Tag Archives: money


Imagine someone illegally living in a vacant house in your neighborhood. Worse yet, what if the squatter trashed the house, ripped out the copper pipes, left rotted food in the refrigerator, made holes in the walls, and broke the toilet into pieces?

According to “Serial squatter trashes Chicago-area homes with few consequences,” an article at https://wgntv.com/2018/08/06/serial-squatter-trashes-chicago-area-homes-with-few-consequences/, “Through open records requests, WGN Investigates discovered squatting is a common occurrence, especially in places like Lansing, Calumet City, and Dolton. In Calumet City, there have already been 20 documented cases of squatting this year.”

High-end property is not immune to squatters. A woman recently lived in a vacant, foreclosed $1.5 million home in Wicker Park for two years before she was finally removed by court order. The newly built home had five bedrooms, five baths, an in-home theater, a sauna, and a rooftop deck. In 2011, the builder lost the property in foreclosure. In 2013, MB Financial finally managed to get the squatter out of the residence.

How do the squatters find these empty houses? Sometimes, the squatter simply sees a realtor’s For Sale sign on the lawn. Then the squatter just moves into the property. In other cases, the squatter pays one month’s rent, moves in, and waits to be evicted. It can take months to formally evict the squatter. Meanwhile, the squatter has the opportunity to trash the place.

In the article at https://wgntv.com/2018/08/06/serial-squatter-trashes-chicago-area-homes-with-few-consequences/, Tromaine Langham, a former landlord, described the damage a squatter had done to his property: “The conditions when I got there were just deplorable,” Langham remembers. “I walked in and there was broken glass, broken windows, closet doors, bedroom doors smashed. Maggots were just all over the kitchen and in the stove area. I had to totally gut (it) and get that replaced.” All in all, he said, it was $52,000 worth of damage.

Squatters seem to feel no remorse for the damage they have done. A squatter in Dolton posted videos and photos to her Facebook page, bragging about her “new homes.” She also left a framed selfie in the bedroom of one of the homes she had trashed. A few weeks after she was formally evicted, she came back to the house, kicked in the door, and broke all the windows.

By Karen Centowski

To see a Channel 23 ABC News video called Woman catches squatters moving into her home—You Tube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deIjxerh3s4.


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.



Hair, the irreverent rock musical of the 1960’s, proclaimed its glory in song: “Gimmie head with hair/long beautiful hair/shining, gleaming/streaming/flaxen, waxen./ Gimmie down to there/Shoulder length or longer.”

A study by the New York Post, reported at http://nypost.com/2017/07/06, revealed that participants reported spending $58 per month on haircuts, hair products, and shaving supplies. That figure was based on spending $34 for a haircut and $15 for hair products. If you have long hair and have gone to a beauty shop recently, you know that figure is much too low. A more realistic figure would be $80 for a color, trim, and set/blow dry plus a 20% tip.

There is no doubt that Americans love their hair. Here is the question. Would you shave your head to raise money to fund research to find a cure for pediatric cancer? Wow! That’s a hard question to answer, especially if you’re a woman. We’re used to seeing men with shaved heads, but it’s different with a woman.

Then there’s the practical consideration. Hair only grows half an inch a month. That’s only six inches in a year. For a woman with long hair, it would take years to regrow that much hair. Besides, even during that time, the hair would need to be trimmed every six to eight weeks to keep the ends from splitting.

Maybe you’ve heard about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the top private funder of childhood cancer research grants in the U.S. and around the world. What started as a challenge between three friends in New York City on March 17, 2000 has grown into a charity famous for its head-shaving events. Individuals agree to have their heads shaved for contributions to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Currently, 83% of the money raised by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is through these head-shaving events. According to https://www.stbaldricks.org, “Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $234 million to support lifesaving research, making the St. Baldrick’s Foundation the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants.”

People sometimes ask about the name of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Is there a real St. Baldrick? Apparently not. According to the article at https://www.stbaldricks.org, the name “St. Baldrick’s” is a combination of the words “bald” and “St. Patrick’s” since the first event was held on March 17, 2000, which is St. Patrick’s Day.

The head-shaving events generate the most money and publicity for St. Baldrick’s Day, but corporate sponsors are also very important to the foundation. In addition, donations of goods or services such as office supplies, event T-shirts, advertising space, and printing help keep expenses down. Volunteers are also essential to the success of the foundation.

If your child has cancer and needs pediatric private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing 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.

