‘Welcome home’: First VTL travellers arriving in Johor by bus look forward to family reunions, long-awaited time off


TEETHING ISSUES

As we crossed the empty Causeway, the skyline of Johor Bahru came into view along with a large “welcome home” sign and familiar sights such as City Square shopping mall.

We then disembarked at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar for our final immigration checks – this was when teething issues surfaced.

After grabbing our luggage, we were clustered around the foot of two escalators which had yet to be turned on, while cleaners swept the bus platform. Amid the confusion, several travellers started taking the stairs and making a detour for the lift, only for all of us to be eventually shepherded back into a group.

After some waiting, the Malaysian immigration officers performed a headcount by reading out our names from the passenger manifest, before allowing us to take the now functional escalator to the arrival hall.

The immigration hall was clearly split into VTL and non-VTL zones. Passport checks were relatively uneventful, although Malaysian citizens who are also Singapore permanent residents were asked to show their Singapore identification cards. I thankfully had mine on hand but another person had to double back to collect it from his travel partner.

The immigration officer asked for my passport and also looked at hard copies of my bus ticket, ART results and vaccination certificate. I also flashed my MySejahtera app for good measure.

Although soft copies of documents are permitted, the journey seems to be smoother if you have hardcopies on hand. Another plus – it minimises having to hand your mobile phone to others.

After this was baggage check, where those with “large bags” were stopped. I unzipped my oversized duffel and was let through quickly after I explained what I had packed. To my right, a man was held up after the Customs officer unearthed a few boxes of what looked like children’s toys. The officer then informed the man that he may have to pay a tax on the items. Another tip – keep receipts for any gifts handy.

The escalator leading back down to the bus bay was not working, leaving us to slowly descend with our heavy bags. One more tip – wear good shoes.



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Travel weather gets tricky as many return home from Thanksgiving


People returning home from Thanksgiving festivities may encounter travel delays as a series of storms crisscross the country.

A strengthening cold front, followed by another fast-moving system, will impact many from the Plains to the Midwest, and even the Northeast.

The second storm could bring the first measurable snowfall of the season to many cities on the East Coast.

Rain, wind, and snow are all possible across the Northeast on Friday. However, major coastal cities along the I-95 corridor will see mainly rain.

Millions will still be impacted by snow across interior sections of New England through Friday, which is expected to clear out by Saturday morning.

Rain will impact much of the east coast on Friday as a strong cold front moves through.

Bur windy conditions will remain, with gusts potentially up to 55 mph for parts of the Northeast.

“Right now, we are looking at sustained winds at 15 to 25 mph, with gusts of 25 to 35 mph,” says the National Weather Service (NWS) office in New York City.

Wind is one of the main causes of travel delays in the late autumn and winter months, and this weekend will be no exception.

We could see airport delays on Friday due to wind and a few delays due to snow and de-icing in New England.

Cold temperatures will follow, impacting the vast majority of the eastern half of the country.

From Texas to Maine, temperatures will be anywhere from 5 to 15 degrees below normal on Friday and Saturday.

Morning low temperatures forecast for the next four days.

The Pacific Northwest will also be at risk for travel delays through Friday, with another atmospheric river event getting set to impact the area.

Heavy coastal rainfall and mountain snowfall are expected through Friday with a slight break in the evening hours.

Saturday’s weather travel hot spots

Major cities on the East Coast are off the hook Saturday, but parts of northern New England can still see snowfall.

Wind gusts are likely to reach 40 mph, but Saturday still looks like the better travel day in this region.

The central US will experience winds gusting up to 55 mph in some locations.

Cities like Minneapolis could see an excess of flight delays, as the winds strengthen during peak volume hours.

In addition, these winds whipping across the Great Lakes will likely force lake-effect snow into the weekend.

Sunday’s weather travel hot spots

By Sunday, a quick-moving storm system could bring a brief shot of snow to the Midwest and Great Lakes.

