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Archive | March, 2016

Joke of the Week: Golf meditations

A golf match is a test of your skill against your opponents luck.

Since bad shots come in groups of three, a fourth bad shot is actually the beginning of the next group of three.

When you look up, causing an awful shot, you will always look down again at exactly the moment when you ought to start watching the ball if you ever want to see it again.

Any change works for a maximum of three holes or at a minimum of not at all.

No matter how bad you are playing, it is always possible to play worse.

When your shot has to carry over a water hazard, you can either hit one more club or two more balls.

The less skilled the player, the more likely he is to share his ideas about the golf swing.

Golfers who claim they don’t cheat also lie.

The shortest distance between any two points on a golf course is a straight line that passes directly through the center of a very large tree.

You can hit a two acre fairway 10 percent of the time and a two-inch branch 90 percent of the time.

Hazards attract, fairways repel.

A ball you can see in the rough from 50 yards away is not yours.

If there is a ball in the fringe and a ball in the bunker, your ball is in the bunker. If both balls are in the bunker, yours is in the footprint.

Don’t buy a putter until you’ve had a chance to throw it.

 

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Hospice of Michigan to host Rejoice and Remember Memorial Service

ENT-HospiceOfMichiganHospice of Michigan will host a Rejoice and Remember memorial service to recognize lost loved ones on Tuesday, April 12.

During the service, participants will be invited to reflect on the many ways those who have died have touched their lives. The event will include special music, inspirational messages and a reading of names. Participants are invited to bring an item of remembrance to display and refreshments will be served.

The gathering will take place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE. This program is free and open to the community. Advance registration is requested.

The gardens, including the butterfly exhibit, will be available to tour free of charge from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information or to register, please call 616.356.5258.

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Rotary paper trailer: 4th Saturday Drop-Offs

By Tom Noreen

To help folks drop off their newspapers, beginning in April the club will man the trailer on the 4th Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. until noon. If you need help dropping your papers off, we will be there to take them from your vehicle.

For many years, the Cedar Springs Rotary Club paper trailer has been a solid source of funds for our good works projects in Cedar Springs. The club collects newsprint for NuWool, which makes insulation out of it. Magazines, pasteboard cereal boxes, and other items cannot be used by NuWool.

The paper trailer is located in the northwest corner of the Family, Farm and Home parking lot.

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Unleash happiness: Tips for living your happiest life

HEA-Unleash-HappinessWeb(BPT) – Are you living your happiest life? How does your mood affect your health? Is happiness contagious? Researchers are finding these questions are worth asking, and multiple studies show happiness dramatically improves health, productivity, family bonds and even life expectancy. So it’s no surprise that the impact happiness has on people has spawned an initiative to spread happiness throughout the world.

So what can you do to live your happiest life? Researchers say it starts with choosing happiness. Making a conscious choice to be happy positively affects a person’s mood, and over time, can reset a person’s default happiness level, according to two recent studies published in The Journal of Positive Psychology.

Here’s a look at several ways to choose to be happy, including:

Savor happy moments, in the moment. An individual’s brain is hardwired to remember bad experiences more than good ones as a basis for survival. When something good happens, stopping to savor that moment helps to solidify it in the brain and re-wire it for happiness, according to Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness.

Connect with happy people. To be happy, spend time with happy people. It may seem like common sense, but researchers from Harvard found over the course of a 20-year study, the happiness of one person can increase the happiness of others in their network by an astounding 25 percent.

“In my job, I see firsthand how easily happiness spreads from one person to the next,” says Courtney Gastelo, a bartender at RA Sushi, which has several locations across the U.S. “That’s why RA Sushi’s Happy Hour is so popular – we bring our guests together in a fun atmosphere where they can relax and enjoy great food and drinks with their friends.”

Gastelo recommends not waiting for the weekend; invite friends out for sushi and enjoy Happy Hour any day of the week. Doing so will positively affect the mood of everyone involved, “and science says it’s good for humanity,” she says.

Choose experiences over things. The value of new life experiences also creates happiness. That’s the finding of research from San Francisco State University, which shows that having a new life experience outweighs material purchases when it comes to long-term impact on happiness.

New life experiences don’t have to be expensive trips to exotic locations; they can be as simple as taking a dance class, mastering a cooking skill, trying a new food or learning how to speak another language.

Exercise. Hitting the road or the weights can turn a bad day into a good one. Research from the University of Bristol shows exercising on workdays has an even bigger impact on mood. It’s because exercising releases endorphins that have a powerful effect on happiness.

