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Toxic algae causes rapid death in animals, sickness in humans



If you and your dog love to swim, beware of the deadly blue-green algae blooms that infect rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes throughout the United States during hot weather.

Blue-green algae or cyanobacteria often clump together to form ‘pond scum.’ It can turn the water green, but not always. The toxic algae itself may be any color, including red.

It thrives on hot days in warm water during calm weather, but even a flowing river can have the toxin.

Both people and animals are at risk.

Just one drink of infected water can kill a dog, sometimes within an hour, according to Pet Poison Helpline. One Twitter user said her dog died within 15 minutes of swimming in contaminated water.

In people, symptoms may arise within hours to a week after exposure.

Exposure to the skin can cause rashes and blistering.

Droplets from infected water inhaled during water sports, such as boating or skiing, can cause cold and asthma-like symptoms and chest pain, according to Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency.

By far the worst outcomes are from swallowing infected water, which can bloom in pools and even dog bowls.

Blue-green algae can carry many types of toxins. The worst damage is often caused by algae that release the toxin microcystin. This toxin is not always present in blue-green algae, but there is no way to tell if it is there just by looking. This toxin affects the liver.

Microcystin poisoning causes breathing problems, stomach and digestive pain, fever, and in cases where people swallow a large amount of water, liver damage.

Research has shown that while fish are infected, the danger of poisoning to humans is more limited because the toxin resides in the fish organs. However, fishing in algae blooming waters is not a good idea since droplets could be inhaled.

The Environmental Protection Agency is developing a cyanobacteria assessment app, called CyAN App, now available through Google Play to Android users. The free app offers an assessment of water quality throughout the U.S.

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4 tasks a master electrician can do in your home



The comfort and safety of your home largely depend on having a well-functioning electrical system. Are you thinking about making some improvements to your property? Here are four tasks a master electrician can do for you.

1. New installations
Electricians can route electrical cables to the appropriate places, install new junction boxes and connect fittings while ensuring the finished results are fully compliant and safe.

2. Electrical renovations
More complex than new installations, electrical renovations require an electrician to work in tight spaces like walls and attics. These areas are often closed off and sealed with insulation. Electricians can also correct defective installations or improve your setup to meet your electrical needs without increasing fire hazards or risking circuit breakdowns or overloads.

3. Device installation
Are you thinking of installing an elevator, sliding gate, or automatic door in your home? These are just some examples of devices you can trust a specialized electrician to install for you.

4. Smart home conversion
Home automation allows you to remotely control many elements in your home, including surveillance cameras, lighting, heating, and air conditioning. Converting your home to a smart home requires the integration of several technologies. Therefore, you’ll want the expertise of an experienced electrician to do it right.

Do you have a project in mind that calls for electrical installations in your home? Contact a certified electrician in your area to discuss your needs.

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Academic success needs… a routine!



The return to school is one of the most difficult times of the year. Indeed, returning to a fixed schedule and a stricter lifestyle can be very arduous and can generate a lot of stress in a family. This doesn’t take into account the numerous small clarifications you will have to make to reassure the little one who’s starting kindergarten and the older child who is dreading the move to high school…

As a parent, it’s crucial to properly prepare for the beginning of the school year to ensure success. An excellent way to find a certain balance at this time of year is to establish a fixed routine. In fact, this will give children a feeling of security and will avoid a lot of useless stress. A routine makes chores more quickly, leaving more time for playing or other activities. To help you establish a routine, you could write it down on paper in the form of a chart and stick it on the fridge, asking the children to actively participate by decorating it and sharing their ideas with you.

Apart from basic chores, here are a few essential components of a back-to-school routine:

  • Make lunch the previous evening,
  • Choose clothes for the next day,
  • Establish a precise time to do homework and another for relaxing,
  • Agree on bedtime and establish a ritual to help them to sleep well.

You should also think about what activities will be allowed during the week and which can be included in the routine. Why not agree on a time and duration for watching television or for playing on the computer? You should also set aside time to talk to your children about their day, successes, and fears. For the children who find this more difficult, it’s good to establish a motivational system with rewards linked to concrete successes, like offering stickers or special treats, for example.

As a parent, get into the habit of staying informed of your children’s academic progress. Don’t hesitate to demonstrate your availability to collaborate with teachers, particularly if your children are experiencing certain difficulties. Why not choose a moment in the routine to learn about academic progress or difficulties weekly? This step will help you to watch over your children and stay connected to their needs. Above all, they’ll feel that with this routine, they can count on your presence.

Lastly, it is particularly important to congratulate your children for them to feel involved and important in a routine’s success. A child who starts school with the security and comfort of a well-established routine will have a better chance of academic success throughout the school year. All the best for the new school year!

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The 5 most durable fence materials



When building a new fence, you must pick high-quality, durable materials to ensure it lasts for years to come. Choosing poor materials can lead to an ugly, sagging fence that’ll be expensive to repair. Here are some of the most durable fencing materials on the market.

1. Wrought iron. Ornamental iron fences can last hundreds of years if regularly maintained. In fact, some of the wrought-iron latticework found in the French Quarter of New Orleans dates back to the 1700s. However, iron is prone to rust and must be regularly repainted.

2. Brick or masonry. Fences built from brick or concrete can withstand the test of time. However, these materials are pricey and must be installed by professional masons.

3. Aluminum. Lightweight, rust-resistant, and easy to install, aluminum fences are a sure bet for any climate. Aluminum requires little to no maintenance and can be painted to match your home’s exterior.

4. Vinyl. A relative newcomer in fencing material, vinyl can be designed to resemble wood and metal. It doesn’t rot or rust and is resistant to pests. All you need to do is wash it down once a year to keep dirt and debris at bay.

