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FedNow: Ushering in an Era of Instant Money Transfers

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The Federal Reserve’s New Leap Toward Real-Time Payments.

The frustration of waiting days for money transfers may soon be a thing of the past for American consumers and businesses. The Federal Reserve’s fresh-out-of-the-oven instant payment service, aptly named FedNow, is geared up to redefine the pace and efficacy of monetary transactions.

Traditionally, the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system has been the backbone for banks to process payments, a method often mired by its sluggish three-day clearing and settlement process. Under ACH, banks first exchange and verify payment details (clearing) before the actual fund transfer (settlement) is executed.

FedNow aims to bypass this prolonged waiting period by introducing real-time processing and settlement of transactions. This means users can experience almost instantaneous money transfers, regardless of weekends or public holidays, eliminating the conventional banking downtime.

However, there’s a slight catch. Consumers won’t directly enroll in the FedNow service. Instead, it’s up to their respective banks to integrate with the service. While this does come at a cost to the banks, it remains uncertain if and how these charges might trickle down to the average consumer.

Yet, the potential benefits are undeniably tempting. Imagine being able to clear bills right on the due date or making time-sensitive transactions without a hiccup. Such seamless transactions could significantly reduce overdrawn accounts and late payment fees and even lessen the reliance on physical cash and checks.

Though officially launched at July’s end, the system isn’t entirely new to the scene. Approximately 120 banks have already been putting FedNow to the test since 2021, ensuring its efficiency and reliability. However, it’s worth noting that for the time being, FedNow’s capabilities will be limited to domestic transfers within the United States.

As the world marches steadfastly into the digital age, financial systems must evolve to cater to contemporary needs. With the introduction of FedNow, the Federal Reserve has taken a pivotal step in bridging the divide between traditional banking and the swift-paced demands of today. Although only time will reveal its full impact on the banking landscape, for now, it seems both consumers and businesses have a lot to look forward to.

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The Royalty of Gestures: The Nod

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Like the variety of words Eskimos use to describe snow, the “nod” has infinite meanings and offers endless, nuanced shades of communication. A nod can simultaneously speak virtually every language yet never utter a word. A nod can be heavy or weigh nothing. For these reasons and more, the humble nod is considered by many to be the Royalty of Gestures, an art form: side to side, up and down, or down and up.

The most common nod sighting is when two males cross paths – happens every day if one steps out into the world. (Generally speaking, women may not nod in passing, though there are exceptions.) It’s an eye-to-eye male thing whose origins probably date back to when we were still in the cave, and it was critical that one’s intentions not be misunderstood. First, a meeting of the eyes and then a nod of friendly feelings.

Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, the nod begets a return nod so that the nodders know all is well in their respective worlds. Handshakes come from the same place. Occasionally, the noddee doesn’t return the nodder’s gesture: Bad hair day — Nothing personal. Even rarer is a bounce-back scowl: Angry man — Potential danger. Danger, where the benefits of casting a nod are most informative. There are some people for whom it’s best to keep one’s distance. Here’s a perfect example where, without saying a word, a nod is telling us something — And we should listen.

There are regular nods and “up-nods,” whereby the head is gently snapped up and back down, whereas a regular nod is down and back up. The regular nod is employed almost exclusively with males you don’t know, feeling out for that communication of peaceful intentions, whereas the “Up Nod” is reserved for friends or acquaintances and often accompanied by a verbal acknowledgment as in “Hey, Joe” Up Nod.

On occasion, women may demurely smile back at an appropriate male’s nod, one whose meaning is respectful, where there is a mutual understanding that there is no intent to encourage anything further. Think of it as a tip of the hat. But never a return nod here. And there is the side-to-side nod in company, which usually means either a simple no or when secretly done with great subtlety in a delicate situation: “Shut up.”

The mutual understanding nod happens when two or more individuals bob their heads in collective agreement, up and down for yes, or side to side, together, for no. The up nod doesn’t apply here. Meditation precedes the “all-knowing” nod. Also, be careful with your “Auction nod”. An accidental nod at the wrong time at an auction could buy you a castle in Spain that you couldn’t pay for in a million years.

