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PURA News - November 2020




Purdue Retiree Directory

COVID-19 Info From United Health Care (for PURCare and PURA Medicare Advantage plan members)


Retiree Presence on Campus During COVID-19 Situation
Fall Retiree Wellness Screenings Continue Through November
Find Recordings of PURA's Monthly Meetings
Mark Your Calendars! PURA Events
November Campus Calendar

Norm's Notes:

A New Normal; 2020 United Way Campaign; Flu Shot Update; Upcoming PURA Monthly Meetings


Happy Birthday Purdue Bell Tower!
Over $36,000 Donated on Purdue Day of Giving
Long Range Weather Forecasting Topic of October Monthly Meeting
PURA Members Learn About Purdue Grounds Maintenance During Virtual Tour
Did You See These Purdue Stories?
Road Trip! Greensburg, Indiana
Confessions of a Book Addict
Musical Interlude: “Just” Voices? Hardly!
What to Celebrate: November
Make Sure PURA Has Your Current Address and Email


PURA Health Insurance Plans Renewed for 2020
Fall Pumpkins Bring Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Seeds Bring Magnesium!

Smile Corner:

By Sara Jane (Sally) Coffman
Feeding the Squirrels


PURA Tech Bytes  - By Scott Ksander
We Live in Challenging Times!

Campus Services News:

New Contact Email for PURA
Purdue Today Using New Delivery System: Retirees Invited To Subscribe
Parking Facilities Has Relocated


Top of page


Retiree Presence on Campus During COVID-19 Situation

Bill Bell, Purdue Vice President for Human Relations, addressed the question of whether retirees should visit campus at the September 14 virtual PURA Kickoff meeting.

While there are no formal restrictions around retirees visiting campus, keep in mind that one of the overall objectives of Protect Purdue is to de-densify the number of people present on campus.

Given that many retirees are considered a “vulnerable” population due to age or pre-existing medical conditions, if you don’t have pressing business, it’s advisable to avoid campus.

For up-to-the-minute information about specific programs or services visit: https://protect.purdue.edu  (particularly the Campus Visitors link).

Fall Retiree Wellness Screenings Continue Through November

If you haven’t scheduled your annual wellness screening at the Purdue Nursing Center for Family Health, there’s still time to do so. Retirees and spouses are eligible for one free wellness screening a year.

A wellness screening includes a finger stick for a Lipid Profile which includes a Total Cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), Triglyceride level, Glucose and a Cardiac Risk Ratio. At the time of your scheduled screening you will have a blood pressure check, pulse and pulse oximetry and may also request to have a very basic hearing screening with ear check.

Wellness Screenings this year will be completed by the Wellness Nurse, Chris Rearick, MSN, RN. Due to the current Covid-19 situation, retirees may schedule their screening on a Saturday, when there are fewer students in Lyles-Porter Hall. Chris is also available on Tuesdays if that day works better for you.

If you are interested in scheduling a screening, email Chris at crearick@purdue.edu and provide a phone number so she may reach out to you. Or you may call Chris at (765) 496-0308 and leave a message for her.

Screenings will continue through November. You pick the date. Please feel free to email Chris with any additional questions.

Note: Of course, face masks must be worn at time of your visit.

Mark Your Calendars! PURA Events

7 December, 2020 PURA virtual monthly meeting, via Zoom. 12:45 p.m.—1:30 p.m. EST
Topic: “Holiday Fun” program and celebration with music from the 2020 Purdue Christmas Show

4 January, 2021 PURA virtual monthly meeting, via Zoom. 12:45 p.m.—1:30 p.m. EST
Topic: “Fireside Chat” - useful financial ideas/what seniors should know about COVID from the Pandemic

PURA events are adjusting to the “new normal” with meetings held via Zoom. for the present. PURA will provide Zoom connection information and other important updates via email, the PURA News newsletter, and our website: https://www.purdue.edu/retirees/ 

Make sure we have your current email address to stay informed. Please send your information to pura@purdue.edu

November Campus Calendar

24 November—Last day of face-to-face instruction
25-28 November—Students’ Thanksgiving vacation (offices closed November 26-27)
12 December—Fall semester ends
23-25, 28 December—Offices closed. University holidays.
1 January—Offices closed. University Holiday.
18 January—Offices closed. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
19 January—Spring semester begins.

