Lifestyle

Father and sons build American flags for veterans and police officers

In 2018, Georgia native Tom Saccenti and his then-8-year-old son Micah decided to make an American Flag from leftover wood, something they had seen done in a YouTube video. After a few failed attempts they finally had an end product they loved and a new hobby to do together. “My dad and me thought it would be a good idea to do it as a father-son project. We loved it so much that we went to our church and we showed them how to do it for Veterans Day. We made about 20 flags before we got it right,” Micah told Fox News. Saccenti, a former police officer, goes around the country with his family teaching new safety techniques to local police departments, universities and churches. Two years later Micah, 10, is still making flags except now he makes them with his 8-year-old brother, James. The two brothers have continued to make flags for their community even while they traveled with their father to his educational conferences. During each of their father’s trips, the boys give a flag away to one lucky raffle winner. The flags are given out for free to veterans or officers, but conference attendees have the option to donate to the Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge, a Christian organization focused on educating children about religion in other parts of the world. Once coronavirus stay-at-home orders were put in place, Saccenti’s conferences were put on hold but that did not stop James and Micah from making flags. The boys had the idea to transition to making blue-line flags and delivering them to police officers in nearby police departments. “We thought what can we do at our home to kind of still honor people who are working during this time. And so we thought what a great way to honor some of our local heroes, police officers,” said Saccenti. So far, the Saccenti boys have given away 50 flags and have raised over $2,000 for the Boys and Girls Missionary Group, and they have no plans of stopping anytime soon. Their next step? Saving up for an engraver so they can put the hero’s name on the flag before giving it to them.

How great is this?!?  For more info, or to buy a flag from the Saccentis, click on the text above.  Outstanding!!      🙂

Memorial Day: 5 things you didn’t know about the holiday

Many Americans see Memorial Day as an opportunity to relax in the yard, gather around the grill with friends, or plan a weekend getaway — and it usually is, even though the latter two traditions may be hindered by the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. But no matter how we choose to observe, it’s important that we never lose sight of the day’s significance. With that in mind, here are five interesting things to consider while we’re celebrating, and paying respects to, the men and women who died serving this country. #1. We’re all aware that Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, but Congress has also established an exact minute of remembrance. The National Moment of Remembrance Act, which was adopted in December of 2000, encourages every citizen to pause each Memorial Day at 3:00 p.m. local time to remember the brave men and women who died serving this country. In addition to any federal observances, Major League Baseball games usually come to a stop during the Moment of Remembrance, and for the past several years, Amtrak engineers have taken up the practice of sounding their horns in unison at precisely 3:00 p.m. #2. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day is celebrated in late May because that’s when flowers are likely to be blooming across the country. It was Union General John A. Logan who — after serving in the Mexican-American War and Civil War — proposed that Congress institute May 30th as Decoration Day (the predecessor to Memorial Day) to allow citizens to decorate the graves of deceased veterans with fresh flowers. (It’s also believed that Logan settled on the date because it wasn’t already the anniversary of any significant battles, according to History.com.) #3. The Ironton-Lawrence Memorial Day Parade in Ironton, Ohio, is recognized as the oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade in the nation, beginning all the way back in 1868. However, the oldest (and first) Memorial Day parade in the country was held a year earlier in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. (It’s also worth noting that both the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., and the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade in Queens, N.Y., each bill themselves as the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation.) #4. “Taps,” the bugle call typically performed at military funerals as well as the annual Memorial Day wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was actually adapted from a separate Civil War bugle call known as “Scott Tattoo,” which was used to signal lights out. But, according to both the “Arlington National Cemetery Legacy of Honor” by Jim Harris, as well as “Stories Behind the Hymns that Inspire America” by Ace Collins, the new melody later became the preferred accompaniment at military funerals after Captain John Tidball of the Union Army ordered his men to quietly play “Taps” at a fellow soldier’s funeral, for fear that a traditional three-volley rifle salute would alert nearby Confederate troops to their location. #5. For the first time in 20 years, the American Automobile Association (AAA) chose not to release a Memorial Day “travel forecast” in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which “undermined” the accuracy of the annual report, according to AAA. However, the organization predicted that 2020’s travel trends would set a record low. “Last year, 43 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day Weekend — the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000,” said Paula Twidale, the senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a press release. “With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”

Guess we’ll see…   Don’t forget to take that moment at 3p.  Happy Memorial Day.

