Mother’s Day Around the World

Mother’s Day is upon us and there are many ways to celebrate the mothers in your life. Many attributes go into being a mother with commonalities across the span of time. There are many aspects about the holiday that you may not know such as from whence did it derive, the controversy that developed from it, and how do celebrations differ across the world.

History of Mother’s Day

Time and Date states that early Mother’s Day celebrations can be dated back to the spring celebrations to honor Rhea, the Mother of the Gods, in ancient Greek civilization. Later, Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom was traditionally a day for people to visit the church where they were baptized, although it now also celebrates motherhood in modern times.

The modern-day origins of Mother’s Day can be attributed to two women – Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis, who were important in establishing the tradition in the United States. Around 1870, Julia Ward Howe called for Mother’s Day to be celebrated each year. It continued to be held in Boston for about 10 years under her sponsorship but died out after that.

In 1907, Anna Jarvis held a private Mother’s Day celebration in memory of her mother, Ann Jarvis, in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1908, she played a key role in arranging a church service that attracted 407 children and their mothers. A Mother’s Day International Association was founded in 1912 to promote the holiday in other countries. Mother’s Day has grown increasingly popular since then.

Mother’s Day Controversy

It didn’t take long for Anna Jarvis’s Mother’s Day to get commercialized, with Jarvis fighting against what it became. Jarvis never profited from the day, despite ample opportunities afforded by her status as a minor celebrity.  (source: National Geographic)

Her efforts to hold on to the original meaning of the day led to her own economic hardship. While others profited from the day, Jarvis did not, and she spent the later years of her life with her sister Lillie. In 1943, she began organizing a petition to rescind Mother’s Day. However, these efforts were halted when she was placed in the Marshall Square Sanitarium in West Chester, Pennsylvania. People connected with the floral and greeting card industries paid the bills to keep her in the sanitarium. (source: Wikipedia)

Mother’s Day Around the World

Despite Anna Jarvis’ efforts to end the holiday she first created; Mother’s Day in the USA often includes showering mom with bouquets of flowers, cards, and other gifts.  While there are some similarities, Mother’s Day around the world is not a one size fits all holiday. This section will look at how a few countries around the world uniquely celebrate Mother’s Day.


France: Amidst alarm at the low birth rate, there were attempts in 1896 and 1904 to create a national celebration honoring the mothers of large families. In 1906 ten mothers who had nine children each were given an award recognizing “High Maternal Merit.” American World War I soldiers fighting in France popularized the US Mother’s Day holiday. They sent so much mail back to their country for Mother’s Day that the Union Franco-Américaine created a postal card for that purpose. In 1918, the town of Lyon wanted to celebrate Mother’s Day, but instead decided to celebrate a national day of mothers with large families. A 1950 law in France established Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday in May, except when it overlaps with Pentecost, in which case it’s pushed back a week. But beyond the date, Mother’s Day in France looks very similar to in the U.S.—cards and flowers are bestowed, and family dinners are had. (sources: Time and Wikipedia)

Japan: Japan initially aligned Haha no Hi with the birthday of Empress Koujun, whose tenure spanned most of the 20th century. But Mother’s Day has since been moved to the second Sunday in May. The holiday is often celebrated with children drawing pictures of their moms, either to give to them or enter into art competitions. Giving your mother red carnations is very common in Japan as it is in most countries. (sources: Martha Stewart and  Time)

Mexico: “Día de las Madres” is an unofficial holiday in Mexico held each year on May 10th, the day on which it was first celebrated in Mexico. To show affection and appreciation to the mother, it is traditional to start the celebration with the famous song “Las Mañanitas”, either a cappella, with the help of a mariachi or a contracted trio. Mexican Mother’s Day history dictates a traditional breakfast of tamales and atole, which is a hot drink made from corn. Families usually gather to celebrate, trying to spend as much time as possible with mothers to honor them. They bring some dishes and eat together or visit a restaurant. (sources: The Bump and Wikipedia)

Poland: Called “Dzień Matki” in Poland, Polish Mother’s Day history dates back to 1923 in Krakow, though the celebration didn’t really take off until the years following World War II. It is now annually celebrated on May 26, with schools hosting special events where children present their moms with sheets of paper known as “laurki,” decorated with flowers and special messages of love. Mother’s Day is an official holiday in Poland, so shopping and eating out isn’t an option. When family members come to visit their mothers and grandmothers, the festivities are held at home and gifts given include flowers and cake. (source: The Bump)

United Kingdom: As early as the 16th century, the U.K. observed on the fourth Sunday of Lent a day called Mothering Sunday, when families came together to attend church. This holiday has its roots in the church and was originally unrelated to the American holiday. In the early 20th century, Mothering Sunday—which had evolved into a tradition of spending family time at home—was fused with the Hallmark-card-giving American holiday, but it has retained its traditional name and date. The traditions of the two holidays are now mixed together and celebrated on the same day, although many people are not aware that the festivities have quite separate origins. (sources: Time and Wikipedia)

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Distance Viewing

The first magnifier constructed for scientific purposes is believed to have been designed by the English philosopher Roger Bacon (circa 1220-1292) sometime during the thirteenth century. Most magnifying glasses are double-convex lenses and are used to make objects appear larger. Today our magnification options are vast in both types of magnifiers and the rate in which they can enlarge an object. This blog will look at three basic options to include the monocular, binocular, and electronic magnifier.


