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7 silly reasons to get excited about a snowstorm

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Though most people can list hundreds of things they hate about winter, not all is dark and gloomy when it comes to this coldest of seasons. Here are seven perfectly good reasons to look forward to the next snowstorm.

1. It’ll provide the perfect opportunity to connect with your neighbors as you work together to dig your car out of a snowbank at six o’clock in the morning.

2. You can skip the gym without any guilt since you’ll spend an hour or more shoveling snow and burn more calories than you would at a boot camp class.

3. Your cat will be less tempted to explore outside and more willing to take her rightful place curled up on your lap in front of the TV.



4. The crisp white of a snow-covered yard provides a great backdrop for cute selfies, as long as the cold air doesn’t make your nose run.

5. Your cracked patio stones and dead grass will be completely hidden under a pristine blanket of snow, and no one will know if you forgot to pick up the pup’s poop.

6. Every trip outside, even if it’s just to walk the garbage to the curb, will feel like a quest that undeniably merits a pick-me-up upon completion.

7. You’re going to freeze your pants off regardless this winter, but at least after it snows you’ll be able to ski, build a fort, go sledding and wage an epic snowball fight.

In short, winter is here to stay whether you like it or not, so you might as well look on the bright side and make the most of it.

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5 easy ways to reduce your ecological footprint

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Are you looking for small steps you can take in your daily life to limit your impact on the environment? If so, here are five simple things you can do to reduce your ecological footprint.

1. Pack an accessory kit. Keep reusable shopping bags, water bottles, coffee mugs, utensils, and straws in your car and by the front door so you always have them with you when you’re on the go.

2. Shop in bulk. From nuts and spices to dog treats and laundry detergent, there are plenty of products you can buy in large or reusable containers to reduce waste. Bar shampoos and soaps also have less packaging than their liquid counterparts.

3. Avoid single-use products. Rely on beeswax wrap rather than plastic wrap to keep your food fresh. Similarly, you can replace parchment paper and aluminum foil with washable baking mats.


4. Opt for reusable items. Facial tissues, paper towels, sanitary napkins, diapers, makeup remover pads, and cotton swabs are just some of the single-use items that are available in reusable versions.

5. Conserve water. If possible, collect rainwater in barrels for use in your garden. You can also purchase a low-flow showerhead, do laundry only when you have a full load and turn off the tap while you brush your teeth.

To find the products you need to adopt a greener lifestyle, visit the stores in your area.

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How Star Wars revolutionized toys, merchandising and film

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While 2021 won’t see a new Star Wars film on the silver screen, that galaxy far, far away will still have a huge impact on the holidays. Indeed, Star Wars arguably reshaped the relationship between media and toys.

Back in the late 1970s, movie director George Lucas made 20th Century Fox an irresistible offer, agreeing to cut his Star Wars director fee by $500,000 in exchange for keeping merchandising rights. Fox jumped at the deal because movie-themed toys then were mostly an afterthought. Movie-themed toys could drum up sales while movies were still in theaters but were quickly forgotten after the theater run wrapped up.

Then Star Wars became an out of this galaxy hit. Yet what was perhaps more surprising was the massive, sustained demand for Star Wars toys. Indeed, toy company Kenner, which originally held the rights to produce Star Wars-themed toys, couldn’t keep up with demand. During the holidays, they actually had to send out IOUs.

George Lucas established one of the biggest movie franchises in history. But just as importantly, he reshaped the modern toy industry. Now, tying in ancillary products, including toys, clothing, video games, and more, is a major strategy for many film studios.


Consider the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rather than turning to on-staff comic buffs and storytellers to decide which superheroes to base movies around, Marvel executives sought insights from kids. Children were shown drawings of various superheroes and were asked who they’d like to play with as toys. Iron Man came out as the clear winner and as a result, Marvel Studios launched the MCU with an Iron Man flick.

Hasbro, which partners with Disney to make Star Wars, Marvel, and other themed toys, generated nearly $1.1 billion in revenues through their partner brands in 2020. While this marks a drop from the $1.2 billion in 2019, it’s still a substantial sum. The Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association estimates that total licensed merchandise sales reached $262.9 billion in 2016.