U.S. Births Fall to Lowest Level Since 1980s

Federal figures released Wednesday show birth rates reaching record lows last year in the U.S., resulting in the lowest total in 35 years, The Wall Street Journal reported. In 2019, about 3.75 million babies were born in the U.S. — down 1 percent from the previous year, provisional figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics showed. In addition, the general fertility rate fell 2 percent to 58.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. It is the lowest level since the government began tracking the figure in 1909, the report said. The figures released endorse the latest trends in American childbearing, which began declining during the 2007-09 recession, showing they never matched the economic growth when the economy rebounded. The provisional figures reveal millennials have been slower to form families than previous generations, in part, economists say, because they are less financially secure than those before them. Those results are supported by experts, including fertility expert Melanie Brasher, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Rhode Island, who said: “There are a lot of people out there who would like to have two children, a larger family, and there’s something going on out there that makes people feel like they can’t do that.” Women in all age groups – excluding those in their early 40s – experienced a drop or held steady in birthrates, The Wall Street Journal reported. Meanwhile, teen births saw the sharpest drop, with a 5 percent decline in their birthrate. Since peaking in 1991, the teen birthrate has fallen 73 percent.

Six Flags theme parks to require reservations upon reopening

Six Flags theme parks are looking to reopen this month in several states throughout the nation as shelter-in-place mandates expire or loosen. However, to do so, those planned to open first — including Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta, Six Flags St. Louis in Missouri, Frontier City in Oklahoma City and Six Flags Mexico in Mexico City, according to Newsweek — will have to adhere to certain guidelines that will limit any spur of the moment rollercoaster cravings. According to the theme parks’ websites, guests who want to visit a Six Flags location upon reopening will have to make reservations in advance. “IMPORTANT: ALL VISITORS (INCLUDING PASS HOLDERS AND MEMBERS) MUST MAKE ADVANCE RESERVATIONS TO VISIT THE PARK,” reads a message posted to the parks’ websites. “To meet state social distancing guidelines and ensure the health and safety of our guests, all visits to the park must be pre-scheduled using our online reservation system.” In addition to the reservation-system, Six Flags will also be conducting temperature checks at entrances and requiring guests to wear face masks, CBS Los Angeles reported. Meanwhile, other theme parks, like Disneyland and Disney World, do not yet have a concrete target date for reopening.

So, heads up..  Go to the Six Flags web site before going.

What does Cinco de Mayo commemorate and why do we celebrate?

This year’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations will look wildly different from previous years, which were often marked by public gatherings at parks and local watering holes. But COVID-19 doesn’t mean people can’t celebrate the holiday at home (or over Zoom). Social distancing also provides the perfect opportunity to brush up on the history of the holiday. With that in mind, Fox News reached out to a couple of leaders in the spirits industry for more about the origins of Cinco de Mayo, and what it meant for the bartending business. And for those who long to celebrate with a cocktail, our experts have shared a few easy recipes you can make at home. Fox News: What does Cinco de Mayo commemorate? Jaime Celorio, CEO of Ambhar Tequila: Cinco de Mayo commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla (the Mexican Army’s victory over France), but it’s really not a major holiday here in Mexico. It’s not even a federal holiday here. People in the U.S. sometimes mistakenly think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, but that’s actually celebrated in September. For some reason, it has become such a popular time in the U.S. to drink tequila. Sonya Auvray, founder of Dona Vega Mezcal: Mexico had lost several wars during the 1800s, which led them to bankruptcy, and unable to fulfill loans from several European countries. Although the others accepted extensions (Spaniards and British), the French did not. May 5th marks the day of Mexico’s major victory over the larger, and more powerful French army in the Battle of the Puebla; when France sought both money and land as re-payment. Fox News: When is Mexico’s actual Independence Day celebrated? Celorio: Mexican Independence Day is observed on September 16. We celebrate with festive decorations and parades in town plazas across the country, and of course traditional foods and tequila. Fox News: What can you tell us about the history of Cinco de Mayo that many people may not know? Camille Austin, director of Advocacy for Abasolo Whisky: In Mexico, while Cinco de Mayo is celebrated regionally in the state of Puebla with parades, speeches and re-enactments of the 1862 battle, in other parts of the country the holiday goes largely unnoticed. Fighting in Mexico continued for many years after 1862, but this victory over the French army at Puebla became a true symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination and over the years. This day has become a way of encouraging pride in Mexican culture and heritage, all around the world. Click here for more:

