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The Noisy Economist

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“[W]hereas classisists [economists] turned the spotlight on change, flow, process and dynamics, the neoclassicists [economists] spend their time analyzing states of rest, balance, equilibrium.” – Yanis Varoufakis [1]

Updating the evolving global surface temperature anomaly monthly for the Loudoun County Supervisors and Blue Ridge Leader readers put me in mind of a bet proposed by economist and fossil fuels industry consultant Scott Armstrong. The bet was described by Nate Silver in his book “The Signal and the Noise”. While Silver’s topic is important and a subplot running through my series of articles, Silver makes several mistakes; even blowing his Bayesian analysis [2]. … Continue Reading

The Cost of Deceit

July 20, 2015 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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“Most of the dozens of essential climate variables monitored each year in this report continued to follow their long-term trends in 2014, with several setting new records. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—the major greenhouse gases released into Earth’s atmosphere—once again all reached record high average atmospheric concentrations for the year. Carbon dioxide increased by 1.9 ppm to reach a globally averaged value of 397.2 ppm for 2014. Altogether, 5 major and 15 minor greenhouse gases contributed 2.94 W m–2 of direct radiative forcing, which is 36% greater than their contributions just a quarter century ago.

“Accompanying the record-high greenhouse gas concentrations was nominally the highest annual global surface temperature in at least 135 years of modern record keeping, according to four independent observational analyses.” Blunden, J. and D. S. Arndt, Eds., 2015: State of the Climate in 2014. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 96 (7), S1–S267. … Continue Reading

Help for Shark Phobia

July 8, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Ask Dr. Mike, Columns Be the first to comment
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Dr. Mike,

We go to the Outer Banks every summer as a family, but our seven-year-old daughter is now freaked out by the reported shark attacks at the Outer Banks. Thanks to her older siblings teasing her about sharks, she says she is not going in the water at all. She’s even tearfully asked us to not go this year. My child has always loved the Outer Banks and jumping into the ocean but now all at once she has a shark phobia? How does that work? Any suggestions on how to help her get her over this? We really do not want to cancel our plans and lose our money or fun.

Concerned Parents
… Continue Reading

Radiophysics

July 6, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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“Radiophysics is a Hoax” – James Inhofe

The climate of a planet is stable when the incoming radiation from a planet’s star equals the outgoing heat radiation from the planet itself at the top of the atmosphere. Everything else is a factor only insofar as it contributes to or perturbs that balance. Understanding the radiation behavior of the atmosphere therefore is critical to understanding human-caused climate change [1-2].

Figure 1 [3] shows atmospheric absorption for frequencies from those used in satellite communications and point-to-point microwave radio links at the low end (left side) to visible light (right side) on the x-axis using a log scale and atmospheric attenuation on the y-axis also using a log scale. In particular if you have satellite TV or internet service, the dish antenna on your roof receives or transmits at the frequencies marked by the red lines. The green line represents spectrum the satellite industry is interested in using in the future. Note that we avoid the oxygen and water vapor absorption bands. Because of the popularity of smart phones, personal devices and wireless routers new spectrum is being requested up to and including 60 GHz identified by the red arrow. The 60 GHz band is attractive for wireless local networks such as inside a home because the strong oxygen attenuation guarantees the spectrum can be reused by neighbors with little interference into each other’s devices. And because of this strong attenuation, it is unsuitable for other radio applications such as satellite communications. … Continue Reading

The Marital Agreement

July 2, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on The Marital Agreement
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– By Amy & Dan Smith

In Virginia, as in most states, a marital agreement can be entered into before or after marriage. It can cover a variety of topics but commonly addresses issues pertaining to the disposition of property upon separation, divorce or death of the parties, including spousal support. The agreement and any amendment thereto must be in writing and signed by both parties. Commonly, lawyers will require a list of assets and liabilities of the parties as an attachment to ensure that the agreement has been entered into with full disclosure. Each of the couple should have his/her own lawyer to avoid conflict of interest.

There is understandably a resistance to the idea of a marital agreement. To say the least, it would likely steal some joy after the marriage proposal for one to suggest to his/her betrothed that, while intending to live happily ever after, they should discuss terms of divorce. However, there is a place for the marital agreement even if divorce is not considered an option for the couple. It is important, especially with second marriages and blended families, that the rights and obligations of the parties upon death be addressed, even if separation and divorce are not included in the agreement.

Each state has statutes giving rights to a surviving spouse to elect a portion of the estate of his/her deceased spouse and to override provisions in a will. Such an election can disrupt a well-considered estate plan intended to benefit the children of the decedent. A marital agreement can specify the rights of the surviving spouse in the estate of the deceased spouse in return for a waiver of the statutory right of election. It can also contain provisions concerning who may serve as agent under a power of attorney and medical directive and as executor of the decedent’s estate. These can be very divisive issues in blended families.

