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How to make the holidays more affordable

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While it’s almost impossible to avoid spending money around Christmastime, the festivities and gift-giving shouldn’t put you in debt. Here are a few tips for an enjoyable and affordable holiday season.

Create a budget
Write a list of all your holiday purchases including presents, food, drinks, decorations, and new outfits. Then, determine how much you can afford to spend on each category. To ensure you respect your budget, place the allocated money in an envelope, and use that instead of your credit card.

Stagger your purchases
Start shopping early and spread out your purchases over several weeks. This will help you avoid paying for everything at once or accumulating interest on a large outstanding credit card bill. You’ll also have more time to look for deals and stock up on items like gift wrap and non-perishable food when they’re on sale.

Buy local
If you purchase as much as you can nearby, you’ll save on gas and time. If you prefer to shop online, you’ll avoid exorbitant shipping fees. Additionally, sign up for newsletters from local stores as these sometimes contain exclusive offers.


Limit your expenses
There are plenty of simple ways to spend less during the holidays without missing out on the magic of the season. Among other things, you can:

• Gift your loved ones with memorable and affordable outings rather than pricey toys or gadgets

• Make certain presents by hand (personalized calendar, a gourmet goodie basket, etc.)

• Wrap your gifts in items you have on hand such as newspaper or reusable shopping bags

• Organize a clothing swap with friends to refresh your holiday wardrobe

• Host a potluck holiday meal

At the end of the day, the holidays are about spending quality time with loved ones, which is truly priceless.

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How to dispose of treated seed

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Treated seed contains pesticides and must be handled and discarded with care. Doing your part will help protect the health and safety of people, animals, and the environment.

Disposal options
Before disposing of treated seed, you should always read and follow the information on the pesticide label or bag. Here are several ways to safely get rid of it:

• Store. If you plan on using the treated seed in the future, return any excess seed to its original container and keep it in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area.

• Plant. Leftover treated seed can be planted in fallow ground, in an unused parcel of land, or in an area that won’t impact other crops. Make sure to follow any restrictions on the planting rate and depth outlined on the pesticide label or bag.


• Bury. If the pesticide label says that it’s safe to do so, you can dispose of one gallon or less of treated seed by burying it. Make sure that it’s buried in a location away from bodies of water and that it’s not accessible to people, pets, livestock, or wildlife.

• Destroy. If you have treated seed that’s more than a year old or has lost germination, bring it to a hazardous waste facility or municipal landfill that’s licensed to dispose of it. Be aware that this may be costly and require special permits.

In addition, make sure you never burn treated seed, spread it at higher-than-normal seeding rates, or use it as pet food or livestock feed.

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Automotive

How to get more mileage out of your gasoline

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With the cost of gasoline set to spike, using gas efficiently will save money. Follow these tips to help you maximize your vehicle’s fuel economy.

Maintain a quarter tank
Some think that driving to the last drop in the tank saves money since they’re using every drop they buy and not storing it. But that can harm the car and decrease gas mileage.

In fact, according to carID.com, drive with at least a quarter of a tank at all times so that the fuel pump is submerged in gas and stays cool. As gas drops below a quarter tank, condensation forms in the tank, diluting the fuel and causing rust. On an empty tank, the pump can pick up these rusty bits, which can hurt the pump and the motor.

Keep your speed steady
Plan routes that will keep your travel at a steady speed, even if they might be a little longer. This can actually be more fuel-efficient than stop-and-go driving, according to The Next Trip.


Pre-cool hybrids
When the weather is hot, turn on air conditioning while the car is still plugged in and let it cool, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This will extend the car’s range.

Windows up on the highway, down in the city
On the highway, keep windows rolled up and air conditioning on to maximize fuel economy, according to the US Department of Energy. Open windows create drag from wind resistance.
But in slow, stop-and-go conditions, turn the AC off and roll the windows down to increase fuel efficiency.

Cruise control on flat roads
Cruise control is great for straight, flat terrain, but in hilly conditions, turn it off. Cruise tends to gulp gas to make the vehicle accelerate up hills. Turn it off and, instead, go steadily up hills, allowing your speed to decrease slightly on the ascent and then increase when you go downhill.

