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.
Choosing the truck that’s right for you
Truck owners typically use their pickup for one of four things: hunting, hauling, small jobs or transporting family members. Here are the key elements to consider before purchasing a truck destined for one of these uses.
1. For hunting
Hunting trips very often venture along logging roads or even off-road. Such excursions require a truck adapted for these conditions. To safely navigate this terrain, your vehicle needs to include certain features, such as a limited-slip differential, skid plates, high ground clearance and suitable tires. Here are a few models that meet these criteria:
• Chevrolet Silverado Z71
• Ford F-150 FX4
• Toyota Tundra TRD Pro
• Nissan Titan Pro-4X
2. For hauling
On the question of which truck is the ultimate workhorse, don’t expect a consensus among truck drivers. This much, however, can be agreed upon: if you’re pulling a heavy load, you need a heavy duty diesel truck; and if it’s a reasonably-sized trailer or boat you’re towing, or a motorcycle or snowmobile, a smaller truck will do the job. That said, no two trucks are made equal. Looking at the figures, here are a few that stand out for their towing capabilities:
• Ford F-150 3.5 EcoBoost: has the top towing capacity at 12,100 lbs and also has the most power and most torque.
• Ram Ecodiesel: has the best fuel efficiency and can tow up to 10,670 lbs.
• Chevrolet Silverado 6.2: can tow up to 11,460 pounds and is particularly enjoyable
• to drive.
3. For small jobs
Bigger isn’t always better. If you want a good all-round truck designed for smaller jobs, here are some models to consider:
• Honda Ridgeline: an excellent choice for people who want the best of two worlds: the practicality of a truck and the feel of an SUV.
• Toyota Tacoma: this indestructible Toyota model continues to be a synonym for reliability and durability. Not the most comfortable truck, but it’s tireless and can easily venture into the thicket.
• Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Canyon: less for work, more for pleasure, these two GM trucks aren’t suitable for big jobs, but can manage smaller ones perfectly.
4. For families
The phrase “family vehicle” usually brings to mind vans and SUVs; however, trucks can certainly fall into this category too. Certain models can comfortably seat six people, all while providing a ton of space in the back. There are in fact a number of trucks designed specifically for families. Here are several examples:
• Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra: these are the largest trucks of the bunch, with the most spacious interiors. They also offer the greatest number of family-oriented features, such as Wi-Fi Hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
• Ford F-150: some F-150 models are highly luxurious and include impressive SYNC voice-recognition technology and touch screens.
• Ram 1500: the only truck on this list with independent suspension and therefore the smoothest ride.
• Toyota Tundra: it isn’t the most spacious, and it’s far from being the most comfortable, but it’s the most dependable (no small thing).
Six steps to take following a car accident
After a car accident, it’s normal to feel disoriented—even if it’s just a fender bender. Therefore, it’s a good idea to know in advance what steps you’ll need to take. Here are six things to keep in mind should you be in an accident.
1. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If you or any passengers are injured, call 911 or have someone else do so.
2. Move to safety: If your vehicle presents a hazard to other drivers and it can safely be moved to the side of the road, do so.
3. Notify the police. Even if it’s just a fender bender, it doesn’t hurt to inform the police. If they aren’t able to come to the scene of the accident, you can go to the police station afterwards to fill out an accident report.
4. Exchange information. Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver.
5. Document the accident. Do the following:
• Write down the time and location of the accident
• Write down how it happened
• Take down the license plate number of the other vehicle (or, even better, take a picture of it)
• Get the names and badge numbers of any emergency personnel
• Get the names and contact information of any witnesses
• Provided you’re able to do so safely, take pictures of the damage
6. Notify your insurer. You can do this right away or in the hours that follow. The earlier you make the call, the faster your claim will be processed.
The last step is, of course, getting your vehicle repaired. Your insurer may recommend one of their preferred auto repair shops or auto body shops. While these may be good and reputable garages, know that you have the right to choose where you get your vehicle repaired. Even if it’s just to fix a few dents, going to an auto body shop you can trust is the best option.
Five benefits of employee volunteering programs
What if planting trees, running a 5K or preparing a meal for a homeless shelter was all part of a day’s work? Employee volunteering programs give staff the chance to escape the office for a day and help out in the community. Such programs benefit employees, employers and the community. Here are five key advantages they offer.