A raised eyebrow often serves in place of a nod, reserved mostly for male-female encounters. But we can’t all do that, and so have to fall back on the nod, providing an appropriate invitation has been sent. A nod here is usually not as effective as an arched eyebrow thrown at the right time.

A nod is an acknowledgment, a courtesy, an answer, an opinion, a question, a yes and a no, and, with a shrug of the shoulders, even a maybe.

There’s so much more. Here we’re just scratching the surface on the art of nodding.

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Malls May Be Dying, but Santa Still Thrives: A Journey Through Time and Tradition

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Where will the kids see Santa in an era of declining malls? The evolution of Santa Claus and the future of this cherished holiday tradition.

The Dawn of a Jolly Tradition
In the bygone era of yesteryears, children’s knowledge of Santa Claus was primarily gleaned from stories, newspapers, and cherished books. Santa, the mythical figure who embodied the spirit of giving, was a distant yet beloved character in the hearts of children worldwide. However, the dawn of a new tradition was on the horizon, and it was about to change how families experienced Christmas’s magic.

In 1891, a pivotal moment occurred in retail and holiday celebrations. James Edgar of Brockton, Massachusetts, donned the iconic red suit and bushy white beard, becoming the first Santa Claus to grace a department store. This momentous event marked a sea change in the world of retail, as children from near and far began arriving by train to catch a glimpse of this legendary figure. While Macy’s in New York City also lays claim to hosting the first Santa, it was James Edgar’s portrayal that set the archetype of Santa as a jolly, rotund grandfather figure, as reported by New England.com.

From Downtown Stores to Mall Santas
As the 20th century progressed, the landscape of Santa sightings underwent a transformation of its own. By the late 1990s, Santa had largely bid adieu to the freestanding downtown department stores, which had begun to decline in popularity. Instead, he found a new home in the heart of America’s booming malls. It was a symbiotic relationship; malls provided a hub for holiday shoppers, and Santa brought in the families, creating cherished memories captured in photographs.

Yet, as we step into the year 2023, a pall of uncertainty hangs over America’s shopping malls. With only 700 malls still in operation, a sharp decline from the apex of mall culture in the 1980s when there were 2,500, according to Business Insider, the landscape is indeed changing. However, Santa Claus remains a stalwart presence, proving that the allure of the holiday season transcends the ebb and flow of retail trends.

A Profitable Tradition Endures
In the face of adversity, Santa continues to thrive, drawing entire families for professional photos amid glittering backdrops. Gone are the days of modest North Pole sets; today’s high-end shopping centers, like the Grove in Los Angeles, adorn towering 100-foot trees, while Paramus Park Mall in New Jersey boasts an extravagant 10-room Christmas village brimming with festive goods for sale.

Even smaller, ailing malls manage to summon the holiday spirit for a few precious weeks each year. Take the Military Circle Mall in Norfolk, Virginia, which was razed earlier this year. It managed to welcome crowds during the last weeks of 2022, infusing an otherwise dark and vacant space with the luminance and warmth of one last Christmas celebration.

The Uncertain Future of Santa
Yet, malls face a sketchy future, and the implications are far-reaching. Small towns may soon find themselves devoid of department stores or malls, leaving us to ponder the fate of Santa Claus. Will your UPS driver don a red suit and exclaim a hearty “ho ho ho” while delivering presents to your doorstep? Might you order up Santa delivery as casually as your favorite burrito? Could the age-old tradition of meeting Santa shift to a virtual realm, with families Skyping Santa from their living rooms?

As we stand at this crossroads, the future of Santa culture remains uncertain. What is certain, however, is the enduring appeal of this beloved holiday tradition. In the face of changing retail landscapes, Santa Claus, that symbol of generosity and goodwill, will find a way to continue spreading joy and brightening the hearts of children, young and old.

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Stress-Free Holiday Celebrations: Tips for a Relaxing Season

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Simple Strategies to Navigate the Holiday Frenzy with Ease.

The holiday season, while filled with joy and festivities, often brings a whirlwind of stress and exhaustion. However, with a few practical tips and mindful approaches, it’s entirely possible to bask in the holiday spirit without feeling overwhelmed. Here’s how you can enjoy a more relaxed and fulfilling holiday season.

Shopping: Begin your holiday shopping early, especially when using online retailers. Avoid the last-minute rush by adhering to a general rule: aim to ship gifts by December 15. For late purchases, overnight shipping is an option, but keep track of each order to ensure timely arrival.

Decorating: Transform your space into a festive haven with just one or two tasteful displays. There’s no need to go overboard with decorations both inside and outside. Aim to complete your decorating by the first week of December for a stress-free holiday ambiance.

Baking: If time is short, let a local bakery handle your holiday treats. This approach saves time and allows you to enjoy a variety of professionally made goodies.

Christmas Dinner: Simplify your holiday meal. Instead of an array of side dishes, focus on a main course like turkey, rib roast, or ham, complemented by classics like baked potatoes, vegetables, and salad. A straightforward menu can be just as festive and far less taxing.

Family Visits: To manage demands for your presence, plan early. If balancing visits between two sets of parents, consider scheduling one for Christmas Day and the other for Christmas Eve. Alternative options include meeting on the Sunday before Christmas or the Saturday after.

Gift Wrapping: Save time with gift bags or boxes, adding just a simple bow for a touch of festivity. This method is efficient and presents your gifts in an attractive and hassle-free manner.

Personal Care: Maintain your normal sleep and exercise routines as much as possible. Embrace quiet moments to rejuvenate amidst the holiday bustle.

Holiday Eating: Approach holiday meals with moderation. Avoid going to dinners on an empty stomach, and try to sample small portions of different dishes. Stopping before you’re completely full can help you enjoy the variety without discomfort.

Dealing with Relatives: Prepare mentally for family gatherings. Resolve to enjoy the occasion despite any challenging dynamics, and remember to take things in stride.

The key to a stress-free holiday season lies in simplification and planning. By streamlining your approach to shopping, decorating, and entertaining, you can create a relaxed atmosphere that allows you to enjoy the essence of the season truly. Remember, the holidays are a time for joy and celebration, not stress and exhaustion.

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December Celebrity Birthdays!

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Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?

Ozzy Osbourne, 75, singer (Black Sabbath), Birmingham, England, 1948. F darkbladeus, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

1 – Riz Ahmed, 41, actor (Rogue One), London, England, 1982.

2 – Dan Butler, 69, actor (Frasier), Huntington, IN, 1954.

3 – Ozzy Osbourne, 75, singer (Black Sabbath), Birmingham, England, 1948.

4 – Jin, 31, singer (BTS), born Kim Seok-Jin, Gwacheon, South Korea, 1992.

5 – Margaret Cho, 55, actress (All-American Girl), comedian, San Francisco, CA, 1968.

6 – Thomas Hulce, 70, actor (Amadeus), Plymouth, MI, 1953.

7 – C. Thomas Howell, 57, actor (E.T.), Los Angeles, CA, 1966.

8 – Kim Basinger, 70, actress (Batman), Athens, GA, 1953.

9 – Judi Dench, 89, actress (Shakespeare in Love), York, England, 1934.

10 – Melissa Roxburgh, 31, actress (Manifest), Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1992.

11 – Hailee Steinfeld, 27, actress (Ender’s Game), Thousand Oaks, CA, 1996.

12 – Lucas Hedges, 27, actor (Moonrise Kingdom), New York, NY, 1996.

13 – Emma Corrin, 28, actress (The Crown), Royal Tunbridge Wells, England, 1995.

14 – Vanessa Hudgens, 35, actress (Spring Breakers), Salinas, CA, 1988.


15 – Dave Clark, 81, musician (Dave Clark Five), London, England, 1942.

16 – Theo James, 39, actor (Divergent), born Theo Taptiklis, Oxford, England, 1984.

