Star Files Stay up Late with Lin-Manuel MirandaDecember 11 on CBS Unless you’re lucky, famous, or actually Alexander Hamilton, it is not that easy to procure a ticket for Hamilton. Hey, we know your pain—and we friggin’ cover Broadway. We hope that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert brings a sliver of joy, and maybe an impromptu performance. Though given Miranda’s productivity, he’ll probably unveil a new theme song for Colbert or a cure for cancer. The man can do it all. Spread Xmas Cheer at Elf the MusicalOpens December 9 at Madison Square GardenSome holiday traditions we avoid, like repetitive Christmas movies staring the same two blandly attractive people and weirdo relatives. One that we embrace is Buddy the Elf in all its forms. This year, the news is especially merry for theater fans, as Elf the Musical begins a limited run at Madison Square Garden. Awesome! Plus, you increase your likelihood of avoiding that middle-aged cousin who still wears his high school varsity jacket. Click for tickets! Behold Jennifer Hudson’s Purple ReignOpens December 10 at Bernard B. Jacobs TheatreSome performers were meant for Broadway. With her booming voice and springy charisma, Jennifer Hudson is among them. Nearly 10 years after the film version of Dreamgirls (for which Hudson won an Oscar), we’re red-hot with excitement over Hudson’s turn in The Color Purple. The musical also features the acclaimed London star Cynthia Erivo in the lead and Orange is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks in the Oprah role. Don’t let that talent go ignored. Get going. Click for tickets! Have a Merry Chris McCarrellDecember 7 at Feinstein’s/54 BelowChristmas carols are all fine and good, but your parents’ neighbors and the elementary school choir lack a certain, shall we say, pizzazz. Well, Broadway has solved a problem that has persisted for entirely too long. Talented youngin’ Chris McCarrell (Les Miserables)—along with guest stars—warms up those holiday chestnuts in Christmas Carols with Chris McCarrell, which we think is some kind of play on words. Click for tickets! Hop on Mother Courage’s WagonBegins December 9 at Classic Stage CompanyThe first time Duncan Sheik added his musical touch to a powerful, unsentimental drama from a German playwright, we got Spring Awakening, which was a piping hot slice of awesome. So we’re stoked that he’s provided original music to a contemporary spin on Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, which now takes place in the modern-day, war-torn Congo. It boasts Tony winner Tonya Pinkins in the lead. Click for tickets! View Comments Hey, you, dreading your office holiday party! As long as you circulate between the buffet and the bar, you’ll be OK—but gassy. Just bring some antacids and focus on the kick-assery NYC has to offer this week, like Chris McCarrell’s performance at Feinstein’s/54 Below, the opening of The Color Purple, and Duncan Sheik’s latest musical endeavor. Here come this week’s picks! Lin-Manuel Miranda
Christmas will come early for Broadway on December 18! For the first time ever, Great White Way productions and live theater will qualify for the same tax breaks that film and TV projects receive. The result, part of a bigger tax package that you’ve probably been hearing ad nauseam about, should hopefully lead to new investment and create hundreds of jobs in the Big Apple and on the Main Stem.U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s campaign to push the tax code tweak through involved tapping a host of Broadway faves, including Tony winners Neil Patrick Harris, Bryan Cranston and Tyne Daly.“The Broadway and Touring Broadway industries have a combined economic impact of more than $15 billion dollars on the nation’s economy and employ tens of thousands of people in the U.S. and around the world, yet we are still very much made up of small businesses that actively seek financing from individual investors,” commented Broadway bigwig Robert E. Wankel, Chairman of the Broadway League and President & Co-CEO of “The Shuberts,” in a statement. “This relatively small amendment to the Tax Code will have a tremendous impact on the theater business.”According to the Broadway League, Broadway attendance in the 2014-15 season reached 13.1 million; the Great White Way contributes nearly $12 billion a year to New York City’s economy on top of ticket sales and supports 87,000 local jobs. View Comments