The snow could reach the Washington, DC, area late in the weekend, impacting flights as well as road travelers.

Some computer models are hinting at the possibility of the storm system intensifying off the mid-Atlantic coast.

Rain and snow accumulation forecast for this weekend.

If this scenario plays out, snow would develop in eastern Pennsylvania, reaching Philadelphia and possibly farther north into New York City.

Of course, the timing and exact locations that will see snow will change in the coming days, but it bears watching as we get closer to the end of the week.

In the Northwest, another system pushes through with more rainfall over the weekend.

Washington town sees 75% of homes damaged by floodwaters
This will add to the impressive rainfall totals that the region has seen in the month of November.

Seattle has already seen 8.40″ of rain in November, and the month will most likely end as one of the wettest.

Overall, the weather will have some impact on travel, but it won’t be the ginormous snarl of mounting airport delays we have seen some years.

Something to be thankful about, for sure.



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Smart home holiday vacation checklist: Prep your house to be home alone


The appeal of the smart home is, in part, the management and monitoring that can happen while you’re out running errands or at work. Your smart home can perform just as well if you’re gone for days or even weeks, with the right setup.

If you’re hitting the road this holiday season, we have the tips you need to leave your smart home home alone with confidence. 

Read more: The best travel gifts | Best DIY home security systems to buy in 2021

smart-thermostat.png

The new Amazon Smart Thermostat is currently our top pick for smart home climate control. 


Amazon

Thermostats

If you have a smart thermostat, most types will detect that you’re away and offer a way to change the thermostat remotely. After all, that’s probably why you bought the thing in the first place. It’s a nice perk when you’re out for a few hours or a workday.

For longer periods of time or for thermostats that include a vacation mode, it’s a good idea to check the threshold settings before an extended absence. These temperatures are the minimum and maximum your system will allow before it kicks in. To save energy, set them to a bit colder and warmer than you would if you were home.

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Sure, you can adjust the temperature remotely, but the whole idea here is to set it and go. So before you leave, set the temperature ranges on your thermostat so you can save money while keeping your home safe. 

Read more: Amazon Smart Thermostat review: A steal at $60

High and low temperature thresholds save the most energy when they are set closer to the outside temperature than you would probably prefer when at home. However, they should still be safe enough for your home. 

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If you have shades or window coverings, it’s best to lower them in your absence.


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Lights and shades

My parents always left the TV on when we were away so people would think we were home. I thought it was a weird game of pretend as a kid, but now as a homeowner it makes sense. Lighting isn’t a fail-safe protection against intruders, but having your lights or TV set to mimic human activity is a good start. Smart switches and schedules can do just that.

Read more: Our review of the Lutron Serena Remote Controlled Shades

A good rule of thumb is that outdoor lights should be on at night and off during the day, while indoor lights should go on and off in different rooms. If you have smart switches, consider creating a schedule based on time of day that replicates what you’d typically do while home. You can also set smart light bulbs to power on and off intermittently. 

If you have automated window shades, consider setting them to stay down while you’re away. Keeping lights on might deter crime, but leaving your shades open could turn your living room into a window display for a burglar.

ring6

The Ring Alarm Pro is our top pick for DIY smart home security. 


Hobie Crase/CNET

Cameras, doorbells and security systems

You have plenty of choices when it comes to both DIY smart home security systems and professionally monitored ones. While they do most of the work for you once they’re out of the box, it’s important to give them a quick status check before you leave. Security settings will differ depending on what products you have.

Regardless of brand, it’s a good idea to make sure all the integrated motion sensors, cameras, locks and doorbells have fresh or fully charged batteries and notifications correctly enabled to reach the right emergency contacts. 

Read more: Our review of the Ring Video Doorbell 4

When it comes to cameras and smart doorbells, be sure the lens is free of dirt, cobwebs or decor that might obstruct the view. If you’ve turned down motion sensitivity or set your camera to ignore motion in some areas around your home, now is a good time to put those features back to maximum vigilance. Finally, ensure all notification settings are set to notify the appropriate people at the appropriate times.

halo-photos-3

Be sure detectors and sensors are powered up and ready to notify you in case of an incident. 