Special Events:
“Pursuing Racial Justice Together” virtual lecture series. All events are free and presented virtually. Registrants (“RSVP”) will receive event link 24-48 hours before event; limit 1 “ticket” per registration. Registration ends at 3:00 p.m. on day of event. Visit the series’ website for more information, including a sign-up link to receive updates:

Nov. 10—Bryan Terrell Clark, actor, singer, and songwriter who recently played the role of George Washington in the musical “Hamilton.” 7:00 p.m. EST. Conversation moderated by Ann Shanahan, chair and associate professor, Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance.

Nov. 11—“A Virtual Seminar with Mahzarin Banaji,” experimental psychologist, Harvard professor and co-author of the book Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People. 7:00 p.m. EST.

All sports schedules available at: https://purduesports.com.  Click through to the Home page, then click on Sports at the top to see specific sports menu.

Football: Tickets required.
Nov. 14—vs. Northwestern. Time TBD.
Nov. 28—vs. Rutgers. Time TBD.
Dec. 5—vs. Nebraska. Time TBD,

Athletic ticket information at: https://purduesports.com/tickets/pur-tickets.html 

Music: Virtual Concerts, free and open to the public.

Nov. 13—Purdue Philharmonic Orchestra Livestreamed Concert. 8:00 p.m. EST.
Nov. 14—Purdue Symphony Orchestra and String Orchestra Livestreamed Concert. 8:00 p.m. EST
Nov. 15—Purdue Collegiate and Varsity Bands. Livestreamed Concert. 2:30 p.m. EST.
Nov. 17—Purdue Bands & Orchestras Chamber Recital I. Livestreamed Concert. 7:00 p.m. EST
Nov. 19—Purdue Bands & Orchestras Chamber Recital II. 7:00 p.m. EST
Nov. 20—Purdue Jazz Ensembles. Livestreamed Concert. 8:00 p.m. EST
Nov. 22—Purdue Concert Band and Wind Ensemble. Livestreamed Concert. 2:30 p.m.

All of the above performances will be livestreamed on the Purdue Bands & Orchestras’ YouTube Channel:

Dec. 19—87th Annual PMO Christmas Show. PMO has announced this will be a virtual performance and will be free to attend. Working title is “A Different Kind of Christmas.” Performance time and details not yet available. Check PMO’s website for more information: https://www.purdue.edu/pmo/christmas-show/ .

Norm's Notes

A New Normal!

As we all continue to adjust to a new set of standards (“a new normal”) my thoughts are with you and your loved ones, and I hope you are staying safe and healthy. Life for all of us has been so unpredictable in 2020.

While social distancing, face masks and constant cleaning protocols have become a new way of life, let’s choose not to dwell on what we are not and instead, let’s welcome the opportunity to move in other positive endeavors.

Your PURA Executive Board continues to focus on good things for the PURA family. Here are some of many items that may be of interest to you:

We have a new Media Communications Committee chaired by Scott Ksander to focus on continued coverage of our PURA events. Not only will he and his committee continue significant efforts to offer Zoom coverage of our monthly events, they will be charged with keeping the PURA website and other social media current, and provide service to our PURA family for other social media in a sincere effort to maintain current and transparent contact with and among our members.

2020 United Way Campaign

The United Way Campaign 2020 is in full swing and the PURA family continues to be a major player in its annual support. Since 2016, PURA members have contributed $571,915 to Greater Lafayette United Way, including contributions from PURA’s 96 U.W. Vanguard members (who each contribute $1,000 annually). As of 10/22/2020, PURA members have contributed $125,602 towards the 2020 campaign goal of $165,000.

We encourage you to support your community’s United Way. In Greater Lafayette, plainly mark on your United Way Payment Coupon that your gift is to be credited to the PURA goal (in the “Gift and Payment information” section), and/or send a personal note to the United Way Campaign office with a check, 11114 East State Street, Lafayette, IN 47905-1219. This is especially important if you are contributing from an IRA or other third-party source.