Often, parents want to preserve within their bloodline the inheritance that they intend to leave to their child. They may insist that their son or daughter enter into a marital agreement as a condition to marriage in order to be sure that “grandma’s silverware” doesn’t eventually end up with the son/daughter-in-law either through death or divorce. If a marital agreement is not possible, an alternative is for the parents to leave the inheritance in a trust for the child. Properly structured, the trust could provide the benefit of the assets to the child (and grandchildren) while withholding ownership so that the assets are not available to the son-in-law or daughter-in-law in case of divorce or death.

As uncomfortable as the topic of a marital agreement may be, the fact is that a discussion of sensitive topics before marriage can be a very healthy exercise. Attitudes may be revealed which had hitherto not been apparent in the bliss of infatuation, and thorny issues can be resolved before they are allowed to disrupt family harmony.

Children of a blended family are often comforted to know that issues pertaining to their potential inheritances have been addressed and are being protected by their parent. Sharing the existence of – and in many cases the details of – a martial agreement with children can help to dispel distrust of the stepparent.

The foregoing article contains general legal information only and is not intended to convey legal advice. For legal advice regarding estate planning, the reader should contact his/her lawyer. The foregoing contains general information only and is not intended to convey investment advice. Amy V. Smith Wealth Management, LLC, an independent firm, CFP®, CIMA offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (Tel.703-669-5022, www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com) Dan Smith is not affiliated with Raymond James. Past performance may not be indicative of future results.

Kitchen Science Kids: EEEW, Mucus

July 1, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Kitchen Science Kids Comments Off on Kitchen Science Kids: EEEW, Mucus
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– By Leah Enright

All kids, especially Kitchen Science Kids, have a right to the very finest scientific education possible, right? And they should never be denied the opportunity for high quality, hands-on activities, wouldn’t you agree? Sounds like the perfect way to persuade an adult to help you do something a little gross, but very fun-making mucus.
Here’s what you’ll need:

An adult to approve and supervise this entire activity, there is boiling water involved, so I had to make that clear.
A cup
Gelatin
Corn Syrup
A Tablespoon
A fork
What to do:
Ask an adult to mix the mucus.
Fill ½ of a glass measuring cup with boiling water.
Add a tablespoon of gelatin to the boiling water.
Let it sit for a minute to soften, then stir with a fork.
Add a quarter cup of corn syrup.
Stir with a fork, admiring the long strings that form. (You may add more water as you go, if the mixture is too thick).
Play with, and marvel at, your amazing creation, even adding a drop of green or yellow food coloring, if desired.

Mucus may be unappealing, but this stringy stuff serves a very important purpose in our bodies. Like a wet blanket, it lines our mouth, nose, throat and lungs and keeps these parts from drying out. It also acts like a trap, catching bacteria and dust before those things enter our bodies, and destroying invaders with special, natural chemicals called antibodies. You make a lot of this stuff-about a liter a day, though you may not notice it unless you are sick, or allergic to something, and your body helps itself by producing even more.

So the next time you have a cold and have to blow your nose often, you may feel differently about it. You might remember that this mucus is keeping your insides moist, and trapping bacteria and other things before they can get into your body and make trouble-and you can always pass the day away making more mucus. But this one will be in a bowl.

Leah Enright is a hairdresser who enjoys science. She likes to share her ideas with little people, hoping they will discover the joys of science as a hobby. She welcomes feedback, and can be reached at mizbeytac@yahoo.com.

Locks Of Hope Easy, Helpful

July 1, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Mary Rose Lunde Comments Off on Locks Of Hope Easy, Helpful
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– By Mary Rose Lunde

I’m not the first one who has written about and done what I am about to describe, and I hope I’m not the last. It’s not an action that seems heroic, but it does make a difference. The best part is that no one is excluded in this, because everyone can grow out their hair to 10 inches and donate it. In all honesty, I’m surprised that more people don’t do it, it has no cost, and hair grows back fairly quickly.

I’ve donated my hair three times now: A week before I started fifth grade, two weeks before prom and in May. It took less than a year to grow my hair a full 10 inches in a ponytail with enough to keep it to just above my shoulders. It doesn’t take that long for many females to grow out their hair, and it’s not a long commitment. It takes longer to graduate high school than it does to grow out your hair long enough to donate.

If a minimal time commitment isn’t an incentive the cause should be. Many organizations such as Pantene have programs to make wigs from real hair for cancer patients as opposed to synthetic hair. These wigs provide a happy ending and hope for those going through cancer treatment. The fact that someone cares enough to donate their hair instead of spending thousands of dollars annually to protect their precious locks is inspiring to all. Being selfless enough to donate hair and give another hope is true heroism at its best.