Chris Monroe/CNET

Environment detectors

Leak, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors offer peace of mind every day, and even more so when you’re out of town. Making sure all of these have fresh batteries, a solid Wi-Fi connection, updated apps or firmware and correct notification settings is worth a few minutes of your time before you hit the road. 

Read more: Smoke detector placement guide: Where and how to install sensors

If your detectors aren’t connected to a live monitoring service, it’s even more important to get a notification sent to the right mobile device. That way, you can ask a friend or neighbor to check out any suspicious alerts.  

Total floor care package deal at Best Buy

The iRobot Roomba S9 is our favorite robot helper.


iRobot

Robot vacuums and other small appliances

There are several robot vacuum cleaners out there with some version of a scheduling option. If that’s a feature you use often, turn it off while you’re away. If no one’s home to make messes, the vacuum doesn’t need to run. Plus, if you’ve enhanced the sensitivity of the motion detector portion of your security system, a robot vacuum could trigger false alarms.

Read more: Our review of the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus vs. Neato Botvac D7 Connected

You’ll save battery life and wear and tear on your vacuum by making sure it isn’t running when it doesn’t need to. The same goes for other small appliances that might run on a smart schedule or with smart switches. Run through your list of managed devices to be sure everything is on or off accordingly. 

gettyimages-1133795955

Getty Images

The human element

Yes, smart homes are cool. They can do a lot for you on a daily basis, and they keep you connected to home when you’re hundreds of miles away. Still, smart homes aren’t perfect, and it’s a good idea to have one or two very trusted (and tech-savvy) humans keeping an eye on things.

Whether it’s sharing a camera feed, security code or plain ol’ house key, knowing someone could physically check on your home if anything looked suspicious will help you travel happier.



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Home COVID tests during Thanksgiving raise challenges for officials


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Thousands of people traveling for the holidays this week will first test themselves for COVID-19 without a doctor, lab or any medical oversight.

While quick home tests are hailed as a major convenience and a smart way to protect loved ones, they’ve also raised a significant challenge for public health officials. How can agencies comprehensively track cases and trends when many consumers don’t report home test results?

Federal and state health officials have worked since March 2020 to build capacity to test, report and keep tabs on COVID-19 cases. Public health officials say reporting cases is critical for spotting trends and detecting surges so hotspot communities can lessen risk and prepare hospitals for a rush of people seeking care.

But it’s unclear how often customers report results from the dozen authorized home coronavirus tests that typically deliver results in 15 minutes outside a lab or doctor’s office. And public health’s data blind spot is poised to grow larger.

Private test manufacturers already make more home antigen tests than standard laboratory tests — and the gap could nearly double next month as new home tests flood the market.

— Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY

Also in the news:

►Beginning Monday, Massachusetts hospitals will have to cut back on non-urgent scheduled procedures due to staffing shortages and longer patient stays, according to the state’s health authorities.

►The number of air travelers this week is expected to approach or even exceed pre-pandemic levels, and auto club AAA predicts48.3 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday period.

►More than 100 children at a vaccination event in Iowa on Saturday were given the incorrect dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, according to a statement from the hospital. A MercyOne spokesperson said there are no significant health risks associated with the larger dose, just a likelihood the children will have more severe versions of the common vaccine side effects

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 48 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 775,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 259 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 196 million Americans — 59.1% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: During COVID-19, they believed home was safer than school. Now some NYC parents are accused of neglect.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch free newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Just over nine out of ten federal employees have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the required deadline, the Biden administration announced Wednesday when releasing agency-by-agency vaccination rates.

Those rates were as high as 97.8% at the Agency for International Development. Workers at the Agriculture Department had the lowest rate: 86.1%.

