometown was named in his honor. Reports show Lemon also donated his Medal of Honor to his former high school in 2005 to serve as an inspiration to students.

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Natalie had a little lamb
Natalie Renot, of Wiggins, MS, known for rescuing animals in need, has a new patient to care for—a lamb born with five legs who she calls Spider-Lamb. When she found her lamb he was in dire need but he has been responding to the care she and local veterinarians have provided. As she tells it, "I am still having to force-feed him, but I did stand him up and he walked a little bit, so I call that progress." Veterinarian Jason Gulas confirmed Natalie’s assessment, noting that "he definitely has some abnormalities. He might not be normal compared to other lambs, but I think that he will live a normal-for-him life,"

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Wet work
Talk about “muscle control.” Thirty-five-year-old Ma Hui, who hails from China, made it into the Guinness Book of World Records when he downed more than a gallon of water and then regurgitated it in a record-breaking 5 minutes and 51.88 seconds. According to Guinness, “water spouting is a trick which has been performed since the 17th century. It involves drinking large amounts of liquid (usually water) and regurgitating it using muscle control.”

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Making Whoopie
No, it’s not what you think it is. These whoopies are the real thing – genuine cookies filled with cream the way they were first made in Maine. They’re called whoopie pies and they are Maine’s official state treat. In fact, the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team, with the help of the bakers at Wicked Whoopie Pies, recently earned a page in the Guinness Book of World Record for making the longest line of whoopie pies consisting of no less than 2,121 whoopie pies.

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Six stress reduction tips for caregivers during National Stress Awareness Month in April

Tips for Family Caregivers from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Stress doesn’t just affect your mood—it can have long-term health impacts as well if you don’t take steps to manage it constructively. For individuals who face the stressful task of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia-related illness, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is offering six stress reduction tips for caregivers as part of National Stress Awareness Month (April).
“Family caregivers often find it challenging to make time for themselves, but being proactive about addressing caregiver stress and self-care is not selfish; it’s essential and it benefits both the caregiver and the person for whom they are caring,” said Jennifer Reeder, LCSW, AFA’s Director of Educational and Social Services. “Failing to manage stress increases the risks of caregiver burnout, depression, and many other mental and physical health issues. Caregivers need to take care of themselves so they can provide the best possible care for their loved ones.”
Family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and poorer quality of life than caregivers of people with other conditions, and provide care for a longer duration of time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
AFA offers these six stress reduction tips for family caregivers:
Be adaptable and positive. Your attitude influences stress levels for both you and the person you’re caring for. If you can “go with the flow,” and avoid fighting the current, that will help you both stay relaxed—conversely, becoming aggravated or agitated will increase the chances that your person will as well. Focus on how to adjust to the situation in a constructive way.
Deal with what you can control. Some things are totally out of your control. What is in your power to control is how you respond and react to these outside factors. Concentrating on finding solutions can help make the problem itself a little less stressful.
Set realistic goals and go slow. Everything cannot be resolved at once, nor does it need to be. Don’t hold yourself to unrealistic expectations. Prioritize, set practical goals, do your best to achieve them, and take things one day at a time.
Mind your health. Inadequate rest, poor diet, and lack of exercise can all exacerbate stress (and cause other health problems as well). As best you can, make it a priority to get sleep, eat right, drink plenty of water and find ways to be active. You cannot provide quality care to a loved one if you don’t take care of yourself.
Clear and refresh your mind. Exercise, yoga, meditating, listening to music or even taking a few deep breaths can all help relax the mind and reduce stress. Find something that works for you and do it regularly!
Share your feelings. Disconnecting from your support structure and staying bottled-up increases stress. Whether it’s with a loved one, trusted friend or a professional, don’t be reluctant to talk about your stress, because that can actually help relieve it! AFA’s Helpline has licensed social workers available for caregivers seven days to provide support or even just listen.


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UAMS House Call

Dr. Daniel Knight is a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Q: What can I do to keep my feet healthy? A: Taking care of your feet is an important part of maintaining overall health. Many of us are on our feet for a good portion of each day, and too often, it can be easy to take that part of our body for granted, only noticing when there is a problem. The foot is one of the most intricate structures in the body, consisting of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 ligaments, muscles and tendons, in addition to a network of blood vessels and nerves. Your feet absorb all of your body weight and take the most punishment with normal daily activities. Actions to ensure healthy feet include daily washing and drying, keeping toenails short and clean, wearing shoes that are well-fitting and appropriate for what you’re doing, and checking your feet every day for cuts, dryness or sores. People with conditions such as diabetes should pay particular attention to their feet as blood flow to that area is often affected. Your primary care provider can help with basic treatment to ensure your feet remain healthy. Diseases or injuries to the feet may require a referral to an orthopaedist or a podiatrist for more specific care.

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Q: What does an occupational therapist do? A: An occupational therapist is a health care professional trained to assist patients who need help with fine motor skills and performing daily activities. The patient may have suffered mental or physical trauma or have developmental challenges. The occupational therapist can be an integral part of the care team in these instances. An occupational therapist and a physical therapist may perform similar functions, but their basic tasks are different. A physical therapist normally assists with rehabilitation from injury to a specific part of the body, such as regaining mobility and strength. The occupational therapist is involved the patient’s overall recovery. Occupational therapists are not physicians and cannot prescribe medication or perform a medical diagnosis. Licensure and certification are required to be become an occupational therapist, along with an undergraduate and graduate degree in occupational therapy. Candidates must also pass an exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy in addition to any other specific state or local requirements. Occupational therapy provides a chance to work one on one with a patient to not only accomplish everyday tasks but also to promote overall health and general well-being. The occupational therapist, primary care provider and a specialist may all be part of a patient’s return to normal.

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Q: How common is testicular cancer? A: Testicular cancer forms in the tissue of one or both testicles, although the disease in both testicles is less common. Testicular cancer occurs when germ cells come together and form a mass or tumor. It is unclear exactly how and why testicular cancer develops, and there is no way to prevent it. Fortunately, testicular cancer is rare. According to the National Cancer Institute testicular cancer accounted for only 0.5% of all cancer cases in 2023. Unlike many cancers, testicular cancer is more common in young men. The American Cancer Society notes that the average age of diagnosis is 33. Risk factors include having a family history and being a young adult. Issues that cause infertility can be linked with testicular cancer. The disease is also more common in non-Hispanic white men. Symptoms include a lump or swelling in either testicle, a dull ache in the groin or lower abdomen, or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. Testicular cancer is very treatable when detected early and the five-year survival rate is high (95.2% per the National Cancer Institute). Contact your health care provider if you have symptoms that do not quickly resolve. You may be referred to a urologist for further treatment.

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Q: How is infection control accomplished? A: Infection control is a key aspect of health care, and in many instances is more important than the actual care patients receive. Effective infection control prevents or stops the spread of infections. An ineffective infection control program can lead to an increased rate of infection, which can spread to not only the entire health care facility but also to the community at large. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two tiers of precautions for infection control. Standard precautions include actions such as careful handling of laundry and textiles, hand hygiene and using personal protective equipment. Transmission-based precautions, used with patients who may be infected, include limiting patient transportation and ensuring appropriate patient placement. An infection preventionist is a health care professional who ensures health care workers and patients are practicing infection control. People who perform infection prevention duties may be doctors, microbiologists, nurses or public health officials. If you are a patient or family member, you can assist in infection control. Cleaning your hands frequently, asking to have your equipment or your room cleaned and inquiring about vaccinations are some ways this can be accomplished. As always, speak with your health care providers if you have concerns or questions.

Email your health questions to housecall@uams.edu.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens

Ask Rusty – When Should We Claim Social Security?

Dear Rusty: I am almost 63 and my husband will be 61 soon, and we are looking to see when our best time would be to start our Social Security benefits. We would like to know if one of us qualifies for benefits from a previous marriage from 1984 to 1995. And we are wondering if I can start drawing at age 65, in two years, or if it is better that I wait until 67 because my spouse is 2 years younger than me. Also, if I were to continue working limited hours after 65, what would my earning limit be? Signed: Almost Ready
Dear Almost Ready: The first thing to understand is that full retirement age (FRA) for both of you is 67. If either of you claim before that, your monthly benefit amount will be permanently reduced and, because you are working, you will be subject to Social Security’s “earnings test.”
If you claim your benefit at age 65 your monthly payment will be about 87% of what you would get if you claimed at age 67. If your husband claims at age 62, his benefit will be about 70% of his FRA amount. The only way to get 100% of the benefit you’ve each earned from a lifetime of working is to claim at your FRA. You can choose to claim at age 65 as long as you’re comfortable with the benefit reduction which will occur, and as long as your annual work earnings do not significantly exceed the earnings limit for that year. In any case, when each of you claims will not affect the other’s retirement benefit amount.
Social Security’s “earnings test” for those claiming before FRA sets a limit for how much can be earned before some (or all) benefits are taken away. The earnings limit for 2024 is $22,320, but it changes yearly. If you claim early benefits and your work earnings exceed that year’s limit, Social Security will take away $1 in benefits for every $2 you are over the limit. They take away by withholding future benefits long enough to recover what you owe for exceeding the limit. If you significantly exceed the annual earnings limit, you may be temporarily ineligible to receive SS benefits until you either earn less or reach your FRA (the earnings test no longer applies after you reach your FRA). I cannot predict what the earnings limit will be two years from now, but it will be more than the 2024 limit and published at that time. FYI, in the year you turn 67 your pre-FRA earnings limit will be much higher, and when you reach your FRA the earnings test no longer applies.
Regarding your previous marriage, you cannot receive spousal benefits from an ex-spouse while you are currently married. But when to claim may also be influenced by whether either you or your current spouse will get a spousal benefit from the other. If the FRA (age 67) benefit amount for one of you is more than twice the other’s FRA entitlement, the one with the lower FRA amount will get a ”spousal boost” to their own amount when both of you are collecting.
Spouse benefits reach maximum at one’s FRA, but each person’s personal SS retirement amount will continue to grow if not claimed at FRA. Waiting past FRA to claim allows the SS retirement benefit to grow by 8% per year, up to age 70. So, with an FRA of 67, claiming at age 70 will yield a payment 24% higher than the FRA amount, 76% more than the age 62 amount, and about 37% more than the age 65 amount. But waiting beyond FRA is only smart if financially feasible and life expectancy is at least average (about 84 and 87 respectively for a man and woman your current ages). And, as a general rule, if one’s spousal benefit at FRA (50% of their partner’s FRA entitlement) is highest, then that spouse should claim at FRA to get their maximum benefit.

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To be a kid again
A pair of daring women in Florida are determined to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records by hopping into their cars for a 500 mile ride from Jacksonville to Key West. It doesn’t sound like a daring challenge but they are making the drive in two toy cars. No one has done it before, according to the Guinness judges. In an interview with reporters at WJXT-TV, the ladies explained that the idea came to them because they had toy cars when they were youngsters. "We used to ride around with toy cars as kids and have always wanted a Guinness World Record attempt. So we're like, this would be a fun way to kind of honor our childhood."

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Rough rider
The dictionary defines skijoring as “the action of being pulled over snow or ice on skis by a horse or dog or a motor vehicle, as a sport or recreation activity.” In fact, it’s an annual wintertime event in the Rocky Mountain town of Leadville, Colorado and this year daredevil Nick Burri donned his skis held tight to a rope pulled by a rider on a quarter horse at speeds reaching 40 mph. Why does he do it? Burri says “It’s just the pure adrenaline that gets me to do it. And then getting these two different groups of people together with the riders and the skiers. Usually they don’t hang out, and getting them together, we mesh pretty well.”

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A bird in hand
A pet parrot that goes by the name, Samba, got stranded for three days high in a tree in Lewisville, Texas. Samba survived attacks by predatory hawks before the bird’s owner, Giulio Ferrari, was able to get the bird he loves down from a tree. As he put it, "It's like my soul has reentered my body. When this happened my soul left my body for three days. I haven't been sleeping well, I haven't been eating. It's been tough. I'm exhausted, physically and mentally." All’s well that ends well.

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Medal of Honor: Army 1st Lt. Stephen H. Doane
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Army 1st Lt. Stephen Holden Doane could have remained in college during the Vietnam War, but he decided to serve his country instead. He was only 21 when he gave his life to save other soldiers around him. His valor and devotion earned him the Medal of Honor.
Doane was born on Oct. 13, 1947, in Beverly, Massachusetts, to David and Joan Doane. A few months after his birth, his father received his medical degree and joined the Navy, serving through the Korean War.
In 1953, Doane's father moved the family to Walton, New York, where Doane and his four siblings — sister Leslie and brothers Eric, Geoffrey and Michael — grew up. As a teen, Doane excelled in sports, especially wrestling. He was also a member of his school's band, orchestra and yearbook staff.
After graduating high school in 1965, Doane briefly attended the Tilton Academy, a prep school in Tilton, New Hampshire, before enrolling at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. In the one semester Doane attended, the college said he was on the wrestling team and in the process of joining to Phi Kappa Psi fraternity until he opted to join the Army in March 1967.
Doane's choice to service inspired his father to return to the military. His dad, who was now a doctor, joined the Army Reserve, serving as the commanding officer of a field hospital in Binghamton, New York.
About a year after enlisting, the younger Doane had become an Army Ranger and graduated from Officer Candidate School. He initially served as an instructor before being sent to Vietnam in January 1969. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division.
In the three months Doane was there, he earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. His most gallant actions came on March 25, 1969, when he gave his life to save his fellow soldiers.
On that day, Doane was serving as a platoon leader for Company B during a tactical operation when they came across an enemy force concealed in protected bunkers and trenches in Vietnam's Hau Nghia Province. A firefight ensued.
Three of the leading soldiers in the company — one of whom was seriously wounded -- were pinned down by enemy crossfire. According to Doane's Medal of Honor citation, one platoon tried to rescue the stranded soldiers. When that failed, it became clear that the only way to evacuate them was to send in a small group who could move close enough to destroy the enemy's position.
Doane knew how dangerous this mission would be, but that didn't deter him. He crawled to the nearest enemy bunker and silenced it. Despite being wounded, he continued on to a second enemy bunker. While he was preparing to throw a grenade into it, he was injured again.
Doane ignored the pain of his wounds, pulled the pin on the grenade and lunged with it into the enemy bunker, destroying the last obstacle that was impeding their rescue. By giving his life, Doane saved the trapped men and kept his company from suffering more casualties.
Doane's body was returned to the U.S. and buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
On Feb. 16, 1971, Doane's entire family was on hand to receive the Medal of Honor on his behalf from President Richard M. Nixon during a White House ceremony. Seven other soldiers and four Marines also posthumously received the high honor that day.
Around the same time, Doane's father — who joined the Reserves when his son joined the military — was inspired to act yet again, this time to go back on active-duty. The elder Doane was granted reactivation and served until 1981, retiring as a colonel.
1st Lt. Stephen Doane's sacrifice has not been forgotten. In 1997, the fallen soldier was inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame. And while he only lived in Massachusetts for a few brief months of his life as an infant, the town of Beverly considers him a native son, naming a veterans' post there in his honor.
More recently, in 2018, Gettysburg College unveiled a Vietnam memorial that honored its alumni and staff members, including Doane, who died during the war. In July 2023, a bridge in Doane's hometown of Walton was renamed in his honor, and a memorial was presented to his family.

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Discover your backyarding personality type to “yard your way” this spring

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Spring and backyarding – the act of doing indoor activities such as dining, working, entertaining, and exercising in our own backyards – go hand in hand. As homeowners prepare to create the yard of their dreams this spring, the TurfMutt Foundation, which celebrates 15 years in 2024 teaching families how to save the planet one yard at a time, encourages them to start by identifying their backyarding personality type.
“Knowing your backyarding personality type can help you be better prepared to craft a yard that is not only beautiful but is also purposeful and specifically suited to how you backyard,” says Kris Kiser, President & CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation. “There really are no rules; Create an outdoor area that reflects your unique personality and style while supporting the things you like to do in your green space.”
Here are TurfMutt’s backyarding personality types to help inspire you to “yard your way” this spring:
• Outdoor Athlete: Likes to stay active in the fresh air.
The Outdoor Athlete’s gold medal backyard might include a strip of grass for running sprints, built-in outdoor fitness equipment, or even a lap pool to channel your inner Michael Phelps.
• Nature Lover: Favorite thing is watching birds and backyard wildlife.
The perfect backyard for Nature Lovers will feature native plants in bright colors that bloom year-round to attract, feed, and shelter pollinators and backyard wildlife. The Nature Lover will also need to find the perfect perch for backyard wildlife viewing.
• Work from Home Pro: Seals business deals in the sunshine.
A quiet corner of the yard complete with seating and shade (and a strong Wi-Fi signal) is the start to a beautiful and functional outdoor office. Other creature comforts like an outdoor heater, string lights, curtains, a warm rug, or even a semi-enclosed patio can enhance the space.
• Landscaper: Makes neighbors green with yard envy.
Put the right plant in the right place so your yard is always thriving and consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find plants that will do well in your location with minimal input. Having the right outdoor power equipment is key to success for Landscapers, who know when to call in the professionals to help with their backyarding to-dos.
• Entertainer Extraordinaire: Loves nothing more than treating great friends to delicious burgers in the backyard.
Ambiance is everything for this backyarder. String some lights, build a fire pit or fireplace, and even create an outdoor kitchen if the budget allows. Patio furniture and outdoor seating with comfortable cushions are a must, and colorful flowers in pots add a just-right touch.
• Zen Master: Wants an outdoor space to relax and unwind.
A hammock strung between a couple of shade trees, a soothing water feature that also beckons backyard birds, and simple, manicured plantings are just a few ways to create a peaceful setting outside.
• Kid Zone Creator: “Fun” is your middle name, and creating kid space is the name of the game.
Safe space that lures kids away from their screens and into the great outdoors right outside your home begins with a large patch of turfgrass, perfect for sports practice, cornhole, or pitching a tent. Trees are great for zip lines, treehouses, and swings. You can even plant a garden to teach kids about the origins of the food we eat.
• Pet Pamperer: Designs their yard as a pet sanctuary.
Who needs a dog park when you have a pet playground in your own backyard? Hardy turfgrass, sturdy plants, lots of shade trees, and shrubs that naturally section off pet “business” areas from the rest of the yard are some of the features you may want to consider. (Be sure to select non-toxic plants that are safe for pets.) Go all out with a splash pool or a sandbox for digging.


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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens
Ask Rusty – Veteran Uncertain About Social Security and Healthcare Coverage
Dear Rusty: I'm not sure what I should sign up for in terms of Social Security: I am 64 and I am still employed full time and intend to stay employed until age 70. I am retired from the Navy and receive military retirement payments, and have military TriCare, as well as medical, dental, eye and life insurance through my employer. I don't want to lose benefits, but I also don't want to take Social Security until it reaches the maximum at age 70 (I think that is correct?). I will turn 65 in 4 months. Can you advise me? Signed: Uncertain Veteran
Dear Uncertain Veteran: First of all, thank you for your service to our country. From what you've shared, and since you're still working full time, not claiming Social Security yet is a smart decision. If you were born in 1959 your full retirement age (FRA) is 66 years and 10 months and, if you claim SS before your full retirement age, you'll be subject to Social Security's earning test which would likely make you ineligible to receive SS benefits at this time.
The 2024 earnings limit (limit changes yearly) when collecting Social Security early is $22,320 and, if that is exceeded, Social Security will take away $1 in benefits for every $2 over the limit (half of what you exceed the limit by). If you significantly exceed the limit, SS will declare you temporarily ineligible to collect SS benefits until you either reach your FRA or earn less. The earnings test no longer applies after you reach your FRA. So, if you're now employed full time and plan to stay so until age 70, and you expect at least average longevity (about 84 for someone your current age), delaying until age 70 to claim Social Security is how to get your maximum Social Security benefit.
As for your healthcare coverage as a veteran: TriCare requires you to enroll in Medicare Part A (inpatient hospitalization coverage) and Part B (coverage for outpatient services) at age 65, but you do not need to take Social Security when you enroll in Medicare. You must, however, enroll in Medicare at age 65 or you will lose your TriCare (military) healthcare coverage. You could choose to delay enrolling in Medicare at 65 because you have “creditable” employer coverage, but if you do so you will lose your current TriCare coverage and need to rely solely on your employer healthcare plan. In that case, you would still be able to enroll in both Medicare and TriCare-for-Life without penalty prior to your employer coverage ending and have coverage under both programs thereafter. I suggest you contact TriCare directly at 1-866-773-0404 to discuss your personal TriCare coverage after age 65. You can also go to www.TriCare4U.com.
Whenever you enroll, Medicare will be the primary payer of your healthcare costs and TriCare will be the secondary payor. Your vision, dental, and prescription drug coverage would be through TriCare (Medicare does not cover those services) or acquired separately. Just remember, you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B to have TriCare-for-Life coverage after age 65.

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Evoke positive emotions by adding the pantone color of the year to your garden
By MELINDA MYERS

Add a warm, cozy feel to this year’s gardens with the 2024 Pantone Color of the Year, Peach Fuzz. It was selected for generating a feeling of kindness and tenderness and encouraging sharing, community, and collaboration. Consider including this color in your garden to convey these emotions or as a good excuse to add more plants to your landscape.
This is the 25th year the Pantone Color Institute has selected a color that reflects the spirit of the times. These are colors you are likely to see in home furnishings, advertisements, and even our landscapes.
Peach Fuzz lies somewhere between pink and salmon. Many garden plants have flowers that fit into this color spectrum and can be used in containers and garden beds.
Dianthus Vivacia Orange is hardy to zone 7a but can be used as an annual in colder areas. The large double flowers top 10- to 16-inch-tall plants and are showy during the cooler months of the growing season. They combine nicely with other flowers and their sturdy stems make them suitable for cutting.
SuperTrouperÔ Orange Dianthus has similar colored flowers that are about 20% smaller. It is hardy in zones 5 to 9 and has a spicy fragrance.
Celosia Celway™ Salmon has the same heat and drought tolerance as other celosias. The spiky blooms are held atop 40- to 48-inch stems, making them great additions to the middle or back of the border.
If you love salvias, you can find a variety of peachy-colored blossoms. These plants tend to be deer-resistant and hummingbird magnets. Just check the plant tag for more specific information on the mature size and hardiness.
Luxury Lace daylily has subtly fragrant star-shaped flowers. Hardy in zones four to eight it has the same low maintenance requirements as other daylilies. Just water thoroughly when needed.
Geum ‘Mai Tai’ has vermillion red flowers that fade to a peachy pink early in the season. The 18-inch-tall burgundy stems are a nice contrast to the flowers. Grow it in full sun with moist soil in zones five to seven.
Last but certainly not least is threadleaf coreopsis ‘Crème Caramel’ (Coreopsis verticillata ‘Crème Caramel’). Hardy in zones five to nine, it slowly spreads making it a nice addition to a sunny slope or traditional border. The fine foliage blends nicely with other flowers, adding welcome texture to any planting. Watch the peachy-pink flowers deepen to salmon when temperatures cool.
Use the artist’s color wheel to find colors that pair well with these and other peach-fuzz-colored flowers and foliage. Then look for opportunities to add interesting texture for some additional pizzazz. You and your visitors will enjoy the cozy warm feeling when walking through your landscape.

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Dik-dik
Poor little dik-diks are as cute as cute can get. The little antelopes, the biggest of which grow to less than 16 inches in height and, at best, weigh in at somewhere between 6 and 15 pounds, may not be on an endangered species list but they are in danger, nonetheless. Carnivores in the grasslands of eastern and southern Africa such as jackals, lizards, hyenas, wild dogs, pythons, birds of prey hunt them. Humans, too, track and kill them for their hides to make fancy gloves.

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Help wanted
The U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust owns and operates what is known as “the penguin post office” located at the Port Lockroy base on Goudier Island. It will soon be the beginning of winter down under and they need to hire three English employees to sort the mail and to keep watch over some 1,500 penguins. While it is, indeed, a “unique opportunity to live in a landscape that makes you feel pure awe and wonder” it’s not a job for anyone. The new employees will need to risk a few hardships such as cabin fever and the lack of running water.

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Mystery
They call themselves The Most Famous Artists and a few years ago they claimed that they were responsible for several silver monolith that mysteriously showed up in the U.S. and Europe in 2020. But no one has claimed the sudden appearance recently of a similar monolith on a hillside in Wales. Photographer Richard Haynes came across it and said that “it was about 10-foot-tall at least and triangular, definitely stainless steel. It was hollow and I imagine pretty light, light enough for two people to carry it up and plant it in the ground.”


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Medal of Honor: Army Tech. Sgt. Carlton W. Barrett

By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Army Tech. Sgt. Carlton W. Barrett is one of four soldiers who earned the Medal of Honor on D-Day when more than 160,000 Allied forces breached the shores of Nazi-occupied France as part of the biggest air, land and sea invasion ever executed. A lot of men died that day, but Barrett helped save as many as he could. For that, he earned the Medal of Honor.
Barrett was born on Nov. 24, 1919, in Fulton, New York, to Lester and Olive Barrett. He had two older siblings, Madeline and Roland, the latter of whom also joined the military during World War II.
Barrett dropped out of high school. In 1940, shortly before his 21st birthday, he decided to enlist in the Army. He was assigned to the 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
Within a year and a half, the U.S. had joined World War II, and Barrett was in the thick of it. He took part in the North Africa and Sicilian campaigns before being assigned to one of the most important missions of the war – the invasion of Normandy, France, so the Allies could regain a foothold on the European continent.
On June 6, 1944 – D-Day – then-Pvt. Barrett was a field guide who helped coordinate troops and communications. Early that morning near the shores of St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France, Barrett's landing craft dropped him and several other soldiers into neck-deep waters off Omaha Beach, where they immediately faced a bombardment of enemy mortar and small-arms fire while trying to wade ashore.
Several times, Barrett ignored the chaos and went back into the swirling waters to help his fellow soldiers, many of whom were floundering and drowning in the panic.
Despite being short and slight by nature – researchers said he was about 5'4" and 125 pounds — Barrett refused to be pinned down by the intense enemy barrage coming toward them. According to his Medal of Honor citation, Barrett's fierce determination led him to save several lives by carrying the wounded to an evacuation boat offshore.
Throughout the extreme stress of the day, Barrett rose up as a leader, doing more than what was required of him. His citation said he also carried dispatches across the entire fire-swept beach, calmed the shocked and helped treat the wounded, despite suffering four wounds himself. Barrett was injured in both hips, his left leg and his foot, wounds that eventually led to his own evacuation off the beachhead.
Barrett was sent back to the U.S. for treatment. He spent about five months in hospitals due to his injuries and two bouts of malaria that he suffered. He was finally discharged in October 1944 and sent back to the European theater.
Barrett's calm demeanor on D-Day earned him the Medal of Honor, which he received in Paris on Nov. 17, 1944, after he was promoted to corporal. The medal was given to him by Army Gen. John C.H. Lee, who commanded the European communications zone.
Three other Army soldiers earned the Medal of Honor for their actions on June 6, 1944: 1st Lt. Jimmie W. Monteith Jr., Tech. 5th Grade John J. Pinder Jr. and Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. Sadly, Barrett was the only one who survived to receive it in person; Pinder and Monteith died on D-Day, while Roosevelt died about a month later.
Newspaper reports showed that Barrett never liked to talk about his actions on D-Day. When he did, it was to deflect praise onto the men who didn't make it home.
In July 1945, shortly after the war ended in Europe, Barrett was discharged from the Army. According to a 1945 Brooklyn Daily Eagle article, he took a job with the Department of Internal Revenue (now the IRS) in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York, where his aunt and uncle lived.
However, civilian life must not have suited him, because he reenlisted in the Army in May 1947. That same year, he married his wife, Josephine, who had also served in the war in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. The pair went on to have two daughters, Kathleen and Sharon.
Barrett was stationed for a time in Germany before the family moved to the Los Angeles area so he could serve at the Army and Air Force Recruiting Station in Culver City. The family chose to put down roots in California, remaining there when Barrett was discharged in June 1963 as a technical sergeant.
In his later years, Barrett moved to a senior living facility in Hawthorne, California. According to a Kansas City Times newspaper article, his right leg had to be amputated in 1984 as the result of a war injury.
Barrett died March 3, 1986, at the California Veterans Home in Yountville, California. His obituary in the Napa Valley Register said he died of pneumonia and heart failure after a long illness. Barrett is buried in Napa Valley Memorial Gardens in nearby Napa, California.
Barrett's memory lives on in the Army and in his hometown. In Fulton, June 6, 2023, was officially dubbed Cpl. Carlton William Barrett Day. Army enthusiasts can see his medal in person at a display at the First Division Museum at Cantigny in Wheaton, Illinois.

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Top eight usage mistakes when using outdoor power equipment

As the weather warms and people are coaxed outside to their yards and managed landscapes, it’s time for everyone to remember how to use their outdoor power equipment safely and properly.
“Think safety first,” says Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing outdoor power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. “I can’t stress enough to review manufacturer’s safety guidance before starting up any equipment—especially your lawn mower. Review your owner’s manual and do maintenance on your equipment.”
Also being aware of surroundings is key, he adds. “And be sure to keep kids and pets away from outdoor power equipment while it’s in use.”
OPEI urges homeowners and other equipment users to avoid these eight most common mistakes when using outdoor power equipment.
1. Thinking all mowers are the same. You need to know how to handle your specific equipment correctly, and do basic operations like turning it off or on and controlling speed. Review your owner’s manual and how to use the equipment before use.
2. Not inspecting equipment before use. Always look over equipment before operating it. Check the air filter, oil level and gasoline tank. Watch for loose belts and missing or damaged parts. Replace any parts needed or take your equipment to a qualified service representative.
3. Not walking through your yard or work area before starting to mow or using other outdoor power equipment. Always walk the area you intend to work in, and look for and remove objects, sticks and other items that could create a hazard.
4. Removing or not using safety guards on the equipment. Never alter or disable safety protection measures. If needed, take equipment to a qualified service representative for repairs and inspection.
5. Using fuels not designed for equipment. Loading up your outdoor power equipment with gasoline with more than 10% ethanol in it can cause running problems and damage the fuel line. Always use E10 or less.
6. Using batteries or chargers that are not specified by the manufacturer. While a host of batteries and chargers can be found for sale online, only use batteries and chargers specified by the equipment manufacturer.
7. Not storing fuel and batteries safely. Coffee cans, milk jugs and other non-approved containers should not be used to store fuel. Only store fuel in containers designed for it, and always use up fuel before it is 30 days old. Label fuel cans with the date of purchase and ethanol content. When battery packs are not in use, keep them away from other metal objects, like paper clips, coins, keys, nails, screws or other small metal objects, that can make a connection from one terminal to another. Shorting the battery terminals together may cause burns or a fire.
8. Not cleaning or storing equipment well. Equipment will run more efficiently and last longer if it’s cleaned. Always remove dirt, oil or grass before using and storing your equipment. Store equipment in a dry place, avoiding damp or wet environments.

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Shopping for Yard Equipment: Things to Know

With the weather warming up, now is the time to think about how you want your yard to serve your family, pets and wildlife. Maybe you’re aiming to have the best yard on the block, want to install an outdoor family room or outdoor office, or want to expand your space for entertaining. Perhaps your kids or pets could use a better space for play. Regardless of need, now is the time to get “backyard ready” for spring. What tools do you need?
“Completing big outdoor jobs is always easier with help from outdoor power equipment,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “The right outdoor power equipment can help you get the work done faster and can help you safely maintain your yard.”
Here are some tips from Kiser to help you select the machinery you need to get the job done.
Plan your needs. Draw a sketch of your yard. Include any major features like trees, bushes, an herb or vegetable garden, flower beds, lawn furniture, play or sports equipment, an outdoor patio, or bird bath. Note where maintenance may be required. Will bushes need to be trimmed back from your home or garage? Do you want to put in some flowering bushes or a tree? Are you planning to install a fence and more grass because for your pet? Now list the tools and equipment needed to take care of your yard, and what will make the job easier.
Consider equipment needed. Visit your garage or shed and find your lawn and garden tools. Wheel out your mower and get out other equipment. Look it over and make a list of what is needed or could be upgraded. Repair anything that needs attention or identify where a newer or other machine is required. If you have a large vegetable garden, you may need a cultivator or tiller. If you have a large lawn, an upgrade to a riding lawn mower might make mowing easier. A string trimmer might make caring for bushes or trimming grass near a fence line easier. A pole pruner can help trim back limbs that are too high to reach safely with a saw, and a leaf blower can clear leaves faster than a rake.
Research equipment online before you buy. Think about efficiencies of scale. The right equipment can mean more time for other activities, and make doing yard work more enjoyable, too. Doing online research in advance will help you pick the right equipment for the job. Outdoor power equipment can be gas, electric or battery powered, and technology is rapidly impacting product design. There are even robotic lawn mowers available today. Equipment may be sized to handle a smaller job or a massive one. Ultimately, your decision should be based on your needs.
Ask questions. Talk with the staff at the store or ask online about the equipment. In the store, ask to pick up and hold equipment to determine its “fit” for you. Discuss safety features and ask about manufacturer fueling and care instructions. Find out how often equipment may need to be serviced.
Make a plan for storage and maintenance. Store your equipment in a cool and dry place. It also should typically be serviced at the end of the fall and the beginning of the spring. Put service dates on your calendar with a reminder.


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Three tips for creating nutritious, budget-friendly meals

Finding the ingredients to create healthy meals without breaking the bank might seem more difficult lately, but eating well does not have to be an impossible task. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) both encourage plenty of planning to make weekly meals and grocery shopping a success. Celebrate National Nutrition Month by using these three tips and tricks during your next trip to the store.
1. Have a plan.
Whether cooking for one person or a whole family, setting a budget and planning your meals for the week can save you time and money at the store. Make your grocery list based off of the meals you plan to make for the week and try to limit the extra items on your list to household supplies, hygiene items and other necessities. Including snacks in your meal plan might be a good idea if you tend to eat them during the day or have kids who expect them after school.
2. Shop deals.
If your grocery store sends out a weekly ad with coupons or if you typically shop at stores that have apps, check out their weekly deals as you choose your meals for the week. See what ingredients you can get on sale or at a reduced price, and consider switching up your menu if you want to spend less money. Coupons can be a great way to save money, and some stores also offer personalized deals based on past purchases. Buying generic or store-brand items can help cut costs as well.
3. Cook healthy meals.
Once you’ve done the planning and shopping, it’s time to make nutritious meals with your grocery haul. Buy lean proteins in bulk so you can separate them into smaller portions and freeze the ones you don’t plan to use immediately. Include frozen or canned fruits and vegetables in your recipes, too. Preparing large batches of food and freezing portions for later gives you healthier choices when you need a quick meal or haven’t made your weekly grocery run yet.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens

Ask Rusty – How Do Survivor Benefits Work for a Married Couple?

Dear Rusty: How does Social Security handle the death of one spouse? Say, for example, the husband receives $2,000 per month in Social Security and his wife receives $1,000 per month. How is the death of either spouse handled? Signed: Concerned spouse
Dear Concerned: Benefits to a deceased beneficiary stop as soon as Social Security (SS) is notified of the death (notification usually done by the funeral director who handles arrangements). Benefits are not paid for the month of death, only for the preceding month when the beneficiary was alive for the entire month.
A surviving spouse is entitled to the higher of two benefits – their own personally earned SS retirement benefit, or an amount based on the deceased spouse’s benefit at death. In the example you cite, and assuming the surviving spouse has reached full retirement age (FRA): if the husband dies first the wife will receive the husband’s $2,000 monthly benefit instead of her previous $1,000 amount. But if the wife died first, the husband would continue receiving only his $2,000 monthly amount because that is more than his deceased wife was receiving. Note in either case, the surviving spouse would be entitled to a one-time lump sum “death benefit” of $255.
The surviving spouse would need to contact Social Security to claim the “death benefit” and - unless the surviving spouse was previously receiving only a spousal benefit – also to claim the higher monthly amount, if eligible. If the surviving spouse was previously receiving only a spousal benefit from the deceased (and not entitled to SS retirement benefits on their own), then Social Security would automatically award their higher survivor amount when notified of the death.
If a surviving spouse has reached full retirement age (somewhere between 66 and 67 depending on year of birth) and is eligible for a survivor benefit, the amount of the survivor benefit will be 100% of the deceased spouse’s benefit. But if the survivor claims the benefit before reaching FRA, the amount of the survivor benefit will be reduced (by 4.75% for each full year earlier). The survivor’s benefit reaches maximum at the survivor’s full retirement age.
If a surviving spouse has not yet reached their FRA, and if they are entitled to (not necessarily collecting) their own Social Security retirement benefit, the surviving spouse has the option to delay claiming the survivor benefit until it reaches maximum at their full retirement age. And if the survivor’s personal SS retirement benefit will ever be more than their maximum survivor benefit, the surviving spouse also has the option to claim only the smaller survivor benefit first and allow their personal SS retirement benefit to grow (to maximum at age 70 if desired).
With Social Security there is hardly ever a simple answer to a question but, in the example you use, if both are over their SS full retirement age:
• If the husband dies first, the wife will get 100% of the amount ($2000) the husband was receiving, instead of the small amount ($1000) she was previously receiving.
• If the wife dies first, the husband’s monthly benefit will remain at $2000, and he will get no increase in his monthly amount.
• In either case, the surviving spouse will be entitled to a one-time lump sum death benefit of $255.

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Medal of Honor: Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Many military men and women do heroic things that they can't get credit for because they're involved in classified missions. For Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Loy Etchberger, he finally did get credit in the form of the Medal of Honor 42 years after he lost his life saving others during the Vietnam War.
Etchberger was born March 5, 1933, in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, to Donald and Kathryn Etchberger. He had an older brother named Robert.
When their father lost his job after the Pearl Harbor attacks, both boys started to work odd jobs to help with finances. Eventually, the family moved to nearby Minersville, Pennsylvania, so his dad could find more work. There, Etchberger became a star basketball player and excelled in academics. His brother said it helped that he had a photographic memory.
"When he would go upstairs to study, he would be done in 10 minutes. Then, he was back downstairs doing whatever he wanted. That used to infuriate me because I couldn't learn my lessons that quickly," Robert Etchberger said in an interview for an article on the Airmen Memorial Museum website.
After World War II ended, the family moved back to Hamburg, where Etchberger finished high school. He was the senior class president by the time he graduated in 1951.
A few weeks later, Etchberger enlisted in the Air Force. He initially wanted to be a pilot, his brother said, but due to an injury that lingered from his basketball days, he washed out of aviation school. Instead, he was trained as a radio operator and came to be known to be an electronics whiz.
A few years into his service, Etchberger met Catherine Vaccaria while on assignment in Utah. The pair married in 1956, with Etchberger taking on the role of stepfather to Catherine's son, Steve. By 1959, they had two more sons, Richard and Cory.
In August 1965, Etchberger and the whole family were transferred to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Aside from his standard duties there, Etchberger was also the communications and electronics noncommissioned officer in charge of a radar control post on Hon Tree Island in Vietnam, where the U.S. was now at war.
After a brief stint back in the U.S., Etchberger was assigned to the 1043rd Radar Evaluation Squadron and placed on a top-secret Air Force/CIA mission code-named Project Heavy Green. It called for Etchberger and a small team to go to a small radar station on top of a remote mountain in Laos that was being used to direct U.S. air support to North Vietnam during the early years of the war.
The mission wasn't easy to join. Etchberger and the other airmen involved needed to be released from the Air Force and hired by Lockheed Corporation to avoid giving the perception that Laos was involved with the U.S. government in the war. When the mission was over, the airmen would be welcomed back into the Air Force.
In early 1968, Etchberger and his team made it to the radar station, which was called Lima Site 85. From that mountainous jungle perch, which was only 12 miles from North Vietnam, about 40 airmen controlled hundreds of air strikes into enemy territory during the 1968 Rolling Thunder campaign.
The North Vietnamese knew the value of the site, so they made many attempts to take it out. None were successful until March 10, 1968, when they began to attack the site with heavy artillery. By nightfall, Etchberger and his off-duty team realized their sleeping quarters were vulnerable to the shelling, so they hid with their guns and survival radios on a ledge partially protected by a rocky overhang for the rest of the night.
Early the next morning, enemy commandos scaled the cliff the compound was on, killing 11 of the 19 Americans working at the site. While Etchberger's team was initially spared, it didn't take long for the enemy to find them and start attacking, killing two airmen and seriously injuring two others.
Since Etchberger was a radar technician, he didn't have any formal combat training. But that didn't stop him from picking up arms and defending their position. For hours, Etchberger single-handedly held off the enemy with an M-16 rifle, all while calling for air rescue and directing air strikes that were practically right on top of him.
Once rescuers arrived, Etchberger risked his own life several times, running through heavy fire to put three of his wounded comrades into rescue slings hanging from the hovering rescue helicopter. But when he finally climbed into the sling himself and was lifted to the chopper, he was hit by a burst of gunfire. Etchberger survived the initial helicopter flight, but he died before he could be transported for further medical treatment.
Etchberger, who had turned 35 the week prior, gave his own life to save the lives of his remaining crew. Of the 19 men on the mountain that night, only seven made it out alive — three of them thanks to Etchberger's actions.
The slain airman's body was returned to the U.S. and buried in St. Johns Cemetery in his hometown.
Since details of the mission were classified, Etchberger was secretly awarded the Air Force Cross. Nine months after the mission, his wife, who accepted the honor on his behalf, was told the real story of what happened to her husband; however, she was sworn to secrecy. Etchberger's sons didn't even learn the truth until the late 1980's when the details were finally declassified.
Once his actions were no longer a secret, they remained relatively hidden in the past until the early 2000's. That's when Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Dilley read about Etchberger's heroism and thought more should be done to honor him. Dilley wrote his local congressman, and, together, they began a years-long movement to have Etchberger recognized with the Medal of Honor.
That dream came to fruition on Sept. 21, 2010, when Etchberger's sons received the nation's highest medal for valor in their father's name from President Barack Obama during a White House ceremony.
Etchberger's wife, Catherine, was also recognized for her own personal sacrifice in keeping the secret — something she never told anyone, even upon her death in 1994.
"She kept that promise, to her husband and her country, all those years, not even telling her own sons," Obama said. "So, today is also a tribute to Catherine Etchberger and a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our military spouses make on behalf of our nation."
Etchberger's actions continue to be honored in the military today. Various Air Force bases have renamed streets and buildings for him, including Barksdale Air Force Base, which also displays his name etched in a granite monument. Etchberger's family donated his chief's uniform and various other items to a display honoring him at the Air Force Senior NCO Academy at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

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5 nutritional powerhouses to easily add to your diet this month

Fredericksburg Fitness Studio, a private personal training studio, is dishing up tasty options to boost nutrition

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia – March is National Nutrition Month, making it a great time to look at our diet and see if there is something we can add to make us healthier. We get plenty of information about what to remove from our diets, which can be difficult because we are creatures of habit, but adding a few powerful things can help boost our health and be convenient. Improving our nutritional intake doesn't have to be boring or difficult; it comes down to knowing which items pack a powerful nutritional punch.
"Let’s take a break from trying to remove things and focus more on adding in some healthy foods," explains Jennifer Scherer, a registered dietitian nutritionist, medical exercise specialist, certified personal trainer, and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “Getting the right nutrients into the body can help in a variety of ways, and it is something that everyone can do."
According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, adults who eat a healthy diet live longer and have a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Healthy eating can also help manage chronic diseases. Additionally, research published in the journal Nutrients reports that nutrient inadequacies can impair immune function and weaken immune response. Macronutrients, including vitamins A, C, D, E, and zinc, help with having a healthy immune system.
Focusing on adding some nutritional powerhouses to the diet can be a simple way to meet more nutritional needs without feeling like people are making big sacrifices or getting rid of foods they love. Nutritional powerhouses can add a lot by providing macronutrients and antioxidants to the diet.
Here are 5 nutritional powerhouses to add this month:
Dark chocolate. Need we say more? Most people love chocolate, but they don't realize that it's a nutritional powerhouse when they opt for the dark variety. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa, compared to milk chocolate, which contains 10-50% cocoa. They report that it provides iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants, which may help protect the heart. Opt for dark chocolate that is 70% or more cocoa to get the most benefit.
Beans. Adding more beans and legumes to the diet can have some great benefits. A study published in the journal Nutrients reports that phytochemicals found in beans and legumes are considerably beneficial in improving blood cholesterol levels and glycemic status, providing vascular protection, and reducing markers of chronic inflammation. They help to improve the gut microbiome, which is linked to everything from losing weight to brain health.
Ginger. Adding ginger to the diet can help in various ways, and it can be as easy as making a batch of ginger shots once a week and consuming one daily or adding it to oatmeal or chia seed pudding. According to the National Institutes of Health, ginger root improves immune system action and acts as an antibacterial/viral agent, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agent, and anti-cancer agent.
Green tea. Tea, whether black or green, provides antioxidants that can help protect the body from free radicals. According to research published in the journal Chinese Medicine, the high amount of polyphenols and potent antioxidants in green tea may help reduce the risks of many chronic diseases. The researchers report that green tea may also help lower blood pressure, which can help reduce the risks of stroke and heart disease.
Kimchi. This fermented Korean food can easily be purchased in the produce section of most grocery stores. Keeping a jar in the refrigerator and eating a tablespoon or more daily can provide health benefits. A research study published in the journal Medicine reports that studies have shown that the biological compounds of kimchi stimulate immune function and reduce pro-oxidants, free radicals, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome risks, and aging.
“If you feel all five of these are simple enough to add, then go for it,” Scherer added. “If you are not yet ready for something like that, pick one or two. Adding one or two of these to your routine will be beneficial, and you can always add more later.”
Scherer is a registered dietitian nutritionist who helps people improve their diet, plan for sustainable weight loss, and learn to include healthier food choices. She and her team offer nutrition coaching services, wellness, personal training, in-home medical training, virtual personal training, and a Pilates reformer program, which features a versatile machine designed to provide resistance. It can be used when standing, sitting, or lying down. All workouts on it are custom-tailored for the individual to address their physical fitness concerns.

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Selecting the right potting mix for your plantings

By MELINDA MYERS

As gardeners, it seems we are all looking for an ideal potting mix for our houseplants and containers. As with any gardening endeavor, a lot depends on what is available, the plants you are growing, and the type of maintenance you provide.
That said, there are some things you can do to increase your success and reduce ongoing maintenance. It all starts by reviewing the label on the bag you plan to purchase. You’ll find a variety of bags labeled as planting mix, potting mix, container mix, and more. Check the label to see what the bag contains and recommendations for its use.
These mixes usually contain inorganic and organic materials and may also include sand and mineral soil. They may or may not be sterilized to kill weed seeds and pests. If it doesn’t say sterilized, it probably is not, and you should consider another product instead.
Many potting mixes are labeled as “soilless.” They consist of peat moss, sphagnum moss, and compost for moisture retention and vermiculite or perlite for drainage but do not contain mineral soils such as sand or clay. They are lightweight and blended to hold moisture while draining well.
Some potting mixes are modified to accommodate the needs of certain plants. Orchid mixes often contain more bark for better aeration while cacti and succulent mixes have more sand or perlite for better drainage. African Violet potting mix contains more organic matter to create a moist, rich growing medium.
Organic potting mixes are also available. Many gardeners prefer to know the ingredients are free of pesticides and other contaminants. Check for the word organic and OMRI on the label if you want an organic product.
Once again, check the label on the bag for more details on the potting mix. Some potting mixes contain a “starter charge” of fertilizer. This minimal amount of fertilizer is usually gone after two or three waterings. Some include additional fertilizer that provides small amounts of nutrients over a longer period. The label may say controlled-release, time-release, or slow-release fertilizer, meaning it provides your plants with nutrients for a certain amount of time.
Moisture retaining products are supposed to hold water near plant roots and reduce the frequency of watering. Research has not shown them to be effective. Some gardeners feel they are effective while others end up with root rot when using these.
Consider adding an organic product, like Wild Valley Farms wool pellets (wildvalleyfarms.com) to potting mixes that do not contain moisture-retaining products. It is sustainable, made from wool waste, University-tested, and has been shown to reduce watering by up to twenty percent, while also increasing air space and adding organic matter.
Select bags of potting mix that are light, fluffy, and moist. Avoid bags that are waterlogged and heavy. The mix can break down and become compacted and some of the slow-release fertilizer may be pre-released and damage young seedlings when saturated with water.
Spend a bit of time searching for the potting mix that best matches the plants you are growing and your watering regime. The time spent selecting your perfect potting mix will pay off with greater growing success.

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Here’s one for cinephiles
Die-hard movie buffs are celebrating a flick that was just released—for a second time. It made its first debut just about a hundred years ago featuring that femme fatale of the day, Miss Clara Bow. The film, The Pill Pounder, made its debut in 1923 and then was lost. Gary Huggins of Kansas City found it recently at an antique film fest in Omaha, NE when he purchased a stack of oldies for twenty bucks. He told reporters that "a distributor that had been in Omaha for decades had gone out of business a while ago and this auction house had some of their films. It was the best 20 dollars I've ever invested, for sure."

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The odds are one in 400 million
The cow was born with two heads. It happened in Cossinade, Louisiana. The odds were not one in a million, as the saying goes; it was one in 400 million, says Eric and Dawn Breaux who own the cow. The condition is called polycephaly and the experts say most of the time critters are stillborn or live just for a few hours or days. The cow was still alive on day eight when the news of its birth made headlines. At the time, Mrs. Breaux told reporters: “She has trouble lifting her head but is holding it up more and more as she is getting stronger. She is not standing on her own yet so she is unable to nurse on her mom. We have been bottle feeding her from the start.”

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Growing old
It took a while, but Fred Allen Smalls finally got his diploma from the Georgetown County High School in the town of Plantersville. He missed graduation when he moved to Washington, DC to help support his family. Born on February 5, 1918, he recently turned 106 years of age and he is still going strong. Tamara Baker, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, told NBC News that “it’s the positive social networks — the ones that are going to influence you, or get behind you to go to the doctor, to do the exercise, to eating properly. Even in some of the more impoverished neighborhoods, if you have that positive social network, that can go a long way.”

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Enjoy and protect hydrangeas from hungry deer
By MELINDA MYERS

Low maintenance, beautiful flowers, and plenty of varieties have made hydrangeas a favorite landscape plant. It seems you can’t visit a garden center or nursery without being tempted by one of the traditional favorites or newer hydrangea varieties.
Despite their easy-care nature, hungry deer can make it difficult to fully enjoy these plants. Rutgers University rates landscape plants based on their susceptibility to deer damage. According to Rutgers, hydrangeas are occasionally severely damaged by deer, meaning they are a plant preferred by deer and protection is advised. Your experience may be different and can vary from year to year, but it is always wise to be prepared to protect key plants in your landscape.
Deer like to browse leaves, tender shoots, flower buds, and blossoms. Damage is worse when populations are high, food is scarce, and when environmental stresses like cold and deep snow are present. Once deer find a place to dine, they tend to return. Their damage has a rough or torn appearance as opposed to a clean cut like that made by a pruner. Preventing damage is always the best way to maximize your enjoyment. Even if your plants have escaped damage in the past, continue to watch for deer tracks, droppings, and plant damage.
Fencing is one option but not always the most attractive or practical. An eight-foot fence is the recommended height for protecting large areas. The University of Minnesota found deer can be kept out of small gardens that are 8 x 16 feet or smaller with much shorter fences. Sturdy decorative posts and somewhat invisible deer fencing tend to make a less obtrusive fence. Always check with your local municipality for any fencing restrictions.
Many gardeners report success using high-test fishing line. Create a barrier using strong five-foot posts with the fishing line spaced at two-foot intervals.
Scare tactics may provide some short-term help. Motion-sensitive sprinklers, noise makers, and smells are often used. Several gardeners reported success placing colorful wine bottles inverted over rebar posts. The rattling helped discourage deer browsing and added an ornamental element to the garden. Change scare tactics to increase success.
Place key plants closer to your home, in the back of large beds, or surrounded by less susceptible plants. Making it hard to reach the plants can help discourage damage to hydrangeas.
Repellents are another option. Treat susceptible plants before the deer start browsing for the best results. Look for a rain and snow-resistant product, like organic Plantskydd (plantskydd.com), which does not need to be reapplied as often. That means you’ll save time applying and spend less money.
Maximize results by treating new growth according to the label directions. Most liquid repellents need time to dry and can only be applied when temperatures are above freezing. Always check the label for the product being applied and follow the directions for the best results.
Continue to monitor the landscape for signs of deer presence and damage and adjust your management strategies as needed. Be persistent so you can increase your success.


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10 principles that help make a great CEO

Many people dream of being a chief executive officer (CEO), and for good reason. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for a CEO is nearly $250,000. Those in this position serve the operational activities at the highest management level. But what exactly does it take to get to the top? According to one CEO, some tried, and true principles must be a top priority for anyone who wants to make it to that position and thrive in it.
“Being a great CEO doesn’t just happen," says Arrive CEO Dan O’Toole. "It is something that you have to strive for and work toward. It’s crucial to have some principles that you stand by, so they can guide you along your journey.”
O'Toole has used a set of guiding principles to help him reach a comfortable level of success. His company has developed a new smart mailbox that it uses as a Mailbox-as-a-Service (Maas) platform. The mailbox has been designed to leverage AI to provide consumers with a way to receive deliveries that offer security, weather protection, video analytics, and much more. His ingenuity revolutionizes the final autonomous last mile delivery sector, helping consumers and businesses alike.
Here are 10 principles every CEO should live by to be successful:
Persistence pays. Sticking with the plan is a big part of succeeding. Too many people give up before reaching the level of success they are after.
Lead by example and be the group you want to deal with. Being a leader in the field will help people get farther than following others. Treating others how you want to be treated in the field will help in unforeseen ways.
Go boldly where no one has gone before. It is crucial not to be afraid to explore new territory. Sure, it may be a little scary, but that's okay and may be significant. We would only have new inventions if people adhered to this principle.
When one person has an idea, 10 people have that same idea simultaneously. Win the race. Execute!With billions of people on the planet, many people have had the same idea, so it all comes down to who takes action to see it through.
Remember where you came from. Every successful CEO should stick to loyalty, integrity, and love. Some people helped them get where they are and should be remembered and respected.
Own your actions. Be responsible.Always take responsibility for your decisions, even if the outcome wasn't expected or hoped for. This is how people earn respect and trust.
It’s the principle. Be principled.Determine what things will be a guiding force in the journey and stick to them. Don’t compromise on values.
Spend every dollar like it’s your last. Living by this principle will help the company financially, and this principle goes back to owning your actions.
Explore everything - optionality is everything.Being able to have choices is a good thing. There are only choices if you are willing to explore.
From within - consistently reward those who have rewarded you.Nobody is an island becoming a successful CEO on their own. Businesses can only rise to the top with the help of others. Be aware of those who have helped and help them back.
"Remember that you can always create your own principles, too,” O’Toole adds. "There are many great ones out there, but you need to find what resonates with you and use it to help you reach the top.”

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Remain calm
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission issued a video report recently showing a rather large bear crawling out of a cabin’s rather small vent hole. The critter had apparently spent the winter indoors. The Commission did not identify the location of the home; instead it warned residents living in wildlife locations to beware of bears. They said that if you come across signs that there’s a den near your home, "remain calm, leave the area quickly and quietly, and do not disturb the den for the rest of the winter season."

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‘Firefall’
It sure looks like someone set fire to a waterfall in California’s Yosemite National Park. But it’s a trick the sun plays on visitors each year at this time. Photographer Jay Huang says he’s been trying to capture what he calls the Yosemite's Horsetail Fall “firefall effect” over the years but this time he got it just right on video “in the last 30 minutes of sunset without any obstruction from clouds.”

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He’s a record holder
Most Guinness World Record holders are proud of their achievements but David Rush, who has broken more than 250 Guinness World Records to date, is aiming to win more records than anyone else in the world. He’s currently the number two record-holder, having recently won a title for using his head to bounce a soccer ball into a trash can 52 feet and 5.9 inches away. Rush says he’s aiming to win a new record each and every week.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Sgt. William Harrell

By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

World War II's Battle of Iwo Jima is considered one of the bloodiest ever fought by Marines. Marine Corps Sgt. William George Harrell's story embodies the grim fortitude and exceptional valor put forth that day. Harrell lost both of his hands while fending off the Japanese. His fighting spirit despite those terrible wounds earned him the Medal of Honor.
Harrell was born June 26, 1922, in Rio Grande City, Texas, along the Mexico border, to parents Roy and Hazel Harrell. His father was a World War I cavalry veteran who, after the war, became a border patrol officer. Harrell had two older siblings, Dick and Virginia.
When their father died in 1931, Harrell's mother moved the family about an hour further east to Mercedes, Texas. Harrell thrived there, becoming a Boy Scout who loved to ride horses, something he picked up from his father. He liked to camp, hunt and boat, and he worked on a ranch during his high school summers before graduating in 1939.
Harrell went to Texas A&M University to study animal husbandry, but after two years, he needed to take a break to earn more money so he could finish those studies. A few months later, the attacks at Pearl Harbor happened, and he decided to join the military instead. Harrell initially tried to join the Army Air Corps and the Navy, but he was turned away due to colorblindness. The Marine Corps accepted his enlistment on July 3, 1942.
After boot camp, Harrell served in San Diego before leaving in February 1943 for Hawaii to serve as an armorer with Company A of the 1st Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division. After spending about two years there, the division was deployed to Saipan and Iwo Jima in the push by the Allies to reach the Japanese homeland.
Intense Battle
The first Marines landed on Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945, with Harrell's unit being sent to the southern part of the volcanic island. By Feb. 24, Marines had taken Mount Suribachi, but elements of enemy resistance remained, hiding in terrain pocked with caves and ravines.
On March 3, Harrell was the leader of an assault group that had been involved in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. He and another Marine, Pvt. Andrew Carter, took turns standing watch overnight in a narrow two-man foxhole on a little ridge 20 yards in front the company command post. In front of their foxhole, the ridge fell into a ravine that was Japanese territory.
At one point in the early morning, the pair had to repulse an attack. Carter killed four enemies while Harrell took out two. Carter's weapon jammed afterward, so he had to go back to the command post to get another one.
During that time, Japanese troops tried to take advantage. They quickly attacked with gunfire and grenades, forcing Harrell to open fire with his carbine rifle, killing two enemies who were emerging from the ravine. Harrell continued his one-man defense until enemy fire ripped off his left hand and fractured his thigh.
Harrell was trying in vain to reload his rifle when Carter finally returned. Around the same time, an enemy with a saber rushed their foxhole in the darkness, injuring them both. Harrell was able to shoot and kill the Japanese man with his pistol. Carter's knife wound was so serious that Harrell feared he might bleed out, so he ordered his comrade to fall back. Carter left, but only to get another rifle after his jammed again, according to the Marine Corps History Division.
Pushing Through Pain
Harrell himself was profusely bleeding, but he refused to give up. When two more enemy troops charged his position and put a grenade by his head, Harrell shot and killed one of them with his pistol. He then grabbed the live grenade with his right hand and, through pain, pushed it toward the second enemy soldier. It exploded, killing the Japanese assailant but also blowing off Harrell's remaining hand.
At dawn, when the fight had finally ended, fellow Marines found Harrell surrounded by 12 dead Japanese. He was credited with killing at least five of them while defending his post.
Harrell was evacuated to various field hospitals until he was sent back to the U.S. for extensive treatment. According to an article in the Valley Morning Star newspaper out of Harlingen, Texas, Harrell theorized that the combination of explosions and volcanic ash helped seal his wounds and keep him from bleeding to death.
The Battle of Iwo Jima lasted 36 days and is considered one of the bloodiest in Marine Corps history. The valor shown by Marines and Navy hospital corpsmen during the intense fighting led to the awarding of 27 Medals of Honor – the highest number of Medals of Honor ever received for one battle in U.S. history.
Harrell was receiving treatment at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland (now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) when he learned he would be one of those recipients. President Harry S. Truman bestowed it upon Harrell during a White House ceremony on Oct. 5, 1945. Thirteen other Marines and corpsmen were also on hand to receive the medal.
Carter, Harrell's companion in the trench during the battle, earned the Navy Cross.
Learning to Adapt
Harrell was discharged from the Marine Corps in February 1946. About a week later, he married Larena Anderson, a nurse he met while receiving treatment at Mare Island Naval Hospital in California. The pair went on to have two children, William and Linda.
After losing both of his hands during the battle, doctors fitted Harrell with prosthetic metal hooks that his family said he adapted to brilliantly. Over time, he was able to ride horses again and even become a good marksman. In a Valley Morning Star article, Harrell's nephew, Richard Harrell, said he was amazed at all the things his uncle could do with his hooks.
"He could do anything. He could drive a tractor, type on a typewriter, light a cigarette or pick up a dime off the floor," Richard Harrell said.
Harrell and his wife moved back to Mercedes before transferring to San Antonio in October 1946 so Harrell could work as a contact representative for amputees for the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was later promoted to chief of the Prosthetics Division. Harrell frequently spoke at events on behalf of disabled veterans.
Harrell and his wife eventually divorced. In 1951, he married again to a woman named Olive Cortese. They had two children, Christie Lee and Gary.
Harrell died on Aug. 9, 1964, at age 42 under uncertain circumstances and was buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. After his death, his family told the Valley Morning Star he was humble and generous "to a fault" with time and money to friends and strangers.
Harrell's Medal of Honor and awards were put on permanent display at the Sam Houston Sanders Corps of Cadets Center on Texas A&M's campus in 2010, along with a bronze plaque of his military portrait. A dorm was also renamed for him in 1969.
In his hometown of Mercedes, a section of a granite war memorial is dedicated to him. The town high school's Junior ROTC building is named for him, as is the town's middle school in 2015.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

In February 1692, two girls from Salem, Massachusetts took ill, and a local doctor surmised they were suffering from the effects of witchcraft. The following month, Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne and - Tituba, a slave from Barbados - professed to be the cause of the nascent epidemic.
According to History.com, "with encouragement from a number of adults ni the community, the girls, who were soon joined by other 'afflicted' Salem residents, accused a widening circle of local residents of witchcraft, mostly middle-aged women but also several men and even one four-year-old child. During the next few months, afflicted area residents incriminated more than 150 women and men from Salem Village and the surrounding areas of Satanic practices."
For more about the witches of Salem, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials Ann Rinaldi.

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In March of 1876 - three days after receiving his patent - Alexander Graham Bell made the world's first telephone call to his assistant, Thomas Watson.
According to History.com, Bell emigrated to the United States in 1871. Then, he "went to Boston to demonstrate his father's method of teaching speech to
the deaf. The next year, he opened a school in Boston for training teachers of the deaf ... In his free time, Bell experimented with sound waves and became convinced that it would be possible to transmit speech over a telegraph-like system. He enlisted the aid of a gifted mechanic, Thomas Watson ... the two spent countless nights trying to convert Bell's ideas into practical form to transmit speech vibrations electrically between two receivers. in June 1875 [he] tested [the] invention."
Now, American processes approximately 2.4 billion cellphone-based calls each day; 27% come from landlines.
For more information, The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell by Charlotte Gray.

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America's first baseball pro-Harry Wright - started as a cricket player. On March 15, 1869, he organized--and played for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional baseball team.
According to History.com, "the Red Stockings finished the season with a 57-0 record -- 64-0 with exhibitions included. Baseball was still in the underhand-pitch iteration ... so the team
routinely scored dozens of runs in games. The Red Stockings defeated the Buckeyes of Cincinnati ... Wright, given roughly $10,000 to assemble the best team money could buy, signed his younger brother, George, to a team-high $1,400 salary." [$31,748,78 in 2024 dollars].
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Stephen D. Guschov's The Red Stockings of Cincinnati: Base Ball's First All-Professional Team and Its Historic 1869 and 1870 Seasons.

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UAMS House Call

With DR. BALA SIMON
Associate professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Q: How can I protect my eyes and still watch the upcoming eclipse?
A: A solar eclipse will occur April 8. Arkansas is in the “path of totality” — meaning many people here will have a chance to observe a total solar eclipse where the moon completely blocks the sun. Per NASA, this will be the last total solar eclipse visible in the United States until 2044.
An eclipse can be enjoyed safely by taking the proper precautions. Looking directly at the sun is never safe — even when the sun is partially hidden. The ultraviolet and infrared rays can damage the retina and potentially cause blindness. Sunglasses, regardless of how dark the lenses are, cannot safely protect your eyes from the sun’s rays. Binoculars, cameras without filters, or telescopes also will not protect your eyes from the sun.
Instead, use specially designed solar filters or solar viewing glasses (you may see them referred to as “eclipse glasses”) when observing an eclipse. These pieces of equipment are many times darker than regular sunglasses and should comply with the international standard.
There is a lot of excitement for the solar eclipse, particularly for those of us in areas where a total eclipse will occur. Take precaution in order to experience it safely.

Q: When are colonoscopies recommended
A: Colon cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 153,020 cases of colon cancer were diagnosed in the United States in 2023, accounting for 8% of all new cancer cases. Only breast, prostate and lung cancers are diagnosed more frequently.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends screenings for colon cancer beginning at age 45. Increased risk factors for colon cancer include having diabetes, an inflammatory bowel disease or a family history of the disease. Black people have an increased risk of the disease.
A colonoscopy is the most familiar type of screening test. You are sedated during this procedure during which a lighted tube is used to check for cancer and polyps inside the colon. Polyps can be removed during this process, and a biopsy is performed to determine if they are cancerous. The frequency of a colonoscopy depends on factors such as the results of the test and whether you are at increased risk for colon cancer.
Colon cancer is a disease that can be detected in its early stages. The disease is very treatable, and survival rates are excellent. Contact your health care provider if you have questions.

Q: How is tuberculosis treated?
A: Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease. Although it is often thought of as a lung illness, TB can also affect other parts of the body such as the brain, heart, kidneys, liver and skin. It can be fatal if not treated properly. Improvements in education and treatment have contributed to the reduction of TB cases in the United States.
The most common way for TB to spread is an infected person releasing germs through actions such as coughing, sneezing or talking. Symptoms of an active TB infection may include chest pain, coughing up blood, fatigue, night sweats or weight loss. People with weakened immune systems such as those with diabetes, kidney disease, or who have had organ transplants are at higher risk for the disease.
TB screening is conducted by either a blood or skin test. The skin test, where a protein substance is injected and checked 48 to 72 hours later, is the commonly known method. Antibiotics are used to treat TB, and it can take several months in some instances to get rid of the infection.
If you have symptoms or believe you have been in contact with someone infected with TB, immediately contact a health care provider.

Q: Do I need to see anyone else other than my primary care provider for health care?
A: Various factors such as age, individual desires and overall physical condition will determine whether a primary care provider (PCP) can take care of all your health-related needs. The PCP is your initial contact for basic health care needs and monitoring of acute illness such as colds and flu and such chronic illnesses as diabetes or high blood pressure.
However, you may have health concerns that require a specialist to monitor or provide care for a specific type of treatment unavailable from your PCP. The PCP can make a referral to a provider who specializes in the type of care provided. Some insurance plans do not require a patient to have a referral, but it is advisable to keep your PCP informed of any specialty visits.
Two areas where your PCP cannot fully assist are with eye and dental examinations. A comprehensive eye examination can only be conducted by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, who can also prescribe contact lenses or eyeglasses if required. A pediatrician may perform childhood oral health exams, but a dentist is the best option.
Even if you have various providers for different health issues, your PCP should be aware of them in order to assist in managing your care.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Why Must I Pay Into Social Security when I’m Collecting Benefits?

Dear Rusty: I am collecting full Social Security benefits at age 72 and also working full time. Why is the Federal Government still taking money from my paycheck? I have written to Social Security experts on this issue, and they tell me “It’s the law.” That is not a good answer for me. Approximately $4,400 was taken from my pay in 2023 for Social Security and, yes, I get a pittance of a COLA increase, but not equal to what I pay. No one has been able to fully explain the Federal Government's thought process on taxing me for Social Security when I am getting full Social Security benefits. Can you? Signed: Working Senior
Dear Working Senior: Far be it from me to try to explain the federal government’s thought process on anything, but I can explain why those already collecting Social Security benefits must continue to pay Social Security payroll taxes while working.
It actually goes back to 1935 and the panel commissioned by President Roosevelt to create America’s Social Security program. Said panel determined how the program would be financed, Congress approved it, and FDR signed it. That methodology was essentially this:
Workers who earn (and their employers) must contribute to Social Security via payroll taxes to fund the program (we now know this as “FICA” for employees and “SECA” for the self-employed). When the program first started, certain employees and their employers were required to each contribute 1% of the employee’s first $3000 of earnings. Obviously, those amounts have risen over the decades. And, for clarity, only certain workers originally participated in Social Security, which has also changed over the decades so that now nearly everyone who works must pay Social Security payroll taxes.
Starting in 1937 and still today, SS payroll taxes paid by those now working are used by the federal government to pay benefits to those who are currently receiving. Said another way, Social Security is a “pay as you go” program where income from those working (and their employer) is used to pay benefits to those receiving. Payroll taxes collected aren’t put into a personal account for the worker; rather they are used to meet current SS payment obligations. Any excess money collected is invested in special issue government bonds as reserves for future use (although current annual SS income is less than annual program costs – an entirely different topic).
So, the financing method enacted in 1935 and started in 1937 still applies – those who work and earn (and their employers) must pay into the system to fund benefit payments to those who are now receiving - and that includes those workers who are already collecting their Social Security. FYI, there was a time when, if someone worked after starting their SS benefits, they lost all of their benefits. Fortunately, that rule no longer exists, so those who are collecting SS benefits can now continue to get benefits if they work, but they must also still pay into the program from their work earnings to help pay benefits to SS recipients.
I hope this provides some insight for why you must continue to contribute to Social Security even after you have started collecting your benefits. It is a result of how the program is financed – predominantly by workers through payroll taxes on their earnings (and to a lesser extent from interest on Trust Fund reserves and income tax on Social Security benefits). With very few exceptions, everyone who works helps pay benefits to those now receiving.

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Brighten every room in your home with plants

By MELINDA MYERS

Anytime is a great time to add a few houseplants to your home. Adding greenery indoors expands your gardening opportunities and provides the many benefits of living with and tending plants. It can boost your mood and reduce stress while adding beauty or nutritious food to your home.
Increase productivity and creativity by including plants in your home or work office. Greenery helps reduce stress even when working at your desk or tackling homework at the end of a long day. Set a few plants on or near your desk or other workspace. Expand your growing opportunities with the help of stylish, energy-efficient full spectrum plant lights to fit any décor while directing light where it is needed to promote healthy plant growth.
Boost the flavor and nutrition of meals year-round by growing leafy greens and herbs in a sunny window or under artificial lights. Start plants from seeds or purchase transplants to grow indoors. Place your indoor kitchen garden in a brightly lit location, free of cold drafts and with easy access to harvest and use. Turn family meals and friend gatherings into unique and memorable experiences by enlisting them to harvest some greens for their salad and herbs to season their meals.
Grow ferns, orchids, bromeliads, and other humidity-loving plants in your bathroom. Consider these and other low-light plants like cast iron, pothos, and philodendron if natural light is limited. You’ll enjoy stepping out of the shower into a mini tropical zone allowing you to ease into your day.
Get a good night’s sleep with a bit of homegrown aromatherapy in the bedroom. Grow lavender, rosemary, chamomile, and other soothing herbs in your bedroom near a sunny window, on a shelf, or in another naturally or artificially lit, bright location. Just give the plants a pet to release their fragrance into the air before crawling into bed for a long restful sleep.
Create a miniature tropical, moss or desert garden in a terrarium to serve as a focal point in any room or as a centerpiece on the dining room table. Use an open terrarium for succulents and other plants that need airflow, lower humidity, and space to grow. Enlist closed terrariums for moss and tropical plants that benefit from the high humidity and condensation that provides continual watering.
Indoor greenery always makes a nice addition when rethinking or refreshing your home décor in any space. You and your family will enjoy the beauty and many other benefits plants provide.

