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The answer’s just a phone call away

Way back when, starting in the 1930s, Americans got quick weather reports by dialing a phone number, usually ending in 1212. In the Information Age, those numbers have been giving way, replaced decade by decade by radio, television, Internet, PDAs and smart phones. The Baltimore-Annapolis area was one of the last places in the country to retain the service, with Verizon finally pulling the plug in June of 2011.

Middle schoolers’ contest takes on cyber-bullying

Some kids are bullies, some kids are bullied; but at some point, all kids see other kids being hurt. What would you do if you learned that a friend has received cruel and intimidating messages?     An alliance of Maryland peace groups is sponsoring a writing contest to learn what actions middle school students would take to help a kid being bullied. All seventh and eighth graders in Maryland are encouraged to explain how they’d “work with other students to develop a strategy for ending the cyber bullying.”

In acting, production and design, local theaters claim the gold

It’s official. Anne Arundel County has some of the region’s best amateur theatrical troupes, as was proven again this year at the 14th Annual Washington Area Theatre Community Honors — WATCH — Awards. With 500 thespians and designers from 33 theaters gathered at the Birchmere in Alexandria for their version of the Oscars, Colonial Players and 2nd Star Productions took home a quarter of the awards. If you saw 2nd Star’s Camelot or Colonial’s Shipwrecked, Trying or 177 — four of the night’s most nominated shows — you know why.

Win prizes with your photos of fish and water

Your friends and family tell you the photos you post on Facebook are great. Are your snapshots really as good as they say? Now you can find out. Two local organizations — Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Maryland Department of Natural Resources — are sponsoring photo contests seeking Bay-oriented entries.

We’re paying for it, and it’s not a bad deal

It takes a village of vessels to build an oyster reef.     Two barges do the heavy work. One, the construction barge, bears a GPS-guided crane. That barge is anchored to stay a while in Harris Creek, just beyond Knapps Narrows on the Eastern Shore. Another barge holds tons of fossilized oyster shells awaiting the crane. That barge travels back and forth to Curtis Bay, on the south side of Baltimore Harbor, where it meets a freight train of hopper cars full of more fossilized Florida oyster shells.

For support and comfort, there’s nothing like a dog

So your dog is a secret too good to be kept?     That’s the kind of dog Caring Canines wants to share with people who need some extra love, support and comfort. Breed doesn’t matter. Even my beagle-terrier-you-name-it mix, Louie, a Hurricane Katrina rescue, made the grade.

Thinking and drinking for trivia buffs

If you’re a trivia nut, now’s the time to claim a seat for you and your team of six on Friends of Calvert Library’s Spring Pub Quiz Friday, March 28.     “Participation is first-paid, first-served,” advises the library’s Robyn Truslow. “So come to any Calvert Library location and pay your stake so that your team will be ensured a spot in the competition.”

Winter boating on board the Coast Guard Cutter Chock

I can’t relate to the three things the chief of the boat is telling me.     “Try to be holding onto something all the time.”     “We’ll arrive in Chesapeake City at 1 or 2pm or maybe much later.”     “We have ear protection if you want it.”

Frostbite sailors stay home

Not cold, wind nor snow deters Frostbite sailors. But ice does.     Most years, the Annapolis Yacht Cub’s Frostbite Sailboat Racing series would be in full swing.     Racers layer up for warmth and follow winter safety rules: no walking on the decks (risk of ice) and sufficient crew (at least three adults) to manage a rescue. The Yacht Club keeps a careful eye on the weather, ready to cancel if conditions appear too hazardous. A fleet of motorboats stands by.

Artists K-12 sought to translate nature’s inspiration to early fame, prizes

The artist and the photographer seek the mysteries and the adventure of experience in nature.           –Ansel Adams Step into a forest or sit by the side of a local river and close your eyes. When you open your eyes again, what do you see and feel?     Draw, write or photograph what you’re experiencing, and you can enter it into the 2014 Color Maryland Green contest. The winning videos, poems, drawings or photographs are rewarded with 2014 Maryland State Park Passports.