Vitamin D eyed as possible new tool in fight against coronavirus

Boston researchers are studying another potential weapon in the coronavirus fight.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital will look at whether vitamin D can lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.

Researchers are also studying whether vitamin D supplements reduce the chance of becoming infected if you have been exposed to someone in your household who tested positive for COVID-19.

Vitamin D is already known as an immune system booster.

The study ( https://www.vividtrial.org/) will focus on patients age 30 or older who have been recently diagnosed with the virus within the previous five days.

Participants will be asked to take the vitamin D or placebo study capsules every day for 28 days, provide at-home blood samples by fingerprick and complete questionnaires.

Studies have suggested that vitamin D may reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections.

Researchers said, “the potential role of vitamin D to protect against infection by the novel coronavirus that leads to COVID-19 is promising but unknown.”

2020 is finally over. Here are 10 Orlando moments to remember from the year that wasn’t

About that eternal lockdown: The principle of “Hanlon’s Razor” holds that we shouldn’t credit malice for actions that can be explained by stupidity, but in Florida, in 2020, sometimes it was tough to tell the difference. As other countries and even states worked together to flatten their disease curve and return to something approaching normality, those of us in Orlando who scrupulously observed COVID protocols watched helplessly as those who refused to danced, drank and wedding-partied Florida into a viral cesspit. Malice, stupidity, or a little bit of both? We’ll never know, but in the meantime, our three months of quarantine is stretching out into 13 with no assured end in sight.

But even though it felt like living the movie Groundhog Day, things happened that deserve notice, both commendable and regrettable.

Rep. Val Demings is a manager of the Trump impeachment:

We kicked off 2020 with the hometown-pride-inducing sight of U.S. Rep. Val Demings serving as one of seven managers to physically “transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.” As an impeachment manager, Demings walked to the Senate chamber to hand over the printed articles and after reading the charges aloud, returned to the House to give a verbal report. “I’ve enforced the laws and now I write the laws,” Demings, who was once Orlando Police Chief, said during the debate before the House impeachment vote. “But the laws mean nothing if the accused can destroy evidence, stop witnesses from testifying and blatantly refuse to cooperate.”

COVID craters the local tourism industry:

Before 2020, conventional wisdom was that, no matter what, theme parks don’t close; 9/11 only interrupted Disney operations for less than a full day, for god’s sake. But the coronavirus pandemic put paid to that notion, shutting down the tourist industry that Orlando’s economy hinges on in March. Theme parks and attractions closed and furloughed scores of workers. Then hotels, restaurants, bars, the convention center, even the airport all followed suit to varying degrees. The ripple effects were heartbreaking, like watching a car wreck in slow motion. In June, Universal and SeaWorld reopened, followed by Disney World in July. But with limited capacity and large events like Halloween Horror Nights off the table, profits nose-dived enough to cause thousands more layoffs. It will be a long road back to where we were at the start of 2020, and things will get worse with Disney and Universal, yes, set to lay off still more employees by the time you read this issue.

Continue reading “2020 is finally over. Here are 10 Orlando moments to remember from the year that wasn’t”

Boeuf Bourgiognon – Step by Step

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1 by Julia Child

Recipe created by Julia Child   As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner. Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated. 

Vegetable and Wine Suggestions
Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish. Buttered noodles or steamed rice may be substituted. If you also wish a green vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice. Serve with the beef a fairly full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux-St. Émilion, or Burgundy.

Continue to get the full recipe and a downloadable copy.

Continue reading “Boeuf Bourgiognon – Step by Step”

Schnatter report vindicates him, indicts Papa John’s, marketing firm

A former FBI director and federal judge has released a 14-page investigative report into the conduct of Papa John’s International Inc. founder and former CEO John Schnatter.

Former FBI head Louis Freeh released the report on Schnatter’s personal and professional conduct Tuesday. The report, commissioned by Schnatter’s attorneys in summer 2019, is the outcome of a year-long investigation into two key events: the Papa John’s and National Football League controversy of 2017 and the release of a recording of Schnatter using a racial slur during a media training session in 2018.