Both binoculars and monoculars are intended for long-range observations. However, you will find a few differences while making use of each one. The biggest difference between a monocular and binoculars is how they look as well as how they are being used.

Two reasons you might choose a monocular over binoculars are cost and portability. When you compare a monocular with binoculars of the same specs, you will usually discover that monoculars are available at a generally lower price tag. Plus, since they are both lighter and smaller than binoculars, a monocular provides the benefit of being easier to carry around. While binoculars tend to come with a neck strap the monocular usually comes with a wrist strap. If you have arthritis or other conditions which hurt your hands or wrists, you may not want to wear a wrist strap. Even people with healthy wrists usually do not find a wrist strap as comfortable as a neck strap.

In terms of ease of use monoculars are straightforward. There are only one lens and one focus to adjust. That lets you work very quickly in most situations. Plus, since they do only have one lens, they are easier to maintain than binoculars.

Further information comparing monoculars and binoculars can be found at Optics Mag or this binoculars vs monocular article. ILA’s featured monocular is the 4X12 Monocular.


Binocular Insight states that binoculars, also known as field glasses, are two telescopes which are usually mounted on a single frame aligned side-by-side. They provide magnification for distant objects. They are handheld devices with each telescope dedicated to one eye. Most binoculars come with a neck strap making them easier to carry around.

Focusing a pair of binoculars can take some practice but once figured out can be done quickly. The way binoculars are designed is so you can easily adjust the focus of the telescopes by using a one hand thumbwheel which is called the central focus adjustment. Once the central focus is adjusted, one of the two eyepieces can be further adjusted to compensate for differences between the viewer’s eyes. This is usually accomplished by rotating the eyepiece of each mount.

Unlike a monocular, binoculars can provide a three-dimensional image. Binoculars are designed to be used with or without glasses. Most manufacturers allow for corrective lens in their designs by adding extra focus ability or larger eye relief.

Nightskyinfo provides an in depth look at what the numbers on binoculars mean. All binoculars are described by using a pair of numbers, such as 7×50 or 8×30. The first number, including the x, represents magnification or “power”. This tells the degree to which the object observed is enlarged. For example, a 7x binocular makes an object appear seven times closer than when viewed by the naked eye.

The second number in the two-number code is aperture, the most important specification of binoculars if you plan to use them for astronomical observations. It represents the diameter of each of the objective lenses (the lenses furthest from your eye), given in millimeters. Therefore, 7×50 binoculars have objective lenses 50 mm in diameter. Aperture is so important because it determines the light gathering ability of your binoculars. Most celestial objects glow very dimly, so a large aperture becomes much more important in low light conditions. For example, 35 mm binoculars will do great when you watch a baseball game on a sunny day, but when used to observe the night sky you will find that they are pretty useless compared to typical 50 mm binoculars.

ILA’s featured binocular is the 2.8X Sports Spectacles.

Electronic Magnifiers

The American Foundation for the Blind has a three-part series discussing electronic magnifiers. People with low vision have more choices than ever when it comes to magnification. You can choose from full-sized desktop electronic magnifiers (once called CCTVs), portable units that are small enough to fit in a laptop bag, and handhelds you can tuck into a pocket or purse.

Part 1: Identify Your Priorities: This article looks at such things as portability, features, and cost. You will learn how to ask the right questions, not just about products you’re considering, but about how you will use a magnifier in your daily life, at work, at school, at home, or on the go. In this first article, the focus is on you, the potential magnifier buyer, and how understanding your priorities is key to making a good purchase decision.

Part 2: Larger Magnifier Systems, Specs, and Features: This second article will take a deeper dive into the world of desktop and transportable magnifiers, explaining how their components work together, and guiding you through the most important specs and features.

Part 3: Handheld Magnifiers: Finally in this third article, the focus is on electronic magnifier products with the goal of helping you identify the features you need, and answering the question: given so many options, who needs a standalone electronic magnifier, anyway? If you are in the market for a handheld magnifier, ILA is currently featuring the Explore 8 Handheld Electronic Magnifier.

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Spring is in the Air

Springtime usually means outings, concerts, picnics, and other assorted crowd gathering activities. This year, however, with the threat of covid-19 in the air spring will take on a different feel. It is still possible to enjoy the things you love albeit in a slightly different way. You may also find new things to love that you have never tried or thought of doing before. This blog will look at a sampling of the fun spring related ideas that you can still participate.

Home Gardening

According to an article from the Farmer’s Almanac, gardening for the first time can be daunting at first, but gardening is an incredibly rewarding hobby to get into.  If you have never tasted garden-fresh vegetables (lots of people haven’t!), you will be amazed by the sweet, juicy flavors and vibrant textures. There is absolutely nothing quite like fresh veggies, especially if you grow them yourself—which you can! The linked article provides a gardening for beginner’s guide to growing plants for the first time.

Live in an apartment? No worries there are still some gardening ideas available for you too. When it comes to having a garden, space is not an issue. You can grow plants just about anywhere. So even if you live in a tiny apartment, you can grow some green. Why stop with pretty flowers? Consider growing your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables and really indulge your gardening senses.  This article from the Spruce offers tips and tricks for growing plants from within an apartment or otherwise smaller dwelling.


