Get up, get out, and get happy. Experts say that even if you have to fake it, you’ll soon be merry — or at least a little happier.
People can have a good reason to be wistful or even blue at Christmas. Family members are not always near, or physical conditions can limit activities.
Strange that just when we can’t remember where we put the car keys, memories from 30 years ago are accessible in every detail. It’s great to remember the good times, but to be happy today we need to stay in the present.
According to happiness guru Gretchen Rubin, the key is to actively plan for holidays and make new memories. Here are some ideas:
*Consider some things you have loved: Songs, gift-giving, family. Start asking around early for churches that have carols and holiday activities. If you need a ride, ask at the church office.
* Find out who needs a gift and give it!
* Gather your own ‘family’ of neighbors and friends for a pitch-in dinner. It doesn’t have to be on Dec. 25.
The bottom line: Make a plan and get out of the house.
Do ask others about their plans; people often love to share holidays.
Be grateful for the holiday you make for yourself. Don’t compare this Christmas to happier times in the past and try not to compare this Christmas to the holiday you imagined it would be. Create something for yourself and enjoy it, whether it is a modest decoration and dinner with a friend, or an all-out bash.
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.
July celebrity birthdays!
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.
The VDOT archaeologist who uncovered The Witch Bottle
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.”
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 ncea.acl.gov.
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 ushistory.org/betsy/flagstar.html.
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
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.