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However you play it, natural gas export is a high stakes game

Have fun even with a sizzling sun

An American in Annapolis

Our flowering gardens are butterfly way-stations

Blue crabs at quarter-century low

Lesson 1: From the ground up

Battling rough seas and eluding pirates on the Indian Ocean

On a perfect day for racing in Capetown, South Africa, Telefonica tightened its stranglehold on first place by winning the in-port race. But the real winners were the three boats that had made it to the starting line after withdrawing from the first leg because of equipment failures.     The following day, all six of the boats began Leg 2, a 5,000-mile slog to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Hundreds of spectator boats came out to watch that country’s boat, Abu...

One family proves that an environmentally progressive home doesn't have to look like a science project

Martha and Bill Sykora’s 1951 house looks like a conventional, home. Nothing sci-fi about it. Behind the façade, it’s anything but conventional. It will be Anne Arundel County’s first LEED Platinum-certified home.     The Sykora home proves that an environmentally progressive building doesn’t have to look like a science project.    Dreaming Green              When Bill and Martha...

Simple steps to lower your utility bills and ease the pressure on Mother Earth.

Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat     Keeping your home warm in the winter, or cool in the summer, requires a lot of energy. Control these costs with an energy-saving programmable thermostat. This thermostat is programmed by time and temp so that your heating or central air-conditioning is on when you want it to be and at the temperature you choose.     About $65 at local home improvement centers, it will pay for itself in heating and cooling savings in a year...

Sneade’s donation adds $2,000 to Calvert Hospice’s Festival of Trees

Woodchips and memories will soon be all that’s left of this year’s Christmas trees hauled curbside in Anne Arundel or to Calvert’s convenience centers for recycling. Not so for the 64 trees in Calvert Hospice’s 23rd annual Festival of Trees. Decorated and sponsored throughout Calvert, the trees annually add about $100,000 to Hospice coffers.     The festival is Calvert Hospice’s longest running and biggest fundraiser. It helps support all the...

Hot-blooded Marylanders hoping for icy reception

The frostbite swimming season began January 1 with barely an icicle.     At 43 degrees, Chesapeake waters were cold. That was the common report from plungers at North Beach’s New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim.     “It was so cold I could only go up to my waist,” reported Lizzie Woolsey, newly of Huntingtown. “Brian stayed in 10 minutes,” she said of her soldier husband. Six-year-old Mayhem James waded in up to his knees.  ...

Bird artists flock to 2012 competition

Duck stamps have been preserving marsh and wetlands for waterfowl since the Great Depression, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the federal Duck Stamp program to support the purchase of land for national wildlife refuges.     Maryland adopted that good idea in 1974. In 38 years, our state Migratory Game Bird Stamp Design program has earned around $5 million from the sale of the stamps to hunters and collectors. This year’s $9 fee buys hunters the right to...

Out with the old, in with the new

Winter has been kind to us. I said farewell to the old year drifting under the Bay Bridge in calm and temperate conditions, catching (and releasing) a few fat five-pound rockfish.     Our weather was so unusually mild during the last of 2011 that the water temperatures in parts of the mid-Bay rose three degrees. Judging by the 10-day forecast, into January I can still hold off on winterizing my skiff.     A white perch fish fry may still be possible. But one...

Heat and steam mean the microbes are working

The temperature in the middle of my compost pile ranges from 90 to 120 degrees. I measure using a compost thermometer with a 14-inch stem. The height of the pile has been shrinking rapidly, with the center sinking faster than the edges. Temperature and shrinkage tell me that the microbes are feasting, changing those leaves, weeds and grass clippings into compost.     Heat is a by-product of composting, as is carbon dioxide and water vapor. Dig into your compost pile on a cold...

Would you believe it’s our shortest season?

Thursday brings two celestial milestones: it marks the latest sunrise of the year and it marks perihelion, earth’s closest point to the sun.     Intuitively, you might expect the closer to the sun we are the warmer the weather. However, the three million miles difference between perihelion and aphelion — our farthest point from the sun in July — is not near enough to account for the changing seasons. Instead, earth’s 231⁄2-degree tilted axis brings...

A New Year’s lesson

When the clock struck 12, pushing Saturday, December 31 into Sunday, January 1, in that moment it was thinkable that a new you would rise from bed and into the world on New Year’s Day. Not too early that day.     A lot of energy rises from that possibility.     That’s the kind of energy that propelled three or four hundred people into the 43-degree Bay at 1pm sharp New Year’s Day for North Beach’s Polar Bear Swim. I say 300 in this week...