This isn’t a female only thing either, men can do it too, and in my opinion will be quite heroic. I read an article about 8-year-old Christian McPhilamy who endured countless insults from classmates and discouraging looks from adults all to donate his hair for someone he won’t ever meet’s benefit. If that isn’t respectable, I don’t know what is. He’s just a kid and has gained my respect. I hope that more people learn how to have as big of a heart as he does. Hopefully, Christian will get the respect he deserves and serve as an inspiration that will continue to encourage others to donate.

Personally, the feeling of sending your hair off to make a difference is the best feeling. Knowing that you have truly impacted someone’s life and given them a hope and a feeling of normalcy even for only a moment is well worth it. Most people are motivated by this knowledge and usually aren’t motivated by anything other than the feeling of love that is associated with this donation.

I hope to be a continual donator for this cause because I know in my heart that I am making a difference. I don’t care how long each donation takes, it makes me feel good every time I brush my hair. I ask you to consider growing out your hair just once and making a difference. One donation can give someone the hope they need to continue fighting. Think about what you can do to make a difference.

Mary Rose Lunde is a rising sophomore attending Virginia Tech and is enjoying her summer. She is currently growing her hair out to donate to Pantene where it will hopefully make a difference.

Supporting a Transgender Child

July 1, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Ask Dr. Mike, Columns Comments Off on Supporting a Transgender Child
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– By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.

Dr. Mike,
My husband and I are worried because our 14-year-old daughter thinks that “he” is transgendered. It’s true that she’s always been interested in more masculine activities, and this past year she announced to us that she should’ve been born a boy. She told us that we’re now supposed to call him by his new male name and use the pronoun “he” but we are not ready to do that. I guess it’s great for Caitlyn Jenner to come into her own, but Caitlin’s story has bolstered my kid to think that she too will have some sort of glamorous coming out story one day. We’ve been very patient of our daughter’s masculine pursuits and attitude, but things are getting out of hand for us. She now wants to join an LGBT group this summer that we are against. We recently looked at her Internet history that showed that she is researching transgender topics. She is also reaching out to transgender teens about lifestyle changes. We’ve had horrible fights over the issue because we won’t use her new name and she is usually angry with us these days. I know this probably isn’t politically correct for me to say this, but life is hard enough being normal. My husband and I can only imagine how much harder her life would be as a transgendered man and we don’t want that for her. We would be grateful for your guidance and feedback on how to fix this.
-Concerned Parents

Concerned Parents,
The news of Caitlyn Jenner has created quite a stir. Certainly, her transformation from man to woman is a wonderful thing for transgendered individuals who are often misunderstood, or worse, marginalized and discriminated against societally. Since the Vanity Fair article, the topic is being discussed more openly and this will likely lead to greater acceptance for the transgendered way of life and community as whole.

I am not surprised to receive your letter, and as a child psychologist, I have mixed feelings about the increased media attention on trangenderism for children in recent years. And now with the Caitlyn Jenner story, I am concerned that certain children will be over encouraged or rushed to see themselves as being transgendered when they ultimately may not be.

You should know that recent transgender research supports the position that gender identity may be more biologically hard-wired than previously believed – genes, chromosomes and one’s endocrinology appear to be the main determents that form and solidify adult gender identity. Other recent research has shown that gender identity in children can be deeply rooted at a young age and that these children are not confused at all about who they are.

However, there is also research to findings showing that children can be confused about their gender identity, but then their gender identity matches up with their biological sex later in life as adults. Moreover, from my experience as a child psychologist, I have worked with a number of children who have experienced themselves as being transgendered at a young age but then grew up to not be.

I understand your concern for your daughter, but you and your husband will need to continue to be patient with her as she continues to mature and discover who she is. Right now you have competing needs with your daughter around her gender identity; the topic is a very sensitive and charged one for you all with multiple layers of thoughts, emotions and meaning. Your daughter likely becomes upset with you because in her mind you are not accepting her for who she believes she is or wants to be. Your daughter needs your support and love, and if you continue to fight with her she could start to feel badly about herself or even unloved by you both.

I think you need to move away from having competing needs to having more complimentary ones in parenting your daughter. I recommend that you start with a talk where you respectfully and lovingly let your daughter know how you feel about her gender identity and what your concerns are for her. You can also let her know what you are comfortable doing in support of her and what you are not. Be careful not to express disappointment or judgment; the conversation should be a positive and proactive one, so be careful not to come off as being sad or defeated in finding compromises or collaborative solutions with your daughter regarding her gender identity.

The following are few points to consider with your daughter:

Support your daughter’s developing gender choices and interests. As parents, you want to create a diverse environment with various opportunities. Allow your daughter to make choices and to explore who she is without judgment. If she shows or expresses an interest in cross-gender activities, be as supportive as possible. Thus, I think you should allow her to join the LGBT group, but at the same time, you can expose her to a variety of other activities this summer. We are currently running a therapy group at our practice for teens that believe they are transgendered. The purpose of the group is not to influence or direct the gender identity of any individual, rather, the group is safe place for teens to openly discuss and make sense of their thoughts, feelings and wishes with others who are going through the same thing. The group has also helped to connect parents who are working to understand their teens’ needs.