5. Pressure-treated wood. Wood fences are timeless. Fortunately, pressure-treated wood can last many decades with annual upkeep, such as painting and staining.

Consult a fence professional to discuss what type of fencing material is best for your property.

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Note-taking methods for college freshmen (and everyone else)



For plenty of incoming freshmen, college is a rude awakening, a place where bad habits are laid bare, and those who make it to class and take good notes are the ones who come out ahead.

To make it to class, just go to bed at a reasonable hour and set an alarm.

To take good notes, try some of the following strategies:

The outline method is one of the most popular and intuitive ways to take notes, with a traditional outline format that most students are familiar with. Place major points furthest to the left (I, II, III), and indent more specific points under each major point (a, b, c).

The Cornell note-taking method is a popular way to organize notes into summaries. Divide your page into three sections, with the left margin reserved for cues, the bottom reserved for summaries, and the bulk of the page left for notes. Write prompts for your notes in the cues section and a summary of your notes at the bottom for quick review. You can divide your sheet yourself or use Cornell templates, which are available in paper and digital format.

The mind map method dispenses with linear notes altogether, with a central concept in the middle of the sheet and the notes written as branches that radiate outwards. Mind maps work well with visual cues (like images and icons); for some learners, are a great way to provide an overview of a topic. They can be created on paper or with digital programs that allow users to link additional files.

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4 tips for thrift shopping



Millions of tons of clothing, shoes, and textiles end up in landfills every year, contributing to water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The trend of fast fashion has led to a proliferation of clothing produced and thrown away. One remedy is to shop at thrift stores when you need to buy clothes. Keep these shopping tips in mind to renew your wardrobe with fantastic finds.

1. Sell or donate first. Before buying new ones, get rid of unwanted clothes by bringing them to a consignment store or donating them to a charity thrift shop. You’ll free up valuable closet space and earn a few dollars.

2. Create a list. Look through your wardrobe and decide what you need. It’s best to visit your thrift store with a clear goal in mind. Aimlessly meandering through the aisles wastes time and could entice you to buy items you don’t need.

3. Dress appropriately. Not all second-hand stores have fitting rooms. Therefore, wear something comfortable, so that you can try on clothing over the clothes you’re already wearing. Even if there are dressing rooms, you can avoid waiting in line by trying things on in the aisle.

4. Use a tailor. If you find a shirt or jacket you love but doesn’t fit quite right, don’t let that stop you from buying it. You can always take the item to a tailor and get it fitted properly.

Reusing existing clothing is a way to curb the negative impact of textile manufacturing on the planet, so wear your second-hand clothes with pride.

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3 types of home insulation



Insulation protects your residence against both heat and cold, depending on the season. It also creates an acoustic barrier. Whether you’re planning major renovations or constructing a new home, don’t let your insulation become an afterthought. Here are three types of insulation materials to consider for your home.

1. Synthetic. While economical and efficient, this type of insulation is harmful to the environment and isn’t recyclable. It won’t decay naturally and can be flammable. Therefore, it must be installed with fire-resistant materials. Polystyrene and polyurethane are among the most common synthetic insulations.

2. Mineral-based. Made with raw and partially recycled materials, this type of insulation is incombustible and won’t decay. It can, however, attract insects that may nest within your walls. For this reason, you must replace this type of insulation every ten years. Rock wool, fiberglass, and cellular glass are well-known mineral insulators.

3. Natural insulators. Plant-based insulations are recyclable and don’t require much energy to produce. They also help keep your home cooler for longer during the summer months. However, since natural insulators aren’t great at managing humidity, they require careful installation. Cellulose, hemp, and cotton are some of the most popular natural insulators you can use.

Depending on the type of insulation you choose, you may be able to install it with a spray applicator or in pre-cut sections. Moreover, some insulation comes in large rolls or foam cubes. Some methods are more advisable than others, depending on the accessibility and size of the area to be insulated.

Avoid mistakes by relying on a contractor specializing in insulation to handle your installation.


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Upcoming Events

6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Aug 17 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
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Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Aug 18 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival - Opening Night @ Barns of Rose Hill
The Appalachian Chamber Music Festival is delighted to be returning to the Barns of Rose Hill on Thursday, August 18, at 7pm, for the opening night concert of our 2022 summer season. The festival celebrates[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 19 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
11:00 am National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
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National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area The bees are buzzing at Sky Meadows State Park! Meet the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah as they perform a honey extraction. Learn about beekeeping, honeybees and the art of apiculture. Support beekeeping and[...]
12:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 21 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects[...]
3:00 pm Valley Chorale Audition Day @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale Audition Day @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Aug 23 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Valley Chorale Audition Day @ Calvary Episcopal Church
If you have choral-singing experience, you’re invited to join The Valley Chorale! Rehearsals this fall culminate in our always-popular Christmas concerts in December. This year, we have a truly fantastic Christmas program planned. Auditions are[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Aug 24 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 26 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
10:00 am Habitat Detectives: A Late-Summe... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Habitat Detectives: A Late-Summe... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 27 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Habitat Detectives: A Late-Summer Children's Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sensory Explorers’ Trail. Join Virginia Master Naturalist and teacher, Barbara Ermler, on a walk of exploration. Use your five senses to uncover clues to how various organisms – plants, animals, and more – work together[...]
7:00 pm Appalachian Chamber Music Festival @ Middleburg Community Center
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival @ Middleburg Community Center
Aug 27 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival @ Middleburg Community Center
Join the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival on Thursday, August 25, at 7:00 pm, for a concert at Middleburg Community Center as part of their 2022 Festival! ACMF brings this concert of festival highlights to the[...]