According to a news release, the investigation addressed comments Schnatter made about the NFL in an earnings call in 2017, and determined that he was “falsely construed as critici[zing] the players’ protests” in print and social media, when in fact he was describing “a lack of leadership in failing to resolve the matter to both the players’ and owners’ satisfaction.”

The 2018 media training session was the primary focus of the investigation, the release continued, and Freeh concluded that Schnatter “stress[ed] his disdain for racism” in the meeting and “at no time … express[ed] any beliefs that could be described as bigoted or intolerant.”

Although Schnatter “quoted a third party’s alleged use of the n-word” in order to separate himself from another company founder regarding attitudes on race, he did not “use the word as a racial slur nor was it directed at any person or group,” Freeh continued.

Continue reading “Schnatter report vindicates him, indicts Papa John’s, marketing firm”

Florida unemployment rate holds steady, as Orlando tops metro areas for joblessness

Florida’s unemployment rate was unchanged from October at 6.4%, but Orlando recorded the highest number of any metropolitan area in the state at 7.7%.

A report released Friday by the Department of Economic Opportunity shows the continuing powerful effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the state and particularly Central Florida’s tourism-dependent economy.

In all, about 651,000 Floridians were jobless in November, the report says.

In Central Florida, Orange County came in at 8.1% for November, Osceola at 9.7%, Lake at 6.5% and Seminole at 5.7%. Osceola and Orange had the first- and second-highest county rates in the state.

Metro Orlando’s rate topped that of Miami’s, which in previous months had posted the highest percentage of joblessness.

Adrienne Johnston, DEO’s chief of the Bureau of Labor Market Statistics, said seasonal retail hiring was slow this year.

“I think we’re seeing where people are shopping online a little bit more of the season. Businesses did not add as many employees to their payrolls,” Johnson said in a conference call.

The overall U.S. unemployment rate for November was 6.7%.

Continue reading “Florida unemployment rate holds steady, as Orlando tops metro areas for joblessness”

Florida must stop selling cats, dogs at pet stores | Commentary

No one walks into a retail store motivated by a wish to support cruelty to animals. However, that is the impact of purchasing a puppy mill-bred dog at a pet store. We need legislation to halt such sales in Florida for the good of animals and the protection of consumers.

Imagine being lured into an Orlando pet store by an adorable, tiny, eight-week-old puppy. The sales associate assures you the puppy came from a wonderful breeder and is healthy as can be. If the price tag of several thousand dollars makes you balk, they are quick to sell you on “low interest” financing.

You end up buying the puppy and your whole family instantly falls in love. But this fairy tale quickly turns into a nightmare when you discover the puppy is sick, requires expensive veterinary care and your financing deal carries an extremely high interest rate.

Only then do you realize you have unknowingly bought a puppy from a mill.

Florida State Rep. Sam Killebrew

It should not be that way, and Florida State Rep. Sam Killebrew (R-District 41) wants to put an end to such cruel and demoralizing outcomes. House Bill 45 would prohibit Florida pet stores from selling puppies and kittens. Rep. Killebrew’s measure would codify into state law an approach already enacted by nearly 80 cities and counties in Florida.

Anyone who doubts the need for H.B. 45 in our state need only look at the situation in Orange County. Earlier this year, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office filed a lawsuit against a Petland location in Waterford Lakes following 19 complaints from customers. According to complaints, the pet store allegedly led consumers to believe the puppies were healthy, high-quality animals and fit for sale. “In some instances, puppies died soon after being purchased or suffered from congenital or other hereditary disorders,” said Moody in a press release.

Continue reading “Florida must stop selling cats, dogs at pet stores | Commentary”

Mike’s Chili

An similar version of this recipe won the Professional category at the 2020 Orlando Crimeline Chili Cookoff. Take your time, grab a beer, and make sure to taste as you go!! This recipe should yield about 1 ½ – 2 gallons of chili.  You will need at least an 8-quart pot to complete this recipe.  This recipe can also be cooked in an 8-quart crock pot set to low for 4 to 6 hours.