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Tiny homes and the law: 3 things you should know

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Do you dream of downsizing, adopting a minimalist lifestyle, and getting closer to nature? If so, a tiny house might be right for you. However, it’s important to be aware that this type of dwelling, while increasingly popular, often still falls into a gray area in terms of the law. Here are some things to keep in mind as you explore your options.

1. Size and style matter
A major decision you’ll need to make regarding your tiny house is whether to build it on a foundation or on wheels. If you opt for a stationary home, it’ll be subject to local bylaws regarding house sizes. The minimum ranges from 70 to 1,000 square feet depending on where you live. If you want a moveable tiny home, however, it may need to be registered as a recreational vehicle.

2. It can’t go just anywhere
How tiny houses are zoned in a particular area can greatly limit where you’ll be allowed to build or park your home. For example, in many municipalities, it’s illegal to take up permanent residence in a recreational vehicle on a property that isn’t zoned for mobile homes. This means you might be required to build your tiny house on a foundation.

3. Building codes still apply
While there can be a bit more flexibility if your tiny house is registered as a recreational vehicle, these homes usually need to comply with the local building codes. Among other things, you may need a minimum ceiling height, at least one full bathroom, and a window that can be used as an emergency exit.



The bottom line is that building requirements and other regulations for tiny homes vary widely by state and even municipality. Therefore, it’s crucial that you do plenty of research before committing to this lifestyle.

 

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Global seaborne shipping carries vast quantity of goods

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If you have seen empty shelves at your local stores in the last few months, that might be because of the traffic jam in ocean shipping, which is responsible for much of what we buy.

Maritime shipping networks transport an estimated 80 percent of goods. Roughly 90 percent of bulk dry manufactured goods, including electronics and clothing, are transported across the oceans.

Many goods are shipped in standardized ISO shipping containers that typically measure 8 feet wide and either 20 or 40 feet in length. That said, shipping containers may vary in size depending on the goods shipped. Ultimately, container trade is responsible for roughly 60 percent of seaborne trade.

Shipping is often measured in Twenty-foot Equivalent Units with one 8 x 20 container counting as a single unit, or TEU. In 2000, global container port traffic measured just under 225,000,000 TEUs. As of 2018, worldwide container port traffic came in a bit under 800,000,000 TEUs.


Shipping company Costamare reports that there are 5,461 container ships currently in service, with a total capacity of 24.6 million TEUs as of August 2021. The Organization of Economic Development believes that maritime trading volumes will triple by 2050.

Container ships aren’t the only type of ocean cargo ships. In some cases, special ships are built to transport specific products, such as automobiles. With roll-on roll-off cargo ships, you can drive cars directly into covered cargo holds, where they are then secured. Upon reaching the destination port, cars can be driven off the ship and prepared for overland transport.

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7 cell phone etiquette tips

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In today’s world, cell phones are everywhere you look. However, sometimes using your phone can be distracting, rude, and even dangerous. Here are seven ways of minding your mobile manners.

1. Put your phone away during meals. If it rings, ignore it or excuse yourself and take the call in another room.

2. End conversations before you pay. It’s rude to expect to be served by a cashier or restaurant worker while you’re talking on your phone.

3. Lower your voice. Never shout when you’re on the phone, especially when you’re in public.


4. Never text and drive. It’s dangerous to take your eyes off the road for even a few seconds. There are laws against this practice for a reason.

5. Don’t use your phone in meetings. It’s distracting and shows that you’re not pay¬ing attention to what’s going on.

6. Turn your phone off when required. There are certain places where you shouldn’t use your phone like the movies, hospitals, waiting rooms, libraries, and churches. At the very least, remember to turn your ringer off to avoid disrupting others.

7. Be present. It’s common for people to turn to their mobile devices in uncomfortable situations and when they don’t know what else to do. Using your phone as a crutch will prevent you from engaging with others.

Being courteous applies to how you use your cell phone. Always be polite and respectful, and try to set a good example for others to follow.

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December Celebrity Birthdays!

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Garrett Wang, 53, actor (Star Trek: Voyager), Riverside, CA, 1968. Lieven L. Litaer, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?

