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Your Official Groundhog Round Up

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In case you haven't already heard, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring! If you're not sold on Phil's accuracy rate, however, there are plenty of other groundhogs you can consult instead. Here they are, complete with what they declared today:

1. Buckeye Chuck

Tired of waiting on word from across state lines, Ohio managed to find their own forecasting groundhog back in the 1970s. Hailing from Marion, Ohio, Buckeye Chuck is said to be accurate about 75 percent of the time.  His 2016 verdict: Six more weeks of winter.

2. General Beauregard Lee

General Beau is likely the only groundhog with not one, but two honorary doctorates. His degree from the University of Georgia declares that he is a "Doctor of Weather Prognostication", while Georgia State bestowed a "Doctor of Southern Groundology" title upon him. As befitting of any grand Atlantean, General Beau has his very own version of Tara. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

3. Balzac Billy

Despite the fact the Balzac Billy in Alberta, Canada, is just a dude in a groundhog costume crawling out of a mulch pile (or perhaps because of it), "The Prairie Prognosticator" boasts about an 80 percent accuracy rate. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

4. Staten Island Chuck

This little guy, whose formal name is Charles G. Hogg, is notorious for nipping Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the 2009 prediction ceremony at the Staten Island Zoo. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

5. Wiarton Willie

Willie, an albino groundhog, has been predicting the weather since the 1950s—even though he was nothing but a fur hat back then. The story goes something like this: In 1957, a fellow named Mac McKenzie used Groundhog Day as an excuse to throw a boozy bash for his friends. Reporter Frank Teskey somehow got wind of the affair and misinterpreted that there was a big Groundhog Day festival in Wiarton, Ontario. When he arrived and discovered that the gathering was just a few guys drinking with no groundhog in sight, Teskey complained that he was going to be in trouble for having no story. In response, McKenzie grabbed a white fur hat from a female party-goer, half-buried it in the snow outside, and declared that Wiarton was home to a rare albino groundhog. The legend has grown, and now thousands of people show up yearly to celebrate Wiarton Willie, who has been upgraded from a fur hat to a real, live groundhog. His 2016 verdict: Six more weeks of winter.

6. Shubenacadie Sam

Thanks to Nova Scotia's time zone, Shubenacadie Sam at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park is the first to make a prediction for North America every year. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

7. Queen Charlotte

Queen Charlotte the groundhog made her public debut in Charlotte, North Carolina, this year. Though she predicted six more weeks of winter last year, she did so in a private ceremony—at the time, the Queen was new to the limelight and wasn't ready to perform in front of a crowd of onlookers. Her 2016 verdict: Early spring.

8. Jimmy the Groundhog

It seems that Jimmy the Groundhog from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, wasn't too thrilled about coming out of hibernation last year. When Jimmy's handler held him up to Mayor Jon Freund's ear to "whisper" his weather findings, the groundhog gave the mayor a little nip on the ear. Jimmy didn't get the chance to get so up close and personal this year—he had to stay in his cage for the official announcement. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

9. Chuckles

Chuckles the Groundhog makes her predictions live from the Lutz Children's Museum in Manchester, Connecticut. They're currently on Chuckles VIII, an orphaned groundhog who was sworn in to her position in 2013 using a copy of the Farmer's Almanac. Her 2016 verdict: Early spring.

10. Polk County Paula

Polk County Paula, a groundhog mascot from Des Moines, predicts the weather and distributes free bottles of Miller High Life. It probably helps the "more winter" predictions go down a little easier. Her 2016 verdict: Early spring.

Good news: Early spring has the majority. Happy Groundhog Day!

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Live Smarter
Why the Best Time to Book Your Thanksgiving Travel Is Right Now
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You're never going to get a true steal on holiday plane tickets, but if you want to avoid spending your whole salary flying to visit your relatives over Thanksgiving, the time is nigh to start picking seats. That's according to the experts at Condé Nast Traveler, who cite data from Expedia and Skyscanner.

The latter found that it was cheapest to secure Thanksgiving tickets 11 weeks before the holiday. That means that you should have bought your ticket around September 4, but it's not too late; you can still save if you book now. Expedia's data shows that the cheapest time to buy is 61 to 90 days before you leave, so you still have until September 23 to snag a seat on a major airline without paying an obscene premium. (Relatively speaking, of course.)

When major travel holidays aren't involved, data shows that the best time to book a plane ticket is on a Sunday, at least 21 days ahead of your travel. But given that millions of other Americans also want to fly on the exact same days during Thanksgiving and Christmas, the calculus of booking is a bit more high stakes. If you sleep on tickets this month, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings. In the recent study cited by Condé Nast Traveler, Expedia found that people booking during the 61- to 90-day window saved up to 10 percent off the average ticket price, while last-minute bookers who bought tickets six days or less from their travel day paid up to 20 percent more.

Once you secure those Turkey Day tickets, you've got a new project: Your Christmas flights. By Hopper's estimates, those flights rise in price by $1.50 every day between the end of October and December 15 (after which they get even more expensive). However, playing the waiting game can be beneficial, too. Expedia found that the cheapest time to book Christmas flights was just 14 to 20 days out.

Before you buy, we also recommend checking CheapAir.com, which tracks 11,000 different airfares for flights around the holidays to analyze price trends. Because as miserable as holiday travel can be, you don't want to pay any more than you have to.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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Big Questions
Why Can’t You Wear White After Labor Day?
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Wearing white in the summer makes sense. Desert peoples have known for thousands of years that white clothing seems to keep you a little bit cooler than other colors. But wearing white only during the summer? While no one is completely sure exactly when or why this fashion rule came into effect, our best guess is that it had to do with snobbery in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The wives of the super-rich ruled high society with an iron fist after the Civil War. As more and more people became millionaires, though, it was difficult to tell the difference between respectable old money families and those who only had vulgar new money. By the 1880s, in order to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who were already “in” felt it necessary to create dozens of fashion rules that everyone in the know had to follow. That way, if a woman showed up at the opera in a dress that cost more than most Americans made in a year, but it had the wrong sleeve length, other women would know not to give her the time of day.

Not wearing white outside the summer months was another one of these silly rules. White was for weddings and resort wear, not dinner parties in the fall. Of course it could get extremely hot in September, and wearing white might make the most sense, but if you wanted to be appropriately attired you just did not do it. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, and society eventually adopted it as the natural endpoint for summer fashion.

Not everyone followed this rule. Even some socialites continued to buck the trend, most famously Coco Chanel, who wore white year-round. But even though the rule was originally enforced by only a few hundred women, over the decades it trickled down to everyone else. By the 1950s, women’s magazines made it clear to middle class America: White clothing came out on Memorial Day and went away on Labor Day.

These days the fashion world is much more relaxed about what colors to wear and when, but every year you will still hear people say that white after Labor Day is unacceptable, all thanks to some snobby millionaires who decided that was a fashion no-no more than 100 years ago.

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