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January 2013

Jupiter’s “Three Fixed Stars”

It was 403 years ago this month, in 1610, that Galileo Galilei trained his telescope at distant Jupiter, and discovered the first four and the largest of its many moons. The first discovery came on January 7, when the Italian scientist wrote of seeing in front of Jupiter “three fixed stars, totally invisible by their smallness.” Lo and behold, when he peered at the objects the next night, he found that they had changed positions, which led to the realization that these were not stars but objects orbiting Jupiter.

Feeling energized and confident? Good thing. We’ve got work to do.

It seems to be working, and aren’t we glad.     The great old stories of rising from darkness into light, all synched to the winter solstice of our northern hemisphere, held the day. The battle of myths was lost by the doomsayers who predicted time’s termination on the ancient Mayan calendar’s last day. Now 12/21/12 joins Y2K in the museum of failed prophecies.     In and on earth, we’re all energized and confident, behaving as if we have indeed been reborn.

How far would you go to catch a terrorist?

After the September 11, 2001, attacks that murdered 3,000 Americans, Osama bin Laden became the world’s most-hunted man. Ten years later, the search continued.     For CIA agent Mya (Jessica Chastain: Lawless), the search for bin Laden is an obsession. She takes a position in the Pakistan bureau and spends every waking hour tracking obscure leads and interrogating detainees.

Amazing stories brought to life with astonishing effect — this is theater at its best

For good old-fashioned escapist entertainment, Annapolis has never seen the likes of Colonial Players’ Shipwrecked. Commissioned by a children’s theatre, this play is unlike both Donald Margulies’ other plays and much of what dominates local stages during winter months.  Audiences of all ages will love the story and Colonial’s innovative presentation.

My six favorite catalogs for dreaming and ordering

Seed catalogs begin arriving in my mailbox with the new year. Is there a benefit in ordering from catalogs? Or is it just as good to buy seeds locally?     The variety of seeds at garden centers, hardware stores and some grocery stores is rather limited. Some like to tell customers that the seeds were especially selected for our area. It has been my experience that many seeds sold locally are chosen to provide dependable varieties that have survived the test of time.

Anne Arundel Recreation and Parks promises new effort

Anne Arundel County has the longest Bay shoreline in Maryland at 534 miles, embracing five major rivers and countless creeks and streams. It is home to 40,000 registered boaters. Yet unless you own waterfront property or live in a water-privileged community, you have virtually no access to the Chesapeake or its tributaries.

Another year has gone by and it’s time for the new calendars to come out.     We start off with New Year’s Day, which is important for the New Year’s Eve revelers to wake up to a start of new year. The first holiday we see on the calendar is Martin Luther King Day, which the children have off from school. When I went to school, we had Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays off; now they are lumped together as Presidents’ Day.

By the glass, water’s cheap. Not so when you have to drill 260 feet for it

Water is pretty cheap in the United States: 61 cents a day supplies each of us with our daily ration of 123 gallons of water. Cheap enough that we take it for granted, until the well runs dry. That’s the day dreaded by every well owner, and there are lots of us.     Public water is a blessing of urban and suburban communities. Rural communities still use wells. In Calvert County, where I live, approximately 15,400 out of roughly 34,150 households draw their water from wells.

Rufous hummingbird thrives in winter

My procrastination finally paid off. Long after the summer visitors to my hummingbird feeder had departed for their winter home, my feeder hung like a lone beacon in the leafless maple tree. I’ll get around to it, I kept telling myself.     While I was lazily watching out my window a flash of tan caught my eye. Then again. What was it? I knew it was some kind of hummingbird, but why was it here this time of the year?

Your photos of weekend high tides will help CoastSmart see into the future

January 9 thru 13, Maryland’s tides will rise higher than usual due to the alignment of sun, moon and earth. CoastSmart Communities wants you to illustrate the rise.     Snap photos showing high water and submit them to www.flickr.com/groups/ MarylandKingTide.