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Japanese spinning tops tell stories, aim for playfulness

It once was thought that the Japanese tradition of carving Edo-style spinning tops had been lost. It turned out it had just gone on the road to northern Japan — and some of it ended up in America as well. While they're called tops, these go beyond simple spinning disks. Many are more like ...

Recycle that: Many household items find surprising new lives

From packaging to clothing to cigarette butts, more and more everyday items that once were destined for landfills are being recycled, composted or upcycled in creative ways. Many of the new products made from waste are finding their way onto runways and into design museums and households. The ...

Wisconsin quilting effort for homeless people expands

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The saying "Many hands make light work" held true recently as residents and friends showed up at Kenosha's Creative Space, crochet hooks or bags in hand. The purpose? To see just how many crocheted "granny squares" they could connect and form into blankets for the ...

Can a holographic screen help a new phone break out?

NEW YORK (AP) — Most leading phones offer the same basics: Big screens, decent battery life and good cameras. So when a newcomer brings something innovative to the party, why is it difficult to break through a phone market dominated by Apple and Samsung? One such smartphone comes out this ...

Kindness is Contagious: Store clerk steps into woman’s pain to show kindness

There are things in life that are too heavy for words. We don’t know what to say, so we say nothing at all.

I know I’ve been guilty of turning away from someone in their time of need because I couldn’t imagine anything I could say or do to lift their burden. Have you ever felt that ...

Minding Our Elders: Many can’t be ‘sainted’ caregivers they hear about

Dear Carol: My husband and I are retired and were enjoying our quiet life when my fiercely independent 89-year-old mother started showing signs of dementia. We felt that it was best for her to move in with us and she reluctantly agreed. Mother’s been in our home for seven months and, while my ...

China building boom uncovers buried dinosaurs, makes a star

YANJI, China (AP) — At the end of a street of newly built high-rises in the northern Chinese city of Yanji stands an exposed cliff face, where paleontologists scrape away 100 million-year-old rock in search of prehistoric bones. Like many fossil excavation sites in China, this one was ...

‘Mockingbird’ chosen as America’s best-loved novel in vote

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "To Kill a Mockingbird," a coming-of-age story about racism and injustice, overpowered wizards and time travelers to be voted America's best-loved novel by readers nationwide. The 1960 book by Harper Lee emerged as No. 1 in PBS' "The Great American Read" survey, whose ...

PBS docuseries ‘Native America’ recreates cultures pre-1492

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The story of Native America taught in U.S. public schools usually begins at contact with European explorers. Children then get lessons about Thanksgiving, maybe the Trail of Tears or the 19th century wars over the removal of tribes in the American West. Rarely ...

Harry Potter party crafts thrive years after books

For crafty Harry Potter fans, throwing a party themed to the stories can be the ultimate DIY labor of love. Two excuses for throwing a Harry Potter party are coming soon: Halloween and the November release of the franchise's latest movie, "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald." Online ...

Minding Our Elders: Comforting those who are grieving

Dear Carol: My dad died after years of living with a cancer diagnosis. My mom, my siblings and I are all going through our separate grief processes. I spend a lot of time helping Mom, yet I, too, am grieving, which seems to be overlooked by Mom’s friends. I can understand that, even though it ...

Broadway musical ‘Wicked’ turns 15 with a party

NEW YORK (AP) — Fifteen years ago, one of the top films in the land was "Finding Nemo" and Shania Twain played the Super Bowl halftime show. 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" was a hit album and a couple of witches-to-be took over Broadway. The musical "Wicked" shook off some tepid reviews ...

Author chronicles some of New Mexico’s haunted hotels

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Jesse Herron always wanted to live in a haunted house. "But I wanted Casper," he says with a laugh. "I didn't want evil, demonic ones." Yet that's what he inherited when he purchased what is now the Painted Lady Bed & Brew in the Sawmill District in ...

Basking in the Tuscan Sun

CORTONA, Italy (AP) — After my breast cancer diagnosis and as I was going through what would be more than a year of treatments that included chemotherapy and radiation, I vowed I would return to Italy. Both sets of my grandparents emigrated from there, and I always turned to Italy as a source ...

Can Pinterest succeed as the ‘un’-social network?

NEW YORK (AP) — If Instagram is the dream vacation you'll never go on and Facebook is Thanksgiving with too many relatives arguing over politics, Pinterest is sitting on the couch by yourself, watching a home-improvement show and absent-mindedly flipping through an old issue of Gourmet ...

Rembrandt’s Night Watch to get restoration in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Rembrandt van Rijn's Golden Age masterpiece The Night Watch is getting a makeover. Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum announced that it will restore its most famous painting, starting next year in a project that will be open to the public and viewable online. Rijksmusem General ...

Ancient mariners: Greek navy offers taste of life in galleys

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — For a NATO-member warship, Greece's Olympias is pretty unusual. It's got a zero carbon footprint, no whale-zapping sonar and an antiquated propulsion system. The 37-meter (121-foot) wooden vessel moored off southern Athens is an experimental reconstruction of the ...

Leaving no stone unturned for painted rocks

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A little over a year ago, my twin sister and I celebrated our birthday with a hike, and it was so much fun we vowed to spend time outdoors together every month for the following year. We failed miserably, but when we recently squeezed in what ended up being our ...

Kindness is Contagious: Follow your heart in tricky situations

People often ask me about maintaining their safety while pursuing a brave and kind life. How do we know if we’re supposed to give a homeless person money, or stop to help the car on the side of the road? My answer might sound flippant, but I mean it sincerely: follow your heart. If your ...