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A beginner’s guide to horseback riding

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Are you going horseback riding for the first time? To ensure you have a fun and safe experience, it’s recommended that you take a riding lesson. However, it doesn’t hurt to know the basics beforehand. Here’s what you should know.

Gearing up
Riders need sturdy shoes or boots with a slight heel, pants and a riding helmet. The horse should be outfitted with the proper saddle, bit, bridle and reins.

Getting on

Always approach the horse from the front, never from behind. Use a mounting block to make it easier to climb onto the horse or get someone to help you. Get in the saddle by taking the reins in one hand, fitting your foot into the stirrup, gripping the pommel of the saddle and finally swinging yourself up onto the horse.

Sitting in the saddle
Sit up tall, but don’t be stiff. Ideally, there should be a straight line from your shoulder to your hip and through to your heel. Keep your weight equal on both sides of your body.

Riding the horse
Direct the horse to move by giving it a tap or nudge with your heels, depending on how it’s trained. Stay relaxed and keep in sync with the horse’s rhythm, allowing your hips to swing with its gait.

Horses have four gaits: walk, trot, canter and gallop. For your first time, you might want to go at a walk the entire time. However, if you’re feeling comfortable, you could advance to a trot by lightly tapping the horse with your heel.

Turning, slowing down and stopping
Gently tug the left or right rein to turn in the corresponding direction. To slow or stop the horse, pull back gently on the reins.

Getting off
To dismount, take the reins in one hand, remove your feet from the stirrups, then grip the pommel and swing your leg up and over the horse before sliding down to the ground.

These are the basic things you need to know for your first day riding, but always be sure to listen to your instructor. They know their particular horses better than anyone.

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Study: Cybercrime isn’t outlaw fun; it’s boring

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Cybercrime has gone mainstream, according to research by Cambridge University’s Cybercrime Centre, and it has become a snooze fest.

At one time, maybe, cybercrime attracted a certain type of brainy outlaw, looking for loot in the wild world of the internet. At least that is the way cybercriminals have been portrayed.

But the reality is much different.

It turns out that maintaining a network of connected computers designed to perform nefarious tasks is not only hard work but really boring work. That’s mainly because cybercrime has become a service, one that bad people can actually hire doing bad things. And if people are hiring you for a service, and if you have competition in the same evil area, you have to give good customer service. You need to collect money and deal with customer’s technical questions, all while fending off the cops and fighting wars with other criminals.

Another thing you have to do is find people who know enough to do the low-level technical work. But, these people are in short supply, and in a legal job, your low-level techie would be making more money.

That all means costs are high, work is hard with little reward in the thrill of it, while income isn’t that great.

Might as well be legit.

In fact, the business of running computer crime is nearly the same as legitimate system administrative work. The difference is most cybercrime services are exposed to law enforcement.

One former cybercriminal quoted in the Cambridge paper said:

“And after doing [it] for almost a year, I lost all motivation, and really didn’t care anymore. So I just left and went on with life. It wasn’t challenging enough at all. Creating a (cybercrime network) is easy. Providing the power to run it is the tricky part. And when you have to put all your effort, all your attention… When you have to sit in front of a computer screen and scan, filter, then filter again over 30 amps per 4 hours it gets annoying.”

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July 3 – August 11 – Welcome to Dog Days of summer

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In 1813 Brady’s Clavis Calendari um described Dog Days as an evil time “when the sea boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man, burning fevers, hysterics and phrensies.”

These are the hottest days of the year, variously calculated to run from 30 to 54 days. Though they are named after our canine friends, our current Fidos and Busters had nothing to do with the original designation.

In ancient times when Sirius, The Dog Star, rose just before or at about the same time as the sun, people believed that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather and named the short season after the star. Hot weather combined with common summer diseases of the age to make it a very unhealthy and uncomfortable time. To appease Sirius, the ancients prayed and made sacrifices.

All of that, of course, was before air conditioning and modern medicine that has pretty well eliminated the worst suffering from both man and dog. But hot weather can still get you down, Dog Days or not.