Federal employees had until the end of Monday to get vaccinated or request a medical or religious exemption. Unlike a rule the Biden administration wants to impose on private employers, federal workers are not allowed to opt out of the vaccine requirement if they agree to weekly testing.

Workers who are not in the process of getting vaccinated or seeking an exemption will begin a “period of education and counseling, followed by additional enforcement steps,” according to the White House.

— Maureen Groppe and Michael Collins, USA TODAY

European Unions’ drug regulator approves Pfizer vaccine for young children

The European Union’s drug regulator cleared the way for children ages 5 to 11 to begin receiving the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on Thursday amid a new wave of infections across the continent.

The European Medicines Agency’s human medicines committee, an EU agency in charge of the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products, concluded that the benefits of vaccinating children outweigh the risks. The European committee will send its recommendation to the European Commission next, which will issue a final decision.

Germany has been facing its worst surge of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, reporting more than 333,000 cases the week of Nov. 15, according to the World Health Organization. That’s nearly double the weekly rate reported during a prior surge in December 2020.

— Celina Tebor, USA TODAY

German Chancellor Angela Merkel labeled Thursday “a very sad day” and backed calls for more restrictions, as her country became the latest to surpass 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The national disease control agency said it recorded 351 deaths in connection with the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, taking the total toll to 100,119. In Europe, Germany is the fifth country to pass that mark, after Russia, the United Kingdom, Italy and France.

The longtime German leader, who is currently in office as caretaker until her successor is sworn in, warned that hundreds more deaths were already looming.

“(The deaths) correlate very clearly with the number of infections that are occurring,” she said. “We know how many people on average do not survive this disease.”

The Robert Koch Institute, a federal agency that collects data from some 400 regional health offices, said Germany set a record for daily confirmed cases — 75,961 — in the past 24-hour period. Since the start of the outbreak, Germany has had more than 5.57 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

— Associated Press

Despite early signs that suggested the U.S. may have avoided another winter surge, COVID-19 cases are rising again.

The country reported 665,420 cases in the week ending Monday, more than a 30% increase from the pace of cases reported about a month ago, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

As cases rise in 39 states, U.S. Health and Human Services data show hospitals in 32 states admitted more patients in the latest week than the week before.

“Quite frankly, I’m really concerned,” said Danielle Ompad, associate professor of epidemiology at New York University’s School of Global Public Health. “I would say we are better off than we were last year, but cases are starting to tick up and that is something that we really need to keep an eye on.”

After nearly two years of combating COVID-19, health experts thought the U.S. would have been in a better position to control the pandemic. Instead, many people remain unvaccinated and ignore mitigation measures, slowing the pace of progress and burning out health care professionals. 

— Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press



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Chef’s Table: Hardena co-owner Diana Widjojo talks home cooking


Chef Diana Widjojo is carrying on her parents’ legacy by serving Indonesian dishes at her popular restaurant Hardena in South Philly.

State of play: The co-owner, whose creative takeout options helped keep the long-time eatery alive during the pandemic, has transformed Hardena’s Instagram account into a powerhouse with more than 18,000 followers.

  • In 2018, Widjojo and her family scored a nomination from the James Beard Foundation as one of the best chefs in the region.
  • And since we’re talking accolades, restaurateur and celebrity chef Guy Fieri has even dubbed Hardena the “Indonesian embassy of Flavortown.”

We spoke to Widjojo for our culinary advice series Chef’s Table.

🛠 Must-have tool in your home kitchen: A food processor.

  • “So many things you can do with it, but most importantly, it’s time-saving for me blending ingredients to make pastes/food bases.”

🍲 Favorite home-cooked meal: Any kind of stew or roast chicken.

  • “My favorite is roasting chicken with sweet soy sauce glaze.”

🍽 Last restaurant you went to and what you ordered: REX 1516 for her birthday.

  • “It was my first time there, and I was surprised to see she crab soup, which is my ultimate go-to dish when I travel to the South. But my favorite dish was the crawfish pot pie!”

🛒 Go-to grocery store: The new H Mart.

  • “They have so many products to choose from, but if I need something quick, Whole Foods or Sprouts are usually my go to.”

🤔 Most overlooked ingredient: Ginger, “of any type.”

  • “The main four I use are: your everyday ginger, turmeric, galangal and kaempferia galanga. It just gives an extra warmth and fragrant flavor to your dishes, and you don’t need much. Plus, it’s healthy for you.”

☝🏽 Quick tip for at-home cooks: Set boundaries.

  • “For example, if I’m cooking, my partner cleans. But I guess if you live alone this doesn’t help LOL.”

🔌 How to unplug: “I try to go hiking often, but on a daily basis, I would just relax on my couch and watch shows on Netflix.”





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Delta Air Lines Helps New Parents Bring Adopted Son Home After Missed Flight




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Tigers Fall at Home 82-78 to Columbia – Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site


Clemson, S.C. – Clemson fell 82-78 in a challenging, hard-fought game at home against the Lions of Columbia University on Sunday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum. 

Latrese Saine (12 points and 10 rebounds) and Kiara Lewis (20 points and 11 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles for the Tigers.  

Lewis led all scorers and set a new career-high in rebounds. Lewis and Saine were just two of four Tigers to score in double figures, as they were joined by Delicia Washington (17) and freshman Eno Inyang (12). 

Clemson (1-1) scored 23 points off turnovers, 40 points in the paint and 26 points from the bench. However, the Tigers made just 29 of 43 free throws taken on the afternoon. The 43 free throw attempts are fifth all-time in free throw attempts for Clemson, and it was the most at home since attempting 46 against East Carolina in 2001.  

Those 43 free throw attempts are also the fifth-most in program history.

The Tigers also recorded 53 rebounds (26 offense, 27 defense) and scored 24 second-chance points off those 26 offensive rebounds. 

The Tigers ended the second quarter on an 18-6 run to take a 50-36 lead into the half. They were led by Lewis and Inyang, who scored 10 and 11 points, respectively. Clemson shot 41 percent from the floor and 72 percent (21-for-29) in the half. 

The 29 free throws taken by the Tigers were the most attempted in a half since registering 31 in the second half against Coastal Carolina in 2016. 

Columbia (3-0) led by as many as nine points in the first quarter before the Tigers scored a program-best 31 points in the second quarter (since the NCAA moved to quarters during the 2015-16 season).

The starters recorded 52 of the Tigers’ 78 points.

Sienna Durr led the Lions with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor. Columbia was 30-for-72 from the floor while attempting 26 3-pointers, making eight and turned the ball over 21 times while committing 31 fouls. 

Up Next

Clemson will play its first road game of the season when the Tigers travel to Columbia, S.C. to face No. 1 South Carolina on Wednesday, Nov. 17, for a 7 p.m. ET tip on SECN+.





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Tip: Can An H-1B Employee Work From Home? – Immigration



United States:

Tip: Can An H-1B Employee Work From Home?


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Whether an H-1B employee can work from home depends on factors
including the geographic area of employment. Employers will need to
determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether to file an amended
petition or take other action such as posting the original LCA at
the new worksite location.

When You Must File an Amended Petition

You must file an amended H-1B petition if your H-1B employee
changed or is going to change his or her place of employment to
a worksite location outside of the metropolitan statistical
area (MSA)
covered by the existing approved H-1B petition,
even if a new LCA is posted at the new location.

Note: Once you file the amended
petition, your H-1B employee can immediately begin to work at the
new location. You do not have to wait for a final decision on the
amended petition for your H-1B employee to start work at the new
location.

