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A new beginning at the JCCIA

As I sat to write this article about being elected president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, I was struck by how life has come full circle. As a child of immigrants from Sicily, I have marveled at how far our family has come since arriving in the United States in the mid-1950s. Like others before them, they were seeking good jobs so they can take care of their families. Not much has changed as immigrants still seek out America as the beacon of hope as a free society allowing for free speech, religious freedom and ability to ...

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The house is all yours!

You just closed and the house is now yours. There will be plenty of time to enjoy what you have worked so hard to attain, but before you settle in, there are some items you should check off your list. Let’s start with the walls. Before you move in, freshen up the paint since it will be easier to get the job done without all your personal belongings in the way. And don’t forget to do the ceilings as well. Most people only do the walls and leave the ceilings since they are usually white. Even if the walls were ...

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The Fed does the expected, but what’s next?

Mid-March marked the first time that the Federal Reserve raised its rate in 2017. In bumping the rate up .25 percent, they noted that the economy is doing well and that we are approaching full employment. The bond market’s reaction to the move was surprisingly positive. We saw treasury and mortgage rates go down slightly that day, which is contrary to what we would have expected. Experts say that happened because the interest-rate increase was widely expected by the markets and it also signaled that the Fed is staying ahead of the inflation curve. When Chairwoman Janet Yellen was asked ...

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When to say when

I enjoy receiving e-mails from my readers, especially if they give me an idea for a column! Someone recently asked me whether it was worth their time and effort to extract everyone with the same surname in a town. They’re all related, right? Probably. Should I spend the time? Depends on the scope of your research and other factors. Let’s start by discussing the scope of a very simple genealogy. If you are lucky enough to find all your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents etc. going back six generations, you have to find 127 people starting with yourself. To go all the ...

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A review of the Lyric’s “Carmen”

What a treat, to witness one of the great masterpieces of art! “Carmen” is one of those few operas that is so well known that there is little, if no, room for error by any performer. What magnifies this stringent demand is that Georges Bizet’s signature piece of music drama calls for far more vocalists to step into the spotlight than any opera I can think of. The instrumental forces are also needed for consistently brilliant and expressive playing throughout a rather longish composition. Fortunately, the Lyric Opera of Chicago was musically up to the challenges and once again demonstrated ...

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A mother remembered

May has always meant Mother’s Day as well as the May Crowning of Mary, the Blessed Mother. Of course, those feelings are based in memories of how attending St. Anthony’s School shaped me into the man I am today. I am sure the same sentiment can be expressed by many of today’s men and women who had their early childhood’s formed by the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Scalabrinian priests of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Kensington/Pullman neighborhood of Chicago’s Roseland community. All the priests left an impression on the nuns as to how our Catholic learning ...

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A review of the Lyric’s “Norma”

I’m very happy to report that the Lyric production of “Norma” is by far the strongest musically that I’ve witnessed thus far in the 2016-17 season. One would be hard pressed to think of any other contemporary singers who could do any better in the four major roles, especially that of Norma, than those who took the stage at the Civic Opera House. The chorus was also outstanding, and the fine Lyric orchestra turned in yet another solid performance. Bellini was not the creative orchestrator as were the other Italian masters of opera. His instrumental accompaniments are relatively simple, and ...

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Getting your deposit back

You’ve found an apartment that suits your needs and decide to move in. But before the landlord hands you the keys, you’re going to be asked put down a security deposit. In theory, your deposit will be returned when you move out, so long as you don’t damage the property while you’re renting. To ensure that reality synchs up with theory, you need to protect yourself from the start. Step one? Familiarize yourself with landlord-tenant laws in your community and be sure to read the entire lease carefully. All leases should have an end date. Unless you notify your landlord ...

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Adjustable Rate Mortgages are back

ARMs, or adjustable rate mortgages (mortgages that do not have a fixed rate), can be scary, but if you stay within your time line, it can save borrowers a lot of money when rates are on the rise. The most popular adjustable rate mortgages are the 5/1 ARM with 5/2/5 Caps, Margin 2.25, and the 7/1 ARM with 5/2/5 caps, Margin 2.25. What his means is that the payment will be spread over 30 years but the rate will be fixed for the first 5 or 7 years. Once the fixed time frame is over, the mortgage will adjust annually ...

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Using your cellphone to scan photos

Over many years of meeting with relatives, I will admit that there are occasions of apprehension. After I am invited to their home, I sit, make conversation, have a cup of coffee, and silently wait for the right moment to segue into how to ask them to break out the old family photo albums. When I started this odyssey, I had to bring a laptop and scanner that weighed more than I did! Later on, I could bring a flatbed scanner that only weighed a couple of pounds. Today, new phone cameras and apps are making this task even easier. ...

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