As I’ve mentioned before, one bright spot of 2020 has been space exploration (for those into that sort of thing). Among other astronomic highlights of the year, three different spacecraft set out on journeys for planet Mars in 2020. Now, 7 months later, the American mission Perseverance has reached its destination. Last Thursday, it successfully…

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One of the best traditions in our home is evening read-aloud time. This is a time-honored tradition passed down from both sides of our family; my wife and I each have fond memories of family reading time from our own childhoods. It’s no surprise, then, that we renewed the tradition when our kids were toddlers,…

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Roads in Roanoke never go in a straight line, and when they do, they change names. Thankfully, I like Roanoke enough to overlook this quirk, even though I often have no idea whether I’m driving on Melrose or Orange, Apperson or Brandon, Elm or Bullitt. And really, am I on Rt 11, Business Rt 11,…

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Perhaps no Roanoke-born individual has touched the lives of so many as an almost unknown young African-American woman named Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta Lacks (1920 – 1951) The story of Henrietta is amazing and mysterious: mysterious because the details of her tragically short life are mostly lost to time, and amazing because of the far-reaching effects…

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It wasn’t long after we moved here that we made a shocking discovery about who we shared our neighborhood with. No, I’m not talking about the local teenagers; I’m referring to something less noisy and more wily that, we realized, was also prowling about the neighborhood. Our neighbors first warned us to be on the…

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As we embark on the longest stretch of winter, with a polar vortex on the horizon, I’m remembering back 25 years to the biggest winter event in my lifetime, and one of our country’s most devastating on record: the Blizzard of January 6-8, 1996. Over those days, a massive winter storm plastered our entire state,…

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2020 was certainly a year that changed our lives. So many developments of global proportions; so many seismic shifts in our everyday existence. Will life ever quite be the same? In any event, it’s worth recalling some of the ways – good and bad – that 2020 will forever stand out in my memory. Here…

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Lessons from Quarantine Here’s a few things I’ve learned during this recent season of life. Food delivery apps are good. Interestingly enough, we had never used such apps before this year. (Yes, yes, I know, welcome to the 21st century!) This is not the place to argue the comparative merits of DoorDash, GrubHub, and UberEats.…

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“Tonight I am going to give you a lesson in Astronomy. At dead of night two noble planets, Tarva and Alambil, will pass within one degree of each other. Such a conjunction has not occurred for two hundred years, and you will not live to see it again. … Look well upon them. Their meeting…

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In 1907, scarcely a generation removed from the Civil War, the South was marked by widespread racial discrimination, Jim Crow laws that disenfranchised black voters, and constitutionally enshrined segregation through the “separate but equal” doctrine (which in practice established anything but equality).  One hundred years later, in 2007, the final Harry Potter book was published,…

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