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Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

"We are a very 100-percent-or-nothing culture," says Robin Ha, the author of a new graphic cookbook Cook Korean! Cold noodles may be served with ice to keep them frosty. Hot soups are served from a still flaming burner. Fish are often air dried or fermented.

So what's up with the crayons? Everywhere you go lately — the bookstore, Starbucks — even here at NPR — I see grown men and women sitting around coloring.

Every time, this takes me back to rainy childhood days on the living room floor: A robot. A mosaic of geometric houses. A flowery design pattern.

Clearly, I've stumbled upon the national craze for adult coloring books.

Library Cat's Job Is Saved

Jul 1, 2016

Why the city council of White Settlement, Texas, decided to fire Browser, mascot and rodent hunter of the public library is not clear, but the vote two weeks ago was 2-1 to banish Browser. Friday, under an avalanche of complaints, the council members decided unanimously that Browser could stay.

Browser got his job six years ago when the library had a problem with rodents. By all accounts, he was a big success and nestled into library-goers hearts.

Editors' note: It's Invisibilia bonus time! Sometimes we've got more wonderful stories than we can fit into the Invisibilia show and podcast. But we can't let them go. This story is being heard exclusively on NPR's Morning Edition.

At the center of Geel, a charming Belgian town less than an hour's drive from of Antwerp, is a church dedicated to Dymphna, a saint believed to have the power to cure mental disorders. It's a medieval church with stone arches, spires and a half-built bell tower, and it has inspired an unusual centuries-old practice: For over 700 years, residents of Geel have been accepting people with mental disorders, often very severe mental disorders, into their homes and caring for them.

Every place has its own sound. A small group of scientists is hard at work recording the natural sounds of national parks all across the U.S. — more than 70 soundscapes so far.

For our series on the centennial of the national parks, we traveled to Colorado, to find out how they create these portraits of sound.

First Lesson: It's Very Hard To Escape The Sound Of Humans.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

 

Editor’s note: KPLU has hired an independent editor to oversee coverage of this story.

The non-profit Friends of 88.5 FM has reached a deal with Pacific Lutheran University to purchase KPLU.

After 50 years of serving Western Washington under PLU, 88.5 is set to become an independent, community-licensed station. 

Sorry to disappoint Trekkies who still believe, but the actual USS Enterprise did not really take up much space.

That famous starship of Mr. Spock and Capt. James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series — which turns 50 this year — was a model. Quite a large one, to be fair: 11 feet long and about 200 pounds, made out of blow-molded plastic and wood. But not life-sized.

And for more than a decade, it hung in the gift shop of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C.

Most children in the United States do not drink enough water, and when it's hot outside, they may need to drink even more.

But getting children to drink water can be a challenge. We spoke with medical experts, coaches, camp counselors and parents to find out how much water kids should drink in the summer, and how adults can help make sure they're getting enough.

How much water should kids drink on a hot day?

Joel Tucker and Gordon Blake used to hang out at a gay-friendly bar in Roanoke, Va., called Backstreet Cafe. Tucker was there, in fact, on a night in 2000 when gunman entered the bar and opened fire.

The shooter had set out that night with the intent to kill gay people — and he did, killing one man and injuring six other people.

Barry Sweet / AP Photo

If you're in your 20s, it might be difficult to imagine, but there was a time when there was no web to browse, no Internet to access, and when few people outside of an academic setting had an email address.

This was in the early 1990s.

By the mid-90s, the internet was becoming available to the general public. There was a lot of buzz about it. On late night TV in 1995, David Letterman famously asked Microsoft founder Bill Gates about "this internet thing."

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Children who have been victimized often have to tell their stories to strangers – detectives or advocates working on their behalf, as well as attorneys working for their alleged abuser. And giving testimony in a criminal trial is stressful in the best of cases. But imagine that child could reach down and put her hand on a warm, gentle dog at her feet, to feel comforted and secure and, hopefully, composed enough to provide the facts necessary for getting justice. That’s what a foundation in Bellevue is working to provide.

Photo provided by Rhianon England

Rhianon England has NF2, a disease that causes non-cancerous tumors to grow throughout the nervous system. Recently, a tumor returned on her auditory nerve and she wants it out. If doctors remove this tumor she will lose the rest of her hearing, but if they don't she could suffer from facial paralysis.

Kenneth Piekarski

A lot of kids grow up wanting to make it in show business and Seattle filmmaker Claire Buss was no different. Buss says she was practically raised by TV and she loved every second of it. She especially loved those morning game shows. As a kid, Buss even made up elaborate games for her sisters to play inspired by shows like "The Price is Right" and "Figure It Out."

Arthur Mola / InvisionAP

This week on Sound Effect, it's earworms. We share some recent stories that we just can't get out of our head.

Homeless Internet Helpers

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the latest episode of the Invisibilia podcast and program, which is broadcast on participating public radio stations. This story contains language that some may find offensive.

