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5 common camping mistakes to avoid



If you’re going camping this summer, make sure to plan ahead. It’s all too easy to forget a key detail and then suffer the consequences. To ensure you have a terrific time, here are some common mistakes to avoid.

1. Choosing the wrong campground
Do your research to find a campground that checks all your boxes. In particular, consider the amenities you want. This may include laundry facilities, a pool, a tennis court, or lake access. You should also consider what type of camping spot you’d like, whether it’s a secluded area in the forest or a shared campsite with a community feel.

2. Bringing gear that doesn’t work

Inspect all your equipment to make sure it’s in good condition. If you have any new gear, familiarize yourself with it in advance. For example, run through setting up a new tent in your backyard.

3. Being ill-prepared for the weather
Check the weather forecast and prepare for all eventualities. Even if there’s only a small chance of rain, play it safe and bring rain gear such as a poncho, rain boots, and a tarp. Keep in mind that the temperature can dip at night.

4. Leaving your first aid kit at home
You should always take along a first aid kit. It should have all the items you need to handle cuts, abrasions, injuries, and aches. Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring things you can use to repair your tent if need be such as tape, rope, and a needle and thread.

5. Taking local wildlife for granted
Determine what types of animals inhabit the area where your campground is located and learn how to react if you encounter them (bears, coyotes, moose, and others). Also, you should find out how to avoid attracting local wildlife to your campsite.

Additionally, be sure to arrive while the sun’s still up. It can be difficult to find your campsite, put up your tent, and locate the bathroom in the dark.

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Never touch a knight’s beard



In medieval Europe, if you touched a knight’s beard, you were going to have to face him in a duel at dawn. His beard was his honor, according to the Chicago Tribune, and an unbidden touch was an insult.

Touch has been an essential part of human life through ages and cultures.

It has been considered the primary way to learn. Today, if visiting a museum, no visitor would think they could or should touch that painting or handle a fossil. Yet, in the Middle Ages, you certainly would do just that. It would be the way that you learned about something. People expected to handle everything, according to

Touch has been considered holy. If you were so moved in the Middle Ages, you might kiss a saint’s foot at a pilgrimage site. That touch was considered to offer miraculous benefits.

A king’s touch was considered to be healing for some centuries. The king’s miracle was achieved through touching or stroking a sick person.

Since the dawn of civilization, the rules for touch have been both enshrined in culture and changed.

In Turkey, for example, a friend might greet another with a kiss on both cheeks, but this is considered inappropriate for business.

In Pakistan, a man greets a younger woman by lightly putting his hand on top of her head.

Nowhere in the West has the idea of touch changed more than in the workplace where a pat on the shoulder has been considered sexist.

Yet, rules change and remain the same. Today, it would still be considered rude for an acquaintance to reach out and touch a fellow’s beard, or a woman’s hair, even if it won’t end in a duel.

As rules in the workplace evolve, touch has become a tricky issue.

Between close friends, even at work, a hug is acceptable, especially as a way of congratulating or sympathizing. It’s best to remember that it takes about 200 hours of close contact to become friends with someone, according to Business Insider. A recent study by The Creative Group showed that 65 percent of those in advertising or marketing said hugging a co-worker was very common and 23 percent said hugging a client was very common. On the other hand, 18 percent of those surveyed said hugging was never done in the workplace.

A handshake has been considered the safest way to touch and say hello. But during COVID-19, this has also changed. It remains to be seen whether a handshake will stay in the lexicon of Western touch.

The best practice for workplaces today is a no-touch policy.

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Music lessons: 5 reasons to pick the piano



Learning to play a musical instrument is a fun way to improve memory, relieve stress, and build confidence. If you or your child want to take up an instrument, here are five reasons to choose the piano.

1. It has a huge repertoire
With its 88 keys and impressive range, the piano has a wealth of songs written for it in all genres, from classical and jazz to pop and hip hop. In addition to having the largest solo repertoire, it’s one of the most popular instruments for accompaniment.

2. It requires little upkeep

Unlike the guitar, which should be tuned every time you play it, the piano only needs to be tuned two to four times a year. And if you play an electronic keyboard, you won’t have to tune it at all.

3. It’s fairly easy to learn
While it takes practice to play with both hands, producing a beautiful note on the piano is as simple as pressing a key. Contrarily, in the case of wind instruments, you first need to learn how to position your mouth to get a clear sound.

4. It’s comfortable to play
Certain instruments, such as the violin and flute, require you to hold your head or fingers at an awkward angle. If you play the piano, however, you’ll get to adopt a natural seated position and keep your hands relaxed.

5. It provides a solid foundation
Learning the piano teaches you to simultaneously play two different clefs. This makes it easier to transition to another instrument that uses either the treble clef (clarinet, trumpet, etc.) or the bass clef (cello, tuba, etc.).

Keep in mind that while a person is never too old to learn to play an instrument, piano lessons generally aren’t offered to children until they’re five or six years old. If you want to introduce your child to music earlier, consider music appreciation classes.

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The name’s Bond: How about a 007 film festival?



It’s great time to relive James Bond movies. Perfect for winter evenings.

Goldfinger! He’s the man, the man with the golden touch. Sing along!

And these days you can see Bond for free — sort of.

If you are a Prime member, most are included in your subscription, including Dr. No and Goldfinger. That is sort of free if you don’t count the $100 annual membership fee.

An even more affordable option? YouTube. Bond movies are free to watch on the streaming platform, but you have to watch commercials unless you sign up for YouTube Premium. A 30-day free trial is available — just remember to cancel if you don’t want to pay for the service.