In the midst of their worst losses ever to tomato spotted wilt virus, Georgia tobacco growers need some good news about this killer disease. And University of Georgia scientists are certain they have it. Help, they say, is on the way. Preliminary results from a second year of studies are confirming what the first year’s research revealed. Treating tobacco plants early with a combination of two chemicals will dramatically reduce infections of spotted wilt. In fact, it can almost eliminate it. “We’re quite confident of what we have with this treatment,” said Alex Csinos, a plant pathologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. One of the products, Admire, is an insecticide already labeled to control flea beetles and aphids in tobacco, Csinos said. The other, Actigard, is an exciting addition that isn’t yet labeled for tobacco.Plant Defense Activator “We believe it will be labeled for use on tobacco next year,” Csinos said. “It’s not a pesticide. It’s a plant defense activator. It doesn’t kill anything, but acts much the way a booster shot for flu works with people.” Most plants have natural defense mechanisms to ward off diseases. Actigard boosts those natural defenses. “It gives the plant the opportunity to defend itself,” Csinos said. Because it’s not a pesticide, it’s an extremely safe product, too. Labeled in Europe for use on wheat, grapes and some vegetables, “Actigard has no effect on humans,” Csinos said. Actigard alone greatly reduced spotted wilt in the UGA research. But the one-two punch of the two products together was deadly.Admire, Actigard: Deadly Duo The UGA studies were conducted at four locations each year. Each trial compared plants left untreated with those treated with Admire alone, Actigard alone and a combination of the two. The scientists gave the treated tobacco seedlings a “tray drench” treatment in the greenhouse first. They added three weekly sprays after the seedlings were transplanted to the fields. “At one location, 30 percent of the untreated tobacco plants were infected with spotted wilt,” said Hanu Pappu, a UGA molecular virologist who has worked with Csinos on the two years of research. “With the Admire treatment, the rate was 12 percent. It was 5 percent with Actigard and only 1 percent with the combination.”‘Possibility of True Control’ The second-year figures, Pappu said, are based on plants with symptoms of spotted wilt. His exhaustive studies of plant samples will eventually show the precise percentage of infected plants, with or without symptoms. The early results are enough, though, to confirm what the scientists found in the first year’s results. In every case, he said, the combination was better than either product by itself. “This gives us the possibility of true control for the first time,” said Paul Bertrand, a UGA Extension Service plant pathologist. “All we’ve had to this point is some moderate level of suppression of the disease.”1999 Disease Damage Heavy Suppression certainly hasn’t been enough this year. Bertrand figures the virus has killed 35 percent to 45 percent of the state’s tobacco plants. Tobacco growers are allotted a certain number of pounds of “quota” leaf they can grow. They usually plant 10 percent to 20 percent more than that to be certain they can make their quota. But the buffer hasn’t been big enough this year. “More tobacco farmers are filing for crop insurance than in the past 10 years,” Bertrand said. “The crop isn’t in yet, but I suspect that 50 percent to 60 percent of the growers won’t make their pounds.” Drought and other diseases have hurt the crop, too. “But spotted wilt is responsible for 80 percent of the shortage,” Bertrand said.Could Save Millions of Dollars In 1997 — the worst year yet — spotted wilt cost Georgia growers $12.7 million, or about 8 percent of the $158 million crop. This year, the losses could be much higher. Had growers been able to use the Admire-Actigard treatment this year, though, losses could have been much lower. “If these studies held true, we’d be looking at a 5-percent to 10-percent stand loss and no loss of pounds,” Bertrand said.