Heat exhaustion is one-way heat does it. If you get pale, sweat profusely has a weak, rapid pulse, queasy stomach and headache or dizziness, get yourself to a cool place and lie down. Sponge your skin and stay near a fan. Drink something cool (not iced). If symptoms last or your temperature stays at 100 degrees, see your doctor.

Heatstroke is much more serious and requires medical attention. Symptoms include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea or nausea, and hot, dry skin with no perspiration. Cool anyone with these symptoms as for heat exhaustion but also place ice packs under armpits, behind the neck, and on the groin while waiting for an ambulance.

Be kind to your animals too. Never tie up an animal outside in the sun without shade or water. If you see an animal treated this way, call your city’s animal management.
When walking your dog, stay away from paved streets and sidewalks. In the hot sun, paws burn.

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July celebrity birthdays!

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William Morris Agency (management) / Public domain

Do you share a July birthday with a celebrity?

1 – Leslie Caron, 89, actress (An American in Paris), Paris, France, 1931.

2 – Margot Robbie, 30, actress (The Wolf of Wall Street), Dalby, Australia, 1990.

3 – Julian Assange, 49, publisher (WikiLeaks), Townsville, Australia, 1971.

4 – Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, 38, television personality (Jersey Shore), New Brighton, NY, 1982.

5 – Edie Falco, 57, actress (The Sopranos), Brooklyn, NY, 1963.

6 – Kevin Hart, 40, comedian, actor (Ride Along), Philadelphia, PA, 1980.

7 – Doc Severinsen, 93, (former bandleader on The Tonight Show), Arlington, OR, 1927.

8 – Billy Crudup, 52, actor (Big Fish), Manhasset, NY, 1968.

9 – Jimmy Smits, 65, actor (LA Law), New York, NY, 1955.

10 – Chiwetel Ejiofor, 43, actor (12 Years a Slave), London, England, 1977.

11 – Richie Sambora, 60, musician (Bon Jovi), Amboy, NJ, 1960.

12 – Malala Yousafzai, 23, activist, Mingora, Pakistan, 1997.

13 – Patrick Stewart, 80, actor (Star Trek), Mirfield, England, 1940.

14 – Scott Porter, 41, actor (Hart of Dixie), Omaha, NE, 1979.

15 – Clive Cussler, 89, author (Sahara), marine historian, Aurora, IL,1931.

16 – Jayma Mays, 41, actress (Glee, Heroes), Bristol, TN, 1979.

17 – Aaron Lansky, 65, founder of the National Yiddish Book Center, New Bedford, MA, 1955.

18 – Chace Crawford, 35, actor (Gossip Girl), Lubbock, TX, 1985.

19 – Trai Byers, 37, actor (Empire), Kansas City, KS, 1983.

20 – Carlos Santana, 73, musician, Autlan, Mexico, 1947.

21 – Justin Bartha, 42, actor (National Treasure), West Bloomfield, MI, 1978.

22 – Don Henley, 73, musician (The Eagles), songwriter, Linden, TX, 1947.

23 – Woody Harrelson, 59, actor (Cheers), Midland, TX, 1961.

24 – Mitch Grassi, 28, singer (Pentatonix), Arlington, TX, 1992.

25 – Iman, 65, model, actress (Star Trek VI), Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, Mogadishu, Somalia, 1955.

26 – Taylor Momsen, 27, actress (Gossip Girl), St. Louis, MO, 1993.

27 – Cassandra Clare, 47, author (The Mortal Instruments series), Judith Rumelt, Tehran, Iran, 1973.

28 – Jim Davis, 75, cartoonist (Garfield), Marion, IN, 1945.

29 – Rayne “Dak” Prescott, 27 football player (2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year), Sulphur, LA, 1993.

30 – Laurence Fishburne, 59, actor (What’s Love Got to Do with It?), Augusta, GA, 1961.

31 – Rico Rodriguez, 22, actor (Modern Family), College Station, TX, 1998.

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The VDOT archaeologist who uncovered The Witch Bottle

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Possible witch bottle found under I-64 in Virginia. Photo courtesy of VDOT.