Support your daughter’s gender style. Some children are more masculine or feminine in style, so be respectful of who your daughter is and do not try to change her. I encourage you and your husband to support her clothing choices, hairstyle, and even her gestures and mannerisms. Of course, offer parental guidance and direction when appropriate, but do not challenge her simply because what she is wearing or how she is presenting herself to the world makes you uncomfortable.

Be cautious when considering life-changing interventions or treatments for your daughter before adulthood. In my experience as a child psychologist, transgendered children are excited to match-up or complete their gender identity to their biological sex as quickly as they can. While still controversial, hormonal treatments and certain interventions are becoming more acceptable. And many transgendered female teens elect to get bilateral mastectomies (‘top surgery’) prior to turning 18, with some surgeons conducting the surgery on minors with parental consent. If your daughter begins to discuss hormone treatment or top surgery with you, I recommend that you weigh all of the possible advantages and problems that could occur with a specialist. Given the seriousness of these sorts of treatments and interventions, I also think that it is always wise to get a second or even third opinion from respected specialists in the field before making possible life changing and/or permanent changes for your daughter.

To your point, there is also no doubt that a transgendered life is much harder than a “normal” life. Transgendered individuals experience all sorts of discrimination, and they have higher rates of mental health problems and suicides. As parents, we always want the best for our children, but it is possible that being transgendered, as difficult as that seems to you, may be what’s best for your daughter.

Your daughter needs to explore who she is, and she needs your understanding, acceptance and love to be able to do that. With time, it is my hope that your daughter will mature through adolescence and into adulthood with a solid sense of self for who she is truly meant to be.

Michael Oberschneider “Dr. Mike” is the founder and director of Ashburn Psychological Services, a private mental health clinic comprised of 12 MD and PhD level mental health clinicians. Go to www.Ashburnpsych.com or call 703 723-2999 to learn more.

Go Pink … As Pink As You Like

July 1, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sarah's Closet Comments Off on Go Pink … As Pink As You Like
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– By Sarah Nearis

Look at these sweet and summery pink blouses and tops. Don’t you want to try one on?
Some women are afraid to wear pink, thinking it’s a bit too feminine.

But, pink comes in such a wide variety of shades – from soft mauves to fuchsias to tones with a little more blue in them.

Even women who tend to shy away from color – and that’s me – can find a pink that complements their skin tone, and sets off their best features.

I love these five blouses because they show different shades, styles, details and fabrics – showcasing pink’s power and versatility.

All Out Feminine: This pink cap sleeve blouse is perfect for summer because of its lovely rose tone. Its smooth texture and ruffles make it a great blank canvas for pearls or another feminine touch, and the wrap detail is very figure flattering. I like this pink for a fair-skinned woman.

The Hawaiian: With a crisp cotton texture, gathers at the sleeves and bottom, a tie at the top and a loose shape, this kind of blouse would be great with bright white jeans or a bright white skirt. The shade is very complimentary for a woman with darker or sun-kissed skin tones.

The Edwardian: While long summer days are amazing, summer nights can be even more fun. I like this fancy, button up blouse for its nighttime drama, and because the elastic bottom and flowing shape make it comfortable and fashionable at the same time. Pair a blouse like this with layers of understated gold jewelry and another pop of color from shoes or a bag.
The Simplified Peasant: While dressing up for a much anticipated summer evening is always exciting, it’s the denim shorts and airy top days that showcase the carefree nature of the time. This super-easy-to-wear peasant-style top calls out for ice cream, and iced-tea and putting your feet up. I love the almost neon tone of the color and the roomy, open style of the sleeves.

The Wanda: My grandmother would have loved this timeless polka dot blouse. It has an easy, elegant, almost vintage feel. I think it calls for a skirt … or really simple pants. The waistline is flattering to all manner of figures. This shade of pink will compliment a variety of skin tones.

Try it. Experiment. Go pink. Go as pink as you like. Beauty Tip: Next time you are looking for a great neutral nail – tired of your classic French manicure or clear polish – consider light pink. Light pink is perfectly soft, perfectly beautiful … and quiet, giving your nails a simple, well-kept look.

Sarah Nearis is a fashion stylist, fashion blogger & style expert. A graduate of The School of Style, you can connect with Sarah on her All Things Beautiful blog: sarahnearis.blogspot.com.

Saving The Art Of Letter Writing

July 1, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Samuel Moore-Sobel Comments Off on Saving The Art Of Letter Writing
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– By Samuel Moore-Sobel

This year a woman in France received a letter in the mail. What made her experience unique was that the letter had been written on January 27, 1877, and was intended for her great-grandfather. Steve Insekeep, NPR host of Morning Edition, highlighted the unusual occurrence, making light of the delay in delivery. The letter was written 138 years ago asking for an order of yarn. This letter had miraculously survived two World Wars, and interestingly enough, was marked for “high-speed delivery.”