17 – Shannon Woodward, 39, actress (Raising Hope), Phoenix, AZ, 1984.

18 – Billie Eilish, 22, singer, born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell, Los Angeles, CA, 2001.

19 – Jennifer Beals, 60, actress (Flashdance), Chicago, IL, 1963.

20 – Uri Geller, 77, psychic, clairvoyant, Tel Aviv, Israel, 1946.

21 – Kiefer Sutherland, 57, actor (24), London, England, 1966.

22 – Hector Elizondo, 87, actor (Pretty Woman), New York, NY, 1936.

23 – Susan Lucci, 77, actress (All My Children), Westchester, NY, 1949.

24 – Louis Tomlinson, 32, singer (One Direction), born Louis Austin at Doncaster, England, 1991.

25 – Barbara Mandrell, 75, singer, Houston, TX, 1948.

26 – Chris Daughtry, 44, television personality (American Idol), Roanoke Rapids, NC, 1979.

27 – Masi Oka, 49, actor (Heroes), Tokyo, Japan, 1974.

28 – David Archuleta, 33, singer (American Idol), Miami, FL, 1990.

29 – Marianne Faithfull, 77, singer, London, England, 1946.

30 – V, 28, singer (BTS), born Kim Tae-hyung, Daegu, South Korea, 1995.

31 – Sir Anthony Hopkins, 86, actor (Silence of the Lambs), Port Talbot, Wales, 1937.

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Hidden Treasures: The Stories Tucked Between Book Pages

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Beyond the Story: The Unexpected Keepsakes Found in Old Books.

Every old book carries a story – not just the one penned by the author, but also the memories and mementos left behind by its readers. As a book travels from one hand to another, it becomes a vessel of memories, bearing both the imprints of time and traces of personal histories.

Wander into any old bookstore, and the tales nestled between pages might surprise you. Bookstore employees, well-acquainted with the phenomenon, have stumbled upon a fascinating array of items long forgotten by previous owners. These inadvertent time capsules tell stories that extend beyond the printed words. From vintage photographs that capture moments frozen in time to ticket stubs hinting at memorable events, each item paints a picture of its past owner’s life. Love letters, rich with emotions and tales of romance, are frequently found, allowing a sneak peek into someone’s personal world. Even a letter from Mrs. Robert E. Lee has been discovered between the pages, offering a tangible link to history.

Yet, not all treasures found in books are accidental. Some are deliberate, cheeky nods from the author themselves. Take the case of novelist David Bowman. In a playful gesture, Bowman inserted publishers’ rejection letters into the first edition of his novel, “Let the Dog Drive” (Penguin USA). This cheeky insert not only adds character to the book but also provides a humorous commentary on the journey of a writer. And guess what? This unique edition fetched him a handsome sum when he decided to part with it.

So, the next time you decide to part with a cherished book, consider the choices at hand. Will you comb through its pages, reclaiming forgotten memories? Or perhaps you might leave a piece of yourself within its covers, letting the next reader embark on a delightful treasure hunt. After all, in the vast universe of literature, these tiny fragments of personal history only add to the magic, ensuring that every book is more than just a collection of words.

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Cinema’s Sweetest Moments: The Ultimate Movie Pie Fights

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Step into the world of classic movie pie fights, where laughter and pastry collide in delightful chaos.

Pie-Faced Legends: Stan and Ollie’s Triumph
The timeless appeal of a pie in the face dates back to the early days of cinema, where slapstick humor reigned supreme. Yet, one iconic pie fight, the brainchild of the legendary comic duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, stands out as the quintessential pie-tossing extravaganza.

In their silent film masterpiece, “Battle of the Century,” released on December 31, 1927, Laurel and Hardy embarked on a quest to create the ultimate pie fight. At the time, pies in the face had become a staple gag but were in danger of growing stale. Laurel, the creative genius, envisioned something grandiose. “Let’s give them so many pies that there never will be room for any more pie pictures in the history of movies,” he declared to a biographer.