Salud!!      🙂

The average American takes this long to get out of bed in the morning

Half of Americans still wish their parents would wake them up in the morning, according to new research. The survey of 2,000 Americans delved into all things sleep and found it’s no surprise we miss our childhood mornings — as waking up can be kind of a drag. It seems people are just too cozy to get out of bed on time, with 49 percent of those surveyed pinpointing their late starts on just being too comfortable in their beds. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Mattress Nerd, the survey found while most have switched to the convenience of smartphones, just under a quarter of Americans still opt for an old-school alarm clock. It takes Americans an average of 24 minutes to actually get out of bed and start the day — after two alarms and hitting snooze twice. And in order to combat these groggy, snoozing habits, respondents shared they change their alarm times an average of 38 times a year. But no matter how often respondents mix up their alarms, outside factors still play a role in their morning moods. The top culprits of waking up on the wrong side of the bed included staying up too late watching TV, a negative event in their personal lives and an uncomfortable mattress. While it’s not surprising to see “groggy” as the top way to feel after waking up, 18 percent of respondents shared they actually wake up happy and another 11 percent also wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and feel motivated to take on the day. Sixty percent of respondents shared the key to waking up easier was simply having exciting plans for the day. Soaking up some morning sun is another trick to waking up easier for 41 percent of those surveyed. Over three-quarters of respondents were in agreement that maintaining a morning routine helped them stay motivated and get out of bed. But when those cozy sheets get the best of them in the morning, the first thing respondents cut from their morning routine was making the bed, closely followed by making breakfast and a cup of joe. “So many things that happen during the day are out of your control. A morning routine is something you can always rely on to be consistent,” said Madison Muire, Editor at Mattress Nerd. “While there are many factors that make it easier to wake up, so many of them are subject to change: the weather, daily plans, etc. “However, establishing a morning routine that you can complete no matter what is happening around you will result in a better morning and more successful day.” Shockingly, the results showed that respondents were more likely to skip out on brushing their teeth than to skip doing their hair when running late in the morning. “If you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night, you will spend approximately one-third of your life sleeping,” added Muire. “A mattress can make or break the quality of sleep you are getting, impacting the way you are able to perform when you are awake. “No one mattress is the perfect fit for every person, so paying attention to how you sleep and, just as importantly, how you feel when you wake up can be good indicators of what to look for when deciding what mattress is best for you.”

True..  And, we spend half of our lives in bed, asleep.  So, its worth investing in a really good mattress.  Me personally, I have an adjustable Tempurpedic, and I love it.  Sleep Number is another good option.  And, if you’re snoring a lot, or start to fall asleep and wake up several times in the night, go to a sleep doctor and get a “sleep study” done.  You may have sleep apnea and need a CPAP machine or other similar device.  For more, click on the text above.