Flu Shot Update

The Drive-thru program finished up on October 9 with more than 1,100 shots being given, a rousing success.

If you have ideas to enhance the plans for next year, please send a note to pura@purdue.edu or to me at longn@purdue.edu. If you missed the drive-thru you can still go directly to Custom Plus Pharmacy, 482 West Navajo Street, West Lafayette, during normal business hours to obtain your Flu-Blok Shot.

Upcoming PURA Monthly Meetings

Our monthly Zoom calls have been informational and entertaining:

December 7, 2020 at 12:45p.m.EST – An entertaining Holiday Christmas Program with music by Jeris Eikenberry; Dr. Tom Turpin and Henrietta; music from the 2020 Purdue Christmas Show; a surprise visitor; and the Purdue Glee Club. We promise no politics and no COVID-19! Just a day of fun with a holiday spirit.

January 4, 2021 at 12:45 p.m. EST. A “fireside chat” offering useful ideas and what Seniors should know about COVID from the Pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a great deal about who we are, and it gives us all confidence to believe that we will emerge from the crisis better than ever before!

With kindest regards,

Dr. Norman D. Long
PURA President

Happy Birthday Purdue Bell Tower!


Photo courtesy of Purdue Marketing & Media

 October marked the 25th anniversary of the 160-foot Purdue Bell Tower, which was dedicated at Homecoming on Oct. 14, 1995.

 Purdue Today featured the tower in a great article that covers its historic roots, the past and present “bells”, myths associated with the tower, and the contents of the time capsule that’s buried beneath it, which will be opened in 2095. To learn more, visit:


Over $36,000 Donated on Purdue Day of Giving

On September 9, PURA members gave a record amount to the scholarship endowments on Purdue Day of Giving. Thirty-four individuals donated $36,760 to the two endowments. The dollar-for-dollar matching money raised the current endowment balances to $224,331 for the PURA Student Scholarship Endowment and $52,949 for the PURA Purdue Opportunity Award in Honor of Martin C. and Patty Jischke Endowment.

The investment income from these endowments is part of a financial aid package offered to eligible Indiana students selected by the Purdue University Division of Financial Aid. Since 2012, these endowments have assisted twenty-nine students with educational aspirations in pharmaceutical sciences, construction management, accounting, organizational leadership, entrepreneurship, engineering, technology, aviation management, and liberal arts, just to name a few of their majors. These students come from small towns, large cities, rural and industrial communities in Indiana. And they all need financial assistance to realize their dreams of a college degree.

These students’ stories are all different, yet similar; they would not be able to attend Purdue and become a Boilermaker without the assistance of scholarships generated from endowment income. Expressed in their thank you notes to PURA donors is a common thread of thankfulness and appreciation to a group of individuals who want to help ease their financial worries.

Please continue investing in tomorrow’s leaders. In these challenging times, students need our support as never before to continue with their education as well as staying safe and healthy.

If you are in a position to donate to these endowments, another $13,000 of dollar-for-dollar matching money is available. You may make a donation by phone: 1-800-319-2199 or by check payable to The Purdue Foundation for Life, with the specific endowment* noted in the memo line. Send the check to:

The Purdue Foundation for Life
403 W. Wood Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2007

*PURA Student Scholarship Endowment or PURA Purdue Opportunity Award in Honor of Martin C. and Patty Jischke.


Long Range Weather Forecasting Topic of October Monthly Meeting

Chad Evans, chief meteorologist for WLFI-TV18 in West Lafayette, Indiana. He spoke on how long-range weather forecasts are made.

Chad emphasized that one must look globally to forecast locally. An analogy would be a basketball game where the coach must decide which players on the team will dominate this game. The choice may vary depending on the opponent (different weather pattern in a different season or year).

For our upcoming winter that means identifying which global atmospheric and oceanic circulation factors, such as the La Nina phase of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), and others will interplay given their relative strengths. Which will dominate?

