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Reconstructing Economics: Why Nations Fail, Part One

May 13, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Reconstructing Economics: Why Nations Fail, Part One
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“People are reluctant to believe physical systems and human systems are of the same kind. Although social systems are more complex than physical systems, they belong to the same class of high-order, nonlinear, feedback systems as do physical systems.” Jay Forrester

Economist Steve Keen writes in Debunking Economics that his discipline is broken and needs help from other sciences. Interestingly, he does this by demonstrating inconsistencies and bad assumptions within economics. Jay Forrester proposed a “systems economics” approach and indeed his collaborators produced perhaps the most accurate long term economics forecast to date with the publication of Limits to Growth in 1972. Using systems biology as a model for reconstructing economics and borrowing from these past efforts I propose integrating into economics the hard sciences: physics and chemistry, the soft sciences: biology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, and the softer sciences: anthropology, history and the more rational schools of economics. … Continue Reading

Extreme Irrationality Is Extremely Irritating

March 5, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Extreme Irrationality Is Extremely Irritating
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“Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States. Since detailed records of hurricane size began in 1988, only one tropical storm (Olga of 2001) has had a larger area of tropical storm-force winds, and no hurricanes has. … Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall, the total energy of Sandy’s winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules–the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina’s peak energy, and is equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy’s tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been wider.” – Jeff Masters [1] … Continue Reading

The Party of Lincoln (Part Two)

January 23, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on The Party of Lincoln (Part Two)
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“The physical sciences, often called the ‘hard sciences’, are really the easy ones. They are underpinned by conservation laws and invariance principles in ways that differ from the biological, and even more the social, sciences.” Robert M. May, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, [1].

Climate Reality

On the most basic level and referring to the Robert May quote above, the study of planetary climate systems is a physical science. I’ve described most of the forcings and feedbacks previously [2]. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and has certain other physical properties which result in its being the principle greenhouse gas or thermostat of any planet similar to Earth [3]. At the temperature and atmospheric pressure at the surface of our planet carbon dioxide is a gas and is well-mixed in the atmosphere. Water by contrast is a liquid and only very reluctantly vaporizes. We have oceans of liquid water on our planet’s surface and yet very little water vapor. It is not well mixed in the atmosphere. There is very little water vapor over the Sahara or Antarctica or over any other desert. Since the temperature falls precipitously with altitude over the surface the percentage of water vapor falls dramatically as well. … Continue Reading

The Party of Lincoln

January 13, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on The Party of Lincoln
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“The physical sciences, often called the ‘hard sciences’, are really the easy ones. They are underpinned by conservation laws and invariance principles in ways that differ from the biological, and even more the social, sciences.” Robert M. May, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, [1].

Tony Noerpel

Executive Summary

I’ve done it again. I’ve taken a very simple theme and went crazy with it. Since this piece is much longer than anybody’s attention span, it needs an executive summary.

There is a myth in American politics that both political parties are the same so it does not really matter which one we vote for. This is not true. It is my experience that two groups of people hold this view. Those of us who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 hold this view because voting for Nader helped put George W. Bush in the White House and of course we would agree that Bush was one of the worst presidents our country ever had. Even the Republican Party did not invite the sitting president to John McCain’s nominating convention in 2008. We just don’t want to admit we made a mistake. There are many moderates who voted for Bush in 2000 who aver that both parties are just as bad, too. Those of us in this camp are also reluctant to admit we blew it. Nobody likes to admit being wrong. I certainly don’t. Well, grow up everybody. Admitting we were wrong is cathartic. It actually feels good to fess up that we screwed up. … Continue Reading

Are We Sufficiently Science Literate?

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“The only thing that stands between a man and being free is this foolish thing called greed” – “Greed”, a song by Buddy Dunlap.

The widening gap between the reality of human-caused or anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and its eventual severity on one hand and public opinion on the other in the United States is confounding. The debate is not between advocates of multiple competing hypotheses attempting to explain the observed phenomena, which is what happens in science. Rather it is an asymmetric confrontation between scientists using evidence to discover a signal and ideologues generating noise. Finding a denier signal if it exists within their noise is much more difficult than one might think [1]. However, it has been my personal experience that anybody with sufficient scientific literacy who may have been skeptical can be easily convinced of the truth of AGW by the evidence as well as by lack of evidence supporting whatever skeptical views they might have previously held. By contrast it is not easy to convince deniers because they do not know what evidence is, a sad reality which the fossil fuels industry exploits [2]. It is only by meticulously avoiding evidence that deniers can frame their case at all. … Continue Reading

Taking It Slow

December 2, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Taking It Slow
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“And I have made much more progress in recognizing the errors of others than my own.” – Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow [1].

