October 2021

Cybersecurity Tips

Patching for personal cybersecurity
All software is prone to vulnerabilities that can be fixed over time via patches, which are software updates sent to your devices to remove these holes.

Make sure you patch the operating system on your:

  • Apple computers
  • Windows PCs
  • Smartphones (Apple or Android)
  • Tablets
  • Smart TVs

In addition to patching the operating system, make sure you patch your commonly used applications.

Don’t forget that backups are important!

Also, there is an “end of life” date for operating systems and, typically for hardware, as well. Windows 7 has already been declared end of life, Windows 8 will reach end of life in 2023, and Windows 10 will receive updates through mid-2025.

Smartphones typically only receive updates for two to five years.

Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
Most vendors and sites who have MFA are good about making sure you know it’s available. This is a good thing to set up but, once again, make sure you take note of the back-up codes (presented during MFA set up) in case your device is lost, stolen or dies.

MFA will restrict log ins from anyone who has your password, to people who have your password and access to your MFA Code. Make sure you do not hand this code out via text or phone call.

MFA will restrict log ins by requiring you to use your password and your MFA code. Make sure you do not hand this code out via text, or phone call.

Password tips
Your password should be at least 12 characters long, with at least one capital letter, one number and one special character (@ or %, etc.). Added layers of security include changing your passwords on a regular basis to ensure you stay ahead of hackers and using multi-factor authentication such as Google’s “Two Step Verification” whenever possible.

The best passwords contain as much randomness as possible. Using unlikely combinations and random characters is a great strategy. Be creative!

  • Bad: Fuzzydog82
  • Better: %FuZZyD0G#8254!
  • Best: myFuzzyDog-eats4bones!Aday-BIG$ or mfde4bad!bigmoney (derived from the first letter of each word, plus two words on the end).

It’s important to remember you should not use the same password for multiple accounts, regardless of how strong it is, because if one account gets compromised, then they’re all compromised.

Password managers are password protected, typically have mobile apps and allow you to use unique passwords on all your accounts.

Additional resources

Sam

September 2021

Tips to make perfect beef tenderloin steaks

  1. Start with high-quality six-ounce, center-cut prime tenderloins.
  2. Let them sit out for about 15-20 minutes till they get to room temperature.
  3. Season with a small amount of kosher salt and a liberal amount of cracked peppercorns. Chef Dean used a blend of five different peppercorns. Pat the seasonings into the steak because when it sears, a lot of the seasoning will stick to the pan.
  4. Use a carbon steel, stainless steel or cast-iron pan to cook the steaks.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in the pan until you see it "do a little shimmy." Chef Dean does not recommend olive oil because it can burn.
  6. Sear tenderloins for three minutes on each side for a perfect rare. If you prefer your meat less rare, you can add a bit more time to each side or pop it in the oven for a few minutes.
  7. Do not let the oil get too hot. It’s fine to see smoke, but you want to avoid any fire in the pan, which will give your meat an unpleasant taste.
  8. When the steaks are done, you can sear the edges a bit.
  9. Let the steaks rest for approximately 30 seconds to let the juices redistribute before you slice them.
  10. These steaks pair nicely with a salad and pinot noir rose wine.

Source for the blue cheese Chef Dean used in the arugula salad – Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.

Dean

August 2021

Tips for Families with Children Returning to School

  1. Be patient.
    For some children, this fall will be their first time inside a school building in over a year. For preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders, their formative school experience has been largely shaped by the pandemic. Children may experience some fear or anxiety about leaving the comfort of their home environment and returning to school. It may take weeks for children to adjust to an in-person school routine.
  2. Be proactive.
    Let your children know what will be expected of them when they return to school. Be sure to review the rules and procedures they will be expected to follow during the school day. If possible, practice some of the expected behaviors at home before school starts.
  3. Check-in.
    Talk to your children on a regular basis about how they are feeling about being back at school. Make time to discuss anything they may be worried about and address their concerns. Additionally, look for signs of stress or anxiety that may indicate that your child is having a difficult time adjusting to school.

