9/11 Memories

Earlier this week we commemorated the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  I lived and worked in New York City for many years so the attacks had a special resonance for me.  Any time someone came to visit me when I lived in NYC, I made sure to take them to the top of the the World Trade Center.  The view was amazing – and the elevator ride was an experience all by itself.

When the Twin Towers were attacked the first time in 1993, I was working in mid-town Manhattan – and I remember my Dad calling me at work and just blurting out “Are you OK?”  I had no idea what was going on just a couple of miles from me when he called.  And I commuted on the PATH train through the World Trade Center from New Jersey for the last couple of years that I worked in NYC.  So the Twin Towers had special meaning for me.

In 2001, I was living in the Chicago suburbs.  I had gotten up early and taken my car to the dealership for service.  I was in the dealership shuttle on my way to work when news of the first plane impacting the World Trade Center came over the car radio.  I got out my cell phone and called a friend who I knew had a view of the Trade Center from his office.  I was talking with him when we heard the roar of the second plan and he cried out as it hit the second tower.  I remember being numb for the rest of the ride to work.

I had a tiny black & white TV/Radio at my desk at work and the rest of that day, I had people standing in my cube watching the news of the tragedy.  It was awful and all I could think of was the families and friends of friends that I knew were likely in the building that morning.  My heart still goes out to the victims’ families, the first responders and the survivors of the attacks.  God bless them all as we remember.



The Zadroga Act

zadrogaYesterday was the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.  In 2007, Congress passed the Zadroga Act which provides health monitoring and financial aid to the first responders, volunteers and survivors of the attacks.  Why?  Because in the years after the attacks, it was determined that the people who worked at Ground Zero in the search/recovery and rebuild efforts were exposed to carcinogens and other toxic compounds that were causing illness and death at a frightening rate.

Named for NYC Police Officer James Zadroga who died in 2006 of respiratory disease caused from breathing in the smoke and fumes during rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero, the Zadroga Act provided funding for physical and mental health coverage for qualifying individuals through 2015.  In 2015, the Act was extended to allow 75 years of benefits for first responders and other qualifying people to cover the mental and physical health fall out of their exposure in the days following the tragedies.

What you may not know is that due to changes in budgets in Washington, the Zadroga Act may be in jeopardy even though benefits were supposed to be guaranteed for many years yet.  Please click on the links below to learn more about the Zadroga Act and if you are so moved, let your representatives in Congress know it is important to continue to provide support for the people who tried so hard to make a difference in the midst of the tragedy of that bright September morning 17 years ago.

About James Zadroga

Citizens for the Extension of the Zadroga Act

Summary of the Zadroga Act

Fall Festivities

The cool weather is making me think it’s time to make a list of fun things to do this fall.  There are SO many fun fall activities aside from chugging pumpkin spice lattes – here’s my list so far:

  • IMG_2822
    Me at the pumpkin farm in 2016 – Giraffes like carrots.

    A trip to the pumpkin farm.  My favorite is Goebbert’s Pumpkin farm in Hampshire, IL.  Why?  Not only do you get to take a hayride into the pumpkin field to pick your own pumpkin, they have GIRAFFES.  And you can feed them!!!  Need I say more?  Fabulous place – here’s the link to their website so you can see for yourself:  http://goebbertspumpkinpatch.com/.

  • Snuggle up in my rocking chair to watch a movie while having popcorn and apple cider.  Bonus points if it’s a cool rainy night and you can wrap up in a blanket.
  • Go to a football game.  Or a practice.  I like to walk over to the elementary school in my neighborhood and watch the PeeWee teams practice – they’re so cute!
  • Go for a walk and kick the leaves.  I love to walk through leaves – bonus points for walking through a pile of leaves!
  • Bake an apple pie.  My favorite apple pie recipe is the one on the box of Pillsbury pie crusts.  Shhhh!  Don’t tell anyone that I don’t make my own crusts!

That should get you started – what’s your favorite fall activity?  Let me know in the comments!


First Job

mcdonaldI’m starting a new job today – I am SO excited!  And it’s made me think about my first job.  Like Jeff Bezos of Amazon and pop singer Pink, my first job was working at McDonald’s.  If you were 16 and growing up in Wapakoneta, Ohio in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, McDonald’s was a great place to work because the managers there worked around your school schedule.  Given that I was in band, show choir, chorus and the high school musicals, flexibility in my work schedule was a must!

But I digress, since McDonald’s was my first employer, here are some fun facts about the Golden Arches you may not know:At any given time, McDonald’s employs over 400,000 people.  The book “Fast Food Nation” estimates that 1 in 8 people in the United States has worked at a McDonald’s at some point in their career.

  • At any given time, McDonald’s employs over 400,000 people.  The book “Fast Food Nation” estimates that 1 in 8 people in the United States has worked at a McDonald’s at some point in their career.
  • While Mickey D’s is an iconic American company, a greater percentage of their total sales happens in Europe than in the U.S.
  • If you think McDonald’s is a restaurant business, you’re only partially right – they’re actually one of the biggest real estate companies in the world.  That’s right – McDonald’s owns the land under a huge percentage of their restaurants.  So they actually have multiple income streams: sales at company owned restaurants, royalties from franchised restaurant sales and rent for the land/buildings they own and lease to franchisees.
  • It isn’t cheap to become a McDonald’s franchisee – start up costs are in excess of $2 million!
  • The average transaction in a McDonald’s drive thru takes 3 minutes.  Someone should tell the McDonald’s in my neighborhood because they’re NEVER that speedy!

I loved working at McDonald’s to help put myself through college – but I hope I never have to work the fryer there again!