Chad combines a variety of global computer models (the ensemble) with analog tools that match historical seasonal weather anomalies versus the current weather pattern. In this way he formulates his weekly to seasonal outlooks. Chad reports a consistent response in the tools. Indiana should expect a wetter than normal winter but less than usual snowfall due to generally milder than normal temperatures. Yet any forecast can bust if even one significant weather event (e.g., a blizzard) disrupts an otherwise uneventful season. Chad cited the very mild 1997-1998 El Nino winter with a snowy February as an example.

Chad answered a number of audience questions concerning the Farmer’s Almanac, derechos, tornado alley, and the influence of the Great Lakes on local weather. Others inquired about weather modification due to wind farms, earthquakes, forecasts based on signs in nature, and future forecasting tools. A final audience comment mentioned how Chad’s broadcast was a delight to watch. Indeed, Chad is at his best when he tells viewers WHY we are experiencing our current weather pattern, not just giving us the day-to-day temperature and precipitation numbers.

PURA Members Learn About Purdue Grounds Maintenance During Virtual Tour

planterOn Tuesday, October 13, about a dozen PURA members participated in a Zoom session sponsored by the Campus and Community Activities Committee, to learn more about how the Purdue grounds are maintained.

Intended as a follow-up to a virtual video-based tour of the grounds (available at https://youtu.be/IUkMmGWi5sk ), the Zoom session featured four members of the Grounds Department: Phil Richey, Grounds Manager; Jeff Woolard, Crew Chief; Cathy Alkire, Greenhouse/

Horticulture Specialist, and Stephanie Synesael, Greenhouse/Horticulture Specialist. For about 45 minutes, they talked about what they do and answered questions from the PURA members. Together, they are responsible for almost all of the beautiful flower beds, planters, and hanging baskets that adorn the campus.

As they explained in the session, most of the plants that you see on campus are grown from seed each year, and the team is responsible for germinating, transplanting into trays, and then transplanting into the beds more than 40,000 individual plants. Many of the plants are special varieties that the team has identified from flower shows, experimental gardens, and catalogs, and the team maintains a database cataloging every planting in every bed on campus.

The beds themselves are carefully prepared and enriched with compost that is made right here. Then, during the growing season, the beds are regularly watered and fertilized to help the plants grow into the full splendor that students, staff, and visitors see every day.

Everyone agreed that this small staff with a modest budget does a fantastic job of keeping Purdue’s campus beautiful!

Did You See These Purdue Stories?

Flu vaccines are important, but so is keeping other immunizations updated

Technology shines the light on ovarian cancer treatments

All-terrain microrobot flips through a live colon

This beetle can survive being run over by a car. Engineers are figuring out how

Innovation spins spider web architecture into 3D imaging technology

Here’s a wine tour you can take, or give as a gift, anytime, anywhere (virus or no virus)


Road Trip! Greensburg, Indiana

By Karen Lembcke

This issue we will travel to Greensburg, Indiana, the county seat of Decatur County. It is located adjacent to Highway 74, with Highway 421 and State Road 3 intersecting the city.

The interesting feature of Greensburg—also known as The Tower Tree City—is the tree growing out of the clock tower of the courthouse.

The current courthouse was built in 1860. In the early 1870’s, residents began to notice a tree sprig appearing on the roof of the 115-foot clock tower. Residents decided this was a freak act of nature that took root in the crevices of the roof on the tower. Viewers later observed that other sprigs were growing in different places of the tower, creating a total of five sprigs.

The courthouse officials became concerned that these trees could create permanent damage to the tower roof. In 1888 a steeplejack was hired to remove some of the shrubs. He left two shrubs, one which grew to approximately 15 feet with a diameter of 5 inches at its base. That tree continued to survive for many years, but eventually died and now has a place in the Decatur County Historical Society Museum. However, another tree appeared on the southeast corner of the tower. It seems that various sprigs grow and die off being replaced by another.

What is the species of this tree? This has been a debatable subject. Some thought it was a linden tree, of the silver poplar variety. The Smithsonian Institute of Washington, D.C., decided it was a variety of large tooth aspen. Others thought it was a mulberry tree. During a tree trimming in 2007, a piece of the tree was examined by several Purdue University foresters and they identified it as a mulberry tree.