The French Postal Service is not the only one people make light of. Jokes about the United States Postal Service are epitomized by Newman in Seinfeld. Newman, America’s favorite mailman is often preaching about the importance of mail on the show. His constant rants are treated as a punchline. The inefficient delivery of the mail is chronicled on the show, and the writers continually turn to the USPS to provide a good laugh.

All jokes aside, there is undeniably something about receiving a letter in the mail. I remember opening the mailbox expectantly as a child, looking through the envelopes. How exciting it was to find your name scrawled on the front of an envelope. There was nothing like the feeling of getting a letter. The fact that someone would take the time to write you meant the world. Now that feeling has almost become obsolete.

Most of us can hardly remember the last time we received a letter in the mail. If it does happen it’s rare. Most of the time it’s junk mail that fills up the mailbox forcing us to shred the catalogs and advertisements each day in order to safeguard against identity theft. What happened to the practice of writing letters? In today’s world the internet has nearly eliminated the need for the mail. Everyone knows that an e-mail can be sent in half the time it takes to send a letter. Text messaging is even faster. While technology has brought us a world that is more interconnected, has something been lost along the way?
Simply Google “death of letter writing” and you will find plenty of articles that argue this very point. In “The Fading Art of Letter-Writing,” New York Times contributor Catherine Field makes the case that letter-writing is a “creative act,” which happens to be one of humankind’s most “ancient arts.” She also points out that letters are free of emoticons and abbreviations such as “lol.” One could argue technology has allowed us to dumb down our writing, filling texts and e-mails with abbreviations sans punctuation, trading in full sentences for simply pairing words together in an often illogical way.

Letter writing might also provide an added benefit. Mason Currey argues in “The Death of Letter-Writing,” (again found in the New York Times) that letter writing may have served writers in the past as a way to “ease into and out of a state of mind” that allowed them to write in a more in-depth manner. He argues that e-mail is not the same as letter writing because email is always “active.” E-mail is constantly updating, and each second brings more e-mails into the inbox. One could argue that letters are more static, allowing for readers to digest the words and craft a proper response.

If the art of letter-writing has been lost, what does that mean for the future? What about all of famous love letters that exist in the halls of history? In a particularly touching letter Winston Churchill wrote these poignant words to his wife Clementine. “My darling Clemmie, in your letter from Madras you wrote some words very dear to me, about having enriched your life. I cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there can be accounts in love.” Words not likely to be captured quite the same way in an e-mail or a text message.

For my eighteenth birthday my parents gave me a gift that I will be forever grateful. They asked a list of important people in my life, people that I considered mentors and from whom I had sought much advice over the years to write letters offering advice for the future as I entered adulthood. My mother put them into a “wisdom book,” capturing those letters for me to have for the rest of my life. I re-read them often whenever I am feeling down, in need of advice or simply a moment of inspiration. This is a collection that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

It is startling to think that children born today may never experience the feeling of receiving a letter in the mail. Yet just because it’s easier to send an e-mail or a text message does not mean we have to. So the next time you want to tell someone you love them or remind them of how special they are, put your phone down and surprise them by writing a letter. Let’s save the art of letter writing one letter at a time and enrich lives. It starts with you.

Samuel Moore-Sobel is a student at George Mason University majoring in government and international politics.

July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution

July 1, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, This Month in History Comments Off on July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution
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– By Andrea Gaines

Loudoun County was heavily invested in the fight for independence from Great Britain. Loudouner Francis Lightfoot Lee was one of 56 delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence. More Loudouners served in General George Washington’s army than any other county in Virginia, and the county’s enormous contributions of grain earned it the nickname “Breadbasket of the Revolution.” But, the conduct of the war was controversial here. Said Lund Washington (General George Washington’s cousin) at the time, “ … the [first battle] we have in this part of the Country will be in Loudoun.” He was referring to the Loudoun uprising, a rebellion pitting small farmers and semi-autonomous local militias – buckling under no export rules, rationing and the huge disparity in pay between officers and everyday soldiers – against the “gentleman” class. The spunk and determination of people within the lower classes – here and across the country – encouraged individual colonies and the Continental Congress to take a more revolutionary stance towards Great Britain, and contributed to a more egalitarian ethos in society, economics and government. A Loudoun County Revolutionary War monument – to be dedicated this fall – depicts, not a high-level officer, but a simple farmer, his wife and his child … as he heads off to join Washington’s army.

