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WYPR Features

Tom Pelton

 

A white ash tree stands beside my front porch in Baltimore -- its trunk nearly as thick as I am tall, and its branches stretching at least three times the height of my three-story house, shading one side of my roof to the other.

It’s about 200 years old, and it started growing back when this section of the city was still farmland beside a stream, decades before the Civil War.

From one of its massive branches, I hung a rope swing that my daughters flew on through the air in their white first communion dresses many springs ago, and that all my neighborhood’s children adopted as their swing.

But recently my old friend hasn’t been looking himself.   The tips of several of its high branches never grew leaves this summer.  So I called in a tree doctor: Matt Mitchelltree of North Hill Tree Experts.

“Well the tree definitely has emerald ash borer, which is an invasive insect we’ve been dealing with over the last five six years," Mitchelltree said. "It does a lot of internal damage to the plant, which causes die backs in the tips and eventual death of the tree.”

 

Baby Voices

Aug 29, 2018

“What do you think James Earl Jones sounded like as a baby? How about David Attenborough? A group of French researchers suggests that the pitch of their voices — and yours too — may have sounded when they were babies much as it does now that they’re adults. The researchers believe that the pitch of babies’ cries from as young as four-months-old can predict what their speech will sound like at five-years-old. Experts have also found that the pitch of a seven-year-old boy’s voice can likewise predict what he will sound like as an adult.”

Baker: Dolphins and the Health of the Bay

Aug 28, 2018
Michael Busada

Good news: Bottlenose dolphins are back in the Chesapeake! Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, tells us how the dolphins' presence signals positive changes in the Bay. 

Chris Luczkow/flickr

My kids used to gather a bucket full of plants and twigs they foraged from our backyard and offer it to me and my wife as “soup.” While most of those ingredients were inedible, you’d be surprised how many were edible and rich in vitamins and minerals! Their favorite food to serve, and most easily harvested, was Dandelions. I can remember the shock on their faces when I put the whole thing, stem and flower, in my mouth, chewed and then swallowed.

Sharks in the Bay

Aug 28, 2018
The National Aquarium

The Chesapeake Bay, our nation’s largest estuary, is teeming with life of all sorts and sizes, which begs the question: are there sharks in the Bay? Listen to find out more.

Sean Yoes

Aug 28, 2018

Tom talks with Sean Yoes of the Afro American Newspaper. 

Sean is recommending:

Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston

Sean is the author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories from One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.

Hector explains the various options for dealing with high medical bills when you do not have health insurance. 

Dr. Liebe Sokol Diamond

Aug 23, 2018
Baltimore Sun Archives

What does it take to be nationally renowned surgeon? A really big brain seems essential, and Dr. Liebe Sokol Diamond certainly had that. An unwavering devotion to caring for others is also critical, and she had that, too, seemingly in limitless supply.

Anirban comments on the budget deficit, the pluses and minuses of rapid economic growth, housing affordability and rising consumer prices.

As reported by Bloomberg, each year, Vanguard Group releases its review regarding the state of retirement savings.  The review focuses on 401ks, 403bs, and other defined contribution plans that allow people to set aside money for retirement and often defer taxes in the process.  The report, entitled "How America Saves 2018," is replete with data, charts and interesting analytics.  It is also packed with some good news.

The Humanities and Young Baltimoreans

Aug 23, 2018

Published in LA Weekly and Ms. Magazine, Baltimore native Jordannah Elizabeth returned home to teach after the Baltimore uprising. She talks about the impact of her mother instilling a love for reading at a young age, her love for the humanities, and their value for a young person in Baltimore City. 

"Joshua Barney"

Aug 22, 2018
Maryland Historical Society

On August 24, 1813, during the Battle of Bladensburg, Commodore Joshua Barney and 360 sailors and 120 Marines defended Washington—fighting against the British hand-to-hand with cutlasses and pikes.

Civic Engagement

Aug 22, 2018

The political divide in America seems to be wider than ever yet civic engagement is on the rise. But how do busy parents find time to get involved? We’ve got a few ideas!   

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we preview "The Secrets Between Us," Thrity Umrigar's highly anticipated sequel to her best-seller "The Space Between Us."

@cedmull30/twitter

Let’s face it: From a sports standpoint, the calendar year 2018 has been nothing but lousy around these parts.

We certainly could use a glimmer of hope, some piece of positivity to hitch our collective Charm City wagons to.

It’s only been a couple of weeks, mind you, but newly christened center fielder Cedric Mullins shows signs of being a linchpin of a brighter Orioles future.

Al and Hugh offer suggestions for sparkling wines that are perfect for end-of-summer toasts. Click the links to purchase their recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

Tom Pelton

Maryland has experienced the rainiest year on record in more than a century, with the 43 inches falling through August 15th -- the most since 1889.

So much stormwater has been flooding down the Susquehanna River into the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay that the Exelon Power company opened several of the flood gates on the Conowingo Dam, unleashing a torrent of sediment and pollution that had been trapped behind the dam.