But the mystery continues as to how the seeds managed to arrive in the clock tower, be germinated and survive for so many years.


Confessions of a Book Addict

By Jo Thomas

Blessed are the story tellers (except maybe the tell-all’s). They make us think, see a different perspective, take us out of our lives or maybe make us laugh. Recently two memoirs became best sellers. One, Educated by Tara Westover. The other, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Though their cultures were different, they shared two things: they loved their families, and the hardship of their lives was caused by their families.

Tara Westover was not allowed to attend school, see a doctor or mingle with people outside the family. Theirs was a family of survivalists led by a slightly unbalanced dictator of a father. No truant officers knocked on the door as there were no records of the children. One of the sons had left and was in enrolled in college. He encouraged Tara to follow his lead.

At age 17 she first stepped into a classroom. She had taught herself enough to take the SAT but had no idea what to do with the paper she was handed that was full of circles. She passed and was accepted at BYU. She thrived in academics; but accepting herself was a harder task.

Yale Law School grad John Vance identifies himself as a Hillbilly. His roots go back to the 18th century when the Scots-Irish found a home in the Appalachian Mountains. Their culture was cohesive and persists today while most groups assimilated into the melting pot. In the introduction J.D. reflects that he is 31 years old, hasn’t accomplished anything great and doesn’t know why anyone would buy his book.

If his grandparents hadn’t migrated North to seek good jobs, he would have grown up among his uncles, cousins and great-grandparents. His life would have been much different. The move to Middletown, Ohio was a good one. Vance’s grandfather spent his working life at a factory making steel for the auto industry, affording his family a nice house and vacations. The next two generations were not so lucky. Modern cars used plastics to replace steel. The factory closed. The jobs disappeared. Middletown became part of the Rust Belt.

J.D.’s mother was ungrounded, making his young life a kaleidoscope. It gave him a front row seat on the slide into poverty. He even points a finger towards the victims as being part of the cause. His insights about the movements, trends, attitudes, mores which has brought us to the chaos that is today’s America. He is a good witness and deserves to be read. Even at thirty-one. Incidentally, both books have a Purdue connection.

Musical Interlude: “Just” Voices? Hardly!

By Connie Bilyeu

A Cappella music—from the Italian term—refers to singing performed without instrumental accompaniment. All melody, harmonies, and even percussion effects are performed by human voices. It relies on impeccable voice blending and tight unison rhythm, and it’s alive and well thanks to many contemporary practitioners, and performance platforms independent of “the star making machinery behind the popular song” (that Joni Mitchell sang about in “Free Man in Paris.”)

Perhaps you’ve watched the Pitch Perfect movies or seen some a cappella groups on the televised shows The Voice, Sing Off or America’s Got Talent. Maybe you’ve heard Purdue Glee Club’s Voiceovers, or Rockapella (made famous by their role in the 1990’s PBS TV series Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego?) doing 1950’s/’60s numbers. Maybe you’ve seen Straight, No Chaser (the now-professional group that originated at Indiana University in 1996) or Pentatonix when they performed at Purdue?

If you haven’t heard a cappella music recently—or love a cappella and haven’t heard these groups—the following are outstanding cuts. The music is available on your favorite music services—and, since we’re approaching the holidays, you might be interested to know most of these groups also record holiday music.

Home Free (country & popular music)
Man of Constant Sorrow (traditional)

Seven Bridges Road (Eagles cover)

Pentatonix (rock & popular music)
The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover)

Somebody That I Used to Know (Goyte cover)

Voice Play (rock and popular music)
Don't Stop Believing (Journey cover, with Camp a Cappella students)

Superstition (Stevie Wonder cover, featuring Omar Cardona)

Voctave (popular music; larger, mixed ensemble)
Beauty and the Beast (from movie of the same name, with Sandy Patti)

This Is My Wish/Let There be Peace on Earth

Citizen Queen (rock and popular music, a rare all-female group)
Evolution of Girl Groups

Best Part

Straight No Chaser
Moondance (Van Morrison cover)

In a future Musical Interlude, I’ll highlight a few a cappella soloists who record multiple parts individually, and combine them with fabulous results—essentially singing with themselves. Additionally, both groups and soloists seem to find each other on YouTube and do some interesting collaborations and fun parodies, which I’ll also share.