U.S. Drought Monitor While the plentiful rains of July brought temporary relief from the agricultural drought, three months of very dry weather have once again raised concerns across the state. The current drought, which started in May 1998, has become even worse across Georgia.Concerns are being raised about wildfires and low stream flows, reservoir levels, groundwater levels and soil moisture.October is normally the driest month of the year, but rainfall amounts were meager even for this dry month. Warm weather during October has also increased the loss of soil moisture due to evaporation and plant use.October Dry StatewideOctober precipitation for selected stations in north Georgia includes Allatoona Dam at 1.7 inches (1.5 below normal), Athens at 0.4 (2.9 below), Atlanta 0.8 (2.3), Hartwell 1.3 (2.2) and Washington 0.5 (2.6).For middle Georgia, the rainfall totals (and deficits) include Columbus at 0.8 inches (1.4), Griffin 0.4 (2.7), Woodbury 0.6 (2.4), Macon 0.2 (2.0), Augusta 0.2 (2.7) and Louisville 0.3 (2.4).South Georgia totals (and deficits) include Americus at 0.1 inches (1.8), Alma 0.3 (1.9), Brunswick 0.2 (2.7) and Savannah 0.2 (2.2).These dry conditions follow several months of below-normal rainfall across the state. Since Aug. 1, Atlanta has had 4.0 inches (6.1 inches below normal), Athens 3.1 inches (7.2 below), Columbus 1.9 (7.2), Macon 5.2 (3.4), Augusta 5.0 (5.7) and Savannah 9.5 (4.8).Wildfire Danger HighThe low rainfall amounts have contributed to increased potential for wildfires statewide. A killing freeze over most of the state and falling leaves have increased the amount of dry vegetation available to fuel wildfires.The Georgia Forestry Commission rates the wildfire danger as high to extreme across most of the state. It’s important that hunters and anyone else using Georgia’s forests be particularly careful with fire sources such as matches and cigarettes.Water restrictions are still in effect across the state. Major reservoirs remain very low in north Georgia. In south Georgia, groundwater levels are extremely low. Most streams in the state are at or near record low levels.Agriculture Affected, TooThe drought is also affecting the state’s agriculture. Dry conditions and killing freeze have brought pasture growth to a virtual halt. Some farmers are supplementing pastures with hay. Small-grain farmers are delaying planting because of dry soils.The winter outlook from the Climate Prediction Center doesn’t offer much hope for improvement. They predict equal chances of above-, near- and below-normal temperature, but an increased chance of dry conditions through the winter.Since winter is the season when most soil moisture is recharged, this may foretell problems going into the next growing season.
Remote-controlled helicopters, unmanned aircraft equipped with imaging sensors; welcome to the future of agriculture.Farmers and technology experts from across the Southeast got a glimpse of the future last week at the Atlanta Chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s Unmanned Systems in Agriculture Conference at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center. Unmanned vehicle developers hope the new technologies will make farming more cost effective, and better for society and the environment. “This unmanned aerial systems conference is really important because it’s highlighting existing technology, which can have immediate impact on agriculture,” said Joe West, assistant dean of the UGA Tifton Campus. “It’s demonstrating how unmanned aerial systems, which were developed with military applications, are transferring that technology over to agriculture where we’re essentially using those systems as platforms to carry technology to monitor crops and many other things; disease, drought, mineral deficiencies.”Unmanned autonomous systems are becoming more common place as a tool for farmers, according to the Association of the Unmanned Vehicle Systems, also known as AUVSI. Scientists are already using remote-controlled helicopters to detect diseases in farmers’ fields. Unmanned helicopters are also popular in Japan where more than 2,300 are used to spray rice fields and keep a close watch on the health of crops.“Agriculture is very technology-oriented,” West said. “We’re very advanced from the science standpoint, technology standpoint, even business standpoint. It’s going to be another tool that lets us reach further, make decisions better and then respond quicker.”One of the remote-controlled helicopters at the conference Thursday, the Aerobot 100, was designed to be used as an eye in the sky for the military, police or fire department. With a camera attached on its bottom, the Air Robot 100 allows its user to get a bird’s eye view of areas that are otherwise inaccessible. For example, it would provide another set of eyes for the fire department to see how many people are trapped in a burning building. Producers who farm large fields could use the machine to inspect crops for insect or disease damage. Using the Air Robot 100 could help farmers identify an emerging insect or disease problems before it’s spotted by crop scouts. “This is not specifically an agricultural UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) but it has a lot of potential. I think it’s representative of the class of UAVs that people who may come to this conference wouldn’t have known about,” said David Price, a senior research technologist with Georgia Tech. Price operated the Aerobot 100 with a remote control that also displayed video of what was being filmed.More and more universities around the country are studying unmanned aerial vehicle technology in agriculture. Highlighted by AUVSI, Virginia Tech uses unmanned aerial vehicles to locate microbes in the atmosphere that could lead to plant diseases. The research conducted will be used to create an early warning system for pathogens.As fewer people work on the farm, adopting these new technologies could play a key role in the success of farms everywhere.“It makes our farms more efficient. It makes them more sustainable and environmentally friendly,” West said. “Change is difficult. Adopting new technologies is difficult, especially if you’re older and haven’t been exposed to technology as much … “Adoption is more difficult. However, there’s one thing that makes adoption easy, and that’s if it makes money.”