Prior to joining the Virginia Department of Transportation in March 2019, Chris Shephard, Richmond District archaeologist, made a “bewitching” discovery in an archaeological excavation of a Civil War fortification furing the Interstate 64 widening project.

His team from William & Mary uncovered the “witch bottle” that recently went viral online.

Witch bottles, folkloric artifacts, are collections of objects buried or hidden in houses to ward off evil spells or witchcraft.

This particular bottle was discovered in 2016 in the median of I-64 near Williamsburg.

Though damaged, the cask and contents were intact, having been preserved by the dirt dumped when I-64 was first constructed.

Shephard said the bottle may have been used to store nails to set up the Union camp at Redoubt 9. But a member of his crew, based on his own knowledge of folk traditions and witchcraft in colonial Pennsylvania, suggested it may be a witch bottle

“There is compelling evidence, as the bottle was found buried upright near a brick hearth with a nest of iron nails inside [similar to other bottles],” he said.

“There are ample written accounts of these practices in America and Europe and examples have been found archaeologically.

“On the other hand, all we have in this particular bottle is nails. If there was a cork on the bottle it disintegrated long ago in the acidic Tidewater soil, and any organic materials that may have been in the bottle are long gone.”

Still, he remains skeptical about the artifact’s purpose. A witch bottle is a deeply personal item, which is atypical in longer-term encampments.

“Soldiers likely spent most of their time in permanent accommodations in town, where they kept their personal effects,” Shephard said. “A rarely manned outpost that never saw action after it was taken by the Union seems an unlikely place to bury a witch bottle, but I can’t say what was in their heads.”

Though his team didn’t have time for further research, the item is still one of fascination and maybe revisited by other archaeologists.

“The great thing about archaeology is that in circumstances where the evidence points you in multiple different directions, it is okay to have multiple interpretations.”

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Learning how to recognize elder abuse

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Did you know that about one in 10 Americans aged 60 and older experience some form of elder abuse, most often at the hands of their spouse, children or adult grandchildren? World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which takes place on June 15, is an ideal opportunity to increase awareness about this prevalent and widely under-reported public health issue.

Examples of abuse
Whether it’s intentional or involuntary, the abuse of elderly people can take many forms. Some common types include physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and systemic abuse. Neglect and discrimination based on age also constitute elder abuse. Here are a few specific examples:

• Dragging the person by the arm to make them walk faster

• Force-feeding or spoon-feeding the person because they eat “too slowly”

• Administering medication to the person to make them more submissive

• Withholding information that concerns the person because you assume they won’t understand or you don’t want to take the time to explain

• Taking away the person’s car keys and thereby limiting their independence

• Speaking to the person with condescension or like they’re a child

• Placing the person in a seniors’ residence against their will

• Mocking the person because they don’t understand something

• Preventing the person from spending money on things they enjoy because you don’t want them to spend your inheritance

For more information on how to prevent, identify, and report elder abuse, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website at ncea.acl.gov.

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Flag Day June 14: The creator – and the improver – of the U.S. flag

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Francis Hopkinson was a man of many talents: He ran a store, was accomplished on the harpsicord, wrote music, invented a musical instrument, and negotiated treaties with the Delaware and Iroquois nations.

Plus he designed the United States flag. At least he thought he designed the flag and he asked Congress for a quarter cask of wine for his trouble.

Even though Congress didn’t pay, Hopkinson is recognized as the designer of the flag, although his sketches have been lost.
Hopkinson’s flag differs from the current design in that Hopkinson’s flag featured six-sided stars instead of five-sided stars.

George Washington himself is said to have asked Betsy Ross, an accomplished upholsterer, to sew the first flag. But Betsy argued that a five-sided star would be infinitely easier to manufacture than a six-sided star. When challenged, Betsy took out a swatch of material, folded it, and in one single snip produced a five-sided star. Her idea was adopted.

You can see directions for Betsy’s famous one-snip star at ushistory.org/betsy/flagstar.html.

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