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Support first responders by learning basic life-saving skills

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National EMS Week, which takes place from May 16 to 22, presents an annual opportunity to acknowledge the dedicated men and women who work as emergency medical service providers. It’s also an ideal time to learn how you can support first responders in an emergency.

It can take at least five to 10 minutes for first responders to arrive at the scene of an emergency, and what bystanders do to help in the interim can mean the difference between life and death. However, according to a national poll conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), a majority of adults feel unprepared to assist in a medical emergency until help arrives.

Fortunately, ACEP created Until Help Arrives, a one-hour training course designed to teach the average person basic life-saving skills and empower them to step in to help during an emergency. Through this concise, hands-on course, participants learn how to:

• Assess the level of safety at the scene of an emergency
• Communicate effectively with emergency dispatchers
• Recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest
• Perform compression-only CPR
• Stop severe bleeding with or without a tourniquet


For more information about how you can host or sign up for an Until Help Arrives course in your area, visit acep.org/uha.

Become an instructor
ACEP members are automatically eligible to teach the Until Help Arrives course. You can also apply to become an instructor if you’re a licensed MD, DO, RN, NP, PA, DPM paramedic, EMT, or EMR. People studying to become designated medical professionals may also qualify.

 

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Environment: A common aquarium grass is killing eagles

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One day in the 1950s, someone dumped an overgrown aquarium grass into a Florida waterway.

In 2021, the grass, called hydrilla, has taken over freshwater lakes in the east, south, and Midwest. What hasn’t been known until now is that the invasive plant hosts unique bacteria deadly to birds, including eagles.

That knowledge is the result of a 20-year investigation by U.S., German and Czech researchers into the mysterious incidences of the mass deaths of eagles and water birds.

The first identified mass death was in the fall of 1994 and winter of 1995 when 29 bald eagles died near Lake DeGray in Arkansas. A few years later, mass deaths of eagles, geese, coots, and ducks were found in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Texas. Birds were observed to be stumbling on the ground, unable to fly, and finally appearing paralyzed. The birds then become easy prey for eagles, who eat the birds and get the disease, too. One chilling question stands out: What if humans eat the ducks? There is no answer yet to that food chain murder mystery.


In a paper published in March in the journal Science, an international team of scientists has finally identified the killer: A cyanobacteria. Scientist Susan Wilde, professor of aquatic science at the University of Georgia, named the bacteria Aetokthonos hydrillicola, meaning ‘the eagle killer that grows on hydrilla.’

German scientist Timo Niedermeyer was able to grow the bacteria in a lab, and he identified one other substance on the hydrilla leaves: bromide. An ingredient used in sedatives, fuel additives, and water sanitizers. The plant appears to enhance the bacteria using bromide.

Not all hydrilla-infested waters are infected with the bacteria. The question is: How does the increased presence of bromide occur? It may come from human pollution, or maybe even the herbicides used to kill hydrilla.

While the research continues, it is crucial for people to not dump aquatic plants in waterways. Boaters can remove aquatic plants from propellers and hulls. Report sightings of odd behavior in birds to wildlife agencies.

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Tech tips for hurricane preparedness

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Technology has made it easier than ever to stay safe and connected in the event of an emergency. National Hurricane Preparedness Week, which takes place from May 9 to 15, is the perfect time to learn about the latest communication tools and technology you can use to plan ahead and stay informed if a storm strikes. Here are a few tech tips to keep in mind when preparing for hurricane season.

Social media
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can help you stay in touch during a hurricane. For example, you can use Facebook’s Safety Check feature to let your friends and family know that you’re safe. Also, you can sign up for Twitter alerts from trusted government agencies to help you stay up to date on the latest information from local officials.

Smartphone
Download the FEMA application to your smartphone as well as local radio, weather, and news apps to stay informed about the latest warnings and advisories in your area. In addition, you can use your smartphone to take photos of any damage to your property or assets.

Cloud server
Before hurricane season hits, you should back up all the information on your digital devices to a cloud-based server. Make sure you have digital copies of IDs, passports, drug prescriptions, and other key documents.


Online banking
It’s a good idea to sign up for a direct deposit and electronic banking through your financial institution. This way, if you’re evacuated from your home, you can still access your funds and make electronic payments.

For more information about how to prepare for a hurricane, visit the National Weather Service website at weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness.