Photography is a fun hobby that can be enjoyed year-round. You do not have to have a fancy camera or even a standalone camera, a smartphone will do too. This article from Digital Photography School explores ten benefits that can be gained from having photography as a hobby including recording events and capturing memories, being creative, having fun, and continued learning to help keep the brain strong.

If the only camera available to you is your smartphone, PC Magazine offers tips and trips to take more professional looking photographs including learning your camera’s features, purchasing add on lens, and editing your shots.

Chalk Art

Thousands of chalk drawings and signs have made people’s walks during coronavirus a little better. You can find articles, groups, and photos of all kinds where people have decorated their sidewalks, fences, and other stationary outdoor objects with their chalk art. Several hashtags have also come into being including #chalkyourwalk, #sidewakchalk and #chalkart.

Under stay-at-home orders, the outdoors is one of the few places people can go to get out of the house. Neighborhoods across the country have encouraged their residents to chalk their sidewalks and driveways to make the day a little brighter. Some people have said that seeing the drawings and messages on their walk reminds them that they are not going through the pandemic alone. The MIami Herald has a nicely written article with sample photos illustrating this movement.

Quarantine Karaoke

If you love to sing, love to hear others sing, or just miss going to your favorite karaoke hot spot there is a group on Facebook to help you ease (or sing) the blues. Quarantine Karaoke is a group created by Joseph Meyers. In the group’s “about” section, Mr. Meyers says “You are encouraged to post videos of yourself singing your favorite songs to distract from the world pandemic and pull each other closer together. Positive vibes only and FUN is a requirement!” While it is a private group you are encouraged to join and invite your friends. As of the writing of this blog the group is currently up to 566,478 members from everywhere in the world. Please note that it is always important to review this, or any, group’s rules prior to joining. The number one rule for this group is to be nice. No bullying will be tolerated. Use the link above if you are interested in joining and to read the rest of the group rules.

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The Healing Power of Music

If you ask someone who is their favorite band or musician often, you’ll be met with there being far too many to name. When a favorite is proclaimed it’s likely that a few more will ultimately also be named if the conversation continues. Music is a universal language that makes the heart sing, the body heal, and the soul feel complete. The right kind of music can do all these things anyway. Music that works for one person may not work for another which is where music therapy comes into play. This blog will look at the origins of music therapy, how music can be medically beneficial, and resources to direct you to learn more.

Origins of Music Therapy

PSYCOM provides an in-depth slideshow looking at the origins and continued benefits of music as therapy. While modern music therapy may be a 20th-century “invention,” it is by no means a new concept. Ancient Greek philosophers used music therapeutically, playing tranquil flute melodies to manic patients, while people with depression were treated to the soothing sounds of a dulcimer (an instrument similar to a zither).

Physicians and musicians were housed in holy healing shrines—further cementing the intertwined relationship that music and healing had in Ancient Greece. Early Ancient Egyptian medical papyrus texts describe chant-like incantations for healing the sick. And within Chinese medicine, a tradition with an ancient lineage, music is seen to correspond to the five different organ and meridian systems, which can be used to promote healing.

It further illustrates that old is new again starting with the Tibetan singing bowl that originated in the 12th century oft performed by Buddhist monks. Today wellness centers offer sound baths where practitioners incorporate singing bowls into experiential musical therapy.

Modern music therapy originated during World War II. Many soldiers struggling with physical and emotional trauma (such as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD) were institutionalized, unable to function in society. Volunteer musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, began playing for hospitalized veterans.

Noting the positive physical and emotional impact, doctors and nurses started requesting regular visits from musicians. It was thought that hearing familiar songs helped stabilize and calm the soldiers—bringing them back to a more peaceful time before the war. Overtime, standards and training programs began to emerge. In 1944, Michigan State University founded the first college music therapy program, a step toward codifying the approach as a therapeutic discipline.

Medical Benefits

The PSYCOM article referenced above, along with this article from Harvard Medical School look deeper into how music can be therapeutic for nearly all that ails you. Music as therapy has shown positive and beneficial effects in managing a host of medical conditions, like high blood pressure, as well as an effective treatment for some mental health conditions. Usually part of a multi-pronged approach to care, music therapists work with doctors, nurses, social workers, and other practitioners to alleviate depression, trauma, schizophrenia, and more

A growing body of research attests that music therapy is more than a nice perk. It can improve medical outcomes and quality of life in a variety of ways. Here’s a sampling:

Improves invasive procedures. In controlled clinical trials of people having colonoscopies, cardiac angiography, and knee surgery, those who listened to music before their procedure had reduced anxiety and a reduced need for sedatives. Those who listened to music in the operating room reported less discomfort during their procedure. Hearing music in the recovery room lowered the use of opioid painkillers.

Restores lost speech. Music therapy can help people who are recovering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury that has damaged the left-brain region responsible for speech. Because singing ability originates in the right side of the brain, people can work around the injury to the left side of their brain by first singing their thoughts and then gradually dropping the melody.

