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Mazda’s future is looking greener



Like many other automakers, Mazda is shifting towards producing greener vehicles. However, being a smaller company, it can’t do it alone and has enlisted the help of Toyota. Recently, the two companies made a deal that will give Mazda access to Toyota’s vehicle electrification expertise. What’s more, in November 2018, the two automakers invested $1.6 billion to begin building a massive car plant (it measures 3.3 million square feet) in Huntsville, Alabama.

The first order of business for the jointly owned car plant, which is scheduled to open in 2021 and will employ 4,000 people, is to make a redesigned Toyota Corolla. It will also produce a crossover Mazda, the details around which remain a mystery. The project is a 50-50 partnership, with the two companies contributing equally to the operation.

Shifting to the present, 2019 sees the arrival of a new generation of Mazda3s. More luxurious than its predecessors, the 2019 Mazda3 has the latest SKYACTIV chassis, which gives the car a more robust structure. Under the hood, the carmaker made a fantastic choice by opting for the latest generation SKYACTIV-G 2.0 with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, which is the cream of the crop when it comes to basic gasoline engines.

Alternatively, drivers can choose to purchase their 2019 Mazda3 with a SKYACTIV-X engine. This small 2-liter engine with a high compression ratio delivers 176 horsepower and is assisted by the new M Hybrid system, which optimizes fuel efficiency. The standard models feature either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. You can also opt for the 4-wheel drive model, a first for the Mazda3. The Mazda3 with the SKYACTIV-X engine should be available near the end of the year as a 2020 model.

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Basic manners in the airport, plane



Once upon a time, people got dressed in suits and ties or dresses for the occasion of a flight, which was seen as a special affair. Today? Not so much. And our manners sometimes reflect that more casual take.

But anytime you have a lot of people smushed into limited space, etiquette is an important consideration. So here are some tips for airport etiquette to keep in mind the next time you travel:

– Keep your phone quiet. Somehow, even in 2019, people seem to forget that headphones and earbuds are the best way to keep peace with your neighbors. Enjoy your music and your movie, but remember to keep it to yourself.

– Share armrests. Airplanes have shoved more and more seats into their cabins, which makes elbow room harder to find. Be a dear and leave some room on the armrest for the person next to you.

– Save the fish for another day. Your fellow travelers beg of you: save the fish tacos for a more open-air space.

– Speaking of stink: it’s a sensitive topic, to be sure, but a shower and some form of deodorant is most appreciated.

– Share the charging stations. Stay nearby and keep an eye on your device, and once it’s charged, unplug and let someone else use it. It’s not nice to be an outlet hog.

– Understand carry-on rules and restrictions. Don’t be That Guy, who’s trying to shove an Obviously-Far-Too-Large Suitcase and a set of golf clubs into the overhead bin and holding up the boarding process.

– Have your ticket and ID ready. You know they’re going to check, so have a plan in place for fetching your identification and ticket or boarding pass.

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A brief introduction to self-driving cars



Every day, the technology propelling the development of autonomous cars becomes increasingly fine tuned. Most experts agree that it won’t be long before driverless cars are cruising the streets in droves. Here are some of the basics about this emerging technology.

How does a self-driving car work?
The easiest way to understand how self-driving cars work is to look at their key technologies.

• Radar sensors monitor the speed and position of surrounding vehicles and objects.

• Lidar sensors build a map of the exterior world by shooting out millions of infrared lasers and recording how quickly they bounce back.

• Ultrasonic sensors are found in the wheels and they detect the position of the curb and surrounding environment when the vehicle parks.

The data from these sensors are transmitted to a central computer, which manipulates the steering, acceleration and braking.

What kinds of self-driving cars are there?
When it comes to self-driving technology, there are five levels of automation.

• Level 1: driver assistance. The car has various driver-assist features such as lane-keeping support and blind-spot detection.

• Level 2: partial automation. The driver remains engaged in driving and monitoring the road but can make use of certain automated features, such as parking assistance and traffic-jam assist (which allows for automated driving on well-paved roads when traffic is moving slowly).

• Level 3: conditional automation. The driver doesn’t need to monitor the environment but is prompted to intervene and take control of the wheel in certain circumstances.

• Level 4: high automation. The car can handle all driving tasks. The driver is prompted to intervene only in rare situations.

• Level 5: full automation. The car is fully self-operated and will never prompt a person to intervene.

