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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

Special Olympics athletes set their sights on the summer games in Los Angeles

Brandan Ehrmantraut of Prince Fredrick loves being part of Special Olympics. “It shows we aren’t different even with our disabilities,” the 20-year-old says. “We can compete like everyone else.”     Ehrmantraut and seven unified cheerleading teammates are journeying to Los Angeles later this summer to support and energize special athletes from around the world in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games. They will be cheering on five of their...

From derelict ruins to still-active beacons, these fixtures of the water continue to light up the imagination

Chesapeake lighthouses have marked safe passage for sailors since the 1800s. Many stand still, reachable by land or water, and welcome your visit.     Turkey Point Lighthouse, built in 1833 near the head of the Bay, is the tallest — at 35 feet — of the 74 Chesapeake lighthouses. Located in Elk Neck State Park, it was built by noted Bay lighthouse builder John Donohoo.     Baltimore’s Inner Harbor claims the Seven Foot Knoll Light, 1855,...

Latest push to save honeybees

Plants pretreated for insect resistance with neonicotinoids will no longer be on the shelves at Ace Hardware. That’s good news for any bees in the area. A relatively new class of pesticides, neonicotinoids have come under scrutiny as a possible cause of the collapse of honeybee colonies. The chemical pesticide targets an insect’s nervous system, causing paralysis. Bees are apparently as susceptible as pesky bugs.     Ace says that to protect pollinators it will be...

Blooms are bigger, badder

The Bay is being overrun by algae. Billions and billions of the tiny creatures are making life harder on the rest of the ecosystem. The three most common algae in the Bay have been blooming more frequently over the last 20 years, according to researchers at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.     Mahogany tide, formally known as Prorocentrum minimum, doubled its average number of annual blooms between 1991 and 2008.     The red algae...

Big strides toward a healthier planet

48 Days of Blue made waves. By the time the National Aquarium campaign to protect the environment (started on Earth Day) concluded on June 8, World Oceans Day, it had proved that small changes can help to protect the oceans that cover 71 percent of the earth’s surface.     More than 3,700 eco-warriors completing the campaign’s daily challenges refused — hence never wasted — 29,486 pounds of plastic. That’s about the weight of seven American...

Citizen scientists can reverse the decline

Too many species to count are losing their habitat as native plant communities disappear because of human land management changes and occupation by invasive species. Hundreds of native insects, including many solitary native bees and other critical pollinators, have already vanished.     Plants and animals connected to each other for various needs are called a web. Most plants, birds and insects are part of very specific food webs. Thus, the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly, the...

Widgeon grass has made itself a 13-acre bed around South River Farm Park, reports Riverkeeper Diana Muller, from her June 4 reconnoiter with the Underwater Grass Expedition Kayak Team. That expansion “is exciting news in water quality,” Muller says.     A species native to the river, the underwater grass has great value for waterfowl, listed in the authoritative Life in the Chesapeake Bay as one of two “of the most important.”  

When every ounce is a drag on speed, how to provision for 5,500 calories per sailor per day?

In the nine brutal legs covering the 38,739 nautical miles of the Volvo Ocean Race, every ounce matters with the evenly matched, one-design boats. Sailors have been known to shave down their toothbrushes, and drinking cups often double as dishes.     So what would the grocery list on a Volvo-65 look like on one of the longer legs, say from China to New Zealand?     Here in his own words is the food order that Stefan Coppers for Team Brunel sent to the shore crew...

Shakespeare, thy chauvinism doth wear thin

O, Shakespeare! Why didst thou write such a play? Why doth any company still perform it? Forsooth, it hath some enduring one-liners, despite being one of thine earliest works. Yea, thou wert the first to say Love is blind and I am but a fool. But really, thy chauvinism doth wear thin.      How are we in the 21st century to believe that a strong woman, even in the Roaring Twenties, would pledge troth to a cheating would-be rapist? That the high-born and educated witnesses to...

Figuratively and literally, this show is Looney Tunes

Don’t say you weren’t warned. Colonial Players is forthright about Why Torture Is Wrong, and The People Who Love Them, the unconventional “arc” show offered to make the theater-in-the-round better rounded. Marketing Director Tim Sayles calls this “raucous and provocative” show an “ideologically pointed black comedy by America’s master absurdist playwright,” Christopher Durang. Well and good. A political commentary on post 9-11 paranoia could...