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‘Disco Bathroom’
The majority of couples opt for traditional weddings but there are those who go to great lengths to find unusual ways to wed. Some travel to Transylvania to tie the knot in Dracula’s Castle and not so long ago a couple exchanged their vows in a ceremony that took place at the summit of Mount Everest in Nepal. Recently, Logen Abney and Tiana Ailstock in Verona, OH got married in the so-called "disco bathroom" of a local gas station. As Logen told Tiana, “from the first dance in this disco bathroom I vow to hop through life with you." The couple then pressed a red button to play what Logen called “the funk beats and mellow melodies, every rhythm in life.”

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The ‘naked man festival’
About a thousand years ago, on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year, the first "naked man festival" was celebrated in a temple in Oshu, Japan. Each year hundreds of loincloth-clad men assembled to pray for “a bountiful harvest, prosperity, good health and fertility.” According to the chief priest of the Kokusekiji Temple, the site of the annual event, "this decision is due to the aging of individuals involved in the festival and a shortage of successors,"

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Thundercow
A mystical cow roams the banks of Lake Thunderbird in Norman, OK; it’s known to locals as Thundercow. When a local resident, Natalie Bevill, came across the mystery cow for the first time she was baffled. As she told the reporters at KOCO-TV, "I was like, 'You know what, I can post on the neighborhood Facebook page just to kind of put out an alert,' and when I did that, that's when I started getting post after post after post in response telling me, ‘Oh, hey, that’s just Thundercow’."

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Medal of Honor : Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class George E. Wahlen

By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

When Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class George Edward Wahlen was assigned as a hospital corpsman during World War II, he tried to get out of it. He couldn't, though, so he embraced the role instead. His bravery and valor in helping his fellow Marines despite his own wounds on the bloody battlefields of Iwo Jima earned him the Medal of Honor.
Wahlen was born on Aug. 8, 1924, in Ogden, Utah, to Albert and Doris Wahlen. When he was 12, Wahlen and his younger twin brothers, Jack and Gene, moved with their parents to a small farm where they did chores as they grew up.
As a teen, Wahlen said he got into boxing thanks to a neighbor who was a professional in the sport. He said he dropped out of high school and instead trained as a civilian aircraft mechanic at Hill Field (now Hill Air Force Base) just south of his hometown.
In a 2002 Library of Congress Veterans History Project interview, Wahlen said that when the U.S. entered World War II, he'd hoped to be drafted into the Army Air Corps. But the service said it didn't need more men with his skills, so he enlisted in the Navy Reserve in June 1943 because he was told they had airplanes, too. Wahlen said he'd wanted to continue working on aircraft, but he was sent to hospital corps training in San Diego instead.
Wahlen said he tried to get out of that duty by talking to the chief at the training school he was attending.
"I said, 'I want to become an aircraft mechanic. That's what I've been trained for.' He says, 'Well, I tell you what. You do good in school, I'll try to get you what you want.' So, I stayed up every night until midnight studying. I finally graduated fairly near the top of my class and went in and reminded him of what he told me. He looked at me and kind of grinned and said, 'We need good men in the hospital corps.' Then, I knew I was pretty well stuck," Wahlen remembered.
By early 1944, Wahlen had volunteered for a battalion within the Fleet Marine Force, which used Navy hospital corpsmen as medics. In February 1944, he was sent to serve in Hawaii with the 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division. By November of that year, he'd worked his way up to pharmacist's mate 2nd class.
On Feb. 19, 1945, Wahlen's platoon, part of Company F, landed on the volcanic island of Iwo Jima to begin one of the fiercest battles in the Pacific Theater. Wahlen said his unit was meant to be held in reserve, but the casualties were so numerous that they were sent into battle the same day they landed.
"I'll always remember getting there. I wasn't too far from my platoon leader, a lieutenant, and … one of the platoon runners called over and said, 'Lieutenant, I lost my rifle coming out of the boat.' And the lieutenant said, 'Well, there's plenty of dead out here. Go find one,'" he remembered.
It was only a week later when Wahlen would become a casualty himself.
On Feb. 26, Wahlen was painfully wounded by a grenade, but he stayed on the battlefield, moving well forward of the front lines so he could carry a wounded Marine to safety despite heavy fire coming at them. Wahlen tirelessly attended to his injured comrades, consistently disregarding any danger to himself from the barrage of shrapnel and bullets.
When he learned that a nearby platoon had suffered heavy casualties, Wahlen ignored the pounding of heavy mortars and the enemy rifles surrounding him to care for those men, too, "working rapidly in an area swept by constant fire and treating 14 casualties before returning to his own platoon," his Medal of Honor citation read.
Days later, on March 2, Wahlen was wounded again when grenade shrapnel hit him in the face. The young corpsman said the injury temporarily shocked him, but he eventually wrapped his own bandages before crawling to help another wounded comrade. However, he couldn't quite reach that man because the enemy was firing at them from a foxhole. Instead, he asked a Marine down the hill from him to pass up a few grenades because Wahlen wasn't armed. Wahlen then crawled further up the hill, dodging enemy grenades to get to the foxhole. He had trouble arming the explosive at first, but he finally got it to work and tossed it into the foxhole, taking out the enemy soldier who had been injuring his comrades.
Afterward, Wahlen finally was able to get to the wounded Marine he'd initially been trying to help. He said another comrade came to help, and that's how they were both able to get off that hill.
Wahlen continued on with his company the next day, taking part in a furious assault across 600 yards of open terrain. He repeatedly gave aid to his comrades, despite the firepower aimed at him, before being wounded a third time by an artillery mortar.
"I went to stand up to get to and fell down. I couldn't walk," Wahlen said. "I looked down, and my boot had been torn off. I'd been hit in the leg and later found out my leg had been broken."
Wahlen said he bandaged his own leg and gave himself a shot of morphine, then crawled about 50 yards to help another Marine. Eventually, other corpsmen came to his aid. Finally, he agreed to be evacuated to a battalion aid station.
Wahlen's dauntless bravery was a constant inspiration to the men around him, helping to keep morale high through critical phases of the battle. Later, he said he was just doing what was expected of him.
"The thought that if one of these people died and I didn't do my job, how would I live with that for the rest of my life?" Wahlen questioned. "I think that was one of the big thoughts that was in my mind."
According to naval historians, over the course of the 36-day Battle of Iwo Jima, 332 hospital corpsmen were killed in action or died of their wounds, while another 659 were wounded badly enough to be evacuated. Their valor didn't go unnoticed, either. Iwo Jima corpsmen received 14 Navy Crosses, 108 Silver Stars and 287 Bronze Stars. Four of the 27 Medals of Honor awarded to Iwo Jima veterans were given to corpsmen, including Wahlen.
Wahlen spent nine months recovering and was still doing so when he received the Medal of Honor on Oct. 5, 1945. President Harry S. Truman bestowed it on Wahlen and 13 other men during Nimitz Day ceremonies at the White House. Naval historians said that Wahlen and one other corpsman, Francis Pierce, were the only two surviving corpsmen from Iwo Jima to receive the honor.
Wahlen was discharged from the Navy in December 1945. He married Melba Holley the following year. They went on to have five children.
After the war, Wahlen was known as a humble man who didn't talk much about his time in the war. His wife once told the Lakeside Review newspaper in Layton, Utah, that she didn't even know he'd received the Medal of Honor until a friend told her she was dating a war hero.
Wahlen went on to get a degree from Weber Junior College (now Weber State University) in his hometown before working for the Railway Messenger Service for a time. But he grew to miss the military community, so in November 1948, he enlisted in the Army as a recruiter. Soon after, he commissioned as an officer so he could continue his work in the medical service. Wahlen served in Korea and Vietnam, retiring at the rank of major in 1968.
For about a decade afterward, Wahlen worked for what is now the Department of Veterans Affairs before retiring for good at age 59. He also remained active in veterans' organizations throughout his community.
In 2004, special legislation was approved to make Wahlen the new namesake of the VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City. A veterans' nursing home that opened in 2010 in his hometown was also named in his honor.
A book called "The Quiet Hero: The Untold Medal of Honor Story of George E. Wahlen at the Battle for Iwo Jima," by Gary W. Toyn, was published in 2006.
Wahlen died on June 5, 2009, in Salt Lake City. He was 84. The Marine Corps said he was honored with a large memorial service attended by veterans from all services. He is buried in Lindquist's Memorial Gardens of the Wasatch in his hometown of Ogden.

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Debunking Fad Diets: Signs your diet is doing more harm than good

By SHELDON RIKLON, M.D.

For those looking to improve their health, fad diets are often a tempting solution. While these trendy eating plans may promise fast results, they often fail to deliver sustainable benefits. Overall, fad diets may not be the best approach for long-term health.
Most fad diets are restrictive, meaning they require you to cut out certain foods altogether. This can lead to short-term weight loss, but maintaining these results over time is rare. In fact, most people gain the weight back after their diet ends.
Now, weight loss is not everyone’s goal, nor should it be. The number on the scale is not actually the best measure of how healthy you are, and the restrictions we make while dieting can leave us without enough of the essential nutrients that keep our bodies working as they should.
Another limitation of fad diets is the one-size-fits-all approach. They often overlook individual differences in nutritional needs and health conditions. Each of us is unique, and what works for one person may not necessarily be suitable for another. It’s important to tailor our dietary choices to our own bodies and health circumstances. Plus, most of the claims made by fad diets are often not supported by scientific evidence. Beware of promises that sound too good to be true.
Beyond the physical effects, strict adherence to fad diets can also take a toll on our mental and emotional health. Rigid rules and restrictions can lead to increased stress, social isolation and an unhealthy relationship with food. A balanced mindset around eating helps us avoid feelings of guilt and anxiety.
Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, shift your attention to what you can. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats provide a wide range of nutrients essential for overall health and well-being. Maintaining a balanced approach to eating means enjoying a variety of foods in appropriate amounts.
Here are three key tips for a balanced diet:
1. Embrace variety. Eat different types of foods from each food group to give your body the nutrients it needs. A simple way to do this is to aim for a variety of colors on your plate throughout the day.
2. Listen to your body. Notice when you’re hungry, and when you’re full. That way, you can eat when you need to and stop when you feel satisfied. Paying attention to these signals can help you prevent mindless eating.
3. Practice moderation, not deprivation. It’s okay to indulge in your favorite foods, just keep it balanced. If you restrict yourself too much, it can backfire and make it harder to stick to a plan.
If you’re unsure about the best approach for your needs, consider seeking guidance from a registered dietitian or health care professional. They can provide personalized advice based on sound scientific evidence, helping you create a healthy eating plan that works for you.
Remember, healthy eating is about nourishing your body while enjoying the foods you love. It doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. By adopting a balanced and sustainable approach to nutrition, you can achieve long-lasting health.

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Tips for selecting the best tomatoes for your garden

By MELINDA MYERS

Whether you enjoy tomatoes sliced, sauced, or cooked in your favorite recipe, they taste best when grown and harvested from your garden or container. With more than 10,000 varieties available it can be difficult to select the best ones to grow in your garden.
Start by looking for those varieties best suited to the intended use whether for slicing, cooking, preserving, or snacking. Most seed catalogs and websites as well as plant tags and garden centers provide recommendations.
Bite-sized tomatoes are great for salads, relish trays, and snacking. Trailing varieties like Lizzano, Tumbling Tom, Litt’l Bites Cherry, and Red Robin also grow well in hanging baskets and even window boxes.
Paste and sauce tomatoes have meatier fruit making them perfect for sauces, soups, and preserving. Roma is the traditional favorite with an egg-shaped fruit that has thick walls and few seeds. The All-America Selections Early Resilience Roma has excellent disease and blossom end rot resistance and does not require staking. Use paste tomatoes during the growing season for sauces, chop and add them to an omelet, can or freeze them for future use.
Grow a few slicing tomatoes to enjoy on sandwiches, grilled, or on their own. Beefsteak and Better Boy are longtime favorites while Iron Lady, Galahad, and the colorful Chef’s Choice series are more recent additions to this category.
Perhaps you are looking for an heirloom tomato, one that has been grown for more than 50 years and maintained its original traits and popularity. Cherokee Purple’s rich flavor constantly rates high in taste tests. Brandywine, Black Cherry, Chocolate Stripes, Amana Orange, and Black Krim are also gardener favorites.
Coax reluctant veggie eaters of all ages to give tomatoes a try with some of the sweeter varieties like Sunsugar often called the candy of the garden. Consider having a taste test after growing a variety of super sweet tomatoes like Sungold, Super Sweet 100, Suncherry, and Sunrise Bumble Bee.
Boost your success by selecting disease-resistant varieties and growing your tomatoes in full sun and moist well-drained soil. Plant tags, internet sources, and catalog descriptions usually highlight this and other helpful information.
Look for tomato varieties suited to your growing conditions. Check with your University Extension for a list of recommended varieties for your area. You will also find helpful information on the best time to start tomato seeds indoors and when to place transplants in the garden.
Start enjoying the harvest sooner with fast-maturing tomatoes. Many of those varieties bred for the shorter growing seasons in the north also work well in southern gardens. Early Girl is a longtime favorite, Bush Early Girl produces more fruit on a compact plant and New Girl produces bigger fruit and has better disease resistance. Glacier, Sub Artic Party, and Juliet are a few to consider. Check the catalog description or plant tag for the number of days to harvest.
Select plants with the growth habit that best works with your garden space and gardening style. Determinate tomatoes are perfect for small space gardens and containers. They grow a certain height, stop growing, and produce their fruit over a relatively short time. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow throughout the season producing flowers and fruit until you prune out the tip or frost kills the plant. Stake or tower the plants to save space, reduce disease and insect problems, and make harvesting more convenient.
Gather your family and favorite recipes. Make a list of longtime favorites and new tomato varieties to include in this year’s garden. Be sure to save some space as you are likely to find a few additional varieties you just can’t resist planting this year.

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What are the odds?
Loose your wallet in a swimming pool and it’s easy enough to recover; drop it in the sea and you can kiss it goodbye. Marcie Callawaert lives near Tofino, British Columbia a town off the coast of Vancouver Island where she lost her wallet some eight months ago. She combed the beach and even snorkeled in search of it with no luck. And then, one day recently, she went for a beachside walk and “Lo and Behold” there it was, mixed in with trash that had washed up on the beach. "I knew right away. It stopped me right in my tracks."

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Ouch!
How far would you go for a page in the Guinness Book of World Records? Certainly, Denmark’s Peter von Tangen Buskov went to great lengths for his page in that book. Ouch! Peter shoved no less than 68 matchsticks into his nostrils for his award. Was it painful? "Surprisingly it didn't really hurt. I have fairly large nostrils and quite stretchy skin. I'm sure that helped a lot," Buskov explained.

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He forgot, what?
Travelers sometimes leave things behind at the end of a train trip, things like a book or a pair of glasses. But this guy forgot to take his bag containing some $30,000 in cash when he detrained at his stop on the Long Island Rail Road recently. As fate would have it, the team at New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority found the bag, discovered the cash and lost no time in tracking down the owner, contacting him and saving his day.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

On Feb. 16, 1804, the British Viscount Horatio Nelson, [1758-1805], applauded U.S. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur on a military mission which he described as the “most daring act of the age.”
According to History.com, “after disguising himself and his men as Maltese sailors, Decatur’s force of 74 men, which included nine U.S. Marines, sailed into Tripoli harbor on a small two-mast ship. The Americans approached the USS Philadelphia without drawing fire from the Tripoli shore guns, boarded the ship, and attacked its Tripolitan crew, capturing or killing all but two. After setting fire to the frigate, Decatur and his men escaped without the loss of a single American. The Philadelphia subsequently exploded when its gunpowder reserve was lit by the spreading fire.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Our Country, Right or Wrong: The Life of Stephen Decatur, the U.S. Navy's Most Illustrious Commander by Leonard F. Guttridge.

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On Feb. 18, 1885, Samuel Clemens—known also as Mark Twain, put out The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Controversial and contentious - then and now, Ernest Hemingway, proclaimed that “all modern literature stems from this one book.”
History.com notes that “Twain introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his tremendously successful novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). Though Twain saw Huck’s story as a kind of sequel to his earlier book, the new novel was far more serious, focusing on the institution of slavery and other aspects of life in the antebellum South.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

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Mardi Gras is a world-wide celebration, but since Feb. 27, 1827… New Orleans, Louisiana has evolved into the place to be on “Fat Tuesday.” The holiday has a religious connotation but the celebration in New Orleans is decidedly secular.
“Early French settlers brought the tradition of Mardi Gras to the U.S. Gulf Coast at the end of the 17th century,” according to History.com. “In fact, Mobile, Alabama celebrated its first carnival in 1703. However, Spanish governors later banned the celebrations. After Louisiana Territory became part of the United States in 1803, New Orleanians managed to convince the city council to lift the ban on wearing masks and partying in the streets. The city’s new Mardi Gras tradition began…when the group of students, inspired by their experiences studying in Paris, donned masks and jester costumes and staged their own Fat Tuesday festivities.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Rosary O’Neill’s New Orleans Carnival Krewes: The History, Spirit & Secrets of Mardi Gras.

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Five ways to boost heart health

LITTLE ROCK – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. February is American Heart Month, and there’s no better time than the present to evaluate what you’re doing to prevent and lower your risk for heart disease. Here are five ways to boost your heart health.
1. Exercise regularly.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of heart disease prevention, and regular exercise is one way to achieve this. The Surgeon General recommends that adults get two and a half hours of moderate physical activity like walking or biking weekly. Children and adolescents should aim for an hour of physical activity every day.
2. Eat healthy.
Establishing healthy eating habits is another way to maintain a healthy weight. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat and trans fat. Opt for foods that are high in fiber and low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol to help prevent high cholesterol. Foods with lower sodium can help lower your blood pressure, and consuming foods with less sugar can help keep your blood sugar under control.
3. Set limits.
Limiting your alcohol intake and avoiding smoking can also help you prevent heart disease. Knowing your limits and setting boundaries can help you stay disciplined, which is another vital part of lowering your risk for heart disease.
4. Monitor health conditions.
If you struggle with high blood pressure or high cholesterol or have diabetes, managing these conditions is a key part of preventing and lowering your risk for heart disease. Consult with doctors and other members of your health team to see what their recommendations are for managing existing medical conditions. They may prescribe medicines to help manage your blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar, along with lifestyle changes to help.
5. Work with a team.
It's important to work with your health care team if any of your conditions change, if your family has a history of any of these medical conditions or if you suspect you might be at risk for them. Consult your doctor if you’ve already had a heart attack or if you struggle with mental health issues. Create a treatment plan that works for you and discuss it regularly, making adjustments when necessary. Don’t stop taking any prescribed medicines before talking to your doctor.
Prioritizing heart health is critical for preventing and lowering your risk for heart disease. For more tips to boost heart health, visit cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Should I Claim Social Security at 68, or Wait Until I’m 70?

Dear Rusty: I have a question regarding my SS benefits. I turned 68 this month and work part time. I earned $28,000 last year but will probably gross $36,000 to $38,000 this year. My husband collects his SS, and he earned $25,000 last year. I was told by a financial planner that I should apply for my benefits now, instead of waiting until I'm 70. I would collect $1700/month at 68 and $1944/month if I wait. Which is the smarter move? Signed: Seeking Answers
Dear Seeking: I’m sure your financial advisor would agree that your decision on when to claim your Social Security comes down to just a few basic things – 1) how badly you need the money, 2) your life expectancy, and 3) whether you will receive a spousal boost from your husband when you claim.
Because you have already passed your full retirement age (FRA) of 66 years and 4 months, your work earnings won’t negatively affect your monthly SS benefit amount. If you claim now, however, your work earnings will affect how much of your SS benefits will be subject to income tax. Assuming you file your income tax as “married/filing jointly,” up to 85% of the Social Security benefits you receive during the tax year will become part of your income taxable by the IRS. If you do not urgently need the extra money that your SS will provide, then waiting longer to claim will also postpone paying income tax on your received benefits, and that may be a consideration.
Your life expectancy is key in making your decision on when to claim. You already know that your benefit will be $244 per month more if you wait until you are 70 to claim. If you claim at 68 (e.g., this month), you will collect about $40,800 by the time you reach 70. If you, instead, wait until age 70 to get that extra $244/month benefit, it will take you about 14 years collecting at the higher rate to offset the $40,800 you would have received had you claimed now (in other words, you would break even moneywise at about age 84). If your life expectancy is longer, then waiting to claim may be the better choice. Of course, no one knows how long they will live but, for general guidance, average life expectancy for a woman your current age is about 87. Family history and your current health are obviously influencing factors as well. If you wish to get a more personal estimate of your life expectancy, I suggest using this tool:
www.socialsecurityreport.org/tools/life-expectancy-calculator/.
In the end, if you believe you will attain at least average life expectancy and you don’t urgently need the money now, waiting longer will not only give you a higher monthly benefit in your later years, but also the most in cumulative lifetime benefits. If, however, you have reason to suspect you won’t achieve at least average life expectancy, or you need the SS money sooner, claiming before age 70 is likely the better move.
One other thing to consider: If your benefit as your husband’s spouse will be more than your own earned maximum SS retirement benefit, then you should claim your SS benefit now. Your maximum benefit as a spouse would be 50% of your husband’s full retirement age entitlement and, if that is more than your own benefit will be at age 70, then claiming now to get your maximum spousal benefit would be your best choice. To get a spousal benefit from your husband, your personal FRA entitlement (not your age 68 amount) would need to be less than half of his FRA entitlement. If that isn’t the case, then you should make your decision based only on your own Social Security entitlement, as described above.

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Starting plants from seeds indoors
By MELINDA MYERS

Keep your green thumb in shape this winter while getting a jump on the growing season by starting your favorite or hard-to-find plants indoors. It’s fun, simpler than you think, and can help stretch your plant budget.
Start with some clean containers that you purchase, recycle, or make from newspapers. Be sure to add drainage holes to any repurposed yogurt or similar containers you are using for starting seeds to avoid waterlogged soil. Always clean used pots by soaking them in a one-part bleach and nine-part water solution for ten minutes then rinse with clear water. This helps reduce the risk of disease.
Fill the containers with a moist well-drained potting mix or a sterile seed starting mix. Once the containers are filled, check the back of your seed packets for planting directions. Most contain all the information you need for when and how to plant the seeds. Some seed companies now provide this information on their website instead of the seed packets.
Most seeds are planted about twice the seed diameter deep while smaller seeds are often set on the soil surface and gently watered in place. Once again, check the seed packet for the seeds you are growing. Plant two seeds per container just in case one of the seeds fails to sprout.
Once planted, move the containers to a warm location. Many gardeners use heating pads designed for germinating seeds to help speed sprouting. Covering the containers with a sheet of plastic or one of the prefab domes will help conserve moisture so you will need to water less often.
Check the soil moisture daily and water often enough to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy wet. Remove the plastic and move the containers to a sunny window or better yet, under artificial lights as soon as any green appears.
Regularly rotate plants that are growing in sunny windows to promote more even growth. Adjust artificial lights as plants grow. Most seedlings benefit from keeping the lights four to six inches above the top of the seedlings. Leave the lights on for 14 but no more than 16 hours a day. Using a timer is an easy way to make sure the plants receive the right amount of light each day.
Once the seedlings develop two sets of true leaves (these will look like the leaves of the plants you are growing), it is time to do some thinning. Remove the weakest seedling in each pot so only one strong seedling remains. Trimming the weaker seedlings back to ground level instead of pulling avoids damage to the remaining seedling.
Once seedlings have been thinned and are actively growing, use a fertilizer labeled for this use. Continue to water thoroughly and often enough to keep the planting mix slightly moist but not soggy wet.
Check the weather and seed packet to determine when it is safe to move your plants outdoors. You’ll need to prepare them for their new home outdoors with a technique called hardening off. Start by moving the plants to a sheltered and shaded location after the danger of frost has passed. Stop fertilizing, and check soil moisture daily but allow it to dry just slightly before watering thoroughly.
Gradually increase the amount of sunlight the plants receive each day. Cover or move them indoors when frost is in the forecast. Your transplants are ready to move to their permanent location after a week or two.
Start gathering your supplies and seeds now. And before you know it, you will be enjoying the beautiful blooms and tasty vegetables you started from seed yourself.

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Moose on the loose
The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming attracts skiing enthusiasts from all over the world. It occasionally also draws a moose or two as was the case recently and as Ken Rynearson will testify. Ken and a few fellow skiers were pursued on the Jackson Hole slopes for quite a hair-raising moment by a moose who apparently got bored and took a turn for the better. However, a wildlife expert viewed a video tape of the encounter concluded the moose "doesn't really seem to be chasing anybody as much as just trying to kind of get out of the way."

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Flush your ex
How are couples celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? Most likely, they’ll go out for a romantic, candle-lit dinner. But, alas, what if the love of your life “did you wrong? There’s a new company out there that’s ready to lend a hand. The enterprise calls itself Who Gives A Crap and promises to turn old love letters into toilet paper. Their "Flush Your Ex” initiative suggests you "mail us those leftover love letters taking up psychic space in your sock drawer and we'll deliver them to our production facilities, where we magically transform their BS into TP.”

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Bombs away
It’s been nearly 80 years since the end of World War II but unexploded bombs from that era are still a threat—not just in what was war-torn Europe but here at home as well. A 1,000-pound bomb from that era was uncovered recently at a construction site in Florida. During the war, the site was the home of a wartime military airfield that is now the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport where airmen were trained to fly B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators. As Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis put it "because it is so rusted and decayed, there's certainly no way of telling whether it's a live munition or inert." Fortunately, of course, it was inert.

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Medal of Honor: Army Sgt. Charles R. Long
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Illustration of a Medal of Honor medal with text reading "Medal of Honor Monday: Highlighting recipients of the nation's highest medal for valor."
When Army Sgt. Charles Richard Long offered to stay behind and cover his fellow soldiers' backs as they escaped a massive enemy onslaught in Korea, he likely knew it would be his last stand. He stayed put anyway, serving with dignity until he couldn't anymore. That sacrifice and valor earned him the Medal of Honor.
Long was born Dec. 10, 1923, in Kansas City, Missouri, to parents Fritz and Lois Long. He, his older brother, Robert, and his younger sister, Edith, all grew up nearby in Independence. Long went by his middle name, but immediate family called him Buddy.
Growing up, Long did what he could to help his family make ends meet. He worked as a paperboy for the Kansas City Star newspaper and sold soda at a bus station. After graduating from Northeast High School in 1941, he went to work for the Fairmount Inter-City News before being drafted into the Army in 1943.
Long served in Europe during the winter of 1944-1945, including during the bloody Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. He was an infantryman with the 745th Tank Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, and received a Bronze Star for valor for helping the division cross the Rhine River in Germany.
After World War II, Long was discharged. He wanted to rejoin on active duty as an escort for fallen service members, but he was told he couldn't because he had high blood pressure. Instead, he remained in the Army as a reservist.
At some point, he married his girlfriend, Evelyn Tipton, and helped her raise her two daughters, Patricia and Sondra. Long returned to work at the Inter-City News and was also involved in church groups, the Boy Scouts and the YMCA in his free time.
About three months after war broke out in Korea in 1950, Long was called back to active duty and sent to the embattled peninsula to serve with Company M of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
By Feb. 12, 1951, his unit was in the area of Hoeng-Song when six enemy divisions launched an unexpected offensive, overwhelming South Korean forces and U.S. support troops. Company M had set up a defensive perimeter on Hill 300 when the attack came at about 3 a.m. Enemy forces greatly outnumbered them, so they were ordered to withdraw.
Long, who was a forward observer for the mortar platoon, volunteered to stay behind to cover his fleeing comrades. While maintaining radio contact with his platoon, he calmly directed mortar fire on the enemy while using his carbine and grenades to push the attackers back.
Eventually, Long was wounded and surrounded. According to a Department of Veterans Affairs account, when Long ran out of ammo, he made one final call to his platoon, asking them to fire 40 pounds of explosives on the enemy, including on his own position. The 27-year-old knowingly gave his life to allow as many of his fellow soldiers to get clear of the chaos as possible.
The lopsided battle at Hoeng-Song was one of the largest concentrations of American deaths during the Korean War. However, Long's actions halted the onslaught and enabled his company to withdraw, reorganize and counterattack, eventually regaining Hill 300.
For his sacrifice, Long's widow accepted the Medal of Honor on his behalf from Defense Secretary Robert Lovett during a Pentagon ceremony on Jan. 16, 1952. Nine other soldiers also received posthumous honors that day.
Long is buried in Mount Washington Cemetery in his hometown, Independence, which also happens to be the home of President Harry S. Truman and the Truman Presidential Library, which is where Long's medal is on display in a permanent exhibit.
The young Missourian's sacrifice has not been forgotten. The state's Army Reserve center and a bridge in Independence are named in his honor, as is a display at the Truman Memorial Building, not far from the Truman Library.
Camp Long in Wonju, South Korea, honored him before it closed in 2010. Long Road on Camp Humphreys in South Korea also bears his name.

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Unique gifts for your valentine
By MELINDA MYERS

Chocolates and roses are synonymous with Valentine’s Day. They are always a welcome gift but maybe this is the year you decide to give your Valentine something different.
Consider an indoor plant with heart-shaped leaves or flowers. Anthuriums are an easy-to-grow long blooming indoor plant. The red, pink, or white heart-shaped flowers rise above glossy green leaves. Grow it in a brightly lit location out of direct sunlight and water when the soil is slightly dry.
Heart-shaped leaves and colorful flowers of the florist cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) make it an excellent choice. Its pink, red, purple, or white flowers rise above variegated leaves of green and silver. It prefers cool, draft-free locations and bright indirect light. Allow the soil to almost dry between waterings.
Valentine hoya, also known as Sweetheart hoya (Hoya kerrii), is usually sold as a single rooted leaf in a small container. It eventually grows into a vining plant and requires the same care as other hoyas. Grow it in a warm location with bright indirect light and well-drained soil.
String of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is just that, a thin vine dotted with an abundance of small heart-shaped leaves. The leaves are dark green with silver highlights adding to its appeal. Grow it in bright light with well-drained soil and water it when the soil is dry.
Beginning and experienced gardeners will appreciate a low-maintenance pothos or philodendron with heart-shaped leaves. Select one of the variegated philodendron varieties like Brasil or Neon pothos with bright lime green leaves for a bit different look.
Purchase or create a heart-shaped topiary. At your favorite garden center, you’ll find many ready-to-buy or all the necessary materials to plant your own.
All you need is a pot with drainage holes, a couple of vining-type plants like wire vine or English ivy, and a piece of heavy gauge wire or a pre-formed heart-shaped topiary frame.
Small-leafed ivies and wire vines are easy to train into attractive topiaries. Look for small plants with long branches for immediate impact.
Bend the wire into a heart shape with one or two legs that will extend into the container. Fill the bottom half of the container with a well-drained potting mix. Set the topiary frame in place. Locate the plants in the container so the stems can be trained up either side of the heart. Cover the roots with soil and water. Secure the stems to the wireframe and add a decorative stone mulch, if desired.
If your recipient is an avid gardener, they may prefer assembling their own Valentine's topiary. Just provide all the materials and directions wrapped in pretty paper.
If you opt for fresh flowers, make sure to get the most from your floral investment. Look for the freshest flowers possible. A whiff of the water will let you know if the flowers are fresh and have been properly tended.
Look for upright and perky flowers with lots of firm buds that are just starting to open. Avoid cut flowers with drooping discolored leaves and slimy stems.
Give the recipient a packet of floral preservatives to add to some fresh water. Encourage them to remove any lower leaves and recut the stems before placing them in a clean vase.
If the roses bend at the neck soon after purchase, there is an easy cure. Remove them from their vase, recut the stems, and submerge the whole rose – stem, leaves, flowers, and all – in a sink or tub of warm water. Leave the roses submerged for 30 minutes. Recut the stem and place it in a clean vase with fresh water and a floral preservative.
Always protect your living Valentine's gift when transporting it between the store, your home, and your Valentine. Wrap plants or cut flowers to protect them from the weather and never leave them in a cold or hot car.


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Happy Birthday, Edie
Edith “Edie” Recagno Keenan Ceccarelli was born in the town of Willits, California, and still lives there. She’s the oldest resident in Willits, a town with a population just shy of 5,000 residents. In fact, at the age of 116 years, she’s the oldest woman in America and the second oldest woman in the world. Each year, on February 5, the whole town comes out to celebrate her birthday and Edie wonders, “Why am I still here? ” As one of her best friends put it, “God has a plan for you.”

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As the song goes, ‘Can’t Stop The Spring’
Punxsutawney Phil had good news for those of us who can’t wait for the warm and sunny days of springtime. The “biggest meteorological holiday of the year” took place on February 2 when that famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phill, emerged from his den. It was a cloudy day, so Phill did not see his shadow, the sign that springtime is just a few short weeks away -- maybe. Since 1887 Phill had it right 48% of the time but was wrong 52%. Your pick!

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How did he get in there?
Somehow three-year-old Ethan in Queensland, Australia managed to work his way into a claw machine via the chute through which prizes are dispensed. In this case it was a Hello Kitty plush toy machine. Using hand gestures Dad signaled his boy to stand far back in the machine’s container allowing police to smash through the glass pane. All’s well that ends well. When the ordeal came to a successful end, one of the police officers told Ethan, "You won a prize, which one do you want?"

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

On February 1, 1790, Chief Justice John Jay opened the Supreme Court's inaugural meeting on Broad Street in New York.
According to History.com, "The... Court later grew into arguably the most powerful judicial body in the world in terms of its central place in the U.S. political order. In times of constitutional crises, for better or worse, it always played a definitive role in resolving the great issues of the time."
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends William H. Rehnquist's The Supreme Court.

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Joe DiMaggio said Leroy "Satchel" Paige was the "best and fastest pitcher I’ve faced." Even so, it took Paige 50 years to be honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame - on February 8, 1971- as the first Negro League veteran to earn the recognition.
According to History.com, Paige was "a pitching legend known for his fastball, showmanship and the longevity of his playing career. Born in Mobile, Alabama, most likely on July 7, 1906, although the exact date remains a mystery, he earned his nickname, Satchel, as a boy when he earned money carrying passengers' bags at train stations. Baseball was segregated when Paige started playing baseball professionally in the 1920s, so he spent most of his career pitching for Negro League teams around the United States. During the winter season, he pitched for teams in the Caribbean and Central and South America. As a barnstorming player who traveled thousands of miles each season and played for whichever team met his asking price, he pitched an estimated 2,500 games, had 300 shut outs, and 55 no-hitters. In one month in 1935, he reportedly pitched 29 consecutive games."
For more information, The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend by Larry Tye.

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When Theodore Roosevelt refused to slay a bear during a hunting trip, the incident prompted a New York City inventor-toy store owner, Morris Michtom, to fashion two stuffed bears that were approved by the president. On February 15, 1903, he placed them in his window.
According to History.com, "Reports differ as to the exact details of the inspiration behind the teddy bear, but it is thought that while hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt came upon an old injured black bear that his guides had tied to a tree. While some reports claim Roosevelt shot the bear out of pity for his suffering, others insist he set the bear free. Political cartoonists later portrayed the bear as a cub, implying that under the tough, outdoorsy and macho image of Roosevelt lay a much softer, more sensitive interior."
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends A Collector's History of the Teddy Bear by Patricia Schoonmaker.


House Call
Dr. Daniel Knight, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences


Q: What is macular degeneration? A: Macular degeneration is a common eye disorder. Often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the condition affects the macula, which is the central part of the retina. The retina controls central vision, making it difficult for people with AMD to see things directly in front of them. AMD most commonly occurs in those over the age of 50. AMD presents itself in two forms — dry and wet. Dry AMD, the most common form of the disorder, is when yellow protein deposits collect under the macula. These deposits build up and eventually dry out and thin the macula. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels develop under the retina and macula. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid, and the buildup forms a bulge in the macula. AMD can be inherited. It can also occur in those who have diabetes or have had head injuries. AMD symptoms may include blurred vision, changes in how you see colors, or blank or dark spots in your vision. An eye exam can help determine the presence of AMD. While the condition cannot be cured, certain vitamin supplements or medications may be recommended to slow the progression of AMD and make symptoms more manageable.
Q: What occurs during sepsis? A: Sepsis is the body’s abnormal internal reaction to an infection. The immune system naturally fights infections, but sepsis occurs when the immune system attacks healthy organs and tissues. It is a medical emergency and a life-threatening situation if not treated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1.7 million people in the United States are diagnosed with sepsis each year. Bacterial, fungal, parasitic and viral infections can cause sepsis. Damage to tissues and organs may lead to inflammation throughout the body. Blood clots may also form, reducing blood flow to organs. Infections of the gastrointestinal system, lungs, skin and urinary tract are the common types that can lead to sepsis. Risk factors include being over the age of 65, people who have catheters or breathing tubes, those with weakened immune systems, or anyone with a recent long-term hospital stay. Sepsis symptoms may include confusion, elevated heart rate, feeling lightheaded or shivering. Quick diagnosis is the key to successful recovery, as sepsis progresses rapidly. Sepsis is often treated with antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and medications to tighten blood vessels to raise blood pressure. If you have an infection that is not getting better and you experience symptoms, contact a health care provider immediately. Q: What is the role of a phlebotomist? A: A phlebotomist is a health care professional specifically trained in collecting blood and preparing the samples for analysis and testing. Phlebotomy refers to the act of puncturing a vein. Blood samples may also be obtained by finger pricks (commonly used in blood sugar testing or determining a patient’s blood type) or by heel pricks in an infant. Anyone who has been treated by a health care provider has encountered a phlebotomist or a health care professional such as a nurse who is also trained in drawing blood. Phlebotomists work in locations such as assisted living facilities, blood donation centers, clinical laboratories, community health centers, doctors’ offices and hospitals. Many phlebotomists have a certification from an accredited phlebotomy program. These programs often include classwork, hands-on training and the passing of a certification exam. Phlebotomy programs generally take less than one year to complete. Collecting blood or other samples is often the first step in medical diagnosis. Blood may also be drawn while treating medical conditions such as high iron levels or sickle cell anemia, so phlebotomists perform a vital function. Patience and understanding are fundamental skills as many patients experience anxiety with the process of having blood drawn. Q: Can an electrocardiogram determine if I will have a heart attack? A: An electrocardiogram (often referred to as an ECG or EKG) measures and records the heart’s electric signals. Each heartbeat results in an electrical wave, and the EKG displays these waves and patterns. An EKG is a noninvasive and painless method to determine how the heart is functioning. While an EKG cannot predict whether a person will have a heart attack, it can show if a heart attack is happening at the time. It can also reveal whether a heart attack had previously occurred. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year about 805,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack. Heart issues such as cardiomyopathy (enlarged or thickened heart walls), blocked or narrowed arteries or irregular heartbeats also can be detected with an EKG. The test can also be used to track the effectiveness of heart disease treatments or whether a patient is fit for surgery. EKG results are normally known soon after the test is performed, and your health care provider can review them with you. Even if you don’t have symptoms, an EKG may be recommended if you have a family history of heart disease.

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Party In The Potty
How do you attract a crowd in a convenience store? Easy! Throw a party in the potty. The HOP Shops chain of stores in Kentucky recently installed big red buttons in its bathrooms warning customers with a sign warning, “Do Not Push This Button." When you push the button – and that’s the idea – it triggers an array of colored lights, music and, of course, a disco ball and all of a sudden you find yourself in a mini dance club. It works. Store manager Mary Moss told WDKY-TV, "I had a 60-year-old woman who came out of the restroom and told me it was the best day of her life."

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How ‘cool’ is this
Katarzyna Jakubowska suggests that it’s in their genes for women to endure hardships. She should know, having earned a page in the Guinness Book of World Records when she withstood 3 hours, 6 minutes and 45 seconds in a box filled with ice up to her neck. As she put it, "I believe that we have great strength as women” and “I wanted to show that if we want something, we can do it."

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Not so sweet revenge
Valentine’s Day is approaching but there’s still enough time to find an appropriate memento for your not-so-loved one. If he or she is no longer the one you love and you want to show it, the Rhode Island animal shelter offers to bury your ex in kitty litter. For a $5 donation, they’ll write the name of an ex-friend or lover and bury it in a litter box for our shelter cats to poop all over. How's that for stinky retripootion?"

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Brighten any space with containers of summer-flowering bulbs
By MELINDA MYERS

Add unexpected beauty to your patio, deck, or balcony with summer-blooming bulbs. You may have grown elephant ears, lilies, dahlias, gladiolus, and caladiums in your garden, but did you know they also thrive in containers? Some summer bulbs grow even better in pots than they do in the garden. These include the exotic-looking flowers of Abyssinian gladiolus, calla lilies, pineapple lilies, and spider lilies.
One of the reasons these bulbs perform so well in containers is that you can be sure they get warm soil, consistent water, and plenty of nutrients. Taller plants like gladiolus, lilies, dahlias, cannas, and elephant ears are the perfect thrillers for large containers. Their bold foliage and extravagant blooms are sure to steal the show. Just plant the bulbs in spring along with your other annuals. As temperatures rise, these heat-loving bulbs will begin to fill in and soon burst into bloom providing added texture and color from late summer through fall.
You may find that summer-blooming bulbs like the pineapple lily (Eucomis), calla lily, and fragrant Hymenocallis perform better in their own containers because there is no competition with other plants for space, nutrients, and moisture. Before the bulbs begin flowering, their foliage provides an attractive backdrop for other container plants that bloom earlier in the season. Once flowering begins, you can move the pots front and center to fully enjoy the show. In cold climates, growing in containers also makes it easier to overwinter the bulbs. Just move the pots indoors to a cool, dark location until it’s time to replant the next spring.
Combine plants of different sizes and shapes to create visual excitement. Containers filled with tall plants such as gladiolus, cannas, tall varieties of dahlias, and large elephant ears provide striking vertical accents. Shorter plants like caladiums, pineapple lily, and triplet lily (Brodiaea) can be positioned in front of the larger pots. Add a few planters filled with your favorite annuals to keep the color going all season long.
Many summer-blooming bulbs are wonderfully fragrant. Growing these plants on a patio, deck, or balcony, ensures you won’t miss out on their delightful perfume. Late summer evenings are even sweeter when you are surrounded by containers filled with Oriental lilies, spider lilies, and acidanthera.
Small bulbs can grow into enormous plants, so choosing the right size container is important if you want your summer bulbs to reach their full potential. Longfield Gardens provides helpful tips in its Best Summer Bulbs for Containers article (www.longfield-gardens.com).
Most mid-sized dahlias will grow well in a five-gallon container. Dahlias that get to be more than 3 feet tall need a larger pot as well as sturdy stakes for extra support. Cannas and elephant ears are thirsty plants and can develop a very large root system in just a few short months. For these tropical beauties, the bigger the pot, the better!
Extend the bloom time for gladiolus and its cousin, Abyssinian gladiolus, by planting the bulbs in batches about two weeks apart. Both of these summer bulbs have sword-like foliage that provides vertical interest while you wait for the beautiful blooms. If you like cut flowers, grow a few extra pots of gladiolus so you can include them in summer arrangements.
Calla lilies are easy to grow in pots, even for gardeners in cool climates. Choose from a rainbow of beautiful flower colors, from white and yellow, to peach, red, and nearly black. The blossoms last for a month or more, and the lush foliage stays attractive all season long.
Extend the season into early fall with the exotic-looking flowers of Nerine bowdenii. Plant three or more bulbs per container and look forward to fragrant, candy-pink blossoms in September.
Let the unique flowers of pineapple lily (Eucomis) shine by growing them in their own container. The long-lasting flowers feature a green topknot that makes them resemble a pineapple. As with nerines, callas, and other non-hardy summer bulbs, Eucomis can be overwintered indoors and replanted in spring.
The possibilities are many. No matter which summer bulbs you choose, growing them in containers is a sure way to add pizzazz to your patio, deck, balcony, or entryway.

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How often should we wash our towels?

Key Findings:

3% of residents surveyed only wash their bathroom towels once a year, which equates to over 1.5 million people (1,595,646).
Almost one in 10 residents (8%) surveyed only wash their bathroom towels twice a year, equating to over 4 million people (4,255,056)
A third of those (33%) surveyed wash their bathroom towels just once every three months, this equates to over 17 million people (17,552,107)
Men are five times more likely to go a year without washing their towels
Through a survey of 2,200 residents, Showers to You’s research found that 3% of respondents wash their bathroom towels once a year, equating to 1,595,646 UK citizens.
Men were five times more likely to clean their bathroom towels just once a year, with 5% of male respondents admitting to giving them an annual wash, compared to 1% of women.
Almost one in 10 respondents (8%) stated they will only wash their bathroom towels twice a year, indicating over 1.5 million people across the country give their towels a clean every six months, while a third of respondents (33%) will only wash their bathroom towels once every three months at the most
However, it’s not all bad news for the nation’s bathroom hygiene, with almost one in five (38%) respondents stating they wash their towels once a month, almost a quarter (24%) washing their towels once a week and one in 20 (5%) health conscious residents washing their towels every single day.
Martin Smith, the founder of Showers to You commented:
“The bathroom should in theory be one of the cleanest rooms in the home, however our research shows that many people across the country could be ignoring a key step in ensuring proper bathroom hygiene.
“While it’s encouraging to see the data shows the majority of respondents are keeping up with regularly washing their bathroom towels, everyone should ensure they are ensuring a regular routine of washing their towels in line with guidance from health professionals, especially for those who only give their towels an annual wash.”
Visual cleanliness is the most common factor that causes people to wash their bathroom towels(67%), followed by smell (61%) and ‘number of uses’ (58%). Worryingly, however, one in sixrespondents (15%) stated they will only wash their towels once they have become stiff.
While the study found that one in 9 respondents (11%) aren’t concerned at all by bacteria or hygiene issues stemming from not washing their bathroom towels, the NHS advises that towels can spread germs if not washed frequently.
Commenting on the research, Dr. Hamdan Abdullah Hamed MBChB, a board-certified Dermatologist and Co-founder of PowerYourCurls.com, states:
“It is crucial to maintain proper hygiene in our everyday routines, including the use and care of bathroom towels. Regular washing of bathroom towels is important to maintain cleanliness and reduce the risk of infections. Towels tend to accumulate moisture, creating an environment conducive to bacterial and fungal growth. Bacteria like staphylococcus aureus can lead to skin infections, while fungi like Candida yeast can cause issues like athlete's foot or yeast infections. Additionally, dirty towels may contain allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or skin irritations in sensitive individuals. Therefore, it is recommended to wash towels after every three to four uses to eliminate bacteria, dirt, dead skin cells, and allergens, ensuring optimal hygiene and minimising health risks.”
https://ww.showerstoyou.co.uk/latest/2023/09/how-often-do-you-wash-your-bathroom-towels/
Methodology:
A survey of 2,200 UK residents asking respondents to state how often they wash their bathroom towels and the reasons behind the frequency.
Population statistics for UK adults (18 and over) taken from the Office of National Statistics.
Guidance on washing towels taken from Healthline.
Guidance on hygiene issues around washing towels taken from the NHS.
All data was collected in August 2023 and is correct as of then.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Pfc. Ray "Mike" Clausen Jr.
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Marine Corps Pfc. Raymond Michael Clausen Jr. wasn't exactly known for acquiescing to authority during his time in Vietnam, and that lack of obedience helped save more than a dozen Marines who got trapped in a minefield in 1970. Clausen's fearless actions during that mission earned him the Medal of Honor.
Clausen, who went by Mike, was born on Oct. 14, 1947, in New Orleans to parents Ray Sr. and Mary Louise. He had a sister and three brothers, two of whom also served in the Marines.
After first grade, Clausen's family moved to Hammond, Louisiana, where he attended a Catholic primary school and was an altar boy at his church. Eventually, he switched to public school, graduating from Hammond High School in 1965. That fall, he started classes at nearby Southeastern Louisiana University, but after reading daily about all that was happening in Vietnam, he decided he needed to be part of the war effort.
Clausen enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in March 1966. By May of that year, he was discharged so he could join the regular Marines. After attending aviation school, Clausen was deployed to Vietnam, where he served as a jet helicopter mechanic with Marine Aircraft Group 16 of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
Clausen returned to the U.S. for a short time before volunteering to go back in November 1969. In a Veteran's History Project Library of Congress interview in the early 2000s, he said his mother didn't like the idea and asked him why he wanted to return.
"I said, 'There's something I've got to do. I haven't done it yet, but there's something I've got to do,'" Clausen remembered.
When he got back to Vietnam, he remained with MAG 16 in Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263. As a helicopter crew chief, most of his missions were doing reconnaissance and Medevac flights. His job was to make sure all systems were a go for each flight, and while in the air, his role included clearing pilots in and out of landing zones and directing gunners.
On Jan. 31, 1970, his CH-46D Sea Knight and two other helicopters had dropped Marines into a field for a mission. A short time later, he said they were called back to extract some of those men, who had inadvertently stumbled into a minefield during a firefight with the enemy.
"The radio operator called up the helicopter and asked us if we'd come in and take up the wounded," Clausen recalled. When the pilot asked Clausen if they should go, the young crew chief replied, "Considering we put them in there, I think it's only right that we should get them out."
Nearly a dozen Marines had been wounded or killed, and those who remained held their positions for fear of detonating more mines if they moved. Clausen skillfully guided his pilot to a landing area that looked safe because several mines had already exploded there – although, he said, he really didn't know what a mine looked like and had no expertise on the matter.
Without hesitation, Clausen immediately ran off the chopper. When he reached the radio operator who had called for their help, that man pulled off Clausen's helmet and yelled at him about entering a minefield.
"So, I sort of flew back to the helicopter, not even touching the ground. I was on the ramp looking out. were carrying a stretcher toward the helicopter when one of the men carrying the stretcher stepped on a mine. The concussion and shrapnel knocked them all off their feet," Clausen remembered.
He said he immediately told his pilot that he was going back out. His pilot tried to tell him to stay put, but it was too late. "I was already disconnected. I was gone," Clausen said.
Despite the potential for hitting more mines, he went about his business collecting the injured.
"I picked up the ones who couldn't walk, and the ones who could walk sort of followed in my footsteps — thinking I knew what mines were," he said, chuckling at that thought. "We did all this under fire."
Clausen left the relative safety of the helicopter six times to carry out his rescue efforts. He said in total, they landed in three different areas twice, and he entered the minefield each time to help.
He remembered one occasion during a landing when they hit and detonated a mine right near a fallen corpsman whose body was still on the ground. Clausen hopped off the chopper and rescued three other wounded men before grabbing the slain corpsman to bring him home.
Only when Clausen was certain that all the Marines were safely aboard the helicopter did he signal to the pilot to head back to base. When they got there, Clausen said his pilot reprimanded him for not following orders, threatening a court martial. Clausen said he'd disobeyed authority several times — a 2004 Boston Globe profile about him said he'd been demoted after every promotion — but the reprimand never happened.
"[My pilot then] said, 'After what you did, there's no way in hell I can court martial you,'" Clausen remembered.
The 22-year-old was credited with saving 18 Marines that day.
"I personally carried six of the Marines out of the minefield, two in each place I landed. The rest of the Marines in the area who could walk … followed me out," he humbly said during the Library of Congress interview.
After that mission, Clausen came back to the U.S. and was released from active duty on Aug. 19, 1970. He took a job as an inspector for Boeing, but soon after, he got into a very serious car crash that temporarily left him in a coma. According to the Boston Globe, the crash nearly blinded him in one eye, and he had trouble walking for a while.
Clausen was at his home in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, recovering from the incident when he got a letter telling him he had earned the Medal of Honor. He received it on June 15, 1971, from President Richard M. Nixon during a White House ceremony. His accolades also include 98 Air Medals from the more than 3,000 hours he flew in combat.
In the Library of Congress interview, Clausen said he never considered himself a hero — just a man who did what had to be done. He said his Medal of Honor is shared with all of the helicopter crewmen with whom he served.
"Everybody that ever landed anywhere in Vietnam, ever flew in Vietnam — we all share in having the medal," he said.
In 1976, Clausen married his long-time girlfriend, Lois. He spent much of the rest of his life doing public speaking events and talking with veterans' organizations about his experience, even though his health was deteriorating.
Clausen died of liver failure on May 30, 2004, while receiving treatment at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He was 56. Soon after, he was buried in Ponchatoula City Cemetery in the town in which he spent his later years.
About a decade before his death, Clausen donated his Medal of Honor to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, where it is on permanent display.
After his death, a Medal of Honor display that included one of his uniforms and a copy of his citation was set up at the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1052 in Independence, Louisiana. In 2019, it was loaned to the New Orleans VA Medical Center for display during the 50th commemoration of the Vietnam War. It was then moved to the Hammond Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Clausen's hometown.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Will Withdrawing from 401(k) Affect My Social Security?

Dear Rusty: My full retirement age (FRA) is 66 and 8 months, which I’ll reach in September 2024. I’m still working 3 days a week. I want to cash in my 401K and want to know if I have to wait until my FRA for IRS purposes or can cash it in anytime in 2024. I don't want to affect my Social Security or end up paying taxes on my benefits. Signed: Seeking to Avoid Taxes
Dear Seeking: We’re not experts on IRS matters here at the AMAC Foundation so I can’t address 401(k) questions, but we can provide information on your Social Security circumstances and how 401(k) withdrawals may affect your SS. I assume from your question that you are now receiving early Social Security and wish to avoid any tax consequences thereto by cashing in your 401(k), as well as from working. Here’s what you need to know:
• Since you will reach your full retirement age (FRA) in 2024, your 2024 work earnings limit will be $59,520 up to the month you reach FRA. If you were born in January 1958, you’ll attain FRA in September 2024. After you have reached your FRA there is no longer a Social Security limit to how much you can earn from working, so your work earnings thereafter will not affect your monthly Social Security benefit regardless of how much you earn. If your part time work between January and August 2024 won’t put you over the $59,520 limit, your work earnings will not negatively affect your gross monthly Social Security benefit.
• Assuming you are on Medicare, the premium for which is deducted from your Social Security payment, withdrawals from your 401(k) might affect your net monthly Social Security payment in two years hence. Medicare premiums are based upon your combined income from all sources, including 50% of the SS benefits you received during the tax year. If your 401(k) withdrawal(s) put you over an income threshold for your tax filing status, you may be required to pay an “IRMAA” (Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount) on top of the standard Medicare premium. That IRMAA supplement would be deducted from your Social Security, which would affect the net amount of your Social Security payment. Your Medicare premium for each coming year is determined by your combined income from two years prior, so if you “cash in” your 401(K) in 2024, it would affect your net Social Security payments in 2026.
• Whether you will pay income tax on your Social Security benefits is determined by your combined income from everywhere, which the IRS calls your “Modified Adjusted Gross Income” or “MAGI.” MAGI is your income from all sources (except ROTH IRA withdrawals) and includes half of the SS benefits you received during the tax year. If you file your taxes as a single, and your MAGI is over $25,000 – or if you file your taxes as “married-jointly” and your MAGI is over $32,000 – then 50% of the Social Security benefits received during the tax year becomes part of your overall income taxed by the IRS (at your normal IRS tax rate). But if your MAGI as a single filer is more than $34,000 – or as a married/jointly filer over $44,000 – then up to 85% of the SS benefits received during the tax year becomes part of your overall income taxed by the IRS.
So, to recap:
1. Your part time work earnings in 2024 won’t affect your monthly Social Security benefit, unless your 2024 work earnings prior to September 2024 exceed $59,520.
2. Depending on the amount of your 401(k) withdrawals, your 2026 net Social Security payments may be impacted by Medicare’s IRMAA provision. But your 401(k) withdrawals will not affect your gross Social Security payments.
3. Depending on the amount of your 401(k) withdrawals, some of the Social Security benefits received during the 2024 tax year will likely be subject to income tax. That is, if your annual total income, including your 401(k) withdrawals, exceeds the MAGI thresholds described above.

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Get a Jump Start on Managing Plant Pests This Winter
By MELINDA MYERS

Just like us, insects spend their winters in different locations. Unlike us, they spend their winters in different stages of development. Some may overwinter as adults, others in their immature stage as grubs, caterpillars, or nymphs, while others will be in the pupal stage like a chrysalis or cocoon. Understanding their lifecycle and location can help us support beneficial insects while managing problem insect pests.
Invite beneficial insects like lady beetles, parasitic wasps, and predatory mites to your landscape to help manage populations of plant-damaging pests. Add a birdbath to encourage insect-eating songbirds into your gardens. Most songbirds eat insects or feed them to their young while adding color, movement, and entertainment to your garden.
Keeping your plants healthy with proper care is the first and an important step in any pest management strategy. Healthy plants are better able to tolerate pest attacks and are more likely to recover from the damage.
Despite your best efforts, insect pests may attack and damage your plants. Birds and predaceous insects often manage small populations but there may be times you decide to intercede. Winter is a great time to monitor and, in many cases, manage plant-damaging insects.
Scale insects can be one of these and come in a variety of colors and shapes, but all grow and reproduce under a waxy covering. This covering protects them from predators, desiccation, and pesticides. Depending on the scale species they may overwinter as an immature scale, fertilized female, or eggs under the protective covering.
Treating plant damaging scale in late winter or early spring is one way to jump-start control of this pest while having minimal or no impact on beneficial insects that will help manage this pest. Take some time now to check plants for problem pests like the invasive oystershell scale.
This insect is not native to North America and is a pest of more than 130 species of plants including poplars, ash, beech, maple, willows, dogwood, cotoneaster, and lilacs. Adult scale insects form a grayish to dark brown protective covering called a test that resembles an oyster or mussel shell. In the fall the mated female lays 20 to 100 eggs inside the test, dies and the eggs remain there throughout the winter.
Removing heavily infected twigs and branches is an option when the scale population is contained in a small portion of the plant. You can also gently scrape the scale off branches and stems with a plastic dish scrubber. Be careful not to damage thin-barked plants.
Another option is to apply organic lightweight horticulture oil like Summit Year-Roundâ Spray Oil (summitresponsiblesolutions.com) when plants are dormant. The temperatures must be 40 degrees or higher when treating. As always, read and follow label directions for effective and safe control. Since the eggs are so well protected, a second application of the horticulture oil can increase success. Make a second application, if needed, when the eggs hatch and the immature insects known as crawlers emerge in spring after the buds have burst.
As you survey your landscape this winter, pay special attention to stressed plants and those susceptible to oystershell scale and other insect pests common in your area. Plants exposed to road dust and pesticides may also be more vulnerable as these conditions negatively impact predators and parasites that help manage plant pests.
Regularly monitoring plant health, working with nature, and strategically managing invasive pests like the oystershell scale can help improve the health, vigor, and longevity of your landscape plants.

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Medal of Honor: Army Master Sgt. Nicholas Oresko
By KATIE LANGE
DOD News

When Army Master Sgt. Nicholas Oresko talked about the most pivotal actions he took during World War II, he often made it clear that the hardest part was the fact that he was alone.
"You don't know what it feels like to be alone in a situation like that," he said during a Library of Congress Veterans History Project interview in the early 2000s.
Despite being by himself in frigid Germany during a late-war enemy counterattack, Oresko pushed on anyway, singlehandedly clearing the way for his company to take their objective. That valor and bravery earned him the Medal of Honor.
Oresko was born Jan. 18, 1917, in Bayonne, New Jersey, to an American mother and a father who was a Russian immigrant. Despite being only 5'4", Oresko said he loved to play sports growing up. When he was young, Charles Lindbergh was one of his heroes, which made him want to be a pilot for a time.
Before the war, Oresko worked in the shipping department for Standard Oil. He was drafted into the Army in March 1942, about three months after he'd married his girlfriend, Jean Strang. He was initially assigned to the 77th Infantry Division but was later switched to the 1st Battalion, 302nd Infantry, 94th Infantry Division.
By late summer of 1944, Oresko's division was deployed to France. He told the Veterans History Project that they were meant to be a reserve unit, but at the start of the Battle of the Bulge – Hitler's last major attack that surprised the Allies – they were shipped to the front lines in Germany.
Oresko was a platoon leader for Company C during the frigid days of early 1945. His platoon had attacked enemy positions in the town of Tettingen, Germany, twice over two days and had been pushed back both times. For their next attempt, instead of using artillery to announce themselves, battalion leaders ordered a sneak attack.
In the early-morning hours of Jan. 23, 1945, Oresko ordered his men to begin the attack, but no one moved. He said he issued the order a second time, and they again didn't move, so he started toward the enemy without them.
"I felt so alone," Oresko said. "I looked up at the sky and said, 'Lord I know I'm going to die. Let's just make it fast.'"
He said a cold wave went over him and that he went numb, moving by instinct at that point.
"I stepped out of the trenches by myself, step by step through the snow, and the Germans didn't see me," he said.
His fellow soldiers finally started to follow him, but they were about 50 feet behind him when the Germans noticed the movement and opened fire, pinning the unit down.
Oresko, however, had still gone unnoticed. He knew he would have to take out the closest machine gun nest to help his soldiers, so he kept moving in stealth until he was close enough to throw a grenade into the enemy bunker. He rushed into it after it went off, using his rifle to take out the surviving occupants.
A second machine gun nest opened fire on Oresko, knocking him down and seriously injuring his hip.
"As I started to walk, I could feel warm stuff coming down my leg," he remembered. "I kept trudging ahead and figured, 'Oh well. I'm going to die anyway, so what difference does it make?'"
While bleeding, Oresko said he crawled past a booby trap that barely missed him, then laid in an indentation in the snow for a bit. He said the enemy must have thought he was dead because they began firing at his troops from a nearby bunker. Oresko couldn't move backward into the firefight, and in front of him lay the enemy bunker. In that moment, he knew what he had to do.
Grabbing some grenades and pulling the pin on one, he sneaked up to the machine gun at that bunker and dropped the live grenade in. After it went off, he again jumped into the trench and used his rifle to wipe out the remaining enemy soldiers manning it.
Oresko was credited with killing 12 Germans in his solo attack that made it possible for his company to take control of the enemy position. It was only when he knew they'd succeeded that he allowed his fellow soldiers to evacuate him.
Weak from blood loss, Oresko was sent to a hospital to recover. He was eventually put on limited duty until he was discharged in November 1945. He said he never saw the members of his platoon again.
On Oct. 12, 1945, Oresko received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman during a White House ceremony. Fourteen other soldiers also received the nation's highest honor that day.
Oresko and his wife moved to Tenafly, New Jersey, and they had a son named Robert. Oresko initially returned to his previous job, but when he found out Medal of Honor recipients could get a job with the Department of Veterans Affairs without a civil service test, he jumped at the chance, working for the department for 32 years.
"It was a joy," Oresko said of his post-war career, which included speaking gigs at schools. "That part of my life was rewarding."
He told the Asbury Park Press in 1978 that he and his wife traveled to Germany and France at some point, and he was able to show her some of the areas in which he fought. He said they also often visited London, where their son lived and worked.
Oresko died on Oct. 4, 2013, after complications from surgery for a broken leg – the same leg that was injured during his Medal of Honor actions. At the time of his death, the 96-year-old was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient.
Oresko's wife died in 1980 and his son died in 2013, so he had no family to join him when he went to the hospital for the surgery. According to his obituary in the Northern Valley Suburbanite newspaper out of Englewood, New Jersey, Oresko was accompanied by veterans and service members who stayed by his side the entire time.
Oresko is buried in George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, New Jersey.
His memory will certainly not be forgotten. In 2010, a school in his native Bayonne was named in Oresko's honor. In 2018, the Army Reserve's 94th Training Division at Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia, named a new training center after him. That same year, a park and monument in Tenafly were built in Oresko's honor.

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As sweet as it gets
How cute is this kudu? Cute enough to warrant a lot more attention from its mom. Eric Byrd, zoological manager at the Cincinnati Zoo, noticed that a newborn lesser kudu calf wasn’t getting enough attention from first-time mom, Sabi, “so we stepped in and fed the calf.” If you’ve never seen a kudu, they’re as adorable as it gets and the good news is that it’s likely that Sabi will soon bond with her infant.

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Fishy noises
For the past several years residents in Tampa Bay, Florida, have been trying to find the source of low-pitched sounds. Many of them – including Dr. James Locascio, senior scientist at the Mote Marine Laboratory – believe it is the sound of fish mating, specifically ray-finned, black drum fish. Locascio would like to use underwater acoustic recorders to identify and confirm the sounds and a local resident is seeking to raise the $2,500 it would cost.

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An ‘awesome’ snow shark
It’s normal to avoid getting too close to a shark but droves of residents in Iowa City, Iowa, were attracted by a 20-foot-long sea-going predator recently. They weren’t afraid because in this case the shark was a “snow shark” created by sculptor Carlos Maldonado. After a powerful storm covered the town in heavy snow, it took him four-and-a-half hours to sculpt his Great White and another hour-and-a-half to give it color using acrylic paint. Maldonado told Iowa’s News Now that his kids wanted him to make a snowman but he decided to make something a little more grand.

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‘Tidy Mouse’
Eek! Do mice get a bum reputation? According to experts on the subject, mice “are fastidiously clean animals.” Rodney Holbrook of Builth Wells, Wales can attest to that; he noticed that “stuff” in his tool shed was being relocated each night in an orderly fashion. He planted a hidden camera and, sure enough, he caught what he calls a “tidy mouse” gathering nails, small tools, etcetera and neatly putting them in a small tray. The mouse usually works alone but sometimes has help from a “brother mouse.” As Wells put it to the BBC, "I don't bother to tidy up now, I leave things out of the box and they put it back in its place by the morning."

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This guy is no ‘pettifogger’
Chris Williams at Michigan's Wayne State University is head of a Word Warriors program, an effort to bring back "long-lost" words. The University started the program 15 years ago in an effort to remember words that most of us have forgotten over the years, words such as Rawgabbit. That’s what they once called a person who tries hard to sound like he knows what he’s talking about. Do you know wat “thunderplump” means? It’s all about heavy rains during a thunderstorm. How about blatherskite. It’s what they used to call someone who doesn’t make sense when he’s talking. Oh yeah, a pettifogger is someone who is underhanded or disreputable.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Australian Kathleen Murray of Sandford, Tasmania says "now my back yard looks like a real-life Hungry [hungry] Hippo game. I also have an echidna [a spiny anteater] that helps, and some chooks [chicken]." Kathleen is the proud winner of the first-ever World's Ugliest Lawn competition. As she puts it, "I used to think the bandicoots [Australasian marsupial mammal] were wildlife of mass destruction invading my lawn, but now I see that they've actually liberated me from ever having to mow it again. I'm all for guilt-free weekends, especially since my ex-husband left with the lawnmower back in 2016."

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – How Can I Get Details about My Social Security Payment?

Dear Rusty: How do I find the actual breakdown of the Medicare insurance that I have auto deducted and my actual Social Security payment? I was just looking at a video which explained the 3% Cost of Living Adjustment we will be receiving this year, and it compared the current payout to the new payout. There seems to be a big difference in what I am getting and what they said in the video. Currently my Social Security payments are $1,431. My Medicare insurance is supposed to be $165, which means my total Social Security is about $1,596. On the video it said all retired workers are getting $1,848 with the new increase to take it to $1,938.00. There are a couple hundred dollars there that I seem to be missing out on. Can you help me understand that difference? Signed: Confused Senior
Dear Confused Senior: What you’re asking for is an itemized breakout of your gross Social Security benefit, any deductions being taken therefrom (e.g., your Medicare Part B premium), the amount of your COLA increase, and your net Social Security payment for 2024. If that is the case, the best way to get this detail is in your personal “my Social Security” online account, which provides all the information mentioned. You can access your online account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount, and if you don’t already have that online account set up, you’ll need to first establish your online access credentials (instructions for how to do that will be at that website).
I’m not sure which video you watched, but “all retired workers” do not get $1,848 (or $1,938). Everyone’s Social Security benefit is different, based on their lifetime earnings record and the age at which they claimed benefits. The numbers you heard in the video were likely average Social Security payments, not the actual amount you should personally be receiving. Here’s how it works:
• Your personal benefit is based on your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) which is the amount you get if you claim for your benefits to start at your full retirement age (FRA), which is somewhere between 66 and 67 depending on the year you were born. Claim before your FRA your benefit is permanently reduced; claim after your FRA it is higher. Your personal maximum benefit is achieved if you claim at age 70.
• The Medicare Part B premium (for outpatient healthcare services) is automatically deducted from your Social Security payment. Although the standard 2023 Part B premium was $164.90, the standard 2024 Part B premium is $174.70. You may also have other things (e.g., income tax) withheld from your monthly Social Security payment.
• The annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2024 is 3.2%. That means your gross Social Security benefit goes up by that percentage starting in 2024. But there was also a $9.80 increase in your Medicare Part B premium starting in 2024, which means that you won’t see all of the COLA increase in your Social Security payment. Since your Medicare premium is deducted from your Social Security, that Medicare increase will also be taken from your SS payment, so you won’t see the full 3.2% COLA increase in your 2024 Social Security payment.
To see all of this detail for you personally, I suggest you access your online “my Social Security” account as described above. As an alternative, you can also call Social Security at 1.800.772.1213 and request a Benefit Verification Letter which will include all the information you seek about your Social Security payment.