While drivers spend extra time in the car in search of fuel during the recent gasoline shortage, farmers are dealing with a more long-term shortage — a low supply of hay for their livestock. Prolonged drought and a large fall armyworm infestation left many cattle and hay producers “running on empty” at a critical time. Cattle use grass as their fuel to function, so producers are trying to figure out what the next few months will hold and what they can do to get more “gas in the tank” heading into winter.The weather forecast over the next six to eight weeks will determine much of what happens and what the most successful course of action will be for farmers. In terms of fall armyworms, Georgia is currently experiencing the third and fourth generations of the pest this season and will likely see worms until early to mid-November. They will be gone by the first frost and, once nightly low temperatures drop into the lower 60s Fahrenheit, the worms’ activity will greatly diminish, allowing forage producers some relief.Many producers are interested in overseeding pastures and hayfields with winter annuals to provide winter grazing material. This is even more critical this year, given that dry conditions reduced hay cuttings and many producers are already feeding their animals hay from this past spring and summer.While the timing for overseeding crops such as annual ryegrass, oats, rye or triticale is Sept. 1 to Nov. 1, many farmers are planting earlier rather than later. Dry weather and fall armyworms complicate that decision as fall armyworms could come in and eat new seedlings and wipe out that entire planting. Also, with a fall weather outlook of continued dry conditions, farmers may want to take advantage of any rainfall and soil moisture.If producers want to plant early, having some insurance against fall armyworms is necessary. Commonly used pyrethroid products, like Mustang Max, Karate Zeon or Baythroid, can easily kill worms that are in the field. This can be done at or soon after planting to try and kill any worms already in the field, but this would not provide much residual protection for newly emerging seedlings. To provide longer protection, another option is to use a product such as Prevathon. This insecticide can provide systemic control (inside the plant tissue) of fall armyworms for 30 days or more. This product could be applied after seedling germination at a rate of 10 to 13 oz. per acre. Use enough water to get the product into the root system of the plant rather than just a foliar application. Getting the chemical into the soil and root system will help ensure the chemical is taken into the plant tissue systemically.As always, careful scouting of fields will allow for the most flexibility in control options, and following pesticide label directions will help ensure product effectiveness and worker safety.
