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ARIES (March 21-April 19): Protect your position and your reputation. Acting on impulse may be difficult to control. Do your legwork and get all the information you require to make the right decision before you jump into something unpredictable.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Don't leave room for error. Tie up loose ends, and head toward the end of the year feeling less stressed. Make last-minute alterations to financial, legal, or contractual matters. Putting a little effort into updating your image will bring compliments.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): You'll come up with solutions by turning a negative into a positive. A partnership that interests you should be discussed in depth so you can adjust your current schedule to fit upcoming endeavors. Networking will open up your options.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Keep a lid on any secret information that you have been told. A situation at work appears to be unstable. Be discreet, and stay on top of the jobs you are expected to complete. A relationship you cherish must be handled with diplomacy.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Share information, and you will be able to put alternative options in place regarding how you can get ahead and help others. Travel plans will result in delays or problems with personal documents. Use charm to improve a difficult situation.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Prepare to put in extra time if it's required to finish a job. Don't be fooled by someone making a fuss or not being honest about a job. Work at your own pace, and don't take on someone else's responsibilities.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Set up talks that will allow you to address emotional issues that are of concern to you. Making plans to spend time with friends, relatives, or people who share your interests should be organized. You tend to overdo it, so pace yourself.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Gather information, and share your findings. Make last-minute plans with someone you love to spend time with and show a less predictable side of your personality. Emotional spending will lead to added stress if you haven't budgeted for the future.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Onlookers will find you exciting, but those closer to you will worry about your erratic or inconsistent behavior. Reassure those concerned by offering up your strategy. Change will make you happy and lead to better professional opportunities.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Show responsibility if you want to have things your way and completed by year's end. Watch over anyone supposedly working on your behalf. It's better to be safe than sorry. Empty promises are present, and they will require a suitable backup plan.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Learn from experience. You don't have to imitate what others do as long as you can meet whatever deadline you face and do a stellar job. Positive thoughts and actions will lead to both personal and professional victory.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): You have discipline and tenacity working for you. Take physical action, and complete whatever job you are given. Less said and more done will help you prove what you are capable of doing. Be a contributor, not a blowhard.

Why finals shouldn't be scheduled so close to the holidays:

• All this studying makes you more depressed than when you learned the truth about Santa in eighth grade.

• Instead of getting lost in the wonder and magic of the holiday season, you get lost trying to properly set up a stoichiometry equation.

• Your studies begin to influence your holiday thoughts, and you begin asking questions such as "Could Santa's elves perhaps be the presumed-extinct Homo florensiensis we learned about in Human Origins?"

• Your diversions become holiday-tinged, like attempting to disprove Santa's existence by using rate and distance formulae from your Calculus for Business notes.

• Instead of wearing festive red and green and listening to Christmas ditties, you feel like dressing in all black, putting on mascara, and pumping up the screamo.

• You end up thinking about the rhetoric behind and their ulterior motives in Christmas commercials, instead of just enjoying how truly cheesy they are.

• How is one supposed to focus when the eggnog is so cheap and plentiful?

• Instead of drinking with friends in celebration and memories of good times past, you are drinking alone in your room, trying to forget as much of the last few months as possible.

• Whenever someone asks what you want for Christmas, without thinking you reply "all As."

Andrew R. Juhl thanks Brendan O'Donnell for the material in today's Ledge.

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