Isn’t that the truth? Kahneman is not writing about perceiving what others do or write as errors when in fact they are not. He is describing how much easier it is to objectively observe the mistakes of others which if we committed we’d never notice. When I noticed that Nate Silver applied Bayes statistics incorrectly in his chapter on global warming in his book The Signal and the Noise, I was on it like a hawk on a small rodent [2]. I might have misapplied Bayes Rule a hundred times without noticing the errors I might have been making if I had the chance. If Silver had gotten it right in the first place, I may have never studied Bayes Rule on my own and I may never have actually applied it at all to anything. This effort on my part was very intense and exhausting but immensely rewarding. Expending considerable effort for a rather long period of time without having to exert will power is described by Kahneman as being in a “flow”. I have heard it called being in a zone. And that is where I was for the last three weeks. It was awesome; way superior to video games, television or drugs. … Continue Reading

To the Arctic: Amplified and Bayes Applied

November 27, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on To the Arctic: Amplified and Bayes Applied
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“In accordance with Bayes’ theorem, prediction is fundamentally a type of information-processing activity – a matter of using new data to test our hypotheses about the objective world, with the goal of coming to truer and more accurate conceptions about it.” Nate Silver

Forward

I like Nate Silver and I feel bad about criticizing his book “The Signal and the Noise”. But after reading his global warming chapter twice through I have to admit that he deserves the criticism. Without a doubt, when he writes about the physics of climate change for the most part he is spot on. And I applaud his effort to try to understand it. However, my critique is technically valid, no apologies there; Silver blew his Bayesian analysis. He missed a perfectly good opportunity to contribute to a reduction of the noise level of the discourse increasing it instead. This is exactly the goal of the fossil fuels industry. So long as there is lots of noise, nobody sees the signal. I sent a draft to Silver and asked for comments so he has had a chance to defend himself or do the mea culpa. He did not respond so my conscience is clear. The mistakes he makes in applying Bayesian analysis to the global warming problem include:

  • He uses false new data introducing misinformation, which has been comprehensively debunked. See ref [17].
  • He ignores true information.
  • He assumes that the climate system is memoryless.
  • He only applies the analysis to the IPCC consensus hypothesis and not to the myriad denier hypotheses.

… Continue Reading

Energy Summit Comments

November 13, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Energy Summit Comments
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Both Sustainable Loudoun’s 2013 energy summit and climate discussion went well. Kent Klitgaard the featured speaker at the energy summit, held on October 25 at GWU, called me the night before from a hospital bed in post op. He had been rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Obviously, he was not going to be able to travel and deliver his talk the following evening. I told him not to worry. He could send me his charts in the morning. I could review them and call him with questions and deliver the talk myself. What else was I going to do? A friend Kenneth Davidson, an antitrust lawyer who has written several books would be attending and I would invite him to participate in the Q and A discussion afterwards. We would muddle through. … Continue Reading

Climate Discussion with Climate Scientist Jennifer Francis

climate discussion

Rapid Arctic Warming and Extreme Weather Events in Mid-Latitudes: Are They Connected?

Wednesday – November 6, 2013
Music and Refreshments start at 6:00 p.m. – Program begins at 7:00 p.m.
Music by Tara Linhardt and Buddy Dunlap
Hosted by REHAU
1501 Edwards Ferry Road, NE, Leesburg, VA

Featured speaker: Jennifer Francis, PhD

“Extra heat entering the vast expanses of open water that were once covered in ice is released back to the atmosphere in the fall. This has led to an increase in near-surface, autumn air temperatures of two to five degrees C (3.6 to nine degrees F) over much of the Arctic Ocean during the past decade. All that extra heat being deposited into the atmosphere cannot help but affect the weather, both locally and on a large scale. And there are growing indications that some weather phenomena in recent years — such as prolonged cold spells in Europe, heavy snows in the northeastern U.S. and Alaska, and heat waves in Russia — may be related to Arctic amplification.” Jennifer Francis [1] … Continue Reading

Sustainable Loudoun’s Energy and Economic Forum

energy summit

“I made a mistake.” FED Chair Alan Greenspan in testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008.

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession …We have sort of become a nation of whiners” John McCain’s economic advisor, and former senator Phil Gramm in an interview with the Washington Times, July 9, 2008, eight months after the recession officially began.