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Gear up for the 2024 garden season

By MELINDA MYERS

It’s never too early to prepare for the garden season ahead. Having the right tool for the job saves time, reduces the frustration of trying to make the wrong tool work, and allows you to garden longer with less muscle fatigue.
Take an inventory of all your tools. Be sure to check the shed, garage, or tool caddy. Make a list of those that need to be replaced or need an update. This is also a good time to clean and sharpen those tools you plan to use in the coming growing season.
As you update your tools, you may want to purchase a few hand tools with comfortable wooden handles and carbon steel heads. The wood adds a natural aesthetic that goes hand in hand with gardening.
Make sure you have the right shovels for those frequent digging tasks. Perhaps it is time to invest in a long-handled shovel with a narrow head that allows you to dig in small spaces. Corona’s DigMaster Nursery Shovel has a hardened steel blade and a handle for durability and long life. The ComfortGel grip allows you to keep working longer.
Like digging with the right-sized shovel, deadheading flowers with the right tool makes it easier and you’re more likely to get the job done. For those that do a lot of deadheading, select one with an ergonomic design, a finger loop for better control, and an easy-release lock like Corona’s Ergo Dead Header Snips.
Late winter and early spring are also the time to do a bit of trimming and pruning on indoor plants. Pruners and snips with specially shaped blades, like the Corona BP14623 Houseplant Pruner, make trimming individual leaves and stems easier, ensuring you make the cut where planned.
A scoop comes in handy when placing potting mix or fertilizer in containers. The more you use it, the more uses you will discover for scoops like Corona’s Multi-Scoop with a stainless-steel scoop and ComfortGel grip.
If you struggle to haul soil, mulch, and plants to the garden bed, it may be time to invest in a garden cart. Wheelbarrows are a traditional favorite but how about a 4-wheeled cart with pneumatic tires to make moving the load over rough ground easier? Consider one with sides that fold down for easier loading and unloading. Or perhaps one with a dumping mechanism, like Corona’s CR1000 Poly Dump Cart, that makes it easy to empty loads of mulch and soil where it is needed.
And don’t forget about the young gardeners in your life. Having their own set of properly sized hand tools, long-handled tools, and of course, a wheelbarrow will make working with you in the garden even more special. Kids, like adults, benefit from spending time in the garden. Give them their own garden patch or row to dig, plant, and tend. You’ll all have more fun.
When upgrading your garden tools, consider donating those that are still in good working order to a nearby community garden, school garden, or master gardener group. They can always use extra tools to help them grow gardeners of all ages. And those that have reached the end of life can be turned into garden art. It’s a great way to save memories of gardens’ past.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Sgt. Richard Binder
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Like many men born in the mid-1800s, Marine Corps Sgt. Richard Binder immigrated to America to find better opportunities. By the time the Civil War came around, the U.S. was his adopted home, and he was ready to fight for it. Binder earned his stripes on ships throughout the war, and his actions earned him a Medal of Honor.
Binder was born on July 26, 1839, in Würtemmberg, Germany. According to a 2014 article in the Hidden City Daily, a Philadelphia historical online publication, Binder moved to New York in 1854 when he was 15 before settling in Philadelphia. The publication said he worked with another German immigrant as a barber. In 1860, he applied for and was granted U.S. citizenship.
Just ahead of his 22nd birthday, Binder enlisted in the Marine Corps on July 11, 1861, about three months after the Civil War broke out. Binder first served on a ship that sank during the Battle of Port Royal, South Carolina, in early November 1861. He moved on to other ships and was involved in various naval battles before being sent to serve on the USS Ticonderoga, a propeller-driven warship, in 1864.
By Christmas Day in December 1864, Union forces were carrying out their first assault on Fort Fisher near Wilmington, North Carolina. The fort was the last major coastal stronghold for the Confederates, as it still managed to get supplies through the Union blockade. Union troops weren't successful in this skirmish, so three weeks later, they tried again.
Binder was aboard the USS Ticonderoga during the second Battle of Fort Fisher, and this time, Union troops were better prepared. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, about 40 ships on the front lines took aim at the fort using more than 600 guns. "The 50 cannons aboard the frigate Colorado alone were more than the number of guns guarding the walls of Fort Fisher," naval historians wrote.
On Jan. 13, the Navy began its bombardment. The Confederates responded with their own heavy return fire. At some point, a 100-pound Parrott rifle exploded on one of the Union ships, killing eight sailors and wounding at least a dozen more.
Throughout those first two days of battle, Binder, who was the captain of a gun, "performed his duties with skill and courage," according to his Medal of Honor citation. His actions remained steady as he continually took aim at Confederate batteries onshore, helping to lessen enemy fire as the assault went on.
By Jan. 15, naval forces landed on the shores of Fort Fisher. While many of them were repulsed, causing many Union casualties, their actions successfully distracted the fort's garrison from the Union Army's attack on the land side of the installation. Those soldiers eventually breached the walls of the fort and took over, staking a claim over one of the strongest fortifications possessed by the Confederates and severing the South's transatlantic supply routes.
According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the fall of Fort Fisher led to the occupation of Wilmington, which directly contributed to the Confederate surrender in April 1865.
After the war, Binder was honorably discharged. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions on June 22, 1865, although a ceremony for the award wasn't held until the 1890s, according to Hidden City Daily. Nine other men from the Ticonderoga also earned Medals of Honor for their actions at Fort Fisher.
In 1868, Binder married a woman named Frederika, who had also emigrated from the same town in Germany years prior. They had a daughter, Laura, and a son, Richard Jr.
Binder eventually returned to cutting hair. By 1890, he'd become an astute businessman with four shops set up across Philadelphia. He was well-known in the industry and even expanded his business into tonics and toupees, Hidden City Daily reported.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Binder loved to collect canes and had about 600 of them, including one once used by President Abraham Lincoln.
Binder died Feb. 26, 1912, from heart disease, according to his Inquirer obituary. He is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala-Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

America’s first gasoline powered automobile appeared in 1893. Sixty years later, the Chevrolet Corvette ambushed the markets with a sports car that snatched a devoted following that entices tens of thousands of buyers annually.
According to History.com, “in the early 1950s, Harley Earl (1893-1969), the influential head designer for GM, then the world’s largest automaker, became interested in developing a two-seat sports car. At the time, European automakers dominated the sports car market. Following the debut of the Corvette prototype at the Motorama show in January 1953, the first production Corvette was completed at a Flint, Michigan plant on June 30, 1953. The car featured an all-fiberglass body, a white exterior and red interior, a relatively unremarkable 150-horsepower engine and a starting price tag of around $3,500 (not including taxes or an optional AM radio and heater).”
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends books such as The Complete Book of Corvette by Mike Mueller.

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Although California didn’t become a state until 1850, it was a territory in 1848 – just in time for America to benefit from the discovery of gold on January 24, 1848 in Sutter’s Creek, CA.
“A tributary to the South Fork of the American River east of the Sacramento Valley and San Francisco, Sutter’s Creek was named for a Swiss immigrant who came to Mexican California in 1839,” reports History.com. “John Augustus Sutter became a citizen of Mexico and won a grant of nearly 50,000 acres in the lush Sacramento Valley, where he hoped to create a thriving colony ... Sutter hired the millwright James Marshall to build a sawmill along the South Fork of the American River in January 1848. In order to redirect the flow of water to the mill’s waterwheel, Marshall supervised the excavation of a shallow millrace ... Marshall was looking over the freshly cut millrace when a sparkle of light in the dark earth caught his eye. Looking more closely, Marshall found that much of the millrace was speckled with what appeared to be small flakes of gold, and he rushed to tell Sutter. After an assayer confirmed that the flakes were indeed gold, Sutter quietly set about gathering up as much of the gold as he could, hoping to keep the discovery a secret. However, word soon leaked out and, within months, the largest gold rush in the world had begun.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream by H.W. Brands.

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On January 31, 1865, the 13th Amendment-- ratified by the House of Representatives—stated “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude ... shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
According to History.com, “when the Civil War began, President Abraham Lincoln’s professed goal was the restoration of the Union. But early in the war, the Union began keeping escaped enslaved people rather than returning them to their owners, so slavery essentially ended wherever the Union army was victorious. In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all enslaved people in areas that were still in rebellion against the Union. This measure opened the issue of what to do about slavery in border states that had not seceded or in areas that had been captured by the Union before the proclamation.”
The Grateful American Book Prize endorses Slavery and the Making of America by James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton.


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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Can Someone Work While Collecting Social Security Disability?

Dear Rusty: If a person is collecting Social Security disability benefits, can they, at any point, work at all? If they can, what is the maximum they can earn and still keep the disability benefit? I am asking because my husband is still young, but his injuries will not allow him to go back to the job he had prior to his injuries and surgeries. He does not just want to sit at home doing nothing! Signed: Concerned Wife
Dear Concerned: Actually, the Social Security Administration (SSA) encourages those collecting SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits to attempt to go back to work and they provide considerable leeway for them to do so. The monthly earnings limit for those collecting SSDI benefits in 2024 is $1,550 and as long as your husband earns less than the limit while working, his SSDI benefits will not be in jeopardy. Your husband should contact Social Security’s Ticket to Work program directly to protect his disability status and discuss returning to work while collecting SSDI benefits.
The Ticket to Work program assists those now receiving SSDI benefits who wish to test their ability to return to work without putting their SSDI benefits at risk. The program provides considerable assistance, including new career training opportunities and connection to potential employers, and it is voluntary and costs nothing. Here is a link to Social Security’s information on the Ticket to Work program: https://choosework.ssa.gov/
It’s not mandatory for your husband to enroll in the Ticket to Work program but, in addition to other available assistance, he can request a Trial Work Period (TWP) which would allow for 9 months, over a rolling five year period, during which he can earn any amount (even over the normal monthly limit mentioned above) without risking his SSDI benefits. Within the Trial Work Period, only those months he earns over the normal monthly SSDI limit would count as a Trial Work Month. So, for example, your husband could work part time regularly earning under the normal monthly limit and if, in some months (up to nine), he earned more it wouldn’t affect his SSDI benefits.
So, your younger disabled husband can, indeed, work while on Social Security disability, for as long as he wishes while earning under the monthly SSDI limit (the SSDI earnings limit changes yearly). He may also wish to enroll in Social Security’s Ticket to Work program for assistance with developing a new career. Plus, he can take advantage of using trial work months in the event his work earnings will, at times, exceed the monthly SSDI limit. If your husband earns over the SSDI limit for more than the 9 trial work months and his benefits are consequently stopped, he can - within the 5-year Trial Work Period – have his benefits reinstated (without again going through the full application process) if his disability, once more, renders him unable to work full time.
For starters, I suggest your husband contact Social Security’s Ticket to Work program directly at 1.833-889-0108 to discuss returning to work part time. Social Security will guide him through the entire process.

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Testing, sharing, and saving leftover seeds

By MELINDA MYERS

As you scour the seed catalogs and websites for new and favorite flower and vegetable seeds, take time to inventory the seeds you have saved from previous years. You’ll save money by not buying more of the seeds you already have so you’ll have more to spend on something new.
Starting with fresh seeds from a reliable seed company helps boost your growing success. But what gardener can resist getting the most out of every purchase by saving and planting seeds left from previous years?
Seeds stored in a consistently cool, not freezing, dry, dark location can last for one to five or more years. Start by checking the packaging or expiration date on the packet. Onions, parsley, parsnips, and salsify seeds usually last one year while corn, okra, and pepper seeds last an average of two years. Beans and peas generally last for three years; tomatoes, turnips, beets chard, and watermelon four; and Brussels sprouts, cabbage, muskmelon, radishes, and spinach are the longest lasting at five years.
Perennial flower seeds last an average of two to four years while annual flower seeds last from one to three years depending on the species. There are always exceptions with a few seeds that were found lasting more than a hundred years.
You may find your properly stored seeds last longer than the averages. But once seeds pass their average life expectancy you may see a reduction in germination. Use this quick and easy test to see if your stored seeds will sprout and grow. Place ten seeds on a damp paper towel. Roll up the towel with the seeds safely tucked inside. Set the paper towel in a plastic bag and store it in a warm dark location.
After a week or so, unwrap the paper towel and check the seeds for sprouting. If nothing has happened, rewrap the seeds and wait a few more days.
If all the seeds have sprouted, you have one hundred percent germination and can plant the seeds according to the label directions. If only half the seeds sprout, you should plant the seeds twice as thick to compensate for the lower germination. You can plant these sprouted seeds if you have the available gardening space and the growing conditions are right for the seeds to grow.
If none of the seeds sprout, consider breaking out the glue and getting the family involved in turning these nonviable seeds into seed art. Then make some adjustments to your seed storage strategies in the future. Leave seeds in their original package so you have all the information you need when inventorying and planting the seeds the following season. Place the envelope in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator or a consistently cool, not freezing location.
If you’ve lost seeds to hungry rodents try storing them in the refrigerator or metal or glass containers. Sealed plastic containers are fine for the seeds, but hungry mice can eat their way through the plastic to your stored seeds.
You, like many gardeners, often end up with more seeds than you will ever grow. Consider sharing these with others by donating them to school groups, community gardeners, and master gardeners who will put them to use in various gardens in your community. Or organize a seed swap. Just gather your gardening friends or work colleagues, the seeds and catalogs, and throw a garden party. The last Saturday in January is National Seed Swap Day and a good excuse to gather and share.
Seed swaps are a great way to find unusual or unique seeds. It is also a great way to save money and get the greatest value by sharing extra seeds with friends and family.
Once the seed swapping is done you may want to break out the catalogs, check online seed retailers, and place a group seed order. Working together you’ll be able to order a wider variety of seeds for greater diversity in the garden. Everyone can take what they need so there will be fewer seeds to save in the future. Plus, ordering larger packets is usually more economical. And you’ll have an excuse for another party when you meet to divide up the goods.

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Medal of Honor: Army Spc. 4th Class Gary Wetzel
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Imagine losing your arm and suffering other severe injuries, yet still putting others' safety before your own. That's exactly what Army Spc. 4th Class Gary George Wetzel did during a firefight in Vietnam that took out his unit's helicopter. Wetzel miraculously survived the day, and his valor earned him the Medal of Honor.
Wetzel was born on Sept. 29, 1947, in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was one of nine children; he had five sisters and was the oldest of four boys. His father was a factory worker who'd served in World War II, and his mother went to work as a part-time nursing assistant once the kids were old enough to take care of themselves.
As a boy, Wetzel enjoyed sports and Boy Scout outings, and he idolized John Wayne. But school wasn't really his thing, so in February 1966, a few months after he turned 18, he joined the Army.
After basic training, he served as a heavy equipment instructor at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In a 2003 interview with the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project, he said because he knew he would get sent to Vietnam eventually, he put in a request to deploy, but it was denied. Later, he put in another request that was accepted, and by October 1966, he found himself on his way to Vietnam.
Wetzel first served in an ordnance unit, but he wanted to do something with aviation, so while he was overseas, he reenlisted to get his choice of duty station. He was assigned to the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company of the 11th Combat Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade. He got his first taste of combat experience in that unit and was shot down four times during his service.
It was the fifth time he got shot down — about 10 days before his second tour of duty would have concluded — that he earned the Medal of Honor.
On Jan. 8, 1968, then-Pfc. Wetzel's unit was doing flights to check for enemy activity near Ap Dong An in the southern end of Vietnam when they touched down in a landing zone that was immediately bombarded with enemy fire.
"The crossfire was tremendous," Wetzel, who was serving as his chopper's door gunner, later said.
Seconds after landing, a rocket hit the aircraft. As Wetzel and his crew chief, Bart Jarvis, tried to help their wounded aircraft commander, Tim Artman, two more enemy rockets exploded just inches from them. Those explosions blew Wetzel out of the helicopter and into a rice paddy.
Wetzel was critically wounded. He discovered his left arm was useless, and his right arm, chest and left leg were also bleeding profusely. However, he still managed to shoot down an enemy soldier who was about to throw a grenade.
Getting his bearings, Wetzel staggered back to his helicopter's gun well to return fire. According to his Medal of Honor citation, his machine gun was the only weapon effectively firing back at the enemy. Eventually, his shooting took out the automatic weapons emplacement that had pinned down and inflicted heavy casualties on U.S. troops.
Wetzel refused to attend to his extensive wounds and instead tried to drag himself back to Jarvis to help Artman; however, he passed out from blood loss. When he regained consciousness, he remained persistent in his effort to help his commander.
"I recall thinking even then how miraculous it was that the man was still alive," another soldier in Wetzel's helicopter said in a statement after the incident. "Pfc. Wetzel's actions, in my opinion, will stand out for years to come as a prime example of a truly selfless devotion to the survival of one's fellow man."
After an agonizing effort, Wetzel made it to Jarvis, who was still trying to drag the wounded Artman out of the rice paddy and to the safety of a nearby dike. Wetzel continued to assist him until he passed out again. Sadly, Artman didn't survive.
Wetzel said his crew fought for 10 to 12 hours before they got any help and were able to evacuate. He later said that he was determined to make it out of there because, even though he thought he was dying, he didn't want to do so in a rice paddy.
"Medically, I should have been dead," he said in his Library of Congress interview. Wetzel said he met some of the nurses who worked on him when the Vietnam Women's Memorial was erected in 1993. They told him he went through 18 units of blood during his immediate recovery.
Wetzel's arm had to be amputated at a field hospital. He was flown out of Vietnam and spent six months in hospitals before being discharged in June 1968.
That September, shortly after he turned 21, Wetzel said his superiors mentioned that he'd be going on a trip, but they couldn't tell him where or why. He eventually learned it would be to Washington, D.C., to receive the Medal of Honor.
President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Wetzel with the medal during a White House ceremony on Nov. 19, 1968. Wetzel's father, fiancée and several other family members were able to attend. Four other men received the same honor that day.
Since that day, Wetzel has taken his role as a recipient of the nation's highest honor for valor very seriously.
"It's been four and a half decades, and every time I have the privilege of wearing that blue ribbon around my neck, I am in awe," Wetzel said in a 2016 USA Today article. "I try to live up to it for the guys who aren't here."
Wetzel left the service shortly after the medal ceremony. He went on to marry his fiancée, Kathy, and they had a son.
Wetzel took a job as a welder for a time before working for Ameriprise starting in 1971. He has stayed involved with veterans' organizations and has taken part in several iterations of the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride to D.C. over Memorial Day weekend. Wetzel often speaks to students about his time in the military and patriotism.
The Medal of Honor recipient has received many accolades in recent years, too.
In 2015, the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center unveiled a street sign and stone marker commemorating Wetzel's heroics. He was also the 2015 Milwaukee County veteran of the year and the first recipient of the Milwaukee County Purple Heart Pass.
The Gary G. Wetzel Way nature trail at Camp American Legion, Wisconsin, was named for him in 2016. The camp helps post-9/11 veterans and their families rehabilitate and heal.
That same year, Wetzel was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash, but he recovered after extensive rehab. When he returned to his South Milwaukee home, it was to a parade-like atmosphere, with neighbors, family and well-wishers welcoming him back – a very different homecoming than what he got in 1968. Wetzel's home had been renovated by the Gary Sinise Foundation to accommodate his needs due to his extensive injuries.
Most recently, May 18, 2017, was declared Gary G. Wetzel Day in South Milwaukee.


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Puppy love
Household puppies can do the strangest things. Take Clayton and Carrie Law of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They put $4,000 in cash in an envelope and put it on the kitchen counter to pay workers who were expected at their home. When they returned to the kitchen there was Cecil, their 7-year-old Goldendoodle puppy, chewing away at the envelope and the money. As Clayton put it to KDKA-TV, “He ate the money, he ate $4,000." Mr. and Mrs. Law wasted no time; they gathered shredded cash on the floor, put together some of the bills but had to wait for Cecil to vomit and poop to get the bulk of the money—about $3,550.

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Outdoor living room
Potholes can be fun? When an unknown resident of Grand Haven, Michgan, planted a leather recliner in a pothole in a nearby road it didn’t take a long time for someone to come along, steal it and put it up for sale online. A neighbor replaced it with another armchair. Soon, other nearby residents added other pieces of furniture, creating what turned out to be an “outdoor living room” that went viral online.

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Neither snow nor rain
According to the Postal Service, on average mail in the U.S. is delivered in a day or three. But sometimes it can take a bit longer, particularly when the address is incomplete. For example, a letter misaddressed to a family in DeKalb, Illinois in 1943 was finally delivered 80 years after it was posted. It took a dedicated post office employee to track down the George family now living in Portland, Oregon. The postman lived up to the motto that promises “the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR,
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Will My Friend’s Fiancée be Entitled to a Survivor Benefit?

Dear Rusty: I have a very good friend who has cancer and will begin chemotherapy this week. He is 71 years old and is currently receiving Social Security benefits. He has been living with his fiancée for a little more than 2 years, but they have been a couple for about 15 years and will be married in the next few weeks. She is 60 years old.

I am naturally concerned about his, and her, future so my questions are:

· What, if anything, should he and his wife do to ensure that she gets his Social Security benefits?

· What benefits will she be entitled to, and how soon will she be able to begin receiving them after his death?

Signed: A Friend with Questions

Dear Friend: You are kind to be concerned about your friend and his fiancée. Here’s what you need to know:

Social Security goes by state rules when it comes to what is often referred to as "common law marriage." That means that whether your friend's fiancée will receive any benefits as a surviving spouse in a "common law" relationship depends on whether they live in a state which recognizes common law marriage. Most states do not, but state laws have changed over the years and many states which once recognized such unions as "marriage" no longer do. Although they may have "been a couple" for 15 years, if your friend and his fiancée have been living together for only two it is likely only the last two years will count for Social Security benefit purposes. So, whether your friend's fiancée will get anything when your friend dies depends on where they live - unless they get married, in which case the rules are different.
In order for a married widow(er) to receive surviving spouse benefits, the couple must have been married for at least 9 months. If they marry and your friend lives longer than 9 months thereafter, then his wife will be entitled to a surviving spouse benefit from her husband. The amount of his wife’s benefit will be based upon the amount your friend is receiving at his death, adjusted for her age when she claims her surviving spouse benefit.
A surviving spouse can claim benefits from the deceased as early as age 60, but those benefits will be reduced for claiming before full retirement age (FRA). Taken at age 60, the wife's benefit would be 71.5% of your friend's SS benefit at his death. The wife need not claim the survivor benefit immediately; she could opt to delay claiming in order to get a higher percentage of the husband's amount. Survivor benefits reach maximum - 100% of the deceased's benefit amount - at the recipient's FRA.
So, if your friend and his fiancée now live in a state which currently recognizes common law marriage (CO, IA, KS, MT, NH, SC, TX, UT, RI, or in the District of Columbia), then your friend's partner will be considered his "wife" and entitled to survivor benefits as normal (the fiancée would need to prove they cohabitate in a marriage-like relationship to claim benefits).
If they do not live in one of those states, but they get married and the marriage lasts for at least 9 months, then the wife will be entitled to normal benefits as a surviving spouse (as described above).
But if the couple do not live in one of the above states which recognize “common law” relationships, or if their soon-to-occur marriage doesn’t last at least 9 months, or if they do not get married, I'm afraid your friend's partner will not be entitled to any survivor benefits from your friend.

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Recycle Your Christmas Tree into the Landscape
By MELINDA MYERS

Don’t drag that Christmas tree to the curb to be hauled away by the trash collectors. Give it a second, even third life, in your landscape. No live Christmas tree? Don’t worry. I’m sure your friends and neighbors will share theirs.
Move your locally grown Christmas tree outdoors after the holidays. Avoid trees imported from other states that may host invasive insects that can infest your landscape and nearby Christmas tree farms. Your local municipality or Department of Natural Resources has more information on any threats and disposal recommendations for your area.
Use your cut Christmas tree to protect evergreens in your landscape from winter winds and sun. They make excellent windbreaks while shading sensitive plants in your landscape. Strategically place your discarded tree on the windward side of rhododendron, boxwood, and other broadleaf evergreens to reduce problems with winter burn. Place it on the south side of these plants to shade them from the drying winter sun.
Or remove the branches and use them as winter mulch over bulbs and perennials. Layer the boughs over the plants and soil to keep the soil consistently cold. This reduces the risk of early sprouting and winter damage that can occur during winter thaws.
Or set the tree in the landscape for a bit of added greenery. Secure it in a snow pile or use stakes and guy wires in milder climates where the soil is not frozen. The birds will enjoy the added shelter and you will enjoy watching these visitors to your landscape.
Then consider adding a bit of food for your feathered visitors. Decorate the trees with fruits, berries, and seeds the birds can enjoy. Stringing cranberries and popcorn is a fun family activity and makes an attractive outdoor garland. Slices of oranges on colorful yarn and homemade bird ornaments can complete the adornments.
Sweep up the fallen needles that were under your tree indoors and use them as mulch in the garden. Place them directly on the soil or atop the snow. As the snow melts, the needles will be right where they belong. And don’t worry, they will not make the soil too acidic. In fact, as they break down, they add organic matter to the soil.
As spring arrives, consider chipping and shredding your tree into mulch for trees and shrubs or pathways in the landscape. No chipper? You and your neighbors may want to rent a chipper to shred these and other prunings for use as mulch in your landscapes.
And, if this is not possible, check for recycling resources in your community. Many municipalities have special pickups for Christmas trees. These are chipped, shredded, and made available for citizens to use in their landscapes.
Lake communities often sink the discarded trees to the bottom of lakes and ponds to provide habitat for the fish. Another great way to give your tree a second life.
And once you discover the value of this free resource you may find yourself collecting a few more from the neighborhood. However, your family may ask that you wait until dark to drag your evergreen treasures back home.

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Knickers galore
Having trouble putting on your underwear? Go visit Nicholas Manning in Brisbane, Australia. The Guinness Book of World Records says he holds the world record for the fastest time to put on his underpants. More accurately Manning won the honor when he donned ten pairs of undies in just 13.03 seconds.

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Cheezy delight
If you want extra cheese on your pizza just ask Chefs Benoît Bruel and Fabien Montellanico. You might recall that Chef Bruel set the Guinness record for the greatest variety of pizza pie cheeses in 2020 when he baked a pie adorned with 254 different cheeses but lost it when a rival baker produced a pie with 834 varieties of cheese. Not to be undone, Bruel got back the record recently when he joined with Chef Montellanico to produce a pizza festooned with no less than a thousand and one varieties of cheeses.

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Lucky ducks
Who can watch a batch of ducklings and resist the urge to smile? For sure, the officers of the League City, Texas Police Department who came to the rescue of eleven ducklings trapped in a storm drain were grinning when they returned the baby ducks to their Mama Duck. In a Facebook post, the police thanked Mama Duck for assisting the officers by “calling her ducklings back to the opening,” noting that she “quickly gathered them all together, and they all waddled their way back home."

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

America was very efficient when it came to shaping a government. On January 7, 1789, six years after the finish of the Revolutionary War Congress committed to a date for the first election; less than a month later, George Washington ascended to the presidency.
“Americans [still] vote for President and Vice President of the United States, they are actually voting for presidential electors, known collectively as the Electoral College. It is these electors, chosen by the people, who elect the chief executive... the United States still uses the Electoral College system, which today gives all American citizens over the age of 18 the right to vote for electors, who in turn vote for the president. The president and vice president are the only elected federal officials chosen by the Electoral College instead of by direct popular vote," according to History.com.
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize suggests Kathleen Bartoloni- Tuazon's For Fear of an Elective King: George Washington and the Presidential Title Controversy of 1789.

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Wyatt Earp has been the subject of a plethora of books, movies, TV shows-and-even a song by Johnny Cash. He mythicized his gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, transposed himself into a bona fide cowboy-hero, and lived by his revolver until he reached eighty.
According to History.com, "the Earp brothers had long been competing with the Clanton-McClaury ranching families for political and economic control of Tombstone, Arizona, and the surrounding region. On October 26, 1881, the simmering tensions finally boiled over into violence, and Wyatt, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and his close friend, Doc Holliday, killed three men from the Clanton and McLaury clans in a 30-second shoot-out on a Tombstone street near the O.K. Corral. A subsequent hearing found that the Earps and Holliday had been acting in their capacity as law officers and deputies, and they were acquitted of any wrongdoing.”
The Grateful American Book Prize endorses Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend by Casey Tefertiller.

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On January 14, 1639, Hartford, Connecticut endorsed its "Fundamental Orders:
"The Dutch discovered the Connecticut River in 1614, but English Puritans from Massachusetts largely accomplished European settlement of the region. During the 1630s, they flocked to the Connecticut valley from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and in 1638 representatives from the three major Puritan settlements in Connecticut met to set up unified government for the new colony ... Roger Ludlow, a lawyer, wrote much of the Fundamental Orders, and presented a binding and compact frame of government that put the welfare of the community above that of individuals. It was also the first written constitution in the world to declare the modern idea that ‘the foundation of authority is in the free consent of the people’,” says History.com.
The history of the U.S. Constitution is told in the book The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution by Michael J. Klarman, says the Grateful American Book Prize.

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Medal of Honor: Army Tech. Sgt. Charles MacGillivary
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
During the last frigid winter of World War II, Army Tech. Sgt. Charles Andrew MacGillivary and his company found themselves pinned down by Germans for weeks. To break out of the bleak situation, MacGillivary singlehandedly took out several enemy positions, despite suffering serious wounds. His leadership and bravery during a pivotal moment of the war earned him the Medal of Honor.
MacGillivary was born in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island, Canada, on Jan. 7, 1917. He moved to the U.S. in 1933 at the age of 16 to live with his brother in Boston. The younger MacGillivary joined the Merchant Marine and spent the next several years sailing across the North Atlantic on various ships. However, once World War II began in Europe, the Atlantic grew more dangerous for ships due to the threat of German submarines torpedoing them, so he was ready to make a change.
Shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, MacGillivary joined the Army. In 1999, when testifying in front of the U.S. Senate immigration subcommittee, he said that when recruiters learned he'd worked in the Merchant Marine, the Navy tried to sign him. But he wanted to be back on land again, so he continued his path with the Army.
Two weeks into signing up, MacGillivary said he was at Fort Devons, Massachusetts, when he was offered U.S. citizenship. Of course, he took it.
After basic training, MacGillivary joined the 71st Infantry Regiment, 44th Infantry Division, and they were sent to Scotland to train alongside British commandos. MacGillivary took part in the Invasion of Normandy that began June 6, 1944, landing on Omaha Beach.
By mid-December, the 44th had pushed its way through France to the town of Woelfing, along the German border. That's where they found themselves when Adolf Hitler launched the Battle of the Bulge, a surprise counterattack that was Germany's last major attempt to defeat the Allies.
On. Dec. 17, 1944, MacGillivary was a platoon sergeant for the 463rd Battalion's Company I when they became pinned down by the German 17th Panzer Division, which killed his commander and lieutenant, leaving him as the highest-ranking soldier in the group. He quickly took charge of the company, which continued to hold the line for as long as it could.
However, the weather was frigid, which diminished their ability to restock supplies. MacGillivary said that by Christmas Day, they were eating frozen oatmeal. Within days, he said they were almost completely out of ammunition and food. The Germans were promising his men food if they surrendered. MacGillivary said many considered it, so he had to remind them that there was nothing to surrender to and that they needed to keep fighting.
On Jan. 1, 1945, enemy elements finally broke through the line and attacked. MacGillivary knew where the enemy machine gun positions were, so he volunteered to take them out while another company closed in from another angle to assault other strongpoints.
"As the head of my company, I had a duty to do something. I decided to try to knock out some of the German machine guns that surrounded us," he told the Senate subcommittee. "I thought that this was the only way we were going to get out."
MacGillivary crept up on the first machine gun emplacement, circling through woods and snow to get there. He shot two camouflaged gunners from a few feet away, causing the position's other enemy forces to withdraw.
He pushed on, using any cover he could find to stalk the enemy to find another one of its machine guns, blasting its crew with a grenade. Picking up a submachine gun from the battlefield, MacGillivary then made it to within 10 yards of another machine gun before being spotted. The crewmen at that position quickly tried to swing their weapon around to take him out, but they weren't fast enough. The young sergeant charged them, jumping into their midst and killing them all with several bursts of his gun.
From there, MacGillivary crept, crawled and rushed from tree to tree until he got close enough to another machine gun nest to toss a grenade into it. The blast killed the crew inside, but MacGillivary was also seriously injured, having been shot by the machine gun in the chest, leg and arm.
"It took part of my arm off," he told the Senate subcommittee in 1999. "The only thing that saved me was the snow. I froze in the snow. If I had gotten hit in the South Pacific, I would have bled to death."
MacGillivary said that some Frenchmen picked him up and began taking him somewhere. At first, he thought he'd been captured, but he said he realized otherwise when a chaplain told him they were taking him back to an aid station. Once he was treated there, he was taken to Marseille, then transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. MacGillivary's arm couldn't be saved, but he made a full recovery otherwise.
MacGillivary took out four enemy machine guns during his one-man fight, disregarding his own safety to help his fellow soldiers continue the fight with minimum casualties. For his bravery, he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman during a White House ceremony on Aug. 23, 1945. Twenty-eight other veterans also received the medal that day.
"I was very honored to have been included among so many distinguished recipients," MacGillivary said in 1999. "I was also very proud that I, as an immigrant, had been selected to receive this award."
MacGillivary returned to Boston after the ceremony and married his girlfriend, Ester, who had waited for him during the war. They eventually settled in Braintree, just south of Boston, and had three daughters.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, MacGillivary worked as a special agent for the Customs Bureau, which is now U.S. Customs and Border Protection, from about 1950 to 1975. He remained active in veterans' organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and AMVETS. He was the president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for two years in the 70s and spearheaded efforts to locate other immigrant recipients of the nation's highest medal for valor.
MacGillivary died on June 24, 2000, from stroke-related complications, his family said. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


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Merry Christmas
Sleigh bells ring, big time, in the Big Apple thanks to the iconic movie star sled that’s spending the holiday season in the heart of midtown Manhattan. It arrived last week in time for Christmas and is hanging out at Central Park thanks to Halesite, Long Island fire district manager, Larry Northcote. That’s where the sled spends most of the year. As Northcote put it, "Every year we have a little holiday committee, and they'll spruce it up, they'll paint it, they'll fix any cracks that have developed. We do our little part to spread some holiday cheer."

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Tis the season
Bailey Davis of Columbus, Ohio, was on her way to work. She made a rest stop and, perhaps because she was in a hurry, she left her engagement ring on the bathroom sink. She returned to her car, drove off and en route saw that her ring was missing. Back she went and, sure enough, the ring was gone. Luckily it was an honest young man by the name of Coty Warren who found it and went online in hopes of finding the ring’s owner. He found Davis’ post on Facebook and called her. So relieved was she that she offered him a $1,000 reward, which her hero, Warren, declined. A Christmas story if there ever was one!

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Fear not
It got pretty scary in Nashville and Indianapolis last week when pranksters posted photos on Facebook of lions on the loose in those two cities. The photos were shared “thousands of times.” The posts were scary but “incredibly false,” according to the authorities in each city. They noted that the pictures were eight years old and were taken in South Africa way back when.

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Boost your mood with fragrant indoor plants
By MELINDA MYERS

There’s no need to visit a spa for a bit of soothing aromatherapy. Grow fragrant plants indoors to improve your mood and promote a sense of relaxation.
Gardenias may be the first fragrant flowering plant that comes to mind. They can be challenging but are worth the effort. Grow them in moist acidic soil, in bright light, and surrounded by other plants or on a gravel tray to increase the humidity.
Jasmines are known for their sweet fragrant flowers. Arabian jasmine (Jasmine sambac) will flower indoors several times throughout the year if it receives sufficient light. Consider adding artificial lights to boost flowering. Grow this plant in a warm draft-free location and allow the soil to dry several inches below the surface before watering again.
Citrus are valued for their fruit, but they also produce fragrant flowers. Give them bright light and keep the soil slightly moist for the best results.
Stephanotis floribunda was frequently used in wedding bouquets. Grow it in a sunny window and watch for flowers to appear in spring on new growth. Complete all necessary pruning as soon as the plant stops flowering.
Plumeria are the fragrant flowers often used in Hawaiian leis. Provide bright light, moist well-drained soil, and fertilize throughout the summer to promote flowering. Allow the soil to go a bit drier during the winter. Don’t panic if the plants go dormant and drop their leaves in winter. New leaves will appear as temperatures warm.
String of pearls (Curio rowleyanus) is a trailing succulent with leaves that resemble peas. Grow these in a brightly lit location that is a bit cooler in the winter. This along with slightly drier soil in winter can promote flowering. Its cinnamon fragrance is one you’ll remember.
Another succulent that may reward you with flowers is hoya. Keep the soil a bit moister during the summer when the plant is actively growing. Allow the soil to dry slightly when the plant is resting during the winter. High humidity in spring and summer followed by cooler temperatures and drier soil in winter will encourage potbound plants to flower. Watch for fragrant flowers to form on the long leafless stems.
Give the leaves of scented geranium (Pelargonium) a pet and enjoy the lemon, rose, apple, peppermint, or pine fragrance. Although grown for their scented foliage they also produce pretty but less showy flowers. Place the plants in areas where you brush past the leaves or can easily give them a pat to release and enjoy the fragrance.
Find a cool spot in your home away from drafts of hot and cold air for your lavender plant. Make sure the plant receives plenty of sunlight from a south-facing or similar window. Consider adding artificial lights to increase your success. Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Pour off any excess water that collects in the saucer.
Visit your local independent garden center or reputable online plant retailers that are more likely to sell these in winter. Then clear out some space on a sunny windowsill or invest in a few plant lights and start growing some fragrant plants.

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Medal of Honor: Navy Seaman 1st Class James R. Ward
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Navy Seaman 1st Class James Richard Ward only had moments to decide what to do on the sinking USS Oklahoma during the bombing of Pearl Harbor: save himself, or do what he could to save others? Ward chose the valiant option, giving his life so his fellow sailors could escape. He earned a posthumous Medal of Honor for his gallantry, and just recently, his remains were finally accounted for and buried.
Ward was born Sept. 10, 1921, in Springfield, Ohio, to parents Howard and Nancy Ward. He had a sister named Marjorie.
According a 2014 Dayton Daily News article, as a teen, Ward, who went by the nickname Dick, did odd jobs for his neighbors to earn some cash. He played football and the trumpet, but his real love was baseball. After graduating high school in 1939, the article said Ward took a factory job before landing a minor league baseball contract with the Shelby Colonels out of North Carolina. However, the gig only lasted a month before he was replaced. Ward then worked at a steel mill for a time before enlisting in the Navy on Nov. 25, 1940.
After basic training, Ward was sent to serve on the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii. Since baseball was a huge pastime for service members, he was able to join the ship's team. Ward helped them win the Pacific Fleet championship, and he was even named top batter.
Unfortunately, Ward would not live to see beyond the opening moments of the United States' entry into World War II.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Oahu, surprising installations all over the island. The Pacific Fleet's ships that were moored at Pearl Harbor's Ford Island took the brunt of the assault, including the Oklahoma. In the first few minutes of the attack, the ship was hit by as many as nine aerial torpedoes, which ripped open more than 250 feet of hull on the ship's port side. The massive amount of damage caused the Oklahoma to roll over and sink in less than 20 minutes.
Ward was in one of the ship's turrets, which lost electricity immediately, leaving him and his fellow sailors in darkness. According to the Dayton Daily News, Ward was the only one in that turret with a flashlight.
When the order was given to abandon ship, Ward stayed in his turret, using the flashlight to allow the remainder of the crew to see to escape. While many of them made it out of the turret, Ward did not. At 20 years old, he sacrificed his own life for the lives of his fellow sailors.
All told, the Oklahoma lost 429 men that day. Thirty-two men who had been trapped inside its upturned hull were rescued days later.
In the aftermath of the attacks, it took a while for official death notices to go out. According to the Dayton Daily News, Ward's parents didn't learn of his official death until Feb. 20, 1942.
Despite the chaos of that fateful day, Ward's valor didn't go unnoticed. He was quickly nominated for the Medal of Honor, which was mailed to his parents in Springfield in March 1942, along with a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Navy Secretary Frank Knox.
In 1943, the capsized Oklahoma was rolled upright and raised in one of the salvage profession's greatest undertakings, naval historians said. Throughout the war, Navy personnel worked to recover the remains of the men who died inside the ship and bury them in temporary Hawaiian cemeteries.
After the war, the American Graves Registration Service was created to carry out a new mission -- to identify and recover our fallen service members from around the globe. AGRS members disinterred the remains of the men from the Oklahoma and transferred them to an Army laboratory, which confirmed the identities of 35 men at that time. The rest of the remains were buried in plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. By 1949, a military board classified those who hadn't been identified as "nonrecoverable," including Ward.
Nearly a lifetime went by before that changed.
In 2015, investigators – now with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency – exhumed the comingled remains of the buried unknown men from the Oklahoma to run tests using dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis in the hope of finally identifying them. The agency compared those findings to DNA samples that had been provided years earlier by the 394 families of those who were never identified from the Oklahoma.
On Aug. 19, 2021, the DPAA announced it had finally accounted for Ward's remains. He was buried last week in Arlington National Cemetery – a decision that was made by Richard Ward Hanna, his nephew and namesake. Hanna, who lives in Gainesville, Florida, said his family didn't talk about Ward much while he grew up, but he knows how incredibly respected the fallen sailor is in his hometown of Springfield.
"It'll be very emotional," Hanna said in early December. "I've been asked a lot, ‘Does this really give you a sense of closure?' And for me personally, I wouldn't so much say it's closure. I think what's meaningful is he'll finally have a resting place that's permanent that people will know about. And being a Medal of Honor recipient is an incredible thing."
After the war, Ward's name was recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with many others who were missing during World War II. A rosette will now be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Even when Ward was missing for all those years, he was not forgotten. The Edsall-class destroyer escort USS J. Richard Ward, which commissioned in 1943 and was used throughout World War II, was named in his honor. Camp Ward at Farragut Naval Training Station in Idaho was also named for him, and in 1953, a Pearl Harbor baseball field was christened Ward Field. There's an "in memory" marker for Ward at Ferncliff Cemetery in Springfield, Ohio, as well as an American Legion there that bears his name.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Are Spousal Benefits Always a Factor?

Dear Rusty: Both my wife and I have worked our entire lives. When we retire, will we both be entitled to full benefit amount each, or will there always be a spousal factor in there? Also, how are those benefits calculated - based on your highest salaries throughout your career, or your ending salaries when you retire? Signed: Looking Ahead
Dear Looking: Prior to retiring from work is a smart time to investigate how Social Security will fit into your golden years. To answer your second question first, each person’s personal SS retirement benefit is based on the highest earning 35 years over their entire lifetime, with earlier years adjusted for inflation. The person’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) - essentially the person’s lifetime average inflation-adjusted monthly earnings amount - is first determined. Using AIME, the person’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) is calculated using a special benefit formula which will yield a PIA of about 40% or less of the person’s AIME. The PIA is the amount received if benefits start in the month full retirement age or “FRA” is attained (as you can see, Social Security likes acronyms).
Since you and your wife were both born after 1959, FRA for both of you is 67. The age when you claim benefits, relative to your FRA, determines how much you’ll get. Claim before FRA and your benefit is reduced; claim after your FRA and your SS retirement benefit will be more (up to age 70 when maximum is reached); claim at your FRA and your benefit will equal your PIA – the full (100%) amount you’ve earned from a lifetime of working.
Spouse benefits only come into play if the PIA for one of you is less than 50% of the other’s PIA. In that case, the spouse with the lower PIA gets a “spousal boost” to their own SS retirement benefit when claimed. The amount of the “spousal boost” will be the difference between the lower PIA and half of the higher PIA, but the amount of the “spousal boost” (as well as the person’s own SS retirement amount) will be reduced if benefits are claimed before full retirement age. Any time SS benefits are claimed before full retirement age, those benefits are permanently reduced.
If one spouse is entitled to a “spousal boost” from the other, the spousal amount will reach maximum at the recipient’s full retirement age. Thus, if the lower earning partner’s highest benefit will be as a spouse, then that spouse should not wait beyond their FRA to claim. If, instead, the lower earning partner’s own SS benefit at age 70 is more than their spousal amount, waiting longer than FRA to claim could be prudent, depending on life expectancy.
So, as you can see, deciding when to claim Social Security benefits should consider many things, including financial need, work status if claiming before FRA, marital status, and life expectancy. But it is your lifetime earnings which determines your SS retirement benefit amount, and it is how your FRA entitlements compare to each other that determines whether spousal benefits will be paid.

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Tis the season to be grumpy?
For the most part “champions” are acclaimed, cheered and envied. Not so for the Gay family of Union Vale, New York. In 2012 they adorned their home with a record 346,283 Christmas lights. In 2014 they lit up the neighborhood with 601,736 lights. And, this year, they set a new Guinness Record when they covered their home with 720,426 lights. It’s not just the bright lights that are making some of their neighbors grumpy, it’s also the tens of thousands of drive-by visitors they attract,

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All’s well that ends well
The Richardson family chihuahua, Bean, escaped from his Staten Island, New York, home recently and wound up dodging traffic on the busy Staten Island Expressway. It was a close call but drivers slowed down when they saw the pooch. Kaitlyn McGinley got out of her car and chased Bean on foot. She said "The dog ran under my car and hid under my tire. Someone gave me a bag, and I scooped him up and put him in the car."

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One cat’s leap for life
They say that Coco the cat was spooked by a dog and chased up a utility pole on a roadway in Newfoundland, Canada. He was up there for some two hours as utility workers tried to rescue the frightened feline. Just as they got close enough to grab him, Coco took advantage of his nine lives, jumped for his life, made a soft landing and headed straight for home. His owner, Alice Reid, told reporters, “he's going to have to get used to being in the house more."

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Remembering Hyman Solomon’s 77 Years in Baseball

By JOE GUZZARDI

In 1901, Hyman Solomon, aka Jimmie Reese, was born in New York City to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. After Hyman’s father died, the Solomon family moved to Los Angeles where the youngster worked as a newspaper boy, took his new name and fell in love with baseball. By the time Reese died at age 92, he had spent 77 years in baseball and is the oldest-ever person to have regularly worn a professional team’s uniform.
During nearly eight decades on the diamond, Reese threw batting practice fastballs to Lou Gehrig, roomed with Babe Ruth when the two were New York Yankees teammates, hit fungos to Nolan Ryan and gave fielding tips to Jim Edmonds. Referring to his time spent with Ruth on Yankees road trips, Reese memorably said that he didn’t room with the Babe in the traditional sense; he roomed with his suitcases.
Reese’s baseball life began as a boy when he finagled his way into the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels practices, becoming at age 12 the team’s batboy, a job he gleefully carried out for six years. Chicago Cubs first baseman and Hall of Famer Frank Chance managed the Angels and worked with Reese to develop his skills. Reese was recognized as his high school’s most valuable player.
From high school, Reese moved up to semi-pro where his slick fielding impressed the Oakland Oaks who signed him in 1924 and launched him to the big leagues. In 1928, the Yankees purchased Reese’s contract from the Oaks. The year prior to Reese’s promotion to the star-studded Yankees, Reese hit .337 with one homer, 65 runs batted in, 24 stolen bases, and led all PCL second basemen with a .979 fielding average with 622 putouts in 190 games. Reese’s peers recognized him as one of the smoothest fielding second basemen in the game with near-acrobatic skills at the keystone corner.
In 1932, the Yanks sent Reese to the America Association’s Triple-A St. Paul Saints. The St. Louis Cardinals quickly picked him up to fill in for the injured Frankie Frisch. In 90 games with the Cards, Reese batted .265, hit two homers and drove in 26 runs. And so ended Reese’s three-year major league career; 232 games played with a respectable .278 batting average, eight homers and 70 RBIs.
Little did Reese realize in 1933 when the Cards sold him to the PCL Angels that his baseball career still had six decades remaining. Reese enjoyed outstanding seasons with the Angels and San Diego Padres. He compiled a PCL career batting average of .289 in 1,673 games and holds the league record for most putouts by a second baseman, 4,771, and most assists, 5,119. In 1937, Reese was chosen as the starting second baseman on the All-Time Pacific Coast League team, and in 2002 was elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Between 1938 and 1994, Reese worked for minor and major league teams as a coach, manager and scout. With a one-year baseball hiatus in 1944 when he served in the U.S. Army during World War II, Reese was continuously in baseball’s employ. In 1972, at age 71, Reese asked the Angels for a job and was hired as conditioning coach – a position he held until his death in 1994. Angels’ owner Gene Autry had given Reese a lifetime contract.
After the 25-year old righty Nolan Ryan was traded to the Angels from the New York Mets, he befriended Reese. Years later, Ryan said, “He’s the finest human being I've ever met.” Ryan’s second son is named Reese in Jimmie’s honor.
At the time of Reese’s death, he was still on the Angels payroll. A year after Reese passed, the Angels encased his locker in tinted Plexiglas. Inside were his beloved fungo bat and his uniform. His number 50 was retired, joining Ryan, Gene Autry and Rod Carew whose numbers no future Angels player would ever wear. The Angels retired number 26 in Autry’s honor. Baseball rosters had 25 men; Autry became the Angels “26th man.”
Today’s big baseball news is Shohei Ohtani’s $700 million, ten-year contract – “a record” as the headlines blare. But Ohtani’s mark won’t last long. Owners are printing money and, since they can jack up ticket prices at will and indefinitely, have no qualms about laying out cash. Reese’s 77-year baseball longevity record, however, will endure for ages and is a testimony to his love for the national pastime.

Joe Guzzardi is a Society for American Baseball Research and Internet Baseball Writers Association member. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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Medal of Honor Monday: Navy Lt. Thomas Eadie
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Navy Lt. Thomas Eadie spent a combined 30 years of service in the Navy from the early 20th century to after World War II. His work as an expert diver salvaging shipwrecks earned him several accolades, especially when it came to saving a fellow diver who had gotten tangled far below the water. For that rescue, he earned the Medal of Honor.
Eadie was born on April 8, 1887, in Glasgow, Scotland. His parents, William and Rebecca, moved to the U.S. in 1890, settling the family in New Jersey. Eadie had a brother, George, and a sister, Margaret.
Eadie enlisted in the Navy in July 1905 shortly after he'd turned 18. Trained as a gunner's mate and as a diver, he remained in the service until 1913, when he moved to Newport, Rhode Island. At some point, he married Margaret Gerrie, and they had a daughter named Marion.
Eadie returned to the Navy during World War I, then worked as a civilian diver for a time before returning to the Navy yet again in 1926. By then, he had worked his way up in rank to chief petty officer.
Eadie was credited with helping to salvage two sunken submarines: the USS S-51, which sank off the coast of Rhode Island in 1925, and the USS S-4, which sank off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Both operations earned him a Navy Cross, but it was the latter that earned him the Medal of Honor.
On Dec. 18, 1927, the Coast Guard received calls that the USS S-4 submarine had been involved in a collision with a Coast Guard destroyer and sank off the coast of Provincetown while undergoing sea trials. Rescue efforts began immediately, although Eadie and a handful of other expert divers weren't able to arrive at the scene until the next day, thanks in part to bad weather that was thwarting the operation.
A few minutes after Eadie went into the water, he was able to locate the sunken sub. Reports show that when he tapped on its torpedo loading hatch to see if anyone had survived, he received six slow taps in reply, indicated six men were still alive. He got no other responses when he tapped on other sections of the hull, so he returned to the surface to report his findings and recuperate from the dive, which is necessary for all divers operating in deep waters. Other divers went down in his place to continue the mission.
That afternoon, another diver, Fred Michels, went down with a hose that they were hoping to connect to the S-4 to deliver the trapped men much-needed fresh air. However, as Michels was attempting to connect the air line to the sub at a depth of 102 feet, his tether became seriously entangled in the wreckage, trapping him.
When the team above water realized what was happening, Eadie quickly volunteered to go back down to help, even though he was still recovering from his first dive.
Eadie finally reached Michels after the trapped diver had been underwater for about an hour and a half. Eadie saw Michels' line was twisted up in the submarine's metal, so he requested that a hacksaw be lowered down. Eadie sawed at the wreckage for 45 minutes before he was able to release Michels from the tangle.
After more than two hours of extremely dangerous work, Eadie succeeded in getting Michels back to the surface. Michels was put in the ship's decompression chamber in serious condition, but he survived thanks to Eadie's skills and his ability to stay calm under pressure.
Sadly, the crew lost the hose that Michels had carried down to attach to the submarine, so they were never able to get fresh air inside it. All 39 crew members and one civilian observer on the S-4 died. The sub was raised on March 17, 1928, and eventually returned to service before being stricken from the register in 1936.
Eadie was quickly nominated for the Medal of Honor, which he received from President Calvin Coolidge during a White House ceremony on Feb. 23, 1928.
Eadie continued to serve the Navy for another decade before retiring from active duty in 1939; however, he returned yet again in April 1942 during World War II, when he was appointed as a chief gunner (warrant officer). He received a commission in August 1942, then retired for good as a lieutenant in September 1946 after a combined 30 years of service.
From 1941-1942, Eadie was the national commander of the U.S. Legion of Valor. While in London in 1960, he became an honorary member of the British Foreign Legion, according to his obituary in the Newport Mercury newspaper.
Eadie died on Nov. 14, 1964, at age 87 at the Brockton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Brockton, Massachusetts. He is buried in Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island, where he spent the last few decades of his life.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

A phenomenal polymath, Benjamin Franklin was—perhaps—the most peripatetic of all the Founding Fathers: a statesman, diplomat, and philosopher, he published periodicals, Poor Richard’s Almanack--which sold 10,000 annually between 1732-1758--pamphlets, and a two-volume autobiography.
In the scientific sphere, he invented the still-available Franklin Stove— (1741); 1750’s Lightning Rod; the flexible catheter (1752)—and—bifocals (1784).
According to History.com, Franklin was just 12 years old in 1729 when he “became the official printer of currency for the colony of Pennsylvania.” He published Poor Richard’s just three years later "along with the Pennsylvania Gazette, one of the colonies’ first and best newspapers. In 1757 he went to London representing Pennsylvania in its dispute with England and later spent time in France. He returned to America in March 1775, with war on the horizon. He served on the Second Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. He was also instrumental in persuading the French to lend military assistance to the colonies. He died in Philadelphia in 1790.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Walter Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.

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On December 23, 1783, George Washington resigned as Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army, and retired to Mount Vernon.
In a pithy announcement to Congress, he declared: “Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence, a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task; which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven."
History.com writes there were “political factions” in Congress that “wanted Washington to become the new nation’s king” but by declining the offer and resigning his military post at the end of the war fortified the republican foundations of the new nation.”
Six years later, he ascended to the presidency.
The Grateful American Book Prize suggests The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789 by Edward J. Larson.

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On December 28, 1869, the Knights of Labor had—what may have been--the first Labor Day ceremonies, but it wasn’t until 1884 that the American Federation of Labor declared First Monday-In-September Observance.
Over time, acknowledgement of the holiday has had a deep impact. According to History.com, “in the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories, and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.”
The Grateful American Book Prize proposes Ferris M. Washington’s Labor Day, A Day To Remember.: All You Need To Know About Labor Day, Its History and Importance. How It Began and What It Now Means.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation
Ask Rusty – I’m 65 and Working; Can I Collect Ex-spouse Benefits?

Dear Rusty: I turned 65 earlier this year, and I still work full time. I was divorced four years ago after 38 years of marriage, but my ex-husband has been collecting Social Security for at least 10 years now. Can I start collecting Social Security and still work full time? And can I collect my ex-husband's amount if it is more than mine (and what is the best way to achieve this)? When I went to my local SSA office, they said they had no way of knowing that. Signed: Working Divorcee

Dear Working Divorcee: Although you are eligible to claim Social Security at age 65, because you are working full time you may wish to wait a bit longer to do so. That’s because Social Security has an “earnings test” which applies to anyone who collects benefits before full retirement age, and you have not yet reached yours.

The earnings test imposes a limit on how much you can earn before SS takes away some of your benefits. If you exceed the annual earnings limit ($22,320 for 2024), Social Security will want back $1 in benefits for every $2 you are over the limit and you will need to repay that, usually by having future benefits withheld. If you significantly exceed the limit, you may even be temporarily ineligible to receive SS benefits until you either earn less or reach your full retirement age (FRA) of 66 years and 8 months. So, if your earnings from working will significantly exceed the annual earnings limit (which changes yearly), it’s likely that your wisest move would be to wait longer to claim your Social Security. As a bonus for doing so, your monthly payment will have grown and will be higher when you claim later. The earnings test no longer applies after you reach FRA.

Regarding benefits from your ex-husband, you cannot collect his instead of yours. What you may be able to do, when you claim your own benefit, is to get an additional amount which brings your monthly payment up to 50% of his. In order for that to happen, you would need to satisfy the following criteria:

• You are not currently married.
• The personal benefit you are entitled to at your FRA must be less than 50% of your ex-husband’s FRA entitlement.

If the above are true, when you claim your own SS retirement benefit you will also get a “spousal boost” to bring your payment up to what you’re entitled to as an ex-spouse. The amount of the spousal boost, if you claim Social Security at your FRA, will be the difference between half of his FRA entitlement and your FRA entitlement. If you claim your benefit before your FRA, not only will your own benefit be reduced for claiming early, but the amount of your spousal boost will also be reduced (benefits claimed before FRA are always reduced).

Whenever you decide to claim Social Security, you will be automatically deemed to be filing for benefits from your ex-husband as well (you shouldn’t need to apply separately). You’ve already satisfied the basic criteria of at least 10 years married to get benefits from an ex-spouse and, if you satisfy the above criteria as well, you will be entitled to a spousal boost when you claim. But your current earnings from working full time will likely affect your eligibility to collect Social Security benefits at this time, so waiting until your full retirement age to claim may be your best choice.

If you will only slightly exceed the annual earnings limit you can consider claiming earlier, as long as you are comfortable with receiving a permanently reduced amount, and the prospect of not getting benefits for a number of months if you exceed the earnings limit (the number of months you will go without benefits depends on how much you exceed the limit by).

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Love conquers
It was love at first sight when a deer made a romantic Christmas pass at an ornamental doe in the front yard of a Camp Nelson, California, home recently. The statuesque female of the species didn’t have a chance when the would-be boyfriend sought to get passionate. His embrace resulted in considerable damage to the figurine and it was all caught on tape thanks to a security camera.

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Christmas, Texas style
Tis the season to get jolly, big time -- especially in Texas where everything is bigger. Take the gigantic inflatable Santa that mysteriously showed up in a vacant lot in Tyler, Texas, in time for the holiday season. Resident Marsha Daugherty told KETK-TV, "Nobody lives on this lot, so we don't know who installed Santa. But isn't that fun?" Locals will tell you that whoever is responsible for the gigantic Christmas present made the holiday all the better. It’s estimated that he or she who came up with the idea spent a thousand dollars or more to arrange the special holiday event.

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Gary’s back in town
The folks who live in Kentwood, Michigan, who were saddened when Gary the Turkey passed away last year are gleeful once again—a new wild turkey has shown up in town just in time for this year’s holiday season. They’re calling him Gary Jr. As local Cathy Kutschinski put it, "It's something that brings some positive light to dark times." She noted that Gary Jr is following in his predecessor’s footsteps. "Same antics of stopping traffic, chasing cars, blocking people from getting out of their driveways."

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Karl G. Taylor Sr.

By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

When Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Karl Gorman Taylor Sr. was called upon to rescue a trapped platoon in Vietnam, he didn't hesitate to do whatever it took to get his comrades to safety. For Taylor, that meant giving his life for theirs — a sacrifice that earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Taylor was born July 14, 1939, to parents Arthur and Anna Taylor. He and his younger brother, Walter, grew up on a small farm outside of Laurel, Maryland.
Taylor went to Arundel Senior High School but left after his junior year in 1956 to work in construction. In January 1959, both he and his brother joined the Marine Corps.
After infantry combat training, the elder Taylor served with the Fleet Marine Force at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In the early days of his career, he was able to study for his high school equivalency diploma and, in 1961, earned that from the former Armed Forces Institute in Madison, Wisconsin.
Taylor served as a drill instructor for a time before going on inactive duty with the Marine Corps Reserve. However, about three months later, in late March 1963, he returned to active duty to serve at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
At some point during those years, he married Shirley Ann Piatt. They went on to have two boys, Karl Jr. and Kevin, as well as a daughter, Sheryl.
In August 1964, Taylor deployed to Vietnam with the 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. A year later, he was reassigned as an instructor for the Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership School for Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.
He returned to Quantico in January 1966 for duty as a platoon sergeant at Officer Candidate School before being promoted to staff sergeant on Sept. 1, 1966.
In February 1968, Taylor returned to Vietnam for his second tour of duty, again with the 3rd Marine Division. He was assigned as a platoon sergeant and company gunnery sergeant of Company I of the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment.
In December 1968, Taylor's unit was part of Operation Meade River, which was a combined search and destroy mission to regain control of various areas in Quang Nam Province — specifically, to push the enemy out of an area called Dodge City. That region was known to be a staging area and command post for the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong troops moving toward U.S. bases at Da Nang, which was about 10 miles south.
On the night of Dec. 8, 1968, Taylor was acting as the company gunnery sergeant when his unit got pinned down by heavy enemy fire. At some point, he learned that the commander of the lead platoon had been killed, so he and another Marine quickly staged a rescue effort to help the remaining members of the beleaguered platoon.
Both men crawled through a hail of hostile fire to reach the unit, where they shouted instructions and encouragement to the men and deployed them to covered positions. Several times, Taylor and the other Marine maneuvered across an open area to rescue seriously wounded platoon members who couldn't move themselves.
When Taylor learned that other seriously injured Marines were trapped in another open area near an enemy machine gun, he and four others moved across the fire-swept terrain to try to rescue them. Soon after, though, their progress was stopped by intense enemy fire, so Taylor ordered the others to go back to the company command post.
From there, Taylor grabbed a grenade launcher and, in full view of the enemy, charged across an open rice paddy toward the machine gun's position, unleashing devastating fire as he went. He was wounded several times but succeeded in getting to the enemy bunker and taking out its machine gun and gunners. Moments later, he was killed. However, his efforts saved the lives of several of his fellow Marines.
Taylor's brother, Walter, later told reporters that he was informed of his brother's death while he was a drill instructor in San Diego. He said Taylor was supposed to return from deployment a mere 20 days later.
Taylor is buried in Independence Cemetery in Independence, Pennsylvania, where his wife and children were living at the time of his death.
In honor of his sacrifice, Taylor was awarded the Medal of Honor. His wife and children were presented the medal by President Richard M. Nixon during a White House ceremony on Feb. 16, 1971. His youngest son, 4-year-old Kevin, even made the news for saluting Nixon after the presentation.
Eleven other men — three Marines and eight soldiers — also received the Medal of Honor that day.
To honor his father, Kevin Taylor went on to become a career Marine as well. When he was promoted to gunnery sergeant -- a rank his father was set to be advanced to before he died -- he dedicated the promotion to his father, according to a May 2005 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. The younger Taylor retired from service that same year.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR,
National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – I’m Returning to Work; What Should I Do About Social Security?

Dear Rusty: I started collecting Social Security at age 62 earlier this year. I had an opportunity to partner in a new business this year that will allow me to earn about $200,000 in 2024. Because this is significantly above the allowed earnings when collecting early benefits, I need advice on how I handle this with the Social Security Administration. Am I supposed to call them and advise them of my change in income for 2024? If so, am I going to be penalized in any way? I expect they will stop all payments in 2024 once I alert them to the change. Will I be eligible for Social Security payments when I retire again? This is planned to take place before I reach full retirement age of 67. For information, my 2023 income will not exceed the 2023 allowable income limit. Signed: Un-retiring Temporarily.
Dear Un-retiring: You have a couple of options, considering that you recently claimed early Social Security benefits but are returning to work with income significantly more than the 2024 earnings limit of $22,320.
The first is to simply contact Social Security and tell them you are returning to the work force and tell them your anticipated 2024 income. They will suspend your SS benefits for all of 2024 (to avoid overpaying you and making you return those 2024 payments later). If you plan to continue in your new business beyond 2024, you can advise them of that as well and they will continue the suspension of your benefits, until such time as you either discontinue working or reach your full retirement age (the earnings test no longer applies after you reach your FRA). At that time, SS will resume your monthly Social Security payments and, at your FRA, will give you time credit for all months your benefits were suspended, providing you with a higher monthly payment after your full retirement age is attained (with an adjustment for benefits already paid).
Your other option is to contact Social Security soon and request that your recent application for Social Security benefits submitted earlier this year be withdrawn. You have 12 months from the date of your application to do this, but you will need to repay Social Security all money which they paid to you or on your behalf (including your monthly payments, any income tax you had withheld from those payments, and any dependent benefits which might have been paid based on your record). That will effectively “wipe the slate clean” with Social Security and will be as though you had never claimed, allowing you to simply wait until you stop working, or until your FRA, or even beyond your FRA, to re-apply for Social Security at a higher monthly amount. The advantage of this option is that when your benefit restarts there will be no adjustment (reduction) for past benefits paid.
What I suggest you not do is simply wait to see what happens. That would result in Social Security catching up after the IRS informs them of your 2024 earnings, resulting in you receiving an Overpayment Notice from the SSA demanding repayment of 2024 benefits paid. In that case, you would need to quickly repay Social Security in a large lump-sum or have your SS benefits withheld until the debt for exceeding the earnings limit was repaid. In a nutshell, I suggest you call Social Security and tell them you are returning to work, what your earnings are expected to be, and for how long.

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Leaping lizard
The Collins family of Hollywood, Florida, found an unwelcome guest recently in their guestroom toilet—a rather large iguana. How it got there is anybody’s guess. It seemed to be dead at first, but when Mr. Collins brought in a neighbor to help catch the cagey cadger it tried to wriggle its way to freedom. In fact, Mr. Collins and his neighbor managed to trap the lazy lizard in a garbage bag and released it into the great outdoors where it belonged.

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It's no glass ring
The Glass family of Chino Hills, California, spent more than a year seeking to recover Jana Glass’ wedding ring. Somehow their 5-year-old son had accidentally flushed it down the toilet. They sought help from plumbers to no avail. Fourteen months later a public works crew working in the sewer near their home stopped in their tracks when they came across the sparkling diamond ring. They remembered that Mrs. Glass had lost her ring in the sewer, cleaned it up and, to her grateful surprise, returned it to her.

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How old is your turtle
St. Helena island in the South Atlantic Ocean is the home of the world’s oldest living creature – a giant tortoise that goes by the name of Jonathan and that is more than 191 years of age. According to the Guinness World Records Jonathan was at least 50 years old when it was brought to St. Helena from the Seychelles islands in 1882, making him the world’s oldest living land animal.


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10 backyarding trends for 2024

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – “Backyarding” – the act of taking activities typically associated with the indoors outside into the green space around us – will continue taking root in 2024, according to the TurfMutt Foundation, which advocates for the care and use of green space, including our own backyards, community parks, green space, and school yards. But next year, the TurfMutt Foundation expects the practice of “backyarding” to evolve into an ongoing sustainability practice.
“Now more than ever, homeowners are recognizing the power of their yards and parks doing environmental good, as well as benefitting their health and well-being,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation and its parent organization the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “Homeowners are making improvements in their yards with many goals in mind, thinking about what’s good for their families, pets, and our planet.”
The TurfMutt Foundation predicts these 10 backyarding trends for 2024:
• Improving Existing Space (Rather Than Moving to a New One). High interest rates and low housing inventory mean more homeowners have chosen to renovate rather than move into a new home. With interior improvements complete, the focus turns to backyard improvements that customize the outdoor space and artfully merge indoor and outdoor living.
• Seeking a Home Near a Park or Nature. Even homeowners looking to downsize still want to maintain a connection with nature. They know backyarding can happen in any size yard and seek additional connection to nature through community parks, school yards, and other green space.
• Return of Neighborhood Parties…in the Backyard. Over the last several years, homeowners have invested in their outdoor living areas, and now they are using that space to bring back neighborhood block parties in their own backyards.
• Creating a Backyard Oasis for Fun. From parents looking for ways to lure their kids away from screens to neighbors wanting to connect with friends, homeowners are turning their backyards into a place for fun and games. Some go all out to install a pool or pickleball court while others take a simpler approach like designating a strip of grass for cornhole or a small soccer pitch.
• Taking Better Care of Living Landscapes. Since homeowners have come to value their lawns, trees, and plants more than ever, they are investing in their care like never before. This means investing in equipment for DIY work and calling in professionals, as needed, for pruning, rescuing diseased trees, and revitalizing turfgrass, just to name a few.
• Choosing Real Grass. The trend of ripping out real grass and replacing it with fake, plastic alternatives is fading as homeowners and communities recognize the limitations – and downsides – of plastic grass. Synthetic turf is hard to clean, hot on feet and paws, and difficult to recycle.
• Planting for Pollinators. Once a niche practice, planting for pollinator support is omnipresent. Homeowners understand the importance of their backyards to provide food and shelter to pollinators like birds, butterflies, and bats year-round. And they are selecting plants for their yards with pollinators in mind.
• Adding Drought Tolerant Plants. Plants that are especially adapted to drier landscapes are better for water-stressed areas in our environment. Homeowners are doing their research and selecting plants that will thrive in their micro-climates.
• Mixing Materials. As outdoor living has become incorporated into daily life, homeowners are taking care to design cohesive outdoor spaces. They factor in landscaping, hardscaping (patios, outdoor kitchens, etc.), and natural aesthetics (trees, boulders, etc.).
• Backyard Birding. The birdwatching craze really took flight during the pandemic, but it’s not a fleeting fad. Birdwatching is not only relaxing; it is a great way to connect with nature right outside our back doors.

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Medal of Honor: Army Spc. Ross A. McGinnis
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Army Spc. Ross Andrew McGinnis wanted to serve his country for as long as his family could remember, so it was no surprise to them that he joined up in the years after 9/11. He was sent to Iraq to fight in the global war on terror, and while he never came home from that mission, four other men did thanks to his courage. McGinnis' sacrifice earned him the Medal of Honor.
McGinnis was born on June 14, 1987, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, to parents Tom and Romayne McGinnis. He had two sisters, Becky and Katie.
When McGinnis was 3, the family moved about an hour southeast to Knox, Pennsylvania, where he went to Clarion County public schools, was a Boy Scout and played baseball, basketball and soccer.
As a teen, McGinnis worked part-time at a McDonald's and became a car enthusiast. He took classes at a nearby career center in automotive technology in the hopes of one day becoming an auto mechanic in the military — something he'd desired to be a part of since childhood. His mother said that during kindergarten, when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he drew a picture of a soldier.
McGinnis got involved as soon as he could. In June 2004, on his 17th birthday, he enlisted in Army through its delayed entry program. After he graduated from Keystone Junior-Senior High School in 2005, he officially became a soldier.
After basic training, McGinnis was sent to serve in Schweinfurt, Germany. Many of the friends he made there said he was known for doing impersonations and making everyone laugh.
In August 2006, his unit, the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, was deployed to Iraq. He was only there for four months before he made the ultimate sacrifice for his fellow soldiers.
On Dec. 4, 2006, then-Pfc. McGinnis was serving as a machine gunner in Company C in the northeastern part of Baghdad. His platoon was working to control sectarian violence in the area, which was rampant at the time.
During that afternoon, while McGinnis was in position at the back of his vehicle, an insurgent threw a grenade from a roof, and it fell into McGinnis' Humvee. The private first class reacted quickly, yelling "Grenade!" to warn his four fellow soldiers stuck in the vehicle with him.
Instead of saving his own life by escaping through the gunnery hatch — as he was trained to do — McGinnis, who was the youngest in his platoon at 19, chose to give his own life to protect his crew, diving onto the live grenade to shield them from the blast. He died immediately.
The other soldiers in the vehicle with him — Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas, the platoon sergeant and truck commander; Staff Sgt. Ian Newland, the squad leader; Sgt. Lyle Buehler, the driver; and medic Spc. Sean Lawson all survived thanks to his bravery and selflessness.
Shortly after his death, McGinnis' parents released a statement about him that said in part, "The lives of four men who were his Army brothers outweighed the value of his one life. … The choice for Ross was simple, but simple does not mean easy. His straightforward answer to a simple but difficult choice should stand as a shining example for the rest of us. We all face simple choices, but how often do we choose to make a sacrifice to get the right answer? The right choice sometimes requires honor."
On June 2, 2008, former President George W. Bush presented McGinnis' parents with the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony. His sisters and the soldiers he helped save were also in attendance. McGinnis was posthumously promoted to specialist and also received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
"I know medals never crossed his mind. He was always about friendships and relationships," McGinnis' father later said. "He just took that to the ultimate this time."
McGinnis is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He's one of only three Medal of Honor recipients from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be buried there.
McGinnis continues to be remembered across the military community and in his home state. In the past 15 years, the Pittsburgh military processing center was renamed in his honor, as was a post office in his hometown. In 2017, the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Georgia, dedicated a statue bearing McGinnis' likeness as part of its Global War on Terrorism Memorial.
On Veterans Day 2009, former President Barack Obama left a presidential coin at the young soldier's grave after remembrance services at the cemetery. McGinnis' medal is on display at the First Infantry Division Museum in Wheaton, Illinois.