—By Karen Centowski

To see a video of a head-shaving event, go to Mackenzie Shaves Her Head for Charity—St. Baldrick’s—March, 2012 YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxB9Inq9Apk.



If you are still paying cash for your groceries or fast food or anything else, you have probably received change and lots of it. Sometimes it feels like a conspiracy to take away your fives and tens and twenties and fill your pockets with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. How does this happen?

Blame sales tax for part of your grief. For example, if you buy an item for $12.99 and you have to pay sales tax at the rate of 8.25%, you are paying $1.07 in sales tax. That makes the total $14.06. You receive $.94 in change to weigh down your purse or fill up your pocket. Say you are at Jewel-Osco and purchase $68.69 worth of MightyVine tomatoes, kiwi, chocolate Easter eggs, orange juice, cinnamon rolls, paper products, and Pepsi, you will pay .66 sales tax at the $1.75 rate plus 2.82 in sales tax at the $8.25 rate for a total of $71.11. That means the cashier hands you $.89 in change. More pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters!

What can you do with all of this change? Sometimes a store will offer you the chance to donate the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to a good cause. For example, ACE Hardware offered the customer the opportunity to round up the bill to the next highest whole number and donate that change to a charity ACE had chosen. Therefore, if you paid $12.27 for a new sump pump hose, you could pay $13.00 in cash and donate the $.83 to the charity. Everybody wins!

It is no accident that the Salvation Army bell ringers stand next to the exit door at Jewel during the Christmas holiday season. Sit in the parking lot and watch what happens. When a customer comes out of the store, he passes near the bell ringers. Many customers reach into their pockets and pull out cash and change to throw into the kettle. That gets rid of the change and helps a good cause, too.

Maybe you go home, empty out your pockets, and throw the change into a container such as a large jar or coffee can or empty plastic Coke bottle. Maybe you use an empty plastic water jug. One man threw his change into a five-gallon bucket in his bedroom closet. Individually, the coins seem almost worthless.

Five or six years later, you look at all this loose change you’ve been hoarding. You sure could sure use some cash to go on vacation. Why not use this stash of change? How can you get it converted to cash?

First, check with your bank where you have a checking or savings account. Will they convert the change into cash for you? Is there a fee? Do you have to roll the coins in paper sleeves? According to https://lifehacker.com/what-to-do-with-all-that-loose-change-youve-been-hoardi-1792821108, not all banks will accept the loose change. In fact, the U.S. Department of the Treasury does not require that banks take your stash of coins. Why not? Coins take up room, and they are heavy to transport. Counting machines are expensive to own and maintain.

Some grocery stores have counting machines in the front of the store. According to the lifehacker.com article, Coinstar machines, which can count up to $3,000, are the most popular. The machine will count the coins and give you a voucher to redeem for cash at the store’s register. Expect to pay a fee of 10.9 per cent or more.

—By Karen Centowski

To see a video “COWPOTE BROADCAST June 5, 2012 called “Save your change and you will be rich,” go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xHxOKehwnU.



I’d like to congratulate our weekly winner Cynthia M. Cynthia lost 0.80% of weight. Keep up the good work Cynthia.

I personally had a great week, and lost a total of 1.42% of body weight.

Looking forward to next week’s results.

See you on the other side.


Edward Lara, HR Director
American Home Health


Get Me Out

Have you received a telephone call from a stranger claiming to be from Microsoft? The caller says that Microsoft has identified a problem with your computer. He wants to help you fix it. What should you do? HANG UP!

In the past few years, scammers have utilized phone calls to unsuspecting individuals to try to get access to personal computers. Their goal is to take over your computer so they can make changes to your settings that could leave your computer vulnerable. They may ask for your credit card number so they can bill you for phony services or things you could get elsewhere for free. They may try to trick you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data such as user names and passwords.

These scammers are persistent. Even if you tell them you are not interested and hang up immediately, the scammer or another person will call again and again and again. Sometimes they call twice in one day. Don’t try to reason with them. Don’t talk with then. Just hang up.

The Microsoft web site at https://microsoft.com clearly states their policy:

Remember, Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication Microsoft has with you must be initiated by you.

The Microsoft web site has a Safety and Security Center devoted to technical support scams. The following issues are addressed:

  • Telephone tech support scams: What you need to know
  • Scam Pop-Ups: What you need to know
  • How to report tech support scams
  • How to protect yourself from tech support scams
  • What to do if you already gave information to a tech support person
  • Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.

To see a video about this scam, go to ‘Microsoft tech support scam’ You Tube or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViWbc1yxJxl.