End of Summer…

I’m feeling nostalgic this morning…  Summer is over and my Facebook feed is full of back to school pictures.  Today is one of my nephews’ first day of pre-school this year and he looks so excited in the pictures.  What’s not to be excited about?  I’m sure he’s got new school clothes, new school supplies and he’s going to be back to playing with his friends all day.  Life is good for him.

I’m not generally a fan of fall, but this year might be different.  I start a new job next Monday and it’s feeling a bit like going back to school.  Maybe it’s the time of year?  I’ve already bought a new “first day” outfit and new pens.  And this morning I wrote a blurb about myself for my new boss to send out to the team to introduce me.  It’s been a long time since a started a new job and I’m really excited to get going.

That doesn’t mean I’m looking forward to the leaves falling, needing a coat to leave the house and commuting both ways to the new job in the dark.  But the changing of the seasons feels very real today.

What about you?  Have you felt the changing of the seasons yet?  Tell me about it in the comments!

It’s not a throwback – but my nephew is the one on the right at the door of his pre-school today.  Hope he has a great year!

first day of school


Back Pain

It is said that lower back pain is the most common health complaint in the U.S.  And right now, I have some of my own which is REALLY a rare thing for me.  I had the carpet in my house steam cleaned last Thursday which meant I moved almost every stick of furniture in my house Thursday morning – and when I woke up on Friday, I knew I had done something bad to my back.  Right side.  Right above my hip.  Some Advil and a hot pack and I was ready to move the furniture back but I’ve had ongoing pain and tightness all week.

According to Google:

Low back pain is caused by injury to a muscle (strain) or ligament (sprain). Common causes include improper lifting, poor posture, lack of regular exercise, fracture, ruptured disk, or arthritis.
Often, the only symptom is pain in the lower back.
Most low back pain goes away on its own in two to four weeks. Physical therapy and pain relievers can help. A few cases may require surgery.
Ages affected:
Very rare
Very common
Very common
Very common
Consult a doctor for medical advice
Sources: Mayo Clinic and others.
So I think I’m going to live!  Want to know more about back pain?  Here are a few great resources:


My to-do this morning was taking my cat Bruiser to the vet for his annual checkup and rabies vaccination.   The good news?  The vet says he’s perfect – like I had any doubt about that.  And he’s such a good boy that the vet didn’t even need a vet tech to help when it was time for the shot.  But speaking of the rabies shot – do you have any idea why our pets are required to get rabies vaccines every year?

Rabies itself is a very contagious and fatal viral infection that is spread via the saliva of mammals.  The rabies virus causes inflammation in the brain with early symptoms including fever and tingling at the site of the exposure or bite.  Symptoms progress to confusion, fear of water, violent movements or convulsions, partial paralysis and loss of consciousness.   Once the symptoms appear, the result is almost always death – and more worrying, the symptoms can take up to a year to start appearing.   So it’s very important to keep the virus in check – and a vaccinations for your pet is the best way to make sure your potential for exposure to the disease is as minimal as possible.

Thanks to the efforts of animal control laws regarding rabies vaccines, rabies deaths in the U.S. have declined dramatically from the 1970’s to the point where there is on average only 1 or 2 human deaths of rabies in the U.S. each year.  And reports of rabies breakouts now are most likely to be in wildlife rather than our domestic animals.

If you experience a bite from a wild animal or unprotected pet, there is a very effective preventive treatments available consisting of a series of 5 shots given over a 14 day period.  If you are bitten by an unfamiliar or wild animal, wash the bite with soap and water for 15 minutes and call your doctor.  You’ll want to start the treatment as soon as possible if you cannot establish that the animal has had a rabies vaccine.

Want to know more about rabies?  Check out these links:

And here’s a picture of my buddy Bruiser!


Labor Day


Happy Labor Day everyone!  I hope you’re having a lovely 3-day weekend?  Labor Day always makes me kind of nostalgic – after all, it’s the holiday that marks the end of summer.  And when I was a kid, it meant it was time to go back to school although the kids in my neighborhood have been back in school for a couple of weeks already!  But I digresswhere did the Labor Day holiday come from?

To get the facts on Labor Day, I started with the U.S. Department of Labor.  Seems logical right?  Here’s the explanation of Labor Day I got there:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Not a very complete picture of the creation of the holiday!  So I kept digging.  Next stop – my favorite on-line resource, Wikipedia.  According to their history of the holiday, Labor Day began out of the labor movement of the late 1800’s.  The first Labor Day celebrations were held in New York City in 1882 uniting several labor unions at parade sponsored by the Central Labor Union of New York.

In 1887, Oregon became the first state to officially recognize a Labor Day holiday with the Federal Government recognizing it in 1894.  So we’ve been celebrating Labor Day as a national holiday for well over 100 years!

One of my fond memories of growing up was watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon for muscular dystrophy on TV.  Unlike today when you can stream performances of your favorite band or actor, in the 1970s one of the best places to see all the top talent of the day was the MDA Telethon.  It was an annual 24 hour marathon of Jerry Lewis hosting everything from music performances to dancing to animal acts that raised over $2 billion dollars during its run from 1966 to 2010.  One of our local TV stations that broadcast the telethon used to offer Muscular Dystrophy carnival kits so kids could get involved. I always wanted to get one  – but my parents were NOT enthusiastic about the idea of it – probably because they knew they’d end up doing all the work!

Now pardon me – there are Labor Day sales to get to and last minute summer relaxing to cram in before the day is over!  Happy Labor Day!

Want to know more about Labor Day or the MDA Telethons?  Check out these links: