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Turning a pop phenomenon into challenging life lessons

Highway medians become home to the birds, bees, butterflies

My guests were not who I expected

Billed as a smart and energetic musical comedy with a pop rock score and immensely likable story, this show delivers

A waterspout may get you if you don’t watch out

Reflections on heroes and superheroes

Lived by Capt. Lawrence William Simns; written by Robert L. Rich Jr.

If anyone should write a book about being a waterman on the Chesapeake Bay, it should be Capt. Larry Simns, who has worked the water for seven decades and has served as president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association for 40 years. His efforts on behalf of commercial watermen, Chesapeake Bay and the seafood industry are all but ­legendary.     “There is no question in my mind that he is the wisest and most effective leader within the U.S. fishing industry,...

How fifth graders are taking over

Fifth graders are taking over the world in 2013. They’re starting at Junior Achievement’s BizTown.     In Central Maryland, BizTown is one of the nationwide organization’s approaches to teaching financial skills to kids of all ages.     BizTown is a real place, a 10,000-square-foot city with its own micro-economy. The town has a mayor’s office, newspaper, Bank of America, café, real estate office, Toyota dealer, insurance company, Northrup...

If you’ve grown horseradish, it’s time to harvest and prepare it

Did you remember to plant horseradish? If so, you’re in for a treat.     Horseradish is a hardy herbaceous perennial plant that produces fleshy roots. Now that the tops of horseradish plants have died back to the ground, it is time to dig up the roots and make next year’s supply of ground horseradish.     Some of the roots are carrot-like but most are smooth and slender, averaging one-half to three-quarters-inch in diameter and growing horizontally in...

You don’t have to wait until summer for the fun to start

The coming year will be filled with many outdoor opportunities on the Tidewater, particularly if you’re an angler. The best part is your adventures could start very soon, mid-January, in fact.     Yellow perch continue their remarkable comeback around the Chesapeake. The bite traditionally begins this month on the Susquehanna Flats at a large staging area near the mouth of the Elk River.     Lots of big neds school there from surrounding waters and hold in...

We’re speeding past our closest point to the sun

It’s counter-intuitive during these long, cold nights of winter, but early January brings the earth its closest to the sun in its annual orbit. Wednesday the second marked the actual point of perihelion, when we were two percent closer to the sun than usual. Earth’s orbit is not quite circular but rather egg-shaped, which creates a difference of a little more than 3 million miles from perihelion to aphelion — our farthest point from the sun — in July. That difference,...

White people’s problems

A British family’s 2004 Christmas on a Thai beach paradise is spoiled when a massive tsunami devastates Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.     Maria (Naomi Watts: J. Edgar) and her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland: The Secret World of Arrietty) are dragged by the wave through a battered countryside. Stranded in the middle of a foreign country, Lucas must figure out how to get his mother help before she succumbs to injuries.     Maria’s husband...

In 2013, anything is possible

Welcome back to the future!         Don’t you love going though the tunnel and coming out on the other side?     I find the exhilaration habit-forming. Fortunately, it’s annual.     I go into the tunnel of year’s end gleefully, but I leave it dragging my feet against the re-emergence.     By Thanksgiving, I’ve got the knack of the fast-aging year that still seems new to me. My three-month-at-a...

Why Must There Always Be a Price Tag?

I’ve been waiting for the day that the town of North Beach sticks its greedy hand out to charge fun-loving people the privilege to run into the frigid Bay. Even though I have never (and will never) run into the cold water, I’ve enjoyed watching the antics of New Year’s revelers plunging in for the fun of it. And that’s the point: For the fun of it. Now it’s for charity. Why can’t something be done for fun? Why must there always be a...

With the Polar Bear Plunge New Year’s Day and a portable ice skating rink set up for fun the first weekend of the New Year, North Beach become the winter capital of Chesapeake Country.     On New Year’s Day, weather-defying swimmers plunge into 2013 and earn a certificate for braving the elements at North Beach’s Polar Bear Swim. Go as far as you can whether knee-deep or all the way under. Wear a bathing suit or a Santa suit in (G-strings banned) and bring a...

An epic musical with a few sour notes

Life hasn’t turned out well for Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman: Rise of the Guardians). After stealing bread to feed his nephew and sister, he’s arrested and given 20 years hard labor. Branded a dangerous man, Valjean must wander the countryside looking for work and finding nothing but cruelty.     Hardened by the injustices of his life, Valjean is about to give up hope when a kindly priest offers him a second chance. Now a fugitive with a new identity, Valjean has...