Reduces side effects of cancer therapy. Listening to music reduces anxiety associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It can also quell nausea and vomiting for patients receiving chemotherapy.

Aids pain relief. Music therapy has been tested in patients ranging from those with intense acute pain to those with chronic pain from arthritis. Overall, music therapy decreases pain perception, reduces the amount of pain medication needed, helps relieve depression, and gives people a sense of better control over their pain.

Improves quality of life for dementia patients. Because the ability to engage with music remains intact late into the disease process, music therapy can help to recall memories, reduce agitation, assist communication, and improve physical coordination.


Want to learn more or find a therapist in your area or even learn strategies from the safety of your own home? These resources can be of assistance.

American Music Therapy Association: This site gives the basics of what music therapy is, where you can find a qualified therapist, and the prerequisites a therapist must have in order to be licensed.

Positive Psychology: This article provides 15 music therapy activities and tools that can be tailored to your own needs.

The Certification Board for Music Therapists:  CBMT promotes excellence by awarding board certification based on proven, up-to-date knowledge and competence in clinical practice. Their vision is to ensure access to safe, effective music therapy services for all.

World Federation of Music Therapy: An international nonprofit organization bringing together music therapy associations and individuals interested in developing and promoting music therapy globally through the exchange of information, collaboration among professionals, and actions.

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Enjoying the Arts from Home

Enjoying the arts has always been a way for people to escape their every day lives. During this time, where most people find themselves staying at home, it may be necessary to find more creative ways to escape into the world of the arts.  Below you will find just a few examples of some of the many free options to help pass the time more enjoyably.

Music and Dance

Andrew Lloyd Weber Free Online Musicals: Andrew Lloyd Webber is streaming a production of one of his musicals on YouTube every week while theatres are closed due to the coronavirus.  The first in the series will be the composer’s 2000 production of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond, Joan Collins and Richard Attenborough. It will be available to watch on the YouTube channel The Show Must Go On for 48 hours, starting on Friday April 3rd at 7pm GMT. The series will continue every Friday for the next few weeks.

Online Dance Classes: Dancers, choreographers and studios are turning to online platforms including Instagram and Zoom to keep people moving through the coronavirus outbreak. Some of these options are free while others have a charge that’s listed in the info for that site.

Virtual ‘Love Sweet Love’ From Quarantined Berklee College of Music Students: This is a virtual performance of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love” by students from Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music. Be sure to watch through the credits to enjoy videos of some of the students dancing. If there’s a sliver of a silver lining in these uncertain times, it’s music — from free virtual concerts to free streaming music.

Fine Arts and Museums

Free Online Art Classes: Illustrators have stepped up to create virtual resources and free classes for kids, parents, and anyone else who needs a creative break in the midst of the pandemic.

Free Online Nkion Photography Classes: Nikon is offering free online photography classes for all of April. Now through April 30th.  All 10 classes available at the Nikon School can be streamed for free. The classes are normally priced anywhere between $15 to $50 each.

Museum Virtual Tours: Experience the best museums from London to Seoul in the comfort of your own home. Google Arts & Culture’s collection includes the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and literally hundreds of more places where you can gain knowledge about art, history, and science. This collection is especially good for students who are looking for ways to stay on top of their studies while schools are closed.

Just for Fun

This section offers a few fun and silly options that can be found to help add joy to your life. These options range from recreating world renown art, having 3D animals appear in your home, and bedtime stories with Dolly Parton.

Recreating World Renown Art: Get creative and share your creations. The Getty Museum in Los Angeles tweeted a challenge to art fans to post photos of themselves recreating their favorite works of art from the safety of their homes. People responded with a lot of enthusiasm and flooded social media with their unique artistic interpretations. You can either view the first link to CNN with images of some of the artwork or view the second link to the museum’s Twitter page to see them all.

Smartphone fun: If you type an animal name into Google from an iPhone or Samsung phone and then press “view in 3D” it’ll bring up your phone’s camera and within 30 seconds an image of the animal in 3D.   Once it pulls up you can then take a photo of your family “interacting with” the animal anywhere from your residence. If you do not have one of those type smartphones, it’ll just bring up the animal image in 3D making its native sound and you can twirl the animal around from all sides to look at it. Some of the available animals are lion, tiger, cheetah, shark, hedgehog, duck, emperor penguin, wolf, angler fish, goat, rottweiler, snakes, eagle, brown bear, alligator, and horse. Other categories that can be seen in 3D include NASA/space and the human skeleton.

Bedtime Stories with Dolly Parton:  Calling herself “the book lady,” Dolly invited everyone to join her for “Goodnight with Dolly. ” She will start reading to kids every Thursday night at 7 p.m. beginning April 2nd and lasting for the next 10 weeks. The first book read was “The Little Engine That Could.” The books featured in the series include: “There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake” by Loren Long; “Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney; “I Am a Rainbow” by Parton; “Pass It On” by Sophy Henn; “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon” by Patty Lovell; “Violet the Pilot” by Steve Breen; “Max & The Tag-Along Moon” by Floyd Cooper; “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña; and “Coat of Many Colors” by Parton.