Filtered coffee is more heart healthy than other brewing methods, study claims

Say what you will, coffee purists, but the best way to brew is by the humble drip method, cardiologists claim. Between 2018 and 2019, the world’s coffee growers produced nearly 1.357 trillion pounds of coffee, and the unfathomable number of cups that makes means the plant-derived stimulant has far-reaching health effects. A Swedish university study that aimed to analyze the risks associated with different brewing methods has revealed that drinking filtered coffee is more heart-healthy than not. Filtered coffee, as with drip or pour-over, provided a 15 percent cut in risk of death from any cause. In terms of cardiovascular-disease risk, filtered coffee was linked to a 12 percent decreased risk of death in men, and a 20 percent discount for women. Published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the findings — which include that drinking filtered coffee may actually extend your life compared to drinking no coffee at all — are a boon to coffee snobs everywhere. “Our study provides strong and convincing evidence of a link between coffee brewing methods, heart attacks and longevity,” said University of Gothenburg professor Dag S. Thelle. “Unfiltered coffee contains substances which increase blood cholesterol. Using a filter removes these and makes heart attacks and premature death less likely.” Thelle has been studying coffee for a long time. In the early ’90s, he discovered that coffee-drinking was linked to higher rates of cholesterol, particularly “bad” LDL cholesterol. Further experimentation uncovered the lipid-raising compounds in coffee and showed that unfiltered coffee contained 30 times the concentration of those substances compared to filtered. They wanted to take their research a step further, to determine whether a coffee-induced cholesterol spike put drinkers at a greater risk of heart disease. “But it was unethical to do a trial randomizing people to drink coffee or not,” said Thelle in a statement on the European Society of Cardiology’s website. “So we set up a large population study and several decades later we are reporting the results.” Over 500,000 Norwegian men and women, ages 20 to 79, enrolled in the study, which lasted from 1985 to 2003. The region is known for its particularly high coffee consumption. (Currently, the Netherlands is the world’s leading per capita consumer of the stimulant.) For an average of 20 years, volunteers answered periodic surveys about their coffee drinking habits, how much, what type and when, as well as other aspects of a health profile, including body measurements, blood pressure, cholesterol, history with cigarettes and level of exercise. During the study period, 46,341 participants died, 12,621 deaths were caused by cardiovascular disease and 6,202 were the result of a heart attack. Those who drank between one and four cups of filtered coffee per day showed the lowest mortality rates of the entire cohort. Other studies have suggested that up to 25 cups a day could still be considered safe for your heart. “The finding that those drinking the filtered beverage did a little better than those not drinking coffee at all could not be explained by any other variable such as age, gender, or lifestyle habits. So we think this observation is true,” said Thelle. Overall, they determined that coffee-drinking is generally not a significant contributor to premature death. The only age group whose coffee drinking actually elevated mortality rates was men ages 60 and above, and only when the brew was unfiltered, such as with a French press or Turkish style, which brews with finely ground beans directly in the cup. This, said Thelle, is likely tied to the “cholesterol-increasing effect of unfiltered coffee,” as previous research had uncovered. Coffee’s potential benefits go beyond the heart. Other studies have put coffee consumers at a lower risk of other illnesses, including Type 2 diabetes, depression and some neurodegenerative diseases, namely Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, according to Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Cheers!!    🙂

Coronavirus mandates lead to Ashley Madison membership surge

Business is booming for Ashley Madison. A report published last week shows Ashley Madison, a matchmaking website for cheating spouses, is doing so well right now because prospective customers’ relationships are not, or spouses are at least looking for something else to spice up their lives. Because people are stuck at home with their spouses during the coronavirus-prompted lockdowns and other restrictions, some are seeking “an outlet” from their daily relationship stress, a company official said. “Now with self-isolation a major factor in our lives, virtual affairs are being utilized to fill the gap,” said Paul Keable, chief strategy officer for Ashley Madison, in an interview with InStyle. The company has been actively posting tweets and sharing blog posts boasting tips for a successful romance. As recently as Monday morning, it was offering advice for “keeping things sexy” as people are stuck indoors as part of the stay-at-home orders issued throughout the country. Keable, told Venture Beat in late March the company is benefitting from the “fractures” in couples’ relationships that are likely being “amplified dramatically” as spouses are stuck at home together. “So, if you’re under quarantine or in working from home situations with your spouse and not having [the] respite [of] going into the office and being away, people are going to look at this as an outlet, even if it won’t be a physical interaction, at least in the short term,” Keable told the outlet, which then provided a transcript of the interview. “But having someone to talk to who’s having similar feelings is going to be a relief, and it’s potentially going to be of value to a lot of people who are experiencing that.” The company, known, in part, for its motto, “Life is short. Have an affair,” is boasting 17,000 new members per day during COVID-19 pandemic, which is a spike from the 15,500 daily customer additions in 2019, according to the report. “We often hear from our members that they love their spouses, they love their families and the situation they’re in, but there’s something missing,” Keable told the outlet. “We’re traditionally told to either suck it up and live without the thing that you want or get a divorce and give up everything you want in search of just one thing. We’re creating a third path for people.” Ashley Madison received roughly 5.6 million new clients in 2019, to make 65 million members, Keable said. Such success did not seem possible just years ago, when it was hacked in July 2015. Hackers infiltrated Ashley Madison’s website and downloaded private information belonging to its estimated 37 million customers. The details — including names, emails, home addresses, financial data and message history — were later posted publicly online. Canadian police later claimed the hacking led triggered extortion crimes and was suspected to have prompted at least two suicides. Ashley Madison’s US users later sued the website claiming negligence, breach of contract and privacy violations. They argued it failed to take reasonable steps to protect the security of its users, including those who paid a special fee to have their information deleted.

