Other News

Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

Courtesy of Robert Hood / Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Vice President Joe Biden used his visit to Seattle Monday to call for breaking down barriers that keep scientists from cooperating to fight cancer.


So you walk into the new Korean joint around the corner and discover that (gasp) the head chef is a white guy from Des Moines. What's your gut reaction? Do you want to walk out? Why?

The question of who gets to cook other people's food can be squishy — just like the question of who gets to tell other people's stories. (See: the whole controversy over the casting of the new Nina Simone biopic.)

Our Richland Correspondent Anna King has won two Gracie Awards, the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation announced Monday. Anna has won the Gracie for outstanding correspondent and the Gracie for crisis coverage in the award's public radio division.

Used With Permission Of Jason Padgett / struckbygenius.com

This week on "Sound Effect," we listen back to stories of survivors.

If you're planning to hoist a pint of Irish dry stout for St. Patrick's Day, the folks at Guinness have a polite request: Don't slurp the foamy head off their beer. It's essentially a nitrogen cap, they say, that's protecting the flavors underneath from being oxidized.

St. Patrick's is a huge day for the legendary brewer – of the 70 million people who are estimated to be celebrating today, around 13 million will also drink a glass of Guinness.

Today is the day that the Guinness flows freely, tough brisket is transformed into tender corned beef, and we celebrate the Emerald Isle with humble cabbage. This holy trinity of meat, veg and stout is the communion of St. Patrick's Day.

But the history of that meal is relatively short, going back mainly to trade and immigration in the 18th and 19th centuries. Want to feast like St. Patrick would have celebrated more than 1,600 years ago? Let's party like it's 399.

Psychologists disagree on whether expecting your marriage to be a deeply fulfilling relationship makes it more likely that the union will thrive, or that it will doom you to disappointment.

So, psychologists, should we just go ahead and expect the worst after the honeymoon?

Want to mark this St. Patrick's Day with something beyond the usual corned beef and cabbage (which aren't so traditionally Irish anyway)? Why not mix up your menu with a tasty tray of blaas?

Editor's note: Last fall, NPR's Maanvi Singh embarked on a months-long quest to find her ideal pumpkin pie recipe. As she discovered, there's a lot of science involved in getting the crust and filling just the way you like it. To celebrate Pi Day, we reprise this story, first published last December.

It was the best of pies, it was the worst of pies. I have baked many, many, many pies.

And when I first began making pumpkin pies this autumn, my results were at best inconsistent and, at worst, disastrous.

When most people want to play a game, the first thing they reach for is likely a smartphone or tablet. Actual pinball machines have become quaint curiosities, but a father-son duo in California is keeping these old-school games alive in a museum.

The Museum of Pinball is hidden away in an old industrial building, just off Interstate 10 and about 90 miles east of Los Angeles in Banning, Calif. It's pretty quiet when the rows upon rows of pinball machines are not turned on. But once the switch is flipped, it gets loud.

Carol Guzy / Washington Post

This week on "Sound Effect," we bring you stories of crossing the divide.

First, a look at the divide between secular and Christian artists in Seattle's alternative music scene. Music writer Kathleen Tarrant explains how mega-church Mars Hill blurred that divide by opening a popular all-ages venue in Seattle. But she says the crossover culture didn't last for long.

Our resumes are grounded in assumptions. Want a job? Assume it's best to exaggerate your leadership experience. Assume you should build up your image as a self-starter and team-player. And, unless you want to be a chef, assume that your kitchen-prep experience is as irrelevant to your success as your summer camp counselor gig when you were 16.

I don't buy it. There's plenty to be learned from the kitchen (and also your summer camp counselor gig).

Bluefin tuna have been severely depleted by fishermen, and the fish have become a globally recognized poster child for the impacts of overfishing. Many chefs refuse to serve its rich, buttery flesh; many retailers no longer carry it; and consumers have become increasingly aware of the environmental costs associated with the bluefin fishery.

Cecil Stoughton White House Photographs / National Archives, via Wikimedia Commons

We get all tangled up in family dynamics on this edition “Sound Effect,” with stories of “Family Business.”

We begin in Marsh’s Free Museum in Long Beach, Washington, where Dave Marsh is the third generation to run this roadside attraction. His grandfather founded the store, which now contains taxidermy, vintage carny memorabilia, a (purportedly) real human tapeworm in a jar and, of course, Jake the Alligator Man.

Denmark is once again distinguishing itself in the race against food waste — this time, with a supermarket hawking items once destined for the trash bin.

Those items might include treats for a holiday that happened last week, a ripped box of cornflakes, plain white rice mislabeled as basmati, or anything nearing its expiration date. In other words, perfectly edible items that are nonetheless considered unfit for sale by the retailers and manufacturers who donate them.