What to Celebrate: November

November is Peanut Butter Lovers Month and National Model Railroad Month

Nov. 11—Veteran’s Day

Nov. 13—Caregiver Appreciation Day

Nov. 17—Homemade Bread Day

Nov. 15—America Recycles Day

Nov. 23—National Cashew Day

Nov. 26—Thanksgiving Day

Nov. 28—French Toast Day

To Stay in Touch, Make Sure PURA Has Your Current Contact Information!

PURA provides information targeted to Purdue retirees, for instance, retiree benefits, current Protect Purdue measures, and PURA virtual meetings, speakers, and tours. Interesting and important items to be aware of.

How can you stay in the “information loop?” Make sure PURA has your current email and postal mailing addresses!

The monthly PURA News newsletter and special updates are sent to members via email; some information/reminders are sent via U.S.P.S. mail. To stay informed, send your updated contact information to pura@purdue.edu, making sure to include your full name.

PURA Health Insurance Plans Renewed for 2020

The Benefits Committee of the Purdue University Retirees Association (PURA) has renewed the PURcare and Medicare Advantage PPO group health insurance plans with UnitedHealthcare (UHC) for 2021. As in the past, the objective was to maintain the best medical and drug insurance plans, at the lowest premium possible, while preserving your ability to see the Medicare healthcare provider of your choice.

Your committee is announcing the following monthly premiums for 2021:

PURcare (UHC Senior Supplement plus Part D prescription plan). $281.43/member

UHC Medicare Advantage PPO (including Part D prescription plan). $178.26/member

The 2021 monthly PURcare premium has decreased $0.37 from the 2020 monthly premium.

An additional historical note: The PURcare monthly premium for 2021 is slightly less than the monthly premium for 2010.

For PURcare members with prescription coverage from the Veteran’s Administration, the 2021 supplement-only monthly premium will be $181.94/member, a decrease of $3.73 (2.0%).

The 2021 monthly premium for the Medicare Advantage PPO Plan will be $178.26. This is a decrease of $19.81 (10.0%). There will be no change to Hospital and Medical co-pays or the Annual Out-of-Pocket Maximum.

There have been no significant changes to the benefits provided by either plan for 2021. Silver Sneakers continues to be included in both plans.

The PURA Benefits Committee’s goal for the future is to continue to provide outstanding group health insurance plans while maintaining stability in monthly premiums. PURA members continue to receive outstanding support from Purdue Human Resources. PURA’s plans support a portion of the costs of the H.R. staff.

If you are currently enrolled in either of the plans, PURcare or Medicare Advantage PPO, and you do not want to make a change, no action is required. Your coverage will automatically continue for 2021. Re-enrollment is not required!

If you elect to terminate your PURA group coverage for a non-PURA plan, you will not be permitted to rejoin later.

Please contact Kate LaMar with questions about plan details or enrollment at klamar@purdue.edu or (765) 494-1694.

Historically, the Purdue PURCare premium (per member, per month) has been:

insurance table

Fall Pumpkins Bring Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Seeds Bring Magnesium!

Chris Rearick, MSN, RN
Purdue Nursing Center for Family Health

Are you wondering what you will do with those fall pumpkins? Toast the seeds, sprinkle with sea salt and eat some magnesium!

Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and is present is seawater. Magnesium is also a necessary element for our body and must be ingested. Kidneys are the main controller of magnesium. The kidneys excrete it in our urine when we have too much and keep it if we have to little. Those with kidney failure may develop high magnesium.

Magnesium maintains calcium in our cells and is necessary for hundreds of bodily cell functions. Estimates are that about 70% of the aging population is not consuming enough magnesium rich foods. A blood test can check your magnesium level. Do not let a normal magnesium level fool you though. When blood levels are low in magnesium, it pulls it from your cells as a safety mechanism. Your blood gets this magnesium by pulling it from your bones, nerves and muscles, leaving your bones, nerves and muscles with less magnesium.

