"Reel Reviews: ‘Max Winslow and the House of Secrets’ has a fresh take on teens learning life lessons" by: Jessica Shepard

Max Winslow and the House of Secrets is a science-fiction thriller written by Jeff Wild, produced by Johnny Remo and directed by Sean Olson.
   It’s sort of like a mix of modernized versions of “The Breakfast Club,” “Clue,” and 2019’s “Escape Room.”
   The movie is pretty slow at the beginning and the ending is a bit of a letdown, but the middle is where everything shines.
   I’m talking storylines, visuals, special effects, and the teenagers exemplify every annoying trope of modern high school life.
   It’s rated PG for scary situations and peril, language and thematic content, and runs for 98 minutes.
   The movie stars Sydne Mikelle, Tanner Buchanan, Jade Chynoweth, Emery Kelly, Jason Genao with Marina Sirtis, Anton Starkman, Juli Tapken, and Chad Michael Murray.


"Breaking with traditions this year, because why not?" by: Jessica Shepard

 With a summer that seemed to stretch on forever, 2020 has an autumn season that’s quickly picking up speed.
   Or, maybe it only seems that way to me.
   With Christmas décor and entertainment on standby, my mom is barely going to make it to Thanksgiving without putting her tree up.
   Usually, I’d throw a bit more of a fit since it violates our traditions to put it up too early and completely throws off my holiday groove.
   But, with the way this year has been, I’m pretty much giving up and will help her as best I can because Christmas time is her favorite holiday to celebrate.
   I don’t think Mike was so keen on it when I came home from covering a meeting and happened to see him stuck watching “The Grinch.”
   Watching is sort of a misleading word; he was completely buried in his cellphone and surfing Twitter instead of fixating on the TV.


"Closing thought: I hope we can find a way to work together" by: John Sample

We are a week past the election and much is or will change.
   Of significant importance to the equities market was the announcement this week that Pfizer has a two-part vaccine that was tested to be 90% effective, sending the equities markets soaring. 
   Other companies are on the verge of making similar announcements, making an impact of possibly allowing people to return to something that approaches normal. 
   The markets though are looking six to nine months ahead.
   We will have to make it through the winter to get to that hope of Spring and the rising numbers of Covid-19 should give everyone pause.
   I do think the concept of a shutdown may be off the table. The last shutdown took a vibrant economy and sent us to near-depression levels. We will have to be vigilant for hygiene and social distancing, but there is light at the end of the tunnel 


Ideas for thanking your family

 It’s almost Thanksgiving. And although 2020 has been a tough year, you can probably still find things for which you can be thankful – such as your family.
   How can you show your appreciation for your loved ones?
   Here are a few ideas:
   First, consider investing in your children’s future by contributing to a college savings plan.
   If you have older children, you can make financial gifts to help them pay off loans or make a down payment on a home.
   Also, protect your own financial independence, so you’ll never have to depend on your grown children for support.
   You can help yourself by consistently investing in your IRA and 401(k).
   And don’t forget to maintain adequate life insurance.
   Finally, don’t put off your estate planning.
   You’ll want to be able to leave a lasting legacy to your family.
   A legal professional can help you create a strategy that’s suitable for your needs.


"Walk on Earth full of pain: What a difference belief in God makes" by: Betsy Monico

   We wrapped up another interesting week. Who am I kidding? 
   Every week since March 2020 has been one of a kind. I constantly find myself laughing over our new normal, accepting the craziness, and striving more than ever to look for blessings. 
   My oldest two came home to visit. One left me a note on my desk at school. 
   It didn’t cost her a penny, but meant the world to me. I got another surprise from a co-worker Friday thanking me for being her light. 
   She also gave me a Coke and Snickers - two of my all-time favs. Little things can be big! 
   Teaching “this year” is big and requires big dedication. I study and review daily. 
   I must confess too that I am smarter than ever from being forced to learn and think. 
   We finished the 13 colonies last week, had a Boston Tea Party, and dive into The American Revolution this week.


"Reel Reviews: ‘The Tax Collector’ brings epic, bloody gang violence" by: Jessica Shepard

   As the last of the COVID-cut-short spring films make their way to streaming and stores near us, I’m tapping the closest Redbox to rent them.
   Take for example, “The Tax Collector,” which had a brief stint in theaters before they shut down due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
   I have to say if you’ve seen “Training Day” or any of the “Sicario” films, then you’re pretty prepared for this one.
   The movie lasts 95 minutes and is listed as not-rated; though I would rate it as an “R” due to violence, sex, nudity, and profanity.
   The Tax Collector is an action thriller film written, directed, and produced by David Ayer.


"Election time brings more stress than I ever wanted" by: Jessica Shepard

   Every time we have an election - be it city, county, state, or federal races – I do my part and vote.
   I don’t donate to any one political group, organization, or person, but take my time to research their platforms and vote accordingly afterwards.
   That being said, once I settled my vote during the first few days of early voting, it’s been a long haul to wait until the actual General Election Day.
   Even then, we’ve made sure to spend time keeping the public and our readers updated on how the early voter turnout showed up over the past two weeks and even spent time sharing reminders online.
   But, it still seems like that wasn’t enough effort and my phone has been pinging out notifications about people asking how to vote in their precincts or who everyone else seemed to vote for.
   At the very least it’s just a little annoying, but at its highest point, it activates that little part of my brain next to road rage.


"Positive over negative: Things will get better just wait and see" by: John Sample

   I am glad that October is over as it was the worst month this year for equities since March.
   I can’t figure out what it is about October that results in such losses during that month.
   I was running my own office in 1987 when the market virtually crashed on the 19th.
   Luckily I was short the market, but not because I saw the fall coming.
   It was during the period of Greenmailing of companies and I had been shorting any and every stock that T Bone Pickens looked at.
   He would talk about taking over a company and the corporate chiefs would raise money to have him go away.
   Those companies then were left awash in debt and their stock value plummeted.
   Pickens walked away with the cash and turned his attention to his next victim.
   The point of the story however is that once the crash came, I decided to invest heavily in quality companies.


Protect your finances from ‘Cyberthieves’

   You’ve no doubt heard reports of personal data being stolen and used for financial fraud.
   How can you defend yourself?
   Here are a few suggestions:
   First, create different passwords for your financial services, social media, and email accounts – and give your passwords some length and complexity.
   Also, watch out for fake websites.
   When making financial transactions, be sure you’re on the site of your bank or financial institution – and not on a false one established by hackers.
   Here’s another tip: Don’t share too much personal information on social media.
   Keep your address, birthday and even travel plans private.
   And try to limit use of public Wi-Fi, such as that found in hotel lobbies.
   Finally, be on the alert for “phishing” communications, which masquerade as notices from banks or financial firms you do business with.


"With friends, family, determination, God, we can do more than we can fathom" by: Betsy Monico

   I helped move my oldest the past two days. Never have I yearned for bedtime more or thought about how much I love my children. 
   Therefore, I will pitch in when needed – even with moving! My thighs ache and feel fatigued from traveling up and down her stairs. 
   I also gracefully maneuvered up and down a step ladder more times than I can count to patch up and paint a few blemishes from her LED light strip. 
   I can say this though – she left her apartment in great shape. Her “Type A” personality, inherited from her Dad, served her well. I crashed last night with her puppy dog, Max, before she chose to retire. 
   She warned me that if I woke up and could not find her, she was cleaning out her garage. I celebrated her diligence, but snoozed on. 
   For me personally, our weekend moving adventure gave me both full blown tears and uncontrollable laughter. To say anything less than the full spectrum of emotions would be a complete lie. 


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