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Bite by Bite: Quarantine Edition -Trying to stay healthy while sheltering in place

National Nutrition Month 2020 is March and this year’s theme is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite” with the overall message being that quality nutrition isn’t restrictive, but that small changes to diet can have a cumulative effect on health over time. Every healthy nutritional choice is a choice in the right direction. But eating healthily, as well as getting enough exercise, can be challenging in the best of times but even more so when most of the country is currently sheltering in place within their homes.

Preparing Healthy Meals with Limited Ingredients

With many grocery stores having bare shelves and/or limiting how much can be purchased at a time it may seem an impossible fete to prepare healthy and nutritious meals.  Do you ever look through your pantry and fridge wondering what you could possibly make with what seems to be an impossible mystery basket off of “Chopped”?  The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts provides an article outlining the top apps/websites for inputting what you already have on hand to find that perfect meal. The top three choices are:

SuperCook: This website is simple and effective, and there’s no need to download or install anything to your phone. Start by selecting ingredients you already have on hand from several categories (such as meat, seasoning, and dairy). As you add available ingredients, SuperCook suggests recipes, updating results for each new item you include. From there you can narrow down your results by selecting type of meal you want to make, type of cuisine, and/or the star ingredient. If you want to save your ingredients and favorite recipes, you can make a profile.

Allrecipes Dinner Spinner: Allrecipes is available on multiple devices, including tablet and smartphone. You can find recipes by browsing through categories such as dietary restrictions, ingredients, cuisine type, meal type, season and cooking technique. Searching by ingredient allows you to set your parameters based on what you have available. The easiest search is with the “dinner spinner,” a tool that lets you quickly spin through a combination of options by dish type, ingredients on-hand, and how long before the meal is ready. You can save your recipes and ingredients by creating an account.

BigOven: This app lets you navigate and brainstorm in a number of ways. For instance, check out the Ideas section to browse through meal inspiration. There you’ll find categories like “Use Up Leftovers,” which curates recipes based on reusing ingredients. The Collections area includes recipe ideas for healthy breakfasts, healthy snacks, meat-free, soups, low-carb, and more. Most recipes come with nutritional facts that include the number of calories per serving. The Grocery List section allows you to sort by ingredient and keep tabs on what you’ll need to make a certain meal.

Indoor Exercises Geared Towards Seniors

According to Medicare  staying active – even if you’re exercising for only 15 minutes – can significantly improve senior health. For example, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that elderly adults who exercised spent 25% less time disabled or injured than those who did not. Physical activity can boost mood, add extra years to your life, help you maintain or lose weight, reduce the impact of illness and disease like Alzheimer’s, and enhance mobility, flexibility, and balance.

Exercise Videos: The National Institute on Aging at NIH has a great collection of free “Go4Life” exercise videos on YouTube.  Try these Go4Life workout videos to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life.

Balance exercises – Balance training exercises strengthen the muscles that help keep you upright to improve stability and help prevent falls. Older adults at risk of falls should do balance training three or more days a week and do standardized exercises from a program demonstrated to reduce falls. These chair exercises, for example,  effectively assist elderly individuals to exercise and move without putting undo pressure or strain on their bodies.

SilverSneakers: Many Medicare Advantage recipients are eligible for a free gym membership through SilverSneakers. You can check your eligibility here. They are also currently offering free exercise videos geared towards seniors that can be done safely from inside your house on their Facebook page.

Need Cooking Supplies or Healthcare Equipment?

ILA offers many products that can be delivered right to your home to help stay healthy while obeying Social Distancing.

Kitchen and Cooking Aids: From slicing and dicing, measuring, cooking, to eating there is something for everyone. Most of these products are geared towards persons with visual impairments and therefore are also great for anyone safety conscious in the kitchen.

Healthcare: ILA sells a wide variety of healthcare products and aids, including talking scales, bathing and bathroom aids, glucose meters and diabetic aids, pill and medicine organizers, and much more.

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Coronavirus or Covid-19: A brief overview including information for the visually and/or hearing impaired

By now, everyone has heard of the coronavirus, otherwise referred to as covid-19. Affecting nearly every country worldwide, covid-19 has now reached pandemic status. ILA cares about the health and wellbeing of everyone whether a customer or not. This blog will look at a brief overview of how covid-19 came to be, where persons with vision or hearing issues can stay on top of the latest news during this pandemic, and lastly tips, assistance, and ideas on how to keep the boredom and doldrums away. Information contained in this blog is current as of March 21, 2020.

What is Covid-19?

The short answer, from the CDC factsheet, states: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The FDA elaborates a little on this stating: A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. There are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Coronaviruses themselves are not new. According to the WHO: Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. It is believed that covid-19 originated in bats.

A different CDC article defines a pandemic as a global outbreak of disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide. Covid-19 cases have been detected in most countries worldwide and community spread is being detected in a growing number of countries. On March 11, 2020 the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the WHO.

This is the first pandemic known to be caused by the emergence of a new coronavirus. In the past century, there have been four pandemics caused by the emergence of novel influenza viruses. As a result, most research and guidance around pandemics is specific to influenza, but the same premises can be applied to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Up to Date News Geared Towards the Visually and/or Hearing Impaired

Visually Impaired Resource: NFB-NEWSLINE is a free audio news service for anyone who is blind, low-vision, deafblind, or otherwise print-disabled that offers access to more than 500 publications, emergency weather alerts, job listings, and more. Anyone who cannot read printed publications due to vision loss, dyslexia, or a physical disability is eligible to receive NFB-NEWSLINE.  Please register by calling your state’s Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped or the National Federation of the Blind at 866-504-7300 to request an application. You may also download and mail an application or complete the online application. After your registration is processed, you will receive a message containing your activation codes and instructions.