When You Do NOT Need to File an Amended Petition

A move within an MSA: If your H-1B employee is
moving to a new job location within the same MSA or area of
intended employment
a new LCA is not required. Therefore,
you do not need to file an amended H-1B petition. However, you must
still post the original LCA in the new work location within the
same MSA or area of intended employment. For example, an H-1B
employee moving to a new job location within the New York City MSA
(NYC) would not trigger the need for a new LCA, but you would still
need to post the previously obtained LCA at the new work location.
This is required regardless of whether an entire office moved from
one location to another within NYC or if just one H-1B employee
moves from one client site to another within NYC.

Short term placement: Under certain
circumstances, you may place an H-1B employee at a new job location
for up to 30 days, and in some cases 60 days (where the employee is
still based at the original location), without obtaining a new LCA.
See 20 CFR 655.735. In these situations, you do not need to file an
amended H-1B petition. Under the short-term placement provisions,
an employer may place the H-1B worker at the new worksite location
for up to 30 workdays in one year and, in certain circumstances, up
to 60 workdays in one year. Employers will need to determine, on a
case-by-case basis, whether the 30-workday and/or 60-workday
provisions may apply. Employers should be aware that, if the
worker’s place of residence is outside the area of intended
employment, the 60-workday provision would not apply. The
short-term placement provisions only apply to H-1B workers; not
H-1B1 or E-3 workers.

Non-worksite locations: If your H-1B employee
is only going to a non-worksite location, you do not need to file
an amended H-1B petition. A location is considered to be
“non-worksite” if:

  • The H-1B employees are going to a location to participate in
    employee developmental activity, such as management conferences and
    staff seminars;

  • The H-1B employees spend little time at any one location;
    or

  • The job is “peripatetic in nature,” such as
    situations where their primary job is at one location but they
    occasionally travel for short periods to other locations “on a
    casual, short-term basis, which can be recurring but not excessive
    (i.e., not exceeding five consecutive workdays for any one visit by
    a peripatetic worker, or 10 consecutive workdays for any one visit
    by a worker who spends most work time at one location and travels
    occasionally to other locations).” See 20 CFR
    655.715.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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First Home Game Since 2020 Pits NM State against Western New Mexico in 2021-22 Opener


NM State Game Notes

Opening Tip

• The New Mexico State women’s basketball team tips off the season at home against Western New Mexico on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 4 p.m.

2020-21 Highlights

– Finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak

Aaliyah Prince was name Second Team All-WAC and earned WAC All-Defensive Team honors.

– Took down No. 5 Seattle U in the opening round of the WAC tournament as Shania Harper posted a season-high 15 points.

• Sights on Six

NM State will seek its sixth WAC regular season title since the 2014-15 season. The Aggies are 80-18 in conference play across the past seven seasons.

Preseason Picks

• NM State was picked to finish in seventh place in the WAC Coaches’ Poll while the media selected the Aggies to land in sixth this season.

• The WAC media also selected junior guard Soufia Inoussa to the Second Team All-WAC list.

Bringing Home the Hardware

• Following her final season with the Aggies, Aaliyah Prince earned Second Team All-WAC and WAC All-Defensive Team honors. Prince finished the season ranked 11th in the league in steals per game while ranking 13th in points per game.

Scouting the Mustangs

• Western New Mexico comes into the season with a new head coach at the helm as Josh Pace took over the program on March 31, 2020 after spending last season as the associate head coach for the Mustangs.

• Western New Mexico brings an experienced group to Las Cruces as it returns 12 of its 14 letterwinners and three starters from last year’s shortened season.

• As a team, the Mustangs averaged 50.3 points per game while shooting 34.8 percent from the field. They also pulled down 39.8 rebounds per game to outrebound opponents by 1.8 rebounds per game.

• WNMU dropped its lone exhibition game to fellow WAC rival Grand Canyon, losing 56-93 in Phoenix.

Up Next

The Aggies prepare for their second home game of the opening week as they welcome Incarnate Word on Saturday, Nov. 13. Next week, the Aggies will travel down to El Paso, Texas, to meet with I-10 rival UTEP on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

++NM State++



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