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Posts Tagged ‘npr’

Photo: Current, News for People in Public Media
Truck driver Finn Murphy, author of The Long Haul.

It shouldn’t be a source of wonder that anyone who drives a lot in the US should listen to National Public Radio, given that the stories are longer than other radio stations’ stories and are repeated less monotonously. So nothing but unconscious bias can account for my surprise about truckers who tune in.

Alan Yu, a producer at WHYY, reported at Current, “In July last year, long-haul truck driver Stephanie Klang got a rare speeding ticket because she was too engrossed listening to public radio.

“ ‘It’s okay, I only get a speeding ticket about once every 10 years,’ she said. ‘… It was worth it for the story.’

“She told the state patrolman that yes, she knows listening to the radio is not a valid excuse, then proceeded to tell him all about the radio show that took her mind off her speed — an episode of BackStory about the history of taxes in the U.S. after the country had just broken away from England.

“Klang has been a truck driver for 37 years, going through all 48 contiguous states, and she listens to public radio all the time. She said she used to have a small booklet listing all the public radio stations in the country, which she got as a gift for pledging support.

“ ‘I used that book until it absolutely fell apart, and I wish I’d ordered two of them now,’ she said. …

“She’s not the only truck driver who listens to NPR — far from it, according to Finn Murphy, who has been a long-haul trucker for more than 30 years.

“ ‘Every single driver I’ve ever talked to listens to NPR,’ said Murphy.

“He recently published The Long Haul, a book about his experiences. ‘If I can, I’ll schedule my driving to catch Fresh Air with Terry Gross,’ Murphy wrote. …

I’ve got a little crush on Terry, actually. It’s probably because I’ve spent more time with her than anyone else in my life.’ …

“Murphy writes that even if truckers ‘may not like the slant, if there is one,’ they still listen to public radio. …

“Fred Manale, a 55-year-old trucker from Louisiana, said he listens to public radio, though he finds it ‘disturbing.’ For example, he said NPR should not be blaming President Trump for having a connection to Russia. …

“Ray Hollister discovered public radio when he was a long-haul truck driver for a year in 2002. Now the general manager of an IT company, Hollister said the network needs to ‘speak more to the flyover states. … Do stories that affect more people than just the coast.’

“ ‘Truck drivers come from across America,’ he said. ‘They’re a pretty decent cross section of America. I knew a ton of white, black, Asian, Hispanic truck drivers, and the only thing we had in common was that we were all truck drivers.’ ”

More here.

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Sweet potato evangelism has won the World Food Prize. I learned about this at National Public Radio, which has a regular feature on eating and health called the Salt.

Dan Charles reports, “One summer day in 2012, on a long drive through northern Mozambique, I saw groups of men standing beside the road selling buckets filled with sweet potatoes. My translator and I pulled over to take a closer look. Many of the sweet potatoes, as I’d hoped, were orange inside. In fact, the men had cut off the tips of each root to show off that orange color. It was a selling point. …

“In Africa, that’s unusual and new. Traditionally, sweet potatoes grown in Africa have had white flesh. …

“Those orange-fleshed sweet potatoes along the road that day represented the triumph of a public health campaign to promote these varieties — which, unlike their white-fleshed counterparts, are rich in Vitamin A. [In June], that campaign got some high-level recognition at a ceremony at the U.S. State Department. Four of the main people behind it will receive the 2016 World Food Prize. This prize is billed as the foremost international recognition of efforts to promote a sustainable and nutritious food supply.

“This year’s laureates are Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, Jan Low and Howarth (Howdy) Bouis. Three of them — Andrade, Mwanga and Low — worked at the International Potato Center, which is based in Peru, but has satellite operations in Africa. Bouis worked at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C. …

“In recent years, researchers have documented health improvements among villagers in Mozambique and Uganda, simply because they chose to eat sweet potatoes with orange flesh.” More at NPR.

Don’t you love the orange truck? I call that multichannel messaging.

Photo: Dan Charles/NPR
Maria Isabel Andrade is one of four researchers honored with the World Food Prize for promoting sweet potatoes that are orange inside to combat malnutrition.

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112015-laundromat-favorite-place

 

Suzanne and Erik’s 3-year-old is an expert on washing machines. He checks them out wherever he goes. Did you know, they have washing machines in hotels in Miami?

When in doubt about a way to entertain a grownup, he suggests doing a wash. And sometimes, when my husband is babysitting, the two of them go to the laundromat and investigate what cycle each machine is in. With the top-loaders (no windows) it can be tricky to get a sense of what is going on inside, so my grandson puts his ear to the tub and tells my husband what he concludes.