Going for a walk or hike outside has the added benefit of sunshine and fresh air, too. For an even more powerful happiness boost, researchers suggest finding an exercise buddy.

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Celebrate National Arbor Day by planting trees

_OUT-Arbor-Day-Red-Maple_WebReceive 10 free shade trees by joining the Arbor Day Foundation

National Arbor Day is Friday, April 29, this year, and the Arbor Day Foundation is making it easy for anyone to celebrate the annual tree-planting holiday. Join the Foundation in April and receive 10 free shade trees.

By joining the Foundation in April, new members receive the following trees: red oak, sugar maple, weeping willow, baldcypress, thornless honeylocust, pin oak, river birch, tuliptree, silver maple, and red maple.

The free trees are part of the Foundation’s Trees for America campaign.

These trees provide shade in the summer and vibrant colors throughout the fall,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Through the simple act of planting trees, one person can make a difference in helping to create a healthier and more beautiful planet for all of us to enjoy.”

The trees will be shipped postpaid with enclosed planting instructions at the right time for planting in April or May. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge.

To become a member of the Foundation and receive the free trees, send a $10 contribution to TEN FREE SHADE TREES, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410, by April 30, 2016, or visit arborday.org/april.

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“Boaty McBoatface” leads names for new research vessel

_N-Boat-storyWebThe Natural Environment Research Council will be launching a new polar research vessel, and they are asking for the public’s help to name it.

According to NERC’s website, the vessel will be the UK’s largest and most advanced research ship yet. She will allow scientists to carry out research safely and efficiently, even through the harshest of winters, in both Antarctica and the Arctic. She will be the first British-built polar research vessel with a helideck, opening up access to new locations for scientists. She will be one of the most sophisticated floating research laboratories operating in the polar regions. She will carry nine double-decker buses worth of scientific equipment, and be able to blast through ice up to a meter thick.

The ship is due to launch in 2019, and they are letting the public name it. Leading in votes right now is RRS Boaty McBoatface, with 106,815. Coming in a distant second is RRS Poppy-Mai, with 16,991 votes. Other interesting entries include Boatimus Prime, Boatasaurus Rex, Clifford the Big Red Boat, Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Ship Happens.

To submit an entry or vote for your favorite, go to: https://nameourship.nerc.ac.uk/

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Ice, ice baby

Ice on the windmill.

Ice on the windmill.

After having warm temperatures last week, it was a change to get freezing rain last Thursday. Many people got home from work to find their trees and yards covered with ice. Kim Tompkins, who lives on 17 Mile Road, sent us these photos of her yard. “I was surprised to find my whole yard in a frozen state,” she said.

Thanks, Kim, for sending us your photos!

If you have nature or wildlife photos you’d like to send us, email them to news@cedarspringspost.com.

Ice on the bushes.

Ice on the bushes.

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Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche: Everyday Wonders

Ranger Steve

Ranger Steve

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Every day brings newness from what were yesterday’s normal everyday events. We might ask if anything has changed in the past 24 hours, week or month. Things are different from a month ago and the wonders of change capture our attention as nature’s progression transitions into April.

The “plump robin-sized” American Woodcocks perform a ground dance by stomping feet and twisting from side to side in evening’s last glow. Eyes bulge from the side of the head looking in opposite directions. How is it they avoid confusion from seeing two different views of the world at the same time? They see nearly everything on each side but combine the scenes into one understandable picture.

They benefit from seeing in every direction at once. It becomes difficult for predators to approach unnoticed. For mating, the bird stomps feet and turns from side to side. It makes a nasal buzz called pneeting every few seconds in evening’s dusk. I count pneets of the bird that is usually not in view. My ears triangulate the direction and distance to the sound in the brushy field.

I dare not approach for fear of stopping the spring dance. The number of pneets has reached 17 and stopped. The long-billed bird flies toward me at a low climbing angle. I get to see its long bill piercing the darkening sky ahead of its plump body. It does not see me as it concentrates on a series of climbing spirals over the field. Short stubby wings are in rapid flutter as the bird reaches higher altitude with each spiral. It becomes difficult to keep track of the dark spot shrinking in size with each successive upward loop toward heaven. It seems the woodcock is on an invisible spiral staircase that it climbs with ease. I run to where it left the ground while it is in the air. On its zigzag return to Earth, I will be close to where it will continue its ground dance.

While it is in the air, I invariably lose sight of it as it fades from view into high clouds or haze of the darkening sky. Suddenly I hear a twittering sound that indicates it reached its flight apex and is now plummeting earth bound. I scan for the bird in sky dive. When it is well on its way downward, I catch a view. Before the long bill pierces the ground, leaving a dead bird’s body sticking up like a sucker ball on the end of a candy stick, it levels its downward flight before crashing and safely lands.