Mount Zion Church

July 1, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Mount Zion Church
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– By Tim Jon

So: You’ve never given the American Civil War a great deal of thought, much less walked the grounds of Gettysburg or some of the other, major battleground sites located in our region; you may not be one of those who get all excited and goosepimply when you’re told that such and such happened here on such and such a day in history – it’s the here and now that count for making our march forward in time and human progress. Well, I’m not sure that I can provide a definitive, mathematical proof to show the overwhelming merits of either side of this one; I do know, though, that I felt a renewed sense of self and my surrounding world after my morning photo shoot and stroll around the property at the Historic Mount Zion Old School Baptist Church and Cemetery in the southern part of our county.

No – there’s no Hollywood movie about the events that occurred at this site just off Route 50 and Watson Road; tourists aren’t going to argue about the exact spot where Brad Pitt, or Tom Cruise, or Johnny Depp saved the day from the bad guys in the film – because it was never made. And, on the day of my last visit (or on the first, for that matter), I’m not sure it would have added to my experience if the collective wisdom of our 21st Century American culture had somehow marked this specific geography’s place in history with their digital cameras; I was happy just to be able to share the space with the birds and squirrels (didn’t care too much for the insect population) and the whoosh of distant commuter traffic negotiating the new circles on Route 50.

Not that this place would make a bad movie: The church building – erected in the decade leading up to the War Between the States – saw quite a bit of history unfold inside its walls, upon its acreage, and within eye and ear shot on the surrounding countryside. I’m told by those who know a lot more about factual (as opposed to my natural tendency – poetical) history, that this property served as a meeting place and shelter for soldiers, as well as an impromptu prison – and, like many other buildings in this section of our country – a hospital for the wounded.

And if these events fail to impress, your history guide will point out that on a spot close to this ground in the summer of 1864 the Confederate Colonel John Mosby and his men (guerilla innovators that they were) defeated the Union troops led by one Major William H Forbes. In fact, it’s hard to spend any time in this part of Loudoun without noticing multiple references to the ‘Gray Ghost’ and his exploits in leading the 43rd Battalion of the First Virginia Cavalry. Say: – isn’t another name for Route 50 – just a few yards off the Mount Zion Church property – John Mosby Highway? Well, there ya go.

Returning to more general references to Mount Zion’s role in the Civil War, we’re told that a number of graves in the adjacent Cemetery contain the remains of soldiers who served in that conflict. Walking along the southern stone wall of the burial ground, I noted a few headstones outside the walled portion; my thoughts led to the easy conclusion: “These just predate the graves within the walls.” Pretty simple figuring, right?

Well, later, as I actually conducted some research on the place, I learned that the final resting places for at least 64 African Americans lie in that portion of ground. Now, the Northern Virginia Park Authority states that these graves remained unmarked. Not sure whose headstones those were, then. In any case, as you walk this property, the knowledge of the relative identities of those interred within or without the wall may affect your experience in some way. And, if your kids should happen to ask why some headstones are over here, in the woods, outside the ‘Cemetery,’ you can take the opportunity to share a bit of our country’s history. And its present – and how they connect. Or don’t. And, when Brad Pitt, or Tom Cruise, or Johnny Depp (and the rest of the cast, for that matter) conduct their character research for the Hollywood Movie that may never exist on John Singleton Mosby, they will certainly have their hands full, and would bear a heavy responsibility, indeed.
So: Like I said at the top of the story – you’ve never given the American Civil War much thought? It’s not Gettysburg, but a visit to the Historic Mount Zion Old School Baptist Church and Cemetery can yet yield substantial rewards.

Ancient Oaks – The Great Providers

July 1, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Wild Loudoun Comments Off on Ancient Oaks – The Great Providers
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– By Andrea Gaines

She feeds the birds. She shelters the mammal. She cools the air, provides us with shade and conserves the water and soil.

She is the mighty old oak, an ecosystem unto herself.

All except the smallest living things function as an ecosystem of sorts – whether harboring the bacteria and microscopic plants that break down organic matter, or sustaining the mammals, birds and other living things that draw nutrition and safety from them.

In the case of trees, and old oak trees in particular, the variety of life that they help sustain is enormous. The sturdy, slow-growing oak is an ecological champion – the great provider.

More than 100 vertebrate species, including deer, chipmunk, porcupine, rabbits, beavers, mice, black bear, squirrels, jays, ducks, pheasants, wild turkey and more browse on and cache – saving for future use – the oak’s leathery leaves, fatty, sugar- and vitamin-rich acorns, mineral-rich twigs, and nutritious young shoots. In the case of blue jays, the bird’s tendency to cache acorns in open fields gives the oak seedling a superior chance for survival, free of competition from neighboring trees.

Dozens of bird species, including chickadees, wrens, woodpeckers, flickers, owls, bluebirds and the jay use the mature oak’s branches, nesting holes, crown and crevices for shelter and to raise their young.

The oak’s acorns sustain whole populations of animals through the hardest of winters. For, while oaks are slow growing, they are long-lived and extremely productive. In a good year, a mature oak might produce 5,000 or more acorns.

