1-31, National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.
1, World AIDS Day.
1, Chester Greenwood Day Parade. Farmington, ME. Earmuff-themed parade commemorating inventor of the earmuff. Web: franklincountymaine.org.
1 and 8, Christmas Candlelightings. Roscoe Village, Coshocton, OH. Web: roscoevillage.com
1-31, Christmas New Orleans Style. New Orleans, LA. Concerts, caroling Web: fqfi.org.
1-2, Christmas On The Prairie. Saunders County Museum, Wahoo, NE. Web: saunderscomuseum.org.
1, Natchitoches Christmas Festival. Natchitoches, LA. 92nd annual. Web: natchitocheschristmas.com.
2, Advent, First Sunday. Advent includes the four Sundays before Christmas, Dec 2, Dec 9, Dec 16 and Dec 23 in 2018.
2, Hanukkah Begins At Sundown.
2, Christmas To Remember. Laurel, MT. 33rd annual.
2-Jan 6, 2019, Netherlands: Midwinter Horn Blowing. Midwinter horn blowing, announcing the birth of Christ, begins with Advent and continues until Epiphany, Jan 6.
2-10, Hanukkah, Festival of Lights.
5, Austria: Krampuslauf. Salzburg region. On the eve of St. Nicholas Day, Austrians celebrate the Krampuslauf (Krampus Run). Children are invited to throw snowballs at the devilish Krampus who punishes bad children.
6-8, Clute’s Christmas In The Park. Clute Municipal Park, Clute, TX.
6, National Miners Day.
6, Saint Nicholas Day. One of the most venerated saints of both Eastern and Western Christian churches, of whose life little is known, except that he was Bishop of Myra (in what is today Turkey) in the 4th century. He has been especially noted for his charity.
7-8, Christmas Walk And House Tour Geneva, IL. Web: genevachamber.com.
10, Nobel Prize Awards Ceremonies. Oslo, Norway, and Stockholm, Sweden.
14-Jan 5, 2019, Christmas Bird Count. Web: audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count.
15-16, AKC National Championship. Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL. Web: akc.org.
16-24, MEXICO: Posadas. A nine-day annual celebration. Processions of pilgrims knock at doors asking for shelter.
23, Community Carol Sing. Mystic, CT. Web: mysticseaport.org.
24, Christmas Eve.
24, ENGLAND: Festival Of Nine Lessons And Carols: 100th Anniversary. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge University, Cambridge. Since 1918, a Christmas Eve service of carols and readings from the Bible performed by the Choir of King’s College. Web: kings.cam.ac.uk.
26, Boxing Day. Dec 26. A day when Christmas gift boxes have been expected by a postman, the lamplighter, the dustman and generally by all those functionaries who render services to the public at large, without receiving payment therefore from any individual.
28, Holy Innocents Day (Childermas). Commemoration of the massacre of children at Bethlehem, ordered by King Herod, who wanted to destroy, among them, the infant Savior. Early and medieval accounts claimed as many as 144,000 victims, but more recent writers, noting that Bethlehem was a very small town, have revised the estimates of the number of children killed to between 6 and 20.
31, First Night. Family-oriented, nonalcoholic community celebrations of the New Year-first observed in Boston, MA, in 1975.
31, Leap Second Adjustment Time. One of the times that have been favored for the addition or subtraction of a second to or from clock time (to coordinate atomic and astronomical time).
31, New Year’s Eve.
31, SCOTLAND: Hogmanay. Traditions include fireworks and torch-lit processions.
Now you can find out how much your hospital charges. Shop around.
For most major purchases that we make, we pay close attention to price and services.
But, when was the last time you asked the price of surgery? When was the last time you shopped prices?
Insured patients go in for procedures and services without any real concept of costs, and hospitals have not been required to disclose pricing for certain services in advance.
A new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule for hospital pricing took effect on Jan. 1 that could affect the insurance plans and the hospitals you choose. The Trump administration rule requires hospitals to disclose pricing for a range of services and update the price list annually in a bid to normalize health care pricing, according to Health Affairs. This rule clarified a segment of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act that required hospitals to publish certain price information, but the ACA-compliant disclosures were widely seen as inadequate for health care consumers.
According to National Public Radio, the final rule requires facilities to post pricing — including reimbursement rates negotiated with insurance companies — for every service, drug, and supply they provide. Under a separate rule, health insurers must take similar steps in 2022. Advocates for the new rules hope that the changes will allow consumers to see the huge price variations between health care providers and more accurately estimate their out-of-pocket costs before receiving services.
