The CSCOPE curriculum had come under intense criticism for lessons some conservatives called un-American. Activists called the attack on the lesson plans a "witch hunt."
My husband and I have been gardening for nine years. I don’t even want to think about the amount of money I’ve spent on the garden during that time, but I can definitely tell you that growing our own food hasn’t saved us money.
True confessions on the economics of growing our garden
This year we spent $124 on worms called “beneficial nematodes.” They’re microscopic, and burrow in and kill the eggs and larvae of harmful insects. (They’d better work!)
Last year, I was prepared to spend $400 on dirt, but I was saved when the truck that was supposed to deliver it couldn't get up our narrow driveway. We got a full refund.
In years past, we’ve had a number of one-time budget busters. We had to buy yards and yards of deer fence to surround our garden and protect it from the marauding Bambies of our neighborhood. There was also the yards and yards of bunny fence to keep out all the Thumpers, too. That didn’t deter one determined mother rabbit who decided to have her babies in our garden. I ran around after them, banging pots and pans to scare them. (That didn’t cost anything, except my dignity in front of my neighbors.)
Now, some studies swear you can save a bundle growing your own food. Did I mention most of them were done by seed or fertilizer companies? A blog on Burpee’s website says, “Your little tomato patch yields you a thousand dollars worth of store bought tomatoes from a seed packet that costs you three or four dollars. Your return on investment? 250 to 1 or 25,000 percent. J. P. Morgan would not pass up that kind of opportunity.”
Why we really garden
Here’s the thing: Gardeners don’t necessarily grow vegetables to save money. That’s certainly the case with me and my husband. I like the exercise and the taste of a fresh-picked tomato is priceless. Plus, our garden is organic. I like the idea of giving my kids veggies that aren’t dunked in pesticide.
Bruce Butterfield is research director for the National Gardening Association. He says, “The money-saving aspect is not the main reason why people are growing tomatoes in the back yard.”
Butterfield says people mainly want good quality, better-tasting food.
How to save a few pennies
There are some things you can do to cut down costs. My husband and I share our garden, and its expenses, with another couple. We also make some of our own soil by composting.
Cindy Haynes, a horticulturist at Iowa State University, says it’s a good idea to plant things that you can later preserve, like tomatoes or squash. She also says to plant vegetables like lettuce or spinach because they don’t take up much space, and grow fast.
“You can continually plant them,” Haynes says. “So you harvest, then you plant again. So you can get two or three crops out of a single growing season.”
So, does growing your own food really save you money? Don’t hate me, but I have to say it depends. If you have crummy soil like we do, you’ll have to buy some good, composted soil. And if you live in a hot, humid place like we do, you’ll have to water a lot.
To definitely answer this question for myself, I’m doing an experiment this spring and summer. I’m going to keep track of how much we spend on our garden and how much it produces.
I’ll be tweeting about it, so follow me: @MarshallGenzer
I’ll let you know if that $124 investment in worms pays off!
People diagnosed with ADHD as children may be more apt to be obese in adulthood, scientists say. Differences in brain biology or the impulsiveness typical of ADHD may contribute to lasting, bad eating habits.
The country's biggest cell phone companies -- Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon -- are uniting with AT&T in their first joint advertising program to help prevent teens from texting while driving. The campaign is called, "It Can Wait."
Over 40 percent of teens say they’ve texted while driving. Karen Torres, a mom of two on Long Island, is terrified of how comfortable her kids are with technology.
“My oldest daughter will be getting her permit October first. I’m scared to death. I’m scared to death,” she says.
That’s because Karen’s daughter is a texter.
“One month last year, she had 19,411 text messages in a month,” Torres says.
AT&T and Sprint have created apps to stop teens from texting while driving. And AT&T says last year it spent tens of millions of dollars on its “It Can Wait" campaign. Even Allstate offers Bluetooth hardware to keep teens focused on the road. But the phones and apps that teens use are updated faster than you can compose a text.
Jeff Kagan, a tech industry analyst, says the ever changing world of tech has the creators of text-blocking software stuck playing a permanent game of catch-up.
