Michelle Hiskey

Happiness for free, courtesy of little ukulele

George Harrison once said the ukulele “is the one instrument you can’t play and not laugh.” No wonder he spent his last days on earth playing one together with close friends. As the days get longer and darker this time of year, laughter and lightness are harder for some of us to find. Enter the uke.

Before the weather recently turned cold, I heard a ukulele group perform live at Woodland Gardens in Decatur. It wasn’t just the tinkling sound of this small instrument that brought a smile.
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From CHOA to the White House, via NASCAR

Andrew Childers nearly died playing high school football in Atlanta in 2002 and appeared far removed from the sports fame that earns the highest national accolades. And yet this year he and his team were guests at the White House, where President Obama complimented his team’s athleticism.

Childers got to the White House using his strength and speed from football to help change tires as the jack man for 2013 NASCAR champion driver Jimmie Johnson.
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Incorporation pushes unwanted marriages on DeKalb neighborhoods

In north-central DeKalb County, my home is among thousands in the crosshairs of cityhood movements and proposed annexations. Count me among the otherwise sensible DeKalb County residents who rightly worry that a new city we’ve never heard of is going to take us over, or even worse, ignore us.

No one wants to be an unincorporated island surrounded by cities. But lots of us are in a pickle. Our zip code (30033) is Decatur, but we’re not in the city proper, and it doesn’t want us anyway. Continue reading

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The Ray Barreras era ends in Atlanta

When Renaissance man Ray Barreras recently departed Atlanta, the city’s fabric lost a stabilizing force.

For 50 years here, he made the complex look easy, from teaching organic chemistry at the Atlanta University Center and Morehouse School of Medicine, to manning the WABE pledge drive for decades, to a gender-busting, prolific hobby of quilt making. That list only scratches the surface of his service, mostly behind the scenes and without pay, that helped Atlanta diversify.
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If you parent a teen, listen to this expert on Georgia law

To celebrate turning 18, J. Tom Morgan walked into a tavern, purchased and downed a pitcher of beer and a pile of oysters. It was all legal back in 1972.

Today, an 18-year-old who did that in Georgia would face arrest, and if convicted, likely sentenced to six months probation—or 18 months if a fake ID was involved. There would be a fine, community service and drug and alcohol evaluation. The clerk who sold him the beer would likely get arrested too. Continue reading

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At Georgia Tech, a quiet start for bitcoin

Georgia Tech likes to say that its students are “equipped for success in a world where technology touches every aspect of our daily lives.”

At Tech’s football game last weekend, the question was how equipped they are for the latest revolution in financial technology: bitcoin, a controversial form of virtual currency used for electronic transfers. Continue reading

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How to find and hike Atlanta’s hidden forests

Jonah McDonald and his hiking shoes are reinventing our deep-rooted image of a traffic-choked city smothered in asphalt and concrete. He says it only takes a step into the woods beyond our backyards to begin a genuine pilgrimage into the natural world—yes, here in Atlanta, Georgia. 

He authored “Hiking Atlanta’s Hidden Forests: Intown and Out,” a reference guide to 60 close-to-home urban forests worthy of exploring. All are located within 30 miles of the Georgia Capitol.
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Life savings gone, Wow! Food truck owner rolls on

Wendy Cross bought one of the first food trucks in Atlanta in 2011 and taught herself the grueling work of operating and marketing a mobile restaurant. If it didn’t work out, she had her life savings of $400,000 to fall back on.

But when she was defrauded by Aubrey Lee Price, the Buckhead money manager who tried to fake his death, her food truck went from fun to fundamental to her survival. As she rolls into Suwanee’s Food Truck Friday this week, through the small sliding windows, Cross is rebuilding her belief in the goodness of others. A big part of her support network is her brother, “Arrested Development” star David Cross. The siblings grew up in a sketchy apartment in Sandy Springs.
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As ground breaks for new Braves park, risk rises for men of iron

Shovels were a sign of excitement at last week’s groundbreaking for the new Atlanta Braves stadium in Cobb County, but they also recalled the grave dug for Jack Falls, who died in a construction accident on the old stadium.

He was killed in 1995 when a light tower he was working on collapsed at the Olympic Stadium, which became Turner Field. An engineer had miscalculated the load that the tower could bear. His family recently recovered a stone plaque from Turner Field that marks his legacy.
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Between faith and facts, ‘Zealot’ author Reza Aslan zeroes in

What do you most ardently believe in, and what discoveries might change your mind? Reza Aslan’s strong clear voice at the intersection of belief and facts came to metro Atlanta last week, drawing more than 470 people to the First Baptist Church in Decatur.

The author of the bestseller “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” Aslan drew my attention after his July 2013 viral Fox News interview. You may have seen how the interviewer repeatedly questioned why Aslan, a Muslim who serves as a scholar of religions and professor of creative writing at the University of California Riverside, would write a book about Jesus.
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