Dream Big During National Engineers Week February 19-25, 2017

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Have you ever taken a moment to stop and think about the many ways engineering is relevant to your life?  Engineers Dream Big and their dreams become our reality.

The field of engineering has helped to shape our world on a daily basis and it affects how we live, work and play by making our lives comfortable, interesting and even fun.

National Engineers Week is February 19 – 25, 2017, and acknowledges the contributions of engineers nationwide.  Engineers Week is now referred to as EWeek and was founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in 1951.  EWeek was developed to foster interest in the countless ways that the field of engineering helps shape our world.

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The theme for 2017 is “Dream Big” and it is designed to raise awareness of the many ways the industry contributes to our daily lives to foster interest in generations of future engineers.  EWeek encourages industry members and partner organizations to engage with their local communities using suggested programs and exercises to promote the array of career opportunities in engineering and technology disciplines.  EWeek demonstrates that there are opportunities available to all, regardless of sex, ethnic or socio-economic background.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs, through the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, licenses 20 professional engineering categories ranging from agricultural engineers who help crops grow bigger and stronger, to civil engineers who design the roads and bridges we travel on every day.

Imagination and design are factors that enable engineers to create many of the necessities that we take for granted. The industry is vast and it even influences our entertainment options by designing some of our favorite rides at amusement parks or creating the awesome special effects in television and feature films.  These are but merely a small example of the types of products and services we depend upon that engineers helped develop.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs, along with the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists is proud to recognize these professionals for their commitment to improving our lives and the engineering industry.

Learning to Box May Help Knock Out Parkinson’s Disease

Photo Credit - Rock Steady Boxing

Photo Credit – Rock Steady Boxing

Some people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) have discovered an alternate form of therapy to improve their symptoms—boxing!  Not the Ali or Tyson type of boxing—we’re talking about fitness boxing.

Photo Credit - Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal via AP

Photo Credit – Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal via AP

Though not a cure for Parkinson’s, non-combat fitness boxing is being recognized by many in the medical community as an alternate form of rehabilitation for the disease.  According to a case report by the American Physical Therapy Association, patients showed short-term and long-term improvements in balance, gait, activities of daily living, and quality of life after participating in a fitness boxing training program.  As a result, many people with varying stages of PD are looking to
fitness boxing as a means to improve their quality of life while living with the disease.

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, PD is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects approximately one million Americans. The disease is characterized most notably by tremors, stiffness, softening or slurring of speech, slowing of movement, and instability.

The theory behind boxing as a form of therapy for PD began when Scott C. Newman, a former Indianapolis attorney, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 40. A few years after his diagnosis, Newman began intense, one-on-one, non-contact boxing workouts at the suggestion of a friend.

“After six weeks of intense boxing training, I could sign my name again. I was getting better,” Newman said during an interview in a December 2016 segment of HBO’s “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley.”

Newman says he experienced dramatic improvement in his physical health, agility, and daily functioning from his workout routine and, ultimately, his quality of life improved.

Photo Credit - Sue Cockrell Enterprise photo

Photo Credit – Sue Cockrell Enterprise photo

After experiencing his own positive results, Newman opened the first non-contact boxing gym in 2006 in his home town of Indianapolis, IN, that offered a workout program dedicated to people with PD.

Classes are separated into four levels depending on the patient’s stage of PD.  Patients share a common denominator inside of a supportive environment, which allows them to work on strength, balance and hand/eye coordination.  A combination of classic boxing moves and exercises choreographed to music is used.

Photo Credit - Luther Life Villages

Photo Credit – Luther Life Villages

To help combat the vocal challenges often faced by PD patients, fighters are encouraged to count out exercises aloud with the instructor. The louder they count the better. Cheering and yelling is also encouraged, not only to improve voice activation, but to boost morale and lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety, two symptoms commonly associated with PD.

Nationwide, thousands of PD patients have been introduced to fitness boxing as an option to assist them with managing their disease. Medical experts acknowledge that fitness boxing may not be for everyone and before considering a new exercise regimen, it is best to check with your physician.

To check on your physician’s license status with the Medical Board of California,  click here.

 

It’s Tax Time – Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to File

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You know tax season has begun when your mailbox contains W-2s, 1099s and lots of other tax-related documents needed for filing annual state and federal income tax returns.

While many of us dread preparing our taxes, it’s one of those necessary tasks that we have to get through every year. At least those receiving tax refunds have something to look forward to! But, there is some good tax news this year because the filing deadline has been extended for three days and you have until April 18, 2017 at midnight to get your taxes filed.

We don’t recommend you wait until the last minute, though. Filing early is highly recommended. One of the main reasons is to avoid identity theft. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), identity theft has become a big problem and criminals file fraudulent tax returns and collect refunds in your name leaving you with a mess to clean up. Early filing will prevent this.

Starting early also gives you more time to prepare your returns so you can make sure they are accurate. Plus, you’ll get your refund earlier and if you do have to pay, you’ll have more time to plan for it.

Many wonder whether it’s better to prepare those tax forms themselves or hire a professional. It usually depends on how complicated your finances and returns are. Either way, there is some homework you’ll need to do to keep your stress level down and to complete your filing on time.