How much do prices really vary? According to Crain’s Chicago Business, insurers pay an average of 32 percent more for hip replacement surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville, IL, than they pay for the same procedure at Amita Health St. Joseph Hospital, just three miles away in Lakeview. Prices differ between facilities and insurers. At Northwestern, Health Alliance insurance plans pay $53,236 for a hip replacement while Blue Cross & Blue Shield plans pay only $30,382.
Suppose you have a 10 percent copay — you will owe $5,323.50 at Northwestern if you have a Health Alliance plan. But if you go to another hospital where the cost is $30,000 to your insurer, your 10 percent copay would only be $3,000. It may pay to shop around.
Get organized now for the 2021 tax year
Each year, millions of Americans scramble to locate every receipt, form, pay stub, and scrap of documentation they need to maximize their income tax refunds, or at least minimize the amount that they owe to the United States government on April 15.
If this sounds like you today doing your taxes for the 2020 tax year, it’s time to adopt a new way to prepare for the 2021 tax year now.
According to Turbo Tax, the best way to maintain a good record of receipts and expenses is to handle them regularly, so you can avoid tracking down months-old materials. They recommend color-coded folders in an easy-to-access location. Folders might include home and office expenses, vehicle expenses and mileage, education costs, child care expenses, medical expenses, and other items, such as charitable donations, work uniform purchase and cleaning costs (for work-only attire), and work-related expenses. Turbo Tax also recommends that you scan each receipt and maintain both electronic and paper copies.
If the multi-folder system sounds like too much hassle, The Motley Fool recommends a simpler three-folder tax filing system.
Folder number one: Income. Log every penny you earn on a sheet in this folder. Store other related documents, like 1099 and W-2 forms in this folder as well.
Folder number two: Expenses and deductions. If you choose to itemize your deduction instead of taking the standard deduction that Uncle Sam offers to most taxpayers, you’ll need to maintain a file of every receipt, mortgage statement, investment-related expense, medical bill, child care costs, and other employment-related expenses. Be careful, though: This folder can get fat in a hurry, so it may be worth your time to organize it into more sub-folders or use envelopes for each expense category.
Folder number three: Investments. Use this folder for statements, purchase receipts, sales confirmations, year-end overviews, and dividend notices. You’ll probably want to create sub-folders for deductible/tax-deferred investments, non-deductible investments, and taxable investments.
Maintaining a year-round system for tax documents may sound annoying, but it pays off big. In 2015, taxpayers left about $1.4 billion in tax refunds on the table with failure to file returns and other tax mishaps, according to CNBC. With a little planning and experimentation you can save the frantic search of tax season — and maybe even get a bigger return.
Dr. Seuss character word game
Dr. Seuss would be celebrating his 114th birthday on March 2nd. Can you fill in the blanks to form the names of Dr. Seuss characters?
1. G _ I _ C _
2. L _ R _ X
3. F _ X _ N _ O _ K _ S
4. T _ I _ G _ N _ A _ D _ H _ N _ T _ O
5. S _ E _ T _ H _ S
6. T _ I _ W _ C _
7. M _ C _ T _ E _ U _ T _ E
8. S _ U _ K _ N _ A _ O _
9. M _ R _ I _ K. _ O _ N _ Y
10. D _ I _ Y-_ E _ D _ A _ Z _ E
Don’t look yet!
OK Scroll down.
3. FOX IN SOCKS
4. THING ONE AND THING TWO
7. MACK THE TURTLE
8. SOUR KANGAROO
9. MARVIN K. MOONEY
10. DAISY-HEAD MAYZIE
Recipe for a healthy, happy life
There are no magic pills or secret elixirs to create a healthy, happy life. There are mainly just small decisions we make every day.
Maintain a schedule. For most, work frames our schedules. Within that frame, however, it’s important to have routines. Have time to relax, exercise, to touch base with other people. Go to bed at the same time and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, according to the Harvard Health Letter.
Get out and about. Even if you have a desk job, take frequent opportunities to get up and walk, even just to get a drink of water. Movement maintains flexibility, balance, and strength. Even a little movement in spurts of 15 minutes or so is better than none. Take the stairs. Park away from the store entrance.
Eat well. Many doctors recommend a plant-based diet of vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits added in healthy proportions to animal-based foods. Eat-in moderation.
Silence, meditation, prayer. Take a moment every day to clear your mind and rest in silence. According to Harvard Health, a research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2014 found meditation helpful for relieving anxiety, pain, and depression. For depression, meditation was about as effective as an antidepressant.