As it stands, only Level 1 and Level 2 cars (such as the Tesla Model S) are available to consumers on a large scale. However, cars with more advanced automation are being tested by a number of automakers, and it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing Level 3s on the streets too.

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Good manners: Tips for tipping



Some rules for tipping are engrained: tip 15-20 percent of the pre-tax total when dining out. A dollar or two per bag to the airport valet.

Others are common though not everyone is aware of them: leave $2-$5 per night for hotel housekeeping staff, for example. (Some say higher, particularly if you’re staying somewhere swankier).

But some situations are trickier. How about when you order takeout and use a debit card, only to see a line on the receipt for a tip? Are you expected to fill that in?

It depends. There are no hard-and-fast tipping rules, more like unwritten societal expectations. No pressure.

Cab drivers as well as Uber and Lyft drivers typically get 10 to 18 percent of the fare, while a barber or hairdresser receives 15 to 20 percent of the bill.

A massage therapist customarily gets 20 percent, while you are not expected to tip a personal trainer; the caveat there is that a gift at the holidays is considered a nice touch.

And here are few you might not have thought of: the furniture delivery people customarily get $5-$10 per person and tow truck drivers often get tipped $3-$5 even if insurance is paying for the tow. And your personal house cleaning service doesn’t require tipping, though it is another entity in which a holiday gift is commonplace.

(And as for the takeout slip, there is no obligation to tip for takeout orders, although the staff would certainly appreciate a little something.)

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National Hurricane Preparedness Week May 5-11, 2019



How do hurricanes get their categories?

May 5 to 11 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, a time for raising awareness about the dangers of hurricanes and the importance of preparing for hurricane season.

If you’ve followed media coverage of major hurricanes, you’ve probably heard reporters discuss storms in terms of categories ranging from one to five. But do you know where these numbers come from or what they really mean?

Since 1970, hurricanes have been categorized according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which measures the sustained windspeeds of a storm in miles per hour. This scale puts hurricanes in categories ranging from one to five, with five being most severe.

Category one and two storms are considered minor hurricanes but are still very dangerous. People and property are at risk from flying debris, and affected areas are likely to lose power.

Category three storms are considered major, with property damage highly probable. Affected areas are likely to lose access to water and electricity, and flooding may cause water contamination for many days.

Category four and five storms are known as super typhoons. All structures are at risk of severe damage and possible roof failure. Flooding may reach far inland, and trees are likely to be uprooted or debarked. Affected areas typically lose power and water, sometimes for several months.

These categories are very useful for understanding how dangerous incoming hurricanes are likely to be. It’s important to note that the Saffir-Simpson scale only considers wind speeds and doesn’t account for the risk factors associated with rain or storm surges. Category one and two storms can still be extremely dangerous if they result in extreme rainfall and flooding.

For more information about Hurricane Preparedness Week, go to

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Spring car care checklist



Typically, your vehicle needs a bit of TLC come spring. Here are four things that should be at the top of your to-do list at the start of the season.

1. Schedule an oil change. Oil collects impurities as it lubricates and cools the engine. This is a good thing, but it also means that it becomes less effective over time. This is why regular oil changes are essential to maintaining a healthy engine.

2. Get your battery tested. Low temperatures during winter force your battery to work hard. Come spring, it may be on its last legs. To avoid the inconvenience of having your car fail to start, get your battery checked and, if necessary, replaced.

3. Check tire pressure. Fluctuations in temperature cause changes in tire pressure, so it’s important to check it as the weather starts to change. See the tire pressure recommendations in your vehicle’s manual.

4. Wash and wax your vehicle. Road salt used during winter corrodes your vehicle’s metal components. Thoroughly wash your vehicle, paying special attention to the underside where salt, dirt and debris tend to become lodged. Spring is the perfect time for a waxing too — this not only protects the finish of your vehicle but also makes subsequent washing easier.

These are some of the essential things to attend to in spring but note that the list could be added to. Your car’s fluids, windshield, belts and hoses, among other things, may require attention. Do a thorough inspection of your vehicle this spring or have your local garage perform this service.

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Celebrating Mother’s Day



Arriving on the second Sunday each May, Mother’s Day is a celebrated tradition that can trace its official roots back to before the Civil War.