Insects depend upon her, too. Mature oaks are used by more moth and butterfly species than any other tree. For example, eastern oaks support 20 species of dagger moths, 18 species of underwings, eight species of hairstreaks, 44 species of inchworms and 15 species of giant silk moths. The caterpillars of the emerald-green wonder known as the luna moth – one of the giant silk moths – are highly dependent on oak trees for nourishment.

Native Americans prized and revered the oak for its leaves, flowers, and bark, which they used for medicinal purposes. Tribes from the east coast to the west coast also used acorn flour in breads and stews, while tannins from oak bark were used for dying and tanning.
Many of America’s most enduring buildings are framed with the dense, durable wood of the oak tree.

And, a mature oak presides with great dignity over the spot in which it sits. The roots of an oak reach out to three times the height of the tree itself, stabilizing slopes, limiting soil and stream bank erosion, and providing for groundwater recharge. Mature oaks also trap carbon and other air pollutants, and cool the air around them by transpiring up to 100 gallons of water per day.

Food, shelter, water and soil conservator, the mighty oak is indeed the great provider.

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Sustainable Planet

The Noisy Economist

25 Jul 2015

noerpel150

“[W]hereas classisists [economists] turned the spotlight on change, flow, process and dynamics, the neoclassicists [economists] spend their time analyzing states of rest, balance, equilibrium.” – Yanis Varoufakis [1] Updating the evolving global surface temperature anomaly monthly for the Loudoun County …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Help for Shark Phobia

8 Jul 2015

Michael_Pic

Dr. Mike, We go to the Outer Banks every summer as a family, but our seven-year-old daughter is now freaked out by the reported shark attacks at the Outer Banks. Thanks to her older siblings teasing her about sharks, she …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Mount Zion Church

1 Jul 2015

timjon

– By Tim Jon So: You’ve never given the American Civil War a great deal of thought, much less walked the grounds of Gettysburg or some of the other, major battleground sites located in our region; you may not be …

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Brandon Park

3 Jun 2015

timjon

Considering its location – amidst the swirl of transportation axes, commercial and industrial scenery, residential neighborhoods, and the shadow of the busy downtown section of Leesburg, I was surprised to have this quiet little oasis of (mostly) green to myself …

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Sushi's Corner

March Sushi

4 Mar 2015

pot of gold

Hello everyone, this is Hokie Cat from Fields of Athenry Farm. Sushi is in big trouble as we speak and is residing in doggy dungeon. I am here to fill you in on what took place. My brother Mountie loves …

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Virginia Gardening

Planting an Allergy-Free Garden

5 May 2015

donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson Tom Ogren has a long-time interest in allergy-inducing plants. He has written several books on the topic and in February released his latest The Allergy Fighting Garden. He explains why plants can stir up allergies and has …

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Samuel Moore-Sobel

Saving The Art Of Letter Writing

1 Jul 2015

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– By Samuel Moore-Sobel This year a woman in France received a letter in the mail. What made her experience unique was that the letter had been written on January 27, 1877, and was intended for her great-grandfather. Steve Insekeep, …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

The Marital Agreement

2 Jul 2015

Smith0035

– By Amy & Dan Smith In Virginia, as in most states, a marital agreement can be entered into before or after marriage. It can cover a variety of topics but commonly addresses issues pertaining to the disposition of property …

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Student News

8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015

benkellog

Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

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Blue Ridge Middle Places 11th In National Science League

1 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

Blue Ridge National Science Day Declared Tuesday, June 10 has been officially been declared Blue Ridge National Science Day. At a recent Purcellville Town Council Meeting, Mayor Kwasi Fraser and members of the town council signed a proclamation designating this …

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Events

August 2015
M T W T F S S
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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Friday Night Live with Emma Rowley & Saffron Gourmet Food Truck

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Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

Book Signing: 'Beyond Jefferson's Vines' by Richard Leahy

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Spinners

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Ronnie Milsap

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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COFFEEHOUSE: LOVE, LOSS & WHAT I WORE

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Creedence Clearwater

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Culinary Garden Summer Music Series

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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Recent Comments

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015

blueridge2

Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input sessions June 4, 11 and 18 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall for the proposed sweeping zoning changes. These major …

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Editorial

How Did We Get Here And How Do We Get Out?? A Summary Of Purcellville’s Sewer Debt And Strategic Solutions

1 Jul 2015

kwasifraser

– By Kwasi Fraser, Mayor of Purcellville Many of our fellow citizens are baffled by the proposed increase in our already high water and sewer rates, and not just about the increase that was proposed for the Fiscal Year 2016 but also about the proposed increases over the next nine years. This quote from one of our citizens to a …

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Lifestyle

Artist’s Profile: Michele Sommers, Mural Artist – The Beauty Of Life, Evolving Over Time