Low magnesium symptoms include muscle twitching, muscle cramping, numbness in your fingers or toes, poor sleep and nausea. Severely low magnesium levels lead to irregular heartbeats, seizures and sudden death. Low magnesium can also develop when there is alcohol dependence, GI diseases such as Celiac/Sprue disease, Crohn’s disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

Magnesium can improve our sleep and mental performance. It reduces anxiety, increases energy, strengthens bones and joints, and can relieve constipation.

As we age, our gut does not absorb magnesium as well as when we were young. Urinary output also increases as we age due to a decrease in kidney function, so we may lose more magnesium in our urine than we did when we were younger. Diuretics, such as Lasix, may also be responsible for dumping magnesium in our urine. If on a specific diuretic, your healthcare provider may periodically check your magnesium levels.

Including more magnesium rich foods in your diet is the best way to increase your magnesium. Rich magnesium foods include pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, bananas, spinach, cashews, whole grain cereals, salmon, halibut and soymilk. Taking a magnesium supplement before bed may improve sleep and decrease leg cramps at night. Supplements can take up to 2 weeks to be effective. Check with your healthcare provider for which supplement may be the best for you. Magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate are common supplements but can cause diarrhea and gastric upset. Some supplements that are easily tolerated include magnesium glycinate, chelated magnesium oxide, and Slo –Mag.

So, for now, use those pumpkins, save those seeds and remember to include more magnesium rich foods in your diet!

Source: Abundance and form of the most abundant elements in Earth's continental crust". Retrieved 10/4/2020

Smile Corner by Sara Jane (Sally) Coffman



Feeding the Squirrels

Several years ago, the guy I was dating told me I should put a bird feeder up in my backyard.

“Watching birds is relaxing,” Cliff said.

I knew nothing about birds. But I liked the idea of being relaxed.

Would he help me set it up? “Sure.”

DAY 1: Cliff arrives in his truck to take me to the hardware store. We buy a bird feeder, a giant bag of sunflower seeds, a garbage can to house the seeds, and a shepherd’s hook. We return to my house, mount the feeder in the backyard, and sit and wait for our first customer.

Our first customer is a large gray squirrel who shimmies up the shepherd’s hook . . . hangs upside down by his tail . . . reaches his hand into one of the holes of the bird feeder . . . and stuffs his mouth full of sunflower seeds.

DAY 2: I wake up and go to the window to see what kind of birds are on the feeder. There are no birds on the feeder. Yet the feeder is empty. Throughout the day, I refill it. Several times. I finally realize that the more I refill it, the more squirrels there are in the backyard. This new batch of squirrels includes an instructor who is teaching the others how to chew the plastic inserts so the holes will be big enough for the sunflower seeds to just pour out onto the ground.

DAY 3: Second visit to the hardware store. This time, I buy a metal feeder, guaranteed to be squirrel-proof. The squirrels like this feeder even better than the plastic one because they feel more secure when they’re hanging upside down.

DAY 4: I finally see my first bird—a blue jay, lying dead on the patio. I have no idea what he died of. Probably hunger.

That evening, I discuss my squirrel problem with Cliff. He suggests I put up a squirrel feeder so the squirrels will leave the bird food alone. We buy a squirrel feeder.

The squirrels now have TWO places to eat.

DAY 7: While mowing the grass, I glance up at my roof. Somebody has pulled up my gutter guard! And there are pieces of shingle on the ground!

It’s one thing for the squirrels to eat the bird food— it’s another for them to eat my house. I march inside and call Cliff. Is he home? Of course not.

Cursing Cliff, I put a ladder up against the house and climb up to inspect the damage. About halfway up, a mosquito bites my left eyelid. By the time I reach the top, my eye has swollen shut. With my remaining eye, I peer into the gutter. There’s a nest! Somebody’s building a nest!

The nest’s owner, objecting to my being there, scurries towards my hand. Screaming all the way down, I descend the ladder.

With an ice pack on my eye, I call the humane society and ask their advice. They suggest I set a trap in the backyard to catch the squirrels. How can I do that—there are dozens of squirrels in my backyard! No birds. There have never been any birds.