In response to the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Federation of the Blind has decided to provide up-to-date information to all eligible subscribers of the service.

COVID-19 updates are available in the “Breaking News” category of NFB-NEWSLINE. This information is being obtained by the system searching the thirty-four publications in the Breaking News category for “coronavirus” and displaying the results. This information will also be available for those few states that are currently not sponsored for the next sixty days starting Monday, March 16.

Access the coronavirus COVID-19 information using the telephone by pressing 5 from the main menu, then press 1 for the Breaking News category, followed by pressing the 1 key which will bring you to the virus information. If you are using the NFB-NEWSLINE mobile IOS app, look for the virus information under the “All Publications” section. The content can be accessed with Braille devices such as notetakers and refreshable Braille displays.

Hearing Impaired Resources: Most televisions come equipped with a closed captioning option built in which allows for a transcription of what is being spoken to be shown at the bottom of the television screen in live time. YouTube also has the ability to do closed captioning by clicking on the small square that has “CC” in it towards the bottom right hand corner of every video.  Many news channels, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have YouTube channels.

If you prefer news updates done in American Sign Language (ASL) the Daily Moth is a good option. The Daily Moth delivers news in video using American Sign Language. The deaf host, Alex Abenchuchan, covers trending news stories and deaf topics on new shows Monday-Fridays.

Tips, Assistance, and Ideas to Stay Busy

Tips: There are five steps recommended to take in order to help keep yourself as healthy as possible.

  1. Hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. It’s also a good idea to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  2. Elbow: Cough or sneeze into your elbow to help keep any germs from spreading to those around you. Another option is to cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  3. Face: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  4. Space: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. It is recommended to keep 6 feet between you and others. The common term for this is practicing social distancing.
  5. Home: Whenever possible stay home, especially if you’re sick or experiencing symptoms.

Assistance: If you need assistance finding food, paying house bills, or other essential services, use the search bar at the top of the 211 website to find your local 211 or dial 211 to speak to someone that can help.  This website can also assist in finding answers about covid-19, locating your local United Way, information on unemployment benefits, and various other resources that can be useful during the pandemic.

To learn what the Federal Government is doing in response to covid-19 by department visit the USA Coronavirus page for complete details.

Ideas to stay busy:  What’s there to do while stuck indoors? USA Today has compiled 100 suggestions to help make your time quarantined as interesting – and perhaps even as productive – as possible. Some of the many listed ideas include playing games, completing a puzzle, playing an instrument, learn a new language, meditate, read a book, finally clear out that junk drawer and the last item on the list is sleep. Some of the suggestions are more or less serious than others but should provide at least some entertainment just reading through the list.

Small kids at home? What Moms Love offers 87 energy busting indoor games and activities for kids (because cabin fever is no joke).  Not only are these games fun and entertaining but they help encourage and define gross motor skills which helps kids be better able to function in the world around them.

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March is National Save Your Vision Month

March has been designated as “National Save Your Vision Month” to promote eye health. This year’s focus deals primarily with digital strain (blue light) and ensuring that you get a regular routine eye exam by a certified optometrist.  We’ll also look at a few tips that should help ensure you keep your vision for as long as possible.

Digital Eye Strain

According to the North Carolina Optometric Society, Digital Eye Strain describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.

The average American worker spends seven hours a day on the computer either in the office or working from home. To help alleviate digital eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time take a 20 second break to look at something 20 feet away.

The most common symptoms associated with digital eye strain include eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and should pain. These symptoms may be caused by poor lighting, glare on digital screen, improper viewing distances, poor seating posture, uncorrected vision problems, or a combination therein.

ILA sells many Reticare screen protectors to help ease eye strain caused by blue light emitted from digital screens. These protectors not only safeguard the screen of your electronic device, it protects your eyes from glare and toxic light emanating from the display of your device.  No matter what type device you utilize there is a screen protector available.

In addition to screen protectors, ILA offers many types of lighting choices to help alleviate eye strain due to poor lighting. One option is the OttLite Cobra Color Changing LED Lamp.  This Ottlite is a color changing LED desk lamp that offers 3 levels of lighting, from warm light to cool light to natural daylight. This lamp is an excellent choice for people trying to avoid the higher blue light Kelvin temperatures often found in most LED lamps.  With a choice of 3,000, 4,000 or 5,000 Kelvin temperatures, the user can use the lower settings and avoid the higher blue light choices.

Routine Eye Exams

Getting an eye exam once every one or two years can help identify vision problems early on and improve vision quality if you need prescription changes. Factors such as age, health, and a family history of vision problems may determine how often you need an eye exam. Many vision plans cover you for an annual comprehensive eye exam. Be sure to talk to your eye doctor to figure out how often your eyes need to be checked. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, they may recommend more frequent exams.