Paebi / Wikimedia Commons

Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are grieving after learning of the death of tribal chairman Jim Boyd on Tuesday. Boyd was also an award-winning singer and songwriter.

Boyd’s friends have described him as a major figure in northwest Native circles.

The moment my boyfriend — now husband — and I got serious about our future together, my father-in-law got serious about teaching me to cook Indian cuisine. My boyfriend was already skilled in the kitchen. But Dr. Jashwant Sharma wanted extra assurance that the dishes from his native country would always have a place in our home. Plus, as he told me recently, he thought I'd like it.

"We mix four, five, six different spices in a single dish. These create a taste and aroma that you don't get in any other food. People exposed to it usually like it," he said.

I-5 Design and Manufacture / Flickr

Hospitals in Washington are required to serve patients even if they have no way to pay. But a public interest law firm says many duck their obligations by failing to screen patients for eligibility. Now they’re bringing a class-action lawsuit against a hospital in Seattle.

I stopped drinking at the age of 35, roughly two decades into my sex life. I was scared to quit for a lot of reasons. I thought I'd be boring. I thought other people would be boring. When you drink as long, and lovingly, as I did, you will find a lot of excuses not to hang up your beer mug. But nothing frightened me as much as sex without alcohol. As in, no way. Not happening.

mf821-03188616a / Flickr

This week on Sound Effect, you are what you eat. We bring stories of food, and how it intersects with identity.

We Eat War

ElmerGuevara / Wikimedia Commons

For Claudia Castro Luna, nothing transports her back to her native El Salvador more quickly, and more vividly, than then pupusa. It’s the unofficial national dish of El Salvador, consisting of a think corn tortilla wrapped around a rich filling.

But for Castro Luna, Seattle’s first civic poet, the pupusa contains more than pork, cheese and beans. It contains the history of the country of her birth, and of her journey away from it.

Courtesy of Hsaio-Ching Chou

For many immigrant families, food is a way to both stay connected to their culture, and a way to survive. For the Chou family, opening a restaurant seemed like the only way to make ends meet in small town Columbia, Missouri.

When they opened Chinese Delicacies in 1980, Hsiao-Ching Chou was only 8 years old. The restaurant defined her childhood, even inspiring her career later as a food writer in Seattle.

For the family, it defined their American experience. They developed a menu that appealed to American tastes and later bowed to customer demand and installed a buffet. 

(courtesy Nancy Leson)

Nancy Leson, half of KPLU's  Food for Thought duo, has been in the food industry for a long time. But some of her earliest memories of food come from bars -- not as an employee, but as a patron — a six-year-old patron. 

Leson grew up in Philadelphia, in a time and place where children were allowed to belly up to bars and eat Slim Jims and pickled eggs, or order a Coke with loads of  Maraschino cherries. 

The reason Leson wound up in those bars was that that was where she would find her mother. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Everyone’s got a favorite food. But how about a favorite crop? 

Dr. Stephen Jones, director of Washington State University's Bread Lab in Mt. Vernon, loves wheat. A lot.

"The sheer beauty of the crop in a field like this ... you can almost hear the voices in it — the voices of the tradition, the voices of the people that came before us into this crop," said Jones. "I don't get that when I walk into a lettuce field, but I do in wheat."

Ariel Van Cleave / KPLU

The town of Lynden, Washington sits just to the south of the U.S.-Canadian border.  It's a small town of about 13,000 people.  

Lynden is also home to the Lynden Dutch Bakery (which makes a tasty short cake), Darigold (maker of cream, both ice and whipped), and of course, acres of berry farms.

Lynden just turned 125 years old recently, and to celebrate, folks there decided they needed a birthday cake — but not just any cake cake would do for such a celebration.  They wanted a really big birthday cake — one that would highlight all that Lynden had to offer.

A few years ago on Father's Day, my dad, who was then living in Taiwan, forwarded the family a special holiday coupon to one of his favorite places in the world: Souplantation. A sort of glorified salad buffet, Souplantation is the kind of chain restaurant you go to with your family after church or sports games, particularly after the ones you've lost. The food doesn't inflame the senses or your digestive tract. In his email, he urged us to take advantage of the coupon on his behalf— with an exclamation mark and a note of regret.

Editors' note: Invisibilia's back! Each Friday for the next seven weeks, we'll feature an excerpt from the latest episode of the NPR podcast. We're also creating original features for Shots that explore the Invisibilia theme of the week. This Saturday, Hanna Rosin asks whether social norms have changed enough so that boys are no longer afraid to cry. On Sunday, we explore how the norms for sickness and health vary around the world.

Maybe we're all just taking politics too seriously these days. Eighth-grader Jack Aiello used his 8-minute graduation speech to impersonate Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

When you look out your window at night, can you see the stars? Or are the heavens just a murky haze?

If you're not seeing stars, you're not alone. A new report says that 80 percent of the world lives under light-polluted skies — and the Milky Way is hidden from more than a third of humanity. Blame it on the artificial lights that shine at night.

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