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by Joyia Emard

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Winter is here.  Is your car ready for the hazardous driving conditions that it brings?  Now’s the time to get your vehicle in tip-top shape and make sure it can brave the harsh wintry elements.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, bad weather—excessive fog, rain, ice and snow, contributes to nearly half a million crashes and more than two thousand road deaths every winter.

Here are some tips to help prepare your car for winter and make driving much easier and safer.

  • READ YOUR OWNER’S MANUAL— Ensure your vehicle is up-to-date on the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance and service schedule.
  • CHECK YOUR FLUIDS—Although this should be part of your regular vehicle maintenance, it’s also a good idea to check/top off or change the oil, brake, antifreeze, power steering, and transmission fluids.
  • BRAKE IT DOWN—Are your brake pads worn? If so, don’t wait to get them checked. Have your brakes inspected for wear according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications by a licensed automotive repair dealer.
  • SLOW YOUR ROLL—Nothing will give you more peace of mind while driving on slick winter roads than having good quality tires on your vehicle. Ensure they are properly inflated, rotated, and check for excessive tread wear. Consider winter/all-season tires for extra traction or bring snow chains with you if there is a chance of encountering snowy or icy road conditions.
  • CHECK YOUR HEATER AND DEFROSTER—With the weather so frightful, keeping warm will feel delightful providing your heater is working properly. Plus, if your defroster is operable it will keep your windshield clear and enhance your visibility.
  • LIGHTS—Test your car’s interior and exterior lights, including your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals, to make sure they work.
  • CLEAN AND TREAT YOUR DOORS—Cold weather can sometimes make car doors stick. As a preventative measure, you can purchase an oil lubricant and rub around the door edges as well as the hood and trunk too.
  • CHANGE YOUR WIPER BLADES– The sizzling summer sun can wreak havoc on wiper blades and cause them to split and crack.  It’s a good idea to replace your wiper blades regularly for optimal performance.
  • GET A VEHICLE SAFETY KIT–Most auto parts and hardware stores have winter emergency safety kits. They usually contain jumper cables, orange cones, emergency blankets, bungee cord/zip ties, gloves, a small scraper, a multi-tool, cloths, flares and more.

Remember, it’s important to keep your car in excellent condition year-round.  But, if you aren’t a do-it-yourself-type of person, take your vehicle to a trusted and licensed automotive repair dealer to have it fully inspected.  To check the license of an automotive repair dealer, visit the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s website at www.bar.ca.gov.

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When you need help with a medical problem, it’s important that you find the right doctor. When you need help with a doctor, it’s important you find the right board at the Department of Consumer Affairs.

In the State of California, if you have a complaint involving a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, a D.O., you should file that complaint with Osteopathic Medical Board of California. That’s a different board than the one that investigates complaints against Medical Doctors, or M.D.s. A complaint against a medical doctor should be made to the Medical Board of California.

Confusing the two different boards is a mistake scores of consumers are making. If you file a complaint with the wrong board at the Department of Consumer Affairs, we’ll do our best to make certain it gets in front of the right people. But that may mean your issue won’t be addressed as quickly as possible.

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The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, throws some attitude at you in the store, or berates you for your political views, your gut reaction may be to throw the anger right back in their face. It doesn’t take much thought, and some say it’s an easy way out. However, the feelings inside your body are much more complicated and could have lifelong effects. Just as with anger, kindness can be contagious. Physical reactions stemming from kindness are easier on your blood pressure.

Fortunately, there’s a new program at UCLA that can help communities focus on mindfulness to bring more peace. Professors in the field of social sciences at UCLA’s Bedari Kindness Institute will research kind gestures and create real-world opportunities that can empower citizens to build more humane societies.

“Our vision is that we will all live in a world where humanity discovers and practices the kindness that exists in all of us,” said Matthew Harris, co-founder of the Bedari Kindness Institute and UCLA alumni.

As politics and violence deepen the divide among people, the university’s new program will take a collaborative approach to understanding kindness. Professors will research actions, thoughts, feelings, and social interactions to educate communities about kindness.