I’m not sure what he would make of story time at the laundromat, as reported by National Public Radio (NPR), but I suspect he would find the stories intrusive for serious work.

For other children, it could be the gateway to heaven.

Andrew Boryga reports at NPR that a group of friends at Oxford University is “developing a combination childhood education and laundry services center, a concept they’ve dubbed a ‘Libromat.’

“The five team members have extensive backgrounds in childhood education, and they pooled their talents to apply for the 2015 Hult Prize, a $1 million award for young social entrepreneurs tackling some of the world’s biggest problems. This year’s challenge: provide self-sustainable education to impoverished urban areas. …

“According to the team’s research, mothers and caregivers in South Africa can spend a whopping nine hours per week hand-washing dirty clothes. ‘That’s one whole working day,’ team member David Jeffery, 23, says. So they aimed to solve two problems at once and teach mothers effective ways to read books to their infants in the amount of time it takes to complete a wash and spin cycle. And with the money collected from the laundry, they could keep this up for load after load. …

“In interviews conducted after the pilot, [Team member Nicholas] Dowdall was thrilled to learn that many of the mothers believed their relationships with their children had improved. Some even said their children were asking for story time every evening before bed.

“One participant, Ntomboxolo, 34, a mother who attended the sessions with her infant daughter, says, ‘I am a working mother, so more often than not I am tired. But now, I make time to share something in a book with my daughter every night.’ Ntomboxolo also says she saw changes in her daughter’s behavior: ‘There was not much communication before. I see her drawing closer to me.’ ”

More at NPR, here.

Photo: Justin Woods/Libromat
Parents do laundry and get advice on books to their kids.

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Green sea turtles are being seen farther north these days, thanks to a very warm river in California.

Sanden Totten has the story at National Public Radio. “The green sea turtle typically lives in tropical waters, like the shores of Mexico or Hawaii. But recently, scientists have discovered a population swimming year-round in a river just south of Los Angeles. It’s the northernmost group of these turtles known to science. …

” ‘The small turtles have heads about the size of a golf ball or even a small lime, and the large turtles, their heads are about the size of a softball or grapefruit,’ [Cassandra Davis of the Aquarium of the Pacific] says.

“Her group has been carrying out this sea turtle census for about three years. She estimates there are between 30 and 100 turtles in the area. But why these large tropical creatures chose this place to settle down is a mystery. It’s a river sometimes mired in trash next to a busy road and a military base. …

“Dan Lawson, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration … says the river is a mix of salt and fresh water, which is good for sea turtles. It seems to have plenty of food. And it has another thing going for it.

“There are two power plants — one on each side of the river. They both suck in cold ocean water and use it to cool their generating systems. This process ends up heating the water before it’s dumped back into the river. This warm outflow results in a sort of turtle Jacuzzi. …

“But, he says, there’s a catch. Over the next decade or so, the plants will phase out this method of using ocean water as a cooling mechanism. That means, eventually, no Jacuzzi. It’s unclear how this will affect the federally protected turtles.” More here.

Reading about warm water from power plants reminds me that when we lived in Rochester, New York, we heard that there was good fishing near a power plant on Lake Ontario. But the unnatural heating of the water is really not considered good for the environment.

Photo: Sanden Totten/Southern California Public Radio/KPCC
A recently rescued sea turtle recovering on the banks of the San Gabriel River.

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I have written a few times about young people who commit themselves to a life of farming. At National Public Radio, Jennifer Mitchell explains why Northern New England states like Maine are particularly attractive to beginning farmers.

“On a windy hillside just a few miles from Maine’s rocky mid-coast, it’s 10 degrees; snow is crunching underfoot. Hairy highland cattle munch on flakes of hay and native Katahdin sheep are mustered in a white pool just outside the fence. Not far away, heritage chickens scuttle about a mobile poultry house that looks a bit like a Conestoga wagon.

“Marya Gelvosa, majored in English literature and has never lived out in the country before. ‘Just a few years ago, if you’d told me that I was going to be a farmer, I would have probably laughed at you,’ she says.

“But Gelvosa and her partner, Josh Gerritsen, a New York City photographer, have thrown all their resources into this farm, where they provide a small local base of customers with beef, lamb and heritage poultry. Gerritsen says their livelihood now ties them to a community. …

” ‘It’s very fulfilling work,’ Gelvosa says, ‘and noble work.’ …

“In Maine, farmers under the age of 35 have increased by 40 percent, says John Rebar, executive director of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension: ‘Nationally, that increase is 1.5 percent.’