At the beginning of an eye exam, your eye doctor will ask for your medical history and if you have been experiencing any vision problems. If you currently have glasses or contacts, be sure to bring them to the exam so your eye doctor can see if you need prescription changes.

A comprehensive eye exam can take an hour or more, depending on the doctor and the number and complexity of tests required to fully evaluate your vision and the health of your eyes. A few of the routine eye and vision tests you are likely to encounter are visual acuity tests, color blindness test, cover test (where one eye is covered at a time), ocular motility testing (eye movements), stereopsis test (depth perception), retinoscopy, refraction, and glaucoma testing.

Information in this section was taken from Cigna and All About Vision.

Tips for Protecting Your Eye Health

It’s important to take steps to protect your sight. For 2020: Year of the Eye, the American Academy of Ophthalmology presents 20 tips to keep your eyes in top shape no matter what turns life takes. A quick overview from this list include good nutrition, wearing sunglasses, and wearing safety glasses to do dangerous tasks.

When it comes to diet more is learned every day about nutrition and eye health. Dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach contain vitamins that nurture nerve tissue inside the eye. Orange vegetables such as carrots and squash also boost eye health. A diet rich in plant-based foods and low in saturated or animal fats is best. It’s also important to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Nature is also good for our health, whether exercising or quietly taking in the beauty. Most risks to eyes come from sunlight and allergic reactions to pollen. Whenever you’re heading into the sun, wear sunglasses — even in the winter. There are many choices out there when it comes to sunglasses. For example, the NoIR SpectraShield medium amber sunglasses offer 100 percent ultraviolet protection and 15 percent light transmission. This general-purpose filter provides good glare protection.

Safety glasses or other protective eyewear can shield your eyes from many hazards at home, at work, or at play. In and around the house cooking, yard work or gardening, cleaning and home improvement projects top the list of potential eye hazards. Did you know oven sprays and bleach-based cleaners can permanently damage the surface of the eye?  In the garden, brimmed hats offer protection along with glasses to avoid getting poked in the eye by a twig or bush. Same goes for home improvement projects. Safety glasses can also be beneficial for people who work outdoors or with heavy equipment or chemicals which are all jobs that tend to get more injuries than office workers. Sports related injuries can also be curbed by utilizing this safety measure.

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Daylight Saving Time (DST) and Atomic Clock Accuracy

Daylight Saving Time brings with it the promise of upcoming spring and of longer days ahead. Typically, it begins the 2nd Sunday in March and ends the 1st Sunday in November. Its history is a bit convoluted and not everywhere in the world, or even in the United States, observe it.  This blog will discuss its history, where it is and isn’t observed, and conclude with how atomic clocks are able to stay accurate despite all of this.  Information included in this blog can be found at Time and Date, Web Exhibits, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

History of Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the USA

The United States first observed Daylight Saving Time in 1918. The US has observed DST for 103 years between 1918 and 2020. Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the USA starts on the 2nd Sunday in March and ends on the 1st Sunday in November. The current schedule was introduced in 2007 and follows the Energy Policy Act of 2005. According to section 110 of the act, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) governs the use of DST. The law does not affect the rights of the states and territories that choose not to observe DST.

Historically, there were no uniform rules for DST from 1945 to 1966. This caused widespread confusion, especially in transport and broadcasting. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 aligned the switch dates across the USA for the first time. Following the 1973 oil embargo, the US Congress extended the DST period to 10 months in 1974 and 8 months in 1975, in an effort to save energy. After the energy crisis was over in 1976, the DST schedule in the US was revised several times. From 1987 to 2006, the country observed DST for about 7 months each year.

Observance of DST

In the U.S., clocks change at 2:00 a.m. local time. In spring, clocks spring forward from 1:59 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.; in fall, clocks fall back from 1:59 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. In the EU, clocks change at 1:00 a.m. Universal Time.

For the U.S. and its territories, Daylight Saving Time is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Arizona. The Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy, even in Arizona, due to its large size and location in three states.

A quick look at the history of observances in all 7 continents shows the following:

  • Africa: As of 2020 there are 2 countries in Africa that observe DST. There are 16 countries that no longer observe DST and 38 countries that have never observed DST.
  • Antarctica: There are no time zones or countries on this continent.
  • Asia: As of 2020 there are 7 countries that observe DST. There are 25 countries that no longer observe DST and 19 countries that have never observed DST.
  • Australia and Pacific: As of 2020 there are 5 countries in Australia and the Pacific that observe DST. There are 3 countries that no longer observe DST and 11 countries that have never observed DST.
  • Europe: As of 2020 there are 49 countries in Europe that observe DST. There are 5 countries that no longer observe DST and 1 country that never observed DST.
  • North America: As of 2020 there are 8 countries in North America that observe DST. There are 11 countries that no longer observe DST and 20 countries that have never observed DST.
  • South America: As of 2020 there are 2 countries in South America that observe DST. There are 7 countries that no longer observe DST and 5 countries that have never observed DST.

How do Atomic Clocks Stay Accurate During DST?

An atomic clock has an atomic oscillator inside (such as a cesium or rubidium oscillator). A radio-controlled clock has a radio inside, which receives a signal that comes from a place where an atomic clock is located.

