Weekend road trips for peak foliage viewing

Autumn is arguably the most beautiful season, notable for cooling weather and dazzling changes of scenery. One of my favorite autumn activities is a lazy afternoon drive spent ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the vibrant colors. There are many places throughout the country to view peak foliage, but here are my suggestions for short, northeastern road trips:

New York’s Finger Lakes

The Adirondack region is often praised for its fall colors, and for good reason. The Finger Lakes area boasts unrivaled fall foliage and country scenes worthy of calendars. Start in Lake Placid and drive the Olympic Trail Scenic Byway, which runs for 170 miles of amazing views.

Northwest Connecticut

This stunning 100-mile loop in Northwestern Connecticut is perfect for a Sunday afternoon. Start in the Town of Falls Village, which looks straight out of a 1800s movie set, and continue to meander through covered bridges, horse farms and state parks full of hiking trails.

Vermont Green Mountain Byway

This 220-mile trip deserves a full weekend. Start in Waitsfield and relish one-lane highways weaving through mountains, valleys and pastures. When you need to stretch your legs, hop out and climb Mount Mansfield to see views from the state’s highest peak.

I suggest getting started early, with a cup of coffee and a tank full of gas. Happy foliage hunting!

Battle of the Leafy Greens: Spinach vs. Kale

Leafy greens are perhaps the superstars of the vegetable family: they contain myriad health benefits, they’re tasty, and they’re versatile. Those of us who grew up watching Popeye are familiar with the merits of spinach, but in the last few years a new leafy green has taken over the limelight: kale. The two look similar, taste similar, and are often used in similar ways. So, just how similar are they?

Calories: While the number of calories should never be a concern while munching veggies, a cup of kale has double the calories that a cup of spinach does.

Magnesium: Magnesium contributes to strong bones, and spinach contains a quarter of your daily magnesium. This might be why Popeye was such a tough guy!

Vitamin C: Kale takes the lead here. Kale has four times the amount of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, than spinach.

Calcium: While it’s a close call, kale edges out spinach in its amount of calcium.

Protein: Kale has 15 percent more protein than spinach. (Maybe Popeye should have switched!)

The bottom line is that, with either kale or spinach, you can’t go wrong! In terms of benefits, spinach may be the better option for pregnant women because of its rich amounts of the nutrients folate and iron, whereas vegans may choose kale in order to get a calcium and protein fix. Happy munching!

Puerto Rico Needs Our Help

By now, you have seen the heartbreaking images from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. This event touches particularly close to home for the more than 2,000 MMM and MSO of Puerto Rico employees who help us meet the healthcare needs of the island. Over 80 employees lost their homes and possessions and many are still living without basic essentials like food, electricity and water. Hundreds more had family members impacted by the category 5 storm. Despite these hardships, more than 90 percent of MMM and MSO employees are reporting to work to help our beneficiaries get the care they need.

In partnership with our sister company, Care-One, we are undertaking an ambitious fundraising effort to show our commitment to these employees, their communities and the more than 450,000 Puerto Rican beneficiaries who turn to us to keep them well. We’re calling it “Caminamos Juntos” which means “We Walk Together.”

As part of this effort, we are hosting a fundraiser in New York City on Thursday, October 19. We hope you can attend. Detailed information, including ticket purchase and sponsorship information, can be found at www.innovacarehealth.com/puertorico. Please click this link to learn more about how you can help make a difference.

To maximize the speed and impact of your donation, the proceeds will be directed by the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Charitable Fund to the recovery and rebuilding of Puerto Rico. This will ensure 100 percent of the proceeds are distributed effectively and without delay.

For those who are unable to attend but would still like to contribute, please click on the tickets/donation button here. Please “walk together” with us now by showing the generosity that Puerto Rico so badly needs.

How to Keep Jet Lag in Check

Whether you think traveling via airplane is terrifying or astonishing (or simply mundane, at this point), it is hard to imagine life without it. But no matter how many mini packets of pretzels we are given, some of us are always left with a dreadful case of jet lag. What is it, anyway, and what makes some cases worse than others?

Jet lag is a physiological condition that disrupts our circadian rhythms. “Circadian rhythms” is a technical term for what is basically the body’s “clock.” Our circadian rhythms are set by external factors like the lightness of day and the darkness of night, and they regulate many of our daily activities. When you rapidly cross times zones, as people do when they travel on airplanes, your sleep-wake patterns are disturbed, and you may get jet lag.

Typical symptoms include headaches, fatigue, lethargy, insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite and/or slight confusion.

Factors that may lead to more severe case of jet lag:

Travelling eastward. If you are moving east, your symptoms may be more severe because the day will seem longer.

Age. Sometimes it takes older people a longer time to reset their body clocks.

Alcohol: Drinking too much during a long flight can worsen the effects of jet lag.

Frequent travel: Flight staff or business travelers may have more symptoms if they are constantly changing time zones.

The Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

October is upon us! Along with chilly temperatures and colorful trees, this month brings an abundance of a particular orange squash: the pumpkin!

