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The chemistry of love



Falling in love may seem like a mystery of the heart, but in fact, an array of chemicals and hormones are at play. According to scientists, there are three categories of romantic love: lust, attraction and attachment. Each of these categories is governed by its own cocktail of hormones and chemicals.

Testosterone and estrogen fuel lust, or the desire for sexual gratification. While it’s typically considered a male hormone, testosterone increases libido for just about everyone. This effect is less prominent with estrogen, but many women report being more aroused around the time they ovulate, when the hormone’s levels are highest.

High levels of dopamine and norepinephrine are at play in the initial stages of a romantic relationship. Dopamine is released when we do something that makes us feel good, in this case, spending time with someone. Norepinephrine, which also plays a part in the fight or flight response, makes us feel more alert and nervous.

Together, these chemicals make people feel giddy, euphoric and energetic. They may also cause a decrease in appetite or the inability to sleep.

Oxytocin and vasopressin are the hormones that make us feel connected and attached to another person. Together, they help people bond to one another and induce a desire to create a long-term, monogamous relationship.

The chemistry of love is complex and fascinating. Thankfully, understanding the forces at play makes it no less meaningful.

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July celebrity birthdays!



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



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



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

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



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

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How to get rid of your golf slice



Among amateur and intermediate golfers, slicing the ball is a common problem. Typically, it’s caused by an outside-to-inside swing path that leaves the clubface open at the moment of impact. This sends the ball careening off to the right if the golfer is right-handed. Here are some tips to help you eliminate your slice and send the ball straight down the fairway.

Adjust your setup
Many golfers line up with the ball too far forward in their stance. This leaves the clubface open at the moment of impact and prevents the golfer from properly releasing the club. To help get rid of your slice, experiment with moving the ball a bit further back in your stance.

Fix your grip

A good golf swing starts with a good grip. It’s common for players who slice the ball to have their top hand too far underneath the club, which results in an open clubface. As a rule, you want to be able to see three knuckles on your left hand.

Tuck in your elbow
If your grip and setup are fine, then the issue is likely with your swing. One of the most common swing mistakes among players who slice is flaring out their right elbow during the backswing. This pulls the club away from the body, resulting in an outside-to-inside swing. To ensure your club follows a straight path, keep your right elbow as close to your body as possible during your backswing.

If following this advice doesn’t deliver your ball onto the fairway, consider taking one or more lessons from a golf instructor. You’ll likely benefit from more personalized pointers.

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4 ways golfers can improve their mental game



Golf is one of the most mentally challenging sports. Here are four tips to help you stay in the zone while you’re on the links.

1. Don’t dwell on bad shots
No one wants to hook the ball into the trees or pencil in a triple-bogey. However, you need to be able to move on from a bad shot to focus on the next one. Strategies for dealing with a disappointing hole include chatting with your playing partners and planning your next shot.

2. Have a pre-shot ritual

Following the same procedure before every shot can help you relax and get into the right headspace. Many golfers like to be consistent down to the number of practice swings and waggles they do.

3. Visualize success
Confidence can make a big difference. If you visualize yourself attaining the desired result before each shot, you may find you perform better. Moreover, this can help you work out a strategy for approaching a hole.

4. Stay healthy
Taking care of your body will help ensure you remain mentally sharp. Drink plenty of water, eat a nutritious meal, and warm-up before you hit the links. You’ll feel looser and more alert.

By mastering your mental game, you’ll be able to shave a few strokes off your scorecard and make this challenging sport more enjoyable.

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