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June 2013

We spend millions ­celebrating our Independence

In a time when money is tight, we celebrate the nation’s founding with an-over-the-top party.     The American tradition of lighting fuses to make colorful explosions in the sky started on the day the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence: July 4, 1776.     The day before, July 3, founding father John Adams wrote to his wife, “the day will be most memorable in the history of America … It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations.”

Fireflies’ luminescence is 100% efficient

Tiny golden-yellow lights flicker on, off, on, off.     Watching them brings memories of childhood.     Back in the days when I’d play outside from summer sun-up to after sundown, fireflies kept me company at night.     Reading kept me company, too.     P.D. Eastman’s Sam and the Firefly was a favorite.

College President Bradley Gottfried guides reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg

Bradley Gottfried first stepped onto the Gettysburg battlefield about the time of its 1963 centennial. His 13-year-old self “had a strong interest in the war,” Gottfried says. “But I couldn’t visualize what happened there.”     He spent much of the next half century trying to picture that history.

For George Phelps, half a century fighting for civil rights

Strolling down memory lane is more than a figure of speech to George Phelps, who can see his new namesake street from his backyard.     At his street-naming ceremony, Mayor Josh Cohen, City Alderwoman Classie Hoyle, County Councilman Chris Trumbauer, Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman and Maryland Sen. John Astle paid their respects.     “I want you to know that I appreciate it from the very depths of my heart,” Phelps said.

Pixar’s newest movie will make your kids clamor for college

Since he was just a tiny green eyeball, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal: Parental Guidance) has dreamed of being a scarer. In Monstropolis, scarers are rock stars. They sneak into human children’s bedrooms at night — via an enchanted closet door — to frighten them. The screams of kids make the electricity that runs the monster world.

Not too much, not too little

Many home gardeners plant trees and shrubs only to lose them to improper watering. For instance, you do not need to water newly transplanted plants daily. By doing so, you are drowning the roots and killing the plants.

Lyra the harp has star upon star hidden amid its strings

As the sun dips toward the horizon around 8:30, Venus burns through the haze of twilight low in the west. By 9pm this evening star dominates the heavens, shining at magnitude –3.8 about 10 degrees above the skyline. With a clear view below Venus and perhaps binoculars, you may be able to spot Mercury tight against the horizon within a half-hour of sunset.

Extremely powerful for short distances, rockfish run out fast

We waited patiently for the tide to turn. It took longer than the current charts predicted, but our wait was worthwhile. The boat swung a bit more earnestly at anchor. Then a rod tip began to dance.     The first slight tickle turned into more pronounced tugs as something below mouthed the chunk of menhaden. I gently retrieved my rod from its holder, slipped off the clicker to reduce line resistance and lightly thumbed the spool.

KIDS Times at the Library

Prince Frederick Library: 410-535-0291 • 2-3pm & 7-8pm: Nicolo the Jester juggles, tells stories, plays music and makes you laugh. Southern Library, Solomons: 410-326-5289 • 10-11am: Nicolo the Jester juggles, tells stories, plays music and makes you laugh. • 2:30-3:30pm: Elementary schoolers have a story, craft and snack while learning about animals that dig. Twin Beaches Library, Chesapeake Beach: 410-257-2411

KIDS Times at the Library

Fairview Library, Owings: 410-257-2101 • 10-11am: Babies to 5-year-olds enjoy stories, songs and finger plays. Fairview Library at Dunkirk Firehouse: 410-257-2101 • 2-3pm: Nicolo the Jester juggles, tells stories, plays music and makes you laugh. Prince Frederick Library: 410-535-0291 • 10-11am & 11am-noon: Babies to 5-year-olds enjoy stories, songs and finger plays. Southern Library, Solomons: 410-326-5289