I decide it’s time to get out of the bird feeding business.

I throw away the bird feeder, the bird food, and the shepherd’s hook. It would have been nice to have fed some birds, but as a homeowner, my first duty is to my house.

One thing I’m sure of: the squirrels won’t cause any more damage to my roof. That’s where Cliff’s going to sleep for the next few weeks.

Sally’s books are available on Amazon or at sarajanecoffman2@outlook.com.

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PURA Tech Bytes

By Scott Ksander

We Live in Challenging Times!

The history of “Challenge Coins” dates to the Roman Empire. The most common stories talk about WW I pilots using them to identify themselves in France. Today the military proudly continues this tradition. The act of challenging is called a “Coin Check” and usually involves drinking. I am the proud holder of challenge coins from Purdue Police and Purdue CERIAS (Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security).

I was recently reminded that challenging is also highly effective in the electronic world. I received email from a friend asking for help with Amazon Gift Cards. This did not seem unusual at first because I help a lot of people with technology. This might be their first “e-card” experience, or they want to make it a surprise. As I exchanged email with the person, something did not seem right, and the amount of the gift card was several hundred dollars. I asked a few questions about the amount and recipient. Again, it just did not seem right.

This is an excellent time for a challenge question. You do not need to have anything elaborate. I asked the
simple question “When was the last time we met in
person and where?”. This should be easy to answer and a friend would not be offended by this level of security. There was no email response and, clearly, the attempt was a scam to get me to send some money in the form of gift cards. I reported it to the appropriate authorities.

Challenge questions are commonly used for password recovery for forgotten passwords. An important thing about these types of questions is that only you need to know the answer and you do not get extra points for honesty. A common challenge question option is the name of your oldest sibling. This is information that is likely discoverable so first, pick a different question, but if you cannot, answer with an incorrect but memorable answer. For example, answer Bozo or Buffalo-Bob. You can remember this, and others will not guess.

Other common but unfortunate challenge questions are your mother’s maiden and or your father’s middle name. Here honesty is NOT the best policy. Pick an answer you will remember – Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer or Duke-of-Earl. Again, all that is important is that your answer match the recorded answer you provided when you set up the challenge questions.

The cyber world is a dangerous place. Be careful out there.

New Contact Email for PURA

To streamline ongoing communications and service from Purdue Human Resources, a new email account has been set up. All PURA-related communications from HR will now come from pura@purdue.edu – which will show up as “PURA Admin” in your email inboxes.

If you have questions or comments going forward, please send them to this email address instead of jacksonh@purdue.edu.

Purdue Today Using New Delivery System: Retirees Invited To Subscribe

Purdue Today, the University's official communication for faculty and staff, will transition to a new distribution system on January 13, 2020. The move will allow for easier management of recipient lists and provide access to more comprehensive analytics.

Before the transition occurs, Purdue retirees are being invited to sign up online for Purdue Today through the new Delivra system at: https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/purduetoday/subscribe-to-purdue-today.html. The form asks for first and last name, University affiliation and email address.

Once the form is submitted, individuals will receive an email from Purdue Today (purduetoday@purdue.edu) asking the individual to confirm the subscription.

Some mail servers may identify Purdue Today as spam and filter the confirmation email — and subsequent Purdue Today emails — into a "junk" or "promotions" folder. To avoid this, add purduetoday@purdue.edu to the email application's contacts list.

Important: Retirees who currently receive Purdue Today will need to subscribe through the new subscription page and the confirmation. Those who do not take these steps will no longer receive Purdue Today, as of January 13.

Questions about the transition or about Purdue Today should be directed to Valerie O'Brien at purduetoday@purdue.edu or 765-494-9573.


Parking Facilities Has Relocated

Parking Facilities has relocated to the Materials Management and Distribution Center (MMDC), 700 Ahlers Drive, near the intersection of South Russell Street and Ahlers Drive in West Lafayette.

Phone numbers and email addresses for staff remain the same. Parking Facilities can be reached by phone at 765-494-9497 or via email at parking@purdue.edu  from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


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