 

Essential oil diffusers may cause pollution in home says watchdog

Essential oil diffusers could be a source of pollution in the home, the French food and environmental safety agency warned Tuesday. ANSES said the popular gadgets, which are supposed to purify and freshen air, could have some unpleasant side effects. It said that 1,400 cases of people being affected by the products were reported to anti-poison centres in France between 2011 and 2019. Most cases were linked to accidents, like children ingesting oils. However, undesirable effects were also reported from “normal use, with eyes, throat and the nose being irritated and also effects on breathing.” These irritations may be linked to phenols and ketones in the oils, which were “unsuitable” for use in air freshening sprays and diffusers, ANSES said. However, the report said that most of the symptoms were “not serious and rapidly decreased when people were no longer exposed” to the chemicals. And ANSES also poured water on claims that essential oils can help guard against the coronavirus, saying they offered no protection. It had earlier advised pregnant and breast feeding women and people suffering from respiratory problems to avoid using oils entirely. The agency stressed that air freshening diffusers which “emit volatile organic compounds (VOC) could be a source of pollution” in the home, particularly when added to COV present in furniture and cleaning products. Even natural compounds like terpenes, which are present in ginseng, basil and cloves, can cause irritation, it said. Three years ago another ANSES report found that air filters, ionisers and “cleansing” sprays could not be shown to be effective and could even sometimes be bad for health.

Dirty cars are a major dating turn-off, survey finds

When it comes to relationships, seven in 10 believe having a dirty car is a turn-off, according to new research. A poll of 2,000 American drivers discovered that over half (51 percent) would go so far as to end a first date early if their date showed up in a dirty car. In fact, having a messy car is such a massive turn-off that 23 percent have even ended a relationship with someone because of their filthy vehicle. The study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Meguiar’s, aimed to discover how people feel about their dirty cars and uncovered nearly half (49 percent) of respondents admit to having a messy car. Whether it’s old food wrappers, dirty blankets or expired drinks, 68 percent of those with messy cars are completely embarrassed to have people in their car, given its filth. Yet 45% said containing the mess in their cars is overwhelming. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) said they avoid cleaning their cars because they know it’ll just get messy again shortly thereafter. Forty-one percent don’t think it’s all that important to have a tidy car while a further one in five don’t even know where to begin when it comes to cleaning their cars. And another 24 percent would much rather clean their toilet than have to tidy up their car. Results revealed 62 percent of those surveyed would rather have a dirty car than a dirty home. When asked about the junk found in people’s cars, three in 10 revealed their cars are filled with crumbs while a further 28 percent said they have empty bottles taking up way too much space in their cars. Three in five respondents said their cars are filled with stuff they need to pursue their passions. “As a brand that’s all about reflecting your passion, we understand that people have a myriad of passions and, sometimes, it’s those passions that can lend themselves to having a messy car,” said a spokesperson for Meguiar’s. “In fact, while some people may not normally be passionate about maintaining a clean car, if they are looking to feel more productive, have a healthier love life or be happier overall, a nice cleaning could significantly benefit them in the long run.” A majority of Americans believe their entire life would be better off if they had tidier vehicles. Seventy-eight percent said a clean car makes them feel like they have their life more together. Results revealed there is actually a connection between your car’s tidiness and how productive people are (or can be). In fact, two in three said they are more productive when they have a clean car. “Just like a clean house or a tidy office space, a clean car often comes with a variety of benefits,” added the spokesperson for Meguiar’s. “By taking the time to maintain a clean car, people reveal their life has positively benefited as a result of their commitment to car tidiness.” TOP 5 THINGS AMERICANS WOULD RATHER CLEAN THAN THEIR CARS 1. Dishes 36% 2. Dusty shelves 29% 3. Kitchen sink 27% 4. Toilet 24% 5. Bathtub 24% TOP 5 DIRTIEST PARTS OF A CAR 1. Floor 41% 2. Backseat 30% 3. Cup holders 27% 4. Dashboard 22% 5. Trunk 22% TOP 5 THINGS IN AMERICANS’ CARS 1. Crumbs 30% 2. Empty bottles 28% 3. Food wrappers 25% 4. Old magazines 24% 5. A blanket 23%

Wow..  Take note and clean you car!    🙂