view counter

One man is the difference between life and death for creatures great and small

Oh, the creatures we’ve seen

Learn from plantsman Bill Cullina and ­benefit Unity Gardens

Can our Free Will Astrologer break the late-winter blues?

There’s work overhead on the ISS

Put your down time to work

Whatever you call them, plant them now for spring blooms

Jonquils, daffodils, narcissus: Which is what?     Narcissus and daffodils are one and the same, according to the Encyclopedia of Horticulture, the bible of the horticultural industry. Jonquils, however, are a sub-species of narcissus.     Over the years, I have seen people argue over the identification of this species when all the evidence they had to go on was tradition passed on by parents or friends. As for myself, I cannot tell the difference between a...

The moon dulls this year’s Leonid meteor shower

In the dark before dawn Friday, countless pieces of cosmic debris bombard the earth as it passes through the path left by comet Tempel-Tuttle. As these bits of ice and dust collide against the planet’s atmosphere, they burst aflame. While none of these threaten the planet, few of them will be visible against the light of the first-quarter moon, which coincides with the peak of this year’s Leonid meteor shower.     Under dark skies, the Leonids typically deliver 10 to...

Clint Eastwood delivers a touching romance rather than a hard-hitting biopic

J. Edgar Hoover, one of the most powerful men of the 20th century, gained much of his power through political maneuvering, even blackmail. Yet his personal life was characterized by quiet repression. Director Clint Eastwood (Hereafter) seeks to peel back the G-Man veneer and expose the scared little man behind the FBI.     Cutting back and forth between Hoover’s rise and decline, the film paints an interesting portrait of a fairly unlikable figure. The older Hoover (...

Library patrons line up to check out Kindles and Nooks

Packing your books for your vacation adds pounds to your baggage and with airline fees, stress on your budget.     What would you say if you could pack more than 1,000 books in a container smaller than even today’s phone books?     Wannabe eReaders in Anne Arundel County said Yes, Please!     By noon on the first day of issue, Nov. 2, Anne Arundel library’s 200 portable readers had been checked out by eager patrons.   ...

The saga continues, but the jury is still out

You never know.         We never know, either, what’s going to catch your eye, invade your thoughts and, best of all, goad you to action.     This week it’s the mystery critter.     Which, you told us, may not be so mysterious after all.     We have been chuckling at your responses all week.     They came short and with certainty:     The critter is a groundhog, wrote Linda...

Road by road, broadband Internet is snaking your way

What are they doing on the side of the road?         They’re cutting trees and bush-hogging to clear a path. They’re trenching a couple of feet into the earth along roadways. They’re feeding bright orange conduit into those trenches. They’re threading fiber optic cable into the conduit. They’re bringing the world to your door, those men and women working inches from your speeding car.     The peripatetic roadwork up...

The Kniskerns’ yard is a sustainable smorgasbord

The fifth of an acre where James and Mary Kniskern live in Arnold was about what you’d expect for a suburban dwelling: grass, azaleas, daffodils in the spring, pachysandras year-round. As you’d expect, it required the drone of a mower and sweat non-equity to keep it in shape.     “I didn’t like to mow,” says James.     But what was the alternative?     Less than a decade later, the Kniskerns are living the alternative...

I can’t resist South Dakota’s 7 million pheasants

We hadn’t gotten a dozen yards into the thick growth bordering the harvested cornfield when the first rooster burst out — behind me. I whirled, shouldering my model 12 Winchester (circa 1929), swung through the bird and fired. The ringneck dropped like a stone.     Our 2011 South Dakota pheasant-hunting season had officially begun. Nearby, my oldest son, J.P., gave me a thumbs-up as I slipped the bird into my game pouch and re-established my place in our line...

If you want big blooms that last more than one season, you’ll need to dig deep

This is bulb-planting time. But if you plant tulips following the package instructions, the plant will reach its full potential only in the first year. That’s because those instructions were written for growing tulips in cooler regions. Here in Southern Maryland, tulip bulbs should be planted at least two inches deeper than recommended by the distributors.     Tulips are perennials, but when planted only six inches deep in our soils, they will only flower well the first...

Every so often, the planets align

This week is your last chance of the year to spot all five naked-eye planets, although it’s not easy pickings against the light of Thursday’s full moon.     As darkness settles, look for Venus and Mercury low in the west-southwest. Venus shines so bright you may spot her even with the glare of the setting sun. Not so with Mercury. While the innermost planet is only two degrees below Venus, it is so tight against the horizon that it is best located with binoculars, at...