Often seen piled in heaps at grocery stores and arranged vibrantly at roadside stands, pumpkins are popping up everywhere this month. While we are all familiar with the time-old tradition of jack-o-lantern carving, there are many who end the project there. However, those slimy handfuls that you pull out of your jack-o-lantern are actually rich in nutrients and should be turned into a yummy snack: ravioli, bread, pancakes — and yes, pie. Here are a few health benefits to be had in October’s signature squash:

1.   Pumpkins could reduce the risk of cancer.

Pumpkins, like their orange ally the sweet potato, are chock full of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention. And, the National Cancer Institute says that food sources of beta-carotene are even more helpful than a supplement!

2.   Pumpkins are great post-workout.

We’ve all heard that you should reach for a banana to get a surge in potassium after a hard workout, but did you know that a cup of pumpkin has even more potassium than a banana? Eating pumpkin after a workout can help restore your electrolytes and keep your muscles functioning at their best.

3.   Pumpkins are good for your vision.

The radiant orange color of a pumpkin comes from its supply of Vitamin A, which is essential for your eye health. In fact, one single cup of pumpkin holds more than 200% of most people’s recommended daily intake of Vitamin A.

So go ahead–have that second piece of pumpkin pie. It’s good for your health!

Breathing Easy: Tips for Autumn Allergy Relief

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 40 million Americans suffer from autumn allergies, making it one of the worst times of the year for those of us who deal with seasonal allergies. The biggest villain is ragweed, a plant that covers the southeast part of the country. Another is pollen, which is sent into the air as the weather cools and foliage changes. These allergens can cause itchy eyes, runny noses, excessive sneezing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, hives, and dry skin. Symptoms that really affect your quality of life!

However, there are a few tricks to manage even the most severe of allergies. Try these out and enjoy autumn instead of sneezing your way through it.

  1. Find out exactly what you’re allergic to. An allergist can run a quick skin-prick text to figure this out. Once you identify the culprit, customize your treatment to what will work best to fight your specific allergy.
  2. Buy a dehumidifier. Not only can this help with breathing, but it can also help if you are sensitive to mold or dust, allergens that flourish in humid environments.
  3. Check pollen levels. If pollen is really aggravating you, you can check pollen levels in your area at Pollen.com. If you’re in a high pollen zone, try to avoid spending a lot of time outdoors.
  4. Take an antihistamine. This is one of the easiest steps you can take, and most over-the-counter allergy drugs now are non-drowsy!
  5. Shower. Washing your body and clothes right after spending time outside will prevent pollen from following you around inside and transferring to your furniture.

If these don’t help a bit and your allergies seem to be getting worse, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor to make sure something else isn’t amiss in your immune system! No one wants to spend their autumn sneezing.

Save the Date: Brooklyn Tech’s 95th Anniversary

Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation will celebrate the “Titans of Tech” Award and the 95th Anniversary of Brooklyn Tech High School on November 28th in New York City.  As a proud graduate of “Tech” and member of the Alumni Foundation’s Dinner Committee, I urge your support of this outstanding school by attending the reception, placing an advertisement in the Event Journal or contributing any amount you can to the school.

Brooklyn Tech is the country’s premier STEM School (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The school’s alumni include inventors, top scientists, CEOs, high-ranking diplomats, scholars in academia, literary figures, Olympians, National Medal recipients and Nobel Laureates.

Tech is committed to preparing students for tomorrow’s cutting edge professions and careers.  The cost to maintain Tech’s level of educational excellence is enormous and involves building and equipping modern science and technology labs for 5,800+ students.  As the rate of change in technology accelerates, so does the cost of delivering such excellence.  New York City provides substantial support, but it is not enough. One of the Alumni Foundation’s goals is to close this monetary gap by relying on contributions raised from this annual dinner.

As a graduate of Brooklyn Tech, I cannot begin to describe the impact the school has had on my education, career trajectory and personal growth. Brooklyn Tech afforded me an outstanding education and laid a solid foundation for me for years to come. I attribute a good part of my success to Brooklyn Tech.  Supporting Brooklyn Tech is a commitment I have made in order to give back and provide an opportunity for others to benefit as well.

I am reaching out to you to help me fulfill this commitment and support this school in all it does to provide opportunities for other young people.

All the “Titans of Tech” Committee members are proud graduates of the school and happen to be connected through the worlds of architecture, human resources, health care, law, actuarial science and finance.   We are united in the mission to preserve Tech’s excellence–  it will surely be a positive factor in educating tomorrow’s leaders.

Please support. Many thanks.

Penelope Kokkinides ‘87
Brooklyn Tech Alumni Board Member
Journal Co-Chair

Staying Safe Post-Hurricane

For the last several weeks, we’ve all watched destruction unfold as hurricane after hurricane has ravaged Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and other locations in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

Harvey arrived on August 25, pummeling the Texas coast with high winds and over 50 inches of rain and displacing tens of thousands of residents. Quickly after came Irma, flying through the Caribbean and Puerto Rico on September 6 before hitting Florida, where it left 15 million people without power. News outlets are full of advice on how to stay safe during a hurricane, but what about after the storm has passed? Here are some tips on how to stay safe once the hurricane has passed.

