Month: August 2014

Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Going Soft on Plastics

If not for tireless efforts of Alexandria-based American Sportfishing Association (ASA), fishing with soft plastic lures like worms and other creatures would be outlawed! The Maine State Legislature was considering a ban on the use of soft plastic fishing lures to accompany the State’s already restrictive lead sinker and jig use. Could this lead to a ban on fishing altogether? For nearly 65 years, soft baits have been used to mimic a fish’s natural prey. Available in a wide array of colors, sizes, and shapes, they are a tacklebox staple! Inexpensive and effective, soft plastic lures work well under all fishing conditions. But, unwary anglers who introduce soft plastic baits into waterways, unintentionally or deliberately, assist anti-fishing advocates. Most environmentally minded anglers wouldn’t think of tossing a lure package overboard, but a torn or otherwise useless soft plastic bait is dumped without a second thought! What happens after that is debatable, but at a minimum, it’s pollution!   After all, most soft plastic lures contain some petroleum products. Slowly leaching into the water, they produce a miniscule amount of contamination. Still, there’s no scientific or anecdotal evidence to support a ban on soft plastics. Similar story for lead. Not enough factual research or evidence was presented, but a lead ban was established in a few states across the country. Once tossed into the water, either lost by accident of rejected as no longer serving a purpose, soft plastics are out of sight and mind until a dead fish washes onto shore and is found to contain a soft plastic lure in its digestive system. Even not knowing the cause of death, fish autopsies assign blame to the soft plastic lure, possibly with some validation. Soft plastic companies claim fish will be unharmed when ingesting these baits, either passing or regurgitating them,…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Learning To Sail, One New Sailor’s Story

Although it may sometimes feel as if everyone sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries got started as children, plenty of gung-ho and competent sailors didn’t take up the sport until adulthood. Jonathan Newton is one such sailor. Newton, who owns a Laser sailboat and is a finance and accounting professional living in Annapolis, began sailing at age 27, and now, just five years later, he is racing and cruising big and small boats and is the member-at-large representing one-design sailors on the board of West River Sailing Club (WRSC) in Galesville, MD. We asked Newton to share some words of advice to folks who wonder how to get started in sailing. How did you start sailing? I was invited to a Wednesday night race in Galesville. I sat in the companionway of a Tartan 27 in my socks and tennis shoes. I totally left sole marks on the deck. (Editor’s note: Inexpensive shoes that won’t leave scuff marks are best; leave the blacks-soled shoes at home.)   What kind of boats did you sail at first? I began sailing small boats because I found it was the quickest way to earn time on the water. I think it’s helpful to learn in a small boat because the boats are so responsive — or perhaps at times I am so sluggish! Did you take sailing classes? I took several classes at WRSC. As I began crewing on big boats, my experience sailing small boats seemed to be welcomed. In addition to sailing classes, I already had my boater license and have now started working towards my Club Race Officer designation. What keeps you coming back out on the water? Recently a gentleman, who was probably born in a boat, said to me that he’s always enjoyed the idea that…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

T minus zero…

At the suggestion of my friend, Madi, I recently installed the T-0 app on my phone to count down the days/hours/minutes/seconds ‘til THE BIG DAY. As I’m typing this, we are exactly 55 days and 18 hours and 34 minutes away. YIKES! It is exciting and thrilling and a wee bit scary to be approaching this very important milestone in my life. Sweet 47 and never been married! (Between you and me, I’m fitting it under the wire right before my odometer rolls to 48). Can you say, ‘commitment issues?’ Just kidding! Alright, already. Maybe there’s just a wee bit of truth to that, but I’ve also been busy. For those of you who have been following Single Space for the past decade, you know my journey to find love has been a long, winding road to say the least. You watched me learn how to let go and move on after a couple of particularly painful break ups. You stood by me through my bad boy phase, my ‘I’m too busy for a relationship phase,’ my ‘always a bridesmaid, never a bride’ phase and so on. You were there when I filled the void of losing my mom with BO guy. You laughed with me at velour track suit guy and got mad when CEO guy stood me up…twice. Like my family, you questioned my attraction to rehab guy and saw the writing on the wall with biker boy. When I had my open heart surgery in 2011, you reached out with your kind words and rallied with me. Regardless of my poor lapses in judgment and/or questionable decisions, you kept reading—probably either because you felt sorry for me or solidarity with me. Whatever the case, I’m glad you stuck around. I feel like I have been the poster…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

C’mon Get Happy!

