Weekly Feature Articles

The Homeschool Phenomenon

Not every child today learns in a big building with lots of other students all studying the same things at the same time. In the past twenty years, the homeschool phenomenon has caught fire across America.

A Guide for Area Commuters

Washington D.C.
capitol of the free world
and of potholes too

From Honku : The Zen Antidote to Road Rage by Aaron Naparstek.

Well before dawn breaks over the I-95, the race begins. A quick shower, a quicker breakfast, warming the engine, and settling into the chilly seat-- our commuters know the routine... the engine turns over, the heat comes on, and the open road awaits, at least until that bottleneck at Potomac Mills.

E.S.O.L.: English for Speakers of Other Languages

Immigrants to America come here with hopes and dreams for their futures. They are willing to work hard, but to succeed they need to become proficient in the language of their new country. For over a hundred years, libraries, churches, and other social institutions have been places where newly arrived immigrants could go to learn English. The tradition continues today with the help of adult education programs across the United States, some of which receive federal funding.

Anita Lobel

For years, Anita Lobel shied away from many memories of her childhood, and she had good reason to do so. Born in Poland just before World War II, Anita’s father ran a chocolate factory and the family was rather well off. Her mother had furs and jewels and employed servants to help with the housework and the children, including a beloved nanny, Niania. All that was soon to change when the Nazis marched into Kraków.

May Baskets: An Old Tradition Makes New Friends

Officially, May Day is the 1st of May, but really anytime during this splendid spring month is a perfect opportunity to share small gifts of the season with everyone: teachers, friends, neighbors, and family. You can do that with May baskets—a wonderful, old-fashioned tradition.

April Is Autism Acceptance Month

Autism is a neurological disorder that is diagnosed in an estimated one in 88 children every year, usually within the first three years of life. Depending on the degree of affectedness, the children may or may not be able to communicate readily or form meaningful relationships with others. Children and adults with autism may be able to function independently in later life, or they may always require a strong support system. In April 2002, a Congressional hearing declared autism to be a national health emergency, and as awareness has grown, so have diagnosis rates.

Support and understanding for families with autistic children has also increased tremendously in the past decade. A local group, the Autism Society of Northern Virginia, has decided to embrace their children's differences and have dubbed April as Autism Acceptance Month.  A very active group, they are hosting the Autism Acceptance Walk, a fundraiser with a sensory-friendly carnival which will be held from 1-4 pm on Sunday, April 28, 2013, at the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds. 

A Change in Classification

The behavior of some autistic children may seem strange to those who are unfamiliar with it: repetitive motions, an inability to tolerate change or to tolerate a great deal of stimulation of the senses. For many years an official diagnosis of autism was separate from one of Aspergers or PDD-NOS, but that has changed with the issuing of the latest edition of the DSM-V (the DSM is the manual used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders) due out in May of 2013. According to an article on the Autism Research Institute's Web site:

The Perils of Pay Walls

It’s no secret that the newspaper and magazine industries are under a period of terrible financial stress, as I reported in my article, "Where Have All the Magazines Gone?"  Since then, even more magazines and newspapers have ceased publication of their printed format, including Newsweek at the end of 2012. As print magazines and newspapers become less viable, the companies that run them face a vexing choice—rely on Internet advertising on an open site for funding or charge fees for access to a pay wall site that inherently limits the size of their audience.  Inspired by the New York Times’ recent implementation of a pay wall, many news magazines are implementing or plan to implement pay walls, including the Washington Post.  As consumers, many find the concept of formerly free sites implementing viewing restrictions on content frustrating and counterproductive to their desire to know what’s going on in the world.  But does it even benefit the companies themselves in the long run?  Financial magazines and Wall Street praise the Times’ pay wall as the future, but the overall history of success for pay wall news sites is considerably less hopeful than it may first appear.

Take a Hike

Sometimes, it seems like everybody goes hiking and camping in the great outdoors in the sticky, sweltering summertime. Those are the days when the bugs are at their worst, and the heat alone can leave you panting on the side of the trail before an hour is done. For an easier time of it, grab your gear in the spring or fall. Cooler days and mostly bug-free trails make for great hiking adventures, whether by the ocean or in the mountains. November 17 is Take a Hike Day, but any day is a good day to hike.

Tales from Tolkien: A Retrospective on Film Adaptations of Middle Earth

It has been over a decade since the first of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations, The Fellowship of the Ring, was released.  This film was greeted with both critical and audience acclaim upon its debut, and became a definitive cinematic event of the early 21st Century.  On December 14, 2012, Jackson’s long-awaited adaptation of the prequel to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, will be released.  Jackson’s films have become regarded as classics to the point that many fans may become unhappy with anyone other than Peter Jackson making a cinematic Tolkien adaptation, and it may come as a surprise to them that some film adaptations of Tolkien’s mythic cycle had already been made prior to Jackson’s! While waiting for the release of the first film in Jackson’s Hobbit adaptation, let’s take a look back at some prior cinematic versions of Tolkien’s works, and at Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Where Have All the Magazines Gone?

The rise of broadband Internet and the coming of the Great Recession have combined over the past several years to create a perfect storm for many different types of magazines. The 2000s and early 2010s have seen many respected publications end, either converting to online editions or shutting down entirely.  So many magazines have closed over this time period that I have become convinced that I should chronicle some of our former print resources and point out the online resources that have replaced them. So, let’s take some time to reminisce over the fate of those wonderful magazines that used to be in our stacks, and look at the Web sites and databases vying to replace them.