According to the History Channel, a woman in that time named Ann Reeves Jarvis, of West Virginia, created ‘Mother’s Day Work Clubs’ to help teach women in the community how to take care of their children properly. After her passing in 1905, her daughter Anna Jarvis pushed to create a national holiday to honor the sacrifices that all mothers make for their children. In 1908, she secured financial contributions that allowed her to celebrate the day officially for the first time.

By 1912, many churches, towns, and states had adopted the holiday, and it was signed into measure by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.

Different people all across the world have developed their own Mother’s Day traditions in one form or another over the years. According to, Brazil’s holiday includes performances by children, church gatherings, and large, multi-generational barbecues. In Japanese culture, mothers are revered for their gentle strength and children use red or white carnations as gifts on their holiday to represent that along with pampering them for the whole day.

Serbia, meanwhile, has an interesting tradition in which Children’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day are all celebrated on consecutive Sundays in December, and each of them involves a kind of game in which the honored one is tied up. Mom and dad tie the kids up on children’s day and the children must agree to behave before being let go. The kids get their chance the next week when they tie up their mother. She must promise to supply yummy treats and gifts to the kids. Finally the kids tie up dad, and he must promise presents.

In North America, Mother’s Day typically involves flowers, the most popular of which are roses, tulips, lilies, daffodils, orchids and azaleas, according to ProFlowers. One-fourth of the flower and plant purchases made for holidays occur at Mother’s Day, according to the Society of American Florists.

Of course, there is always breakfast in bed — a traditional surprise for mom.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

all-day Local 5K for Lyme Awareness Month @ Anytime Fitness
Local 5K for Lyme Awareness Month @ Anytime Fitness
May 19 all-day
Local 5K for Lyme Awareness Month @ Anytime Fitness
It’s Lyme Awareness month and one of your local Lyme patients has organized a 5K to support Lyme awareness and research! Lauren Nicole is no stranger to Lyme disease. She has personally dealt with Lyme[...]
10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
May 20 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster[...]
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes: In and Ou... @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes: In and Ou... @ Art in the Valley
May 21 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes: In and Out of the Studio @ Art in the Valley
This four week course will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance. During the first class[...]
6:30 pm Rose Wine Class @ Element
Rose Wine Class @ Element
May 22 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Rose Wine Class @ Element
Join us for Rose’ Wine Class & Tasting at Element on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 6:30pm led by our own Caitlin Love! APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY ROSE! Come join us as we celebrate the[...]
9:30 am Painting: Composition and Color @ Art in the Valley
Painting: Composition and Color @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Painting: Composition and Color @ Art in the Valley
Explore your painting potential by creating unique compositions. We’ll find out what motivates you to paint and how to express your point-of-view on canvas. Learn methods of developing a composition and how to best use[...]
1:30 pm Portraits for Beginners: People ... @ Art in the Valley
Portraits for Beginners: People ... @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Portraits for Beginners: People and Pets @ Art in the Valley
Learn to create realistic portraits of people and pets. Students will practice drawing and painting techniques used in portraiture. Class meets once a week for five weeks. Students are required to bring their own reference[...]
3:00 pm The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
May 23 @ 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The Employer Expo @ War Memorial Building @ Jim Barnett Park
Have you been thinking about a career change? Are you nearing graduation and not quite sure what you want to do, or what your next step should be? Are you a parent of a student[...]
6:00 pm Painting the Landscape with Oils... @ Art in the Valley
Painting the Landscape with Oils... @ Art in the Valley
May 23 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Painting the Landscape with Oils: Late Spring @ Art in the Valley
This class provides a hands-on experience for painting with oils. Students will focus on techniques for painting landscapes. Class meets once a week for five weeks. Students are recommended to bring their own reference photos[...]
6:30 pm Confederate Memorial Day ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery's Soldiers Circle
Confederate Memorial Day ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery's Soldiers Circle
May 23 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Confederate Memorial Day ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery's Soldiers Circle
The Warren Rifles Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will again lead the annual Confederate Memorial Day ceremony on the anniversary of the Battle of Front Royal. Where: at Prospect Hill Cemetery’s Soldiers[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Author: Stephen Hudak @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Meet the Author: Stephen Hudak @ Royal Oak Bookshop
May 25 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Meet the Author: Stephen Hudak @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Of Dreams and Leadership: Learning to lead and sharing along the way by local author, Stephen Hudak In this collection of essays, Stephen Hudak shares his thoughts on Leadership and Learning.