  1. Beware of debris. One of the first things we want to do after a huge storm is get out and assess the damage. But after such high winds and extensive rain, streets are often strewn with hazards. Make sure to be extremely careful outside and extra wary of downed power lines, fallen trees, broken glass, and treacherous chunks of buildings and commercial signs.
  2. Do NOT drive through standing water. This means in parking lots, roads and bridges. It may be hard to believe, but a car can get carried away in as little as a foot of water! Additionally, deep water can stall your engine and leave you stranded.
  3. NEVER use a generator inside your home, even with the doors and windows open. Carbon monoxide is one of the biggest killers after a storm!
  4. Watch out for wild animals. Snakes, rodents, insects, wasps—these animals might be seeking higher ground after the storm and they can be dangerous.
  5. Don’t drink your water. Flooding can bring waterborne bacterial infections. Treat all water as if it’s infected until you can get an inspection.

Stay safe out there! Turn on your radio so that you can listen for emergency bulletins and updates with the latest storm information.

How to Kick that Summer Cold

 There are few things more frustrating than being bed-bound due to the fatigue, hacking and throbbing that accompany a cold, when all you want is to be out enjoying the summer sun. To make matters worse, it’s proven that summer colds tend to last longer than the ones you catch in the winter, and they have a higher chance of recurring.

Although there isn’t a certifiable cure for the common cold, these tried-and-true tips should have you feeling better in no time:

Up Your Vitamin C

Vitamin C isn’t proven to actually prevent colds, but it has been shown to boost your immunity and potentially shorten the longevity of your cold. If you’re not big into taking supplements, try incorporating these foods into your diet that are loaded with vitamin C.

Get Plenty of Rest

We all know that summer is the time of endless outdoor activities with friends whether it’s a backyard get-together, a meet-up at the trendiest rooftop bar for happy hour or even a walk in your local park. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing, but in the long run, you’re better off skipping out on plans with friends to get better. Overexerting yourself is only going to ultimately prolong your sniffly condition. Try to get as much rest as possible to bolster your immune system.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

All of the sneezing and blowing your nose that comes as a result of a cold can lead to dehydration, so it’s important to counteract that by continually drinking water. Besides the obvious need of fueling your body with water to keep hydrated, consistently downing fluids will help to keep your throat and nasal passages open and lubricated. Hot liquids especially, like tea or broth, relieve nasal congestion and can soothe inflamed tissue that lines your passages.

As always, consult your doctor if your symptoms or conditions worsen or continue to persist longer than two weeks. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below to let me know if you have any remedies for treating a summer cold.

Flying the Skies Like a Pro

I spend a lot of time in the air. And whether you’re an occasional traveler or a true frequent flier, we all know that airplanes and airports can sometimes be hectic and stress-inducing. In order to avoid airline angst, try out these tips next time you take to the skies.

Pre-Flight

  • There has been a lot of debate over when the best time to book a flight is, but according to the experts, it seems like Sunday is the best day to book your flight, especially if you’re booking more than three weeks in advance. When it comes to booking flights, it’s really about how much risk you’re willing to have when waiting for flights to drop in price. I suggest using sites like TripAdvisor or Expedia to compare different airlines for your given travel days and needs. Also, if your travel dates are flexible, I recommend looking at specific airlines’ low fare calendars, like Southwest’s, so you can see an overview of the cheapest days to fly.
  • When it comes to packing there are a few standard rules I tend to stand by. First, if at all possible try to pack in a carry-on bags; you’ll thank yourself in the long run when you’re not waiting for 30 minutes at your final destination for bags that may or may not arrive. Additionally, for said carry-on, opt for a duffel bag or some other soft material bag because it will be easier to store in the overhead bin and less likely to be taken away from you if they have to check bags at the gate.
  • If you’re a frequent flier, a TSA PreCheck membership quickly pays for itself in terms of time saved bypassing security lines. If you don’t fly as frequently, I would make sure to get to the airport about two hours before a domestic flight to ensure enough time to check a bag if you need to, get through security and find your gate. This is especially important if you’re flying during a busy time.

In-Flight

  • Now that you’ve made it past security and finally boarded your plane, it’s time to get settled in for your flight.
  • Air travel is known for is varied microclimates, from the sweat-inducing line in the jet bridge waiting to board your plane to the ice box cabins of your aircraft. It’s important to layer your outfit to be prepared for any temperature thrown your way. Maintain in-flight comfort by wearing breathable fabrics and comfortable shoes that meet both your comfort and functional needs. Just because you’re dressing comfortable doesn’t mean you have to throw all style out the door. (In fact, it’s important to look sharp because it seems like being a well-dressed flier could land you an upgrade!)

 

Let me know your travel tips and tricks in the comment section below. Happy flying!