In the past, large rainstorms have proved devastating for the bay’s underwater grasses – which are home to blue crabs and fish and perhaps the single best indicator of the Chesapeake’s health. After Hurricane Irene and then Tropical Storm Lee hit in 2011, for example, grasses in the bay were smothered by sediment, plummeting by 44 percent over two years. That was before they then rebounded and more than doubled to more than 100,000 acres last year, the largest extent since monitoring began in the 1980s.

To get a sense of how the bay’s grasses are holding up to the historic rainfall this year, I set out in a boat from Havre De Grace on the northern Bay with Brooke Landry, a Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologist and aquatic vegetation expert with Chesapeake Bay Program.

Luca Nebuloni/flickr

During the cold of mid-winter it makes sense to warm our insides with big bowls of piping hot soup.  So, conversely, wouldn't it make sense to cool down our tummies during the summer with bowls of fresh cold soups? Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School points out, so much of the summer produce can be used this way.

RikkisRefuge Other/flickr

Tens of millions of Americans are caregivers, and it has serious implications for their own retirement security. Catherine shares insights from a Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies report on caregivers.

The National Aquarium

The deep ocean is an extreme habitat, challenging and expensive to get to and to study. It is cold, under tremendous pressure from the weight of all the water above, and so very dark. It's mysterious, and completely foreign to us light-loving landlubbers. We know more about the surface of the moon than we do the bottom of the sea. The deep sea is not deserted, though, as was once thought.

Bats

Aug 21, 2018
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife

Sometimes when I mention that I have a bat house on my home, I see people visibly shudder. I can understand that reaction because bats, just like 8-legged arachnids and slithering reptiles, have a sordid on-screen history that makes a lot of people really uncomfortable.

Whole horror movie franchises have been built from our fear of bats. Vampire bats. Sewer bats. I even remember a grocery store tabloid with a terrifying image of a child with large, pointed ears and sharp incisors that read, “BAT CHILD FOUND IN CAVE.” No wonder we’re all a little nervous about them. But what I tell people who are bat-averse is to “try to think of them as furry nocturnal birds clearing the skies of the insects that spread diseases and damage our crops and gardens.” That’s because bats are the major predator performing a true ecological miracle every night. Just one bat can eat over a thousand insects each night. They work the night shift so other insect-eaters can get some shut eye.

Mount Vernon's Wonders

Aug 21, 2018
The Walters Art Museum

Julia Marciari-Alexander, executive director of the Walters Art Museum comments on the importance of Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood. 

Anirban comments on the shrinking number of young construction workers, the housing market, wage increases, America's pension crisis, and seniors and bankruptcy. 

Nobska

Aug 17, 2018

The Inner Harbor along the Light Street quay on the soft spring evening of April 12, 1976, was alive with crowds and music. More than 500 of Baltimore’s beautiful people were milling about, shaking hands, congratulating one another.  The center of the festivities was the Grand Opening aboard the three-decker excursion steamer “Nobska,” majestic in white, sparkling in the late afternoon sun. It was presented as  Baltimore’s first floating—appropriately glamrous--restaurant. But the Nobska could not open because it was closed. Here’s the story.

 

Being a new parent is wonderful…and it can also be terrifying. Here are five secrets that often go under reported in parenting circles.

Retirement in Russia

Aug 16, 2018

You might have thought that you would be safe from discussion about Russia during a retirement segment.  You were wrong.  A newly proposed policy announced as many were watching the Russian national team defeat Saudi Arabia five to nil during the opening game of the World Cup would raise the Russian state pension age from sixty to sixty-five for men by twenty-twenty eight and from fifty five to sixty-three for women by twenty-thirty four.  Raising the retirement age to the mid-sixties hardly sounds like anything to be especially upset about, but many Russians are infuriated.  

Anirban tells us more. 

How can we trace cultural history through dance? What can dance tell us about belonging to a culture or nation? Breai Mason-Campbell from the dance cooperative Guardian Baltimore tells us more.

Tom Pelton

It was just after dawn when I set out paddling in my kayak to find nature in one of the least natural places on Earth.

I had launched into the Patapsco River from Fort Armistead Park near the base of the Francis Scott Key Bridge south of Baltimore. Truck traffic roared overhead on Route 695.   Ahead of me, the morning sun sparkled silver in a rippling path toward the old Sparrows Point steel mill.  Behind my back rose the smokestacks of a pair of coal-fired power plants, a chemical factory, sewage plant, and the mounded back of the city’s Quarantine Road landfill.

But the sky was blue, the breeze was balmy, and out on the water I felt away from it all.

Austrian Rosé

Aug 15, 2018

Get Al and Hugh's picks for Austrian rosé. Click the links to purchase their recommendations at Kenilworth Wine & Spirits.

CoinWeek

In August 1934, two young boys found a treasure trove of gold coins buried in the basement of a home located at 132 South Eden Street in East Baltimore. Their lives were never the same.

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