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    Buy-local campaigns are common, especially around the holidays, and on the increase. Often organized by chambers of commerce, the idea is to convince consumers to spend their money in their hometowns versus leaving town to shop at big-box retailers. According to an Institute for Local Self-Reliance survey, independent businesses in cities with an active buy-local campaign fared better than those in cities without a push for localism.
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We have several planets to look for, but they’re disappearing fast

The waning moon reaches last-quarter on Saturday, rising around 2:30am and shining high in the south as the sun rises at 7am. If you’re up before this time, look to the east for blazing Venus.
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After 100 years in New York, a storied mahogany bar finds a new home in Mayo

Prost! will make room for salute when you next click glasses at the bar at the new Old Stein. That’s because owner Mike Selinger has imported the bar of a famous Manhattan Italian eatery to keep the old in the Old Stein, which he hopes to reopen at its Mayo location in August after December 31’s fire.
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Ten percent of dogs in America are homeless

America loves dogs. In a country with more than 300 million people, there are 77-plus million owned dogs. Well over a third of all households in America have a pet dog, with many having two or more.
    Sometimes that love goes to extremes, as in Anne Arundel County where Animal Control officers found 51 dogs in a Pasadena home.
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A raunchy alien makes men out of two nerds

Graeme (Simon Pegg: The Chronicles of Narnia) and Clive (Nick Frost: Pirate Radio) are two nerds living the dream. The Brits combine their savings for a trip of a lifetime to California’s Comic Con....

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

As my doctor read through my records during my yearly physical, he exhaled a worrisome Hmmmmmmm. That’s never good when you’re visiting a doctor.
    “Let’s see,” he said. “According to your chart you turned the big Five-Oh this year.”
    To me, it sounded more like the big Five-Uh-oh.
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Monthly dunkings will keep them moist all the way through

A reader called to ask if she could visit me with a large houseplant she purchased last summer. It was dropping most of its leaves, and the margins of the remaining leaves were turning brown.
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To catch them, fish fresh shallows of tribs

The spring equinox has kicked this year’s white perch run into overdrive. An increasing amount of daylight in early spring is one of the prime stimulants to the white perch spawn. The equinox, coupled with our recent record rainfalls, has gotten this best loved denizen of the Tidewater moving early.
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Nancy Patterson’s canine companion Mahler is her arms, her legs and her independence

“I’ve had an engine fail on my plane,” says Nancy Patterson, of Davidsonville, a retired airline pilot. “I’ve had brain surgery. But this has been the most life-changing thing I’ve ever gone through.”
    Patterson is talking about her experience with Mahler, her service dog from Canine Companions.
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Often bad dogs make the better stories; this week, good dogs have their day

Who can resist a dog story?
    My favorites star villainous dogs, like Muggs, the hero of James Thurber’s story The Dog that Bit People.*
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