In the United States, the signals received by radio-controlled clocks originate from NIST Radio Station WWVB, which is located near Fort Collins, Colorado. WWVB broadcasts on a frequency of 60 kHz. Your radio-controlled clock actually has a miniature radio receiver inside, which is permanently tuned to receive the 60 kHz signal.

At 60 kHz, there isn’t enough bandwidth to carry a voice or any type of audio information. Instead, all that is sent is a code, which consists of a series of binary digits, or bits, which have only two possible values (0 or 1). These bits are generated at WWVB by raising and lowering the power of the signal. They are sent at a very slow rate of 1 bit per second, and it takes a full minute to send a complete time code, or a message that tells the clock the current date and time. When you turn a radio-controlled clock on, it will probably miss the first-time code, so it usually takes more than one minute to set itself (sometimes 5 minutes or longer) depending on the signal quality and the receiver design.

Once your radio-controlled clock has decoded the signal from WWVB, it will synchronize its own clock to the message received by radio. Before it does so, it applies a time zone correction, based on the time zone setting that you supplied. After it has synchronized, it won’t decode the signal from WWVB again for a while. Most clocks only decode the signal once per day, but some do it more often (for example, every 6 hours). Those that decode the signal just once per day usually do it at midnight or in the very early hours of the morning, because the signal is easiest to receive when it is dark at both WWVB and at the site where the clock is located. In between synchronizations, the clocks keep time using their quartz crystal oscillators.

When working properly, radio-controlled clocks always display the correct time, down to the exact second. This means that you should never have to adjust them. During the transition from standard time to daylight saving time (DST) they “spring forward” one hour, and when DST is finished, they “fall back” one hour. If you live in an area that does not observe DST there is likely a toggle switch on your clock to turn the DST option off. If no toggle switch exists, it may be necessary to change the time zone for which your clock sets itself to in order to allow the correct synchronization of time.

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All About Leap Day

Did you ever wonder why there is a Leap Day? What purpose does it serve? Does it really occur every 4 years? These questions along with several fun facts about Leap Day will be discussed in this blog. Articles from Time and Date, History, and Mother Nature Network were used to gather the information below. This week’s sale items can be found using the links at the end of this blog.

Why do Leap Days Exist?

Leap days keep our modern-day Gregorian calendar in alignment with Earth’s revolutions around the Sun. It takes Earth approximately 365.242189 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds, to circle once around the Sun. This is called a tropical year, and it starts on the March equinox.

However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year. If we didn’t add a leap day on February 29 almost every four years, each calendar year would begin about 6 hours before the Earth completes its revolution around the Sun. This would mean a difference of 24 days every 100 years. Allow this to happen for a while, and Northern Hemisphere dwellers will be celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer in a matter of a few centuries.

Leap days fix that error by giving Earth the additional time it needs to complete a full circle around the Sun.

Why Doesn’t Leap Day Occur Exactly Every 4 Years?

Many calendars, including the Hebrew, Chinese and Buddhist calendars, are lunisolar, meaning their dates indicate the position of the Moon as well as the position of Earth relative to the sun. Since there is a natural gap of roughly 11 days between a year as measured by lunar cycles and one measured by the Earth’s orbit, such calendars periodically require the addition of extra months, known as intercalary or interstitial months, to keep them on track. There did not seem to be any rhyme or reason to how this was calculated. This ill-defined system irked Julius Caesar and when he became emperor of Rome he re-ordered the Roman calendar.

By the 16th century, scholars had noticed that time was still slipping—Caesar’s calculation that a year lasted 365.25 days was close, but still overestimated the solar year by 11 minutes. This was a problem for the Catholic Church, as the date of Easter had drifted away from its traditional place, the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, by roughly ten days. Pope Gregory XIII commissioned a modified calendar, one which kept Leap Day but accounted for the inaccuracy by eliminating it on centurial years not divisible by 400 (1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but 2000 was). The introduction of the Gregorian Calendar marked the last change to the Western calendar as we know it today.

Fun Facts About Leap Day

Leap Day is often associated with marriage, proposals and flipping gender roles. Tradition holds that in 5th-century Ireland, St. Bridget lamented to St. Patrick that women were not allowed to propose marriage to men. So, legend has it that St. Patrick designated the only day that does not occur annually, February 29, as a day on which women would be allowed to propose to men. In some places, Leap Day thus became known as Bachelor’s Day.

People born on Leap Day are called ‘Leaplings.’ There are only about 5 million people in the whole world who were born on February 29, with the odds of being born on Leap Day standing at about 1-in-1,461. Several famous people—including actress and singer Dinah Shore (born 1916), motivational speaker Tony Robbins (born 1960) and hip-hop artist Ja Rule (born 1976)—are leaplings. Leaplings technically only get to celebrate their birthdays once every four years, but they do get to be part of an elite group.

There’s a Leap Year Capital. The twin cities of Anthony, Texas, and Anthony, New Mexico, are the self-proclaimed Leap Year Capital of the World. They hold a four-day leap year festival that includes a huge birthday party for all leap year babies. (ID required.)

There’s even a leap year club. The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies is a club for people born on Feb. 29. More than 11,000 people worldwide are members. The goal of the group is to promote leap day awareness and to help leap day babies get in touch.

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