Also, some Bond movies are free with the streaming service Peacock (from NBC Universal). You can sign up for a free account and watch all the Bond movies you want, but once again, you’ll some ads. If you want to watch ad-free, there’s a $10 monthly fee after a free trial. Still, you can cancel.

Peacock does have lots of other content, including the popular Yellowstone series, which would cost $60 on Amazon Prime for all three seasons.

Here are the Bond movies are known to be online:

“Dr. No” (1962) — Not on Peacock.
“From Russia with Love” (1963)
“Goldfinger” (1964)
“Thunderball” (1965)
“You Only Live Twice” (1967)
“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) — Not on Peacock
“Diamonds Are Forever” (1971)
“Live and Let Die” (1973)
“The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974)
“The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) — Not on Peacock
“Moonraker” (1979) — Not on Peacock
“For Your Eyes Only” (1981) — Not on Peacock
“Octopussy” (1983)
“Never Say Never Again” (1983) — Not on Peacock
“A View to a Kill” (1985) — Not on Peacock
“The Living Daylights” (1987) — Not on Peacock
“License to Kill” (1989)
“GoldenEye” (1995)
“Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997)
“The World Is Not Enough” (1999)
“Casino Royale” (2006) — Not on YouTube
“Quantum of Solace” (2008) — Not on YouTube

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How to make a perfect snowman (or snow-woman)



We never gave it much thought — pack a good, firm snowball and roll it around the yard until big enough for a base. Repeat two more times. Stack one on top of another.

Boom. Snowman.

But that doesn’t fly in the modern world, where you can find YouTube videos and 14-step how-to articles on snowman-building. And if you were interested in such things, snowman-building does involve a bit of science.

Case in point: Snow needs to contain three to five percent liquid water in order to be malleable and gluey enough to hold shapes, says the New York Times. The perfect snow can be found around 32 degrees Fahrenheit in regions closer to an ocean, like the Northeast or the Sierra Nevada.

Then there’s a concept called sintering, or patting. If you pat the snow as you go, you compact it and squash individual snowflakes, causing melting around the edges. As they refreeze, they bond.
This makes the snow a lot more solid — and your snowman a lot more sturdy.

A few more tips:

* Remember to face your snowman away from the sun, unless you were going for the melted face look.

* Pack extra snow around the base to give it more stability.

* Flatten the tops of the bottom snowballs so they’re easier to stack. Spheres are also a good shape to help prolong melting because less surface area is exposed to the sun.

* Try to roll the snowballs around the area you plan to place the snowman, then stick him in the middle. Avoid building a snowman on a driveway, which absorbs heat (does that even need a reminder?).

* Aim for a diameter ratio of 3:2:1 from bottom to top — like three feet, two feet, one foot.

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How to safely lend money



If you plan to lend money to a family member or friend, it’s in the best interest of both parties to have a clear, legally binding loan agreement. Here’s how to go about it.

Drawing up a loan agreement yourself
If you’re loaning a small sum of money, you may choose to draft your own loan agreement. In addition to the loan amount, this contract should include the following:

• The full name, address, and phone number of both the lender and borrower

• The loan repayment schedule and whether the amount will be returned in a lump sum or in multiple payments

• The interest rate on the loan, if applicable

• The terms for late or missed payments

• The signature of both parties, the date and, ideally, a witness’ signature

The loan agreement should be written in plain language. If you aren’t confident about drafting the document yourself, consider looking for a template of a loan agreement online.

Getting help from a lawyer
Drafting a loan agreement carries certain risks. If important information is left out, or if either party’s obligations are unclear, the agreement may not be legally valid. Alternatively, you may unwittingly agree to adverse terms simply because you aren’t familiar with contract law. If you want extra assurance, or if you’re loaning a large sum of money, always have a lawyer draw up your loan agreement.

A lawyer can be counted on to create a comprehensive, airtight contract. In addition, they can provide legal advice about how to handle the more delicate aspects of the loan, such as the procedure for handling missed payments.

By entrusting a lawyer to draft your loan agreement, you may spare yourself some frustration if a dispute arises.

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Where can you recycle your smartphone?



Never throw your smartphone in the garbage, even if it’s unusable. When phones end up in landfills, they cause serious harm to the environment. Here are some of the places you can recycle your phone.

Your cell phone carrier
Many carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, allow you to recycle your phone at store locations. A number of these companies also offer trade-in programs that give you store credit or discounts on your phone bill in exchange for your old phone.

Retail stores

Certain retail chains that sell electronics, including Best Buy and Staples allow you to recycle smartphones and other electronics at their locations.

The Apple Store
If you have an Apple phone (or any other Apple device for that matter), you can trade it in at your local Apple Store for store credit.

Local charities
If your phone still works fine, you may choose to donate it to a local charity. Certain homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and other charitable organizations accept cell phone donations.

Recycling kiosks
More and more smartphone recycling kiosks, from companies such as EcoATM, are popping up across the country. These unmanned kiosks digitally assess the value of your phone and give you money on the spot if you choose to accept the offer.

Whatever method you used to recycle your phone, make sure to erase all your data. This way your personal information won’t fall into the wrong hands.

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The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
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Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
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Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
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Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
all-day Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
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This tried and true Epic 24-hour AR will test your biking, paddling, trekking, and navigation skills as you explore two state parks (one of them brand new!) and national forest lands. Join soloists and teams[...]