“And young farmers are being drawn to other rural Northeastern states as well, he says. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont were all hotbeds of activity during the previous back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s. Many of those pioneers stayed and helped create farming and gardening organizations that now offer support and encouragement for new farmers. …

“Sparsely developed states like Maine still possess affordable lands, which savvy young farmers with a little money — and a lot of elbow grease — are starting to acquire.” Read all about it here.

Photo: Josh Gerritsen/Donkey Universe Farm
Marya Gelvosa and Josh Gerritsen run a small farm on Maine’s rocky mid-coast, providing their local community with beef, lamb and heritage poultry.

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I do like stories about people who love their work so much that they never want to stop.

Perhaps it helps to have a talent like muralist Eric Bransby, who got to study with one of my favorite artists, Thomas Hart Benton. (Suzanne says I have a personal aesthetic, which is a polite way of saying I’m crazy about anything wavy, like Benton’s energetic American landscapes.)

Chloe Veltman writes at National Public Radio, “Eric Bransby is one of the last living links to the great age of American mural painting. He studied with one of this country’s most famous muralists — Thomas Hart Benton — and went on to create his own murals in prominent buildings across the west. The artist is now 98 and still painting.

“At his Colorado Springs studio, Bransby attacks a drawing with tight, sharp strokes, a pastel pencil grasped between gnarled fingers. His studio is unheated, but he doesn’t seem to notice the cold. He’s completely engrossed in the image taking shape on his easel. It’s a study for a new mural that he hopes to install at nearby Colorado College. He says he draws between two and eight hours every day.

” ‘Drawing has been a continuous thing for me, like exercises for a musician,’ he says. ‘It’s refreshing. I draw better. I paint better.’ …

“His parents didn’t encourage his artistic pursuits. It was during the Depression, and when he demanded that he get sent to art school, he remembers his parents said: ‘Well, he’ll do one year and he’ll come back so discouraged that we’ll make something else out of him.’

” ‘But that didn’t happen,’ Bransby says. ‘I found heaven.’ ” Read more here.

Photo: Nathaniel Minor/Colorado Public Radio
Eric Bransby, pictured above in his home in Colorado Springs, is still creating art at 98. “I try to make each mural a project that will somehow expand my abilities a little bit more,” he says.

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Every once in a while, when I walk over Fort Point Channel to get some lunch, I run into people dressed as comic-book characters who have wandered off from the convention center.

So I got a kick out of this NPR reporter’s visit to a San Diego Comic-Con (convention) and her description of “cosplay: the art and science of dressing up like your favorite character.

“I’ve got a confession to make,” writes Petra Mayer. “I’m a cosplayer myself, though without any sewing skills, my costumes are a little hacked together. Luckily for me, there are some truly fantastic sights out on the convention floor, like zombie Teletubbies or an army of Daenerys Targaryens (Daenerii?). And so many Frozen princesses I can’t keep track. There are classic Star Trek uniforms, Doctors Who, lady Thors and Lokis in gorgeous armor, and a truly impressive Silver Surfer in head-to-toe body paint that must have taken him hours.

“Today, I’m one of them. Every other day of my life, I’m Petra Mayer, mild-mannered books editor — but today, I am embodying one of my favorite characters in all of comics: Spider Jerusalem, swaggering, world-changing, foul-mouthed and foul-minded journalist of the future, star of the old Transmetropolitan series.”

Petra is thrilled when two kids she meets “actually recognized my costume, but they were just about the only ones — Spider’s ’90s heyday is long gone, and I needed some validation. So I went by the Vertigo booth, Vertigo being the imprint that published the Transmetropolitan books, back in the day.

“And what do you know, someone asked if he could take my picture. Turns out I’d just met Ray Miller, who manages Darick Robertson, the comic artist who helped create Spider Jerusalem. Only at Comic-Con!

“But after everything, all the joy, all the freedom, all the swagger — you still have to get home and take your costume off. And that’s how I learned this very important lesson: If you forget the spirit gum for sticking down your bald cap, don’t try to fudge it with liquid latex.”

Read Petra’s full report or listen to the audio here.

Photo: Petra Mayer
Twelve-year-old Hayley Lindsay spent almost a month working with her dad on this Toothless the Dragon costume. There are sawn-off crutches in the front legs so she can comfortably walk on all fours.

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