Safely on the ground, it pneets with more foot stomping and turns from side to side. As the evening sky darkens the bird spends longer on the ground and the number of pneets between aerial flights increases. Their antics impress me more than TV mysteries. It has been nearly 50 years that I have watched the spring ritual and still do not know mating details. Somewhere a male and female mate.

Friends have found ground nests and photographed females sitting on eggs in a forest or shrub thicket. I have found recently hatched young running about soon after gaining freedom from the cramped quarters of eggshells. My presence has caused these little fuzz balls to lay still and flat on the ground in hopes that I will not see or eat them. Several young lay still nearby as I photographed. Most will not survive to perform next spring’s mating dance. During the lifetime of a mated pair, most offspring will not survive.

American Woodcocks populations seem stable. Having four to five young annually during a four to six-year life span is enough to maintain the population but habitat is decreasing in our area. At Ody Brook, we have maintained suitable nature niche habitat to meet woodcock needs. Once a year in late October, I mow an upland dancing ground to ready it for spring. Little Cedar Creek’s muddy floodplain is kept natural. Woodcocks probe their long bills deep into mud in search of worms and insects. Muddy lowland shrub thickets along creeks are essential as are upland fields for mating. Clearing along creeks for a manicured lawn and view reduces woodcock populations as well as eliminates a multitude of plants and animal communities. Share space with life on Earth. Grandchildren will appreciate your efforts.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Need more time to file your taxes?

IRS Tax tip 2016-51

The April 18 tax deadline is coming up. If you need more time to file your taxes, you can get an automatic six-month extension from the IRS. Here are five things to know about filing an extension:

1. Use IRS Free File to file an extension. You can use IRS Free File to e-file your extension request for free. Free File is only available through IRS.gov. You must e-file the extension request by midnight April 18. If you do request an extension, come back to Free File to prepare and e-file your taxes for free. You can access the program at any time through Oct. 17.

2. Use Form 4868. You can also request an extension by filling out Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You must mail this form to the IRS by April 18. Form 4868 is available on IRS.gov/forms.

3. More time to file is not more time to pay. An extension to file will give you until Oct. 17 to file your taxes. It does not, however, give you more time to pay your taxes. Estimate and pay what you owe by April 18 to avoid a potential late filing penalty. You will be charged interest on any tax that you don’t pay on time. You may also owe a penalty if you pay your tax late. Interest is normally charged on any unpaid tax.

4. IRS Direct Pay. Pay your tax with IRS Direct Pay. Visit IRS.gov/directpay to use this free and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account. You also have other electronic payment options. The IRS will automatically process your extension – and you don’t have to file a separate request — when you pay electronically. You can pay online or by phone.

5. IRS helps if you can’t pay all you owe. If you can’t pay all the tax you owe, the IRS offers you payment options. In most cases, you can apply for an installment agreement with the Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. You may also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. If you can’t make payments because of financial hardship, the IRS will work with you.

You can use our Interactive Tax Assistant tool  to help you determine the due date of your federal tax return, or whether you are eligible to file for an extension.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

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Six facts you should know before deducting a charitable donation

IRS Tax tip 2016-47

If you gave money or goods to a charity in 2015, you may be able to claim a deduction on your federal tax return. Here are six important facts you should know about charitable donations.

1. Qualified Charities. You must donate to a qualified charity. Gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates are not deductible. An exception to this rule is contributions under the Slain Officer Family Support Act of 2015. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Select Check tool.

2. Itemize Deductions. To deduct your contributions, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with your federal tax return.

3. Benefit in Return. If you get something in return for your donation, you may have to reduce your deduction. You can only deduct the amount of your gift that is more than the value of what you got in return. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to an event or other goods and services.

4. Type of Donation. If you give property instead of cash, your deduction amount is normally limited to the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price you would get if you sold the property on the open market. If you donate used clothing and household items, they generally must be in good condition, or better, to be deductible. Special rules apply to cars, boats and other types of property donations.

5. Form to File and Records to Keep. You must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, for all noncash gifts totaling more than $500 for the year. If you need to prepare a Form 8283, you can prepare and e-file your tax return for free using IRS Free File. The type of records you must keep depends on the amount and type of your donation. To learn more about what records to keep see Publication 526.

6. Donations of $250 or More. If you donated cash or goods of $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the charity. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether you received any goods or services in exchange for the gift.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

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