Once every four years, people born on Feb. 29 actually get to celebrate their birthday. That's right, Monday is leap day, the extra day added every fourth year to help fix the problem that while our calendar year is 365 days, the solar year — the amount of time it takes the Earth to circle the sun — is 365.24219 days.

NPR asked to hear from you leap babies about how you usually celebrate, and here's what some of you said.

Joel Strack from Orlando, Fla.

ShenandoahNPS via Creative Commons / Flickr

"Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. For this episode, the "Sound Effect" staff brings us stories of helping hands.

Katie Sewall

Did a parent often push, grab, slap or throw something at you? Did a person five years older than you touch you in a sexual way? 

Those are just two questions from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) quiz given to students at Seattle's alternative high school, the Interagency Academy. Students at "Last-Chance High" are traumatized, reporting an average of 7 adverse experiences in their background. 

Principal Kaaren Andrews says early childhood trauma is a public health crisis leading to bad health choices and early death. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Seattle’s South Lake Union area is home to a notable retailer, but not the big online one you’re thinking about. This is a store called Shine, and it’s part of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

The interior of the store looks like a regular boutique: rich, dark brown wood paneling, with focused lights that make sweaters and scarves and books pop off the shelves. But the store specializes in items that are “oncology specific.”

Alex Wolfe

Homelessness is definitely on the minds of a lot of us in the Northwest right now and its seems like there is some real urgency in trying to find the best ways to help. One group of architecture students from Washington State University are taking it further than most. Their latest class project is to design a transitional house that would sit in somebody's backyard and provide shelter for a homeless person.

When you edit a blog called "Goats and Soda," and you read a story about a goat locked in a car in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Oxford, Mass., and you learn that the goat turned on the hazard lights and wipers, pooped on the driver's seat and ... drank an old cup of soda, you have no choice.

You have to cover the story.

Wikipedia Commons

"Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. For this episode, we are sharing stories of discoveries. 

First, a Seattle researcher describes what it feels like to discover four new planets. Then, Seattle writer Hoai Tran goes on a long-shot quest to find lost relatives, and is rather shocked to succeed.

Courtesy Hoai Tran

Hoai Tran lives in Seattle, and she lost a chunk of her history and her identity when her family fled Vietnam in the '70s.

But she was just a little kid back then, and she very quickly adapted to life as an American.

She finally returned to Vietnam in her late 30s.  But by then, the thing that she had lost was so remote, she wasn’t even sure where to start looking.

Wikipedia Commons/European Southern Observatory

What’s, like, the most stupendous thing you could discover? A new world.

Dr. Sarah Ballard is an astrophysicist, and she has discovered four new planets. We call these exoplanets. These are planets that orbit distant stars. And the way scientists find these planets — they’re too far away and too small to see through like a regular telescope — they use this satellite-based instrument to kind of look at different stars. And when they see the star dim just a tiny bit, there’s a good chance that it’s dimming because a planet is passing in front of it. It’s like a tiny eclipse.

Credit: Flickr/Cloudzilla

If you’ve ever woken up to a mystery — maybe some kind of strange object in your yard, or an act of overnight vandalism and you don’t know how it got there — well then this story is for you.

Meet a woman in Seattle who put up some cameras to keep an eye on her cats. And the cameras run day and night. In person, her neighborhood seems quiet, but as seen on TV, we discover it is not.

Wikipedia Commons/TheAlphaWolf

"Sound Effect" took a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia to visit Pacific Spirit Park and caught up with Professor Susan Samard. She’s a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia.

And what we could see when we went out there, were trees.  A tree here, a tree there. But what we wanted to ask her about was what we couldn’t see — below the surface.


Mark Arehart / KPLU

During this time of year, it gets really grey and wet. And even though the first day of spring is over a month away, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in downtown Seattle offers a glimpse of sunnier days ahead.

If you close your eyes, the first thing that hits you is the smell. It’s almost like you’re standing on a back porch in the middle of a spring bloom. There’s even the sound of chirping birds.

Natasha Schwartz says she designed her exhibit to feel like home.

“I wanted to kind of step outside the box and bring it into a backyard,” she said.

Terry Farley remembers her first boyfriend: Steve Downey. The year was 1971. She was 14, he was 16.

"He was my first love, the first boy I ever kissed, the first boy I ever held hands with and he was hard to forget," Farley tells NPR's Rachel Martin in the Valentine's Day edition of For the Record.

miss_millions via creative commons / Flickr

  "Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. For this episode, the "Sound Effect" staff brings us stories of being locked in.

Gabriel Spitzer

Biologist Nalini Nadkarni wanted to bring nature to the people furthest from it, and she found them in solitary confinement. Her solution, the Blue Room, has the potential to enact sweeping changes in a prison system known for violence, despair and astronomic rates of recidivism.