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute.
  2. Collect needed documents in advance.
  3. Review your documents to be sure you have everything you need and get what is missing.
  4. Determine if you’ll file online or by mail.
  5. Decide if you’ll prepare your tax returns yourself, use a computer tax program or have a tax preparer do it for you.
  6. Before choosing a professional, interview them over the phone or in person to verify their experience and ask any other questions you may have. Then, make an appointment and check their license and credentials.

According to the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) website, California professionals who can charge a fee to prepare tax returns must be licensed as an attorney or certified public accountant (CPA); or be a CTEC-registered tax preparer or an enrolled agent.

CTEC states that “choosing a tax preparer who is not one of those four professionals may prevent you from legal recourse against fraud. It may also increase your chances for additional taxes, interest and fines.”

Check the license

CPA: If you choose a CPA to prepare your taxes, the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) encourages you to check the status of a CPA’s license on their website. Or call the board at (916) 263-3680.  You can also find any public enforcement documents related to a California CPA here.

Attorney: To verify the license of an attorney, go to the California Bar Association website.

Tax Preparer and Enrolled Agent: To verify that a tax preparer or enrolled agent is certified, go the California Tax Education Council website.

Helpful Information

The CBA’s Consumer Assistance Booklet has helpful tax information and can be viewed here on their website.

If you need more information on your federal taxes, check the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

California tax information can be found  at the California Tax Service Center www.taxes.ca.gov and at the Franchise Tax Board website.

Take some time now to get those tax returns ready and avoid the headaches and stress of waiting until the last minute.

FEBRUARY IS AMERICAN HEART MONTH

americanheartmonthsocial-cover-image-fb_midDid you know that the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States is heart disease?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the deaths of more than 600,000 Americans—1 in 4—are attributed each year to heart disease.

In the United States, the month of February has been designated American Heart Month. Two nationwide campaign efforts lead the charge with the goal of increasing the public’s awareness about heart disease. The most well-known—The American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) National Wear Red Day—is this Friday, February 3. This campaign encourages women to make heart health a priority. The second campaign, Million Hearts, is a joint effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association and other private-public partners; the goal is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes through prevention and awareness.

The term “heart disease” encompasses not just the heart, but diseases that affect the system that supports it. The most common of these is coronary artery disease, which, according to the CDC, can lead to, or be the first sign of, a heart attack.

Heart disease does not discriminate—it affects people of all ages. In fact, a person can be born with heart disease and anyone, including children, can develop the disease.

According to both the CDC and the AHA, risk factors for increasing a person’s chances of acquiring heart disease include age, family history, smoking, eating an unhealthy diet, and not getting enough exercise. In addition, the probability of getting heart disease increases with pre-existing medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

Symptoms can vary depending on the type of heart disease, which is why prevention is important. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to make heart health a priority.

The Medical Board of California makes it easy for you to check the status of your doctor’s license. Visit www.mbc.ca.gov.

Don’t Miss the Latest Issue of Consumer Connection!

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled 51.3 million autos in the United States. The recalls included everything from defective ignition switches and consumer-connection-winter-2016steering wheels to acceleration issues and airbag and seatbelt defects. If you receive a recall notice, don’t ignore it. The winter 2016 issue of Consumer Connection walks you through what to do if you receive one.

This edition of DCA’s magazine continues its regular feature highlighting Department leadership. This issue includes an interview with the Executive Officer of the Board of Registered Nursing (Board), Joseph Morris. Mr. Morris discusses his background, long-term goals for the Board, and the Board’s challenges ahead.

The issue also explores a variety of other interesting topics, including recognizing a flood-damaged car when shopping for a used vehicle, fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the recently launched California State Athletic Commission’s campaign to prevent and treat concussions.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

 

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

blog_posterFluoridated water is the focus of the American Dental Association‘s (ADA’s), message for this year’s National Children’s Dental Health Month.

The slogan “Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile” is featured on the ADA 2017 campaign poster as part of its effort to promote good oral health for young people and their caregivers. Decades of research have shown that an optimal level of fluoride in community water is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay by at least 25 percent.

Simply by drinking water, both young and old can benefit from fluoride’s cavity protection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named community water fluoridation one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

The ADA says the average teenage boy in the U.S. consumes 81 gallons of soft drinks a year. A steady diet of sugary foods and drinks can ruin teeth, especially for those who snack throughout the day. Common activities can also contribute to tooth decay,including habitually grazing on foods with minimal nutritional value and frequently sipping on sugary drinks.

The ADA offers these tips to reduce potential tooth decay in kids:

  • Limit between-meal snacks. If kids crave a snack, offer them nutritious foods.
  • If your kids chew gum, make it sugarless—chewing sugarless gum after eating can increase saliva flow and help wash out food and decay-producing acid.
  • Monitor beverage consumption: Instead of sipping soft drinks all day, children should choose water or low-fat milk.
  • Help your children develop good brushing and flossing habits.
  • Schedule regular dental visits.

To find a qualified dentist, visit the Dental Board of California website to do a license search.

Coloring and puzzle activity sheets promoting oral health for kids are available in both English and Spanish on the ADA website.