2 Jul 2015

artist3

– By Andrea Gaines Two things defy reason when it comes to mural artist and painter Michele Sommers. The first is her irrepressibly humble attitude towards her talent. The second is the absolute divinity of her work. I knew that in writing about her in this way she would be thinking, Oh … come on … I’m not THAT good! …

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Kicking Off Farm To Fork With Music

1 Jul 2015

farmtofork

Kicking off this year’s Farm-to-Fork Loudoun project is the second annual Farm, Fork & Art, with music added: a special concert from home grown, award winning folk and Americana singer-songwriter Andrew McKnight. Farm, Fork, Art & Music begins at 6 p.m. sharp at the unique Trinity House Cafe located at 101 E. Market St. in Leesburg on Wednesday, July 22, …

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Hillsboro Celebrates Independence Day July 3

1 Jul 2015

hillsborojuly3

Bring your friends and family to Hillsboro’s Old Stone School on Friday, July 3 for the annual Independence Day Celebration. The celebration will be preceded by the second of four seasonal outdoor markets which will open on July 3 at 4 p.m., and the Independence Day festivities begin at 6 p.m. at the Old Stone School located at 37098 Charles …

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Wild Loudoun

Ancient Oaks – The Great Providers

1 Jul 2015

wildloudoun

– By Andrea Gaines She feeds the birds. She shelters the mammal. She cools the air, provides us with shade and conserves the water and soil. She is the mighty old oak, an ecosystem unto herself. All except the smallest living things function as an ecosystem of sorts – whether harboring the bacteria and microscopic plants that break down organic …

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Around Virginia

Governor Signs Senator Black’s Campus Sexual Assault Bill

governorsigns

On Thursday, May 28, Sen. Richard Black traveled to Richmond for the bill signing ceremony of his bill, Senate Bill 712, the Campus Sexual Assault Bill. Black’s law will change the way that Virginia’s colleges and universities handle sexual assault cases.  “When I heard about the Hannah Graham case, I …

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McAuliffe Announces Movie To Film in Virginia

McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia has been selected as the filming location for “Loving,” a motion picture based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia married couple who, in 1958, were arrested for violating a state law at the time prohibiting interracial marriage. The couple …

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Bipartisan Legislation Hopes To Reduce Wasteful Spending

blueridge2

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have teamed up on a bipartisan proposal to empower federal workers to identify and cut down on unnecessary federal spending. The Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act of 2015 would build on existing law by expanding a program that allows U.S. government …

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Sports

Upper Loudoun Little League Pre-Game Ceremony

1 Jul 2015

ULLLpic5

– By Carri Michon The Majors championship game for Upper Loudoun Little League dawned with prospects of stormy weather. Nonetheless, a nice crowd assembled for the pre-game ceremonies in the light rain. Following the announcment of the AL Royals and the NL Pirates teams, the ULLL Hometown Heroes scholarship given …

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WLVBC Ignite Takes 2nd at Tournament

13 May 2015

Ignite Takes Silver at Spring Fling resized

Western Loudoun Volleyball Club U15 Team Ignite placed second at the NVVA 15’s Spring Fling Volleyball Tournament on Sunday, May 10 at Belmont Ridge Middle School in Leesburg. Ignite met the host team, NVVA 15 Fairfax Black, in the finals. “I’m proud of each player for pushing hard through 10 …

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This Month in History

July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution

1 Jul 2015

thismonthhistory

– By Andrea Gaines Loudoun County was heavily invested in the fight for independence from Great Britain. Loudouner Francis Lightfoot Lee was one of 56 delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence. More Loudouners served in General George Washington’s army than any other county in Virginia, and the county’s enormous …

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Mary Rose Lunde

Locks Of Hope Easy, Helpful

1 Jul 2015

Lunde new

– By Mary Rose Lunde I’m not the first one who has written about and done what I am about to describe, and I hope I’m not the last. It’s not an action that seems heroic, but it does make a difference. The best part is that no one is …

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Sarah's Closet

Go Pink … As Pink As You Like

1 Jul 2015

sarahcloset3

– By Sarah Nearis Look at these sweet and summery pink blouses and tops. Don’t you want to try one on? Some women are afraid to wear pink, thinking it’s a bit too feminine. But, pink comes in such a wide variety of shades – from soft mauves to fuchsias …

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Letters

Independence Won – Much Left To Be Done

1 Jul 2015

speak

With graduations behind us and summer vacations ahead, we have much to look forward to. My summer will be full of events and opportunities to …

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Reflections for Father’s Day, a Child’s Constitutional Rights

15 Jun 2015

Bob Ohneiser

I’ve been a licensed attorney and a father since the late 80’s. Yet, I wonder about how many of our country’s legal theories – theories …

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Minimum Wage: A Wrench in the Gears

3 Jun 2015

Dave_larock

By Delegate Dave LaRock You may have read in the news recently that the second-largest city in the United States, Los Angeles, voted to raise …

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