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The Year In Review: The Top 5 Quirksee Stories Of 2014

Come To Cuba!

Our trips to Cuba in January and February sold out so quickly we've added a third in March!

daisy.r / Flickr

During the years she was the Seattle Times restaurant critic, Nancy Leson was often told she had the perfect job. Go out to eat every night on the boss's dime — that ain't workin'. 

But it wasn't all honey for nothin' and tips for free. As Nancy asked me back then: "How'd you like to go back to a restaurant you didn't like? Twice? After all, any restaurant can have a bad night. And that's what you have to do if you're going to give a fair review."

Courtesy of University of Puget Sound

The strings of bright lights that hang all around us during the holidays provide cheer for many people in the depths of winter.

But imagine a time when only the very wealthy could afford them and Christmas trees were lit up with candles. An exhibit at the University of Puget Sound explores the history and the future of electric power. 

Courtesy of Erik Wood

During the holidays, many of us may spend more time behind the wheel. And as we sit in traffic, it may be tempting to pick up the phone and send a quick text, but that message could cost you.

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

Protests over a police killing have returned to the St. Louis area, after a Berkeley, Mo., police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old black man Tuesday night. The authorities say he was armed; the shooting took place shortly after 11 p.m. outside a gas station in the St. Louis suburb that's just 2 miles west of Ferguson.

There are some Christmas foods you make far in advance that just get better and better with age and anticipation. Like British fruitcakes that age into their boozy ripeness, and German gingerbread cookies called lebkuchen that get softer and spicier as they mature.

Malcolm Griffes / KPLU

The Food and Drug Administration FDA is proposing ending the lifetime ban on gay blood donors. But even if such is the case, there would still be restrictions. And that disappoints activists who’ve been pushing for change.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing has announced a deal with Kuwait Airways that could allay some concerns about its ability to sell enough of its current 777 wide-body jet. 

The Kuwaiti airline has finalized an order for ten 777-300ERs, the current version of Boeing's popular twin-engine, long-haul jet.

NASA is building a new space telescope with astounding capabilities. The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018, will replace the aging Hubble Space Telescope and will provide unprecedented views of the first galaxies to form in the early universe. It might even offer the first clear glimpse of an Earth-like planet orbiting a distant star.

The 18th Annual KPLU Christmas Jam, 88.5 KPLU’s much-anticipated FREE holiday concert, features jazz vocalist Gail Pettis and her trio--Thursday, December 11, 2014 from noon to 1 p.m. at Lagerquist Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center on the Pacific Lutheran University campus.  

vintage card

To celebrate the season, Nancy Rumbel, who composed and played the BirdNote theme music, performs "Carol of the Birds."

This version was arranged by Nancy herself, with the accompaniment of Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, a Red-winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow, House Finch, American Goldfinch, and Mourning Dove.

Nancy plays the ocarina, oboe, bell, and harmonium. You can visit her website at nancyrumbel.com. Happy Holidays from all of us at BirdNote!

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