“The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will bring the best thinking to this vital issue and, I think, will allow us to have a real social impact on future generations,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

Mastering the art of kindness requires a hard work ethic and can improve your physical and mental health. Strong feelings of negativity can do a number on your body. They can wear on internal organs and cause depression and anxiety. Learning the practice of mindfulness is a good start to a healthier you and a healthier community. Making a conscious effort to think maybe that person who cut you off is rushing to a sick child, or the grocery store employee is having a bad day. If you’re a few clicks to the left, a few clicks to the right or somewhere in the middle of the political spectrum, take your opponent with the beef out to lunch (that’s the better kind of beef anyway). Flash that person who’s not happy with you a genuine smile. Doing so will not only help your mental health, your kindness will spread from person to person, according to scientists.

“Much research is needed to understand why kindness can be so scarce in the modern world,” said Harris who, along with his wife Jennifer, donated $20 million to launch the institute.

As the old adage goes, you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

If you are interested in seeing a mental health professional, you can check their license to make sure it is valid by visiting the California Board of Psychology or the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

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The California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) recently hosted visitors from the Korean Transportation Safety Authority for a frank conversation about smog.

For Peel by DCA coverage of the visit, check out the video below.

South Korea’s emissions program for light-duty vehicles is based on California’s Smog Check system, and as their programs expand they continue looking to California as a model. Bureau of Automotive Repair Chief Patrick Dorais says the Bureau gets lots of interest, both nationally and internationally, from governments wanting to model their emissions programs on what’s happening here.

“It’s really amazing to me that a program that affects so many people in California can actually make a difference in our global air quality problem,” Dorais said.

In the video above, you’ll see experts demonstrating Smog Check technology, how bad actors might try to cheat that technology, and how BAR catches them.

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Turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, pie and other side dishes

Hungry yet?

Turkey TV aficionados may recall a scene from a 2001 episode of The West Wing where fictional US President Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, calls the Butterball Hotline in an attempt to settle a disagreement with a member of his staff over whether stuffing can be safely cooked inside a turkey or if it’s a recipe for a food-borne illness disaster: “If I cook it inside the turkey,” an exasperated Bartlet asks the hotline operator, “is there a chance I could kill my guests? I’m not saying that’s necessarily a deal breaker.”

It’s not just funny scripted television. Cooking stuffing inside your turkey can be dangerous if you don’t do it the right way. If you cook stuffing inside the turkey, use a food thermometer to ensure the center of the stuffing reaches a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if the turkey itself has reached the safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured in the innermost part of the thigh, the wing and the thickest part of the breast, the stuffing may not have reached a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria that may be present. If your stuffing contains ingredients that require a higher safe temperature, such as sausage or oysters, cook those ingredients separately ahead of time.

To keep your Thanksgiving guests happy and healthy, check out these five tips for a food safe Thanksgiving, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Tip 1: Don’t wash your turkey. Washing raw meat and poultry can spread bacteria around to other food preparation surfaces up to three feet away. Cooking the turkey to the right temperature will kill any bacteria, meaning washing the turkey is unnecessary.

Tip 2: Use the refrigerator, the cold-water method or the microwave to defrost a frozen turkey. Thawing the turkey in the refrigerator is the safest method because it will defrost at a consistent, safe temperature. It will take approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight for a turkey to thaw in the refrigerator – so if you’re working with a 20-pound bird, you’ll want to move it from the freezer to the fridge four of five days prior to cooking.

To thaw in cold water, submerge the turkey in its original wrapper in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and never use hot or warm water as it will promote bacteria growth.

Refer to your microwave’s owner’s manual for instructions on microwave defrosting.

Tip 3: A food thermometer is your friend. The best way to determine if your turkey is fully cooked but not overdone is to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer. Your thermometer should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the breast, innermost part of the wing, and innermost part of the thigh.

Tip 4: Don’t store food outside, even if it’s cold. It’s unlikely this will be a White Thanksgiving for many places in California, but, even with snow on the ground, it’s not a good idea to store food outside. A plastic food storage container in the sun can heat up to temperatures that promote bacterial growth, and animals can get into food stored outside, consuming or contaminating it. If refrigerator space is at a premium, use a cooler with ice to keep extra food at a safe temperature, under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tip 5: Leftovers are good in the refrigerator for up to four days. Leftovers should be refrigerated within 2 hours of coming out of the oven and will last for four days in the refrigerator. If you know you won’t use them right away, pack them into freezer bags or airtight containers and freeze. For best quality, use your leftover turkey within four months. Beyond that, the leftovers will still be safe, but can dry out or lose flavor.