“As of 2011 there is no clear agreement of what kind of economics works and what does not.” Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard, “Energy and the Wealth of Nations”.

“We often underestimate how much uncertainty there is in terms of our understanding of the economy. If you pretend that we know more than we do, you are in danger of constructing policies that can be counter-productive.” 2013 Economics Nobel Prize winner, Lars Peter Hansen [1]. … Continue Reading

Who Are We and Do We Have a Purpose?

August 28, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Who Are We and Do We Have a Purpose?
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“Since we have expanded by use of intelligence and detection of not necessarily sustainable gradients, continued civilization is not a foregone conclusion…. Our oil economy freeloads on photosynthetic fossil fuels, buried treasures that the rest of life passed by. But these treasures are running out.” Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan, Into the Cool, 2005.

There are at least two very good questions a reader might want to ask me, inquiries which I encourage. Why am I writing this column? What do I expect to accomplish or do I have a purpose? The short answers are that I write these columns to clear my head and my purpose, what I expect to accomplish, is to come as close to understanding reality or truth as I possibly can. It would be great to anticipate the future of Homo sapiens and to discover if we have a purpose. The latter is a quest that is limited by my own intellect and also by the information which is available to me within the time frame of my sojourn in life. The long answers are not just much longer but raise more questions. … Continue Reading

Mission to Our Home Planet, a Future with No Landfills and Some Fine Music!

March 21, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Mission to Our Home Planet, a Future with No Landfills and Some Fine Music!
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Loudoun County Regional Science and Engineering Fair Energy and Environmental Sustainability Awards Results and Ceremony Announcement

Every year REHAU, Inc. of Leesburg Virginia along with Sustainable Loudoun sponsors four awards for the Regional Science and Engineering Fair. The name of the award is the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Award. The presentation ceremony will be on Wednesday April 24 at REHAU’s North America headquarters at 1501 Edwards Ferry Rd. in Leesburg. The students will display their winning projects and be available to discuss them at 6:00 p.m. Between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. entertainment will be provided by the Potomac Falls High School (PFHS) Guitar Quartet sponsored by Sand Energy. The formal program begins at 7:00 p.m. with a talk by NASA astrophysicist Dr. Michelle Thaller. Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick, III, Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools will present the awards. Refreshments will be provided by REHAU. This event is free and open to the public. … Continue Reading

The Con in Economics

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“In so far as a theory can be said to have assumptions at all, in so far as their realism can be judged independently of the validity of predictions, the relation between the significance of a theory and the realism of its assumptions is almost the opposite of that suggested by the view under criticism. Truly important and significant hypotheses will be found to have assumptions that are wildly inaccurate descriptive representations of reality and, in general, the more significant the theory, the more unrealistic the assumptions.” Milton Friedman [1].

I first read this remarkable passage by Milton Friedman a few years ago in Steve Keen’s book Debunking Economics [2]. Keen is one of only twelve economists to have predicted the recent great recession [3] so he is entirely credible. Still I’m a skeptical person and with due respect to Friedman I had to read the original paper. Even assuming Keen’s quote is accurate and it is; it may have been taken out of context, and it is not. I found Friedman’s remark so outrageous that I had to comment on it, and apparently so did a whole lot of other people. I came across the original paper along with several critiques by other economists, including Paul Samuelson, and philosophers, including Ernest Nagel, in Bruce Caldwell’s book Appraisal and Criticism in Economics, A book of Readings [4]. Economic methodology is an esoteric subject even for economists but the selections in the book are interesting and expose us to yet another example of how not to think. … Continue Reading


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

Ice house, Hot House and Mad House

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Recently, I was asked: “I know we are putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and scientists say that will warm the planet but there were also ice ages and warmer climates in the past before humans so what caused those …

Sugar Crash

Lunde new

Sugar runs inside our body and fuels our very being. In biology they teach us that sugar is really glucose which is broken down in the body to produce ATP (adenine tri-phosphate). So why bring this up? Well, sugar is …

The Art of Memory

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By Samuel Moore-Sobel Still Alice. A movie that not only elicits tears, but naturally incurs reflection. This heartrending movie was the starting point of a personal wrestling with the implications of human memory. Remembering can bring us back to a …

Living in Debt

Michael_Pic

Dr. Mike, My husband has issues with money that are hurting our relationship and family. He makes a lot of money, but he spends more than he makes and we are in debt. He can’t just have a luxury car, …

June in the Garden

juneingarden flowers

Conserve Water, Beat the Heat and Keep Things Blooming By Andrea Gaines It’s getting hot out there. And, there’s nothing more discouraging for a gardener that to come home after a weekend away – or miss a regular watering schedule …

Potoma Wayside

potoma wayside

My advice is: Don’t look straight down; the combination of rushing highway traffic a couple of feet away and, what’s – to me, anyway – a dizzying height, can produce some unsettling sensations. I came to this conclusion after walking …

Editorial

Grief and Greed

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By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …

Op-ed

Oh No, It’s the Christians!