Additional Resources

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July 2021

Summer Car Care Tips

  1. Keep a close eye on your tire pressure, whether it’s hot outside or not. Low tire pressure creates heat from friction that can overheat your tires and tire pressure that’s too high can quickly go even higher in hot conditions. Tire pressure rises about one pound per square inch of pressure for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature change. The proper tire pressure specification is inside of the driver’s door – not on the tire itself.
  2. Coolant level should be checked at least every oil change. Don’t open the radiator cap when it’s hot.
  3. Proper oil level is important in maintaining a cool-running engine. Low oil level means there is less oil to carry heat away from hot engine components.
  4. Maintain your air conditioning system and use it to its potential to help cool the car interior in hot weather.
  5. Automotive batteries fail in the summer heat just as much as during frigid winter cold.

Another Helpful Tip

Vacations and long summer trips in hot weather can lead to a breakdown. Be prepared by adjusting your car’s emergency kit for the season and include these items:

  • Water and non-perishable food
  • Sunscreen, lip balm and bug spray
  • Umbrella for shade and rain cover
  • A hat and a small back pack in case you have to walk to get help

Additional Resources

Rob Faoro

June 2021

Olympic Core Exercises to Do at Home

Freestyle Swimmer (posterior chain)
Lie face down on the mat. Extend your legs straight back with your arms overhead. Keeping legs straight, engage your glutes and hamstrings to lift your legs off the floor and flutter kick. At the same time, slide your shoulder blades in toward your spine to lift your chest off the floor. Slide your right hand along the floor straight back toward your hip. Then, circle it up and over to its original starting point. Repeat movement with your left arm. Eye gaze follows your hand as it travels. Complete 10 repetitions on each side.

Diver (upper and lower abdominals)
Lie on your back with your knees at 90 degrees and stacked over your hips. Tuck your chin, slide your lower ribs toward your hips to lift your shoulder blades and reach your hands for your heels. Then, reach your hands straight toward the ceiling as you extend your legs up, toes pointed. For an added challenge, you may lift your hips from the floor as you extend the legs. Place your head and shoulders on the mat and drop your arms and legs to 45 degrees. Bend your knees and circle your arms around to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Synchronized Swimmer (obliques and hips)
Lie on your side with your elbow directly under your shoulder, bottom knee bent and top leg extended in line with your hip. Engage the bottom oblique and press through your forearm and bottom knee to lift your hip off the floor. Extend your top arm overhead and top leg out at the same level as your top hip. Crunch your top knee and elbow together. Then return both to the extended position. Keeping your hip lifted and hips and shoulders stacked, complete 10 repetitions. Repeat on the opposite side.

For more information about Moraine Valley’s FitRec classes and services, such as personal training, group fitness and youth programs, visit morainevalley.edu/fitrec

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May 2021

Planting Tips and Information

The seed mix you received from the Foundation includes five species of native wildflowers. These wildflowers are prairie plants and have been evolving and adapting to the Chicagoland area since the glaciers melted and the climate warmed, around 14,000-10,000 years ago. Tall grass prairies used to cover most of Illinois, but today less than one percent remain.

There are many reasons to use native plants in your garden. For example, native plants:

  • Are well adapted to the local environment and therefore easy to care for.
  • Tolerate harsh winters and hot, dry summers. Once established, they require little or no fertilizer or irrigation.
  • Are resistant to many insect pests and diseases.
  • Provide an important food source for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Have deep roots that can absorb large amounts of water, helping to mitigate flooding and runoff during storms.
  • Absorb and store more carbon than turf grass and many annuals, therefore removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The five species in your seed mix are:

