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The star of life: a universal symbol of Emergency Medical Services (EMS)



Our national EMS responders treat 25 to 30 million patients each year and the workforce encompasses four levels of trained medical professionals: Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) and Paramedic.

One symbol that’s universally associated with EMS in the U.S. and around the world is the star of life. This symbol is used to indicate where emergency medical care can be found and is typically seen on ambulances, emergency medical equipment, uniforms worn by EMS personnel, medical textbooks and medications.

The star of life is a blue, six-pointed star with a white border. At its center, the star usually features a staff with a serpent wrapped around it. This staff is linked with Asclepius, an ancient Greek deity associated with medicine and healing. The Rod of Asclepius is a common symbol for the medical profession across the globe.

The six points of the star represent the six main stages of emergency medical care performed by EMS providers. These are:

• Detection
• Reporting
• Response
• On-scene care
• Care in transit
• Transfer to definitive care

The next time you see an EMS worker wearing the distinctive star of life badge, make sure to thank them for their commitment to emergency medical care. To learn more about National EMS Week in 2019 and the critical work of EMRs, EMTs, AEMTs and paramedics across the country, visit

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How to become a birdwatcher



Are you looking for a hobby now that you’re retired? If so, then birdwatching could be a great fit.

All you need are binoculars, a species identification guide, a notebook, and a good pair of walking shoes. This makes birding an affordable pastime. Plus, you can do it anywhere, from urban parks to forest trails. You can even take up birding in your own backyard.

Since many species migrate, the types of birds that are active in your area will vary with the seasons. This makes birdwatching an interesting hobby year-round. All it takes is patience, a keen eye, and some free time.

If you’re ready to give it a try, consider joining a local birdwatching club. You’ll be able to access a wealth of knowledge, which will make your next excursion all the more enriching.

Additionally, there are numerous publications and online resources you can consult to get more information about birding.

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People will change their lives because of Covid. Maybe.



After a couple of months of quarantine, commentators across the world are speculating about what will happen to relationships and the world.

Will the divorce rate go up? The Boston Globe notes that some cities in China had a spike in divorce applications following the COVID-19 outbreak. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt.

Will more people get married? Maybe the isolation of quarantine was too much. One city-dwelling 20-something wrote in Medium that he lived for 20-second text contacts, and he felt adrift.

Maybe marriage and family, the old solution, will be the new solution.

Radical social transformation? A UK economist writes in the Future that COVID-19 will require radical social change, a new socialist model. It’s not just a few weeks at home.

Subtle social transformation? Sybil Francis, President & CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona, wrote in, that COVID started the trend toward telemedicine, telecommuting, and more sympathy toward the vulnerable.

An end to polarization? A Columbia University professor who studies intractable conflict, writes in Politico an idea he admits is idealistic: Perhaps we will all come together to unite against a common enemy. He asserts that 75 percent of inter-state conflicts have ended 10 years after a colossal shock to the system.

Will education be online and personal? Katherine Mangu-Ward, a senior editor at Reason, thinks the resistance to homeschooling will be swept away, at least for K-12.

More fun? Mary Frances Berry, professor of American Social Thought, history, and African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks people will look for carefree entertainment.

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Study: Cybercrime isn’t outlaw fun; it’s boring



Cybercrime has gone mainstream, according to research by Cambridge University’s Cybercrime Centre, and it has become a snooze fest.

At one time, maybe, cybercrime attracted a certain type of brainy outlaw, looking for loot in the wild world of the internet. At least that is the way cybercriminals have been portrayed.

But the reality is much different.

It turns out that maintaining a network of connected computers designed to perform nefarious tasks is not only hard work but really boring work. That’s mainly because cybercrime has become a service, one that bad people can actually hire doing bad things. And if people are hiring you for a service, and if you have competition in the same evil area, you have to give good customer service. You need to collect money and deal with customer’s technical questions, all while fending off the cops and fighting wars with other criminals.

Another thing you have to do is find people who know enough to do the low-level technical work. But, these people are in short supply, and in a legal job, your low-level techie would be making more money.

That all means costs are high, work is hard with little reward in the thrill of it, while income isn’t that great.

Might as well be legit.

In fact, the business of running computer crime is nearly the same as legitimate system administrative work. The difference is most cybercrime services are exposed to law enforcement.

One former cybercriminal quoted in the Cambridge paper said:

“And after doing [it] for almost a year, I lost all motivation, and really didn’t care anymore. So I just left and went on with life. It wasn’t challenging enough at all. Creating a (cybercrime network) is easy. Providing the power to run it is the tricky part. And when you have to put all your effort, all your attention… When you have to sit in front of a computer screen and scan, filter, then filter again over 30 amps per 4 hours it gets annoying.”

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July 3 – August 11 – Welcome to Dog Days of summer



In 1813 Brady’s Clavis Calendari um described Dog Days as an evil time “when the sea boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man, burning fevers, hysterics and phrensies.”

These are the hottest days of the year, variously calculated to run from 30 to 54 days. Though they are named after our canine friends, our current Fidos and Busters had nothing to do with the original designation.

In ancient times when Sirius, The Dog Star, rose just before or at about the same time as the sun, people believed that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather and named the short season after the star. Hot weather combined with common summer diseases of the age to make it a very unhealthy and uncomfortable time. To appease Sirius, the ancients prayed and made sacrifices.

All of that, of course, was before air conditioning and modern medicine that has pretty well eliminated the worst suffering from both man and dog. But hot weather can still get you down, Dog Days or not.

Heat exhaustion is one-way heat does it. If you get pale, sweat profusely has a weak, rapid pulse, queasy stomach and headache or dizziness, get yourself to a cool place and lie down. Sponge your skin and stay near a fan. Drink something cool (not iced). If symptoms last or your temperature stays at 100 degrees, see your doctor.

Heatstroke is much more serious and requires medical attention. Symptoms include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea or nausea, and hot, dry skin with no perspiration. Cool anyone with these symptoms as for heat exhaustion but also place ice packs under armpits, behind the neck, and on the groin while waiting for an ambulance.

Be kind to your animals too. Never tie up an animal outside in the sun without shade or water. If you see an animal treated this way, call your city’s animal management.
When walking your dog, stay away from paved streets and sidewalks. In the hot sun, paws burn.

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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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