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Hibernation is convenient when you live in a shell

Wiggling antennae poke out from under coiled shell of the second-most prolific species on earth, the gastropodal snail. On land and in oceans and freshwater, 43,000 snail species live. North America has 500 land species, which brings them, usually stealthily, to all our gardens.     But you won’t see them this time of year, for many snails hibernate from October until April. Hibernation is convenient for snails as they carry their beds on their backs. In dry areas, snails...

This weekend, meet author Gary Pendleton and the artists he covers

We English speakers lack words for what the French call plein air painting, the Italians al fresco and Spanish speakers al aire libre.     But fresh air painters we’ve got aplenty, as Gary Pendleton’s new book 100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic lavishly illustrates.     You see such painters in, excuse my French, plein air competitions throughout Chesapeake Country and across the land. One hundred in one place makes for an extraordinary visual...

Can you stretch your comfort zone into 18th century debauchery?

Give The Theatre at Anne Arundel Community College credit for refusing to play it safe, for going out on a theatrical limb in its choice of productions.     Last spring’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, as complex and raucous as any musical you’ll see, was a case in point. The current Les Liaisons Dangereuses is another example of the theater’s propensity for asking itself, and its audiences, to stretch beyond their comfort zones.     You may know...

The fast, bouncy motion of the lure brought me fish

My original plan was to get a few big perch for a family fish fry on the weekend. I also hoped to capture smaller ones to live-line for rockfish later in the day at the Bay Bridge. It didn’t quite work out that way.     With a healthy supply of grass shrimp and some razor clams for the perch, I splashed my skiff and made the short run out to the river channel. Slowly cruising a pattern, I looked for the big school of perch I had successfully worked over the previous week....

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem

Think again if you think shade trees pretty much care for themselves.     In the forest, where trees care for themselves, fewer than one percent of seedlings grow to become marketable trees.     What do you know about how the crotch angle, crossing branches and branch spacing affect tree health? Allowing narrow crotch angles on branches and stems to remain on young trees will result in premature tree damage. Rot is another common problem with narrow crotch angles...

Constellation joins moon and Jupiter, hosts meteors

As twilight gives way to darkness, look for Mars low in the south-southwest. At first magnitude, the red planet is no brighter than your average star, so scouring the horizon with binoculars may help you find it. Can you make out the teapot shape of Sagittarius below? Mars is just above the handle, while the spout points toward the now-set sun.     Jupiter rises in the east-southeast a little before midnight, and by 6am it is almost directly overhead. Early Friday morning it is...

Who needs superpowers when you have a robot?

Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter: Supah Ninjas) is not a nerd. Sure, he graduated high school at 13, but he bypasses higher education for a more lucrative career in robot battles, where his apparently innocuous bot dismantles the fiercest opponent with ease. When Hiro’s hustle runs afoul of both bot-fighting thugs and the police, his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney: Revolution) decides enough is enough.     Tadashi forces his little brother to visit his college,...

After 22 years, the Chesapeake Bay Monster is spotted anew

The following is an account of my strange sighting. For what it’s worth, I swear on my life it is without exaggeration.     My friend Dave and I frequently park my car on the side of Arundel Beach Road and admire the view of the Magothy River while chatting and eating McDonalds. We are down at the location a few nights a week and have been for the past two years, Dave even longer. The early morning hours of August 5, 2014, showed us a sight I could not explain.  ...

Big rig T880 is bringing Christmas to our nation’s capitol

In a 50-year tradition, the Christmas tree that shines throughout December on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol is cut in one of the nation’s states.     This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree, a whopping 88-foot white spruce, was cut in Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest on Oct. 29. Followed by a caravan of caretakers, it will make more that 30 celebratory stops on its 2,000-mile truck journey to Washington, D.C. It is carried by a Kenworth Truck Company T880,...

Swine seek your Jack-o-lanterns

Maizie, Pumpkin and Scarlet love pumpkins. They devour them like pigs because, well, they are pigs. Now they want your leftover ­Halloween Jack-o-lanterns.     Over 1.4 billion pounds of pumpkins are sold in the United States every year, 80 percent in October, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Many are displayed at Halloween and at Thanksgiving, then tossed in the garbage. That’s a lot of rotting pumpkins. Pumpkins don’t decompose well in landfills...