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Raise a glass without raising your weight

It’s the holiday season, and it’s the time when we gather — sometimes several times — with family and friends to celebrate. These multiple celebrations or parties often bring with them large amounts of food and drink.
TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds SensiblySM), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy, understands that the holidays can be a challenge for those trying to take — and keep — pounds off. TOPS encourages taking sensible steps to live well, and giving up alcohol altogether during gatherings isn’t necessarily a sensible first step. Having a little cup of what you love is allowed, but watching what you drink and drinking in moderation can help you maintain your weight during this “eating season.”
Here is everything you need to know about raising a glass without raising your weight:
Plan ahead
You’ve been to holiday parties before, so take some time to consider what you’ll be walking into. Think about how many alcoholic drinks you’re going to allow yourself, and make sure it’s a number you won’t regret the next morning. Then talk to a trusted family member or friend attending the same gathering and ask them to help keep you accountable.
Watch your calories
Calories can add up quickly when the drinks are flowing. Opt for a no-calorie drink, like water, coffee, tea, or diet soda. If that’s too much all at once, choose a low-calorie alcoholic drink, like swapping out eggnog with white wine. Finally, do not bring a high-caloric alcoholic drink with you to a party. Consider gifting hot chocolate or cider so there are other options at the gathering.
Stretch your drinks
Alcohol has a diuretic effect on your body, meaning it causes your body to eliminate fluids quickly, which makes you thirsty. To consume a limited amount of alcohol and stay hydrated, try adding water or ice cubes to your drink and nurse it for a few hours. Another option is to make sure your alcohol to water intake is 1:1. Drink a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks. Sparkling water even looks like a drink, and it’ll help you pace yourself.
Be nosy
You should always know what’s in your drink, not only for your safety, but also if you’re trying to avoid unnecessary calories. If you’re a fan of mixed drinks, avoid sugary options and try mixing your alcohol with diet soda, seltzer, or low-calorie fruit juice.
Be smart before and during the gathering
Remember alcohol affects the way you eat. Alcohol doesn’t make you feel full, so it’s easy to overeat. Don’t avoid eating during the day because you have a party later. Eat plenty of protein and vegetables before so you won’t feel the need to binge eat. When you’re at the gathering, talk and socialize away from the food and drink table.
What drinks are safest?
According to the National Institute of Health, alcoholic beverages that are 100 calories or fewer include: gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila, brandy, champagne, and light beer, while beverages like red and white wine are more than 100 calories.
What does drinking in moderation look like?
The National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention define moderate alcohol intake as one glass a day or seven per week for women, and two glasses a day or 14 per week for men.


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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

On Saturday, December 6, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt advised Emperor Hirohito to withdraw his fleet of warships “for the sake of humanity.” The message was prompted by a Royal Australian Air Force pilot who had detected a formidable throng of Japanese warships headed for Thailand.
Meanwhile, according to History.com, “600 miles northwest of Hawaii, Admiral Yamamoto, commander of the Japanese fleet, announced to his men: ‘The rise or fall of the empire depends upon this battle. Everyone will do his duty with utmost efforts.’ Thailand was, in fact, a bluff. Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii was confirmed for Yamamoto as the Japanese target, after the Japanese consul in Hawaii had reported to Tokyo that a significant portion of the U.S. Pacific fleet would be anchored in the harbor—sitting ducks. The following morning, Sunday, December 7, was a good day to begin a raid.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Events That Changed the course of History: The Story of the Attack on Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later by Kimberly Sarmiento.

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William Frederick Cody—known as Buffalo Bill-- embodied the heroes of the Wild West. He garnered esteem for his service with the Pony Express --and later--as a Civil War hero for the Union. His dexterity with a six-gun was so remarkable that Ned Buntline [born Edward Judson] wrote 550 dime novels featuring Cody. After his The Scouts of the Prairie--was adapted for the stage--he persuaded Buffalo Bill “to abandon his real-life western adventures to play a highly exaggerated version of himself …” [on stage].
On December 11, 1872, Cody made his debut in Chicago.
According to History.com. “Once he had a taste of the performing life, Cody never looked back. Though he continued to spend time scouting or guiding hunt trips in the West, Cody remained on the Chicago stage for the next 11 years. Buffalo Bill Cody was the hero of more than 1,700 variant issues of dime novels [by a variety of authors], and his star shone even more brightly when his world-famous Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show debuted in 1883. The show was still touring when Buffalo Bill Cody died in 1917.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Buffalo Bill Cody: An Autobiography.


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The American Revolution, which ended in 1783, achieved America’s independence, and the Constitution--ratified on December 15, 1791--underscored freedom, and citizens’ rights.
Today, there are 27 amendments, but the first ten--the Bill of Rights—are the most important.
“Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776,” according to History.com. “Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification struggle that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to support the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would be passed immediately.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Carol Berkin‘s The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties.

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UAMS House Call
Dr. Daniel Knight
Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine

Q:. What is Parkinson's disease
A: Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain condition that affects the nervous system and parts of the body controlled by the nerves. Neurons (nerve cells in the brain) slowly break down and die in affected persons. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that approximately 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
Age is the most common risk factor in the development of Parkinson’s. The average age for onset of the disease is 70, and chances increase after 60. However, it is possible to have Parkinson’s as early as 50 years old. Men are more likely to experience Parkinson’s than women.
Symptoms vary from person to person, and early symptoms may not be evident. The most common sign are tremors, which frequently occur in a hand. This shaking is most noticeable while at rest. Other symptoms include muscle stiffness, impaired balance and coordination, speech changes, and the slowing of such movements as walking.
Parkinson’s has no cure, and it is unclear what causes the disease. A health care provider will likely recommend an affected person see a neurologist who specializes in treatment of this type of movement disorder.

Q: How can I maintain a healthy diet during the holidays?
A: The holidays can be a tough time for many trying to manage good eating habits. There are gatherings at home and at work. People are traveling, which can upset their normal eating routine. Even at home, attending events, hosting guests or shopping can disrupt schedules. Still, it is possible to enjoy yourself while watching what you eat.
It is always advisable to begin your day with a healthy breakfast. This will help establish a sense of normalcy in your daily activities, and it can be a way to keep your mind on the goal of sensible eating. If you have an exercise plan, do your best to stick to it.
For diabetics, planning is essential. Try to eat as close to your normal mealtimes as possible. Do not skip meals, as this makes managing blood sugar harder and makes you more likely to overeat at the next meal. Popular holiday beverages are high in calories or sugar, so be mindful of your consumption.
Make an appointment with your health care provider if you need assistance maintaining your diet during this period.

Q: Why do we get sick during colder weather?
A: When the temperature drops, your body goes through changes that may impact how it fights diseases and illnesses. When cold and dry air is breathed in, blood vessels in the respiratory system narrow to conserve heat, which makes it harder for white blood cells to move throughout the body to fight germs.
Viruses spread more easily in dry, winter air because there are fewer water molecules present to slow their movement. Heating your home in the winter also dries out the air. Nasal passages do not perform as efficiently in dry air, which can allow viruses to enter the body more easily.
Colder weather can also worsen preexisting conditions. Raynaud’s disease, which is the narrowing of blood vessels that supply blood to the skin, is aggravated by colder weather. People affected by arthritis will feel worse as restricted blood flow makes joints feel stiffer than normal. Colder air causes respiratory systems to work harder, exacerbating an ailment such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Contact your health care provider to work out a plan if you are concerned about your health as the weather turns colder, particularly if you have conditions intensified by cold.

Q: What is the difference between farsightedness and nearsightedness?
A: Farsightedness (hyperopia) and nearsightedness (myopia) are classified as refractive errors. Astigmatism (blurred or distorted vision at all distances) is also a refractive error. Refractive errors are the most common eye problems and are easily corrected. The National Eye Institute estimates more than 150 million Americans are affected by one of these conditions.
Farsightedness is when nearby objects appear blurry, but you can see distant objects clearly. In addition to having trouble seeing things up close, other symptoms of farsightedness include eye strain and headaches. Many people are born with farsightedness, but vision problems may not present themselves until later in life.
Nearsightedness is when you have trouble seeing objects farther away, but anything near appears clearly. Headaches, eye strain, and squinting are some symptoms of nearsightedness. Some people affected with nearsightedness also have blurry vision when the light is dim, such as during nighttime driving. Nearsightedness normally develops during childhood.
Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor if you experience symptoms associated with either condition. An eye exam will determine which issue you have. The most common treatments for farsightedness and nearsightedness are contact lenses or eyeglasses. Surgery may be required depending upon the extent of the problem.


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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – We’re Planning to Claim at 62; What Do We Need to Know?
Dear Rusty: My wife (born May 1962) and I (born April 1963) are retired and will soon be looking to start collecting our Social Security as we each hit 62. As this is new to us, I'm wondering what things we may need to be aware of or consider as we get closer to her 62 birthday in May. Any advice or information will be appreciated! Signed: Planning Ahead
Dear Planning: If you and your wife are both retired from working and have decided to start your (reduced) Social Security as soon as you are eligible at age 62, then there is nothing you need to do in advance of applying. The Social Security retirement benefit amount for each of you will be determined by your individual lifetime earnings record and your age when you claim. If either of you will be eligible for a spousal boost from the other, that will be automatically applied when both of you are collecting.
If your wife plans to claim her Social Security as soon as she is eligible, she should apply for her benefits about 3 months in advance and choose the option on the application which states “I want benefits beginning with the earliest possible month and will accept an age-related reduction.” For information, an applicant must be 62 for an entire month to get benefits, so your wife’s first month of eligibility will be June 2024. Social Security deals only in whole months and pays benefits in the month following the month earned; so if your wife’s birthday is between the 11th and 20th of the month her first Social Security payment will be received in her bank account on the third Wednesday of July. All subsequent payments will be on that same schedule. Then, when it’s time for you to claim, you should follow the same process as your wife and, if either of you is entitled to a higher amount as a spouse, it will be automatically applied when your benefits later start.
Applying for benefits is a relatively simple process if done online at www.ssa.gov/apply. Note that to apply online your wife will need to first create her personal “my Social Security” account, which is easy to do at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. To prepare for applying later, you can also create your personal online account now (it’s required to apply online), at which you will see what your estimated benefit will be at different ages. Of course, your wife first (and later you) can also call Social Security at 1.800.772.1213 to request an appointment to apply for SS retirement benefits in person. Applications which are not done online are usually taken over the phone vs. requiring a visit to your local Social Security office, but applying online is, by far, the most efficient method (you can link to the application process from your online account).
One important thing to be aware of: By claiming at age 62, the monthly payment for each of you will be 70% of what it would be at your full retirement age (FRA) and that is a permanent reduction. If you expect at least average longevity - about 84 for you and 87 for your wife - and if it is financially feasible, then waiting longer to claim would yield a higher monthly amount as well as the most in cumulative lifetime benefits. For those with an FRA of 67, SS retirement benefits claimed at FRA are 30% higher than at 62 and, if claimed at 70 are 75% more than at 62. And, although the decision on when to claim is always personal, a married couple should also evaluate their joint needs when deciding.
One final word of caution: although you and your wife are now retired from working, be aware that if you claim SS benefits before your FRA and return to work, Social Security has an earnings test which limits how much you can earn before some benefits are taken away. The earnings test lasts until you reach your full retirement age.


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How hungry are you?
New York City is known for its costly restaurants. To prove it, just take a look at the special menu offered at the Serendipity3 eatery located in the upper reaches of the Big Apple. Among its specialties there is the $214 grilled cheese sandwich that goes well with a $200 side of “Creme de la Crème” French fries.

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Brown Friday
“Virtually every traditional Thanksgiving dish is a drain clogging culprit,” according to the experts at Roto-Rooter. In fact, they call the day after Thanksgiving "Brown Friday." It’s also known as the busiest day of the year for plumbers. As they explain it, "a house already has partially clogged drains that go unnoticed until holiday guests arrive and overwhelm the system. Even more problematic is that virtually every traditional Thanksgiving dish is a drain clogging culprit."

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Magpies beware?
Magpies can be bothersome critters, as Giulio Cuzzilla of New South Wales, Australia found out. He also found out that they could be scared off by owls, so he put together what he thought was a “scary” look-alike using paper and feathers. As it turned out It wasn’t very life-like; in fact, his fake owl seemed to attract magpies. As he put it, "I accidentally made a magpie god" that attracted instead of scared away the pesky birds.

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Medal of Honor: Army Lt. Col. Don C. Faith Jr.
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Army Lt. Col. Don Carlos Faith Jr. was one of thousands of men forced to fight through frigid conditions and overwhelming odds during the Korean War's Battle of Chosin Reservoir. He didn't survive the ordeal, but the leadership and bravery he showed while commanding troops earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Faith was born Aug. 26, 1918, in Washington, Indiana, to parents Katherine and Don Faith Sr., who was a World War I Army general. As an Army brat, the younger Don and his two brothers, Francis and Edwin, grew up all over the world, including in China, the Philippines, Georgia and Washington, D.C.
In the late 1930s, Faith attended Georgetown University, where his father was then the director of veterans' education, according to a 1950 edition of the Washington, D.C, newspaper, The Evening Star. But by June 1941, he decided he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps by joining the Army, months before Pearl Harbor would thrust the U.S. into World War II.
After basic training, Faith went to Officer Candidate School and received his commission before being assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. Faith was first stationed at Camp Claiborne in central Louisiana, where he met Barbara Wilbur. They married in November 1942 and eventually had a daughter, Bobbie.
Faith went on to serve in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany, earning two Bronze Stars and the French Croix de Guerre for his actions. When the war was over, he was stationed for a short time in the Philippines before being sent home to serve as the Army secretary to the United Nations Military Staff Committee.
In early 1948, Faith served in China before joining occupation forces in Japan, where he was stationed when the Korean War began in June 1950. By then, he was a lieutenant colonel and was given command of the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment. A short time later, they were sent to Korea.
By November 1950, United Nations troops, which were largely American, had pushed the North Koreans north toward the border with China. Around the same time, China decided to join the war on the enemy's side, so it sent thousands of its own troops south across the Yalu River to help the fleeing North Koreans.
The Battle of Chosin Reservoir, as the ensuing fight is now called, was one of the most savage battles of the war, playing out in rugged, hotly contested terrain during one of the coldest winters on record for the region. Temperatures, which reached about -40 degrees Fahrenheit, were so cold that weapons malfunctioned, and foxholes couldn't be dug because the ground was too hard, historians said.
Starting on Nov. 27, 1950, about 100,000 Chinese soldiers encircled the Chosin Reservoir near the village of Sasu-ri, quickly outnumbering and outgunning about 30,000 UN troops, including Faith's 1st Battalion. When enemy troops launched a fierce attack against them, Faith directed the action amid heavy fire and even led counterattacks to restore positions that had been breached.
At one point, Faith directed an attack that would help his battalion link up with another unit, the 31st Regimental Combat Team, which was in dire need of help. Faith did reconnaissance on the route they would take and personally directed the first elements of his command across the ice-covered reservoir. He then directed the battalion's vehicles, which were loaded with wounded men, until all his command had passed through enemy fire. Only then did he allow himself to cross the reservoir.
When the battalion reached the beleaguered 31st RCT, Faith assumed their command. Nicknamed Task Force Faith, the combined unit was ordered to organize its survivors and withdraw south about 14 miles to Hagaru-ri, where they would be able to join with more friendly forces.
Although they were all exhausted by the bitter cold and physical effort, Faith rallied his men and launched an attack. When they were quickly stopped by enemy fire, Faith ran forward and got his stalled men moving so they could blast their way through the enemy ring.
By Dec. 1, days had passed since the troops had begun their flight south, and they were still being attacked.
According to Faith's Medal of Honor citation, "As they came to a hairpin curve, enemy fire from a roadblock again pinned the column down. Faith organized a group of men and directed their attack on the enemy positions on the right flank. He then placed himself at the head of another group of men and, in the face of direct enemy fire, led an attack on the enemy roadblock, firing his pistol and throwing grenades."
Faith managed to get within about 30 yards of the roadblock when he was seriously wounded by grenade fragments; however, he continued to direct the attack until the roadblock was overrun. Unfortunately, Faith didn't survive his injuries and died the next day, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
By the end of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir on Dec. 13, UN troops managed to break through the enemy siege and move south far enough to evacuate more than 100,000 North Korean refugees.
Throughout five days of action during that movement, Faith continuously disregarded his own safety, often throwing himself into the most dangerous situations to keep others safe. His actions were a great inspiration to his men, which led to him posthumously earning the Medal of Honor. His wife and daughter received it on his behalf from famed World War II Army Gen. Omar Bradley.
"Mrs. Faith, I have known Don since he was a little boy, and I'm not surprised at his leadership and courage," Bradley told Faith's wife during a ceremony at the Pentagon, according to The Evening Star. The newspaper said nine other Korean War service members received the Medal of Honor during the same ceremony.

A Delayed Homecoming

Sadly, Faith's remains couldn't be repatriated because of battlefield conditions at the time, so the family had nothing to bury. Instead, his name was inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
In 2004, joint investigators were allowed into North Korea to survey a field near the Chosin Reservoir, where they located a mass grave site, the DPAA said. Boxes of remains were exhumed and returned to the U.S. for identification. However, that process can take years due to the challenges that come with identifying remains that are lumped together.
In August 2012 — nearly 62 years after Faith died — the DPAA positively identified his remains as part of the batch that had been repatriated in 2004. Less than a year later, on April 17, 2013, Faith was finally laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
To date, there are still 7,485 Americans who are unaccounted for from the Korean War, according to DPAA's website.
Faith's name continues to live on. In the 1990's, a headquarters building was built in his honor at Fort Drum, New York. His name is also inscribed on the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., which was updated in 2022 to include the names of the fallen.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – About the Fairness of “WEP” and “GPO”
Dear Rusty: I was married to my ex-husband for 30 years. For 14 of those years, I was an unemployed mom and community volunteer. After my sons were grown, I began teaching in California and earned a teacher pension. That teacher pension eliminates ALL the spousal benefits my husband paid for. How can that be justified? I, like a number of my retired friends, rent out rooms in my house to be able to live on a small teacher’s pension and get none of my earned spousal benefits. Signed: Frustrated Teacher
Dear Frustrated Teacher: I can only say that your frustration is shared by many retirees from public service in States which do not participate in the federal Social Security program – that is, neither the employee nor the State contribute to the federal Social Security program. There are about 26 states (including California) which exempt at least some of their employees (and themselves) from paying Social Security payroll taxes, but those states are obligated to provide retirement benefits robust enough to offset the loss of Social Security benefits which will occur later in life after the employee retires. As controversial as these laws - the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) - are, they have withstood legal challenges since they were enacted four decades ago.
Because you have a “non-covered” pension from your state employment, WEP reduces any personal Social Security retirement benefit you may have earned elsewhere and, to your specific point, the GPO has eliminated the spousal benefit you might otherwise have been entitled to from your ex-husband. Like you, many who are affected believe this to be unfair, but Congress has steadfastly failed to enact legislation to repeal these provisions, or even to soften their impact. The likely reason is that Congress has evaluated the fundamental premise of the provisions and concluded they appropriately equalize the way benefits are paid to all Social Security beneficiaries.
It might help to think of it this way: in normal circumstances, if one spouse has a personally earned Social Security retirement benefit which is more than 50% of their partner’s full retirement age (FRA) amount, no spousal benefit is paid (the spouse benefit is offset by the recipient’s own SS retirement benefit). The GPO (the provision which affects SS spousal and survivor benefits) applies that same logic for a spouse who has a “non-covered” pension earned outside of the Social Security program, their spousal benefit is offset by the amount of the person’s own “non-covered” retirement pension. The one difference is that the GPO offset is actually a bit smaller (2/3rds of the non-covered pension vs. 100% offset for a spouse with their own SS retirement benefit).
Both WEP (which reduces SS retirement benefits) and the GPO (which reduces spousal or survivor benefits) are consequences of working for a State which has chosen to not participate in the federal Social Security program, and those states are obligated to inform their employees of those consequences. I know that doesn’t make your situation any less frustrating, but Congress “justifies” these provisions as being necessary to equalize how benefits are paid to all Social Security beneficiaries. There are about 2 million beneficiaries affected by WEP and over 700,000 affected by the GPO, most of whom share your displeasure. Nevertheless, Congress has so far maintained both these provisions as originally enacted. If you wish to add your voice to those who believe WEP and GPO are unfair, you may wish to contact your federal Congressional Representatives to express that point.

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Outdoor Winter Container Gardens
By MELINDA MYERS

Add a bit of greenery to your front steps, window box or patio with a winter container garden. You’ll find all the ingredients you need at your local garden center, craft store, and maybe even a few in your backyard.
Start with a walk through your yard and look for evergreens and other potential ingredients for your winter containers. Fruits like rose hips, winterberries, holly berries, crabapples and others add color to the container. Fluffy seedheads of grasses make a nice vertical accent and add a bit of motion to the arrangement.
Next, convert one or two of your summer or fall containers into a winter display. The container should be able to tolerate the winter conditions in your area. Concrete, iron, metal, wood and fiberglass containers are best suited for year-round use. Even plastic pots will last for a few years when left outside.
Or start a new container for winter. Repurpose or purchase a container. Nursery pots that once housed trees and shrubs make excellent options. These black containers provide the perfect backdrop for greenery and are available for free from most garden centers and fellow gardeners.
Make sure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water-logged soil and water from overflowing the pot. Fill the container about 7/8 full with a well-drained potting mix. The soil helps hold the greenery, twigs and other materials in place and adds weight to keep the pot upright throughout the winter.
Consider using a mix of greens for a variety of textures and various shades of green. Pine, spruce, arborvitae, boxwood and junipers may be growing in your landscape and most are available at garden centers. Spruce tips are popular, allowing you to add “mini” trees or create vertical accents in your containers.
Use greens to cover the pot and create an attractive base for your winter display. Place some branches upright and others at a 45-degree angle so the greens drape over the edge. Secure the stems by placing them at least four inches deep in the soil.
Now add some color and vertical interest with stems of red twig dogwoods, paper birch branches, berry-laden stems from holly and winterberry and curly willow branches. Artificial material and outdoor ornaments can also be used. It’s your opportunity to get creative.
Do consider adding other elements such as evergreen cones, seed pods, allium seedheads, and balloon plant pods. Leave them natural or add some paint and glitter.
Water thoroughly to remove air pockets and lock your ingredients in place. Keeping the soil moist until the potting mix freezes can help extend the beauty of the greenery. The winter containers will also last much longer in cooler temperatures. And those displayed in more sheltered locations out of direct sunlight and wind will suffer less drying.
Once your container is complete it is time to relax and enjoy your holiday celebrations.

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Get a haircut?
If you know a woman who is looking for a particularly distinct wig, you might want to get in touch with Nigerian wigmaker Helen Williams. Ms. Williams is a professional when it comes to toupees. In fact, she made headlines recently for what the Guinness World Record judges declared is the world’s longest handmade wig. It measures 1,152 feet and 5 inches in length. The question is where she got the 1,000 bundles of human hair that went into her rug.

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The cat’s meow
Here we go again. They’ve found another mysterious creature that has animal experts scratching their heads. This time it’s a mysterious big cat-like creature that was found roaming the hills in Arizona’s Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Tom Cadden at the Arizona Game and Fish Department told the Arizona Republic, "It's not one of our native big cat species, mountain lion, bobcat, ocelot or jaguar. It's pretty big for a house cat. My guess is that it's probably something that was bought at a wildlife auction. Could be from Africa or South America. It's nothing I'm familiar with, but it's not a house cat."

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He jumps for joy
Henry Cabelus is a pogo stick expert who already holds the record for making a 10.1 foot backflip jump. But he is not content and says his aim is to make a 10.6-foot backflip, at least. He’s been at it for 10 years now and has broken nine bones, four of which were in his face and admits that it’s pretty scary.

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Keeping Tropical Plants Healthy
By MELINDA MYERS

Tropical plants are filling our homes and workspaces, adding beauty, relieving stress, and boosting creativity, productivity, and focus. Keep these plants healthy and looking their best by providing for their basic needs.
Select plants that will thrive in the growing conditions found in your home or office and with your level of care. Busy gardeners should look for low-maintenance plants like ZZ plants, Chinese evergreens, pothos and philodendrons while others may choose ferns, peace lilies, baby tears and gardenias that require a bit more attention and care.
Light is the most common limiting factor when growing plants indoors. Matching the plants to the desired light is the first step in success. Plant tags, university websites and plant books can provide you with this information. If you are lucky enough to have an east- or west-facing window you can grow a wide variety of plants. High-light plants should be kept within two feet of these windows. Low-light plants can be set up to six feet back or off to the side of an east- or west-facing window or in front of one that faces north. Keep in mind buildings, awnings, trees, and sheers can decrease the amount of sunlight reaching the plants.
Fortunately, there are now more options for decorative energy-efficient grow lights available, expanding your indoor gardening opportunities. Pendants, clip-ons, floor lights and furniture-grade plant shelves provide the needed light for plants and add decorative elements to your home.
Proper watering is next on the list of key factors for healthy growth and longevity of indoor plants. Most tropical plants prefer evenly moist soil comparable to a wrung-out sponge. Water thoroughly preferable with tepid water when the top few inches of potting mix are starting to dry. Pour off any excess water that collects in the saucer. Allowing plants to sit in water can lead to root rot and plant death.
To achieve proper watering enlist the help of moisture-retaining products like organic Wild Valley Farms wool pellets (wildvalleyfarms.com). Made from wool waste, this sustainable product reduces watering by up to 25% and increases pore space in the soil for proper drainage and better plant growth.
Create attractive clusters of plants while increasing the humidity that most tropical plants need for healthier growth. As one plant loses moisture through the leaves, often called transpiration, the neighboring plants benefit. Go one step further by utilizing gravel trays. Set plant pots on pebble-filled saucers or trays. Allow excess water to collect in the pebbles below the pots. As this water evaporates, it increases the humidity around the plants. This also reduces your workload by eliminating the need to pour off excess water that collects in the plant saucer.
Add a few terrariums for plants like Venus fly trap, ferns and spike moss that grow best in high humidity and moist soil conditions. Purchase one or create your own from an old aquarium, or another clear glass container and add a lid to create a closed growing system. Select or create one that supports plant growth, complements your home’s décor, and reflects your personality.
Provide a warm, draft-free location for your tropical plants. Most prefer the same temperatures, 65-75 degrees, that we do. Don’t worry if you turn down the heat at night, most plants will be fine. Just do not trap them between the curtain and window where it is much colder than the rest of your home. Avoid cold drafts from doors and windows and hot drafts from heat registers that can be detrimental to your plant’s health.
You may need to move plants, adjust grow lights, and fine-tune watering as you get to know each plant’s needs. Once you place them in the right location and provide the correct amount of light and water, your plants will grow and prosper.

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Medal of Honor: Army Maj. Gen. George L. Mabry Jr.
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
During the U.S. Army's push toward Berlin in World War II, Maj. Gen. George Lafayette Mabry Jr. nearly single-handedly forced his way through enemy fortifications to clear an area of German forest for Allied troops. His valor and leadership made him one of the most decorated soldiers of the war, including having earned the Medal of Honor.
Mabry was born Sept. 14, 1917, in the little town of Stateburg outside Sumter, South Carolina. He had two brothers and a sister.
After high school, Mabry went to Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, where he majored in English and minored in psychology in the hopes of becoming a teacher. He also worked as a farm manager and played semi-pro baseball before graduating in June 1940. Everyone who attended the school was also required to be in ROTC, so when Mabry joined the Army, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
According to a Presbyterian College blog from 2020, Mabry later said that, while he didn't become a teacher, his studies in psychology helped him deal with stressed out soldiers.
After training, Mabry was assigned to the newly activated 4th Infantry Division's 8th Infantry Regiment. After about a year in the service, he married Eulena Myers. The pair went on to have a daughter and two sons, including one, George, who followed in his father's footsteps and eventually became an Army officer.
Mabry remained in the states until January 1944, when he was deployed to England. He and his 4th ID brethren took part in the D-Day landings on Utah Beach in Normandy on June 6. His valor that day earned him the Distinguished Service Cross and, later, a Silver Star.
Throughout the summer of 1944, the 4th ID pushed through occupied France, liberating towns along the way. By autumn, they and other Allied forces had made it to Germany's western border, the Siegfried Line, which was fortified for hundreds of miles with minefields, foxholes and other obstacles that the Allies would spend months trying to breach.
One of those areas was the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany. Army historians say the forest was tough to maneuver: it had 100-foot tall fir trees that were closely spaced, saturated ground and dramatic elevation changes. Tanks and other supply vehicles struggled to get through its narrow dirt roads and trails.
Early in November 1944, parts of the 4th ID were tasked with clearing the southern part of the forest. However, those troops weren't able to penetrate enemy lines, so the rest of the division, including Mabry's unit, were told to push east to make a clearing and secure about three miles worth of roads between towns.
On Nov. 20, then-Lt. Col. Mabry was commanding the 8th Infantry's 2nd Battalion when they were attacked, and the forward elements of his battalion were immobilized by a minefield and heavy hostile fire. Mabry pushed forward alone through the minefield to set up a safe route for the rest of his soldiers.
He then moved ahead of his forwardmost scouts to personally lead the attack before he was stopped by razor wire laden with explosives. With help, Mabry disconnected the explosives and cut a path through the wire. When he got to the other side, he saw three enemy foxholes and captured their occupants using his bayonet.
Mabry kept moving forward and, racing ahead of his men again, found three log bunkers. The first bunker was deserted, so he pushed onto the second and was suddenly confronted by nine enemy soldiers. Mabry managed to take out one of them using the butt of his rifle and he bayonetted a second before his scouts joined him to neutralize the rest of the enemy soldiers.
With reinforcements by his side, Mabry then charged the third bunker — despite point-blank fire coming at him — and led the way inside to clear out its six enemy inhabitants.
Once that area was secure, Mabry led his battalion across 300 yards of fire-laden terrain to gain higher ground. There, they set up a defensive position that helped them take out the enemy on both flanks, giving them a solid foothold in the area. Within days, Mabry's division had secured two roads and had taken the town of Grosshau.
The four-month Battle of Hurtgen Forest, while not well-known among World War II battles, cost the Army a lot. More than 33,000 men died or were wounded. The 4th ID, which spent about one month fighting there, suffered more than 6,000 casualties.
Four days after Mabry's heroics, the 4th ID was relieved by another division. Two weeks later, however, they helped repel German troops during the Battle of the Bulge, the bloody campaign that was Germany's last major stand of the war.
On Aug. 23, 1945, Mabry was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage and leadership during the Battle of Hurtgen Forest. He received the honor from President Harry S. Truman during a White House ceremony. Two other soldiers who fought in the battle were awarded the Medal of Honor: 1st Lt. Bernard Ray and Pfc. Marcario Garcia.
After the war, Mabry decided to make a career out of the Army. He spent several nonconsecutive years serving in the Panama Canal Zone, where he helped establish the Army's Jungle Warfare Training Center and, in the 1960s, was put in charge of developing and maintaining plans to protect and defend the canal.
Mabry spent time commanding troops in Korea after that conflict ended, and he also served two tours in Pentagon positions. In 1966, Mabry was selected to head a team to study combat effectiveness in Vietnam before becoming the commanding general of the Army Combat Developments Experimentation Command at Fort Ord, California.
In April 1969, after he'd attained the rank of major general, Mabry returned to Vietnam. While there, he had to deal with an incident involving a murder cover-up by a number of Green Berets. Mabry was the general court martial convening authority at the time and had decided to move forward with prosecuting the men involved. However, the case was eventually derailed by politics and a lack of cooperation by various parties involved, and the charges were dismissed.
In December 1970, Mabry left Vietnam and returned to the Panama Canal Zone one more time to head U.S. Army Southern Command. In January 1975, he took the reins of Army Readiness Region V at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, his final assignment before retiring in August 1975.
Mabry returned home to South Carolina and settled in Columbia, where he was active in the community, especially among youth and veterans' groups. He often spoke publicly about his time in World War II and other military-related events.
Mabry died July 13, 1990, of prostate cancer that had spread, one of his sons told the New York Times. He is buried in Holy Cross Episcopal Church Cemetery in Statesboro, South Carolina.
Mabry's name is well-known among soldiers and South Carolinians today. At Fort Carson, Colorado, a mile-long obstacle course is called the Mabry Mile in his honor. In 2016, a new headquarters building at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, was named for him, as was a memorial highway that runs through the county of his birth.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Can I Voluntarily Suspend My Social Security Payments?

Dear Rusty: My wife retired in 2015 and is receiving Social Security. I am past my full retirement age, and I still work. I recently filed for Social Security benefits and received my first payment earlier this month, and my benefits are around three times my wife’s. I now find that, due to other income, I am having some regrets about filing for Social Security, as the taxes will be complicated. So, my questions are:
1. If I do a “Voluntary Suspension”, can my wife still apply to get up to 50% of my benefits, or do I have to be “actively” receiving Social Security benefits? In other words, does the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” prevent this?
2. If I do a “Voluntary Suspension”, how soon could I “restart” my benefits?
Signed: Having Second Thoughts
Dear Second Thoughts: The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 closed a loophole which previously allowed someone to file for their Social Security retirement benefit in order for their marital partner to claim a spousal benefit, after which the primary beneficiary could suspend their own benefit and allow it to grow to maximum at age 70. That “file and suspend” option went away in April of 2016; thus, your wife cannot claim her spousal benefit while your Social Security retirement benefits are suspended (you must be “actively” receiving benefits for your wife to get benefits on your record).
Nevertheless, because you’ve already reached your full retirement age, you can voluntarily suspend your benefit payments at any time to allow it to continue growing by simply calling Social Security at your local office (or at the national number 1.800.772.1213) and asking them to do so. Your wife will not receive her spousal benefits for any months your benefits are suspended, but she would continue to get her own SS retirement amount (only the spousal portion of her monthly amount would be suspended).
You will be able to restart your benefits at any time by calling Social Security again and asking that your benefits be resumed. You can suspend and restart your benefits as needed (no restriction on how many times), but they will only start/resume the suspension effective with the month following the month you call. And, as you likely already know, for each month your benefits are suspended you will earn Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs) resulting in a higher payment amount later.
Just for clarity, voluntary suspension of benefits is only available to those who have reached full retirement age but is an excellent way to increase your monthly Social Security payment. Your benefit will grow by .667% for each month suspended and, if your benefit is still suspended when you turn 70 years old, Social Security will automatically resume payments at that time, at your higher maximum monthly amount.

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Medal of Honor : Navy Rear Adm. Daniel J. Callaghan
By KATIE LANGE
DOD News
Navy Rear Adm. Daniel Judson Callaghan had been in the service for a long time before World War II sent him to the Pacific, where he commanded ships fighting against a massive enemy force during one of the deadliest battles of the war. Callaghan didn't survive the ordeal, but his leadership, foresight and courage helped lead his sailors to victory. That earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Callaghan was born July 26, 1890, in Oakland, California, to parents Charles and Rose Callaghan. He had two brothers and two sisters, and as a young man, he was an altar boy who enjoyed camping with his family in the Yosemite Valley. Callaghan went to Saint Ignatius, a Catholic preparatory school, before earning an appointment to the Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1911.
From there, he began his long and fruitful service to the Navy, starting with a stint on the USS California, where he was part of the landing forces in Nicaragua under famed Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler.
In 1914, he married Mary Tormey. They eventually had a son, Daniel Jr.
During World War I, Callaghan was on the USS New Orleans serving as the ship's engineering officer before being named its executive officer. By the end of the war, he'd earned the permanent rank of lieutenant commander.
During the 1920s, Callaghan spent time on several ships and served as an aid to two commanders before becoming a commander himself in 1931. By 1938, he'd worked his way up to being the naval aid to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a position he held for three years.
By April 1942, when the U.S. was in the throes of World War II, Callaghan was promoted to rear admiral while commanding the cruiser USS San Francisco.
By November, parts of the South Pacific fleet, including the San Francisco, were in the middle of the bitterly fought Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The Allies had retaken Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in August 1942, and the Japanese were desperately trying to take it back. Their leaders figured their best way to do so would be to suppress and destroy U.S. aircraft flying out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.
On Nov. 12, 1942, Callaghan was commanding Task Force 67.4, which consisted of three light cruisers, eight destroyers and two heavy cruisers, including the San Francisco, the task force's flagship. Their main mission was to protect U.S. ships from submarine, air and surface attacks and to block Japanese ships from delivering troops to Guadalcanal's shores.
However, on that night, Callaghan learned an impending Japanese naval bombardment was heading toward his task force's position, which was in Iron Bottom Sound between Guadalcanal and Savo Island.
The Japanese ships were superior in numbers and in power. Callaghan's forces struggled to deal with navigational communications problems, yet they still managed to surprise the enemy. Once fighting started, however, it was chaos, according to naval historians — a chaos that made an accurate chronology of the battle's events hard to come by.
According to a 1942 article in the San Francisco Examiner, the USS San Francisco was the first to face enemy ships by taking on the Hiei, a Japanese battleship, in a head-on duel in the middle of the night. Callaghan and the San Francisco's commanding officer during the engagement, Capt. Cassin Young, were both on the ship's bridge wing directing close-range operations. The Hiei managed to fire off several shells, one of which killed Callaghan and Young.
The blast also knocked the ship's communications officer, Lt. Cmdr. Bruce McCandless, unconscious. When he woke up, he realized Callaghan and Young were gone, so he took command of the ship as well as the task force, ordering many of the ships to continue their bombardment. According to a newspaper column written by journalist Drew Pearson, McCandless didn't want to use the radio to tell the other ships in the task force that Callaghan had died for fear the messages would be intercepted by the Japanese. Because McCandless knew his superiors' plan of attack, he went forward with it.
By the end of the night, the San Francisco managed to silence and disable the Hiei at a range of less than 3,000 yards, while also sinking a destroyer and damaging two other Japanese vessels.
Eventually, Japanese Rear Adm. Hiroaki Abe, who was commanding the enemy ships, lost his nerve and ordered his crews to withdraw and regroup, according to Navy historians.
According to naval intelligence reports, the battle sunk or destroyed 26 Japanese ships and damaged 12 more. Most importantly, it kept Japanese troops from being able to bombard Henderson Field. The naval battle was the last in a series that forced the Japanese to surrender Guadalcanal for good, handing the Allies a strategic victory.
The win came at a heavy price for the Allies, too. Nine U.S. ships were sunk while about a dozen more were damaged. More than 1,700 Americans lost their lives, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was one of the deadliest of the war.
Having taken 45 direct hits, the San Francisco was heavily damaged but lived to fight another day. It became one of the most decorated warships of World War II.
Callaghan was buried at sea. He's listed on the Wall of the Missing at the Manila Cemetery in the Philippines.
On Dec. 9, 1942, while visiting the White House, Callaghan's son, Navy Lt. j.g. Daniel J. Callaghan Jr., received the Medal of Honor on his father's behalf from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"Callaghan, with ingenious tactical skill and superb coordination of the units under his command, led his forces into battle against tremendous odds, thereby contributing decisively to the rout of a powerful invasion fleet, and to the consequent frustration of a formidable Japanese offensive," his Medal of Honor citation read. His actions contributed to turning the tide against the Japanese in the Pacific.
"This is a very sad occasion for me, you know. Dan Callaghan was a very good friend of mine," the president said during the ceremony.
Two others who were aboard the USS San Francisco during the battle — McCandless and Rear Admiral Norman Scott, who also died — received the Medal of Honor for their actions. McCandless went on to become a rear admiral himself, retiring from service in 1952.
Callaghan's name continues to be of relevance across the Navy. Not one but two destroyers were named for him after his death. The first USS Callaghan was in use from 1943 until it was lost during battle in Okinawa in 1945. The second USS Callaghan was in use from 1981-1998.
Callaghan Hall at Officer Training Command in Newport, Rhode Island, and Callaghan Fitness Center at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, are named in his honor. There's also a monument to him in his native San Francisco, as well as an Admiral Callaghan Lane in Vallejo, California.


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A pond to ponder
Nature is always giving us something to ponder. This time it’s a pretty pink pond that emerged in Hawaii due to a lack of rain. Actually the new color of Kealia Pond on the island of Maui is actually described as a combination of “pink and purple.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it’s the result of something called “halobacteria” – a salty condition resulting from drought conditions. The water is not believed to be toxic, but it is pretty.

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A daring deer
A leaping deer can be a sight to behold. But sometimes it can be a disaster in the making. It happened recently in New Jersey when a stag attempted to jump its way across a road. It soared with ease over a parked car but landed on a 2007 Chevy Silverado truck on the other side of the road. It turns out the owner of the truck was in the process of selling it. He completed the sale but had to drop his price by $1,000 to cover the damage. As for the deer, it continued its crossing with ease.

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Fiona is safe
Fiona, "Britain's loneliest sheep," has been rescued. Fiona fell off a Scottish cliff, survived the fall but wound stranded on a remote beach. Try as they might, it took local shepherds numerous attempts over some three years to rescue Fiona. Luckily, she was able to survive, allowing Cammy Wilson and a local team to save the isolated sheep. As Wilson put it, "we came up here with some heavy equipment and we got this sheep up an incredibly steep slope. She's in incredible condition."

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11 Tips For Safer Winter Generator Usage For Home & Business Owners

Follow manufacturer’s instructions and ensure proper ventilation, says OPEI

Winter will be here, and if your electricity goes out due to snow and ice, a generator can keep power flowing to your home or business. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of outdoor power equipment, small engines, battery power systems, portable generators, utility and personal transport vehicles, and golf cars, reminds home and business owners to keep safety in mind when using generators this winter.
“Not having power when you need it is frustrating, so a generator can provide emergency backup power at a reasonable cost,” says Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI. “It’s important to follow all manufacturer’s instructions, and never place a generator in your garage or inside your home or building. It should be a safe distance from the structure and not near an air intake.”
More tips include:
#1 - Take stock of your generator. Make sure equipment is in good working order before starting and using it. Do this before a storm hits.
#2 – Review the directions. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Review the owner’s manuals (look manuals up online if you cannot find them) so equipment is operated safely.
#3 - Install a battery operated carbon monoxide detector in your home. This alarm will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide enter the building.
#4 - Have the right fuel on hand. Use the type of fuel recommended by the generator manufacturer to protect this important investment. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment. (For more information on proper fueling for outdoor power equipment visit www.LookBeforeYouPump.com). It’s best to use fresh fuel, but if you are using fuel that has been sitting in a gas can for more than 30 days, add fuel stabilizer to it. Store gas only in an approved container and away from heat sources.
#5 - Ensure portable generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should NEVER be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home, a building, or a garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to drift indoors.
#6 - Keep the generator dry. Do not use a generator in wet conditions. Cover and vent a generator. Model-specific tents or generator covers can be found online for purchase and at home centers and hardware stores.
#7 - Only add fuel to a cool generator. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.
#8 – Charge & use battery-powered generators/inverters properly. Recharge only with the charger specified by the manufacturer. A charger that is suitable for one type of battery pack may not be compatible with another battery pack. Follow all charging instructions and do not charge the battery pack or equipment outside the temperature range specified in the instructions. Charging improperly or at temperatures outside the specified range may damage the battery.
#9 - Plug in safely. If you don’t yet have a transfer switch, you can use the outlets on the generator. It’s best to plug in appliances directly to the generator. If you must use an extension cord, it should be heavy-duty and designed for outdoor use. It should be rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads. Make sure the cord is free of cuts, and the plug has all three prongs.
#10 - Install a transfer switch. A transfer switch connects the generator to the circuit panel and lets you power hardwired appliances. Most transfer switches also help avoid overload by displaying wattage usage levels.
#11 - Do not use the generator to “backfeed” power into your home electrical system. Trying to power your home’s electrical wiring by “backfeeding” – where you plug the generator into a wall outlet – is dangerous. You could hurt utility workers and neighbors served by the same transformer. Backfeeding bypasses built-in circuit protection devices, so you could damage your electronics or start an electrical fire.


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Judge Landis winked at 1926 baseball gambling scandal

By JOE GUZZARDI

World Series 2023 had the lowest television ratings in history. No need to belabor the whys and wherefores. Instead of listening to the ceaseless chatter of announcer John Smoltz, fans would be better off acquainting themselves with the game’s rich history. A good start: read Dan Taylor’s “Baseball at the Abyss,” which takes a deep dive into the forgotten 1926 scandal that involved Hall of Fame greats Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, as the principal scoundrels.
Baseball has a long, unhappy gambling history with wagering playing a prominent role that dates back before the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. In baseball’s early days, bookmakers plied their trade in the open, working the ballpark areas inside and outside, taking wagers.
The 1919 World Series may have, in the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, destroyed the faith of 50 million people, about half the U.S. population then, but throwing baseball games was commonplace. As Emil “Happy” Felsch, a White Sox fixer, said, “Playing rotten ain’t that hard to do.”
Author Taylor explains that the dirty deeds had their inception in 1919, when the Cleveland Indians were in Detroit to face the Tigers. Neither the Indians nor the Tigers were going to win the pennant, but the Tigers were in a tight scrum with the Yankees for third place. In the dead ball era, a third-place finish meant a small share of the post-season loot for every Tigers’ member. The Indians had second place locked up. Cobb and Speaker, the respective managers of the Tigers and Indians, huddled prior to the September 25 game to iron out the details.
Speaker assured Cobb that he “wouldn’t have to worry” about the game’s outcome. The Cleveland team preferred, Speaker insisted, that Detroit finish in third. By virtue of that finish, the Tigers were likely to make about $500 for each player. Cobb, Speaker, Tigers pitcher Dutch Leonard and Indians pitcher Smoky Joe Wood all agreed to conspire in the fix.
Years later, Leonard confessed the four had agreed that since their post-season share would be small, they might as well wager on the game. Cobb was to put up $2,000; Leonard, $1,500, and Speaker and Wood $1,000 each. Cobb suggested park attendant Fred West would be a good man to place the bets. But because Detroit was a 10-7 favorite and because the local bookmakers were unwilling to handle such large sums, West only managed to get down $600 against the bookmakers’ $420.
The Tigers won the September 25 game 9-5, plating four runs in the first two innings. The Indians committed three costly errors, and Cleveland starter Elmer Myers – perhaps tipped off to the fix or maybe acting on his own whimsy – floated pitches to the plate for the Detroit batters. Speaker banged out three hits, all of them well after the Tigers had control of the game and the outcome was clear. No one is certain whether Cobb, Speaker or anyone else actually received money from their bets. The scant remaining evidence indicates that the wrongdoers may not have been able to place all the bets they hoped to.
That winter, Cobb, Speaker, Wood and Leonard went home, but the four men exchanged letters about the incident, sharing their regret that they were unable to get their bets down in time and that their shared proposition fizzled. The letters came back to haunt the four.
Several years later, the stench from the fixing incident wafted out. A vengeful Leonard wanted to settle a score with his former teammate, Cobb, now the Tigers manager. Once, Cobb kept Leonard in a 1925 game in which the southpaw surrendered 20 runs, and the manager mocked the idea that he yank his humiliated starter. Leonard never forgot, and the memory ate at him.
Cobb released Leonard, and insiders said Ty discouraged other American League teams from signing the lefty. Dutch stewed, and in May 1926 he presented the letters he received from Cobb, Speaker and Wood – the evidence – to Tigers owner Frank Navin who turned them over to American League President Ban Johnson. To keep a lid on the percolating scandal, Johnson paid Leonard $20,000 to go back to Fresno where he owned a farm, and focus on his raisin growing. At the season’s end, Johnson forced Cobb and speaker to resign. Eventually, however, the superstars appealed their cases to Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis who, sensing that the public and the baseball writers were solidly behind the diamond, absolved Speaker and Cobb, facts be damned.
Landis read the room correctly. Baseball bugs were fed up with scandal. At least five World Series – 1905, 1912, 1914, 1918 and 1919 – were rumored to have been influenced by game-fixers. And the 1923 Teapot Dome Scandal that implicated President Warren G. Harding – considered the greatest presidential scandal until Watergate – was still reverberating among the citizenry.
Cobb and Speaker played until 1928, Speaker for one year with the Washington Senators and one year with the Philadelphia A’s, and Cobb two years with the A’s.
Better to remember Cobb as one of baseball’s all-time greats, .366 career batting average with nine consecutive titles, and Speaker, the “Gray Eagle” who holds outfielder records for assists, double plays and unassisted double plays. Balls hit to center field where Speaker patrolled were considered the place where triples go to die.
Cobb, Speaker, Wood and Leonard got off the hook, and played into their 40s. Pete Rose, however, who holds MLB career records for 4,256 career hits, 3,215 career singles, 3,562 career games played, 14,053 career at-bats and 15,890 career plate appearances, was permanently banned for his gambling infractions. In life, good timing is invaluable.

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UAMS Housecall

By DR. BALA SIMON
Associate professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Q: How can diabetes be managed? A: Diabetes affects how the body uses glucose, or sugar. Food is broken down into sugar, which is released into the bloodstream. The pancreas releases insulin, which lets sugar into cells for energy. People with diabetes either cannot make enough insulin or their bodies do not use it effectively, which results in too much sugar remaining in the bloodstream. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 37 million Americans have diabetes. The three main types of diabetes are Type 1, Type 2 and gestational (diabetes during pregnancy). With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin. Type 2 diabetes is when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, and the cells take in less sugar in response to any produced insulin. Gestational diabetes can affect pregnancy and the health of the baby. Diabetes can be managed through diet, exercise and medication. Carbohydrates have a large impact on blood sugar levels. Regular exercise helps the body use insulin, as the muscles use glucose for energy. Use medications as prescribed in diabetes management. Although it is a chronic condition, millions of individuals live with diabetes and lead productive lives. Contact your health care provider to develop a management plan.
Q: What is the role of a nurse practitioner? A: A nurse practitioner, also known as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), is a nurse with additional education and training. In most instances, nurse practitioners have a Master of Science in Nursing degree. Nurse practitioners can perform several functions similar to physicians, such as ordering laboratory tests or X-rays, managing other nurses, prescribing medications, and conducting physical exams. The nurse practitioner role was developed in response to a shortage of physicians and to create wider access to medical care. Depending upon the state, a nurse practitioner may operate without the supervision of a physician. This means a nurse practitioner can serve as a primary care provider and in effect have full authority to practice. Nurse practitioners and registered nurses (RN) have many of the same duties, which can include analyzing test results, conducting patient assessments, creating patient care plans, and treating wounds or other injuries. You may find a nurse practitioner in areas such clinics, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes and urgent care centers. The nurse practitioner is a key piece of the health care system, particularly in areas where there are too few physicians.
Q: What is COPD? A: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the term for various conditions that affect the lungs and make it difficult to breathe. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the most common of these conditions. COPD is a progressive disease during which patients’ lung function deteriorates over time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 16 million Americans have COPD. Chronic bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the lung’s alveoli, or air sacs. Emphysema is the damaging of lung’s alveoli. The inner walls weaken and rupture, and the amount of oxygen reaching the bloodstream is reduced. Many people with COPD have both illnesses. Exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollutants and other respiratory ailments are some causes of COPD. Symptoms of COPD include chest tightness, coughing with mucus for an extended period of time, shortness of breath and wheezing. The effects of COPD cannot be reversed, but there are methods to slow the progression of the disease and manage the symptoms. Treatments and options include antibiotics for lung infections, medications to improve air flow through the lungs, using supplemental oxygen and quitting smoking. See your health care provider if you experience these or similar symptoms, which do not improve or get worse.
Q: How can I maintain healthy skin? A: The skin is the body’s largest organ. Made up of three layers (epidermis, dermis and hypodermis) the skin contains fats, minerals, protein and water. The skin regulates body temperature, acts as protection against germs, and houses blood vessels, hair follicles, and sweat and oil glands. The epidermis (top layer) is the protective barrier that makes new skin and provides skin color. The dermis (middle layer) supplies blood, grows hair, and contain nerves related to touch and feeling pain. The hypodermis (bottom layer) cushions bones and muscle, contains connective tissue and stores energy in the form of fat. Protection from the sun is one of the main ways to keep your skin healthy. Overexposure to ultraviolet light, from the sun or artificial sources such as sunlamps, is the most common cause of skin cancer. Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and avoiding strong soaps are other methods of maintaining healthy skin. Limit long, hot showers as they remove oils from the skin. Contact your health care provider if you experience issues such as an unexplained rash or a change in size, color or shape of a mole. You may be referred to a dermatologist, who specializes in treating skin conditions.

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Gifts with multiple functions and styles
By MELINDA MYERS

The holidays are quickly approaching and finding the perfect gift for those on your list can be challenging. With many people downsizing or striving for a minimalistic lifestyle, finding the perfect gift gets even more difficult. Gifting something that is unique, useful and provides multiple functions may be the solution.
Consider gifts that help family and friends on your gift list save time and space and support their lifestyle and hobbies. These are gifts that are more likely to bring delight than end up in the donation box.
Most people, whether downsizing or not, are looking for ways to organize what they have and save space. Storage bins are often the best solution and come in a variety of styles. Those like the Mod Hod work well for gardeners, crafters and those looking to organize their pantries. Gardeners can use them to harvest their produce, wash off the soil right in the garden, and bring them into the house to store. Crafters can organize their supplies and everyone can stack and store snacks, produce, and just about anything in these.
For a more traditional look, consider the Garden Hod of wood and vinyl-covered mesh. These were originally used by Maine clam diggers to hold and rinse their catch. Gardeners use it to hold and rinse their garden produce, while crafters transport their supplies to their workstations. Those who like to entertain can fill it with and display party supplies at any event.
Help the gardeners on your list keep their seeds organized. Most gardeners have lots of open packets of seeds, newly purchased seeds, and those they have collected from their gardens. It can be challenging to keep them stored properly, safe from rodents, and organized so they are easy to find for future gardens. Management of seed inventory also saves money by preventing the purchasing of duplicate seeds.
Consider a seed-saver kit for the gardeners on your list. Make one from a plastic bin and hand-crafted dividers. Or purchase one like the Deluxe Galvanized Seed Saver Kit for avid gardeners with lots of seeds who prefer a more industrial look. The minimalist on your list may prefer a Bamboo Seed Saver Kit that contains storage envelopes, glass vials and compartments to hold everything in place. Crafters and other hobbyists in the family will also find something like this useful.
Going vertical in the garden and at home is a great way to maximize every square inch. Reaching items on the top shelf may require a step stool. Consider one that also functions as a basket and stool like the Bamboo Garden Stool and Basket Combo (gardeners.com). This sturdy basket with comfortable handles makes carrying tools to the garden, produce back from the garden or any project supplies an easy task. Once you arrive in the garden or workstation, empty the contents and flip it over so you have a comfortable seat.
Gardeners that grow vertically have lots of stakes, trellises, and other items to support plants throughout the growing season. Leaving them in the garden for winter may not be an option. Stuffing them into a shed or garage can take up valuable space needed for other tools, equipment, and the car. Contain and organize these items with wall storage. Offer to help your gift recipient install hooks on the wall to keep these items organized and out of the way. Or gift them something like the Plant Support Wall Storage container that can be mounted on the wall and is designed to hold plant supports of various sizes and shapes.
Cooks and gardeners alike can always use a cutting board. Gifting one that has multiple functions like the Do-It-All Culinary Cutting Board may eliminate the need for multiple kitchen items. This cutting board has a built-in mortar and pestle, a chopped food compartment, and a knife sharpener on two sides.
And for the person who has everything or wants nothing more, a living gift is the perfect option. A basket of forced spring flowering bulbs can brighten anyone’s mood as they watch the plants grow and bloom.
Finding the perfect gift is a challenge but consider the joy it will bring. When you see the look on the recipient's face and the item in use, you’ll both benefit from your efforts.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

While America’s rebels cobbled a navy to go up against Great Britain, the Continental Congress was composing a defense strategy comprised of privateers to defy them.
On November 2, 1777, John Paul Jones—then at the helm of the USS Ranger with a crew of 140---sailed from Portsmouth, NH to take the war to the enemy. According to History.com his destination was “the naval port at Brest, France, where [he would] stop before heading toward the Irish Sea to begin raids on British warships. This was the first mission of its kind during the Revolutionary War.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Evan Thomas’s John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy.

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On November 10, the U.S. Marine Corps will celebrate its 248th birthday.
History.com says “During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress passe[d] a resolution... ‘two Battalions of Marines be raised’ for service as landing forces for the recently formed Continental Navy. The resolution, drafted by future U.S. president John Adams and adopted in Philadelphia, created the Continental Marines, and is now observed as the birth date of the United States Marine Corps,”
That position conforms to their motto of Semper Fidelis— a promise--to be “Always Faithful.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends USMC: United States Marine Corps- A Complete History by Jon J. Hoffman.

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After decades of British persecution, American patriots found a way to govern themselves. On November 15, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation. It took more than four years--but--on March of 1781-- the last of the 13 states ratified the declaration.
History.com says “Patriot leaders, stinging from British oppression, were reluctant to establish any form of government that might infringe on the right of individual states to govern their own affairs. The Articles of Confederation, then, provided for only a loose federation of American states. Congress was a single house, with each state having one vote, and a president elected to chair the assembly. Although Congress did not have the right to levy taxes, it did have authority over foreign affairs and could regulate a national army and declare war and peace ... On March 4, 1789, the modern United States was established when the U.S. Constitution formally replaced the Articles of Confederation.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Professor George William Van Cleve’s We Have Not a Government: The Articles of Confederation and the Road to the Constitution.

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Never too old: Tips for entrepreneurial success in your 50s and 60s

By JAMES HAROLD WEBB

I want to be my own boss.
How many of you have entertained that thought throughout your working life? Chances are, many. Entrepreneurship has been riding a big wave in recent years, and the Great Resignation gave rise to a surge in start-ups.
Yet, a lot of people who dream of being their own boss, enjoying that independence and eventually selling their business for a lucrative sum, never take the leap, for a variety of reasons. One reason is it’s a lot of work with significant risk. It’s a bit too far out of their comfort zone. Another is they reach a point where they think they’re too old.
Well, if that’s you, think again. Even if you’re in your 50s or 60s, it’s never too late to pursue your entrepreneurial dream. A study shows people in those age brackets who start businesses succeed as well or better than younger entrepreneurs.
Older people who enter the entrepreneurial world have some advantages:
Life experience with the ups and downs. This prepares them to stay poised, focused and flexible during the inevitable roller coaster that entrepreneurship can be.
Leveraging relevant career experience. The number of years one spends in the same industry as the startup is predictive of the company’s future performance.
Tapping into a wide network. Over the decades they have built relationships with trusted advisors, friends, colleagues, and clients who can help with the planning, strategy and scaling of the business.
But while those assets bode well for those middle-aged and up who are considering embarking on the entrepreneurial journey, there are precautions that need to be followed before taking the leap:
Assess the risk. Business almost always involves financial risk. Some people are big gamblers; they take huge swings and strike out often in pursuit of a home run.
People like me approach risk from a different angle, as a calculation. If a risk is huge but comes with a big upside, I’m suspicious but interested. And I’ll follow that interest until the risk-to-reward relationship either becomes untenable or irresistible.
Vet your idea with trusted sources. Thoroughly research the market, including all the competition. What differentiates your product and/or services? Does what you offer solve a problem? Can you scale the business? And never forget the exit strategy. Does the business have the potential to create a significant windfall for you when you sell it?
Analyze your financial situation. Do you have the complete financial picture that is essential to affording the entrepreneurial opportunity, including the costs of daily operations and future upgrades, while providing you sufficient fallback insurance if the venture fails?
Bottom line: You don’t want to put big chunks of your retirement funds at risk. It may be tempting to tap into them, but as an older person you likely won’t have enough time to build your account back to where you need it for retirement.
Regarding your savings, it’s not wise to pour the majority into your new business. Failure rates of start-ups are high, so if you’re going to take the leap into entrepreneurship in your 50s or 60s, it’s advisable that you have a nice cushion in your savings – and not touch a big portion of it. That way you can land softly in the event the business doesn’t work out. Ideally, when starting a business you’ll have at least three years’ worth of savings that you can devote to expenses related to the business, while still leaving most of your savings untouched.
Other items on your financial checklist before starting a business: pay down debts and eliminate what you can, especially high-interest credit cards; minimize your overhead business costs and invest judiciously in the start-up-related items you need.
Be open to mentoring. Don’t be too old or proud to lean on the knowledge and guidance of someone who can help you. You’ve worked long enough to know that there are a lot of things you don’t know. Understand the value of expert advice. Seek out people who are already in the business you want to be in. Make connections in your field with people that you trust and respect. Those relationships are a great source of advice and inspiration. A trusted mentor will help you as you navigate the challenges
Be all in, but have a contingency plan. Hope for the upside, but plan for the downside. Nowhere is this more relevant than when you jump into entrepreneurship in a later stage of life. If you have a contingency plan and make it a priority to evaluate opportunities and decisions with this mindset, you’ll help yourself avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache and stress.
Be prepared, and prepare your family, for the time commitment. In the beginning of owning and running your business, being your own boss isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. You may work double the hours you did weekly during your career working for someone else. It may take a few years before the business is running smoothly, and you have found reliable workers who can grow with the company, allowing you to delegate and basically let others run the daily operations. Until then, it can be a tough journey with a huge workload that impacts not just you, but your family, your health, and your lifestyle.
Don’t let your age stop you from starting a business. By having an idea that you and those you trust believe in, by planning properly, and by being prepared for everything from family dynamics to finances, you’ll give yourself the chance to live your long-held entrepreneurial dream.

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Manly-man contest
Boys will be boys, as the saying goes. And so can grown-up men be boys. The proof is in the Florida Man Games, an event scheduled to kick off on February 24 in St. Augustine, Florida. The organizers of this first of its kind macho competition say: “From wrestling in the mud to running from actual sheriff's deputies, The Florida Man Games™ is where the bizarre meets brawn and sanity is optional! This isn't just a competition; it's a one-of-a-kind Floridian spectacle!” Events include the Beer Belly Florida Sumo contest, an evading Arrest Obstacle Course and much more.

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He did it!
For sure, members of the “Old Timers United” club are cheering for 92-year-old Alfredo Aliaga who recently completed a grueling 24-mile Grand Canyon walkabout. It’s believed that he is the oldest challenger to attempt such an event and he did it in 21 hours. Alfredo cares not whether the judges at Guinness World Records declare him a champion, he liked his “walk in the park” so much so that he’s planning to do it again next year. "You cannot say, 'I am too old to do things.’ I am healthy and happy."

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A true fish story
The Alligator Gar is said to be the largest freshwater fish in North America. It can grow to be about eight feet in length and more than 300 pounds in weight. Angler Art Weston recently landed his Gar in Lake Sam Rayburn near Jasper, Texas. His trophy size eight-and-a-third feet long, 283 pound catch is said to be about 100 years old. His International Game Fish Association fishing guide, Captain Kirk Kirkland, declared that it “broke the world record, the all-tackle world record, which is the heaviest fish that's ever been caught of that species on any land class up to 130 pounds. We broke the line class record. We broke the Texas state record, and we broke the water body record."

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Medal of Honor: Army Tech. 5th Grade James K. Okubo
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
When World War II began, Japanese Americans like James Kazuo Okubo weren't allowed to join the fight because of fears that were stoked by the Pearl Harbor attacks. When that finally changed, Okubo enlisted in the Army to prove his meddle as a medic. He was part of one of the most storied regiments in U.S. history and years after his death, received the Medal of Honor for his heroics.
Okubo was born May 30, 1920, in Anacortes, Washington, to Kenzo and Fuyu Okubo, Japanese Americans who were raising a big family. He and his five siblings grew up in Bellingham, Washington, less than an hour from the Canadian border, where their parents owned a restaurant. At some point, when one of his aunts died, the family took in four of his cousins and raised them as their own.
Okubo, who went by Jim, played football at Bellingham High School. After graduation, he attended Western Washington University (then a college), where he was a good student who was active in the ski and press clubs.
But then Dec. 7, 1941, happened, thrusting the U.S. into war. Suspicion and fear regarding Japanese Americans quickly grew to the point that they were considered enemy aliens, meaning they weren't allowed to join the service to fight.
Spotlight: Commemorating World War IIBy February 1942, an executive order required Americans of Japanese descent to live in internment camps scattered throughout the western U.S. Okubo, a sophomore, dropped out of college to help his family prepare for their forced move in July of that year. They were first sent to Tule Lake, California, before eventually being moved to Heart Mountain in Wyoming.
According to a Department of Veterans Affairs profile on Okubo, he kept busy while in the camp, working as a well-respected orderly and nurse at a hospital. The VA said he considered using a student leave program to get out of the camp and study dentistry, but when his father died in March 1943 and his mother grew ill, he changed his mind.
Around the same time, the government reversed its policy on Japanese Americans serving in the military, so Okubo enlisted in the Army to help support his family. Two of his brothers and two cousins also joined. All but one of them were assigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit activated in February 1943 made up entirely of Japanese Americans who had volunteered from Hawaii and the internment camps. Okubo became a medic for the 442nd and was assigned the rank of technician 5th grade, a short-lived rank for enlisted soldiers who had special technical skills but weren't trained as combat leaders.
The 442nd trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, before deploying to Italy in June 1944, where its soldiers joined in combat with the 100th Infantry Battalion — the first Japanese-American Army unit to be activated in the war. They proved to be such good fighters that they were sent to France to continue the push to Germany.
By fall 1944, Okubo's unit was sent to the Vosges Mountains to help rescue what became known as the "Lost Battalion," a group of about 200 soldiers who had been cut off from their division in a forest near Biffontaine, France.
On Oct. 28, Okubo's company came under strong enemy fire from behind mine fields and roadblocks. His fellow soldiers were being wounded left and right, so Okubo crawled 150 yards to within 40 yards of the enemy lines to try to carry them back. He exposed himself several times to do this and, at one point, two grenades were thrown at him. Despite a constant barrage of enemy small arms and machine gun fire, he was able to treat 17 men for their injuries. The following day, as the attacks continued, he was able to aid eight more.
Then, about a week later, on Nov. 4, Okubo ran exposed 75 yards through machine gun fire to evacuate and treat a seriously wounded soldier who was in a burning tank. The man would have died otherwise.
For his bravery during that tumultuous time, Okubo was considered for the Medal of Honor. Instead, however, he was awarded the Silver Star, the third highest military medal for valor. According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, his command mistakenly believed the Silver Star was the highest award allowed for a medic.
By the end of World War II, the 442nd RCT had earned more than 18,000 individual medals, making it one of the most decorated units in military history.
Meanwhile, Okubo's family remained at the internment camp for two years of his service. When he returned from war, they moved to Michigan. Okubo finished his undergraduate degree at Wayne State University, then got his dentistry degree from the University of Detroit, where he eventually taught once he started practicing.
In May of 1951, he married Nobuyo "Nobi" Miyaya in Detroit. They went on to have two sons and a daughter.
Sadly, Okubo died on Jan. 29, 1967, in a car accident while on a ski trip with his family near Flint, Michigan. His wife and children were also in the car and were injured, but they survived, according to the Bellingham (Washington) Herald newspaper. Okubo is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit.
In 1996, legislators called for a review of the service records of Asian-American service members from World War II who had earned the Distinguished Service Cross. They wanted to determine if any of those men had been passed over for the Medal of Honor due to discrimination of the time.
Spotlight: Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage MonthConsidering the 442nd RCT's record and decorations, the reviews did find that discrimination was a factor. While Okubo hadn't earned a Distinguished Service Cross, he was also considered for the upgrade.
On June 21, 2000, 33 years after his death, Okubo's widow accepted the Medal of Honor on his behalf from President Bill Clinton during a ceremony at the White House. Twenty-one other Japanese Americans who had been passed over for the nation's highest honor during their service days also received the medal.
The upgrade led to more honors for Okubo. In 2001, the Okubo Barracks at Brooke Army Medical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, was built in his honor. A year later, the Okubo Medical and Dental Complex was opened at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The hospital's Okubo Soldier-Centered Medical Home is also named for him.
In June 2019, Okubo also received a posthumous honorary degree from the school where he began his college career, Western Washington University.

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How dogs, cats and other companion animals can be a source of inspiration to do good

In every home where a companion animal resides, there are countless tales of comfort, companionship, and unspoken understanding. The animals we live with, especially dogs, become family. We love them fiercely and are driven to do everything in our power to make them happy and keep them healthy and safe.
When we open our hearts to one animal, a transformative journey begins. This journey often starts with the infectious warmth of a wagging tail or the soothing purr of a contented feline, but it soon extends far beyond the walls of our home. One pet can become a gateway to a more profound love and understanding of an entire species or the broader animal world.
Dogs and other animals also have a unique way of simplifying complex emotions and motives, bringing clarity to human endeavors, and compelling us to act with compassion.
This is exactly what happened to us. First, decades ago when Christine was walking her beloved dog Kelsey, the two were hit by a speeding train. Kelsey had managed to pull them slightly off course, thus preventing a head-on collision and likely saving their lives.
When Christine awoke from her coma, her first words were, “How’s Kelsey?” Thankfully, though Kelsey had suffered a broken hip the day of the accident, she was to live until the age of fifteen, dying just a few days after Christine finished school in 2005. Facing terrible memory loss and physical disability, Christine realized she had to forego her TV dreams. But with these challenges came a new sense of purpose. She promised that if she should ever recover from her injuries and walk again, she would devote her life to helping dogs. She went on to become an animal activist, and met fellow animal activist Carey Theil. Together we founded GREY2K USA -- a non-profit organization battling to bring greyhound racing and its cruelties to an end.
In 2008, we saw a photo of a spotted greyhound from Australia named Brooklyn with large, expressive brown eyes who had been kept for years in a dark, empty concrete cell at the Yat Yuen Canidrome in China -- the worst greyhound racing track in the world.
Upon seeing a photo of Brooklyn, we fell instantly in love with him and decided we wanted to adopt him. It took almost 6 years of tireless advocacy work, but the love in our hearts, paired with the simple question, “would Brooklyn and the thousands of other dogs in his predicament want us to keep fighting?” kept us going, through obstacles, setbacks and failures.
Over the course of 20 years, we led a coalition of ordinary dog lovers in fighting the multi-billion dollar greyhound racing gambling industry — and won. Together we brought greyhound racing in the US to an end. In 2018, we achieved the closing of the Canidrome of Macau. Christine and Carey then airlifted over 500 surviving dogs to freedom, including Brooklyn, who came home to live with us.
After coming home, Brooklyn’s health was poor but we cherished every moment of the [3] short years he was with us. We nursed and cared for him, pouring the same energy we continue to pour into helping greyhounds everywhere into his care.
Whether it's a dog, cat, bird, or any other companion animal, their stories have the power to inspire, mobilize, and bring about lasting change. Through the pure, unconditional love between humans and pets, we find our purpose and the strength to persevere.

Christine Dorchak and Carey Theil are the co-founders of GREY2K USA Worldwide. An attorney, Christine specializes in pari-mutuel law and has drafted laws to successfully prohibit dog racing in several states and countries. She has been featured in national publications including the Huffington Post, Forbes, and American Dog. A long-distance runner, she has competed in seven Boston Marathons. Carey has decades of legislative experience and has been quoted in hundreds of news articles about greyhound racing published across the globe. In his free time, Carey volunteers for various non-profit organizations and is a National Master in chess. Their book, Brooklyn Goes Home: The Rise and Fall of American Greyhound Racing and the Dog that Inspired a Movement is now available.

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Feeling stressed? Make these changes to help find relief!