The number of school gardens is on the rise as Georgia teachers search for engaging ways to educate students about their food.School gardens are also gaining momentum because they help teachers meet science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education requirements, according to Becky Griffin, community and school garden coordinator for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.“You use a lot of division and recording to plant a garden, and some teachers have students grow their crops in geometric shapes,” Griffin said.English teachers may have their students read a book and then plant the crops or flowers that the book mentions, Griffin said. History teachers have their students plant colonial gardens filled with crops that might’ve been on first President George Washington’s dinner table.School gardens are an excellent educational tool, but they are also a lot of hard work. To be successful, the garden project has to be supported by the school board, teachers, parents and community leaders.“If the garden is being planned and planted by just one teacher, it’s going to fail,” Griffin said. In Dougherty County, Georgia, UGA Extension agent James Morgan has helped to establish gardens in 13 of the county’s 14 elementary schools. Morgan’s gardens have won Golden Radish Awards, an honor presented annually to schools where teachers and personnel are doing extraordinary work in terms of farm-to-school programs. The award is presented by the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Organics and UGA Extension. To date, Morgan’s gardens have earned two gold radishes, along with a silver and a bronze.“These school gardens would not be successful if not for the buy-in from the principals and school liaisons,” Morgan said. “And the gardens wouldn’t be possible without the support of our teaching garden planning team.”The planning team meets each fall to begin planning the gardens. Team members are then assigned to schools, where they meet with the principal and the school’s garden liaison.“First, we have to see if weeding needs to be done, if wood for beds needs replacing or if soil needs to be added,” Morgan said. “The liaison then works with the kids or volunteers to weed the beds. During this time, we place an order for transplants and schedule soil drop-off and planting times.”Each garden has seven raised beds where students grow lettuce, collards, kale, spinach, scallions and radishes. After planting, the planning team and students monitor the school gardens throughout the growing season. “In the event of cold weather, I have someone in the school nutrition office send out an email to all the liaisons letting them know how to protect the plants from cold weather,” Morgan said.As the plants get close to maturity, Morgan visits the schools and shows the students when to harvest the radishes or how to harvest the leaves from the leafy vegetables so that the plant will continue to produce more leaves. When the students harvest their vegetables, the school cafeteria staff incorporates them into each school’s holiday lunch, he said.Team member organizations include Southwest Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, UGA Extension, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Southwest Georgia Project, Dougherty County Farm Bureau, City of Albany Recreation and Parks Department, Dougherty County Child Nutrition Program, and Georgia Region V Soil and Water Conservation District.To help Georgia teachers with school gardens, UGA Extension and the Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture offer training for teachers. At the training sessions, teachers learn about selecting crops that are in season during the school year, testing garden soil before planting, composting, attracting beneficial insects and controlling pests using a minimal amount of pesticides. Since 2015, 150 teachers have been trained at workshops held in Athens, Atlanta and Griffin, Georgia.For more information on this program, visit ugaurbanag.com/gardens/teacher-training.
Gardeners in search of new vegetable and flower varieties to test this spring or those with a surplus of seeds should consider attending Rock Eagle 4-H Center’s annual seed swap.The Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Georgia, will host this year’s seed swap on Saturday, March 17, as part of the Saturday @ the Rock event series.Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. for check-in and seed drop-off. At 10 a.m., a local beekeeper will speak about the importance of pollinators and the basics of backyard beekeeping. Following the presentation, the seed swap will begin.The swap is a great opportunity for growers to trade seeds in for something new and to network with other gardeners from around the area.Growers with nothing to swap are also welcome. All garden newbies, seasoned green thumbs and anyone with an interest in exploring the world of seed-saving and swapping may stop by, enjoy the speakers and learn something new.All commercially grown or home-produced seeds, plants, seedlings and cuttings will be accepted, but potentially invasive species are not allowed in the seed swap. Guests should label and package their seeds ahead of time, but the 4-H center staff will have envelopes and labeling materials at the swap.Attendees should preregister online or by phone before Friday, March 16. Light refreshments will be served.To reserve a space or for other information, contact Jessica Torhan at 706-484-4838 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To preregister online, head to ugeorgia.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2cw5Kj7dNW22789.