The result? A spectacle of epic proportions, with 3,000 pies hurled in all directions. However, despite the grandeur of their pie fight, the film itself was lost to time, leaving only the memory of the legendary pastry showdown. That is, until 2013, when a collector unearthed a reel containing the historic battle, making it easily accessible on platforms like YouTube for modern audiences.

But as remarkable as Laurel and Hardy’s pie fight was, it wasn’t the grandest in cinematic history.

The Great Race: A Pioneering Pie Extravaganza
For baby boomers, “The Great Race” holds a special place in cinematic nostalgia. Released in 1965, this movie offered a thrilling story and a spectacular pie fight that left an indelible mark on film history.

The plot revolves around an international auto race featuring two daring rivals: Jack Lemmon as the villainous Professor Fate and Tony Curtis as the dashing hero known as The Great Leslie. The pie fight, an unforgettable moment, ignites when Lemmon’s character plunges into a towering two-story cake. Curtis miraculously remains un-pied until his love interest, portrayed by Natalie Wood, delivers a direct hit to cap off the chaos.

This four-minute pie battle required a staggering 4,000 pies flung over five days of intense filming. In today’s currency, it amounted to a sweet $1.5 million in production costs for the year 2023. As if that weren’t enough when director Blake Edwards finally yelled “cut,” the cast promptly reciprocated the pie-pelting by smothering him with several hundred pies.

While “The Great Race” may hold the title for the costliest and most pie-laden cinematic battle, it is worth noting that The Three Stooges, renowned for their slapstick comedy, also left their mark on pie fight history. In the 1941 classic “In The Sweet Pie and Pie,” the Stooges indulged in a messy pie-throwing spree, targeting society’s elite with their pastry projectiles.

In the annals of film history, these legendary pie fights continue to tickle our funny bones, proving that the simple joy of a well-aimed pie to the face transcends time and generations.

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Front Royal, VA
45°
Sunny
7:18 am4:50 pm EST
Feels like: 45°F
Wind: 0mph NNE
Humidity: 63%
Pressure: 30.16"Hg
UV index: 1
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59°F / 46°F
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Upcoming Events

Dec
9
Sat
8:00 am Breakfast with Santa @ Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department
Breakfast with Santa @ Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department
Dec 9 @ 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Breakfast with Santa @ Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department
Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department is having a Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, December 9th, from 8:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. Adults are $10.00 Kids are $5.00 Children 5 and under are free!
12:00 pm Christmas Lunch for Kids, Vets a... @ Front Royal Elks Lodge
Christmas Lunch for Kids, Vets a... @ Front Royal Elks Lodge
Dec 9 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Christmas Lunch for Kids, Vets and Seniors @ Front Royal Elks Lodge
The Front Royal Elks Lodge will hold it’s annual Holiday Lunch for Kids, Veterans and Seniors on Saturday, December 9. Festivities will begin at 12 noon. Mr. and Mrs. Clause are said to be coming!
4:30 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 9 @ 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA’s Jet Propulsion[...]
Dec
12
Tue
7:30 pm American Legion Community Band C... @ Boggs Chapel at R-MA
American Legion Community Band C... @ Boggs Chapel at R-MA
Dec 12 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
American Legion Community Band Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel at R-MA
The American Legion Community Band, located in Front Royal, Virginia, was formed in 1986 and has been playing concerts in the area ever since. The conductors and band members are all volunteer musicians from the local[...]
Dec
13
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 13 @ 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
16
Sat
7:00 am Pancake Breakfast @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Pancake Breakfast @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Dec 16 @ 7:00 am – 10:00 am
Pancake Breakfast @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Join us for pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, biscuits, sausage gravy, and juice/coffee! All are invited for this FREE event. Offering will be accepted.
10:00 am 10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 16 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of a Civil War Encampment during the holidays. Interact with the 10th VA Infantry, also known as the Valley Guards,[...]
1:00 pm The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
Dec 16 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of The Nutcracker, a Christmas classic to be enjoyed by the whole family! When: Saturday, December 16th at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM Where:[...]