Fredericksburg Fitness Studio, a private personal training studio, is serving up stress-reducing tips


FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia – November 1st is National Stress Awareness Day, making it a great time to put this critical issue in the spotlight. According to the American Psychological Association, half of all adults polled say they have been impacted by stress in the last month. Moreover, around 37% of them report that when stressed, they can't bring themselves to do anything, leaving people feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and run down. Not only does the stress take a toll on the mind, but also on the body, making health conditions worse. The good news is that there are some diet and exercise choices we can make to help ease the stress.
"Short-term stress is fine and normal, but when you have a lot of stress in your life, it can do some damage," explains Jennifer Scherer, a registered dietitian nutritionist, medical exercise specialist, certified personal trainer, and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “Chronic stress can lead to mental and physical health problems. It’s important to take even small steps toward helping to ease the stress.”
Many people are aware of doing things like meditation, journaling, or yoga to help ease stress, but they may need to learn the connection between what we eat and how stressed we feel. While making drastic changes or trying to change everything all at once may seem daunting, even making one or two lifestyle changes can significantly impact stress levels and, ultimately, health.
Here are some ways that diet and exercise help to ease stress:
The Mayo Clinic reports that regular physical activity can lower blood pressure, which helps reduce the heart's stress. Aiming for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day is a good idea. Plus, exercising releases endorphins, which will help to ease stress and lead to a better state of mind.
Adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet can help reduce inflammation, which lowers disease risks and helps improve your gut microbiome. The October 2022 issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry reported on a study to see if dietary changes that impacted the microbiome would lead to a shift in stress scores. They found that nutritional approaches can reduce perceived stress.
Eating whole foods can help to improve mental clarity compared to processed and high-sugar foods. According to Harvard Medical School, the foods best for the brain include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. They recommend getting protein from plant sources and fish, drinking tea and coffee, and eating walnuts.
Drinking herbal teas and adding fresh herbs to your cooking can help to reduce stress. A study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine concluded that lavender herbal teas can help reduce depression and anxiety.
Skip the artificial sweeteners. A study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine reports that artificial sweeteners offer no nutritional value. Still, they increase the harmful gut bacteria, negatively impacting our mood and anxiety levels. The same study says that increasing the amount of fiber consumed can help reduce inflammation in the body and reduce depression, stress, and anxiety.
“We all want to feel better, but most of us don’t think about our diet as helping us to make it happen," Scherer added. "What we eat and our physical activity level play an important role in managing stress. We have helped many people to establish and stick to healthy eating and exercise routines, which helps to reduce stress levels."
As a registered dietitian, Scherer helps people improve their diet, plan for sustainable weight loss, and help people include healthier food choices. She and her team offer nutrition coaching services, wellness, personal training, in-home medical training, virtual personal training, and a Pilates reformer program, which features a versatile machine designed to provide resistance. It can be used when standing, sitting, or lying down. All workouts on it are custom-tailored for the individual to address their physical fitness concerns.

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How to make haggling a cultural experience… and fun!

In many parts of the world -- from Turkey’s bustling bazaars to Morocco’s souks to lively street markets in Asia, the Caribbean and South America -- travelers are bound to find themselves haggling with locals. Also known as bargaining or negotiating, haggling is a back-and-forth discussion between a buyer and a seller to agree on a price.
Haggling isn’t just about getting a great deal. It is an experience that’s cultural, engaging, and fun. When you learn to haggle well, it’s like a game where everyone wins. The prizes are memories and a souvenir that will remind you of the experience.
For many Americans, for whom this isn’t a tradition, haggling can be daunting. Some people don’t know how to start. They assume that the exchange will be like dealing with a used car salesman. They worry about being taken advantage of or having to deal with unpleasant aggressiveness by the seller. Other people feel, “I have more money than they do, I’ll just pay what they’re asking.”
Erase those ideas. In places where haggling is a part of the culture, sellers expect people to negotiate prices. If you feel you want to help support the economy, don’t bargain quite as hard, but do haggle. If you don’t, you are depriving both you and the seller of a fun encounter.
In Turkey, haggling is almost a national sport. When you step into a Turkish shop, you’re not just entering a store; you’re beginning a ritual.
Once, passing through the grand bazaar in Istanbul, I saw unusual and lovely silver boxes on display. The owner beckoned me in and before I’d even looked around, he offered me a cup of sweet apple tea. Nodding my agreement, he sent his assistant to fetch tea and biscuits. This hospitality is not to be rushed; it’s part of the tradition.
I started to look around, asking questions about the items on display. Where had they been made and when? Which were traditional designs? How long did it take to make them?
While we sipped tea from delicate glass cups, he took time to explain how, where and why the objects were created. He demonstrated some of the techniques. Then came the big question for me, which ones did I like? We were about to settle into some serious haggling.
Nonchalantly, I pointed to several items that were appealing, but didn’t indicate which one I liked best. An hour and another cup of tea later, he told me about his plans to visit relatives in Detroit. All the while, he flirted and joked as we bantered over the price of a few different boxes. Eventually we came to an amount we agreed was fair, and I came away with two intricate engraved silver boxes. His assistant polished them, then carefully wrapped them and placed them into a buttery soft cloth carrying bag.
When I exited, the seller gave me a hug. We both enjoyed our afternoon. It’s important to always keep in mind that haggling isn’t about winning; it’s about participating in the ritual.
This is just one of countless examples I’ve collected over my 5 decades traveling to over 95 countries, many of them numerous times. In Fes, Morocco, I spent an hour intermittently bargaining and chatting with a jewelry shopkeeper named Ahmed. He sat me down on a tooled-leather hassock and brought me one cup after another of mint tea so sweet it made my teeth ache. He complimented my blue eyes, commenting on how one necklace he showed me matched them, and would attract every man I met. After a long stretch pretending to be shocked at the prices he quoted, and offering lowball figures that shocked him in return, we had agreed on a number. I paid several dollars, plus after fetching a new outfit at my hotel, I would give him the blue knit shirt I was wearing for his wife.
I’ve learned that you don’t need to be fluent, but a few phrases in the local language can make haggling more engaging.
In Mexico, a simple “Cuánto cuesta?” (How much does it cost?) or “Puedes hacerme un descuento?” (Can you give me a discount?) has produced smiles and an interest in working with me. A small calculator is helpful to show the seller the price you’re offering.
In Taxco, a city renowned for silver, the first shop I entered had spectacular jewelry. I suspected the rings and earrings were out of my price range. When I asked the price for a simple ring, my suspicions were confirmed. Rather than engage in bargaining, I said a respectful “gracias,” and left. The jewelry in the next shop was nice, but nothing really caught my eye. Again, I said “gracias,” and left. Bargaining, if you know you are unlikely to buy anything, is considered rude. Understanding what’s socially acceptable -- and is not -- is an important part of making haggling a good cultural experience. So is knowing when to walk away.

A few tips for haggling:

Know a bit about the local pricing of the items you’re interested in. You can do this by doing some casual shopping before you settle into a negotiation.
Make sure you allot enough time to shop and haggle at a leisurely pace.
The starting price is always high, and unrealistic. It would shock the seller to actually receive it. To begin the bargaining process, offer the seller one-third of their beginning amount. Sellers know that isn’t realistic on your part. The true price lies somewhere in the middle.
While haggling is fun, it’s also a serious business for the seller. Don’t engage unless you are ready to purchase. If you are just asking to learn about local pricing, tell them you are just looking and not planning to buy at the moment.
Before you go into a shop, think about how much you are willing to spend. Set that as an upper limit and stick to it.
Leave enough time to negotiate. A friend who bought an expensive rug in Turkey told me she haggled for six hours. You wouldn’t spend that much time to buy an inexpensive item, but for a major purchase it will probably take many cups of tea and a lot of time.
Once you’ve agreed on a price, never go back on it. That is considered disrespectful.
Most of all, have fun.


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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR,
National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – My Birthday is on the First of the Month; When Should I Claim Social Security?
Dear Rusty: I will be 62 on November first and I have chosen to take my benefits early. I know that my benefit will be less than it would be if I waited and that does not concern me, but I don’t want to be without income for a long period of time. I know that if my birthday is on the first or second of the month, then I can draw that month. Does that mean that when I turn 62 on November 1st that I can receive my first check on the second Wednesday of November? And should I select November as the month I’d like my benefits to start? I also read that I would be paid the month following the month I select, hence my confusion. Signed: Confused Senior
Dear Confused: There are a few different Social Security rules which come into play in your specific circumstance which are likely creating your confusion. First, since you will be 62 on November first, you will first become eligible for Social Security starting with the month of November. Those born on the first or second of the month are eligible for benefits for that entire month, whereas those who turn 62 later in the month wouldn’t be eligible for benefits until the following month. To claim benefits, you must be 62 for the entire month and, because your birthday is on the first, your first month being 62 for the entire month will be November, and that is the month you should specify as your benefit-start month on your application.
The next thing to be aware of is that Social Security pays benefits in the month following the month those benefits are earned. That means that your November benefits will be paid in December. The exact payment date is determined by the recipients birthday – born before the eleventh of the month, SS payments are made on the second Wednesday; born between the eleventh and twentieth of the month, payments are received on the third Wednesday of the month; and for those born after the twentieth of the month, payment is received on the fourth Wednesday. Thus, since you were born on the first of the month and are claiming benefits to start in November, your first Social Security payment will be deposited in your bank account on the second Wednesday of December, and all subsequent Social Security payments will be made on that same second-Wednesday schedule.
You can apply for your Social Security benefits up to 4 months prior to the month you wish them to start, and SS recommends you apply at least 2 months prior to allow time for processing your application. On the application, they will ask which month you wish your benefits to begin, and you can indicate November to get your earliest possible payment in December. Actually, you can simply select the following option on the Social Security benefit application: “I want benefits beginning with the earliest possible month and will accept an age-related reduction,” which will accomplish the same thing.

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A heady delight
It’s a fact: you can get quite a headache if you drink too much wine. But balancing a bunch of wine glasses on your head can land you a page in the Guinness Book of World Records. In fact, Aristotelis Valaoritis, a native Cypriot, earned the coveted title recently when he managed to balance 319 wine glasses on his head while walking and dancing. It’s a talent that, over the years, has earned him the title of “glass dancer.” As he puts it, "I enjoy doing it. I see the spectators' faces full of tension and agony like they're watching a movie."

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Oooh!
It’s a baffling Halloween mystery that goes back some four decades: how do a pair of pumpkins suddenly and mysteriously appear on the clocktower spires of New Hampshire's Plymouth State University. According to the school’s website, “Just how they get up there is a well-guarded secret, and conjuring the best, if far-fetched, tale on how it happens is a favorite campus past time.”

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Hotter than hot
Hot pepper fans have long declared that the Carolina Reaper is the world’s hottest pepper. But the creator of the Reaper, Ed Currie, has officially outdone himself. He recently introduced a hotter than hot pepper -- Pepper X -- that both he, and the judges at the Guinness World Records, call the world’s hottest Chili pepper. Currie, the founder of Puckerbutt Pepper Company and who calls himself a “pepperaholic,” says his creation is registered at a whopping 2.69 million Scoville Heat Units [SHU] – about a million SHUs hotter than the Reaper.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Daniel J. Daly
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Daniel Joseph Daly is the only enlisted member of the Corps to have earned the Medal of Honor twice. In fact, he's one of only two Marines to have earned that dual distinction at all. His never-give-up attitude and fighting spirit carried him through several conflicts and are still worthy of the highest praise today.
Daly was born Nov. 11, 1873, in Brooklyn, New York, to parents John and Ellen Daly. He had a sister named Mary and a brother named David, and the family eventually moved to Glen Cove on Long Island.
According to Marine Corps University, Daly was a fighter from an early age, likely due to his small stature: he was only 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed about 132 pounds.
As a young man, Daly spent his time working as a struggling newsboy in Manhattan before enlisting in the Marines in 1899 at the age of 26. Soon after he finished training, he was shipped to China to serve in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion.
Holding the Line
By early August 1900, Daly's unit was stationed along the Tartar Wall, which was a defensive position south of the American diplomatic compound. Toward the middle of the month, intense enemy gunfire forced them from the fortification, but then-Pvt. Daly and Capt. Newt Hall managed to crawl back onto the wall to mount a defense.
On Aug. 14, Hall left to get reinforcements, leaving Daly by himself to hold the position. The young Marine single-handedly fended off repeated sniper attacks and about 400 soldiers who tried to storm the wall until backup arrived. His valor in action that day earned him his first Medal of Honor, which he received in December 1901.
Over his career, Daly's service included sea duty on several ships, which took him all over the world, including to Panama, Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
In March 1911, Daly was on the USS Springfield when he managed to put out flames from gasoline that had caught fire before the general alarm could be sounded. If the fire had continued, the powder magazines on the ship could have exploded. Daly received commendations from his commanding officer and the Secretary of Navy for his quick thinking.
More Acts of Honor
By the summer of 1915, a revolt in the Republic of Haiti had begun to jeopardize American lives and property, so Marine expeditionary forces were sent in to preserve order and begin "bush" warfare, as Marine historians called it. Daly was serving with the 15th Company (Mounted), 2nd Marine Regiment, and they were ordered to carry out extensive patrols into the country's interior to seek out revolutionary fighters known as Caco bandits.
At one point, several of Daly's comrades had been taken prisoner. He tunneled under the walls of the prison where they were being held, killed the guards and set his men free. However, what earned him a second Medal of Honor happened in October during a reconnaissance mission from Fort Liberte.
On Oct. 24, 1915, then-Gunnery Sgt. Daly and his detachment were crossing a river after dark in a deep ravine not far from Fort Dipitie when they were suddenly fired upon from three sides by about 400 Caco bandits, who had been hiding in bushes about 100 yards from the enemy-held fort. The surprised Marines retreated to higher ground and found a good position that they maintained throughout the night, despite being constantly fired upon.
At daybreak, Daly and two other Marines, then-1st Lt. Edward A. Ostermann and then-Capt. William P. Upshur, led three squads forward in different directions to surprise and scatter the Cacos. Their effort worked, and it was instrumental in capturing Fort Dipitie.
Daly, Ostermann and Upshur all earned the Medal of Honor for their actions that day.
The Valor Continues
Daly remained in the military through World War I, serving in the American Expeditionary Forces in France from November 1917 to late April 1919. He was injured twice while fighting in several major campaigns, including the bloody Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918. During that fight, he put out a fire at an ammo dump that could have caused a disastrous explosion. Then, a few days later, he attacked and captured an enemy machine gun emplacement all by himself before rescuing several wounded comrades while under fire.
At Belleau Wood, when his Marines were outnumbered, outgunned and pinned down, the then-1st sergeant famously ordered an attack and leapt forward, shouting this battle cry to his beleaguered men: "Come on, you sons of bitches. Do you want to live forever?"
Daly's tenacity helped lead the Marines to clear the woods and win the battle for Allied forces. His actions earned him the Army Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross. From the French Government, he also received the Medaille Militaire, the Croix de Guerre with Palm and the French Victory Medal with four clasps.
When the war ended, Daly served with American occupation forces in Germany.
Daly remained on active duty until September 1919, when he transferred to the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve. He then took a job on Wall Street as a bank guard, a position he held for 17 years. Daly officially retired from the Marine Corps on Feb. 6, 1929, and was advanced to the rank of sergeant major.
Humble Till the End
Daly was offered a commission many times throughout his 30-year career, but he always turned it down on the grounds that he would rather be an outstanding sergeant than "just another officer."
Daly was known to talk about the exploits of others who fought bravely, but when it came to talking about himself, he was always tight-lipped. Marine Corps University's biography of Daly said that while he was a natural for publicity, he "disdained it and disliked all the fuss made over him."
He never married.
According to a 1932 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Daly was hospitalized that year after having a heart attack. Two years later, on April 27, 1937, he died of heart disease at his sister's home in the Glendale area of Queens.
Daly is buried in Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn. Both of his Medals of Honor are housed at the National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.
In March 1943, the Navy commissioned the USS Daly in his honor. The ship was christened by his niece.
Daly continues to be known as one of the most decorated men to serve as a Marine. Nicknamed "Devil Dog" by many of his compatriots, he was described by famed counterpart Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler — the only other Marine Corps double Medal of Honor recipient — as "the fightingest man ever to serve with the Marine Corps."

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Gift an amaryllis for colorful winter blooms
By MELINDA MYERS

This holiday, give a gift that keeps giving and requires no dusting. Gift friends and family a beautiful amaryllis that is sure to generate smiles as they watch the bulb transform into beautiful blossoms.
Select unique varieties for the avid gardeners on your list. Double Dancing Queen has 8” blooms with layers of ruffled snow-white petals adorned with brushstrokes of scarlet red. The flowers of Evergreen amaryllis feature mint green petals, and Wild Amazone has long, recurved petals in a blend of brick-red, maroon, ivory, and pale green. Simply nestle the bulbs into decorative bags, as the recipients are likely to have their own containers and potting mix.
Consider gifting the DIYers on your list with a growing kit that includes all the essentials: pot, potting mix, decorative moss to cover the soil, and bulb. It’s everything they’ll need to plant, watch and grow an amaryllis.
New gardeners and those who claim to have a brown thumb will appreciate receiving a pre-planted bulb. You will enjoy the selection and planting process, and the recipient will get to enjoy the satisfaction of growing this no-fuss gift.
Plant the bulbs in a quality potting mix with the top half above the soil surface. Grow a single bulb in a pot that is seven to eight inches deep and five to six inches across with drainage holes. Or group several bulbs together in a larger container. After planting, water the potting mix thoroughly and place the container in a cool sunny location. Water sparingly until the bulb sprouts, which can take several weeks to a month or more.
Amaryllis may also be grown without any soil at all. Place several inches of pebbles in the bottom of a glass vase or watertight container. Cover the pebbles with water. Set the bulb on top of the pebbles, adding more stones around the bulb to hold it in place, but leaving the top one-third of the bulb exposed. Add water as needed, keeping it just under and not touching the bottom of the bulb.
Look for unique containers, baskets, or other items to showcase these beauties. Check out Longfield Gardens’ free downloadable Winter-Blooming Bulbs Inspiration Book for creative ways to display and decorate your home with amaryllis.
Grow a few extra bulbs so you can enjoy the long-lasting blooms as cut flowers. Wait until the buds are fully formed and soft to the touch. Cut the stems to the desired length and place them in a clean vase with fresh water. Secure the stems in place with colorful stones, ornaments, faux berries, or use a vase with a narrow opening.
Create a gift that lasts even longer with a selection of amaryllis bulbs that bloom at different times. Include early blooming bulbs grown in the southern hemisphere, such as Alaska with its double white flowers, Opal Star with its single sun bleach red blooms, and Cape Horn with jumbo rose pink flowers. Plant these bulbs in early November so your recipient has colorful blooms for the holidays.
Keep the color coming by gifting amaryllis from Holland and other areas in the northern hemisphere. These bulbs bloom from January through March, depending on the variety and when they are planted. Three or more varieties will provide months of midwinter flowers.
Remind your gift recipient to relax while waiting for their amaryllis to start growing. The bulbs don’t sprout until they’re ready, and it’s impossible to know exactly when that will be. Once the bud begins to emerge, the daily transformation is thrilling to watch.
Gifting amaryllis is sure to bring you and those on your gift list lots of joy. Order bulbs early for the best selection, gather needed accessories, and have fun preparing this unique holiday gift.

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A hungry thief

Who can resist a plate of lasagna; not this bear. It happened in Barkhamsted, Connecticut, at the home of Helena Houlis who was away at the time, but security cameras kept watch while she was out and automatically followed the brash bruin as it wandered into the kitchen. The bear went straight to the fridge, opened the freezer and absconded with the frozen, but tasty treat. As Miss Houlis put it to reporters at WVIT-TV, "We have seen a lot of bears in the last few years, but nothing ever like this."

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‘Joy of joys’

Ernie on Sesame Street loved his rubber duckie; it was his “joy of joys,” as he put it. Likewise, Charlotte Lee up in Seattle loves rubber duckies so much that she has – so far – collected 5,631 of them to date. It was enough to get the attention of the judges at the Guinness Book of World Records who have declared it to be the largest rubber duckie collection on the planet. But that’s not enough for Ms. Lee to stop now. She told the guys at Guinness that her collection is still growing.

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Don’t hold your breath

Twenty-two-year old Jovante Carter hails from New Orleans but he secured his page in the Guinness Book of World Records in Milan, Italy where he pulled his lower lip over his nose for 62 seconds. It’s a long amount of time to go without breathing, enough to win the prize formerly held by China’s Shuquan Tang who held his breath for just 53 seconds. As Guinness judge Marco Frigatti explained, "when performing this trick with the face, you can't breathe. Effectively you need to suspend your breath, and also all the muscles involved get really tired."

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Enjoy apples now and for months to come

By MELINDA MYERS

We’ve all heard an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But did you know an apple before grocery shopping means you will buy more fruits and vegetables?
Researchers at Cornell University found that people who ate a healthy snack before grocery shopping purchased 25 to 28% more produce than those who ate a cookie or nothing at all before heading to the store.
Take advantage of apple season to incorporate this healthy habit into your lifestyle. Have an apple or other healthy snack before your next trip to the grocery store. Your healthier mindset will have you filling your cart with more fruits and vegetables.
Then tantalize your taste buds by trying some new-to-you apple varieties. You’ll find a wide variety at farmer’s markets, orchards, and retailers this time of year. Many offer samples and provide recipes and recommendations for the best snacking, baking, and processing varieties. Or buy a collection of apples and conduct your own taste test.
Extend your enjoyment with proper storage. Use bruised, cut, or damaged fruit as soon as possible and only store apples that are firm and blemish-free.
Mature apples store best in temperatures between 32 and 39 degrees with 95% humidity. Providing ideal storage conditions is not always possible. Maximize their storage life by placing apples in perforated plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. The plastic bag helps increase the humidity around the fruit while allowing air to flow through the holes.
If refrigerator space is limited, consider preserving some of the apples. Make them into sauce or apple pie filling for canning. Peel, chop, cook and dry apples into fruit leathers for snacking. Make and freeze apple pies for a quick and easy dessert to simply bake and serve when needed.
Then add some fun by converting a few apples into apple heads. This native American tradition was picked up by the settlers and is now a part of American folk art. All you need are a couple of apples, ½ cup lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons salt, a bowl of water, a pencil, and a knife.
Mix salt and lemon juice in a bowl of water and set aside. Peel the apple and core it, if you want to place it on a stick or prefer a long droopy face. Draw the outline of the face then carve the features into the apple.
Soak the carved apple in the bowl of salty lemon water for about ten minutes. Set on a cooling rack or hang the apples in a warm place to dry. Apples are ready when spongy or leathery to the touch.
Add a few details to the apple head by inserting beads for the eyes and rice for the teeth. Use it as a head for a doll or place it on a stick and add it to your Halloween decorations.
Take advantage of apple season to find new ways to include apples in your diet. You’ll enjoy the diversity of flavors and many uses this healthful fruit provides.

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Medal of Honor : Navy Gunner's Mate 1st Class Osmond Ingram
By KATIE LANGE
When a torpedo came toward Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Osmond Kelly Ingram's ship in World War I, he knew he had to do whatever he could to save lives. Ingram couldn't keep the ship from being hit, but he did succeed in saving others – just not himself. That extraordinary sacrifice earned him the Medal of Honor.
Ingram was born on Aug. 4, 1887, in Oneonta, Alabama, to parents Robert and Naomi Ingram. He had three siblings, and his family owned a lot of land in the area, which Ingram grew up farming.
At some point, the family also lived in Pratt City, outside of Birmingham. That's where Ingram enlisted in November 1903, signing up to be an apprentice seaman. The young man decided to make a career out of it, staying in the service for more than a decade before World War I would put him to the ultimate test.
On Oct. 15, 1917, about six months after the U.S. joined the Great War, Ingram was serving as a gunner's mate on the USS Cassin, a destroyer that was about 20 miles off the southern coast of Ireland. The crew had been searching for a German U-61 submarine.
The book "Blue Jackets of 1918" by Willis J. Abbot said target practice had just ended, and Ingram was cleaning his gun when he saw a torpedo coming directly at them.
Ingram realized that the torpedo was going to strike the boat's rear deck, the aft, in the vicinity of its depth charge storage area, so he bolted in that direction in hopes of releasing the highly explosive charges into the water before the torpedo got there. If the torpedo did strike that area, the whole ship likely would have exploded.
Ingram began to hurl the depth charges overboard, but unfortunately, the torpedo struck the ship before he could complete his mission. It did, indeed, set off the depth charges in a blast that killed Ingram and blew him overboard.
However, Ingram's sacrifice saved lives. While nine other sailors were injured, no one else was killed. If Ingram hadn't gotten a critical number of depth charges off the ship, the explosion would have likely been much larger and would have led to many more casualties.
While the Cassin's stern was heavily damaged and its rudder had been blown off, about an hour after the torpedo hit, the ship still managed to fire at the U-boat when it surfaced, forcing the Germans to abandon their attack. The Cassin was later towed to a naval base at Queenstown, Ireland, where it was repaired and returned to service.
Ingram was the first Navy enlisted man to be killed in action during World War I. His body was never recovered. To memorialize him, his name is listed on the Brookwood American Cemetery's Wall of the Missing in Brookwood, England.
Ingram was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in November of 1920, according to the newspaper Birmingham (Alabama) News. His medal can be found at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham.
Ingram's sacrifice has been honored in many ways since his death. In the 1920s, Camp Ingram at San Diego's Naval Training Center was named for him. It's now known as Ingram Plaza. The USS Osmond Ingram also became the first Navy ship to be named for an enlisted sailor. It was in service from 1919 to 1946.
In 2011, nearly 100 years after his death, Ingram was inducted into the Alabama Military Hall of Honor.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize
Showing our children that their past is prelude to their future.

On October 16, 1973, Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, received the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in ending the Vietnam War. He was to share it with Le Duc Tho, but the Asian diplomat turned it down, because the conflict—still in process—would not end—until April 30, 1975.
Meanwhile, the peripatetic Kissinger just celebrated his 100th birthday on May 27th, and, as the Associated Press said, “in recent years [he] has continued to hold sway over Washington’s power brokers as an elder statesman. He has provided advice to Republican and Democratic presidents, including the White House during the Trump administration, while maintaining an international consulting business through which he delivers speeches in the German accent he has not lost since fleeing the Nazi regime with his family when he was a teenager.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Kissinger: A Biography by Walter Isaacson.

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On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy revealed to a stunned country that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) had installed a military outpost in Cuba—90 miles away. As he said in a televised speech, “within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.”
About a week earlier, according to History.com, “President Kennedy secretly convened an emergency meeting of his senior military, political, and diplomatic advisers to discuss the ominous development. The group became known as ExComm, short for Executive Committee. After rejecting a surgical air strike against the missile sites, ExComm decided on a naval quarantine and a demand that the bases be dismantled and missiles removed. On the night of October 22, Kennedy went on national television to announce his decision. During the next six days, the crisis escalated to a breaking point as the world tottered on the brink of nuclear war between the two superpowers.”
The Grateful American Book Prize endorses Norman H. Finkelstein’s Thirteen Days/Ninety Miles: The Cuban Missile Crisis.

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In 1959, “John Glenn, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was among the seven men chosen by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)…to… become one of America’s first astronauts. A decorated pilot, he had flown nearly 150 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War…” according to History.com.
At 41—in 1962--Glenn was the first of the “group” to circle the Earth- and be was hailed as a national hero. Thirty-six years later, the then Senator repeated the trip at 77, and became “the oldest human ever to travel in space. During the nine-day mission, he served as part of a NASA study on health problems associated with aging.”
Glenn passed away on December 8, 2016, at the age of 95.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Last American Hero The Remarkable Life of John Glenn by Alice L. George.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR,
National Social Security adviser at the AMAC Foundation


Ask Rusty – How Will My Wife’s Social Security Be Affected by her Teacher’s Pension?

Dear Rusty: My wife, born in 1960, was a Texas school teacher for about 10 years and receives a $1,000 per month pension from that work. She didn’t pay into Social Security while teaching, but she paid into it for about 23 years while working elsewhere. I paid into Social Security my entire life, the maximum in most years, so my SS benefit will be much greater than hers.
I understand there are some sort of penalties or restrictions on my wife’s Social Security benefits and also for spousal benefits due to her school pension. Please share the process I can use to estimate my wife’s Social Security and tell me if she can file for spousal benefits. Signed: Planning for the Future

Dear Planning: Because your wife has a Texas school teacher pension earned without contributing to Social Security, any SS benefits she is entitled to will be affected by two rules – first, by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) which will reduce her personally earned Social Security retirement benefit and, second, by the Government Pension Offset (GPO) which will reduce any spousal boost (if she is entitled to one) to her own benefit.
The amount of the WEP reduction to your wife’s personal SS retirement benefit will be computed using a special formula which considers the number of years she has contributed to Social Security through other (non-state) work. Since your wife became eligible for Social Security benefits in 2022 the maximum WEP reduction with 23 years contributing to SS will be $358. If your wife has already obtained an estimate of her Social Security retirement benefit, deduct $358 from that estimate and that will be pretty close to her actual SS retirement benefit when she claims. Social Security will figure out the exact amount of her WEP reduction when your wife applies, but you can also use Social Security’s “WEP Calculator” for an estimate, which you can find at this link: www.ssa.gov/benefits/calculators/.
Whether your wife will be entitled to a “spousal boost” to her own Social Security retirement benefit depends on how your respective FRA entitlements compare, and the GPO. The base amount of your wife’s spousal boost will be the difference between her pre-WEP FRA entitlement and 50% of your FRA entitlement. If your wife’s normal FRA entitlement is less than 50% of your FRA entitlement, the difference is a “spousal boost” added to your wife’s personal SS retirement benefit. However, that base spousal boost will be reduced if taken before your wife reaches her FRA, and even further reduced by the GPO (the GPO reduction will be 2/3rds your wife’s State of Texas pension, e.g., about $667). Any remainder left after these reductions to your wife’s spousal boost will be added to her own WEP-reduced SS retirement amount, but if the remainder is $0 then no spousal boost will be given, and your wife will get only her WEP-reduced Social Security retirement amount.
FYI, Social Security’s WEP and GPO provisions apply to anyone who has a pension earned without contributing to Social Security, including many public service retirees in the 26 states which do not participate in the federal Social Security program. I’ve published numerous articles about how these rules affect benefits, and also about the rationale behind both provisions, which you are welcome to review at this AMAC Foundation website: www.SocialSecurityReport.org.

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Plant a few trees for you and the bees

By MELINDA MYERS

Fall is a great time to add trees to your landscape. Not only do they provide shade, remove pollutants from the air, and help manage stormwater; but many also provide food for bees. Keep this in mind when selecting and planting new trees in your yard now and in the future.
Fruit trees are probably the first “bee” trees that come to mind. These spring flowering trees provide nectar and pollen many native bees, bumblebees and honeybees prefer. They also provide food and habitat for songbirds and other wildlife and fruit for us to enjoy. Many are grown on dwarfing rootstocks, allowing small-space gardeners the opportunity to grow these in their gardens and containers. Just make sure the plants selected are hardy for your location and have the varieties needed for pollination and fruit formation to occur.
Don’t overlook the North American native maples that bloom in early spring before most other plants are flowering. Their nectar and pollen provide a welcome food source for native bees and honeybees. Select the maple best suited to your growing conditions and available space.
Another spring bloomer is black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica). Its highly prized honey is made by bees visiting the black and water tulepo (Nyssa aquatica). Black tupelo, also known as black gum or sour gum is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and is an excellent tree for supporting wildlife as well as bees. Water tupelo is a favorite of beekeepers and can be found growing in rivers or coastal swamps but is seldom seen in home landscapes.
Serviceberries (Amelanchier) are a four-season plant with spring blooms, fall color, and attractive bark in winter. These, along with crabapples and hawthorns, are popular ornamental landscape plants with flowers that support pollinators and fruit for the songbirds. Always look for disease-resistant cultivars when selecting the best crabapple for your garden.
The North American native yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea) is a medium-sized shade tree with attractive spring flowers. It provides winter interest in the landscape, nesting sites for songbirds, and high-quality pollen for bees and other pollinators.
Boost your summer garden’s bee appeal with the addition of sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), also known as Lily of the Valley tree and sorrel tree. The fragrant and showy flowers appeal to bees and other pollinators. Its ornamental fruit capsules feed songbirds while adding ornamental interest to the fall foliage display and winter garden.
End the season with a burst of fragrance and nectar-rich flowers for the bees, monarch butterflies, and other pollinators with the addition of the seven-son flower tree (Heptacodium miconioides). Once the flower petals fade and drop, the colorful calyx remains adding a vivid cherry red to rose-purple color to the fall landscape. The exfoliating bark adds year-round interest and texture to the garden.
These are just a few of the many bee-friendly trees suitable for home gardens. Try to include a variety of trees so your landscape provides needed nectar and pollen throughout the season or those that fill the flowering voids in your existing landscape.
Don’t worry if you have no time to plant trees this fall. Take advantage of the winter to do a bit more research on the best trees for your garden. Then locate potential planting spots with space to accommodate the tree’s mature size and the right growing conditions to help it thrive. Visit your local nursery in early spring and get started planting.

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Whoa there
Andrew O'Connor was enjoying a bike ride on a narrow dirt road near the town of Knock, England when he encountered a herd of cows headed his way. Trapped between two stone walls, he feared the worst. A farmer, presumably the owner of the bovine flock, saw his dilemma and shouted out, showing him how to confront and stop the herd by holding his hands up high and shouting “stop.” It worked and the whole event was caught by a video camera on his handlebars. He told ABC News that he learned a lesson: "Fake it until you make it, just put a brave face on."

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An unlikely support animal
Joie Henney was looking forward to attending a baseball game recently between Pennsylvania baseball rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He brought his licensed emotional support animal with him; he has had Wally for some seven years. But the powers that be were apparently antsy to have his support animal in attendance. Henney’s therapy pet happens to be an alligator.

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Pick the fattest bear week
There were fears that Alaska’s annual Fat Bear Week would get shut-down this year due to a potential government shutdown. However, a 45-day federal funding agreement was reached and the celebration was held as usual in Katmai National Park. Fat Bear Week is all about picking the fattest bruin just before the mammals settle in for the season to be sleeping. According to the Katmai park, "Over the course of the week, virtual visitors learn more about the lives and histories of individual bears while also gaining a greater understanding of Katmai’s ecosystem through a series of live events hosted on explore.org."

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Medal of Honor: Army Cpl. Robert H. Young
By KATIE LANGE
Army Cpl. Robert Harley Young was only 22 when he lost his life in Korea, but he did so courageously while trying to save the other members of his unit from complete annihilation. His valor and selflessness earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Young was born on March 4, 1929, in Oroville, California, to parents Melvin and Dorothy Young. When he was still a child, Young's family moved him and his siblings to Chico and then Vallejo, California.
According to a June 2000 article in the Sacramento Bee, Young's relatives described him as "military crazy," and said he grew a mustache and lied about his age so he could join the Army in 1946. They said he spent part of his first tour of duty guarding famed Army Gen. George C. Marshall during a trip to Moscow.
Young re-enlisted in 1949, according to the Bee, and was eventually sent to Korea to serve with Company E of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
Stopping for Nothing
By October 1950, the 1st Cavalry Division had begun to close in on North Korea's capital city, Pyongyang. On Oct. 9, Young's company spearheaded a battalion drive north of the North Korean city of Kaesong when they were suddenly attacked by a devastating barrage of enemy mortar and automatic weapons fire. The assault wounded Young in the face and shoulder, and it quickly inflicted heavy causalities on his comrades.
Young, however, refused to be evacuated. He stayed in position and continued to fire at the enemy until he was hit again. While he waited to get first aid near the company's command post, the enemy tried to envelop their team. So, Young gave up on getting medical treatment and went back to an exposed position, where he managed to kill five enemy soldiers. During the firefight, he was hit a third time by a bullet that knocked him to the ground and destroyed his helmet.
Later, when tanks moved forward to support the company, Young remained in place to direct tank fire, which destroyed three enemy gun positions and helped the company advance.
Young was wounded a fourth time, this time by a mortar burst. However, he offered first aid to other injured comrades instead of himself and refused to be evacuated until everyone else was.
Young's leadership and valiant actions inspired his comrades and helped his company get out of the situation. Unfortunately, according to a 1956 Enterprise-Record newspaper article out of Chico, California, every man in Young's platoon was either killed, wounded or captured.
Young himself died from wounds he suffered during the battle on Nov. 5, 1950. He was posthumously upgraded to the rank of corporal.
On June 21, 1951, Young's father received the Medal of Honor on his son's behalf from Army Gen. Omar N. Bradley at a Pentagon ceremony. His entire family had been flown to Washington for the occasion, the Enterprise-Record said.
Young is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.
Leaving a Legacy
While Young was deployed to Korea, his family said he noticed a lot of homeless children, so he did his best to help them. According to the Sacramento Bee, Young spent a lot of his spare time helping dozens of orphans get necessary supplies and find shelter living at a place that later became known as Boys Town Korea, Sung Sim Won.
After Young died, a monument was erected at the orphanage in his honor. The city of Vallejo also held a Robert H. Young Day to remember him in which residents collected clothing and other donations to send to the orphanage.
Young's work with the children was so influential that his sister, Marjorie, later went to the orphanage and adopted a son, according to the Sacramento Bee. The boy's new parents named him Robert.

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Food and Mood

MILWAUKEE, WI – In an individual’s lifetime, there are occurrences that lead to stress. Whether it’s due to relationships, work, financial situation, or other stressors, people spend time worrying. At times, stress can feel like a constant.
It’s easy to turn to food when feeling down. This is called emotional overeating, or eating to squash feelings of sadness, fear, anger, boredom, loneliness, and/or stress. It often comes in a form of binge eating, eating whatever is around, sometimes without even realizing it.
Not only is emotional overeating harmful when trying to lose weight, but it can quickly become a pattern that’s hard to break. For example, you feel stressed, so you turn to junk food. Then you feel guilty about it, and that leads you to emotionally overeat. The whole cycle starts over again. So how do you break free?
The following suggestions are from TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds SensiblySM), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy that encourages its members to make lifestyle changes that last a lifetime.
Keep a food and mood diary
Start writing down what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat. Also jot down how you felt before, during, and after you ate. As this becomes a habit, you may start to notice patterns between food and your mood. For example, you might see a common pattern of eating poorly after a long day at work.
Check in with yourself
Before you reach for that bag or chips or bowl of ice cream, wait a few minutes. While you wait, be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. What’s going on emotionally? This allows you to recognize why you’re eating and might help you to think twice.
Substitute eating for healthier habits
One cause of emotional overeating is boredom. To nip boredom in the bud, try another activity to keep you busy. Read a book, go for a walk, call a friend, listen to music, or play with your pet.
Give yourself grace
If you slip up and overeat, forgive yourself and begin again the next day. Think about how you might try to avoid a similar situation but be sure to focus on the steps forward you’ve already made. Give yourself some credit for trying to establish better eating habits.
Join a support group
Lean on family and friends when you’re feeling down. Most TOPS members feel supported by their fellow peers and attribute their weight loss to the support of their fellow chapter members.
About TOPS®
TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded in 1948, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information.

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The Year-Round Currency of Kindness

In a world often defined by divisions and disparities, the concept of kindness emerges as a beacon of hope, transcending the boundaries of wealth and status. It serves as a timeless reminder that kindness is not confined to any particular season; it's a year-long virtue that can transform our lives and society as a whole.
In our fast-paced lives, kindness can sometimes take a backseat. We often find ourselves caught up in the hustle and bustle, where success is measured by wealth and social status. The problem lies in the fact that this mindset can create stark divides, maintaining inequality and supporting social hierarchies.
The Power of Small Act:
Kindness thrives in the simplest gestures. Small acts like holding the door for a stranger, helping someone in need, or offering a genuine smile are the building blocks of a more compassionate society. These acts cost nothing but can have a profound impact on individuals and communities.
It's in these small acts that the realization dawns upon us - kindness isn't about material wealth or social standing; it's about the currency of the heart.
Kindness as a Social Equalizer:
Wealth and status may create divides, but kindness operates as a social equalizer. Think of a volunteer event where individuals from various backgrounds converge to support a common cause. In that shared mission, wealth and status fade into the background as kindness unites hearts and minds.
A Path to Empathy:
Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is a cornerstone of kindness. It fosters a culture of understanding, compassion, and inclusion. Empathy enables us to see beyond wealth and status, connecting with people on a deeper, more profound level.
The Domino Effect:
Kindness, like a ripple in a pond, creates a domino effect. When one person performs a kind act, it inspires others to do the same. This chain reaction can lead to a groundswell of kindness that transcends wealth, status, and permeates every corner of society.
Encouraging Acts of Kindness:
To transform society through kindness, it's essential to encourage and promote acts of kindness at every level. Schools, workplaces, and communities should prioritize kindness education and create environments that nurture empathy and compassion.
In schools, for instance, kindness programs can teach children the value of empathy and the importance of treating others with respect. Such initiatives not only foster kindness at a young age but also set the foundation for a more inclusive and compassionate society.
Similarly, in workplaces, corporate social responsibility programs can encourage employees to engage in acts of kindness, such as volunteering or supporting charitable causes. This not only improves the workplace culture but also extends the positive impact into the community.
Overcoming the Fear of Vulnerability:
One of the barriers to kindness can be the fear of vulnerability. In a society that often values strength and independence, showing kindness can be seen as a sign of weakness. However, the reality is quite the opposite.
In a world where divisions persist, kindness stands as a unifying force, reminding us of our shared humanity and the potential for positive change that exists within each of us.
By recognizing the intrinsic value of kindness, promoting empathy, and encouraging acts of compassion, we can work together to build a more equitable, inclusive, and harmonious society.
Let's choose kindness today and watch it transform our world year-round.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kyle Poehls is a Marine Corps veteran whose life took a dramatic turn after surviving two comas during his military service. Born in 1985, he found his passion for writing in the final years of his service, and despite facing numerous seizures and another coma just before his planned exit, he persevered. In March of 2017, he began crafting "FROM NICHOLAS TO CHRISTMAS," a tale about the early life of Santa Claus. Today, with a reinvigorated outlook on life, he embodies the belief that every day should be lived as if it were the last.

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Cutting and enjoying fall perennial flowers
By MELINDA MYERS

Bring a bit of your fall garden indoors. Many of your fall flowering perennials make great cut flowers to enjoy in arrangements for your home and bouquets to share with others.
Harvest your flowers early in the morning whenever possible. This is when they are fully hydrated, helping to extend their vase life. Early evening is the next best time, but any time you need to cut your flowers will work.
Take along a clean bucket of water and a sharp pair of bypass pruners or snips to the garden. Immediately place the flowers in the water to help prolong their vase life.
Picking flowers at the right stage for the variety you are cutting is important to ensure the flowers showcase their best display and will last the longest in your arrangements. In general, spike-type flowers should be harvested when one-fourth to one-half of the individual flowers on the spike are open. Daisy-type flowers like rudbeckias, coneflowers, Heliopsis and Helenium are harvested when the flowers are fully open.
Asters and golden rods make a great combination in the garden as well as a vase. Harvest the golden rod as soon as the flower color is visible with half of the individual flowers in the cluster open. Look for and pick asters when one-fourth of the flowers in the cluster are open to enjoy them for as many as 7 to 12 days.
The native Agastache, you may know as lavender or anise hyssop, is a pollinator favorite and makes an excellent addition to flower arrangements. Wait for one-half to two-thirds of the flowers on the spike to open before picking. With proper harvesting and care, these flowers can last 6 to 10 days in your arrangement.
Watch as the individual flowers on the Liatris spike open from the top down. Harvest these when less than half of the flowers at the top of the spike are open and the remainder are in bud.
Once rudbeckias and coneflowers shed their petals, which are actually non-fertile ray flowers, the remaining seed heads still make an attractive addition to fall bouquets. Don’t overlook the wispy seed heads and foliage of ornamental and native grasses growing in the garden. These can be harvested at any time after the seed head emerges and last about a week.
Consider adding a few seed pods for added fall flare in your bouquets. The pods of native baptisia and milkweed as well as Siberian iris are a few to try.
Condition fresh flowers before arranging to further extend their vase life. Set the flowers in tepid water and place them in a cool place out of direct sunlight for at least several hours and preferably overnight before arranging.
Recut the stems on a 45º angle to the desired length when creating your arrangements. The angled cut prevents stems from sitting flat on the bottom of the vase, exposing more surface area to absorb water. Remove the lower leaves that would otherwise end up submerged in the water in the vase. Foliage in the water encourages microbial growth that can shorten the vase life of your cut flowers.
Always use a clean vase filled with fresh water. Add a floral preservative to the water to further extend the vase life of your flowers. Change the water often to keep flowers looking good for as long as possible. Remove individual flower stems as they fade and rearrange the remaining ones that still look fresh. Recut the stems as needed to keep the flowers absorbing water and lasting longer.
Add your own perennial flower favorites and evaluate how they perform as cut flowers. Make a few notes on those that worked well and do a bit of research to improve the vase life of those that did not. Even a short-lived arrangement will generate a smile and brighten your mood when bringing a bit of your garden indoors.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR,
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – How Do Disability Programs Affect Social Security’s Budget?

Dear Rusty: I read with interest an analysis of the history, reasons, and financial costs of the SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) programs. My question is, specifically, what portion of the Social Security budget goes toward SSI and SSDI vs. for regular SS retirement income for those who paid into the fund during their working lives? How are the costs of SSI and SSDI covered by the federal government? When did these two sections of the budget enter the law and what was the impetus behind them? Signed: An Inquiring Mind

Dear Inquiring Mind: No part of Social Security’s “budget” is used to pay SSI (Supplemental Security Income). SSI is a means-tested general assistance program for disadvantaged children and needy disabled adults and aged seniors who have very little income and very few assets. Federal SSI benefits are paid from the government’s General Treasury, not from Social Security Trust Funds. SSI is jointly administered by the person’s state of residence and the Social Security Administration, and the state usually provides additional benefits to supplement the financial assistance provided by the federal government under the SSI program. The Social Security Administration only administers the SSI program, it does not fund it.
By contrast, SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits are for employed Americans who become disabled and unable to work full time. SSDI benefits are meant to provide limited income replacement for the disabled worker, and those benefits are paid from a separate Social Security “DI” (Disability Insurance) Trust Fund. The DI fund receives a portion (0.9%) of the FICA SS payroll taxes every American worker pays on their earnings and is used to pay disability benefits to eligible American workers who are unable to perform “substantial gainful activity” for a year or more. The eligibility criteria to collect SSDI are very strict, but those approved receive their benefits from this separate DI trust fund, not from Social Security’s Old Age and Survivors Trust Fund. Payroll taxes collected for disability purposes are deposited in the DI Trust Fund as interest-bearing government bonds, and those DI assets are redeemed as needed to pay SSDI benefits. FYI, SSDI (disability) benefits stop when the person reaches full retirement age, at which point the beneficiary is automatically switched to regular SS retirement, and after which their benefits are paid from the regular “OASI” Trust Fund.
“Regular” Social Security retirement benefits, spousal benefits, dependent benefits, and survivor benefits are paid from Social Security’s Old Age and Survivors Insurance (0ASI) Trust Fund, which receives most (5.3%) of the 6.2% FICA Social Security tax withheld from the paychecks of American workers. As of the end of 2022, the OASI Trust Fund held about $2.7 trillion in interest bearing government bonds. Neither SSI or SSDI affect this “regular” OASI Trust Fund - only true SS retirement benefits and benefits for dependents of the retiree are paid from the OASI Trust Fund (As an aside, Social Security reform is needed to prevent the OASI Trust Fund from being fully depleted in 2033).
To answer your last questions, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund was established in 1956, after which SSDI benefit payments to eligible disabled American workers began. Federal “Supplemental Security Income” (SSI) assistance was codified into law in 1974. And, as you likely know, Social Security retirement, spousal and dependent benefits were enacted in the 1930s, before the first monthly Social Security check was mailed in January 1940. The impetus behind these programs? Avoiding poverty for the neediest among us. Without these programs, at least 22 million more Americans would be living below the poverty line.

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Centenarian does it again
Dorothy Hoffner of Chicago, Illinois, celebrated her 100th birthday by jumping out of an airplane. She turned 104 recently and she decided to make another jump to observe the occasion. You can bet that the judges at the Guinness World Records will honor her achievement pretty soon by announcing that she is the oldest skydiving woman on record. The folks at Skydive Chicago have already petitioned the Guinness judges to certify her achievement.

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Hot stuff
Canadian Mike Jack is not just a vegan; he’s a vegan speed-eater who caught the attention of the Guinness Record judges when he downed 50 of the world's hottest chili peppers. They’ve officially announced that he chewed and swallowed the Carolina Reapers in the record-breaking time of 6 minutes and 49.2 seconds. The Reapers are not your ordinary jalapeno peppers; they are officially the World’s Hottest Pepper, hundreds of times hotter than jalapeno peppers. Jack apparently took a liking to the tasty hotter-than-hot treats. After he broke the record he swallowed down another 85 Reapers.

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The bird escaped
Sometimes a cop has to do what a cop’s gotta do. Such was the case when Jonesboro, Arkansas, police officer Nathan Swindle responded to a call about a determined chicken living on the porch of a local apartment building. The recalcitrant bird was determined to stay away from the police officer. As officer Swindle described the incident, "I was trying to shoo it off a little bit and it took off and so I was like, 'Man, I gotta catch it,' and so I immediately started running." The chicken eventually gave up but, by then, his fellow police officers had already given Swindle the nickname, “Rooster.”

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“Mattie and the Machine,” a first novel by Lynn Ng Quezon,
wins the 2023 Grateful American Book Prize

Island of Spies by Sheila Turnage and I Could Not Do Otherwise: The
Remarkable Life of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker by Sara Latta earn Honorable Mentions

WASHINGTON DC — Mattie and the Machine [Zest Books], a first novel by author, Lynn Ng Quezon, has been selected to receive the 2023 Grateful American Book Prize award, according to David Bruce Smith, co-founder of the Prize. The novel is “a fictionalized yet historically accurate account of Margaret E. Knight’s fight to obtain recognition as a 19th century female inventor.”
The Santa Monica Press called it “a fictionalized yet historically accurate account of Margaret E. Knight’s fight to obtain recognition as a 19th century female inventor,” while The Kirkus Reviews described it as “an intriguing story about a little-known woman…one of the first women inventors in the post-Civil War era,” and Marissa Meyer of the New York Times said it was “a surprisingly twisty tale, full of betrayal, romance, grit, friendships, machinery, and a protagonist you can’t help rooting for!”
Sheila Turnage’s Island of Spies, a riveting World War II spy mystery, and Sara Latta’s biography, I Could Not Do Otherwise: The Remarkable Life of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker–an early female physician/spy–will receive “Honorable Mentions.”
Smith, also an author, and an education advocate, founded the Grateful American Book Prize with the late Dr. Bruce Cole, the longest-serving chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities [2001 to 2009].
It comes with $13,000 in commemoration of the 13 Colonies; a lifetime membership at the New-York Historical Society, and a medallion created by Smith’s mother, the renowned artist, Clarice Smith.
The ”Honorable Mention” recipients get $500 each, and the medallion.

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Medal of Honor: Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Novosel Sr.
By KATIE LANGE
Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Joseph Novosel Sr. served in three wars, including a stint in which he flew side-by-side with his son. He was the last World War II pilot to actively fly in the military, and he's so revered across the services that he recently became the new namesake of a storied military base. With all these accolades, it's no surprise that he also earned the Medal of Honor.
Novosel was born on Sept. 3, 1922, in Etna, Pennsylvania. Since his parents emigrated from Yugoslavia and only spoke Croatian, Novosel said he didn't begin to learn English until he started school. He did well, however, and graduated high school in 1940.
Less than a year later, in February 1941, 18-year-old Novosel joined the Army Air Corps so he could further his education and pay back the U.S. for welcoming his family with open arms. The young man wanted to work on aircraft, but the Army assigned him to administration work unit his fellow soldiers convinced him to apply for the Air Corps cadet program. He did and, despite being just a shade under the height requirement of 5-foot 4-inches, he was accepted.
Learning to Fly, And Drive
Shortly after that, Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the U.S. went to war. Novosel and his fellow cadets were fast-tracked to flight school, but instead of being sent to the front after graduation from flight school, he was sent to Laredo Army Airfield in Texas to serve as a B-24 Liberator instructor. While he was there, Novosel gained invaluable flight time and experience in the cockpit.
Novosel eventually moved to Maxwell Army Air Field —now Maxwell Air Force Base— in Alabama to join the B-29 Superfortress program. He was then sent to the Pacific, where he flew four combat missions before World War II ended. He also got to fly in the massive formation over the USS Missouri during Japan's surrender signing, then took part in further missions dropping supplies to U.S. prisoners in the war's immediate aftermath. Novosel spent the rest of 1945 in Okinawa, where he flew more missions and finally learned to drive a car.
"Here I was, a B-29 aircraft commander — a squadron commander at that. I'd flown five different trainers, three pursuits, four transports and four bombers. But I couldn't drive a simple automobile," Novosel wrote in his autobiography titled, "Dustoff: The Memoir of an Army Aviator."
Novosel transitioned into the newly formed Air Force in 1947 and finally returned stateside that October. He married his childhood sweetheart, Ethel Mae Graham, shortly thereafter. They went on to have four children.
Novosel was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, when he was caught in the force reduction of 1950 and discharged. However, civilian life didn't suit him, so he rejoined the Air Force in 1951 to serve in a noncombat role in Korea. When that war ended, he joined the Air Force Reserve, where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1955.
During his Reserve years, Novosel also worked as a commercial airline pilot. At some point, he was diagnosed with glaucoma that doctors said could lead to blindness. He was worried he would lose his civilian job, so in 1963, shortly after President John F. Kennedy Jr. was assassinated, he decided to rejoin the active-duty military, which had different standards than commercial aviation. Novosel also wanted to share his knowledge with young military aviators as the U.S. got more involved in Vietnam, according to Billy Croslow, an Army aviation historian.
The Army During Vietnam
The Air Force denied Novosel's request to rejoin the service, so in 1964, he joined the Army to help alleviate its need for combat helicopter pilots. But instead of training young pilots, Novosel was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina — now Fort Liberty — to serve as a chief warrant officer with Green Berets in the 6th Special Forces Group. And even though he had 20 years of military flying experience, he was told he had to get a new official aeronautic rating at one of the Army's flight schools. So, Novosel was sent to Fort Wolters, Texas, with young pilots who were still learning the ropes.
"I was old enough to be the father of most people in the place," Novosel said in his memoir.
He eventually caught a break and was quickly designated an Army aviator. He reported to Fort Bragg in early September 1964 and flew missions in the Dominican Republic with his new unit in 1965. He was there when he learned he'd be going to Vietnam.
"When I volunteered for active duty with Army aviation, I believed that my considerable experience would be put to use training Army aviators," Novosel wrote in his memoir. "I never thought I'd be sent to Vietnam as a combatant, certainly not at my age."
But those were his orders, so that's what he did, landing in the country in January 1966. He was assigned to the 283rd Medical Detachment, an aeromedical evacuation "Dustoff" unit, which was a designation that became the universal call sign for all medevac units in the country. Not surprisingly, Novosel was the most experienced aviator in the unit and quickly became a leader who earned his fellow soldiers' trust.
According to Croslow, Novosel also had a lot of instrument flight experience – something no one else in the unit had but was critical to medevac missions. Novosel was able to teach that skill to a lot of the younger pilots while there.
"A lot of times there was severe weather that gunships and troop transports wouldn't necessarily fly in, but medevac always had to fly," Croslow explained. "While people had instrument ratings and all of that, had a great deal of experience in it. Driving a B-29 to deliver ordnance thousands of miles away is an instrument-heavy business."
The missions were dangerous, though, and the Dustoff units lost a lot of pilots.
Novosel returned home after a yearlong deployment, but he went back to Vietnam voluntarily in 1969, this time with the 82nd Medical Detachment, which was also a Dustoff unit. Croslow said Novosel took the assignment after having turned down a much safer one flying the fixed-wing P-2V Neptune.
Leave No One Behind
On Oct. 2, 1969, Novosel and his UH-1 Huey aircrew had been flying for about seven hours when they got a call to rescue a group of wounded Vietnamese soldiers who were pinned down by the Viet Cong. Without hesitating, Novosel steered his helicopter toward the stranded soldiers, who were in a heavily fortified enemy training area.
Novosel had to maneuver through machine-gun fire without any cover to find the wounded soldiers. There was no way to communicate with them, so he had to circle around the battle area several times, flying at a low level under constant fire to attract the attention of the scattered friendly troops until they finally realized they needed to assemble for evacuation.
Novosel and his crew were forced out of the battle area six times by enemy fire, but each time, they returned, coming back from a different direction to land and extract more and more men.
Toward the end of the mission, Novosel went in to get a wounded soldier who was spotted near an enemy bunker. Novosel knew he would attract a hail of enemy fire, but he went for it anyway, hovering backward to pull the man onboard. As his crew did so, the helicopter was hit by close-range automatic weapons fire, damaging the aircraft and hitting Novosel in the right leg and hand. The pilot momentarily lost control of the helicopter but quickly recovered and moved out of the area.
Throughout the whole ordeal, Novosel went in 15 times, dodging extremely hazardous conditions to extract wounded personnel. His selfless actions saved the lives of 29 soldiers.
A Father/Son Duo
In December of 1969, Novosel learned that his son, Michael Jr., had also earned his wings as an aviator and was to be sent to Vietnam to join his father's unit. The pair became the first father/son duo of the war to fly together in the same combat unit. Novosel said he had to rescue his son's unit once, only to have the rescue reciprocated a week later.
"Seven days after I saved them, that's when I got shot down. And who comes to rescue me? My son," Novosel said in a 2002 Library of Congress interview.
By the time Novosel returned to the U.S., he'd flown 2,543 missions that helped evacuate 5,589 wounded personnel, Army records showed.
Novosel went back to Fort Bragg to serve as the aviation officer for the Army's demonstration team, the Golden Knights. While there, he received a letter from his son, who was still in Vietnam, that said that the senior Novosel had been recommended for the Medal of Honor.
"It was difficult to grasp the immensity of the situation," Novosel said in his memoir. "This was a historic first: There never had been an occasion during any war that a soldier could write to his father, a fellow combatant, and tell him that the theater commander had recommended him for the Medal of Honor."
Novosel received the nation's highest honor for valor from President Richard M. Nixon on June 15, 1971, during a White House ceremony. His family attended with him.
A Base Renamed
After serving with the Golden Knights, Novosel was assigned to the Army Warrant Officer Career College as an author and lecturer and was in charge of the international relations desk. He then took a year-long assignment to Korea in the summer of 1976 before finishing his career as a safety officer at Fort Rucker in Alabama, which was recently renamed Fort Novosel in his honor.
While at Rucker, Novosel said he was talked into taking the 10-day air assault course — even though he was 62 – by a general who was having trouble getting younger officers and non-commissioned officers to sign up. The general told Novosel he wanted to "shame them" into doing it.
Novosel obliged, and he passed, pinning on his air assault badge shortly before he retired on Nov. 30, 1984. That same day, a main road on the post was named for him.
Novosel retired to Fort Walton, Florida, but his family also had a home in Enterprise, Alabama, just west of Fort Rucker. He published his memoir in 1999 and spent a lot of time doing speaking engagements about his life and career.
Novosel died April 2, 2006, after being hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for liver cancer complications, according to his Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary. The 83-year-old is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Novosel has been honored in many ways since his death, including via a bronze bust of his likeness that's on display at the Spaatz Center's Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base. However, no honor may be greater than the recent redesignation of Fort Novosel earlier this year.
The post is the home of Army aviation, so it's a fitting tribute. Novosel's medal is now housed in the U.S. Army Aviation Museum on the post.


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Create your own garden soil
By MELINDA MYERS

Fall is filled with preparing gardens for the following season, raking leaves, and harvesting. Use plant trimmings and fall leaves to create raised beds and a quality planting mix without disturbing the existing soil. When you minimize or eliminate tilling, you’ll increase organic matter in the soil, maintain and over time improve soil health and structure, save water, and boost plant growth.
This no-dig gardening technique employs sheet composting, also known as lasagna gardening, to create planting beds. Plant trimmings are used to create multi-layered beds like you would when building a compost pile. The mixture used is not as precise and you do not turn it like you would a compost pile.
Start your lasagna garden by measuring and marking the garden bed. Edge the outline of the garden bed, if needed, to slow the infiltration of the surrounding grass and weeds. Cut any grass and weeds in this area very short and cover with moist newspaper or cardboard to smother these unwanted plants. The grass, weeds, and paper layer will eventually decompose adding organic matter to the soil.
Sprinkle a layer of compost over the initial layer, if needed, to hold the newspaper or cardboard in place. Top this with four to ten inches of plant trimmings such as fall leaves, plant-based kitchen scraps, herbicide-free grass clippings, straw, or other similar materials. Sprinkle a low nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer over this layer to feed the microorganisms that will help convert the trimmings to a rich planting mix. Cover with an inch of compost. Repeat the layers, just like making lasagna, until your garden is 18 to 24 inches high.
Fall is a great time to create your beds since you have an abundant supply of the needed ingredients. Or stockpile these ingredients until you have time to build the garden beds. You can plant transplants directly in your lasagna garden bed at the start of the season, even in a freshly built garden bed. Just sprinkle compost or potting mix on top of the beds when planting seeds.
Hügelkultur, or mound gardens, have been used in Germany for many years and take this one step further by placing the garden at a lower elevation and perpendicular to water runoff. The garden can be started in a trench or on the soil surface. Starting the garden below ground captures more stormwater runoff but may require extra tools, equipment or help with digging.
The garden can be any size and height depending on the available materials and your gardening goals. The sides can be steep or more gently sloped which reduces the risk of freshly planted seeds washing out during rainfall.
The bottom layer is made of logs, branches, and fall leaves. Do not include black walnut, which is toxic to many plants, or cedar and black locust which are very slow to decompose. The rotting logs and branches absorb water, making it available to the plants in the garden. As the tree trimmings decompose, they add nutrients to the soil. Research and experience show these woody plant materials do not deprive plants of needed nitrogen. Instead, it will provide the plants with needed nutrients for five to ten or more years.
Next, add the layers of a lasagna garden atop the bottom layer. Then top it all off with several inches of soil.
You can also use these methods to create the planting mix needed to fill raised bed structures. Not only will you save money, but you will put landscape trimmings to work, creating a quality planting mix for growing your favorite vegetables and flowers.
These beds gradually settle but the benefits remain. Add compost or repeat the sheet composting process as needed to maintain the desired depth.
Building a healthy soil foundation is a long-term solution to growing productive gardens with fewer pest problems that require less ongoing maintenance.

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Ignobility?
The Ig Nobel Prize is not to be confused the Nobel Prize; it is an “ignoble” award that’s been around for more than three decades. Its purpose is to “celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.” Its focus is to “first make people laugh, then make them think." For example, this year’s Chemistry and Geology Prize was presented to a researcher who delved in the reasons "why many scientists like to lick rocks." The Literature Prize went to a team that probed into “the sensations people feel when they repeat a single word many, many, many, many, many, many, many times."

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Teethpaste story
There are some would-be collectors who choose to focus on rare coins or trading cards. And then there is Dr. Val Kolpakov in Alpharetta, Georgia. He’s a dentist and so, naturally, he decided to start collecting tubes of toothpaste. His amazing collection of 2,037 toothpastes from all over the world earned him a Guinness World Record recently. His collection includes toothpastes with the flavors of rye, scotch, bourbon and, for those who might need a little jolt to wake up in the morning, he found toothpastes with the flavor of Japanese horseradish, better known as Wasabi.

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An abundance of ‘twin-dergarteners’
"While the first day of kindergarten can sometimes be anxiety-inducing for young children, having a built-in buddy along on the first day of school is one of the benefits for these incoming twin-dergarteners," says The Colonial School District in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The District made the remark in announcing that 17 sets of twins were starting kindergarten in the 2023-24 school year. As one kindergarten teacher in area put it: "I have been a kindergarten teacher for 20 years. Usually, there's maybe a couple sets of twins, if that."

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Medal of Honor: Navy Chief Aviation Pilot Francis E. Ormsbee Jr.
By KATIE LANGE
While naval aviation was still in its infancy, Navy Chief Aviation Pilot Francis Edward Ormsbee Jr. was ready and willing to take to the skies for his country. Before he officially became a pilot, however, he helped rescue a fellow sailor from a plane crash. His heroics earned him the Medal of Honor.
Ormsbee was born on April 30, 1892, in Providence, Rhode Island, to parents Francis Sr. and Sarah Ormsbee. He had at least one sibling – a brother named Harry – but otherwise, little else has been published about his childhood.
Ormsbee joined the Navy in 1917, the same year the U.S. entered World War I. Naval aviation was just getting off the ground, so to speak, and Ormsbee was interested in becoming a pilot. So, after basic training, he was sent to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, where flight training activities were operating at a fever pitch in preparation for fighting overseas.
By fall of 1918, Ormsbee was a chief machinist's mate who was taking part in flight training. On Sept. 25, 1918, he was in a seaplane above Pensacola Bay with Ensign J.A. Jova when they saw another aircraft go into a tailspin and crash about three-quarters of a mile away. That aircraft was piloted by Ensign Thomas McCarthy and Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Parsons.
Jova and Ormsbee quickly hopped into action. Jova landed his aircraft on the water nearby and taxied to the wreckage. Ormsbee then dove overboard to scour for survivors in the aircraft, which was underwater except for its wing tips.
Ormsbee succeeded in pulling Parsons far enough to the surface that his head was out of the water. He was able to hold Parsons in that position until a speedboat arrived to extricate him. Ormsbee then went back into the aircraft repeatedly, injuring his hands in the process, to try to dislodge McCarthy. Unfortunately, Ormsbee wasn't able to save him.
Ormsbee was initially awarded the Navy Cross, but that was upgraded to the Medal of Honor on Dec. 7, 1918, according to an article in the Atlanta Journal. He eventually learned to fly, receiving his wings of gold as the Navy's 25th naval aviation pilot — a designation that, at the time, was given to enlisted men who completed the flight training program.
Ormsbee left the Navy in 1929, but not aviation. The now-accomplished flier became a pilot for Pan American Airways on its inaugural mail routes. According to the U.S. Navy Memorial website, Ormsbee was transferred from Miami routes to the Panama Canal Zone at some point to help alleviate a chronic shortage of experienced pilots.
Naval historians said Ormsbee helped establish Pan Am's routes in Central and South America, including accompanying famed aviator Charles Lindbergh in his survey of those areas. Ormsbee even flew the world's longest airmail route at the time, which was from Miami to Santiago, Chile.
In 1935, Ormsbee went to work for the Department of Commerce as an air navigation inspector.
Sadly, he died in a plane crash about a year later, on Oct. 24, 1936. Official reports of the crash stated that he was flying from Washington, D.C., to Fort Worth, Texas, when the weather took a turn for the worse. He tried to land in Ardmore, Oklahoma, to wait out the storm, but he crashed into a mountain north of the town.
Ormsbee was buried in St. Francis Cemetery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

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Fall landscape care with pollinators in mind
By MELINDA MYERS

No matter where you live, investing time caring for your landscape now will pay off with a healthier, more beautiful landscape next spring and for years to come. Incorporate the following practices into your fall maintenance to support pollinators and the plants in your landscape.
Don’t rake the leaves to the curb or haul them to your municipality’s composting center. Instead, handle them with your lawn mower. Shred leaves and leave them on the lawn as you mow this fall. As the leaves break down, they add organic matter to the soil and as long as you can see the grass through the leaf pieces, the lawn will be fine.
Put any extra fall leaves to work in the garden. Add shredded leaves to your compost pile or dig them into annual gardens as a soil amendment. Just dig a two-to-three-inch layer of shredded leaves into the top 12 inches of annual or new planting beds. The leaves will decompose over winter adding organic matter to the soil. By spring, your garden bed will be ready for you to finish preparing and planting.
Spread some of the fall leaves on top of the soil around permanent plants as a mulch. They help insulate the roots, conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and as they break down improve the soil. Fall mulching gives you a jump on next spring’s landscape chores. It also provides winter homes for some beneficial insects and insulation for bumblebee queens, frogs, and others that overwinter in the soil.
Leave healthy perennials to stand over winter. They will add motion and texture to the landscape. The seedheads add beauty and many provide food for the birds. Hollow stems of a variety of perennials provide winter homes for many native bees and other beneficial insects. This also increases winter survival as research found perennials left standing are better able to tolerate the rigors of winter.
Be sure to cut back and dispose of any diseased or insect-infested plants. Removing these reduces the source of disease and insect pest problems in next year’s garden. Use a bypass pruner to cut the plants back to just above the soil surface. Corona’s XSeries Pro bypass pruner (www.coronatoolsusa.com) is lightweight and professional grade with its blade ensuring smooth, clean cuts on both green and dry stems and branches.
Continue watering throughout the fall and only during the day when soil and air temperatures are at or above 40°F. Trees, shrubs and perennials suffering from drought stress in fall and early winter are more subject to root damage and subsequently insect pest and disease problems. Make sure new plantings, moisture lovers, evergreens and perennials in exposed sites are thoroughly watered when the top four to six inches are crumbly and slightly moist.
Add some new plants to the landscape this fall. The soil is warm and the air is cool, providing excellent conditions for planting and establishing trees, shrubs and perennials. Include some fall favorites like pansies, asters and mums to containers and garden beds for instant color and food for late-season pollinators. Many garden centers add healthy new plants to their inventory specifically for planting this fall.
No matter where you live or the size of your garden, get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of fall. And be sure to invest a bit of time and energy now to ensure your landscape is ready for the season ahead.


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A lot of bull
Fred Balawender’s daughter, Laurie, is proud of her dad and of his rather large pet, a 13-year-old bull that has grown to six feet, one inch in height, who goes by the name, Tommy and who made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. As she put it to the Guinness judges, since the day Tommy joined the family when he was one day old, "he just kept on growing and growing. He and my dad always had a special connection, and he became a really large, well-loved pet right away." To be precise, Tommy is a purebred Brown Swiss steer.

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This bird has talent
Not only do Cockatoos fly, at least one of them gets around on its very own scooter. He goes by the name of Chico and the folks at Guinness say he’s the world’s fastest bird on two wheels. A professional Bulgarian parrot breeder, Kaloyan Yavashev, built a special bird-size two-wheeler, trained him and watched Chico scoot his way a distance of 16.4 feet in 17.79 seconds.

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As Lady Gaga said, ‘I’m as free as my hair’
Fifteen year old Sidakdeep Singh Chahal of Uttar Pradesh, India is getting worldwide attention now that he’s been outed by the judges at the Guinness Book of World Records. They’ve declared him to be the boy with the world’s longest hair, a feat he achieved by never getting a haircut and letting his hair grow to a length of four feet, 9.5 inches. To be fair, Chahal is a Sikh, a religion that recognizes long hair to be symbol of spirituality.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

The British Pilgrims were not the first Europeans to settle in America. According to the Library of Congress, “when the London Company sent out its first expedition to begin colonizing Virginia on December 20, 1606, it was by no means the first European attempt to exploit North America. In 1564... French Protestants (Huguenots) built a colony near what is now Jacksonville, Florida. This intrusion did not go unnoticed by the Spanish, who had previously claimed the region…”
A year later--on September 20, 1565--Spanish forces ambushed the French near Jacksonville, FL; they—then--retreated to Quebec and Nova Scotia.
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize suggests The French in Early Florida: In the Eye of the Hurricane by John T. Mcgrath.

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On September 24, 1789, Congress passed the Judiciary Act; President George Washington signed it, and the United States Supreme Court was “born.” According to History.com, “President Washington nominated John Jay [that day] to preside as chief justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison and James Wilson to be associate justices.”
Two days later, the Senate confirmed their appointments.
As the History website put it, the Court “grew into the most important judicial body in the world in terms of its central place in the American political order. According to the Constitution, the size of the court is set by Congress, and the number of justices varied during the 19th century before stabilizing in 1869 at nine. This number, however, can be changed at any time by Congress. In times of constitutional crisis, the nation’s highest court has always played a definitive role in resolving, for better or worse, the great issues of the time.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends A People's History of the Supreme Court: The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions Have Shaped Our Constitution by Peter Irons.

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Wild Bill Hickok’s finesse with a firearm enabled his fame—and facilitated—his failure.
On September 27, 1869, Hickok—then sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas--confronted a rowdy throng in a Hays City saloon. A cowboy-- Samuel Strawhun—tried to rush him, but Wild Bill drew his gun, and killed him.
“Such were Wild Bill’s less-than-restrained law enforcement methods. Famous for his skill with a pistol and steely calm under fire, James Butler Hickok initially seemed to be the ideal man for the sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas. The good citizens of Hays City, the county seat, were tired of the wild brawls and destructiveness of the hard-drinking buffalo hunters and soldiers who took over their town every night,” says History.com.
A few months after the Hays City shooting, Hickok lost his job--in the next sheriff election--to his deputy; 144-89.
The Grateful American Book Prize endorses Joseph G. Rosa’s biography, They Called Him Wild Bill: The Life and Adventures of James Butler Hickok.