There are no statistics on food-related illnesses stemming from Thanksgiving dinner, but the USDA estimates that 1 in 6 Americans – nearly 55 million people! – suffer from a food-borne illness each year. If the worst happens to you, contact your doctor if you show signs of dehydration or if symptoms persist for more than a few days. You can check to make sure your doctor is licensed at the websites for the Medical Board of California or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California.

For more information, visit the USDA’s Thanksgiving food safety page.

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Reprinted with permission from CoveredCA

Open enrollment for 2020 is underway, and more Californians than ever before are eligible for financial help for their health insurance.

The reason is a new state subsidy program. It will help lower the cost of coverage for almost 1 million people, including for some middle-income Californians for the first time since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law in 2014.

“California is making coverage more affordable for low-income families, and we are making history by becoming the first state in the nation to provide financial help to middle-income people like small-businesses owners, early retirees and the self-employed,” Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “Whether you never thought you could get financial help, or you have checked before, you need to check again because there is new money available that may dramatically reduce the cost of your coverage.”

So far during open enrollment, eligible low-income consumers who qualified for a subsidy are receiving an average of $19 per month per household on top of any federal assistance they receive, while eligible middle-income Californians who have received a state subsidy are getting an average of $526 per month, per household.

Another big change for 2020 is the restoration of the individual mandate here in California. People who do not get covered could face a penalty administered by the Franchise Tax Board when they file their 2020 taxes in the spring of 2021. A family of four would pay at least a $2,000 penalty, and potentially more, for not having health insurance throughout 2020.

These two new state initiatives, the state subsidy program and the restoration of the individual mandate, are key elements in Covered California’s record-low 0.8 percent rate increase for the upcoming year.

Consumers will need to sign up by Dec. 15 in order to have their coverage begin on Jan. 1, 2020. Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can visit www.CoveredCA.com or get free and confidential in-person assistance, in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller. They can also have a certified enroller call them and help them for free, or they can call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2020.

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SACRAMENTO – Security and investigative professionals seeking to carry a firearm while they work in the State of California can now go online to prove they have the required training. The Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) has added an online application feature to a suite of tools on its website designed to make things easier for licensees.

Licensees can find the option by logging into their BreEZe account here: breeze.ca.gov

“Our goal is to streamline the process, while weeding-out deficient applications before they’re ever filed,” said Bureau Chief Lynne Andres. “This upgrade to our technology is a significant step in that direction.”

The online application option means that professionals with one of those qualifying license types have another method, in addition to mailing their application or physically visiting a licensing office, to apply for a firearm permit. Applicants will still have to meet the same training and proficiency requirements for the firearm permit. Now they can prove that they have done so by attaching the required documents to their online application.

Read the full news release here.

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An electronic board tracks bets at a casino.

An electronic board tracks betting lines at a casino.

In May 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 federal law that prohibited states from sanctioning sports betting. That doesn’t mean the sportsbook is open now, but California voters may soon get the chance to place their bets.

In June of this year, Assembly Member Adam Gray introduced ACA 16, a proposed state constitutional amendment that, if passed by the legislature with a two-thirds vote, would put the question of whether to legalize sports gambling in front of voters on the 2020 ballot.

It’s no surprise that California is looking to cash in: Since the Supreme Court decision, 18 states have legalized sports betting, and 24 others are considering legislation to capitalized on the estimated $150 billion illegally wagered on sports every year, mostly via the internet.

Making sports betting legal in California would depend on coming to an agreement with the Native American tribal groups who have exclusive rights to allow gambling at casinos on tribal lands. The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) said in a June press release, “We… insist that federally recognized tribes are included in all stakeholder meetings and hearings held on the issue and a thorough analysis of the social and economic effects of legalizing sports wagering be completed prior to final initiative language.”

Another factor to consider is the public health concern. Research by the National Council on Problem Gambling indicates that “2 million U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year. Another 4-6 million would be considered problem gamblers; that is, they do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling, but meet one of more of the criteria and are experiencing problems due to their gambling behavior.”

The California Department of Public Health’s Office of Problem Gambling (OPG) offers resources, as well as around-the-clock, no-cost, confidential help to anyone impacted by a gambling disorder. OPG describes the gambling addict as one battling a compulsion to continue gambling, even when there is no chance to recoup the cost of bets.

If you decide to find help for a gambling addiction with a marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, clinical counselor, or psychologist, you can check to see if they have a valid license with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences or the California Board of Psychology by using the license search page on the appropriate entity’s website.

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You are about to start seeing more solar panels on rooftops across California.