Forge community and family. Friendships and community can be found in social, religious, or other groups with shared interests. Friendships can grow from activities. Family usually forges the most long-lasting relationships. But whatever path is open to you, remember that strong social connections increase your chance of longevity, and may even help you recover faster from illness.
March Celebrity Birthdays!
Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?
1 – Jensen Ackles, 43, actor (Supernatural), Dallas, TX, 1978.
2 – Chris Martin, 44, singer/songwriter (Coldplay), born Exeter, Devon, England, 1977.
3 – David Faustino, 47, actor (Married…with Children), Los Angeles, CA, 1974.
4 – Chaz Bono, 52, author, television personality, born Chastity Sun Bono at Los AngeleS, CA,
5 – Dean Stockwell, 85, actor (Quantum Leap), Los Angeles, CA,1936.
6 – Connie Britton, 53, actress (Nashville), Boston, MA, 1968.
7 – Bryan Cranston, 65, actor (Breaking Bad), San Fernando Valley, CA, 1956.
8 – Aidan Quinn, 62, actor (Practical Magic), Chicago, IL, 1959.
9 – David Hume Kennerly, 74, photographer, Rosenburg, OR, 1947.
10 – Carrie Underwood, 38, singer, Muskogee, OK, 1983.
11 – Bobby McFerrin, 71, jazz musician, , New York, NY, 1950.
12 – Barbara Feldon, actress (Get Smart), Pittsburgh, PA, 1941.
13 – Adam Clayton, 61, musician (U2), Dublin, Ireland, 1960.
14 – Grace Park, 47, actress (Battlestar Galactica), Los Angeles, CA, 1974.
15 – Kellan Lutz, 36, actor (Twilight), Dickinson, ND, 1985.
16 – Alan Tudyk, 50, actor (Firefly), El Paso, TX, 1971.
17 – Hozier, 31, singer, songwriter, born Andrew Hozier-Bryne, Bray County Wicklow, Ireland, 1990.
18 – Queen Latifah, 51, singer, actress (Bringing Down the House), born Dana Owens, East Orange, NJ, 1970.
19 – Bruce Willis, 66, actor (The Sixth Sense), Idar-Oberstein, West Germany (now Germany), 1955.
20 – Spike Lee 64, director (Do the Right Thing), producer, Atlanta, GA, 1957.
21 – Kevin Federline, 43, dancer, Fresno City, CA, 1978.
22 – George Benson, 78, singer, guitarist, Pittsburgh, PA,1943.
23 – Chaka Khan, 68, singer, born Yvette Marie Stevens, Chicago, IL, 1953.
24 – Byron Janis, 93, pianist, born Byron Yanks, McKeesport, PA, 1928.
25 – Ryan Lewis,33, musician, Puyallup, WA, 1988.
26 – Keira Knightley, 36, actress (Pirates of the Caribbean), Teddington, Middlesex, England, 1985.
27 – Pauley Perrette, 52, actress (NCIS), New Orleans I.A, 1969.
28 – Lady Gaga, 35, singer, actress (A Star is Born), born Stefani Germanotta, Yonkers, NY, 1986.
29 – Megan Hilty, 40, actress (Smash), Bellevue, WA, 1981.
30 – Tracy Chapman, 57, singer, Cleveland, OH, 1964.
31 – David Eisenhower, 73, professor, West Point, NY, 1948
Time management training: learn to make the most of your day
Do you often wish there were more hours in the day? If you frequently feel overwhelmed by your commitments, time management courses can help you regain control of your life. Here’s what you can expect from this type of training.
What you’ll learn
In the spirit of effective time management, many training programs pack a lot of practical skills into a short period. After a one-day course, for example, you should know how to:
• Prioritize your various responsibilities
• Identify distractions and limit their effects
• Create an organized daily, weekly, and monthly to-do list
• Schedule tasks based on when you’re most productive
• Set realistic short- and long-term goals
• Delegate projects and commitments as needed
• Say no to things that aren’t a priority
• Adapt your schedule to unforeseen events
• Make time for effective, restorative breaks
How you’ll benefit
Good time management skills allow you to achieve a better work-life balance. They enable you to make the most of your day and overcome procrastination, thereby helping you to meet deadlines and achieve your goals. You’re also less likely to feel overwhelmed by your various commitments if you learn to effectively manage your time. This ability can help you reduce stress and increase your overall job and life satisfaction.
If you want to learn how to manage your time, consider signing up for a course offered by your employer or a local organization.