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It’s Healthy Aging Month: Follow These 10 Steps to Be Proactive About Your Brain Health

NEW YORK — As part of Healthy Aging Month this September, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is offering ten steps to promote healthy aging and good brain health.
“Lifestyle choices are integral to healthy aging, protecting brain health, and reducing the risk of developing dementia,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s president & CEO. “Healthy aging month is a great time to remind people that healthy aging is something everyone should prioritize, because it’s never too soon to start.”

AFA encourages individuals to take the following ten steps to promote good brain health and healthy aging:

1. Eat Well- Adopt a low-fat diet high on fruits and veggies, like strawberries, blueberries, and broccoli. Take daily vitamins. Limit intake of red meats, fried and processed foods, salt, and sugar. In general, foods that are “heart healthy” are also “brain healthy.”
2. Stay Active- Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and can also help improve mood and overall wellbeing. Brisk walking benefits brain health, while aerobics can boost your heart rate, and weight training builds strength and flexibility.
3. Learn New Things- Challenge your brain by starting a new hobby like playing tennis, learning to speak a foreign language, trying a cooking class, or something you have not done before. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand stimulates the brain by forcing it to think outside of its normal routine.
4. Get Enough Sleep- Getting a consistent sleep every night is key; at least seven to nine hours is ideal. Having a good sleep environment is also helpful. Insomnia or sleep apnea can have serious physical effects and negatively affect memory and thinking.
5. Mind Your Meds- Medication can affect everyone differently, especially as you age. When getting a new medication or something you have not taken in a while (whether over the counter or prescription), talk to your doctor or local pharmacist.
6. Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol- Smoking can increase the risk of other serious illnesses, while too much alcohol can impair judgment and cause accidents, including falls, broken bones, and car crashes.
7. Stay Connected- Social interaction and maintaining an active social life are very important for brain health, cognitive stimulation and mood. Invite friends and family over for a meal, board games, or just to hang out. Engaging in your community and participating in group activities is also beneficial.
8. Know Your Blood Pressure- Blood pressure can impact your cognitive functioning. Visit your physician regularly to check your blood pressure and make sure it is in normal range.
9. See Your Doctor- Maintain checkups. Health screenings are key to managing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, all of which can impact brain health. Speak with your physician about any concerns or questions you have about your health.
10. Get a Memory Screening- Our brains need regular checkups, just as other parts of our bodies do. Memory screenings are quick, noninvasive exams for our brains. AFA offers free virtual memory screenings every weekday—visit www.alzfdn.org or call AFA at 866-232-8484 to learn more about getting a free virtual memory screening. You can also talk to your doctor about getting a screening as part of your annual wellness exam.
Individuals wishing to learn more about healthy aging and promoting good brain health can contact the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Helpline at 866-232-8484 or visit AFA’s website, www.alzfdn.org.


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Tips to help protect your child’s mental health from harmful social media use

By Dr. Kevin U. Stephens Sr.,
Chief Medical Officer,
UnitedHealthcare of the MidSouth

Social media can be a great tool to help build connections, stay informed and engage with others. However, it can become all-consuming and potentially damaging to adolescent brain development, which is a cause for concern.  
A recent advisory issued by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy calls attention to the potential harmful effects social media has on children’s mental health. According to the report, 95% of teens ages 13-17 say they use social media, with more than a third saying they use it “almost constantly.” In addition, 40% of children ages 8-12 use social media, even though most platforms require users to be at least 13 to participate.
According to a study in the report, teens who spend more than three hours a day on social media face twice the risk of experiencing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Other potential issues referenced in the report include:
Body dissatisfaction, or disordered eating behaviors
Social comparison
Lower self-esteem
Poor sleep
The information in this report corroborates with the what UnitedHealthcare providers are often seeing: an increased rate of harmful comparison, limited in-person interaction, feelings of loneliness and an uptick in anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Dr. Donald Tavakoli, national medical director for behavioral health at UnitedHealthcare, says the amount of time children spend online affects their overall development.
The Surgeon General’s advisory comes as youth mental health remains in a state of crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder and only about 20% of those children receive care from a mental health provider.
These findings may be alarming for parents and tackling the issues surrounding social media use may feel overwhelming as well. These tips may help you and your child become more informed about social media use and, in turn, reduce potential harm:
Understand and monitor social media
Having a bit of background on the latest social media apps can help parents create better limits and boundaries for their kids. As children’s brains go through dramatic developmental changes, they could develop sensitivities associated with a desire for attention and may have undeveloped self-control, especially during early adolescence. Social channels that promote “likes” or excessive scrolling may pose issues for developing brains. Limit chat functions, especially with strangers, and restrict inappropriate content.
Create a family social media plan
Set guidelines and boundaries when it comes to your family’s social media use. This can be agreed-upon expectations of what social media use looks like to your family, including screen time limits, online safety and protecting personal privacy. The Academy of Pediatrics has a template that can guide you through the process.
Communication is key
Initiate open and honest conversations, without judgement, with your child about their activity on social media on a regular basis. Ask them about what they see on social media and pose hypotheticals, asking how they would respond in different scenarios. Ensure they know the signs of cyberbullying, and how permanent an online post can be.
Create tech-free zones
It can be helpful to restrict electronic use at least one hour before bedtime and through the night. Studies show two or more hours of screentime in the evening can greatly disrupt the melatonin surge needed to fall asleep. Keep mealtimes free from technology and encourage in-person conversations. Encourage children to foster in-person friendships and build social skills.
Model healthy social media behavior
Children often learn by watching your behaviors and habits, so make sure you’re limiting the time you spend on social media and be responsible with what you choose to post. When you are on your device, tell your children what you’re doing.
While the Surgeon General’s advisory focuses on the potential negative impacts of social media use on children and teens, it also acknowledges social media can provide some benefits. It can be helpful in creating community connection over shared interests, abilities and identities or providing space for self-expression. Encouraging children to form healthy relationships with technology is critical. 
Adults cannot afford to wait to understand the full impact of social media because adolescents’ brains are still developing. It’s crucial that parents take an active role in helping their children safely navigate social media.

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Medal of Honor: Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz was known among his fellow Rangers to be selfless and determined, so it was no surprise when, during a firefight in Afghanistan, he gave his life to save others. That heroism earned him the Medal of Honor.
Celiz was born Jan. 12, 1986, in Summerville, South Carolina. He went to Summerville High School, where he took part in Junior ROTC and quickly earned a reputation as a natural-born leader. High school is also where he met his future wife, Katie, although she later told reporters that their paths didn't cross until both worked at a local grocery store.
In 2004, Celiz attended the military college known as The Citadel. He stayed for about two years but left in good standing in 2006 to enlist in the Army.
A year later, he and his wife were married. At some point, the couple converted to Judaism. They also had a daughter, Shannon, in 2010. Celiz loved riding his Harley motorcycle and playing guitar. His wife said he loved to crack jokes and relished the time he got to spend with his family.
Celiz was selected to join the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2013, and by 2018, he'd deployed several times to both Iraq and Afghanistan. During those deployments, he was always inclusive of others and known to encourage camaraderie.
His selflessness was put to the ultimate test on July 12, 2018, when Celiz was leading a special purpose unit that included 1st Battalion Rangers and partner forces in Afghanistan. The unit was tasked with clearing an area of enemy forces in the Paktia Province to disrupt future attacks against allied forces and the Afghan government.
He put himself last and everybody else first."
Around 5 a.m., as they came upon the ruins of an old storage shelter, at least 20 insurgents surrounded their convoy and attacked, critically wounding an ally on the team.
Celiz quickly sprang into action. He intentionally exposed himself to intense enemy fire so he could reach a heavy weapons system, which he turned on the enemy. With the help of his fellow soldiers, Celiz was able to clear a temporary path for his teammates to move their critically injured ally.
As a medical helicopter arrived, the enemy turned its fire to the air. Celiz knew how important it was to get their injured comrade onto the chopper, so he put himself between the evacuation team and the heavy insurgent gunfire.
"He really was selflessly body blocking that litter team and that helicopter crew as they were loading the casualty on the bird under a tremendous amount of fire," recalled 2nd Lt. Garrett White, who was part of the mission that day.
As soon as the injured ally was loaded into the helicopter, the carry team ran for cover, but Celiz stayed where he was to continue acting as a human shield and fire back at the enemy. It wasn't until the helicopter was back in the air that he tried to find cover for himself.
Unfortunately, that's when enemy fire hit Celiz in the chest. As he fell to the ground, he waved to the helicopter crew to get moving, knowing that if it remained, the chopper could crash, and more lives would be at risk.
Reports said that Celiz tried to crawl toward his teammates, but he eventually stopped. When they were able to pull him out of range of the gunfire, they tried calling the helicopter back to collect Celiz, but it was too late. The 32-year-old died that day, but his actions saved the life of his injured comrade, and they likely helped prevent further casualties among his unit and the aircrew.
"He put himself last and everybody else first," White told the Army News Service.
Celiz's selflessness earned him the Medal of Honor, which his wife and daughter received on Dec. 16, 2021, from President Joe Biden during a White House ceremony.
Celiz's memory continues to live on in his home state. On Veterans Day last year, The Citadel, which he attended but didn't graduate from, presented his family with a posthumous degree and a 2008 class ring.
"Chris was the guy who made everyone part of the team. His classmates wondered if he slept. All Citadel alumni knew 'go-to' guys in their company they could always count on. Chris was one of these in spades," said Citadel President Gen. Glenn Walters, a retired U.S. Marine, during the presentation. "He was, by all accounts, everything you wanted in a comrade and classmate."
Celiz's name was also added to The Citadel War Memorial in 2018.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Will Opening a Joint Account Affect My Disabled Father’s “SSI?”

Dear Rusty: I live in Michigan and my senior disabled father lives in rural Kentucky. His income is part Social Security and part disability. I talked to a local credit union near his home and explained I would like to open a joint account. They said as long as he comes in with his ID it's possible. My question is - will adding money to our joint account affect his SSI and disability? Signed: Caring Daughter
Dear Caring Daughter: First, I need to clarify that there are two types of disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration – Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The acronym “SSI” normally refers to “Supplemental Security Income” which is a benefit for disabled senior adults (and children) who have very little income and very few assets. “SSI” is not Social Security income; rather it is a general benefit program jointly administered by the Social Security Administration and the State in which your father lives. In contrast, Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits are earned from working and are not affected by the recipient’s assets, as are “SSI” benefits.
From what you’ve written, I assume that your father may have a small Social Security retirement benefit (because he has reached his full retirement age and SSDI isn’t available after full retirement age), and he is also receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. If this is the case, although your father’s Social Security retirement benefit would not be affected by opening a joint account at the credit union, his Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefit likely will be. As co-owner of the joint account your assets would count towards your father’s “SSI” asset limit, and your assets, as well as any “in kind” assistance you otherwise provide, would likely put your father over the SSI income/asset eligibility limit and result in his SSI benefits being terminated.
So, although the credit union may be willing to open a joint account for you and your father, I’m afraid that would result in your father losing his SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits, leaving him with only his small Social Security retirement benefit. You may wish to review the SSI eligibility information at this link: www.ssa.gov/ssi/eligibility or you could contact the Social Security Administration and ask to speak with someone experienced with Supplemental Security Income matters. For clarity, “SSI” assistance is jointly administered by the Social Security Administration and each State’s Human Services department, and assistance available varies somewhat depending on the recipient’s state of residence. Thus, since your father lives in Kentucky, you might also contact that state’s human services agency to discuss your options for providing remote assistance to your father without jeopardizing his Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit: www.chfs.ky.gov/Pages/contact.aspx.

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Daffodils with a difference
By MELINDA MYERS

There are so many reasons to love daffodils. These spring-blooming bulbs aren’t fussy about where they are planted. They come back to bloom again year after year and are not bothered by deer, rabbits, or other garden pests. But there’s also a whole world of beautiful daffodils beyond the classic yellow ones. Daffodils are available in unusual flower styles and unexpected colors that can bring a whole new look to spring gardens.
Get an early start on next year’s daffodil season with Barrett Browning, a variety with pure white petals and brilliant red-orange trumpets. It is an excellent choice for naturalizing. Pink Charm also boasts white petals but has a large coral-pink trumpet with ruffled edges. It is considered one of the best pink daffodils and is known for its vigor and reliability.
Add eye-catching color with the dependable heirloom Red Devon’s brilliant yellow petals and flashy orange cups. For a more subtle approach choose the pastel hues of British Gamble. Its white petals are a perfect backdrop for the ruffled peachy-pink trumpet on these enormous, 5” blossoms.
Change the shape of things with some split trumpet daffodils. Cassata is a strong grower with a ruffled lemon-yellow cup that lies almost flat against broad white petals. Cum Laude boasts big, bright, extra frilly flowers with peachy accents. Lemon Beauty’s flowers feature pure white petals, and its split trumpet resembles a bright yellow star.
Double daffodils add elegance to gardens and spring floral arrangements. They also stretch the season by blooming several weeks later than most other types. La Torch’s upward-facing fragrant double flowers are a mix of yellow petals and bright orange ruffles. Delnashaugh is a late-blooming double with layers of pure white petals interspersed with apricot-pink ruffles. Lingerie’s extra-large blooms have thickly ruffled centers of white and golden yellow petals.
Some daffodils produce a bouquet of blossoms on each stem. Pueblo grows just twelve inches tall, and its primrose yellow flowers gradually fade to creamy white. Beautiful Eyes has two to three flowers per stem, with white petals, bright orange cups and a gardenia-like fragrance.
Take it down in size by planting a few miniature daffodils. Tuck them into rock gardens, under shrubs, along paths, in containers, and mix them with other spring flowering bulbs and perennials. Tete a Tete has perky, bright yellow blossoms and grows just 7” tall. Tete Boucle is similar in size, but its double flowers display layers of yellow, gold, and green petals.
Jet Fire is another outstanding miniature daffodil. It has bright orange trumpets and golden yellow swept-back petals and is a great small-scale naturalizer in the landscape. Minnow is an adorable little gem with pale-yellow petals and bright yellow trumpets. Sundisc’s petite flowers have pale yellow petals and an almost flat, deep yellow trumpet. Miniature daffodils are a particularly good choice for perennials gardens, where they won’t overwhelm neighboring plants.
For more on these and other unique daffodils, see Longfield Gardens Types of Daffodils to Know and Grow. With so many daffodil varieties to choose from, you are sure to find new ways to add spring beauty to your yard and gardens.

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The lion gave up
Margot Lowe and guide Witness Mathebule were on safari near the Arathusa Safari Lodge in South Africa when they came across a herd of feeding hyenas. The critters suddenly stopped eating; they sensed danger. Out came the video camera and, sure enough, a large and scary lion entered the scene. The hyenas scattered but not fast enough for all of them to get away; one member of the herd was too slow and was singled out by the lion. But the big cat hesitated when it saw the hyena clan had turned around and was about to attack. It gave the lion’s captured prey enough time to get away.

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Rubber duckies
The citizens of Belfast, Maine, are scratching their heads for a third year in a row. This time of the year, in 2021, a lone “Giant” plastic duck made its first appearance in Belfast harbor; the word, “Joy,” was written on its chest. The Joy duck and a second inflatable duck showed up last year; the second duck bore the words “Greater Joy” on its chest. This year a third Giant ducky joined the clan; it bore the words, “Greatest Joy.” Anybody know who’s responsible for these joyous rubber duckies?

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Tricky awards
It happened in Australia. Noeline Cassettari’s pal, Megan Reimann, earned a Guinness World Records title for her cow’s bovine tricks. Not to be outdone, Nicole showed off the tricks that her miniature horse and her pet sheep were able to do and bagged two Guinness titles. Her mini-horse, Rose, was able to do 13 tricks in sixty seconds and Beanie, the sheep, completed 11 tricks in one minute.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Why Is my Age 70 Benefit not Higher Than My January Amount?
Dear Rusty: I plan to retire in 2025 (the year I turn 70). Given that I'm still working, I'm delaying my Social Security until that year. I noticed on my Social Security statement that my payment in January of 2025 will not be much different than my age 70 amount in October of 2025. If that is truly the case, would it not be better for me to start taking Social Security payments starting in January of 2025. Am I missing anything here? Signed: Uncertain Senior
Dear Uncertain Senior: Your benefit in October 2025 at age 70 will be about 6% more than it will be in January 2025. If that isn’t shown on your Statement of Estimated Benefits, it may be due to a particular nuance in Social Security’s rules relating to Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs). When benefits are claimed mid-year after full retirement age (FRA), the DRCs earned in that year aren’t applied until the following January. Thus, someone who claims benefits to start mid-year will initially get the DRCs they’ve earned through the end of the previous year, but not immediately get credit for the additional DRCs earned during the claim-year. Those extra DRCs earned between January and the month benefits started will be applied the following January.
By way of example, if someone beyond FRA claims benefits to start in October 2024, their initial SS retirement benefit will be what they were entitled to at the end of 2023 and would not include DRCs earned between January 2024 and September 2024. They will collect that initial January 2024 benefit until January 2025 when the DRCs earned in 2024 are applied, at which point their benefit would increase by 6%. There is, however, one exception to this rule, which is that all DRCs are immediately credited when benefits are claimed to start in the month age 70 is reached, so despite what your Statement of Estimated Benefits might reflect, if you claim for benefits to start in the month you turn 70 (October 2025) you will get your maximum age 70 benefit immediately and won’t need to wait until January 2026 for those extra DRCs to be applied.
Unfortunately, Social Security’s benefit estimator doesn’t explain how this nuance works and may show someone claiming mid-year receiving the same benefit as for the preceding January, without further explanation. That is, in my opinion, a flaw in the estimator which may result in people making a wrong decision on when to claim their Social Security benefit. Nevertheless, rest assured that your benefit in October 2025 (the month you turn 70) will be your maximum amount - 6% more than it would be if you claimed benefits to start in January 2025, and you won’t need to wait until the following January to get the DRCs earned earlier in 2025.


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Brighten your fall landscape with mums
By MELINDA MYERS

Mums are a favorite fall flower that adds weeks of seasonal color to containers, gardens and fall displays. They are also a popular gift plant in garden centers and floral shops. Choosing the right one for the purpose and providing proper care will help you achieve your desired results.
Start by selecting the best mum for your gardening goals. You’ll find mums labeled as garden, perennial, gift or florist mums. All these names for plants that look alike can be confusing. The answer lies in their response to day length, hardiness and use.
Mums set flowers based on day length. Growers can force them into bloom by covering them to create shorter days that initiate flowering. Those grown as gift mums, often called florist mums, usually require the longest periods of uninterrupted darkness or shorter days. When these mums are grown under natural daylight they usually don’t flower until late fall or early winter. These late bloomers are usually killed by cold temperatures before or soon after the flowers appear in colder areas.
Nurseries selling mums ready to flower in the fall often refer to them as garden mums. These may be perennial mums or “florist” mums forced to flower for fall displays. The intent is to use them as annuals. Select ones with lots of buds and just a few if any open flowers to maximize the bloom time and your enjoyment. Place one or two mums on the front steps, plant them in vacant spots in the garden or combine them with other fall favorites in containers.
These garden mums may be hardy and suited to the area but since all the energy is directed to the flowers little is left to establish a hardy, robust root system. If you have success overwintering your garden mums, feel free to brag. If your plants don’t survive or you don’t try, don’t worry. You are using them as a fall annual as they were intended. This also provides space for new plants in the spring and an opportunity to try a different color mum next fall.
Those mums sold as perennials are hardy enough to survive the winter and flower in late summer or early fall providing weeks of color in the garden. They are often sold alongside other perennials, labeled as perennials, or promoted as hardy for the area. Increase your success by planting them in spring. This allows the plant time to develop a robust root system before it begins flowering in the fall which will increase its ability to survive cold winters.
Place mums in an area with full sun and water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy wet. Check the soil in containers daily and water when the top few inches of soil are starting to dry. Always use a container with drainage holes or a self-watering pot.
Increase overwintering success by leaving the plants intact in the garden over winter. Those gardening in colder regions may opt to cover the plants with evergreen boughs after the ground freezes, providing extra insulation. Remove the mulch when temperatures begin hovering above freezing. Whether covered or not, prune out the dead stems in spring as new growth appears.
Whatever you call them, add a few colorful mums to your fall displays. You are sure to enjoy the blast of color they provide to your landscape before winter arrives.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Sgt. Lawrence Peters
By KATIE LANGE, DOD News |

When you're in charge during battle, you do whatever you can to keep your comrades safe. Marine Corps Sgt. Lawrence David Peters led a squad of men as they fought their way out of a firefight in Vietnam. He didn't survive the ordeal, but his grace, leadership and bravery earned him the Medal of Honor.
Peters was born Sept. 16, 1946, in Johnson City, New York, to Clyde and Mildred Peters. He had three brothers and two sisters who called him Larry.
Peters' parents said he'd wanted to be a Marine since he was a child, so during the fall of his senior year of high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve. Peters was assigned to the 48th Rifle Company out of nearby Binghamton, New York.
After Peters graduated from Binghamton North High School in 1964, he went right into the Marines. He completed all his training by the end of the year, then went back to serve with the 48th in Binghamton until he was discharged and transferred to the active-duty Marines in January 1966.
In May of that year, Peters volunteered to go to Vietnam with the 3rd Marine Division, where he served as a squad leader and non-commissioned officer in charge of the Combined Action Company. That September, he was promoted to sergeant.
During that deployment, Peters' company worked and lived among Vietnamese villagers, building schools and teaching them how to protect themselves from the enemy. According to articles in the Binghamton newspaper Press and Sun-Bulletin, Vietnamese people knew him as a man who went out of his way to treat them as his equals. One article said he learned the local dialects and even a few songs, and helped found an orphanage. He then collected clothing, nonperishables and other gifts for those children and villagers when he was able to come back to the U.S. on leave.
Peters returned from his deployment in the spring of 1967, but according to the Press and Sun-Bulletin, he re-enlisted for another tour and went back to Vietnam that May. By July 1967, he was the squad leader of Company M of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division.
On Sept. 4, 1967, the U.S. launched Operation Swift, which was an effort to find and eliminate enemy forces in the Quang Tin Province after intelligence showed those forces were likely being built up to disrupt upcoming South Vietnamese elections.
As Company M patrolled their area that day, they were struck by intense mortar, machine gun and small-arms fire from an entrenched enemy force. Peters rallied his forces in defense and then maneuvered his squad in an assault on an enemy defended knoll. As enemy rounds landed all around him, he stood out in the open so he could point to enemy positions and direct his men's fire. Eventually, he was wounded in the leg, but he refused help and instead moved forward to continue the assault.
As the enemy fire increased in accuracy and volume, the squad lost its momentum and was temporarily pinned down. But that didn't stop Peters from again exposing himself to enemy fire so he could consolidate his position and render more effective fire. At some point, a mortar round exploded, wounding Peters a second time in the face and neck.
As the enemy tried to infiltrate an adjacent platoon's position, Peters stood up in full view, firing burst after burst at the enemy in an effort that forced them to disclose their camouflaged positions. Despite being wounded twice more, he continued to direct, encourage and supervise his squad, who eventually regained fire superiority, until he lost consciousness.
At some point during all of this, Navy Lt. Vincent Capodanno, a chaplain who had been injured while with the platoon, rushed forward to reach Peters. Capodanno stayed with the young Marine until he succumbed to his wounds. Capodanno did not survive the battle, either, but he also earned the nation's highest honor for valor for his selflessness.
Peters' family received the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony hosted by Vice President Spiro Agnew on April 20, 1970. Peters' mother accepted the medal on her son's behalf and later told the Press and Sun-Bulletin that she hadn't heard how her son had died until the citation was read that day.
Peters is buried in Chenango Valley Cemetery in Binghamton. In his honor, his hometown opened a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in his name in 1984.

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It was no tall tale
Greg Potter was fishing off the coast of Waihau Bay in New Zealand when a shark rocked his pedal boat. But the shark was not assaulting Potter; it was chasing a seal. In the aftermath of the encounter, he told reporters: “When the seal hid under the kayak, the shark came crashing up from underneath and smashed into the bottom of the kayak. Then they did another few laps around the kayak, and then a second time, the shark again smashed the underside of the kayak." It was no silly fish story. Potter recorded the encounter.

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Her’s is no fairy tale
In the fable, Rapunzel used her incredibly long hair to escape the clutches of a witch. Tami Manis of Knoxville, Tennesee, grew her unusually long head of hair because she liked it that way and, as a result, she got herself a page in the Guinness Book of World Records. She trims the front and sides of her hair but she hasn’t cut the hair in the back of her head since 1990. Her mullet measures 5 feet, 8 inches.

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Honest, no bull
The cops in Norfolk, Nebraska, got a shock when they spotted a car with a full grown bull sitting in its passenger’s seat. They had gotten a call that there was "a car driving into town that had a cow in it,” according to Police Captain Chad Reiman. They thought they were going to find a calf in the car but when they got to the scene they saw that it was a huge bull. The car’s owner had modified the automobile to accommodate his enormous passenger. The police gave the driver a warning and sent him home.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

Submarines were crucial to the success of America’s defense strategy during the two World Wars [1914-1918; 1939-1945,] but their maiden missions actually happened at the time of the American Revolution.
According to History.com, “[They] were first built by Dutch inventor Cornelius van Drebel in the early 17th century, but it was not until 150 years later that they were first used in naval combat. David Bushnell, an American inventor, began building underwater mines while a student at Yale University. Deciding that a submarine would be the best means of delivering his mines in warfare, he built an eight-foot-long wooden submersible that was christened the Turtle for its shape. Large enough to accommodate one operator…[it] was entirely hand powered. Lead ballast kept the craft balanced.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The American Turtle Submarine, The Best-Kept Secret of the American Revolution by Arthur Lefkowitz.

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In June 1776, Founding Father Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed a congressional resolution: “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the United States.”
History.com reports that “By September, the Declaration of Independence had been drafted, signed, printed, and sent to Great Britain. What Congress had declared to be true on paper in July was clearly the case in practice, as Patriot blood was spilled against the British on the battlefields of Boston, Montreal, Quebec and New York. Congress had created a country from a cluster of colonies and the nation’s new name reflected that reality.”
The Grateful American Book Prize endorses The Epic Story of 1776: 25 People, 13 Colonies and 1 War by Jenny L. Cote and Libby Carty McNamee.

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As country-wide know-how ascended in the 19th century, postal service fell behind; to bolster it; the Overland Mail Company was rolled out on September 15, 1858, with an investment of $1 million-- [$37,279,390 in 2023’s currency].
History.com says that funds were required to make a “winding 2,800-mile route and [to build] way stations at 10–15-mile intervals. Teams of thundering horses soon raced across the wide-open spaces of the West, pulling custom-built Concord coaches with seats for nine passengers and a rear boot for the mail.”
Known also as the Butterfield Overland Mail Company it “operated from 1858 to 1861 under contract with the U.S. Postal Department, providing transportation of U.S. mail between St. Louis, Mo. and San Francisco, Calif. The route proposed by the Butterfield Mail Co. became known as the ‘Oxbow Route’ because of its shape on a map, starting in St. Louis and then dipping southwesterly through Missouri, western Arkansas, and the Indian Territory, turning west across Texas and southern New Mexico and Arizona, and then curving north again in California to finish at San Francisco,” according to the company’s website.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR, National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation,

Ask Rusty – I’m 64. When Should I Claim My Social Security?

Dear Rusty: I am 64 years old and still working full time. My question is - when should I start my Social Security? I would like to start it in January 2024 and go part time at work, but would I be losing much Social Security by not waiting until full retirement age? Signed: Trying to Plan Ahead

Dear Trying, to Plan: You are smart to evaluate the impact of claiming your Social Security (SS) benefits early. First, be aware that your full retirement age (FRA) for Social Security purposes is 66 years and 8 months, and that is when you get 100% of the SS benefit you’ve earned from a lifetime of working.
It appears you already know that if you start benefits before your FRA, you’ll be subject to Social Security’s “earnings test” which limits how much you can earn from working before they take away some of your benefits. But if you go part time at work you can mitigate the earnings test and claim your benefits early – just understand that your payment will be permanently reduced by doing so.
If you claim your benefits to start in January 2024, you’ll be taking your Social Security about 18 months early, which means that instead of 100% of your FRA entitlement you’ll get about 90% (a reduction of 10%). The earnings test will still apply, and we don’t yet know what the 2024 earnings limit will be, but it will be something more than the 2023 limit of $21,240. If your 2024 earnings exceed the annual limit, SS will take away $1 in benefits for every $2 you are over the limit. They “take away” benefits by withholding future payments until they recover what you owe for exceeding the limit. If you work part time and don’t exceed the 2024 annual earnings limit, there will be no penalty and you will get every month’s SS payment. If you find you will exceed the annual 2024 earnings limit, you can call Social Security and inform them of that and by how much, and they will suspend your benefits for the number of months necessary to avoid overpaying you. If you don’t inform them and you exceed the annual 2024 limit, they will catch up in 2025 when they get your 2024 earnings info from the IRS and issue an Overpayment Notice requiring you to pay back the amount owed (half of what you exceeded the 2024 annual limit by). As you likely know, the earnings test no longer applies after you reach your full retirement age.
So, the decision on when to claim your Social Security benefit is yours to make, and you are smart to consider your work plans - but should also consider your life expectancy and marital status. If you are married and eventually die before your lower earning spouse, your spouse’s benefit as your survivor will be based on your benefit amount at the time of your death. Thus, your age when you claim your benefit may also affect your spouse’s benefit as your survivor; the longer you wait (up to age 70) the more your spouse’s survivor benefit would be. And if you enjoy at least average longevity, which is about 84 for a man your current age, then by waiting until your FRA or later to claim you’ll not only get a higher monthly payment but also get more in cumulative lifetime benefits. If, however, your financial circumstances are such that you need the SS money sooner, then claiming earlier may be the right decision, provided you don’t substantially exceed the annual earnings limit prior to reaching your full retirement age. I hope the above provides what you need to make an informed decision.

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Plant trees this fall for decades of benefits
By MELINDA MYERS

Fall is a great time to plant trees in the landscape. The soil is warm and air temperatures are generally cooler, creating a better environment for the tree and the gardener doing the planting. The cooler temperatures promote root growth which helps the tree establish a more robust root system before new growth begins the following spring.
Proper planting as well as timing is important for growing healthy long-lived trees that provide shade, reduce energy costs, help manage storm water and so much more. Reduce the risk of injury, inconvenience, and expense by calling 811 at least three business days before putting the first shovel in the ground. This free service contacts all the utility companies who will mark the location of the underground utilities in your work area. Look up and avoid planting trees under overhead utilities.
Select trees suited to the growing conditions and those that will fit the available space once they reach full size. Trying to keep a 40-foot-tall tree at 15 feet negatively impacts the tree’s natural beauty and requires lots of work on your part.
Once you select the right tree for the location make sure to give it a safe ride home. Transporting the tree in a pickup truck or trailer is easier for you and better for the tree. If this is not an option, consider spending a bit more money to have the nursery safely deliver your tree.
When transporting your tree, use a tarp to cover the top of the tree to prevent wind damage to its leaves. Protect the trunk by wrapping it with a towel where it will rest on the vehicle. Always move the tree by the root ball, not the trunk, to prevent damage to the roots.
Keep your tree in a cool, shaded location until planting. Mulch balled-and-burlapped trees with wood chips to help keep their roots moist. Water these and container-grown trees daily or as often as needed to keep the roots slightly moist.
Locate the tree’s root flare, also called the trunk flare. This is where the main roots angle away from the trunk. Dig the planting hole to the same depth as the distance between the root flare and the bottom of the root ball so the root flare is at or slightly above the soil surface. Digging deeper can result in the soil settling and water collecting in the depression around your tree. Make the hole at least three to five times wider than the root ball.
Roughen the sides of the planting hole to avoid glazed soil that can prevent the roots from growing into the surrounding soil. Carefully remove container-grown trees from the pot and loosen or slice pot bound and girdling roots circling the trunk and root ball before planting.
Place the tree in the planting hole so the trunk is straight and the tree is facing the desired direction. Remove the tags and twine and cut away any wire baskets and burlap on balled-and-burlapped trees.
Fill the planting hole with existing soil so the roots adjust to their new environment. Avoid amending the soil as this encourages the roots to stay in the planting hole instead of moving out into the surrounding soil.
Water thoroughly to settle the soil and moisten the root ball and surrounding soil. Spread a two- to three-inch layer of wood chips or shredded bark over the soil surface surrounding the tree. Pull the mulch back several inches from the trunk. Mulching helps conserve moisture, moderate soil temperature, reduce competition from grass, and prevent weeds. It also keeps tree-damaging mowers and weed whips away from the tree trunk while eliminating the need for you to hand trim.
Only remove broken, damaged, and rubbing branches at the time of planting. Research shows that the more leaves a tree has, the more energy it can produce, and the quicker it develops new roots and recovers from transplant shock. Begin structural pruning in a few years once the tree has adjusted to its new home.
Continue watering as needed. It takes several years for trees to develop a robust root system that is better able to access water from a larger area. Water thoroughly when the top four to six inches of soil is crumbly and moist. Apply enough water to wet the top twelve inches of soil.
The time you invest in proper planting and care will pay off in years of enjoying the shade, beauty, and other benefits your tree provides.


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Housecall
By DR. BALA SIMON
College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Q: How do I control my cholesterol?

A: Cholesterol is a substance in the blood that is required to build healthy cells. A lipid, cholesterol is a fatty material made by the body that does not dissolve in water. It helps control what enters or leaves cells, helps the liver digest food, and assists in producing vitamin D and certain hormones. Cholesterol attaches itself to proteins to form a lipoprotein. Many are familiar with the two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) known as “bad cholesterol,” and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) also referred to as “good cholesterol.” LDL builds up in the walls of arteries, while HDL transports excess cholesterol to the liver. The body makes enough cholesterol to function. Limiting foods high in saturated fat and eating foods naturally high in fiber can control cholesterol. Reducing alcohol consumption, exercising, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight are also recommended. Supplements such as fish oil or flaxseed can help control levels. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends cholesterol screenings every one to two years for men ages 45 to 65 and for women ages 55 to 65. Annual screenings are advised for people older than 65. Contact your health care provider to develop a plan to monitor your cholesterol.

Q: What is Reye’s syndrome?

A: Reye’s syndrome is a serious condition that results in swelling in the brain and can cause large buildups of fat in the liver, as well as other organs. While generally thought of as an illness in young children, Reye’s syndrome mostly affects those under the age of 20. The exact cause of Reye’s syndrome is unknown. It normally occurs when recovering from a viral infection such as chicken pox or flu and when aspirin is given as part of managing those symptoms. Because aspirin has been linked with Reye’s syndrome, it is not recommended for use in children or teens. Instead, acetaminophen or ibuprofen is advised. Symptoms of Reye’s syndrome usually occur within three to five days after a viral infection begins. These can include rapid breathing, diarrhea, feeling sleepy or sluggish, or vomiting. A loss of consciousness or seizures may be present as the condition worsens. No specific test exists for Reye’s syndrome. Contact your health care provider immediately if a child presents with these or similar symptoms in relation to a viral illness. Treatments may include diuretics to reduce pressure around the brain, intravenous fluids, or plasma transfusions to aid with blood clotting.

Q: When should men begin screening for prostate cancer?

A: Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor of the prostate, an organ approximately the size of a walnut that tends to increase in size as men age. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men (behind skin cancer), and about one out of every eight men will be diagnosed with the disease. Age is the most common risk factor with prostate cancer, even though all men are at risk. About 80% of prostate cancer cases are found in men older than 65, while less than 1% occurs in men younger than 50. Black men and men with a family history of prostate and other cancers are more likely to be diagnosed. When to screen for prostate cancer depends upon your age, ethnicity, family history and overall health along with recommendations from your health care provider. Black men and those with a history of cancer in their family may consider beginning screening around age 50. Prostate cancer generally grows slowly, and symptoms may not present themselves until the disease progresses to an advanced state. Fortunately, the survival rate for prostate cancer is excellent with early diagnosis and treatment.

Q: How can thyroid cancer be treated?

A: The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism as well as assist in controlling blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Symptoms of thyroid cancer include hoarseness, a lump in the neck, or changes in weight. The precise cause of thyroid cancer is unknown. Genetics, iodine deficiency and exposure to radiation as a child are thought to be factors. The disease is more common in women than men. Thyroid cancer is often diagnosed in women beginning in their 40s, while men with thyroid cancer are usually over the age of 60. A physician may test for thyroid cancer by feeling the thyroid gland to determine the presence of any masses or nodules. A blood test may also be ordered. Surgery to remove some or all of the thyroid gland is a common treatment. Other treatments may include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or radiation therapy. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 1.2% of people will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer at some point, and thyroid cancer will be 2.2% of all new cancer cases in 2023. Thyroid cancer is very treatable with an extremely high (98.5%) survival rate.

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It’s a girl!
The Bright family zoo in Limestone, Tennessee, says that its newborn giraffe is lucky to have been born “in captivity.” Giraffes use their spots for camouflage and this baby female giraffe was born without spots and, in fact, is perhaps the only spotless giraffe on the planet. David Bright explained that “being solid colored, she may not be able to hide quite as well.” Tony Bright told reporters “the international coverage of our pattern-less baby giraffe has created a much-needed spotlight on giraffe conservation. Wild populations are silently slipping into extinction, with 40% of the wild giraffe population lost in just the last 3 decades.

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This senior jumps for joy
Kim Knor of Denver, Colorado, learned how to skydive when she was 20 years old; that was in 1959. She became a member of the inaugural U.S. Women's Parachute Team two years later. To date, the 84-year-old daredevil has made 600 jumps and is determined to reach her goal of 1,000 jumps. As she told one news outlet, "I have a choice of watching TV or sitting in front of a computer or going out and jumping and traveling across the country." In an interview with CBS News, she had a suggestion for her fellow octogenarians: "I feel fantastic! I mean, this is what I live for. Anytime life gets too difficult or too sad just go make a jump and then everything's good!"

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Bears will be bears
In that old yarn it was Goldilocks who broke into the home of the three bears. In the case of Brian of Kings Beach, California, it was a sleepy old bear that broke into his apartment, ate his food, wrecked his TV set and then took a nap on his bed. It was all caught on his Ring camera while Brian was out boating with friends on Lake Tahoe. Apparently the bears are out in numbers in the Lake Tahoe area; they have been visiting not only Brian’s apartment but have been caught by video surveillance cameras in several stores in the area.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kenneth Walsh
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kenneth Ambrose Walsh was considered by many to be one of the toughest, most aggressive combat pilots of World War II. That reputation as a hard-fighting ace solidified in 1943 in the South Pacific when he took out several Japanese aircraft to help secure the Solomon Islands for the Allies. His bravery earned him the Medal of Honor.
Walsh was born Nov. 24, 1916, in Brooklyn, New York, to parents Ambrose and Irene Walsh. He had a sister named Claire.
According to a 1944 article in The Morning Post, a Camden, New Jersey, newspaper, when Walsh was only 7 his father died and the family moved to Harrison, New Jersey. It wasn't far from Newark (now, Liberty) International Airport, where Walsh would often ride his bike and spend hours watching small airplanes come and go.
Walsh was an outstanding track star for Dickinson High School, which he graduated from in 1933. The following December, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, not long after his 17th birthday.
His first orders were to Quantico, Virginia, where he served as an aviation mechanic. But Walsh wanted to be the one in the air — not fixing the aircraft — so from there, he went to flight training in Pensacola, Florida. He earned his wings in 1937 and spent the next few years serving on aircraft carriers.
In 1940, Walsh married Beulah Mae Barinott, and they had two sons, Kenneth Jr. and Thomas.
By September 1942, the U.S. was in the thick of the fighting of World War II, and Walsh had transferred into Marine Fighter Squadron 124. A month later, he was commissioned as second lieutenant.
Walsh was sent to the South Pacific in January 1943 with VMF-124, which became the first operational squadron to fly the F4U Corsair, one of the most capable carrier-based fighter-bombers of the war. Through April and May of 1943, then-1st Lt. Walsh shot down six enemy aircraft, making him the first ace to fly a Corsair.
His prowess in the skies only grew over the summer. By August, Walsh and his squadron were doing aerial combat missions in the Central Solomon Islands, well east of Papua New Guinea.
By Aug. 15, 1943, U.S. troops were trying to take over the small island of Vella Lavella, while Japanese aircraft were trying to thwart those efforts by bombing U.S. ground forces and the equipment that was flowing in. Walsh cut that attempt short by diving his aircraft into an enemy formation that vastly outnumbered his own by 6 to 1. He managed to take out two Japanese dive bombers and one fighter aircraft.
During the melee, Walsh's Corsair was hit by 20mm cannon fire, which blew holes into a wing and the fuel tank. The plane was destroyed, but he still managed to fly it back to safety and land.
About two weeks later, on Aug. 30, Walsh and three others from his squadron were called upon to escort Army B-24 Liberators on a strike against Kahili, an enemy airfield on the island of Bougainville. After refueling at a forward base before the attack, the four aircraft took off again to rendezvous with the bombers. But as they did, Walsh's aircraft began acting up and he was forced to make an emergency landing on the small island of Munda.

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Social Security Matters

By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty - What About All the Money Congress Stole from Social Security?

Dear Rusty: Is there any way that Congress will vote to pay back the Social Security funds they took for their stupid reasons, and left IOUs in place of the funds? Because of the funds they took going back many years, we didn't have any decent COLAs for a few years. In fact, there were I think 3-5 years that we didn't get any COLA. Please Rusty, can you find out if this is true or false? Help us seniors! Signed: Resentful Senior
Dear Resentful Senior: I can assure you that I’ve fully investigated the allegation that politicians have squandered Social Security’s money and found that charge to be, simply speaking, a myth. I’ve gone back and looked at Social Security revenues and expenses since the government first started collecting FICA payroll taxes in 1937 and found that every dollar ever collected for Social Security has been used only for Social Security purposes. Over the years, various claims have been made that the money has been used for other things, but I’ve researched each of these charges and found them all to be false.
Where the misconception mostly originates is that any excess money collected from working Americans for Social Security is invested in “special issue government bonds” which pay interest, as mandated by President Roosevelt when Social Security began. As with any investment, a financial obligation instrument is given in return for dollars received. Remember when we used to buy “U.S. Savings Bonds?” We’d use our money to buy those bonds, hold them, and later redeem them for a higher amount than we paid. That’s exactly how Social Security contributions have always worked – excess money collected from working Americans is used to purchase special issue government bonds which are held in reserve, earning interest, for future Social Security needs. These special bonds reside in a Social Security Trust Fund and, as of the end of 2022, were worth about $2.8 trillion. Are these bonds “worthless IOUs” as some would claim? Hardly, since they are redeemable as needed to pay Social Security benefits.
Considering that, since 2010, Social Security’s income from payroll taxes on American workers has been less than needed to cover benefits paid out, redemption of bonds held in the Trust Fund is the only reason that Social Security has been able to continue paying full benefits to every beneficiary. The Trust Fund is a financial safety net which is now protecting all SS beneficiaries from having their benefits cut. Problem is, unless Congress acts soon to reform Social Security’s financial picture, the Trust Fund will be fully depleted in about 2033 resulting in about a 23% cut in everyone’s monthly Social Security benefit. I’m optimistic that will not happen (it would be political suicide) and, hopefully, Congress will act soon to reform Social Security and restore it to financial solvency and avoid a future cut in everyone’s benefits.
Regarding COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) and the lack thereof for several past years, COLA is determined by the government’s standard inflation measure – the Consumer Price Index (CPI). There were several years (2010, 2011, and 2016) in which the CPI showed no inflation so, therefore, no COLA increase was given. Last year, due to soaring inflation, everyone got an 8.7% increase in their Social Security benefit, but that doesn’t happen every year. FYI, the average annual COLA increase over the last two decades has been about 2.6%, although COLA for each year can be wildly different depending on each year’s inflation measure. In any case, the lack of a COLA increase in past years was not a result of any political chicanery, it was the result of low inflation during those years.

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Preserve basil for winter meals
By MELINDA MYERS
Don’t let a bumper crop of basil go to waste. Preserve its flavor and zest with proper storage and preservation.
xtend the life of fresh basil by removing any discolored leaves and cutting the bottom of the stems off at an angle. Set the stems in a jar with an inch or two of water. Loosely cover it with a plastic bag and set it on the herbs is easy but not the best option for basil. The flavor can change during the drying process. If you opt for this method, dry small amounts of basil in bundles hanging upside down. Secure the stems with a rubber band. As the stems shrink, so does the rubber band. Place the bundle in a brown paper bag with the stems sticking out of the bag to dry. Punch holes in the sides of the bag and hang it in a warm dry location where the air can circulate through the bag to speed drying. Avoid binding large amounts of basil together as it is more likely to dry slowly and mold.
Better yet, remove the leaves from the stems of freshly harvested basil. Speed drying with the help of a microwave or dehydrator. Evenly spread two cups of washed herb leaves on a double thickness of paper towel. Microwave on high for four to six minutes depending on your microwave. Follow the manufacturer’s directions when drying basil in a food dehydrator.
Fully dried herbs will be brittle and rattle when stirred. Store dried herbs in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark location. Label the container with the name of the herb and the date preserved.
Dried herbs are usually three to four times stronger than fresh herbs. To substitute dried herbs in a recipe that calls for fresh herbs, use 1/4 to 1/3 of the amount listed in the recipe.
Freezing is another way to preserve basil. It does change the texture so frozen basil is best used in soups, stews, and other recipes but not as a garnish.
Remove the stems and blanch the leaves in boiling water for three seconds. Then quickly move the leaves to cold water for several seconds to cool quickly. Blanching helps basil retain its green color. Dry the leaves. Once dry, spread the leaves on a tray or cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once the leaves are frozen solid move them to airtight containers and store them in the freezer. You can also spread the leaves in layers separated by parchment paper, slide the layers into a freezer bag, then place it flat in the freezer.
Alternatively, chop leaves and place them into an ice cube tray. Fill the empty space with a little water or olive oil depending on how you plan to use it in the future. Allow these to freeze solid. Pop them out of the ice cube tray and place them in an airtight freezer-quality container, label and place them back in the freezer. Pesto can also be frozen using this ice cube method.
Preserving basil when it is bountiful allows you to enjoy it throughout the year. You’ll appreciate the homegrown flavor and money savings.

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Medal of Honor: Navy Ensign Charles Hammann
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
Navy Ensign Charles Hazeltine Hammann was one of the first U.S. military aviators who went to battle when the country entered World War I, so it's fitting that his heroics in the skies over Europe made him the first aviator to earn the Medal of Honor.
Hammann was born March 16, 1892, in Baltimore, to parents Jacob and Elizabeth Hammann. He had a brother, Edward, and a sister named Lillian.
Called "Haze" by his friends, thanks to his middle name, Hammann played high school football at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute before graduating in 1910. He spent a few years working in business, including for a brewing company, before joining the Naval Reserve's Flying Corps in 1917.
Hammann learned how to fly at the Navy's only air station at the time, which was in Pensacola, Florida. He then sailed to France in June 1917. Over the next year, he got a lot of flight time under his belt and even learned how to do stunt piloting, according to a letter he wrote home to his brother.
By the spring of 1918, Hammann was sent to Italy to join the fight. On Aug. 21, he and three other pilots were sent on a patrol over an Austro-Hungarian naval base near the enemy stronghold of Pola, in modern-day Croatia. The pilots were flying Italian Macchi seaplanes when enemy aircraft came after them.
In the middle of the dogfight, the airplane of the lead pilot, Ensign George Ludlow, was hit by anti-aircraft fire. According to a 1938 Baltimore Sun article, the plane nose-dived about 12,000 feet before leveling off and landing safely in the water.
Hammann immediately did his best to dodge the remaining enemy aircraft to attempt a rescue. He dove down and landed on the water close to the disabled plane and took Ludlow onboard, even though his aircraft wasn't designed to hold two people. Hammann put Ludlow under the motor, a 1918 Baltimore Sun article said, before taking off again. The extra weight caused the plane to sway and strain with effort, but when enemy aircraft came for them, Hammann was still able to turn his machine guns in their direction, which caused them to flee.
Hammann's overweight aircraft almost made it back to Naval Air Station Porto Corsini in northeast Italy before it fully broke down. The plane fell into the water right off the coast. Hammann and Ludlow had to swim to shore — but they made it.
Two months after the incident, Hammann was commissioned as an ensign. He returned from overseas in January 1919.
Unfortunately, Hammann's life was cut short a few months later. The 27-year-old was killed on June 14 during a Flag Day celebration at Langley Field in Hampton, Virginia. According to a 1938 Baltimore Sun article, he was stunting in an aircraft when it went into a tailspin and crashed.
Hammann is buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Baltimore.
Hammann was nominated for the Medal of Honor before he died; however, it wasn't made available to his family until November 1920. Newspaper coverage at the time showed the holdup was due to a Congressional investigation into injustice within the Navy regarding the service's manner of distributing recognition of distinguished war-time service.
According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, Hammann was the first U.S. aviator of any service to receive the Medal of Honor. His August 1918 heroics also earned him the Silver Medal for Military Valor from the king of Italy and the Italian War Cross.
Hammann's name has not been forgotten within the Navy or in his hometown. A monument to the aviator and another Baltimore World War I Medal of Honor recipient, Army Private Henry Gilbert Costin, was erected in the city's downtown in 1939.
During World War II, there were actually two warships named for him. The first USS Hammann was a destroyer launched in 1939, but it was sunk in early 1942 during the Battle of Midway. Later that same year, a commissioned destroyer escort was renamed as the second USS Hammann.

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Leopard vs baboon
Who do you think would come out the winner in a leopard vs baboon fight? The experts say that if the leopard is big enough and the baboon is alone the cat has a good chance of killing and eating the baboon. But baboons are social creatures that travel in herds. So, when a hungry leopard came across a herd of some 50 baboons in the Kruger National Park in South Africa recently it took the chance of isolating one of them. A visitor, Ricky da Fonseca, saw the whole thing and reports that the baboons “attacked as a troop. This threw the leopard off and they capitalized, surrounding it, screaming, and biting at it. They showed no mercy at all." Luckily with a few bruises and cuts on his body, the leopard ran off. Surely his ego was more hurt than his body."

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Doggonit
Tina Kahlig of Hill Country Village, Texas, saw an unusual critter in her neighborhood. She wasted no time in getting her camera and snapping a picture. She posted the photo on a local Internet website, asking neighbors “what is that?” So far, visitors to the website have not been able to identify it, although a few respondents suggested that it might be a legendary chupacabra. Even experts have been unable to pin it down. However, they have suggested that it might just be a very mangy dog that was wandering in her neighborhood.

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Meow
A 13-year-old cat in Missouri that goes by the name of Kit Kat has broken a Guinness World Record for its jump-roping skills, skipping nine times in 60 seconds. No, Kit Kat didn’t do it all by himself, his owner Trisha Seifried handled the rope. Who said that you can’t teach a cat new tricks? In fact, Ms. Seifried says "by 6 months old Kit Kat was jumping rope in front of huge crowds of people, helping to bust myths that cats can't be trained."

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Social Security Matters

By RUSSELL GLOOR, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – When Should My Wife Claim Social Security?
Dear Rusty: My wife will be 65 next year, and her full retirement age is 66 years plus 10 months. Can she collect 50% of my Social Security benefit at her full retirement age and then get her own higher personal amount at age 70? Her own amount at her full retirement age is $1,100 per month but her age 70 amount is $1,800. My Social Security is $2,300. Suggestions welcome. Signed: My Wife’s Helper
Dear Helper: Your wife cannot separate her spousal benefit from her personal Social Security retirement benefit – whenever she claims she will be automatically deemed to be filing for both her own benefit and her spousal entitlement. Thus, she cannot claim her spousal benefit first at her full retirement age and defer claiming her own SS retirement benefit until she is 70. When your wife should claim is, essentially, a decision which should consider the urgency of her need for the money, her life expectancy, whether she will be eligible for a spouse benefit from you, and whether she is working.
If your wife claims before her full retirement age (FRA) and is working, she’ll be subject to Social Security’s “earnings test” which limits how much she can earn before some SS benefits are taken away (Social Security’s earnings test goes away at FRA).
Average life expectancy for a woman your wife’s age is about 87. If your current $2,300 benefit is a result of you taking your Social Security at your full retirement age or earlier, then your wife will receive a small “spousal boost” from you. If she claims at her full retirement age, your wife’s total Social Security payment will be 50% of the amount you were entitled to at your FRA and that will be her permanent amount, except for annual COLA increases. However, from what you’ve shared, your wife’s age 70 amount is considerably more than her maximum spousal benefit so, if her life expectancy is long, that suggests she may wish to consider waiting until age 70 to claim her own maximum benefit. By doing so, your wife will get more in cumulative lifetime benefits if she achieves average life expectancy.
The unknown factor is your life expectancy because, as your widow, your wife will be entitled to 100% of the amount you were receiving at your death, instead of the smaller amount she is receiving on her own or as your spouse. If life expectancy is long for both of you, then your wife maximizing her own benefit by waiting until age 70 to claim is a prudent choice. But if your, or your wife’s, life expectancy is shorter, then your wife claiming at her full retirement age would be a better decision.


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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

Roanoke Colony — just off the coast of North Carolina — was the first settlement in America. It was founded by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1585, but a year later, the newcomers were suffering so badly from “dwindling food supplies and Indian attacks” that they sailed back to England. History.com reports, “in 1587, Raleigh sent out another group of 100…under John White. [He sailed] to England to procure more supplies, but the war with Spain delayed his return…By the time [he] finally [re-appeared] in August 1590, everyone had vanished.”
Even today, nobody knows why.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee Miller.

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The Civil Rights Act of 1964 “was one of the most important pieces of legislation in American history, but it did not singlehandedly put a stop to discrimination in public education,” according to History.com. “Aside from the famous ‘Massive Resistance’ campaign against desegregation in the South, schools continued to fail racial minorities and students for whom English was not their first language.”
Because of that gap, the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) was consummated on August 21, 1974. It categorically barred states from discriminating against students because of gender, race, color, or nationality—and--it obliged public schools to provide for students who did not speak English.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden.

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As a lawyer for the “little man,” as History.com puts it, Thurgood Marshall, was an extraordinary attorney. He attended Howard University Law School and graduated magna cum laude in 1933. A year later he was working for the Baltimore NAACP, and by the time he was 32---in 1940--Marshall was the organization’s chief counsel.
“Over the next two decades, Marshall distinguished himself as one of the country’s leading advocates for individual rights, winning 29 of the 32 cases he argued in front of the Supreme Court.” In 1954, he protested the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka before the Supreme Court upending the so-called “separate but equal” principal of “laws designed to achieve racial segregation by means of separate and equal public facilities and services for African Americans and whites.”
On August 30, 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary by Juan Williams.

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What’s for dinner
Amber Worrick of Southfield, Michigan, went grocery shopping recently. When she got home her daughter was helping her unpack and suddenly let out a scream when she spotted a live frog in the plastic package containing the spinach. “It was alive and moving,” according to Amber who told one TV reporter she didn’t want to become known as the “frog lady.” The grocery store manager, of course, gave her an apology and refunded the cost of the spinach.

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Iguanas and snakes
You can imagine the shock Crystal Collins of Hollywood, Florida, had when her husband discovered an iguana in a toilet bowl in their home recently. "We both looked at each other like what are we going to do. I joked about burning the house down. Neither of us do lizards." They wound up calling a friend to come over and help get rid of the creature. Meanwhile, in Tucson, AZ, Michelle Lespron had a similar shock when she returned from vacation; she lifted the lid of her toilet and found a black and pink coachwhip snake. "I slammed the lid back down right away when I saw it," she told reporters. Michelle wasted no time in contacting a snake wrangler who explained that coachwhip snakes aren’t poisonous but can get aggressive.

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A wedding they won’t forget
Cailyn McRossie-Martinez and Brandon Martinez of Boulder, Colorado, were married recently and, boy, did they have a wedding reception they’ll never forget. For one thing, the day featured what was described as monsoon rains and then a bear showed up at their wedding reception. The newlyweds took it in stride, though. As Brandon put it, “It’s not too often you go in to your dessert table and see a bear crashing it and eating all of it." Cailyn called it “the perfect Colorado wedding. Life doesn't always go to plan, but it's how you get through it together."

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Fall-planted cover crops provide many benefits to gardens
By MELINDA MYERS
Put your garden to work over winter by planting a cover crop this fall. Covering the soil with plants that are turned into the soil or smothered and allowed to decompose in spring provides many benefits.
Fall-planted cover crops protect the soil from erosion over winter and reduce stormwater runoff into nearby waterways and storm sewers. They also help reduce weeds by forming a dense mat that increases organic matter, adds nutrients, and improves the soil quality for your plants. These crops also help conserve soil moisture, and many provide welcome habitats for pollinators and other beneficial insects.
​​​​​​​Oats, winter rye, winter wheat, crimson clover, and hairy vetch are common fall-planted cover crops. The crimson clover and hairy vetch are legumes that can add a lot of nitrogen to the soil when they decompose. Try combining these with non-legumes when possible. Consider purchasing a cover crop mix like the True Leaf Market no-till pollinator-friendly cover crop mix which contains both and helps support pollinators.
Most cover crops go dormant over winter and resume growth in spring. Annuals like daikon radishes and oats are killed by cold winter temperatures. This makes oats a good choice if you want to get an early start to planting in spring.
Plant fall cover crops at least 4 weeks before the first killing frost to give them time to establish. Cereal rye is an exemption and can be planted right up to the first frost. You can plant the whole garden bed or just the area between vegetables that are still growing.
Remove any weeds, plants, and mulch when planting garden beds. Loosen the soil and rake it smooth before seeding. Just remove the mulch, loosen, and rake the soil between the rows of actively growing vegetables when planting cover crops in these spaces.
Check the seed packet for the amount of seed needed to cover the area you are planting. Spread the seed over the prepared soil by hand or with a broadcast spreader and gently rake the seeds into the soil. Make it easier to evenly spread tiny seeds by mixing them with compost and then spreading them. Once the seeds are planted, gently water using a fine mist.
Annual plants will be killed by cold winter temperatures, but the perennial cover crops will put on vigorous growth in late winter or early spring. Suppress this growth and kill the cover crop before it sets seed and at least 2 to 4 weeks before planting your garden. This allows microorganisms time to decompose the plant residue and avoid nitrogen deficiencies in spring plantings.
In spring use your mower or weed whip to cut the cover crop to the ground. You can till the residue into the soil at that time or cover the area with a black tarp or weed barrier for at least 2 weeks. Remove the tarp then incorporate the residue into the soil or plant your vegetables through the dead plant remains.
Avoid working wet soil that can result in compaction, hard as rock clods, and take years to repair the damage. Do a moisture test before working the soil. Grab a handful of soil and gently squeeze. If it breaks into smaller pieces with a tap of your finger, it is ready to work. If it remains in a mud ball, wait a few days.
Two weeks or more after the cover crop has been killed or tilled into the soil you can begin planting. Planting any earlier can result in nutrient deficiencies that will require a light spring fertilization.
Adding cover crops to your gardening routine will improve the soil, plant growth and is good for the environment. Like any new gardening practice, it can take time to adapt it to your space, climate, and gardening style. The cover crop growing guide at trueleafmarket.com can help. With time and experience, growing cover crops can soon become a part of your gardening routine.

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Medal of Honor Monday: Army Cpl. Lester Hammond Jr.
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
It takes a lot of courage to make a decision in battle that you know will lead to your death. That's something Army Cpl. Lester Hammond Jr. did when his unit was ambushed in Korea. He sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. That uncommon valor earned him the Medal of Honor.
Hammond was born on March 25, 1931, in Wayland, Missouri. His parents were Lester and Cora Hammond, and he had an older sister, Twila. At some point, the family moved to Quincy, Illinois, where Hammond graduated high school.
Hammond joined the Army in 1948, then reenlisted three years later before being sent to Korea in January 1952 with the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. Paratroopers of the 187th had already made a name for themselves in Korea by participating in the amphibious landings at Inchon and helping to liberate Seoul, an action that made them the only airborne regiment to receive a Navy Presidential Citation.
Within a few months, the 21-year-old Hammond was serving in the area of Kumhwa, Korea, as a radio operator with Company A. On Aug. 14, 1952, he was part of a six-man reconnaissance patrol that had penetrated about two miles into enemy-held territory. Suddenly, they were ambushed and partly surrounded by a much larger enemy force.
Hammond's team opened fire to try to push the enemy back, but they were overpowered, so they quickly withdrew and tried to find cover in a ditch along a narrow ravine. According to teammate Cpl. William J. Liell, whose story was later told in a May 1953 article in the Kansas City Times, all six of the men were injured. Liell said he tried to help Hammond into the ditch, but he refused.
Instead, Hammond stayed exposed to the enemy so he could watch their movements and call for artillery fire to take them out. He was injured a second time during these airstrikes but managed to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy and kept them away from his fellow soldiers.
Liell and others who were there that day said they believed Hammond was hit by the artillery fire he directed, fully knowing it would end his life. Maj. Walter J. Klepeis was the officer who received Hammond's transmission requests for airstrikes. When Hammond requested a strike right on his position, Klepeis said the young soldier knew exactly what he was asking for.
"I wish … every American could have listened in to hear how a brave man dies," Klepeis later wrote in a report detailing the incident.
Thanks to Hammond's courage and devotion, another platoon was able to reach his beleaguered patrol and evacuate them to friendly lines. His valor also earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor, which was presented to his family on Aug. 5, 1953, by Earl D. Johnson, undersecretary of the Army, during a Pentagon ceremony.Spotlight: Commemorating the Korean WarHammond was initially buried in Greenmount Cemetery in Quincy, but in 1983, he was reinterred in the town's Sunset Cemetery at the Illinois Veterans Home and given a formal military burial. The cemetery's Medal of Honor Drive is dedicated to him and other Medal of Honor recipients.
Hammond's sacrifice has not been forgotten. On the campus of the Illinois Veterans Home is the All Wars Museum, which has a huge mural of Hammond that was completed in 1998. The memorial also includes a display case that holds his Medal of Honor, which the family gave to the museum in 1979.
In 2018, Sycamore Healthcare Center, a nursing home for veterans in Quincy, was revamped and renamed Hammond Hall in his honor. Ballparks in Korea and Japan have also been named for him, as have a housing project and a community center at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

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Social Security Matters

By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – Why is Social Security Withholding My Monthly Payments?

Dear Rusty: I have been working since I started collecting Social Security when I turned 62. Last year I was apparently overpaid because of my job. I made $37,000 and now the Social Security Administration says I owe them $8,800 dollars because I made too much, and they have withheld my $2000 monthly SS payment. I am close to the maximum allowable again already this year. So, I am looking at quitting my job so I don't go over, but they are holding my payments so then I would have no money. Any help would be appreciated. Signed: Frustrated by Social Security
Dear Frustrated: You are being affected by Social Security’s “earnings test” which applies to everyone who collects early Social Security and also works before reaching their full retirement age (FRA). If your earned income exceeds the annual limit (which was $19,560 for 2022), Social Security will withhold $1 in benefits for every $2 you are over the limit. If you earned $37,000 in 2022 you were more than $17,000 over the limit and owe half of that back to Social Security. They usually recover what you owe by withholding your future benefit payments, so they won’t pay you benefits until they have recovered that $8,800, after which your benefits will resume - but only for a while.
If you are working full time and also collecting early Social Security benefits, the earnings test lasts until you reach your full retirement age, which for you is 66 years and 8 months. The earnings limit goes up a bit each year – for 2023 it is $21,240 – but if you continue to work full time, you’ll receive another overpayment notice and have more benefits withheld. A better approach might be to contact Social Security in advance and tell them what your 2023 earnings are expected to be, thus permitting them to suspend your benefits in advance and avoid overpaying you. I’m afraid there is no way around this – collecting early benefits while working full time means the “earnings test” will affect your benefit payments.
The “good news” in all of this is that when you reach your full retirement age, you will get time-credit for all months your benefits were withheld. By that I mean they will, at your FRA, recalculate your benefit entitlement as though you had claimed later (later by the number of months you had benefits withheld), which will result in a higher monthly payment after your FRA. In that way, you may eventually recover some or all of the benefits withheld by receiving a higher monthly amount for the rest of your life, starting at your full retirement age.
I suggest you contact Social Security at 1.800.772.1213 (or at your local office) and tell them you want to provide them with an estimate of your 2023 earnings because you are working and collecting early Social Security benefits. They will work with you to suspend your benefits for an appropriate number of (additional) months to avoid another overpayment situation. Note, you’ll likely need to do this each year you continue to work full time, until the year you reach your full retirement age when the earnings limit more than doubles. The earnings limit goes away when you reach your full retirement age.

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Old and bold
An “air chair” is not as comfy as it may sound -- especially if you are a nonagenarian. But that didn’t stop 94-year-old Ejnar Dyrr from sitting back on his hydrofoil, a sit-down platform pulled by a motorboat, as it skimmed across the Pineview Reservoir in Ogden Valley, Utah. His 8 children, 27 grandchildren and 30 or more great-grandchildren were on hand to cheer him on. The feat is likely to win him a page in the Guinness Book of World Records. Dyrr learned how to ride an air chair when he was younger -- at the age of 88.

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Excuse me!
How loud can you burp? Kimberly "Kimycola" Winter can belch as loud as a power lawn mower, 107 decibels loud. Indeed, her loud hiccup earned her a page in the Guinness Book of World Records recently. The sound she made is just 5.7 decibels short of the 112.7 decibel burp Neville Sharp of Australia made to win the men’s record in 2021.

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Masters of jugglery
It’s likely that David Rush and his partner, Arthur Lewbel did it again. They recently made 914 nonstop juggling catches and now they are awaiting word from the Guinness judges that they made it into the record book. In 2018 they earned the title by making 532 side-by-side juggling catches. Rush has earned some 250 Guinness Records in his lifetime for feats such as the world’s fastest juggler, juggling the most bowling balls and making the most consecutive ax-juggling catches. Oh yeah, he also won the Guinness World Record for using his nose to blow up 10 balloons in one minute.

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Tomato troubles

By MELINDA MYERS

Extreme heat, drought, torrential rains, and hungry critters may be wreaking havoc on your garden. After weeding, watering, and waiting you may be finding less, diseased, or misshapen tomatoes. Don’t give up. Make a few adjustments in garden maintenance to boost the current and future tomato harvests.
Blossom end rot is a common problem on the first set of fruit. It’s due to a calcium deficiency often caused by fluctuations in soil moisture frequently seen on the first set of fruit and those grown in containers.
Always water thoroughly to encourage a deep robust root system. Adjust your watering as needed and mulch the soil to help keep it consistently moist. Have your soil tested before adding any calcium fertilizer. Further reduce the risk of blossom end rot by avoiding root damage when staking and cultivating your garden. Eliminating some of the roots limits the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients. Avoid overfertilization and don’t use ammonium-based nitrogen fertilizers on tomatoes.
Fortunately, it is safe to eat the firm red portion of the affected tomato. Since this is a physiological disorder, not a disease or insect problem you can cut off the black portion and toss it into the compost pile.
Cracked fruit is also common in the garden. Fluctuating temperatures, moisture stress, and improper fertilization result in irregular development of the fruit that results in cracking. You can’t change the weather, but you can reduce the risk of this problem with thorough, less frequent watering to encourage deep roots. And just like blossom end rot, mulch the soil to keep it evenly moist and be sure to avoid root damage.
Several fungal diseases, such as early and late blight, septoria leaf spot, and anthracnose, can cause spots on the leaves and fruit of tomatoes. Minimize the problem by rotating your plantings whenever possible. Move your tomatoes to an area of the garden where unrelated crops, such as beans, lettuce, or onions, had been growing the previous season.
Mulching the soil also helps keep soil-borne fungal spores off the plant. Water early in the day and if possible, apply the water directly to the soil with a soaker hose, drip irrigation, or a watering wand to reduce the risk of disease.
Properly space and stake or tower your tomato plants to promote healthier growth and reduce the risk of disease. Remove any volunteer tomatoes that sprout and crowd out the current season’s planting.
Remove weeds as they appear. Many serve as hosts for insect pests and diseases and compete with tomato plants for water and nutrients. Removing them before they flower and set seed eliminates hundreds of weeds you would need to pull next year.
Always clean up and dispose of disease-infected plant material in the fall. Cultural practices and growing the most disease-resistant varieties available are often enough to keep these diseases under control.
If you choose to use a fungicide, select one labeled for food crops and apply it at the first sign of the disease. Repeat applications are usually needed. Be sure to read and follow all label directions carefully whether using organic, natural, or synthetic fungicides.
Enjoy this year’s harvest and continue to make any needed changes now and in the future to boost your gardening success. And as a gardener you know there is always next year.

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Medal of Honor: Army Capt. Loren D. Hagen
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Army Capt. Loren Douglas Hagen joined the Green Berets during the Vietnam War so he could find a childhood friend who'd never returned from deployment. Hagen didn't come home, either, but the extraordinary heroism he displayed while leading his men during a harrowing mission earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Hagen was born on Feb. 25, 1946, to Loren and Eunice Hagen, and went by his middle name, Doug. For much of his childhood, he and his two younger brothers lived in Moorhead, Minnesota, on the border with Fargo, North Dakota, until their parents moved them to Decatur, Illinois. There, Hagen excelled at MacArthur High School, where he was an honor student and the president of the student council his senior year. He was also an Eagle Scout.
After high school, Hagen moved back to the Fargo area to attend North Dakota State University. He earned an engineering degree in 1968 before enlisting in the Army when the Vietnam War was still escalating.
"His goal was to find his best friend from high school, who had gone missing in action," said Sen. Bill Nelson in May 2015 during congressional testimony. That friend was Alan Boyer, who had disappeared during a mission in Vietnam on March 28, 1968.
Hagen was commissioned as an officer before training to join the Special Forces. He eventually served in the same unit Boyer had been in, according to a 2016 Decatur Herald and Review article. They were both part of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observations Group, which often conducted dangerous, classified missions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
According to a 1971 article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Hagen, then a first lieutenant, was severely wounded in June 1971 in Vietnam and was recommended for the Silver Star at that time. He spent a few weeks in recovery before returning to the field.
Two weeks into that return, Hagen was appointed as the leader of a team consisting of six other U.S. special operators and nine indigenous soldiers called Montagnards. Known as Recon Team Kansas, they were sent to operate deep in enemy-held territory on the Laotian border.
According to Army documents, on the afternoon of Aug. 6, 1971, Recon Team Kansas was inserted into mountainous, rocky enemy terrain to do some reconnaissance and potentially rescue prisoners of war. After they set up defensive perimeters around the few bunkers near the hilltop, the team hunkered down for the night, occasionally detected enemy movement that they fired upon as needed.
Around 6 a.m. the next day, they were fiercely attacked by a large enemy force that was employing small-arms, automatic weapons and mortar and rocket fire against them.
Hagen quickly started returning fire and successfully led his team to repel the first attempted onslaught. They then spread out to get into better defensive positions before the enemy tried a second time to take them out.
On several occasions, Hagen exposed himself to enemy fire as he moved around the perimeter to rally the team, direct their fire and resupply them with fresh ammo, all while using his own gun and hand grenades to help push the enemy back. His Medal of Honor citation said that those courageous actions and leadership abilities were a great source of inspiration for his small team to continue the fight.
About an hour after the second wave of fighting started, Hagen saw an enemy rocket directly hit one of the team's bunkers, which Sgt. Bruce A. Berg was known to be in. Hagen knew that the enemy had totally overrun the area where that bunker was, but he didn't care. He directed his assistant team leader to assume command before moving toward the bunker anyway, hoping to find Berg and anyone else who may have been inside.
Hagen ignored his own safety and crawled through enemy fire, returning volleys with his own gun until he was hit and killed.
Two other Americans died that day — Berg and fellow Green Beret SSgt. Oran L. Bingham — along with six of the Montagnard commandos. The remaining men on the team were all wounded. Luckily, they were able to stave off the attack until backup and evacuation helicopters came.
One of Hagen's teammates, Sgt. Tony Anderson, discussed the ordeal in the book "SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam," by retired Army Maj. John L. Plaster. Anderson attributed their survival to Hagen.
"It's amazing that any of us came through it with the amount of incoming that we were getting," Andersen said. " epitomized what a Special Forces officer should be — attentive to detail, a lot of rehearsals, followed through on things. … We were ready. I think that was probably the only thing that kept us from being totally overrun. Everybody was alert and knew what was happening."
According to Plaster's book, the Air Force said Hagen's team ended up killing 185 North Vietnamese soldiers during the fight and likely wounded twice as many.
A week after Hagen's death, he was posthumously promoted to captain. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The Medal of Honor was presented to Hagen's family by Vice President Gerald R. Ford on Aug. 8, 1974, the day before Ford was inaugurated as president. Five other fallen Vietnam War soldiers received the medal that day: Maj. William Adams, Staff Sgt. Glenn English Jr., Staff Sgt. Robert Murray, Cpl. Frank Fratellenico and Spc. 4 Larry G. Dahl.
Hagen's two hometowns have not forgotten him. In 2015, American Legion Post 308 in West Fargo was named in his honor. At his former high school in Decatur, a Doug Hagen Scholarship for students was created in his name.
While he was alive, Hagen never did find out what happened to Boyer, his high school friend. It took another 45 years for those details to finally be uncovered.
In 2016, Boyer's sister, Judi Boyer-Bouchard, told the Decatur Herald and Review that she'd gotten a phone call from the Army saying that her brother's remains had been identified. The article said Boyer's body had been in the possession of remains traders in Laos before ending up with a peace activist. That activist turned them over to the U.S. government, which subsequently did DNA testing to confirm that they were Boyer.
Boyer now rests in Arlington National Cemetery, five rows in front of Hagen, the friend who went to Vietnam to find him so long ago.