“How can I claim my happiness and joy if I don’t know what that means?” I hear this question on a daily basis. It’s an epidemic of ennui. There’s a sadness that accompanies the women (mostly) and men (some) who are struggling to make the most of this life. There’s a bit of nostalgia for something they can’t quite put their finger on and wistfulness about time racing. This isn’t some mid-life crisis or ego-driven need to do more and acquire more, this is a longing of the soul and the heart to leave an impact before our time here is done. Could it by my age or simply the time I’m living in? Lately every week is full of loss of friends and family at an age that seems too young. While I personally believe that life goes on after we die here on Earth, I still feel the sharpness of the loss and the chair that’s left vacant at the dinner table. People like to make fun of those looking for meaning in their lives – mocking “the navel gazers” for having such an easy life that they need only worry about leaving their mark. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was doing the mocking. I was so busy in the do-do-do and accumulate life that I couldn’t fathom what would possess someone to seek a higher meaning. Until all the accumulating stopped feeling good and fun and I was looking at the years looming before with more than a little dread. I felt guilty about that too. From the outside my life looked pretty spectacular, with a successful business, a cute house in Del Ray, a husband, a convertible and more. Still it was starting to feel like “stuff” was running my life. I felt…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

It Doesn’t Have to Hurt

Our Labradoodle, Polly, has had minor hip dysplasia since she was about 4 years old. In Polly, this manifests as occasional limping, doing a sort of “bunny hop” run that tries to take the impact off her hips, and just in general chasing after the tennis ball less than we know she’d like to. When she’s feeling good, she will retrieve that ball all day long. So you can tell when her hips are bothering her, and it hurts me to watch her hurting, I can tell you. If your dog or cat suffers from chronic pain such as arthritis or hip dysplasia, you know what I mean. And if you have a senior pet, chances are he or she experiences joint or muscle pain from time to time. Maybe your cat doesn’t seem to like being picked up as much anymore; perhaps your pup seems reluctant to climb or descend stairs; or maybe your pet doesn’t jump like she used to. If he doesn’t like to stand up after lying down, or if he seems stiff, he’s probably suffering some sort of muscular or skeletal discomfort. What to do? The good news is, there are lots of options – more than there were even 15 years ago. You’ll of course want to visit and chat with your veterinarian, but here are some remedies you might want to explore: Medication: Your vet can prescribe meds like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) that can help. Steroids are also helpful but only for short-term use, as they can have negative effects if used for long periods of time. Weight management: Keeping Polly’s weight at a healthy level helps her tremendously, because it means less stress on her hip joints. The catch-22 is, however, that when she is hurting she is less willing to exercise,…

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Financial Focus, Pets, Places, & Things

Is It Time to Rebalance Your Plan Investments?

Adjustments to your asset allocation should occur gradually over the years based on such factors as your projected retirement date and your comfort level with risk. Rebalancing, or reallocating, your retirement plan investments on a periodic basis should be a standard part of the investment process. If you have not reviewed your plan holdings lately, you may be surprised at what you’ll find. Even if you have not made a single change to your plan’s investment mix, it’s possible that your current asset allocation has drifted from what it was when you first started participating in your employer-sponsored plan.1 That’s why it is a good idea to review your portfolio at least once a year to determine whether it makes sense to rebalance — or adjust — your holdings and to ensure that your portfolio holdings fit your current investment needs and circumstances.2 Portfolio Drift To appreciate how performance differences can affect an investment portfolio over time, consider what happened to a hypothetical portfolio of 70% stocks, 20% bonds, and 10% cash left unbalanced for the 20 years ended December 31, 2013.3 The original 70% allocation to U.S. stocks would have grown to 84%, while allocations to bonds and cash would have shrunk to 12% and 4%, respectively, increasing the overall risk in the portfolio. Keep in mind that past performance is no guarantee of future results.4 Making Adjustments Ideally, adjustments to your asset allocation should occur gradually over the years based on such factors as your projected retirement date, life events such as the birth of a child, and your comfort level with risk. As a general rule, the further away you are from retirement, the larger the role stocks may play in your portfolio. For each review, calculate how much of your money is in stocks, bonds, and…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

From the Trainer – FitBall Abdominal (Ab) Exchange

This month’s exercise is the FitBall Abdominal (Ab) Exchange. This is a great exercise for the rectus abdominus. The start position is shown in Figure 1. The FitBall is held off the floor with your arms extended straight above the head. Notice how the feet are also held above the floor about a foot or two. This position elicits muscular tension through your core. Next, bring the ball overtop of your body while simultaneously raising your legs to “meet in the middle”. Obviously, the leg and arm muscles will be doing some work during this motion, but focus on contracting the abs to help bring the back of the shoulders off the floor to really make the repetition count. So now that the FitBall is at the top, switch it from the hands to the feet by placing it between the inside of your ankles (Figure 2). It might take some practice before this transition becomes smooth. Squeeze the ball with your legs to secure it for the ride down. Slowly lower the ball, back of the shoulders, and your arms toward the floor. Notice again how the arms and ball never touch the floor because you want to keep tension on the abs the whole time during the exercise (Figure 3). Try at least ten reps if you’ve never attempted the FitBall Ab Exchange. This is an advanced abdominal exercise that requires significant core strength to perform multiple sets and reps. I hope that I have given you another solid core exercise that you can add to your abdominal repertoire! Until next time….stay fit during the “Dog Days of Summer”! Written by: Ryan Unverzagt

Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Enjoy Award Winning Tropical Cocktails During the Dog Days of Summer

Summer days in the islands often mean hazy, hot afternoons when you long for nothing more than a long swim and a cold drink. The next time I’m whipping up a batch of something refreshing, I’m going to steal a page from USVI Culinary Team Bartender Brandon DeCloux, whose work I recently had the pleasure of tasting. The U.S. Virgin Islands are well known for being home to alabaster shorelines and turquoise waters, and thanks to DeCloux, we’re now getting some love for that other pillar of island life — cocktails. DeCloux, a bartender at Sib’s on the Mountain on the island of St. Thomas, was the bartender for the USVI Culinary Team which recently battled against 10 other countries in the annual Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition. The competition is hosted annually in Miami and the USVI team — composed of nine chefs and pastry chef members from St. Thomas and St. Croix — is sponsored by the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association. The team returned from the competition with a total of three gold medals, three silver medals, one bronze medal and two honorable mentions. DeCloux was named Bartender of the Year with an award winning nonalcoholic beverage and vodka and rum connections as well. DeCloux brought his bartending tools to the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association’s general membership meeting at Turtle Bay Estate House at Caneel Bay recently where he whipped up those refreshing libations for the crowd. For an island twist on the average cream soda, shake up fresh squeezed lime juice with a quality cream of coconut, pour over ice and top with sparkling water. With the lime juice balancing the sweet coconut, this drink is like a combination of a lime and coconut and a lime rickey. DeCloux also demonstrated how to make…

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The Crater

CIVIL DISCOURSE, AUGUST 1864 Summer of 1864 finds the armies faced off on a vast entrenched line extending from the killing grounds at Cold Harbor to the railhead at Petersburg – not so much a “siege” as trench warfare anticipating another cheerless front fifty years to come. On July 30th, 1864, the Confederate army before Petersburg was startled by an enormous explosion beneath one of their forts. The Yankees intended to not only obliterate the fort and its defenders, but to more generally punch a hole through the line. Federal troops would then surge through the gap without incurring devastating casualties assaulting entrenched Confederates. A regiment of Pennsylvania miners began digging on June 25th and by July 17th the 511 foot tunnel reached the Confederate fort. The terminus was expanded into 75 foot chambers on both sides. On July 28th, the mine was armed with 8000 pounds of powder. The plan was to wreck the fort, then have two brigades of United States Colored Troops exploit the confusion, one attacking on each side of the crater, pushing on to seize an unfortified hill beyond, and then on into Petersburg itself if possible. Two other divisions of white troops would then follow up to exploit the breach. Overall, 50,000 men were poised to support the attack, versus perhaps 15,000 Confederates defending. The Colored infantry rehearsed the assault out of sight of the Confederates for two weeks. But at the last minute Meade decided against using the Colored troops, lacking confidence in their abilities and fearing political repercussions at home if they failed. Grant concurred. A replacement division of white soldiers was chosen by lot. The replacement troops were not drilled on the plan; indeed, their drunken commander did not even brief them on the mission. On July 30th, at around 3:30…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Snakes and Lizards!

We had a snake in our living room last weekend. The kind nightmares are made of: a big, slithery blackish colored serpent that scared Doug out of a sound sleep on the couch. When you live in the country you expect to be surprised by wildlife occasionally. Deer, fox, raccoons, opossum and wild turkeys are regular visitors, and we’ve even had the occasional coyote and black bear, and of course we’ve seen snakes. But….we’ve never had any of these inside our house. Naturally, Doug did the manly thing–he screamed like a school girl for me to help. Now, I’m no herpetologist but I do know poisonous from non-venomous snakes and I’m not alarmed when I run into a big black snake outside or in the barn. In fact, I’m delighted to have black snakes around, because they eat other snakes as well as mice and rats, both of whom are attracted to the grain I feed the horses. Having this knowledge evidently made it clear that I was the designated snake wrangler, tasked with getting rid of our uninvited guest. For this job, I discovered that my long-handled gopher grabber, a set of long handled tongs made to help arthritics pick up objects out of reach, was a better snake handling tool than the broom I originally wielded to try to shove the serpent outside. He liked our house and retreated quickly from the door and the broom. So I grabbed the gopher tongs and firmly gripped him near his head. Unfortunately, he was five feet long and most of him was behind where I had caught him, enough to whip his slim legless body around and free himself. As he slithered rapidly toward the couch, I shoved a garbage can in his path, and he eased right in it,…

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