  1. Lance-leaf CoreopsisCoreopsis lanceolata – A tall plant, (about three feet high), that blooms in late spring and early summer, with bright yellow, daisy-like flowers.
  2. Partridge PeaChamaecrista fasciculata – Smaller plant, also with yellow flowers, has blue-green leaves that retreat when touched. Also called the Sensitive Plant. It is a legume, part of the bean family, and has pretty, maroon seed pods in the fall, which is a great food for winter birds. Legumes fix soil nitrogen, enriching the soil and helping other plants grow.
  3. Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea – From the genus Echinacea, which is known for its medicinal qualities. Native Americans used the root to treat rattlesnake bites, bee stings, headaches, toothaches and sore throats. Many supplements and herbal teas containing Echinacea are available at the pharmacy or health food store today. The flowers are beautiful purple and bloom all summer and early fall on three- to four-foot stems.
  4. Wild BergamotMonarda fistulosa – Also commonly called Bee Balm, it has a lovely lavender blossom and aromatic foliage that is reminiscent of Earl Gray tea.
  5. Black-Eyed SusanRudbeckia hirta – Thrives almost anywhere. Bright yellow flowers bloom in June through October. These will grow to about two to three feet tall.

Plant seeds before mid-June or in October in an area that will receive full sun in the summer. They will look great in a naturalized area, such as along the edge of a garden or driveway. You need to be patient with seeds, as it will take a couple of years before they mature. Black-Eyed Susan and Coreopsis require a period of cold temperatures to germinate, so they will not begin growing until next year.

Before planting, remove any plants already growing in the area by pulling them up or killing them with an herbicide such as Roundup. Roundup kills every plant it touches, so follow the directions carefully. Once the weeds are gone or dead, loosen the soil with a rake, then scatter the seeds as evenly as possible. The mix will cover about 50-square feet, but a smaller area also will work. You will need to pull some of the plants that are too close together as they mature. Rake the soil gently again, so the seeds are in contact with the soil. They do not need to be buried, just be in good contact with the soil. You can then water the area whenever it becomes dry for the next month. Germination can take two to three weeks. Remember, some seeds will not germinate until next year.

The hardest part of growing native seeds is waiting. Most will not bloom until next year or the year after. Also, it is difficult to know if the seedlings are weeds or wildflowers. The natives will probably remain under six inches tall this year, so anything taller is likely a weed. You may want to cut or pull out any recognizable or tall weeds. Mow the area in late fall or early spring and you will be pleasantly surprised when you start to recognize your native’s leaves and flowers next year!

Again, thank you from the Foundation. Happy gardening!

Sources and Resources

gretchen

April 2021

Experiment No. 1
Burning Steel Wool Experiment

Materials

  • 0 grade steel wool pads (0 to 0000 grade are all acceptable.)
  • One nine-volt battery
  • Large disposable aluminum baking pan (approximately 8 inch by 13 inch or larger)

Theory
Fine steel wire that is fluffed up to allow for ample oxygen to burn, with the steel wool producing a combustion reaction with a flame temperature of approximately 700°F.

The nine-volt battery creates an electrical current that heats up the wire. This heat causes the iron to react with the oxygen surrounding the steel wool. This reaction creates the spark that we see and the release of heat that heats up the next iron molecules, which causes a chain reaction through the steel wool.

This experiment is relatively safe to perform, but safety precautions are recommended to protect you from potential accidents. Please see the recommended safety precautions below.

Reaction
Fe (s) + O2 (g) ---> FeO2 (s)

Procedure

  1. Carefully divide the steel wool by fluffing it up into a loose ball.
  2. Place the fluffed-up steel wool into the disposable aluminum baking pan.
  3. Touch the fluffed-up steel wool ball with the nine-volt battery terminals.
  4. A fire ball should develop which may reach 700oF.

Safety Precautions

Recommended safety precautions include wearing goggles to protect your eyes and a dust mask face covering to protect you from accidental inhalation of tiny steel wool fibers while fluffing up the steel wool. Perform this experiment in a safe area away from any flammables or combustibles.

Experiment No. 2
Hot Cold bag Explosion Experiment

Materials

  • One gallon-size freezer bag
  • One quart-size freezer bag
  • One cup baking soda (any brand)
  • One cup calcium chloride (Preston Driveway Heat brand is commonly available.)
  • Two cups cold water

Theory
Mixing a saturated aqueous solution of calcium chloride with a saturated aqueous solution of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) will react to form carbon dioxide gas (see reactions section), which will pressurize the sealed gallon freezer bag and eventually cause the bag to explode.