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By Nicholas Reid In the hours and days following every massacre perpetrated by radical Muslims, there is one unifying theme across most news coverage of the massacre, wherever it may …

Dear Editor

Thank You

nedimogelman

It is with great anticipation that I look forward to Monday, June 27, 2016. On that day new Purcellville Town Council members will be sworn into office, at Town Hall. …

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

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 …

Student News

Four Scouts Achieve Eagle Scout Rank

3 Feb 2016

eaglescout

Joel Gicker, Kyle Siecker, Sam Soltis and David Watson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at Blue Ridge Bible Church in Purcellville on January 9. The four Eagles are members of Troop 711 of …

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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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Calendar

June 2016
M T W T F S S
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Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

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Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

Free Gardening Lecture

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

Yard Sale

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

PAUL REISLER TRIO WITH LEA MORRIS AND MARSHALL KEYS

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

19th Annual Cajun Festival & Crawfish Boil

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

Goats at BRNP

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

Bring Dad to North Gate Vineyard

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

June Fourth Friday at Breaux Vineyards

Love, He Called It

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

Love, He Called It

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

Sip & Paint at Breaux Vineyards

Love, He Called It

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

28

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

29

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

30

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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Lifestyle

Rummage Sale Trailers Open July 9

27 Jun 2016

rummage_sale

78th Annual Ladies Board Rummage Sale Ready For Donations The Ladies Board of Inova Loudoun Hospital is officially accepting donations for the annual Rummage Sale. The first Donation Day of the summer will be on Saturday, July 9 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Inova Loudoun Hospital, 44045 Riverside Parkway, Leesburg, and at Inova Loudoun Medical Campus – Leesburg, …

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Troy and Paula Haag Perform at Old Stone School

9 Jun 2016

troy and paula haag 1a

Troy and Paula Haag, will appear on The Gap Stage at the Old Stone School on Saturday, June 18. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Dinner will be sold by Big Mike’s BBQ, drinks will be sold by the glass, and there will be desserts at intermission. Troy and Paula will be joined by Max Haag …

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Here’s To the Colorists, Manicurists and Blow Dry Mavens… Thanks for Listening!

1 Jun 2016

hair color

Sunday, June 26 is Beauticians Day, celebrating the cosmetology and other experts who keep us looking and feeling our best – whether it’s with a haircut and style, a facial, a manicure, or just some quiet and light conversation.

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Around Virginia

HUD Awards $2 Million in Housing Counseling Grants To Virginia

Kaine

Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that Catholic Charities USA, headquartered in Alexandria, will receive $951,150 in federal funding, and the Virginia Housing Development Authority, located in Richmond, will receive $1,040,918. This nearly $2 million grant by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) …

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Four Hop, Skip and a Jump Local Destinations

morven

Last month we encouraged our readers to consider visiting any one of five great destinations within just a stone’s throw of Loudoun’s history-lined borders – Berryville and Harper’s Ferry among them. This month we feature four destinations – two right here in our much-celebrated county, and two just over the …

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Out and About Loudoun and Beyond

The Plains’ charming restaurants, shops and sidewalks.

Five Stone’s Throw Spring and Summer Destinations By Andrea Gaines Bordered by the Potomac River to the north and beautiful mountains to the west – and with easy access to Rt. 95, the Dulles Toll Road and Route 66 – Loudouners have no short list of fun spring places to …

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Sports

The Lady Vikings Earned Back-to Back Conference Title

1 Jun 2016

lvhs

The Lady Vikings earned the back-to back conference title with a 4-1 win over Heritage in late May. The team earned a first round playoff bye finishing first in the conference and then went on to defeat Rock Ridge 12-0 in the conference semi-finals. The Lady Vikings ended their regular …

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Big Baseball Coming To Fireman’s Field

1 Jun 2016

purcellville cannons

Got Your Father’s Day Gift Lined Up Yet? The Purcellville Cannons’ Brett Fuller couldn’t be happier. He’s the owner of one of the most popular teams in the Valley Baseball League. The team, up until recently was called the Charles Town Cannons but now calls Purcellville its home.

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