Ingredients:

2 TB bacon fat (or butter)
2 ½ lbs ground chuck roast

2 medium onions diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
5 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup chili powder
3 TB cumin
1 ½ TB smoked paprika
1 TB cayenne pepper (optional)
3 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ TB Better than Beef Roasted Beef Bouillon

3 (4 oz cans) Hatch Green Chilis
2 (28 oz cans) petite diced tomatoes
2 (14 oz cans) crushed tomatoes

2 TB tomato paste
12 oz lager beer
32 oz chicken stock
1 tsp brown sugar

1 (15 oz can) dark red kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz can) light red kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz can) black, pinto or chili beans

Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

❶ In an 8-quart pot, heat 2 TB bacon fat over medium high heat and cook the ground chuck, breaking it up into small pieces while cooking.   Remove to a large bowl and cover.

❷ Add 2 TB bacon fat to the pot and add the onions. Cook the onions for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Lightly salt and pepper the veggies.

❸ Add the spices and stir, toasting the spices for 2 minutes. It is important to keep the spices moving during this step. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes, chicken stock, Hatch green chilis, beer, tomato paste, and beef bouillon.

❹ Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Taste for salt. This is an important part of the process. The chili still has liquid to cook out, so it will thicken and intensify in flavor.

❺ Add your ground chuck to the chili, juice, and all.

❻ Simmer the chili for 1 hour, or to desired thickness.  Add the red and light kidney beans and pinto beans during the last 20 minutes of cooking

❼ Final salt and pepper. Serve topped with corn chips, extra sharp cheddar cheese, diced red onion, green onion, oyster crackers, tortilla strips or sour cream.

Notes:
I typically skip the cayenne pepper because my wife has an intolerance to pepper. 

Traditionally you would use kidney beans in this chili. But you could also try another kind of bean such as black beans or pinto beans.

it’s very important to select the right cut of meat, which is a chuck roast that is well-marbled. It should have a good amount of white veins of fat running through it.  You will need to trim the excess fat; do not go overboard, just remove any large pieces

Stay away from meat generically packaged as “stew meat,” especially if it looks lean — it will never get tender.

I’ve been working at home during the pandemic — do I qualify for home office tax deductions?

Say you’ve had to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Join the club. Like many others who are lucky enough to be able to do their jobs from home, you might now be wondering if you can claim a federal income tax deduction for home office expenses. As things currently stand, the answer is no unless you’re self-employed.

But the answer could change if Congress grants additional COVID-19-related tax relief. Here’s what you need to know about home office write-offs as things stand right now.

No home office deductions for employees
Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), an employee could potentially claim itemized deductions for unreimbursed employee business expenses —including home office expenses —if you used a home office for the convenience of your employer. In that case, you could lump the home office expenses together with other miscellaneous expenses — such as fees for investment advice, tax advice, tax preparation, and union dues.

If your total miscellaneous expenses exceeded 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), you could write off the excess — as long as you itemized deductions.

Unfortunately, that was then and this is now.

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33 million Californians face COVID-19 stay-at-home order that will restrict movements and business

A new stay-at-home order will be imposed on Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley Sunday night, as the coronavirus crisis spirals out of control with a speed that has exceeded health officials’ most dire projections.

Some 33 million Californians will be subject to the new order, representing 84% of the state’s population. The state mandated the restrictions in the Southland and Central Valley as capacity at hospitals’ intensive care units hit dangerously low levels. Five Bay Area counties will also begin lockdown restrictions in the coming days despite not yet reaching the threshold at which such action is mandated by the state.

The rules are less sweeping than California’s pioneering stay-at-home order in the spring, which is credited with slowing the first COVID-19 wave. But the new order will change daily life for many, especially in suburban Southern California counties like Orange and Ventura, which so far have enjoyed more open economies than hard-hit Los Angeles County.

Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will implement the order Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Restaurants must halt in-person dining and can offer food only for delivery and takeout. Gatherings of people from different households will be prohibited, except for outdoor church services and political demonstrations. Affected communities will be required to close hair and nail salons, playgrounds, zoos, museums, card rooms, aquariums and wineries. Nonessential travel and use of hotels for leisure will be banned, as will overnight, short-term stays at campgrounds. All retail can remain open, but at 20% capacity.

Continue reading “33 million Californians face COVID-19 stay-at-home order that will restrict movements and business”