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A whale of a tale
According to the International Whaling Commission “whale watching tourism is rapidly growing around the world.” But it is highly unlikely that the majority of the millions of whale watchers out there have seen what the Robert Addie family saw off the coast of Provincetown, MA recently: three humpback whales simultaneously breaching the Atlantic Ocean. Coincidentally, Robert had his video camera handy when the trio of whales soared out of the water at the same time.

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Go figure
It is estimated that hundreds of millions of online buyers make purchases via Amazon. Cindy Smith of Prince William County, VA is one of them, as is Liz Geltman of Washington, D.C. That’s not the only thing they have in common. Back in May Ms. Geltman reported that she received some 80 unsolicited packages of goods from the online “super” market over a period of time. More recently, Ms. Smith received more than 100 boxes containing a variety of products ranging from glue guns to binoculars. She, too, did not order the goodies she received. Believe it or not, according to the UPI news service: “Amazon officials said they looked into both incidents, and discovered both Smith and Geltman's packages were the result of vendors having packages shipped to random addresses in order to remove unsold merchandise from Amazon fulfillment centers.”

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Grin and “bear” it
The Chinese zookeepers insist that the Sun Bear on display at the Hangzhou Zoo in Zhejiang Province East China is real, despite a viral video that suggests the bear is actually a man wearing a costume. The video shows the bear standing upright on slim legs with baggy skin that certainly looks like an ill-fitting costume. According to the zoo, “when it comes to bears, the first thing that comes to mind is a huge figure and astonishing power. But not all bears are behemoths and danger personified."

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

According to History.com. “The USS Nautilus was constructed under the direction of U.S. Navy Captain Hyman G. Rickover, a brilliant Russian-born engineer who joined the U.S. atomic program in 1946. In 1947, he was put in charge of the navy’s nuclear-propulsion program and began work on an atomic submarine. Regarded as a fanatic by his detractors, Rickover succeeded in developing and delivering the world’s first nuclear submarine years ahead of schedule.
“In 1952, the Nautilus’ keel was laid by President Harry S. Truman, and on January 21, 1954, first lady Mamie Eisenhower broke a bottle of champagne across its bow as it was launched into the Thames River at Groton, Connecticut. Commissioned on September 30, 1954, it first ran under nuclear power on the morning of January 17, 1955,”
The inaugural voyage—to the North Pole—however, did not take place until August 3, 1958.
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Nautilus to Columbia: 70 years of the US Navy's Nuclear Submarines by James C. Goodall.

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As she ascended to the Supreme Court--on August 8, 2009--the White House issued a news release describing Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as "one of the ablest federal judges currently sitting" and "a role model of aspiration, discipline, commitment, intellectual prowess and integrity."
She was born in the Bronx to a Puerto Rican mother, and to a father who died when she was nine; according to History.com “…watching the CBS legal drama Perry Mason in her youth led her to aspire to a career as a judge. She received a scholarship to attend Princeton University, where she advocated strongly on behalf of the school's underserved minority communities and received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979.”
The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor won the Grateful American Book Prize in 2019.

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According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, one third of the colonists remained loyal to the British during the Revolutionary War. On August 13, 1781, Brigadier General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion, and Colonel William Harden lured 450 Tories--under British commander Major Thomas Fraser--into a trap near the marshes of Parker’s Ferry, 30 miles northwest of Charleston, South Carolina.
“Marion, who earned his nickname for his ability to ‘outfox’ his opponents in the swamps of the South Carolina backcountry, sent his fastest riders ahead to tempt Fraser into a waiting Patriot trap,” according to History.com. “The maneuver succeeded. Fraser ordered his men to charge, and three successive volleys of musket fire by the Patriots mowed down the ranks of the Loyalist cavalry. Only a shortage of ammunition among the Patriots saved the Loyalists, who lost half their force in the skirmish. Fraser…was hit three times in the course of the engagement but managed to continue in command of his men.”
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution by H. W. Brands.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Pvt. Joseph Ozbourn

By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Service members caught in a firefight will do whatever they can to protect their comrades. Marine Corps Pvt. Joseph William Ozbourn was one of those people during World War II. His loyalty led to his death, but his personal sacrifice also earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Ozbourn was born on Oct. 24, 1919, in Herrin, Illinois. He grew up there with his parents, Thomas and Eva Ozbourn, and his older brother, James, who served in the Army during World War II.
According to Ozbourn's father, who was interviewed in a 1963 South Bend Tribune article, his youngest son was well-liked by all who knew him and had quit school in the eighth grade to work at a factory. Ozbourn later worked as a coal mine trip rider for Old Ben Coal Corporation, like his father had, in nearby West Frankfurt, Illinois.
Ozbourn's mother died in 1939. In December of that year, he married Helen Meacham, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. They had a son named Ronald.
According to 1940 Census data, by 1940, Ozbourn was working as a laborer for the Work Projects Administration, a government agency formed under the New Deal.
Ozbourn enlisted in the Marine Corps on Oct. 30, 1943, right in the middle of World War II. He was assigned to the 4th Marine Division's 1st Battalion, 23d Marines, a unit that was activated in July of 1942. By late January 1944, the unit was deployed to the South Pacific. Ozbourn's father said it apparently happened with little warning, as his son had asked his family for funds to come home on furlough but was instead shipped overseas.
Pretty quickly, the 1st Battalion was thrown into battle at Roi-Namur, part of the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. After defeating the Japanese there, the division island-hopped by May 1944 to the Mariana Islands, which were the last bastion of Japan's Central Pacific perimeter. The Marines first took Saipan before moving onto Tinian Island.
On July 30, 1944, Ozbourn was on Tinian serving as a rifleman in a five-man platoon that was tasked with clearing out the remaining enemy troops from dugouts and pillboxes along a particular treeline. As Ozbourn was about to throw a hand grenade into one of those dugouts, an explosion from its entrance knocked him and the four other men backward, injuring them all.
Ozbourn quickly realized that his grenade was armed and ready to blow at any second. However, he was unable to throw it into the dugout, and he had no place else to get rid of it that didn't endanger the other Marines with him.
Without hesitation, the 24-year-old selflessly pulled the grenade close to his body and fell upon it as it exploded. He absorbed the full impact of the blast and died where he lay. But his sacrifice saved his comrades.
The Marines succeeded in beating the enemy at Tinian, and the Allies eventually took over all of the Marianas. The win severed the Japanese's southern supply lines and pushed their defense west of the Philippines while also opening the Japanese homeland to aerial assaults. Tinian later became the base of operations for the launch of the atomic bombs that ended the war.
Ozbourn was initially buried on Tinian, but his remains were later reinterred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
His widow, Helen, received the Medal of Honor on his behalf, though the date on which that happened is unclear. She had received it by the time she christened the destroyer named for her fallen husband in March 1946. The USS Ozbourn was commissioned at the Boston Naval Shipyard.
Ozbourn has been remembered in many ways in his home state, including along a portion of a highway in his hometown, which was renamed in his honor.

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Housecall

Dr. Daniel Knight is a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Q: When should children begin getting eye exams? A: Opinions vary on when children should get their first eye exams. The health of the child, desires of the parents or guardians, family history, and recommendations from a health care provider all play a part in this decision. Vision problems in children are often the same as those in adults. Amblyopia (commonly referred to as lazy eye) is due to a communication fault between the brain and the affected eye, and is reversible if detected early. Blurred vision from nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are refractive errors related to light and its focus on the retina. Epiphora (excess tearing) is normally due to a blockage of the tear drainage system. Strabismus (or crossed eyes) is when one eye is turned in a different direction than the other. Eye exams are normally part of a visit to a health care provider with an infant. A check of the eyes and lids, pupil response and eye movement may occur. A referral to an ophthalmologist may be in order if the child was born prematurely or if there are signs of eye disease. At a minimum, eye exams should occur prior to a child attending school. Vision problems can affect learning and overall development.

Q: How is psoriasis treated? A: Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disorder in which skin cells grow much faster than normal. Skin cells generally grow and shed within 30 days. In a person affected by psoriasis, an overactive immune system causes skin cell growth to occur in three or four days and instead of shedding, they pile on top of one another. Psoriasis often presents itself between the ages of 15 and 25, but may start at any age and affects people of all ethnicities. Symptoms include patches of discolored skin. Depending upon the affected person’s skin tone, these patches may be red with silver scales, or brown or purple with gray scales. Skin may crack or bleed, or a person may experience problems with discoloration and pitting of fingernails and toenails. Triggers are specific to each individual and may include infections, cold, dry weather, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and certain medications. Psoriasis is not contagious. The specific cause of psoriasis is unknown. Your health care provider may take a skin sample to determine the type of psoriasis, as well as to rule out other medical conditions. Treatment options include creams and ointments, phototherapy (exposing skin to ultraviolet light), or oral and injected medications.

Q: What should I look for in a primary care provider? A: Choosing a primary care provider (PCP) is an important step in maintaining your health. Whether you are in relatively good shape and need minimal assistance, or you are someone who requires extensive care, the PCP establishes the foundation for your health care needs. Many patients stay with the same PCP for years. The PCP works with patients on a variety of health care concerns and is the first person you should see if you have a problem. PCP’s can help with issues such as preventive care, long-term care, early detection of conditions, routine checkups, treating acute and chronic illnesses, and making referrals to specialists. Several factors should be considered when choosing a PCP. Among them are your specific needs – family practice physicians treat patients of all ages, internal medicine practitioners normally treat adults in managing chronic conditions, while pediatricians treat patients under the age of 18. Checking with your insurance to determine which doctors are in network is also important. The accessibility of the PCP’s office, and whether they are accepting new patients should be considered. You may also inquire as to which hospital the PCP uses, and determine if you are comfortable with that facility.

Q: What is neurosurgery?
A: Neurosurgery involves diagnosing and treating individuals with injuries or disorders of the brain, spine and other parts of the nervous system. While neurosurgery is often associated with brain injuries, it does apply to other parts of the body. Neurosurgeons are doctors who specialize in neurosurgery. They provide operative and non-operative management of neurological disorders. Conditions for which you may need neurosurgery include brain injury or trauma, herniated disks, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, sciatica or spinal stenosis. Neurosurgery can remove blood clots, repair aneurysms, assist with carpal tunnel syndrome, remove tumors or fuse your spine. While some institutions don’t require a referral to see a neurosurgeon, it is advised to see your primary health care provider for initial examination and diagnosis. If more in-depth analysis is required or if a patient does not respond to other treatments or has unexplained neurological symptoms, they may be referred to a neurosurgeon. A visit to a neurosurgeon does not necessarily mean surgery is imminent. Neurosurgeons are able to provide surgical and nonsurgical options. If surgery is required, current technology allows for minimally invasive surgery as well as traditional surgery. Minimally invasive surgery often results in faster recovery times and less post-surgery pain.


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Social Security Matters
By Russell Gloor, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – I’m a Veteran. How Do I Get My Extra Social Security?

Dear Rusty: As a military veteran, I was told that the final amount of my Social Security should be a little higher as a reward for military service. If so, I have two questions: 1. How much is the boost? 2. How can I know that amount has been applied? Signed: Unsure
Dear Unsure: We receive questions about this fairly often from our military veterans. I want to first thank you for your service to our country and then assure you that, as a military veteran myself, I have thoroughly investigated this subject - the so-called “Special Extra Credit for Military Service,” which is widely misunderstood. Although someone suggested that your Social Security benefit “is supposed to be a little higher” because you are a military veteran, allow me to share how this somewhat obscure rule actually works.
Any extra money for military veterans does not come in the form of a special “boost” to their Social Security benefit because of their military service; instead, certain older veterans receive extra credit to their earnings for the years they served. Those extra earnings are applied only to those who served in specific years, as additional dollars added to their actual earnings record for their service-years. The amount added to the veteran’s true service-year earnings varies a bit depending on which years you served. For example, if you served between 1957 – 1977, your actual earnings for each service-year would be increased by $300 for each full quarter you had active duty pay to a maximum of $1200 additional earnings per service-year. The credit is computed a bit differently for those who served between 1978 – 2001, but the maximum annual earnings credit for those service years is the same - $1,200. And, for clarity, those who served before 1957 get extra earnings credit under an entirely different formula, and those who served after 2001 receive no extra credits for their military service years.
So how might this affect your Social Security benefit? Well, when your benefit is claimed, Social Security reviews your lifetime earnings record, inflates each actual annual amount to equal today’s dollar equivalent, and selects the highest earning 35 years from your lifetime record to calculate your “Primary Insurance Amount” or “PIA” (your PIA is the amount you are entitled to at full retirement age). If your military service-years are among the 35 years used to compute your PIA when you claim, then the “Special Extra Credit for Military Service” will result in a somewhat higher PIA (a slightly higher monthly SS benefit). If the highest earning 35 years in your lifetime record do not include your military-service-years, then those extra credits added to your earnings for your military-service-years will have no effect on your Social Security benefit (because using those service-years would result in a lower benefit). How Social Security applies those special extra credits to your service-year earnings also varies depending on when you served. Those who served before 1968 needed to show their DD-214 to get the extra credits, but those who served in between 1968 – 2001 were automatically given the extra credits based on their military service records.
So, if your military service was between 1968 and 2001, your earnings during the years you served were automatically increased by SS to reflect your “special extra” earnings and - if those years are among the highest of the 35 years used to compute your SS benefit - you are now receiving the extra benefit amount you’re entitled to from those credits. If you have at least 35 years over your lifetime where you earned more than your pay while serving in the military, your current benefit is more than it would be if your military service years were included. If you have questions about your earnings during your military service years, you may wish to obtain a copy of your lifetime earnings history from Social Security to review those amounts (easiest way to get your lifetime earnings history is via your personal “my Social Security” account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

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Honoring Charles Durning, Character Actor and WWII Hero

By JOE GUZZARDI

Charles Durning’s D-Day memories were so painful that for decades he suppressed them. Drafted at age 20, Durning eventually earned a Silver Star for valor, a Bronze Star for meritorious service in a combat zone, and three Purple Hearts, given in the president’s name to those wounded or killed in military service. Just out of high school, which he didn’t complete until the war ended, Durning was the only survivor in a unit that landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.
Durning’s World War II experiences are unfathomable, and his actions in defense of his fellow soldiers, selfless and heroic. During the Normandy battle, Durning killed seven German gunners, but suffered serious machine gun wounds to his right leg and shrapnel wounds throughout his body.
After a six-month recovery in England, Durning was rushed back to the front lines to fight against the German Ardennes offensive. During the Battle of the Bulge, Durning suffered more wounds, this time in hand-to-hand bayonet combat when he was stabbed eight times. Despite the vicious assault, Durning summoned up the strength to kill his attacker with a rock which earned him a second Purple Heart. Soon after, his company was captured and forced to march through the Malmedy Forest; in the ensuing “Malmedy massacre,” German troops opened fire on the prisoners, and Durning was among the few who escaped.
Durning would earn his third Purple Heart when, in March 1945, he moved into Germany with the 398th Infantry Regiment, where he was severely wounded when a bullet struck him in the chest. Private First Class Durning was evacuated to the U.S. to spend the remainder of his active Army career recovering until he was discharged in January 1946.
Born in 1923, Durning grew up in Highland Falls, N.Y., near the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His father, James, an Irish immigrant who had joined the Army to gain U.S. citizenship, lost a leg during World War I and died when Charles was 12. James’ widow Louise supported her five children by working as a laundress at West Point. Four other children died from scarlet fever.
After the war, Durning used dance as physical therapy to strengthen his badly injured leg and speech therapy to smooth out a stutter that had developed. He began training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, but was told he lacked talent. Undeterred, he took small roles with Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Company and taught ballroom dancing at the Fred Astaire studio.
Eventually, Durning achieved his lifelong goal when he landed parts in television and the movies. His most memorable silver screen appearances among his 200 films include The Sting, 1973; Dog Day Afternoon, 1975, and Tootsie, 1982. His significant honors include numerous Academy, Emmy and Tony Award nominations.
Reluctant to visit the site where so many of his comrades lay, Durning returned to Normandy only once after the war ended. Looking back during a 1994 Memorial Day service to recognize the invasion’s 50th anniversary, Durning noted remorsefully that the U.S. had engaged in at least five wars since World War II – Korea, Desert Storm, Panama, Grenada and Vietnam. He said that each war is pertinent to only the individual who was there.
“I don’t know what they went through; they don’t know what I went through,” said Durning. “Each person fights his own war. Each person is on a one-to-one basis with whoever’s opposite him.” Durning added: “That war changed history as we knew it. It was the greatest armada that ever hit any country, anywhere, anytime in the history of mankind. No one will ever see anything that enormous again.” World War II was, Durning said, the last war that had a well-defined purpose.
In January 2008, Durning was honored with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and his star was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame adjacent to the actor he most admired, Jimmy Cagney. Durning died of natural causes at his Manhattan home on Christmas Eve December 24, 2012, aged 89. Two days later, Broadway theaters dimmed their lights in his honor. Durning is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the ultimate tribute to an American hero.


Joe Guzzardi is an analyst for the Institute for Sound Public Policy. Contact him at jguzzardi@ifspp.org.
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A toothsome smile
Eleven-year-old Charlie Clinton went fishing in a local pond in Edmond, Oklahoma recently and got the shock of his young life when he landed a fish with a human-like toothsome smile. The pacu, a South American relative of the notoriously scary piranha, is known for choppers that look like they’re ready to chew away on a crackling, crispy man-sized meal. Fear not, however. Unlike the piranha, the pacus poses little danger for people. But they can grow to three-and-a-half feet in length and 88 pounds in weight, so the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation says, "anglers who catch pacu in Oklahoma are asked to remove them from the watershed and contact their local game warden."

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Don’t mess with this senior citizen
Baseball hero and New York Yankee legend, Casey Stengel, was known for his malaprops such as “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.” But he got it right when he said, “the trick is growing up without growing old.” Want proof? Ask California Angeleno Jim Arrington. He was named the world's oldest bodybuilder by the Guinness World Records in 2015, when he was 83 years old. He’s 90 years old now and he did it again. The referees at Guinness recently declared that he broke his own record at a recent International Federation of Body Building and Fitness Professional League event in Reno, Nevada. As Arrington put it "I wanted to be a superhero" and he is indeed a superhero, not only for senior citizens.

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Hot Dog!
Beenie Von Weenie is proof that “if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.” After years of trying, the dachshund finally was declared The Fastest Wienie of the West! at the 26th Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals at California’s Los Alamitos Race Course. Beenie’s owner, Nicolee Leonard, gleefully told KABC-TV, "Fantastic! I've been coming every year. And he nailed it. He won a doghouse and $1,000 and the title.”

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Medal of Honor: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Oscar Nelson
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
When a boiler exploded on Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Oscar Frederick Nelson's gunboat in 1905, he didn't hesitate to act. He pulled three men from the inferno and kept the crisis from potentially endangering people onshore. His efforts earned him the Medal of Honor.
Nelson was born on Nov. 5, 1881, in Denmark to parents Peter and Eliza Nielson. He had two siblings who were also born in Denmark. At some point in the 1890s, the family dropped the "i" in their last name and emigrated to the suburbs of Minneapolis.
According to the Brainerd Daily Dispatch out of Brainerd, Minnesota, Nelson worked in Northern Pacific railway shops in the town before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1899.
On July 21, 1905, Nelson was serving as a machinist's mate 1st class on the USS Bennington, a gunboat that had arrived in San Diego harbor from Honolulu. While the ship was docked, a boiler exploded. Nelson explained in a 1917 Quad City Times article that out of 22 men in the ship's engine room, he was the only one to survive.
"I was blown back over the steering engines and found myself lying with three men on top of me," Nelson said in the newspaper, which is based out of Davenport, Iowa. "Boiling water was escaping from the steam pipes. The bulkheads were caved in, and I could feel the boat sinking. I was forced to grope my way about the engine room was so full of steam."
After Nelson escaped, he regrouped, then rushed back into the inferno that was the engine room to drag three men out of it. Unfortunately, they didn't survive.
Since the ship was only about 300 feet from shore, Nelson said it was also imperative that he flooded the powder magazines.
"In the magazines were 13 tons of smokeless powder and 10,000 rounds of 6-inch shells of the armor-piercing kind," Nelson said in a 1914 Brainerd Daily Dispatch article. "Had the contents of the magazine exploded, a great portion of the waterfront of San Diego would have been blown up."
According to the Quad City Times, when Nelson delivered the third man he'd tried to rescue to the upper deck, he was grabbed by attendants from various steamers that came to help. They rushed him to a hospital.
The Bennington sank shortly after that. It was hauled to shore by tugboats for repairs; however, later that year, it was decommissioned and sold for scrap, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.
The explosion killed 67 of the ship's men and injured 49 others, reports showed.
For his bravery that day, Nelson received the Medal of Honor. It was presented to him on Jan. 6, 1906, by Nicholas Longworth, the son-in-law of President Teddy Roosevelt.
Nelson remained in the service afterward, serving on the torpedo boat destroyer USS Paul Jones, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He was honorably discharged a few years later.
According to Minnesota's St. Louis County Historical Society, Nelson eventually moved to Duluth, Minnesota, and worked for more than two decades for the Army Corps of Engineers. He retired in 1950.
At some point he married Anna Dahl, and they had a daughter, Beatrice.
Nelson died Sept. 26, 1951, at 69 years of age. He is buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.
Nelson's Medal of Honor can be found in the Depot of the Veterans' Memorial Hall Gallery in Duluth.

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Carrots: A healthy snack you can grow
By MELINDA MYERS

Nutritious and flavorful carrots make the perfect snack and addition to salads, stir-fries, soups, and stews. They have the crunch of chips and crackers without the fat and calories. High in vitamin A and easy to grow, plant now for a flavorful fall harvest.
You’ll find carrots in a variety of shapes and colors making them a fun and colorful addition to the garden and snack tray. Select from long and thin, short and stubby, round like a radish, and orange, red, yellow, white and even purple carrots.
Check the seed packet for the number of days from planting to harvest. Compare this to the number of days to the average first fall frost in your area. Finger-size carrots may be dwarf varieties or larger ones harvested when immature. These are usually ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days while other larger varieties grown to ¾” in diameter need a bit longer, 60 to 70 days, to reach full size.
Plant the seeds in a sunny well-drained location. Dig a shallow trench, planting the seeds ½ to ¾” deep in the summer when the soil is warm. Plant no more than two to three seeds per inch. Or mix the fine carrot seeds with potting mix and sprinkle this mixture over the soil surface. Be patient as it can take several weeks for the carrots to sprout. Gently water the new planting and keep the soil moist until the carrots sprout.
Make planting the small carrot seeds easier with pelleted seeds and seed tapes. Pelleted seeds are coated making them easier to handle while seed tapes have properly spaced seeds attached to a biodegradable paper strip.
Some gardeners double their harvest and reduce thinning by mixing radish and carrot seeds when planting. You’ll harvest the radish seeds in about 45 days leaving space for the carrots to continue to grow to their mature size.
No matter the variety of carrots or planting method selected make sure the plants have room to reach their mature size. Thin plantings by removing excess seedlings when an inch tall, leaving space for the remaining plants to reach full size. Use the thinnings (young plants removed) tops and all in salads and as a snack. Convert the greens on any size carrot into pesto.
Provide a bit of shade and keep the soil moist when planting carrots in the heat of summer. Continue to water as needed throughout the growing season. Remove weeds that compete with weak carrot seedlings for space, moisture and nutrients. Avoid deep cultivation that can damage the carrot when removing weeds.
Carefully dig the carrots when the roots have reached full size. Remove all but an inch of the greens and store them in a cool location around 41° F in a perforated plastic bag. You can also store them in the garden by covering the planting with straw mulch, floating row covers or a low tunnel. The goal is to keep the snow off and the soil cold but prevent it from freezing solid. Harvest carrots throughout the winter and enjoy their sweet flavor.
With proper planting and care you will have lots of carrots to enjoy. Try grating some into burgers, juicing a few, adding them to baked goods, mashing them as a side dish, and adding them to soups and stews.
Plant now for a bountiful fall harvest.

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Selling your business to a private equity firm? What you can expect after closing

By JASON HENDREN

You’ve worked extraordinarily hard to build your business, and now a private equity firm is interested in buying a majority stake in it. This could end up being a dream financial scenario for you – or, after the sale, the dynamics of the new partnership may keep you up at night.
As you consider a potential buyer and yourself staying on as a partner, it’s imperative to have a discussion with them about what the partnership will look like. Every buyer is different. They each have their own methods and often adapt those methods based upon the needs of the companies they partner with. And sometimes, there is no flexibility at all; there is a defined program that you will be forced to comply with.
You’ll have to ask yourself if that’s for you.
Understanding a buyer’s plan for your company will help you to evaluate them, especially when you have more than one buyer to choose from. What changes should you expect after closing the sale? Here are some key factors to keep in mind when preparing for a new partnership with a private equity firm:


Understanding your new partners

Remember that your new partners are a company. They have a structure, a hierarchy, and their own management team. Take time to understand how their company is organized and, specifically, how that structure will support your company as their newest investment.
Who will be your main contact? Typically, the investment firms have individuals who are responsible for being a primary point of contact for a few of the companies they own. They will effectively be your new boss, a concept that takes some adjustment for most entrepreneurs. They will check on the health of the company, evaluate progress on key initiatives, and support you as you tackle new challenges. They may also become a regular face within the halls of your company and someone who your executive team will get to know well.
Ask about resources. What are the resources the private equity firm has that are important to your growth strategy? This is another area where firms differ greatly. Larger firms often have deeper resources than smaller firms. Both of my private equity partners had an HR specialist on staff. I underestimated the value brought by that specific role. When my company was still relatively small, I did not have a VP-level HR person, so having someone with that expertise and experience was helpful as we started expanding into other states by tackling variations in healthcare and compensation laws.
Many firms have special competencies or programs that are there to support their operating companies. A firm may have someone on staff that does ERP systems or has expertise in global sourcing. They may also have resources to develop your team like leadership forums or continuous improvement training. If they are planning to grow through acquisition, ask how they support the deal sourcing and due diligence process.

Getting the team aligned and evaluated

Any good investor knows that human capital is among the most important ingredients for a healthy investment. Know that the investors have been evaluating you as a founder and CEO, as well as your entire team, since the moment you met.
After the investment is complete, the investors will be looking to validate their initial observations. They may do this in one-on-one meetings and in a group setting.
Reviewing the investment thesis. Every investment is backed by an investment thesis, which was used to value your company and justify the acquisition. In it will be the plans for the company, your team, the growth strategy, and how they hope to make a profitable exit. While it is rare to see this information before the closing, you may have access to it afterwards. You may want to ask your new partners about the post-closing business plan and see if it aligns with your vision for how the new partnership should operate.
Team-building. Ask your new potential partner what strategy they use to align the team. Do they bring everyone together in a cooperative planning session or have another method for kicking off the new partnership? You may also want to know what type of financial incentives the team will receive to execute the new plan, which may include stock options, value creation plans, or a transaction bonus.

Board meetings and progress checks

You should expect to travel to the equity firm’s headquarters for board meetings since it is not practical for them to travel four times a year to every company they have under management. A board process can range from very structured to very fluid depending on the approach favored by the firm you are joining.
In addition to board meetings, your new partners may have other methods for monitoring the progress of the companies they own. These can vary in formality. I have seen firms where the CFO has a monthly call with someone from the finance team of the investment group. I have also seen where, in addition to four quarterly board meetings per year, there are eight additional monthly meetings where the entire executive team comes together for a mini board meeting. If you consider that there are, on average, about 22 workdays a month, you might be spending 10 percent of your management’s time preparing for and holding review meetings. This may be counter to your culture, but if it is what your new partners require, it might be time to upgrade the chairs in your conference room.
Keep in mind that you only have influence, not control, in your post-closing role. Over the years, I have met many business owners who have shared stories of their private equity partnerships. Sometimes those stories are good, sometimes not.
As a seller, you should have an informed discussion with a potential buyer early in the relationship. Ask them about how they manage the companies they own and to describe how they will interact with you as their CEO. Find out about workplace policies and financial management and if they have strict policies and systems or if they largely leave yours in place.
Finally, see if they have internal resources in place to build value in your company and enhance the skills of your team.
In the end, this is largely a financial transaction for you as the selling entrepreneur. If
you are meeting your personal goals, you may not be inclined to blow up a deal over
these points. However, if you are truly looking for this partnership to be a key ingredient in getting your company to the next level, take the time to know what you are signing up for. Many acquirers may appear the same on the surface but can operate very differently as partners.

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Social Security Matters
By RUSSELL GLOOR
National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens

Ask Rusty – When Should My Wife Claim Her Social Security Benefits?

Dear Rusty: My wife turns 65 in November of 2023. She was born on 11/21/1958. I am a year younger with an 8/1/1959 birthdate. I know my wife is not at full retirement age, but the difference in her SS payment is not much and collecting 3 years of the lower amount far exceeds her waiting until age 68. My question is: because half of my SS is more than her SS, if she retires this year, will she still get 50% of my SS when I retire? Signed: Planning Our Future
Dear Planning: Spouse benefits are one of Social Security’s trickiest areas, so you’re wise to get answers before either of you claim benefits. The short answer is, “No” - if your wife claims her own benefit this year, she will not get 50% of your benefit when you later claim. Here’s how it works:
Born in November 1958, your wife’s full retirement age (FRA) is 66 years plus 8 months, which she will attain in July 2025. Born in August 1959, your FRA is 66 years plus 10 months, which you will reach in June 2026.
Your wife will get a “spousal boost” to her personal SS benefit if her FRA entitlement is less than 50% of your FRA entitlement but, if she claims before reaching her FRA, her monthly payment when you claim will be less than 50% of your FRA entitlement (taking her own benefit early affects her total payment amount as your spouse). If, instead, your wife waits until her own FRA to claim her SS retirement benefit, her payment when you later claim will be increased to equal 50% of your FRA entitlement.
I assume your reference to your wife “waiting until age 68” refers to her age when you claim at your FRA, but there is no reason for your wife to wait past her own FRA to claim benefits because her spousal benefit will not be more if she waits longer. So, the question is whether your wife should claim this year and get a reduced payment when you later claim or, instead, wait until her FRA to claim her own benefit and get her maximum benefit later. And that depends on 1) whether your wife is working, and 2) what her life expectancy is:
1. If your wife is working and claims early SS benefits, she will be subject to Social Security’s “earnings test” which limits how much she can earn before some benefits are taken away. The earnings limit for 2023 is $21,240 and, if that is exceeded, SS will take away benefits equal to $1 for every $2 she is over the limit. The earnings limit lasts until she reaches her full retirement age.
2. If your wife’s life expectancy is long (average for a woman your wife’s current age is about 87), then maximizing her monthly benefit by waiting until her FRA to claim is likely her smartest choice.
If your wife’s FRA entitlement is less than 50% of your FRA entitlement, waiting until her FRA to claim will result in getting her full personal amount first and then later her maximum entitlement (including her spousal boost). If she claims now, her later payment (which includes her spousal boost) will be less than half of your FRA amount. If your wife’s life expectancy is at least average, waiting until her FRA to claim will likely yield the highest cumulative lifetime benefits.
But if your wife isn’t working full time, by claiming now (vs. at her FRA) she would get her reduced personal benefit for an extra 2 years. If you divide the amount your wife would collect over those two years by the difference between her current benefit amount and her maximum spousal amount (half of your FRA entitlement), you will see how long it would take for your wife to recover those 2 years of benefits. And if her life expectancy is less than that length of time, then claiming earlier is likely the right move.


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By MELINDA MYERS

Boost your fall garden harvest with some midsummer plantings. Fill vacant spaces left in the vegetable garden after harvesting lettuce, spinach, and other early maturing crops. Expand your edible plantings to other vacant spots in flowerbeds, mixed borders, and containers.
Sow seeds of beans, cucumbers, carrots, beets, and other vegetables that will have time to reach maturity before the end of your growing season. Simply count the number of days from planting to the average first fall frost in your area. You’ll find frost dates for your location on the internet, extension publications and other gardening resources. Next, check the back of the seed packet for the number of days needed from planting until harvest. As long as you have enough time for the seeds to sprout, grow and produce before the first frost, they can be added to the garden.
Some plants like collards, kale and broccoli tolerate, and even taste better, after a light freeze. This makes them great choices for a fall-harvested garden. Some garden centers sell transplants of these and other vegetables suitable for summer planting. Check the plant tags for the number of days needed for transplants to grow and start producing.
Extend the harvest season by providing frost protection in the fall. Cold frames and cloches that act like mini greenhouses for individual plants protect the plants from frost. Vent them on warm sunny days and close the lids when frost is in the forecast.
Use floating row cover fabrics for an even lower maintenance option. They are designed to let air, light, and water through to the plants while protecting them from frost. You will find row covers available in various weights that provide different levels of cold weather protection. Select the one best suited to your climate and the vegetables you are growing.
Loosely cover the plants with the fabric and anchor the edges with stones, boards, or landscape pins. Just lift the row cover to harvest, recover, and leave it in place until the harvest is complete, or the temperatures drop below what the row cover and plants can handle.
Wait for the soil to cool before planting lettuce, spinach, and other vegetable seeds that require cooler temperatures to germinate. Increase germination success by planting the seeds as directed, watering them in, and covering the row with a wooden lath to keep the soil cooler. Remove the lath as soon as the seeds sprout. Or start the plants indoors and move them into the garden as transplants. Then help keep the soil cool throughout the remainder of summer by mulching with leaves, evergreen needles, or other organic mulch.
Increase the health and productivity of your second planting by preparing the soil before planting seeds and transplants. Mix an inch of quality compost into the top six inches of soil or fertilize with organically rich low-nitrogen fertilizer.
Once your seeds and transplants are in the ground, be sure to water them properly. Keep the seedbed and roots of transplants moist for the first few weeks. Gradually reduce the watering frequency as seedlings sprout and grow, and transplants become established. Most plants need about an inch of water each week. Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and slightly moist. Adjust your watering schedule based on your weekly rainfall, soil type, and air temperatures.
Harvest vegetables when they are at their peak of ripeness and early in the morning after the dew dries whenever possible. Regular picking avoids waste and results in a bigger harvest of flavorful and nutritious vegetables to enjoy throughout the fall.


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Social Security Matters
By National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation,
the non-profit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens

Ask Rusty – Will WEP and GPO Affect My Wife’s Spousal Benefit?

Dear Rusty: My wife worked for the US Postal Service in New York for about 22 years, and then in the private sector for about 15 years. She began collecting her “deferred annuity” from the USPS at age 62 and she plans to collect her Social Security benefits at age 67, which is her full retirement age (FRA).
Her Social Security benefit before the Windfall Elimination Provision is less than 50% of my Primary Insurance Amount, so the plan is for her to start collecting a “spousal” benefit from me at age 67. My question is: will my wife’s spousal benefit be reduced by both the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset (GPO)? Signed: Inquiring Husband
Dear Inquiring Husband: Your wife cannot separate her personally earned Social Security retirement benefit from her Social Security spousal entitlement from you - whenever she applies for Social Security, your wife will be automatically deemed to be filing for all benefits she is entitled to when she claims.
Because your wife has a “non-covered pension” from the US Postal Service (USPS) - and assuming that pension is under the older “CSRS” (Civil Service Retirement System) - your wife’s personally earned SS retirement benefit will be reduced by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). WEP reduces Social Security retirement benefits for anyone who also has a pension earned while not contributing to Social Security.
The Government Pension Offset (GPO) is different: the GPO will affect any additional amount your wife is entitled to as your spouse, which we refer to as her “spousal boost.” The “spousal boost” amount is the difference between your wife’s pre-WEP FRA entitlement and 50% of your FRA entitlement, which is your Primary Insurance Amount. Because of her USPS pension, GPO will reduce your wife’s “spousal boost” by 2/3rds of the amount of her non-covered pension, which may eliminate her potential spousal boost.
So WEP will affect your wife’s personally earned SS benefit, and the GPO will affect her spousal entitlement from you. But, depending on the amount of her USPS pension, your wife will not be entitled to an additional amount as your spouse if 2/3rds of her USPS pension amount is more than her “spousal boost” amount. And if the GPO doesn’t completely eliminate your wife’s spousal boost, it will at least drastically reduce it.
I have previously published several articles about both WEP and GPO and how each provision works, which you are welcome to review at the AMAC Foundation’s special Social Security website – www.SocialSecurityReport.org. In particular, one such article providing more detail on how the GPO works can be found at this link: www.socialsecurityreport.org/ask-rusty-government-pension-offset-gpo/.
Social Security will make the final determination about your wife’s benefit entitlement under WEP and GPO when she applies for her Social Security benefits, but I’m afraid your wife’s entitlement may be much less than you are anticipating because of these two provisions. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us directly via email at SSAdvisor@amacfoundation.org or call us directly at 1.888.750.2622.

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Medal of Honor: Army Cpl. Charles Pendleton

By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

When brave men are overwhelmed by an enemy in battle, they tend to square off like they have no choice but to win. That's what Army Cpl. Charles Frank Pendleton did when his unit was attacked by enemy forces in Korea. He didn't survive the fight, but his determination was so inspiring that it earned him the Medal of Honor.
Pendleton was born Sept. 26, 1931, in Camden, Tennessee, to parents Charles and Viola Pendleton. The family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, when he was still a boy.
Pendleton graduated from R.L. Paschal High School in Fort Worth in 1949, then went to what is now the University of North Texas in Denton. While he studied, he also worked part-time as a mail carrier and served in the Texas Army National Guard.
In September 1951, Pendleton married Mary Hubbard, who he'd met the summer before when they worked together filling roller skate orders at a Montgomery Ward department store, according to a 2010 Fort Worth Star-Telegram article.
"He loved to ice skate, and we would roller skate together," Hubbard, who was widowed by the war and eventually remarried and goes by Mary Snell, said in the article. "He also played tennis, and he loved to play broomball on the ice at Will Rogers Coliseum. He was a lot of fun.”
Pendleton had planned to finish college and go into the seminary to be a church music director. Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be.
In June 1952, as the Korean War entered its second year, Pendleton was called up to active duty. He was shipped to Fort Hood (now Fort Cavazos), then California for more training before being sent to the Korean peninsula in March 1953 with the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.
On the evening of July 16, 1953, Pendleton was a machine gunner with Company D, which was tasked with defending a strategically important hill. Almost as soon as they'd finished setting up a perimeter, a nearby unit was attacked by a much larger enemy force. Quickly, Company D jumped to their aid.
From a trench, Pendleton threw grenades and emptied his machine gun into the foreign fighters as they approached, killing about 15 and throwing off the rest of their mission. However, the trench was too confined for him to protect the unit's flanks, so he took his machine gun off its tripod, moved into an exposed position, then sat his gun on his knees and started firing.
When an enemy fighter jumped into the trench Pendleton had just left, the young corporal swiveled around and took the man out before he could injure or kill other U.S. soldiers. Pendleton then continued to cause so much damage with his machine gun that the enemy had to retreat.
A little while later, the enemy regrouped, and a second wave of soldiers rushed forward to try to overrun the unit's position. When an enemy grenade landed near Pendleton, he quickly grabbed it and threw it back. Another grenade did explode near him, causing wounds to his chest and shoulder. Pendleton had also been burned by the hot shells ejecting from his machine gun, but he refused medical attention and kept firing at the enemy.
As the action increased in tempo and as night turned into morning, Pendleton's machine gun was eventually destroyed by a grenade. However, the 21-year-old remained undaunted. He grabbed a carbine rifle and continued to defend his position until he was hit by a mortar burst and killed.
Despite his death, Pendleton's drive and unflinching courage inspired his fellow soldiers to repel the enemy and hold the hill. The Army said when they found Pendleton's body after the fight was over, he was surrounded by 37 fallen enemies.
Ten days later, the armistice was signed, and the hostilities ended.
Less than a year later, on Jan. 18, 1954, Pendleton's family received the Medal of Honor on his behalf. It was presented to his widow by Army Secretary Robert Stevens during a ceremony at Fort Myer, Virginia.
Pendleton is buried in Laurel Land Memorial Cemetery in Fort Worth.
His hometown hasn't forgotten him. The ROTC wing of his former high school is named in his honor. Pendleton's Medal of Honor is on display there, too, after his family donated it and his other medals to the school in the 1970s.

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A Golden birthday party
They came from all corners of the earth to attend a birthday party at Guisachan House in the village of Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands recently. The event was held to celebrate the birth of the first litter of Golden Retrievers 155 years ago. The event attracted 466 dogs and their owners. According to the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland, “the Golden as we know it today was bred at Guisachan, Glen Affric, near Inverness, the Scottish Estate of Lord Tweedmouth, from a series of matings which commenced by mating a good looking yellow coloured Flat Coated Retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel called ‘Belle’ (a breed now extinct but believed to be a small liver coloured dog with a curly coat).”

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But it’s not a ‘real’ burger
Burger King has cheered up vegetarians with its newest fast-food offering: a meatless hamburger sandwich. So far it’s available in its stores in Thailand, only, and it is being called the “real cheeseburger” because the bun is filled with at least 20 slices of American cheese, but no burger, and it has gone viral throughout the country. At least one Thai Burger King location has had to curtail deliveries in order to ensure availability at its store. But not all customers think it is a tasty treat. One patron told CNN it’s a bit too much cheese. “I could only finish half of it,” she said.

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Home is where you make it
Thinking about moving to Nebraska? If so, you might want to check out a rather unusual residence-- a renovated missile silo. YouTube’s Andrew Flair purchased the nuclear bunker last year for $550,000 and turned it into an 2,000 square foot underground home. It’s listed for sale for $750,000 as "an opportunity to own a piece of cold-war military history and the ultimate survivalist retreat, weekend escape or perhaps an Airbnb." And it comes, “complete with electricity, hot and cold running water, working septic system with lift station, and a water purification system.”

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

America’s “dare devils” of the skies pack the history of aviation. The Wright brothers, for example, invented the airplane and flew the first powered flight in 1903, while other risk takers -- Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart -- piloted solo and non-stop across the Atlantic in 1927 and 1932, respectively.
And then there was Douglas Corrigan: an aircraft mechanic who salvaged an airplane from a trash heap, restored it, and soared from California to New York. He anticipated a transatlantic journey, but the authorities quashed it.
Even so, on July 17, 1938, Corrigan took off--allegedly for California, but reversed course, turned east, crossed the Atlantic, and ended up in Ireland 28 hours later.
Afterwards, he was --famously—known as “Wrong Way” Corrigan.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Corrigan’s That's My Story.

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On July 20, 1969, the astronaut Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” when he set foot on the moon became the first human to reach an extraterrestrial destination, and—also--satisfy President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 promise to the nation.
The achievement was challenging but according to History.com “NASA and its thousands of workers forged ahead, and in October 1968, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, orbited Earth and successfully tested many of the sophisticated systems needed to conduct a moon journey and landing. In December of the same year, Apollo 8 took three astronauts around the far side of the moon and orbited it 10 times before returning, and in March 1969 Apollo 9 tested the lunar module for the first time while in Earth orbit. Then in May, the three astronauts of Apollo 10 took the first complete Apollo spacecraft in 31 orbits around the moon in a dry run for the scheduled July landing mission.” And so, on July 16, “Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Apollo Moon Landings by Jay Barbree, Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton, and Neil Armstrong.

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On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, followed in January by America’s Explorer I. In July, Congress established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian agency responsible for coordinating the country’s interstellar activities. The competitive chase to conquer the cosmos had begun.
According to History.com, “by landing on the moon, the United States effectively ‘won’ the space race that had begun with Sputnik’s launch in 1957. For their part, the Soviets made four failed attempts to launch a lunar landing craft between 1969 and 1972, including a spectacular launch-pad explosion in July 1969. From beginning to end, the American Soviet and U.S. space programs were heavily covered in the national media. This frenzy of interest was further encouraged by the new medium of television. Astronauts came to be seen as the ultimate American heroes, and earth-bound men and women seemed to enjoy living vicariously through them. Soviets, in turn, were pictured as the ultimate villains, with their massive, relentless efforts to surpass America and prove the power of the communist system.”
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize suggests Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Mike Massimino.


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Summer Bouquets from the Garden
By MELINDA MYERS

Make every day and summer gatherings special with the help of garden-fresh flower arrangements. You will be sure to generate smiles from family members and guests when including fresh flowers on the dinner table and other spaces in your home.
Gather your flowers in the morning after the dew has dried whenever possible. The temperatures are cool, and the plants are hydrated. The evening is the next best time. But don’t hesitate to harvest flowers right before guests arrive or when picking vegetables for the evening meal. The flowers may not last as long, but you will be able to enjoy them for that dinner or special event and a few more days.
Use a pair of sharp snips or bypass pruners to make the cut above a set of healthy leaves or back to an adjoining branch. Keep in mind the more flowers you harvest, the more flowers produced on annuals and some perennial plants.
Remove the lower leaves and immediately place the flowers in a bucket of water. Consider taking a bucket of water to the garden to keep the flowers fresh and hydrated while you’re busy collecting. Let the flowers stand in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, in tepid water for several hours or better yet overnight.
Recut the stems at a 45º angle when assembling the flower arrangements. This prevents them from sitting flat on the bottom of the vase and exposes more of the surface area to the water. Remove any additional leaves that will be submerged in water. Leaves covered by water tend to turn slimy, increasing the risk of bacterial growth that decreases the life of your cut flowers.
Always use a clean vase and fresh water to maximize your cut flowers’ vase life. Add a floral preservative to the water to further extend their longevity. Check the water level often, ensuring the cut ends are always covered with water. Change the water often to keep your flowers looking their best for as long as possible.
Since different flowers last in an arrangement for different lengths of time consider reworking your arrangements by removing flowers as they fade. This keeps it interesting while extending your enjoyment.
Start with a walk through your landscape looking for potential flowers and foliage to use in arrangements. Follow the general guidelines for harvesting and care to maximize the flowers’ vase life.
You may find a few summer bloomers do best when harvested at a particular stage of flowering. Wait for zinnias and marigold flowers to be fully open to harvest them.
Pick dahlias when the flowers are half or fully open. The back petals should be firm, not soft and limp, and stay attached when rubbing your hand over the back of the flower. Some gardeners set dahlias in warm (160 to 180°F) water with a preservative for one hour before arranging them. Others dip the stems in boiling water for 7 to 10 seconds, then cool water for a few hours.
Extend the vase life of hydrangeas by soaking the flowers, stem up and flowers down, in cold water for 1 hour. Allow them to drip dry then recut the stem and place in warm water overnight. Or dip the cut end in alum before placing it in the vase.
Look for greenery growing in the garden. Herbs, canna, hosta, lady’s mantle, papyrus, as well as deciduous and evergreen shrubs are great options. Don’t overlook the plants growing indoors. Prayer plants, monstera, ferns, and ivies add texture while highlighting the blooms.
When in doubt try including different flowers and greenery. Keep track of what works and how long they last. You may discover some new favorites.
Cutting and arranging flowers is a fun way to exercise your creativity and bring the beauty of your garden indoors. If the selection of flowers is limited in your garden, strike up a trade with fellow gardeners. Each of you can share what’s blooming in your landscape throughout the growing season.

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And the winner is???
It doesn’t get more exciting than the race that took place in England recently. There they were, no less than 150 contestants going as fast as they could in hopes of bringing home the winner’s cup in The Snail Racing World Championships in the U.K. town of Congham. Making the event more rousing is that the 50 year old race was suspended for three years due to the outbreak of the covid pandemic in 2020. And the winner was Larry the snail who finished the 13 inch race in just two minutes and forty seven seconds, 47 seconds shy of a mollusk by the name of Archie who covered the course in two minutes flat in 1996 and who remains the world record holder.

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A feat without feet
And the winner of the Guinness World Record for walking down 75 stairs in just 25.03 seconds is 29 year old Hari Chandra Giri who hails from Nepal and who did it the hard way-- on his hands. Hari had the edge, though; he’s been walking on his hands since he was eight years old. In fact, over the years he accrued a number of records for walking on his hands, sometimes with a soccer ball between his legs.

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Is it a car or is it a plane
The Federal Aviation Administration has given the green light to a unique California-based car company, Alef Aeronautics, for its modern day version of the "Model A" automobile, one that doubles as an airplane. Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny says “We're excited to receive this certification from the FAA. It allows us to move closer to bringing people an environmentally friendly and faster commute, saving individuals and companies hours each week. This is a one small step for planes, one giant step for cars." It’ll be a while before flying hot rods will be spreading their wings on the nation’s highways. The FAA says the “special airworthiness certificate” granted to Alef is for limited purposes such as exhibition, research and development.

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Social Security Matters
By National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation

Ask Rusty – My State Pension Eliminated My Social Security Survivor Benefit

Dear Rusty: My husband of 21 years died in January 2022 at the age of 70. We were both retired at the time of his death, and they immediately stopped his Social Security payments. After many calls to Social Security asking why I was not receiving his benefits, I was finally told since I have my own pension from the State of Ohio that I would receive none of my husband’s Social Security.
I cannot see why my OH retirement has anything to do with my husband’s Social Security. I do get a small payment from SS based on my past earnings before I worked for the State of Ohio. Is there any chance of fighting this since we were married when they took money from his earnings for SS? If I wanted to write to an elected official to see if these rules could be changed, who would I write to or call? Signed: Upset Widow
Dear Upset Widow: Unfortunately, your entitlement to a Social Security survivor benefit from your husband is affected by a provision known as the Government Pension Offset, or “GPO,” which affects any surviving spouse with a federal, state, or local government pension earned without contributing to the Social Security program. Ohio is one of 26 states which have opted not to participate in Social Security, thus exempting state employees from paying Social Security taxes on their earnings. The OH state pension which resulted from your state employment means that any Social Security benefits earned outside of your state employment are reduced. The GPO reduction to your survivor benefit is severe – a reduction by 2/3rds of the amount of your Ohio state pension, which can - and often does - completely eliminate any SS survivor benefit you might otherwise be entitled to.
For clarity, the monthly SS payment your husband was receiving at his death stops automatically. At that point, your eligibility for additional SS benefits from your husband was assessed and, because of the GPO, Social Security offset your potential survivor benefit from your husband by 2/3rds of your Ohio state pension, which apparently eliminated your survivor benefit. As unfair as this may seem to you, note that the same thing happens to any surviving spouse who also has their own earned SS retirement benefit – their personal SS retirement benefit offsets their SS survivor benefit, so a spouse with a regular SS retirement benefit higher than their deceased spouse’s benefit gets no surviving spouse benefit.
FYI, the State of Ohio has an obligation to make clear that by not paying into Social Security your future SS spousal/survivor benefits are affected. Without knowing how that was presented to you during your OH state employment, here’s a quote from Ohio’s Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS) website: “If you are eligible for Social Security benefits and are receiving a retirement benefit from OPERS, your Social Security benefits may be affected by the Government Pension Offset or the Windfall Elimination Provision. The Government Pension Offset may also affect you if you are eligible for Social Security benefits through your spouse. The Windfall Elimination Provision may affect you if you qualify for Social Security benefits due to your own work history.”
In any case, you are certainly not alone in your feelings about how your Social Security benefits have been affected by the GPO. This provision was enacted in 1983 and has been challenged in just about every Congressional session since that time, without success. In fact, there is a legislative bill active in the current Congress – H.R. 82 – The Social Security Fairness Act - which was introduced on the House floor in January and “referred to committee” for consideration. Like all preceding WEP/GPO reform bills, this one sits idle in Committee. If you wish to add your voice to those who oppose the GPO, you should contact your Congressional Representative to solicit action on H.R. 82.

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Medal of Honor: Navy Ensign John J. Parle
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
As the Allies prepared to invade Sicily during World War II, Navy Ensign John Joseph Parle was tasked with managing the small boats on his landing ship. When an accident on one of those boats threatened to give the whole operation away, Parle saved the day. The incident cost him his life, but his bravery and devotion earned him the Medal of Honor.
Parle was born on May 26, 1920, in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents, Harry and Mary Parle, went on to have eight more children, one of whom died in infancy.
As a boy, Parle was seen by those who didn't know him well as solemn and shy, but at home, his parents said he was full of wisecracks, according to a 1943 Omaha Evening World Herald article. The newspaper said that in the eighth grade, Parle decided he wanted to be a Catholic priest and even attended a seminary to prepare. However, it wasn't the right fit for him, so he came home after a few months.
Parle continued to want to be a priest through most of high school, but by the time he graduated, he'd given up on the idea, the Evening World Herald said. Instead, he went to Creighton University in Omaha, where he studied to be a certified public accountant.
In 1941, during his junior year of college, Parle joined Creighton's ROTC program. By January of 1942, the U.S. had entered World War II, so he enlisted in the Naval Reserve. After graduation, Parle began training at the University of Notre Dame, which had one of four midshipmen training centers that were set up during the war. He commissioned into the active-duty Navy on Jan. 28, 1943.
After an initial assignment in Norfolk, Virginia, Parle was assigned to the Northwest African Amphibious Force and attached to LST-375, a landing ship that delivered troops and equipment to beachheads. Parle was the ship's officer in charge of small landing boats during the invasion of Sicily.
On July 9, 1943, the night before the invasion, Parle's ship was among tens of thousands of Allied forces preparing for the surprise landing. Around 1:30 a.m. on July 10, his LST had started to swing its smaller landing craft onto the ship's small cranes to prepare to lower them into the water.
One boat was loaded with ammunition, explosives, detonating fuses and smoke pots, which were used to create large smokescreens that troop ships could hide behind. One of those smoke pots accidentally ignited. No one was on the boat, but Parle just happened to be walking past when the smoke pot caught fire. He knew that if it ignited any of the rest of the material on the boat, it would explode, causing a massive fireworks display that would give away the force's position to the enemy onshore.
Without hesitating, Parle jumped onto the small boat. Despite the fire and blinding smoke, he quickly managed to snuff out the burning fuse; however, he couldn't seem to put the actual pot out. He eventually grabbed it with both hands, ran to the side of the boat and threw it into the water.
Smoke pots were generally made of fog oil, diesel fuel and other noxious materials, of which Parle inhaled an extensive amount. Sadly, he died a week later, on July 17, due to the damage the smoke pot inflicted on his lungs.
However, Parle's actions kept the small boat from exploding, and more importantly, it ensured that the mission stayed secret. The invasion of Sicily went on to be a success for the Allies and gave U.S. troops a route onto mainland Italy. The victory delivered a devastating blow to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's fascist government and eventually toppled his regime.
Parle was quickly nominated for this country's highest military honor. On Jan. 26, 1944, Parle's parents received the Medal of Honor on his behalf from Capt. Dixie Kiefer during a high mass at St. John's Catholic Church on the Creighton University campus.
Parle's body was eventually returned to the U.S. and buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Omaha.
Parle's sacrifice wasn't forgotten. In July 1944, the Navy commissioned the destroyer escort USS Parle in his honor. The ship remained in service until 1970.
Creighton University renamed a section of roadway bordering the southern part of the campus as John Parle Drive. In 1993, the school also dedicated its military science building, which houses its ROTC program, to the fallen ensign. Inside that building hangs Parle's Medal of Honor, which was donated to the school by his family.


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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

On April 19, 1775, shots were heard from Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts; the Revolutionary War had begun, but The Continental Congress did not deliver a Declaration of Independence until July 4th of the following year.
It proclaimed—in part: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends David McCullough’s 1776.

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Four days after its ratification, the first public reading of the Declaration took place at the Pennsylvania State House. Citizens were summoned by the sound of “the 2,000-pound copper-and-tin… ‘Liberty Bell’,” according to History.com.
Cast in 1752 England, the bell—stenciled with a message of, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land unto All the inhabitants thereof”—was shipped to Pennsylvania—and garnered incremental iconic status--because of its crack; a herald of liberty, according to the National Park Service.
The bell has “served to remind Americans of a time when they fought together for independence. Abolitionists, women’s suffrage advocates and Civil Rights leaders took inspiration from [its] inscription. Now a worldwide symbol, the…message of freedom remains reverberating and relevant.
For more information, The Grateful American Book Prize endorses Gary B. Nash’s The Liberty Bell.

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On July 12, 1862. Abraham Lincoln formulated the Medal of Honor during the Civil War to honor “noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.”
Eight months later Congress converted it into a permanent decoration and authorized it for all members of the armed forces, including commissioned officers.
The Grateful American Book Prize suggests The Medal of Honor: The Evolution of America's Highest Military Decoration by Dwight S. Mears.

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Social Security Matters
By National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation


Ask Rusty – Why Can’t I Collect Survivor Benefits from My Deceased Wife?

Dear Rusty: I am a 62 year old widower that is still working full time. While my late spouse was in hospice, I was able to get her to apply for Social Security disability and she received one payment before she passed away two years ago. I was told that I could collect a survivor benefit, so I called my local Social Security office, but they told me that I could not collect any type of benefits from my wife and that all the money she paid into SS for all of those years was basically gone for good. Would you please advise what I can do and if this is true? I was also told that Social Security’s agents will do everything they can to avoid paying out benefits. Signed: Frustrated Widower
Dear Frustrated Widower: I suspect that the reason Social Security said you were not eligible for benefits as a widower is because you are working full time. At age 62, you are subject to Social Security’s “earnings test” which limits how much you can earn while collecting early Social Security benefits. The 2023 earnings limit is $21,240 and, if that is exceeded, SS will take away $1 in benefits for every $2 you are over the limit. If your earnings are high enough, that could make you temporarily ineligible to collect benefits until 1) your earnings are less, or 2) you reach your full retirement age (FRA) when the earnings test no longer applies.
Assuming you have not yet claimed your personal SS retirement benefit, you are still eligible to collect a survivor benefit from your wife when your earnings are less or after you reach your full retirement age. One strategy you may wish to consider, if you plan to keep working full time, is to wait and claim only your surviving spouse benefit at your FRA (67), thus allowing your personal SS retirement benefit to continue growing until you are 70 when your personal SS retirement benefit will be about 75% more than it would be now. Although your survivor benefit reaches maximum at your FRA, your personal benefit doesn’t reach maximum until age 70, so it’s possible to collect your smaller survivor benefit from your wife first and claim your higher personal benefit later.
You were apparently given some confusing information when you contacted Social Security. If you haven’t already claimed your own SS retirement benefit, you are still eligible for a surviving spouse benefit from your wife but likely cannot collect a widower benefit at this time because you’re working full time. However, that doesn’t mean you can never collect a survivor benefit; only that you can’t collect it at this time because of the “earnings test.” The earnings test goes away when you reach age 67, so you can claim only your survivor benefit at that time (or before if you no longer work full time) and allow your personal SS retirement benefit to continue to grow (to age 70 if you like).
From our experience with the Social Security Administration, the skill level of SSA representatives varies but we have never suspected their goal was trying to avoid paying benefits due. Nevertheless, depending on the agent you spoke with, the information provided may have been less clear about the best claiming strategy for you - which is why the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory Service exists. Our advisors are all highly experienced and strive to provide you with complete and clear information which enables you to make an informed choice about how and when to claim the Social Security benefits you are entitled to. I hope we have succeeded.

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Still time to plant and enjoy beets

By MELINDA MYERS

Beets are one vegetable you can purchase most months of the year but those you grow yourself taste the best. The good news is there is still time to grow your own this season.
These flavorful vegetables contain fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and more iron than most vegetables. Betalain, the antioxidant and pigment in beets, can be used as a natural red dye and food coloring. In fact, it inspired the saying “red as a beet” and was used to provide that color in makeup.
Beets tolerate warm temperatures but germinate best during cooler weather. Plant seeds ½ inch deep and one to three inches apart every three to four weeks for a continuous harvest. Make your last planting about eight to ten weeks before the first fall frost.
Beet seeds are a cluster of seeds. Remove all but one seedling in the cluster soon after the seedlings appear. You will also need to remove any excess seedlings to provide the remaining seedlings the space they need to grow and reach full size. Take the sting out of this task by thinking of thinning as a form of harvesting. Use the beet greens removed during thinning as sprouts on sandwiches, salads, and in stir-fries, and other dishes.
Reduce the amount of thinning needed with the help of seed tapes. The seeds are secured onto biodegradable tapes at the proper spacing. Just dig a shallow furrow, lay in the tape, and cover it with soil at the proper planting depth. You’ll spend a little more money on seed tapes but save lots of time.
Make sure your plantings receive sufficient moisture throughout the growing season. The flavor is best during cooler weather. All leaves and no edible roots may be a problem you have experienced when growing beets, radishes, and carrots. Thinning and growing root vegetables in well-drained fertile soil at the proper spacing is key to growing success. Improve heavy clay soils by working several inches of organic matter into the top 8 to 12 inches of soil. If this hasn’t worked in the past, try growing your beets in containers filled with a quality potting mix.
Harvest beets in about 50 to 60 days when the roots are 1 to 1.5” in diameter. Pull or carefully dig the beets with a garden fork or shovel. Place the shovel several inches away from the root crops. Push it straight into the soil to avoid damaging the roots. Wiggle the shovel to loosen the soil and tilt to lift the beets free.
Trim the leaves back to an inch and leave the taproot intact. Rinse off the soil and allow the beets to dry before storing them in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Wash, and further trim your beets as needed right before using them. Minimize scraping, cutting, and slicing that will increase the loss of vitamins and flavor.
Most garden centers and mail-order catalogs still have beet seeds available for purchase. You’ll find red, purple, golden, and even white beets to grow and enjoy. Select the variety that best suits your gardening and cooking needs.


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Life with Barbie
As dismayed as it may be for the “woke” folk among us, the fact is that some 90% of three-to-ten year old American girls still own one or more Barbie dolls, according to Mattel, the company that introduced the iconic toys 60 years ago. A soon-to-be-released Barbie movie is a sexagenarian tribute to the plaything as is the real-life Malibu Barbie DreamHouse in California, which, for the occasion, is available for a short term via the Airbnb realtors for two-person, two-day stays.

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"48N48"
These fly boys broke the record for traversing mainland America, landing in each of the 48 states in less than 48 hours. Delta A350 Capt. Barry Behnfeldt and Aaron Wilson and technician Thomas Twiddy took off in their 1980 PA32R Piper Saratoga and landed in each of the contiguous 48 states from Michigan to Maine. And they made what they called their "48N48" trip not in 48 hours but in a record breaking 44 hours and seven minutes.

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An Irish tribute for Dolly Parton
In an interview during a visit to Ireland some time ago Dolly Parton declared that she has a love for Ireland. In return, an Irish gathering recently in the town of Listowel in County Kerry drew more than 1,100 participants, all of them dressed up and looking like Dolly. They all wore blonde wigs, cowboy boots and rhinestone-covered costumes. Their aim was to show their love for the Queen of Nashville and to raise funds for Kerry Hospice and Comfort for Chemo Kerry.

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Medal of Honor: Army Maj. William B. Hincks
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News
During the Civil War, a unit's battle flag was of critical importance. It led men into the fight and gave commanders an understanding of how a campaign was going. So, when you were able to capture a flag from your enemy, it was considered an act of heroics.
Union Army Maj. William Bliss Hincks captured an enemy flag during a pivotal point in time at the Battle of Gettysburg. That moment of bravery earned him the Medal of Honor.
Hincks was born Sept. 8, 1841, in Bucksport, Maine. His parents, John and Sarah Ann Hincks, eventually moved him and his brother, John, to Bridgeport, Connecticut, when he was still a boy.
Hincks enlisted in the Union Army in July 1862, a little more than a year into the Civil War. He was placed into Company A of the 14th Connecticut Infantry.
According to the Connecticut National Guard, the 14th was sent to the Battle of Antietam in September 1862 after they'd only had a few weeks of training, and they didn't fare well. During the deadliest single-day battle in U.S. history, the regiment suffered the highest number of casualties of any Connecticut regiment of the war.
By the time the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania rolled around, though, Hincks had worked his way up to sergeant major, and the 14th was ready to redeem itself.
On July 3, 1863 — the third and last day of the Gettysburg campaign — Confederate Gen. George Pickett's troops used heavy artillery to bombard Union defenses on Cemetery Ridge. About 10,000 of Pickett's men were then ordered to penetrate the center of Union forces on the ridge.
During the attack, known as Pickett's Charge, the colors of the Confederate 14th Tennessee Infantry were planted 50 yards in front of Hincks' regiment. While several enemy soldiers were lying down around the flag, none were standing near it.
Seeing that, Maj. Theodore Ellis, the commanding officer of Hincks' regiment, called for volunteers to capture the flag. Hincks and two other men jumped at the opportunity, leaping over the low stone wall that divided the two enemies.
One of the men was instantly shot. Hincks outran the third through a hail of gunfire. When he reached the Confederates lying on the ground around the flag, he swung his sword over them, "uttered a terrific yell," according to his Medal of Honor citation, then grabbed the flag and ran back to the Union line.
According to his citation, the 14th Tennessee carried 12 battle honors on its flag, meaning it had distinguished itself in 12 major engagements prior to Gettysburg. Capturing that flag was a big deal – something that really encouraged Hincks' fellow soldiers and led them to successfully protect one of the most important points of the Union line.
Soldiers of the 14th Connecticut Infantry Regiment captured five more enemy battle flags that day, according to the Connecticut National Guard.
Only one Confederate brigade was able to temporarily reach the top of the ridge, which was a highwater mark for the Confederacy. But with casualties at about 60%, the charge was a disaster for the South. As a consequence, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was forced to retreat and ultimately abandon his attempt to use Pennsylvania to reach Washington, D.C.
For his bravery in action, Hincks received the newly created Medal of Honor on Dec. 6, 1864, from Maj. Gen. George Meade near Petersburg, Virginia. Two other soldiers from his regiment also received the nation's highest honor for valor: Cpl. Christopher Flynn and Pvt. Elijah Bacon.
Hincks mustered out of the Army as a major on May 31, 1865, shortly after the war ended. He returned to Bridgeport, where he became one of the city's most prominent and successful citizens.
Records from Yale University show Hincks earned an honorary Masters of the Arts degree in 1878. He was the secretary and treasurer of Bridgeport's City Savings Bank, a member of the public school board of education and an officer of the Fairfield County Historical Society. With Hincks' help, fellow Bridgeport native and circus showman P.T. Barnum was able to establish the Barnum Museum and the Bridgeport Hospital.
The New York Times reported that Hincks was also the executor of Barnum's estate after he died, as well as the vice president of the Bridgeport Gas Light Company and the director of the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company, the Bridgeport National Bank and the Bridgeport Public Library.
At some point, Hincks married a woman named Mary Louise Hart, and they had two sons, William Jr. and Robert.
Hincks died Nov. 7, 1903, after being ill for several days, his obituary in the now-defunct Meriden Weekly Republican said. He is buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport.
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A cute ugly dog
The uglier the dog, the more there is to love. That might make an appropriate motto for the folks behind the annual World's Ugliest Dog contest, a staple at the Sonoma-Marin fair in Petaluma, California, for the past 50 years. The aim is to celebrate imperfect canines and encourage adoption of pets in need of good homes. This year’s winner was Scooter, a 7-year-old Chinese crested dog born with backward hind legs belonging to Linda Celeste Elmquist of Tucson, Arizona. As Ms. Elmquist put it, "despite the challenges he has faced with his deformed hind legs, Scooter has defied all odds and shown us the true meaning of resilience and determination. He has become an inspiration to countless people around the world."

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Hyena does the dog paddle-- backwards
Hyenas look a lot like a dog ,but they are not canines; they are of a species all their own, known as Hyaenidae. You can find lots of them on a visit to Kruger National Park, in South Africa. All you have to do is to stand by a waterhole and you are likely to see a hyena waiting for prey. That’s what tourist Lambert Fourie did and, sure enough, a hyena appeared. But it wasn’t there to hunt; it was there to swim. In fact, as Fourie put it, "I could hardly believe my eyes as the hyena proceeded to perform what could only be described as a backstroke. All four paws in the air, he was splashing about without a care in the world." He caught it on tape, a video that has gone viral on the internet.

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For the love of dogs?
A recruitment agency had to take down its internet want ad that read: “Our returning client is seeking an exceptional and highly experienced Dog Nanny to provide top-tier care for their two beloved dogs. They are truly looking for someone at the top of their field who can ensure the overall well-being, happiness, and safety of their dogs.” The agency said it was overwhelmed by applicants. Perhaps it was because there are too many dog lovers out there. Or, maybe, it was that applicants were moved by the offer of the tidy sum of $127,000 a year.

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Dealing with tree surface roots
By MELINDA MYERS

Roots erupting through the soil surface that extend beyond the tree trunk are known as surface roots. This is a normal part of aging for shallow-rooted trees. The aging roots increase in circumference just like the tree’s branches and trunk. As they thicken, the upper portion of the roots appear above the soil surface.
These irritate gardeners when trying to grow and mow the grass under the tree. It is important not to bury, cut, dig up, or shave off these important roots. Covering or damaging the roots creates entryways for insects and diseases to enter and damage or even kill your tree.
Mulch is a simple solution. Use a 2-to-3-inch layer on the soil surrounding the tree. Pull the mulch away from the tree trunk to avoid insect, disease, and rodent problems. Create a mulch ring as large as possible. This eliminates the need to hand trim grass near the tree and makes mowing easier. Mulch is also better for the tree than grass growing up to the trunk. The grass is a big competitor for water and nutrients and can stunt the tree’s growth.
Reduce ongoing maintenance with the help of newspaper or cardboard. Start by edging the bed to disconnect the grass and weeds under the tree from the surrounding plants that can serve as their life support.
Now cut the grass and weeds as short as possible being careful not to harm the surface roots. Cover the area to be mulched with newspaper or cardboard. This creates a temporary but extra layer of mulch that helps kill the grass. The paper will eventually break down and improve the soil below. Cover this with a 2- to 3-inch layer of shredded bark or woodchips for years of weed control.
Consider shade-tolerant perennials and groundcovers if mulched beds do not fit your design style. These plants will eliminate the need to mow over surface roots, add seasonal interest, and they do not compete with the trees like lawn grass. Barrenwort, Canadian ginger, hostas, Variegated Solomon seal, coral bells, foam flower, Bergenia, and Siberian bugloss are a few to consider. Make sure the plants you select are suited to your growing conditions and your garden design.
Use caution when planting under mature trees. Avoid deep tilling that can damage, not only the surface roots but also the fine feeder roots that absorb water and nutrients. Instead, dig relatively small holes between major roots and allow the plants to fill in the area.
Mulch the soil surface with leaves, evergreen needles, or other organic mulch to conserve moisture and improve the soil as they decompose. Water thoroughly once plants are in the ground and often enough to keep the roots slightly moist throughout the summer.
Add a splash of color with a few potted annuals by setting them among the perennial groundcovers. This allows you to change the plantings as the seasons change. You can also permanently sink a few nursery pots in the ground. Then plant flowers in a slightly smaller container and set this pot in the one permanently buried in the ground. This method is less disruptive to the tree roots and easier on your back.