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The hardest test in the world?

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This is an exam so rigorous that only 10 percent of those who take it pass.

In the entire 45-year history of the test, only nine have ever passed the exam on the first try.

There is no writing in the exam. Candidates speak their answers, demonstrating both their knowledge and style. If they pass, they get a simple lapel pin.

Have you figured out the riddle?


This is the Master Sommelier Exam. Its winners go on to be wine stewards in the finest restaurants in the world. Their role is on par with the chef. They must have knowledge of the characteristics, prices, and food pairings for wine. Since the Master Sommelier diploma was introduced in 1969, there have been just 269 Masters awarded (as of 2020).

Candidates for the Master diploma have three chances to pass the test.

They must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the history, geography, soil, and climate of key towns, villages, and vineyards of wine regions, as well as the key wines. They have to know winemaking techniques in each region, and identify wines from the region by taste, according to Fine Dining In Gloves. They also must know the best vintages from each region from the 1970s to the present, including the appropriate terminology in every language of each region.

When you are at a fine restaurant and the sommelier (with his tastevin hanging at his neck) approaches to help you select just the right vintage, look for the lapel pin. While many can be a sommelier, few can be a master.

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
75°
Sunny
5:56am8:22pm EDT
Feels like: 75°F
Wind: 4mph SE
Humidity: 43%
Pressure: 30.28"Hg
UV index: 0
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84/55°F
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Upcoming Events

May
19
Wed
12:00 pm Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
May 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
Many business owners struggled with the consequences of COVID-19 in 2020. Now, more than a year later, many of those same business owners have turned chaos into creativity finding new opportunities for growth. The Fauquier[...]
May
22
Sat
10:00 am Backcountry Basics: Earth Connec... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Backcountry Basics: Earth Connec... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Backcountry Basics: Earth Connection Series @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the Carriage Barn in Historic Area. Connect with the park’s landscape and get a taste of the skills you need to thrive in the backcountry. Participants will join experienced outdoor skills instructor Tim[...]
10:00 am Six-Button Mess – Civil War Enca... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Six-Button Mess – Civil War Enca... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 22 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Six-Button Mess - Civil War 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. Interact with the Six-Button Mess as they perform daily tasks of the Confederate soldiers. See[...]
May
23
Sun
10:00 am Six-Button Mess – Civil War Enca... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Six-Button Mess – Civil War Enca... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 23 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Six-Button Mess - Civil War 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. Interact with the Six-Button Mess as they perform daily tasks of the Confederate soldiers. See[...]
May
30
Sun
10:00 am Stroll Along the Stream: Riparia... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Stroll Along the Stream: Riparia... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 30 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Stroll Along the Stream: Riparian Buffer Exploration @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at Backcountry Trailhead. Explore the Gap Run’s unique ecosystem called a “riparian buffer,” the zone of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation alongside waterways. Discover the amazing ways our native plants protect water quality and[...]
Jun
5
Sat
10:00 am Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 5 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Boston Mill Road Trail near Park Office. Learn how fences and tree plantings improve water quality at Sky Meadows State Park. Stop by our Explorer Outpost table along the Boston Mill Road Trail where kids[...]
10:00 am National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 5 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the intersection of the Boston Mill Road and James Ball trails. Get your hands dirty as we work to improve the hiking experience on James Ball Trail. Discover how uncontrolled water erodes topsoil,[...]
11:00 am Backcountry Crash Course: Earth ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Backcountry Crash Course: Earth ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 5 @ 11:00 am – Jun 6 @ 11:15 am
Backcountry Crash Course: Earth Connection Series @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the Overnight Parking lot. Ready to try backcountry camping? Spend 24 hours in nature learning backcountry skills and survival techniques with professional outdoor instructor Tim MacWelch. With Sky Meadows’ Backcountry Campground as the[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 5 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Blacksmith Shop in the Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and[...]
Jun
12
Sat
11:00 am VA State Parks History and Cultu... @ Sky Meadows State Park
VA State Parks History and Cultu... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 12 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
VA State Parks History and Culture: Water Powered Mills @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Over 50 streams and waterways crisscross Fauquier County, once powering nearly 300 mills and providing an important service to local farmers such as Abner Settle. Located in close proximity to Sky Meadows, along[...]