“Think about it like the radar detector in your car, versus the speed gun that the police use -- the technologies continue to get better every year. The solution that will work today, won’t work tomorrow,” he says.
Some texting blocking apps, like AT&T’s Drive Mode are free. Others charge a monthly fee of a few dollars.
But Andrea Matwyshyn, a professor of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton, notes that distracted driving isn’t caused by texting alone.
“It is kids putting on their makeup and driving. It is kids reaching for their music collections while they’re driving,” she says.
Matwyshyn says kids need to learn judgment. “Whenever you have a tech-driven attempt to solve a developmental problem for kids, it will fail without a concerned education based interpersonal effort. Technology can’t solve the problems that kids experience as they’re growing up, to learn to be functioning human beings in our society. No app will ever be the killer solution for that.”
Karen Torres, the mom whose daughter is about to get her permit, knows the importance of education. A distracted driver hit and killed her father six years ago. Now Torres works with the Texting Awareness Foundation as a speaker at schools.
“What’s really scary is that when I ask the kids how many of their parents text and drive, probably about three-quarters of the classroom raise their hands,” she says.
Torres says should teens should use these apps. But she also says there’s another very simple piece of technology drivers should keep in mind -- the off button.
This morning, city officials in Nashville cut the ribbon on the largest public building project in its history -- a new convention hall called the Music City Center.
But Nashville isn't just the latest city to open a convention center. These mammoth buildings are opening or getting facelifts coast-to-coast. And standing out now takes more than a huge exhibition space and easy access.
“Once upon a time, convention centers were referred to as a ‘box with docks,’” says TVS Design principal Andy McLean. “There was not a lot of architecture going on.”
McLean’s Atlanta-based firm designed the Music City Center along with more than 60 other convention centers around the country, including a recent facelift to the Cobo Center in Detroit.
McLean calls Nashville’s center a “culmination” after years of design evolution. There’s natural light everywhere and glass on all sides, meant to cut down on the fortress-like feeling. The glass offers good views of the city, but it also has a practical function. The nearby buildings should help visitors orient themselves in the convention center.
“Many times you get in convention centers, you get lost. You don’t know where you are,” says Seab Tuck of Nashville-based Tuck Hinton Architects, part of the design team. “This building is so simple.”
Instead of a maze of hallways, there is essentially a ring of open corridors that surround the exhibit space, ballrooms and meeting rooms.
In terms of creature comforts, there is free Wi-Fi. There’s a plan to allow conventioneers headed to the airport to check their bags at the center giving them more time to roam the city.
On the softer side, this building had a $2 million art budget, with specially commissioned pieces. Many are inspired by one of the city’s leading industries: music.
The 1.2 million-square-foot building itself has takes cues from the city’s calling card. From the air, part of the roof looks like an acoustic guitar body. The four-acre green roof has hints of a fret board. The 57,000 square foot grand ballroom is meant to look like the inside of an acoustic guitar.
The rippled roof is probably the most iconic feature, running the three-block length of the building. It made the project more expensive because it cut down on repetitive structural forms. Each crossbeam had to be specially designed.
The exhibit hall is far from the biggest, but it’s intended to have unique capabilities. For instance, 400 anchor points in the rafters can each support as much as one ton, giving the ability to hoist small cars into the air.
City officials have been on the defensive about the nearly $600 million price tag, even though it’s supposed to be paid for by visitor taxes on hotels and rental cars.
They hope the design will help distinguish Nashville among convention destinations, because there are several projects in the pipeline. Cleveland opens a new facility this summer. And some of the country’s largest convention centers have seen business drop off in an increasingly saturated market.
“We’re going to do very well. We’ve been doing well,” predicts Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. “We’re not asking the building to suddenly make Nashville a popular place to come to. It already is.”
Host Michel Martin looks into why some non-profits are tax exempt, and how something like the recent IRS flap could happen. She speaks with David Cay Johnston, a columnist for Tax Analysts and reporter Brentin Mock of Colorlines.com.
A 3-year-old grizzly in Alaska found a GoPro camera that had been set up to capture nature scenes. The result: Very upclose video. Warning: If slobber and big teeth aren't your thing, this video may not be for you.