The state is the first in the nation to require solar panels on new homes, starting January 1, 2020. The mandate, which comes from the California Energy Commission (CEC), will help meet the state’s goal to produce 50% of its energy from renewable resources by 2030.

Single-family homes and multifamily dwellings up to three stories high must abide by the new standard, which CEC predicts will add about $9,500 to the cost of an average new home. CEC also estimates, however, a homeowner will save $19,000 over the course of a 30-year mortgage.

“With this adoption, the California Energy Commission has struck a fair balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously limiting increased construction costs,” said Dan Dunmoyer, California Building Industry Association CEO and president.

Homebuyers will have the option of purchasing solar panels outright, leasing them, or using a shared solar grid that serves multiple homes in a neighborhood. Exemptions to the rule include homes with limited roof space and those that receive an abundance of shade.

New homes that are built in 2020 and beyond are expected to use 53% less energy than those under the existing standards, CEC said.

“Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid,” CEC Commissioner Andrew McAllister said in a news release after the commission adopted the solar mandate. “The buildings that Californians buy and live in will operate very efficiently while generating their own clean energy.”

The mandate stems from the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Final terms of the solar panels rule were initially endorsed in May 2018 by the CEC. Final approval for the state’s building code came the following December.

For those considering solar power for their home or wanting more information about solar energy systems, the Contractors State License Board (www.cslb.ca.gov) has a Solar Smart page on its website for consumers.

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Teaching kids about money along with their ABC’s and 123’s makes a lot of cents. Opinions about how and when to begin teaching children financial basics may differ. The sooner kids learn that money can grow, but money doesn’t grow on trees, will pay off in compounded dividends. Teaching basic concepts about money doesn’t need to be a long drawn out lecture. Financial literacy can begin as early as two years old.

Here are some suggestions about how to tackle teaching young children about earning, spending, saving, and budgeting money.

EARNING

Most children earn money by doing weekly chores around their homes. Then there are children who receive a monthly allowance without having to work to earn the money. Experts suggest teaching kids to view allowance like a wage. Chores should be assigned as the child’s job, then at week’s end evaluate the child’s performance, and pay them their wage. If the work is not completed, they do not receive their wages. Just like in real life. Bonus pay is possible if the child does work over and above their typical chores.

SPENDING

Cash and even gift cards can teach kids that money is finite, unlike a credit or debit card. A well-known study out of MIT showed that people are more likely to spend twice as much on an item when they purchase the same item using credit cards instead of cash. Learning how to spend money is an important lesson. For example, if a child receives a set amount to shop with in the form of cash or a gift card, they will have to make financial decisions based on the available amount of money they have to spend and not a penny over. Another tactic to teach children the value of a dollar is to have them consider the value of the item by teaching them to calculate how many hours they will have to work to earn enough money to pay for an item. Teach them how to convert hours worked into dollars. This will help them think about what purchases are worth their hard-earned money.

SAVING

Teaching the importance of waiting to buy something can be a challenging concept for children and some adults to grasp. Learning to delay gratification will benefit them in the long run. This can be done with a simple piggy bank, or by setting up a no-fee savings account at a brick and mortar credit union or bank. Experts suggest helping your child set a goal for a future purchase. The goal is to set the child up for success, so the item should not be so pricey that it would take months to afford it. Every time your child adds money to their savings, help them count their cash or review their statement, and talk about how much money they need, and how long it will take to reach their goal. This exercise teaches them how to wait patiently while saving.

BUDGETING

This step is more sophisticated and may be introduced during the tween/teen years. Keeping track of expenses and learning to distinguish wants from needs can be a struggle, even for adults. Having a budget teaches the importance of planning for the future by evaluating how much money they have or don’t have. A simple budget, broken into the following categories: earnings(income), spending, saving, and goals (e.g., a car) can be created with database software such as Excel or Google sheets, in addition to plenty of free online apps. Once a budget has been created, review it with your child regularly to get them in the habit of staying on track. Evaluate if they need to work harder (do more chores) to make more money or spend less for them to reach their short-term (video game) or long-term (used car) savings goals.

These basics of financial literacy are just the beginning. For those interested in a do-it-yourself approach, the California Department of Education has a number of K-12 financial literacy resources that can be found here. For those looking to enlist the advice of a professional, the California Department of Consumer Affairs, through the California Board of Accountancy, licenses professionals who are trained to assist people with all of their financial matters.

 

 

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