The holiday season can be a challenging time for those who are trying to live a healthier lifestyle.From office parties to classic family get-togethers, it seems every event brings an endless array of delicious home-cooked dishes. It’s easy to see why so many Americans relinquish their commitments to eat smarter around the holidays. One of the best ways to fight off holiday meal regret is by exercising on a regular basis, said Alison Berg, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension nutrition and health specialist.“It’s much harder to lose weight than it is to prevent weight gain,” she said.Making time for physical activity is often easier said than done. With lower temperatures and decreased daylight hours, the temptation to skip out on a good daily exercise session is tougher than ever.Try avoiding the regret later by applying these recommended tips from UGA Extension today:Work smarter, not harder. Don’t wait until the new year to set new goals for living healthier.The No. 1 obstacle to regular exercise for many people is time.“People have really hectic schedules, or they’re often going to visit family and friends, and exercise just isn’t at the top of their priority list,” Berg said.If setting aside a full hour for exercise just doesn’t sound possible for you, try finding regular points in the day and use those breaks to get in a quick 10 or 15 minutes of activity. “Just doing a little bit can really help you not have as much to get rid of at the end of the holiday season,” Berg said. “Try to get additional physical activity when you’re on the go. If you can’t make a meaningful exercise session, try to make sure you’re getting in some extra steps.”Berg suggests small measures, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. “If you go to one of those big-box retailers or a department store to do some shopping, before you get your cart or pick up your first item, do a lap around the perimeter of the store just to get those extra steps in before you start shopping,” she said.Know your resources. For some people, getting to the gym for a daily workout can be too stressful or intimidating.For others, hefty membership fees and the time spent getting to the nearest gym make it unattainable.If that sounds like you, consider building a workout plan that can be done completely within the comfort of your home.Many people mistakenly believe that exercising at home requires the purchase of bulky, often expensive, equipment, but that’s not necessarily the case.“There are lots of apps now that can give you little 10-minute bursts of something you can do with your own body weight, or even just a quick cardiovascular workout that doesn’t require any equipment,” Berg said.Don’t go it alone. Research has shown that having someone to hold you accountable for a goal will greatly increase your chances of success.If you’re going to give at-home workouts a try, consider finding a family member or friend to hold you accountable for your progress.If that doesn’t work, try finding an online trainer through one of the many apps available to download at little to no cost. You can also use the sharing function of these apps to share your progress on social media sites or in closed social media groups specific to that app to get virtual social support.Another creative suggestion Berg offered is making better use of the holiday time you spend with people you typically don’t see.Rather than sitting around in someone’s home to talk, try going on a walk together to catch up on life.Avoid getting too “wrapped up.” If you decide to brave the weather to get in some physical activity, make sure your clothing choices don’t send you heading back home to change.Be sure that your head, hands, and feet stay extra warm and covered. Rather than donning your thickest, warmest coat, try multiple thin layers of clothing that are easier to move in or remove if you start to get too warm.Develop a healthy reward system. The greatest reward you can get from regular exercise is the benefit of living a healthier lifestyle, but if that’s not enough for you, consider adding another incentive.Whether it’s a fun holiday activity on your next day off or just an extra serving of your grandma’s sweet potato casserole, make sure you maintain a good balance in choosing your reward.There’s certainly no shortage of treats around the holiday season, but you can avoid the regret of overindulgence if you have a clear system in place to help you gauge what your hard work has earned you.Ellen Hallman is a student in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Green Mountain Power Corporation (NYSE:GMP) has beennamed to Business Week magazine’s list of top-performing small-capcompanies. The Company was ranked 25th out of 50 companies ranked and wasthe only Vermont-based company included. The list was compiled by rankingthe Standard & Poor’s SmallCap 600 stocks by one-and three-year totalreturns as of Feb 14.”It is very satisfying to see Green Mountain Power included in BusinessWeek’s list of top performing companies. We have vigorously pursuedimproving customer service while finding new ways to control costs. Theresults have clearly benefited our shareholders right along with ourcustomers,” said Christopher L. Dutton, president and chief executiveofficer of Green Mountain Power.According to the Business Week article, most of the best companiesprospered by increasing productivity and aggressively cutting costs.Green Mountain Power’s three-year total return was 181.5 percent.The article is available on-line at: www.businessweek.com/bw50/content/mar2003/a3826058.htm(link is external)and thelisting of the 50 companies is available at: www.businessweek.com/bw50/content/mar2003/a3826059.htm(link is external).