1 – Riz Ahmed, 39, actor (The Night Of), rapper, London, England, 1982.

2 – Nelly Furtado, 43, singer, Victoria, BC, Canada, 1978.


3 – Patrick Chamoiseau, 68, author (Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows), Fort-de-France, Martinique, Dec 3, 1953.

4 – Cassandra Wilson, 66, jazz singer, Jackson, MS, 1955.

5 – Margaret Cho, 53, actress (All-American Girl), comedienne, San Francisco, CA, 1968.

6 – Craig Newmark, 69, founder of craigslist, Morristown, NJ, 1952.

7 – Tom Waits, 72, singer, songwriter, actor (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Pomona, CA, 1949.

8 – Nicki Minaj, 37, singer, rapper, Onika Tanya Maraj, St. James, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 1984.

9 – Reiko Aylesworth, 49, actress (24), born Chicago, IL, 1972.

10 – Melissa Roxburgh, 29, actress (Manifest), Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1992.

11 – Mo’Nique, 54, actress (Precious), talk show host, born Monique Imes, Woodlawn, MD, 1967.

12 – Lucas Hedges, 25, actor (Manchester by the Sea), New York, NY, 1996.

13 – Jamie Foxx, 54, actor (Ray), producer, born Eric Marlon Bishop, Terrell, TX, 1967.

14 – Vanessa Hudgens, 33, actress (Spring Breakers), Salinas, CA, 1988.

15 – Garrett Wang, 53, actor (Star Trek: Voyager), Riverside, CA, 1968.

16 – Krysten Ritter, 40, actress (Jessica Jones), Bloomsburg, PA, 1981.

17 – Milton “Lil Rel” Howery, 42, actor (Get Out), comedian, Chicago, IL, 1979.

18 – Steven Spielberg, 75, producer, director (Schindler’s List), Cincinnati, OH, Dec 18, 1946.

19 – Jake Gyllenhaal, 41, actor (Brokeback Mountain), Los Angeles, CA, 1980.

20 – David Cook, 39, singer, television personality (American Idol), Houston, TX, 1982.

21 – Ray Romano, 64, comedian, actor (Everybody Loves Raymond), Queens, NY, 1957.

22 – Jerry Pinkney, 82, children’s book illustrator (John Henry), Philadelphia, PA, 1939.

23 – Susan Lucci, 72, actress (All My Children), Westchester, NY, 1949.

24 – Louis Tomlinson, 30, singer (One Direction), born Louis Austin, Doncaster, England, 1991.

25 – Jimmy Buffett, 75, singer (Margaritaville), Pascagoula, MS, 1946.

26 – Kit Harington, 35, actor (Game of Thrones), born Christopher Catesby Harington, London, England, 1986.

27 – Masi Oka, 47, actor (Heroes), Tokyo, Japan, 1974.

28 – John Legend, 43, singer, born John Stephens, Springfield, OH, 1978.

29 – Ross Lynch, 26, singer, actor (Austin & Ally), Littleton, CO, 1995.

30 – Michael Nesmith, 79, singer, songwriter (The Monkees), Houston, TX, 1942.

31 – Ben Kingsley, 78, actor (Gandhi), born Krishna Bhanji, Yorkshire, England, 1943.

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Upcoming Events

Dec
8
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 8 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
10
Fri
7:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Dec 10 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
7:00 pm Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Dec 10 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christmas Story @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
7:30 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Dec 10 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Friday, December 10, 2021 7:30pm Front Royal United Methodist Church 1 West Main Street | Front Royal, VA 22630 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108[...]
Dec
11
Sat
2:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Dec 11 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
7:00 pm Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Dec 11 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christmas Story @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
Dec
12
Sun
2:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Dec 12 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
3:00 pm Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Dec 12 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christmas Story @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
3:00 pm Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Dec 12 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Valley Chorale's Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
This year’s yuletide concert is titled THIS SHINING NIGHT.  Join us for a selection of seasonal songs — ranging in style from classical to spirituals to pop — sure to brighten your holiday and lift[...]
4:00 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Dec 12 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108 John Mosby Hwy. | Upperville, VA 20184 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees