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Born at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago on July 21, 1951, Robin Williams was the son of Robert Fitzgerald Williams, a senior executive in Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln-Mercury Division. His mother, Laurie McLaurin, was a former model from Jackson, Mississippi. During a television interview on Inside the Actors Studio in 2001, Williams credited his mother as an important early influence on his humor. He said he tried to make her laugh to gain attention.

Williams attended public elementary school at Gorton Elementary School in Lake Forest and middle school at Deer Path Junior High School. When he was twelve, his father was transferred to Detroit. When he was sixteen, his father took early retirement and the family moved to California.

He began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1970’s. He also starred in numerous films including Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and the box office hit Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).

On August 11, 2014, the world learned that Williams had committed suicide by hanging himself in his California home. He was sixty-three years old. The autopsy report showed no alcohol or illegal drugs were involved. Prescription drugs in his system were at “therapeutic” levels. The final autopsy report noted that Williams had been suffering “a recent increase in paranoia.” An examination of his brain tissue suggested Williams suffered from “diffuse Lewy body dementia.”

According to a Mayo Clinic article “Lewy body dementia” at https://www.mayoclinic.org., “Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions involved in thinking, memory and movement (motor control).

“Lewy body dementia causes a progressive decline in mental abilities. People with Lewy body dementia may experience visual hallucinations, and change in alertness and attention. Other effects include Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms such as rigid muscles, slow movement and tremors.”

If you have a family member who suffers from Lewy body dementia and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski



When you hear the words “traumatic brain injury,” what do you think of first? Serious head injuries on the battlefield? Head injuries in motor vehicle crashes? Concussions occurring in contact sports such as football? You might even think of Muhammad Ali, a famous boxer who endured repeated blows to his head and developed Parkinson’s disease at the age of forty-two.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls were the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in 2013. In fact, falls accounted for 47% of all traumatic brain injury related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States. According to the CDC report at https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury, “Falls disproportionally affected the youngest and oldest age groups. More than half (54%) of the TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths among children 0 to 14 years were caused by falls. Nearly 4 in 5 (79%) TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in adults aged 65 and older were caused by falls.”

What is a traumatic brain injury? According to the article called “TBI: Get the Facts” at https://www.cdc.gov//traumaticbraininjury, “A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury). Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions.”

You need to be especially careful to prevent your family members from falling. Make some small changes to make the home a safer place. Below are some tips from a Mayo Clinic article called “Fall Prevention: Simple Tips to Prevent Falls” at https://www.mayoclinic.org:

  • Remove loose rugs (throw rugs) from the home.
  • Immediately clean up spilled liquids, grease, or food.
  • Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
  • Place nightlights in the bedroom, bathroom, and hallways.
  • Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

If you have a family member who has suffered a traumatic brain injury and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski


Looking down the long hall from her office to the conference room, Elaine must have thought about the number of steps required to get there. Fifty? A hundred? Five hundred? A thousand? Even using the cane only helped a little. At least there were no stairs to climb.

And then there were the problems at home. How much longer would she be able to take her dog, Patrick, for a walk past the school playground where the children were playing hopscotch? Who would pull the weeds out of the flower garden in the front yard? How much longer could she make the beds or wash the dishes? So much of life depends on the ability to stand and walk.

Elaine’s primary care doctor referred her to an orthopedic surgeon. He recommended knee replacement surgery. He explained that nearly one million Americans undergo hip or knee replacement surgeries each year. He said the majority of these procedures were performed on patients over the age of 65. According to https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/knee, “Osteoarthritis is the main reason why people go for knee replacement surgery. The age-related condition is very common and occurs when cartilage—the cushion between the knee and bone joints—breaks down.” Elaine fit into those demographics.

The doctor explained that patients having knee replacements are normally discharged from the hospital three days after surgery. Elaine would need to be able to use a walker before she could be discharged. Then someone would need to be with her at home 24/7 during her recovery.

The doctor told Elaine that the initial short-term recovery stage lasts four to six weeks for most patients. Nurses would need to be with her to tend to her medical needs. Therapists would come to her home to provide physical therapy. The final phase, long-term recovery, could take as long as six months.

Patients need the encouragement of family and friends throughout the whole process of knee replacement surgery. It would be easy to feel alone and to get discouraged. If someone you know is having knee replacement surgery, send a card. Call your friend or family member. Make a gift basket and deliver it. Do something to let them know you care.

If you have a friend or family member who is having knee replacement surgery and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (RNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to our Web site, www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski


Say you’re flying into O’Hare Airport and want to get to downtown Chicago. What are your options? Currently, you have five options. You could take a CTA train for $5.00 or less and get downtown in forty-five minutes. You could take a taxi for around $40.00 and get there in twenty-five to ninety minutes. You could use the shuttle van services for over $25.00 and arrive downtown in twenty-five to ninety minutes. You could hail a rideshare such as Lyft or Uber for $35.00-$50.00 (surges to $140 or more) and get there in twenty-five to ninety minutes.

As early as the 1990’s, Richard J. Daley had envisioned a high-speed rail line between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport. In fact, according to a Chicago Tribune article published June 14. 2018, the city and CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) spent more than $250 million on the Block 37 “superstation,” a shopping center atop a station for the high-speed rail. However, “Daley ordered the work stopped in 2008, saying the technology was outdated and more than $100 million more was still needed for completion.”

In 2011, Mayor Rahm Emanuel resurrected the idea of a high-speed rail line from downtown Chicago to O’Hare and in 2016 hired outside engineers to help explore the possibility for the high-speed rail line.

On February 9, 2017, Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference to provide an update on the state of Chicago’s infrastructure. He also endorsed the idea of a high-speed rail line from downtown Chicago to O’Hare. The rail line was expected to cost billions of dollars and would require major support from private investors. Emanuel announced that Bob Rivkin, who had previously served as general counsel for the CTA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Delta Air Lines, had been hired “to drum up support and find partners to make the new O’Hare express line a reality.”

Enter Elon Musk, the billionaire tech entrepreneur. On June 14, 2018, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Elon Musk’s Boring Company had been selected from four competing bids to provide high-speed transportation between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport. Musk’s Boring Company would dig a fourteen-feet in diameter tunnel from downtown Chicago to O’Hare. Lined with interlocking concrete pieces, the tunnel would contain self-driving electric vehicles called “skates.” Each “skate” could transport sixteen passengers at speeds from 100-150 m.p.h. Under Musk’s proposal, it would take just twelve minutes for passengers to get from O’Hare to downtown Chicago at an estimated cost of $25.00.

The estimated cost of the project is almost $1 billion. Who is going to pay for this? Elon Musk says his company will pay for the entire project. “In exchange for paying to build the new transit system, Boring would keep the revenue from the system’s transit fees and any money generated by advertisements, branding, and in-vehicle sales,” Rivkin said.

Will Musk’s high-speed transit system ever get built? Critics point to numerous challenges such as environmental impacts, regulatory approvals, financing costs, and unforeseen complications. According to a Chicago Sun Times article “Mayoral challengers, academics raise caution flags about Musk’s O’Hare Express,” Joe Schwieterman, director of DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute, “gave the mayor and Musk high marks for dreaming big and aiming high. But he gave the project only a one-in-three chance of ever being built. And even if it does, he’s afraid Chicago taxpayers could get stuck with at least part of the tab.”

—By Karen Centowski

To see a video Elon Musk’s Boring Company To Build Express To O’Hare, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24yqz0jZVaw.


Ever since the first enclosed shopping mall opened outside Minneapolis in 1956, shopping malls have dominated retail. The mix of anchor stores including Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s and hundreds of smaller shops proved a winning combination. Serious shoppers could purchase clothing, jewelry, toys, books, Halloween costumes, and even major appliances from a variety of stores. Teenagers could go to the mall to “hang out.” Mall walkers could use the indoor walkways as exercise areas. The mall was the place to be.

These new shopping malls ranged from the humongous Mall of America in Minneapolis to the upscale Watertower Place on Michigan Avenue in Chicago to the local malls outside large cities across America. At its peak, there were more than 3,000 malls in the United States. Only 1,100 currently exist.

Anchor stores such as Sears. JC Penney, Carson’s, and Macy’s were critical to the success of the malls. They drew a large number of customers within the malls. The smaller shops benefited from the increased foot traffic past their stores. In addition, retailers often signed co-tenancy agreements in their leases with malls. These agreements allowed them to reduce their rent or get out of a lease if a big store closed.

Major department stores such as Sears, JC Penney, Carson’s, and Macy’s are struggling to stay alive. According to an article “America’s Malls Are Rotting Away” published December 12, 2017, “Sears, which had operated nearly 3,800 stores as recently as a decade ago, is now down to 1,104 stores. Macy’s closed 68 stores this year, and JCPenney was set to shutter 128.” Carson’s has recently announced it is going out of business.

What caused these anchor stores to fail? A number of factors contributed to the failures. Too rapid expansion. Changing habits of shoppers. Online shopping. Competition from Amazon.

Each story is different. For example, consider the story of Sears. This company had started out in 1888 as a mail order business. Using its famous Sears Catalog, it was able to reach potential customers in big cities, in small towns, and on farms across the United States. Sears sold everything from clothing to musical instruments to houses. Sears opened stores in large cities. By the turn of the century, it was the nation’s largest employer.

In the 21st century, things changed. Sears faced increased competition from companies such as Walmart and Home Depot. To raise capital, it sold off its Craftsman tool line, DieHard batteries, and Kenmore appliances brands. It sold off real estate of underperforming stores. According to http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/30/news/companies/sears-losses/index.html, “Sears, which had operated nearly 3,800 stores as recently as a decade ago is now down to 1,104 stores.”

To see a video about the changing face of shopping malls, go to “American shopping malls struggle to survive You Tube.”

—By Karen Centowski


If you love tomatoes on the vine, you probably love summer when fresh tomatoes are plentiful. Now, thanks to hydroponic methods, you can get locally grown vine-ripened tomatoes all year round.

One hydroponic farming operation is located in Rochelle, Illinois. According to an article in the February 12, 2018 issue of The Beacon-News, “the glass-enclosed facility consists of two 7 1/2-acre greenhouses that today produce a total of 9 million pounds of tomatoes annually.” They are sold at Jewel food stores under the MightyVine label. The facility also supplies tomatoes to over three-hundred Chicago-area restaurants. In addition, MightyVine canned tomatoes are sold to area Whole Foods and Jewel stores.

Developer Daniel Murphy, who owns the Rochelle facility, said the idea came from his dad, “an Italian-Irish man who was raised in the Chicago area and knows the food industry here. This was my father’s passion and vision, and he always felt the issue was how to have fresh produce here year-round.”

Murphy continued, “Tomatoes are 90 percent water and don’t transport well and are often picked before they’re ripe, which means not having their true color or taste.” MightyVine boasts its tomatoes “are picked today and on your plate tomorrow.”

Murphy said that the company employs 100 workers and that “we have applications on file for 300 more people waiting to get a job here. People get to work in a (climate) controlled environment 365 days a year where it’s never too hot or too cold, and we have our own ecosystem where we use rainwater and collect it in barrels, and water is provided directly to the roots.” Murphy continued, “We have our own bees we use for pollination-it’s a complete system.”

State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego) and members of the Illinois Farm Bureau recently toured the MightyVine tomato “growhouse” in Rochelle. Russ Orrill, assistant director of state legislation for the Illinois Farm Bureau, said that the decision to raise tomatoes was no accident. Local markets and grocery stores consistently report that the tomato is their Number 1 commodity. Orrill went on to explain, “Because of the versatility of the tomato between salads, salsas and all the various sauces, it’s the commodity people most ask for.”

Next time you’re in Jewel, pick up a box of MightyVine tomatoes. I guarantee that you will eat them and declare that they are “mighty fine tomatoes.”

To see a video about MightyVine tomatoes, go to Chicago’s Best Tomato: YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgCiptp8aak.

By Karen Centowski


If you live in Chicago or the collar counties, you are probably accustomed to the huge number of shootings or homicides that occur in the city. Now another crime, carjacking, has surged to its highest numbers in at least ten years, according to a Chicago Tribune article printed December 29, 2017.

Although the vast number of shootings and homicides tended to be concentrated on the South and West sides, carjacking occurred throughout the city, often in trendy neighborhoods and downtown. Among the 967 victims of carjacking in Chicago in 2017 were ordinary citizens, an off-duty police officer, and a Lyft driver.

What is carjacking? Merriam-Webster defines it as “the theft of an automobile from its driver by force or intimidation.” The word “carjacking” is actually a combination of car + hijack + ing. According to Merriam-Webster, the word was first used in 1991.

Thieves often use force, threatening the drivers with a gun or knife, to rob their victims of their money and their vehicles. Sometimes the thieves then use the vehicles in drive-by shootings, smash-and-grab burglaries, and other crimes. Sometimes they might just go for a joy ride in the car and abandon it on a city street.

What methods do criminals use to steal the cars? One method is called “bump-and-run.” The criminals intentionally drive their car into the rear of the victim’s car. When the driver gets out of his car to survey the damage and exchange insurance information, the criminals threaten the victim with a weapon, jump into the car, and drive away.

Darren Reboletti, a Lyft driver, was dropping off his Lyft passenger around 1:30 A.M. on December 20, 2017 on the South Side of Chicago when he felt another car bump into his brand-new Jeep Cherokee from behind. When he got out to check the damage, someone from the other car jumped into his Jeep. Reboletti tried to pull the thief out of the Jeep, but the thief kicked him, swore at him, and threatened to kill him. Reboletti backed off, and the thief drove away in his 2017 Jeep. The second vehicle, a blue Ford Exposition, also fled.

Another method is distraction. The criminals place a $20.00 bill under the windshield wiper of a parked car. When the driver gets out to retrieve the $20.00 bill, the thieves jump into the car and drive away.

A third method is armed robbery. On December 18, 2017, an off-duty Chicago police officer was sitting in his personal car two blocks from police department headquarters on the South Side. Two men approached the officer’s car. One man tapped on the passenger’s side window to distract the officer. The other man, Carlos Hendricks, age 18, went to the driver’s side, pulled a gun, and demanded the car. According to the Chicago Tribune article “Police: Charges filed against man shot while carjacking off-duty Chicago cop near headquarters,” the officer fired one shot and hit Hendricks in the abdomen. Hendricks was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The other suspect ran away and remained at large as of December 19. A gun belonging to Hendricks was recovered from the scene.

—By Karen Centowski