1. Boosting morale. Employee volunteering programs provide employees with rewarding experiences, allowing them to simultaneously feel proud of themselves and their company. Teams that partake in such initiatives together become stronger and more cohesive.
2. Developing skills. Volunteering is an effective way of building leadership, teamwork, collaboration, communication and problem-solving skills.
3. Enhancing company image. Customers and clients appreciate companies that make a positive difference. Increased visibility in the community is an excellent way to encourage new business.
4. Attracting the best talent. Companies that volunteer in their community become more attractive to potential employees. This is especially true of the younger generation, who highly value volunteerism.
5. Making the community better. Whether the initiative is cleaning up litter, improving the lives of those less fortunate or making an elderly person’s day, employee volunteer programs make communities better.
When companies adopt employee volunteer programs, they reap major rewards for themselves and their employees. Making a positive impact on the community at large is just one of the many advantages of these programs.
A recent Gallup poll found that companies who took part in employee volunteering programs increased profitability by 16%, general productivity by 18% and customer loyalty by 12%.
Depression in dogs: signs and treatments
A 2013 British study found that one in four dogs experiences depression. Given its prevalence, dog owners should be aware of how this health issue is identified and treated.
Recognizing depression in dogs
Most often depression in dogs is triggered by a major life change such as a move or a new pet, partner or baby in the household.
Dr. John Ciribassi, past president of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, explains that depressed dogs become withdrawn and inactive, their sleeping habits tend to change and they no longer participate in activities they once enjoyed. It should be noted, however, that such symptoms could also indicate a medical problem. For this reason, dogs who seem depressed should be seen by a veterinarian as a first course of action.
Treating the condition
Depression in dogs is usually short-term, lasting from a few days to a few months. Typically, dogs just need some extra attention during this time. Ciribassi recommends keeping them engaged, having them do the activities they enjoy and involving them in slightly more exercise than usual.
However, sometimes depression in dogs is a more serious matter, particularly following the loss of an animal or human companion. In such cases, it’s best to form a treatment plan with a veterinarian. Note that the earlier the issue is brought to a veterinarian’s attention, the more successful the treatment is likely to be.
A brief guide to winter camping
Winter camping isn’t as daunting as it may seem. With the right preparations, novice and experienced campers alike can hole up in a warm, cozy tent on snow-covered ground.
Much of the gear you need for winter camping is the same as what’s required for summer camping (a tarp, a knife, waterproof matches, fire starter, a flashlight, a first aid kit, kitchen items, personal items, etc.). There are, however, a number of other things you’ll need in order to deal with the cold and snow. Here are some of the basics you should take with you when winter camping.
• A four-season tent, a sleeping bag rated for winter camping and an inflatable sleeping pad.
• Warm clothing that stays dry (that means no cotton: consider synthetic or merino wool), as well as hats, gloves and other winter apparel.
• Waterproof boots that provide solid traction.
• Hand and toe warmers.
• A foam pad to put under your sleeping pad for extra warmth.
• A small shovel to clear snow on your campsite.
• Portable power packs (electronic equipment loses power faster in cold weather).
• Meals that are quick and easy to make since cooking and cleaning in mitts can be a challenge (for instance, freeze-dried meals for which you just add hot water).
While the above list isn’t exhaustive, it’s a great place to start. The only thing that remains is to set aside a weekend, choose a park and book your site.
Three types of courses that will get you outdoors this winter
Instead of hibernating indoors wishing for the warm weather to return, get outside this winter. Taking an outdoor class will help you load up on vitamin D and keep you active all season long. Here are three types of courses you can try.
Take ski lessons so you can hit the slopes with the whole family. If you’re not an adrenaline junky, head away from the hills and instead learn to cross country ski. Not only will you get plenty of fresh air, but you’ll also reap the benefits that come with getting a great workout.
2. Winter hiking
If leisurely strolls through the woods are more your thing, take a birdwatching class to see rare local birds. An ornithological guide will teach you how to spot birds in their natural habitat and teach you how to help preserve their environment.
A few other courses that will get you outside this winter include ice skating, ice climbing, snowboarding, kite skiing and snow yoga. As long as you dress warmly, winter is the perfect time to soak up some rays while learning something new.