This experiment is relatively safe to perform, but safety precautions are recommended to protect you from potential accidents. Please see the recommended safety precautions below.

Reactions
One reaction to produce CO2 gas is shown below:
CaCl2 (aq) + 2 NaHCO3 (aq) ---> CaCO3 (s) + 2 NaCl (aq) + CO2 (g) + H2O (l)
A small amount of hydronium ions from the ionization of water reacts with free chloride ions to produce HCl (aq).
H3O+ (aq) + Cl- (aq) ---> HCl (aq)
The HCl (aq) immediately reacts with excess NaHCO3 (aq) to produce more CO2 (g) as shown below:
HCl (aq) + NaHCO3 (aq) ---> CO2 (g) + H2O (l)+ NaCl (aq)

Procedure

  1. Add approximately one cup of sodium bicarbonate and one cup of cold tap water to the quart-size freezer bag. Try to dissolve the contents as much as possible (only a small amount will dissolve) and notice that the bag feels colder. An endothermic reaction occurs and absorbs heat from your hand to help dissolve the sodium bicarbonate. Seal the bag and save for later.
  2. Add approximately one cup of calcium chloride and one cup of cold tap water to the gallon-size freezer bag. Try to dissolve the contents as much as possible (only a small amount will dissolve) and notice the bag feels hotter. An exothermic reaction occurs and releases heat to your hand as the calcium chloride dissolves. Seal the bag and save for later.
  3. Carefully open both bags and place the smaller quart-size freezer bag into the larger gallon-size freezer bag. Do not seal the quart-size freezer bag. Seal the gallon-size freezer bag and pinch both bags so the smaller quart-size freezer bag is emptied inside the larger gallon-size freezer bag when inverted.

The CO2 (g) produced will fill the sealed gallon-size freezer bag and expand it beyond capacity until it bursts.

Safety Precautions
Recommended safety precautions include wearing goggles to protect your eyes and rubber gloves to protect your hands.

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March 2021

Tips for Starting a Meditation Practice

  • Take your seat in upright position with your knees lower than your hips.
  • Your eyes can be downward-cast or closed.
  • Set your aspiration to “be” with whatever arises: emotions, thoughts, sensations – it all “belongs.”
  • Let go of any expectations/end goal about the sitting practice.
  • Feel free to use a timer to avoid checking time.
  • Focus on all aspects of the breath.
  • When your mind takes over (which it will!), notice, let it go, and return to the breath.
  • Start slow – sitting for even five or ten minutes can help settle the mind.

Note: Sometimes strong emotions and feelings may arise with meditation practice, which is totally normal. However, if you are struggling with depression, have trauma in your background or the like; you may want to be trained to practice with someone who has experience in that area.

Resources

  • mindful – Meditation and mindfulness information
  • Tara Brach – Psychologist/meditation teacher; provides free “New to Meditation” toolkit, talks and guided meditations
  • Insight Timer – Several guided meditations; website and phone app
  • Healthy Minds Program – App teaches about the brain while in mindful practice
teresa

February 2021

Tips for Good Sleep

Debbie Guerrero, professor of sleep technology, offers helpful advice on how to improve your sleep.

Make sleep a priority.

  • Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time and follow a regular routine.
  • Eliminate stimulating activities before bed.
  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment.
  • Sleep well before and after vaccination.
  • Seek medical attention if your sleep is a problem.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the link between sleep and vaccines.

Debbie Guerrero

January 2021

Cocoa Mousse Recipe

This simple recipe provided by Chef Rose uses only four ingredients and takes less than five minutes to prepare.

Ingredients

1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Keep chilled before serving.

Serving Suggestions

  • Spoon into a glass dish and top with fresh berries.
  • Layer into a glass dish with berries and cookies to create a trifle.

Specialty Cocoa Powder Source – King Arthur Flour
kingarthurbaking.com
They sell natural, alkalized and black cocoa powders.

Rose Deneen
mousse