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Column: Who were those kids?

Before the holiday dust even settles, your college student will be returning for spring break. Many of you are probably evaluating how your holidays went. If you are among those who felt it was great to have your son or daughter home and they were nothing but helpful and respectful, then count yourselves as very fortunate.

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FROM THE ASSEMBLY: Session to focus on families, students, small businesses and ethics

The beginning of the state legislative session, like the beginning of a new calendar year, is a time for reflection and goal setting. It reminds us to improve ourselves and the world around us through hard work and determination. As the new session gets underway, I’d like to take this opportunity to share my reflections and goals with you.

Leaping into the New Year

Our new year, 2016, is a Leap Year — what a good topic for an article. A little research was necessary, but then “a little research” led to an unexpectedly, deep quagmire. Before the first sentence could be written, it needed to be determined whether “leap year” should be capitalized; even that proved to be a “yes, no or maybe” type of question.

Time management is part of academic success

“I’m only taking four classes, why can’t I keep up with my work?” Being able to organize and manage one’s time in college is a big part of academic success. There are a number of reasons why students lack this critical skill set. Increasingly, they get used to parents and teachers overseeing their work. Perhaps, more critical is short attention span. Text limits of 140 characters, high speed video games, Instagram and Facebook have trained students’ brains to focus for short periods of time. They are easily distracted.

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Movie review: The Force is strong with this one – ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Let me be upfront about two things. First of all, this article will contain minimal spoilers for the three of you who read my articles who actually plan to see this movie. Secondly, if you don’t think this movie is getting five stars out of me, you don’t know me very well. In three words, I loved this movie! (Okay, maybe that was four…)

Is there ‘Mankind’ in Manlius?

One of the dumbest brilliant ideas of late is the “automatic typing” feature of computer programs utilizing text — everything from email to documents (such as this one) uses a function which anticipates what the writer intends to say, while at the same time providing correct spelling and agreement in tense between nouns and verbs. It is a suped-up spell checker, which can result in perplexing as well as surprising sentences and word substitutions.

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FROM THE ASSEMBLY: Recycle your electronics this holiday season

The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity for renewal. From connecting with loved ones around the Thanksgiving table to making resolutions for the new year, these celebratory weeks inspire us to be more generous, thoughtful and kind.

Column: Star Wars, more than just a movie?

Wars, wars, wars — all wars are all turf wars. The Russians grab Crimea, they have a toehold in Syria (right next to Turkey), and both are picking for a fight. Silently, the Russians are positioning to control the Arctic as well. China is creating new islands, as they destroy valuable coral reefs and daring anyone to challenge them.

Column: The dilemma of kept Christmas cards and disposing of an old address book

Christmas cards! For reasons that are unclear to me, I stopped sending Christmas cards in the season immediately following 9/11. Apparently, other people felt the same way, as I received only a few cards that year, and still they arrive in comparatively small numbers.

In the Earth: Poinsettias, A favorite holiday plants

The vivid red display of poinsettias has been a holiday tradition for nearly a century. They were introduced into the United States from southern Mexico, where they are native, in 1825 and have steadily grown in popularity. The common name honors Joel Roberts Poinsett, our first minister to Mexico.

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From the Assembly: Award paves the way for a promising future in CNY

Gov. Cuomo recently announced that Central New York is one of three regions to receive $500 million through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. As the largest investment of state aid our region has ever seen, this represents an unprecedented opportunity for our economic future.

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Theater review: Ralphie’s air rifle ardor

Young actors bring “A Christmas Story” to life at Shoppingtown’s CNY Playhouse

Viewers of the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story” know what to expect — Ralphie Parker’s desperate desire for a BB gun, his father’s fascination with a sexy-leg lamp, his brother’s wee-wee whining, his mother’s meatloaf and red cabbage and his own devotion to Little Orphan Annie’s radio show.

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December 2015 Volunteer of the Month — Dawn Mills, Girl Scouts of America

I became acutely aware of the Girl Scouts when my granddaughter became a Brownie this year. My first thought was, “Oh my! How the years pass by.” My next thought was, “What do the Brownies do?” I posed that question to my granddaughter’s mother, my daughter, who suggested that I speak with the troop leader, Dawn Mills, and recommended that Dawn be my next “Volunteer of the Month.” So, here we go.

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Column: The top ten reasons I’m looking forward to the new Star Wars movie

In May of 1977, the first “Star Wars” movie (later re-titled “A New Hope”) was released in theaters — and the movies would never be the same. Nor, for that matter, would I. This was a movie that changed the way I viewed movies. In some ways, I became obsessed with the culture that was “Star Wars.”

Column: Blue for Christmas

So, we survived the post-Thanksgiving gauntlet — Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday and Cyber Monday. The stress is pervasive, even without participating, since the the stores have been plastered with signs, the newspapers filled with ads, and the media broadcasting frenzy for weeks before; supposing you escaped being affected by the enervating environment, it is difficult to remain calm when everyone else is supercharged.