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Medal of Honor: Army Maj. Carlos C. Ogden
By KATIE LANGE
It takes a lot of bravery to move ahead in battle by yourself. That's what Army Maj. Carlos Carnes Ogden did when his unit was pinned down in the early days of the quest to liberate France during World War II. His dedication and leadership earned him the Medal of Honor.
Ogden was born May 9, 1917, and raised in Fairmount, Illinois, by his parents, Ray and Myrtle Ogden. He had two younger siblings, a sister named June and a brother, Robert.
After high school, Ogden attended Eastern Illinois University, where he was a standout on its football and basketball teams. However, by the spring of 1941, as the threat of World War II loomed, he was drafted into the Army. By November 1942, he'd been commissioned as a second lieutenant. He served as an instructor at Camp Roberts in central California before joining the 79th Infantry Division, which deployed to Europe in April 1944.
After the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944, the Allies had gained a foothold into France. In order to keep it, they needed to secure the port city of Cherbourg. The 79th was one of the divisions sent to capture it from the Germans.
Allied troops reached the city by June 22 and found it well-defended, especially Fort du Roule, which was built deep into the rocks surrounding the harbor and was reinforced by German pillboxes, gun emplacements and other defenses. It took U.S. troops three days to push close enough to make their final assault on the town.
On the morning of June 25, 1944, the 79th's 314th Infantry Regiment was tasked with taking the fort. Then-1st Lt. Ogden had just taken over Company K of the 3rd Battalion from its wounded commander when they became pinned down by two enemy machine guns and an 88 mm gun.
Ogden knew he had to do something for them to survive, so he grabbed an M1 rifle, a grenade launcher and several grenades, then moved up a slope on his own toward the fort's emplacements. Along the way, a machine gun bullet glanced off his head, knocking him down. The wound was painful, and more close-range enemy fire was headed his direction, but Ogden continued the climb anyway.
He eventually reached a vantage point where he was able to successfully take out the 88 mm gun using the grenade launcher. Then he chucked the hand grenades, which knocked out the two machine guns.
Ogden was injured a second time in the process, but his heroics inspired the men around him to push harder and reach their objectives. The attacks gradually led to various sections of the fort's top level to surrender. When all of Cherbourg was taken, it gave the Allies the ability to use the port for essential supplies that would sustain American forces liberating France.
Ogden was nominated for the Medal of Honor and received it May 30, 1945, a few weeks after victory in Europe had been declared. Army Lt. Gen. Alexander Patch III presented it to the first lieutenant during a ceremony in Augsburg, Germany. Another soldier from the 314th Infantry Regiment earned the Medal of Honor for his actions that day; however, Cpl. John D. Kelly, 23, didn't survive the war to receive it in person.
Ogden remained in the Army for two more years, reaching the rank of major before leaving the service in 1947. For about a decade after that, he worked as a counselor for the Department of Veterans Affairs at a VA hospital in San Jose, California, where he chose to settle after the war.
At some point, he married a woman named Louise Sanford, and they had four sons.
In 1958, Ogden became a manager for the San Jose Chamber of Commerce. In 1967, he became the state's director of selective service on Gov. Ronald Reagan's recommendation. At that time, he was also vice president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, president of the United Veterans' Council and a former president of the San Jose Kiwanis Club.
He also turned down numerous requests to run for Congress, according to Eastern Illinois University.
Ogden never forgot his military roots. His alma mater said that in 1956, he went to France as a member of the official U.S. delegation to attend the dedication of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Two years later, at the invitation of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he served as an honorary pallbearer at the internment of the World War II and Korea Unknown service members at Arlington National Cemetery. Ogden was also invited in 1964 to serve as one of 15 people from the U.S. to attend France's 20th anniversary commemoration of the Invasion of Normandy.
According to the San Jose City Council, Ogden spent much of his post-war life participating in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and a variety of youth sports leagues.
Ogden died on April 2, 2001, in Palo Alto, California. His Los Angeles Times obituary said his death was due to complications from several strokes and a long battle with cancer.
Ogden is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Social Security Matters
By National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation,

Ask Rusty – About Income Tax on Social Security Benefits

Dear Rusty: I just started receiving my Social Security in February of 2023. I am also working part time at a company 24 hours a week. My question is... I feel like I missed something when I signed up for Social Security because they are not taking any taxes out. What did I miss? How do I go about fixing it so I don't get hit at the end of the year? They are taking taxes out of my paycheck now, do they still take it out of my Social Security because I am working? Please help if I am not doing something right. Signed: Conscientious Senior

Dear Conscientious: Unfortunately, when the Social Security Administration processes your application for benefits, they don’t usually inform you that your Social Security benefits may become part of your taxable income. I expect that’s because your benefits only “may” become taxable – they do not definitely become taxable, because Social Security benefits are taxed only if you exceed a certain income threshold.
The thresholds at which Social Security benefits become part of your taxable income are different depending on your income tax filing status – those who file as an individual have a different threshold from those who file as “married – filing jointly.” And to further complicate matters there is more than one threshold for both individuals and joint filers. Here’s how it works:
If you file your income tax as an individual and your “combined income” from all sources is more than $25,000, then 50% of the Social Security benefits you received during the tax year becomes part of your overall taxable income at your particular IRS tax rate. But if your combined income as an individual tax filer is more than $34,000 then up to 85% of the SS benefits you received during the tax becomes part of your overall taxable income.
If your income tax filing status is “married – filing jointly” the thresholds are higher – if your combined income from all sources as a married couple exceeds $32,000 then 50% of the Social Security benefits you received during the tax year becomes part of your taxable income. But if your combined income as a married couple exceeds $44,000 then up to 85% of your SS benefits received during the tax year are taxable.
“Combined income” is also known as your “Modified Adjusted Gross Income” or “MAGI.” Your MAGI is your Adjusted Gross Income on your tax return, plus 50% of the Social Security benefits you received during the tax year, plus any non-taxable interest or untaxed foreign income you had (note that withdrawals from a Roth IRA are not included). If your “MAGI” exceeds the above thresholds, some of your Social Security benefits are taxable; if you are under the first threshold for your IRS filing status they are not.
Social Security doesn’t automatically withhold taxes from your monthly benefits, and the FICA tax being withheld from your earnings are not used for that purpose. Everyone who works and earns must pay SS tax on their earnings, which are mandatory contributions supporting the federal Social Security program. But that FICA payroll tax has nothing to do with income tax on your Social Security benefits. If you are working 24 hours per week and also collecting Social Security benefits, you will likely exceed the threshold for your tax filing status, which means that at least some of your 2023 benefits will become taxable. That could, as you suspect, result in a surprise “hit” when you file next year’s income tax return. Nevertheless, fixing this is quite easy:
Download IRS form W-4V from the IRS website here: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4v.pdf. You will be able to choose the percentage of your Social Security benefits you wish to have withheld for income tax purposes. Complete the form and mail it to your local Social Security office (get the mailing address here: www.ssa.gov/locator). Social Security will then start withholding income tax from your monthly Social Security benefit payment, which will mitigate any additional tax due when you file your 2023 tax return next year.

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Medal of Honor: Army Lt. Col. William J. O'Brien
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Army Lt. Col. William Joseph O'Brien spent almost his entire adult life in the service of the military. He eventually made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation during World War II, but not before his leadership and actions during the Battle of Saipan earned him the Medal of Honor.
O'Brien was born Sept. 25, 1899, in Troy, New York, to parents Timothy and Charlotte O'Brien. He had two siblings, a brother named Frank and a sister named Evelyn.
According to a 1945 newspaper article from The Troy Record, O'Brien attended Troy Business College after high school, but his education was disrupted by World War I. In 1917, when O'Brien turned 18, he enlisted in the New York State Guard, which replaced the members of the New York National Guard who were drafted into active-duty service.
The Troy Record said O'Brien continued to serve until 1922, when he went back to business college and then worked for a variety of business firms. But his military training must have been calling him, because he eventually enlisted in the New York National Guard, which had returned to its regular duties since the end of World War I.
From there, he made a career out of it. O'Brien got his commission as an officer in 1926 and was promoted to captain by 1939. At some point, he married his wife, Mary, and had a son, William Jr.
In October 1940, as the prospects of entering World War II loomed, the New York National Guard mobilized for active duty with the Army's 27th Infantry Division. O'Brien continued to rise in the ranks, becoming a major in 1942 and then a lieutenant colonel by April 1943, when he was assigned to command the division's 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment. Eventually, they were sent to fight in the Pacific Theater.
Most of O'Brien's recorded heroics happened during the Battle of Saipan, which started when U.S. Marines landed on Saipan, an island in the Mariana Islands chain, on June 15, 1944. The 27th Infantry Division landed a day later and took the island's airfield within the first 24 hours. From there, the fighting was fierce.
On June 21, when assault elements of one of O'Brien's platoons were held up by intense enemy fire, the commander ordered three tanks to move forward to knock out the enemy's strongpoint. However, because of the enemy's heavy fire, the tanks' turrets were closed. That caused them to lose direction, and instead of firing toward the enemy, they started firing on friendly troops.
With no regard for his own safety, O'Brien ran into full view of the enemy to the tank in the lead. Using his pistol, he pounded on the tank to get the crew's attention. When he finally did, he mounted the tank — still under fire — and directed its assault until the enemy position had been wiped out.
About a week later, on June 28, O'Brien planned a maneuver to capture a bitterly defended ridge. During the action, he personally crossed 1,200 yards of sniper-infested underbrush by himself to get to a point where one of his platoon's was being held up by the enemy. As he ordered four men to stay behind to contain the enemy, he and four others moved into a narrow ravine behind the enemy's strongpoint. They managed to kill or drive off all the Japanese soldiers manning it, and they captured five machine guns and one 77 mm fieldpiece. O'Brien then organized and directed two platoons overnight as they defended against repeated counterattacks, all while managing to hold their ground.
After a few weeks of fighting, the Americans had whittled down the Japanese ranks to the point where they had no reinforcements or place to retreat. So, in the early morning on July 7, 1944, the Japanese commander ordered a final suicide banzai charge — a mass attack made in desperation to avoid surrender and dishonor.
O'Brien's battalion and another battalion got hit by the massive charge, which was estimated to be between 3,000 and 5,000 men. It led to bloody hand-to-hand fighting that overran the battalions' forward positions due to the sheer size of the force.
As people fell and ammunition ran low, O'Brien refused to leave the front lines. He walked among the men there, firing at the enemy with pistols in both hands. His bravery encouraged the other men and kept them in the fight.
Eventually, O'Brien was seriously wounded, but he still refused to be evacuated. When his pistols ran out of ammo, he mounted a jeep with a .50-caliber machine gun and began firing it.
Soldiers last saw O'Brien alive as he was firing at the hordes of Japanese that eventually enveloped his position. Sometime later, his body was found surrounded by the enemies he had killed.
Two days later, the Battle of Saipan ended, having wiped out nearly the entire Japanese garrison. The Allies' successful defeat isolated the few enemy soldiers who remained, and they had no hope for resupply or reinforcement. The battle marked the end of Japanese resistance in Saipan and finally put the Japanese mainland within range of Allied long-range B-29 bombers.
However, the battle still left its mark on the Americans who fought there. According to the New York National Guard, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 105th infantry Regiment and the front line of the 27th Infantry Division lost about 650 men to injuries or death. In total, including the Marine forces, the U.S. lost about 3,000 fighters, while Japan lost about 29,000.
O'Brien was posthumously nominated for the Medal of Honor. His widow, Mary, received it on May 27, 1945, from Robert P. Patterson, the undersecretary of war, during a ceremony at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. The Troy Record said that so many people showed up for the ceremony that they had to move it outside, even though it was raining.
Two other members of the 27th Infantry Division received the Medal of Honor for their actions that day: Pvt. Thomas A. Baker, who was under O'Brien's command, and Capt. Ben L. Salomon, a dentist for the 105th's 2nd Battalion.
O'Brien's body was eventually returned to the U.S. and buried in St. Peter's Cemetery in his hometown.
The state of New York has not forgotten him. The officers' quarters at Camp Smith, a New York Army National Guard training site, is named in his honor. In 2014, buildings at Fort Drum, where Guard units train yearly, were named for O'Brien and Baker: the O'Brien Readiness Training Center and the Baker Weapons Training Facility.


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Fist bumps, anyone?
David Rush may not have broken the most Guinness World Records; that honor belongs to 68-year-old Ashrita Furman who, thus far, has won no less than 600 records, including the record for breaking the most Guinness Records. But Rush has broken more than 250 records thus far including the record for the most fist bumps, which he achieved with the help of Howie Mandel, the host of the America's Got Talent TV show. Together they racked up 380 fist bumps in 30 seconds on a recent episode of the show.

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A special anniversary gift
Tim and Melinda O'Brien of Kansas City, Missouri, were married 40 years ago and spent their wedding night at what was then known as the Muehlebach Hotel, which presented them with a gift certificate good for a free room for the night in any year on the month of their wedding anniversary. The certificate was lost some time ago but as their anniversary approached this year, they found it. The hotel was sold to the Marriott Hotel Chain in 1996 but Tim decided to contact the new owners to see if they would still honor the gift certificate. The folks at Marriott agreed and said that, of course, they would for the same rate they paid in 1983 -- just $38.

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The gold dispenser
You can find a candy bar dispenser anywhere these days but you’ll have to go to South Korea if you want to find a gold bar dispenser. GS Retail, which operates some 10,000 convenience stores throughout that country, has been fitting them out with gold bar vending machines since last September. To date, just 29 of their stores have been fitted with the machines, but they’ve produced some $19 million dollars in revenues. Guess what? They are wasting no time in providing more and more of their stores with gold dispensers. A company representative told UPI, "The most popular gold bar is the smallest, the 0.13-ounce one, which is currently priced at around $225. People in their 20s and 30s appear to be the main buyers, purchasing physical gold as an investment vehicle, especially in times such as these, when its value is continuing to rise."

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Social Security Matters
By National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation


Ask Rusty – Working Widow Seeks to Maximize Social Security Benefits

Dear Rusty: I was widowed years ago and, when I approached age 60, I looked into Social Security survivor benefits based on my late husband’s record. He started receiving Social Security shortly before he died at $1,200 per month. My income at age 60 was $42,000 and, since Social Security would keep $1 for every $2 above the limit (around $15,000 at that time), I did not apply. Next year I will reach my full retirement age of 66½, but I plan to work until I am 70. Will I be able to receive full survivor benefits next year if I continue to work? I plan to switch to my own Social Security benefit at age 70, which will be higher than my husband received. Since I am waiting to apply for survivor benefits, will there be an increase in the amount I receive? I am a municipal employee and when I retire, I will collect from the state retirement system. I paid into the state retirement system and also paid Social Security taxes, so will my state pension have any impact on my Social Security?
Signed: Still Working
Dear Still Working: Congratulations on having an excellent strategy for maximizing your survivor benefit as well as your personal SS retirement benefit. Once you reach your full retirement age (FRA) next year, you are no longer subject to Social Security’s “earnings test” and can collect Social Security benefits without those benefits being affected by your work earnings.
Your surviving spouse benefit will be more because you are waiting until your full retirement age to claim it. At your FRA you can claim your full survivor benefit from your deceased husband (without reduction) and collect only that while still allowing your personal SS retirement benefit to grow to maximum when you are 70. Then, at age 70, you can switch from your smaller survivor benefit to your maximum SS retirement benefit and collect that higher amount for the rest of your life. Essentially, your survivor benefit reaches maximum at your FRA and your personal SS retirement benefit reaches maximum at age 70.
Note that you should apply for your benefits a couple of months before you wish them to start. For example, if you reach your FRA in May of next year you can apply for your survivor benefit in February or March, specifying that you wish your survivor benefit to begin in May 2024 at your full retirement age. Just be sure to emphasize that you are applying only for your survivor benefit and wish your personal SS retirement benefit to continue to grow by earning Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs) until you are 70.
You cannot apply for your survivor benefit online, so you will need to call Social Security, at either the national number (1.800.772.1213) or your local Social Security office, to make an appointment to apply for your benefit as your husband’s widow.
And to answer your last question, your state pension won’t affect your monthly Social Security payments because you paid Social Security FICA payroll taxes from your municipal earnings.

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Plan and Plant a Hummingbird Garden
By MELINDA MYERS

Whether you are making some late additions to your gardens or planning for the future include some hummingbird-favorite plants. Select plants and create combinations to attract and support them with a season-long supply of nectar.
Hummingbirds consume an average of two to three times their weight in nectar each day. Providing feeders and an abundance of flowers throughout the season will support the hummingbirds and help attract them to your gardens. Keep this in mind as you add plants to your landscape.
Shrubs like azalea, lilac, weigela, buttonbush, and Rose-of-Sharon provide shelter for birds and nectar-filled flowers for hummingbirds and other pollinators to enjoy. The North American native honeysuckle vine adds vertical interest and hummingbird appeal even in small spaces. Major Wheeler is a cultivar of the native honeysuckle vine that blooms all summer and is more resistant to powdery mildew. Watch as the hummingbirds munch on any aphids that attack this plant. They are great pest managers to have in the garden.
Another native vine, the trumpet vine, is a vigorous grower that can be trained into a small tree or onto a trellis. This plant will send out suckers requiring some regular maintenance. Be patient as it can take several years for this vine to begin flowering. Avoid overfertilization which results in an even bigger plant and no flowers.
Shorter vines, like the hummingbird’s favorite cardinal vine, make excellent thrillers in containers. Train them onto a decorative support and grow them in their own pot or combine them with other annuals.
Include perennials for added seasonal beauty and nectar. Early blooming lungwort is shade tolerant and provides some of the earliest nectar for these winged beauties. Leave the white or lavender flowers on your hostas for the hummingbirds. This popular shade-tolerant plant is often overlooked for its hummingbird appeal.
Garden phlox and bee balm are both hummingbird favorites that add color and nectar to the summer garden. Look for powdery mildew-resistant varieties or plant them among other tall plants to hide any discolored foliage that may occur. North American native anise hyssop and liatris are two more favorites you may want to include.
Fill vacant spots in the garden, containers, or hanging baskets with annuals known to attract hummingbirds. Fuchsias, begonias, and impatiens are perfect for shady locations. Cupheas are often sold under the common names, tiny mice and cigar plant, and prefer a sunnier location. The taller blue horizon ageratum, geranium, bidens, tall verbena, and petunias grow well in gardens and containers.
Both perennial and annual salvias attract hummingbirds. Place a pot or two of Black and Blue, Black and Bloom, and Wendy’s Wish near your windows, so you can enjoy the frequent visits of your resident hummingbirds.
Add one or more feeders to your landscape. Provide space between the feeders as hummingbirds are territorial. Make sure there is cover within 10 to 15 feet. Fill the container with a 1-part sugar to 4-part water solution. Replace the mixture and clean the feeders every few days. This provides additional food for the hummingbirds and viewing opportunities for you.
It may take a couple of years for the hummingbirds to find your nectar-filled garden. In the meantime, you will enjoy the flowers and other pollinators that stop by to dine.

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A penny saved
The Associated Press reports that more than 66 percent of Americans save their pennies. John Reyes in Los Angeles was cleaning out his deceased father-in-law’s home recently, the home he lived in for more than 50 years. Among his belongings were sealed bank bags full of pennies -- some, one million pennies. Reyes has put his find for sale online, asking $25,000 for the lot. But some are telling him to back off -- that there may be a penny in the stash that is worth much more than that. A 1944 Steel Wheat Penny sold for $408,000 and a 1943 Copper Wheat Penny brought in $250,000, according to one report.

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Whale watcher alert
The Science Times says it is unusual to come across a large pod of Killer Whales, but a team of Oceanic Society researchers came across a pod composed of some 24 of them off the coast of San Francisco recently. Michael Pierson, a member of the team, said that "just seeing them is always really exciting, but seeing such a large grouping was what made it a one-of-a-kind experience." It is uncertain why such a large gathering of Orcas showed up at the site, according to another member of the research team who said they could have been on a hunt or merely socializing.

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The troll apartment
A home -- even a one bedroom apartment -- can be pricey in Los Angeles, but a one-bedroom, one-bathroom home in the city of Alhambra in Los Angeles County has been posted for sale at the reasonably affordable price of $250,000. But that’s not what is attracting attention; it’s the fact that the "Troll Apartment," as it is known, is located under a road and over the arch of a bridge. Douglas Lee, who’s handling the sale at the Compass real estate agency, says "it's definitely the most unique listing I've ever had in my entire residential real estate career. There's a lot of just unique interest. And instead of it being off-putting to people, it's actually come off as very unique and cool."

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Medal of Honor: Army Pfc. Henry Svehla
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

Through sheer determination, Army Pfc. Henry Svehla may have single-handedly helped his unit beat back an attack by North Korean forces in 1952. The young rifleman didn't survive, but the memory of his valor lived on through his family, which spent decades pushing for and eventually getting him the Medal of Honor.
Svehla was born Oct. 30, 1932, in Newark, New Jersey, but grew up in nearby Belleville. He was one of six children — the youngest of three sons — to parents John Svehla, a mechanic, and Susan Svehla, a stay-at-home mother. Henry loved fishing and was known to take care of everyone in the family.
Svehla, whose family nickname was Squeeky, enlisted in the Army in November 1951 as the Korean War was raging. He was sent to the island nation to fight in February 1952 as a member of the 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
On June 12, 1952, Svehla was serving as a rifleman with Company F in a region known as the "Iron Triangle" inside what is now the Demilitarized Zone. His company and another unit were doing reconnaissance on Hill 472, an enemy outpost northeast of Chorwon, South Korea, when they were attacked at the top of the hill.
Svehla's unit began to falter, and the young private knew something had to be done for them to survive. Svehla quickly leapt to his feet and charged at the enemy's positions, firing his weapon and throwing grenades as he went. His determination caught on, and his platoon rallied behind him with renewed vigor.
Svehla took out several enemy positions and inflicted heavy casualties before being hit by shrapnel from a mortar round that seriously wounded his face. However, he refused medical attention and kept fighting.
When an enemy grenade landed near several other soldiers, Svehla didn't hesitate — he threw himself on top of it to absorb the blast.
"Every human instinct, every impulse, would tell a person to turn away. But at that critical moment, Henry Svehla did the opposite. He threw himself on that grenade," said President Barack Obama at Svehla's Medal of Honor ceremony. "With his sacrifice, he saved the lives of his fellow soldiers."
Svehla's body remains unaccounted for. It wasn't recoverable at the time of his loss, and thus far, it's not been among the remains returned to the U.S. in the decades since the July 1953 armistice. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the North Korean government has not permitted investigations of the area where he died.
In lieu of a proper burial, Svehla is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. There, his name is displayed alongside the names of more than 8,000 other Americans missing from the Korean War.
Svehla initially received a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross in March 1953; however, his family thought he deserved more for his sacrifice. They tried to make that happen for 60 years, but there wasn't any movement on it until 2001 when Svehla's brother, John, and nephew, Andrew, contacted U.S. Rep Bill Pascrell.
For a decade, Pascrell's staff made it their mission to give Svehla the proper honor he deserved by uncovering his service records and giving them to the Defense Department for re-examination. That investigation finally got his family what they were hoping for.
On May 2, 2011, Svehla received the Medal of Honor from Obama during a White House ceremony. His sister, Dorothy, accepted it on his behalf. Sadly, his brother, John, who had pushed so hard for the honor, died within a year prior to the ceremony.
While there is no formal burial site for Svehla, his hometown has made a place for him to be remembered. A monument to Svehla was unveiled in Belleville in 2011, and in 2019, a town post office was also dedicated to the fallen soldier.

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Social Security Matters
By National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundations

Ask Rusty – Will Work Earnings Affect My Social Security at Age 80?

Dear Rusty: I am 80 years old, and I receive monthly Social Security benefits, but I’m thinking about returning to work. At this age, am I limited in how much income I generate without affecting my benefit? If so, how much can I earn without affecting it? Signed: Spry Octogenarian.
Dear Spry Octogenarian: Since you have already reached your full retirement age (FRA) for Social Security’s purposes, you can earn as much income from working as you like without your monthly Social Security payment being affected. Social Security’s earnings test applies only to those who collect benefits before reaching their full retirement age, which is somewhere between age 66 and 67, depending on year of birth.
However, although the earnings test will not apply to you, it’s important to know that Social Security benefits are subject to income tax if your annual combined income from all sources (also known as your “Modified Adjusted Gross Income” or “MAGI”) exceeds certain thresholds. Your income tax filing status is an influencing factor - if you file as a single and your MAGI is more than $25,000, or if you file as “married/jointly” and your MAGI is more than $32,000, then 50% of the SS benefits you received during the tax year becomes part of your overall taxable income. And if your MAGI as a single filer is more than $34,000 or, as a married filer more than $44,000, then up to 85% of the SS benefits you receive during the tax year becomes part of your overall taxable income at your standard IRS income tax rate. Thus, returning to work may result in Social Security benefits unexpectedly becoming taxable income.
For complete clarity, your “MAGI” is your regular Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on your income tax return, plus 50% of the Social Security benefits you received during the tax year, plus any other non-taxable income (except Roth IRA withdrawals) you may have had.
So, while your earnings from working at age 80 (and beyond) will not affect your monthly Social Security benefit payment, you may - depending on your total income or “MAGI” - find that your Social Security benefits will become taxable if your combined income from all sources exceeds the above thresholds. And if your benefits will become taxable, you may wish to consider having income taxes withheld from your monthly Social Security payments, which you can do by submitting IRS form W-4V to your local Social Security field office.

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Make gardening with kids enjoyable
By MELINDA MYERS

Gardening is good for the mind, body, and spirit. It is also good for the youngsters in our lives. Research shows gardening helps relieve stress, improve focus, positively impacts mood and psychological well-being, builds a sense of confidence, and more.
Look for creative ways to get children involved in gardening. Tap into other interests or skills like art, reading, writing, insects, math, and computers if you need to persuade reluctant participants into growing plants.
Include lots of colors and unique plants that kids will love. Crested celosia resembles brains, making it a good choice for the zombie fans in the group. Eyeball plant (Acmella oleracea), balloon plant (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) with its hairy inflated seedpods, snake plant, and kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos favidus) are a few to consider. Gardeners of all ages will appreciate the popcorn plant (Senna didymobotrya) with its buttered popcorn-scented leaves or bat-faced cuphea and the hummingbirds it will attract.
Consider adding features that make the garden a fun space to visit. There is a reason bean teepees, sunflower houses, and tunnels in the garden have remained popular with kids of all ages for decades. Or grow a garden shaped like a slice of pizza planted with all the key ingredients or a salsa garden. Everyone will benefit when using freshly harvested ingredients to create these dishes.
A pot or flat of grass makes a nice field for superheroes and a lawn for dolls. A bare patch of soil is perfect for digging, driving cars and trucks, or sculpting hills and valleys. All these build skills that can be applied to future gardening efforts.
Plant some salad radishes that are ready to harvest in 25 to 30 days. This will help keep the kids interested in the garden when waiting for the tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables to ripen. Call it harvesting when you are thinning the radish planting. Use these greens as a snack or in a salad. Harvesting and eating is more fun for all of us than just thinning the excess plants.
Use rainy days to create plant labels from paint sticks or stones. Paint individual words on some of the stones and place them in the garden. Let children leave messages for each other or write poetry. Or repurpose pickle jars into garden treasure jars. Have children decorate the jars. Then you fill the jars with messages or treasures before hiding them in the garden.
Explore ways to reuse and recycle landscape trimmings. Put twigs to use creating small-scale wattle fences for a fairy, gnome, or zombie garden. This is great practice for building a larger-scale wattle fence for the garden.
Go on a bug hunt to see who is living in your garden, yard, or neighborhood. Look for good bugs like lady beetles that eat plant-damaging aphids and bees that pollinate our flowers. Then log what you find in a backyard journal.
Gentle guidance, realistic expectations, and age-appropriate activities will help get kids excited about gardening. The gardens they create and the plants they grow are often amazing but more importantly, it is the experience of growing together that makes it worthwhile.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize

On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride boarded the Challenger, and became the first American woman to traverse the cosmos. Originally, NASA had restricted its corps of astronauts to men, but, according to History.com, “in 1978 [the agency] changed its policy…[and] approved six women out of…3,000 original applicants to [emerge as] the first female astronauts in the U.S. space program.”
Ride—with “Stanford stamped” degrees in science and physics, was quickly positioned in the inaugural lineup. “She became an on-the-ground capsule communicator for NASA’s STS-2 and STS-3 [Space Transportation System] missions in 1981 and 1982, and an expert in controlling the shuttle’s robotic arm. NASA assigned Ride to be part of the STS-7 crew on April 30, 1982, serving as mission specialist and joining Commander Robert L. Crippen, mission specialist John M. Fabian, physician-astronaut Norman E. Thagard and pilot Frederick H. Hauck on the historic flight.”
For more information, The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Sally Ride’s and Susan Okie’s To Space & Back.

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After World War I, America’s unemployed veterans were promised Bonus Act payments for their services, but political delays left them adrift in poverty. Finally, on June 22, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the G.I Bill and ended the ordeal.
According to History.com, “as the last of its sweeping New Deal reforms, Roosevelt’s administration created the G.I. Bill (officially the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944) to avoid a relapse into the Great Depression after the war ended. FDR particularly wanted to prevent a repeat of the Bonus March of 1932, and when 20,000 unemployed veterans and their families flocked in protest to Washington. The American Legion, a veteran’s organization, successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, low-interest home and business loans, and—most importantly—funding for education.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The GI Bill: The New Deal for Veterans by Glenn Altschuler and Stuart Blumin.

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On June 27, 1829, James Smithson, an English scientist--and well-to-do member of the National Academy of Sciences--died at the age of sixty-four, and left his entire fortune of $500,000 ($16,487,120 in 2023) “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of Smithsonian Institution an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
Some people say the bequest was motivated, “in part--by revenge--against the rigidities of British society, which had denied Smithson, who was illegitimate, the right to use his father’s name.”
After Congress learned of the lucky largesse, it was decided to use the funds to build museums, conduct research, produce publications; invest in the sciences, the arts, and history.
Now, it is comprised of a worldwide network of 21 buildings, nine research facilities, a Zoo, and 2016’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Gore Vidal’s novel, The Smithsonian Institution.


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Social Security Matters
By National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation,

Ask Rusty – How Will Working Affect My First Year’s Benefits?

Dear Rusty: I retired from working in January of this year and have since claimed Social Security. I didn't work at all in February or March, but I began a part time job in April. I'm very confused about how Social Security counts earnings for the first year. I don't know if I need to keep each month's earnings under $1,770 or if they average it. Some of the literature I've found says each month must remain under $1,770 or NO benefit will be paid that month. Two people at the Social Security office told me that they'll just dock me $1 for every $2 I am over that, even in my first year. I also cannot find anything about when they count your income. Is it when it's earned or when it's paid? If I go over in a month because there are three pay periods, can they withhold the benefit for that month? I’m just so confused! Signed: Part Time Worker
Dear Part Time Worker: The Social Security earnings test during your first year collecting benefits before full retirement age is, indeed, somewhat confusing. The reason is because there are two methods which Social Security may use during your first calendar year collecting early benefits, and they will use the one which results in the least financial impact to you. To elaborate:
If you claim benefits mid-year before your full retirement age, for the remainder of that first year (starting in the month benefits begin and ending in December) you’ll be subject to a monthly earnings limit ($1,770 for 2023). If you exceed the monthly limit in any remaining month of that first calendar year, you won’t be entitled to benefits for that month, so Social Security would (eventually) take back that month’s benefit. That is, unless using the annual limit ($21,240 for 2023) instead will result in a smaller penalty. If your total earnings for your first year collecting are over the annual limit (e.g., $21,240 for 2023), the penalty would be $1 for every $2 over the annual limit and, if that is less than the penalty from using the monthly limit, they will assess the smaller penalty. In other words, Social Security will use the method which is most beneficial to you when assessing a penalty for exceeding the earnings limit during your first calendar year collecting benefits. And just for clarity, the earnings limits are much higher and the penalty less during the year you attain full retirement age (FRA).
Something else to be aware of: if you know in advance you will exceed the annual limit it would be best to inform Social Security in order to avoid an Overpayment Notice next year. If you don’t, Social Security won’t know about your 2023 earnings until you file your 2023 income taxes, so you’ll get your 2023 monthly payments as usual. But when the IRS informs Social Security of your 2023 earnings later next year, Social Security will ask you to detail your monthly work earnings for 2023. If you have exceeded the limits, they will determine an overpayment amount and will ask you to either pay back what is owed in a lump sum or will withhold your benefits for enough months to recover what you owe for exceeding the 2023 earnings limit. Then, after you reach full retirement age (FRA), you’ll get time credit for all months in which benefits were withheld, thus slightly increasing your monthly payment after your FRA.
Finally, it is when your income is earned that counts, not when it is paid. So, for example, if you worked in January 2023 and were paid for that work in February 2023, that is considered January income which wouldn’t count toward the February earnings limit.

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How to become self-made in any field: 10 lessons from my unconventional journey

My journey to becoming a successful entrepreneurial CPA and author is unconventional, to say the least. I never finished high school. Everything I've learned, I taught myself. Growing up in England, I was expelled from high school for failing too many courses. College wasn't in the cards for me either. In my early twenties, I could barely do simple math.
Yet a relative who worked for an accounting firm agreed to take me in and train me—following a plea from my mother. I flunked my first two attempts at the qualifying exams. With only one shot left—after three failures, you're out—I faced a stark choice: Do I want to continue to be a failure or secure this qualification and move on to a brighter future? I chose the latter. Once I decided I wanted to pass, I discovered that I could—and I did.
Today, almost four decades later, I have a thriving financial consulting practice.
Even more unusual for a CPA, I'm also a well-reviewed author. Five years ago, I ventured into creative nonfiction. I had stories to tell and thoughts to express. With no formal training in creative writing, I simply began. With the help of an editor, I've published two books, "Chasing Aphrodite" and "The Heart of New York," and a third is nearly complete.
While I don’t advocate for quitting high school, I firmly believe that people often view their credentials—or lack thereof—as limitations. They see themselves as qualified only for what they've been officially trained to do. But it doesn't have to be this way. I want everyone to know that they, too, can be self-made—in any field.
Here are some principles that helped me succeed as an entirely self-made professional and author, and I believe they can help you too:
Believe in yourself. The first step to achieving anything is believing that you can. My journey was marked by failures, but I never lost faith in my ability to improve and succeed.
Stay open to any and all suggestions. It’s so easy to say ‘no’ due to ego and preconceived notions. But opportunities come from saying ‘yes.’
Have the chutzpah to insert yourself into situations. Opportunities rarely fall into our laps. We need to have the courage to seize them, even if it means stepping out of our comfort zones.
Make strong connections with the right people. It's not just about networking—it's about building relationships with people who inspire, motivate, and support you.
Focus on relationships first, even more than closing a deal. I've always prioritized long-term relationships over short-term gains. This approach has brought me more success than any single deal ever could.
Come up with good ideas—and don’t be afraid to share and execute them. I once saved a client a significant amount in taxes with an innovative strategy my colleagues didn’t think of. He has been a faithful client ever since.
Laugh at yourself. Humor can be a powerful tool for acknowledging that nobody’s perfect and we’re all learning all of the time. It also keeps things in perspective and makes you more relatable.
Never stop learning by doing. Real-world experience has been my greatest teacher. It's how I learned accounting, and it's how I became a writer.
Practice integrity and generosity. Success isn't just about making money—it's about making a positive impact on others. What goes around comes around: your generosity and integrity will come back to you in the form of opportunities.
And above all, always dream big. It was my audacious dream to pass the CPA exam, which led me to a successful career. It was my daring dream to write books, which made me an author. Your dreams can lead you to extraordinary places, too. Don't let a lack of traditional credentials hold you back. You have the power to shape your own journey, just as I did.

Emil Rem is an eccentric accountant and an author who writes about eccentric characters in exotic locales.

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How fast is your ‘wheelie bin’
They put garbage cans on wheels to make it easier to take them to the curb for collection but British engineer Michael Wallhead decided to motorize his trash can. He, then, hopped in, accelerated to a speed of 55 miles an hour and is now seeking recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the fastest ‘wheelie bin’ on the planet. The current record holder is another Englishman, Andy Jennings, who drove his garbage pail at a speed of 45 mph in May of 2021.

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How embarrassing
Between 2012 and 2016 the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration issued hundreds of thousands of license plates bearing a website address -- www.starspangled200.org/ -- in commemoration of the War of 1812. Some 798,000 autos still have those plates but, in the meantime, the patriotic online link changed hands and now it takes visitors to a Philippines-based Internet gambling site. It’s embarrassing and so MVA techies are scrambling to find a way to resolve the dilemma.

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How’s this for a deal
Imagine purchasing a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom home, complete with an indoor basketball court for a measly $60,000. This 17,408-square-foot abode is located in Burbank, Oklahoma. It used to be a high school but realtors at Zillow claim: "The large lot size and open floor plan provide endless opportunities. With some imagination, this could be the perfect home for you."

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Medal of Honor: Army Sgt. Maj. Jon R. Cavaiani
By KATIE LANGE
DOD News

Army Sgt. Maj. Jon Robert Cavaiani fought an overwhelming North Vietnamese force until he couldn't fight anymore. His actions saved dozens of men who served under him, but they also earned him two years at a prisoner of war camp. When he finally returned home, the Special Forces legend was greeted with respect and, soon after, the Medal of Honor.
Cavaiani was born Jon Lemmons in Royston, England, to an American soldier named Pete Lemmons and a British mother, Dorothy. He had a younger brother named Carl.
When Jon was 4, he and his brother were sent to live with their uncle in California. Eventually, his parents came over, too, but they divorced. His mother remarried a man named Ugo Cavaiani in 1950, and they settled in the small community of Ballico, California. When his stepfather adopted him in the early 1960s, Jon decided to take the name Cavaiani.
According to the National Museum of the U.S. Army, a young Cavaiani toiled on his family's farm before working for a fertilizer company and gaining extensive knowledge about agriculture.
In 1964, he married a woman named Marianne. They had two daughters, but they divorced around the time Cavaiani became a naturalized citizen in 1968.
By then, Cavaiani had the itch to join the military because he said he had a few half-brothers who were already serving in Vietnam. He tried in 1969 to join the Army, but was deemed unfit because he had a severe allergy to bee stings. He said he eventually persuaded an Army doctor to fill out paperwork allowing him to enlist.

Joining the Fight

Cavaiani started boot camp at age 26 and quickly volunteered to join the Special Forces, training as a medic. He was sent to Vietnam in 1970 with Task Force 1, Vietnam Training Advisory Group, which later became known as the Military Advisory Command-Vietnam Studies and Observations Group, an elite reconnaissance unit.
When Cavaiani arrived in the country, he was first assigned as an agriculture advisor and veterinarian because of his background. However, he wanted to do more, so he switched to reconnaissance for a few months before volunteering to become a platoon leader. His unit's mission was to provide security for an isolated radio relay site called Hickory Hill, north of Khe Sanh Combat Base, which was located within enemy territory near the edge of the Demilitarized Zone. There weren't many men left to defend the hill when Cavaiani arrived – roughly about a dozen American Special Forces advisors and about 70 indigenous soldiers known as Montagnards, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Army.
"When I got up there, the camp was a disaster area. It was just waiting to be knocked over," Cavaiani said in a 2002 Library of Congress interview. He had it fixed up just as they started to see more activity from North Vietnamese in the area.

Overwhelmed

Cavaiani said he'd only been at Hickory Hill for about a month when the actions that defined his career took place. On the morning of June 4, 1971, the young staff sergeant woke up to find the entire camp under fire from a large enemy force. Without regard for his own safety, he put himself in harm's way several times to move around the camp's perimeter to rally and direct the platoon's return fire, using any weapon he could find to join them.
Eventually, it became clear they couldn't keep up the fight, so they were ordered to evacuate. Cavaiani and another Special Forces soldier, Sgt. John R. Jones, helped evacuate the men into helicopters. Most of the platoon were able to make it out, but Cavaiani said he and Jones stayed behind to destroy the site's sensitive equipment so it wouldn't fall into enemy hands.
The pair was forced to stay overnight at the site with a handful of Montagnard soldiers who remained. They strengthened their defenses as best they could before the enemy launched another major ground attack in the morning. Cavaiani returned a heavy barrage of small-arms and grenade fire, but was unable to slow the enemy down. He ordered the remaining men to escape, then grabbed a machine gun, stood on top of the bunker that was covering him and swept machine gun fire across the enemy soldiers headed their way.
"I started shooting at anybody trying to come in. Mostly, shooting at where I was seeing flashes, which meant somebody was shooting at me," he said.

Trapped

Cavaiani was hit several times while on the bunker, but thanks to his bravery, the other men — with the exception of Jones — were able to escape. The staff sergeant said he then tried to grab Jones out of the bunker, but the enemy had overrun the top of the hill by then, and he and Jones were trapped inside.
Cavaiani said they were able to take out two enemy soldiers who came into the bunker, but not before more North Vietnamese were alerted to their presence. Another enemy soldier threw a grenade inside the bunker, which seriously injured Jones.
"[Jones said] 'I'm going to surrender.' He walks out, unfortunately. He cursed to them in Vietnamese, and they shot him and killed him," Cavaiani remembered. "Next thing I know, a grenade came rolling in. It was one of ours, and I kicked it up against the radio, and I guess I yelled 'grenade.' And it went off … It took out my radio, so that was the last time anybody heard from me."
Cavaiani said he played dead when another enemy soldier came into the bunker to see if there were survivors. That soldier didn't notice he was alive, but when he left, he set the bunker on fire. Cavaiani had to get out quickly.
"I managed to make it to the door. I've got burning tar going down my face and my arms and my back. I get outside, and my machine gun [somehow] goes off and shoots me — the only time in the entire war I wore a steel helmet. It shot me right in the head," Cavaiani recalled.
He said the shot knocked him out. When he eventually came to, he crawled into another bunker and tried to hide under a bed. He said he passed out there but woke up to an enemy soldier playing with his boot – likely planning to steal it off what he presumed was a dead man – before the soldier got up and walked out.
"That sobered me up real fast," Cavaiani said. "I did a nice, neat little low crawl over to the door and out the side and over the berm and started escaping and evading."

Capture

Cavaiani spent about 11 days hiding in the jungle and made it to Firebase Fuller about 42 kilometers away. He said he had no weapons and was badly wounded with about 100 shrapnel wounds and bullet holes. He didn't realize the area was surrounded by North Vietnamese, who quickly captured him.
Cavaiani spent nearly two years as a prisoner of war before being repatriated to the U.S. in 1973 during Operation Homecoming.
Cavaiani was believed to have been killed in action when he was recommended for the Medal of Honor. Officials learned later that he was still alive. The 31-year-old staff sergeant received the nation's highest medal for valor from President Gerald R. Ford during a White House ceremony on Dec. 12, 1974. Army Chief Warrant Officer Two Louis R. Rocco also received the Medal of Honor that day for actions he took in Vietnam in 1970.
Cavaiani said he debated leaving the military after he recovered, but he decided to stay in the Army. He eventually ended up in Delta Force, serving in Berlin and working in counterterrorism before he retired as a sergeant major in May 1990.

After

Once again a civilian, Cavaiani went to culinary school and married his wife, Barbara, in 1992. They lived outside of Modesto, California, for several years before moving to Columbia, California, in 2001.
As for the Medal of Honor, Cavaiani was apparently not fond of being in such an elite club, saying in 2002, "I spent a long time trying to forget about Vietnam. Then you get the medal, and now all of a sudden, it's public knowledge."
However, he carried the responsibility with grace, traveling the country as a motivational speaker and to appear at veterans' events, as well as to teach children about Vietnam War history. He also served as a regional director of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for a time. In 2011, he was inducted into the Special Forces Hall of Fame.
That same year – 40 years after the battle he would never forget — Cavaiani returned to Vietnam. This time, it was in search of the remains of Sgt. Jones, who was there with him during the ordeal, but didn't survive. Until that point, Jones' body had not been recovered. This time, however, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting agency found his remains and brought them home. Jones was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 2012 during a ceremony that Cavaiani attended.
Less than two years later, on July 29, 2014, Cavaiani died of a bone marrow disorder at age 70. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Jones and other fallen Vietnam veterans.

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House Call
By Dr. Daniel Knight, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Q: What is a hernia, and how is it treated?
A: A hernia is when organs or tissue squeeze through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle. Hernias often occur in the abdomen or the groin, most commonly at the inner and outer groin, the belly button or the upper stomach. Sometimes hernias also occur around an incision or cut.
Constipation, a pulling sensation, severe and sudden pain, or swelling in the abdomen or groin are some symptoms of a hernia. However, not everyone with a hernia will have symptoms. Immediately contact a health care professional if you experience fever, nausea and/or vomiting, or if you have a bulge that turns dark.
Treatment options depend upon the type and severity of the hernia. Your health care provider may simply recommend monitoring the situation and advise you to be aware of instances where the hernia can be aggravated, such as during physical exertion. In some cases, surgery is required as hernias tend to get worse over time.
People who have jobs that require heavy lifting, who have had a history of abdominal surgery, or who experience a pattern of persistent coughing or sneezing can be at risk of developing a hernia

Q: Why do I get migraines?
A: A migraine is a neurological disease, and the pain comes from the activation of nerves inside the blood vessels of the brain. The precise reason for migraines is unknown, as well as all of the factors which cause them. However, environment and genetics can play a role in the development of migraines, and they often run in families.
Migraines can be disabling. Symptoms of migraines include severe throbbing or intense pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea and/or vomiting, and sensitivity to light, noise and smells. “Aura” is a common type of migraine in which those affected may see black or colored dots, flashes of light, or may even experience temporary blindness. Other symptoms may include numbness in the body, muscle weakness, or dizziness.
Women tend to get migraines more often than men. Most individuals have their first migraine when they are young, but they can begin any time before age 40. Common migraine triggers are certain food and drink, hormone changes, changes in sleep patterns, stress, or changes in weather.
Over-the-counter medicines may help to relieve mild to moderate migraine pain. More severe pain may require prescription medication from a health care professional.
Q: Can cataracts be prevented?
A: Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of your eye. The eye’s lens is the clear part that helps focus light. Cataracts form when protein builds up in the lens, keeping light from passing through. This condition is common in older adults.
Cataracts normally develop slowly, so you may not notice the changes until your vision is impaired. This issue generally occurs in both eyes, although not necessarily at same the rate, so the level of impact may not be the same in each.
No specific process exists to avoid or slow the progression of cataracts. Symptoms of cataracts include changes in how you see colors, cloudy or foggy vision, difficulty with night vision, or sensitivity to glare. Some possible ways to prevent cataracts are protecting your eyes from the sun using a hat or sunglasses, and a healthy diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Adults over the age of 50 are advised to get an eye exam at least once a year. If cataracts are detected early, initial treatment may include using brighter lights at home or work, or getting a new contact or eyeglass prescription. Surgery may be recommended if cataracts begin to interfere with daily activities.

Q: What warning signs of Alzheimer's disease should I look for in a loved one?
A: Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Other types of dementia are fronto-temporal, Lewy body, and vascular. Dementia is a general term when someone loses the ability to remember or think to a level where it interferes with daily life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Alzheimer’s affects nearly 5.7 million Americans, and it is the fifth-leading cause of death for people age 65 or older. Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease for which there is no cure. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are unknown, but it is believed environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors may play a role.
Some warning signs of Alzheimer’s are anger or aggression, decreased or poor judgment, delusion, difficulty remembering new information, or forgetting names of family members. People affected by Alzheimer’s may also struggle to complete simple tasks or have trouble finding the correct words to express themselves.
If these or similar symptoms are observed, contact a health care provider who can give specialized directions regarding Alzheimer’s.


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Social Security Matters
By National Social Security Adviser at the AMAC Foundation,

Ask Rusty – What If I Delay but Die Before Claiming Social Security?

Dear Rusty: Hypothetically, if I plan to sign up for Social Security at 70 and pass away before that, I will get nothing. My spouse would still get a boost in the amount she receives because I made more, but everything I put into the program vanishes. I haven’t reached my full retirement age yet and I still have income, but if I sign up now at 63 my benefits will be withheld due to my income. Then at full retirement age (presuming I elected to claim earlier) a re-calculation will take place and my monthly amount would be adjusted. Well, what happens if I decide to wait until 70 but pass away before I claim? Are my contributions repaid in a lump sum, or will I (or someone else) still lose everything? Signed: Uncertain About My Future
Dear Uncertain: You are correct that if you pass away before collecting your earned Social Security benefits you won’t personally get anything. Social Security has, since inception, been a “pay as you go” program where those currently working and contributing to Social Security pay benefits for those currently receiving Social Security. That means that if you die before collecting, the monies you contributed will have already been used to pay other recipients, but the contributions you made may still entitle your dependents to benefits on your record. For those who are in their early 60s, average longevity is mid-80s, meaning your spouse would likely collect benefits on your record for more than two decades, any minor children could collect until they are adults, and any permanently disabled child you may have would get benefits from your record for the rest of their life as well.
The Social Security payroll taxes you contributed were not put into a private account in your name. And, on average, it is to the beneficiary’s advantage the program doesn’t work that way because that personal account would be depleted fairly quickly after you claim - rather than getting benefits for the rest of your life, you’d only get benefits (plus interest) from your personal account, which would run dry pretty fast. FYI, we have researched this very carefully and found that, on average, all payroll taxes contributed to Social Security by an individual will be recovered within about 5 years of starting benefits. The actual length of time to recoup one’s contributions varies somewhat depending on lifetime earnings and contributions made, but lower earning beneficiaries will recover everything contributed through payroll taxes within about 3 years, while it could take as much as 5 years for higher earners to get back everything they’ve paid into the program. And for clarity, since self-employed individuals pay both the employee and employer portion of the payroll tax, it does take longer for those who own their own business to recoup what they’ve contributed. Nevertheless, on average, most who claim benefits will get considerably more from the program than they paid in Social Security payroll taxes.
As to your specific question, if you die before collecting, the contributions you made weren’t deposited in a personal account for you and won’t be paid out in a lump sum. Rather, the payroll taxes you paid while working were used to pay benefits to beneficiaries receiving at the time, and those working and contributing after you die will fund the benefits paid to your spouse or disabled adult child until they die, or to your minor children until they are adults. The Social Security benefits you earned aren’t just for you - your eligible dependents will also benefit from your record.

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Medal of Honor: Army 1st Lt. Rudolph B. Davila
Department of Defense News
As the leader of a machine gun platoon during World War II, Army 1st Lt. Rudolph Bianco Davila's job was to cover the backs of the rifle company in front of him. When that company was about to be ambushed by Germans, he did all he could to keep them from being slaughtered. His bravery earned him the Distinguished Service Cross and eventually the Medal of Honor.
Davila was born on April 27, 1916, to his father, Nicolas Davila, who was Spanish, and his mother, Maria, who was Filipino. He was born in El Paso, Texas, but he, his sister and two brothers were raised in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.
To help support his family during the Depression, Davila worked at vineyards and helped restore state missions as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps, an L.A. Times article said.
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Davila joined the Army in 1939 when job opportunities were scarce. He was busy training recruits for jungle fighting by the time U.S. involvement in World War II was in full swing. Davila said he expected to be sent to the Pacific theater, but because of his Asian heritage, he was instead sent to Italy in early 1944 to fight during what became known as the Battle of Anzio.
Davila said his heavy machine gun platoon, which was part of Company H of the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, was halfway to Rome when he performed some of the most heroic duties of his life.
On May 28, 1944, Davila's division was near Artena, Italy, and was trying to break through the German mountain strongholds surrounding the Anzio beachhead where the Allies had come ashore. His platoon's mission was to protect a 130-man rifle company.
"They were ahead of me, climbing this hill. I was behind them," Davila said in a Congressional Medal of Honor Society interview. "The idea was that if they ran into trouble, I would bring out four of my machine guns and clear the way for them."
The rifle company was already on the other side of the hill when Davila crested it ahead of his platoon. As soon as he did, Germans who were waiting to ambush the rifle company fired on them.
"This hill was covered in tall grass, so there was no cover for the rifle company that was lying there on the forest floor," Davila said.
His machine gunners were still on the back side of the hill and reluctant to jump into the fray. Many of the men retreated, but Davila stayed and demanded their help.
"I yelled back, I said, ‘Bring up a gun.' And the gunners would not respond because they could see the bullets coming, just skimming the grass and barely missing me," he remembered.
Within a few seconds, he had those men pass him up the parts of a machine gun, which he put together while crawling on the ground. Then, from a kneeling position, he opened fire on the enemy so he could see if his shots hit, despite the fact that enemy bullets were whizzing past the gun's tripod and between his legs.
"I had my hand on the trigger already, so by the time I got up on my knees, the gun was already firing," Davila said. "I swept up and down the [railroad] tracks [below the hill] where the enemy was."
Davila ordered one of his gunners to take over the position so he could crawl forward to a better vantage point and direct the fire using hand and arm signals. Those actions silenced two enemy machine guns.
From there, Davila's platoon was able to set up its three remaining guns, which they used to drive the enemy to a reserve position 200 yards to its rear. Davila got shot in the leg at some point but ignored the wound and dashed to a burning tank. Despite the bullets crashing into its hull, he jumped into the tank and began shooting at the enemy from the vehicle's turret.
After causing some damage that way, Davila jumped off the tank and ran about 130 yards in short bursts before crawling about 20 more toward a house the enemy was using to hide its machine guns.
"I spotted two rifle barrels shooting from a window, so I took one grenade and pulled the pin and threw it into the building. Then I ran around the house where the door was," he explained. "There was a stairway going straight up, and there was a shell hole from a tank that fired into the house."
Climbing to the attic, Davila straddled the large hole and opened fire into it with a borrowed rifle, taking out five enemy soldiers who were running away. Despite walls crumbling around him, Davila continued to shoot until he'd destroyed two more enemy machine guns.
Thanks to Davila's heroism, the enemy fled the area, and the U.S. rifle company that likely would have been slaughtered survived.
After the fight, Davila received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant. He was eventually advanced in rank to first lieutenant, but his time in combat ended in late 1944 when he was seriously wounded in the right shoulder by a tank shell.
Davila's company captain told him he would recommend Davila for the Medal of Honor; however, he received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest medal for valor, instead.
Over the next six years, Davila underwent more than a dozen operations on his damaged arm. According to the L.A. Times, during one surgery to remove scar tissue, a main nerve was accidentally cut, paralyzing that arm.
One good thing that came out of his time in hospitals was that he met his wife, Harriet, who worked in a Modesto, California, hospital during Davila's stay there. The pair went on to have five children.
Davila eventually went back to school, getting his bachelor's degree in education from the University of Southern California in 1959. After receiving his master's degree in sociology, he went on to teach high school history and work as a counselor for 30 years in the L.A. City School District.
The L.A. Times said Davila was known to be an excellent cook and gardener and that he built both the family home in L.A.'s Harbor City neighborhood, as well as a second home in Vista, California. That's where he and his wife moved in 1977 after he retired from teaching.
In 1996, the National Defense Authorization Act called for a review the records of Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islanders who received the Distinguished Service Cross and Navy Cross during World War II. The review was to see if any of those service members may have been passed over for the Medal of Honor due to prejudices of the time.
The review revealed that Davila had been affected. His medal was finally upgraded 56 years after his actions in World War II. He received it on June 21, 2000, from President Bill Clinton during a White House ceremony alongside 21 other men whose medals were also upgraded to the nation's top military honor. Davila was one of only seven who were still alive to receive it.
One other person who wasn't in attendance was his wife, who had petitioned the government for years on her husband's behalf to get the medal upgraded. Sadly, she died six months before the ceremony.
At the time of the award, Davila brushed off any suggestions that racial bias kept him from earning it.
"I'm very grateful for the nation that has honored me," he said in his Congressional Medal of Honor Society interview. "I hold no resentment against the fact that it took them this long."
He said part of that empathy stemmed from a lifelong philosophy his mother instilled in him when he was young: "Nobody is better than you are, but you are no better than anyone else."
Less than two years after received the Medal of Honor, on Jan. 26, 2002, Davila died after a long illness, according to the L.A. Times. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Wanderlust
Renowned author Robert Louis Stevenson put it this way in his book, Travels with a Donkey: "For my part I travel not to go anywhere, but to ... travel for travel's sake.” For Randy Williams, a San Diego DJ known as Ramblin' Randy, wanderlust motivated his goal of visiting every country on planet Earth and then some. It took him ten years but he finally achieved his ambition to visit all of the 193 nations recognized by the United Nations plus Vatican City, Palestine and the disputed lands of Kosovo, Western Sahara and Taiwan. Randy completed his bucket list just recently when he finally got to plant his feet on the ground of his final destination, Turkmenistan.

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A very, very pricey taste
The rare, fragrant, flavorful and extremely expensive white truffles that grow in Alba, Italy can put you back nearly $7,000 a pound. It’s the reason why Japanese company, Cellato, broke the Guinness record for the world’s priciest ice cream, a brand called Byakuya that would set you back $6,696 per serving. According to the company, "It took us over 1.5 years to develop, with a lot of trials and errors to get the taste right. Achieving a Guinness World Records title made the effort all worth it."

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A scary dust devil
"I couldn't breathe ... so I held my breath,” said 7 year old Bauer Zoya, the catcher for the little league Ponte Vedra Sharks when a sudden whirlwind encircled him during a recent baseball game in a suburb of Jacksonville, FL. The unexpected dust devil sent the players running in all directions but Bauer was trapped in the cone. Umpire 17-year-old Aidan Wiles came to the boy’s rescue; he told reporters that he was “freaked out” at first but quickly “decided to run in there and grab him out of it."

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Michelangelo, the barber
LeBron James lived up to the expectations of his fans early in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. He led the Los Angeles Lakers in upending the NBA champion Golden State Warriors on May 12, a day after one of his more ardent fans had barber Miguel Rosas, Director at New Style Hair Academy in Moline, Illinois, carve a good luck likeness of LeBron in the hair on the back of his head. It took Rosas two hours to create his masterpiece. There are those who might say that it did the trick and helped LeBron score 30 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers.

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He proved that beer can give you gas
Like many of us these days, inventor Ky Michaelson of Bloomington, Minnesota, is fed up with the soaring cost gasoline. So he did something about it; he swapped the gas-powered engine of his motorcycle with a 14-gallon beer keg. A heating coil heats the brew to a temperature of about 300 degrees, superheating it into steam to drive the vehicle. Michaelson claims his new power source allows the bike to reach speeds of up to 150 mph. He told Fox News that "The price of gas is getting up there. I don't drink. I'm not a drinker, so I can't think of anything better than to use [beer] for fuel."

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A s-s-scary story
Amber Hall, her daughter and her son lived in their new home in Centennial, Colorado, for just two weeks before realizing that their abode was infested with slimy snakes. Her dogs were first to alert her; they found several slippery serpents slithering in and out of a garage wall. Hall called in pest control experts who, initially, found some 30 of the scary critters. It was of little comfort that they were not poisonous. "The snake wrangler said the snakes he caught look to be about 2 to 3 years old, so he imagines they've been here for a long time and there's a lot more," as she put it in an interview with KDVR-TV.

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Keep plants thriving despite the heat of summer
By MELINDA MYERS

Last year’s record-high temperatures across much of the country took a toll on gardens and landscapes. Once again, above-normal summer temperatures are in the forecast for many regions of the country. Adjusting how you manage your gardens and landscape can help plants thrive as temperatures rise.
Water plants thoroughly to promote deep drought-tolerant roots that help boost the plants’ pest resistance. Wait until the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist before watering most plants. Newly planted perennials, trees, and shrubs need more attention and water than drought-tolerant plants or established ones with more robust root systems that are better able to absorb more moisture. During extended dry periods, even drought-tolerant and established plants may need supplemental water.
Water early in the day to reduce water lost to evaporation. Avoid late evening watering that leaves foliage wet at night, increasing the risk of disease.
Apply water directly to the soil above the plant roots using soaker hoses or drip irrigation whenever possible. Water is applied where needed and the slow, steady flow of water is better able to infiltrate the soil and moisten the roots with less runoff.
Check soil moisture daily in container gardens and several times a week for raised beds. Both dry out more quickly than in-ground gardens and need to be watered more often. Save time and water by incorporating Wild Valley Farms’ wool pellets into the growing mixes. This sustainable product is made from wool waste. University research found it reduced watering by up to 25% and increased air space in the soil, promoting healthy plant growth.
Further conserve water by spreading a two- to three-inch layer of shredded leaves, evergreen needles, or shredded bark mulch over the soil in garden beds and around trees and shrubs. Mulching conserves moisture, keeps roots cooler and moist, and suppresses weeds. As the organic mulch decomposes, it adds nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Just pull the mulch away from tree trunks, shrub stems, and the crowns of other plants to avoid rot.
Include plants that are more tolerant of the weather conditions in your area. Those that tolerate both heat and cold extremes will thrive with less care once established.
Incorporate organic matter like compost into the soil. It helps the soil accept and retain water so you will need to water less often. It also adds nutrients to the soil so over time you will need to fertilize less often.
Use a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer if your garden plants need a nutrient boost. These types of fertilizers release small amounts of nutrients over an extended period. The low level of nitrogen reduces the risk of damaging heat-stressed plants.
Remove weeds from garden beds and borders as soon as they appear. These “plants out of place” steal water and nutrients from your desirable garden plants. Plus, many harbor insects and diseases that are harmful to your garden plants.
Provide stressed plants with a bit of shade from the hot afternoon sun. Container gardens can be moved to a more suitable spot during heat waves. Add a bit of temporary shade to garden plants that are struggling to survive in the blazing hot sun. A strategically placed chair, lattice, or umbrella may be all that is needed. As temperatures drop, you can move plants back in place and remove the temporary shade.
Your garden will greatly benefit from these changes to your summer garden care.

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History Matters
A feature courtesy of
The Grateful American Book Prize

On May 18, 1860, Abraham Lincoln, a former member of the anti-slavery Whig Party, was nominated for the United States presidency at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
During the ramp up to the election Lincoln sparred with his rival, Stephen A. Douglas, for a November victory. According to History.com: “Lincoln ... first gained national stature during his campaign against Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois for a U.S. Senate seat in 1858. The senatorial campaign featured a remarkable series of public encounters on the slavery issue, known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Lincoln argued against the spread of slavery while Douglas maintained that each territory should have the right to decide whether it would become free or slave state. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party.”
When the votes were tallied, Lincoln emerged as the 16th president—and the first Republican--to ascend to the office.
For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Lincoln and the Election of 1860 by Michael S. Green.

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By May 22,1843, the “Great Emigration” of pioneers heading West was gaining momentum; on that day, a caravan of 1,000 men, women and children climbed aboard their horses and steered out of Elm Grove, Missouri.
As History.com describes it, those pioneers brought with them “a herd of 5,000 oxen and cattle trailing behind. Dr. Elijah White, a Presbyterian missionary who had made the trip the year before, served as guide ... Dozens of books and lectures proclaimed Oregon’s agricultural potential, piquing the interest of white American farmers. The first overland immigrants to Oregon, intending primarily to farm, came in 1841 when a small band of 70 pioneers left Independence, Missouri. They followed a route blazed by fur traders, which took them west along the Platte River through the Rocky Mountains via the easy South Pass in Wyoming and then northwest to the Columbia River. In the years to come, pioneers came to call the route the Oregon Trail.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck.

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Johnstown, Pennsylvania—founded in 1800—has an anguished history; on May 31,1889, its South Fork Dam crumpled, flooded the town, and killed more than 2,200 of the 30,000 residents.
According to History.com, “People in the path of the rushing flood waters were often crushed as their homes and other structures were swept away. Thirty-three train engines were pulled into the raging waters, creating more hazards. Some people in Johnstown were able to make it to the top floors of the few tall buildings in town. However, whirlpools brought down many of these taller buildings. A bridge downstream from the town caught much of the debris and then proceeded to catch fire. Some people who had survived by floating on top of debris were burned to death in the fire. Reportedly, one baby survived on the floor of a house as it floated 75 miles from Johnstown ... [It was] one of the American Red Cross’s first major relief efforts. Clara Barton arrived five days later to lead the relief. It took five years to rebuild Johnstown, which again endured deadly floods in 1936 and 1977.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Through The Johnstown Flood by David J. Beale.

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Managing insects and diseases in the garden
By MELINDA MYERS

A bit of prevention goes a long way in minimizing insect and disease problems in the garden. Enlist a holistic approach known as Plant Health Care to manage your ornamental and edible gardens. It starts with proper plant selection and care and ends with using the most eco-friendly controls when problems do occur.
Start by selecting plants suited to the growing conditions. Match your plants to the light, soil, and other growing conditions in your yard. You’ll have healthier plants that require less ongoing care and are less prone to pests, helping to increase your gardening success.
Look for and purchase the most pest-resistant plants available. Garden phlox and bee balm are frequently attacked by powdery mildew. Purchase mildew-resistant varieties like Backlight with white flowers, Glamour Girl with hot coral pink blossoms, and the Ka-Pow series that comes in a variety of colors. Look for mildew-resistant bee balm varieties like the Sugar Buzz series in shades of lavender, pink and red, and the compact Balmy series to reduce the risk of this disease.
Provide proper care throughout the growing season. Water thoroughly and only as needed to encourage a deep robust root system better able to absorb needed nutrients and water. Apply water directly to the soil and early in the morning to reduce the risk of disease and water loss to evaporation. Mulch the soil surface with shredded leaves and evergreen needles to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and improve the soil. This one task provides many benefits to you and your plants.
Avoid over-fertilization. Excess nitrogen promotes lush succulent growth that is more susceptible to insects and disease and may interfere with flowering and fruiting.
Check plants regularly and throughout the season for any signs of insects and disease. Look on the upper and lower surface of the leaves and along the stems. It is much easier to treat a small population of insects or pluck off a few diseased leaves than trying to control large pest populations.
Properly identify the pest. Most insects, over 97%, are good guys that pollinate our plants, eat insect pests, and help compost plant waste. Knowing the good from the bad and the harmful from those that are just annoying can save you time, money, and frustration. Consult your University Extension’s website, local botanic gardens, and other horticulture professionals for help with diagnosing and treating problems.
And if control is needed, look for eco-friendly options. A thorough cleanup is often enough to reduce insect and disease problems to a tolerable level. Spraying plants with a strong blast of water to dislodge aphids and mites, knocking problem insects into a can of soapy water, or removing spotted leaves may be all that’s needed.
Use barriers like floating row covers to prevent damage from cabbage worms and bean beetles. University research has found that with proper timing these products can also help reduce the risk of squash vine borer, squash bugs, and cucumber bacterial wilt.
If you opt for chemical control, look for an organic or the most eco-friendly product labeled for managing disease or insect pests. As always, read and follow label directions for the best and safest results.
Enlisting a holistic approach allows you to work with nature to grow a beautiful and productive garden.

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Medal of Honor: Marine Corps Maj. Henry Courtney, Jr.
By KATIE LANGE
Department of Defense News

World War II Marine Corps Maj. Henry Alexius Courtney, Jr. never gave up on his objective as he led a group of battered men up a fire-swept hill in Okinawa. Courtney didn't come off the hill alive, but his courage led to a foiled Japanese counterattack and saved numerous American lives. Those actions earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Courtney was born Jan. 6, 1916, in Duluth, Minnesota, to parents Florence and Henry Courtney Sr. He had three siblings — John, Elizabeth and Grace — and was the youngest of the four.
Courtney came from a well-known family of lawyers, according to the Duluth News Tribune. He wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, so after graduating high school, he went to the University of Minnesota, where he played football and earned his bachelor's degree. From there, the devout Catholic got his law degree from Loyola University in Chicago. While there, he also felt drawn to serve his country, so he joined the Marine Corps Reserve.
Courtney was commissioned as a second lieutenant in February 1940. He was permitted to practice at his father's law firm and was hoping to pass the bar before he left for active duty, according to a 1946 edition of Bench & Bar, a newsletter for the Minnesota State Bar Association. But that didn't happen. He was put in command of the Duluth unit of the Marine Corps Reserve, which was then mobilized in the buildup to war and sent to San Diego for training.
Life at War
Courtney served about 10 months in Iceland and learned about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor while he was there. From late 1942 to early 1943, he commanded a company of the 1st Marine Division in the Solomon Islands during the Guadalcanal campaign, which was the first U.S. offensive of World War II.
While in the Solomons, Courtney suffered from a bout of malaria, so he was sent back to the U.S. to recover. He could have stayed stateside to train others, but he wanted to go back overseas to lead the newer, younger Marines, so he requested to return to combat duty. The request was granted. However, according to the Bench & Bar newsletter, Courtney also got the opportunity to sit for a special bar exam while he was on leave. He took it, and he passed with distinction.
Soon after, in November 1944, Courtney went back to the Pacific to join the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marines of the 6th Marine Division. According to the Marine Corps University, his next combat action was during the Battle of Okinawa, where he would give his life for the cause.
Fortitude in Okinawa
The Allies first invaded Okinawa on April 1, 1945. A little more than a month later, Courtney's division joined the 1st Marine Division in preparing to attack Japan's main line of resistance on the island.
Before they could do so, though, they had to get over three small hills that housed part of the enemy's defensive complex. The first was a hill that the Marines codenamed Sugar Loaf.
On May 12, Company G was ordered to take Sugar Loaf Hill — something that proved to be a major challenge. The rocky hill was barren and pocked with caves and tunnels that kept the Marines at bay for days and decimated Company G's numbers. That first attempt ended in retreat.

Courtney's chance to assault the hill came on May 14, when he gathered what was left of Company G and another company to try again. After a prolonged firefight behind the hill, they were ordered to hold for the night. Courtney, however, felt they had a better chance of getting up the hill at night when they weren't as exposed. So, according to his Medal of Honor citation, he got permission to advance up the hill in the dark. He quickly explained the change of plans to his Marines before starting the climb.
"At one point, the major said, "Come on men, let's give them a Bonsai charge of our own,'" remembered Marine Cpl. Jack Houston in a 1996 letter written ahead of the 40th anniversary of the battle.
Leading By Example
Inspired by his courage, every man followed Courtney without hesitation. Despite heavy enemy gunfire, they boldly blasted cave positions and took out as many enemy guns as they could to skirt the hill on the right and reach its reverse slope. There, Courtney stopped his men for a minute and sent guides to the rear for more ammunition and possible replacements.
After acquiring 26 more men and a vehicle load of grenades, Courtney was determined to crush any planned counterattack before it could gain sufficient momentum. So, he pushed forward again, leading by example rather than by command.
"As we were getting ready to leave, I expected to hear that old f